What Exactly Did Steven Salaita Mean By That Tweet?

Though I don’t think this changes whether or not Steven Salaita should have been dehired, here is my interpretation of that tweet of his that has people, understandably, most upset: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.”

One of the great achievements of the human rights movement of the 20th century is that it made anti-Semitism into a term of universal opprobrium. Anti-Semitism was associated with a terrible animus toward Jews, discrimination, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Kind of like racism after the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Nobody wants to be called a racist, nobody wants to be called an anti-Semite.

But today we see three developments: first, Israel and many of its defenders claim that Israel is coterminous with Jewishness — indeed, sometimes, that Israel exhausts the definition of Jewishness; second, Israel has come to be associated, in the eyes of many, with colonization, racism, occupation, population transfer/ethnic cleansing; and, third, movements against colonization, racism, occupation, and the like are considered to be honorable because those things are thought to be, like anti-Semitism itself, among the great sins of the 20th century.

Because of these three developments, Israel has perversely made anti-Semitism into something honorable: i.e., a discourse that is not about animus toward Jews but rather about opposition to colonization, population transfer, occupation, and the like.

I should say, as I already have, that I disagree with this understanding of anti-Semitism today. But I think it’s the only interpretation of that tweet that makes sense of Salaita’s overall commitments, which include an opposition to Zionism, an opposition to anti-Semitism, and a belief that the word anti-Semitism is often used to delegitimate criticism of Israel and opposition to Zionism.

Admittedly, a mouthful, and considerably longer than a 140-character tweet. But that’s the difference between Twitter and a blog post.


  1. Stephen Frug August 8, 2014 at 11:10 am | #

    So would you similarly defend a tweet that said “Al-Queada: transforming ‘Islamaphobia’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1988”? It’s defenders also claim, I believe, that their sort of militancy is coterminous with Islam.

    I agree with you, I think (still reading through the issue), that Salaita’s firing is wrong on academic freedom grounds. And I agree with you that Israel’s actions (e.g. in Gaza) are horrific. But I don’t think that tweet makes any sense unless you basically don’t care about *actual* anti-semitism — which, however lesser it is in comparison to what Isreal’s doing in Gaza, is still a real and genuine problem, if reporting from Europe is to be believed.

    (Since it’s relevant here, I also rather disagree with your comment, in an earlier post, that this tone is “part of the medium” of twitter. (paraphrasing from memory). Lots and lots of people tweet without saying casually awful things. This sort of defense is like saying that being a right-wing blowhard is just part of the medium of talk radio. Well, it doesn’t have to be.)

    Perhaps it’s not a good thing to talk about in the wake of the man’s getting fired for expressing his views. But I’m still having trouble reading *that tweet* as anything but odious.

    Yeah, a blogpost can include nuance that a tweet can’t. But it seems like if the only way to express yourself in 140 characters is to say something horrible, then the decent thing to do is to find another medium for your point.

    • Corey Robin August 8, 2014 at 11:21 am | #

      “So would you similarly defend a tweet…”

      I’m not sure what you mean by that. As I said in my post — and have said elsewhere on this blog — I disagree with this argument; I don’t think anti-Semitism can be explained or justified by Israel’s actions (though incidentally Nathan Glazer did think they could be explained by those actions). So I’m hardly defending it, and so your point re Al Qaeda is really neither here nor there.

      I actually think you’re quite wrong about how that tweet only makes sense if you “basically don’t care about *actual* anti-semitism.” You offer no evidence of that, and as I’ve tried to show in this post, one could in fact quite care about anti-Semitism and still agree with the tweet; you’re merely making an assertion that you can’t, without any proof whatsoever. But more important notice how you’ve radically shifted the bar. The charge against Salaita is no longer that he’s an active, affirmative anti-Semite but rather that he doesn’t care about actual anti-Semitism, which you yourself acknowledge is less in comparison to what Israel is doing in Gaza. I could well see someone saying that given the much greater evil that is the Israeli assault on Gaza that actual anti-Semitism, while something they think is wrong, is not going to be high on their list of concerns. If that’s the most you can say against Salaita, well, you’re not going to get very far with me.

      • Stephen Frug August 8, 2014 at 11:40 am | #

        ““So would you similarly defend a tweet…” I’m not sure what you mean by that.”

        I mean, simply, that you seem to be saying with this very post that you disagree with the tweet but that it is defensible; I take that to be a (type of) defense of the tweet: not as one you agree with but as one that is plausible. I am curious if you would make an identical defense — which it seems to me you could make — of the parallel tweet I imagined.

        “You offer no evidence of that, and as I’ve tried to show in this post, one could in fact quite care about anti-Semitism and still agree with the tweet;”

        I think the evidence is the tweet itself; I think it’s clear if you imagine a parallel case saying that, say, racism or sexism is “honorable”. Hence my imagined tweet. You may think the evidence doesn’t support the claim, but I’ve certainly presented *some* evidence; it’s wrong to say that I said so “without any proof whatsoever”. Yes, you tried to argue the contrary in your post; I found your argument unpersuasive, for reasons I tried to indicate.

        Finally, as for lowering the bar: I don’t think so, or at least I didn’t mean to be. I think I was trying to say that the best-case interpretation of the tweet is that it simply doesn’t care about antisemitism. I actually think the tweet is a lot worse than that (it says, on its face, that antisemitism is honorable, which is to say, that it endorses it.) In other words, rather than lowering the bar I’m arguing (whether persuasively or not) that the best-case interpretation is pretty poor.

        Now I’m not saying that Salaita is an antisemite; I think that his post *at best* was indifferent to, and on its face endorse, antisemitism. That’s not the same thing: I think people can make sexist remarks without being (essentially? holistically? the entire notion is a bit confused) sexist. Similarly here. I think this was a disgusting thing to say, even if you grant — as I do, not hesitantly — that Israel is committing terrible crimes & claiming others’ antisemitism as a defense.

        The post you linked to arguing that he was opposed to antisemitism,
        basing it on the larger context of his tweets. But people do say things against their own grains, make statements that are indefensible within the larger context of defensible remarks. That’s what I’m saying of this tweet.

        Finally, I might be misreading your tone, but your reply sounded hostile to me. I want to reiterate what I tried to indicate in the first comment: I think of myself as (at least broadly) on your side on issues relating to both academic freedom and Israel/Palestine. I’m trying to raise and sort through genuine issues, in good faith. Maybe you don’t want to hear it, given that Salaita is an internet-friend of yours and his job is in jeopardy; in which case, fine, I’ll bow out of the discussion. But while I may or may not be *correct* in my interpretation of his tweet (and in my disagreement with your post), please do me the courtesy of trusting that I am operating in good faith here. I like your work and your blog, and read it regularly; I think you’re wrong on this narrow corner of this issue. I’m open to being convinced otherwise. But so far I’m not.

