455 Comments
Jan 11·edited Jan 11

I'm an Israeli citizen, and I find the "we're not bigoted against Jews, just Israelis" argument repugnant. No one says "I'm not bigoted, I only hate Mexicans/Nigerians/Italians/[choose your own country]". To me the bias is clear, one sees constant criticism that's not levelled at other countries and/or is based on less knowledge than people normally feel they need to criticise others, most notably literally misunderstanding what the Israelis said because the critic doesn't know Hebrew (the authors of the ICJ complaint against Israel appear not to know Hebrew).

At the same time, I view bigotry towards Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims as even more apparent and destructive, both in the US and especially in Israel, where it is just out of control. It's extraordinarily frustrating consuming Israeli media and seeing the two sides to the conflict routinely judged by blatantly different standards. As an example of this, Haaretz yesterday had a headline of "Israelis can't understand how they can be accused of genocide" alongside one which roughly said "Likud MP says Gaza must be burned; those who remain must be eliminated".

In general, I wish the vast energy expended on debating the moral high ground in this conflict was directed into solving it, which IMO means, first and foremost, ending the occupation. Israel's peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt have been remarkably successful, even Hizballah is working hard to avoid a large scale war at the moment (and Lebanon certainly is). The claim that peace or even detente with Israel's neighbours is impossible just seems flatly false IMO.

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"I'm an Israeli citizen, and I find the "we're not bigoted against Jews, just Israelis""

I always think of it like "I don't hate Bengalis, just Bangladeshis..."

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And somewhere Razib Khan senses a disturbance in the Force . . . .

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When Bangladesh literally means like “Land of the Bengalis” or something very similar

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The Knesset member from Likud did not talk about genocide throughout the entire Gaza Strip, but rather about the city of Gaza which was evacuated of its residents, and where, in his opinion, whoever remained is probably a terrorist. I am not saying this to justify him, but the words in the full text are not a call for genocide, but rather for a very aggressive implementation of the laws of war that allow the evacuation of areas where there are battles.

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I acknowledge that the Haaretz headline exaggerated what the MK said. But what he said was still terrible. And other prominent Israelis have made even worse statements.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2024-01-10/ty-article/.premium/with-icj-trial-looming-israeli-minister-doubles-down-on-call-to-burn-gaza/0000018c-f329-d0b4-a7ce-f36b83d40000

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I think one reason that so much criticism is directed at Israel that isn't directed at other countries is that Israelis are seen as "white." American leftists are often afraid the criticism of non-whites will be perceived as racist or imperialist. For this reason they are probably more comfortable criticizing Israel than they are criticizing countries like Yemen or China, even if those countries' governments are far worse than the Israeli government.

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But Israel is a majority brown/black country!

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"I'm an Israeli citizen, and I find the 'we're not bigoted against Jews, just Israelis' argument repugnant. No one says 'I'm not bigoted, I only hate Mexicans/Nigerians/Italians/[choose your own country [sic]]'."

There is a difference between "Jew" and "Israeli" that is not present between "Mexican" and "Mexican". One can be a Jew without being Israeli (like me), but one cannot be a Mexican without living in Mexico; otherwise you're "Mexican-American/Mexican-Canadian/Mexican-etc."

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Who hates Israelis? I hate the Israeli right-wing and the settler movement, but I don’t hate normie Israelis getting by, even if they have moved to the right after the attacks. That’s what people do when attacked. And still most of the center-left Israelis hate corrupt Netanyahu for his work against the peace process that enabled the attacks, even if they want a muscular response in Gaza. I can respect that.

Thing is, anti-Israeli blanket hatred is bad, I agree. But maybe the Israeli government is doing the same thing by indiscriminately killing Gaza residents at an order of magnitude larger than the 10/7 death toll. In the same way a bunch of folks didn’t elect Bibi and his cronies, a bunch of folks in Gaza didn’t elect Hamas (and a bunch of those were duped bc Gaza tacked to the center in that election and ran against corruption). Two wrongs don’t make a right.

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This is why I used the “I don’t hate Bengalis, only Bengladeshis. You can be Bangladeshi without being Bengali and Bengali without being Bengladeshi. But the identities are nevertheless intertwined for many Bangladeshis.

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Sure, but the statement was ambiguous. I'm sure there's someone out there who uses "Bengali" only to describe citizens of West Bengal state in India.

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Mexican-Americans are, in fact, Mexican. That's why you hyphenate.

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No. Mexican-Americans are in fact Americans. The hyphenation reflects some ancestral or recent immigration connection with Mexico.

I'm Irish-American, I am not in fact Irish. The last ancestor of mine who was Irish arrived in the US in the 1850s.

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I'm wading in with no desire to tell people how to talk. But here's my two cents: while I get the case for why the hyphen adds a meaningful distinction, I don't bother with it. Although I was born here, I think of myself and refer to myself and family (both those born here and those in Mexico) as Mexican. For practical purposes, the ambiguity has no bearing. Ethnically, I'm Mexican. I'm also American. To the out-of-fashion question "what are you?" I'd say I'm Mexican. And I don't see myself coming around to any other way of thinking of myself. I get the semantic case and don't dispute its conclusion, but just sharing my particular experience, which is to disregard that way of thinking.

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How many Israelis actually read Haaretz nowadays? Like 5?

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I stopped reading Ha'aretz long ago when Aluf Ben started promoting anti-Israel writers like Amira Haas and Gideon Levy to appeal to non-Israeli leftists. Israelis barely read Ha'aretz. I get my daily news, or since October 7 hourly news from Yediot Ahronot and Times of Israel. They both do a better job reporting Israel.

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People so often compare it to the NYT, when Harper’s would be more accurate. It flatters the sensibilities of western liberals. I believe the most popular dailies are Hayom and Yedioth, but that might be dated.

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I’m amazed by the number of people who pose as experts or informed commentators but speak neither Hebrew nor Arabic. They can’t consume the popular media, understand the political speeches, or talk to ordinary people on the street. Their info is filtered through English-version Haaretz and English-speaking elites.

We would never accept someone as an expert on America who didn’t know English.

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"less knowledge than people normally feel they need to criticise others, most notably literally misunderstanding what the Israelis said because the critic doesn't know Hebrew (the authors of the ICJ complaint against Israel appear not to know Hebrew)."

Uh, people criticize countries they don't know the native language of all the time. How many Israelis who criticize Iran know Farsi?

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

I've had people argue with me at length about claims supposedly made in Hebrew which I speak and they don't. Where they're relying on translations that are a) extremely incomplete and b) just wrong. This was over the "turn Gaza into a museum like Auschwitz is today" comments which was made in an 8m long radio interview, and people insisted were really advocating turning Gaza into a concentration camp as Auschwitz was during WW2, based on a couple of sentences inaccurately translated by sources of less than bulletproof integrity.

Similarly, I'm pretty sure I found a translation error in the ICJ submission, without trying to (footnotes 453 and 455 quote the same comment as two different comments, because they're quoting two different English translations of the same Hebrew comment). It's just sloppy. If they lose the case because the Israeli delegation manages to convince the court that the submission is replete with translation errors and therefore unreliable, I imagine Palestinians will not be happy.

To me those both suggest a lack of sympathy for Israel or Israelis. The ICJ guys may be in a rush to stop the alleged genocide but there is literally a similar case being pursued in Israeli court by an Israeli legal team, it seems like they could have sought that team's help with the translations.

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Yes, I'm sure mis-tranlations lead to frustrating debates the world-over, however none of this changes my original point: people feel free to criticize countries they don't speak the language of all the time, whether it's Iran, China, Syria, or Russia. The notion that this is some sort of uniquely anti-Israel thing to do is nonsense.

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I think this comment is more right that people are willing to admit, but that's because it's so general.

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“ Uh, people criticize countries they don't know the native language of all the time. How many Israelis who criticize Iran know Farsi?”

