April 17, 2015

Günter Grass and Greville Janner: Compare and Contrast?

At least I think that's what today's Jewish Chronicle editorial has done without actually naming Greville Janner.  See this:
He was only a Nazi

Gunter Grass may have had literary merit but he was also a Nazi, having served proudly and freely as a member of the Waffen SS. This fact was simply swept aside as inconvenient by many of the arts establishment in their gushing tributes. The BBC’s arts editor, Will Gompertz, briefly referred to his Nazi past as having caused “controversy” before returning to Grass’ literary magnificence. Had he been found to have been a paedophile, one imagines the tone would have been rather different.[my emphasis - obviously]
Now if the JC had Lord Janner in mind then I can think of lots to contrast with Günter Grass and not a lot to compare but what on earth was the JC thinking?

April 14, 2015

Why would a nice Jewish woman involve herself with anti-racist politics?

Here's a piece from last week's Jewish Chronicle about a holocaust survivor active in the anti-racist, Beyond UKIP group.   It's about a woman called Ruth Barnett, who survived the holocaust by way of the Kindertransport, joining the demonstration against Nigel Farage at his local pub and then getting caught up in the attack on the Beyond UKIP group by the fascist activists of the Britain First group:
So why does Mrs Barnett, who arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport when she was four years old and now lives in north London, continue to put herself in harm’s way for the sake of politics?

She said: “As a Jew I don’t think I can speak out about the rise in antisemitism without speaking out about the rise in other intolerances and I think Ukip and others are stirring up hatred towards immigrants. It seems we are still not learning the lessons of the Holocaust.

“Beyond Ukip are passionate about standing up for vulnerable minority groups. It is fun and exciting to be around such young and passionate people.

“I was a vulnerable minority group as a child and I’ve spent my life protesting and campaigning for similar groups.”
I dunno, I suppose I'm old school. I find it really sad that the Jewish Chronicle has to ask why a Jewish survivor of the holocaust would want to side with the oppressed.  I remember when you wouldn't have to ask.

In the same edition of the JC, Marcus Dysch is thrilled to announce that a recent survey suggests that 69% of UK Jews will vote Conservative and this he believes because they like the uncritical supporty David Cameron offers to racist war criminals.

April 12, 2015

Geoffrey Alderman now and then...

I got this copy of a Geoffrey Alderman JC opinion piece from the very useful Newspaper Direct website.  I don't know how it works but when I look for a newspaper article that I can't find on the newspaper's own site I often find it here.  It appeared in the print edition of the Jewish Chronicle dated 3 April 2015:

Racists seeking to destroy Israel

 
They deny to Jews that which they allow other ethnicities

UNDER WHAT circumstances should criticism of the state of Israel be deemed “illegitimate?” The nowcancelled Southampton University conference, “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism”, brought this subject into focus. But the question is hardly new.

Those of you with long memories may recall that, in 1956, at the time of the AngloFrench invasion of Egypt, a number of Jewish and — ostensibly — Zionist members of the British parliament found themselves at the receiving end of much communal opprobrium because they criticised Israel, whose armed forces had taken advantage of the invasion in order to neutralise terrorist cells in Gaza and the Sinai peninsula.[it was Israel that invaded Egypt in the first instance.  Israel occupied Gaza and Sinai until the yanks ordered them out.  I thought everyone knew that. Apparently the historian, Professor Alderman doesn't know that]

The MP for East Willesden — the highly vocal career Labour-Zionist Maurice Orbach — voted with his socialist colleagues to condemn the Anglo-French-Israeli initiative, and was subsequently booted out of his seat in a campaign whipped up by angry Jewish constituents. But in North-West Leicester there were few Jewish voters, and the local Labour MP there, who also voted against the Suez adventure, survived wider, vicious criticism of him. His name was Barnett Janner and, at the time, he was president of both the Zionist Federation and the Board of Deputies. What is more, at the deputies’ meeting on November 18, 1956, a large majority expressed full confidence in him.

There was a time when anti-Zionism was not merely a significant force in Anglo-Jewish affairs, it was fashionable. We need to remind ourselves that a former British chief rabbi (Hermann Adler) denounced Zionism from the pulpit, that the founding father of the Federation of Synagogues (Samuel Montagu) was an enthusiastic anti-Zionist, and the founding father of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (Claude Montefiore) went so far as to blame Zionism for the rise of Hitler. [whereas Alderman would become quite grateful for the rise of Hitler] But into this sombre history lesson we need to inject the word “context.” The handful of Londonand Manchester-based Satmar chasidim who routinely join anti-Zionist demonstrations are campaigning against a nation-state that exists. The Jewish intellectuals and media personalities who apparently sympathise with them want to dismantle a vibrant liberal democracy —Israel — to have it replaced with a larger political entity in which antisemitism will be permitted to flourish. On paper, the “one state” that these extremes of left and right desire would be a purely secular entity. In practice it would become an Islamists’ paradise.[do vibrant liberal democracies ethnically cleanse whole swathes of population on the basis of assumptions as to how they might vote?]

In principle, today, we ought still to be able to distinguish anti-Zionism from antisemitism. In practice, the one has merged with the other. Anti-Zionists do not oppose the creation of a Jewish nation-state — such a state already exists. What they oppose is the continued existence of a Jewish nation-state. In seeking to dismantle that state, therefore, they expose their antagonism towards the very concept of Jewish self-determination.[there's nothing wrong with opposing the concept and reality of Jewish self-determination]

This is true especially of those who deny that there is any such entity as a Jewish “nation”. These positions are inherently racist: they deny to the Jews that which they freely grant to other ethnicities, and they do so on purely ethnic or racial grounds.[I know of no community for whom national self-determination is demanded on grounds of ethnicity and we shall see where Geoffrey Alderman stands on the question of ethnic equality]

None of this means that policies of Israeli governments cannot be legitimately criticised. Of course they can. But we need to recognise that, fundamentally, what drives the BDS movement is not antagonism towards Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, but hostility towards the concept of Jewish nationhood. This truth has been recognised by no less an opponent of the settlements than Professor Norman Finkelstein who, in 2012, launched a blistering attack on the Palestine Solidarity Movement’s campaign for the “right of return”, condemning it as a cover for its ambition to destroy Israel.[actually the BDS movement makes no demand regarding one or two states because no one knows how the people of Palestine will want the area/s constituted.  Finkelstein condemned not so much the idea of abolishing the State of Israel as a Jewish state but what he claimed to see as BDS supporters' lack of openness about the consequences of the right of return. To be sure Finkelstein is claiming to support Israel's continued existence as a Jewish state but he certainly does not decry its opponents as being antisemitic]

Finkelstein was absolutely right. Criticise Israel, if you must, to your heart’s content. Demonstrate to your utmost against Israeli domestic or foreign policy.

