Happy Purim, everyone! At the end of a week where the Associated Press reported that Israel faced international criticism for excluding Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza from its successful covid-19 vaccination campaign while Israeli legislators argued that availability for the vaccine should be exploited for leverage against Gaza’s Hamas rulers, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update anchorperson Michael Che joked, “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
The joke was roundly condemned as “antisemitic” by the alphabet soup of American Jewish establishment organizations, most notably the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith (ADL), even though it is obvious that the butt of the joke is not Jews as Jews but rather the history of Israeli policies of human rights abuses upon people under military occupation for the sake of settlement, annexation and inequality under Israeli civil law.
But it was not so long ago when the former US Ambassador to Israel for the Trump administration David Friedman wrote in an Israeli right wing Arutz Sheva op-ed column published in May, 2016, while he was the Trump campaign’s Israel advisor, that American Jews who support the Oslo Accords and the 2-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “are far worse than kapos.”
Kapos were Jewish police who let themselves be recruited by the Nazis in the ghettos and death camps to improve their circumstances under the Third Reich genocidal Final Solution policy. “But J-Street?,” continued Friedman, referring to the American pro-Israel/pro-peace lobbying group, “They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas — it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.” At that time, Friedman was president of the American Friends of Beit El, a West Bank settlement near Ramallah and as noted in December, 2016, by the Israeli news medium Haaretz, Arutz Sheva, the publisher of his columns, is affiliated with Beit El.
“Friedman is president of the American Friends of Bet El, a Jewish settlement just north east of Ramallah. Arutz Sheva, which hosts his columns, is owned and operated by Bet El institutions, according to its Facebook page.”
It is also worth noting that neither the AJC nor the ADL published any formal statements critical of Ambassador Friedman’s characterization of Jewish advocates of the 2-state solution as worse than kapos whether in Israel, the United States or anywhere else.
In fact, none of this is ancient history. In fact, this image was a poster used by right wing Israelis to protest the 1993 Oslo accords leading up to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin:
So, now are we supposed to accept the notion that Michael Che is also supposed to be a nazi just to remain in the good graces of fascist assholes like Bibi Netanyahu and David Friedman? That’s just a punchline that fails to land.
Something is not at all right when condemnations of antisemitism are contingent upon the source of whatever “trope” is determined antisemitic or not, because when the accusation of antisemitism is cynical and arbitrarily applied it can never really be more than an abstraction.