      • SocraticGadfly August 23, 2014 at 9:17 pm | #

        I think this is a collision of two “codes” of modern academia. (I think the “go missing” Tweet is quite arguably hate speech, even if not an incitement to violence.) Therefore, I see this as a big steaming pile of schadenfreude, petards being hoisted, and similar. http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2014/08/stevensalaita-is-not-cause-celebre-in.html

  2. beedle August 8, 2014 at 11:35 am | #

    There are two other possible interpretations of those scare quotes, one (relatively) benign and one not so much. The benign one is that they refer to accusations of anti-Semitism by organized Jewry: i.e., that being accused of anti-Semitism was once a horrible thing, but now, it is an honorable badge to be worn by critics of Israel. That doesn’t make textual sense, though, because a mere accusation of anti-Semitism against someone who was not an anti-Semite was never horrible, except possibly in a reputational sense, and if considered exclusively in that sense, it hasn’t declined in horribleness.

    The other possible interpretation is that “anti-Semitism” is in scare quotes because Prof. Saiaita doesn’t believe that it really exists any longer, and that all talk of anti-Semitism is just the Jews trying to shut people up. In that case, he goes beyond not caring about anti-Semitism (which I wouldn’t regard as blithely as you do in any event) and into being an active anti-Semite. You know him better than I do, so maybe he didn’t mean that, but that reading does make textual sense.

  3. bangpound August 8, 2014 at 12:06 pm | #

    The tweet should be read in context of the tweets that Steven posted immediately before that one:

    Sun Jul 20 00:11:10 +0000 2014
    Dear Habara War Room Simpletons: Whatever #Israel is paying you, it should be less. Yours is the shittiest propaganda I’ve ever seen. #Gaza

    Sun Jul 20 00:13:35 +0000 2014
    If it’s “antisemitic” to deplore colonization, land theft, and child murder, then what choice does any person of conscience have? #Gaza

    Sun Jul 20 00:15:01 +0000 2014
    Zionists: transforming “antisemitism” from something horrible into something honorable since 1948. #Gaza #FreePalestine

    There is a concept of “making salad” in Israel advocacy. One former Jewish Agency student activist spoke to a blogger for 972mag a while ago:

    > I got trained by the Jewish Agency, how to take things that people say and make a “salad” out of them, like a mix, in order to appear more just.

    (from) http://972mag.com/how-a-jewish-agency-fellow-becomes-a-one-state-activist/76931/

    So this is what has happened. Steven’s tweet is taken out of the context of what he actually said so that other meanings can be wrongly implied to suit the agenda of punishing a professor for his views.

    • Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) August 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm | #

      Nice phraseology. An American might call it Palinization.

    • Felipe Nuñez August 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm | #


  4. Corey Robin August 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm | #

    If you guys read through this entire Twitter thread (https://twitter.com/stevesalaita/status/490650693741842433), and follow Salaita’s tweets, you’ll see that it pretty much confirms my interpretation of what he meant by that tweet. Notice that he also says, “My stand is fundamentally one of acknowledging and countering the horror of antisemitism.”


    • Stephen Frug August 8, 2014 at 12:26 pm | #

      Ok, I think I’m convinced. I think the best evidence is the immediately preceding tweet, cited by Bangpound in the comment above this one.

      • Stephen Frug August 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm | #

        (I mean, *also* cited… in your comment too, obviously.)

      • Felipe Nuñez August 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm | #

        I see here a pattern in the critics of Corey Robin’s opinion about this whole issue. It is almost as if some people, among them you, (and please correct me if I’m wrong)are saying that because anti-semitism exists, we cannot and must not critizice, at this time, zionism and/or anything related to the jewish question and by definition Israel. So my question would be: When is the right time? Do we wait until there is no genuine anti-semite around, no events happening in, say, France or anywhere for that matter ? Is it only that we can have a “civilised” exchange of opinions, and possible some real political action? When would that be, please?

      • Stephen Frug August 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm | #

        Felipe Nuñez, was that directed to me? Because if so, then I have no idea what you’re talking about. I said specifically above that I *didn’t* disagree with Corey on this whole issue, just this single point; and you left this as a comment on a comment I made noting that Corey had now convinced me *even* on this point! Maybe your comment was meant as a reply to someone else? Because otherwise I’m frankly baffled.

        • Felipe Nuñez August 8, 2014 at 6:29 pm | #

          Yes, Stephen, it was a reply to other comments. Sorry for late reply (maybe next time I shouldn’t try to participate in a forum like this one while at work…..). I always try to be civil and polite to anyone here. It’s great to be in company of people with bright minds (even if I disagree with quite some of them) on Corey’s site. That’s all for the moment.

      • hophmi August 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm | #

        No one has said this, Felipe.

        I’m still waiting for answers to two questions:

        1. Should what academics say in public play no role in their hiring?

        2. Is there a lack of pro-Palestinian voices in academia?

      • beedle August 8, 2014 at 3:44 pm | #

        Hmmm, yeah, the sequence convinces me too.

  5. Roquentin August 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm | #

    The joke was in poor taste, but to me that’s about the worst of it. The conversations about what is and isn’t okay to joke about is a long and complex one. I tend more towards the “in the right context nearly anything is funny,” Lenny Bruce style crowd. I certainly don’t think it warrants rescinding a job offer, but people are scared of anything that isn’t politically correct.

    On a side note, it is interesting how ideologically no one wants to own up to their prejudices anymore. I don’t know if you saw the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPVUeQtQQ_o) , but a black man upstate took a cell phone video of this white woman yelling all of these horrendous racist things at him. Almost immediately afterwards she was in the media claiming “I’m not a racist.” It’s gotten so absurd that one could imagine sitting at a Klan meeting where they went around the room complementing each other on how tolerant and completely non-racist they were.

  6. Aaron Gross August 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm | #

    The moral philosopher Michael Neumann, a passionate anti-Zionist, wrote a great article about anti-Semitism against, well, people like you.

    Every once in a while, some left-wing Jewish writer will take a deep breath, open up his (or her) great big heart, and tell us that criticism of Israel or Zionism is not antisemitism. Silently they congratulate themselves on their courage…I take a different view. I think we should almost never take antisemitism seriously, and maybe we should have some fun with it. I think it is particularly unimportant to the Israel-Palestine conflict, except perhaps as a diversion from the real issues. I will argue for the truth of these claims; I also defend their propriety. I don’t think making them is on a par with pulling the wings off flies.

    I think Neumann’s analysis is completely convincing, though his anti-Israel accusations are over the top.

    The article is at .

    • hophmi August 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm | #

      Neumann’s analysis is garbage. Most Zionist Jews will tell you that anti-Zionism is not the same thing as antisemitism.

      His view is also dangerous and deeply immoral. It is exactly this view that is prevalent in the anti-Israel community – that antisemitism need not be taken seriously – that has led people to be silent when people destroy Jewish businesses and attacks Jews physically in Paris, Berlin, and London, and that leads them to condone attacks on Israeli civilians and discount any legitimate fear Israelis may feel. It is this attitude that leads people to not only be nonchalant about the prevalence of Nazi imagery at anti-Israel rallies, but to actively encourage it. Mondoweiss just published an essay by a Quaker pacifist, who wrote about how he asked a couple to take down their sign, which had a swastika on it, as a way of comparing Israeli to Nazis. You should see the almost universal lashing he took from the commentators there. http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/couple-holding-swastika.html

      I think all of us know that the anti-Israel community uses Nazi imagery specifically to draw a parallel between the actions of Nazis and the actions of the ancestors of their victims. It’s an extremely offensive tactic, in addition to being totally without basis. It’s like criticizing African-Americans by comparing them to slaveholders; it’s disgusting. You don’t see this saturation of it anywhere else.