But do not espouse a cause that calls, even if indirectly, for Israel’s destruction and expect not to be condemned as a racist. For that is what you are.[we'll see who is being racist in just a moment]
Now I don't know why that piece has not appeared on the JC website but Geoffrey Alderman's latest offering on line is dated 8 April 2015.  This is the proposal whose opponents Geoffrey Alderman accuses of racism:
 under international law and in principle ethnic Jews have the right of settlement throughout the area of Mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River (including what is known as the West Bank), that this right extends to Jews whether or not they are citizens of the state of Israel, but not to Israeli citizens who are not ethnically Jewish, and that the state of Israel has a legal obligation to take any step and all steps necessary to uphold this right. 
Now that pretty much sums up Israel as is but it is rare to see it set out in such obviously racist detail. It is also self-exposing as to why there should be no such thing as Jewish self-determination.

Let's now have a quick look at how Alderman deals with the idea of abolishing the State of Israel:
It has been argued that the ultimate purpose of the conference was to cloak in a veneer of academic respectability the campaign for the delegitimisation of the Jewish state. Let us assume for a moment that it was. There is no subject on God's Earth that cannot be discussed in a university. Nor is it true that Israel is the only country whose legitimacy is currently being called into question. The whole purpose of the Scottish National Party is to call into question the legitimacy of the United Kingdom. There has recently been a referendum on that very subject.
Of course, the Scottish independence referendum debate didn't include any discussion of privileging this or that ethnicity over any or all others and Alderman manages to avoid alleging racism against either the SNP or the unionist parties.

But what of the "miscellany of Jewish interests" that had the conference cancelled?
Some terrible precedents have been created. I refer not merely to the gross betrayal of academic freedom. It will be said - rightly - that this betrayal was perpetrated at the behest and with the active connivance of Jewish interests. For antisemites the world over this is indeed manna from heaven.
Well yes that's true but the professor wasn't always so backward in calling forth what he saw as Jewish power.  Back in 2012, Jonathan Hoffman, for the Zionist Federation suggested to the Board of Deputies of British Jews that they adopt a policy of boycotting The Guardian.  And here's Geoffrey Alderman in the Jewish Chronicle on 26 January 2012:
Earlier this month, the Board of Deputies declined to adopt a resolution urging "all those who oppose antisemitism to refrain from buying the Guardian or advertising in it". The proposal, tabled by Zionist Federation vice-president Jonathan Hoffman, had already been rejected by the Board's defence division but the division's own alternative motion (a wrecking tactic if you ask me), noting the paper's "continued biased and anti-Israel reporting", and deploring the lack of action by the Press Complaints Commission, was also rejected. So, apart from rejecting both propositions, the Board did precisely nothing......

......my primary concern is with the arguments deployed by those who opposed the motion, and who presumably lobbied to ensure that it was defeated and its message never sent.

There is, for example, the protestation of Jonathan Arkush, the Board's senior vice-president, who reportedly instructed the deputies that, although he himself found the Guardian to be "odious", he nonetheless believed that "a boycott would be counter-productive and would damage the Jewish community's reputation".

What did he mean by "counter-productive?" That the Guardian's circulation would increase? That more companies rather than fewer would rush to advertise in its pages? And what did he mean by "damage" to Anglo-Jewry's "reputation"? That instead of being thought of as a docile collection of trembling Israelites we would henceforth be viewed with a great deal more respect and even - who knows? - with a tinge, a smidgen, of anxious deference?

I am told that, within the Board's defence division, some arguments equally as foolish were also placed on the table: that the passage of Hoffman's motion might suggest that Jews control the media (we should be so lucky though, if this fear is genuinely held, then the Board really should condemn the closing down of Press TV, which Tehran is blaming on the Jews); that a substantive and perhaps heated debate on this would reveal that British Jews were not of one mind (when have we ever been so?); that the Board did not believe in boycotts (not even of Iranian oil?). But of all these arguments surely none was more brainless than the argument that the adoption of the motion would play into the hands of antisemites.
Now Geoffrey Alderman has a very funny idea about what's racist and what's not.  He's also a little inconsistent when it comes to arguing his case whatever that might be.  I must say that his proposal for the world's Jews in Palestine would have been a laugh riot read out to an academic audience, presumably by a straight faced Alderman, assuming that is, that he wasn't joking.  But it's disappointing that he wasn't able to put his case for Jewish supremacy to the Southampton conference because I'm fully confident that in putting his case for Israel he would have made the most eloquent case against it.

UPDATE 11:02 17/4/2015: I've now found the Racists seeking to destroy Israel article on line at The Jewish Chronicle website.

April 09, 2015

The non-story of the refusal to insure a Belgian Jewish Kindergarten

A week ago a Ha'aretz tweet linking a story about an insurance company's refusal to insure a Belgian Jewish kindergarten got 39 retweets and was independently tweeted many times over April 1 & 2.
Here's the headline and subtitle:

               Firm cancels Belgian Jewish kindergarten’s insurance due to 'high risk' of anti-Semitic attack

'It's an absolute disgrace that the situation has come to this,' says Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association and of the Rabbinical Center of Europe. 