Probably quite a few. For the same reason that Israeli intelligence can probably run agents that can pass as Iranian into Iran.

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I have to go back and reread this because I took it to mean that people don't like the State of Israel, not Israelis. Just like people often say they don't like China, but it's not the citizens of China they hate. Prior to October 7, that was the opinion - we don't like the Israeli state - of many US Jews.

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That is a hilarious (and tragic) juxtaposition of headlines

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>I'm an Israeli citizen, and I find the "we're not bigoted against Jews, just Israelis" argument repugnant.<

It's a repugnant "argument" (to you mean "statement"?) to be sure. But are there significant numbers of people who are soi-disant bigots (of any variety)? I think there are plenty of bigots in this world, but very few seem to admit it.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

The irony here is that many of the people who make these kinds of statements in other contexts portray themselves as enlightened politically correct anti-racists.

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It’s a fair comment but a core American experience is people being fine once they immigrate here despite coming from, and presumably contributing to, some foreign hellscape like the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

So the idea that you could harbor a bunch of ill-will toward X-people in X-place but not as a general matter is common.

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People criticise the governments of China, Russia and Iran. They don’t call for the elimination of those states in the way they do with Israel. “I like Israeli people I just want their society wiped off the map” is not a credible position. You may say Israel was created in part thru conquest and ethnic cleansing but that is true of many countries and territories which receive little to no comparable criticism.

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"I like Israeli people, I just want their society wiped off the map" is a much rarer position than "I like Jewish people, but I don't support the Israeli government or actions wrt Palestinians."

In my (very Jewish) community, the latter is tarred as anti-semitic and often conflated with the (again, much rarer) former position.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

I'll try to give a nuanced answer. I think there is a legitimate view that some advocates for the destruction of Israel present themselves as peace advocates. Take BDS. If you hear them present, it is a firehose of social justice jargon; one might imagine that they want nothing but harmony for all mankind. But in fact they demand a right of return for 14m people into Israel, which most likely means no more Israel and enormous violence as this transition occurs. I have friends attending a "ceasefire now" march this weekend organised by a group like this. I hope you can see why supporters of Israel are very nervous that people advocating for the destruction of their society are allowed to lead "peace marches" alongside folks such as Stop the War.

That said, this is not a license for equating any criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. I have friends who have experienced this and it is unfortunate.

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I think a lot young left people who either explicitly or implicitly support the right of return have not fully thought about the implications of what that means for the state of Israel.

Not an excuse, but if you're not very educated about the issue, it sounds good to just say that everyone who was kicked out post-1948 deserves to go back to their house. On the positive side, I've had some friends who are very pro-Palestine who came around to how unworkable the right of return really is, and no longer associate with BDS because of how often they bring it up.

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This is true, but I’m not favorably disposed to people who chant slogans they haven’t thought through. It doesn’t exactly speak well of them. But yes, it is an opening for dialogue.

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Exactly. Matt talked about this in a recent appearance on Bob Wright's podcast.

He noted that the suspicious thing about "one state solution" talk is nobody seemingly has done real policy work on it. With two state solutions there are tons of proposals on what land to swap, what settlements are uprooted, policing, the army, water, highways, etc.

But with one state, it's just "why don't we have a binational state?" and it never gets past that. And I think a lot of people either don't realize how scary that sounds to an Israeli who is basically being told his country may be handed over to Muslims that hate Israeli Jews and don't believe Jews have a right to live there, or actually do know and are just being too cute by half and packaging their desire to start another civil war and drive the Jews out as a "peace plan".

One state solution talk thus might not be technically anti-Semitic but is at least anti-Semitic-adjacent.

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It's also rather imperialistic - a Western progressive fantasy with basically zero constituency among the people who are actually involved. It's fine to write a seminar paper on why this feels like the theoretically right solution, but it's breathtakingly arrogant to march in the streets calling for it.

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And for some reason it's never suggested as a solution for the countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia, or those that used to be British India. Nobody is saying Kosovo should become a bi-national state with Serbia again. But so many disingenuous 'progressives' act as if the Middle East isn't plagued with islamist terrorism. Can't tell if it's a bullshit utopia or an intentional, masked alignment with Hamas on their genocidal goal.

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Same reason white people here talk about “The Great Replacement”

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Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I think we mostly agree. I started to write something in response, but Ben K. below basically said it. Unless your a Kendite (Kendian?), Anti-semitism has to include anti-Jewish intention, not just being naive or misinformed about consequences. I don't support right-of-return, but I don't think it's progressive proponents are necessarily, or usually, anti-semitic, and I think that charge muddies the conversation in an unhelpful way.

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I agree that it’s not morally acceptable to displace a group of people living in a country just because a different people don’t have a homeland and want that particular piece of land.

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The fact of the matter is that displacement of Palestinians was not the goal of the Zionist project. Herzl (incorrectly) believed that Arabs would welcome Jews because of the economic development that their arrival would bring to the previously underdeveloped region. Perhaps extreme revisionist voices may have flirted with the idea, these views were marginal, and the pervailing Zionist position was that 1. the Jewish state would be formed via diplomacy (first with the Ottomans, then with the British and the UN, and 2. minorities would have full rights, and 3. the JNF would purchase land from Arab landowners, often above market price.

In fact, the 1947 partition plan planed for a Jewish state with 55% Jews and 45% Arabs, while the Arab state would have only 1% Jews and 99% Arabs. And again the Jews agreed to this plan, while the Arabs rejected it.

The displacement occurred in 1948 during the War of Independence, when multiple Arab armies attacked Israel the day after its formation. And while some Arab families were likely removed by force, others left at the urging of their leaders, and others left voluntarily to avoid the conflict. It is these refugees and their descendants that people are arguing over.

There are extremist voices in Israel that advocate for "population transfer" or expulsion of Palestinians. While a minority view, it is more widely held than such a disgusting view should be. However, it is not the policy of the government. Those who advocate for it bring a bad name to Israel, in my opinion. And it is not an available option in the conflict.

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"No displacement" is not an available option in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Jews were ethnically cleansed from the region 2,000 years ago, and the modern conflict was initiated by (violent) displacement in Europe. Sometimes in life you have only bad options to pick from.

BTW if you're American I'd be interested to hear you apply your principles to how the United Status came to control its territory.

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There's a nuance here: a lot of the time, the "action" of the Israeli state being "criticized" with respect to the Palestinians really is just its existence.

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I think a fair deal would be that college students say nicer things about Israel in exchange for Russian style economics sanctions on Israel until they end the occupation of Palestine

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Seems silly since one of the major roadblocks to peace for decades had been the Palestinian national project. When is the international community going to start work on their chronic dysfunction?

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Israel probably wouldn’t exist if the Holocaust hadn’t happened...if the diaspora Jewish people had remained happily enmeshed in European society, Palestine would just be another post-colonial country with a mediocre economy dependent on religious tourism. But the Holocaust did happen, and Israel was established (based on a genuine connection of Jews to the land of Israel) because Europe (and North America, which turned away Jewish refugees) were understandably seen as unsafe. So while it could be said that the origins of the Israeli state are European, it is in no way comparable to colonies established by European imperialism, as the pro-Palestine left likes to claim.

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Jews weren’t happily enmeshed in European society prior to the Holocaust, that’s why Zionism got going in the first place.

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Yeah, there seems to be widespread ignorance of how persistent and common massacres of Jews were both before and after the Holocaust.

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>Israel probably wouldn’t exist if the Holocaust hadn’t happened...if the diaspora Jewish people had remained happily enmeshed in European society,

Quite the opposite: there would have been millions more Israelis at the founding of the State had the Holocaust not happened, or even had the White Paper not stopped the Zionist Yishuv from saving Jews from the Holocaust.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

It’s unclear to me if the League of Nations would have approved the creation of Israel post-Holocaust, though you are right that there would have been a lot more Jewish people there if Britain hadn’t tried to stop the mass emigrations.

