For obvious reasons, I wasn't going to touch the comments section of this post with a ten foot pole.
But against my better judgment, I did read through it. And while it brought back some nasty flashbacks, I do think it also caused a few things to clear up in my mind.
I feel like there is a distinct aversion amongst blogs that are roughly in the political "range" of Feministe towards discussing anti-Semitism. That's true at least of the blogs that aren't avowedly anti-Israel (those mention anti-Semitism quite often, albeit usually to mock it) -- and despite my rather horrific experience there (which was easily the worst of my blogging career), I would not say that the Feministe crew (at least the two I know well) are anti-Israel. I know this because I know the folks who invited me to contribute, and I know that they did so neither to humiliate, nor to demonstrate how broad-minded and fair they were (to invite a radical such as myself). But amongst these blogs, one sees anti-Semitism mentioned extraordinarily rarely. I think the Feministing post on Helen Thomas was the first time I've ever seen them mention the issue of anti-Semitism (a search for the term on their site reveals no hits, with only a bare handful for "anti-semitic"), and it was, to say the least, sorely lacking (to be fair, the author was quite appropriately raked over the coals for it in the comments).
But back to the main. What distinguishes the rare discussions of anti-Semitism in these forums is not that folks universally mock and deride the concept. On the Feministe thread, you will find many that don't. What is different is that folks that would in other contexts be seen as trolls, here are just "the other side". The lack of 101 penetration is astounding. Respect how the Jewish community describes its own experience. Don't accuse us of being psychopaths, overly sensitive, manipulative, or flat out liars. Don't group our history and experience into the narrative of others. Being a Jew who disagrees with the bulk of the community does not earn you super-standing. The "anti-Semitism card" can and is easily trumped by the "anti-Semitism card card". Calling a particular statement respecting Israel anti-Semitic does not mean one condemns all criticisms of Israel as anti-Semitic. For that matter, critiquing one's statement regarding Israel does not necessarily mean we've called you anti-Semitic at all.
This is basic stuff. But, unlike most "isms", for anti-Semitism there's no consensus around it. And that's a problem. The whole reason why blogs like Feministe are adamant about not letting the basics be up for debate in every thread is that these conversations are incredibly passionate and painful -- too much so to be rehashed over and over again. To have to explain, ad nauseum and in the face of incredibly hostile fire, why certain frames wound, why the majority narrative is inadequate, why the status quo is inadequate, is utterly exhausting.
And so, whereas I think your average anti-racism blog could -- through community self-policing and judicious moderation -- prevent every conversation from devolving this way, the lack of consensus regarding anti-Semitism means we're perpetually stuck in the most emotional and fraught terrain of the endeavor. No wonder people don't want to do it.
But it must be done. I try to do it here. I tried (and failed) to do it at Feministe. I tried (with more success) to do it at Alas, a Blog.
It must be done. There is no other way.