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by Keith Johnson
George Orwell coined the phrase “double speak” in his science fiction classic “1984.” According to Wikipedia: double speak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Some examples from the book are:
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
We certainly have evolved into that kind of society, with organiztions like the ADL operating in much the same way that the Ministry of Truth does in the novel. Both employ double speak as part of its modus operandi to disseminate lies and distort reality.
The latest example of this technique being used comes to us courtesy of ADL head, Abraham Foxman, who recently condemed former White House journalist, Helen Thomas, for statements she made in a speech delivered to a group of Arab American students at the University of Dearborn last Thursday. In that speech, Thomas made this truthful and factual assessment of the political reality dominating our society:
“We are owned by the propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where their mouth is. … We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.”
Foxman responded by stating:
“Helen Thomas has clearly, unequivocally revealed herself as a vulgar anti-Semite. Her suggestion that Zionists control government, finance and Hollywood is nothing less than classic, garden-variety anti-Semitism. This is a sad final chapter to an otherwise illustrious career. Unlike her previous, spontaneous remarks into a camera, these words were carefully thought out and conscious. It shows a prejudice that is deep-seated and obssessive.”
How do you like them apples? Here we have a white man—born to Eastern European parents—calling a Semitic person an anti-Semite. If that’s not double speak, I don’t know what is.
That’s right. Helen Thomas is a true, honest to goodness Semite. She is of Lebanese decent, which makes her Arab Semitic.
Even today, most dictionaries define the word “Semite” as: a member of a group of Semitic-speaking peoples of the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians.
Is Foxman a Semite? I’m not so sure. We do know that he was born to Polish parents in a town that once belonged to Poland, but is now part of the Republic of Belarus in Eastern Europe. According to his biography, posted on the ADL website:
“Born in Poland in 1940, Mr. Foxman was saved from the Holocaust as an infant by his Polish Catholic nanny who baptized and raised him as a Catholic during the war years. His parents survived the war, but 14 members of his family were lost.”
That hardly makes him a Semite—according to our academic definition—unless of course there is something about his background that we don’t know about. Can his ancestry be traced back to the Middle East, or do his ancestors hail from the plains of southern Russia and the Caucasus Mountains, where many Jewish Poles are more often linked to the Khazars of Central Asia, who converted to Judaism in the late seventh and early eighth centuries?
Though raised a Catholic, Foxman now identifies with Judaism. But Judaism does not make you a Semite. Judaism makes you Jewish, Scientology makes you a Scientologist, and Christianity makes you a Christian. We’re talking about a belief system here, not genetics.
Of course many Judaists will disagree. They believe that their Jewishness constitutes a genetic bloodline that can be traced back to the legendary Abraham of the Old Testament. They even claim that certain genetic studies have proven this to be a scientific fact. But these studies are sponsored by Judaists, authored by Judaists, and are conducted at Jewish institutions. Their papers are released with misleading titles that are picked up by ignorant journalists who propagate conclusions that the real studies have never reached. Not one study has been able to find a gene that is unique to Jews. The reason they don’t is because no two people share the same version of the human genome text except pairs of identical twins. These studies are full of flaws and distortions using data that does not fit the theory they set out to prove.
Still, many Judaists insist that they are direct descendants of a Jewish people that received the Torah in Sinai. They maintain that their exile from the “Promised Land” set them on a two thousand year journey of wandering throughout much of the world, and that they always managed to preserve that crucial bloodline that links that them to the children of Abraham.
Israeli historian, Shlomo Sand, author of the book, “The Invention of the Jewish People,” has done a thorough job of debunking some of the more widely propagated myths in support of this Jewish Diaspora. His research is supported by archaeological evidence discovered—following an earthquake in the 1980’s—that discredits the great exodus of the 13th century B.C., among other things.
“Moses could not have led the Hebrews out of Egypt into the Promised Land, for the good reason that the latter was Egyptian territory at the time. And there is no trace of either a slave revolt against the pharaonic empire or of a sudden conquest of Canaan by outsiders.
Nor is there any trace or memory of the magnificent kingdom of David and Solomon. Recent discoveries point to the existence, at the time, of two small kingdoms: Israel, the more powerful, and Judah, the future Judea. The general population of Judah did not go into 6th century BC exile: only its political and intellectual elite were forced to settle in Babylon. This decisive encounter with Persian religion gave birth to Jewish monotheism.
Then there is the question of the exile of 70 AD. There has been no real research into this turning point in Jewish history, the cause of the diaspora. And for a simple reason: the Romans never exiled any nation from anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. Apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest.”
As you can see, there is much to suggest that many people who refer to themselves as Semites are doing so incorrectly. But, of course, we’re still defining Semites according to the academic standard. If you define a Semite within the context of anti-Semitism, you get a whole other story altogether.
What is anti-Semitism? According to the ADL website, anti-Semitism is:
“The belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.”
