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ESSAY (14)
The Reproach of Antisemitism in Critical Reflection
Representation and Analysis of German Press Sources.
Study for the Attac Workshop "Semitism/Middle East" 14./15. February 2004 in Hannover
by Anis Hamadeh, M.A., Kiel-Germany, February 2004
German Original
(German manuscript has 108 pages)


1. Framework of the Discourse
1.1 Israel-Scenario - Antisemitism-Scenario - Palestine-Scenario
1.2 Cross-Roads of Values

2. Topoi of the Semitism/Middle East Conflict
2.1 Topoi and Ambiguity of the Middle East Coverage
2.2 Is the Possibility of Israel Criticism limited?
2.3 Definition and Relevance of Antisemitism
2.4 The "New Antisemitism"
    2.4.1 Topoi of the "New Antisemitism"-Scenario
    2.4.2 Aristotle's Logic
    2.4.3 Feelings of the Heterogeneous Victim Group
2.5 Marking and Self-Marking
2.6 The "Arab/Islamic Antisemitism"
    2.6.1 Terrorism-Scenario
    2.6.2 The Topos of Destruction
    2.6.3 Arab Perception of Jews and Israel
    2.6.4 Im- and Export, Migrants and Islamists
    2.6.5 Islam-Friendly Germany/ Muslims own Fault
2.7 Stereotype Enemy Islam/Arabs
    2.7.1 Islamism, Fundamentalism, radical
    2.7.2 Stereotype Enemy and Islam/Arabs
    2.7.3 Further Examples from the Press
2.8 Consequences of the Reproach of Antisemitism
    2.8.1 Educational Measures
    2.8.2 Limitation of Liberties

2.8.3 Exclusion of Participants of the Discourse
    2.8.4 Justification of Violence
2.9 The Right-Wing/Left-Wing Dichotomy / Comparisons with the Nazis
    2.9.1 The Right-Wing/Left-Wing Dichotomy
    2.9.2 Comparisons with the Nazis
    2.9.3 The Victim/Perpetrator Stereotype
    2.9.4 The Problem of the Historicity of Scenarios
    2.9.5 The Problem of Collective Responsibility in Groups
2.10 Position of Zionism
    2.10.1 On the Critique of Zionism
    2.10.2 "Ideology"
2.11 Critique of Democracy
    2.11.1 Transfer of Repressive Structures
    2.11.2 Lacking Outgroup Behavior
    2.11.3 Suggestions

3. Attac and the Reproach of Antisemitism
3.1 The Illegal Settlements
3.2 The Jungle-World Interview
3.3 Attac Paper "On Antisemitism and Nationalism"
3.4 Two Articles in "Die Zeit"
3.5 Other Press Articles
3.6 The Aachen Declaration

4. Summary and Conclusion
4.1 Summary
4.2 Conclusion

- 4. Summary and Conclusion -

4.1 Summary

In the preceding representation and analysis of about 400 press sources, mainly from the year 2003, the scenarios and frames were examined in the contexts of which the reproach of Antisemitism appears. Those mostly are the Israel-, the Antisemitism-, the terrorism- and the Palestine-scenario. They are introduced in the first part. The scenarios are composed of single topoi, i.e. standard motifs in the discourse.

In this way, the Israel-scenario highlights the security aspect, with topoi like "defense of the right to exist", "consideration of the feelings of the heterogeneous victim group", "uncomparability of the own suffering", "protection of the only democracy in the Middle East", as well as the topos of the scapegoat, while in the Palestine-scenario other aspects are highlighted, like the topoi of loss ("Nakba") and resistance ("Intifada"), but also the topos of the scapegoat. The argumentation in the work at hand is that a synthesis of the conflicting scenarios on a superposed level is to be striven for, in order to reach peace.

In the Middle East coverage, which is the next topic, there is an ambiguity in the way that the press partly is mirror, but partly also is constructor of reality, as described in part 2.1. Mostly, the coverage is done from the viewpoint of Israel, while it is not clear which Israel is meant, e.g. in questions of violent measures. Part 2.2 documents that the subject "Israel criticism" is controversial and often standing in a context with reproaches of Antisemitism. A special role in this plays the unclear relation between Israel and (the) Jews.

