Café Crema: “We’re not anti-semitic but…”

"Jews are as welcome here as anyone else."

"Jews are as welcome here as anyone else."

Bob From Brockley writes:

I went for lunch at the cafe I often frequent, Cafe Crema in New Cross, and found the blackboard no longer says “Please boycott Israeli goods. Thank you.” It now says “We do not use any Israeli products. We are not anti-semitic but anti-fascist. Jews are as welcome here as anyone else.” So now, in my world, Israel is not just bad, it’s bad and fascist.

The owner of Café Crema writes:

Cafe Crema is my cafe. In response to a couple of other postings: yes; Israel is fascist in terms of its treatment of the Palestinians. It is an occupying force which does not carry out its responsibilities under the Geneva Convention. I’ve spent time in the West Bank and seen it first-hand. Anybody else posting comments on this blog been there? Added to this, we all know that they keep a million and a half Palestinians in a prison-camp called Gaza and proceed to exterminate them at will (in the name of self-defense; the Germans also had to defend themselves against the French Resistance, and the Apartheid regime of South Africa against the ANC). We do not currently promote boycotts of other rightwing/militaristic regimes because, in most cases (a) you do not generally see their goods in the shops and (b)they do not have such a history of support from the British establishment. When the South Africa boycott was underway in the 1980s, did anyone complain that there were lots of other nasty regimes in the world that we should have been targeting?

David Hirsh writes:

Chris says, “I’m not antisemitic but…”

“Jews are as welcome here as anyone else…” [But...]

I teach at Goldsmiths and I go to Cafe Crema every now and then. Perhaps you’d recognize me.

I liked the atmosphere. I went there sometimes with students and sometimes with colleagues and sometimes alone.

I liked the coffee too.

I felt comfortable there.

But now I don’t feel as though I’m welcome there anymore, in spite of the sign which says that Jews are welcome. Or perhaps because of that sign.

I’m not Israeli, I hold a British passport. Why? Because my grandparents on my father’s side escaped from Eastern Europe to Britain (before the 1905 immigration Act tried to construct a British boycott of European Jews); and my mother escaped from Germany to Britain in 1938.

Lots of members of those 2 families never got out of Europe. Some who did went to Chile, some went to Israel, some went to the US.

What is my point? My point is that I am British and not Israeli only for contingent reasons. I am British and not Israeli or Chilean or American by chance.

My cousins, who are Israeli, are Israeli by chance. Because that is where they found refuge when they were defined, in Europe, as shit, as cockroaches, and hunted down.

And your distinction between boycotting Israeli goods and Israeli people is a cowardly one.

If an Israeli grows tomatoes, you won’t buy her tomatoes for use in your Cafe. But if she turns up here wanting to spend her “fascist” shekels in your cafe, shekels which she earned by selling her tomatoes, then you will let her in.

You will exclude her tomatoes. But you would be too shy to exclude her. Why? Because you would feel that an exclusion of Israeli Jews would be antisemitic.

If you want to boycott Israeli goods then you will have to boycott me too.

And when my colleagues suggest lunch there or my students suggest coffee there, I guess I’ll just mumble, or say I’m busy, and I won’t be able to go with them because I am no longer part of the Cafe Crema community. I probably won’t tell them the real reason for fear that they’ll think I’m a paranoid Jew.

And when I walk past Cafe Crema twice a day, every day, on my way to and from work, I will be made to remember, even if I have forgotten, that there is the cafe where “Jews are welcome” and I will feel upset, excluded, and angry.

Do you understand, Chris? Every day when I walk past Cafe Crema I will see the cafe from which I feel excluded because I’m Jewish.

(By the way, Yes, I have spent time in the West Bank – I have been arguing and campaigning for an independent Palestinian state and for an end to the occupation for decades – but this has nothing to do with a campaign to exclude Israelis and/or their products from SE14)

UPDATE: on March 20th – Chris replied in more depth on Bob From Brockley:

Fair enough, I can now see that it was a mistake to write ‘Jews are as welcome here as anyone else’ in that it has been taken, by many people, in exactly the opposite way that it was intended (but perhaps I should have foreseen that – I apologise). Obviously, whilst writing anything about boycotting Israel (I’ll come to that in a bit) I wanted to also state what is obvious to me: that that doesn’t mean we’re anti-Semitic. I only felt that needed stating because certain people (such as Israeli politicians and pro-Israeli journalists) deliberately try to muddy the water by conflating anti-Israeli sentiment with anti-Semitism. I don’t care (and obviously generally don’t know) what community/religion/race/diaspora our customers come from – however in answer to the comment about taking fascist shekels, we would never knowingly serve a member of the BNP – and, in terms of individual Israelis, I don’t blame anyone for the misdeeds of their government, in the same way that I would hope that no one would hold me responsible for the misdeeds of British governments, past and present.

But we will continue to boycott Israel, and we certainly won’t hide the fact. All the time that we’ve been open, there have been stickers on the walls calling for a boycott. To me, it’s as legitimate as boycotting South Africa was in the 1980s [By the way, we don’t use Columbian coffee beans, we use Fairtrade Brazilian beans]. It doesn’t mean that I am a supporter of Hamas. It just means that I am more than a little frustrated with seeing absolutely no progress in favour of the Palestinian people, despite decades of handwringing by Western governments (and by progressive/leftwing Israelis). The walls, roadblocks, checkpoints and settlements continue to go up; the mass-killings, collective punishments, arbritrary arrests and incarcerations carry on, as the ineffectual UN resolutions continue to be passed.

I don’t see Hamas as being comparable to the WWII French Resistance, but I do see the Intifada in general as being so. It’s a popular uprising against a hated, and militarily far superior, occupying force. You cannot cite Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket attacks as being anywhere near the same league as what has been meted out by Israel; they don’t amount to 1 per cent of the total carnage and misery. Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it, in the same way that the USA has started to do in recent years (we boycotted them, too – and we had a notice up about it, but no complaints or counter-boycotts, as far as I’m aware – while Bush was in power; looks like it worked).

I am well aware of the Holocaust (my wife’s stepfather was in a concentration camp as a child) and the unjust treatment and displacement of Jews in general, in much of the world, for centuries. But these facts do not give Israel a licence to kill and oppress, or to steal land, anymore than the legacy of British colonialism gives Robert Mugabe excuses for his behaviour, despite what he might say.

And, Contentious Centrist, I’d like you to tell me exactly what my ‘ill-concealed wishes’ are, and why on earth I would feel ‘anguish …as a result of so many Jews feeling welcome in [my] cafe.’ The Jewish person who works at Café Crema certainly appears to feel welcome, and this doesn’t cause me much anguish. And this is not ‘gestural politics’. This is absolutely sincere.

Once again, to anyone I’ve offended, or made feel unwelcome, I apologise. However, the boycott remains. I’m genuinely sorry if this means we’ll lose certain customers; that’s obviously not our intention.

http://brockley.blogspot.com/2009/03/weekending.html?showComment=1237567320000#comment-c8787148451795961813

90 Responses to “Café Crema: “We’re not anti-semitic but…””

  1. Jessica Asato Says:

    Hi David, important and brave post. Unless the inconsistencies of people’s opposition to Israel are pulled up in our everyday existence, we won’t understand what anti-semitism really means. I am not a jew, but I would still feel excluded from that cafe because I support the right of ordinary Israelis to earn their livelihoods, as I do Israeli university professors to participate in international forums. It would be like French people saying because Britain supported the war in Iraq they should boycott British goods. To compare Israel to South African apartheid and Nazi Germany is, well, rather missing the point.

  2. Shayna Says:

    Chris, the point is that your singling out of Jews for being welcomed is problematic for the reasons that David says but also why single Jews out?

