February 07, 2006

Engage with anti-semitism

This is bizarre. David Hirsh, the zionist (he claims to be non-zionist without defining zionist) sociology lecturer behind the Engage website has hurled a bit of anti-semitic abuse at Charlie Pottins of the Jewish Socialist Group. It appears in the comments to an article on Sue Blackwell's recent foray into al-Ahram on the Protocols and holocaust denial. Check out Sue's article first. Then the Engage one. Here's Charlie's comment:
Obviously Sue Blackwell can do no right by you. After all, she moved a resolution in the AUT to boycott two Istaeli institutions on account of specific issues, and in your book this places her "behind the campaign to blacklist Israeli scientists, academics, teachers, students, musicians and artists".
Presumably you had some arguments against the proposal to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan, but why trouble with details when you can so much more easily scare the kinder with tales about a completely different and imaginary boycott.

Outside your esteemed circles Sue has been known as an active anti-racist,and anti-fascist, and has also opposed the way some people accomodate with Islamic fundamentalism. But when she makes it her business to take the fight against antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism into the Arab media, plainly this is not satisfying. You would have her responsible for every unpleasantness in the Arab world (does this mean you take responsibility for the Kahamists?) Or are you perhaps worried that if Sue and others succeed in countering antisemitic influences you will have less to point to?
Sue has also challenged the poisonous activity of Israel Shamir and others like him. Her website was exposing Shamir's double-identity as a Swedish antisemite when the stalwarts of UJS were far more interested in closing Sue Blackwell's website. Likesise she has taken on Gilad Arzmon and Paul Eisen, and now taken this fight into Al Ahram. Perhaps Engage would be sorry to lose such useful bogeys. How dare supporters of the Palestinian struggle take up a real fight against antisemitism?! Why, they'll not only make it harder for you to smear them, but people might wonder what responsibility you lot have ever undertaken.
See how the self-styled non-zionist and anti-semitism watchdog, David Hirsh responds:
Charlie Pottins, please relate to the argument in the post. Of course Sue is in favour of a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Don't play games. Relate to the discussion Charlie.

And please write in English Charlie, not in Yiddish. This is not a forum for you to perform your anti-Zionist Jewish identity. It is a serious discussion about antisemitism in the British Labour Movement.
Charlie comes back:
So far as I am concerned I was relating to the discussion. Whether I'd call it serious is another matter.

As for my language.I'll speak and write how I please. Sorry if my English is not pure enough for you. I thought the old Zionist war on Yiddish had ended, and its a long time since kids were forbidden to use Yiddish in schools in Britain, nowadays you even hear it on telly.
If the odd "foreign" even Yiddish expression grates on your ears, perhaps you should wonder whether it is other people's antisemitism you have problems with.
Mind you, I'm no psychologist, not even a sociologist, just a historian.
Curiously, David Hirsh's Engage colleague, John Pike, could see that Charlie had addressed the points raised.
Charlie Pottins, you are simply wrong about the boycott resolutions in the AUT. The (false, libelous) case that was made against Haifa called for a boycott in line with, and citing, the PACBI call. The A and the C in PACBI stand for Academic and Cultural. And Ilan Pappe, in his Guardian piece about the boycott made it clear that, though he was 'flattered' by the attention given to his 'predicament', at Haifa, this was a tactical and strategic mistake.

Sue Blackwell is in favour of a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel along the lines of the PACBI call, and she's in favour of this because, amongst other things, she regards Israel as an illegitimate state. It is that view that has been criticised here, and defended in many places by Sue. Why on earth do you seek to misrepresent it?

Selectivity was always a pretty overt tactical ploy, and the boycotters have now more or less dropped it. Check the text of the PACBI call and the interview with Pappe and try to keep up.
Ok, patronising, insulting even, but he clearly disagrees with Hirsh's put-down. And he avoids Hirsh's anti-semitism. Going back to that, Hirsh seems to have a problem with Jews. Here he is in the late Nick Cohen's comments section slagging me:
Yours is a Jewish nationalist position, isn’t it Mark? You oppose (your strange understanding of) Zionism “as a Jew”. You challenge “Zionist hegemony” within “the community”. Anti-Zionism is your way of being Jewish. Its a naughty school-boy way; its a wind-up daddy way; but its your way. That explains why Israel is at the centre of your universe - because you share this feature with some other small fringe racist traditions of Jewish nationalism.
He's got a real thing about Jews, this non-zionist, David Hirsh.

I should point out here that when I say "the late Nick Cohen's comments section" its because he deleted all of the comments from his blog; not because he died. Anyway I posted them to my Jews against zionism blog. I missed the last 12 or so. I had some correspondence with him about why he stopped commenting altogether and you can see that here. He deleted the comments from the "anti-semitism" article after the correspondence. I'm not sure why and I can't rely on him to say. I'm guessing that either Linda Grant or David Hirsh persuaded him to delete them. If you have a look through them you'll see why that's my supposition.

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