February 20, 2015

Defining, Redefining and Unredefining Antisemitism

Here's a good little post on the Jewdas website titled Keeping Antisemitism Simple.  The intro does "what it says on the tin" and simply defines antisemitism as anti-Jewish racism:
It’s all getting very complicated. The definition of anti-semitism has become an fine art, presided over by professors of antisemitism and fought over across the internet.
It shouldn’t be like this. The more complex the debate becomes the more people disengage from it, leaving antisemitism in the hands of neo-Nazis (who celebrate it) and extreme supporters of the Israeli government (who see antisemitism in all serious criticism of Israel). Instead we should keep it simple. Antisemitism is racism. It’s just a word for anti-jewish racism, hatred of Jews because they are Jews, equivalent to hating people because the are black, asian, Irish or whatever. (And don’t tell me Jews are a religion. There is a major ethnic component to Jewishness, so that many people define as Jewish purely because of their family background. So Jews can certainly be victims of racism).

So, back to basics, how to you avoid being racist? It’s easy. You treat people as individuals. If you meet a new person you don’t assume you know anything about them from a group that they may be connected to. When they do something, be it good or bad in your eyes, you don’t connect those actions with any group – the actions are purely the responsibility of the individual in question. You don’t generalise about groups of people – you allow individuals to define themselves in their own terms. Even if you’ve met more than one person from a ‘group’ that have a certain trait – don’t assume that the next person you meet from that group will be just the same.

Its usually the negative generalisation ones we tend to call racism: when a group is generalised as being mean, stupid, corrupt, evil, dominating, pathetic etc. But although people tend to worry less about positive generalisations (‘Italians are great lovers’ ) these are no less stupid and can easily hide a negative element inside a supposedly positive one (c.f. ‘Black people have such wonderful rhythm’). The surefire way to avoid racism is to cut out generalisations full stop. And the fact that people sometimes make generalisations about their own ‘group’? That’s stupid too, but they have a right to do it as a member of that group in a way that an outsider simply doesn’t. At this juncture we should clarify that of course any act that goes beyond generalisations to actually stirring up hatred against, discriminating against or committing violent acts against members of an ethnic group is utterly racist.

As antisemitism is simply racism, you avoid antisemitism in just the same way. If you hear about somebody Jewish who did something, good or bad, you draw conclusions only about that individual – not about any other Jewish people. That applies whether that person is a drunk guy on the street, an executive at a bank or the Prime Minister of Israel. People are only responsible for their own deeds. And if a person, group, or state, claims to speak for all Jews, take that with a massive dose of salt. Stick to your guns and don’t generalise. And obviously, do not, in a million years, discriminate against people because they are Jews or commit violence against them for the same reason. I hope that goes without saying.
 I first noticed the post being touted in a comment on the Israel advocacy site, Engage:
Eric Says:

Its odd and harmful that the definition of anti-semitism is controversial. If anti-semitism requires a phd to recognise and reems of “unpacked” examples then we might as well give up any hope of anyone paying attention to these definitions. Listing examples of anti-semitism is not the right way to go, just elaborate the general principles involved. Over at Jewdas they have nailed it nicely.
  Eric was a late comer to the post and so there was only one response and that was from a zionist retired (I think) academic called, Brian Goldfarb.  He seems to have read the Jewdas piece but feels it falls down by not being sufficiently racist against Palestinian Arabs regarding their fault for their own victimisation and their apparently inherent murderousness:
the Palestinian “right of return” ignores the history of how the Palestinian “diaspora” came about…and what of the greater number of Jews from Arab lands even more obviously forcefully dispossessed and expelled (and, yes, Eric, I will expand on this and the other points below, if you so wish)? Calling for Israel/Palestine to become a single. binational state glosses over all sorts of consequences, not the least of which is the likely further diaspora of up to 6 million Jews, or worse.
And here's the rub with the redefinition of antisemitism as opposition to Jewish supremacy.  If we accept, as Goldfarb advocates, that the abolition of Jewish supremacy in Palestine is antisemitic then we are saying that antisemitism is not a form of racism.  We are also saying that in order to avoid being antisemitic we have to be or at least to accept anti-Arab racism.  It's remarkable how many academics fail or refuse to see this.

