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  Hungarian official tells Jewish Org to 'mind its own business' over antisemitism
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Author Topic: Hungarian official tells Jewish Org to 'mind its own business' over antisemitism  (Read 870 times)
PSOL
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« on: February 14, 2019, 12:27:27 am »

Now for a case of real anti-Semitism...
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https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/feb/13/hungary-tells-uk-jewish-group-to-mind-its-own-business-over-antisemitism
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Antonio V
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2019, 12:40:11 am »

b-but david likes them so they can't be antisemitic Smiley
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Gustaf
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2019, 06:37:11 am »

David seems to only care about his fellow Jews when it provides opportunities to hate Muslims.
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DavidB.
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2019, 04:08:02 pm »

Amazing how 2 out of 3 comments in here are about me while I hadn't even seen the news item or the thread yet. So many lovers, so little time!
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Antonio V
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2019, 04:20:28 pm »

Amazing how 2 out of 3 comments in here are about me while I hadn't even seen the news item or the thread yet. So many lovers, so little time!

Are you seriously going to claim you were unaware that Orban's government is full of people like this?
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DavidB.
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2019, 04:39:48 pm »

Amazing how 2 out of 3 comments in here are about me while I hadn't even seen the news item or the thread yet. So many lovers, so little time!

Are you seriously going to claim you were unaware that Orban's government is full of people like this?
All I'm saying is that two out of three people posting here were talking about me as if I had already made some sort of comment on it, which I hadn't.

My actual opinion: I'm conflicted on this one. I think the Hungarian government is fervently pro-Israel and a shining example to the rest of Europe in this and in many other regards. What's more, Soros is actually historically Hungarian and has gone to great lengths to affect its politics and civil society. Criticism of him is legitimate and only to be expected, regardless of what you think about his stances. I would agree with most of these criticisms.

However, it is also true that Soros' name is used a dogwhistle, and the Pittsburgh attack as well as developments in the Netherlands have taught me to take far-right antisemitism a lot more seriously than I did before. A recent campaign video of a Dutch political party that included a picture of Soros for two seconds with the spoken text "international networks" had a YouTube comment section that might as well have been Stormfront. So I do wish that right-wing parties would tone it down a little when it comes to Soros: if they don't, too many people feel as if their ideas about Jews are being confirmed by authoritative actos (which political parties are). On the one hand, this is a little unfair, as Soros is horrible and deserves all the criticism, but on the other hand one cannot ignore the extent to which criticism of Soros in many cases isn't just intended as criticism of Soros.

So I don't know this Jewish organization and its motives, but I'm not necessarily unsympathetic to their message to the Hungarian government, though I treat it with some skepticism (how do Fidesz' campaigns affect British Jews?).
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BundouYMB
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2019, 06:39:03 pm »

Amazing how 2 out of 3 comments in here are about me while I hadn't even seen the news item or the thread yet. So many lovers, so little time!

Are you seriously going to claim you were unaware that Orban's government is full of people like this?
All I'm saying is that two out of three people posting here were talking about me as if I had already made some sort of comment on it, which I hadn't.

My actual opinion: I'm conflicted on this one. I think the Hungarian government is fervently pro-Israel and a shining example to the rest of Europe in this and in many other regards. What's more, Soros is actually historically Hungarian and has gone to great lengths to affect its politics and civil society. Criticism of him is legitimate and only to be expected, regardless of what you think about his stances. I would agree with most of these criticisms.

However, it is also true that Soros' name is used a dogwhistle, and the Pittsburgh attack as well as developments in the Netherlands have taught me to take far-right antisemitism a lot more seriously than I did before. A recent campaign video of a Dutch political party that included a picture of Soros for two seconds with the spoken text "international networks" had a YouTube comment section that might as well have been Stormfront. So I do wish that right-wing parties would tone it down a little when it comes to Soros: if they don't, too many people feel as if their ideas about Jews are being confirmed by authoritative actos (which political parties are). On the one hand, this is a little unfair, as Soros is horrible and deserves all the criticism, but on the other hand one cannot ignore the extent to which criticism of Soros in many cases isn't just intended as criticism of Soros.

So I don't know this Jewish organization and its motives, but I'm not necessarily unsympathetic to their message to the Hungarian government, though I treat it with some skepticism (how do Fidesz' campaigns affect British Jews?).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust
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DavidB.
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2019, 07:50:12 pm »

Should have included "contemporary", sure. But suggesting that a European Jew needs any reminding on the Holocaust is pretty tasteless. We can have a discussion about the lessons that we need to draw from it, though. Arguably, most of Jewish postwar political thought is essentially about this question.
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Antonio V
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2019, 09:48:51 pm »
« Edited: February 14, 2019, 09:55:11 pm by Secret Cavern Survivor »

My actual opinion: I'm conflicted on this one. I think the Hungarian government is fervently pro-Israel and a shining example to the rest of Europe in this and in many other regards. What's more, Soros is actually historically Hungarian and has gone to great lengths to affect its politics and civil society. Criticism of him is legitimate and only to be expected, regardless of what you think about his stances. I would agree with most of these criticisms.

