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such a extent that this Catholic newspaper has become frankly antisemitic – or at least anti-Israel – and on this point provides information that is entirely false…”
The reaction of this originally Roman Catholic newspaper was remarkable. It took nooffence at the accusation of being pro-Communism. The accusation that it was providingits readers with false information left it cold. It objected only to the accusation of being
And that despite the inseparable addition of
“or at least anti-Israel”.
Andthe most remarkable thing was that the newspaper immediately ran to all available judges.Why did the newspaper rush to the law? Newspapers seldom call on the aid of the courts.Daily newspapers – and other mass media – generally see to their own affairs. Certainlywhen it comes to mutual differences. The remarkable thing – the characteristic – of themass media is that they can turn to one another and attack one another in full publicity –
. The verdict is spoken by a jury of hundreds of thousands of readers andlisteners. A manufacturer of washing powder, who cannot directly defend himself againstwhat a newspaper or radio programme says about him, seeks out a judge. Why thenshould a newspaper with a reasonable readership turn against a speaker on the radio witha considerable number of listeners via the narrow hearing apparatus and mouthpiece of atrial?If
had challenged me to a polemic in which I should either prove the truthof my statement or explain it, I would not have hesitated to recognise that I did not intendto qualify the newspaper as ‘antisemitic in the Hitlerian sense of the word’. With myinseparable characterisation of “
antisemitic, at least anti-Israel”
I meant that the news- paper gave reason to seriously suspect it of antisemitic feelings, and if that could not be proven or if it could be shown to be far from the truth, then at least it had an exorbitantlyhostile attitude towards Israel.It seems advisable to me to use a separate qualification for the criminal antisemitism of aHitler, and not to oblige ourselves to ban the word antisemitism because of the memoryof concentration camps and gas chambers. If we were not allowed to use the word anylonger then we would in fact be protecting the antisemitism that still exists. We wouldforce opponents to use euphemisms. We would hardly be able to expose it any more. It isthus more sensible to assume that not everyone who uses the term antisemitism means the pathological, criminal, rabid destruction of Jews as practised by Adolf Hitler and JuliusStreicher.There is another form of antisemitism. There are people, as Professor Philip Kohnstamm(among others) wrote in his magnificent analysis “The psychology of antisemitism”, of them who do not like Jews. Some frankly proclaim it. There are those for whom theJewish accent is unpleasant or who object to the Jewish appearance and sometimes eventhe Jewish way of doing things – or whatever. This is permitted – or at least not for- bidden. But anyone who thinks that way
“doesn’t like them and is against the Jews, isalready an antisemite, one whom we should be allowed so to name without being pu-nished for doing so”.
That does not, however, mean that he is accused of criminal andactive antisemitism, nor even that he strives to limit Jewish influence in society.However no polemics took place. Only the small group of those who read the court proceedings took cognisance of my remarks following on some statements made by myopponents. There is then – to start with – the “Israel is a state like any other” theory. Whyshould it not be permitted to express criticism of Israel? Why should we have to handleIsrael with kid gloves? Israel is, after all – and wants to be – a normal state. I wouldsuggest that this first – apparently undeniable – simplification is not valid in general, be-cause there is no such thing as a normal state. Every state is a piece of regulated society.With civil servants, and therefore bureaucrats, awkward customs officials, disagreeable policemen, terrible taxes and so on… But if we are talking about essentials, every state is