Mississippi then, State of Israel now

Listen to this song, Here's to the State of Mississipi, by the late Phil Ochs:

I was reminded of one its lines, "Here's to the people of Mississippi, who say the folks up north they just don't understand".  What it was the "folks up north" didn't understand was segregation and the appalling violence that maintained it.

Well The Guardian ran an article by a leading Israeli segregationist politician, Yair Lapid, with a similar message just yesterday.  It was Lapid's response, possibly the official State of Israel response, to the announcement in the letters page of The Guardian of a cultural boycott of Israel by hundreds of artists.

The headline of Lapid's article alone reminded me of the line from the Phil Ochs song and the article didn't disappoint being one long whinge about Israel's excuses for segregation, Jews only settlement, ethnic cleansing and relentless violence without mentioning any of those things.  Lapid only mentioned security, which he claimed was Israel's "only..demand".

Still he did give me the excuse to dig up Phil Ochs's song and prise it away from the annoying advert you see on Youtube when you access it.

February 13, 2015

Faith Matters fires Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet...but why?

Here's a curious article from the front page of today's Jewish Chronicle. It's about the removal of Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet as a patron of an interfaith charity, Faith Matters.

According to the JC it was government intervention that led to Schochet's dismissal.  Look:
According to a source close to the charity, the decision was taken after the Department for Communities and Local Government threatened to remove funding for other groups run by the charity’s head.
Officials at the department, led by Communities Minister Eric Pickles, are said to be unwilling to work with the Mill Hill United Synagogue minister who has made a series of controversial comments relating to Palestinians.
The Canadian-born rabbi has used his social media accounts to suggest all Palestinians were engaged in terrorist activity.
His appointment to the interfaith group at the end of January had led to complaints from Muslim groups.
It appears that demands for Schochet's dismissal originated from "Muslim groups" but why did it take the threat of withdrawal of government funding to get this Faith Matters group to dismiss him?  And who could have lost funding if Faith Matters hadn't fallen into line?
DCLG officials were prepared to remove funding from Tell Mama if Faith Matters retained Rabbi Schochet.
Tell Mama is nominally a separate group from Faith Matters so why was it threatened by Eric Pickles's department?

Googling for more info about this case I came upon Middle East Monitor's report on the initial appointment of Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet by this self-styled "anti-extremist group".  I was surprised at the amount of detail in the JC report but MEMO's piece is even more informative.

UPDATE: Tell Mama is tweeting that they don't receive government funds which means that the front page article in the Jewish Chronicle by Marcus Dysch is wrong though Tell Mama won't Tell Mark (ie me) that in so many words.  Neither do they seem to want to Tell Marcus or the JC.

February 11, 2015

Hadley Freeman accuses George Galloway of Antisemitism

I didn't see the BBC's Question Time (#BBCQT or @BBCQT on Twitter) with George Galloway and Jonathan Freedland.  I could have watched it on iPlayer or some such but I find GG and JF pretty cringe-worthy.

Jonathan Cook wrote an article about it slagging Jonathan Freedland's behaviour in the proceedings and calling him The Guardian's "resident antisemitism obsessive".  Now I would have preferred "resident zionist" because "antisemitism obsessive" could imply that he is obsessed with genuine cases of racism against Jews and this of course would be wrong, Freedland has quite a lot of form for false allegations of antisemitism.

Well another resident zionist at The Guardian, Hadley Freeman, didn't like the "resident antisemitism obsessive" jibe either and got into a bit of a Twitter exchange with Glenn Greenwald about it.

Hadley Freeman also has form for false allegations of antisemitism over campaigning against Israel.

