December 08, 2012

Proud to be ashamed to be associated with islamophobes or ashamed to be proud?

There's something very strange about what the Jewish Chronicle is calling "Walk-outs over ‘Islamophobia’ at antisemitism symposium":

A seminar meant to highlight problems in dealing with antisemitism ran into trouble when audience members walked out — alleging Islamophobia on the part of some speakers.
At the forefront were leaders of the Community Security Trust, who challenged remarks made by the Egyptian writer Bat Ye’or, and Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld, a founding member of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, which sponsored the seminar, held at London’s Wiener Library.
Bat Ye’or told the audience: “The source of antisemitism is the organisation of the Islamic corporation.”
But when Dave Rich, the CST’s deputy communications director, expressed concern that such a comment could be construed as Islamophobic, she responded: “Islam is denying the root of Judaism and Christianity with a profound belief in Jihad.”
David Hirsh, editor of anti-racist website Engage, left the room during Dr Gerstenfeld’s lecture.
He explained: “I was appalled by Gerstenfeld’s characterisation of Muslim culture as inferior. Nearly all the speakers on the day, including me, stressed that antisemitism must be understood and opposed within an anti-racist framework.
And yet the walker outers can't have been surprised from what they heard.  Antony Lerman blogged about the sheer dodginess of the symposium by way of a brief survey of some of those in attendance:

the symposium kicks off with a panel on ‘Defining the new antisemitism’, chaired by Kenneth Marcus. The panellists are Bat Ye’or, Richard Landes and Winston Pickett.
Marcus heads the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which was founded in late 2011 and took over where YIISA left off when it was closed down. YIISA’s director, Charles Small is on the advisory board, the honorary chairman of which is Professor Irwin Cotler, former Canadian justice minister, who has probably done more than anyone else to promote the idea of the ‘new antisemitism’. Other like-minded board members, who were also YIISA supporters, include Professor Dina Porat, Professor Ruth Wisse and Professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld.
The three panellists will find much to agree on. For decades Bat Ye’or has been banging the drum about the ‘Muslim hordes’ who were about to take over Europe. Rather generously referred to as a ‘self-taught Jewish intellectual’, she now believes that Europe is dead, and in its stead ‘Eurabia’ has risen. Richard Landes, director and co-founder of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, told the Herzliya IDC conference in 2007:
European democratic civilization can fall before the Islamic challenge. Do not say that this will never happen in Europe and that Islam will not be able to take control of Europe.
If Europe continues its current path, the fall will be sooner.
Winston Pickett was the director of the now non-functioning EISCA. He lavishes unreserved praise on Professor Robert Wistrich for his huge tome, Antisemitism From Antiquity to the Global Jihad, a book that, as its title suggests, sets out to justify the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’.
He also notes the funding sources for the event:
 The individuals funding the event are Daniel Pipes, Mitch Knisbacher and Jeff and Evy Diamond. Pipes, the president of the right-wing Middle East Forum (MEF), is widely described as an ‘Islamophobe’. In 2009 his MEF established a legal defence fund for the far-right, populist, Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Pipes reportedly claimed that President Obama is a former Muslim who ‘practised Islam’. Knisbach, who is the founder and owner of 800response (America’s leading provider of shared-use 800-number services), is active in the right-wing Israel lobby AIPAC and funds Tazpit News Agency, a service set up primarily to popularize a positive view of settlement activity in the West Bank. Jeff Diamond, who heads the Jeff Diamond Law Firm, which has six offices in New Mexico and Texas, was installed in January as chair of the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Board of Directors.
And here's the bit I just don't get.  Mark Gardner, David Hirsh and Dave Rich must have known about the other speakers because they were listed in the information blurb for the event.  How offended can they really have been when they only heard what they must have expected to hear? Are they proud to be ashamed to be associated with a ragbag of zionist islamophobes?  Or they are ashamed to be proud of the association?

UPDATE: 07:38 9/12/2012 Woops! Something I forgot to mention from the JC article.  The bottom line of the JC piece really does speak to the bottom line of what the symposium was all about:
At the end of the event, the former Labour MP, Denis MacShane, was given an award for his work in fighting antisemitism. Yup, that Denis MacShane.  No walkouts on him reported.  There's a certain consistency to that inconsistency.

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