Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Bigot Crew and the Chosen Few

Deborah Orr's gratutiously nasty attack on Jews as a "chosen" people -- (deliberately?) misrepresenting the meaning of the concept in Jewish theology in order to present Jews as possessing a sense of communal superiority -- has been taking a ton of flack, and rightly so. It is a vicious piece of work that echoes anti-Semitic tropes of years past (and not so past), and deserves to be called out as such.

Particularly worth noting is a recent screed by a British BDS supporter who went into a "chosen people" tirade immediately following standard bromides about how he's not anti-Semitic, he has nothing against Israelis or Jews, he's really the best friend of Israelis and Jews, and in any event he's an anti-fascist so of course he can't be anti-Semitic. He then proceeded to go on an all-too-common bit about how a Jewish audience member (who I imagine questioned the legitimacy of BDS) "an absolute disgrace to the Jewish people", "a modern-day fascist" and "a modern-day Nazi" whose "friends in the media" are covering up Israeli crimes. And then, after being asked by another Jew in the vicinity whether he "felt better" after saying all that, he replied:
“Better than you, obviously. But then again you’re one of the chosen people so you might feel better than me, huh?”

Yep -- friend of the Jews indeed. But it is worrisome that "chosenness" is now entering the lexicon as an attack on Jews qua Jews. It is a sign that many anti-Semites who make their home in anti-Zionists circles no longer feel the need for fig leafs. They can use identifiably Jewish -- not Israeli -- terms to attack identifiably Jewish -- not Israeli targets. And they can largely do so with impunity.

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