      Indeed, if Neumann believes that anti-Zionism means that antisemitism should not be taken seriously and that people should had some fun with it, that’s as good as argument as any that the beliefs are two sides of the same coin.

      • beedle August 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm | #

        Agreed – and also, the widespread tolerance for antisemitism within the anti-Zionist movement makes many Jews who would otherwise speak against Israeli actions hesitant to do so, lest they give aid and comfort to such people.

        As a wise friend of mine said recently, antisemitism is objectively pro-Zionist.

    • David B (@deliotb) August 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm | #

      Judging by your name, you are a potential victim of anti-Semitism. Judging by your comment, you have never been a victim of it. I hope you never are, and if you are, people take it seriously. Seventy years after the Holocaust, with anti-Semitism still rampant and deadly in much of the world, the idea that one should “have fun” with anti-Semitism because somehow this works against “Zionism” is about a disgusting a concept as I can imagine. It’s interesting that “Progressives” seem to think that racism against Jews is a subject for amusement. Can you imagine Neumann writing that “we should never take racism seriously?” No? Well, anti-Semitism is racism against Jews.

      • Harold August 11, 2014 at 10:00 am | #

        I don’t agree with racism of any kind, or of intolerance against a class merely for the sake of that class existing.

        With that being said, I find it interesting there seems to be a lot of conflation between true anti-Semitism and protest against the actions of the state of Israel, when the topic becomes the actions of the state of Israel. I am not Jewish, so I can’t claim authority on this – but it was my impression that the common religious teaching of Judaism speaks out against actions like Israel has taken against the Palestinians over the last forty years. If I am wrong, please let me know.

  7. Aaron Gross August 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm | #

    Forgot, this software doesn’t like naked URLs. Neumann’s article on anti-Semitism is here.

  8. David B (@deliotb) August 8, 2014 at 4:27 pm | #

    I disagree with Corey Robin on almost everything, but he’s likely right that Salaita shouldn’t have been unhired. But rather than blaming it on “Zionists,” blame it on the culture of political correctness at universities promoted by the left. Anyone who made comments similarly vituperative and offensive to most blacks or Hispanics or women or gays (even if misunderstood and taken out of context) would unceremoniously be unhired, with the approval of most progressives. The university chose not to distinguish Jews from other groups whose feelings need protection. Is there a reason it should?

    • Felipe Nuñez August 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm | #

      Great argument.

    • Keyboard Resistor (@freespeechlover) August 8, 2014 at 8:19 pm | #

      I think it’s also the privatization of public universities at work here-boards of trustees and administrators are scared of right-wing political attacks. They seem fearful of drawing a line that they know they should, because they are scared of boards of trustees who are not advocates for public universities but power brokers between them and legislatures. They are terrified of trustees firing them for making it more difficult for them to argue with legislators over budgets. They are also scared that some donor or potential donor will have their sensibilities ruffled and they’ll take their money elsewhere. And after all, legislatures have made threats in the past to cut funding. I think it’s all political theater, but there are deep fears in academia of going out of business.

  9. Nurit Baytch August 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm | #

    Is it the consensus that that tweet is Salaita’s most offensive? I consider his wish for the kidnapping of all West Bank settlers (in the aftermath of the Israeli teens’ kidnapping) to be in a league of its own:
    I regard a call for violence against ~350,000 civilians as beyond the pale of appropriate discourse, but according to many Salaita supporters, “the content of Salaita’s tweets were in fact consistent with the sentiments of leading experts on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

    • Aaron Gross August 9, 2014 at 7:48 am | #

      Nurit, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks that. And no matter how evil one thinks Israel’s settlement project is, at least tens of thousands of those people are blameless by anyone’s standards.

      I really don’t see much difference between that tweet, and wishing that all the Jews would go missing like the kidnapped teenagers. After all, most but not all Jews support Zionism. Again, that’s regardless of one’s opinion of the settlement project or of Zionism. (And I know I approvingly cited an essay here arguing that anti
      -Semitism is no big deal; but some people at least claim to oppose anti-Semitism on the grounds that it’s the hatred of a collective because of the actions of some persons.)

      When I first read the tweets that Corey Robin reported here I thought, “What, is that it? What’s so bad about this stuff?” But Robin didn’t quote the really offensive ones. I mean, come on, comparing this to some inoffensive remarks made by Nathan Glazer?

      • Nurit Baytch August 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm | #

        Salaita’s defenders are engaging in a massive whitewashing campaign. I don’t know whether it’s due to ignorance about his calls for violence, or whether this is a deliberate disinformation campaign. For example, this HuffPo piece cites some of Salaita’s least offensive tweets and omits the worst, leading commenters to conclude that Salaita’s tweets were not problematic:
        except if you wash the video (I’m assuming most readers do not), Cary Nelson emphasizes Salaita’s tweets that could be construed as incitement to violence. So the author was surely aware of Salaita’s calls for violence. Also, The Electronic Intifada would not publish my comment linking to Salaita’s tweet wishing for the kidnapping of all West Bank settlers.

        Today, Salaita’s defenders at The Electronic Intifada are calling Elie Wiesel’s ad “incitement to genocide.” By the same standards, Salaita’s “go missing” tweet would surely qualify as incitement to violence. And yet, EI is feverishly defending Salaita. Salaita complained that “Zionists” only affirm “JEWISH life.” Seems that one could level a similar charge against The Electronic Intifada.

    • BobS August 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm | #

      Nurit Baytch, the tweet you offer as evidence only expresses Salaita’s wish that all of the inhabitants of the illegal settlements disappear from the West Bank — no mechanism is expressed. It’s you that infers violence, which is to be expected given the blood lust demonstrated by Jewish and Christian Zionists during the recent massacre in Gaza. Violence, both real and fantasized, really does seem to percolate close to the surface with you folks so I can see where you would attribute that quality to others. On the other hand, I read the tweet as Salaita’s simple desire for the removal of the illegal settlements and the relocation of the trespassers. I’d appreciate you providing Salaita’s tweet that specifically calls for the kidnapping of the 350,000 lawbreakers.
      Thank you.

      • Nurit Baytch August 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm | #

        I think it strains credulity to claim that Salaita was merely arguing for the removal of the West Bank settlements. Salaita wished for all West Bank settlers to “go missing” in the aftermath of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens. It is clear he meant “go missing” like those three Israeli teens. Had he said, “I wish all the West Bank settlers would go back to Israel proper,” that would be another matter entirely.

        Given the context, wording, and the fact that he himself acknowledged he was being “unrefined,” the most reasonable interpretation is that Salaita was wishing for the kidnapping of all West Bank settlers. In fact, as the teens had been missing for a week at the time Salaita wrote his tweet, many already suspected by that time that the teens were likely dead, so an even darker interpretation is possible.

        Furthermore, Abbas has previously declared that he intended for there to be no Israelis (i.e. Jews) in the West Bank following a peace settlement:
        Since Salaita is an “expert” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, surely he knows that dreaming of a Judenrein West Bank is well within acceptable discourse, and thus, one need not be “unrefined” to express such a wish.