    Why not a notice with everyone who is welcome? ‘Muslims Welcome, Christians Welcome, Atheists welcome, Children Welcome, People with Disabilities welcome, short people welcome, students welcome, tall people welcome, people who like football welcome, and dare I say it People with Blue eyes and blonde hair welcome’

    To say that they are welcome says that they usually shouldnt be. I wouldnt expect to see a sign saying ‘Christians welcome’ or ‘Muslims Welcome’ and your tone is like saying ‘Dogs are welcome’ in a restaurant or ‘children are welcome’ at the entrance to a pub. To put it bluntly your sign implies there is a reason Jews shouldnt be welcome and that you need to alert them to the fact that they are which renders your sign useless!

  3. anonymous Says:

    Anonymous said…
    “we all know that they keep a million and a half Palestinians in a prison-camp called Gaza and proceed to exterminate them at will.”

    “exteminate them at will” – and Chris claims to have been in the OT. After this comment, one wonders about the veracity of such a claim.

    (After all, Mike Cushman of BRICUP saw Gaza as a thriving, but poor, modern metropolis with “luxury hotels and wi fi connection”.

    (It is the case also that SA did not “exterminate” Black Africans – but, hey, why let reality get in the way of gestural politics)

    “they do not have such a history of support from the British establishment.”

    So, we can all expect a boycott of British goods as well then.

    (Interesting of course that Britain has an “establishment”, but apparently Israel lacks what the cafe owner thinks is an element of a functioning body politic)

  4. Ariel H Says:

    I hold dual nationality: Israeli and British.

    I regard myself as Jewish, though I don’t believe in God.

    Which parts of me would be welcome in Café Crema “as anyone else”?

  5. Rachel Says:

    well, thank you so much for assuring me that I, a Jew, am welcome in your cafe. thank you. i was wondering that as I happened to be born into a certain religion, i would still be permitted to spend money in your cafe. perhaps you should extend your notice. perhaps remind black people that they are also welcome. maybe homosexuals too. perhaps they are also feeling excluded.

  6. ZoeJ Says:

    This is simultaneously horrifying and depressing. The owner sounds typical of the unthinking, ignorant, yet “well-meaning” British people. I had a dream the other night that I went into a shop which had a “No Jews allowed” sign on the front. Clearly this is now something that is in the realm of possibility in this country.

  7. richard Says:

    I just phoned them up to question this policy. I was told by Chris (i presume it was Chris) that one of his best customers and his business advisor wears a skullcap. So there you go….Chris can sleep easily at night coz he is best mates with a Jew. Anyway, he had to go coz he was very busy he said. Obviously these signs must be good for business. It might catch on this mentioning of Jews in signs outside businesses…….

  8. I thank you!! Says:

    Areil,

    From Groucho himself

    “I had always heard that the story related to his half-Jewish granddaughter at a restricted (anti-Jewish) country club, and that what Marx actually said something to the effect it’d be okay if she went in up to her waist, implying that only asses used the pool.”

  9. Mira Vogel Says:

    Chris, something to add about your boycott strategy.

    You want to defend Palestinians. You express this by attacking Israel – a country which, as well as aggressing and oppressing Palestinians, is itself the target of hostility from Palestinians and from further afield. This is not a one-sided war, nor is Israel Palestinians’ sole aggressor. Israel is not fascist, but Hamas is, both in its Charter and in practice with respect to political opponents and its minority groups. And yet with a singular intensity you go for Israel (and you go for the little guys whose herbs and oranges you see in the shops).

    Surely you realise that the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements are struggling against their respective wreckers. Palestinians voted for Hamas and Israelis voted to the right. The poor democratic credentials of the surrounding states mean that those which have formal peace with Israel do not necessarily have popular peace. The interests each population perceives are diverging in ways incompatible with peace. Peace depends on reconciling these views and building trust. It depends on getting the Israeli public behind dismantling the settlements, it depends on getting Palestinian support for a secure Israel, and it depends on regional cooperation on trans-state issues such as water, waste, energy and climate change.

    Your insistence that Jews are welcome clashes with your intense and singular loathing of Israel. I’m not sure what you read, but among other things I read

    http://olahadasha.typepad.com/

    http://yishaym.wordpress.com/

    http://www.machsomwatch.org/en

    http://www.gisha.org/

    http://www.abrahamfund.org/main/siteNew/index.php

    http://www.onevoicemovement.org/

    http://➡.ws/ㅪ⇩

    http://www.ipcri.org/

    http://www.foeme.org/

    http://www.bustan.org/

    When organisations and people like these – working on the ground for rights, reconciliation and equitable political solutions – start asking me to boycott, then I’ll give it serious consideration, because these are organisations whose values I support. But they aren’t boycotters, and the reason is that they find boycotting counterproductive to the – often shared – interests of Palestinians and Israelis. Supporting boycott is incompatible with supporting the peace movement. Boycotting, if it were to work, would impose pressure on Israelis and play to the agenda of rejectionist organisations like Hamas and Hesbollah. We know Israelis respond to pressure in much the same way Palestinians respond to pressure. Boycotting helps the Israeli right because it is a distinctly Hamas way of entrenching conflict.

    I think people who want to get involved in the future of Israelis or Palestinians should reject your call to boycott on those grounds.

    I find it unnerving that you would feel comfortable flinging out assertions about Israel as you do with so little basis. David has explained pretty well why I feel like I’d be mugging myself to go to Cafe Crema now – being vegan exascerbates my sense of exclusion. But now you have started this campaign of aggression, rather than your earlier constructive campaign of promoting Palestinian products like Zaytoun, you can expect this kind of response – hurt, exclusion and a loss of respect for you.

  10. A good Jew Says:

    David,
    calm down; you’re ok; it;s the others he doesn’t like.

    And, indeed, he is being gracious. He knows Jews often have complex relations with Israel; he’s putting that entire group at ease and trying to make them comfortable. That’s why he’s put a sign up saying that Jews, and only Jews, are welcome.

  11. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Chris

    You need to be consistent about boycotting Israel products. I’d like to make it easy for you. Please sign this form, print it off and give a copy to your physician. You should also provide one to your next of kin and keep one about your person, in case of a medical emergency. Where about your person you might wish to secrete it is up to you, but suggestions can be provided.

    PS this is a free service so send it to your friends who feel the same way about Israel.

    *****************
    “I, Chris, declare that if admitted to hospital I do not want to receive any Zionist medical treatment developed in Israel or by Israelis, wherever in the world they may reside. This includes in particular the miniaturised, self-propelling, self-navigating and disposable colonoscopic camera called the Aer-O-Scope. This Zionist technology was developed by Ben Goldwasser who founded the Israeli startup company GI-View in 2003. The Aer-O-Scope uses a balloon and air pressure to carry a miniature camera though the bowel. The camera boasts a feature called Omnivision – which enables 360 degree viewing of the colon, including inside hard-to-see folds where polyps tend to grow. A study, published as the cover story in the March 2006 issue of the medical journal Gastroentology, reported that in trials conducted in Croatia, the device made it through the entire length of the colon in 10 of 12 people. According to Professor Nadir Arber, head of the Department for Cancer Prevention at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, and president of GI View’s scientific advisory board, the Aer-O-Scope provides images comparable with those of a standard colonoscopy, but with virtually none of the discomfort. The idea of using a camera in a device that moves through the colon is not new, according to Goldwasser, who trained at Duke and the Mayo Clinic before becoming professor and chairman of the department of urology at Tel Hashomer Medical Center in the 1980s. “The reason others failed is because they tried to think of motion in a classical sense – as motion created by traction – whether it’s traction on the ground when you’re walking or traction on the road,” he explained. “The colon is covered with mucous – which makes it slippery, much like ice. And like walking on ice, you have to glide. So the idea of the motion balloon came to us. If you have a balloon that can change its shape and diameter according to the changing shape of a colon, it could work like a piston inside an engine’s cylinder. Just like a cylinder is driven by the air pressure, if you take a balloon that accommodates to the size and shape of the area it’s in, it can be driven forward.” The device consists of a disposal unit with a rectal introducer, supply cable and scope contained within a scanning balloon, plus an automated console that directs the action under the guidance of a technician. The operator introduces the device into the rectum, and presses the forward button on the control panel. First the rectal balloon is inflated and then the scanner balloon with the embedded electro optical capsule is inflated. Pressure sensors within the workstation continuously measure the pressure inside, in front of and behind the scanner balloon. The console computer automatically controls the pressure in all three compartments and ensures that the balloon moves forward at the lowest possible pressure. At any time during the forward or reverse motion of the scanner balloon, the operator may press the pause or stop buttons. Pause can be used to gain a better look with the camera or to change the direction of balloon motion. Stop can be used to instantly deflate all compartments, for instance if the patient requests a rest.

