Sunday, April 4, 2010

Anti-Semitism Examined and Debunked

I recently finished The Politics of Anti-Semitism which is edited by the always reliable duo of Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. The title is bit vague. One casual acquaintance, upon seeing me carry it, asked, "You're reading about how politicians hate the Jews?"

Not really.

A series of incredible essays by people like Cockburn, Bruce Jackson, Michael Neumann, George Sunderland, Linda Belanger, Robert Fisk and Edward Said (among others) takes the media, politicians and Jewish groups to task for their blanket anti-Semitic labels to anyone who, chiefly, dares to criticize Israel's actions against the Palestinians. Each essay is a powerhouse of knowledge, firsthand experience and examination, and if this seems even slightly interesting to you, I highly recommend it.

(As an aside, a director friend of mine who is Jewish, once thoroughly criticized me for my defense of Palestinian acts of self-defense. While he didn't flatly call me out as anti-Semitic, had the conversation gone on much longer I'm sure I would have been painted with that brush.)

AK Press
and CounterPunch worked together to put this book out. (I got it through the Friends of AK Press program, which I encourage you to look into.) Quite honestly, every book these two publishers do together is fascinating, and this is no exception.

Ironically enough, I was reading this when Obama administration decided to criticize Israel's plan to build 1,600 homes in a disputed region of East Jerusalem. The administration took a lot of heat for its relatively tame words. It was interesting to see the main thesis of the essays in the book in action right in front of me on CNN ... and this was written in 2003.

I can't imagine what the critics of the Obama administration's admonishment would think if they read this book ...