      • Aaron Gross August 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm | #

        First of all, even assuming that all the settlements were established illegally, none of the settlers are lawbreakers by virtue of their being settlers. None. Zero. It is not illegal for a person to live in an illegally established settlement. The only lawbreaker, under the Geneva convention, would be the state of Israel. So please don’t call these people lawbreakers.

        Second, the tweet was in the context of the kidnapping of the three teenagers. That’s what “go missing” referred to. It wasn’t an explicit wish for violence, but violence was implicit in its link to the kidnapping.

        Finally, your righteous anger at those 350,000 seems somewhat unfocused, considering that tens of thousands of them are “persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand.” Whatever you think is a reasonable solution to the problem, those tens of thousands of human beings, or however many there are, have done absolutely nothing to deserve their “going missing.”

    • bensday823 August 11, 2014 at 3:57 am | #

      I find Steve Salaita’s worldview offensive, and worse insufferable. He’s typical of the sort of left wing twit fed and cared for by the pc-establishment at our universities.

      In Salaita’s dimly lit mind the Israeli’s are “settlers,” and the Palestinians are “indigenous”; ergo the Israeli’s are the bad guys, and the Palestinians are the good guys. That imbeciles like Salaita exist in academia is depressing enough, that they have admirers is beyond depressing.

  10. Matthew August 8, 2014 at 11:25 pm | #

    Imagine if Salaita had said something like “Criminal blacks: transforming racism from something horrible into something honorable.” Would you afford him similar nuance in service of academic freedom?

    • Corey Robin August 8, 2014 at 11:39 pm | #

      Interestingly enough, you’re like the 20th person today who has brought up that analogy. And here’s why, in addition to not posing even remotely a problem for me, it actually opens you up to the very accusation you want to try and level at me.

      So here’s the thing. In the case of Israel, as I make clear in my post, the State of Israel explicitly claims to be the agent, emblem, instrument, embodiment of the Jewish people. Israel, according to Israel, equals Jews. And what’s more, many defenders of Israel, both Jewish and not, believe the same thing. Jews R Israel.

      Black criminals, however, make no such analogous claim. They don’t claim to be the agent, emblem, instrument, embodiment of black people everywhere. Nor do their defenders claim that. The only people who claim that are their enemies, i.e., racists.

      So, as you can see, your statement doesn’t pose a problem for me b/c it’s not remotely analogous. It does however pose a problem for you. Because your statement, your analogy, in order to work, has to presume that black criminals really are the agent, emblem, instrument, embodiment of all black people. That black criminals = all blacks. That you don’t even have to say that — that you can just blithely presume it, and think that of course I’ll know what you’re talking about — shows how deeply embedded that notion is in your very question.

      • Matthew August 9, 2014 at 12:15 am | #

        Your opinion on what the state of Israel “explicitly claims” to be may be true but is not germane to the point I was trying to make. This is a) because he said “Zionists” not Israel and b) because your thoughts on what Zionism means are simply that, and are not contained or inherent in a literal reading of the tweet that Salaita made. In common parlance it is simply a characteristic of many Jews, just as criminality is a characteristic of Africans Americans and any other race or set of humans on the planet. The analogy both holds and does not secretly indict me of racism or implicit prejudice (the argument you make is, frankly, incoherent, considering the errors and misdirection).

        Besides, just substitute something else. A commenter above mentioned this ““Al-Queada: transforming ‘Islamaphobia’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1988″? ” You didn’t actually respond to this in your follow-up comment, apparently thinking he was referencing the tweet about Israel being responsible for anti-semitism (I actually agree with Glazer and disagree with you here but it is neither here not there). In this example, Al-Qaeda is an organization, not an ideology or characteristic like Islamism or Zionism, that claims to speak for all true Muslims. Would you stand up for a tweeter making this claim, that is, that Al Qaeda justified Islamophobia. Would you afford him such nuance?

    • Aaron Gross August 9, 2014 at 7:53 am | #

      You’re missing the crucial point of Salaita’s tweet: he put “anti-Semitism” in scare quotes, after challenging the accusations of so-called anti-Semitism. He wasn’t defending anti-Semitism, he was defending what some call “anti-Semitism.”

  11. Corey Robin August 9, 2014 at 12:29 am | #

    “This is a) because he said ‘Zionists not Israel”:

    You do realize that Israel is a Zionist state, right? That Zionists are the ideologists of the Israeli state? That Zion is actually a synonym for Jerusalem, which is in Israel. Any of this ringing a bell?’

    “In common parlance it is simply a characteristic of many Jews, just as criminality is a characteristic of Africans Americans and any other race or set of humans on the planet”:

    I have no doubt that in the parlance that is common to you, “criminality is a characteristic of African Americans.” And while it’s true that Zionists and the state they speak on behalf of do try to make Israel “a characteristic of many Jews” — that’s the point I was making in my comment to you — it is not in fact a characteristic of many Jews.

    As for the Al Qaida comment: There, the analogy works better. And my response would be the same as it would be for Salaita: I disagree with the point (in the same way that I think anti-Semitism transcends the crimes of the State of Israel, so do I think Islamophobia transcends the crimes of Al Qaida), but I can see how someone could make the point without the point being in itself, or the speaker being herself, Islamophobic. Whether I were to judge it as in fact Islamophobic would have to depend, as with Salaita, on the context (see comments upthread) and on the overall philosophy of the speaker. Some of the people who make that type of comment re Al Qaida have an additional animus toward Muslims; Al Qaida merely confirms their animus. I see no evidence of anything analogous with Salaita.

    This really isn’t so hard, see?

    • Matthew August 9, 2014 at 12:43 am | #

      At least play fair. I said criminality is a characteristic of African Americans and every other race or set of humans. This quite clearly implies that it is a characteristic of some of them just as it is a characteristic of some, but not all of the entire human race. Calling me a racist because I am parsing a phrase made by them is cheap.

      And for your other point, you must stop switching “Israel” and “Zionist” when it suits your preferred sentence structure. Israel is a state. Zionism is the belief that there should be a political territory that serves as a safe haven for the Jewish people. And Zionism is, in fact, a characteristic of many Jews.

      Finally, how on earth could the comment about Al Qaeda be interpreted as not islamiphobic? I agree that in Salaitas case he was probably referencing the fact that many israeli apologists call criticism of Israel anti-Semitic, but how on earth does this work for the Al Qaeda claim.

  12. Matthew August 9, 2014 at 12:33 am | #

    The fact is that youre jumping through hoops to defend vituperative and vitriolic comments from Salaita in a way that you would absolutely never do for anyone else, especially on any other topic that the left takes seriously, such a minority rights. Your attempt isn’t even serious and I think you’d admit it if you’d take a step back to think. Comparing a specific wish that Goldberg be stabbed to Diderots wish that the generic “king” be hung is spectacularly dense. I mean, can you really re-read it and take it seriously, considering all the other smart things you’ve written.

    • Corey Robin August 9, 2014 at 12:36 am | #

      “I mean, can you really re-read it and take it seriously,…”

      Give me a minute: let me “really” re-read it and I’ll let you know.

      Okay, back now. I just “really” re-read it. And, yep, I take it seriously.