The article mostly centres on statements from the above-mentioned Rabbi Menachem Margolin such as:
First, not enough is being done to secure Jewish institutions in Europe despite the repeated requests and numerous warnings – and consequently insurance companies are using the situation to avoid the risk of insuring Jewish kindergartens. What a surreal and cynical reality.
Well now, Ha'aretz has done a follow up tweet:

Now see the headline and subtitle:

               No proof Belgian insurer discriminated against Jewish school, watchdog says

Statement by Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism follows reports that an unnamed firm declined to insure a Jewish kindergarten citing an elevated risk of attacks. 

Now let's have a taste of the article:
There is no proof that a Belgian insurance company refused to insure a Jewish kindergarten because it was deemed too risky, a Brussels-based watchdog on anti-Semitism said.

The statement by the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, follows reports last week that an unnamed firm declined to insure a Jewish kindergarten in Brussels, citing an elevated risk factor due to previous attacks on Jewish targets in Belgium and Western Europe.

Joel Rubinfeld, a co-founder of the national watchdog, told the La Capitale daily that after looking into the matter, “There was no proof confirming a discriminatory character with regards to a refusal.”

The news about the alleged refusal came from the European Jewish Association, a lobby group that operates the kindergarten in question. The association and the Israel-based Tal Rabina public relations office alerted media to the matter without naming the insurance company in question.

The association’s director, Menachem Margolin, and Tal Rabina’s office did not reply to JTA queries asking them to identify the insurance company to obtain their reaction.
I see.  The insurance company was unnamed and the whistle-blowers were a "lobby group" and an "Israel-based PR office who "did not reply to ...queries".

To paraphrase the Rabbi Menachem Margolin there might be a surreal and cynical reality at play here.

Oh by the way.  Ha'aretz's tweet that the first story might be bogus only got 9 retweets.

April 06, 2015

On a roll: Lobby targets yet another anti-racist conference

Here we go.  Just when you think they can't stoop any lower the lobby manages to stoop lower.  Having got meetings cancelled in Southampton and Toulouse they now want to get a meeting called off because it treats antisemitism and islamophobia as equally nasty.  See the Jerusalem Post:
Jewish organizations worldwide expressed shock and dismay over the weekend following the announcement that the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency is planning on holding a conference that implies an equivalence between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The first annual colloquium on fundamental rights in the EU, held by the racism watchdog organization and titled “Tolerance and respect: Preventing and combating anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe,” is scheduled to be held in Brussels in early October.

It will focus on the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment and violence across the continent and the “growing evidence in many European countries, especially in the past two years, of very high rates of anti-Muslim incidents, including acts of verbal and physical violence,” according to the organizers.

Jewish community leaders in Europe and elsewhere told The Jerusalem Post that despite being largely supportive of the FRA’s work, they believed it inappropriate for it to juxtapose hate directed against Muslims with anti-Semitism as if both were one and the same.

“The challenge of combating anti-Semitism would be better served by a stand-alone colloquium fully focused on the problem,” said Eric Fusfield, the legislative affairs director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy. [so why doesn't B’nai B’rith organise one?]

“Opponents of anti-Semitism have tried for years to promote greater understanding of anti-Semitism as a distinct phenomenon with unique dimensions sometimes requiring unique solutions,” he said.[I'm guessing he means they want the political persuasion of zionists to be included in the protected characteristics of Jews]

“It is true that some strategies for combating anti-Semitism may apply to other forms of intolerance as well, but the fact is that, for too long, the tendency of governments and international organizations to conflate anti-Semitism with other social illnesses has served as a means of avoiding the problem rather than addressing it head on, even as the crisis facing Jewish communities has intensified in Europe and elsewhere,” he added.

While it is “critical” to deal with discrimination against Muslims in Europe, the FRA “should have been more sensitive to the long and tragic history of anti-Semitism in Europe and kept these two issues separate, particularly in the context of the most recent anti-Jewish violence,” agreed Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman.[he's hinting that antisemitism is worse but there's more]

“These problems are totally different, the origin of both problems is very different, the only common point is that both are racism,” asserted Eli Ringer of Belgium’s FORUM der Joodse Organisaties.[heaven prevent intercommunal unity against racism!]

According to Ringer, even though the FRA is exhibiting good intentions by organizing the conference, he fears that “some might profit from such a colloquium to evade the issue of anti-Semitism.”

England’s Community Security Trust, an anti-Semitism watchdog, was likewise opposed to the format of the conference.

According to Michael Whine, CST director of government and international affairs, many European countries seek to “equate anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred in the same breath and they are not the same. Muslims are suffering in Europe, and that is being monitored, but it’s certainly not coming from the Jews, whereas many of the attacks against Jews are coming from the Muslims.” [I don't wanna do the whataboutery thing here but what about when chief rabbis addres thousands of Jews at rallies supporting Israel latest Palestinian cull?  A joint conference on antisemitism and islamophobia could discuss whether such rallies are good for intercommunal relations or not. They might also discuss whether nasty generalisations against the Muslims are helpful too.]

“The growing problem of anti-Semitism in Europe comes from Muslims and the Left and anti-Israel agitators,” he added.

In its announcement of the conference, the FRA pointed to other roots for the rise in anti-Semitism, citing a recent Pew study indicating that “incitement and hostility rooted in theological and other discourse, far-right ideologies and Holocaust denial are growing in Europe.”

“There is a heightened interest [regarding anti-Semitism], obviously influenced by the recent events in Paris and Copenhagen and so on,” Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, the head of the FRA’s Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department, told the Post, referring to a number of recent terrorist attacks against Jews by Muslim extremists.

Research by the FRA indicates that “there is a problem which we haven’t resolved yet [and] we have to do more about it,” he said.

Asked if he thought that there was any problem with juxtaposing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the context of the conference, Dimitrakopoulos replied negatively.

“I don’t think so, because first of all tackling anti-Semitism is part of a wider effort to tackle prejudice and intolerance, and somebody who suffers from a hate crime and hate speech can be Jewish, can be Muslim, can be lesbian or gay, can be Roma, can be a member of minorities that live within societies in Europe,” he said.

