Charlottesville Through a Glass Darkly

18 Aug


I suggest that Zionists fond of smearing critics of Israel as ‘anti-Semites’ take a sobering look at the VICE news clip of the white nationalist torch march through the campus of the University of Virginia the night before the lethal riot in Charlottesville. In this central regard, anti-Semitism, and its links to Naziism and Fascism, and now to Trumpism, are genuinely menacing, and should encourage rational minds to reconsider any willingness to being manipulated for polemic purposes by ultra Zionists. We can also only wonder about the moral, legal, and political compass of ardent Zionists who so irresponsibly label Israel’s critics and activist opponents as anti-Semites, and thus confuse and bewilder the public as to the true nature of anti-Semitism as racial hatred directed at Jews.


There must be less incendiary ways of fashioning responses to the mounting tide of criticism of Israel’s policies and practices than by deliberately distorting and confusing the nature of anti-Semitism. To charge supporters of BDS, however militant, with anti-Semitism dangerously muddies the waters, trivializing hatred of Jews by deploying ‘anti-Semitism’ as an Israeli tactic and propaganda tool of choice in a context of non-violent expressions of free speech and political advocacy, and thus challenging the rights so elemental that they have long been taken for granted by citizens in every funcitioning constitutional democracy. It is worth recalling that despite the criticisms of BDS during the South African anti-apartheid campaign, militant participants were never, ever smeared, despite being regarded as employing a controversial approach often derided as counterproductive in politically conservative circles.


And of course it is not only Zionists who have eaten of this poisonous fruit. As a result of Israel’s own willingness to encourage such tactics, as in organizing initiatives seeking to discredit, and even criminalize, the nonviolent BDS campaign, several leaders of important Western countries who should know better have swallowed this particular cool aid. A recent statement by the new and otherwise promising President of France, Emmanuel Macron: “Anti-Zionism…is the reinvented form of anti-Semitism,” and implicitly such a statement suggests that to be anti-Zionist is tantamount to criticism of Israel as a Jewish state.


After grasping this tortured reasoning, have a look at the compelling Open Letter to Macron, written in response by the famed Israeli historian, Shlomo Sand, author of an essential book, The Invention of the Jewish People. In his letter Sand explains why he cannot himself be a Zionist given the demographic realities, historical abuse of the majority population of historic Palestine, and the racist and colonialist overtones of proclaiming a Jewish state in a Palestine that a hundred years ago was a national space containing only 60,000 Jews half of whom were actually opposed to the Zionist project. This meant that the Jewish presence in Palestine represented only about 7% of the total population, the other 700,000 being mostly Muslims and Christian Arabs. The alternative to Zionism for an Israel that abandons apartheid is not collapse but a transformed reality based on the real equality of Jews and Palestinians. Shlomo Sand gives the following substance to this non-Zionist political future for Israel: “ Israeli republic and not a Jewish communalist state.” This is not the only morally, politically, and legally acceptable solution. A variety of humane and just alternatives to the status quo exist that are capable of embodying the overlapping rights of self-determination of these two long embattled peoples.


To avoid the (mis)impression that Charlottesville was most disturbing because of its manifestations of hatred of Jews it is helpful to take a step backward. Charlottesville was assuredly an ugly display of anti-Semitism, but it only secondarily slammed Jews. Its primary hateful resonance was its exhibition of white supremacy, American nativism, and a virtual declaration of war against Black Lives Matter and the African American and immigrant struggle against racial injustice. Jews are doing better than all right in America by almost every indicator of economic, political, and social success. African Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims are not. Many of their lives are daily jeopardized by various forms of state terror, as well as by this surge of violent populism given sly, yet unmistakable, blessings by an enraged and unrepentant White House in the agonized aftermath of Charlottesville. Jews thankfully have no bereaved victims of excess uses of force by American police as have lethally victimized such African Americans as Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. Jews in America do not fear or face pre-dawn home searches, cruel family disrupting deportations, and the mental anguish of devastating forms of uncertainty that now is the everyday reality for millions of Hispanic citizens and residents.


