It’s difficult to have a discussion when your interlocutor constantly questions your motives. Motive questioning and motive analysis constitute too much commentary these days. Even someone we enjoy reading, the Daily Howler, frequently goes for the motive. It’s disappointing in his case because he has the solid analysis; he just doesn’t need to hypothesize about motives.

The most debilitating and potentially poisonous kind of motive-questioning is racism. Call someone a racist and no matter what the argument, it doesn’t matter; racists can’t make sound arguments.

In this vein, noted playwright David Mamet suggests that criticisms of Israel amount to anti-semitism:

>That the Western press consistently characterizes the Israeli actions as immoral is anti-Semitism. What state does not have the right to defend itself–it is the central tenet of statehood.

Rush Limbaugh couldn’t agree more. For him Jews who question Israel’s actions are self-hating Jews. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post has also argued this.

But it’s not the company he keeps that makes Mamet’s claim specious. In the first place, it’s false. Worse than that, he doesn’t provide any evidence for it. Second, a case can be made that, regardless of the justice of the cause, the means Israel have chosen are immoral. Of the myriad choices for responding to the kidnapping of the two soldiers (click here for some context), was it right that Israel chose invasion and bombing?

The question for Mamet, and for all of the others who make the anti-semitism claim, is whether the means in this case are justified. It should be obvious to anyone–even though sadly it is not–that questioning the means the State of Israel has chosen in this particular case does not amount to unjustified and global hatred of Jews.

One thought on “Disappointing”

  1. Its logically possible to be both anti-Semitic and correct about Israel’s actions. Or, one can love Israel and still disapprove of Israel’s actions. Reasonable people separate their pesonal opinions from certain arenas of analysis. Whatever internal problems one might come across in attempting to provide a just war theory, certain factors are not as debatable as others. For example, the kidnapping of one Israeli soldier in no world justifies the destruction of an entire country. I’ve yet to see a reasonable argument to the contrary. There is a difference between being anti-Semitic and being critical of Israel’s actions when Israel has crossed the line too many times.

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