“I think that the approach to single out each one and see how we can tackle each one has not worked out, and it’s very important to see how we can build up a common approach to this,” he said, adding that “it is very important also to note the Jewish communities are largely behind this effort.”

“Nobody is denying that there are problems between the groups [Muslims and Jews] but one needs to look at it also from a common perspective,” Dimitrakopoulos asserted.

Not everyone in the Jewish community was fully opposed to the way in which the colloquium is to be organized.[now you wouldn't know that from the headline, sub-title and first half of the article]

“The Jewish people do not have a monopoly on persecution,” remarked Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which sponsors Jewish- Muslim interfaith events on the continent.

“This is an opportunity for Jews and Muslims to recognize that we share both a common faith and a common fate.

Yet, the Fundamental Rights Commission of the EU must acknowledge that a contributing force to growing European anti-Semitism are elements of the Muslim community.”[it might also note that western and Jewish communal leadership support from Israel is a manifestation of and a cause of both islamophia and antisemitism]

Maurice Cohen, the chairman of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, was likewise rather sanguine about the conference.

“As Irish people, we are all too aware of how sectarian and religious intolerance has affected relations between Catholic and Protestant traditions in Ireland, and therefore we welcome any and all initiatives by the EU or anyone seeking to examine and highlight the futility and destructive nature of intolerance and xenophobia within societies,” he said.

“Time and perhaps the conclusions of the colloquium will tell how effective this initiative will have been and whether or not it was correct to examine both anti-Semitism together with anti-Muslim hatred,” he said.[wow there's an innovation the zionists might try, ie. see what the conference actually says and concludes and take it from there]

“As a small Jewish community in Ireland, we have experienced differing degrees of intolerance over the years. It should be pointed out, however, that this has been very infrequent and not anything like that experienced by Jewish communities on the continent,” he added.

“We have excellent relations with the Muslim community here in Ireland and they have informed us that they too experience varying forms of prejudice and intolerance against their community,” he concluded.

The FRA had previously drawn Jewish ire after it removed a working definition of anti-Semitism from its website in 2013.[aha, the good old working definition which zionists all over the net are now saying is simply a common sense consideration of context before loosing off about antisemitism.  It's nothing of the kind of course but some people will say anything to defend Israel and silence its critics]
So there we have it.  There are major Jewish organisations telling anyone who cares to listen that racism against Jews and Muslims cannot be dealt with at the same time because whilst no Jews can ever be accused of racism, the Muslims most definitely can.

April 04, 2015

Zionists on a conference banning roll

This is looking grim.  It appears Zionists have got another conference banned in France.  This time they only had to say it was bad for Israel (which the authorities equated with Jews) rather than pull some health and safety stunt as with the University of Southampton.  Here's the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
The city of Toulouse banned an event organized by far-left activists promoting a boycott of Israel.
The canceled event was a lecture by Farid Esack, a South African university lecturer and activist, titled “Apartheid, from South Africa to Israel.” He was scheduled to speak at a municipal event hall on March 31 at an event organized by the New Anticapitalist Party, a movement established in 2009.
“In light of the context, I can not permit a public gathering that risks encouraging discrimination of Jewish people and commercial products associated with the Jewish faith and the State of Israel,” Toulouse Mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc said in a statement on March 31.
In 2012, an Islamist killed four Jews at a Jewish school in the city.
It's not actually clear which context the mayor is referring to here.  It seems to be the JTA that linked the event to the killing of four Jewish children three years ago.  That's a pretty disgusting juxtaposition given the non-violent nature of BDS and I'm not aware that the mayor has said that Palestinians should pay the price for the murder of Jewish children in France.

But then when we read on we see that the issue isn't about context but content:
In recent years, French courts have convicted several anti-Israel activists for inciting racial discrimination. Under the 2002 Lellouche Law, restrictions on discrimination based on race and faith are extended to nationality. France is among the few European countries that have such laws.
So boycotting any state is illegal in France.  Does France never impose sanctions on states?  Maybe not but see what the article then goes on to say about Southampton.
Earlier this week, Britain’s Southampton University withdrew permission for the International Law and the State of Israel Conference to take place on its campus. Pro-Israel activists pressured the university to cancel because they said the event questioned Israel’s right to exist, which they found offensive.
Clearly the Board of Deputies didn't brief the JTA on their "two lines of attack" on the Southampton conference.

Israel advocate sums up Zionist disarray over cancelled Southampton Uni conference

Since Israel advocacy site, Engage, registered the first signs of Zionist disarray over the University of Southampton academic conference, International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism by posting two comments in one post arguing against demanding the conference be cancelled, the conference has been cancelled.

Obviously the disarray among Zionists was already apparent when many of them believed that the conference wouldn't actually be cancelled.  Ignoring Zionist demands and proceeding with the conference would have been a huge embarrassment for all who argued for cancellation.  Zionists arguing against cancellation would at least have been on the winning side.  But it was not to be and now there are Zionists contacting the university urging them to reverse their decision.  Again, see Engage, here and here.

