If language is not used rightly, then what is said is not what is meant. If what is said is not what is meant, then that which ought to be done is left undone; if it remains undone, morals and art will be corrupted; if morals and art are corrupted, justice will go awry, and if justice goes awry, the people will stand about in helpless confusion.
This month’s statue of Confucius goes to Karen Pollack, who took to task Roger Waters, formerly of Pink Floyd, for comparing the Israeli government, in its treatment of Palestinians, to Germany’s Nazi government, in its treatment of Jews and other minorities. Ms Pollak is the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust and a member of Jewish Human Rights Coalition of the U.K.
She reasoned thusly: “Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to advocate passionately for a cause, but drawing inappropriate parallels with the Holocaust insults the memory of the six million Jews – men, women and children – murdered by the Nazis. These kinds of attacks are commonly used as veiled antisemitism and should be exposed as such.”
Following this reasoning, I conclude that we have no right to criticize the antisemitic behavior of the Russian people, who lost between 18.7 million and 28.85 million people to Nazi aggression. More than half of these estimated totals were civilians, i.e. the murdered, and not combatants. To harp on the subject of Russian antisemitism is an insult to the memory of these innocents, killed by the Nazis.
Doubtless we will hear some rationalization of these deaths. “Murdered” doesn’t necessarily mean “murdered” these days.
The experience of suffering humanity is not transmitted genetically. It is not the property of a race, or a creed, or a code, or any exclusive group of human beings. Jews are no better and no worse than any other group of people, no more attuned to human suffering than anybody else, no more insightful than anybody else. Six million or more Jews suffered and died in the Nazi holocaust. Karen Pollack and Benjamin Netanyahu did not suffer from it, and her remarks concerning Roger Waters are nothing but an attempt to direct attention away from the racist policies of the Israeli government.
Palestinians are Semites. All people have suffered, all people have sinned.
In lieu of a statue of Confucius, I will forward to Ms Pollack’s office 10 gallons of raw sewage, similar to what Israeli police spray on Palestinians demonstrating for the respect of their rights as human beings.
Slowly but surely, Ms Pollack and company are “rectifying” the meaning of the word antisemitic to mean no more than opposition to the domestic or foreign policies of the government of Israel. If such dissent is indeed antisemitism, then I have no problem with it. My family comes from Mississippi, and I am also opposed to the Ku Klux Klan, but this does not make me a black terrorist, pissing on the graves of the Confederacy. I’ve simply never liked bullies, and the KKK and the government of Israel are bullies.
And yes, Karen, I have in the span of the 64 years I have been alive indulged in antisemitic remarks. I have also been affected by white-on-black racism. Any person on this planet who asserts that they are untouched by racism is a liar. It is impossible to improve from a position of perfection, and I have never enjoyed one. If Ms Pollack asserts that the Israeli government is not racist, she is a liar. And in the long run, the Jews of Israel and of the world will suffer the most from the results of this double-talk concerning antisemitisim. Few things are harder to bear than being rendered meaningless.