Cutting through the bullshit.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

A certain irrationality

When the NY Times brought in TimesSelect a while ago, I was really grateful that I didn’t have to read Thomas Friedman anymore. But last July, they gave free access to the whole site for a week or so and I came across this lame article on academic freedom by one Stanley Fish, a bigshot academic in Florida. Which prompted me to write this devastating critique on my old blog.

Apparently they’ve given him a weekly column where he can display his ignorance and prejudice, because he wrote in his column, Is it good for the Jews? on Monday,

I can imagine a time in the not-so-distant future when American Jews might feel precarious once again. There is a certain irrationality to this imagining, given that at this moment, I am sitting in a very nice house in Delray Beach, Fla., and taking advantage of the opportunity afforded me by The New York Times to have my say on anything I like every Monday. And in a few months I will repair to an equally nice house in the upstate New York town of Andes, where I will be engaging in the same pleasurable activity. Sounds like a good life, and it is.

Half his luck! And of course it’s not unusual for the Times to take on some real…well, commentators, Friedman himself not least among them. I remember being scandalised when they gave William Safire a weekly column ‘On language’ where he proceeded to enunciate opinions as backward and uninformed as his political views.

Anyway, Fish reckons that there are grounds for him to fear anti-Semitism, as if he were trying to lend credibility to Atzmon’s ‘pretraumatic stress disorder’ theory.

After summarising Mearscheimer and Walt’s famous dog wagging hypothesis, he writes,

The war was a huge mistake and is causing us no end of trouble at home and in the world at large. The lobby that led us into it is a de facto agent for a foreign government — Israel. Members of that lobby are largely, though not exclusively, Jewish. And that’s where the anti-Semitism comes in. Or does it? One reason the lobby is immune from criticism, Mearsheimer and Walt explain, is that criticism, when it appears, is always re-described as anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitism is something no one wants to be accused of. Their point, and it has been made by many, is that there is no reason to assume that those who criticize Israel and argue that America’s uncritical support for a flawed state is strategically unwise and morally wrong are anti-Semitic.

Well, it turns out, he claims, that there is empirical evidence that this is wrong.

Charles Small and his Yale colleague Edward Kaplan have recently published an article in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the title of which also tells its own story: ‘Anti-Israel Sentiment Predicts Anti-Semitism in Europe’. What Small and Kaplan find is that ‘Those with extreme anti-Israel sentiment are roughly six times more likely to harbor anti-Semitic views than those who do not fault Israel on the measures studied, and among those respondents deeply critical of Israel, the fraction that harbors anti-Semitic views exceeds 50 percent’.

Christian was kind enough to secure me a copy of Kaplan and Small’s paper (subscription required). It does indeed find a correlation between what the authors are pleased to describe as ‘extreme anti-Israel sentiment’ and a cluster of indicators of anti-Semitic sentiment. The quote from Kaplan and Small, incidentally, is accurate, although it actually expresses the same thing twice.

Now one thing about statistics is it doesn’t matter how clever or sophisticated your methods if the basic data are bogus or if you ask the wrong questions of the data. Kaplan and Small are quite up front about the questions asked in the Anti Defamation League (ADL) survey that they are reanalysing for their paper and about their analytical methods. As they should be.

This first thing you notice in their paper is that they start from certain assumptions. For example, in their very first paragraph they quote London Mayor Ken Livingston’s assertion, ‘Sharon continues to organise terror. More than three times as many Palestinians as Israelis have been killed in the present conflict’. Then they go on to assert, ‘Many Israeli and Jewish individuals and organizations have characterized statements such as these as anti-Semitic in effect if not intent, given that Israel is singled out in the face of silence over human rights violations committed elsewhere.’ [my emphasis]