The problem of the definition and relevance of Antisemitism is in the center of part 2.3. The observation here is that it is more important who utters the reproach, than what the reproach says contentwise. Counter-dangers are pointed to, like the establishment of a dualist philosophy in which there are only the good guys and the bad guys. This also relates to the concept of the "New Antisemitism" (2.4) which relies on topoi of the suspects' hiding and denying their true motivations. In these cases the accused usually are not antisemitic themselves, but the reproach refers to possibilitis of Antisemites to link to them. That the reproach of Antisemitism can be used as a means for reaching a higher goal is proven in the topos "no Antisemitism, but!". With reference to Aristotle's logic, the argumentation in 2.4.2 goes that this topos of linking to Antisemites in many cases is not valid and that moreover there can also be linking points from the part of the reproachers, namely to Sharon or the Anti-Germans. Part 2.4.3 deals with the consideration of a heterogeneous victim group as a measure of political argumentation and as a phenomenon of public life.

A short description of marking and self-marking within the discourse is provided in part 2.5 which reflects the relation between Israel and (the) Jews, followed by two detailed parts on the "Arab/Islamic Antisemitism" and on the phenomenon of the stereotype enemy (Feindbild). Starting with the terrorism-scenario, the role of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims is examined, in their capacity of being political opponents to Israel. The topos of destruction (2.6.2) and many connexions and comparisons with Nazis and those opponents show that here different fields of association heavily overlap. Although the Arab perception of Jews and Israel is different from the one of the West (2.6.3), in evaluations it normally is the western perception which is taken as a reference point. Here there are many topoi, like the one of im- and export of Antisemitism (2.6.4), the one of the historical-geographic ubiquity of terrorism and of Antisemitism, the one of the "antisemitic 9/11", the one of the victim discourse and others. In the part "Stereotype Enemy Islam/Arabs" (2.7) it is shown in which ways these motifs can condense to become enemy-stereotypes, when parallels and associations with the Nazis are being established and emphasized.

As all known consequences of the reproach of Antisemitism either are didactic or repressive (2.8), the social barriers remain unchanged. Forms of dialogue and mutual understanding do not substancially belong to the discourse, instead there are educational measures (2.8.1), limitations of liberties like the freedom of the press and of opinion (2.8.2), the exclusion of participants of the discourse (2.8.3) and also justification of violence, for example of wars (2.8.4).

In the long part 2.9 a structural similarity and a far-reaching parallelism between reproaches of Antisemitism and reproaches of being right-wing is confirmed. The right-wing/left-wing dichotomy (2.9.1) is questioned and comparisons with the Nazis are analyzed (2.9.2). A victim/perpetrator stereotype is recognized (2.9.3), which is of central importance for the discourse and which is explained with reasons of history. Only shortly the problem of the historicity of scenarios in the context of the reproach of Antisemitism is treated (2.9.4), followed by a word on collective responsibilities in groups (2.9.5), in which among other things the concept "Taetervolk" (people of perpetrators) is reviewed. This part includes a positioning of the author of the study at hand concerning own responsibilities in the discourse.

Part 2.10 deals with the question inhowfar Zionism in its present form is situated beyond criticism because of the reproach of Antisemitism and how it marginalizes the Palestine-scenario. It also deals with the question of the ideological content of Zionism (2.10.2). In the final part 2.11 structures, tendencies, and cases are displayed, in which the reproach of Antisemitism is working politically outside its original frame, e.g. in the assessment of German foreign and defence policies or as a means to put down criticism for the benefit of a government. Lacking outgroup behavior (2.11.2) is said to be an important fundamental cause for such tendencies, because they go together with fears which are recognized in the alter ego like in a mirror. Thus the alter ego has to be controlled and is to be stripped of his incalculability.

All in all, it could be indicated that by way of the new reproach of Antisemitism a magistracy came into being which sees itself responsible to fight "the Antisemitism", and which because of its position in the discourse is able to publically punish and marginalize other members of the discourse. At the same time it is stressed that many processes of communication in groups in this altercation happen unconsciously and without intention. Finally, in the suggestions (2.11.3) some quotes from the press are gathered which provide constructive elements to integrate the competing scenarios under one roof.