Now at some point George Galloway enters the Twitter fray.  I should say I came to all this very late when someone drew my attention to it when the hubbub was dying down.  I always find Twitter hard to follow beyond one tweet and a reply but here's the first tweet from GG that I noticed:
Wow! What tweet? Let's have a look at Hadley Freeman's tweets.  Too late, look:
But someone challenged Freeman over what she had claimed in her tweet:
As far as I can tell Freeman hasn't risen to the challenge of finding Galloway saying and doing "plenty of things that cross the line from anti-Israel to antisemitic" and Galloway is insisting that he is taking legal action because her deletion was too late.

So what will come of this?  It would be interesting blowback if Jonathan Freedland had to refrain from his negative hasbara because of the dishonesty of one of his zionist comrades and colleagues at The Guardian.

February 09, 2015

Bibi goes where he's invited and where he's not invited

And not only that, this racist war criminal claims to speak for all Jews.

Here's Ha'aretz:

Netanyahu: I will go to Congress like I went to Paris – to speak for all Jews

Prime minister says he will go anyplace he is invited to convey Israel's position on Iran

Obviously claiming that one or some Jews speak for all Jews is antisemitic but there's another issue here.  It seems like only yesterday that Bibi turned up in Paris for an electioneering junket in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack in spite of being asked by the French president not to go.  Again here's Ha'aretz:

Hollande asked Netanyahu not to attend Paris memorial march

Absence sought as part of attempt to keep Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of European show of unity; After Netanyahu insisted on coming, French made it clear Abbas would be invited as well.

The man's utterly shameless.

February 07, 2015

Even Foxman tells Bibi to stop being a clown

From The Forward yesterday:
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti Defamation League said that the political uproar ignited by Netanyahu’s invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress makes such a move unhelpful and therefore it should be scrapped.
“It’s a tragedy of unintended consequences,” Foxman told the Forward, describing how the idea of presenting Israel’s view on Iran spiraled out of control, reaching even the Jon Stewart show, a step, Foxman said, that “turned the whole thing into a circus.”

And what did Jon Stewart say?  Here's Vox.com
"One of our closest foreign allies is taking sides with Republicans against a Democratic president, which creates a major conundrum for Democrats," Stewart said. "I'm reminded of a similar situation, faced by an Israeli king renowned for his wisdom."

Stewart also laid into the Obama administration's excuse for not meeting with Netanyahu when he visits — that the president didn't want to be seen as "meddling" in Israeli politics (Israel's elections are two weeks after the March 3 speech).

"Yes, yes!" Stewart said. "America doesn't wanna meddle in a Middle Eastern nation's domestic politics. I mean, we don't do that!"

He then ran through a list of nearby countries America has, in fact, meddled with: Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Turkey.

"Unless, obviously, a country wanted to nationalize its own oil industry, or looked likely to ally with a rival superpower, or was fighting a proxy war against some other country we didn't like, or would let us put military bases in their country, or send prisoners to their country, or was next to a country we wanted to spy on, or fight with."

"But aside from these very rare instances," Stewart concluded, "we do not meddle with Middle Eastern nations."
I don't know what Foxman's beef is. Between Congress and the White House who'd notice another clown?

February 06, 2015

Playing the holocaust card

This is as egregious an example of playing the holocaust card that you will find.  I first saw it on Harry's Place where their dullest blogger, Gene, says:
the BBC audience and Galloway were deprived of the chance to hear New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield’s reaction to “pro-Palestine” activists interrupting the council’s commemoration of 1.1 million people killed in Auschwitz.
Included in the post is this YouTube clip:

Now what's very strange about the clip, which even the average Harry's Placer must have noticed, is that it doesn't show the disruption itself nor, of course, what had prompted it.