According to the Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, between 29 September 2000 and 31 January 2007, Israeli security forces and civilians killed 4057 Palestinians, while Palestinians killed 1020 Israeli troops and civilians over the same period. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFE) claims 1130 Israeli victims of ‘Palestinian violence and terrorism’ since September 2000. The most recent of these, however, which is outside the period the B’tselem statistics cover, was the 25 February case ‘of Erez Levanon, 42, of Bat Ayin in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, killed by multiple stab wounds... Security officials believe that the murder was terror-related.’ [my emphasis] Without actually checking each and every casualty description I can’t be sure, but I suspect that the discrepancy of 109 over the relevant period may well arise from inconclusive cases like Erez Levanon. I haven’t found an estimate of Palestinian deaths on the MFE website. But if we accept the B’Tselem count for Palestinian dead, even if the MFE count of Israeli dead is accurate, there are still more than three times as many Palestinians as Israelis killed. Almost seven times as many Palestinian minors (815) as Israeli minors (115) were killed. So it’s not as if Livingston was saying anything contentious, just reporting a fact, and understating it somewhat, to boot, as it would seem that nearly four times as many Palestinians as Israelis have perished in the violence since 2000.

But of course that’s not the point. The point is that Kaplan and Small have joined the chorus alleging that critics single out Israeli human rights abuses. Now it is a fact that not everyone who ever condemns Israeli atrocities always also condemns some other government’s atrocities in the very same sentence. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t do so in other contexts. Many, probably most, of those who condemn Israeli violence against Palestinians also condemn Saudi human rights violations against women, Indian atrocities in the Valley of Kashmir, Australian violations of Indigenous rights, the US occupation of Iraq, and any other anti human abomination we find out about. To say that Israel’s critics single it out simply isn’t true.

But there’s another factor at work. As I’ve mentioned before, the Egyptian government does not purport to lock up its political opponents on my behalf. The Israeli government does claim to act for me and in doing so imposes a special responsibility on me to speak out against it to proclaim, ‘Not in my name!’, as a non Jew can’t. By refusing to make this explicit in the context of their ‘singled out’ assertion, Kaplan and Small betray the prejudices they bring to bear on their research.

Now the syntax of that sentence leaves it ambiguous whether it’s ‘Many Israeli and Jewish individuals and organizations’ or Kaplan and Small themselves who take the assertion as ‘given’. But even granting them the benefit of the doubt, if they were truly dispassionate, they would clarify that they did not wish to take a position on the allegation, or something of that sort.

The second thing you notice is the presumption they mention, that

Presumably, those with anti-Semitic leanings would be more likely to espouse anti-Israel viewpoints than those who are not anti-Semitic (given that Israel presents itself as a Jewish state)…

It’s easy to see how anyone would make this association and presume as they do – Israel says it’s ‘a Jewish state’, so if you don’t like Jews, you won’t like Israel. But if you think about it, a Jewish state is the answer to the anti-Semites’ dreams. It endorses their view that Jews and non Jews just can’t get along and creates a space where all the Jews can go and get out of their face. And if you read Herzl and other Zionist thinkers, they make this quite explicit. For example, ‘Governments of all countries scourged by Anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain the sovereignty we want.’ (Herzl, Der Judenstadt, ch. 2) So it turns out that Kaplan and Small are proceeding from some poorly thought out and unjustified assumptions. To compound this, a few pages further on, they write,

As discussed earlier, presumably those with anti-Semitic views are more likely to oppose a Jewish state than others…

The ‘earlier’ discussion they refer to is the very passage I just quoted. There, they wrote of ‘anti-Israel viewpoints’. This could be ambiguous, but as we’ll see in a moment, they define ‘anti-Israel sentiment’ quite rigorously. But now the ‘anti-Israel viewpoints’ have magically transformed into ‘oppose a Jewish state’. As we’ll see in a moment, none of the indicators deployed to detect anti-Israel sentiment interrogates views on anything like the legitimacy of a Jewish state. It’s just that the authors can’t help betraying that they are among those who consider criticism of Israeli policy equivalent to advocating abolition of the Jewish state.