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I guess I'm thinking of it in a "materialist" way: the State of Israel was able to form because it had a lot of people on the ground building infrastructure and institutions, and ultimately the UN vote was just a rubber-stamp saying the international community supported dealing with the ongoing civil war within the British Mandate by partitioning the Mandate and washing their hands of the whole damn thing.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

Many Jews and Israelis have had the experience of someone coming up to them and sharing their negative feelings towards Israel, unprovoked.

I'm sure that Iranian Americans and Arab Americans of various nationalities also have a similar experience. But in the case of Jews/Israelis, this kind of behavior mostly comes from the left and not the right. And such leftists have a very hard time distinguishing between Jews/Israelis and Israel, yet would never tolerate equating the people and the country among other groups. Like I doubt they would support hassling Chinese Americans about Chinese policies or hassling Shia Muslims about Hezbollah and Iranian support for terror, would they? But something about Israel makes it hard for their brain to apply this principle to Jews and Israel...

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So on the Jews/Israel Persians/Iran issue. There has been large and vocal anti-Iran rhetoric nationally of late, but it does not seem to have led to violence against the large Persian-American community here. Stuff blows up in Israel, my local synagogue is advised by local government to increase security, and there are almost always at least graffiti attacks on local Jewish religious institutions. Not sure what the word for it is, but it’s definitely a thing.

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I agree. A generation ago, the Persian American community did face this kind of stuff...

A few years ago, I could walk into my old synagogue back in the US freely. Now, I have to show ID to an armed guard to enter (and that was before October 7). The situation among American Jews has changed. And that's from threats on the right and the left.

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Do you think that was in the wake of the Tree of Life?

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

I used to work out at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco, and even before 10/7, you couldn’t park in the garage until a security guard checked your car trunk for bombs.

Maybe paranoid, but it’s definitely something I took note of.

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I definitely believe that it’s a good idea for a JCC in SF to have security like that, but I wouldn’t worry about left terrorists as much as right terrorists especially there, as SF is so symbolic of what right-wingers hate. It’s way easier to visualize boogaloo bois and Aryan Nation types or Arab terrorists doing that than leftists.

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Just give Leftists some time, and they'll get there. Currently they're celebrating, excusing or minimizing the biggest single-day massacre of Jews since the Nazis, carried out by their heroes the Palestinians. Hamas murdered more Jews than all neo-Nazi terrorism combined. What starts with being strongly pro-Hamas ends in more and more violence, beyond 'just' the hate speech, assaults on students and Jews in the streets, tearing down missing posters, vandalism of Jewish spaces and businesses. Starts with that desensitization, the encouragement of more and more extreme actions.

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Yes, absolutely.

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Reform clergy have been very vocal against Netanyahu. The current Israeli government doesn’t care what American Jews think but we get blamed for their actions.

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To be fair, American Jews, unless they immigrated to Israel, are not the ones being murdered by Palestinians, though one was murdered by the pro Hamas associate professor Abdelfattah Alnaji.

Israelis are encouraged by the support of the majority of American Jews, and disgusted by the small contingent of virulently antisemitic anti Zionist American Jews. But what can you do, ever group has some demented people.

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Many are not Muslim and may have left for those reasons.

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We in the US give lots of money to support Israel to support their military, we don’t for China or Iran. We have a right to be pissed when we think our support is being used in a way we believe to be against our interests.

That being said, I wouldn’t support Americans confronting their Jewish neighbors about the war unless they were loudly taking the Netanyahu government’s side, same as why I wouldn’t support us confronting Chinese Americans unless they were loudly excusing policies of the CCP that are against American or human rights interests. But I don’t really believe this is happening at any scale, except maybe in social media and most of that is probably bot accounts who want to increase the ambient fear level in the US

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Serious question: do you think the demonstrations would stop in the US if that funding stopped? Because there are lots and lots of countries that don’t send money to Israel, and there are protests there too.

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I edited my comment before I saw your question, but I don’t think it answers it.

No, I don’t think so, bc we’ve given them aid for 70 years. And, like, the human rights issues on the ground are real. Most of Europe gives or has given aid to Israel in the past, and they’re in alliance with America so feel impotent. People have a right to disagree with the disproportionate response. Doesn’t give you a right to attack your Jewish neighbor, but that’s not really happening from the left in the US. I get that Europe is in many ways worse, unsurprisingly considering European history.

I get more mad that by supporting the atrocities in Gaza and the West Bank (Gaza worse bc of scale, but the West Bank settlements are more insidious and more against US interests), that these war crimes are being committed in our name and that we did not agree to this. Same with a lot of the more negative foreign policy stuff America has done. We could be using our leverage to stop these atrocities and aren’t bc politicians are too scared of the Israel lobby.

Like atrocities happen all the time in lots of places, but it’s not like we intervene most of the time. You don’t see us in Xinjiang or Myanmar. You don’t see us in Haiti despite our actually having fucked Haiti up! But all this money goes to Israel and they take it and go all expansionist.

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I don’t think your justification that we did at one point give aid to Israel holds water. We also supported China during WWII. Things change. And while I haven’t specifically checked, I’m 99% sure that most European countries have never provided financial aid to Israel.

People are of course free to protest any injustice they want. They don’t have to collectively decide on the biggest one, and then focus all their attention on that. That being said, I do think it’s worth asking why Israel has gotten so much negative attention and why so much of that negative attention holds zero nuance, when by any objective measure, it is an incredibly difficult problem.

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Really? Thats surprising to me

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

How old are these leftist someones?

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

I don't disagree with Al-Gharbi that most Americans are not anti-Semitic. Yet even Al-Gharbi does admit that "Critically, there has been a slight uptick in actual antisemitic beliefs among young people in recent years."

I do think there is increasing anti-Semitism. But if you look at averages, most Americans are not anti-Semitic. When averages shift even slightly, however, you often get large changes in the extremes. Matt has described the phenomenon many times in many different contexts based on how bell curves work. I think this is what we are seeing. Yes, the average American/liberal/college student is not anti-Semitic (and many are actively philo-Semitic). So if you look at averages, like Al-Gharbi does in his analyses, you're not going to recognize the problem. The focus on averages glosses over the fact that anti-Semitic incidents and the level of violence of such incidents are at the same time on the rise, because these things happen at the extreme ends of the bell curve.

(And I do think that even non-anti-Semitic Americans often have grave misconceptions about Jews/Judaism as well as Israel/Palestine, even if not coming from a place of animus, but that's a different story altogether).

Also I think in the pro-Palestinian movement in the US, there has been a radicalization that mirrors the radicalization that has occurred in the West Bank and Gaza (not to the same extreme, but in the same direction). I remember when I was in college, there was the Students for Justice in Palestine. And I remember not finding what they supported offensive at all because I also believe in bringing awareness to Palestininan issues. They used to have "Palestinian Awareness Week" (which I thought was great--let's bring awareness to Palestinian issues). A few years ago it became "Israel Apartheid Week". And now, at the same university, the SJP is chanting "intifada" in front of the student center and blocking Jewish students from getting to class. And now open support of Hamas among people on the far left and attempts to justify terror against Israelis is way more noticible than it has ever been (again even if these views don't reflect the average position of someone identifying as "liberal" or even of someone "pro-Palestinian").

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It’s a country of 330 million people. Even a change of less than 1% is a lot of people.

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Not to mention it's WAY worse at our "elite" institutions

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I'd guess this has more to do with there being a war in the region than a bell curve shift (or at least, the war is the cause of both, not some ambient level of anti-semitism.)

I'm not also convinced that bell curve mechanics for social beliefs (which are generally not, actually, bell curves) mirror those for more randomly-distributed events (e.g. weather, test scores, whatever.)

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

Regardless of whether it's properly a normal distribution bell curve effect or not, my point is that the effects we are seeing are at the extremes and may not appear as large percentages of the population showing anti-Jewish animus. I do think that many of the effects preceded the war--the war is just making them more visible.

