Very Troubling Indeed

On the Lerman thread yesterday, a certain poster going by the name of ‘verytroubled’ posted this:

verytroubled
14 Jan 2010, 1:14PM
I’ve been reading the Guardian’s CIF for some time now, and I still can’t understand why the Guardian seems to be making every effort to pretend that anti-semitism just isn’t a problem.
Are the owners and editors of the Guardian Jewish? Have they experienced hatred due to their religious beliefs?
Is anti-semitism any less offensive than any other form of hatred or racism? Should Jews, particularly after everything they have experienced in the world, feel that anti-Jewish rantings, threats, firebombings belittling of their problems, calling them apes and pigs, and so on, just ignore all of this hatred?
Why does the Guardian continue to insist that anti-semitism is an experience created by Jews for Jews?

Shortly afterwards, Matt Seaton himself responded:

mattseaton
14 Jan 2010, 2:33PM
Staff
@ verytroubled:
I’ve been reading the Guardian’s CIF for some time now, and I still can’t understand why the Guardian seems to be making every effort to pretend that anti-semitism just isn’t a problem.
Are the owners and editors of the Guardian Jewish? Have they experienced hatred due to their religious beliefs?
Is anti-semitism any less offensive than any other form of hatred or racism? Should Jews, particularly after everything they have experienced in the world, feel that anti-Jewish rantings, threats, firebombings belittling of their problems, calling them apes and pigs, and so on, just ignore all of this hatred?
Why does the Guardian continue to insist that anti-semitism is an experience created by Jews for Jews?
I’m not sure how you can stand up that assertion, verytroubled. Where, even, in this article by Tony Lerman is the statement that ‘antisemitism just isn’t a problem’. To be sure, he’s expressing sympathy with the implicit thesis of Shamir’s documentary that antisemitism is too broadly defined and applied by some; but nowhere here will you find any suggestion that antisemitism is not a problem and is not to be taken seriously.
If you don’t like Lerman’s take on this film, fine: you won’t have to wait long for an alternative and more critical view here from David Hirsh (inter alia, clarifying the context of his own appearance in the documentary).
More broadly on Cif, we’ve recently run excellent articles by David Cesarani and others on antisemitism in eastern Europe, and just last week a fine essay by Dovid Katz on the pernicious ‘double genocide’ argument ? which, if you watched the documentary, was the same issue Abe Foxman of the ADL was seen raising with officials of the Ukrainian government in Defamation.
As editor of Cif, I’ve represented Cif at an international conference on antisemitism (in 2009) convened by members of the all-party parliamentary group on antisemitism and others. I have had meetings and regular contact with members of the Community Security Trust (and we have published relevant articles by CST staff here). Frankly, I should put more time and effort into similar outreach concerning other forms of hate speech, but believe me, we take antisemitism entirely seriously.
@ AllyF and others:
Re: Norman Finkelstein. I know what Ally means. I’m not sure if I found him ‘terrifying’, though ? except in the sense that I feared for his wellbeing and sanity. He seemed like a very angry man. He may always have had a streak of that. But his way of dealing with vilification for his views is evidently to come out swinging, with ever more strident gestures and rhetoric. I was frightened for him, to be honest.
That aside, I personally found the documentary too long for the degree of insight it had to offer. I didn’t quite believe Shamir’s ingénu persona. And I felt that it relied on too many easy ‘gotcha’ moments to score rather simplistic, polemical points. Much as I respect Antony’s view on these things, I didn’t feel that Shamir had done a tremendous service to the cause of critiquing ‘the new anti-Semitism

However, ‘verytroubled’ appeared not to be satisfied by Mr. Seaton’s placations.