The third thing is the indicators on the basis of which they derive their concept of ‘extreme anti-Israel sentiment’. This is detected on the basis of agreement with these four propositions (antiIsrael response in parentheses):

  • The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is similar to South Africa’s treatment of blacks during apartheid. (agree a lot)
  • Who do you think is more responsible for the past three years of violence in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Israelis, or the Palestinians? (Israel)
  • In your opinion, during military activities inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, do the Israeli Defense Forces intentionally target Palestinian civilians, or are civilian casualties an accidental outcome of Israel’s military response? (IDF intentionally target civilians)

· In your opinion, is there any justification for Palestinian suicide bombers that target Israeli civilians? (yes)

Now the third question doesn’t really belong here at all, because it’s not a matter of opinion whether dropping a 500lb bomb on a block of flats to kill one ‘suspected militant’, or shelling a beach where families are picnicking, or lobbing 155mm rounds at a residential building at 4:00 in the morning deliberately target civilians. I suppose some might entertain some doubt as to whether the victims of extrajudicial executions, or ‘targeted assassinations’ as they are denominated in mainstream media speak, are civilians, but since they don’t get to defend themselves in court, we can’t know that, can we? On reflection though, maybe it’s just as useful as the other three questions in detecting extreme pro Israeli bias. If you can truly believe those civilian casualties are ‘just collateral damage’, there’s no doubt where your sympathies lie.

In my view, apart from the third, these are not bad questions to determine attitudes to Israeli policy in the occupied territories. They don’t tell us anything about attitudes to Israel’s existence, to Israeli policy towards Palestinian Israeli citizens, or towards the Palestinian refugees. Or about Israeli policy towards neighbouring countries, or towards the US, or Turkey, or Iran. Or the Israeli arms industry, or its nuclear arsenal. They shed no light on attitudes to the idea of a racist ethnocracy, building a state on the basis of terrorism and ethnic cleansing, or to the establishment of a colonial settler state as a bastion of European and American imperialism on Palestinian land.

By selecting the indicators they have to detect ‘extreme anti-Israel sentiment’, the authors reveal not only their bias, but also an unsuitably cavalier attitude to definition. Furthermore, by misinterpreting the meaning of the selected indicators, the authors undermine their claim to have found a correlation specifically between ‘extreme anti-Israel sentiment’ and ‘anti-Semitic attitudes’.

What they correlate this with is an ‘anti-Semitism index’ (ASI) based on the number of statements the respondents agreed (in the case of the eleventh, disagreed) with:

  • Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.
  • Jews are more willing than others to use shady practices to get what they want.
  • Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country.
  • Jews have too much power in the business world.
  • Jews have lots of irritating faults.
  • Jews stick together more than other (CITIZENS OF RESPONDENT’S COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE).
  • Jews always like to be at the head of things.
  • Jews have too much power in international financial markets.
  • Jews have too much power in our country today.
  • Jewish business people are so shrewd that others do not have a fair chance to compete.

· Jews are just as honest as other business people.

Again, these seem like plausible indicators of antisemtism, although I can think of better ones, for example:

  • I would hire a Jew if they were the most suitable candidate for a job.
  • I would rent a residential property to a Jew.
  • Jews should not be restricted to certain residential neighbourhoods.
  • Jews should not be restricted to certain occupations.

· I would be happy for my child to marry a Jew.

But we can only go by what the ADL survey actually asked. And if a respondent agreed with more than five of those statements they count as anti-Semitic.

The fourth interesting fact we notice is that of the 5004 respondents across ten European countries, only 14% did so. That is, 702 respondents agreed with six or more of those statements. In the publication itself, however, I would have liked to see an ordinary table correlating each anti-Semitism indicator with each ‘anti-Israel’ indicator. In any event, among these 14%, the finding is that there is a direct correlation between ‘anti-Israel’ index (AII) and anti-Semitism. Specifically,

Only 9 percent of those with anti-Israel index scores of 0 report harboring anti-Semitic views, but the fraction of respondents harboring anti-Semitic views grows to 12, 22, 35, and 56 percent for anti-Israel index values of 1 through 4, respectively.

