A Response to An Anti-Semitic View

April 14, 2017

Jessica M. Choplin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychological Science, DePaul University Department of Psychology, and Debra Pogrund Stark, Professor of Law, The John Marshall Law School, penned a response to transgender advocate Dean Spade’s anti-Israel remarks

Sorry, Dean Spade, when individuals believe in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, they are anti-Semites. Full Stop. Your April 5, 2017 Op-Ed piece “The Right Wing Is Leveraging Trans Issues to Promote Militarism” is full of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. That makes you an anti-Semite.

No one is accusing you of being an anti-Semite due to criticism of specific policies of the Israeli government. Many Zionists are fully engaged in criticizing specific policies, including especially Israeli government policies beyond the Green Line on the West Bank. People are accusing you of anti-Semitism—we are accusing you of anti-Semitism—because you are advocating specific anti-Semitic ideas. Those ideas imply that Jews and Israelis (or at least those who fail to fall in line with your narrow political ideology) are part of a malevolent Jewish cabal. In the almost cartoonish picture you paint, those Jews have no legitimate concerns of their own. They merely want to dominate, control, manipulate, subjugate, etc. others for the pure joy of doing so to serve “right-wing security and military agendas.” That is anti-Semitic.

Your Op-Ed piece painted highly diverse Jewish and Israeli organizations as part of a monolithic, evil Jewish cabal. You characterize groups such as StandWithUs, A Wider Bridge, and other Jewish and Israel organizations with a single brush as “right-wing” with “agendas” (you know, those scheming, plotting Jews). The fact is that individuals who are active in these groups are not monolithic. Yes, we have seen some individuals online advocate objectionable right-wing policies that we find reprehensible such as policies that would disallow Israeli Arabs to vote or would force Israeli Arabs to accept compensation to emigrate. However, such radical views are rare even in these groups that you have identified as “right-wing.” Your insistence on attributing malevolent intent to all individuals in these groups is bigotry pure and simple.

The fact is that diversity in these groups runs the gamut on possible solutions to the conflict. Some individuals in these groups advocate Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line. Many advocate positions similar to President Obama’s position that would largely follow the Green Line, but would include land swaps of equal acreage to account for the realities of demographics on the ground. Some of the so-called right-wing Israelis who do advocate annexation of the entire West Bank also advocate giving every West Bank Palestinian full Israeli citizenship. Such a plan would largely resemble some left-wing plans that advocate a one-state solution. Many of these individuals are also involved in groups trying to bring about peace through dialogue such as the Peace Factory (thepeacefactory.org), the group that our father and father-in-law is active in Abrahamic Reunion (www.abrahamicreunion.org), or other similar groups aimed at creating dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Your attributions of malevolent scheming and plotting agendas in your Op-Ed piece (those scheming, plotting Jews again) are unconscionable. The only time when attributions about an organization’s goals are justified is when that organization has a mission statement that advocates specific goals (such as the Hamas Charter which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and the killing of all Jews “behind stones and trees” because Jews “have only negative traits and are … planning to take over the world”). Short of that, no such attributions are justified for diverse groups of people, and making those attributions reflects bigotry.

Likewise, the term “pinkwashing” that you used liberally throughout your Op-Ed piece is anti-Semitic in that it attributes a malevolent conspiracy to dominate and control others (those scheming, plotting Jews again). Particularly demeaning and insulting, it makes this attribution for virtually all discussions of concern to the LGBTQ community in Israel on almost any topic. This attribution is not warranted. People—even those living under right-wing governments (Israelis, Poles, Hungarians, Americans)—have legitimate concerns of their own. They deserve the freedom to discuss those concerns. Sadly, when Israelis talk about their concerns their discussions are filtered through ancient prejudices of scheming, plotting Jews. The result is an anti-Semitic double standard. Poles, Hungarians, and Americans can discuss their concerns without the conversation being interpreted as somehow legitimizing the policies of their right-wing governments. Polish, Hungarian, and American LGBTQ groups are not immediately barraged with questions about the right-wing policies of their governments, nor are they immediately asked to disavow their governments. By contrast, when Israelis discuss their concerns their conversations are interpreted as part of a conspiracy to legitimize the policies of their right-wing government. Israeli LGBTQ groups are immediately barraged with questions about the right-wing policies of their government and they are immediately asked to disavow their government. Most particularly for the sake of the current conversation, your Op-Ed piece discussed Lieutenant Shachar Erez’s speaking tour. He is discussing many issues on his tour, almost none of which can be construed as legitimizing Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Yet you interpreted his presentations as such, because you interpret lots of things that Israelis say through anti-Semitic lenses attributing malevolent agendas where no such malevolent agendas are present.

Your talk about “pinkwashing” also shuts down all discussion of the horrific conditions of LGBTQ communities in the Arab and Muslim worlds where gays are literally being thrown off of buildings and hanged. Your rhetoric demands that the real concerns of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in the Arab and Muslim worlds must be dismissed, because those concerns are not legitimate, but only rhetoric that is used by scheming, plotting Jews. Your anti-Semitic animus, including animus towards the LGBTQ community in Israel, is so profound that it harms not only the innocent Jewish LGBTQ community which has nothing to do with Israeli government policies, but also profoundly harms LGBTQ communities in the Arab and Muslim world who need champions and defenders.

In conclusion, Dean Spade, not only are your views anti-Semitic, your views are among the worst anti-Semitic offenders around. Conspiracies involving Jews are everywhere in your worldview. It is a false worldview. Jews including most Jewish and Israeli groups, are not at all of one mind. They are not all in cahoots. They do not all share the same malevolent “agenda.” Jews and Israelis are normal people with normal life concerns. Those normal life concerns are not diabolical efforts, schemes, or plots to gain dominance, militaristic or otherwise, over others and control the world (insert evil laugh here). Your anti-Semitic animus is so profound that you are willing to use rhetoric that undermines efforts to help LGBTQ communities worldwide. Your ideas are racist and wrong and immoral and must be rejected by people of goodwill everywhere.

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