August 08, 2008

Conversion at Harry's Place

A few days ago, actually five days ago, Harry's Place ran a post by David t on the conversion of the son of a Hamas leader to Christianity. There is, as you'd expect, a certain smugness to the piece together with at least one blatant falsehood in the statement attributed to the convert in his interview with Ha'aretz.
“Do you know that Hamas was the first to use the weapon of suicide bombers against civilian targets?” he continues.
If we're talking bombings only then that honour belongs to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or India. If we're talking suicide missions then we should consider the case of Baruch Goldstein, the American GP who killed 29 Muslims at prayer in Hebron before being overpowered and killed. The Israeli response was to place the natives of Hebron under curfew while the settlers celebrated his heroism. The Hamas response was to embark on a policy of their own suicide missions. Curiously Harry's Place and its star convert avoid considerations of cause and effect. For David t, the post is an excuse for him to indulge a little hypocrisy:
I don’t believe that it is necessary to reject Islam for Christianity, or indeed believe in any god at all, in order to embrace the Golden Rule.
Ok, standard HP fare.

But there was a story of another conversion that caught my eye a few days before the one above. It's the conversion of David t himself. The post is a thinly veiled and false allegation of antisemitism against George Galloway and anti-zionists in general. The excuse for this post is that George Galloway won yet another libel action, this time against a Jewish radio station that "satirised" him as being antisemitic. The lawyer David Toube knows he is on thin ice with the bogus allegation against Galloway so here's a little distancing from it:
I have argued, strongly, and for some time that George Galloway is not a man who expresses racist views about Jews. In fact, when Galloway was a guest on the radio show of right wing conspiracy nut, Alex Jones, I remember that he specifically argued against his host’s contention that Israel controls the foreign policy of the United States. I can honestly say that I have never heard George Galloway deliver a racist diatribe directed at Jews.
He then goes on to outline what he claims is an anti-zionist position by showing a ludicrous ignorance about zionism and the State of Israel and then hinting that anti-zionism is indeed antisemitism:
There are serious arguments to be had about George Galloway’s views, and about the politics in which he and others with whom he is allied are engaged. Why, for example does Galloway’s section of the Left deny the right of self determination only to Israelis - and to nobody else - which they support for Palestinians? Why do they promote a one state “solution” for Palestine which they must know would result in the expulsion and massacre of persons who are the descendants of Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern and European lands? What does it mean for a politician to form a party with people who do express openly racist and conspiracist views, or to speak on the same platform as Hamas and Hezbollah activists, and to glorify them?
This is mealy mouthed nonsense, neither zionism nor the State of Israel are about self-determination for Israelis. They are about self determination for Jews. Self-determination for Jews embodied in a territorial state means no self-determination for non-Jews within that state. Israel refuses to recognise Israelis as a nation for precisely that reason.

It could be that David Toube has genuinely been misled by the propaganda that has it that Israel is just another state and not the colonial settler state it clearly is. But then we come to the other story of conversion. In the thread, an anonymous commenter has this to say:
Is this the same David T who, only a few months ago on the Socialist Unity blog, complained that “Everybody calls me a Zionist, even though I’m in favour of non-ethnically based states….”?

Anyone who, in a moment of boredom and lacking anything more interesting to do, has ever googled “David Toube” will be aware that he was at one time undoubtedly a committed anti-Zionist.

Back in 1990 he was a signatory (no.301) to the “Return Statement” in which members of the Jewish community opposed the Israeli Law of Return and called for the right of return to be granted to the Palestinian people.

The statement took a hardline anti-Zionist position. The signatories declared their “opposition to the state of Israel as a Jewish state and to the Zionist movement”, adding that “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”.

How times have changed. Writing in the Jewish Chronicle in January this year, David T attacked the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in the following terms:

“The reference to the ‘occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands’ is a barely disguised demand for the disestablishment of the state of Israel: as is the requirement that Palestinian refugees ‘return to their homes and properties’.”

What there is in David T’s current politics that justifies the assertion that he is not a Zionist certainly beats me.
So, a dramatic conversion, easily on a par with that of the son of the Hamas leader. Now people change their minds but what was it about David t in his younger days that made him what he now pretends is antisemitic? How was it that he understood zionism clearly enough in his younger days to sign a statement calling for the right of the Palestinians to return to their homeland and yet now, if his writing is to be believed, doesn't even understand what zionism is? He has even pretended that Britain favouring people of British descent is on a par with Israel favouring people of Jewish descent. But Israel's discrimination involves discriminating against people who come from there. Britain's involves discriminating in favour of people who come from here. And that's when it comes to continuing to or coming to live here. Boy, how they try.

I should note here that, as the anonymous commenter says, twice recently, David Toube has denied being a zionist on the grounds that he doesn't like the ethic or religious definition of statehood. I'm not sure how this squares with his anger directed at those who would boycott the One Voice charade where Palestinians were co-opted into supporting not just Jewish supremacy throughout most of Palestine but the settlement blocks as well.

There are other questions too. He suggests that if he can't pin the false allegation of antisemitism on Galloway then he can at least berate him over his associations. But what of David t's associations? In his post on the Muslim convert to Christianity, one comment verges on the genocidal:
Only another 1.8bn to go!
Glancing down the comments, David t is still involved in the discussion but nowhere does he criticise or seek clarification of a blanket condemnation of all Muslims. Conversely, in the thread where David t is outed as a former anti-zionist and the question is raised a few times as to whether he was a racist or antisemite in his younger days, the used to be mysterious Mr t, makes no reappearance in the comments. He does have one defender who suggests that David t simply matured but that doesn't explain how he can now accused Israel's detractors of racism and even genocidal intent at the same time as calling himself anti-zionist.

So, where are we? David t seems to think that support for wars on third world countries and support for a state (Israel) based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws, can somehow be reconciled with the "golden rule". I just can't deal with the fact that he wants the continued existence of Israel, he wants the Palestinians to remain exiled from their homeland and yet he claims to be anti-zionist. I think he's just being silly there or trying to confuse matters. But anyway, he promotes the idea that if someone who wants or who associates with people who want the abolition of the State of Israel is accused of antisemitism, they will only win a libel action on a technicality or quirk of the British legal system. And yet he was such a person once upon a time, so much that he put his name to a demand for the abolition of Israel. As the anonymous commenter asks further down the thread, "was he a racist then?" Or is he one now? Go on Mr t, jump through another hoop.

Still, one mystery has been solved. When I first found out that David t was some kind of financial lawyer called David Toube, I wondered why he told people that if he was outed as the famed HP blogger, it would cause him problems in his work. Given his politics and his work I don't see how that can be true. I now think he wanted to cover up his past and, given his pretence at misunderstanding some of the most basic issues with regard to Israel, I don't blame him.

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