Indy op-ed complains about…”the problem with Jews today”.

The writings of Slavoj Žižek, a defender of Lenin and foe of liberal democracy who who has attributed the attacks of 9/11 to the “antagonisms of global capitalism”, have all the markings of a socialist revolutionary intellectual trying desperately to stay relevant in an age which has rejected such historically lethal ideologies.  Unsurprisingly, the Corbyn-Milne brand of neo-Marxist politics he embraces also seems intent on at least trying to hide one central component of his core beliefs  – an innate hostility to Jews and Israel.

Though Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek begins his Independent op-ed by asserting that he “rejects antisemitism”, the very strapline,”Today, the charge of antisemitism is addressed at anyone who critiques Israeli policy”, evokes a common trope used by anti-Semites: the charge that Jews dishonestly cry antisemitism to stifle criticism of Israel (known as the Livingstone Formulation).

In the same paragraph of the op-ed (“There is no conflict between the struggle against antisemitism and the struggle against Israeli occupation”, Dec. 4), he makes another supremely dishonest argument.

I, of course, indisputably reject antisemitism in all its forms, including the idea that one can sometimes ”understand” it, as in: “considering what Israel is doing on the West Bank, one shouldn’t be surprised if this gives birth to antisemitic reactions”. More precisely, I reject the two symmetrical versions of this last argument: “we should understand occasional Palestinian antisemitism since they suffer a lot” as well as “we should understand aggressive Zionism in view of the Holocaust.”

First, this is a classic straw man argument, as next to nobody has excused “agressive Zionism” (whatever that means) by citing Jewish suffering during the Holocaust.  Also, the juxtaposition of the two arguments, that ‘Palestinian antisemitism could be excused because of Palestinian suffering’, and ‘Zionism should be excused because of the Holocaust’, arguably suggests that Zionism (like antisemitism) can be seen as a form of racism.

Then, repeating the charge that  antisemitism is often invoked to discredit a totally justified critique of Israeli politics”, Zizek makes an even more dishonest charge:

More and more, mere sympathy for the Palestinian resistance is condemned as antisemitic. Take the two-state solution: while decades ago it was the standard international position, it is more and more proclaimed a threat to Israel’s existence and thus antisemitic.

The suggestion that anyone has been accused of antisemitism for supporting the two-state solution is absurd, as the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community (and a plurality of Israelis) supports two-states.

Zizek then suggests that “Zionism” (or Zionists) use antisemitic logic when defending Israel:

Things get really ominous when Zionism itself evokes the traditional antisemitic cliché of roots. Alain Finkielkraut wrote in 2015 in a letter to Le Monde: “The Jews, they have today chosen the path of rooting.”

The irony is that we are dealing here with a weird attempt to mobilise antisemitic clichés in order to legitimize Zionism: antisemitism reproaches the Jews for being rootless; Zionism tries to correct this failure by belatedly providing Jews with roots.

Like so much of Zizek’s writing, his prose here is confusing and contradictory.  If anti-Semites have traditionally referred to Jews as “rootless”, then how can it be argued that Zionists evoke that same antisemitic rhetorical trope when speaking of their historical roots in the land of Israel?

However, Zizek, who’s previously expressed his support for a one-state solution, uses this convoluted logic to advance another calumny – that Jews don’t in fact have “roots” in the land.

However, the trouble with Jews today is that they are now trying to get roots in a place which was for thousands of years inhabited by other people.

In addition to the insidious “trouble with Jews today” line, the claim is grotesquely misleading, as Jews’ uninterrupted presence in the land “for thousands of years” is a historical fact, not Zionist propaganda.  He also seems to be accepting the ahistorical claims by Palestinians that they were the original inhabitants.

Zizek then revisits and further expounds upon his previous canard: that Jews and/or Israelis cynically use the charge of antisemitism, and memories of the Holocaust, to silence legitimate criticism of Israel:

Today, the charge of antisemitism is more and more addressed at anyone who deviates from the acceptable left-liberal establishment towards a more radical left–can one imagine a more repellent and cynical manipulation of the Holocaust? When protests against the Israel Defense Forces’ activities in the West Bank are denounced as an expression of antisemitism, and (implicitly, at least) put in the same line as Holocaust deniers–that is to say, when the shadow of the Holocaust is permanently evoked in order to neutralise any criticism of Israeli military and political operations–it is not enough to insist on the difference between antisemitism and the critique of particular measures of the State of Israel. One should go a step further and claim that it is the State of Israel that, in this case, is desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims, ruthlessly using them as an instrument to legitimise present political measures.