EDIT: And to add, I'm afraid we're seeing a shift in the Overton window on quite extremist views about Jews, Israelis, and Israel. And it's scary.

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Nah it's a curve shift. SJP at my undergrad 15 years ago was banging on about apartheid and intifada -- but we were considered a very lefty campus.

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>>When averages shift even slightly, however, you often get large changes in the extremes.

People understand that this isn't like a natural law, right? You can have an increase in mean and a decrease in variance and see no change at the extremes at all. Why not just present the data on how much extreme incidents have actually increased if you believe it to be a problem?

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But this is what I'm getting at. The analysis from Al-Gharbi didn't analyze the frequency of extreme incidents.

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Yeah but assuming equal variance over time makes lots and lots of problems easier.

And i intuitively think the assumption is probably correct and the visualization of a bell curve shift gives people some insight and perspective into what’s happening: that a small increase in anti-Semitic beliefs is not a huge societal change to live in fear of constantly - things are basically the same - but that the increased number of extremist outliers is a significant social problem to be addressed.

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Some of the increase in antisemitism may be attributable to immigration: people are coming from countries where antisemitism is more prevalent. You see this in Europe, particularly France, where a larger Muslim population is (not surprisingly) more hostile to Jews.

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Yup. Well said.

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The main weakness - and it’s a huge, glaring weakness - of this story is Al-Gharbi’s failure to grapple with the definition of anti-Semitism. There are very good reasons why the definition often includes what he wants to call “criticism of Zionism”. For a thorough introduction, I believe Yair Rosenberg has written about this at length.

So yes, if you say “Israel is uniquely the most evil country in the world, but I don’t hate Jewish people, just Zionists”, you’re an antisemite, your attempt to launder your antisemitism notwithstanding. And given that fact, quite a large chunk of Al-Gharbi’s story falls apart.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

This is a very delicate point.

Obviously criticism of Israel is not inherently anti-Semitism. I think everyone agrees on that. However, judging Jews/Israel based on double standards can definitely motivated by anti-Semitism (for example, defining "genocide" differently for Israel than for other countries, I would say, is anti-Semitic, especially when Jews are themselves one of the greatest victims of genocide). And while there may be something defensible about judging your allies differently than your foes, I think that disproportionate approbrium for the Jewish state on the world state is anti-Semitic.

I think there are ways to be anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic. Perhaps, you have a principled opposition to any kind of nationalism. Or perhaps you just believe that a single binational state solution is the most likely to bring about a positive outcome (something I personally disagree with, but I can accept that some people believe this). However, if you're an Arab/Palestinian nationalist that's simply just against Jewish nationalism because they're Jews, or if you deny the Jewish history of the land, or if your vision includes a very non-democratic aims like "sending Jews back to where they came from" (not uncommonly heard among Palestinian nationalists) or re-establishing them as a dhimmi class (something that some Islamists support), then yes, your opposition to Zionism is probably anti-Semitic.

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> I think everyone agrees on that.

The amount of arguments that have essentially start with 'anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism' lately has been very irritating, but it's not just a post 10/7 thing either.

https://twitter.com/bungarsargon/status/1395406180135153665

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Israel exists, so either anti-Zionism is a dead letter and meaningless, or it means that Israel (and presumably it's people) should be removed somehow.

I leave the somehow up to the observer.

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That seems a little silly to me. To a first approximation, no one in the normie community would even be able to parse your first sentence. It assumes all this knowledge about people and events and the meaning of "Zionism" as a historical, political, and theoretical construct that I can tell you with absolute certainty that even many American Jews simply do not possess.

I base this belief on having taught a Modern Middle East undergraduate survey; it was an elective that kids took explicitly because they had an interest in the subject, and I was genuinely surprised by what they didn't know. And I'm talking kids who were very interested in their own Jewish identity, had taken trips to Israel, etc.--even most of those kids knew next to nothing about Zionism and definitely would not be able to meaningfully parse your first sentence.

People not knowing stuff is often frustrating, but it's a mistake to read meaning where it doesn't exist because it clouds--and darkens--your ability to analyze motive and intent.

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Zionism is easily defined as a political movement that believes in a State for the Jewish people. I think normies totally understand this. The rest is very elementary logic.

What do you think a person on the street understands Zionism to mean? Clearly people (even and especially college students) think they understand enough to chant "From the River to the Sea". The next, very obvious question is "so what happens to the Jews who currently reside between the River and the Sea?"

The framing and references in this comment are really the same as in my first one, they lead to the same question. So no, I don't think it's silly to expect people to answer questions about their plainly stated political goals.

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I get that this all seems very straightforward to you, and I get that it seems logical to you, and I get that it seems like not much to know to you. I get all that.

What I'm saying to you is that when I taught actual undergraduates with an actual stated interest in the Middle East, many of whom were self-described Jews with a stated interest in Israel, specifically--I'm telling you that even THOSE people would not have been able to reply, "Zionism is a political movement that believes in a State for the Jewish people."

Look: you can think that I'm lying, or you can think that I just was teaching at a school (today it is Jefferson University, but that's post two changes of leadership) where the undergrads were unusually stupid.

But if you accept that I'm telling the truth, and if you accept that I'm fairly describing my experience and that undergrads at my school were not unusually ignorant, then that's kind of a huge problem for your claim. That is what I am saying. And you can't get around that by saying, "I think normies totally understand this," because I am telling you that in my actual experience, they do not. Most of them literally did not know what "Zionism" was. Like, the word had no real meaning to them beyond, "isn't that something about Israel" if they were Jews and "isn't that something from the Bible" if they were Christians or vaguely American agnostic suburb kids.

So that's what I think "a person on the street" knows about Zionism: functionally nothing.

And I think this is true of a lot of this stuff, honestly. Real talk: I think if you grabbed a representative sample of kids at a protest chanting about the river and the sea and asked them to name the river in question and the sea in question that many of them would not be able to get both answers correct. I am fairly certain that a majority would not be able to locate the geographical features on an unlabeled map or to describe what the "Gaza Strip" or the "West Bank" actually are.

And this shouldn't surprise you; people endorse dumb slogans and stuff they don't understand all the time--here I will refer you back to "keep the government out of my Medicare," but only because it's hilarious. You could find a dozen examples in US politics of the last two decades without even trying. It's often the subject of this very newsletter.

All of that is a problem. It's partly a problem, in my opinion, because people vote for folks and support political movements without understanding what they are endorsing. It's also a problem in non-political areas of life--my book on radiation therapy partly chases how a bunch of people killed themselves and their patients with similar errors in thinking. The errors were genuine. So were the deaths. But I came to believe in the research and argue in the book that human cognitive processes are just kind of prone to certain kinds of errors because we make tradeoffs in order to more easily understand and move through the fearsomely, insanely complex system that is "reality."

The combination that is cognitive errors around cause-and-effect salted with ignorance is frustrating, has bad results, and makes people look dumb. But it is usually not malicious and is often even well-meaning, and if you fail to understand that, you fail to understand people's motivations, which then causes you to make a bunch of other downstream analytical errors. It is what it is (which is frustrating).

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You're assuming a careful definition of what Zionism means which is generally used by neither its proponents nor its detractors in popular discourse. I find this fact deeply annoying and confusing, but it's the truth. I think it's disingenuous to make gotcha quips that rely on pretending otherwise.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 12

I think it's disingenuous to say "AntiZionist" or "Defund the Police" and then act like *I'm* the one who's out of line for saying "There are problems with your plan".

My comment isn't a gotcha, it's a very honest, straightforward response to the actual words being spoken. If people mean something totally different from the plain reading if what they say, it's on them to clarify. I'm not a mind reader. I can only respond to the words that are put out there.

I don't think it's "careful" to define Zionism that way. I think it's a very unacademic, everyday way to define the movement that is very accurate and broadly useful. What is your idea of a better, more useful definition?