And even though there are correlations with factors like age, sex, income, religion, etc., these do not perturb this basic correlation – the more ‘anti-Israel’ views expressed, the greater the proportion with an anti-Semitism index greater than 5.

A spreadsheet with the full dataset is available on the Sage site without a subscsription. So I did a little analysis of my own. While it is quite true that just over 56% of those with an AII of 4 recorded an ASI greater than 5, Kaplan and Small don’t mention that the total number with an AII of 4 is 57, or just 1.14% of the sample of 5004. When the numbers get that small, questions of accuracy start to arise.

Returning to the issue I raised before about the validity of the question about whether Israeli troops intentionally target civilians, it turns out that no matter how anti-Semitic a person is by their measures, of those who only chose to agree with one ‘antiIsrael’ statement almost 55% chose that one in particular.

One of the things that’s missing from the analysis is the correlation between the two indices – Kaplan and Small, following ADL practice, have divided the twelve point anti-Semitism index scale into just two categories, anti-Semitic (6-11) and non anti-Semitic (0-5). They report that they did this analysis, but don’t provide the details.

…as a check on the sensitivity of our results to the specific cutoff employed in operationalizing anti-Semitism (anti-Semitic index values in excess of 5), we also explored ordered logistic models that estimate the probability a respondent reports any particular level of the anti-Semitic index (rather than only index values in excess of 5 or not). These more complex models did not lead to any important differences from the results described earlier…

The reason this is taking so long to post is that I had to download some statistical analysis software and start learning to use it. Anyway, here is the cross tabulation of ASI by AII.

Another thing that’s missing is the reverse of what they report. We know that 9% of those with an AII of 0 are anti-Semitic, 12% of those with an AII of 1, and so forth. But we don’t know what proportion of those with such and such an ASI are ‘anti-Israel’, or even what proportion of each of the two ASI categories are ‘anti-Israel’. I think this is rather a significant omission. It’s all very well to say that the level of ‘anti-Israel’ sentiment accurately predicts anti-Semitic sentiment among the 14% who have it. But we also need to know whether anti-Semitism can predict ‘anti-Israel’ sentiment.

Using the data in the table, it turns out that 30% of those with an ASI over 5 also have an AII of 0 and another 29% have an AII of 1. The correlation still holds, because the corresponding proportions for those with an ASI under 6 are 49% and 33%, but it’s not as impressive from this angle.

Looking at the 186 persons (3.7% of the sample) with the very highest anti-Semitic indices, those who agreed with 9, 10, or all 11 of the eleven indicator statements, the plurality, just over 25% (47) still had an antiIsrael index of 0, and only 16 (8.6%) had an AII of 4.

Partly because they did not report this kind of analysis, the authors conclude,

It is noteworthy that fewer than one-quarter of those with anti-Israel index scores of only 1 or 2 harbor anti-Semitic views (as defined by anti-Semitic index scores exceeding 5), which supports the contention that one certainly can be critical of Israeli policies without being anti-Semitic. However, among those with the most extreme anti-Israel sentiments in our survey (anti-Israel index scores of 4), 56 percent report anti-Semitic leanings. Based on this analysis, when an individual’s criticism of Israel becomes sufficiently severe, it does become reasonable to ask whether such criticism is a mask for underlying anti-Semitism.

First of all, while the ‘fewer than one quarter’ statement is strictly true, they could have expressed it more clearly. It is most accurate of the population with an AII of 2, 22.4% of whom meet their definition of anti-Semitic. Only 12.4% of those with an AII of 1 and 15.5% of the total with AII or 1 or 2 come up anti-Semitic.

