Jews love to argue. We are a Mediterranean people, and we argue with gusto and enthusiasm. There is nothing wrong with differences of opinion, as long as they are expressed with a modicum of politeness and civility. There is a lot wrong when people become confused about who is the real enemy and who is not. When Zionist "patriots" (living in the USA of course) post lists of "self-hating Jews" and hint strongly that Israel would be better off with these people dead, is it done out of love of Israel or hatred of other Jews? When people like Norman Finkelstein go about ranting about the "Holocaust Industry," do they do it out of love of Israel, love of truth or love of themselves?
Not many months ago, a friend and I managed to dissuade a blogger from hinting that he hoped God would strike down Ariel Sharon for initiating disengagement. I am sure this man would have been very sorry if his post had remained on the Web after Sharon's stroke. Leave it to Pat Robertson to say things like that.
One of the worst offenders in the area of personal invective is Steve Plaut. Plaut's analyses are not remarkable, and like many others, he plays fast and free with facts to make them suit his ideas. His opinions follow a predictable brand-name line. What distinguishes Plaut is the vehemence with which he pursues the enemies of the Jewish people and of Steve Plaut, most of whom seem to be other Jews. Recently, Plaut lost a libel suit instituted by Beer Sheva University Professor Neve Gordon
, because he called Gordon a "Judenrat wannabe and fanatic anti-Semite." Actually, that's pretty mild for Steve Plaut. He must be mellowing with age. Perhaps the verdict will stimulate Professor Plaut to redirect his energies and abilities toward understanding and analysis, rather than trying to excel in the business of improvising put-downs worthy of a juvenile playground.
The "Judenrat" accusation, and similar accusations of "Nazi" leveled at Israelis and Jews, are insults to the memory of all Holocaust victims. It is the vilest line of argument -- a twisted sort of racism that is usually used by rabid anti-Semites. One would think that only the worst sort of human flotsam would level such insults at Jews.
In fact however, "Nazi" rhetoric has been cheapened and devalued by overuse. We can all remember that in 2002, anti-Zionists insisted that IDF operations in Jenin were "just like" the SS massacre in the Warsaw Ghetto. However, quite sadly, "Judenrat" and "Nazi" are becoming common accusations to be leveled by Jews at any other Jews with whom they disagree. Right wing activist Nadia Matar is due to go on trial for writing to Yonatan Bassi, the disengagement official:
The truth is that you are a modern version of the Judenrat - actually, a much worse version...
She compared the evacuation of the Jewish settlers of Gush Katif to the deportation of Jews from Germany in 1942. In a rare moment of insight, Matar also wrote:
"History has proven that Jews are the biggest anti-Semites."
She should know. Matar is being tried under an undemocratic and silly law that makes it a crime to "insult a public official." There are some things that should not be legislated and cannot be legislated, or punished by laws. Unfortunately, laws will not make Nadia Matar or Norman Finkelstein or the Steve Plauts of the right and the left, or their respective followers, think any differently.
Israeli professor found guilty of slander
An Israeli court found a Haifa University professor guilty of slandering a
fellow Israeli academic. The court ordered Steven Plaut last Friday to pay
$17,000 plus expenses and legal fees.
Plaut, a business professor known for his hawkish views, had called Neve Gordon
of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev a Judenrat wannabe and fanatic
anti-Semite. Gordon teaches human rights at Ben-Gurion University.
Plaut has been among those campaigning in Israel against left-wing Israeli
academics such as Gordon.
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