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I completely agree. This is the standard definition. I have no idea what the alternative would be.

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This is just the standard definition of Zionism, dude. It’s the one used by everyone in Israel and the mainstream Jewish community in the US. It means support for Jewish statehood. That’s what it’s always meant.

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I think his point is that there are a lot of [redacted] out there, and the standard definition might elude them.

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This is fair but also utterly baffling. What the actual f do these people think Zionism is? I’m not expecting anyone to give me a great answer but geez is it frustrating for all this debate about “whether antizionism is antisemitism” to occur when half the putative antizionism think it’s just “criticism of Israel”.

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I mean if you want the honest answer, they think it just means Bibi-fan, or like, anti-Palestinian autonomy or rights. Like most terms that get abusively redefined, you'll have different people who motte and bailey this, ofc.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

I mean, Zionism is the idea that there should be a Jewish state/homeland in the land of Israel. It doesn't mean you support any particular Israeli government policy. There are many anti-Zionist voices that try to change the definition of Zionism from the one I gave above, but anti-Zionists don't get to define what Zionism is--Zionists do.

This state was created in 1948 (before, as Matthew Yglesias has pointed out, most countries in the world were created), admitted to the UN, and has been recognized by most countries. So people who think that "anti-Zionism" is "anti-Semitism" I think are mostly just saying--hey it's done. Israel is here, and denying its right to exist is anti-Semitic. Perhaps debating Zionism 75 years ago was a legitimate question, but it's now a fact.

Now, I explained two types of anti-Zionism that I don't think are inherently anti-Semitic (principled opposition to all nationalism/ advocacy for a binational state). There are probably others. But frankly, these principled anti-Zionist positions are not the majority of anti-Zionist voices that Jews are facing these days. (Support for a binational state, for example, may be popular among Western leftists, but is pretty unpopular in the West Bank, Gaza, or Israel for that matter).

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This is my main issue with the definition.

Post 1948, Israel is a recognized state. The Zionist project is now the perpetuation of the state of Israel, meaning the leaders of Israel are now the leaders of the Zionist project. How exactly can Israel's policies around it's border, especially pertaining the territory Israel owns, be disconnected from the Zionist project?

I think criticizing Israel on that ground is anti-Zionism and it is not anti-Semitic, but of course, the insistence is that Zionism is *just* the anodyne mission of a Jewish National project.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

But the vast majority of Israeli Jews identify Zionists, and they criticize their own government all the time. Probably more vociferously than most people. I bet you that Netanyahu is more popular in America than he is in Israel right now. These anti-Netanyahu Israelis (right now about 75% of the Israeli population) are not anti-Zionists.

Zionism is simply the idea that there should be a Jewish homeland/state in the land of Israel. Alternatively, you could define it as supporting the self-determination of the Jewish people to have a state.

There are many types of Zionism: Labor Zionism, Revisionist Zionism, Religious Zionism, Progressive Zionism etc. Each kind of Zionism will have different views of what policies regarding borders and the territory it controls, and even within each type, people will disagree on various policies.

Just like criticism of Congress and the President is not anti-American, even though they are the leaders of the American project.

Anti-Zionists are those who are against there being a state to serve as a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel. So it's not just criticism of Israeli leaders and policy, but criticism of the very existence of a state with any kind of Jewish national character. Perhaps they want a single binational state (as I said). Perhaps they want a single Islamist state. Perhaps they want a big pan-Arab state. Perhaps they want a single secular Arab state. But they don't want a state with a Jewish character located anywhere in historical Israel/Palestine.

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> identify Zionists, and they criticize their own government all the time

That's because they are Zionists, whose prescription of Zionism isn't in power. If those people were in power, I wouldn't be an anti-Zionist!

> Just like criticism of Congress and the President is not anti-American

It's never been my position that criticism of Israel per se is anti-Zionism, my position is that criticism of how it conducts the construct of Israel is anti-Zionist!

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No, because by that logic 100% of Israeli citizens would be anti-Zionists, who criticize their government and its policies constantly. And they would tell you they are strong Zionists.

The Zionist project is objectively all but complete. The state is really not going anywhere.

And anyway criticizing the methods of achieving those goals would not make you an anti-Zionist - because again, that ropes in quite a few explicitly Zionist leaders and intellectuals into anti-Zionism.

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I'd be willing to say "maybe sometimes antizionism isn't antisemitic" if not for the fact that the functional content of antizionism is 75 years of unrelenting war against the existence of the State of Israel. If a Taiwanese-American says, "the PRC is evil and should not exist, fucking commie scum", it is understood that there is no meaningful translation of that opinion into intention and action. With regards to antizionism, it is instead understood that while the actual likelihood of abolishing Israel remains low, there is a real movement killing Israelis to make it happen.

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You ought to check out my exchange, above, with Lapsed Pacifist. I think your phrase "it is understood" is totally wrong. You are way, way, way overestimating what ordinary people understand and underestimating their capacity to hold nonfunctional beliefs bereft of genuine understanding of the causes, potential consequences, or historical context of those beliefs. I'm not saying that's great, but I'm pretty sure it is true.

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Maybe but I'd be genuinely surprised to find out that most Americans are unable to tell an active war-zone from a matter of diplomatic tension, which is really the only distinction I was trying to make.

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“Anti-Zionism” is not “criticism of Israel”. If you’d like me to elaborate I’m happy to, but I’m assuming that you just misread.

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I also admit that at least among the leftist groups there’s gotta be some stereotyping and troping going on. It’s a spectrum going from the objective “Jewish people are very successful by most metrics in the US and less marginalized than most” to, in the words of Avenue Q, “the Jews have all the money and the whites have all the power” and that the force of envy-based resentment is pretty powerful among some leftists. It’s not necessarily “we’re being manipulated by a shadowy cabal of Jewish money changers,” but I’m sure some people think that. I don’t think that translates to much terrorizing of individual Jewish people but it probably does contribute to some negative feelings about the collective.

That being said, our right-wing here believes all the tropes and conspiracy theories, they just are pro-Israel to accelerate the Second Coming of Jeebus. Shoot, Trump said “I only trust my accounts to guys in yarmulkes” and cultivated the support of openly anti-Semitic groups.

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Thankfully, Matt Yglesias had the courage to let a Muslim lecture us Jews about what is and isn't antisemitism. What a brave independent thinker he is.

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Jan 11Liked by Musa al-Gharbi

Judging from the early returns, I'd say you're right: it does appear to have taken a certain amount of courage on the part of Matt Yglesias.

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I’m trying to maintain the good spirit of the comment section and more broadly assume good intent on Matt’s part. But it does bother me that he’s ready to be totally chill about antisemitism (unless it comes from Trumpists!) while playing up his Jewishness, even as he and his family can simply blend into the background of the American ethnic landscape should he ever feel like it. Many of us do not have that option.

I don’t typically wear a kippa in public. Recently on my way out of a wedding in Williamsburg, I happened to be wearing one and immediately got heckled by some idiot going on about how Zionists are the devil and have no souls. Should I be comforted that this fellow laundered his antisemitism in the language of anti-Zionism?

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>But it does bother me that he’s ready to be totally chill about antisemitism (unless it comes from Trumpists!)<

Where are you getting this? A) Matt isn't the author of this piece; B) It seems to me the author is seeking to shed light on the phenomenon of antisemitism. Antisemitism has been in the news a lot of late. It's a serious problem. But like any problem, in order to address it we need to *understand* it. And the author lays out the case that said phenomenon is much worse and more dangerous on the right than on the left. Obviously readers are free to dispute his findings, but they seems a far cry from suggesting people need "to chill."

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That’s shitty. But it doesn’t necessarily mean anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Especially since it seems we all define those 2 terms differently

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Jan 11Liked by Ben Krauss, Musa al-Gharbi

Why does it specifically matter that al-Gharbi is Muslim? He's a sociologist; this is his field of study. You can disagree with his conclusions without making ad hominem attacks on his religion.

