• Borukh

    The problem with Sam Izenberg’s remarks about Elizabeth Block’s assertion that certain aspects of Israel’s behaviour has brought about condemnations that appear to encourage anti-Semitism, is that Israel claims to be a “Jewish state”. Not only that, but it claims to be the ONLY Jewish state on the planet. If we Jews are to afford Israel that designation, one which I highly suspect Mr. Izenberg would agree with, then Ms. Block’s assertions would seem to have been taken in good faith and to be quite accurate. It’s Sam Izenberg who falls short in his understanding of what constitutes and forms the roots and causes of anti-Semitism not Elizabrth Block!

    • Gerald

      No Jew speaks for all Jews, even if–perhaps especially if–he claims to represent the only “authentic Judaism.” No Jew automatically accepts that other Jews speak for him, unless he has designated them his representative. The government of Israel speaks only for Israel as a state, a legal entity, and not even for all Jews in it, as any merely superficial observer of Israeli politics well knows. Only anti-Semites claim that one Jew, or Jewish organization, means “Jews.”

      • Borukh

        Gearald, you are certainly correct in pointing out that “no Jew speaks for all Jews”. We know the old saw, “two Jews, three opinions”.

        But I challenge your extending this truism to Israel speaking ONLY for itself, when it proclaims far and wide and deeply that it is THE Jewish state, into which ALL Jews are welcome to come and become citizens, more or less automatically without impediment or time constraint. As Israel’s elected representative government, the Netanyahu-led regime certainly does speak for all Israelis in the forum of nations. Your limitation of its legitimacy to speak for all Israel would not, I’m certain, be accepted by the Likud coalition!

        However we may disagree about that, your sudden leap from your initial statement and placing limits on who and what Israel stands for, into saying as if it were a pure fact, “only anti-Semites claim that one Jew, or Jewish organization, means ‘Jews'” is a complete red herring and very hurtful.

        Sam Izenberg sneakily said in quotation marks, as if Elizabeth Block said it: “It is their own behaviour that makes them despised.” But she NEVER said that! She said “Israel claims to represent all Jews, worldwide”, but “it most certainly does not represent me [ie. her]”. And she said Israel’s implementation of the Prawer-Begin Plan (she didn’t name it but described its intent) was an example of how Israel through certain of its actions “is fomenting anti-Semitism”, because those actions (typified by its intentions towards the Negev Bedouin) are so sadly inhuman and immoral.

        Are either you or Sam Izenberg able to understand what she actually wrote and actually meant? She certainly IS NOT an anti-Semite! Do you know her – are you perhaps speaking not from what she said but from personal knowledge?

        • Gerald

          I have no doubt that Israel is “fomenting anti-Semitism” among those who can’t or won’t distinguish between the actions of the Israeli government and “the Jews,” or Judaism. But such people hardly need provocation or excuse. The refusal or inability to make such a distinction is the hallmark of the modern anti-Semite.

          I should however have added that those Jews who feel implicated by actions of the Israeli government are displaying the typical insecurity of minority groups who worry that the behavior of one their members reflects on all of them. Of course in the eyes of the anti-Semite, it does, but that’s a logical and moral problem for the anti-Semite. A non-bigot does not blame all the members of a group for the actions of one or some, whatever claims they make make to represent all. Israel’s alienation of its well-wishing friends is a real political issue, but Jews who disapprove of Israeli policy should be able to criticize it without raising the specter of “What will the anti-Semites think?” If Jews, however, feel anxious about being personally identified with Israeli policies or actions they do not agree with, that is an internal psychological problem.

          • Borukh

            Gerald, you seem to be saying that ANYONE who states or even thinks that what Israel says or does is what most Jews believe is ‘right’, is an anti-Semite – because they ought to understand that there is a distinction between “Jews” and “Israel”.- and if they cannot perceive this distinction they are ipso facto anti-Semitic.

            If I’m correct in understanding you, I am flabbergasted that you would claim such a distinction in the face of the massive efforts by virtually every formal group in the Canadian Jewish community to lead Canadians towards that very conclusion – ‘our national/ethnic/religious homeland right or wrong’, etc. When was the last time a Canadian Jewish group declaring their being a legitimate spokesman for the huge majority of our community criticized the government of Israel?

            And so it’s on the basis of what I think you are saying that you have called Elizabeth Block an anti-Semite? That’s incredible!