However, it is also true that Soros' name is used a dogwhistle, and the Pittsburgh attack as well as developments in the Netherlands have taught me to take far-right antisemitism a lot more seriously than I did before. A recent campaign video of a Dutch political party that included a picture of Soros for two seconds with the spoken text "international networks" had a YouTube comment section that might as well have been Stormfront. So I do wish that right-wing parties would tone it down a little when it comes to Soros: if they don't, too many people feel as if their ideas about Jews are being confirmed by authoritative actos (which political parties are). On the one hand, this is a little unfair, as Soros is horrible and deserves all the criticism, but on the other hand one cannot ignore the extent to which criticism of Soros in many cases isn't just intended as criticism of Soros.

So I don't know this Jewish organization and its motives, but I'm not necessarily unsympathetic to their message to the Hungarian government, though I treat it with some skepticism (how do Fidesz' campaigns affect British Jews?).

That's all well and good, and I'm certainly not the one to say that billionaires who try to influence politics are above reproach. The thing you don't really address though is that the nature of the attacks on Soros are of a specific kind that plays right into deep-seated antisemitic tropes. Compare with, say, the tone of attacks that people like Bloomberg or Howard Schulz get (not that those attacks are never antisemitic either, but they at least usually aren't). And the fact that Soros is brought in as the grand puppetmaster in conspiracy theories about things he has objectively nothing to do.

But the broader point, really, is your egregious double standard between left- and right-wing politicians whenever it comes to antisemitism. I wouldn't mind you taking the more nuanced stance that you're taking in this post if you applied it consistently - just like I wouldn't mind your hyperbolic comments on Corbyn and Omar for (in the latter case) relying on the exact same antisemitic tropes as Orban's people but actually apologizing when called out, or (in the former) being too lenient on other people doing the same thing. I don't mind either of those things taken on their own, but when you put the two on display simultaneously, it becomes clear that you are using antisemitism as a rhetorical cudgel against people your have policy disagreements with rather than only or primarily out of any principled opposition to it.
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jfern
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2019, 09:52:52 pm »

And it was Corbyn's Labour and not May's Conservatives who voted to condemn this regime.
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DavidB.
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2019, 02:20:30 pm »

That's all well and good, and I'm certainly not the one to say that billionaires who try to influence politics are above reproach. The thing you don't really address though is that the nature of the attacks on Soros are of a specific kind that plays right into deep-seated antisemitic tropes. Compare with, say, the tone of attacks that people like Bloomberg or Howard Schulz get (not that those attacks are never antisemitic either, but they at least usually aren't). And the fact that Soros is brought in as the grand puppetmaster in conspiracy theories about things he has objectively nothing to do.
I thought it was clear from my post that I absolutely agree with this assessment. This is the essential part of the dogwhistle and what makes it antisemitic.

But the broader point, really, is your egregious double standard between left- and right-wing politicians whenever it comes to antisemitism. I wouldn't mind you taking the more nuanced stance that you're taking in this post if you applied it consistently - just like I wouldn't mind your hyperbolic comments on Corbyn and Omar for (in the latter case) relying on the exact same antisemitic tropes as Orban's people but actually apologizing when called out, or (in the former) being too lenient on other people doing the same thing. I don't mind either of those things taken on their own, but when you put the two on display simultaneously, it becomes clear that you are using antisemitism as a rhetorical cudgel against people your have policy disagreements with rather than only or primarily out of any principled opposition to it.
It's not a double standard, and I frankly find the idea that I would merely instrumentalize antisemitism as a "rhetorical cudgel" without actually being sincere to be insulting. This is an issue that I dedicate a lot of thought and attention to, because antisemitism directly affects me. I've encountered it irl and may encounter it again.

I assess antisemitism differently if it is more dangerous. Hypothetical antisemitism espoused by any world leader is endlessly more dangerous than by some internet rando. The effect matters. But intention matters too. It is a complex calculation largely done on the basis of gut feeling, but I've lost my initial naivety regarding contemporary (I'll add it so that the next a**hole doesn't come up with a link on the Shoah) right-wing antisemitism - seen too much antisemitism in my own political "backyard", left chat groups over it, have had acquaintances and friends who came up with questionable and offensive talk when drunk, et cetera et cetera.

