Here are some things a journalist might want to do if he tries to write a good and valuable book entitled How to Fight Anti-Semitism.
The journalist could carefully study the online process of radicalization that leads men to violence against white supremacy, and describe in detail possible ways to limit it. She could talk to students involved in boycotting, release and sanctions to understand their motives more clearly before unpacking whether or not the effort is anti-Semitic. She may go to Crown Heights in New York, where a long history of tensions between the black and Hasidic communities has recently erupted in violence against Jews in the neighborhood and may be interviewing local leaders trying to overcome these sections. She could examine why American schools are doing a miserable job teaching the Holocaust and how it affects the discourse on Jews and Israel.
Barry Weiss does neither of these things, nor any of these sorting things, in her subtle new volume, How to Fight Anti-Semitism . In theory, the book is Weiss's response to the October 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was a personal tragedy for Weiss: it unfolded not only in her hometown, but also in the synagogue where the bat was located. Unfortunately, she uses the attack as a launching pad for a bizarre and covert exercise in rhetorical intensism, in which she argues that American Jews should be just as worried about college students who over-criticize Israel as they refer to the ambitious Einsatzgruppen who shoot the pulse.
Weiss argues that American Jews should be just as worried about college students who criticize Israel too, as for the ambitious escapades .
"One form of hatred comes from the political right, the other from the left," Weiss explains. "At first glance, they may look wildly different, but they are mirror images of the same feeling. And each of them comes to the same conclusion, though perhaps at slightly different speeds: Eliminate the Jew. "
This is disappointing but concerning the brand. As a writer and editor of the New York Times editorial, Weiss quickly became known in the media for being a centrist gadget that enjoys annoying progressives. She is a dedicated Jew and Israeli supporter who half joked about herself as an "inviolable Zionist." He doesn't like Trump and the alt-right. But like the stars of the Intellectual Dark Network – a phrase she promotes – Weiss is concerned with the dangers of Islamic extremism and the excesses of left-wing activists, especially at Ivey plus universities. She is an energetic advocate of campus freedom of speech – who by chance has a fabulous history of attacks and attempts to silence anti-Zionist professors. From these facts alone, you could largely assume the essence of the book.
Weiss begins with a complex definition of anti-Semitism, after which he tries to squeeze his variations right and left. Anti-Semitism is not just a bias or racism of the mill. Rather, she writes, it is a "cultural hereditary disease", an ancient, ever-changing "conspiracy theory" that turns Jews into symbols of what society most despises – whether it's a banker, a white oppressor, or communist – and then aims to get rid of them. On the right today, anti-Semitism is manifesting itself as white nationalist rhetoric. On the left, Weiss argues, it is mainly criticism of Israel, which treats the country as "uniquely diabolic" or questions its right to exist. Right-wing anti-Semites are simple. They threaten because they want to kill Jews like Haman in Purim or Hitler history. But left-wing anti-Semites are more complex. They threaten because they want to suppress Jewish identity as the Hellenists in Hanukkah history or the Soviets. (Islamic anti-Semites are a threatening drought of the worst of both kinds.)
"Today, Purim's anti-Semitism, as always, is clear and easily noticeable. He is the killer in Pittsburgh. This is Iran. Hamas officials like Fatih Hamad have called on the Palestinian diaspora to kill Jews this summer, "Weiss writes. "The anti-Semitism in Hanukkah that begs Jews to commit cultural genocide, abandon their traditions, and worship false idols to survive is more subtle. You see manifestations of this tragic tension in what happened to the British Labor Party and in the activist and academic left in the United States. "
And which is more threatening?
"Hitler's anti-Semitism declares its intentions unequivocally. But left-wing anti-Semitism, like communism itself, pretends to be the opposite of what it is, "she writes." Because of the way it can be smuggled into the mainstream and manipulated – who doesn't seek justice and progress? Who doesn't wants universal human brotherhood? Anti-Semitism, which comes from the political left, is more insidious and perhaps more dangerous for existence. "Not for nothing, Weiss is essentially talking about the progressive left and Muslims – for the" insidious "forcing the hell to do "Cultural genocide" – the same k nspirativen way white nationalists speak, is Jewish.