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founding

To be fair, the author brought it up early (his sixth sentence) in his essay, so he seems to have thought it important.

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I don't think it's an ad hominem attack. The idea is now widespread that discussions of problems facing a certain group are more legitimate if they're made by members of that group. One can disagree with that idea—I do—but it doesn't mean that "white people shouldn't be writing about the Black experience" is an ad hominem attack against white people.

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You should refrain from actually insulting people

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I'm Jewish and I thought his essay was just fine. Knowledge, analysis, and explanation can come from anyone. Some of the greatest experts on the Muslim world and its history were Jewish academics.

You'd be better off responding to his substance than playing the identitarian game.

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founding

As I was reading this article, I was thinking it’s exactly the usual sort of Yglesias thing - taking some mainstream trope of the New York Times liberals and showing that it is way overplayed. But then I realized that this one was defending the left rather than punching left, and predicted it was going to get a lot of pushback from the readers.

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Same.

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I like that Matt is being consistent even when the issue hits closer to home.

A lot of moderate jews (of which I am one) decried this kind of identitarian thinking when it was BLM, Asian and trans issues, but somehow embraced it when the discussion turned to anti-semitism. Kind of the mirror image of the charge against campus progressives.

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I realize you were being ironic, but I think your words are literally true.

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Honestly if he were to pick a Jew to write it he’d be equally as stuck in his academic bubble, so never mind.

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😂

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Y'all can’t seem to get it right

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It's been shocking to see so many people say things like "I don't hate Jewish people, just Zionists" who then turn around and call literally every Jewish person they can find a Zionist.

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Right. And Zionism can simply mean "believes Israel has a right to exist".

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

I mean what's weird about the anti-Zionism group is that they are often the ones that say "no human is illegal" or "no one is illegal on stolen land", and then complain about the legal migration of Jews in 19th century Ottoman Palestine/20th century Mandatory Palestine, or the illegal immigration of Jewish refugees escaping literal genocide 80 years ago to a British colony.

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"They should immigrate legally, and I want to limit legal immigration."

Is a perfectly logical and reasonable preference, though with obvious economic consequences.

All that + don't enforce labor laws and punish people who hire them, however, isn't really logical.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

Well, I suspect if you asked most conservatives what their stance is 'cleanly', they'd say something along those lines.

The 'they should come here legally' rhetoric is mostly a response to liberals constantly trying to conflate opposition to illegal immigration with opposition to all immigration.

The other common approach on the more ardently pro-all-immigration faction is to just say 'well make what they are doing legal and there is no problem'.

It's unfortunate, but the combination of liberal dominance of the media, and the brain drain among conservatives, means that this bad framing is ubiquitous.

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Jan 11Liked by Ben Krauss

Anti-semitism doesn't need to be explained. It's "hostility to or prejudice against Jewish people." The author was right to assume we all understand that definition or can look it up.

"Zionism" is the word that means different things to different people (or at least, is misunderstood by a lot of people), but that's not what his article is about.

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In the spirit of maintain a good attitude and assuming good intent in the comments section, I’m going to assume that you failed to read my comment since I addressed this already.

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I read it, and just reread. I’m not sure what you’re objecting to. I’m certainly disagreeing with your comment, but if I’m misinterpreting it I’m open to correction.

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>>>So yes, if you say “Israel is uniquely the most evil country in the world, but I don’t hate Jewish people, just Zionists”, you’re an antisemite<<<

I think we all know there is zero doubt plenty of antisemites engage in unhinged Israel-bashing. Likewise many attempt to cloak their antisemitsm in thinly veiled swipes at the Jewish homeland. Still, those who have even a modicum of influence are generally sophisticated enough to refrain from saying things like "Israel is uniquely the most evil country in the world."

I guess what I'm saying is hyperbole doesn't strengthen your case.

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This article correctly points out that not too many people are running around yelling “I hate Jews!” This, along with some old tropes, seems to be the working definition of “antisemitism.”

Let me highlight a distinct concern that I believe is closer to what most Jews are concerned about: reflexive progressive allyship with antisemites who are higher on the “oppression stack” than Jews. This leads to a complete double-standard in many of our most culturally relevant institutions.

1. If an antisemitic activist tells progressives to yell “glory to the martyrs” at a vigil for those killed on October 7th, they’ll do it. A college administration is happy to permit this, whereas they’d never allow anyone to yell “George Floyd wasn’t murdered” out of fear of “harm.”

2. It becomes ok to harass Israeli business owners in America. Of course, yelling things at Chinese people about Covid is still unacceptable.

3. Antisemites like Mohammed el-Kurd will celebrate October 7th and talk about the unquenchable “Zionist” thirst for Palestinian blood. He can be invited to MIT’s campus, but of course anyone who complains about affirmative action is beyond the pale.

4. Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza, naturally. We should destroy Israel! (Don’t worry about the fact that probably 95% of Arabs killed in war are killed by other Arabs, those other countries are totally fine and should definitely continue to exist.)

Note that even Jewish progressives can get sucked into this behavior. The fact that the progressive ideology is strong enough to brainwash young Jews in this way makes things more worrying, not less.

All of this, however, has to be cloaked in the language of progressivism. You have to say “we only hate Israel, Jews suffer discrimination from evil whites, etc.”

I don’t want to exaggerate the significance of this problem. But the fact that progressives in culturally significant institutions will defer to claims made by antisemites is worrying. And Jews have no way to defend themselves, since they are lower in the hierarchy.

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You realize though that the solution to this is to support getting progressive politics out of the identitarian mire, or at least the really weird reductionist forms of it prevalent on elite campuses and in other progressive institutions. It isn't like it wasn't completely obvious that this approach to politics, taken to its natural conclusion, would lead to exactly these kinds of intra coalition conflicts. It's only worked at elite levels to the degree it has because people that are part of them are so free of any material deprivation or oppression of any kind as to allow the worldview to operate as an abstraction, right up until the day it doesn't.

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I completely agree! This is why I don’t want to paint myself as a victim. I’m completely happy to live in a world where lunatics can run around Harvard saying Israel is the devil as long as other similarly insane discourse is tolerated.

What I’m not happy with is a world in which only one type of lunacy is tolerated by intellectual and cultural institutions. Since these institutions squash expression in other ways, one can reasonably infer that they tacitly endorse apologia for jihadist maniacs.

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Agree completely.

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It’s more that they go the way the wind blows rather than tacit endorsement of much. They just want to collect checks

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I do not know a single Jew who wants anything else than to get progressive politics out of the identitarian mire. Will we settle for getting the same “special treatment” as every other nominally oppressed group? Yeah sure, in the absence of a better solution, we at least don’t want the system weaponized against us. But literally 100% of Jews I know just want that shit to stop. And I know a lot of Jews.

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I don’t think it’s plausible.

You’d need to change all the things pushing people to think that way, from the need to establish a personal identity online to colleges using “talk about your struggles” as a way to get around affirmative action bans.

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Jan 11Liked by Musa al-Gharbi

>>I don’t want to exaggerate the significance of this problem

A good place to start would be to present actual examples of concern from progressives in any position of power, rather than to invent hypotheticals. FWIW you are allowed to say “George Floyd wasn’t murdered” without a college administrator throwing you in jail; criticism of affirmative action is not "beyond the pale" and happens all the time; it is not "ok" to harass Israeli business owners and is roundly denounced (the difference is Trump responded by saying "Kung Flu" and "China virus" and Biden is rolling out anti-semitism initiatives); "We should destroy Israel!" has not been uttered by any Democrat or progressive in any position of power, in contrast, we are seeing Palestinians referred to as "human animals" who need to be "relocated" or "put on a diet" by highly senior elected Israeli officials. I really urge you to look at what elected representatives are saying and not the viral inflammatory videos of random college kids being micro-targeted to you through your phone.

