In case you missed the recent brouhaha over the use of the term ‘Israel-Firster’ in the US, Salon’s Glen Greenwald has a great piece on it here. One thing which has caught my eye however is the blatant hypocrisy of some of those who are claiming use of the term is anti-semitic, which is a claim that would hold up better if it were not for the fact that the term can be applied to many gentiles as well. The loony Christian Zionists like John Hagee, being one such example. Hagee is also a perfect example of the fallacy that antisemitism dwells solely with those who are ‘anti-Israel’, he embodies Herzl’s famous statement that ‘Anti-Semites will become our surest friends…’.
That said, when someone claims that it is wrong to use the term ‘Israel-Firster’ because it is an unsavoury thing to question the patriotic allegiances of people you disagree with, yet in the past that same person has done just that….what are we expected to think? It’s fine for Eli Lake to raise questions of others loyalty and fidelity to America, but don’t you dare try it with him.
Not to mention that poor old Eli has taken to defending Caroline Glick of all people. Lake is obviously living in a dream world if he thinks Glick is not demanding loyalty to Israel from non-Israeli Jews when she writes…
We must hope that world Jewry will recognize today that the fate of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world is indivisible and rally to Israel’s side whatever the social cost of doing so.
And make no mistake when Glick writes about rallying to Israel, what she means is rallying to support the Israeli government. She also seeks to bury the old adage about two Jews – three opinions, because for Ms Glick world Jewry should all be singing of the same hymn sheet when it comes to a certain Levantine country.
Among my own diaspora, there have been instances where fidelity to what is viewed as the mother land (or ‘aul sod, as we call it) seemed paramount. Such as Irish-American opposition to the US entering the first world war. Fact of the matter is, crude or not, the term ‘Israel-Firster’ does indeed describe a mentality that exists among some folks and as already stated, it is not reserved solely for Jews. That the term is alleged to have been coined by unsavoury right wing anti-semite Willis Carto matters little, as to demand the extinction of the term based upon its etymology is like demanding the world Totalitarian be scrapped because it was coined by Mussolini’s Fascist philospher Giovanni Gentile.
In conclusion, when you complain about your political opponents questioning where your (or your political allies) loyalties lie and try to police the discourse, yet reserve the right to question the loyalty of others, you demonstrate not a desire for civil debate, rather, its a shameful attempt to smear and yes, to silence opposition.
Update 30/Jan/2012 @21:00hrs
Two quick updates – first it appears that the term ‘Israel-Firster’ did not originate with Willis Carto as alleged by Eli Lake and Jamie Kirchick, but was first coined much earlier by anti-zionist American Jew Alfred Lilienthal. Even if this were not the case, as i have already stated above, using the etymology of a term to try and bury it, is a fatuous exercise. However it does beg the question why Lake and Kirchick sought to claim such a genesis for the term? Quite obviously they believed it allowed them to paint their opponents in an unsavoury light. An old tactic.
Second – one of Eli Lake’s cheer leaders has leveled an accusation against me on Twitter of employing a fake quote from Theodor Herzl in the above post. Two things i hate, unwarranted accusations and fake quotes. I welcome being corrected on anything I write or say as factual accuracy is paramount, but having read this quote many times I was sure that this was a baseless accusation. Which it is, as it is a direct quote from Herzl’s own diaries. Now, if i remember correctly, Herzl penned his diaries in german, which helps account for the interchangeable ‘dependable/surest’ based upon which translated source you use. To use one or the other does not take away from the sentiment of Herzl’s statement. So my accuser is either ignorant of the facts, or is purposely seeking to discredit. More likely probably both, unfortunately for him he face-planted with this attempt.