But anyway, talk about unintended consequences. I was just looking for Arab Media Watch but sadly it seems to have died a death. Well it has a blog and from that blog I learned that a Ruth Tenne had had a letter published in New Statesman. The link was to the latest edition and so the letter had gone into the archives. So I googled "Ruth Tenne." That took me to the Engage site. The Engage site has some kind of blog of its own and on that blog they published a letter from Norman Geras and Linda Grant that had appeared in the Jewish Chronicle. Here's the letter that oozes concern for the standing of Jews for Justice for Palestinians:
You reported (JC, December 9) on the University of Westminster's decision to withdraw campus facilities from the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which was planning to hold a meeting debating Zionism.After the letter are the comments. Here's Ruth Tenne again:
One of the advertised speakers was Stephen Marks, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. When the meeting went ahead at an alternative location, Mr Marks made it clear that he was speaking in a private capacity, but the damage had already been done.
Earlier this year, the two of us withdrew our names from the JfJfP statement.
This was not because we had parted company from the aims embodied in that statement, but rather because we were concerned by the organisation's name being used to endorse events we did not support and views we categorically disagree with.
We noted with regret a letter sent on behalf of JfJfP in defence of Jenny Tonge's remarks about suicide bombers.
Like JfJfP, we believe that there is a significant sector of the Jewish community that supports a just and fair settlement of the conflict, based on ethical considerations.
We recognise and welcome the fact that JfJfP incorporates a wide range of opinion. However, as long as its activities go beyond the statement which it asks people to sign up to, it will continue to be a marginal movement in the Jewish community, propelled by activists driven by a narrower ideological agenda than its statement suggests.
Linda Grant's letter in the Jewish Chronicle (16 December) criticizes a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians for taking part( in a private capacity) in an event organized by MPACUK which discussed Alan Hart's critical book of Zionism. Could I deduce from her stance that she will equally object to a debate of her pro-Zionist book - When I Lived In Modern Times? Being an Israeli who lived through the period of the creation of the State of Israel I, undoubtedly ,could offer some realistic dimension and a useful critique of her fantasy book about the birth of national Zionism.Engage is a zionist site so as you would expect this comment triggered a few personal attacks on the woman. Here's a response from Linda grant
It's a novel, Ruth, a novel. About the illusions of idealism.I'm not sure that that precludes it being pro-zionist. I haven't read the book but I think it had some deliberately meaningless quote from Chaim Weizmann about what a problem it is if people can't explain where there from. I think it was aimed at drumming up support for the "homeless" Jews while Weizmann plotted the "miraculous" homelessness of the Palestinians. Anyway, Ruth Tenne came back with one more comment and said that she wouldn't comment further. I tried that that one on Nick Cohen's site when I was being inundated with ad hominem attacks including some from the Engage duo of Linda Grant and David Hirsh but I kept getting drawn back in. That little episode culminated in Nick Cohen coming here to accuse me of self-loathing sophistry (but I don't like to talk about that! arf arf). Well Ruth Tenne is made of better stuff and ignored the rest of the comments, so after some more responses Linda Grant settles on this little gem:
Some members of JfJfP have written off most Jews who do not line up behind a strategy which aims at attaining pariah status for Israel, through the weight of boycotts, sanctions etc, until it is forced, like South Africa, to renounce Zionism. They see the struggle as a broad movement composed of many different kinds of activists, Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, Christian, atheist, socialist, secular, anti-globalist, whatever, in which they will participate as Jewish activists.People can draw their own conclusions as to why Linda Grant would want a group seeking "justice for Palestinians" to reject the idea of a "broad movement of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, Christian, atheist, socialist, secular, anti-globalist, whatever, in which they will participate as Jewish activists." But look at the idea of Israel being "forced, like South Africa, to renounce Zionism." I know from the Nick Cohen site that Linda Grant posts in haste. Even when she had Nick Cohen advising her on Ireland's nationality law she still said it was the same as Israel's racist Law of "Return." She thinks that these postings to websites are as ephemeral as the absurdities and insults chucked around at AWL's zionist rallies. But she said it. She likened zionism to apartheid. It's true that she didn't actually use the word "apartheid." But it was apartheid that earned South Africa the pariah status that she is making a career out of defending Israel from and she doesn't do explicit as a rule.
Update: Aha! I found the quote:
"They are a people, and they lack the props of a people. We ask today: 'What are the Poles? What are the French? What are the Swiss?' When that is asked, everyone points to a country, to certain institutions, to parliamentary institutions, and the man in the street will know exactly what it is. He has a passport. If you ask what a Jew is - well, he is a man who has to offer a long explanation for his existence, and any person who has to offer an explanation as to what he is, is always suspect..." Evidence from Chaim Weizmann to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, 1947.This is so bizarre. The Poles are the people of Poland, the French are the people of France and the Swiss are the people of Switzerland. The Jews are the people of....Is that suspect? Isn't it more suspect trying to enlist whole communities to become apologists for a racist war criminal project. In the immortal (maybe ephemeral) words of Linda Grant: I'm just curious.