verytroubled
14 Jan 2010, 3:04PM
To mattseaton:
I appreciate your detailed and extensive response. However the simple fact is that between reading articles that again and again seem to suggest that jews claiming antisemitism are hysterical and have no right to do so, and by doing so only perpetuate antisemitism themselves, and seeing the regular and offensive comments I have to strongly disagree with you.
My comments aren’t directed towards a specific author or commentor, my comments address the collective sense that I, as a Jew get from reading material in this forum.
There can be a million and one debated on anti-semitism, and there are, dafka here, in the Guardian. And it seems that with the over abundance of discussion of antisemitism, and the accusations that fly, the subject is becoming desensitized, and comments that negate Jew’s feelings seem not only acceptable, but the norm.
“Antisemitism is too broadly defined?” you say? I say it is not. And Anthony Lehrman, in himself does not get to define anti-semitism. It is a term that is defined by an entire people, those it is perpetrated against. Quite honestly, I’m not too impressed by your credentials either. Any discussion of anti-semitism in the UK is already polluted with the rhetoric and intimidation of historic proportions. And anybody who dares to equate anti-zionism with anti-semitism is attacked from all sides.
Well my dear friend, Israel being the Jewish state in the world makes it very relevant to the discussion of anti-semitism. And the british use of the term anti-zionist has been proven as the ultimate tool to express some deep seated hatred or bias towards jews in a way that is acceptable across the UK.
Today you see your academic institutions, hospitals, and trade unions all pushing to boycot the state of Israel. And for what, because of the “colonialst enterprise?” But forced female circumcision which is prevalent across the arab world, rape which is used as a tool of war in the congo, genocide in Sudan, or the lack of free speech in China, Russia and Iran are acceptable to you?
Not only do you regularly attack Israel and its legitimcy as a country, you more often than not support the ideas and actions of Hamas, a terrorist organization that straps bombs to their children’s bodies to kill other children, that have openly declared, again and again their goal of killing Jews and destroying Israel.
And yet it is Israel you boycott?
And then you attack anyone that has the odacity to suggest that this completely asymmetrical attack you are conducting on the State of Israel while ignoring the atrocities taking place in the Muslim world in particular is antisemitism?
If you wanted to help the discussion on anti-semitism, I suggest that you stop posting articles on how Jews take everything too hard and have a persecution complex.
In fact, why don’t you stop obsessing about Jews period. Because your regular and reoccuring obsession and attacks as an international publication on Israel and Judaism makes it clear to the entire world one thing, that your interest isn’t in protecting innocent Palestinians or returning stolen land (like that of 750,000 Jews that were ethnically cleansed from more than two dozen arab and muslim nations), your interest is in deligitimizing the international symbol of the Jewish people, whether they support it or not: Israel.

Many of us will be able to understand where ‘verytroubled’ is coming from and indeed share his or her frustrations. Mr. Seaton may well have attended the All Party Parliamentary Group conference on combating anti-Semitism held in London in February 2009, but one wonders if he happened to miss this address  entitled ‘The Internet is Making Anti-Semitism Socially Acceptable’ by Christopher Wolf, because the very next day, CiF published this piece by none other than Antony Lerman.
In my eyes, the most interesting sentence in Mr. Seaton’s reply to ‘verytroubled’ is this: “ Frankly, I should put more time and effort into similar outreach concerning other forms of hate speech, but believe me, we take antisemitism entirely seriously.” which roughly translates as ‘Oy, those pesky Jews! They think they’re a special case and they’re never satisfied with what they’re given.’
Well. Mr. Seaton, I’ll tell you a short true story which will maybe help clarify where we’re coming from. I have a friend who, on Kristallnacht, was sent by her mother, together with her brother, to hide at the house of cousins just outside Leipzig after the mob had smashed up their family business. Soon after they arrived at the cousin’s house, there was a knock on the door – the Gestapo – and my friend and her brother had to hide in a wardrobe as, in the rush to get out of the city, they had not brought their identification papers with them. The Gestapo arrested the cousin’s husband (who was never seen again) and as he was being led away he asked ‘What am I supposed to have done?’ to which came the reply ‘Jews don’t get to ask questions’.
Well now we do, and we will continue to ask questions until we get answers with which we are satisfied, no matter how annoying or time-consuming that makes us.

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