What isn’t anti-Semitism

This is frightening: A new CNN poll asked Americans, “Based on what you have read or heard about the actor Mel Gibson, do you think he is or is not anti-Semitic — that is, prejudiced against Jewish people?” Twenty-four percent were unsure, which is amazing in and of itself. Twenty-three percent said he is anti-Semitic. And 52 percent said he is not anti-Semitic.

Well, what the hell does it take to be anti-Semitic? An SS uniform? Good God, I’d say Gibson’s behavior fairly defines anti-Semitism.

So maybe Bill Maher is right:

As I watch so much of the world ask Israel for restraint in a way no other country would (Can you imagine what Bush would do if a terrorist organization took over Canada and was lobbing missiles into Montana, Maine and Illinois?) – and, by the way, does anyone ever ask Hezbollah for restraint. you know, like, please stop firing your rockets aimed PURPOSEFULLY at civilians? – it strikes me that the world IS Mel Gibson. Most of the time, the anti-semitism is under control, but that demon lives inside and when the moon is full, or there’s been enough alcohol consumed, or Israel is forced to kill people in its own defense, then it comes out.

  • jon

    If he’d been sober, then it would be a slam dunk. but drunk, we’ve all said, done and been stupid.

  • read the rest of Maher’s post as a reply to that.

  • To me, it’s a slam dunk. Drunk. Sober. I don’t give a damn. Gibson is a bigot. Plain and simple.

    Yes, we’ve all said stupid things when we’re drunk, but this is different.

    “I’m being arrested for drinking and driving…therefore Jews are responsible for all the wars in history.”

  • in vino veritas

    A Latin phrase suggesting that people are more likely to say what they really feel under the influence of alcohol. It means, “There is truth in wine.”

  • fpn

    Growing up with an alcoholic father, and havig friends who know how to drink (to put it mildly), I understand that drunk people say stupid and incoherent things.

    Let’s get real here: Gibson blew a .12 B.A.C. That is, at worst, slightly impaired. Until a few years ago, .10 was the legal limit in most states. A real alcoholic (which Gibson apparently is) probably wouldn’t even feel a buzz.

    Either Mel meant what he said, and is an anti-Semite, or he had something other than alcohol in his system.

  • Hate to break it to you, but a lot of people a) probably don’t know what the phrase anti-semitism means, and b) haven’t been following this brouhaha, so they couldn’t give an informed response. Not to say that there aren’t lots of anti-semites out there, but some of the responses to that queston are probably more of a reflection of cluelessness than of bigotry.

  • Kat

    I wonder if CNN did a poll asking if Jesse Jackson was an anti-semite when he called the Jews, Hymies or when Al Sharpton was a Jew hater. It certainly didn’t stop those two from running as a democrat. I am disappointed in Gibson, but why is his opinion considered so important–or that of anyone in Hollywood? I am not defending Gibson–I think he was anti-semitic.

  • That’s the best thing I’ve heard Bill Maher say in a long time.

    And here in the American South we have the old saying, “truth in wine.” People might confuse their thoughts when drunk but they don’t make things up.

  • When the Gibson-as-anti-semite question reared its head back when he released THE PASSION, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now, however, I’m not.

    I would, though, like to hear the reaction from the throngs of people who were praising Gibson about the film.

  • People often drink so that they’ll say what they really want to say, but are too chicken too, such as: I love you. But sometimes the truth isn’t quite so sweet. As regards Maher’s message, at least some people think that Israel has every right to defend itself to the hilt against Hezbollah–but that they’re not doing it very intelligently.