The non-steric version of Weiss's argument for progressives is that by stigmatizing Israel and Zionism, parts of the American left are praying for many Jews or shaving off an important part of their cultural identity, or feeling ostracized by people who might otherwise be theirs. naturally comfortable, like their social justice-loving friends in college. Weiss writes about meeting Jews (all anonymous) who say they must keep their love for Israel "in the closet." I have no doubt that this is true of some, in the same way that some evangelical Christians feel abused on elite campuses for opposing gay marriage or abortion and may be wary of revealing their religious identity. This phenomenon is worth exploring as well as the various forms of anti-Semitism on the left.
But Jewish students who feel uncomfortable with their support for the Israeli government are not the same as violence, and the dispute over the flags of Jewish pride during the dyke march is not as serious a threat as the rising of the right. Weiss sees this criticism coming and tries to deal with it. "How dare I use my platform, some say, for a less-than-urgent phenomenon, a phenomenon that is certainly far less deadly?" She writes. "It leaves me wondering: When can we talk about this?"
However, the question is not whether "we" can talk about it. It's about how we do it Leftist anti-Semitism is a very real thing – you can find it in white, black, and Muslim communities, here and abroad. Sometimes he shows up in fanciful ways that speak of his quiet spread – remember when a member of the D.C. Council said the Jews control the weather? Sometimes manifested in grotesque incidents on campus. Weiss describes the horrific harassment of a professor at Kingsborough College who now needs security after someone painted the words "kill the Zionist entity" on a picture of his father, a former president of the school. Many Americans also fail to appreciate the dire situation in Europe that Weiss rightly devotes to a decent piece of his book: A UN study found that more than a third of the Jewish community there thought of emigrating partly because of the grinding daily reality of harassment . Could this ever happen? I don't know, but exploring it as a cautionary tale is not crazy.
But Weiss seems unable to describe these incidents with any sense of proportion. Take her primary care of the shifting conversation around Israel on the left. "While Jews once had to convert to Christianity," she writes, "now they must convert to anti-Zionism." But the reality is that Zionism and Judaism are not in real danger of disappearing from the public square. College Hillels does not close in large numbers and there are quite a few pro-Israeli groups on campuses. The governor and mayor of New York are still marching in the parade of Israel. Our most powerful politicians on both sides of the aisle are pro-Israel in the most traditional sense of the term. Birth trips designed to promote American Jewish connection to Israel may be diminishing, but J Street simply introduced a more progressive alternative. In the meantime, none of the examples of Weiss's intolerable left joints can begin to explain frantic passages like this:
The mutilating condition of being fully accepted [by the left] is waging war against anything that floods Jewish particularism, whose boundaries are always unclear. Is this an affinity for the State of Israel? Is there too much emphasis on Jewish themes in your plays? Or too many Jewish heroes? Do you talk with your hands? The lines are always moving.
As a liberal Jew who sometimes attends a socialist happy hour, even though I am not a socialist myself, I can safely tell you that no one there has ever told me to cool him with hand gestures.
Part of the reason Weiss takes such a catastrophic tone is, in my opinion, that she doesn't just think that anti-Zionism will lead to "cultural genocide," as she states it. She is worried about true genocide. She writes that "it is difficult for many to see [left-wing anti-Semitism] as threatening because it tries, at least initially, to marginalize the Jews, not to kill us." This sinister at the beginning is important. She later claimed that if Israel and Palestine were ever combined in a one-state solution, it would end with a slaughter. "And what happens when the anti-Zionist dream comes true – a one-state solution or the elimination of Israel? To have even the most superficial understanding of Middle East politics and history is to know that it would lead to mass slaughter or genocide less than seventy-five years after the end of Shoah. "
Leave aside the question of whether her fears are justified or whether many experts believe that Israel's settlement policies effectively make impossible a two-state solution, forcing it to choose between one state or a permanent profession. It's a dark hypothetical game in the back of Weiss's mind. She seems to think that many activists are trying to kill Jews in their "insidious" way. This does not necessarily make the book better. But it helps to explain its volume and height.
