June 16, 2008

Engage continues smear campaign against Finkelstein

I looked at Engage today to see if they had said anything against Israel banning Arabs from the beach at the Dead Sea so that the settlers could ply their tourist trade. I got distracted by a post in which Dr Hirsh appoints himself the adjudicator of humour. He gets to decide what's funny and what's not and what's serious and what's not. Yes, that Dr Hirsh.

Here's Dr Hirsh on a not so recent Finkelstein post:
Norman Finkelstein has produced a satirical piece of writing. The joke is based on the idea that AIPAC has the power and the will to break and to humiliate anybody seeking to be elected President of the United States. If you didn't know who had written the piece of writing you'd probably think it was antisemitic. If you did know who had written the piece... hmm. I guess I'll stop there.
Here's the joke:
In a move that shocked his AIPAC audience but which his supporters called "brave," Barack Obama dropped his drawers to prove that he was Jewish. John McCain immediately issued a statement alleging that he was circumcised first. (The Republican candidate is 71.) Basing himself on extensive fieldwork, Daniel Pipes, a McCain supporter and noted authority on Muslim culture, observes that "looks can be deceiving -- Muslims are also circumcised." (Pipes' new book is "Turkish Bath Terror Network.") Speaking for the Democratic party, Nancy Pelosi promises to investigate the "particulars" of their candidate. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton announced that although as a feminist she opposed circumcision, she would make an exception if it would get her the nomination. "Speaking as her husband," Bill Clinton said, "I couldn't care less, but if this is what it takes, heck, I'll slice off a piece too." Crackers from Hope refused comment.
Sorry, I should have mentioned the headline. It's Norman Finkelstein is not a serious man - he's not very funny either. Now coming from Hirsh, this is what we call projection.

Actually I thought it was quite funny. What I don't understand is that the Daily Show with Jon Stewart went easily as far and possibly further than Finkelstein in its edition titled Indecision 5768 in suggesting, no, saying, of Obama, Clinton and McCain grovelling to AIPAC, "you can't say anything remotely critical of Israel and still get elected president". It was all there. The title, 5768, the Jewish year this year. Florida became "hebieland", AIPAC became OiPAC and "these elders of Zion".

Where was Engage when ha'am Yisroel came under such an attack? I suppose those elders, Engage that is, were thinking up ways of smearing Finkelstein. They'll have to learn that if other Jews are criticising Israel in much the same language and style that Finkelstein employs, they'll have to busy themselves smearing those others or at least figuring out how to pass off the similar as being different. So how are they going to do that? I'm guessing we'll never know. But playing the antisemitism card has never been such a tricky proposition. Oh, they'll still do it at the drop of a capel but consistency, of necessity, is out the window.

But the big question for me is, why this excessive, indeed obsessive, concentration of Finkelstein? Remember Johann Hari referring to the "loathesome smearing of Israel's critics" and how Finkelstein was smeared in the Jewish Chronicle? Remember how, in defence of Israel, Engage poses as defenders of academic freedom and yet they supported banning him from Israel and lied to do so? Remember how Howard Jacobson ludicrously claimed that zionists "don't hunt in packs" specifically with regard to the hunting and harassing of Finkelstein? Like the Lebanon war of 2006, this is one of those exercises that catches the whole gamut of the zionist movement with its collective hand in the till. Even those, who like Hirsh, call themselves non-zionists.

There are two aspect of this Obama bowing to AIPAC business that seem to undermine a couple of claims that Hirsh makes about his own position on the occupation and on antisemitism. I can't remember if Hirsh claims that Engage is against the occupation or just that he (Hirsh) is. We've seen him saying that Israel has withdrawn from Gaza when it clearly hasn't in the sense of broad military control and legal obligation. But also, he doesn't seem to have criticised Obama at all for supporting the continued occupation of Jerusalem.

Now, clearly, grovelling to AIPAC, as Jon Stewart on the Daily Show says, is a rite of passage to the White House. I think Jews are being used here. The whole of America must wonder why such an exhibition has to be made in front of the biggest of the Israel lobby groups. Are Jews that powerful? Probably not. The American establishment wants to support Israel so it allows, even causes, the Israel lobby to flourish. It suits the establishment to place a buffer between itself and its policies, hence the Israel lobby. And if it all goes pear shaped, who you gonna blame? Why, the Jews of course. Now Hirsh is saying that it is antisemitic to joke that AIPAC is a make or break stop-off for the presidential hopeful. Nope, that's wrong. He thinks it's antisemitic for Finkelstein to joke that it's make or break. It's not when it's the far more seen Daily Show. That's fine. As is Obama's support for the occupation. But when Finkelstein, the Daily Show and many others say that crawling to AIPAC is a must, they are surely only saying what millions, maybe billions, or people are thinking. Hirsh claims that this is antisemitic, not just wrong, antisemitic.

If Hirsh is truly concerned about antisemitism and isn't simply playing the antisemitism card, where is his explanation of what Obama (and Clinton and McCain) were doing prostrating themselves before AIPAC? And why isn't he concerned that if Obama supports the occupation, the occupation is going to continue for at least another 8 years (assuming he either wins a second term or he is defeated from the right)? Why is he more interested in smearing Obama's critics than in criticising Obama for supporting the occupation that Hirsh claims to be against?

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