Anti-Semantics

“The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong.” That’s Binjamin Netanyahu, tweeting on 29 August. See https://twitter.com/IsraeliPM/status/1034849460344573952; which also carries the context. (It’s the perceived threat from Iran.)

Context is important. But several commentators have noticed the striking similarity between those words and some of Hitler’s in the 1930s. (They are, of course, pure ‘Social Darwinism’.) Does this make those critics ‘anti-semitic’ under the terms of the definition being urged on Labour today by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)? One of the ‘examples’ appended to that definition – not included in the definition itself, which Corbyn accepts in its entirety – warns against parallels being drawn between present-day Israel and Nazi Germany; which the IHRA claims might  indicate anti-semitism – but, it is implied, not necessarily. (Corbyn’s critics don’t appear to have noticed this.) Wouldn’t forbidding this comparison cut off a whole area of free and useful discussion? Semantics is often regarded as an area for nit-picking academics only; but here it really could be vital.

Of course Netanyahu – and Hitler – could be right… But that doesn’t invalidate the comparison.

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One Response to Anti-Semantics

  1. Pingback: Porter’s Pensées

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