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Stifling Debate: Reflections of the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Explotations of Jewish Suffering

Original post made by Robin, College Terrace, on Jan 18, 2007

Please join us on Thursday, January 25 at 7:30PM
for an evening with Professor Norman Finkelstein.

Web Link

Title of Event:
Stifling Debate: Reflections on the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering

Name of Sponsors:
Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel (SCAI), Coalition for Justice in the Middle East (CJME), Organization of Arab Students in Stanford (OASIS), Muslim Students Awareness Network (MSAN)

Cubberly Auditorium,
School of Education,
Stanford University

7:30-10:00 pm

akattan[*a*t*]stanford (d.ot) edu, phone number; 714 747 6699

Comments (21)

Like this comment
Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 18, 2007 at 8:01 am

Where are the Jewish sponsors?

I can't believe there is anything resembling honest, clear and fair discussion in this since there are no Jewish sponsors..not even one synagogue or local rabbi.

It would be like a speech talking about anti-Catholicism and how we shouldn't abuse the history of suffering of Catholics in doing so, but there isn't a single Catholic sponsor, and in fact, the only sponsors are Baptists, who generally are not known for the love and understanding of Catholics.

Had my interest until I saw the sponsors.

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2007 at 9:36 am

Dear Draw the Line:

Perhaps you would find it interesting that Dr. Finkelstein is Jewish and that both of his late parents are Jewish survivors of Nazi concentration camps.

Here's Dr. Finkelstein's website: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2007 at 10:34 am

Last March eighteen local Zionist hardliners from Santa Cruz area, half of them rabbis, signed a petition denouncing Dr. Finkelstein and local event sponsor, Resource Center for Nonviolence.

More about this shoddy hit-piece here: Web Link

An excerpt:

"Of course, the flyer gives no indication whether its preparation was a group project or an assignment undertaken by one or two members of the group. It gives no hint whether its secondary sources are ungooglable; perhaps translations of NRC Handlesblad's back issues are available in our local library. Certainly, clergy encounter a variety of pressures - including time constraints - in any setting. In this instance, taking shortcuts, skipping the research, trusting in unchecked cliff notes or colleagues, has contributed not only to poor scholarship, but to poor leadership. Even when the typist makes errors only in spelling and footnotes, in submitting a group project, everyone takes equal responsibility and makes the same grade.

The citizens of Santa Cruz, certainly the 150 people who joined in the candlelight vigil for whom the flyer purports to speak, deserve better from their local Jewish leaders than this distorted and misleading hit-piece on Norman Finkelstein and the Resource Center for Nonviolence."

Like this comment
Posted by please clarify
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Regarding the title: Exactly what would be the proper use of anti-Semitism?

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2007 at 3:45 pm

Dear Resident of Midtown:

In my humble opinion, anti-Semitism is best used when it protects Jews from anti-Semitism and the inhumanity of racists, including racist Jews.

Your thoughts?

Like this comment
Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 18, 2007 at 4:58 pm

If you go, read all of this site on him at some point ( Wikipedia biography on him)

Web Link

Interesting who praises him and who criticizes him.

Freedom of speech comes with the responsibility of the listener to be discerning.

Like this comment
Posted by please clarify
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2007 at 7:36 pm

Dear Robin,

Actually I hope you will explain how anti-Semitism can protect Jews (and, I suppose, all Semites) against anti-Semitism. Under what conditions can this be true? Ignorance is dangerous rather than comforting.

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Dear Resident of Midtown:

Perhaps the proper use of the concept of anti-Semitism will be more understandable if we briefly discuss the misuse of the concept of anti-Semitism.

Misuse and/or distortion of the concept of anti-Semitism have been used to label criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic and silence legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy.

Abuse of the Holocaust story has been exploited to promote Israel's political agenda and overlook Palestinian suffering.

I believe misuse of anti-Semitism imperils all Jews, and conversely, correctly use of the concept of anti-Semitism protects all Jews.

Like this comment
Posted by please clarify
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2007 at 6:24 am


Thank you for the clarification. Then could we say that it is a misuse of patriotism to call someone a traitor if they question their government? Just checking on the use of the word misuse here.

Like this comment
Posted by Rafe
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2007 at 6:37 am

Antisemitism: To hate semitic peoples.

Jews are semites, most Arabs are semites. You either hate semitic people or you don't. If you hate semitic peoples you are an antisemite.

