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December 21, 2016 12:48 pm

Latest New York Times Smear: Zionism Is Illiberal, Antisemitic

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Omri Boehm. Photo: Twitter.

Omri Boehm. Photo: Twitter.

In what seems like its never-ending quest to smear the Jewish state and its supporters, the New York Times has managed to come up with a new one, or perhaps a new variation on an old one: Zionism is antisemitism.

At least, that seems to be the accusation made in a lengthy and barely comprehensible screed by Omri Boehm, an assistant professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research. The Times published it as part of “The Stone,” which is described as, “A forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless,” and led by series moderator Simon Critchley, another NSSR philosophy professor.

Perhaps the Times, which recently announced it is vacating eight floors of its headquarters, has laid off so many journalists that it now has to rely on academic “moderators” instead of veteran editors. But whatever the back story, this article is one that would have been better off staying confined to the philosophy department of the New School, or better yet, to Professor Boehm’s brain, rather than being inflicted on New York Times readers (and linked from the newspaper’s online home page, as it was for some time this week).

The accusation that Zionism is antisemitism is just a variation on the article’s broader theme, which is that Zionism and liberalism are somehow incompatible, or contradictory:

The alliance that’s beginning to form between Zionist leadership and politicians with anti-Semitic tendencies has the power to transform Jewish-American consciousness for years to come. In the last few decades, many of America’s Jewish communities have grown accustomed to living in a political contradiction. On one hand, a large majority of these communities could rightly take pride in a powerful liberal tradition, stretching back to such models as Louis Brandeis — a defender of social justice and the first Jew to become a Supreme Court justice — or Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched in Selma alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On the other hand, the same communities have often identified themselves with Zionism, a political agenda rooted in the denial of liberal politics… by denying liberal principles, Zionism immediately becomes continuous with — rather than contradictory to — the anti-Semitic politics of the sort promoted by the alt-right. The idea that Israel is the Jews’ own ethnic state implies that Jews living outside of it — say, in America or in Europe — enjoy a merely diasporic existence. That is another way of saying that they inhabit a country that is not genuinely their own. Given this logic, it is natural for Zionist and anti-Semitic politicians to find common ideas and interests. Every American who has been on a Birthright Israel tour should know that left-leaning Israelis can agree with America’s alt-right that, ideally, “Jews should live in their own country.”

See, I told you it was only barely comprehensible.

Professor Boehm conveniently ignores the reality that the Jewish state in many ways embodies liberal ideals. It welcomes Arab citizens and Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen, Russia and pretty much anywhere else. It has had a woman prime minister and it is a regional pioneer on gay rights. It has an independent judiciary and a rambunctiously free and critical press. It has powerful labor unions. It is a country that was settled in part by socialist farmers. It’s a a leader in water conservation and energy efficiency, among other environmental areas.

Imagining that liberalism and Zionism are a contradiction requires willfully closing one’s eyes to the real Israel and instead setting up a straw man.

If anyone’s flirting with the antisemitic agenda here, it’s not Zionists either in Israel or America, but Professor Boehm. By propagating the antisemite’s negative caricature of Israel, complete with the dual loyalty canard, Professor Boehm himself is the one who is advancing ideas traditionally associated with antisemites. It’s far worse than the “anti-Semitic tropes” that Professor Boehm accuses Donald Trump of trafficking in. Professor Boehm’s false accusation that Zionism is illiberal is itself an antisemitic trope — all the more so because Jewish nationalism is the one that the professor, enabled by the Times, chooses to single out among all others for attack.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. 

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  • SAWolf

    So now Jews living in Judea is anti semitic? Better get used to your cognitive dissonance, cause The Jewish People are once again Home.

  • Bishadi

    Zionism sure ain’t Judaism. Look up the divide that Josephus described between Jews and the few that require the ‘temple mount’. Zionism is not Judaism.

  • hoptoit27

    It is comforting to know that the N.Y. Times will not be with us for much longer.

  • Efram Paul

    The Times is a bigoted rag, totally bereft of credibility, ethics, journalism, liberalism, reason, and tolerance. This article is accurate. I would not purchase anything from this tome to antisemitism and its unrelenting oppression to Israel and Jews everywhere.

  • getjune

    I think he has gone down the rabbit hole!

  • Peter Joffe

    If Zionism is antisemitism, then Islam is also antisemitism, which of course is exactly what it openly is. I still have to meet a Rabbi who hates his own religion or history? Omri Boehm and the NYT are the spreaders of hate and misinformation. Please do the right thing and do not read the NYT and know that Omri Boehm is a brain dead racist and professor of trash. Remove their licence to publish as they serve no purpose other than to spread hatred and Islam.

  • ricardo

    Omri Boehm is another person that during WWII would have been a kapo. ‘The Stone’ is a perfect platform for his crazy ideas, because quite frankly, most of the people that write there … are so high on drugs that cannot even start to realize reality …

  • zvi gross

    All I can say is that this OmrI is nothing short of another useful idiot, and it would do good for him to go an work one day in his life a real work, in contrast to his mindless philosofhising .

  • watsa46

    Here the US Pravda goes again!!! The left (socialists and communists) loves to accuse other of their own crimes. They have it up side down. Socialism is prototypically an antisemitic system. For socialists and Islamists the Jew is the enemy by excellence. It explains the 2,000 years old war of the west against the Jews and the 13 centuries war with the Islamists. The essence of antisemitism is antizionism!
    That is why it is so important for both the West and the Muslims to deny the Jews their capital Jerusalem.
    Boehm wants to eradicate Jews from the planet. This is a sign of a serious inferiority complex.

  • BethesdaDog

    What a nut! This guy must have mush for a brain….this is the kind of warped, ilogical and nonsensical drivel that has deeply infected the academic left. The New School must have deteriorated greatly since the years it served as home to some distinguished academics, some of them refugees from the Nazis. It’s sad that universities are hiring such nincompoops to teach and influence students who will adopt this nonsensical drivel as serious thinking.

  • SteveC1

    There is a reason why the New York Times is slowly, gradually sinking into a financial abyss.
    This is one example.

  • TheGhostWriterTomes

    Typical of the obstinately obtuse, pseudo-intellectual “alt-left,” Boehm’s convoluted political parsing of the terminology always only aims to begrudge Israel and non-leftist Jews of ideological/theological legitimacy. Innuendo about the so-called “alt-right” phenomena is just that, innuendo. Because a few rabid or closet racist/antisemitic figures have attempted to piggy-back on the Trump movement, doesn’t corroborate their relevance; except of course for the left which has demagogued and exaggerated it completely out of reality; ie Steve Bannon, who is actually a stalwart champion of Jews and Israel. As for Dr. King:

  • De Flahute

    Carlos Slim is a Mexican billionaire whose family’s from Lebanon. The NYT’s regressive staff of self-hating Jews is more than happy to do his bidding.

  • danehrlich

    With all the major tsouris in the world, this obsession with Zionism and Jews is very disturbing and racist in tone…considering Israel, in relation to many of its Muslim neighbors, is a paradise and Zionism in its early days was supported by world liberals, the current anti Zionist sentiments seems more about the right wing Israel government than the nation. People such as Bernie Sanders, in love with past socialist governments, find it hard to accept Netanyahu.

  • doctorweird

    The New York Slimess, what do you expect?