By DENNIS KING
[Sent to The New York Sun, Nov. 26, 2004; pub. in shortened form the following month]
To the Editor:
In her Nov. 26 letter defending two anti-Zionist Columbia University professors against the New York Sun’s criticisms, Miriam M. Reik concludes by stating “I am a Jew…try dismissing my opinion, please, as ‘anti-Semitic.’”
Apart from the issue of academic freedom for the professors in question, on which honest people will have differing opinions, I am disturbed by Dr. Reik’s assumption that any person should be immune to criticism simply because of his or her ethnic background. Whether or not a person utters an anti-Semitic remark should be judged by the content (and context) of the remark, not simply by whether or not the person is a gentile or a Jew.
Jewish communal organizations and the media have often been reluctant to criticize anti-Semitism emanating from Jewish individuals. Professional bigots such as Lyndon LaRouche, Willis Carto and Louis Farrakhan (whom Dr. Reik would probably agree are anti-Semitic rather than just “anti-Zionist”) have been quick to take advantage of this reluctance. LaRouche, for instance, has been the number one purveyor of anti-Semitic literature in the United States for over 30 years but too often has escaped media coverage of his bigotry-because he was clever enough to recruit Jews into his political cult and use them as public spokespersons.
The New York Sun is not immune from the tendency to go soft on anti-Semitic Jews. It frequently attacks Lenora Fulani, an African-American spokeswoman for the New York Independence Party, but lets off the hook her party superiors who share her odious views but happen to be of Jewish descent. These individuals thus are able to continue cultivating close ties with the New York political establishment while their well-paid mouthpiece Fulani takes the heat (this is LaRouche’s tactic turned on its head-the anti-Semitic gentile serving as a smokescreen for anti-Semitic Jews rather than vice versa).
The political confusion generated by the above-described double standard is only rendered worse when rightwing Jewish militants sling around the term “self-hating Jew.” This pop-psychology concept draws a false distinction between gentile anti-Semites, regarded as evil and dangerous, and Jewish ones, regarded merely as mentally disturbed (i.e., as objects of pity or sometimes of scorn, but rarely of outrage).
The number of Jewish anti-Semites in the United States is quite small in comparison with the number of gentiles who hold strong prejudices against Jews. But the ability of Jewish anti-Semites to hide behind their ethnic background makes them especially effective in New York City where open bigotry faces so many hurdles. It is time to drop the double standard that allows some anti-Semites to hide behind others. There should be only ONE standard, regardless of ethnicity.
For more on this topic, read here Richard Morrock's "The Lost Tribe: The American Council on Judaism and Jewish 'Self-Hatred.'"