In case for some reason you don't or can't watch the clip, here's a bit of what he had to say, from the algemeiner:
“While we were discussing a resolution regarding the murder of 1.1 million human beings – I will point out that 90 percent of them were Jewish, but the other 10 percent, they were political dissidents, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, they were gays, those were the people who were being killed together at Auschwitz-Birkenau,” Greenfield declared, “while we were discussing that, they had the chutzpah, the nerve, the temerity, to unfurl a Palestinian flag and yell at us.”
Voice rising, Greenfield contrasted Israel’s open society with the repressive regimes across the Middle East, before asserting, “What you saw here today was naked, blind antisemitism.”
Greenfield said that the demonstrators had unfurled the Palestinian flag out of anger that “Hitler had not finished the job. He only wiped out half of my family.”
He concluded: “Shame on them for disrespecting the most diverse democratically elected body in the United States of America, and that’s why we go to Israel.”
 But immediately after that bit was an explanation of what the disruption of council business was really all about:
The demonstrators immediate target was the trip to Israel which Councilman Greenfield referred to, planned for next year, and involving City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and 14 other Council members. Footage of the demonstrators showed them in a state of collective hysteria, showering abuse and hatred upon the council’s members. (See video below.)

Here's the clip:

and we're still none the wiser save for that little bit of honesty that seems to have slipped through the algemeiner's net.  The honesty, and inadvertant exposé of Councilman Greenman's dishonesty, was shortlived.  Read on:

Other councillors joined Greenfield in condemning the antisemitic disruption, which included the fringe group “Jewish Voice for Peace” among the participants.
Aha, now I have more that I can google to try to get to the bottom of this.  I eventually find the Jewish Voice for Peace site and their statement on the disruption:

JVP-NYC Statement on Jan 22nd City Council Disruption

On January 22nd, members of Jewish Voice for Peace-NY participated in an act of civil disobedience organized by the Direct Action Front for Palestine inside of City Hall.  Our goal was to call attention to fifteen City Council members' upcoming delegation to Israel, a trip designed to whitewash Israel's occupation of and discrimination against Palestinians. During the political action, the City Council introduced a resolution commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  A banner supporting our cause was dropped just as this resolution came to a vote; this timing was completely unintentional. JVP-NY regrets disrupting this vote, as we respect without qualification the solemnity of the Holocaust and honor all victims of genocide.  
We unequivocally stand by our opposition to an all-expenses-paid junket to Israel by a delegation of the NYC Council, sponsored by organizations that promote Islamophobic policies in the US and defend Israel's human rights abuses and violations of international law. 
Above all, JVP-NY is committed to opposing all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. It is with those values in mind that we remember the victims of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and remain steadfast in our opposition to Israel's human rights abuses.

So the council was using the holocaust as a smokescreen for a junket to and a promotion of Israel and tacking on holocaust remembrance as an afterthought.  Nice people these official holocaust rememberers.

UPDATE: Within momemts of this post, Harry's Place has decided to come clean and play dirty over this Palestine solidarity protest.  Here's the HP update:
Update: The activists chose the moment of the Auschwitz commemoration toprotest a planned visit to Israel by several council members.
I wonder why HP chose their moment to come clean about what they must have known when they originally posted the post.  Of course,, they're still being as dishonest as you'd expect, There is no evidence to suggest that JVP chose their moment to coincide with the councillors' hypocritical resolution on the holocaust.  Nor is there any reason to suppose it.  HP has been caught in another lie to smear the critics of the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

Whilst enduring the torture of reading Harry's Place I also check out the comments just to see if there is a spark of humanity there.  There usually isn't but I did notice some guy appealing for a hat-tip over drawing this Gene chap's attention to the speech in the clip.  Gene duly obliged, I wonder if he'll hat-tip whoever it was that drew his attention to the fact that his original post was utterly bogus.

A hundred year war yet Hitchens surrendered after only ten

Just found this on the A Tiny Revolution website:

February 03, 2015

Likud Bad, Labor worse

Here's an article by Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz liberated from the paywall:

A Labor win will only entrench the occupation

On the most fateful issue, another term for Netanyahu would be a disaster, but a victory for Zionist Camp could be a worse disaster.