But the post which sums up most eloquently the cleft stick in which the Zionists find themselves is one by Engage founder and BICOM advisory editor, David Hirsh.  Titled, Thoughts on the Southampton Conference, it's here in full with notes by me:
The fact that the Southampton conference is organised by somebody who has actively come to the defence of an open antisemite is not the point. [Actually if Zionists hadn't been so over-enthusiastic about cancelling the conference because of its subject, they might well have scored points by highlighting the thoroughly repugnant views expressed by one of the four conference organisers] The fact that it de-legitimizes Israel and only Israel is not the point. [This shows Dr Hirsh and indeed many Zionists' awareness that there is no case for Israel. In spite of the fact that Zionists were to be in attendance putting a case for Israel, Hirsh et al have assumed that the conference has jumped to what seems to be their own conclusion] The point is that the narrative of unique Israeli evil and criminality educates antiracists into an antisemitic worldview.[Again Hirsh seems to be making, indeed spinning, an assumption about the conclusion.  Does he know that there would be no comparative work presented to the conference?  And why resort to the word, "evil"?  Calm down, Doctor]
The fact that this antisemitic worldview is not recognised as such by most ‘decent’ people is one of the things that makes it especially dangerous; another is that it operates partly on an emotional and unconscious level and so is less vulnerable to rational debate than might be hoped. [I think he means, correctly, that Israel cannot pass objective tests deploying consistent standards and reasonableness] The antizionists love it when people of ‘opposite’ views engage them in debate because it legitimizes their questions, it positions them as the radical side of a discussion; to posit debate as an alternative to ‘banning’ is not proving an effective way of responding. The antizionists love to debate, they suck strength out of it.[This is downright crazy language without getting into the sheer presumptuousness of asserting what "antizionists love". And shouldn't anti-Zionist have a hyphen?  Not if you want to make out that antizionism is a freestanding ideology arising independently of Zionism itself which I think is the idea] Everybody sympathises with those who are defeated in debate by the ‘clever Jews’. [Win-win.  There are clever and not so clever Jews on all sides of most debates]
Ban the conference, especially on the spurious grounds of ‘security’, and it will be held elsewhere, the participants will declare their own courage and oppression, and people will be attracted to the conference which the power of the ‘Israel Lobby’ cancelled by fiat.[So no-one would have attended the conference at the original time and place?]
Don’t ban the conference and the daily work of normalizing the feeling that the Jews are behind everything bad in the world progresses as usual; [a reminder of the conference title which is International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism, not how Jews are behind everything bad in the world] ,  it happens in pseudo-academic pseudo-egaltiarian language and seduces many directly, but it also sets the framework of what is considered respectable and legitimate.[actually discussing where a state sits with regard to international law was already considered respectable and legitimate.]
The toxic notions pushed by this conference seem, at the moment, to be impermeable both to debate and to coercion. This is a measure of the scale of the problem.[Ban the conference and Israel loses, allow it to proceed even with Israel advocates participating and Israel still loses]
 By highlighting the lose-lose situation that Zionists find themselves in, Hirsh has not identified the "scale of the problem" but the nature of the problem: there is no case for Israel.

Charitable objects of Israel advocacy?

I was just checking the website of the Britain Israel Communication and Research Centre (BICOM) to see who its personnel were and I noticed this on the "About" page:
BICOM is funded through private UK philanthropy and our education and research work is supported in part by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) in pursuance of its charitable objects.
How is Israel advocacy a "charitable object"?

April 03, 2015

Diplomatic triumph as Obama authorises Iranian nuclear strike against Israel

News just in from The Guardian.  Obama is thrilled with his diplomatic triumph whereby Iran is happy to launch a nuclear strike against Israel and Netanyahu is happy because he really does have something to be unhappy about.  It looks like win-win for Obama.

More detail from Hurry up Ha'aretz's diplomatic correspondent, Sarah Hannahs Braun in Tel Aviv.  "I am happier than I have ever been in all my years as Israel's Prime Minister" said Binyamin Netanyahu (or "Bibi").  "I really have something to be unhappy about and so I cannot contain my joy."

"Well, if you're happy I'm happy" Hannahs Braun told Bibi "though I am sure I would be equally happy no matter what you were happy about even if it was a completely opposite thing."

Did @UniSouthampton confuse political correctness with health & safety legislation?

I was just watching a bit of Stewart Lee on YouTube and it made me think of this University of Southampton business, you know, the prevention of the Israel and international law conference taking place.

Here's Stewart Lee - see from 3:48:




See?

April 02, 2015

JC telling porkies?

I never read the travel section of the Jewish Chronicle but this letter in last week's JC caught my eye:
What a pig’s ear you made in the travel article on Mallorca ( JC, Mar 20). Was it really necessary to have the final paragraph devoted to a joyous description of pork on holiday? This must have been highly offensive not only to your religious but also general Jewish readership. Was the sub-editor on holiday or is there something more sinister going on at the JC? 
Warren Bergson Salford, Manchester
The editor's response made things more interesting still:
The Editor writes:  I offer an unreserved apology to all our readers for our appalling error last week and ask for readers’ forgiveness. A series of basic mistakes led to the inclusion of words that should never have appeared. Please accept a heartfelt apology from all of us at the JC.
Wow! Four letter word ending in K and the editor is begging for the F-word, forgiveness.  But where's the offending article?  Let's google, Jewish Chronicle pig's ear.  The above letter comes up first on this very useful Press Reader site.

Next up is the google link to the offending JC article:
    Blooming marvellous | The Jewish Chronicle

  1. www.thejc.com/travel/holidays/132103/blooming-marvellous
    19 Mar 2015 - We eat in the hotel's latest addition, a tree house built around an ... cod with the butifarro blood sausage and pig's ear, pig jowl with truffled egg, ...
    You've visited this page 2 times. Last visit: 01/04/15
Clicking on the link we find....

Access denied

You are not authorized to access this page.
Oo-er. Now what?  I know.  Google cache:
So as well as the almond soup we have sobrasada, the island's cross between pâté and sausage, in filo pastry rolls with honey and rosemary, cod with the butifarro blood sausage and pig's ear, pig jowl with truffled egg, and cubes of confit potato filled with aioli and herring roe. We just have time to stagger back down the hill for a quick facial in the hotel's spa before it's time for the plane home.

So now we know that when the JC tells porkies it can acknowledge, apologise and move on and all without the threat of legal action.  Now there's a first.

April 01, 2015

Board of Deputies launched "two lines of attack" to get Israel conference cancelled

The fact that zionists simply can't make a case for Israel was pretty much proven by their apoplexy over an academic conference which was going to take place at Southampton University on 17th of this month titled, International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism.

I was reading with some amusement a post on the Israel advocacy site, Engage, where some zionists were clearly concerned that having the conference cancelled would make the zionist movement look bad whilst others thought the title alone should set alarm bells ringing. Still others thought they could actually make a case for Israel, presumably under the heading, Exceptionalism.