In the third part of the present study the Semitism conflict in the globalisation-critical movement Attac is explained, focussing on its documentation. Articles from the German press on the issue of Attac/Antisemitism are collected there and also reviewed to a limited extend, in the context of the more analytical main part 2.

4.2 Conclusion

What is so bad about Antisemitism is the fact that the Nazis and the German society had made it a governmental and social ideology which is connected to the death and the suffering of millions of human beings. The bad thing also is that it had generalized human beings and made them scapegoats. Some participants of the discourse therefore have understandable worries. It is not understandable, however, if for this reason the discourse is controlled to the benefit of a group which is conceptualized as a stereotype victim group. Temporary compensations - like in quota regulations - may be acceptable, for example, when the equality of chances unjustly had not been provided for a group during a longer spell of time so that this group has to consolidate in the society.

The toleration of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in the Semitism/Middle East discourse, however, cannot be meant with this. For if one counts those quotations in the present study in which the reproach of Antisemitism is brought forward without reference to Palestine, one will find only few. Yet the occupation does not belong to Israel's right to exist.

Many things in this study indicate that a lacking mastering of the German-Jewish history had led to an incrustation of the discourse, by a continuous re-affirmation of abstract and partly historical concepts and scenarios. As Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims in the sources are often conceptualized similar to Nazis, the conclusion is plausible that we are dealing with substitute struggles. The conflict has been going on for ages and it has to come to an end sometime. Here the heaviness of the reproach of Antisemitism together with the omnipresent solidarity with Israel influences the public opinion to a large extend.

When Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians are generally suspected of latent hatred of Jews, then this also means that the public is careful with such people. Thus in the public discourse in Germany there is e.g. no prominent and appealing personality anymore to be able to publically fight for the freedom and the human right of Palestine. Norbert Bluem from the Christian Democratic Party, officially retired since some time, is a little exception, but even he is not really known for this issue. The German public also hardly knows of any exposed Arabs and Muslims, maybe Kaya Yanar and Aiman Abdallah from TV, both moreorless unpolitical. In the Netherlands there is a Gretta Duisenberg who cares for the freedom and the human right of the Palestinians, this is something impossible in Germany at the moment, for the known reasons.

By way of the taboo and the grade of abstraction of key concepts in the discourse (Antisemitism, right-wing, nationalism, terrorism, Islamism...) a kind of finishing line (Schlussstrich) is drawn which aggravates and prevents important debates on values. Our society, for example, cannot handle guilt, this is indicated with great urgency by the high general acceptance of the dualizing victim/perpetrator stereotype. The debate on the human right cannot be led in a sufficient way, either, because it can be interpreted as antisemitic (or also anti-American) by leading members of the discourse, as Palestinians (Iraqis a.o.) have to take cuts in this respects by reason of the security needs of Israel, or America, respectively.

There are other discourses affected by the existance of dualist patterns of thinking which result from the delay of mastering and overcoming the German past, like the discourse on country-related identities and actually all kinds of identities, on freedom, creativity, responsibility, secularism, belief, and many other things. For in each and every possible value and in every norm it is always to be examined how "the other" thinks about it, be he Nazi, Antisemite, terrorist, or Islamist.

In this way the West e.g. scarcely realizes that religious Christian and Jewish elements appear in political argumentations of politicians, because secularism is not a topic anymore concerning the own culture. Only Islam is really criticized and sometimes rejected as a religion in the West, although the questions of the historical context of scriptures, of the political (social) dimension of religions, the questions of schisms, the dogma, and other things are valid for all three world religions in quite the same way.

As the reproach of Antisemitism is fixed on fears and is always used in an excluding and demarcating way, without any perspectives for understanding, dialogue, and social peace between the concerned groups and individuals, and as it is solely disposed to keep a situation with which it is not even content, the supposition is close at hand that in many cases it is not Antisemitism which is fought, but its mastering and overcoming.

One of the main difficulties showing in the discourse, apart from the the creation of an exclusive magistracy, is the lacking possibility to assess the actual political circumstances, in order to finally reach the long peace which does justice to all concerned parties.