The truth is that the only time that anti-Israel demonstrators are accused of antisemitism is when they espouse antisemitic tropes (per the IHRA definition), or threaten Jews with violence, in the service of their cause.

The writings of Slavoj Žižek, an admirer of Lenin and foe of liberal democracy who who attributed the attacks of 9/11 to the “antagonisms of global capitalism”, have all the markings of a socialist revolutionary intellectual trying desperately to stay relevant in an age which has rejected such historically lethal ideologies. 

Unsurprisingly, the Corbyn-Milne brand of neo-Marxist politics he embraces also seems intent on at least trying to hide one central component of his core beliefs  – an innate hostility to Jews and Israel.

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  • Whenever we point out their blatant anti-Semitism the racists cry that we are attempting stifle criticism. Projectionism is the norm for leftist racists

  • This sad waste of space is neither an ‘intellectual’ nor a ‘philosopher’. He has no idea what the concept of Zionism means, and yet he chucks the term about, appending idiotic modifiers to it (‘aggressive’), thus demonstrating that he is a handwaving idiot.

  • Corbyn was the main protagonist in the campaign to Free Alami and Botmeh – the convicted bombers of the Israeli Embassy in London and Jewish Communal Offices in 1994 who were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment followed by deportation in December 1996.

    this should be added to the list – the case went to the UK Court of Appeal and the EU of Human Rights and was rejected

  • I’m looking forward to finding one of Zizek’s books being sold cheap at a used book sale if only to have the pleasure of ripping it up.

  • And so there is this tiny country hugging the shore of the Mediterranean, i.e., the Jewish State. The Jews are a historically persecuted people, and especially in Europe. This small state has been under attack since its founding by surrounding hostiles. It has managed to succeed beyond expectations, except that success is something about Jews that antisemites, as well as Gentiles generally, have had a tough time abiding. This small country has had to defend itself many times to protect itself from destruction, and still needs to because certain countries nearby scream all the time about how they intend to destroy it, and local terrorists keep attempting to terrorize its population whose majority population, the Jews, has been terrorized, vandalized, etc., for centuries on end. Despite this, its self-defense is accomplished in a way that is a model to the leading militaries in the world in that it upholds the highest humanitarian standards of all the armies on earth. It is not perfect. But its human rights record ranks high compared to other countries faced with similar challenges. The world is filled with larger countries, countries with far less accomplishments, far worse human rights records, yet we find a crowded field of people who wish to focus their efforts at criticizing this one tiny country, and wish to do so with absolutely no push back. These people from these historically antisemitic countries and cultures love to say how they reject antisemitism in all its forms yet spend an inordinate amount and energy criticizing this tiny state that, objectively ought hardly to be noticed. And yet they will, as Zizek has done, allude to some purportedly unwholesome yet unspecified behavior – it’s left to the European imagination, already so rich in myths and legends of jewish misbehavior – occurring in the “West Bank” or Gaza or wherever.

    Give me a break already. Jews were forced to endure centuries of this garbage, living amongst these awful people who can’t help but make the case for Israel even as they denounce, oops, I mean “criticize” it.

    • I think I managed today to convince one Dem-voting, Obama-worshiping American than Carter is a Jew-hater. Obama is proving more difficult.

  • How about…

    Muslims cry “islamophobia” to stifle criticism of Terrorist Islam.

    See 9/11, London’s 7/7, Paris’ Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan, Batille Day truck ramming in Nice France, Boston Marathon bombing, Sadaams poison gas attack on Halabja Iraq, bombing of Pan Am 103, ISIS beheading videos, …

  • The irony here is that neo-Nazis and their supporters HATE Zizek (the things they’ve written about him would be nausea-inducing if not applied to someone who richly earns the nausea he causes like Zizek does) and he’s probably aware of that and wants to fix his image with them. Too bad for him that it’s never going to happen

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