    Should I need a colonoscopy, I wish it to be known that on no account should this Zionist procedure be used for me, painless though it is. I would like instead to have the former procedure used on me, namely a cold, large (2 feet long) and painful (made of steel) anal probe shoved up my rectum. If the pain gets too much, just give me some painkillers – provided they were not made or developed by Zionists

    Yours sincerely
    Chris”

    (signature + date)

  12. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Chris is not honest with his customers. If he really wants to boycott Israel, he should stop to use his mobile and his laptop or/and computer, because parts are made in Israel. He also should worry about medicine if he or his family needs it, because some of them are product of Israeli science.
    On the other hand some brainless antisemitic people will be satisfied that Chris found only one fascist country in the world: Israel. Brainless Jews will be satisfied, that he does welcome Jews.
    Chris can boycott whom he wants, but his Jewish customers should not argue with him, but look for another place to drink coffee in London.

  13. Alec Says:

    >> We are not anti-semitic but anti-fascist.

    I remember the ice-cream van owner outside my old school selling single cigarettes to pupils. Following this argument, he was not breaking the law (even then) but merely responding to demand. Get Out of Gaol cards are wonderful.

    Am I correct in thinking that a vital component of Sky boxes is assembled in Israel? If, as is highly likely, Chwis has it or related technology in his shop or home, will he cease using them… or do boycotts extend only to checking where his tomatoes and mushy-pea spread comes from? In other words, completely vapid and pain-free ego-stroking.

    The most alarming point in my mind about ‘boycotting’ “Zionist” goods is that previous anti-globalization tosh was limited to not drinking corporate water or a jamboree every couple of years when the heavies were flown in. Start decreeing X and Y “Zionist”, and all sorts of street-thuggery occurs – as has been seen.

    Makes me want to buy an instant mashed-potato meal from Tesco. I think I will.

  14. Jacob Says:

    “And when I walk past Cafe Crema twice a day, every day, on my way to and from work, I will be made to remember, even if I have forgotten, that there is the cafe where “Jews are welcome” and I will feel upset, excluded, and angry.”

    A very moving response, David!

    The “Jews are welcome” sign is really a warning notice. It’s as if Chris were saying Jews are welcome but may not be so in the future. Otherwise why even bother to advertise that Jews are welcome.

    Is he also trying to make a legal point?

    His narcissistic temper tantrum against Israel won’t work because as was said above it is impossible in today’s international economy to isolate manufactured products from one country since many man made products have multi-national origin. Look at your cell phone take out the Israeli component and the cell phone becomes useless.

    In any case, the argument against Chris’ antisemitic biases doesn’t stop there: in singling out Israel he has embraced the antisemitic logic of Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Chris’ bias is like the former (and in too many cases today’s) bias of religious antisemites (Christian, Muslim) who rejected Judaism but not Jews whom they wanted to convert. Chris too is on a religious type mission trying to convert Jews to his belief system.

    It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

    That supposed welcoming sign will make most Jews, not just David, wince when they read it.

  15. j Says:

    post a not on their google review page that would be more effective. Unfortunately these comments are read by those who already agree for the most part.

  16. Alec Says:

    P.S. That instant mash is produced in Israel.

  17. zumb Says:

    I guess it is easy for me to say that, not being British and not living in England, but you should organize a protest against this guy. I am not sure about the right strategy, but doing anything is usually better that doing nothing. A few suggestions:
    1) Boycott the cafe and tell all of your friends to do so.
    2) Distribute pamphlets in you workplace calling to boycott the cafe
    3) Physically protest against the cafe discriminatory policy
    4) Denounce the guy to the authorities (including the IRS)
    5) If all else fails [censored by moderator MV]

  18. Mira Vogel Says:

    Zumb, I don’t think we should organise a boycott campaign. There’s enough people telling other people what to buy and where.

    I think we should leave people alone to eat and drink where they feel like.

    And there’s nothing to denounce to the IRS – he’s a private business, he can do what he likes. It’s not against the law to boycott Israeli goods.

  19. Joshua Says:

    An article about Chris Boddington of Café Crema:

    ‘Rather than spend time discussing the situation in Gaza, Chris Boddington of Lewisham decided to be pro-active and create an inspiring fundraising campaign to encourage others to donate to his chosen charity, MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians). Chris, 40, co-owner with his wife Kiri Lewin, of Cafe Crema in New Cross has taken the unusual step of asking friends and family to sponsor him to live in Lewisham for the next five years.

    The cafe has been running benefit gigs but Chris wanted something more on going and unusual to encourage donors to continue to give and others to sign up to their own campaigns. Working through Bmycharity, Chris has set up a fundraising page, http://www.bmycharity.com/palestinefundraiser that gives all the details of his campaign and the work undertaken by MAP.

    Ben Brabyn, MD of Bmycharity said “Chris is a fine example of a dedicated fundraiser who has thought of an imaginative project to fundraise for a cause close to his heart. I hope that Chris will inspire others as he has proved that fundraisers with passionate ideas can go ahead and successfully set up a campaign. Organising a page on Bmycharity is very quick and easy, fundraising can begin immediately. You would have to ask yourself why not!”

    In October 2007 Chris visited Palestine in response to an email asking for help with the Olive harvest – he sells Palestinian olive oil at his cafe. To have Westerners present when collecting the harvest reduces the intimidation and violence the farmers receive from the Israeli soldiers and settlers. Chris said “I stayed in Nablus and saw the devastation (loads of buildings destroyed by the Israelis, with neatly dressed school children picking their way through the rubble) and daily humiliations (particularly at the checkpoints; soldiers, with fingers on triggers, aiming their guns at very patient civilians who are just trying to get to work or college) that the people have to suffer. And that’s just the West Bank. I’m too chicken to go to Gaza. So I chose MAP because they’re evidently very active there, and they must need all the money they can get. I’m not very impartial.” ‘

    Read the rest at the link:

    http://tinyurl.com/c23kj2

  20. Bill Says:

    I have to agree that saying that Jews are welcome, as he puts it in the larger nasty argument, sounds “Mighty white of him!” as we say over here. False generosity along that line often tends to reek of some kind of internalized bigotry simmering below the surface.

  21. richard millett Says:

    i think it is also illegal to actively stage a boycott outside a legitimate business and could cause legal repercussions to any such protestors. I am, however, curious about the legal standing of Chris’s welcome notice. Is mentioning a specific religion in any context discriminatory?

  22. David Says:

    Chris provides a superficial, stereotypical and poorly executed argument – especially one displayed and executed, completely out of context, in a London street! Chris, i think you need to wake up and smell your own coffee mate, calling you a zealot would be letting you off lightly. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/zealot)

    Also, how absurd to introduce a South African argument in support of your bias? You clearly have not thought this through, have you? Good luck with your business!

    David
    South African-Jew- Not Israeli-Coffee Lover

  23. Mira Vogel Says:

    Richard Millett, another reason not to boycott. It would help if you could link to the law in question.

    I think Chris’s fund-raising for Palestinians is admirable, running a vegan cafe is entirely positive, saying “Jews are as welcome as anybody else” has the opposite effect, and calling Israeli fascists is disgraceful.

