Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 Features of Left Anti-Semitism

If you do any kind of Israel advocacy reading on the internet, you will eventually stumble upon the remarkable efforts of Adam Levick and others at CiF Watch.  CiF refers to "Comment is Free," the website of the British leftist newspaper The Guardian. If you think the things that were written in the Park Slope Food Coop were bad, they are nothing compared to what is regularly said in the United Kingdoms.

One of the most frustrating things about opposing BDS is that the people who support it see themselves as progressives.  If you point out that their position is inherently anti-Semitic, they deny anti-Semitism saying "criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic" and accuse you of trying to stifle debate.  They truly don't see themselves as anti-Semitic and actually get quite irritated when you suggest anti-Semitism.

Even though the U.S. State Department has a definition of anti-Semitism, the editors of the Linewaiters' Gazette - the biweekly newspaper of the Park Slope Food Coop - seem to be unable to make the distinction, and recognize when their own editorial guidelines have been crossed. But it is hard to fault them.  It is a volunteer job and they shouldn't be expected to be experts on the Middle East.

Fortunately, for the sake of anyone who doesn't want to be anti-Semitic, Adam Levick has created this handy guide of 10 common pseudo-progressive, hypocritical tropes that come from the left when discussing Israel.  Here is his list, and I can illustrate an instance of every single one of these from either letters in the Linewaiters Gazette, statements on the PSFC-BDS website or things said in the Coop.  Maybe I will even have the time to do it one day.
  1. You claim the mantle of human rights yet find yourself running interference for anti-Semitic world leaders and helping to spread the propaganda of Islamist extremists -  and even terrorist leaders who openly call for the murder of Jews.

  2. You claim to condemn racism at every opportunity yet are strangely silent or seriously downplay even the most egregious examples of antisemitic violence.

  3. You claim to be a champion of progressive politics yet often use terms and advance tropes indistinguishable from classic right wing Judeophobia - such as the argument that Jews are too powerful, use their money to control politics, and are not loyal citizens.

  4. You support nationalism, and don’t have a problem with the existence of more than 50 Muslim states, yet you oppose the existence of the only Jewish state in the world.

  5. Even when putatively condemning antisemitism you can’t help but blame the Jews for causing antisemitism.

  6. You condemn the Holocaust yet also obsessively condemn living Jews for their alleged ‘inhumanity’ and even argue that Jews haven’t learned the proper lessons from the attempt to annihilate their co-religionists from the planet.

  7. You not only support Palestinian rights, but support their “right” to launch deadly terrorist attacks on Israeli Jews, under the mantle of anti-imperialist ”resistance”.

  8. You characterize extremist reactionary Islamist movements as “progressive“.

  9. You accuse Jews of cynically misusing the charge of antisemitism to “ stifledebate about the Jewish state.

  10. You champion diversity and multiculturalism of all kinds, yet suggest that Jewish particularism represents an inherently tribal, ethnocentric and racist  identity.

You should read the original article and comments  at the CiF Watch blog.


  1. The problem is that the people to whom this applies don't see themselves as the provocateurs in this drama. They see themselves as righteous warriors....without understanding they are ideologues without the ability to discriminate between leftist and fascist. They cannot grok the idea that they are just big, giant tools for the ultra Islamists.

  2. thank you Barb for quoting CiF Watch blog.
    keep it coming.

  3. I’d like to presume on Barbara’s kindness and offer three links on this topic. The first is a talk I gave to a group of Cambridge UK (Jewish) residents, not students or Faculty - on this whole question of left antisemitism. It was then published on the Engage website (of which more below):
    The article speaks better than it reads, but I hope it covers the area that Barbara’s article deals with.

    This was back in December 2012, and by sheer chance an article had been published that morning on the same website ( that covers this area of how to properly criticise Israel, and is witty to boot.

    The third link offers an insight into the so-called Livingstone Formulation. This was a term coined by David Hirsh, Founding Editor of the Engage website, and named after the former Labour Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. It covers the situation when someone uses antisemitic terminology and then, when called on their language, blusters by arguing that every time they criticise Israel, they are accused of being antisemitic. Actually, no, you used antisemitic language and we’re calling you on it. It’s here:

    For further insight, look here:

    For those of you who don’t know it, is well worth a visit. It was started in 2004 to fight the university trade unions tendency (continued to this day) to pass boycott resolutions against Israeli (and only Israeli) universities, despite their being against UK anti-discrimination law. I’m proud to have been a “founding commenter” on this site.

    1. Brian -

      Thank you for your comment. And I just didn't check the blog yesterday, and Monday, you wrote after the last time I checked.

      I don't get a lot of comments here, so it is always a pleasant surprise to find one.

      Engage is wonderful site.



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