I noticed a comment from a member the other day that said he had been troubled by some examples of what he perceived to be antisemitism on A|N. The examples were not supplied, but the member did equate, by means of parenthesis, antisemitism with anti-Zionism. I find this very curious but I wonder how prevalent this thinking may be. Many members, if not the majority, of the anti-Zionist movement are liberal Jews that are deeply vexed by the actions of the state of Israel. They are simply calling for an end to what many have considered to be Israeli-backed apartheid in Palestine. To be sure, the anti-Zionist movement does not speak with one unanimous voice. Does any movement?

Another common misconception that arises with criticism of the state of Israel's treatment of Palestinians is the belief that it's the same as glorifying or, at minimum, sympathizing with organizations like Hamas. There are rational voices, both Jewish and Palestinian, that decry all of the violence committed in this millenia-old conflict.

As secularists and atheists we can surely see the link between unconditional support for the state of Israel and deeply-entrenched religious beliefs about the role of Israel in "God's plan". Shedding such religious preconceptions may allow for greater clarity in approaching the conflict.

Please offer your views, no matter what they are, on this subject. With communication and openness, we can work towards peace for all of our brothers and sisters, Jewish and Palestinian.

Tags: Hamas, Israel, Palestine, Zionism, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, atheism, peace, secularism

Views: 48

Replies to This Discussion

Both sides, at least the leaders of both sides, of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have a lot to answer for. Religion is only one aspect and to be blunt it is doubtful that it's the most important aspect of the problem. Top leaders on both sides have done a lot to sabotage any attempts at peaceful solutions. Continuing to allow settlements on Palestinian land is an act of aggression in and of itself. Palestinian demands for the "right of return" as they define it is also a hostile condition. Their "right of return" includes all descendants of those who left during 1948, not all fled as it is commonly portrayed. The influx of population even if only half returned would effectively mean the end of Israel.
And yes there is a big difference between Anti-Zionism and Anti-semitism. I am definitely anti-Zionist. I don't think that Judaism (not Jews in a cultural or ethnic sense) has an automatic right to a "homeland" anymore than any other religious or ethnic group. Basing nationality on predominantly religious or ethnic criteria is a recipe for disaster.
That said, Israel is a country and should remain one. Anti-zionism in terms of philosophy does not amount to wishing to destroy Israel. All countries should be made to abide by the same rules. The US and Israel should look at its own record on human rights and justice before crying foul or discrimination.
And no, that does not mean condoning violence from any side.
Seems like a rational explanation. Thanks.
Specifically religious fanaticism in support of the expansion of the Jewish state is, as far as I know, a relatively recent matter. I would say that the role of religion in establishing the state of Israel, i.e., before 1948, is rather murky. It could not have carried much weight in and of itself, since the creation of the Jewish state was a pipe dream, remote from immediate concerns, and what gave it appeal was the intensification of anti-Semitism in Europe. In its early days, prior to Herzl, there were intensive debates among the Jewish intelligentsia concerning the destiny of the Jewish people, as either a religious, secular-cultural, or national identity. Even the early Zionists were divided: some favored what is now Israel, others favored establishing settlements in the USA or Uganda. Naturally, once the fix was in on the so-called Holy Land, a variety of appeals could be merged into one, but the religious justification as opposed to a purely secular one, could not have carried much weight on its own. It is one of those emotional appeals--accepted consciously or unconsciously--which could only reinforce other motives already in play.

In theory, much of the anti-Israel/anti-Zionist opposition distinguishes between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, but the lines have become just as blurred as the pro-Israel lobby would have it. I don't know what member complained about the tone of discussions on A/N. I'd like to see where this happened. I could name a few names of people I'm rather suspicious of in this regard, but their sins were committed elsewhere in cyberspace, not in this network.
Thanks for the history update and context.
I don't know what member complained about the tone of discussions on A/N.

The comments were not at all melodramatic. It was in the context of a discussion about some that have left/are considering leaving A|N because of perceived bigotry towards women. The comment was as sincere as the discussion it was a part of. Without singling out the poster, I thought I'd start a discussion.

Thank you for your insights, Ralph.
I'll add that the atheist/humanist movement is ill-equipped to address historical, political, and social questions, at least in the English-speaking world. In fact, the very delineation of this movement is designed to censor out any sophisticated social-theoretical grasp of social phenomena. Instead, we get the adolescent bullshit served up by Dawkins, and worst of all Sam Harris, who is entirely incompetent in commenting on political matters and sucks up to the conservatives on foreign policy issues. Hitchens has the knowledge base to know better, but he has deteriorated noticeably since 9-11-01. The atheist movement, dominated by (white) ex-Christians, knows little about other peoples, minorities, or their history. I see some cracks in the edifice in my conversations with some in the humanist movement, but only in small-group conversation. I don't see the childish complaints about white male dominance of the movement helping either, as this gambit in fact elides what the real ideological issues are and the dynamics of social selection of what ideas and what people dominate the atheist/humanist movement and why. It's just the worst liberal-progressive horseshit that justifies the diversification of elites by accepting token representatives of hitherto marginalized groups to have their say, thus both integrating segregation and leaving it intact, since it all comes down to a question of multiple perspectives based on identity.
The atheist movement, dominated by (white) ex-Christians, knows little about other peoples, minorities, or their history.