  • Jimmy

    I think the real sad thing is that Gibson’s “Jewish friends” in Hollywood are defending the behavior. I find that kind of self-loathing sad and, well, pathetic. What this poll says is Americans have no idea what anti-Semitism really means and, quite frankly, don’t care. Personally, I think we need to stop using the phrase anti-Semitism. Anti-Jew is a much better phrase and conveys the real meaning of Gibson’s tirade. I also think this lack of understanding what anti-Semitism means is an indictment of the ADL. They’ve wasted so much time and energy on stupid little battles that they’ve reduced their power to fight real hatred of Jews and Israel. When they equate justifiable criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism they dilute the meaning of real hatred. They are an important group and it’s sad to see what they’ve become.

  • Rich Drees

    You can count me as one of those who praised Mel Gibson for his film The Passion of the Christ. I thought it was a beautiful film, as did tens of millions of others. I also did not think it was anti-Semetic. And I also felt that much of the criticism was very unfair and an attempt to shut down production or an attempt to sabotage its success. I’ll still stand by that. In fact, I havent’ heard of any anti-Semetic incidents that happened as a direct result of its showing.

    Having said that, read the third response to this post above.

  • Jim Karna

    I’m not sure quite what to think of the whole Gibson thing, beyond that it was at best idiotic ramblings of a drunk.

    I think Jimmy raises the most valid point that criticism of Israel and anti-semitism are two distinct things that are often wrongly lumped together.

    I can understand Bill Maher’s point that Israel does have the right to defend itself. Rather than considering the hypothetical terrorist Canada attacking the US surely a better metaphor would be to consider how the international community would have responded had the UK acted in the same heavy handed manner as Israel in Ireland?

  • bittorent

    > Can you imagine what Bush would do if a terrorist
    > organization took over Canada and was lobbing missiles

    The wrong way round I’m afraid. It is Israel that has taken over parts of someone elses country, as it has done repeatedly since the late 1940’s and those people are fighting back. Right now Israel is bombing and invading a sovereign nation.

    What would you do if Canada invaded various parts of the USA? Would you fight back? What if people called you terrorists for fighting back? Yes I think you would still fight back whatever they called you.

  • chico haas

    Naveed Afzal Haq vs Mel Gibson.

    The amount of coverage given Gibson’s stupidass remarks while drunk is, well, disproportionate to the amount of coverage given an actual anti-semitic act at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. One dead; five wounded. Seems to me this is payback for “The Passion” rather than true moral outrage.

  • Bittorrent,

    How do you reconcile that with the fact that Hezbollah started this war? Not only did they kidnap the two soldiers unprovoked, but then they lobbed missiles at Haifa.

    Can you please explain how that kidnapping was anything other than unprovoked aggression?

  • Jim Karna

    Surely there has to be some sense of proportionality though Michael.

    I’m not sure Bittorrent was suggesting that Hezbollah is blameless, the point being that Israel’s response to the actions of “terrorist” group was to attack a soveriegn state (in the same as Russia’s was in Chechneya or China in Tibet). Again i draw the parallel of the UK in Northern Ireland, would the international communities response been the same had the Britain bombed Dublins suburbs?

  • bittorent

    Yes I am not suggesting that Hezbollah is blameless. But what is happening must be seen in the context of events over the past 60 years. Not from a timeline that begins a few weeks ago. Bear in mind also that there are Israeli assassinations that possibly go unreported depending on where you live.

    I strongly believe that the reason for the hate that is directed towards the Jews and, increasingly, America is due to the unfair treatment of the Palestinian Arabs over the past 60 years.

    Israeli needs to deal fairly, give land back and ensure that everyone has a decent quality of life. Otherwise I really fear for what is going to happen in the future.

    I have been watching this unfold on my TV since I was a little kid and I would love to see everyone in that region living in peace.

  • Anti-Semtism is a nonsense word, because it implies that people who are anti-Jewish are anti all Semitic peoples. The Palestinians who have endured two generations of Zionist aggression are not anti … themselves.

    And it is a propaganda word, because if a Gentile is an anti-Semite — synonomous with bigot, racist, Nazi — if they discriminate against Jews, then Jews should be given that same level if they discriminate against Gentiles. amren.com