    I have absolutely nothing up my sleeve to change Chris’ mind. I have no intention of campaigning against a small veggie food business and would oppose anybody who did. There are way too few places like Crema around, as far as I’m concerned. Besides which Crema feels like part of my campus. My institution is already divided over Israel – I don’t want to see further battle lines drawn in Crema. I know how boycotts work – they work with stigma. Chris has shown us this. Enough of that. So I’d say absolutely – no to any boycott of Crema.

  24. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Chris

    If your cafe was in Golders Green Road rather than next to an academic institution whose student union sees nothing wrong in hosting an antisemitic meeting entitled ‘From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Ghetto’, would you still have a sign saying “We do not use any Israeli products. We are not anti-semitic but anti-fascist. Jews are as welcome here as anyone else”?

    If not – why not?

  25. Mark Gardner Says:

    The owner of Cafe Crema wrote:

    “…Added to this, we all know that they keep a million and a half Palestinians in a prison-camp called Gaza and proceed to exterminate them at will (in the name of self-defense; the Germans also had to defend themselves against the French Resistance…”

    “we all know”. Yes, that’s right. We all know, and we thought we’d got away with it. We swore the media and the politicians to secrecy too. Also, the United Nations and all the Arab states that happily went along with the Gaza Plot. Foiled…if it hadn’t been for you pesky coffee shop owners we’d have got away with it!

    “exterminate them at will”. Ok, how about you change Cafe Crema to Cafe Krema and if your Hate Israel Love Jews campaign really takes off, you could open a Cafe Krema 2 and a Cafe Krema 3. (See, two can play at taking the piss out of 6 million dead Jews. Personally, it makes me feel sick. If you get a buzz out of it, perhaps you should try more skinny lattes and less double espressos.)

    (and then your equally stupid bit in the brackets – Germans having to “defend themselves against the French resistance”. Ok, so Germans fought maquis but extermination was saved for Jews, despite Oradour and similar massacres. And your point is what?)

    I hope you don’t have the chutzpah to sell bagels in this anti-racist emporium of yours.

  26. Saul Says:

    Chris’ argument is that Israel is partly fascist re: occupation and that he is boycotting Israel because of that.

    The PA is not fascist; Hamas is both fascist and racist both in its internal and external aspects.

    So, if fascism is the criterion, one has to ask why he would not boycott products from Gaza (should they become available – and yes, I know the reasons why this is not the case) but not from the West Bank?

    If he did not, it could be that Hamas is not backed by the “British establshment”, in which case, fasicsm is not the reason, but a kind of faux anti-colonialism is the reason. If that is the case, why not, as someone suggested above, boycott the UK or US goods?

    What is clear, however, is the reason he has offered is not consistent with his actions. Consistency is not everything, but it’s a start.

    And, Mira, I agree with every single word you have written.
    Unfortunately, your/my position takes work……….it is easier to make a token gesture than get one’s hands dirty with the real politics of it all.

  27. fred Says:

    Somewhat apropos: This NYT article today addresses a variety of boycotts:

    After Gaza, Israel Grapples With Crisis of Isolation

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/world/middleeast/19israel.html?_r=2&hp

  28. Mark Gardner Says:

    Its likely that Chris uses the word fascist because it excites him to do so in the context of the Jewish state. Just like it does when he says “exterminate” and cites Germans fighting the French resistance.

    He wouldn’t dream of using the word fascist in the context of Hamas, or of any other Islamist or Arab nationalist movement that enjoys stiff arm salutes and murdering opposition in the name of subservience to the state or movement. There’s no resonance. There’s no buzz.

  29. Boycotted by Cafe Crema? « ModernityBlog Says:

    [...] A longer discussion is taking place at Engage. [...]

  30. richard millett Says:

    Mira, boycotters could have the possibility of the action of tortious interference brought against them.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference

  31. modernityblog Says:

    It is a wonder that Cafe Creme doesn’t consider a boycott of Colombian products?

    After all death squads have operated in Colombia for years, killing 1000s dead.

    But that’s not going to happen.

    Colombians in South London would object strongly, and boycotting Israel isn’t going to hurt the bottom line, whereas any boycott of Colombian coffee products probably would.

    So really it is just a gesture by Cafe Creme, nothing more, not a genuine concern for human rights, merely selective indignation. What a pity.

  32. fred Says:

    Mark Gardner & Karl Pfieffer:

    Note that S.O. Muffin has a post on HP in which he concludes Israel’s Foreign-Minister in waiting is “fascist”

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/03/19/is-lieberman-a-fascist/

    The money quote: “My claim is that Lieberman is basically a fascist”

    Also, see this speech from Israel’s Consul General in Boston, voicing fear about Lieberman:

    http://www.retn.org/ondemand.php?id=21416

    “I just feel that its right for me to speak against it even though I’m not supposed to as a diplomat, because when Haider became part of the government in Austria, even though diplomats are not supposed to talk about other governments’ politics, we did talk. So I feel the same rationale works this time for my country, and I have to right to speak.”

    While I agree Chris is throwing around fascist a bit loosely, there’s a bit of a disconnect here when you consider who is about to become Israel’s diplomatic face.

  33. Saul Says:

    Mark Gardner and David and “anonyomous” hits the nai on the head.
    Cafe Crema is not boycotting Israel; it is boycotting an image of Israel that does not exist other than in his (and others’) fantasy world……..one that is nazi, fascist, and akin to SA.

    If only it were that easy!

  34. Gil Says:

    It’s a fetish. To accuse the Jews of behaving in an equivalent manner to the Nazis does send a frisson down one’s spine. After all how is an ‘anti-Fascist’ of the 21st century going to make real his fantasies of fighting Nazis? The Jews will have to do.

  35. MITNAGED Says:

    David, as ever, you have done excellently by bringing this sort of moral bankruptcy to our notice. You have also written this eloquently and without hyperbole. Thank you.

    Chris’ excuses are typical of those offered by the one-eyed and ignorant, who don’t bother to investigate fully and contextualise, and are easily sucked into and suckered by anti-Israel hype passed off as “fact.”

    I find it interesting that, although Chris takes care to point up that he welcomes Jews, the very fact that he feels the need to do this conflates his hatred of Israel with his animus against Jews, as is the case with all anti-Semites who claim not so to be but that they are merely “against Israel.”

    Doubtless he is (far too) easily excited by the words he uses and the hype he has read but why make a virtue out of showing his ignorance? For example, he mentioned “exterminating” Palestinians “at will” and yet we hear that the population of Gaza is rising, see

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7891434.stm

    But if Chris wants to boycott properly (and I note Jonathan Hoffman’s post above) he should take note of the information in the following. It’s all very well not allowing Israeli produce into his shop but that is small potatoes (if you will excuse the pun) unless he does this boycott thing properly, see:

    Perhaps David would be so kind as to pass this on. It would be a shame to spoil the ship, so to speak, for a ha’porth of tar

    Mira, your comments hit the nail on the head.

  36. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    So Chris Boddngton – those ‘fascist’ Israelis put those checkpints there just to “humiliate” “very patient civilians who are just trying to get to work or college” ..

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3608333,00.html

    Yeah, right Chris – whatever makes you feel virtuous ….

  37. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Chris

    Those ‘fascist’ Israelis impose “daily humiliations” at the checkpoints on “very patient civilians who are just trying to get to work or college”…………

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3608333,00.html

    Sure Chris – whatever makes you feel virtuous…

  38. john Strawson Says:

    The truth is we are all Israelis now

  39. Bialik Says:

    I submit that we all send the guy lots of books on fascism, or visit in person with armfuls. Perhaps distribute them to customers and passers by. I live in London and I’m willing to sacrifice my Very Short Introduction…

  40. Bialik Says:

    And, yes, it is horrifying. I have dual nationality and I have to mention that on application forms if asked. I’d rather not and there’s something wrong about that. I think it is fine to be happy or unhappy with one’s nationality, but something is very wrong when you don’t want to mention it.

  41. Nora Says:

    “I have no intention of campaigning against a small veggie food business and would oppose anybody who did. There are way too few places like Crema around, as far as I’m concerned. Besides which Crema feels like part of my campus.”