As far as stifling criticism of the the state of Israel, in this Jew's opinon we have ceased to be David and have become Goliath. No one has prevented me from saying that, and I defy anyone to try.

I understand what the state of Israel is facing, but partition, the force of arms, and anti-Arab feeling will get Israel nowhere.

In he words of Golda Meir:
With an enemy you talk. You can always talk. There are people on both sides who wish only for peace.

On the other hand, there are people on both sides who do not want peace. Nothing I have said is antisemitic. It is criticism of Israel, but it is not anti-Semitic. I'm just sayin'.

Rafe Serebreny

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2007 at 7:22 am

Resident of Midtown:

Those who systematically misuse the concept of anti-Semitism in an untruthful and unfair manner need to be put on notice that they are responsible for imperiling Jews.

I daresay that goes double for Jewish leadership.

Still uncertain about what "misuse" means?

Like this comment
Posted by dhimmi
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 19, 2007 at 10:36 am

Hey Robin:

Look at
Web Link

Are these misuses on anti-semitism?

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2007 at 10:52 am


It seems the source you referenced (MEMRI) has earned a lot of critism:

Web Link

"Much criticism against MEMRI is based on a pair of articles written in 2002 and 2005 respectively by Brian Whitaker, the Middle East editor for the UK Guardian newspaper who wrote that "the stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel."[12]

Ibrahim Hooper, a director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, claimed in the Washington Times that "MEMRI's intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible."[12]

Hussein Ibish, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee comments that "There is of course some horrific stuff in the Arab press, but one tends to forget that the American press can also be very nasty. MEMRI performs a useful function but unfortunately they have a pro-Israel, right-wing agenda."[13]

William Rugh, former US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, describes MEMRI as a service which "does not present a balanced or complete picture of the Arab print media. ...Quotes are selected to portray Arabs as preaching hatred against Jews and westerners, praising violence and refusing any peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue."[14]

Ken Livingstone, former British MP and the current Mayor of London, has accused MEMRI of "outright distortion".[15] In the forward to a report he commissioned to explain his reasons for meeting with controversial Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, he states his opinion that MEMRI "tend to portray Islam in a very negative light."

NB: And just look at who endorses MEMRI!

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:14 am

More about MEMRI:

Web Link

"MEMRI was founded in 1998 by its president Yigal Carmon, a retired colonel from Israeli military intelligence, and the academic Dr. Meyrav Wurmser."

Turns out Dr. Meyrav Wursmer is married to neo-con of American Enterprise Institute fame and former special ass't to John Bolton, David Wurmser:

Web Link

And finally, take a quick look at the roster at AEI:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:26 am

More about David Wurmser...

Turns out he's credited as being one of the main authors of the 1996 "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" report, a paper prepared for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

So much is appalling about this report that I urge you to see for yourself:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:46 am

Oh, that is good.

Lost all credibility because she is married to someone in the think tank AEI who is a ..gasp...neocon!!!

That is like the old Mcarthyism of calling someone a ....communist!!

Do you know what a Neoconservative is? It is someone who was (and still is) truly liberal, truly dedicated to the liberal ideals of equality of opportunity for all,
truth and transparency,
human rights,
freedom to speak your opinion on anything without fear from your government,
on the side of helping the poor get a leg up,
for education.....

and woke up one day to discover that while he wasn't paying attention, the liberal ideals of this country had been hijacked by people who believe that we are better off

siding with dictators,

and had destroyed and distorted these ideals to the point of

trying to quash free speech ( the McCain-Feingold fiasco),( they are at it again now with the "Fairness act" coming up),

reward destructive behaviors, thereby causing MORE harm than good,( think having as many babies as possible to make more money)

creating laws that make the value of lives inequal and based on color (think "Hate crimes" legislation),

creating laws that were meant to equalize the field, but were implemented in a way that imply that one color is less capable than another and so "needs extra help" ( think affirmative action),

supporting abortion under all realms and at all times in the pregnancy

supporting legislation that denies medical care to babies who survive abortions (that is the what the latest God of liberalism, Obama, voted for,)

denying children and their parents the ability to go to the school of their choice (vouchers), which hurts ONLY the poor in our country, not the middle class and rich, since the poor are stuck with whatever school they have close by,

I could go on and on. The doublespeak of the book "1984" is overwhelming now, and has turned many of us into "neocons".