      • Matthew August 9, 2014 at 12:46 am | #

        So you think wishing for specific living journalist to be stabbed is similar to calling for a generic king to be deposed and executed?

      • Matthew August 9, 2014 at 12:57 am | #

        Sleep well too. Thanks for engaging.

    • David B (@deliotb) August 9, 2014 at 10:23 am | #

      The problem is that both Marx and the USSR (among others) said that Jews are not a people, just a religious group (if that), and that line carries on through modern leftists like Robin. Even though Jews were subject to the worst racist massacre in history just a few decades ago, Jews are not considered a “people,” and therefore can’t be analogized to other “minority” groups. Matthew, once you recognize this, you will see that a lot of the double standards out there make sense from this perverse perspective.

      • Matthew August 9, 2014 at 11:06 am | #

        Really a truly remarkable statement. That Marx and the USSR thought something about Jews has what to do with my argument or Salaitas tweet? How can you say that Jews aren’t a people and in the same breath say that they had horrible violence done to them? The whole thing is nonsensical.

      • Matthew August 9, 2014 at 11:07 am | #

        Apologies David, upon rereading your post I see that you are not supporting such a non-sensical argument.

      • Corey Robin August 9, 2014 at 11:25 am | #

        Get your facts straight, David B. Here’s what I wrote on this very question last year: “Judaism, moreover, is not a religion of inner lights, of atomistic individuals who do their own thing. Ours is the religion of a people, a people with a rather insistent sense of collectivity.”


      • David B (@deliotb) August 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm | #

        Corey, on your response, you may personally believe that Jews are a people, but you nevertheless in practice follow the standard far-left dogma that Jews are a different sort of minority group than the groups regarding whom Progressives must take special care to support politically and make sure not to offend. I think a lot of criticism of progressives for engaging in anti-Semitism re Israel is wrongheaded. I also think that if if blacks, gays, women, etc were involved, progressives would go much further out of their way to avoid language, allusions, etc. that could be considered offensive. It would likely help if “anti-Semitism” was replaced with “anti-Jewish racism,” as somehow many don’t seem to realize that the former is equivalent to the latter.

        • Corey Robin August 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm | #

          “you may personally believe that Jews are a people…”

          In other words, “Corey, you’re right, I misspoke and misrepresented your position. My apologies.”

          The chutzpah meter in this comments thread is off the charts.

      • David B (@deliotb) August 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm | #

        In fact, I never said what your position was, I only pointed out that the double-standards on the left emanate from a longstanding Marxist/Communist view that Jews are not a people. You took pains to disassociate yourself from that view, and I pointed out that you nevertheless, in practice, accept the double-standard. Since I didn’t misstate anything, I don’t feel the need to apologize, but I do wonder if you think you apply double standards to Jews as opposed to other historically-oppressed groups. Or perhaps since you are an active member of the Jewish community yourself, you feel you have some immunities.

  13. Corey Robin August 9, 2014 at 12:58 am | #

    I actually think wishing is far milder than calling for; don’t forget, you got a French Revolution — in which a king was in fact executed — out of Diderot. Jeffrey Goldberg is alive and well.

    As for your other comment, you’re a mess, my friend. Zionism is not a characteristic of anyone; it’s an ideology. It happens to be an ideology that some individuals hold; it also happens to be the official ideology of a state. Blue eyes, a crotchety temperament, preternatural laziness — those are characteristics.

    The Al Qaida comment could be interpreted as not Islamophobic in the same way that Salaita’s comment can be interpreted to be not anti-Semitic. You see, you’re invoking an analogy as an argument but in order for that to work, you’ve got to first establish the argument. Which you haven’t done.

    Anyway, you’ve had five rounds or so here, and we still haven’t advanced beyond square one. Why don’t you pack it in for the night, get a good night’s sleep, and see what you’re thinking after some hard earned rest.

    Sleep well.

    • Nurit Baytch August 9, 2014 at 1:48 am | #

      What about Salaita’s wish for the kidnapping of all West Bank settlers? Would you cite Diderot to defend that too?

      While it’s true that Zionism is an ideology, it also happens to be an ideology of which most (arguably almost all) Jews are adherents. (I can cite polls to back my contention if you doubt my assertion.) And when people traffic in anti-Semitic tropes about Zionists, I find the defense that Zionism is merely an ideology to be wanting. Would you agree that the statement “most Jews are evil” is anti-Semitic? If one were to say “Zionists are evil,” then it necessarily implies most Jews are evil.

      In particular, Salaita has conflated the term “Zionists” with Jewish Zionists. Note here how he distinguishes between Christian Zionists and Zionists:
      Why does Salaita feel the need to disaggregate Christian Zionists from Zionists?

      Given that Salaita appears to reserve the term “Zionist” for Jewish Zionists, it’s hard to defend comments that he made a few hours later in which he implies “Zionists” are responsible for the casualties in Israel’s military operation.

      And this?
      Redolent of the blood libel, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Felipe Nuñez August 9, 2014 at 7:42 am | #

      Good response, indeed! Your reasoning is highly logical, Corin, if you allow me to say so.

    • bensday823 August 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm | #

      You don’t have to like my opinion but here it is……..Corey is splitting hairs; the same people defending Salaita would be grabbing their pitchforks if he had excused homophobia, anti-black racism, Islamophobia, etc. Because it concerns Jews the left awards it the Kashrut, bravo.

  14. David August 9, 2014 at 6:13 am | #

    Several lines from Bertell Ollman’s 2005 “Letter of Resignation from the Jewish People” (link below) point us to an interpretation of Prof. Salaita’s tweet–and the the tweet that preceded it and his overall commitments–that seems broadly consistent with Prof. Robin’s. The last 6 or 7 sentences are the most important:

    “Anti-Semitism is often understood as an irrational hatred of Jews not for anything they believe or do, but just because of who they are. This is incorrect, because there are reasons. They just happen to be bad ones, either because they are false (like Jews using the blood of gentile children to make matzos for Passover), or exaggerated, or of ancient vintage, or irrelevant, or—if they apply at all (like Jews being rich, etc.)—they apply only to a few people. This is why hating all Jews is not only irrational but unjust, and, as we know, the results have often been murderous. With this history, every Jew but also every humane and fair-minded non-Jew must oppose the rise of anti-Semitism with all their might. That this history, as painful as it is, does not give Jews any right to commit their own crimes should be evident, and it is monstrous whenever Jewish criminals respond to their accusers with charges of “anti-Semitism”, even if—as in the case of Zionists—they believe their crimes serve the interests of the Jewish people, and even if they have managed […] to get the third edition of Webster’s International Dictionary to define “anti-Zionism” as a form of “anti-Semitism”. In claiming an equation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, of course, Zionists run the danger of having people accept the logic of their position but not the use to which they put it. According to this logic, one must be both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, or neither. The assumption is that faced with this choice, most of their honest critics will simply pack up their tents and go home. But given Zionism’s worsening record in Palestine, the choice could go the other way. That is, some opponents of Zionism, who are convinced by the logic put forward here and nothing else, might now embrace anti-Semitism as well. Rather than making fewer anti-Zionists, this approach is probably making more anti-Semites. The conclusion can only be that as an insurance policy against future pogroms Israel is not only worthless but downright dangerous to the health of those who have put their faith and money into it.”