More importantly, in reality, it is not at all reasonable to ask whether criticism of Israel mask anti-Semitism. It is much more reasonable to interrogate to what extent real political objections to Israeli actions express themselves in the form of anti-Semitic stereotypes. It is probably significant that those reporting their religion as Islam were nearly eight times more likely to register as ‘anti-Semitic’ than those reporting Christianity or no religion. (Interestingly, among the 25 persons identifying their religion as Judaism, twelve had an antiIsrael index of 1 or 2 and 80% (20) had an anti-Semitic index greater than 0.) This is almost certainly because the Israeli government explicitly carries out all its activities in the name of Jews, because it establishes settlements and roads in the West Bank for Jews only, because the bulk of the land in Israel is held in trust for Jews only, and because the Arabic media emphasise these facts. Obviously, they are not justified in coming to the racist conclusions the survey results indicate. But it is worth understanding how they come to do so.

It might be worth pointing out that Israeli Jews, too, have been known to attach racist stereotypes to others, and not just 14% of them either. In a 2004 survey of Israeli students, roughly contemporaneous with the ADL survey,

75 percent of Jewish students believe that Arabs are uneducated people, are uncivilized and are unclean…69 percent of the Jewish students think that Arabs are not smart…75 percent of Jewish students feel Arabs are violent…75 percent of Arab students showed willingness to meet with Jewish students as opposed to less than 50 percent willingness amongst Jewish students.

Another survey of Israeli Jews found,

68 percent of respondents said they do not wish to live next to an Arab neighbor, compared with 26 percent who said they would agree….46 percent said they would not be willing to have Arab friends who would visit them at their home. Some 63 percent of the Jewish public sees Arab civilians as a security and demographic threat, and 34 percent of the Jewish public sees Arab culture as inferior compared to Israeli culture. Half of the population, according to the poll, is anxious and uncomfortable when hearing Arabic on the street. … 18 percent of respondents said they feel intense hatred for Arab citizens of the country.

…and 40 percent believe that the State should encourage Arabs to emigrate from the country.

As for American Jews, the American Jewish Committee’s ‘2006 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion’ conducted September 25 – October 16, 2006 revealed that 81% agreed with the statement ‘The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel’ and 55% approve ‘of the way the Israeli government has handled the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon’. This is hardly direct evidence of anti Arab attitudes, but in context, it could be suggestive of such attitudes.

Getting back to Fish, as he reads it,

Small and Kaplan are careful to disclaim any causal implications that might be drawn from their analysis: they are not saying that anti-Semitism produces opposition to Israel or that opposition to Israel produces anti-Semitism, only that the two attitudes will more often than not be found in the same individual: scratch an opponent of Israel and you are likely — 56 percent of the time — to find an anti-Semite. This does suggest that if opposition to Israel increases, there will be an increase in anti-Semitism because the population of the 56 percenters will be larger. Is this something Jews, even Jews living in the United States, should be apprehensive about?

Of course it suggests nothing of the kind. It’s not out of the question, but bear in mind that we’re generalising on the basis of 32 people here. Israel does insist that its land grabbing and extrajudicial executions and so forth are prosecuted on behalf of all Jews and a great many Jews, perhaps Professor Fish himself among them, accept that, embrace that, even take pride in it. It is well within the realm of the possible that an increase in opposition to Israeli policies or to Israel per se could be associated with a rise in anti-Semitism. But it is far from a sure thing. Apart from anything else, it’s not ‘an opponent of Israel’ you have to scratch, but specifically one who holds all four of the tested views, including, significantly, support for suicide bombing of civilians, to get the 56% chance of their harbouring six or more anti-Semitic stereotypes. That means that, from the data provided, even among those 426 who support suicide bombing civilians, only 30.5% (130) are anti-Semitic, as defined.