    So it’s ok to be an antisemite if you are a vegetarian and own a cozy little cafe, is that it?

  42. Bill Says:

    Can you imagine if he graciously welcomed blacks into his fine establishment after going on a long tear about Mugabe? Hmmm… didn’t think so.

  43. Joshua Says:

    I suppose it’s possible that this outrageous conduct by Café Crema’s owners puts them in breach of the terms of their lease. The landlord of the property is actually Goldsmiths and queries about this matter should be directed to it. Crema is already on very shaky ground as its lease following a thread of eviction early last year only runs, so I understand, until December 2009.

    Links

    “An iconic parade of shops looks set to be consigned to the history books. Rubbish and Nasty,Café Crema and Prangsta occupy the run-down shops at 302-314 New Cross Road. Parade landlord Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, has told disappointed business owners to leave by March 7 [2008].”

    http://tinyurl.com/chu7qu

    “It’s saved for the moment as they’ve had their lease temporary extended to December ’09.”

    http://tinyurl.com/d27y4v

  44. zumb Says:

    Mira

    People protest because they are angry, not because they want to tell other people what to do. For this you have schools, churches and parents.

    I am really puzzled about what makes people like Chris get involved in other people’s problem.
    I may be wrong, but his name doesn’t sound very Paelestinian. So what leads Chris to boycott Israeli goods and to tell the whole world (or his customers for that matter) what he’s doing.
    Any comments?

  45. David Says:

    Whilst I am not convinced the intention of this Chris person is antisemitic, the very fact that a sign could be posted saying “Jews are Welcome” reminds me on so many levels why I left the UK (the real “shitty little country”) for a more open society.

  46. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Re Jonathan Hoffman’s posting above, this is one of the earliest on this. The title is “If you’re Going to Boycott Israel, Do It right”, by Barry Shaw, from (US) The Daily Sport, 28.12.06. I don’t have the Engage link (my copy was printed off on 8.1.07, which may give a clue), but the link on my copy is:

    http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=26175

    It sits very well with Mitnaged’s link to Youtube.

    John Strawson, I am moved by your single sentence. Thank you. Though the emotional reaction may depend on being old enough to remember 1968 and Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

    Mira, re your comment posted at 4.15 today (19.03): of course we shouldn’t be even thinking (let alone talking) about a boycott of anyone_. How could we do so and hope to retain a shred of credibility when we argue against a boycott of Israel and its universities and goods. However, this doesn’t mean that, as individuals, we can’t take _private_ actions agaisnt those we oppose.

    Thus, I noted on a thread commenting on a set of silly statements by Naomi (“No Logo”) Klein that I hadn’t yet got around to reading anything of hers (and I should have, when I was teaching in the area of globalisation), but I certainly wouldn’t be bothering now. Not least, life’s too short to waste my time reading the work of those unable to argue properly. This is not a boycott – it’s my personal decision, and I’ll live with people telling me what I’ve missed. Meanwhile, I’ve read other books they haven’t had time to. Most importantly, I’m not telling _them_ not to read her (or anyone else).

  47. Mark Gardner Says:

    Fred – its funny that you wrote that.

    I’d originally written a paragraph in my 2nd posting about how curious it would be that liebarman’s getting a govt post would now cause people to cite that as proof that israel is fascist. I decided to delete it because I thought it was an unnecessary distraction from what I wanted to say.

    Anyway, here goes:

    1. I’m thinking Chris et al denounced israel as fascist before lieberman wangled in via israel’s proportional representation system. Also, I doubt he is the reason being cited by Chris.

    2. The fact that israel’s democracy leads to it being denounced as fascist is somewhat ironic.

    3. Despite the fact that israel has been a democracy for 60yrs, this is the first fascist to get this far. that hardly qualifies for israel being fascist. (yes, we can debate as to how appropriate the term could have been for begin, netanyahu etc but you’re citing lieberman here, not netanyahu, so I presume you’re making essentially the same distinction as I am.)

    4. What other countries are / have been denounced as fascist due to % of fascist votes, or due to a single position held by a fascist in a democratic coalition govt?

    – others may wish to develop this, I have a feeling it may be a theme for a while to come…

  48. Mira Vogel Says:

    Fred, I really rate Muffin. I can’t claim to have read widely on this but I am more familiar with a different theory of Fascism, Roger Griffin’s, which holds that it was a quest for a making-anew – for breaking out of a sullied existence into a new, cleansed – hygienic – one. Palingenesis is the word he frequently uses. He talks about Fascism as a quest for a maze-way in the midst or aftermath of a crisis. And with this came the urge to conduct ‘gardening’ – the eradication of society’s weeds. Fascism was a totalising project of overturning the old and breaking through to a new sublime existence. But from what I know of Lieberman his main motivation is security. He views Arabs and orthodox Jews in Israel (i.e. those who don’t serve in the IDF) as undermining, sometimes actively. He encourages mistrust of them and – particularly in the case of the Arab Israelis – views them as alien to Israel. He is discriminatory, attracts extremists, and is an extreme secular nationalist but is he Fascist? I’m not sure that Muffin’s reference to the state really encapsulates fascism, even narrowly. I realise most Arab Israelis would bitterly regard this discussion as academic – the rise of Lieberman is a strategic liability to Israel. I found this longish Ha’aretz piece about the attraction Lieberman holds for Israel teens interesting. It includes a self-critical discussion among Israeli civics teachers about improving teaching to unhitch rights from duties and so undermine ideologues like Lieberman.

    “It’s not clear how a teacher would explain to his students that linking citizens’ duties with citizens’ rights can run counter to democratic principles, and at the same time introduce a party representative who calls for denying civil rights to anyone who does not enlist in military or national service. ”

    Worth a read.

  49. Mira Vogel Says:

    Nora, if there were a case for calling Chris an antisemite, you would be right. But I hardly know a thing about him – do you?

    And it’s not just a cozy vegetarian cafe – it’s a place where vegans like me had a choice of food (including, importantly, cake) and you could get fair trade stuff. What Chris wrote is awful. To me eating animal is also awful. Only on Engage and most other places I usually keep my trap shut about that.

    Some boycotters own the only veg*n place in New X. Some anti-boycotters eat animal. People don’t come in tidy packages.

  50. Nora Says:

    “Some boycotters own the only veg*n place in New X. Some anti-boycotters eat animal. People don’t come in tidy packages.”

    Mira, I love escalope de veau a rarity around here. However, if the only restaurant that served had also expressed antisemitic sentiments I would forego the pleasure of eating there.

    Any restaurant that had a sign saying “we welcome Jews” would make me want to ask someone what is the occasion for the sign. As soon as I found out that it’s a way of absolving oneself of the charge of antisemitism I would walk out. There is no other reason why the sign would have been put up.

    If you don’t believe ask the owner the next time you are there. Tell him also that you are anti boycotter with a web site and let’s how he will welcome you then.

  51. Inna Says:

    “And it’s not just a cozy vegetarian cafe – it’s a place where vegans like me had a choice of food (including, importantly, cake) and you could get fair trade stuff. What Chris wrote is awful. To me eating animal is also awful. Only on Engage and most other places I usually keep my trap shut about that.”

    I know how you feel. In college, I went through a religious phase (I apologize to the devout). However, I didn’t want to give up Chinese food.

    Thankfully there was a kosher Chinese restaurant so I didn’t have to. It was a great little place, really convenient and great atmosphere. A place where I could hang out with friends and enjoy sweet and sour “pork”. A wonderful neighborhood place.

    But then Tiannamen Square happened. I don’t know if anyone remembers those times but there was a lot of debate back then about whether the Chinese students who were here should be sent back to China against their will or allowed to seek asylum in the US. To make a long story short, the owners of my favorite restaurant took (as far as I was concerned) the wrong position on that one.

    My friends and I stopped going there. It wasn’t an organized boycott or anything; we just no longer felt comfortable about eating in a place that wanted to ship students back to China.

    The restaurant went out of business.