    While–like Corey and many others–I disagree w/ Prof. Salaita’s tweet even when fairly interpreted, it seems hard to read it as supporting or making light of anti-Semitism (at least if you hold yourself to even the most basic HS-level standards of interpretation; like, for example, don’t take statements out of context). And, yeah, anyways, dude should not have been unhired.


  15. Matthew August 9, 2014 at 9:38 am | #

    Another one: “too much of Israeli society is cheering the bloodletting in [Gaza] for me to make a firm distinction between the government and the people.”

    Some loon writing for the WSJ was just excoriated for making this comment about Hamas and the citizens of gaza, as he should have been, considering it justifies civilian casualties. But I guess Salaita gets a pass when he denies the rules of war.

    • Matthew August 9, 2014 at 1:08 pm | #

      I know this may be considered trolling, but I think it says something that you have not responded to the tweet conflating Israeli citizens and military against the laws of war, or the tweet wishing for the disappearance of 300000 settlers. If you were not aware of them or think there is some context I am missing that makes these comments not heinous than say so.

      • Corey Robin August 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm | #

        If you’re actually interested in answers to your questions, other folks on the internet have already provided them. But with respect to me, you’re right: you’re trolling. Stop.

      • Nurit Baytch August 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm | #

        I was unable to reply to Prof. Robin’s comment below, but I have seen no plausible benign interpretations of Salaita’s wish that all the West Bank settlers “go missing.” Given the context, wording, and the fact that he himself acknowledged he was being “unrefined,” the most reasonable interpretation is that Salaita was wishing for the kidnapping of all West Bank settlers. In fact, as the teens had been missing for a week at the time Salaita wrote his tweet, many already suspected by that time that the teens were likely dead, so an even darker interpretation is possible.

  16. David B (@deliotb) August 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm | #

    Here’s what I mean in my earlier comment on the “double standard.” If a Progressive for whatever reason was allied politically with a group that contained many racists, he or she would go out of his way to condemn the associated racism, assuming he didn’t think it so contaminated the movement that he had to leave it.

    We know that anti-Zionism is associated with a large degree of anti-Semitism, even if many anti-Zionists are not anti-Semitic. We also know that there has been a huge upsurge in global anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, during the current Gaza fighting.

    Here’s all the posts Corey Robin has made condemning the anti-Semitism (crickets chirping).

    So anti-Jewish racism isn’t treated the same way as any other racism.

    Which is not to say that Robin supports anti-Semitism, or, in fact, doesn’t make perfunctory comments condemning it. But if his political activism was highly associated with some other form of racism, he would undoubtedly be bending over backwards to write specific posts condemning it.

    Instead, we get tepid statements in posts about other issues, like this one at Crooked Timber: “Personally, I disagree with the notion that anti-Semitism can be explained, justified, or understood in light of Israel’s actions.”

    Can you even imagine Robin beginning a sentence with “Personally, I disagree with the notion that anti-black racism can be explained, justified or understood in light of [whatever]”, and then citing someone who does, without criticism?

    • Corey Robin August 9, 2014 at 11:33 pm | #

      Okay, that’s enough. My blog. You want to make accusations that I tolerate anti-Semitism, condone it, whatever, take it somewhere else. One more comment in that vein, you’re blocked.

      On Sat, Aug 9, 2014 at 9:49 PM, Corey Robin wrote:


    • David B (@deliotb) August 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm | #

      I don’t say you tolerate or condone anti-Semitism. I say that (a) you don’t react as strongly against it as you react against other forms of racism, at least when the anti-Semitism involves anti-ZIonism; and (b) this is generally true among people on the far Left. Do you disagree with (a) or (b)? If you disagree with (a), it would be helpful, but obviously up to you, to provide some evidence. For example, you are involved in “anti-ZIonism”. What is the ration of your anti-Zionist posts, to your posts on the topic (not just offhandedly) condemning widespread (but of course not universal) anti-Semitism among anti-Zionists? Do you believe that the ratio would be the same if you were involved in another movement that was infested with,but not inherently tied to, racism?

      • Corey Robin August 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm | #

        “You don’t react as strongly against it [anti-Semitism] as you react against other forms of racism, at least when the anti-Semitism involves anti-ZIonism.”

        I only began directly and actively blogging about Zionism and Israel in September of last year. Can you provide me with any evidence from this blog that, since then, I have reacted more strongly to other forms of racism than I have to anti-Semitism?

      • David B (@deliotb) August 10, 2014 at 8:34 pm | #

        I’m not a “Corey Robin scholar,” but I know you also blog at Crooked Timber. Andt while you’ve had a lot of “anti-Zionist” posts there (and now here, too), if you’ve called out any of your anti-Zionist allies for anti-Semitism, I’ve missed it. For example, when you eulogized Alexander Cockburn, it was left to one of your readers in the comments to point out that Counterpunch published explicit, unvarnished anti-Semites like Gilad Atzmon. Can you honestly say that if a Progressive journalist you otherwise admired had published work by overt racists (or sexists, or anti-gays) that you would not so much have mentioned it when discussing his legacy?
        I’m sure you are very much against anti-Semitism. I just wonder whether you are complicit in allowing it to fester within anti-Zionist circles. Exactly why you might do that I can’t say for sure, but my best speculation would be that you feel that acknowledging and condemning anti-Semitism within anti-Zionist circles would weaken anti-Zionism, and you feel that cause is more important. Or, more charitably, perhaps you feel there are many other people doing that, so you need to focus on what you see in the greater need, advancing anti-Zionism. Or maybe you feel that the current path that Israel is on is so destructive that concerns about anti-Semitism must take a back seat. That’s all just speculation. But I honestly think it’s quixotic, at least in the abstract, that a Progressive Jew who is active in the Jewish community doesn’t find a moment amongst his many writing endeavors to condemn those who abuse or hide behind anti-Zionism for anti-Semitic purposes, when it’s hard to imagine similar complacency about racism directed at other groups.

  17. Corey Robin August 10, 2014 at 9:38 pm | #

    So let’s recap the progress of David B’s claims against me:

    Item 1. David writes: “The problem is that both Marx and the USSR (among others) said that Jews are not a people, just a religious group (if that), and that line carries on through modern leftists like Robin. Even though Jews were subject to the worst racist massacre in history just a few decades ago, Jews are not considered a ‘people,’…”

    I respond thus: “Get your facts straight, David B. Here’s what I wrote on this very question last year: ‘Judaism, moreover, is not a religion of inner lights, of atomistic individuals who do their own thing. Ours is the religion of a people, a people with a rather insistent sense of collectivity.'”

    David responds thus: “Corey, on your response, you may personally believe that Jews are a people, but you nevertheless in practice follow the standard far-left dogma that Jews are a different sort of minority group than the groups regarding whom Progressives must take special care to support politically and make sure not to offend.”

    Observation: Notice how the charge against me shifts. First it was that I follow a line from the far left (or a line from the far left “carries on through” me) that the Jews are not a people. I cite a statement demonstrating I believe exactly the opposite. Rather than admit that he’s made a false claim about me, David changes the goal posts. Now it’s that I follow a far-left dogma that the Jews are a different sort of minority group. No evidence provided.

