‘Anti-Semitism’ vs. ‘Islamophobia’: How language creates hierarchies of discrimination and whitewashes bigotry


Protest against Islam at Foley Square in New York City, June 10, 2017. (Photo: Mark Peterson. markpetersonpixs @ Instagram)
Protest against Islam at Foley Square in New York City, June 10, 2017. (photo: Mark Peterson. markpetersonpixs @ Instagram)
A look at linguistics and changing the normative hierarchy of discrimination in Western discourses of racism.

By Timo Al-Farooq  |  Mondoweiss  |  Aug 22, 2019

Where the anti-Semite is by definition dangerous, a term like Islamophobe makes the Muslim-hater seem rather timid, implying that he is not a source of danger, but a victim, merely reacting to an exogenous bogeyman, and understandably with the most human of emotions which all of us have experienced at some point in our lives: fear.

From the ivory towers of academic knowledge production to the lowlands of cracker-barrel Stammtisch-culture, tactical language is omnipresent in everyday political discourse, employing certain symbols and ciphers designed to obscure bitter realities under the smoke-screen of sweet euphemization. The controlled natural language of Newspeak from George Orwell’s spot-on dystopia 1984 for instance is an – albeit extreme – example of how language manipulation is a key modus operandi for the powers that be in stifling critical thought and thus consolidating their grip on potentially subversive populaces.

Continue reading “‘Anti-Semitism’ vs. ‘Islamophobia’: How language creates hierarchies of discrimination and whitewashes bigotry”

Trump ‘King of Israel’ and white supremacy

Rep Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, attends a Shabbat service in a Detroit park arranged by Jewish Voice For Peace Action. (photo: Courtesy of JVP)
Israel’s denial of entry to US representatives provides opportunity to question the US role providing aid to Israel.

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam |  Aug 21, 2019

BDS and curtailing U.S. aid to Israel have been controversial for years. But as Israel grows ever more authoritarian, these ideas become more and more reasonable as responses.

This week, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar held a press conference to offer their views on Israel’s ban against them entering Palestine. Perhaps the most important news coming out of the event was Omar’s demand that the U.S. withhold part of all of the $30-billion offered to Israel by the Obama administration as it sought to bribe Israel to soft-pedal its opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama was suckered by the Israelis, who took the money and still opposed the deal. Obama was furthered humiliated when the Israeli eventually go their way and Pres. Trump torpedoed the deal entirely.

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How the Palestinian-Israeli peace process became a farce

Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / Getty Images)
We have peace plans with no partners and movements with no peace plans.

By Thomas Friedman | The New York Times | Aug 20, 2019

Talk about reality denial, the most existential question in Israel — what to do with the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank — is not on the September ballot.

Last week’s ugly mess involving the abortive visit to Israel of two Democratic congresswomen was useful for only one reason: It exposed how much the Palestinian-Israeli peace process has become a pathetic festival of magical thinking, performance art, reality denial, political fund-raising and outright political fraud. It’s become about everything except what it needs to succeed: courageous, fair-minded, creative diplomacy and leadership.

At the official U.S. level, Jared Kushner has spent three years ginning up a peace plan that he still won’t show anyone. So far, his only achievement is an Israeli-Palestinian economic conference in Bahrain that no Israeli or Palestinian officials attended.

Kushner actually seems to believe that the problem can be solved by the Israelis and Gulf Arabs funding a leveraged buyout of Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty and statehood.

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A toxic rift is opening between Democrats and Israel

President Donald Trump, Aug 16, 2019. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty)
Americans increasingly view the Israeli government negatively, with a sharp division along party lines.

By Matt Viser and Rachael Bade | The Washington Post | Aug 16, 2019

‘This is a strategic blunder of epic proportions that Netanyahu and his advisers have made, turning Israel into a branch of the Republican Party. This is a tiny little country in a very bad neighborhood that needs all the friends it can get.’
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street

A politically explosive fight over Israel’s attempt to block two members of Congress from entering the country — at President Trump’s urging — has elevated rifts between it and Democrats who have increasingly started to view the Israeli government and its leader as out of line or, in the eyes of at least two presidential candidates, even racist.

