CiF contributor asks: Does Israel depend on the support of right-wing antisemites?

The cognitive gymnastics necessary for a Guardian journalist or ‘Comment is Free’ contributor to claim being ‘shocked’ by antisemitism are quite impressive.

Those engaging in such faux outrage must somehow ignore the fact that ‘Comment is Free’ has arguably published more commentary by Islamist extremists with explicitly (and often violent) antisemitic ideologies than perhaps any other mainstream, widely distributed, Anglo news site.

They’d also have to reconcile their claim to championing anti-racist values with the Guardian’s continuing sanctioning of largely secular, Western extreme left commentators who advance or defend Judeophobic tropes and narratives about Jewish control, dual loyalty and even Jewish supremacy.

It was only after recently re-reading Michael Wolff’s CiF commentary from Nov. 19, Rupert Murdoch and the Jews, in which he lashed out at Murdoch’s critique of Jews in the media, that one line in particular caught my attention.


Wolff, who’s a Murdoch biographer, was commenting on a widely reported story about a Tweet by the News Corp CEO which asked: “Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?”.  

While the offensive nature of the Tweet itself is not in doubt – though it’s quite interesting that the theme explored by Murdoch is typically posed, inversely, in a manner complaining of the Jewish-owned media being too pro-Israel – Wolff’s contextualization of the Tweet is enlightening.

He writes:

“From the biographer’s point of view, this continues to be a curious and open-ended question: what does Murdoch really think about the Jews?

Murdoch’s inopportune phrasing also goes to the larger question of the right’s odd relationship to Israel, and its own feelings, more generally, about the Jews. Does being pro-Israel absolve you of your suspicion about Jews? Can you be an antisemite and still support Israel? (More provocatively: does Israel, in some sense, depend on the support of rightwing American antisemites?)”

Wolff’s “provocative” query – which represents a meme actually advanced previously by CiF contributor Slavoj Žižek – is nearly unintelligible and certainly intellectually unserious.  

Where are these rightwing antisemitic Zionists that are Wolff is referring to? 

An understanding of the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the interplay between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ in America would suggest that Wolff is possibly alluding to the enormous support for Israel among US evangelical Christians – a dynamic which is often cited by leftist anti-Zionists to discredit Israel’s American friends.

However, while many of these Christian Zionists may indeed be motivated by eschatology rather than ideology, the fact is that polls by ADL demonstrate that rates of antisemitism among Evangelical Christians are merely on par with the national average – which, at 15%, represents one of the lowest national rates of Judeophobia in the world. (Hispanics/Latinos and African-Americans have the highest rate of antisemitism in the U.S.)

Unsurprisingly, research indicates that there is a close correlation between anti-Israeli views and anti-Semitic views in the West.

Specifically, the study by Edward Kaplan and Charles Small linked to in the previous passage suggests that those who espouse hateful views about Jews are also dramatically more likely to hold explicitly antisemitic views.  

Most interestingly, Kaplan and Small conclude that negative views about Israel don’t represent a “cause” of antisemitism but, rather, “predict” pre-existing (a priori) Jew hatred.

While there may be an extremely marginal number of Zionists who are also antisemitic, one 140 character complaint by one well-known American conservative – regardless of what he actually feels about Jews – doesn’t change the fact that Wolff’s query represents the inverse of reality.

Those opposed to Zionism rely on the passion of avowed antisemites, while the Jewish state continues to depend on the overwhelmingly passionate support it receives from its unabashedly philosemitic friends.

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