Apropos of my discussion last night, as well as this interesting piece on the "Livingstone formulation" (extracted from this statement: "for far too long the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government"), I once again return to the subject of discussing anti-Semitism in the context of discussing Israel. And specifically, how to address the Livingstone formulation, seeing as it came up last night, from the standpoint of someone who thinks that anti-Semitism is an important axis of discussion to be had in any conversation regarding Israel and Palestine.
My stock response to people who pull a Livingstone is to remark that, while assuredly it has to be possible to criticize Israeli policies without being anti-Semitic, I am skeptical that it is possible to discuss Israel in any sort of normative depth without (at least in the background, or as a set of shared assumptions) having discussed anti-Semitism. The analogue is to the conservative complaint about affirmative action: "I can't criticize it without being called racist!" Well, if so that's assuredly unfair. But certainly, it is fair to state that it would be rather absurd to discuss affirmative action while leaving the issue racism completely out of it, for doing so would make the resulting conversation simple non-sense. My experience, though, is that in both its race and religious forms, the Livingstone formulation extends beyond its terms as a mechanism to prevent the discussion, not just the accusation, of racism or anti-Semitism as a pertinent part of the conversation. And that's illegitimate -- just as it has to possible to criticize Israel without being said to be anti-Semitic, so does it have to possible to note potential anti-Semitism in particular critiques of Israel without being met with a Livingstone.
But part of me wants to be more charitable. Perhaps my standard response isn't as good as I think it is at illustrating my point, and perhaps my interlocutors are more willing to entertain the notion that anti-Semitism is a relevant element to our conversation that my intuition is telling me. At which point I raise the following question, which my readers are free to answer: Suppose I genuinely think that a given statement or topic raises the issue of anti-Semitism. How should I introduce it in the conversation, without being accused (or coming off as) "playing the anti-Semitism card"?