But then Sarah Annes Brown came and spoiled all my fun with this comment:
s4r4hbrown Says:

The conference has now been cancelled on safety grounds.
I checked out twitter to see what was being said and eventually put a question of my own:
Among the responses was one linking a Jewish Chronicle article putting the name, Sussex Friends of Israel in the frame and some tweeters (tweeps?) thought it was the threat of thuggery from this group that had the uni running for cover.  But another article linked below that one thickened the plot just a tad.  Headed Southampton University confirms it is considering cancelling anti-Israel conference the piece contains this little gem from the Board of Deputies of British Jews' president, Vivian Wineman:
“When we had a meeting with the university vice-chancellor they said they would review it on health and safety terms.
“The two lines of attack possible were legal and health and safety and they were leaning on that one.”
It appears that the university wanted to buckle to the pressure from the lobby but were unsure which excuse they could use.  In correspondence university officials had said that there were no legal grounds to stop the conference.  In fact they acknowledged that they were legally obliged to facilitate the conference.  So the other "line.. of attack" had to be used: health and safety.

I should say at this point that the uni hasn't actually made public or, according to itself, even made the final decision but if it does decide to deploy the health and safety excuse it will have to explain this. Now there's something to look forward to.

March 13, 2015

"Excellent meetings" between far-right Greek minister and American Jewish Committee

I find this kind of thing both disappointing and disturbing.  See this report from the website of the Greek broadsheet, I Kathimerini:
Defense Minister and junior coalition partner leader Panos Kammenos declared Thursday that Greece’s ties with Israel remain strong following talks with a visiting delegation from the American Jewish Committee.
When Syriza came to power there was open panic among zionists about how bad they might be for Israel.  Here's the Jerusalem Post under the headline, The victory of Syriza in Greece is bad news for Israel.:
The party has constantly identified itself with the Palestinian cause and its program includes a demand for abolition of Greece’s military cooperation with Israel and the support for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
Oh no, support for the so-called two state solution!    More astute Israel advocates made an issue of the explicit antisemitism of the leader of Syriza's junior coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, with Brendan O'Neill at Jewish News wringing his hands and asking, Why’s the left silent on Greek coalition with anti-Semitic party?

Well now everything in the garden is rosy because the antisemitic party that O'Neill was so concerned about is on Israel's side. No doubt the antisemitism will be forgiven and conveniently forgotten.  I Kathimerini again:
In a statement issued after the talks with Kammenos and other Greek government officials Thursday, the AJC said the main topics discussed included “efforts to achieve progress in Greece’s dramatic economic situation” and “attempts to combat anti-Semitism, including the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn political movement.”

The statement referred to “excellent meetings” with Greek officials who expressed an understanding “of the importance of the strategic partnership between Greece and Israel.”

Now naturally I'm disappointed that the Syriza government in Greece is to continue business as usual with the illegitimate entity, Israel, but the disturbing thing is that the announcement was made to an American Israel lobby group, the American Jewish Committee.  Why are they conducting foreign policy business between Greece and Israel?

February 20, 2015

Defining, Redefining and Unredefining Antisemitism

Here's a good little post on the Jewdas website titled Keeping Antisemitism Simple.  The intro does "what it says on the tin" and simply defines antisemitism as anti-Jewish racism:
It’s all getting very complicated. The definition of anti-semitism has become an fine art, presided over by professors of antisemitism and fought over across the internet.
It shouldn’t be like this. The more complex the debate becomes the more people disengage from it, leaving antisemitism in the hands of neo-Nazis (who celebrate it) and extreme supporters of the Israeli government (who see antisemitism in all serious criticism of Israel). Instead we should keep it simple. Antisemitism is racism. It’s just a word for anti-jewish racism, hatred of Jews because they are Jews, equivalent to hating people because the are black, asian, Irish or whatever. (And don’t tell me Jews are a religion. There is a major ethnic component to Jewishness, so that many people define as Jewish purely because of their family background. So Jews can certainly be victims of racism).

So, back to basics, how to you avoid being racist? It’s easy. You treat people as individuals. If you meet a new person you don’t assume you know anything about them from a group that they may be connected to. When they do something, be it good or bad in your eyes, you don’t connect those actions with any group – the actions are purely the responsibility of the individual in question. You don’t generalise about groups of people – you allow individuals to define themselves in their own terms. Even if you’ve met more than one person from a ‘group’ that have a certain trait – don’t assume that the next person you meet from that group will be just the same.

Its usually the negative generalisation ones we tend to call racism: when a group is generalised as being mean, stupid, corrupt, evil, dominating, pathetic etc. But although people tend to worry less about positive generalisations (‘Italians are great lovers’ ) these are no less stupid and can easily hide a negative element inside a supposedly positive one (c.f. ‘Black people have such wonderful rhythm’). The surefire way to avoid racism is to cut out generalisations full stop. And the fact that people sometimes make generalisations about their own ‘group’? That’s stupid too, but they have a right to do it as a member of that group in a way that an outsider simply doesn’t. At this juncture we should clarify that of course any act that goes beyond generalisations to actually stirring up hatred against, discriminating against or committing violent acts against members of an ethnic group is utterly racist.

As antisemitism is simply racism, you avoid antisemitism in just the same way. If you hear about somebody Jewish who did something, good or bad, you draw conclusions only about that individual – not about any other Jewish people. That applies whether that person is a drunk guy on the street, an executive at a bank or the Prime Minister of Israel. People are only responsible for their own deeds. And if a person, group, or state, claims to speak for all Jews, take that with a massive dose of salt. Stick to your guns and don’t generalise. And obviously, do not, in a million years, discriminate against people because they are Jews or commit violence against them for the same reason. I hope that goes without saying.
 I first noticed the post being touted in a comment on the Israel advocacy site, Engage:
Eric Says:

Its odd and harmful that the definition of anti-semitism is controversial. If anti-semitism requires a phd to recognise and reems of “unpacked” examples then we might as well give up any hope of anyone paying attention to these definitions. Listing examples of anti-semitism is not the right way to go, just elaborate the general principles involved. Over at Jewdas they have nailed it nicely.
http://jewdas.org/keeping-antisemitism-simple/
  Eric was a late comer to the post and so there was only one response and that was from a zionist retired (I think) academic called, Brian Goldfarb.  He seems to have read the Jewdas piece but feels it falls down by not being sufficiently racist against Palestinian Arabs regarding their fault for their own victimisation and their apparently inherent murderousness:
the Palestinian “right of return” ignores the history of how the Palestinian “diaspora” came about…and what of the greater number of Jews from Arab lands even more obviously forcefully dispossessed and expelled (and, yes, Eric, I will expand on this and the other points below, if you so wish)? Calling for Israel/Palestine to become a single. binational state glosses over all sorts of consequences, not the least of which is the likely further diaspora of up to 6 million Jews, or worse.
And here's the rub with the redefinition of antisemitism as opposition to Jewish supremacy.  If we accept, as Goldfarb advocates, that the abolition of Jewish supremacy in Palestine is antisemitic then we are saying that antisemitism is not a form of racism.  We are also saying that in order to avoid being antisemitic we have to be or at least to accept anti-Arab racism.  It's remarkable how many academics fail or refuse to see this.

Mississippi then, State of Israel now

Listen to this song, Here's to the State of Mississipi, by the late Phil Ochs:


I was reminded of one its lines, "Here's to the people of Mississippi, who say the folks up north they just don't understand".  What it was the "folks up north" didn't understand was segregation and the appalling violence that maintained it.

Well The Guardian ran an article by a leading Israeli segregationist politician, Yair Lapid, with a similar message just yesterday.  It was Lapid's response, possibly the official State of Israel response, to the announcement in the letters page of The Guardian of a cultural boycott of Israel by hundreds of artists.

The headline of Lapid's article alone reminded me of the line from the Phil Ochs song and the article didn't disappoint being one long whinge about Israel's excuses for segregation, Jews only settlement, ethnic cleansing and relentless violence without mentioning any of those things.  Lapid only mentioned security, which he claimed was Israel's "only..demand".

Still he did give me the excuse to dig up Phil Ochs's song and prise it away from the annoying advert you see on Youtube when you access it.

February 13, 2015

Faith Matters fires Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet...but why?

Here's a curious article from the front page of today's Jewish Chronicle. It's about the removal of Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet as a patron of an interfaith charity, Faith Matters.

According to the JC it was government intervention that led to Schochet's dismissal.  Look:
According to a source close to the charity, the decision was taken after the Department for Communities and Local Government threatened to remove funding for other groups run by the charity’s head.
Officials at the department, led by Communities Minister Eric Pickles, are said to be unwilling to work with the Mill Hill United Synagogue minister who has made a series of controversial comments relating to Palestinians.
The Canadian-born rabbi has used his social media accounts to suggest all Palestinians were engaged in terrorist activity.
His appointment to the interfaith group at the end of January had led to complaints from Muslim groups.
It appears that demands for Schochet's dismissal originated from "Muslim groups" but why did it take the threat of withdrawal of government funding to get this Faith Matters group to dismiss him?  And who could have lost funding if Faith Matters hadn't fallen into line?
DCLG officials were prepared to remove funding from Tell Mama if Faith Matters retained Rabbi Schochet.
Tell Mama is nominally a separate group from Faith Matters so why was it threatened by Eric Pickles's department?

Googling for more info about this case I came upon Middle East Monitor's report on the initial appointment of Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet by this self-styled "anti-extremist group".  I was surprised at the amount of detail in the JC report but MEMO's piece is even more informative.

UPDATE: Tell Mama is tweeting that they don't receive government funds which means that the front page article in the Jewish Chronicle by Marcus Dysch is wrong though Tell Mama won't Tell Mark (ie me) that in so many words.  Neither do they seem to want to Tell Marcus or the JC.

February 11, 2015

Hadley Freeman accuses George Galloway of Antisemitism

I didn't see the BBC's Question Time (#BBCQT or @BBCQT on Twitter) with George Galloway and Jonathan Freedland.  I could have watched it on iPlayer or some such but I find GG and JF pretty cringe-worthy.

Jonathan Cook wrote an article about it slagging Jonathan Freedland's behaviour in the proceedings and calling him The Guardian's "resident antisemitism obsessive".  Now I would have preferred "resident zionist" because "antisemitism obsessive" could imply that he is obsessed with genuine cases of racism against Jews and this of course would be wrong, Freedland has quite a lot of form for false allegations of antisemitism.

Well another resident zionist at The Guardian, Hadley Freeman, didn't like the "resident antisemitism obsessive" jibe either and got into a bit of a Twitter exchange with Glenn Greenwald about it.

Hadley Freeman also has form for false allegations of antisemitism over campaigning against Israel.

Now at some point George Galloway enters the Twitter fray.  I should say I came to all this very late when someone drew my attention to it when the hubbub was dying down.  I always find Twitter hard to follow beyond one tweet and a reply but here's the first tweet from GG that I noticed:
Wow! What tweet? Let's have a look at Hadley Freeman's tweets.  Too late, look:
But someone challenged Freeman over what she had claimed in her tweet:
As far as I can tell Freeman hasn't risen to the challenge of finding Galloway saying and doing "plenty of things that cross the line from anti-Israel to antisemitic" and Galloway is insisting that he is taking legal action because her deletion was too late.

So what will come of this?  It would be interesting blowback if Jonathan Freedland had to refrain from his negative hasbara because of the dishonesty of one of his zionist comrades and colleagues at The Guardian.

February 09, 2015

Bibi goes where he's invited and where he's not invited

And not only that, this racist war criminal claims to speak for all Jews.

Here's Ha'aretz:

Netanyahu: I will go to Congress like I went to Paris – to speak for all Jews

Prime minister says he will go anyplace he is invited to convey Israel's position on Iran

Obviously claiming that one or some Jews speak for all Jews is antisemitic but there's another issue here.  It seems like only yesterday that Bibi turned up in Paris for an electioneering junket in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in spite of being asked by the French president not to go.  Again here's Ha'aretz:

Hollande asked Netanyahu not to attend Paris memorial march

Absence sought as part of attempt to keep Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of European show of unity; After Netanyahu insisted on coming, French made it clear Abbas would be invited as well.