However, the elephant in the room here - and our point of disagreement - is Israel. I absolutely do think antisemitism disguised as or combined with anti-Zionism is more dangerous these days than just the old type of antisemitism, as Israel is every diaspora Jew's "life insurance" - once we lose it, all bets are off and we're f**ked. Say what you want about Viktor OrbŠn, but he's not a threat to the Jewish state. U.S. lawmakers who support economic boycotts and potential UK Prime Ministers who may control a UN Security Council vote are therefore much more of a threat to Jews worldwide than a Prime Minister of a not very powerful country in Europe that I agree a lot with yet who regrettably engages in antisemitic dogwhistling. So yeah. Omar and Corbyn are actually more dangerous than OrbŠn.
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Antonio V
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2019, 04:27:27 pm »

Believe it or not, I don't like impugning people's good faith, and only do so as a last resort when I'm wondering if I'm wasting my time arguing with someone who's just interested in getting a rise out of people rather than exchanging honest opinions. These types, we'll agree, are sadly all too common on the internet. Anyway, the fact that you are going to such lengths to answer this contention (something I hadn't seen you do before) convinces me that you are sincere.

I maintain that you are applying a double standard, though, even if you're doing so sincerely. The fact that you admit that your "complex calculation" largely boils down to "gut feeling" should be a pretty obvious clue that you might be letting your partisan views color your reaction to various instances of antisemitism based on who they originate from. This takes at least two forms I've noticed. The first is that, while you claim to have lost your naivety about right-wing antisemitism (and yes, it still remains absolutely baffling and frankly inexcusable that you ever harbored such naivety considering not only the Shoah but the long and rich history of postwar neofascist/neonazi movements of which modern European far-right parties are often direct successors), I haven't really seen you act on it. You claim to be conflicted about Fidesz and other such movements, but every time that a discussion on them appears on Atlas, you act like a fanboy, not like someone who appreciates their political project but is deeply troubled by some aspects of their rhetoric.

Obviously, the most important double standard is your assessment itself. Now, my thoughts on anti-Zionism are well documented on this forum, so let's please avoid strawmen. If an actual, overt anti-Zionist was the leader of a left-wing party in a country with significant foreign policy clout, then yes, I would agree that that leader would pose a bigger threat to Jews worldwide than Orban. However, this has never been the issue with Corbyn. All you can accuse Corbyn of is 1. to associate with such people for the sake of political convenience, 2. to be deeply insensitive toward people who are rightly offended by that, and 3. to himself have specific circumstanced stances against the current Israeli government's behavior. Now, 1 and 2 are certainly bad things, and again, I'm on the record here condemning them in unambiguous terms. But none poses the kind of existential threat to Israel that you're talking about here - the people Corbyn associated with don't have any serious influence on his foreign policy, and he has, if half-heartedly and belatedly, distanced himself from them. There is so indication so far that Corbyn questions Israel's right to exist.

Now, if you want to say questioning specific actions by the current Israeli government is inherently antisemitic, I hope you realize the consequences of what you're saying. You're saying that, by virtue of a State providing a safe haven for an ethnic minority, any action by whoever happens to hold the reins of power in that State is beyond criticism. Surely you realize what an absurd principle it is. Now, a lot of criticisms of Israel's actions do use rhetoric that's based on antisemitic tropes or is otherwise insensitive to Jewish culture and history - that was the core of the issue with Omar's comments. I actually don't know if Corbyn himself has done so, but let's assume for the sake of argument that he has. Do those comments, in and of themselves, pose a greater threat to Jews worldwide than the kind of antisemitic dog-whistling that Orban&friends use? Now, I might be wrong about this, but my impression is that antisemitic acts are generally far more prevalent in Eastern European countries with Orban-like politicians either in power or otherwise as heads of powerful parties, than they are in the UK or in Minnesota.

And do criticisms of the Israeli government's actions, even unfair ones, threaten its continued existence? How? At most, they could lead to a country providing less aid and support to Israel, which, yes, would be an unfortunate outcome, but still a far cry from threatening its survival, unless you want to go all in on a slippery slope fallacy. No serious leader of a western country would ever consider letting Israel be obliterated, let alone actively militate for that. Corbyn has certainly given no indication that he would do either (Omar seems potentially liable to do the former, but luckily she'll never be in a position to). You might disagree with the two-state solution, but its implementation would, by definition, imply Israel's continued existence, so the whole "insurance policy" argument falls flat here.
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DavidB.
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2019, 11:53:23 am »
« Edited: February 17, 2019, 11:58:44 am by DavidB. »

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd summarize your post as follows: your assertion is that I maintain a double standard vis-ŗ-vis right-wing antisemitism compared to left-wing antisemitsm, supposedly evidenced by two points: you haven't seen me act on my realization that right-wing antisemitism in the West has become a serious problem, and you think I am wrong in thinking that OrbŠn is less dangerous than Corbyn, Omar, and the like.

