Over at his blog at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg carefully and methodically takes apart Joe Klein for his latest posting, in which Klein writes:
I’ve never met Rashid Khalidi, but he is (a) Palestinian and therefore (b) a semite, so the charge of anti-semitism is fatuous.
Jeff makes it clear he’s not accusing Klein of anti-Semitism and, for that matter, Goldberg doesn’t accuse Khalidi of it, either. But Jeff writes that this is “the first time I’ve ever heard a Jewish person, or a non-anti-Semite, make this sort of malicious statement, one that perverts the universal meaning of a term in order to mock the phenomenon of Jew-hatred.” Goldberg goes on to write:
the only people who insult Jews by denying the meaning of the term are, in my experience, anti-Semitic. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, told me in an interview once that his organization could not be anti-Semitic, because Arabs were the true Semites, while Jews were simply European impostors. This interview occurred at a time when Yassin’s suicide bombers were systematically seeking out large groups of Jews in order to murder them for the crime of being Jewish. By Joe’s dangerous new standard, the World War II-era Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, who was a Nazi fellow traveler and a frank advocate of total Jewish extermination, could not be called an anti-Semite because he was Arab. So, really, who’s being fatuous?
Jeff further argues that “emptying the term ‘anti-Semitism’ of its accepted meaning in order to score points against John McCain? That’s simply too much.”
Indeed it is. It’s not surprising, but it is unfortunate.