    Cycle 2. David writes: “You nevertheless, in practice, accept the double-standard.” He goes onto elaborate the double standard: “You don’t react as strongly against it [anti-Semitism] as you react against other forms of racism, at least when the anti-Semitism involves anti-ZIonism.” No evidence provided.

    I respond thus: “I only began directly and actively blogging about Zionism and Israel in September of last year. Can you provide me with any evidence from this blog that, since then, I have reacted more strongly to other forms of racism than I have to anti-Semitism?”

    David responds thus: “I’m not a ‘Corey Robin scholar.'” In other words, no evidence for his claim. And, indeed, no evidence is provided for his claim.

    Cycle 3. David writes, “A Progressive Jew who is active in the Jewish community doesn’t find a moment amongst his many writing endeavors to condemn those who abuse or hide behind anti-Zionism for anti-Semitic purposes,…”

    And now I respond thus: In the last three weeks, I’ve posted the following on my *public* page on Facebook:

    a) “Storming synagogues, looting Jewish shops: this is absolutely loathsome.” About the protests against Israel in France. With a link to a report in Business Insider. In the thread that follows, I respond to anti-Zionist who is making almost the identical version of the claim you’re making as a Zionist (ideological commissars ply their trade, it seems, on both sides of this divide). This anti-Zionist had written, “Every rejection of anti-Semitism, it seems to me, must be coupled with a rejection of racism as such.” I respond thus: “I think most of us here reject anti-Semitism and racism as such. But if by that statement you mean that every time someone speaks out against anti-Semitism, she must also and additionally speak out against all ‘racism as such,’ I completely and utterly disagree.”


    b) I initiate a long thread about anti-Semitism within the anti-Zionist movement. Some of my comments: “Were I part of an immediate organizing effort on Palestine and were I to see signs of anti-Semitism in that effort, I would not just denounce it (I’m not really interested in those sorts of public performances), but I would make sure it got expunged…I’d be less than honest if I said that seeing Jewish stores looted in Paris didn’t make me flinch. I know these are different times and different actors, but anyone with a historical memory should be sensitive to these symbols.


    c) Finally, I post a piece by Richard Seymour examining the role of anti-Semitism within the anti-Zionist movement in Europe, which states that it is a very real problem that needs to be confronted. My take: “This, from Richard Seymour, seems like a pretty definitive take on the question of anti-Semitism in the anti-Zionist movement, in France.”


    So what do we have in the end: One claim against me, no evidence provided. Two claims against me, where the evidence directly rebuts the claim.

    I think this is enough back and forth about my inner state of mind. I’ll let you have one final word and then you can go back to doing whatever it is you normally do. Once you respond, if you care to, this conversation is officially over.

    • David B (@deliotb) August 11, 2014 at 7:39 am | #

      Corey, I’m glad to see the FB posts you reference. I hope to see similar ones here and at Crooked Timber.

      • David B (@deliotb) August 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm | #

        Wait, this post was supposed to be critical of anti-Semitism, instead of Zionism? “Just as I believe that it’s critical to distinguish Zionism from Judaism, so I do believe that it’s critical to distinguish anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. But this article makes an important point to those defenders of Israel who do their damndest to conflate Israel and Judaism and to those of us who insist on distinguishing these things: “Is it really so hard to understand why — after Jews have spent decades telling every Jewish child that they are owed a free trip to Israel, citizenship in Israel, life and land in Israel purely by virtue of being Jewish — the world is slow to distinguish between Jews and Israel?….You can’t applaud Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he goes around calling himself “the leader of the Jewish people,” and then get all huffy when Arabic-speakers use a single word to denote ‘Zionists’ and ‘Israelis’ and ‘Jews.'”

        • Corey Robin August 12, 2014 at 7:36 am | #

          As I said, you can have the last word. But one last word. That was your previous comment. You’re done. This thread is over. Any future comments from you on this immediate topic will be deleted.

          • Felipe Nuñez August 12, 2014 at 8:30 am | #

            My GOD, you are really, really trying hard to find anti-semitism. In your world view, there is apparently no true anti-zionist critic. Everybody is just, if you “scratch’ hard enough, an anti-semite. In practical terms, judging from all your comments here, almost everybody here condones one way or another ant-semitism. So who/where is that “perfect” person who positively and truly is not an anti-semite when she/he critizices Israel an/or Zionism? Let me know, please, I want to read that person’s comments,know about their live, etc…

          • Felipe Nuñez August 12, 2014 at 8:36 am | #

            I’m sorry Corey, I just clicked on the wrong “reply” link… My last comment here was in response to “bensday823”, not to anything you posted. I truly apologize. I guess I am just tired of some people’s endless nitpicking here.

      • hophmi August 12, 2014 at 10:43 am | #


        The defensiveness here is telling.

        But please answer the following questions: Is the intensity and quantity of anti-Zionism we see around the world today in proportion to amount of supposed harm Zionism as a movement causes and to the number of Zionists in the world? Or is it out of proportion? There are about 15 million Jews in the world. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that 80% of them are Zionists. Does anti-Zionism as a movement properly contextualize Zionism as a movement of self-liberation by a long-persecuted people? Or does it decontextualize it as just another 19th/20th century colonialist movement, as if its adherents were people from a wealthy and established country? Does anti-Zionism consider the Holocaust as a central event in the history of Israel and in its founding? Or does it purposely downplay that event, and indeed, fail often to include it in the history of the conflict in order to engage in reductionist thinking?

        I’d say that the answers to those questions, which are that the intensity and quantity of anti-Zionism today is far, far out of proportion with the amount of supposed harm Zionists do and the number of them that exist, that anti-Zionist ignore the fact that Zionism is a liberation movement of a persecuted people and that the Holocaust was a seminal event that made Zionism only more relevant, indicates that there is, at the very least, an extreme callousness that lies at the center of anti-Zionism as it exists today.

        Is it antisemitism? Structurally, yes. Because when there are dozens of Muslim states around the world with bad human rights records, and the same people who call themselves anti-Zionists are silent on the crimes of these states, and indeed, these states themselves tend to be bastions of anti-Zionism, and when states in Europe, all of whom have large Christian majorities and wealth established in part through brutal colonial conquests, also tend to be bastions of anti-Zionism, one must ask whether the same would be true, whether anti-Zionism would be as intense and as plentiful, were the states of Europe and the states of the Islamic world Jewish, rather than Christian and Muslim. I think we know the answer. The answer is no.

        • Felipe Nuñez August 12, 2014 at 11:21 am | #

          Ok, the only thing I can say here, that is your opinion. If that’s what you think, okay. It would be interesting to hear Corey’s opinion to this, of course, but that’s up to him, if he feels like it, if he has time, etc…His opinion is much more qualified than mine, because I’m not jewish and that puts me right away in a different “chapter” (so to speak). I have very strong opinions about all that, but as you and other proof to me on a daily basis, I simply cannot say what I’d like to say in this political climate. If this was the UK or, say, Spain, I would add a few more tidbits to this whole discussion that, I repeat, I simply cannot do here in the USA. And that’s it.

      • hophmi August 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm | #

        “His opinion is much more qualified than mine, because I’m not jewish and that puts me right away in a different “chapter” (so to speak).”

