Last week, the Salt lake City Tribune published a piece by a Michael Robinson that crossed the line into antisemitism. As mentioned in my critique, Robinson said:
Can the power of the U.S. Jewish lobby really be so strong that we are blinded to Israel’s atrocities? Aside from the votes that are paid for by that lobby, there seems to be a mindless philosophy that, because the Jews have historically suffered so much, we must never criticize them. Even Dr. Spock would frown on this type of parenting. It doesn’t make a naughty child any better when parents decline all discipline, just because little Suzie had a nasty owie two weeks ago.
…Oh, yes, the Jews know all about concentration camps, but they seem unable to muster any human compassion for the suffering of their neighbors. Instead of a normal and healthy outgrowth of empathy, Israel has instead become the monster.
Now, the editor of the newspaper , George Pyle, while not happy that Robinson violated the unwritten rule of saying “Zionist” instead of “Jew” that allows the worst kinds of hate become magically acceptable, still thinks that the piece was not so bad:
He did not deny Jews their humanity. Rather, he accused them, with an excessively broad brush, of exhibiting that most human of traits, the double standard. Of living and governing as if things that are a crime when done by others are an inalienable right when done by your side.
Now, imagine someone writing an essay saying that African Americans haven’t learned a thing from being enslaved and having so many of them being lynched, and they are now behind a large percentage of violent crimes. Would that ever be published in mainstream American media?
Of course not. It is pure racism.
Yet when it comes to Jews, somehow such a thought is simply pointing out “double standards.”
Of course there is such a thing as the U.S. Jewish lobby, just as there is such a thing as the Cuban expat lobby and the Mexican immigrant lobby and the Iowa corn farmers lobby. There’s naught wrong with any of that. Attacking the expression as some kind of hate speech only makes such an interest group sound nefarious, when it clearly is not.
Pyle seems unaware of the basics of antisemitism where a minority of Jews is accused of pulling the strings of power of the world, including of course the US. Either he tacitly agrees with this, or he has no business talking about antisemitism when he knows so little about the subject.
Many of the comments I received dehumanize Palestinians, labeling them all terrorists and violent Jew-haters, in the same awful way that true anti-Semites work to de-humanize their targets.
Yes, there are idiots on every side of every issue. Equating the pro-Israel bigots who write angry comments – and there are some – with the decision to publish a fact-free, anti-Israel, antisemitic op-ed is disingenuous and an attempt to divert attention from the newspaper’s sickening decision to publish hate.
This column was illustrated with a photo of the funeral of a journalist killed in Gaza, in the Tribune’s attempt to show that the original piece was merely a criticism of Israeli actions whose wording was sloppy. Yet even that image obscures the truth: that “journalist” was also a member of the terror group PFLP.
Here is my response to this column:
It would be considered the height of gall to say that things that are offensive to blacks, gays, women or any other group really isn’t offensive.
Yet this is what you are doing here for Jews..
Criticizing Israel is fine; Israelis have it down to a fine art. But saying that Jews haven’t learned from the Holocaust (and are acting like their persecutors) is absolutely antisemitic. Comparing the Holocaust to an “owie” that little Susie got two weeks ago is incredibly offensive to Jews. And while there is a pro-Israel lobby, using the term “Jewish lobby” in the midst of other anti-Israel lies sure sounds like the antisemitic canard of Jews controlling the US and the world.
I pointed out a few lies in my initial response to Robinson, and he chose not to respond to my basic question of whether he felt that any other nation at wartime has ever acted with more morality and care for the civilians of the other side in history. If Israel does more to minimize civilian casualties and yet Israel is singled out as if it is the worst rather than the best in a tough wartime situation, then there is something fundamentally flawed in what is being innocently characterized as being a critic of Israel. Singling out the Jewish state for things that the UK, US, France and others do that are worse indicated a pathology, not a concern for human rights.
I’m all for free speech. But it is the responsibility of a newspaper to prohibit hate speech, which is what this was. Moreover, it is also the responsibility of a newspaper to not allow obvious lies to be published even in an op-ed – fact-checking is a requirement for anything you publish.
The Tribune failed at these basic obligations.
The Tribune has a policy of reviewing comments that contain links, and I added a link to this piece. We will see if they allow their readers to be linked to this post.
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