October 20, 2009

Oh no! Jewish Jew bashing fails to silence criticism of racist war criminals

With breathtaking arrogance, Gene from Harry's Place has expressed surprise that the bullying and smearing of Jewish anti-zionists and critics of Israel hasn't worked. Cop this:
I had hoped that our efforts at mockery, along with those of our comrades at Engage and some others, would have rendered it simply too embarrassing for anyone to use the phrase “as a Jew” in the course of Israel-bashing.
With Dr David Hirsh on the missing list from his increasingly ludicrous Engage blog, I suppose HP has to step into the breach to ensure that the public at large only conceive of Jews as nasty racist bigoted supporters of war criminals.

This Jewish Jew bashing has manifest antisemitic overtones as it seeks to impose a one size fits all worldview on all Jews, and in particular it seeks to impose a worldview that is in itself racist and wrong. No surprise then that, idiot that he is, Gene, possibly without realising the irony, has titled his post, "As a Jew watch" which is very close to the most prominent of the American openly nazi websites, Jewwatch.

Apart from failing to see their own racism against Jews and others (mostly Arabs and Muslims but David T thinks blacks have their uses in bogus comparisons with Jews), in trying to "mock" those Jews who speak out as Jews against the the racist war criminals of the State of Israel, Gene and co are exposing a profound neurosis about an identity they want homogenised under the rubric of zionism.

This neurosis isn't confined to Harry's Place. Gene's post was based on a post from the blog of Norman Geras. Norman Geras has been described as left-wing and even marxist but I find him a bit of a vulgariser of political concepts. Perhaps, like David T, he was a leftist in his youth and moved to the right later on in life. Anyway, he isn't happy that someone can identify themselves as a Jew to condemn Israel whilst ignoring Palestinian violence, lower in incidence, fewer in incidents, but far more highly publicised in the western media and more frequently condemned by western governments.

Woops, I should have pasted the quote and named the person that Geras and Gene are condemning. It's Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books and the quote that so upsets these Jews against Jews is this:
“The most sensitive area,” says Ross McKibbin, an Oxford don who writes on politics for the paper, “is undoubtedly the Middle East, where you couldn’t say there is much balance.” Wilmers herself says that her customary ambivalence doesn’t extend to Israel: “I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state. They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.”

“My people”, as she calls fellow Jews, “have a responsibility”: “I feel a particular right to speak out on this because of my background.” In August she ran an essay headlined “Zionist Terrorism”. What about Palestinian terrorism: does that get a look-in? “Everyone knows about that,” she counters. “I just think we get worked up about the wrong things, and there is more wrong on one side. What Cherie Blair said about being a suicide bomber if she’d been brought up in Gaza, I can absolutely see that point.”

And here's Norm:
'As a Jew...' she says. Well, yes. Jews are just people. So you can expect the same mix of qualities amongst them as you can amongst other sorts of people. Unambiguous hostility to Israel for being 'mendacious'; levels of mendacity of other states in the Middle East not a topic for comment. As a Jew you can't justify Jewish immorality; but Palestinian terrorism you can skate past (and do worse than skate past) because 'everyone knows' about it. Such are the constituents of responsible moral judgement. Not as a Jew but just as a person, I know the odour of that kind of 'responsibility'. (Thanks: DH.)
Not sure how mentioning and contextualising the "suicide bomber" amounts to skating around it but has Norm never heard of people speaking as Jews against Palestinian resistance without any mention of what it is that they are resisting? And who's DH? Why no link?

I said that this harassment of Jewish critics of Israel has a lot of form on the net and that Engage seems to exist for it or at least it seemed to when David Hirsh (DH?) used to post there. In fairness Hirsh always claimed that Engage was not a Jewish group. As it happens it's hard to discern sometimes whether Engage is a group at all but it has certainly worked closely with specifically Jewish, Israeli and zionist groups and Engage, HP and Geras are happy to link to Jewish advocates for Israel and Hirsh/Engage has been more than happy to work with those who are self-promoted as authentic official voices of Jews.

What these particular Israel apologists and defenders do not countenance is clearly not then the validity of Jewish voices qua Jewish voices, but rather the validity of alternative Jewish voices on the subject of Palestine/Israel. Its attacks on coalitions such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) or Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) are unsettling to read and often descend into ad hominem calumnies directed at British Jews whose politics Hirsh or Engage oppose.

Hirsh has described the coming together of Jews in political initiatives independent of or opposed to Zionism as constituting an ‘‘'as a Jew’ love-in"; when IJV was founded by British Jews looking to disrupt the BoD’s or Chief Rabbi’s claims to representative status, Hirsh discerned its real purpose as being ‘to deny that there is a threat of contemporary antisemitism’ and to do so by offering:
[…] an explicitly Jewish denial, in the name of Jews. It offers a succession of high profileJewish celebrities, political activists and academics who will testify, ‘as a Jew’, that left-wing or liberal hostility to Israel is, in every case you care to examine, free from racist menace.
And of course, whilst denying that the antisemitism smear is ever used to silence Israel's critics, Hirsh has to accuse IJV of antisemitism:
IJV complains that the ‘official’ Jewish community refuses to allow Jews to criticize it or to criticize Israeli policy. It says that those ‘dissidents’ who do criticize are subjected to smear campaigns which aim to silence them with a dishonest charge of ‘antisemitism’. People in IJV present themselves as weak victims of a hugely powerful Jewish lobby.
For all their condemnation of those who speak "as a Jew", Engage were happy to post a riposte by the Board of Deputies to reassert their formal status as the representatives of the Jewish people in the UK.

And of course they were happy to cross post from that rarity, a hasbara site that's even sillier than Engage, Simply Jews as it managed to bring together crass references to the the genitalia of Palestinian men, jokes at the expense of the late Rachel Corrie, and further reflections on the alleged‘physical inadequacies’ (also of a sexual character) of anti-Zionist Jews. But surely its most egregious moment comes when a new variant of the “self-hating Jew” canard used to deny the legitimacy of anti-Zionist Jewish identity is provided. The author coins the term ‘self-serving’ and goes on to relish in the fortuitous discovery that this provides a means to label anti-Zionist Jews ‘SS Jews’. How curious that these people are usually on record supporting the idea of outlawing the perfectly apt comparison of Israel to nazi Germany because they say it is hurtful to Jews to compare a specifically Jewish state to a state that brought so much harm to so many Jews. Let's leave aside the fact that is precisely the supremacy thing together with the rampant militarism that leads to the comparison between nazis and zionists and focus on the sheer lack of principle of these people who see themselves as Simply Jews or simply Jews.

Just to round up, according to these hasbaraniks, Jews must not, as Jews, criticise Israel but Jews, as Jews, must support Israel and attack and smear Israel's critics. Israel must not be likened to the nazis because it's hurtful to Jews, but Jews who, as Jews, criticise Israel, can be called SS Jews. You get the idea?

That was intended as a brief outline of some of the hasbara parrots that Gene of HP hoped would have embarrassed Jews out of criticising Israel whilst identifying as Jews. Has it not occurred to him that the bullying smear tactics of the Jewish supremacist movement of which he is a part, together with the racist murderous violence meted out by the Jewish supremacist state, might actually embarrass a lot of Jews without specific commitment to the anti-racist cause whereas those of us who openly, as Jews and as human beings, condemn Jewish supremacy and all racism have nothing to be embarrassed about? Maybe it has occurred to him. Logic and truth aren't exactly de rigeur at Harry's Place.


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