Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Mel Pearlman

The anti-Semitic methodology of apology


Lately, I have been awestruck, not by the increasing number of anti-Semitic incidences, acts, statements and publications spewing forth from supposedly educated and responsible people in government, academia, the arts, and other respected organizations, but by the ever increasing number of public apologies for the use of anti-Semitic tropes and other hate speech directed toward Jews and Israel.

I am equally astounded by the completely incomprehensible attitude of some Jews and Jewish organizations who rush to accept, forgive and in some cases excuse these anti-Semites for the hate they are peddling, and for apologies that appear very far from sincere.

Most of these anti-Semitic outbursts are not random or the result of uneducated minds, but deceitful, calculated attacks on the Jewish people to alienate the general society from the Jewish community and to attack the existence of the State of Israel.

Saying you are sorry does not cut it; especially when the apology is disseminated to a much smaller audience than the original transgression for which the apology is offered. The anti-Semite’s objective of spreading hatred of Jews and Israel is not in any way diminished or neutralized by the apology.

Furthermore, the apology and acceptance immunizes the hater for a repeat performance dressing up the hate in another costume and another context.

We have seen this with the recent publication by the “respected” New York Times which published a political cartoon of a blind President Trump wearing a yarmulke (skull cap worn by orthodox Jews) being led by a dog with a Jewish star dangling from its collar. To emphasize the hate point even more, the dog’s face was depicted by a derogatory caricature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face.

This is only the last (as of this writing) in a long line of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist articles and political cartoons published by the paper for which the New York Times has previously retracted or apologized, but which did not stop its continued assault on Jews and Israel.

After much protest and criticism, the The NY times did “withdraw” the political cartoon and issued a mea culpa apology, but blamed the publication on a low-level editor.

This begs the question: Was it possible that no one in the operational chain from creation of the hateful caricature to ultimate publication objected to the anti-Semitic implication of this political cartoon or did this low-level editor have the final word on its publication? Apparently, there was not a single objection or criticism along the chain of command; and thus, this hateful piece of “journalism” was able to reach the public unscathed with its anti-Semitic tropes and hateful message.

By attributing the “mistake in publication” to a low-level editor, the New York Times institutionally absolved itself for any blame or responsibility, thus rendering its apology insincere, false and worthless. “Respectable” is no longer an adjective to be associated with the New York Times.

In an a Internet post dated Sept. 14, 2014, on PsychologyToday.com titled, The Nine Rules for True Apologies, Dr. Harriett Lerner, a staff psychologist and psychotherapist at the Menninger Clinic for several decades and currently in private practice, explained in part that a true apology does not include shifting blame or responsibility, or focusing on the hurt caused. Most importantly, she opined a true apology must be “backed by corrective action” and not be repeated.

Make the apology for the anti-Semitic publication or hateful statement, say your sorry and blame it on an institutional mistake; retract it to a smaller audience, play on the misguided good intentions of the Jewish people to forgive. Then continue to spread irrational and false reasons to hate the Jews and Israel. This is the crux of the anti-Semitic methodology of apology.

If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail.com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.

Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first Vice President and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.


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