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Announcing the “Fleshies”: awards for the best responses to anti-Semitism on the Web

It is hard to convey the amount of bile and reductionist, blame-the-Jews-for-every-sin rhetoric that has taken over much of the blogosphere. Phil Weiss’s blog generally attracts some of the most articulate Jew-bashers, so I tune into the comments from time to time in order to gauge the level of hatred.

I just noticed some great comments by “Teddy,” one of our most valued contributors whose only fault is that he is smarter and generally more articulate than I am. I hereby award him the first “Fleshie,” which will be bestowed periodically on the best response to anti-Semitism or ignorant anti-Israelism on the Web. He veers farther to the left than I would, but this is the kind of respondent who has a chance to get the attention of the people who are reading these blogs and still trying to make up their minds about whether to hold the Jews responsible for the world’s problems…Stay with this. It is a bit scary in places. And Teddy’s initial response refers to an earlier comment and requires some patience. But, in the end, he richly deserves his Fleshie:

1-{The original provocation by “Cogit 8}”Phil, after observing how ‘your people’ operate for lo a half century, I rather doubt that anything close to a candid discussion about The Jews (or their lobby) will ever occur. The Russerts and Wolf Blitzers are drooling in wait for Obama, who hasn’t inspired much hope to the majority of Americans who want us out of Iraq.

What will happen instead is that Hillary will demagogue the issue into one of “Do you support our little ally Israel, or don’t you? Pulling out of Iraq will leave poor little Israel all alone, etc etc etc.”

If you want a foretaste of the sophistry to come, merely observe how the recent killing of 120 Palestinians by a sophisticated war-machine has not produced even a ripple of empathy in America, whereas the death of one Jew by a crudely made rocket is trumpeted about the mother-land. Proof indeed of The Jewing of America – because most of ‘your people’ really don’t give a rip about other human life.”

2-{Teddy’s response}: “most of ‘your people’ really don’t give a rip about other human life.”

What follows is an excerpt from a comment that closed off a thread a few days ago. I wrote it in response to a predictable claim from MM that Zionism was NOTHING except colonialism and racism, nothing else. I include the first part so you will understand the context of my concluding comment. Some of you are unwittingly doing a wonderful job of promoting Zionism and confirming the suspicions of the most paranoid Jews:

And there was nothing else to Zionism? No other reason for it? Just colonialism and imperialism? No pogroms and raw discrimination that made Eastern and Central European Jew believe assimilation was impossible? No desparation in the 1930s and ’40s because the gates of the world were closed (and don’t give me the infernal, conspiratorial line that somehow the Zionists caused the Holocaust or were glad that it happened, which I used to read all the time on Phil’s blog)?…

That said, many of the Zionist pioneers were racist, and orientalist, and the entire saga does not resemble the golden myths American Jews learned in their childhood about the founding of Israel. But let me tell ya, MM and all your compadres, much of the bile on this blog is reminiscent of the attitudes that convinced Jews in the late 19th century that Zionism was the only solution available to them.

So keep it up, as someone else wrote awhile ago. You’re doing AIPAC’s work for it!

Posted by: Teddy | March 06, 2008 at 12:19 PM

3-{Another county heard from}: Even if one accepts everything Teddy says about the pogroms Jews faced in Europe — what does that have to do with the U.S.?

Like the Palestinians, Americans wonder why we have to pay and pay and pay for sins committed by Europeans decades ago. We even have to pay $35 million a year for the Holocaust Museum, to explain what one group of Europeans did to another group of Europeans. Why?

Now there IS a zionist state, which enjoys a southern European standard of living. So WHY, again, is the U.S. obliged to spend billions a year, and distort its entire foreign policy — in perpetuity — to help this exclusively Jewish project along?

Is this like Catholic indulgences or carbon credits, where paying $5 billion a year will earn us “philosemitic credits” and expiate our eternal liberal guilt? It takes a lot of chutzpah to think that the Shoah can continue to milked for this purpose, in the seventh decade after it happened.

Give it a rest, man! Find a new hustle that actually adds some value to peoples’ lives, rather than just shaking them down and denouncing them as antisemites if they dare to object to having their pockets picked. Some of us are getting rather tired of being abused, after generously contributing all our lives via income tax. Some gratitude, huh!