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Wasn’t a global warming expert disinvited from giving a talk at Berkeley because he had previously expressed disagreement with affirmative action? And at UCLA a would-be spousal hire was not hired following a petition calling attention to comments he made criticizing mandatory DEI statements. So it seems attitudes like these *are* beyond the pale in some sectors of academia.

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> Wasn’t a global warming expert disinvited from giving a talk at Berkeley because he had previously expressed disagreement with affirmative action?

MIT. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/20/us/dorian-abbot-mit.html

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I stand corrected! Thanks.

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"disinvited from giving a talk, then made into a national cause celebre" doesn't seem like "beyond the pale" to me, but it at least demonstrates the scope of the problem we're talking about

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“We were actually doing him a favor by disinviting him”? Weak, dude, very weak. On the off-chance you’re sincerely confused about what “beyond the pale” means, it means considered unacceptable. Abbot’s criticism of affirmative action caused MIT (not Berkeley as I wrongly said earlier) to change its mind about having him speak on an unrelated topic; clearly, his views were beyond the pale for them. That other people were rightly appalled by this approach to academic discourse and made a stink about it in no way affects whether or not MIT judged his statements to be beyond the pale. (Incidentally, since you brought up the scope of the problem…could we agree that advancing knowledge of global warming is an effort that shouldn’t be given up lightly?)

I also notice you didn’t address the example I gave with major material consequences. Maybe that NYU law student who got her job offer rescinded should be grateful for the free publicity too?

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Here's an example of a high-stakes situation, by the way. Penn hosted a Palestinian Writers festival after 10/7, like they do every year. Before it even happened, the festival was condemned as anti-semitic and multiple donors called for it to be banned from campus; the university had to issue statements of warning that they will not tolerate anti-semitism; donors sent "minders" to the festival to monitor for any speech they didn't like; after the festival was not cancelled, multiple donors pulled funding they had previously pledged for the university; the president (Magill) was hauled in front of Congress and badged about anti-semitism; when she explained that the Penn bullying and harassment policy depends on the context of behavior (which is true), she was immediately forced to apologize and subsequently resign, together with the president of the board of trustees; university donors wrote a follow-up letter that they would continue to withhold donations if they did not approve of the kind of faculty that were being hired and the kind of classes that were being taught. That's "beyond the pale"!

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And yet the festival happened.

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FWIW, that sounds really bad, and I am against it. Also, the festival happened *before* 10/7 as far as I can tell, making the pushback even less explicable:

https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/25/business/palestine-writes-literature-festival-what-happened/index.html

I think you're wrong to extrapolate that to the congressional hearings though. If that's all it was, I don't think any of what came next would have happened.

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It weakens your case to immediately start inventing things I didn't say. I didn't say he was done a favor by being disinvited. I said that one example of a speaker being disinvited, which was immediately followed by national uproar, is an indicator of how low-stakes this whole discussion is. Even in this case, the speaker was not forbidden from being vocally against affirmative action; he was not censored, demoted, or fired; he was not intimidated; he was disinvited from giving one talk! There are something like 600,000 university faculty in the US, the idea that a single disinvitation is an indicator of anything -- I'll say it again -- reinforces how low-stakes this grievance is.

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This just reads to me like the usual progression: 1) it's not really happening. 2) it's happening, but it's not a big deal. 3) it's a good thing, actually. 4) people freaking out about it are the real problem.

You are on step 2. To avoid progressing to step 3, do you agree it's bad for a speaker to be disinvited over anodyne views on a completely unrelated subject?

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If you weren't trying to say he was done a favor, what is the relevance of him being made into a cause celebre? All that proves is that something that is not beyond the pale in the broader discourse *is* beyond the pale in an academic context.

This also fits the familiar pattern where skeptics of campus censoriousness ask for examples, but then dismiss the examples because the subjects became prominent. Obviously the most familiar examples are going to be the ones that were most prominent!

The set of "faculty members in the US" is not the one to measure against to determine whether these attitudes are beyond the pale in academia. The relevant set is faculty members who have expressed these attitudes: are there examples of faculty members publicly expressing opposition to affirmative action but being able to go on delivering talks, etc., as before? That is what would be necessary to show that there is not a censoriousness problem, especially since one aspect of the problem would be faculty members avoiding expressing these attitudes for fear of professional consequences.

Finally, maybe I was too oblique before: what is your opinion of the case of Yoel Inbar, who stood to receive an offer as a spousal hire before graduate students organized a petition demanding he not be hired because of his previous criticisms of DEI statements?

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Your point number 4 has a few fallacies going on. The second sentence ("we should destroy Israel") being unreasonable doesn't bear on whether the first ("Israel is committing genocide") is true; neither does the sentence about Arabs killed by other Arabs, which seems like a tu quoque. And I don't think "[the Assad regime in] Syria is fine and should continue to exist" is an uncontroversial sentiment, including among Arabs in the US.

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The point was to parody how progressives think about the issue and highlight the double standard.

The first step is to use a ludicrously expansive definition of genocide. Then, once Israel is deemed guilty under this expansive definition, use its guilt as a justification to cheer for massacres and advocate for Israel not to exist as a state (I have no other way of making sense of the term "anti-Zionism.")

The point of including the fact about other Arab wars was that no progressive ever cries about genocide in any of those cases -- an entirely different (and more reasonable) definition of genocide is applied. Then, given that progressives don't deem other Arab countries to be guilty of the highest crimes, they don't call for the actual destruction of Syria (e.g., allowing the Kurds to rule it or something -- not sure what the equivalent would be).

I view toppling the Assad regime as a different sentiment from anti-Zionism. I guess I see it as more analogous to calling for the expulsion of Likud from Israeli politics. This seems far less outrageous to me.

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At the height of discourse around Russia's invasion of Ukraine their actions were frequently called "genocide" despite probably not fitting the exact definition of the term. Most people viewed this for what it was: rhetorical hyperbole. They did not accuse the people making such claims of being deeply bigoted against Slavic people.

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"whereas they’d never allow anyone to yell “George Floyd wasn’t murdered” out of fear of “harm.”"

Citation needed. Has anyone ever actually been expelled from a University for saying such a thing?

"It becomes ok to harass Israeli business owners in America."

I take it you're talking about the restaurant owner in Philadelphia? That was in fact roundly condemned by much of the media and even the white house.

"He can be invited to MIT’s campus, but of course anyone who complains about affirmative action is beyond the pale."

There have in fact been quite a few critics of affirmative action who have been invited to and employed in universities.

"Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza, naturally. We should destroy Israel!"

This... doesn't even appear to be citing a double standard, it's just throwing out a strawman point you disagree with.

You seem to be conflating actual university speech policies with views that may inform how popular one is with their peers on campus. This is largely unavoidable, holding views that others dislike tends to have consequences, conservatives have been whining about this for years.

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Two wrongs don’t make a right

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Jan 11Liked by Ben Krauss, Musa al-Gharbi

This is a very good essay. It does a great job of explaining the nuances in this debate using data. I especially liked the analogy to Kang's "lonliest Americans" concept w.r.t. Asian-Americans, which I found very helpful in explaining how Jewish people feel about this topic. Thanks to Prof. al-Gharbi for writing.

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Jan 11Liked by Musa al-Gharbi

The large majority of students and faculty are not protesting or speaking out on either side of the issue. It's the loud minority that gets media attention.

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Obviously most people don't attend protests. Most Trump voters also didn't rush the capitol. But way more supported the action.. and even if that is still a minority should we ignore political/ethnic calls to violence if it's only from a small group?

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What I am telling you, because I know my classmates, is that in this case, way more did not support the action. The vast majority of students are focused on their classes and social lives, not Israel-Palestine.

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Yea but that's obvious, for literally anything. And as I stated in my analogy, that's irrelevant.

