In his book, “The popes against the Jews”, historian David Kertzner recalls a notorious distinction held by the Catholic Church in the 19th and 20th centuries, between “good anti-Semitism” and “bad anti-Semitism”.
“Bad anti-Semitism” was a hatred of Jews purely based on their descent. This was a purely racial form of anti-Semitism which the Jew could not escape. “Good anti-Semitism”, however, was a hatred of Jews who continued to identify themselves as Jews, or who identified with Jewish causes. “Good anti-Semitism” used as its foundation a series of conspiracy theories invented centuries before, most of which are still unfortunately very popular today. Examples included alleged Jewish conspiracies to control newspapers, banks, and other institutions, to care only about making money, attempts to control the world, accusations of usury and profiteering, lack of patriotism and extreme cowardice, etc.
It’s with this background in mind that I am referring you to an article on a Mail & Guardian ThoughtLeader blog by Sentleste Diakanyo. Sentletse uses the above fallacious defence to exempt his article from charges of anti-Semitism.
I don’t know much about Sentletse. From a short perusal of his blog he seems to identify himself as a member of the new ANC-breakaway political party, Congress of the People (COPE). He further describes himself as “inquisitive about everything and a master of none.” I wouldn’t argue with the latter claim in that statement.
Sentletse is an angry South African. You see, he is really irked that the SA Jewish Board of Deputies has had the chutzpah to lay a claim with the SA Human Rights Commission regarding Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatima Hajaig’s recent remarks about Jewish money, power and control.
Sentletse is clearly writing on a topic that is well beyond his grasp. Take, for example, his vacuous explanation of what anti-Semitism is and why the Deputy Minister isn’t guilty of it:
|"It is important to examine whether there is any measure of truth to claims by detractors of the Deputy Minister that she had indeed been anti-Semitic. A common understanding of anti-Semitism would generally refer to prejudice against or hostility towards Jews, although the appropriate meaning is not limited to Jews. I would immediately dismiss as utter rubbish claims that the above comments by the Deputy Minister are prejudicial against and hostile towards Jews. Moreover, these comments have no relevance whatsoever to Jews in South Africa."|
Invoking that old play on semantics that “anti-Semitism” is not limited to Jews is a good sign that the drivel defence you are about to read is as bad as the original outburst that precipitated it.
Sentletse also dismisses the SAJBD’s claims that Fatima’s anti-Jewish rhetoric was consistent with classical anti-Semitism, which seeks to portray Jews as scheming, manipulative, and disloyal to the countries in which they lived. In comical style he then uses the very same canards he attempts to dismiss, accusing the SAJBD of “abusing” South African national institutions (disloyal), misrepresenting who they really are (manipulative), and of embarking upon what is merely a “publicity seeking stunt” (scheming). He writes:
|"The action by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies is an abuse of such national institutions such as the SAHRC. The SAHRC has a constitutional mandate to promote the protection of human rights of citizens of South Africa. Unless the SA Jewish Board of Deputies regards those South African Jews they represent as Westerners, their much-reported tirade is misguided and appears to be a publicity-seeking stunt. "|
After accusing the SAJBD of “fear mongering” he then pretends to take a factual and analytical look at the issue"
|"The behaviour and over-reaction of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies is tantamount to fear mongering and a despicable attempt at playing victim to some invented threat to their dignity and human rights. The question we should all ask is whether or not Jews wield immense power and influence in the US. By answering this question we would arrive at an informed conclusion on whether these absurd attacks on the Deputy Minister are warranted instead of immediately dismissing them as I have."|
His evidence deserves no serious consideration; it is premised on work done by the hateful, Holocaust denying “Institute for Historical Review”. His views coincide with theirs, producing a foul-smelling concoction of a bravadoismic sense of victimisation. Instead of denouncing the Deputy Minister, Sentletse thinks she should be praised as a brave iconoclast:
|"Instead of condemning the Deputy Minister she should have been commended for her will to trounce the preservation of falsehoods and expose these self-evident yet unspoken and vexing truths about the influence and power of Jews in America. There is this fear to speak truth to power that is prevalent everywhere and so is the risk present of having one’s voice silenced with a nauseating anti-Semitism card. It is those of robust constitution who, regardless of the awful consequences of revealing these truths, rise above feeble others who allow suppression of their voices. Criticism of Jews has far too often triggered a backlash of unimaginable proportion, a sign of ingrained intolerance to robust and unflattering appraisal."|
Having read many comments across various websites and blogs that have reported on the Deputy Minister’s outburst, it’s become apparent that we stand alongside a very small minority of fellow South Africans who agree that the Deputy Minister’s statements were not only “ill-advised”, but indeed hateful and setting a dangerous precedent.
Many comments have disgusted me - there is a view that Jews have some unfair and mysterious economic and organisational advantage over other groups. This is regarded as an incontestable truth. But some have displayed a genuine lack of historical understanding about what is at the root of Fatima's vitriol.
Perhaps the problem stems from education. There is a distinct failure to see the historical nature of these accusations and how they have been used for centuries to justify the persecution of Jews.
Conspiracies about Jewish control of the IMF, Jewish profiteering from globalisation, Jewish control of the FBI, CIA and Federal Reserve – it’s all part of the same festering pot of stew which cooks up stories of Jews poisoning Christian and Muslim wells, Jews killing Christian babies and using their blood to make matzah, the Jewish fictional story of the Holocaust and the Jewish plot to control the world.
Jews are not the only victims of the idea behind a group wielding excessive control beyond their numbers. This is a concept that was used in Rwanda in 1994 to drive the Hutu machetes through the flesh of Tutsis who, like the Jews, were also “guilty” of having too much power and influence.
I condemn Sentletse’s nonsense with all my heart, but I will stop short of calling for the Mail & Guardian to remove it. I would rather have this form of hatred out in the open where we can see it, discuss it and attempt to cure the people infected with it.
Update at 2009-02-03
Here's a masterful response to Sentletse's malevolent screed from Conrad Steenkamp, also at Thoughtleader: Sentletse, be careful where you dip your pen
My favourite bit is where Conrad points out that Merk Weber, the nutjob whose hateful work Sentletse so readily quotes from, is also an open racist who thinks it's impossible for black Americans to be assimilated into white society. It gets funnier - Weber's talks are promoted on various white supremacist sites like "white pride world wide". Is Sentletse a "self hating Black," or does anything go when it's Jews you wish to defame?
By the way, I'm pretty sure Sentletse is an active member of Cope, his name appears on their websites.
I should also note that Sentletse has deleted many of my comments from his column. This is quite amusing because (1) he claims to be defending the Deputy Minister's freedom of expression and (2) he wrote the following comment on a DA Facebook group:
It is very clear from these rantings that Madame Zille is getting extremely paranoid and terrified of the prospect of losing the title "Official Opposition" to COPE.
NB: No need to delete my comments; the DA has been proclaiming to protect the constitution; and the admin here should equally respect my freedom of expression.
Update at 2009-03-03
David Saks has now weighed in at his ThoughLeader blog - Saks Appeal
|"Instead, Jew haters have concluded from this that “Jews have too much power”. It follows that they could only have reached such positions of influence by dishonest means, since how otherwise could so small a group attain such influence? And that leads logically to the conclusion that the Jews must be stopped."|