October 05, 2008

David Toube of Harry's Place, liar, racist, buffoon and turncoat

I know I used a similar headline to accurately describe Gilad Atzmon and I know it's an unabashed ad hominem attack on the dear leader - or one of them - of Harry's Place. But I'm finding myself increasingly incensed at this David t (Toube) character's propensity for hounding named individuals and his increasingly cavalier use of the antisemitism/racism slur. He is also becoming more successful at undermining the standing of his victims, jeopardising their employment and having them silenced on various forums. I was also shocked more recently at some of the people who fell for his ludicrous victim act over the Jenna Delich case.

And all the while, from posts and comments on his own blog and from his occasional sorties here I'm noticing that he is dishonest, racist (and not just against Muslims and Arabs) and stupid.

Anyway, here's a picture of the man himself while I gather my thoughts:

He works for a firm of solicitors up town, Cleary Gottleib, where he counts beans and makes sure they're kosher. When you read some of his "reasoning" on HP you'll see why he specialises in financial law and nothing too adversarial/intellectual. You can't take legions of trolls into court with you. You have to argue based on facts and against a backdrop of law unless your client's Jeremy Thorpe or some such. The photo is copyrighted by a Martin Turnbull who will invoice for its use so if the pic disappears you'll know he charges more than fifty pence.

I suppose the mob thuggery Toube unleashed against Jenna Delich was the last straw for me as far as Toube goes. Well not entirely just that but the fact that people who ought to have known better fell for his victim act over his blog being pulled for a vicious libel against an Israel critic who had apologised for her honest mistake of posting a link to the David Duke website. I ran into another misguided defence of Harry's Place over that saga just recently where the blogger thought that HP had simply posted that Jenna Delich had linked to the site. Toube created the impression that that was indeed all that happened. But it wasn't what happened. Following Delich's apology to the site, David Toube was tipped off about what had happened and he decided to make an example of this critic of Israel. He ran the post calling her a David Duke fan and he captioned a picture of her (what difference did the picture make to the post?) captioned "Sheffield-based academic, Jenna Delich - links to far right websites associated with the Ku Klux Klan". So he called her a "David Duke fan" and created a clear (to most people anyway) impression that she had links with websites associated with the Klan. Sorry, I know I'm going over old ground here but Toube is getting away with too many lies too often. Then, since she had apologised and it was not true that she is a David Duke fan or that she has links to Klan associated websites, she contacted HP's hosts who pulled the blog pending the removal of the libellous material. The openly libellous stuff was removed but Toube pretended that all he had done was run a post on the fact that she had linked to the David Duke site and that she had had his blog removed as a result. This is a lie. He lied, removed the more outrageous of the lies, lied again and had various bloggers who, as I said, ought to have known better, supporting him, seemingly oblivious to his lies. It's just possible that the lies were so outrageous that the more credulous assumed that they couldn't be made up. Thankfully, the blog I mentioned has since done a correction and removed a link it had to a sock puppet blog of Harry's Place's post.

I've been looking at HP more since that all happened and I can't quite believe David Toube's combination of deviousness, viciousness and stupidness. I've also had a little correspondence with him, the most recent of which was when I was copied into a complaint to Toube by Deborah Fink because of libellous remarks about her in the comments to his blog. Tony Greenstein too was copied in. She seemed to be trying to appeal to Toube's better nature, which he doesn't have, or to make him think professionally as a lawyer about the implications of libelling someone or, most foolishly of all, to make him consider his credibility as an aspiring journalist...with the Jewish Chronicle (arf arf). Here's Toube's response:
Dear Deborah

I don't think you can have taken legal advice. I recommend that you do.
Then Tony Greenstein popped in. I was determined not to get involved.
This is the normal unpleasant stuff you expect from Harry's Place. Being unable to attack the message they try to shoot the messenger. Par for the course.

However most of this is not libellous, merely obnoxious and unpleasant. The
suggestion that Debbie has a personality disorder may well be defamatory since it would tend to lower her reputation in the eyes of most reasonable people Likewise any suggestion that she is anti-Semitic or tolerates or accepts anti-Semitism will be defamatory, unless proved, as was the case when Aaronovitch allowed similar comments on to his blog.
Toube warms to this rough and tumble:
Thanks Tony

This is precisely the point. Robust political debate operates better
when not conducted by proxy through lawyers.

As you will all know, I am the subject of a remarkable degree of abuse. [priceless!] Those who have gone into print to attack me include a Milosovic groupie, a few trotskyites, the British branch of Hamas, a leading neo-Nazi, and other similar fringe types. So what?