03:15 01.02.15

Only one scenario is worse than the reelection on March 17 of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, and that’s the election of Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog (and his political partner Tzipi Livni). Another term for Netanyahu would be a disaster, but a victory for Zionist Camp could be a worse disaster.
Yes, it’s true there’s no comparison between Herzog and Netanyahu — or between their parties. Herzog is a moderate, modest, fair person who’s much more liked than Netanyahu; the same can be said for Livni.
And Zionist Camp’s Knesset slate is of much higher quality than Likud’s. Not only does Zionist Camp not have thugs like Likud, it doesn’t have people with nationalist and racist views inciting and agitating. The CVs of most Zionist Camp candidates are much more impressive.
Now let’s assume Zionist Camp wins. Jubilation; Netanyahu will be ousted and a new day will dawn in Israel with a Herzog-Livni government. Actually, the first and most dramatic change will come from abroad — a global sigh of relief.
Not a statesman around the world will be sorry to see Netanyahu go, other than maybe Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Khaled Meshal of Hamas. All will be pleased with the victory of the “moderates.” The world will applaud, Herzog will be invited to Washington and Livni to London — and vice versa.
And soon, as promised, the “diplomatic process,” not to say the “peace process,” will begin. Herzog will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Livni with Palestinian leader Ahmed Qurei in a series of moving photo-ops. The cheering around the world will grow louder.
This change will be happening just as it appears the world has had its fill of Israeli policy, of Israel thumbing its nose at international law, the United States and the across-the-board opposition around the world to a continuation of the occupation.
And just when it appears that sanctions against Israel — the only nonviolent way to push the country to leave the territories — are about to be introduced — then of all times Israel will be applauded. There will be no prospect of action at The Hague or at the UN Security Council, no pressure and no punishment. Quiet, they’re talking — those sacred negotiations are in progress.
Those negotiations will, of course, go on endlessly unless this time Abbas refuses to lend a hand to the farce. Herzog has already announced that he will devote five (!) years to negotiations that could be wrapped up in five weeks. In other words, Herzog has no intention of reaching an agreement. Over those five years, the world won’t put on pressure; the two sides are talking.
The occupation will become even more entrenched. Herzog has said his government will continue to build in the “settlement blocs.” And the last chance for a two-state solution — if it still exists — will be squandered. Herzog and Livni will delude the world and perhaps the Palestinians too. Those two will never achieve a just agreement.
This scenario need not surprise anyone. Herzog is at the helm of Israel’s party of occupation. The Labor Party is the founding mother of the settlement enterprise; it never considered stopping it.
Its historical responsibility for the occupation is greater than Likud’s. The Labor troika of Golda Meir, Yisrael Galili and Moshe Dayan founded it, Shimon Peres continued it, and Herzog will go down the same path. The occupation is Labor’s cursed hereditary disease, deeply embedded in its genes. Labor might occupy softly while Likud and the religious-nationalist right use violence. So what’s worse?
To some extent, Zionist Camp would halt the anti-democratic legislation, the incitement against the Arabs and maybe also the disgraceful attitude toward African asylum seekers, all of which are matters of the highest importance. But on the most fateful issue, Zionist Camp would do more harm than good. This Israeli peace party would intoxicate the world, which in its despair would again be enticed. If Netanyahu is elected for another term, that won’t happen.
Gideon Levy tweets at @levy_haaretz.com
For cracking the Ha'aretz paywall go here 

February 01, 2015

Esther Rantzen, antisemitism and the threat of Maureen Lipman

To Flying Rodent's Twitter account again for this little gem:
Now as far as it goes that seems to be correct.  There were a lot of articles following Lipman's interview on LBC radio including at least two papers that should have known better: The Independent and The Guardian.

But I remembered whilst waiting in a hospital for a passenger I read the Daily Mail in the reception and I was pleasantly surprised to see Esther Rantzen taking her friend, Maureen Lipman, to task over her, well, nuttiness.  Have a look at the headline:

As Maureen Lipman threatens to quit the UK because of anti-semitism, her friend ESTHER RANTZEN says... Sorry, Maureen, but you are being unfair - and ungrateful
Now googling "daily mail" "esther rantzen" "maureen lipman" yields 2,960 results.  I think it is only the Daily Mail that criticises Lipman but then it's the only paper that takes the idea of Maureen Lipman leaving the UK as a threat!