The shift in dialogue has been accelerated by the tight embrace between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and after a dizzying 48 hours, some Democrats are more openly discussing the unusual step of reconsidering foreign aid to the longtime ally.

The dispute has fractured bipartisan support for Israel and moved debates over it into partisan space more typically home to issues such as abortion, gun control and immigration.

“There is this tectonic shifting of one of the fundamental plates of American politics,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group. “This has been a plank of the rule book for 60 years, and things are shifting in a really important way.”

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What occupation looks like for Rashida Tlaib’s village in the West Bank

Israeli soldiers guard at the 'Bell' Checkpoint, on road 443 near Beit Horon, on January 6, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers guard at the ‘Bell’ Checkpoint, on road 443 near Beit Horon, Jan 6, 2019. (photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
Forty years of land grabs, settlement expansion, and the building of a highway that is off limits to Palestinians. This is what is happening to Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s village.

By Dror Etkes | +972 Magazine | Aug 18, 2019

It is true that Beit Ur al-Fauqa does not suffer the worst consequences of Israel’s occupation and its land grabbing enterprise. In many ways, it’s just “another village” — and that’s bad enough.

The West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa made headlines over the weekend, after Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib announced she would not accept Israel’s offer for a “humanitarian visit” to see family, and particularly her aging grandmother.

Beyond Tlaib’s personal story, however, is the story of a village that has seen decades of land grabs for the purpose of Israeli settlement expansion and the construction of a bypass road, which Palestinian residents of the West Bank have been banned from using for nearly two decades.

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American Jews unite to reject Netanyahu’s decision barring US congresswomen

Jewish-American protesters, organized by IfNotNow, rally earlier this year in New York.       (photo: Facebook/IfNotNow)
Anti and pro-Zionist groups condemn Israel’s decision to deny Tlaib and Omar from visiting, but for Palestinians this is nothing new.

By Azad Essa |  Middle East Eye  | Aug 16, 2019

‘What we are witnessing here is a mixture of arrogance and disregard of politics as usual on the part of Trump and Netanyahu, and an Israel that no longer shies away from exposing its racist and discriminatory politics…’
— Jehad Abusalim, PhD candidate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History at New York University 

When it comes to Israel, there are very few things that unite American Jews.

Under the vast umbrella of opinion over Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, its illegal settlements and the blockade on Gaza, the Jewish American community’s approach to Israel sits on a broad spectrum.

But when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were barred from entering the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on a planned visit later this week, these differences suddenly converged.

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The day Netanyahu helped anti-Israel voices gain resonance and credibility

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US Reps. Rashida Tlaib, center, and Ilhan Omar, right. (Laura E. Adkins for JTA/Getty Images via JTA)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US Reps. Rashida Tlaib, center, and Ilhan Omar, right. (photo: Laura E. Adkins for JTA/Getty Images via JTA)
There will now be more support for policy ideas that rethink the nature of the US-Israel relationship, including exerting more pressure on Israel to change its behavior if it wants to enjoy the same level of friendship from Washington.

By Eric Cortellessa | The Times of Israel | Aug 17, 2019

‘The political debate over Israel in this country is going to get more robust and more wide open. People who have serious criticism of what the [Israeli] government is doing are going to have the freedom to say what they want. There will be less fear of saying these things. The unintended consequences of Netanyahu’s decision is that he has opened it up for critics to push for ideas in the policy space that they couldn’t before.’
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street

This much can be said of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision on Thursday to bar two American congresswomen from entering Israel: He has unified the Democratic Party in its opposition to him.

Freshmen representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — who both support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel — have been polarizing figures within the caucus since their November 2018 arrival on Capitol Hill.

Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had more than once argued that their views on the Mideast were marginal — that they are not representative of the party.

But after Netanyahu apparently capitulated to US President Donald Trump’s demands that he prohibit Omar and Tlaib from visiting Israel — under a 2017 Israeli law that allows the country to ban any foreigner who knowingly promotes boycotts of Israel — he turned two figures who were sources of Democratic discord into victims of Israeli oppression.

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Why Palestinians aren’t surprised by the humiliation of Rashida Tlaib

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). (photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images)
While Palestinians might have gotten used to constant Israeli discrimination and humiliation, these only increase the Palestinian resolve for an independent state or a shared state with equal rights.

By Daoud Kuttab | The Washington Post | Aug 17, 2019

Travel to Palestine, a country recognized by 140 members of the United Nations, shouldn’t need Israeli approval. If anyone still had any doubts that Palestine is a country under occupation, what the Israeli government did to the US representatives proves precisely the point that the Trump administration has been trying to deny.

Whenever my Palestinian American cousins come to visit us, in Jerusalem, they always come prepared. In addition to the family-size package of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, they bring books and an all-important set of playing cards. From past experience, they know that at the Israeli-controlled terminal of the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge they will be subjected to a long wait before getting the approval to enter. Instead of allowing this Israeli humiliation to consume them, my relatives play cards as they wait for hours.

Unlike most American visitors, Americans of Palestinian origin are routinely discriminated against. They are forced to wait long hours and to undergo rigorous and humiliating searches and questioning.

Of course, not all Palestinian Americans are allowed in, as we have seen with the case of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). The humiliating letter she was forced to sign, where she asks for “humanitarian” consideration to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in order to get the Israelis to allow her to visit, is par for the course for Palestinians who have experienced the travel blues for more than half a century. Small wonder that she has now rethought her decision by deciding to withdraw from the trip.

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Sanders says if Israel wants to ban members of Congress, it should not receive billions in US military aid

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to the crowd during the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (photo: Sean Rayford / Getty Images)
Sanders raises concern about U.S. military support to Israel.

By Jake Johnson |  Common Dreams  | Aug 16, 2019

‘The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage.’

Sen. Bernie Sanders told MSNBC Thursday night that perhaps Israel should not be receiving billions of dollars in U.S. military aid after the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barred Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.

“I wish I could tell you…that I am shocked. I am not,” Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said of President Donald Trump’s support for Israel’s decision. “We have a president who, tragically, is a racist, is a xenophobe, and who is a religious bigot.”

On Friday morning, the New York Times reported that Israel will allow Tlaib to visit her 90-year-old grandmother who lives in the occupied West Bank. Israel did not change its position on Omar.

Continue reading “Sanders says if Israel wants to ban members of Congress, it should not receive billions in US military aid”

If you think Trump is helping Israel, you’re a fool

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Trump at the White House in March.
Doug Mills / The New York Times)
By barring Representatives Omar and Tlaib, Netanyahu has poisoned relations with America.

By Thomas Friedman | The New York Times | Aug 16, 2019

Excuse me, but when did powerful Israel — a noisy, boisterous democracy where Israeli Arabs in its Parliament say all kinds of wild and crazy things — get so frightened by what a couple of visiting freshman American congresswomen might see or say?

I am going to say this as simply and clearly as I can: If you’re an American Jew and you’re planning on voting for Donald Trump because you think he is pro-Israel, you’re a damn fool.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Trump has said and done many things that are in the interests of the current Israeli government — and have been widely appreciated by the Israeli public. To deny that would be to deny the obvious. But here’s what’s also obvious. Trump’s way of — and motivation for — expressing his affection for Israel is guided by his political desire to improve his re-election chances by depicting the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.

As a result, Trump — with the knowing help of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — is doing something no American president and Israeli prime minister have done before: They’re making support for Israel a wedge issue in American politics.

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