The fact is: we wouldn't and shouldn't be doing this if we can't taker it.

Know what I mean?
Well Deborah must have felt encouraged by Tony's support and she was still naive enough to see a shred of decency in Mr Toube. Actually she did show some insight by recognising his quest for respectability. What she didn't take on board is just how indecent respectability has become in our post-modern age:
Yes, the comments on Harry's Place can hardly count as political debate, and really, they show themselves up.

For me, it is not a case of how thick my skin is as I do not get personally
wounded by people who I don't know or for whom I have little respect. The
point is, some of it is defamatory and you should not be allowing it on your

Now David, why don't you do the reasonable thing, and remove those comments
with a note saying they have been removed? If you want your blog to be
respectable you should warn commentators that personal abuse will not be
tolerated ­ and not tolerate it!

Now she is saying that if you want debate, debate, but these legions of trolls are detracting from debate. But honest debate isn't Toube's thing so in his third response in the correspondence he has this to say:

The thing is: you're absolutely welcome to come into the comments box of HP. You won't be deleted, because we don't delete. We think that the remedy for bad speech is more speech, not hopeless attempts to suppress expression.

I'm also very happy to aid and abet you in your never ending quest to draw attention to yourself. Sing in public, film it, whatever: we'll happily cover it and you can turn up and wind people up.

However I am not going to take part in a charade of this nature, dressed up as a discussion of English libel law.
Well unable to resist, I contributed this:
You already did, you fucking idiot!
Now this is where it gets weird. In a post headed An apology to Seth Freedman, David t gets round to mentioning the correspondence that I summarised above.
A few months ago, a semi-professional exhibitionist called Deborah Fink copied me into a round robin, with Greenstein, Machover, and a few others. In this email carousel, she demanded I remove certain posts, which she did not identify, but which she claimed were libellous. It turned out that what she regarded as defamatory, was a comment by a poster who speculated that she was mentally ill. As the comment was on a post in which Ms Fink was singing loudly through a megaphone about being a ’self hating Jew’, before being bundled off by the police while screaming ‘fascist’ at them, I decided that there was no cause to delete the observation. I did not mention these events at the time, because I got the impression that Deborah Fink wanted me to give her the opportunity to engage in public hystrionics, and I wanted no part in that. I’m kind of sorry that I have mentioned it now.

I don't recall Machover (Daniel or Moshe) or any others being copied in. They certainly didn't respond to the loop. I did. I called the fucking idiot a fucking idiot. How did he forget? Why did he airbrush me from that little piece of history? I was pleased with my contribution. He really does know how to hurt a person.

I'm getting bored with this and I'm sure others must be too but I must point to some more of Toube's writings to show what a dodgy character he is. Where was I? I said he was a liar and a buffoon. What about the racism that he so casually, carelessly and dishonestly accuses others of? Well for some of that we have to return to his persistence in hounding Jenna Delich. In HP's comeback post Toube denies having slandered Delich. Technically that's true of course but a half truth is worse than a lie, as the Talmud says. They libelled her. Here's the libellous post on a sock puppet blog that Toube seems to have created - the courage of the man, phew! - and here's the cleaned up one. The clue to his sheer dishonesty is in the url to the cleaned up version. The plot sickens as he shares his dishonesty with his following. But he still can't let go over the honest mistake so he had to apply his own lack of intellect to the article itself.

The article was full of facts demonstrating that Israel has committed a disproportionate number of atrocities against Palestinians when compared to the number of Israelis killed. It asks how Israel gets away with this and answering its own question says that it is because the State of Israel controls western media. Conflating Jews with Israel, Israeli oligarchs and the State of Israel, Toube carries on clutching at straws to prove his point that Jenna Delich is indeed an antisemite. See this comment on one of several posts on the same affair. It's directed at someone called TheIrie:

Tell us what you think of Quinn’s article, as a whole.

Do you think that Quinn is a racist, who has just ascribed to ‘Israel’, ‘Israeli oligarchs’ and ‘their sort’, standard conspiracies about control of Washington and global media which have been ascribed to Jews since the Protocols.


What do you think?

Is this anti-semitism or not?
Now he's badgering a defender of Jenna Delich over the article itself and I don't think the guy succumbed to that but clearly it is Toube who is being antisemitic here. There is nothing of itself antisemitic in railing against Israeli oligarchs, Israel or "their sort". You have to be the kind of person who conflates Israel with Jews. Only antisemites and zionists do that. There is no evidence to support the idea that Jenna Delich was praising the "analysis". It was the facts she claims she was referring to. I would guess as it happens that this Quinn may be antisemitic or some conspiracy nut but in the absence of any explanations of how Israel gets away with its persistent war crimes, what are people supposed to think? The powers that be go to great lengths to make Israel look like the lead agent in western/Israeli relations and Harry's Place certainly isn't offering any explanations. But within the constraints of the quote, Toube has not shown this Quinn guy to be antisemitic. Toube has made himself look more antisemitic but more still, stupid.