I don't think anyone is arguing there is a concern about anti semitism on college campuses specifically because the majority of students participate in it. You obviously don't need a majority or even a plurality. Even tepid support by faculty is massive (look at the effect of trump on the crazies)

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It is in fact quite relevant as popular discourse vastly overstates the size of the group in question. What al-Gharbi does is point out how small this group actually is, using data, which should inform how people weigh this issue and the appropriate response.

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This point can be made about every bad thing in America.

So it’s this kind of thinking : “The point you trying to land against my peeps may have some truth to it but it’s a small minority of people and therefore should not be worrisome. But my concerns about your sides small minority of trouble makers is valid and should be taken very, very seriously.”

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Rod, I have a much better sense than you do of what things are and are not true when it comes to campus controversy in the Ivy League.

You should think carefully about whether you would support applying the same “silence is violence” standard to other controversies. Sometimes people simply don’t have much to contribute to a debate and would rather sit it out.

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This talk of moral duty is the same argument used to pressure people to make statements supporting BLM or opposing Trump, by saying that if you don't publicly express one view, you're tacitly supporting the other. That argument was stupid when it came to BLM and Trump and it is stupid here, too. Faculty electing not to endorse a particular side does not mean they automatically support the opposite side. They may simply feel that they don't have anything useful or novel to contribute to the debate, or they may prefer to stay away from a sensitive subject. Again, think very carefully about whether you want to set a norm of faculty being pushed to accept "their duty of moral leadership" when it comes to contentious debates. The reason tenure exists is to free faculty from these kinds of pressures.

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Maybe the prime example of the aphorism "the plural of anecdote is not data."

Also, this comment to me is a prime example of how smart phones are creating a gigantic "Streisand effect" on almost everything. Please go look at these protests more closely and see just how few people are protesting at lot of these things. Will not defend the uglier incidents of protestors harassing random Jewish passersby. But making a claim that this represents some common sentiment among college students at large is literally refuted by the data presented by the author and lived experiences of colleges students, like you know, Milan.

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You are aware that this comments section is paywalled and private and read by precisely one other person I know from school and only because she works here?

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The number of people in this country who think college students who scared to death to express non super left thoughts out loud is wild.

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Yes, actually, because—and I cannot stress this enough—I actually know my classmates. They're real, normal people, not the media caricature of wild-eyed leftist students. I also know how the Internet works and I would bet a large sum that none of my classmates are conducting opposition research on me.

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I agree that we should all calm down about a lot of stuff.

As Mohammad famously said “Just chill bro, here, paint a cool picture of me, no one will be offended by that”

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I strongly want to avoid “spaces wherein victimhood serves as a form of social currency.” It is much better to attract envy than compassion, better to be strong than weak and better to be rich than poor. Sympathy is a poor consolation prize. Kids these days should ween themselves off of it.

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I want to emphasize: literally 100% of Jews I know - on campus, off campus, liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, etc. - wants exactly that. Just get this dumb ideology out. We don’t want it.

In the *absence* of an actual solution? Sure we’ll take the same protection that every nominally oppressed group gets, just so that the system isn’t weaponized against us. But I have not met a single Jew that wants to keep this broken ideology-cum-lawsuit protection strategy around. And I know a lot of Jews.

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I am generally sympathetic towards the weak and poor. I am befuddled why upper middle class liberals are so eager for sympathy. Maybe it’s a cheap form of egalitarianism. Maybe if one checks enough victim boxes, you don’t need to feel so bad about your trust fund/fancy degree/closet full of nice clothes.

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I feel sympathy for Palestinians because most of their lives suck. I do not want to play the natural lottery in Gaza, precisely because most Gazans’ lives suck. If I get sick, I would like sympathy and compassion. I would much rather not get sick. If I go bankrupt, I would like sympathy and compassion, but much better to avoid that too.

This is not difficult.

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founding

The Palestinians can't invest in education, governance systems and engage in liberal democratic norms?

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Peaceful victimhood is debilitating. Weaponized victimhood is deadly.

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Opposition has been rooted out with violence in Gaza

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Plus fifty points for extensive documentation - not just graphs, but links, and tons of them. Super important when making empirical statements, unexpected for me (not that SB is particularly bad or anything, just it's hardly the norm in general), you love to see it. Most serious and polished guest post by far.

Minus twenty five for, I think, not laying a strong enough definitional foundation. It's odd for a piece about misunderstanding antisemitism to not...actually define what antisemitism means, exactly. Can't clearly define a thing only by stating what it's not. Nor do I feel comfortable going by the ADL's particular goalposts, for the same reason I distrust other legacy bastions one would have looked to in the past for such guidance (SPLC, ACLU, etc). At this point the entire framework of "hate crime/hate speech" feels like just another unwinnable skirmish between Team Metis and Team Episteme.

Even taking those assumptions at face value though - I dunno, man, maybe that really is true in terms of the macro picture. But it's still weird and uncomfortable and, yeah, kinda scary to encounter Hamas apologia from otherwise-sane atheist liberal friends and acquaintances. The same people I usually expect to bet on The Right Side of History and all that, who seem to be making a weird exception to the usual rule of not supporting anachronistic sabre-rattling theocracies. Kills me a little inside every time I see a "Queers For Palestine" sticker or somesuch. As you note, such lonely fears do tend to get dismissed, and that's not helpful. Compassion isn't a zero-sum resource, we should have an abundance agenda for that too...

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I don’t think I’ve seen anyone point this out: Al-Gharbi says “the more college Americans get, the more positive views they have on Israel” and includes a chart showing that adults with more education have more positive views of Israel. But this includes people who went to college as far back as the 60’s! Anti-Israel campus protests are most associated with the Second Intifada and following, and sure enough, Al-Gharbi’s chart shows that younger people today have more negative views of Israel. Are younger college students *today* graduating with significantly better views of Israel than their non-college peers?

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Exactly, this is an intentionally misleading statistic our good professor is touting. Sample Gen Z and millennials and you’ll see what leftist indoctrination does to people. You get the utter stupidity of ‘progressives’ shilling for Hamas.

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Jan 11Liked by Musa al-Gharbi

Great guest post. I thought one of the key parts of this entire post was the author pointing out that college campuses are overwhelmingly populated by people who vote Democratic or even farther left than Democratic. What that means is almost by definition if you are going to encounter people with problematic views on literally anything, it’s likely going to come from someone on the more left side of the spectrum given how unlikely it is you’re going to encounter anyone at all with right leaning views (seems especially true at elite schools). I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest the type of people who are more right wing on campuses are extremely unlikely to be the type to engage in protest or loud demonstrations about anything.

I actually think this related to my point about how much having major news publications based on NYC or DC skews coverage (and specifically coverage of these protests since October 7th). Reporters work in cities where overwhelmingly people with extreme views are more lefty. Hence an extraordinary coverage of randos protesting restaurants where if you look real closely, you can see just how few people are actually protesting.

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This is the best guest piece in a long time because it brings data and research Matt didn’t have the time to do.

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And kicked a hornet’s nest of Fox News enjoyers.

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Do you know many Fox News viewers. I've lived among them, this thread does not reflect anything like how a Fox News audience would respond.

This author presented an argument that anti-Semitism isn't much of a problem here in America. A number of commenters found his argument either inaccurate or inadequate. With maybe one exception I haven't seen anyone trot out the normal reactionary shibboleths that you would get from the audience you hypothesize. There are no claims of anti-Americanism, no claims that the author supports terrorism, no claim they've been either brainwashed or bought off. It's generally been a discussion and disagreement with the author's conclusions.

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Yeah, such as your mom.

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If all I had to go on was this thread...

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I’ve watched it for ethnographic reasons.

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You mean data and research that Ben and Maya didn’t have time to do

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I’m pretty proud of myself for not getting carried away with anger in my responses for an Israel-Palestine post.

Part of that does have to do with the post being well researched and thoughtful.

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"...I view it as an imperative to stand with other “people of the book” — especially when they face persecution on the basis of their identity as Jews or Christians."

I assume the book in question is "One Billion Abrahamians"?

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