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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: June ::
Anti-Semitism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1123  Tuesday, 21 June 2005

[1]     From:   Jacqueline Roe <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Jun 2005 16:15:49 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1117 Anti-Semitism

[2]     From:   Joachim Martillo <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Jun 2005 13:09:01 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1117 Anti-Semitism

[3]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Jun 2005 12:38:28 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.1117 Anti-Semitism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jacqueline Roe <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Jun 2005 16:15:49 +0100
Subject: 16.1117 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1117 Anti-Semitism

I'm rather jumping in half way through this discussion, but there's also
"Shakespeare and the Jews", by James Shapiro - TLS says it 'will remain
unsurpassed for many years to come'.  I've never had a chance to read
it, but it seems to have won various prizes....

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joachim Martillo <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Jun 2005 13:09:01 EDT
Subject: 16.1117 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1117 Anti-Semitism

 >>I have some real qualms about the terminology of this discussion.
 >>
 >>There is an underlying assumption in this discussion that there is one
 >>single phenomenon of anti-Semitism.  Since I began to do business in
 >>Israel in 1993, I have come to question this idea and believe it belongs
 >>more to the realm of political and social mythology.
 >
 >Surely you are not saying that anti-Semitism is a political and social
 >myth. Right?
 >
 >Marvin Krims

At Harvard, I have attended talks sponsored by Jewish groups that
implicitly or even implicitly have called for genocide against
Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, but when the issue of criticising
Israel or the behavior of such Jewish groups is raised, ethnic
Ashkenazim at Harvard fling accusations of anti-Semitism in order to
silence discussion.  I am extremely disgusted.

I am not sure how much a technical discussion of anti-Semitism belongs
to a discussion of Shakespeare, but I have a real problem with the
attempt to incorporate Shakespeare into the Eastern European ethnic
Ashkenazi pogrom and persecution version of Jewish history or into the
ethnic Ashkenazi anti-Christian anti-Gentile and anti-Catholic polemic.

And before we get into the usual name-calling, let me identify myself as
of ethnic Ashkenazi background but not religiously Jewish.  I am
indifferent to the heritage except insofar as I am interested in the
Classics and in the development of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and
I certainly am not a self-hater.

While there are various forms of Judeophobia throughout history, there
simply is not a common intellectual current among them, and when I and
most experts in the field use the term anti-Semitism, we mean the modern
biological determinist, social Darwinist form of Judeophobia, which
develops in the specific region of historic Poland in the context of
modernization and economic competition and which spreads to Central
Europe.

Wilhelm Marr created the term Antisemitismus in the 1870s to describe
this form of obsession. Despite his anti-Jewish writings, it is not even
clear whether he is anti-Semitic according to his own definition, for he
only married Jewish women.  As sort of a counterpoint the Zionist leader
Nordau carried on a long-term affair with the infamous anti-Semite, Olga
von Novikoff.  Nordau's writings of racial degeneracy, racial revival
and eugenics were at least as influential among German Nazis as they
were among Zionists.  In any case, as complex as this phenomenon of
anti-Semitism was, it certainly does not exist to any measurable extent
today, and when people express hatred of Zionist colonizers and racist
ethnic Ashkenazim that support the crimes of Zionist colonizers, such
hate is not anti-Semitism despite the claims of a bigot like Lawrence
Summers.  After working in Israel and the occupied territories for over
10 years, I hate Zionist colonizers and their Ashkenazi American
supporters at least as much as any Palestinian because the atrocities of
Zionism are heinous, and they are carried out in my name.

The accusations of anti-Semitism against Shakespeare are a sort of
preventive strike to indict the greatest of all writers for
anti-Semitism so that all non-Jews can be held suspect, and so that all
criticism of Israel and its ethnic Ashkenazi supporters can be
categorized as anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent.  I am as tired
of this nonsense as I am of Lawrence Summers, Ruth Wisse and Alan
Dershowitz, and this discussion of anti-Semitism in The Merchant of
Venice is infra dig. and sub-scholarly.

The accusation of anti-Semitism certainly does not apply the Merchant of
Venice, which is at least as much a lambasting as it is a presentation
of stereotypes.  It is an extremely complex work, and the attempt to
control the discourse about the Merchant of Venice by certain groups of
ethnic Ashkenazim reminds me somewhat of the reaction that the very same
people tried to orchestrate against The Heartbreak Kid, which was a
movie written, directed and produced almost entirely by ethnic
Ashkenazim, who wanted to explore certain stereotypes in Ashkenazi and
non-Ashkenazi American society.  It was called the most anti-Semitic
movie ever made, and it certainly was not.

Joachim Martillo

[Editor's Note: A technical discussion of anti-Semitism does not belong
on the SHAKSPER list.]

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Jun 2005 12:38:28 -0500
Subject: 16.1117 Anti-Semitism
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1117 Anti-Semitism

Marvin Bennet Krims writes:

"Surely you are not saying that anti-Semitism is a political and social
myth. Right?"

We need to be careful about the meaning of the word "myth" here. It may
mean a story or idea that is part of a structured cultural belief. Or it
may be a euphemism for lie. Let's not substitute the one for the other.

Cheers,
don

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