Posted by: Jim Haygood | March 06, 2008 at 12:46 PM

4- {Teddy’s response}You don’t seem to get it, Jim. I wasn’t defending all that the Zionists did or justifying blind U.S. support for Israel. I was pointing out that the rhetoric on this site, or some of it, blames THE JOOS as a people for all sorts of nefarious crimes, and refuses to make a distinction between right wing Zionists and everyone else who calls himself or herself a Jew. Anti-Zionism and blunt, angry criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. “Most of ‘your people’ don’t really give a rip about human life’ is anti-Semitic according to any reasonable definition of the word. If you and yours would denounce grotesque generalizations about the Jewish people and focus on AIPAC, the ZOA and the groups that I, as Jew, also despise, you might attract reasonable people to your arguments

Posted by: Teddy | March 06, 2008 at 01:08 PM

5-{A second provocation by “Cogit8”} Teddy, I regret that you limited your critique to just a few of my words, because I’m talking about a much larger issue (its the same issue that Phil is pondering also, and that is the question of Jewish culpability in the disaster which is Iraq).

If the Dreyfus Affair can be called “one of the greatest iniquities of the last century” and it only concerned one individual, pray tell what will Iraq and Lebanon be called some day? In addition, what will the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians be called?

So yes, “J’Accuse!” is where I’m coming from, and I accuse “most of ‘your people'” of having committed or supported major war-crimes against humanity.

Posted by: cogit8 | March 06, 2008 at 10:43 PM

6 {Teddy’s award- winning response} The Dreyfus Affair was your entry in the compare-whose-pain-is-greater debate, not mine.

You have a Star Wars, black and white vision of the conflict and, apparently, the universe. I learned a long time ago that it is useless to try to explain the complexities and nuances of the ongoing tragedy to people like you. But just a few notes and then I need to return to the world where people understand there are two sides to most stories and neither has a monopoly on truth or goodness.

I don’t believe Israel and its lobbyists were a decisive factor in the Bushies decision to get us into Iraq. But even if they were, what about the high percentage of American Jews who opposed the invasion and the higher percentage that turned agains the war? Are they part of the “people” who should be blamed for Iraq? Weren’t American Jews prominent leaders of the anti-war movement (e.g., Leslie Cagan)?

I don’t believe what happened in 1948 (or the 30s) can be reduced to the single, fashionable phrase of “ethnic cleansing,” unless that phrase is applied to both sides of the conflict. There was a war between two national movements and atrocities were commmited by both sides. What do you think were the intentions of the Arab armies that invaded in ’48? The entire area would have been Judenrein if they had gotten their way. But even if your Star Wars vision is correct, an entire “people” did not “support” ethnic cleansing. Most Jews who followed the conflict believed in the propaganda they were fed about why the Palestinians left. Only in the last few decades have the revisionist historians showed that there was another side of the story. You can’t blame an entire “people” for supporting ethnic cleansing if they did not believe that is what happened.

For that matter, even if you think the Zionists were the scum of the earth from the very start, realize that they were a minority movement among Jews around the world even in the early 1930s. An entire “people” did not support them. For most Jews. the need for the Jewish homeland only sunk during the Second World and its immediate aftermath.

As for Lebanon and Gaza, I am outraged at the passivity of most American Jewish organizations in the face of Israel’s disproportionate response. But one of the reasons for the passivity among moderate Jews who are horrified by the deaths of Palestinian children is utter despair and hopelessness; they don’t have a practical answer that will help both sides escape from this nightmare. So, as usual, those with the easy, extreme answers –targeted assasinations—win the day. That’s no excuse. I share your anger at what is happening and so do the organizations I support, like Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. So, where does that put me in your cartography of the Jewish people?

Posted by: Teddy | March 07, 2008 at 05:24 AM

Again, Teddy’s answer won’t make the mainstream Jewish establishment happy, because he feels no compulsion to defend what he believes to be indefensible. Some of what he says make me uncomfortable and is too harsh on the Zionists. But standard “hasbara” has no chance to succeed in that digital world. It gets rejected immediately. Teddy and his ilk do have a chance. Please send other nominations to

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