What Charlottesville now becomes is up to the American people, and to some lesser extent to the reactions and responses throughout the world. The Charlottesville saga has already auditioned Trump and Spence as high profile apprentices of white nationalism. Whether an array of Republican tweets of disgust and disapproval gain any political traction remains to be seen, or as in the past they dissolve as bubbles in the air and soon seem best regarded as empty tropes of political correctness. What counsels skepticism about this current cascade of self-righteous pronouncements is the awareness that many of these same individuals in the past quickly renewed their conniving habits behind closed doors, working overtime to deprive the racially vulnerable in America of affordable health insurance, neighborhood security, and residence rights. As is so often the case in the political domain these days disreputable actions speak far more loudly than pious words.


If the majority of Americans can watch the torch parade and urban riot of white nationalists shouting racist slogans, dressed for combat, and legally carrying assault weapons, in silence we are done for as a nation of decency and promise. If the mainstream does not scream ‘enough’ at the top of its lung it is time to admit ‘game over.’ This undoubtedly means that the political future of this country belongs to the likes of Trump/Spence, and it also means that a national stumble into some kind of fascist reality becomes more and more unavoidable. The prospect of a fascist America can no longer be dismissed as nothing more than a shrill and desperate ploy by the moribund left to gain a bit of attention on the national stage before giving up the ghost of revolutionary progressivism once and for all.


So we must each ask ourselves and each other is this the start of the Second Civil War or just one more bloody walk in the woods?

12 Responses to “Charlottesville Through a Glass Darkly”

  1. Sean Breathnach August 18, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    Dear Professor, as is usual,your article hits the nail on the head, an analysis that one can easily understand.

  2. Gene Schulman August 18, 2017 at 11:55 am #

    “Otherwise promising”? Macron?

    • Richard Falk August 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

      I think you caught me on this one. I paused as I wrote it, and somehow thought
      I was thanking Macron for his Algeria comment, but on further thought, it was a
      bad slip of the pen!

  3. larryzb August 18, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    Is it possible that the actions of some Jews do in fact provoke anti-Semitism? As well, which ethnic group has been behind so much revolution in the past 100 years?

  4. Kata Fisher August 18, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    You write:

    “and it also means that a national stumble into some kind of fascist reality becomes more and more unavoidable. The prospect of a fascist America can no longer be dismissed as nothing more than a shrill and desperate ploy by the moribund left to gain a bit of attention on the national stage before giving up the ghost of revolutionary progressivism.”

    That seems to be to pointing to “modern, 21 century dark-age”… “without hope” … “dead-end to the human race” — and while all that still may be valid I believe that there is still some room for “legitimate enlightening” … which can flip things over in a “NY minute”.

    Dear Professor Falk,

    There is no such thing as a “fascist America” or a “fascist nation” — and instead it is a manifestation of something that is fascist … it’s a falsified civil-eccalistical thing. It is not civil, and it is not eccalistical. And in fact, it is not civil-eccalistical.

    Members of certain groups/cults/sects/nation — may be nation. Absolutely not, I think. However, I am thankful that you are exposing wickedness in the midst in most harshest civil way that one should and legitimately can.


    I have been thinking about Sesame Street “Regulate” lyrics by Nate Doog … on moppets show … and I can’t find it.

    I like to hope for you good and best health of all and longevity, too.

  5. Walker Percy August 19, 2017 at 5:46 am #

    Dear Richard,
    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to know who is on which side, and what each group stands for. After all, Jews are obviously the most supreme of all whites, so the notion that the Charlottesville alt-right demonstrators were mostly displaying antisemitism is absurd. But media consumers need a simple explanations: they call themselves Nazis and make that salute, so they must be expressing Jew-hatred,as it was explained at their local holocaust museum. But this argument ignores that Israel has been set up as the most egregious example of white supremacy. Zionists just call themselves Jews instead of Whites, and then dare everybody to tell the truth, at risk of losing their job, their friends or their lives. Those marchers are powerless victims in a cultural death spiral, and are of no danger to anyone except themselves. But they do serve a purpose to those in power by muddying the water, making it harder to keep track of who is actually the oppressed and who is the oppressor. And I fear the cognitive dissonance will only get worse, as we struggle to avoid saying the un-sayable: that Zionism has damaged the world by forcing us all to avoid transgressing their red lines, even in our own minds. The hazard for allowing oneself to “go there” includes unemployment, estrangement and unfortunate accidents.

