How Not to Respond to ‘Survivors’ Anti-Israel Ad

How Not to Respond to ‘Survivors’ Anti-Israel Ad

Alvin Rosenfeld
Israel is cursed both with die-hard enemies on the anti-Zionist left and those “defenders” who claim that Israel can do no wrong.  The Jewish Daily Forward set up exactly this kind of either/or dichotomy with an opinion piece by Prof. Alvin Rosenfeld of Indiana University, attacking the NY Times ad of Holocaust survivors and their assorted relatives, which had raised the specter of “genocide” against Palestinians in Israel’s actions against the Gaza Strip and in sinister threats from a couple of pundits and extreme-right politicians. The ad is sponsored by something called the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

There’s plenty of reasons to criticize Israel over Gaza, but it should be obvious that the signers are doing exactly what they declare themselves to be “disgusted and outraged by” when Elie Wiesel sponsored a pro-Israel ad; he and they are trading on their history as Holocaust survivors.  In the anti-Israel ad, Hamas comes off as pristine; there’s not a word of criticism for a reactionary Jew-hating movement that explicitly advocates genocide in its charter and insisted on continuing its militarily useless pin-prick attacks, knowing full well of the terrible consequences of Israel’s inevitable retaliation.

We know Prof. Rosenfeld mostly from his hyperbolic attack essay published by the American Jewish Committee in 2006, “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Antisemitism,” which conflates criticisms of Israeli policy by pro-Israel liberals with anti-Israel polemics such as engaged in by the organizers of this ad.  The best critiques of his essay were written at the time by New Jersey Jewish News editor Andrew Silow-Carroll, and by Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg in The American Prospect.

There’s more in Rosenfeld’s new Forward piece that we can agree with this time, but he still engages in abusive name-calling — not least when he casually brackets Jimmy Carter with Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein.  Incredibly, this professor of English and Jewish Studies still doesn’t know the difference between critics of Israel who mean it well (like Carter) and inveterate Israel-bashers.  But he’s right that those who sign onto the ad are declaring their enmity.

By | 2014-09-03T10:19:00-04:00 September 3rd, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

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