Meanwhile, a small but increasing proportion of Jews is speaking out against the worst of the atrocities in the occupied territories, as evidenced in the British Independent Jewish Voices and Independent Australian Jewish Voices initiatives and organisations like Jewish Voice for Peace in the US. And they are particularly careful not to express anti-Semitic sentiments. As are Gentile critics like Jimmy Carter. As these voices become louder, they may exert a downward pressure on the association between Israeli war crimes and ordinary Jewish people that could ease or break the linkage with anti-Semitic attitudes.

Should American Jews be apprehensive? Well Kaplan and Small analysed 2004 data from ten European countries. There is no way of knowing whether analysis of similar data for the US, if it exists, would find the same correlation. And make no mistake, they did find a real correlation, even if their approach was biased and they accordingly failed to do some crucial analysis.

What we do know, is that a Gallup poll conducted just last month revealed 58% of Americans, when asked, ‘In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinian Arabs?’, answer the Israelis. This is the highest proportion recorded in the survey’s 20 year history, except for last year, immediately after the election of Hamas, and 1991, during the Gulf War when Iraq fired some scud missiles at Israeli targets.

At the same time, ‘sympathies’ for the Palestinians are higher than ever at 20%. Related data show 63% of Americans reported ‘favorable views’ of Israel, down from 68% last year, and 30% had ‘unfavorable views’, up from 23% in 2006. At the same time, ‘favorable’ views of the PA rose from 11% to 16% since February 2006, while ‘unfavorable’ views fell from 78% to 75%.

A BBC poll just released shows that, when asked about twelve countries (actually, half were asked about 6, and half about the other six), ‘Please tell me if you think each of the following are having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world’, among 28,389 respondents in 27 countries, with 56% attributing a negative influence, Israel edged out Iran, with 54%, for first place. The US was close behind with 51%. Canada came in last, with just 14%. Looked at the other way, Israel and Iran took last and second last in positive influence, with 17% and 18%, respectively. The US came a distant fifth, with 30%. Canada and Japan tied for first place, with 54%.

When broken down by country of respondent, Israel got a positive rating of 41% in the US, 16% in Australia, and a surprisingly low 2% in Turkey – the single lowest positive rating for any country from any country. Its negative ratings were 33% in the US, 68% in Australia, and a very unsurprising 85% in Lebanon. In Europe, positive ratings ranged from 6% in Hungary to 19% in Russia, while negative ranged from 40% in Russia to 77% in Germany. There is no way of correlating these results directly with the ADL results. But in comparison with the US, there seems to be a tendency in the European countries the BBC surveyed to assign a more negative and less positive influence to Israel, which may be indicative of the kind of ‘anti-Israel’ sentiments Kaplan and Small analysed. If so, then Professor Fish has little cause for apprehension in the US in the here and now.

‘A certain irrationality’? I’ll say.


  1. anti-Semitic in effect if not intent

    So according to Small & Kaplan (& Fish, I suppose) it is anti-Semitic to hold opinions which, while have valid origins and appropriately describe the realities one confronts but may reflect badly on Jews as a group?

    Thought police, much?

  2. Thanks for the thorough analysis. What stands out to me are (a) the large number of respondents who would answer any question of the form "Jews..." in the affirmative - showing how deeply ingrained a racist view of the world in general seems to be and (b) the high support of Israel reflected in the survey: about 80% of the respondents have "anti-Israel index" 0 or 1 (I'm guessing the "1" is usually just the statement of fact that Israel is targeting civilians in its military operations). And this in Europe, a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment.

  3. Shunra, As I said, yes, as far as I'm concerned, and as Christian has pointed out, generalisations about 'races' or 'ethnic groups' are racist, and those about Jews are specifically antisemitic, including 'Jews have extra brain capacity' and the like. It may be the case, for example that a very large proportion of Jews believe that a Jewish state in Palestine has a 'right to exist'. But as soon as you say, 'Jews support Israel', it becomes a racist, antisemitic statement. So I have no big problems with Kaplan and Small's antisemitism indicators, although as I said, I think they could be improved upon. Bear in mind that they didn't actually frame the questions or carry out the survey. The ADL did. K&S were just analysing the ADL data.