Two European writers from the late 19th century, Wilhelm Marr and Heinrich Von Treitschke, are the ones often credited with applying the word Semite exclusively to Jews. But I reject this notion. Am I allowed to do that, or am I forced to accept the assumptions of two self proclaimed anti-Semites?
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to apply the word Semite to a wide range of Semitic speaking people from the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians.
If you want my definition of anti-Semitism, I would refer you to what is being done to the people of Gaza. That’s anti-Semitism on steroids.
I would also apply the term anti-Semitism to the growing Islamophobia taking place here in the United States and in parts of Europe.
The Iraq war was anti-Semitic, as is the war in Afghanistan as well as what is being planned against the people of Iran.
The ADL is anti-Semitic. When plans were announced to build an Islamic community center blocks away from Ground Zero, Abe Foxman came out against it. Some called old Abe out for his hypocrisy on that one. And although he has recently tried to repair the ADL’s image by condemning certain acts carried out against Muslims, he continues to feed the flames of racism and bigotry (behind the scenes) by allowing his group to be allied with organizations like “Family Security Matters” (FSM), a fiercely anti-Islamic group that propagates lies and peddles in fear and loathing against Muslims.
“Family Security Matters (FSM) originated in 2003 as a project of the Center for Security Policy a hawkish security policy think tank and advocacy group. Soon after its formation FSM claimed to represent “security moms”. While generally supportive of President George W. Bush’s domestic and international security policies, FSM have had their differences with the Republican administration over issues such as immigration policy, U.S. policy towards Russian Presdient Vladimir Putin. Since the Democratic ascendancy in the 2006 mid-term elections, FSM have also published criticisms of the Bush administration — such as those byNewt Gingrich — for being too cautious in their strategy in the Middle East.
FSM states on its website that its mission is to “inform all Americans, men and women, about the issues surrounding national security; to address their fears about safety and security on a personal, family, community, national and international level; to highlight the connection between individual safety and a strong national defense; to increase civic participation and political responsibility; and to empower all Americans to become proactive defenders of our national security and community safety.”
And Media Matters says this in an article from 2004 entitled “FOX’s “security mom” expert spouted Bush-Cheney talking points”
“Family Security Matters (FSM) is a front group front for the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a conservative Washington think tank think “committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength.” (The phone number listed on the FSM website is answered by the CSP.) The FSM website features articles by, among others, right-wing syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin Michelle and CSP president Frank J. Gaffney Jr., whose lies and distortions Media Matters for America has documented.”
If we were to take the ADL’s definition of anti-Semitism, and replace the word “Jews” with “Muslims,” you would find that FSM fits those criteria to a “T.” Let’s try it. What is anti-Semitism?
“The belief or behavior hostile toward Muslims just because they are Muslim. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Muslims, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Muslims.”
Want proof of their anti-Semitism? Take a look at some of these excerpts, taken from articles that FSM runs on its website:
From “What is Islam?”
“Islam is a comprehensive totalitarian form of slavery. It is the opposite of freedom. Its very name, Islam means submission or surrender. True to its name, Islam strives for nothing short of enslavement of the body of humanity as well as the bondage of its mind. This non-negotiable surrender to Islam requires the individual, as well as the society, to disenfranchise themselves of many of the fundamental and deeply cherished human rights.”
“Islam is not a religion, but a harmful thorn; thus, we must make laws to fight this unwanted thorn growing like mushrooms in our backyards. If Islam is not controlled, these mushrooms soon will blossom and become mushroom-clouds.”
“The problem we face at the Mosque and elsewhere is not one of moderate Islam versus an extreme or perverted version. The problem is with the fundamental nature of Islam itself. Read the Koran, listen to the Imams. One need not be selective in the passages he chooses, just try to understand what the Koran is commanding the faithful to do. For anyone who still has doubts after that, play back the tape of millions of wildly cheering Muslims from Cairo to London after the 9/11 attacks.”
“…as so many autobiographies of Muslim women note, the religion bans anything that is fun (“haram”or forbidden). No chewing of gum, no bicycle riding, no make-up, no eating in public, no painting of nails, no pets, no questions, and of course, no answering back. For many Muslim women, there is an eagerness to assert independence as soon as adulthood is reached.”
“By and large, Islam devolves into extremism, the repression of women, inequality, and brutality such as the stoning of adulterers. Converts, however, refer to the celebration of old-fashioned family values and hospitality, values which have been eroded in the West. For many, Islam is an escape route from the cultural degradation of Western society.
But what converts often confuse is culture and religion. The warmth a family confers is not the same as the demands of religious obedience.”
This is just a sampling. There are plenty more. I would challenge you to browse their website and find at least one article sympathetic to Muslims.
So what is the ADL’s connection to this group? Well, the Executive Vice President is Linda G. Cohen, who also serves as a trustee on the New Mexico Board of the Anti-Defamation League.
No wonder we don’t find this organization listed among the many radical-right groups being monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
So who are the real anti-Semites? I guess that all depends on whom you ask.
Unfortunately, nobody is asking me.