There are other, less political problems with Weiss's work. Some of them are mechanical – she repeatedly names people and events, without bothering to explain them completely. We are told that Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbin "has made one of the largest parties in the country a hub of Jewish hatred," but not how. We are told that activist Linda Sarsur has repeated "anti-Semitic outbursts," but Weiss strangely never quotes them. Weiss's preference for asserting rather than persuading gives the whole book a sluggish, preaching choir that will make it difficult to analyze anyone who is thorough about these issues, unless they are simply inclined to take Weiss & # 39; word about it.
I would advise him too; Weiss does not always present a complete picture of events. For example, she does not mention that a group of progressive sponsors, including the Democratic National Committee, withdrew its support from the Women's March after being absorbed in the anti-Semitism dispute over its ties to Louis Farrahan and the nation of Islam (among other things). Instead, she writes: "Everyone who dared to criticize leaders [of the march]… was aired as racist-neighbor at best, while these women appeared in sleek women's magazines like the modern Rossi River." book, she argues that the bilateral consensus on bilateral foreign policy in america is "undermined by neo-isolationists like democrat tulsey gabbard" – who may recently be seen complaining that he can't even make the stage for a democratic debate.
The book also has some puzzling omissions. Her section on the right, for example, never touches on anti-Semitism among evangelicals, though many powerful evangelical leaders have commented that Jews are "spiritually empty" or suggest that they should be converted. This is remarkable given the critical role that Christian Zionists play in Israel's politics.
The fact that so much of Weiss's perception of who is and who is not anti-Semitic comes down to how supportive they are of Israel could, ironically, lead to a new thread of anti-Semitic thought. Referring to vocal Jewish groups opposing the occupation of Israel with language, Weiss considers anti-Semitic, writing: "Because many well-meaning people look to understand why a very small but very vocal Jewish group looks so deeply against Jewish interests as many of our community's enemies, these Jews need to be understood in context, as part of a long history of left-wing anti-Semitic movements that have successfully summoned Jews as agents in their own annihilation. "The rhetoric is eerily similar to Donald Trump's comments on how Democrat-voting Jews are" disloyal "to Israel, a recent topic on the right and could easily be embroiled in the demonization of liberal Jews more broadly.
In the end, though, the thing that bothers me the most How to Fight Anti-Semitism is Weiss's neglect of the people who are actually trying to do it. In particular, she criticizes journalists who have spent time documenting and understanding online radicals. "The colonists' wet industry has created a whole taxonomy of the far right's internet activity. After a fanatic attacks a church, mosque or synagogue, these people analyze every aspect of the attacker's online personality and behavior, "she writes. "The benefit to the reporter is clear: he seems to know about a secret world that is beyond the reach of the average reader. But this pseudo-complex decoding process makes the object look almost mystical when the opposite is true. The 8chan cartoon swastika is still a swastika. "Weiss doesn't seem to realize that part of stopping online radicalization, and perhaps the killings it leads to, is understanding how it works. Meanwhile, her own tips for combating anti-Semitism are prone to self-help ghosts. "Know that one person can change history." "Tilt into Judaism." Build a community. These are wonderful feelings that will not prevent the next Robert Bowers.
If Weiss stopped considering the radicalization process, it could lead to some awkward places. For example, a recent survey that tracks the behavior of YouTube users has found that videos by numbers in the Intelligent Dark Network may be pipelines to more racist tariffs. Weiss can be so difficult to face. However, it encourages readers to "call for anti-Semitism" in turn. Maybe she can practice what she preaches.
Slate has links with various online retailers.
If you buy something through our links,
Slate can earn affiliate commission.
We update the links whenever possible,
but keep in mind that transactions can expire and all prices are subject to change.
All prices were current at the time of publication.