Are we allowed to do otherwise, to try to inform ourselves, or will any attempts in this direction be categorically dismissed as disingenuous?
See also the discussions I initiated in the group Jewish Atheists.

I've just learned about a forthcoming article on anti-Semitism in the left, which hopefully will provide a more systematic treatment than my anecdotal information I can provide. (I'll provide a link when it comes out.) It is also essential to note that this critique and others do not come from a pro-Zionist position. Once we distinguish between anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic postures, as the Jewish establishment will not do, we can more thoroughly examine the anti-Semitism that does indeed permeate anti-Israel discourse more and more.

I attribute this to a combination of causes: the increasing political degeneration of the world as a whole and the concomitant ideological degeneration of the left; the pollution of political perspectives by thirdworldism and third world nationalism, which comes out of the '60s but has mutated in increasingly desperate and irrational ways; incoherence and anti-intellectualism among "activists" and frustrated leftie political spectators of world events; unprincipled coalitionism which runs along with seeing the world as a grabbag of causes and fixating on a few of them, such as the Middle East.

Particularly obnoxious is the dishonest and odious isolation of Zionism from other forms of nationalism, paradoxical, because the attempt to demystify Zionism, instead of bringing it into the category of other nationalisms, further isolates it as a special phenomenon, without even understanding what makes it different from others other than as an object of paranoia and ahistorical sloganeering like "Zionism is racism".

And all of this feeds into complete insensitivity towards the history of Jews while simultaneously indulging the nationalism of all other peoples classified as non-white, a dismissal of Jewish fears as duplicitous and manipulative, further feeding the sense of Jews as poseurs who complain about persecution while secretly manipulating the world.

Naturally one can find these attitudes among atheists as among everyone else. The favored target of atheists in the political mainstream is now the Muslims, a trend which has become quite brazen with ignoramuses like Sam Harris, now one of the superstars of the atheist movement. But there is an older history of anti-Semitism in the atheist movement that has publicly disappeared as far as I can tell with the passing of the O'Hairs. However, the lack of knowledge and indifference towards minorities, the lack of historical knowledge and sociological and political perspective, and the exclusive focus of the atheist/humanist movement on the natural sciences, including the promotion of pseudo-scientific drivel like the notion of memes and pseudo-evolutionary pseudo-explanations of historical and social phenomena, serve to squelch a sophisticated understanding of social history and social conflicts.

And when so-called progressives comes along with alternative viewpoints, they bring their own garbled ideologies with them. Of course, there will be increasing PC acknowledgment of women, gays, and various minorities, combined with the bad politics some of their would-be representatives themselves introduce as they complain about white male heterosexual dominance of the atheist/movement, obscuring rather than clarifying the selective processes at work in the formation of organizational and ideological hierarchies.
Of course, there will be increasing PC acknowledgment of women, gays, and various minorities, combined with the bad politics some of their would-be representatives themselves introduce as they complain about white male heterosexual dominance of the atheist/movement, obscuring rather than clarifying the selective processes at work in the formation of organizational and ideological hierarchies.

Ralph, you come across as trivializing and dismissing any genuine concern non-minority individuals show for the situation of "women, gays, and various minorities". If your intent is to increase understanding, perhaps you could do so without incessantly insulting those that have shown sincere interest.
You misread me. And if there's any "trivializing", it's as much applied to said minorities as it is to sympathizers. I've never discouraged anyone from showing sincere interest, nor have I ever ever promoted insiderism of any kind. I've always insisted that special interest groups be defined as people with an interest in those groups, not just members of those groups. I belong to a number of these groups, and I couldn't possibly be a member of all of them. I have suggested, for example, that the description of Jewish atheists be changed; I do not like this: "For Atheists coming from Judaism." Not even all Jewish atheists come from Judaism as a religion; Jews comprise an ethnic group, or a supergroup of other ethnic minorities in various parts of the world. And exclusivity is bad news. Everyone with a stake in a particular subject matter should be welcome on an equal basis.
You misread me.

I'm glad to hear that. It's not hard to do with the limitations of this form of communication. Thanks for the clarification, Ralph.

Everyone with a stake in a particular subject matter should be welcome on an equal basis.

Absolutely.
I'm happy to be a non-white male HOMOsexual leading in the local secular movement. ;-)

You are an inspiration.

I have similar thoughts about the spread of religion being like a virus. What challenges me is that I don't know how to move on from that to practical application. I think that if we understand the circumstances that encourage growth and spread of religion, then we can do more to develop 'immunity' - probably just critical thinking. Getting a bit off topic here. I started a group on religions, not sure if there will be any interest or where it will go because I am a novice on the topic, beyond my own dysfunctional fundamentalist Baptist history.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service