Friday, June 09, 2006

Can a Jew be anti-Semitic?

While surfing on the Internet, I cam across this intriging headline: “Book Highlights France Anti-Semitism Dilemma”. Always ready for some provocative thought, I decided to read the content, even though the source IslamOnLine got me a bit suspicious. But, I thought I should keep an open mind and give it a chance anyway - after all, I read “The Christian Monitor” and respect many of their views.

The article was about a ban by a French court of a book called “The Other Face of Israel” for being anti-semitic and inciting hatred and violence.

The most interesting point stressed by the author of the article, Hadi Yahmid, is that “since the book was written by an Israeli author, it is illogical to accuse him of being anti-Semitic”. This is a challenging question: can Jews themselves be anti-Semitic? The problem is that I have not read the book they’re talking about.

But then as I scrolled down the article, I found some elements that gave me ground for suspicion. Here’s an example:

Experts say that the anti-Semitism charge has been widely used to silence critics of Israeli policies worldwide.

Whoever those experts might be, what is certain is that critics of Israel policies have never been silenced. The confusion between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel is a typical feature of both anti-Semitic and Zionist rhetoric.

Then I spent probably about 15 minutes looking for information on “The Other Side of Israel” and its author, Israel Shamir, crosschecking information. It turns out that the guy has a scary record. First his legal name is Adam Ermash (previously Jöran Jermas) and he is a citizen of Sweden. The biographical information on Shamir/Jermas/ Ermash is sketchy at best and has been mostly provided by… him so it ought to be reasonably questioned. What is certain is that he converted to Orthodox Christianity and has become an extremist. Here’s what he says:

“The Jewish supremacy forces and the greed worshippers united again to crucify Christ.” he wrote in his book The Marxists and the Lobby - Part II. He also believes that “Only the Orthodox Church can offer true salvation to the Jews escaping their supremacist creed.”

As can be expected, he supports the old anti-Semitic notion of a Jewish conspiracy through an all-powerful jewish lobby and favors a revisionist view of the Holocaust. Here's what he said at an international conference in Beirut in 2001:

The "revisionists" risked their lives and fortunes trying to undermine what they call "the Myth of the Holocaust." One can understand their interest. Nowadays, one may openly doubt the Immaculate Conception or (maybe) challenge the founding myths of Israel. Yet the cult of the Holocaust retains a unique, court-enforced prohibition against any investigation that might cast a doubt on its sacred dogma
His comparison of the Holocaust (a historical fact from 60 years ago) to the Immaculate Conception (a religious belief based on faith) helps trivialize history of course but it's an old trick. He also has his own version of the Final Solution: “acceptance of Christ is the Final Solution of the Jewish Question”.

So, yes, I’d say that the guy is pretty much anti-Semitic, and so the chances are that the judges who banned his book for being anti-Semitic are probably right.

What is amazing is that last February, Shamir/Jermas/ Ermash was actually invited to talk to the House of Lords in Britain by Nazir Ahmed, Britain's first Muslim peer who was raised to the peerage as Baron Ahmed.

According to The Times:

The gist of Shamir/Jermas’s speech at the meeting can be gleaned from its title, “Jews and the Empire”.
It included observations such as: “All the [political] parties are Zionist-infiltrated.” “Your newspapers belong to Zionists . . . Jews indeed own, control and edit a big share of mass media, this mainstay of Imperial thinking.” “In the Middle East we have just one reason for wars, terror and trouble — and that is Jewish supremacy drive . . . in Iraq, the US and its British dependency continue the same old fight for ensuring Jewish supremacy in the Middle East.” “The Jews like an Empire . . . This love of Empire explains the easiness Jews change their allegiance . . . Simple minds call it ‘treacherous behaviour’, but it is actually love of Empire per se.” “Now, there is a large and thriving Muslim community in
England . . . they are now on the side of freedom, against the Empire, and they are not afraid of enforcers of Judaic values, Jewish or Gentile. This community is very important in order to turn the tide.”

Unfortunately, Lord Ahmed’s refused to condemn the remarks.

My view remains that even anti-Semitic books should not be banned. I am a firm believer in Freedom of Expression. I think that censorship gives anti-Semitics the status of victims and it also gives them great publicity. In our global world, and with the internet, it makes little sense. In the end, education and knowledge should be the tools to fight extremism, fanaticism, racism and hatred. But to claim that the guy is not anti-Semitic because he is a Jew is obviously false. Why should Jews be any different than any other people? Being born a Jew makes you neither better nor immune to self-hatred.

NOTE: It is worth noting that Semits were originally believed to be the descendents of Shem. Then the term Semitic was confined to the ethnic groups who have historically spoken Semitic languages, which includes Arabic. Even though Semitism is widely used as a synonym for Jewishness, (and anti-Semitism for anti-Judaism), genetics shows that Palestinians, Syrians and ethnic Jews have a common ancestry.


At 17:28, Anonymous marc said...

Well, guys, first, your question "Can a Jew be anti-semitic?" is only answered in a few words at the end of your article, which sounds a pity.
Besides, you're showing this Shamir/Jermas/ Ermash is not a Jew. Being born one doesn't entail remaining one the rest of your life! That would, first, be an error, to view Jews as "biologically" determined to keep this "identity" forever, plus, why would that question be confined to Jews only? Does "being" Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, whatever, mean you can't question, even "hate" part of your culture/religion?!


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