    • Richard Falk August 19, 2017 at 10:25 am #

      Dear Walker:

      I appreciate the subtlety and relevance of your assessment, although I feel in your reaction against Zionism and its impact on
      our consciousness and lifeworld, you are less attuned to some parallel encroachments on humane prospects for American and other
      societies. I feel that this white supremacist movement does do tangible psychological and physical harm to those who are most vulnerable
      by virtue of pass abuse and present vulnerability. That is why I mentioned BLM and Hispanics in the post. Of course, your points about
      the hazards of opposing the Zionist agenda directly are not unknown to me personally and intellectually. With greetings from Yalikavak, Richard

    • Kata Fisher August 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      Hi, there stranger!

      I believe that going to Israel in this time and age is grave-harm to a whole person and grave danger to their soul.
      I would personally never go there without a bishop/s of Rome. I am extremely serious — I understand that is how it is bad in spiritual and natural terms.

      Also, items such as who is supreme and not may surprise all in their steps. From what I have learned and understand a barefooted Spirit-filled kid somewhere in worst slumps on the earth may be uprooting and tearing everything down.

      It’s too much confusion going on, Walker.

      It’s best to ask survivors of Holocaust what they know the truth is. After all, they were in no delusion when something was imposed on to them, their person. They will have to know the truth — surviving witnesses do not lie, and they can not be fooled either.

      Earthly royal-supremacy is a delusion — just as are all other confusions.
      Its too much confusion was going on Walker.
      If humanity does not turn in their conscience — all bad things remain and get worse than they are.
      Humans do not get to bury their sins in the depth of the earth that are upon the world and their offspring –that they achieved and left behind.

      Some serious and ordained folks need to get together and start turning human conscience — one congregation at the time. I am not sure what that means in civil terms — how that is done without extreme civil- eccalistical conflict that can, shall, and will offend all.

      Abuse of Apostolic, Charismatic Church Order is noting that humanity gets them self into it without grave consequence.

      I do not know that it happens or can happen in any other way.


  6. Beau Oolayforos August 19, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    The tragedy of Charlottesville is that a fine, peace-loving woman lost her life. While mourning and celebrating her, we should take heart, and see that her ideals go forward. This wasn’t another Kristallnacht. Trump’s family ties, to his daughter and her husband, will always be stronger than they are to alt-right ideologues. It was gratifying to see several administration officials’ resignations, on ethical grounds, in the wake of Trump’s half-hearted mumbling; and even more satisfying to see Bannon’s ouster, even though he looks to remain the unofficial Minister of Propaganda, as he re-assumes the CEO reins at his pathetic little fascist rag.

    • Richard Falk August 19, 2017 at 10:49 am #

      I hope your assessment of Trump’s priorities is correct. My sense is that Trump first and foremost is a demagogue with
      fascist instincts and affinities. He lacks empathy and responds to criticism in the manner of a schoolyard bully who happens to
      have access to the most globally constituted military machine in human history even without taking account of the US nuclear weapons
      arsenal. As for Bannon, I am not sure where he does the most damage. He has a coherent, radical vision that could lead to catastrophe
      if it gains the upper hand.


  1. “American and democratic” is possible, but “Jewish and democratic” is not – Banned from Quora; Published here - August 20, 2017

    […] Richard Falk points out, “anti-Semitism, and its links to Nazism and Fascism, and now to Trumpism, are genuinely […]

  2. ‘American and Democratic’ is Possible, but ‘Jewish and Democratic’ is Not | - August 28, 2017

    […] Richard Falk points out, “anti-Semitism, and its links to Nazism and Fascism, and now to Trumpism, are genuinely […]

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