    I still miss the place but I don’t regret my decision.

    Regards,

    Inna

  52. Bob Says:

    I won’t be much likely to be going to Cafe Crema, one of my most regular haunts, as I don’t like the idea of going somewhere that says “Jews welcome here but”.

    However, I think that an organised boycott of it, or putting pressure on its landlord, is a rather silly strategy, and far from the best use of our time. If the cafe were raising money for Hamas, say, then sure. But let’s keep things in proportion folks.

  53. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Chris

    So the “fascist” Israelis subject the Palestinians to “daily humiliations at the checkpoints – soldiers, with fingers on triggers, aiming their guns at very patient civilians who are just trying to get to work or college”

    Like your coffee Chris, the world is not black and white ………

  54. Mira Vogel Says:

    Nora, you missed a bit – I’m personally not going back to Cafe Crema – in the same way Inna didn’t return to that restaurant.

  55. Joshua Says:

    “However, I think that an organised boycott of it, or putting pressure on its landlord, is a rather silly strategy, and far from the best use of our time.”

    And all the blogs and endless posts have achieved virtually nothing. You can discuss and declaim and debate until you are blue in the face and it will not make a blind bit of difference to any of these people or to the situation. It was the threat of legal sanctions against the boycotters that brought them to heel and nothing else.

    “If the cafe were raising money for Hamas, say, then sure. But let’s keep things in proportion folks.”

    This sign is ugly and it is despicable and is yet one more warning amongst a whole host of them that the demonisation of Israel and the growth in anti-Semitism continues apace in the UK. Unless this thing is nipped in the bud, then signs like this will be in 100 cafes and then a 1000. If the Jewish people are ever again to feel completely safe and accepted in the UK what is required is a lot more action and a lot less talk.

  56. MITNAGED Says:

    John Strawson, your comment is truer than you may think, given the too-ready conflation of anti-Israel rhetoric and gesture politics with antisemitism.

    Whether “we” support Israel’s actions or not, “we”, as Jews, will still be viewed as being supportive of them and the old “I’m not antisemitic but…..” will continue to be trotted out whenever people want to criticise Israel’s actions.

    I am getting sick and tired of their being unable to do that without their bringing Israel’s Jewishness into that criticism! It’s like the nonsense in King Charles’ head in David Copperfield – it will keep getting into everything.

    Mira, I know even less than you do about Chris, but by putting that notice in his window he raises questions about how he divides the world in respect of his beliefs about Israel/Palestine, into “Jewish” and “others” does it not?

    And to go one further, it seems to me that anyone capable of dividing the world in such terms, about any faith or other group, is behaving in a discriminatory fashion, almost by default regardless of what he says he “welcomes.” After all, there’s no notice in his shop along the lines of welcoming Muslims, Confucians, Zoroastrians, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs &c &c is there? So why single out Jews, even in this pseudo-positive way? It’s his right to declare that he has no Israeli goods in his shop. Why not leave it at that?

    Oh dear…. is he fearful of “Jewish power???”

  57. modernityblog Says:

    Bob,

    you’re right, echoing Bialik’s suggestion, why not drop off a few history books at Cafe Creme and maybe the proprietor can educate himself on these matters?

    Steve Cohen’s That’s Funny book would be a good starting place

  58. Bob Says:

    I think modernity’s strategy (engage and educate) is more appropriate here than a boycott. We are not talking about a public institution or a media outlet or a major chain. We are talking about a tiny family business.

  59. David Hirsh Says:

    “You can discuss and declaim and debate until you are blue in the face and it will not make a blind bit of difference to any of these people or to the situation. It was the threat of legal sanctions against the boycotters that brought them to heel and nothing else.”

    I don’t agree with Joshua here. I think that we need to educate and discuss and debate. It is obvious that many people don’t understand why and how disproportional hostility to Israel relates to antisemitism. It is necessary to show them and to persuade them. I believe that we can win arguments against antisemitism. I do not believe that antisemitism is so rational or so seductive or so attractive that it is impervious to debate. I believe that only a small minority of people are committed to an antisemitic worldview and cannot be persuaded.

    Most people are not for destroying the “evil of Zionism”, they are for a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.

    Most people are not for boycotting Israelis, they are for constructive engagement with them.

    Most people do not believe that anti-Jewish racism is trivial, they believe that the Holocaust, amongst other things, shows that it has a huge potential for harm.

    Most people do not believe that Hamas are the vanguard of the global anti-imperialist revolution, they believe that it would be better if Palestinians embraced democracy, antiracism and the politics of peace.

    Legal opposition to the boycott or to antisemitism would be entirely ineffective if people were not winning the political arguments.

    The Supreme Court would not have decided in favour of civil rights if there had been no civil rights movement.

    I think we need to stop denouncing everybody as Nazis, and instead we have to show people a better way.

    More blogs, more posts, more articles, more books, more history, more facts, more debate. Bring it on.

  60. Bialik Says:

    I tend to think that if people are exposed to the real facts about fascism, the holocaust, etc, they might see their comparisons are misplaced. At any rate, I believe that education is the way forward here; they can decide of their own accord. If, examining all the evidence, CB thinks that Israel is a fascist country, well that’s his prerogative. Although it would mean a massive extension of the word – but nobody owns that word.

    Everybody can decide whether they feel comfortable eating at the cafe; I wouldn’t, it is an easy decision. But what if one’s friends want to go? That’s a difficult situation.

  61. Bob Says:

    Chris from Cafe Crema just left a long and far more considered response on my blog, which I reproduce here:

    ——-

    Fair enough, I can now see that it was a mistake to write ‘Jews are as welcome here as anyone else’ in that it has been taken, by many people, in exactly the opposite way that it was intended (but perhaps I should have foreseen that – I apologise). Obviously, whilst writing anything about boycotting Israel (I’ll come to that in a bit) I wanted to also state what is obvious to me: that that doesn’t mean we’re anti-Semitic. I only felt that needed stating because certain people (such as Israeli politicians and pro-Israeli journalists) deliberately try to muddy the water by conflating anti-Israeli sentiment with anti-Semitism. I don’t care (and obviously generally don’t know) what community/religion/race/diaspora our customers come from – however in answer to the comment about taking fascist shekels, we would never knowingly serve a member of the BNP – and, in terms of individual Israelis, I don’t blame anyone for the misdeeds of their government, in the same way that I would hope that no one would hold me responsible for the misdeeds of British governments, past and present.

    But we will continue to boycott Israel, and we certainly won’t hide the fact. All the time that we’ve been open, there have been stickers on the walls calling for a boycott. To me, it’s as legitimate as boycotting South Africa was in the 1980s [By the way, we don’t use Columbian coffee beans, we use Fairtrade Brazilian beans]. It doesn’t mean that I am a supporter of Hamas. It just means that I am more than a little frustrated with seeing absolutely no progress in favour of the Palestinian people, despite decades of handwringing by Western governments (and by progressive/leftwing Israelis). The walls, roadblocks, checkpoints and settlements continue to go up; the mass-killings, collective punishments, arbritrary arrests and incarcerations carry on, as the ineffectual UN resolutions continue to be passed.

    I don’t see Hamas as being comparable to the WWII French Resistance, but I do see the Intifada in general as being so. It’s a popular uprising against a hated, and militarily far superior, occupying force. You cannot cite Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket attacks as being anywhere near the same league as what has been meted out by Israel; they don’t amount to 1 per cent of the total carnage and misery. Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it, in the same way that the USA has started to do in recent years (we boycotted them, too – and we had a notice up about it, but no complaints or counter-boycotts, as far as I’m aware – while Bush was in power; looks like it worked).

    I am well aware of the Holocaust (my wife’s stepfather was in a concentration camp as a child) and the unjust treatment and displacement of Jews in general, in much of the world, for centuries. But these facts do not give Israel a licence to kill and oppress, or to steal land, anymore than the legacy of British colonialism gives Robert Mugabe excuses for his behaviour, despite what he might say.