    Christian, FYI,
    1. The overall proportion with ASI>0 (i.e. agreeing with ANY antisemitic statement) is 80.3% (4017/5004), including 20 of 25 Jews. It IS appalling, isn't it?
    2. The overall proportion with AII=0 is 46.2% (2310/5004).
    3. The proportion of those with AII=1 whose sole antiIsrael indicator was 'target civilians' was 54.7% (890/1626).

  4. Some insights on the origin of Arab 'antisemitism' from Ramzy Baroud (

    As horrifying as it was, it was a most predictable routine: we would turn all lights off in anticipation, my parents would take their positions to open the door as quickly as possible once the loud banging at the door commenced; once the Israeli jeeps’ engines were turned off, it was the matter of a few seconds before it all began: a fury of pounding at the door; “who is it?” my dad would ask, as if he suspected anyone else but the tormenting soldiers: their reply was always the same, always as confident as it was terrifying; “Yahoud”, they would reply.

    I grew up making the association between “Yahoud”, the Arabic word for “Jews”, and the horror my family and had experienced. When my cousin Wael was shot dead in his teenage years, while on his way to study with me- it was the “Yahoud” who killed him. When my childhood friend Raed Munis was shot repeatedly as he dug a grave for a neighbor of ours, shot just an hour earlier, he was killed by the “Yahoud”. When my mother was struck in the chest repeatedly by the butt of an Israeli soldier’s machine gun, a beating that led to her untimely death 50 days later, that too was carried out by the “Yahoud”.

    Palestinians in the Occupied Territories ascribe all of these practices to the “Yahoud”, simply because this is how Israel wishes to define itself, a Jewish state. As a child, in my many many terrifying encounters with the army, this is, without exception, how they chose to address themselves. Thus, every inch of land that was stolen from Palestinians in the last 40 years of occupation was done in the name of the “Yahoud” and their security; every settlement erected on a poor Palestinian farmer’s orchard, every life that was taken, every brick of every wall that was built and continues to be constructed over confiscated Palestinian land in defiance of international law was also done in the name of the “Yahoud”. Palestinians, thus - most Arabs and Muslims and others as well - hold the “Yahoud” responsible for their plight, not out of their ingrained and inherent anti-Semitism, as some so shrewdly or naively choose to believe, but because on the basis of its Jewishness Israel excused all of its inexcusable actions. If someone is to blame for this, it is Israel, not its detractors. It’s as simple as that.

  5. Furthere insights into Arab Holocaust denial from Joseph Massad (

    While holocaust denial in the West is indeed one of the strongest manifestations of anti-Semitism, most Arabs who deny the holocaust deny it for political not racist reasons. This point is even conceded by the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Orientalist Bernard Lewis. Their denial is based on the false Zionist claim that the holocaust justifies Zionist colonialism. The Zionist claim is as follows: Since Jews were the victims of the holocaust, then they have the right to colonise Palestine and establish a Jewish colonial-settler state there. Those Arabs who deny the holocaust accept the Zionist logic as correct. Since these deniers reject the right of Zionists to colonise Palestine, the only argument left to them is to deny that the holocaust ever took place, which, to their thinking, robs Zionism of its allegedly "moral" argument. But the fact that Jews were massacred does not give Zionists the right to steal someone else's homeland and to massacre the Palestinian people. The oppression of a people does not endow it with rights to oppress others. If those Arab deniers refuse to accept the criminal Zionist logic that justifies the murder and oppression of the Palestinians by appealing to the holocaust, then these deniers would no longer need to make such spurious arguments. All those in the Arab world who deny the Jewish holocaust are in my opinion Zionists.

  6. But that's not what I said, Ernie.

    I am of the opinion that Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories constitute war crimes. In particular, the demolitions of the homes of people who are considered to be family members of a person suspected of terror affiliation.

