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Nahum Barnea  

 

The Jews are to blame

Online talkbacks in US allow anti-Semitism to shift from margins to mainstream

Published: 05.04.09, 12:13 / Israel Opinion

Two weeks ago, Henry Kissinger published an article in the Washington Post about America and Iran. The item revealed nothing new: Kissinger has not been revealing anything new for many years now. He also made no pretenses of saying anything new. In his awkward, academic style, the legendary secretary of state sought to remind the Obama administration that negotiations with a state like Iran cannot be premised on words only. The talk must be backed up by deterrent power.

 

It wasn’t the article that was of interest, but rather, the talkbacks that the newspaper’s website posted below the item. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such overabundance of Jew hatred. The respondents, all of them using nicknames, charged the Jewish people with conspiring to entangle the United States in a military operation in Iran in order to make profits and promote the State of Israel’s dark interests.

 

The Jews control the American administration, lamented the respondents in one talkback after another. They control Congress and the media. The Jews are America’s real enemy.

 

There were always anti-Semites in American. The surprise is that this anti-Semitic garbage is being published by one of the world’s most respected newspapers. The second surprise is that it didn’t prompt much reaction.

 

The Jewish community in the US has a powerful and effective organization tasked with fighting any anti-Semitic display. It’s called the Anti-Defamation League. The League’s National Director, Abe Foxman, was in Israel last week. I told him about the talkbacks I read and he shook his head sadly. The League employs seven people in monitoring anti-Semitic statements on the Internet. Yet they can’t handle the onslaught.

 

When group members turn to a website and ask to remove a delusional statement, they sometimes get a reply. Other times they are asked to send in a response, and at times they are rejected, on the grounds that the Internet should not be censored. One way or another, the venom has already settled in Google and it shall remain there for eternity.

 

Far-reaching implications

The absurdity is that when a person seeks to publish a response in an American newspaper, using his real name and title, he must prove that all his claims are founded, and when there’s a doubt the response is shelved. On the other hand, when such person hides behind a nickname, and instead of sending his response to a newspaper he sends it to the paper’s website, he can lie, slander, and curse as much as he wants to. This is the reality in the US, and also here in Israel.

 

This phenomenon has far-reaching implications on the public discourse. In this regrettable case, it means that racist and anti-Semitic doctrines shift from the crazy margins to the center of the spectrum. Everything is legitimate; everything is worthy of being published.

 

Foxman told me about a case he was involved in recently. It was about a Jewish professor from Santa Barbara, California, who compared the IDF’s conduct in Gaza to the conduct of the Germans at the Warsaw ghetto, no less. Foxman sent the professor a letter and demanded that he issue an apology.

 

Instead of apologizing, the professor disseminated Foxman’s letter via e-mail. My freedom of expression is being undermined, he claimed. The first amendment to the constitution is being violated. What we have here is a thought police that harasses anyone who thinks differently.

 

The media in California was all over the story: Mud-wrestling between Jews is almost as sexy as mud-wrestling between women. And now, Foxman is debating on his next move: Should he continue to fight for the honor of the IDF and of the Warsaw ghetto, or just give up.

 

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