So I think I've demonstrated the liar and buffoon and the fact that his defence of Jewish supremacy, albeit by pretending that others are white supremacists or antisemites actually draws him into the antisemitic position of conflating Jews with the state he is so keen to defend, in spite of his ludicrous claim that he disapproves of its "ethnic definition" - lovely turn of phrase for uniquely racist state structure.

Toube has detection problems with other forms of racism too. It's not just his condemnations of anyone who criticises Israel that mark him out as a Jewish supremacist in denial, and his conflation of Jews and Israel that is grist to the mill of the Jew-hater but his intervention in a dispute between two Asians has him lecturing on what language non-whites can use when they insult each other. Toube accuses Faisal Bodi of racism for calling another Asian a "coconut". Here's Toube:
What finally caused his sacking was that he made the mistake of calling Sunny from Pickled Politics a “coconut”. That’s right, a racist comment directed at a “brown person”, and the Guardian finally recognised as the mark of a bigot and a loon.
Hold up. A "brown person" calling a "brown person" a coconut is racist? Against which community? the coconut community? Again it's Toube being a racist and a fool and one who glories in someone with whom he disagrees losing their job. A "coconut" is a put-down that non-whites call non-whites who are believed to have sold out to whites or internalised too much in the way of white or western establishment values. I don't know the context in which the "coconut" jibe was used and, typically Toube doesn't say, but of itself it's not racist unless he is as precious about whites as he is about some Jews, armed ethnic cleansing ones. But he claimed that Bodi, a "brown person" was being racist against a "brown person". I'm filing this under the racist and buffoon heading but who knows? it could be the liar thing, it's so hard to tell.

The coconut thing was incidental to the main target of the post. Toube himself claims that he got this Iranian blogger sacked from Comment is free for saying that the Israeli flag has flown in Downing Street since Thatcher's day, that Israel effectively occupies Iraq and that American policy is directed from Tel Aviv. She's shrill, aggressive and silly but and she might be racist but again unless you do as pro and anti-Jewish racists do and conflate Israel with Jews, she hasn't actually posted anything that is racist. All Toube had to do here is write to the Cif editor and the woman was sacked and the editor thanked Toube. As it happens I'm surprised that such a silly person could get to post articles at Cif but they've had Hirsh and Atzmon, they may have even had Toube under his pseudonym, David t, so they're not proud.

I could go on and on, in fact I have gone on and on but I want to deal with the turncoat bit of the headline. Now anyone might change their mind about things over the years but Toube bullies and harasses people with whom he used to be in complete agreement. Tony Greenstein posted a copy of the slip that David Toube signed many years ago to support the following statement:
We, entitled to the privileges accorded under the Israeli Law of Return to Jews and their close relatives, declare our opposition to the state of Israel as a Jewish state and to the Zionist movement. We call on our fellow Jews and their close relatives to join us in making the following statement:

* the Palestinian people, at whose expense the state of Israel was established and continues to exist, have the right to return, to self-determination and to their independent state on Palestinian soil;

* the Palestine Liberation Organisation is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people;

* the state of Israel does not represent all Jewish people, neither legally, morally nor in any other way;

* the Zionist structure of the state of Israel is at the heart of the racism and oppression against the Palestinian people, and should be dismantled.
Ah the PLO, those were the days. But back to the lying, racist, buffoonish, bullying turncoat. Obviously Toube was lying when he described himself as anti-zionist recently on the Socialist Unity blog. What else are we to make of this:
In the past, far Left anti-Zionism was a mix of Stalinist anti-semitism and class analysis. You also got the identity crisis of Greenstein-types thrown in, for good measure.
So which was Toube? A stalinist or an identity crisis type? If we have to choose between just those two, it would have to be the latter. But it is just possible that he was an earnest young man who found not just the "ethnic definition" of statehood offensive but also "how they got there" what with the imperial umbrella thrown up over a campaign of colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing. The racist laws too, that Toube has tried to pass off as being like the UK's laws, might have offended him so much that he joined a call for Israel's dismantlement.

He's contemptible now but it might just be the case that he was quite a nice chap when he was young. But he crosses a line when he tells despicable lies to try to lose people their jobs, particularly when he has asked people who know his true id not to reveal it in case it causes him problems in his work.


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