The man's utterly shameless.

February 07, 2015

Even Foxman tells Bibi to stop being a clown

From The Forward yesterday:
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti Defamation League said that the political uproar ignited by Netanyahu’s invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress makes such a move unhelpful and therefore it should be scrapped.
“It’s a tragedy of unintended consequences,” Foxman told the Forward, describing how the idea of presenting Israel’s view on Iran spiraled out of control, reaching even the Jon Stewart show, a step, Foxman said, that “turned the whole thing into a circus.”

And what did Jon Stewart say?  Here's Vox.com
"One of our closest foreign allies is taking sides with Republicans against a Democratic president, which creates a major conundrum for Democrats," Stewart said. "I'm reminded of a similar situation, faced by an Israeli king renowned for his wisdom."

Stewart also laid into the Obama administration's excuse for not meeting with Netanyahu when he visits — that the president didn't want to be seen as "meddling" in Israeli politics (Israel's elections are two weeks after the March 3 speech).

"Yes, yes!" Stewart said. "America doesn't wanna meddle in a Middle Eastern nation's domestic politics. I mean, we don't do that!"

He then ran through a list of nearby countries America has, in fact, meddled with: Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey.

"Unless, obviously, a country wanted to nationalize its own oil industry, or looked likely to ally with a rival superpower, or was fighting a proxy war against some other country we didn't like, or would let us put military bases in their country, or send prisoners to their country, or was next to a country we wanted to spy on, or fight with."

"But aside from these very rare instances," Stewart concluded, "we do not meddle with Middle Eastern nations."
I don't know what Foxman's beef is. Between Congress and the White House who'd notice another clown?

February 06, 2015

Playing the holocaust card

This is as egregious an example of playing the holocaust card that you will find.  I first saw it on Harry's Place where their dullest blogger, Gene, says:
the BBC audience and Galloway were deprived of the chance to hear New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield’s reaction to “pro-Palestine” activists interrupting the council’s commemoration of 1.1 million people killed in Auschwitz.
Included in the post is this YouTube clip:

Now what's very strange about the clip, which even the average Harry's Placer must have noticed, is that it doesn't show the disruption itself nor, of course, what had prompted it.

In case for some reason you don't or can't watch the clip, here's a bit of what he had to say, from the algemeiner:
“While we were discussing a resolution regarding the murder of 1.1 million human beings – I will point out that 90 percent of them were Jewish, but the other 10 percent, they were political dissidents, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, they were gays, those were the people who were being killed together at Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Greenfield declared, “while we were discussing that, they had the chutzpah, the nerve, the temerity, to unfurl a Palestinian flag and yell at us.”
Voice rising, Greenfield contrasted Israel’s open society with the repressive regimes across the Middle East, before asserting, “What you saw here today was naked, blind antisemitism.”
Greenfield said that the demonstrators had unfurled the Palestinian flag out of anger that “Hitler had not finished the job. He only wiped out half of my family.”
He concluded: “Shame on them for disrespecting the most diverse democratically elected body in the United States of America, and that’s why we go to Israel.”
 But immediately after that bit was an explanation of what the disruption of council business was really all about:
The demonstrators immediate target was the trip to Israel which Councilman Greenfield referred to, planned for next year, and involving City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and 14 other Council members. Footage of the demonstrators showed them in a state of collective hysteria, showering abuse and hatred upon the council’s members. (See video below.)

Here's the clip:



and we're still none the wiser save for that little bit of honesty that seems to have slipped through the algemeiner's net.  The honesty, and inadvertant exposé of Councilman Greenman's dishonesty, was shortlived.  Read on:

Other councillors joined Greenfield in condemning the antisemitic disruption, which included the fringe group “Jewish Voice for Peace” among the participants.
Aha, now I have more that I can google to try to get to the bottom of this.  I eventually find the Jewish Voice for Peace site and their statement on the disruption:

JVP-NYC Statement on Jan 22nd City Council Disruption


On January 22nd, members of Jewish Voice for Peace-NY participated in an act of civil disobedience organized by the Direct Action Front for Palestine inside of City Hall.  Our goal was to call attention to fifteen City Council members' upcoming delegation to Israel, a trip designed to whitewash Israel's occupation of and discrimination against Palestinians. During the political action, the City Council introduced a resolution commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  A banner supporting our cause was dropped just as this resolution came to a vote; this timing was completely unintentional. JVP-NY regrets disrupting this vote, as we respect without qualification the solemnity of the Holocaust and honor all victims of genocide.  
We unequivocally stand by our opposition to an all-expenses-paid junket to Israel by a delegation of the NYC Council, sponsored by organizations that promote Islamophobic policies in the US and defend Israel's human rights abuses and violations of international law. 
Above all, JVP-NY is committed to opposing all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. It is with those values in mind that we remember the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and remain steadfast in our opposition to Israel's human rights abuses.

So the council was using the holocaust as a smokescreen for a junket to and a promotion of Israel and tacking on holocaust remembrance as an afterthought.  Nice people these official holocaust rememberers.

UPDATE: Within momemts of this post, Harry's Place has decided to come clean and play dirty over this Palestine solidarity protest.  Here's the HP update:
Update: The activists chose the moment of the Auschwitz commemoration toprotest a planned visit to Israel by several council members.
I wonder why HP chose their moment to come clean about what they must have known when they originally posted the post.  Of course,, they're still being as dishonest as you'd expect, There is no evidence to suggest that JVP chose their moment to coincide with the councillors' hypocritical resolution on the holocaust.  Nor is there any reason to suppose it.  HP has been caught in another lie to smear the critics of the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

Whilst enduring the torture of reading Harry's Place I also check out the comments just to see if there is a spark of humanity there.  There usually isn't but I did notice some guy appealing for a hat-tip over drawing this Gene chap's attention to the speech in the clip.  Gene duly obliged, I wonder if he'll hat-tip whoever it was that drew his attention to the fact that his original post was utterly bogus.