        I disagree. Corey’s opinion may come from a different place, but it’s no more and no less valid than your own. Corey is not an expert on Israel or international politics just by virtue of being Jewish.

        “I have very strong opinions about all that, but as you and other proof to me on a daily basis, I simply cannot say what I’d like to say in this political climate.”

        Stop hiding behind this fake fear. No one is coming to get you. There is no conspiracy here to keep you silent. Be honest: you don’t want to speak because you know your position cannot be fully defended.

        This is not the US. This is a blog. The internet is not US territory.

        • Felipe Nuñez August 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm | #

          I’m not afraid that “they” are going to get me, of course not. I could literally say anything I want now, and, well, I would still have a nice evening today. But I have been attacked and insulted just by making my opinion known about Israel in the comments section of the “Atlantic” and the “New Yorker”. I believe in respecting other people’s opinion, no matter what. When it comes to Israel, here in the US, unfortunately you have to have “thick skin”, depending on what you say. That’s what I meant. I like intellectual exchanges, I imagine all of us(well, most of us) sitting in a nice bar and having a nice long conversation, while having a few beers or whatever we like to drink, and then we go home. Hopefully we all learned something, maybe we were confirmed in our opinions or we agreed or disagreed respectfully and we go from there! That is not the case when it comes to Israel anymore, unfortunately. Why? Well, the problem is, the subject touches many people’s lives, literally, and it has deep profound implications, geopolitically speaking. On the social side, like on this blog, emotions run very high when it comes to anti-semitism, racism, Israel, etc.. This is not just Tea-partiers against liberals, like on the Yahoo.com comments sections, no. Of course, I’m not saying that any of our comments here are analyzed in Tel Aviv or Langley, I’m still with both feet grounded in reality. We are not creating political strategies here or influencing Washington (I wish….). I simply believe in change, one person at a time.

  18. bensday823 August 11, 2014 at 3:31 am | #

    Not sure if anyone has posted this but…..

    Steve Salaita also had this to say, “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say anti-Semitic shit in response to Israeli terror.”

    If that doesn’t amount to excusing anti-semitism I don’t know what does.

    I also find it bizarre that critics of Israel always preface their remarks with, “I’m not an anti-semite.” People who aren’t bigots rarely feel the need to preface their remarks with “I’m not a bigot.”

    • Felipe Nuñez August 12, 2014 at 11:10 am | #

      Regarding your last line, unfortunately you have to add that preface nowadays. Just that indisputable fact alone explains many things, in my opinion.

      • bensday823 August 12, 2014 at 11:23 am | #


        I have personally not seen charges of anti-semitism being thrown around carelessly or wantonly. There are cases where the charges were unwarranted, but that is different from leveling accusations opportunistically or flippantly.

        As an example, Hafez Assad sheltered wanted Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner who had this to say about the Holocaust, “All of [the Jews] deserved to die because they were the Devil’s agents and human garbage. I have no regrets and would do it again.”

        Hafez Assad, principled anti-zionist or anti-semite, you decide.

        • Felipe Nuñez August 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm | #

          Cmon, as an example you name Assad, the “butcher of Hama”? You are comparing some of those critics you mention in your comments with people like Assad? I think we are not making too much progress here.

          • bensday823 August 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm | #

            That is, I admit, an extreme example, but sometimes the charge is merited, and some times not. I find the constant “I am not an anti-semite” stuff annoying, it’s a red herring. Not being an anti-semite doesn’t make what you say true, just as being an anti-semite wouldn’t make what you say false.

            Incidentally, I don’t think the accusation get’s leveled frivolously or instrumentally. Bigotry is worthy of criticism. What motivates critics of Israel sheds no light on who’s right and who’s wrong, but now that you mention it….yes there are some rank bigots on the left.

            Jenny Tonge accused an Israeli charity working in Hati of harvesting organs from hurricane victims. She had absolutely no evidence for this extraordinary charge, leading one to suppose that she believes Israeli Jews never do anything charitable, but must have a vile and sinister motive. Is Jenny Tonge a bigot? You decide.

            Yes, anti-semitism makes people more hostile to Israel than they otherwise would be, deal with it.

  19. lauren August 12, 2014 at 11:02 am | #

    “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say anti-Semitic shit in response to Israeli terror.”

    This isn’t an excuse for SOME contemporary anti-semitism — but it is definitely an explanation of it.

    I find it incredible that Aaron Gross says Jewish settlers are innocent of breaking any laws or any wrongdoing — Israel’s settlement program is a basic fundamental longstanding violation of international law. Jewish settlers on occupied land most certainly are not innocent.

    • hophmi August 12, 2014 at 11:08 am | #

      You may find it incredible, but it so happens that it’s true. It’s not an individual crime to live in a settlement, and Jewish settlers are not combatants by virtue of doing so.

      Salaita’s wish for settlers to disappear is arguably an endorsement of terrorism and genocide.

  20. Corey Robin August 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm | #

    bensday823: I deleted that last comment of yours. Definitely crossed a line. You do it again, I’ll ban you.

    • hophmi August 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm | #

      This is exactly why I find your protestations in favor of Salaita so hollow. You take a comment that argues against the post-colonial mindset that you don’t like because it’s controversial (it came through the email update), and you delete it. But by deleting, you strongly intimate that your support of Salaita has much more to do with your politics than it does with academic freedom.

      • Corey Robin August 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm | #

        Hophmi, stop trolling. You’ve got an entire thread, multiple threads, with you and people like you making your claims that are completely opposed to what I think. If you continue this line of accusation, you’ll be banned from here. This is your one and only warning.

        On Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 1:48 PM, Corey Robin wrote:


    • hophmi August 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm | #

      Don’t threaten me, Corey, and don’t hurl accusations at me and tell me about “people like me.” This is exactly the behavior I’m talking about. On this post, three people have opposed your view. You threatened me. You engaged another with repeated nastiness and condescension. Then, you censor a third.

      And, by the way, I’m not trolling. This is the latest thing with the bloggers, particularly in the anti-Israel community – calling everyone who disagrees with them a troll. My comment is on point and I didn’t create the controversy here. You deleted a tweet without explanation, claiming it crossed a line — without bothering to elucidate what the line was — and threatened to ban the person who posted the apparently too-controversial thought that people on the hard left tend to romanticize the Palestinians as victims and unfairly portray the Israelis as nothing more than colonial oppressors.

      • Corey Robin August 12, 2014 at 2:11 pm | #

        Goodbye, Hophmi.

        On Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 2:08 PM, Corey Robin wrote:


    • bensday823 August 12, 2014 at 2:55 pm | #

      Fair enough, I’m not the most civil person, but I try and be honest.

      I guess I’m trying to get you to see the world through conservative eyes.

  21. Talbert September 6, 2014 at 9:47 pm | #

    I assumed he meant the anti-semitism directed at the palistenians. I didn’t realize it exclusively referred to the jews. Thanks for clearing that up buddy!

    • Talbert September 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm | #

      Not attention whoring here, just ocd/odd/adhd so I often reread what I write and I feel my comment sounded a little snarky and I didn’t intend it to be, which bothers me. It is meant sincerely, master the snark or it masters you!

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