As for the first point: most RRWPs are not antisemitic, even if they may be supported by (a sometimes sizeable number of) people who are. French RN and German AfD are notable exceptions here: important figures within these parties have made statements ranging from dogwhistling to overt antisemitism. But in general, elected representatives for RRWPs in Europe do not espouse antisemitic views. Therefore, me supporting such parties (excluding RN, who I don't like, and AfD for now) does not constitute evidence for a double standard whatsoever.

Now for the category of parties that do have elected representatives who espouse more problematic views, such as Fidesz, AfD and RN. First off, I try to combat this stuff wherever I see it in my own political circles, which is obviously something that is not visible on a left-leaning forum like Atlas. Second, and probably more pertinent to the point, what I am usually cheering is their policies on immigration. I have a whole range of criticisms of these parties: for Fidesz it is not only their dogwhistling but also their corruption and their neglect of the healthcare and education systems. But if I zoom out and see what OrbŠn represents within Europe as it is today, I see someone who offers an alternative to the "there is no alternative" liberalism and globalism promoted by all Western European governments.

And I can well imagine that people would think similarly about Corbyn: yes, his stance on Jewish issues is troubling, but he does offer an alternative to the "there is no alternative" neoliberal economic model, which is ultimately more relevant to the lives of most (non-Jewish) people in Britain and elsewhere. And I can imagine that people who agree with his alternative to the status-quo are enthused by that. I would not find this to be unreasonable if people do add the caveat that they find his stances on Jewish issues to be troubling. And yet, Corbyn supporters cannot reasonably include this caveat, which sometimes would simply be an irrelevant addition, every time they talk about Corbyn's views on the NHS, for example. Similarly, I won't talk about my issues with OrbŠn in a thread on Fidesz and their policy on gender studies or immigration. Of course this is a little tricky because OrbŠn's dogwhistling takes place exactly on such issues while Corbyn's issues are related to explicitly Jewish themes, but I maintain that OrbŠn is absolutely correct on these issues even though I don't like the suggestion with which he sells his policy to the masses. And I wouldn't criticize social democrats who genuinely like Corbyn's alternative on economic inequality or healthcare for cheering for him on these issues. I do, however, criticize people for trivializing Labour's issues with antisemitism or supporting Momentum against most of British Jewry.

As for your second point, I think we are bound to disagree here. Which is fine, but I will explain why it is not a double standard even if we do disagree about my assessment in the end. Let me first clear up some misconceptions about my views: I do not accuse you of being anti-Zionist, I do not find criticisms of the Israeli government to be necessarily antisemitic, and I do not necessarily oppose a two-state solution. You have spent much of your post attacking these things, but I don't actually hold these views.

First off, I disagree with your assertion that Corbyn is just "insensitive" and "associates with the wrong people for convenience" as opposed to being ideological here. It was not convenient for him to associate with Hamas or Hezbollah, it was ideological. Obviously he cannot be an overt anti-Zionist, as such a point of view would be well outside the range of what is accepted. But he definitely takes the most anti-Zionist position publicly "acceptable" whenever asked about the issue, and he does pay a disproportional amount of attention to the I/P conflict in the first place, which is part of the double standard.

Does Omar and Corbyn's behavior pose a bigger threat to Jews around the world than OrbŠn's? Yes, because Omar and Corbyn do have a significant amount of influence on the public debate in both countries - the latter obviously more than the former. This is not unlikely to ultimately affect policymaking. They do not explicitly say they oppose Israel's existence, and I'm not sure if they even hold this view, but they don't have to - their followers will do it. Meanwhile, the obsession with Israel's supposedly uniquely bad wrongdoings is perpetuated and public support for a normal relationship with Israel (which absolutely includes the possibility to criticize specific policies) is eroded: Israel is treated as uniquely evil and a disproportional amount of attention is drawn to it. In the end, this could lead to UN resolutions and EU boycotts that undermine Israel's viability as a safe haven for Jews in the long run. I understand why people argue that this is far-fetched but I think that given our history it is better to take a more pessimistic view and be wrong than to take an overly optimistic view and be wrong.

Antisemitic prejudice is much more widespread in Central and Eastern Europe than in the UK or the U.S., but at this point I do not think it is more dangerous to be an observant Jew in Budapest (the only city in Central Europe with a sizeable Jewish population) than to be an observant Jew in a big city in the UK. Policies that would endanger Israel pose a much bigger threat to Jewry - not just those in Israel but also those outside it: we might need to move there one day - than the (inexcusable) dogwhistling coming from right-wing politicians there. Such rhetoric was much more dangerous when there were still a lot of Jews there, but we know what happened afterwards. It is also why I worry more about U.S. politicians, whether on the left or on the right, potentially doing the same thing: we've seen in Pittsburgh what this type of thinking can result in.
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