    This position hsa valid origins. It appropriately describes the realities I confront.

    Does it reflect badly on Jews as a group? I am told that yes, it does, because Israel is the Jewish state. I am not saying that "Jews demolish houses" or that "Jews are war criminals" - that would be preposterous. But I have been (frequently) accused of anti-Semitism (and worse, of crypto-anti-Semitism) because of my opinion about Israel's policies, and the opinion of my accusers about how Israel's actions reflect on Jews in general.

    And this is why criticism of Israel is seen as anti-Semitism - not because of anything that I say or imply (I certainly don't hold the groupd of "Jews in general" culpable for Israel's war crimes) but because there are many people who see all actions by Israel as "actions by Jews".

    Interstingly, only Jews have felt blamed by my accusations of Israel. Not all Jews, but only Jews. In particular, Jews who have closely affiliated themselves with Israeli causes felt that when I said "Israel does X and X is bad" that I was accusing all Jews of that bad behavior.

    But it isn't me making that (unwarranted) generalization. It is the people who turn around and accuse me of anti-Semitism. And that generalization is bigotted and racist.

  7. Sorry, Shunra, since Kaplan and Small only make claims about antisemitism from the ADL's 11 antisemitism indicators, I thought that was what you were talking about. They explicitly do not hold that criticism of Israel’s crimes against humanity is anti-Semitic. They show that there is a correlation between that kind of criticism, as measured by the ADL survey, and the anti-Semitism indicators. They do opine that consistent criticism of Israeli crimes may often be a mask for anti-Semitic attitudes. What I hope I demonstrated was that the correlation they do indeed detect in the data is not as robust as they present it and that their interpretation is questionable. If, as I thought, what you had been asking was whether generalising from ‘the realities one confronts’ such as ‘Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind’, was interpreted in the article as anti-Semitic, my answer was and remains, yes, it is.

    Since what you asked about was the ‘anti Israel’ indicators, then no, that’s not what they’re saying. They only assert the correlation I described. A correlation, as you’re probably aware, is not evidence of a cause and effect relationship one way or the other, although you’d have a hard time proving a cause and effect relationship in the absence of a correlation. But there are other possibilities, like both correlated phenomena arising from a third that causes both, or coincidence. For example, there is supposed to be an observed correlation between ice cream sales and drowning deaths. They both increase when the weather is warm.

    You are, of course, absolutely right that Israel claims it is carrying out its crimes against humanity in the name of and behalf of all Jews. And you are right that a great many Jews and non Jews believe this to be the case. That’s why, when you level accusations against Israel, many Jews and non Jews take it as antisemitic. That’s why, when you level accusations against Israel, many Jews and no non Jews take it personally. And that’s why I reckon Jews incur a special obligation to speak out against those crimes.

    When they write of ‘anti-Semitic in effect if not intent’, Kaplan and Small ascribe that view to ‘Many Israeli and Jewish individuals and organizations’ who ‘have characterized statements such as these as’ such. So although I think it is clear that they do share that view, they never actually assert it or claim that the data support it.

  8. Thanks for the further explanation, Ernie!

  9. We aim to please! Do you like my flowers?

  10. Flowers? Am I somehow overlooking flowers?

    I adore the pic of Possum, though (you know what my name means, right?)

  11. Your profile says it's Aramaic for 'the cat', which is surprising, as in Hebrew it would be hakhatul and I'd kind of expect a close cognate in Aramaic. In particular, Aramaic doesn't appear to have a definite article prefix?

    Above the picture of Possum, there should be two square panels showing slideshows of photos, which I keep changing. But one of them is usually some wildflower pictures I took on some hikes. Sometimes those boxs just display numebrs. Is that what you're getting? Anyway, if you can't see them on the blog, try this link:
    That will take you directly to my flower album, but navigating up one level will take you to a list of all my albums. I'll put a link in the sidebar somewhere, too.