In his most recent Washington Post article, political pundit, George Will levels the charge of anti-Semitism against left-leaning intellectuals. This accusation, which is entirely without merit, comes from a journalist, who, during his dubious career has eagerly attacked blacks, aliens, Muslims and, his favorite “whipping boy”, liberals. His animus towards these groups is only partially disguised by the lofty rhetoric he employs to hide his own deep-seated prejudices.
Nevertheless, voices like Will’s are becoming increasingly commonplace as the marketplace of ideas has been reduced to the shrill invective issuing from America’s right wing think tanks.
Will defines these leftist intellectuals in a circuitous, Rumsfeld-like language, “people who think about ideas-about thinking-but also people who think they do.” If the intention is sarcasm, it’s lost in its oblique delivery.
Mr. Will continues, speaking in the voice of an alleged “leftist” anti-Semite, “We do not dislike Jews, we only dislike Zionists-although to live in Israel is to endorse the Zionist enterprise, and all Jews are implicated, as sympathizers, in the crime that is Israel.”
This is a sweeping statement and one that lies at the heart of attacks on liberals as anti-Semites. Will deftly conflates anti-Semitism with resistance to the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. What is striking about Will’s comment is that by his own logic both Colin Powell and George Bush anti-Semites, since they have both publicly advocated a two-state solution.
This is how pundits like Mr. Will back themselves into an intellectual cul-de-sac. They begin with assumptions that are entirely untenable and then they invoke linguistic trickery to hide their feeble argument. In reality, no defense is possible. The issue was decided decades ago when the world body agreed “unanimously” that Israel should accept the 1967 borders as the legitimate boundaries of the Palestinian State.
That hasn’t changed.
That won’t change.
Regardless of the legions of op-ed writers like Will who are employed to defend the indefensible, and regardless of the benign-sounding language (“security barrier”) used to mask the brutal reality on the ground; the facts remain the same. Israel is in violation of UN resolutions, continues to ignore the clear intentions of the world community, and shows no willingness to change. In fact, the violence and land theft has only increased under Sharon.
There’s nothing “leftist” intellectuals can do about this, nor is their anything anti-Semitic about pointing it out. It simply demonstrates a commitment to basic principles of social justice. Only the Israeli leadership can affect a substantive change. And, much like the American leadership, Israel’s government is not reflective of the collective will of the people, 56% of who STILL WANT A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT. (Even after three years of unrelenting war and acrimony)
This proves that Will’s opinion is in the minority even in Israel.
As for the charge of anti-Semitism, it should be noted that Will’s “selective indignation” was never aroused when Muslims were being locked up wholesale in the US after 9-11. Nor has he been outspoken about the disgraceful and lawless two year detention of Muslims in Guantanamo Bay. He hasn’t wasted one word on their account.
With George Will civil rights and personal liberties are only defended if you have the right pedigree; Muslims and liberals need not apply.
And, Will’s distain for Muslims couldn’t be more obvious. He opines on the “Arab world’s addiction to political lunacy”; a dismissive and racist comment that would never be directed at Jews, but can safely be levied at Muslims without fear of reprisal.
It’s just another illustration of the intolerance and bias that dominate Will’s writings. It’s clear that if it wasn’t for double standards, he’d have no standards at all.
Taking a broader view of the nagging problems of discrimination and bigotry, Mr. Will can be consoled in knowing that both are safely accounted for in their natural quarters, the right wing of the Republican Party.
MIKE WHITNEY can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org