    And, Contentious Centrist, I’d like you to tell me exactly what my ‘ill-concealed wishes’ are, and why on earth I would feel ‘anguish …as a result of so many Jews feeling welcome in [my] cafe.’ The Jewish person who works at Café Crema certainly appears to feel welcome, and this doesn’t cause me much anguish. And this is not ‘gestural politics’. This is absolutely sincere.

    Once again, to anyone I’ve offended, or made feel unwelcome, I apologise. However, the boycott remains. I’m genuinely sorry if this means we’ll lose certain customers; that’s obviously not our intention.

    http://brockley.blogspot.com/2009/03/weekending.html?showComment=1237567320000#comment-c8787148451795961813

  62. Bialik Says:

    It is admirable to be concerned by the present situation the Palestinians find themselves in and to look for its causes, and Israel is to blame to some extent. But why single out Israel? See this article in the Wall Street Journal by Gaza-born Nonie Darwish.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123733224510363157.html .

    A few quotes:

    ” It was in those years that the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel. Even descendants of Palestinian refugees who are born in another Arab country and live there their entire lives can never gain that country’s passport. Even if they marry a citizen of an Arab country, they cannot become citizens of their spouse’s country. They must remain “Palestinian” even though they may have never set foot in the West Bank or Gaza.

    ” This policy of forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp was designed to perpetuate and exacerbate the Palestinian refugee crisis.”

    It continues:

    “Arab countries always push for classifying as many Palestinians as possible as “refugees.” As a result, about one-third of the Palestinians in Gaza still live in refugee camps. For 60 years, Palestinians have been used and abused by Arab regimes and Palestinian terrorists in their fight against Israel.

    “Now it is Hamas, an Islamist terror organization supported by Iran, which is using and abusing Palestinians for this purpose. While Hamas leaders hid in the well-stocked bunkers and tunnels they prepared before they provoked Israel into attacking them, Palestinian civilians were exposed and caught in the deadly crossfire between Hamas and Israeli soldiers.”

  63. Gil Says:

    ‘You cannot cite Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket attacks as being anywhere near the same league as what has been meted out by Israel; they don’t amount to 1 per cent of the total carnage and misery’

    What a malicious thing to say. Does this person have any compassion for Jewish victims of those who’s purpose was to kill, maim and destroy civillians in the name of a fanatic strand of Islam?

    How someone can, with such certainty, make a tally of victims and reduce them to a statistic in a spreadsheet is beyond me.

    ‘Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it, in the same way that the USA has started to do in recent years (we boycotted them, too – and we had a notice up about it, but no complaints or counter-boycotts, as far as I’m aware – while Bush was in power; looks like it worked).’

    Since you and your cafe were so successful in getting Obama elected, can we now expect a similar sign up against China? Strike while the iron is hot!

    A thoroughly disgusting person and my only regret is that I don’t go to New X and so can’t boycott his cafe, which I would without any hesitation.

  64. MITNAGED Says:

    I’m sorry, I think I am going word-blind.

    Did I read above that Chris actually said that his boycott (HIS boycott) of American goods worked??? How exactly? Did it alone topple Bush from power? Does Chris not realise that the American constitution prevented Bush from standing again for a third term?

    I am glad of the apology for the offence he caused, but he compounds it. As Gil says above, the part about suicide murder being less damaging in terms of casualties than anything done by Israel shows a lamentable lack of sensitivity for the dead in Israel and for the Palestinians whose heads have been messed with by Hamas and its fellow travellers so as to turn them into human bombs. He would be more believable if he condemned the abuse of the human rights of these people.

    I don’t accept that desperation causes this – the actions themselves are too manipulative and meticulously planned to be acts of desperation, and besides millions of persons around the world are desperate but don’t resort to the murder of themselves whilst killing people going about their daily lives.

  65. fred Says:

    Mira: “Fred, I really rate Muffin” — i’m not sure what it means that you rate him?

    It doesn’t appear Tzipi Livni buys your argument that Leiberman’s “main motivation is security:”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/mideastemail/la-fg-israel-loyalty7-2009feb07,0,198786,full.story

    “Livni, while lamenting ‘the trend for a party whose entire slate is based on hate,'”

    Your bringing up Griffin & the “eradication of society’s weeds” made me think of the following quote from Uzi Arad, Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor. It’s from an interview with the settlers’ Arutz Sheva station, last October:


    “I don’t think that one has to go that far because at the end of the day, I don’t think the majority of Israelis want to see themselves responsible for the Palestinians. We do not want to control the Palestinian population. It’s unnecessary. What we do want is to care for our borders, for the Jewish settlements and for areas which are unpopulated and to have our security interests served well. But also to take under our responsibility these populations which, believe me, are not the most productive on earth, would become a burden. We want to relieve ourselves of the burden of the Palestinian populations – not territories. It is territory we want to preserve, but populations we want to rid ourselves of.”

  66. Arieh Lebowitz Says:

    When a friend saw the first post, she wrote back “I will forward this to everyone I know in London so they can boycott this place.”

    So I wrote:

    No – I’d suggest against telling people to boycott this place {they can decide on their own}, but they SHOULD send a letter of protest and say that this is terrible, and that they will find another place less discriminatory to eat at – and that they will tell their friends — a lot of their friends — to do the same. And people can and should post relevant comments on the comments page here: http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/cafe-crema-london/ and here: http://www.qype.co.uk/place/86674-Cafe-Crema-London/ and here: http://trustedplaces.com/review/uk/london/cafe/1d1337t/cafe-crema/ and here: http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/restaurants/cafe-crema-review-28224.html/ {there may be more, but I DO have other pressing matters … you get the idea.}
    Seems to me that a very slight change in their clientele would do less than a lot of protest letters, yes?
    Share the word. Address of Cafe Crema below:
    Cafe Crema
    306 New Cross Road
    London SE14 6AF

  67. HebrewMan Says:

    Everybody but Chris is welcome to have some real coffee in my local cafe in Tel Aviv.

    Jews in the UK should make aliya – this is just the beginning!

  68. Elisabeth Says:

    This is complex. I feel uncomfortable about the idea of boycotting Israeli goods. That’s because I am Jewish and Israel feels a part of me. However I am also deeply upset by the current hardline aggressive Israeli administration. I am also left-wingish so I support boycotting generally – it is a legitimate form of peaceful economic protest. See? It is complex…

    Chris’s sign may have been misguided but I agree with A Good Jew – it was clearly intended to allay fears – not generate more. Perhaps he sees both sides; wants everyone to be friends but also feels he must make a stand with a peaceful protest?

  69. Albatros Says:

    “I am also left-wingish so I support boycotting generally”

    Problem is, boycott is not “general”: there is only one target.

    Not China, not Saudi Arabia, not Russia, not the countries we live in (France, UK, Canada) although a left-wing(ish) could find 1 or 2 reasons to boycott in each one of the above cases.

    That’s intriguing, to say the least.

    Targeting Israel is not necessarily antisemitic: in many cases it’s just conformity, an easy way to be identified as a good guy, like wearing a Che t-shirt or growing a beard.

  70. Andrew Halper Says:

    David, thanks for an excellent posting. The hypocrisy of it all is overwhelming.

    Andrew

  71. Mira Vogel Says:

    Hi Elisabeth,

    I think that sometimes “I am Jewish and Israel feels part of me” can lead in a number of alternative directions.

    One is “Israel is staining my reputation as a Jew” – a sense of social embarrassment; the path of least resistance is to loudly dissociate oneself from Israel and condemn Israel to demonstrate that one is not a bad kind of Jew. I reject this because its premises assume collective responsibility of Jews – who do not vote there and have no influence – for Israel.

    Or (more charitably) “Israel claims to represent me – therefore it is my responsibility to try to influence things”. I reject this – it should be obvious that no Israeli can claim to represent me. I didn’t elect them. I am not responsible. We have broadly different interests.