There are many think tanks, AEI being just one, that is "neocon", thinking logically and factually about the best way to actually make progress on our truly liberal ideals.

So, feel free to call any of us neocons in such a dismissive way. It shows you haven't a clue about what one is.

Like this comment
Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:54 am

Like reading just a little bit of the Iraq Study Group's report outside of the context of the whole report leads to false conclusions, so does this Wikipedia page.

Here is the WHOLE report.
Web Link

Read it all in context.

Israel, like us, is not afraid to show all aspects of advice she gets.
She is a democracy, with free speech.

Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:55 am

Draw the Line:

MEMRI's Meryat Wurmser is far more than just the wife of David Wurmser, she co-authored the report with him, Perle, et al:

Web Link

'According to the report's preamble[1], it was

"prepared by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000. The main substantive ideas in this paper emerge from a discussion in which prominent opinion makers, including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser participated."'

And now we come full circle to Meryat Wurmser's MEMRI actually doctoring a videotaped interview of Dr. Norman Finkelstein to portray him as a holocaust denier:

Web Link

Enough misuse of anti-Semitism, yet?

Like this comment
Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2007 at 11:55 am

Sorry, the post before this was in reference to the Wurmser report " A clean break" site on Wikipedia that Robin posted

Like this comment
Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2007 at 12:18 pm

I watched the MEMRI version versus the version on the Official Website of Finkelstein.

If it is true that the Official Finkelstein video version is the TRUE version ( which I have to say my trust is low given technical abilities nowadays) then I am appalled with MEMRI. It should have, for credibility, stated on the site that the video version was EXCERPTED from the full video.They did clearly state this on the TRANSCRIPT, but if you do not read down a bit, and only click the video, you would have no idea it was "excerpts".

Of course, democracies allow any groups to say anything ( witness our, but if MEMRI is like Moveon,slurring greatly the line of honesty, then I am never trusting it again.

Does anybody have anything else on MEMRI?? I am writing them.

On the other hand, this just continues to support that we have to read the SOURCE of every report, the whole source, to get true news. I guess MEMRI is like every other news outlet..

Like this comment
Posted by Draw the Line
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Dear Rafe:

I don't pretend to know what Israel should or should not do, and don't unequivocally defend her, though I know there are some who do. I agree with you that some of what she does is questionable.

I only know a few things...that from the day of her creation she has been able to trust none of her neighbors, who, until a few recently changed a little, all professed only to the burning hatred of her and desire for her annhilation.

I also know that many histories and even accounts of modern times, news "in action", from the Arab point of view have been horribly inaccurate, inflammatory, flat out false.

I have been told by Muslims and read the Quran for confirmation that for the fundamentalist Muslim, telling lies to the unbeliever in the name of promoting Islam is not only moral, but obligatory. I am not saying most Muslims buy this, I have a hard time believing that. But, as a result, anything that comes out of the Middle East that is NOT from Israel is hard for me to believe.

That said, I actually agree with you, that just because Israel is Israel doesn't mean she has the right to increase her settlements, or maybe even some of her other actions that seem so brutal.

On the other hand, I am, was..actually,... friends with a Lebanese family who moved back to Lebanon a couple years ago, and the "news" she sent me as "true" was so incredibly falsified ( come on, she was still getting "news" about Jews beating Arab children to death and then using them in secret rituals!!) How can anyone believe that stuff?

Her view is unchangeable because she was raised with that hate. Gives me no hope, and makes me understand why Israel wants to just build a huge wall and leave the Palestine side to themselves until they stop teaching their children to hate. It makes me understand, as awful as it is, why she feels that the only way to decrease the suicides and rockets into Israel is to plow up the homes of the families of anyone who does these things, because the people who commit such atrocities have no regard for their own lives, and hide amongst even more innocent Palestinians and use them as shields if not stopped.

Israel is in a horrible spot. Sometimes all I can do is give up in despair. Every time in the last 55 years that Israel has given back land or allowed people back into land, they have been seen as weak and killed or surrounded by armies wanting to kill them. Even the Pink Ladies of Israel, who had been agitating for years to give back land to the Palestinians, disbanded after the returned land was once again used to launch attacks on Israel this summer.

Imagine being in Rhode Island, surrounded by all those states committed to your annhilation, and think about what you would do to assure that you are not wiped off the face of the earth.

To quote Golda Meir

Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.
To the National Press Club in Washington (1957)

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