January 21, 2010

Defamation revisited

I have already posted on this Channel 4 documentary, Defamation, which takes a look at how false charges of antisemitism are used to stifle criticism of Israel. Apparently it can't ordinarily be viewed outside the UK but if you use this proxy server you can view it anywhere.

My first post on it linked to the Channel 4 website where the film is only hosted for 4 weeks. The youtube link should be, hopefully, permanent.

I've now watched the film a few times and I actually think it was rather good even though Dr David Hirsh is the hero of the film. If you want to be spared watching all 91 minutes then Finkelstein appears at about 54 minutes in and Dr Hirsh drops his "bombshell" at about 1 hour and 4 minutes in.

As I said in the earlier post, Hirsh now claims that he was misrepresented in the film and in a way he was. This is what Hirsh now says:
I am shown making criticisms of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians as though this was something controversial. I am shown arguing that contemporary antisemitism is in part a mystification of the real conflict, transformed by racist language and grotesque narratives. I actually said more that day than the one-sided soundbite that Shamir wanted to hear.
Following his link, this is true. He actually said that Israel's state power, its racism and its humiliation of the occupied Palestinians is no excuse for anti-zionism. Of course, it shouldn't be an excuse for antisemitism but he actually said:
Anti-Zionism is not a reasonable response to the actual situation; it is a response to a narrative of the actual situation which has become mystified by antisemitism.
That bit wasn't shown because, as Hirsh himself points out, only not in so many words, Yoav Shamir (the documentary maker) did not want to portray Hirsh as the defender of zionism that he (Hirsh) is.

We then see this Dina Porat woman remonstrating with Hirsh. She doesn't "get it". She wonders if he was being "ironic". Here's Hirsh,
Dina Porat, who is shown angrily arguing with me is not all that scary! I gave a presentation at her own centre at Tel Aviv University the following day and we had a serious scholarly discussion.
Ok, now go see at 1 hour 6 minutes into the film she approaches Dr Hirsh. The conference was organised by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Porat says that "we invited you to speak". Hirsh describes her as a scholar and yet she refers to the Israeli Foreign Ministry as "we". There is another issue with this woman's scholarliness. When she approaches Hirsh to complain that he preached about "human rights which we do not have". She asked him if he was simply trying to be controversial by mentioning Palestine and the occupation. He responds by saying that he mentioned Palestine because "Palestine was not mentioned in this conference". She says that "it was mentioned all over". Now how do two people have a "scholarly discussion", serious or not, when one of them never hears the word "Palestine" in a three day conference and the other one hears it "all over" the same conference?

Just asking, that's all.

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