Beyond the pale is the new self-hating Jew

Daniel Fleshler has a terrific new blog, Realistic Dove, to put on your RSS feed. He has the audacity to say things and offer solutions that make sense.

Here he gives Jewish blogs, including Muzzlewatch, a nod, and tells friends who think Jewish Voice for Peace is “beyond the pale” to take a second look. Like Dan, we too see the power of the phrase “beyond the pale” to literally make people unable to see what is before their eyes.

When referring to Jewish Voice for Peace and others who take similar positions, the phrase is used as a nice and neat way to unilaterally draw a line around what can be said, and what is off limits.

It’s convenient, because it need not deal with substance. Better yet, it doesn’t have the hysterical impact of calling someone a self-hating Jew, but with a certain kind of soft dignity, it allows the person using it to create exactly the same impact: don’t listen to this person, they’re beyond the pale. It’s muzzling light, for the lazy thinker.

And it’s become increasingly popular as a way to silence critics, especially Jewish ones, of Israeli human rights violations.

Knowing JVPers and supporters as I do– the enormous number of smart, compassionate, and thoughtful human beings who live perfectly integrated lives as model social workers, artists, craftspeople, bus drivers, doctors, students, lawyers, computer programmers, bubbies and zaydes, moms and dads, professors, house painters, plumbers, community organizers, rabbis, graphic designers and more — calling these people beyond the pale is actually funny.

But it’s effective.

Over at The Third Way, my colleague Mitchell Plitnick directly takes on the substance of this new-and-improved form of muzzling-light:

In a recent op-ed in the Jewish weekly, The Forward, Jewish Voice for Peace was described as being “beyond the pale” because we “support divestment and … urge Congress to heed Carter’s words.” Interestingly, JVP receives a huge amount of support from the great many Jews all across the country and around the world who believe we not only embody the spirit of tikkun olam (repairing the world), but are also working more than most for the best interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.

In part 2, Plitnick writes:

Simply by saying that “JVP supports divestment,” Youdovin misrepresents JVP’s position. Our stance is explained at length here, but in sum, JVP makes two points about divestment. One, that we support selective and targeted divestment that is aimed exclusively at the occupation, not at Israel itself. Two, that other groups who do support boycotts, divestment from Israel or even sanctions against Israel are not, by virtue of that fact alone, acting either out of anti-Semitism or in an anti-Semitic fashion. Of course, it is possible that such actions can be motivated by anti-Semitic malice, but the holding of those stances is not evidence of it by itself. JVP is in fact quite scrupulous about ensuring that we target only the occupation with economic actions. These include, incidentally, other means such as purchasing and distributing Palestinian olive oil to help Palestinian farmers, as well as efforts to support Israeli peace groups such as Yesh Gvul and New Profile.

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