    Or your view (I think) – “Israel is a central Jewish concern for me, and I want to influence it for the better by applying pressure”. I would respond that the peace and rights groups working on the ground don’t welcome boycott because it entrenches many of the attitudes which have made the conflict so long-lasting. They boycott campaign has an anti-Jewish flavour to it, too, residing in the fact that the main drivers of the campaign wish to see Israel subsumed into a single state, but are unconcerned by existing regional hostility to Jews. Boycotters often have poor awareness of the history of the conflict, or of theories of conflict resolution and political settlement. Very few people who understand these aspects are boycotters. The boycott often seems ignorant, self-indulgent, prejudiced and discriminatory – and well-meaning at the same time – but no less ignorant prejudiced and discriminatory for that. The worry is that the one-sidedness and selectivity of Israel campaigning is very reminiscent of the singling out Jews have historically experienced, and that it is a precursor of more of the same.

    I think that selective concern about Israel is ok in itself but I’m hard pressed to explain it. This came into sharp focus over new year when conflicts in Congo, Darfur and particularly Sri Lanka intensified sharply with huge bloodshed, but where the international news was almost entirely given over to Gaza. I found it inappropriate and ominous.

    Incidentally, your site made me hungry.

  72. Bill Says:

    Elisabeth:

    “Chris’s sign may have been misguided but I agree with A Good Jew – it was clearly intended to allay fears – not generate more. Perhaps he sees both sides; wants everyone to be friends but also feels he must make a stand with a peaceful protest?”

    Once again, rewrite the statement in terms of Blood Diamonds or Mugabe and then “graciously” welcoming blacks. Did he mean it as an act of backhand and backfiring generosity or an opportunity to ride his pony like a high horse? Who knows. But turn on your reasonable person filters and ask yourself a) if the above “Mugabe” scenario would have passed his or his people’s sanity detectors and b) all Jews, not just “Good Jews,” as it were, would be welcome – i.e., Would a British Jew wearing a “Bibi Rocks” tshirt be “welcome”?

    After chewing it over, the answer to me is c) none of the above.

  73. MITNAGED Says:

    Mira, I have been watching your exchange with Elisabeth and I agree with much of what you say.

    People’s inability to articulate why the notion of boycott is disturbing to them may be a symptom of the “smoke and mirrors” aspect of any proposed boycott – which claims to be one thing (ie condemnatory of Israel) and yet quickly lapses into a more sinister other – antisemitism.

    I adopt a very simple rule of thumb to judge whether criticism of Israel is antisemitic or not. Central to it is whether the person/people who are vociferously against Israel can confine themselves to arguing against Israel’s actions and behaviours without mentioning Israel’s Jewishness; in other words, whether they could agree that where Israel has erred it has been because of her political behaviour and stance, not her religious one.

    After all, we criticise Hamas and Fatah and Saudi and other countries and rarely conflate their geography and location with their religion in this invidious way.

    Jew-haters who are trying to “pass” and who masquerade as being anti-Israel and not antisemitic can rarely keep their animus towards the Jewishness of Israel out of their criticisms of her. This happens in the Arab countries, where “Jew” “Zionist” and “Israeli” are used interchangeably and insulted equally. At one level it evidences sloppy thinking, but it also denotes a visceral sort of hatred which goes beyond the sort of criticism of a country that one usually finds.

    It happens here too.

    The great imponderable for me – because ultimately reasons for it cannot be proven, can they – is why this criticism of Israel (and prime examples of it can be found on the hate-spewing Comment is Free in Guardian Unlimited), is so deeply embedded into blood and bone in the critics so that they cannot let go of it.

    I believe that this obsessive aspect can be more appropriately attributed to antisemitism than to mere hatred of a country or its policies towards other people.

  74. Mira Vogel Says:

    Yeah makes sense about the Jewishness argument.

  75. vildechaye Says:

    RE: I was told by Chris (i presume it was Chris) that one of his best customers and his business advisor wears a skullcap.

    I guess one of his best customers is jewish.

  76. vildechaye Says:

    Hey i live in canada so this is purely academic, but weighing in on the boycott question, i agree that a boycott of a small business is rather silly, but on a personal level, that business would never get my business again. If that is considered a boycott nowadays, so be it.

  77. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Vildechaye, only if you organised a campaign to get everybody else to do the same. There are stores I strongly prefer not to shop in, but I’m not going around telling everyone else that they must follow my example.

    I don’t believe in boycotts. I do believe in freedom of action to shop or not, buy or not, as I choose

  78. A Good Jew Says:

    Elisabeth,
    Please let me begin by stating that I respect you views (see below)

    However, I was being ironic. I thought my first line,
    “David,
    calm down; you’re ok; it;s the others he doesn’t like” was evidence of that.

    If one looks at Chris’s statement, his boycotting of Israel is premised on untruths (twice he repeated the notion that Israel are guilty of ongoing mass killings (i.e. genocide)).

    Also, if he wants everyone to be “friends”, then boycotting one side is hardly a way to encourage dialogue.

    I am also wary of the notion of “friend” as a political concept.

    I think, more appropriate, as you would agree I am sure, are notions of equality and justice; notions that I do not believe are and can be furthered by a boycott nor by professions of friendship.

    Many of the groups working for those goals in both Israel and Palestine are opposed to a boycott and (I should imagine) wary of “friendship”. Instead, they are struggling for justice and equality despite their lack of friendship. That, amongst many other reasons, is why they should not only be admired but wholeheartedly supported.

    (Indeed, I should imagine too that those committed to that course of action have lost many of their “friends” as well (and I don’t just mean through military violence).

    “That’s because I am Jewish and Israel feels a part of me.”
    I think we have to be careful here too. Many people oppose the boycott on political grounds rather than one’s religious faith.

    It is unfortunate to perpetuate the myth that only Jews oppose the boycott. It buys into the idea that the old AUT motion that Engage helped overturn was supported by Jews and Jews only. Nothing is further from the truth. One need only look at the composition of Engage as illistrative.

    Finally, I, like you oppose Israel’s recourse to militarism.

    Equally, I look to those soldiers who felt the need to speak out and found a national daily willing and able to cover the story and realise that Israel is more and less what both its defenders and detractors would like to present. (As comparison, look what happened in the UK when the Daily Mirror broke the story of British troops abusing/torturing Iraqi civilians and combatants.).

    So, the glass may be half empty, but it is also half full.

    In solidarity,
    A Good Jew

  79. David Hirsh Says:

    Elisabeth: “I feel uncomfortable about the idea of boycotting Israeli goods. That’s because I am Jewish and Israel feels a part of me. However I am also deeply upset by the current hardline aggressive Israeli administration.”

    I feel the same.

    Israel is part of Jews.

    If you boycott Israel, you are boycotting a part of most Jews.

    And that is dangerous.

    And it doesn’t do any good.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Some people find it impossible to reconcile, from a non-Israeli Jew the two positions “I am not responsible” and “Israel is a part of me”.

      Arthur Koestler dealt with it by saying that if you’re not going to move to Israel, you should forget about being Jewish (Isaiah Berlin dismissed this as petty tyranny).

      Independent Jewish Voices deal with it by suggesting that non-Israeli Jews are responsible for Israel (but they don’t campaign, as far as I can see, for the franchise).

      • Ethan Nechin Says:

        Hi,
        I am a student at goldsmiths. I am from Israel and I am Jewish. Koestler’s point is invalid because in Nazi Germany there plenty of “emancipated” jews that considered themselves citizens of Europe and had Chisrtmas trees in their houses. It did not matter when the nazis took them in trains from all across Europe to concentration camps.
        Yes, it is hard and even sometime can be a burdon being a Jew in the diaspora, that does not mean you have to give up your identity because you are a bit afraid. As one of the only Israelis and Jews I met so far at Uni. I do not reseve my opnions. He who dosen’t is a coward. Behind closed doors a lot of people make great statemnts but they will not speak loudly. Apperintly the UK higer education system is not a place where one can speak freely withput scrutiny.
        It is even more laughable when students and others critisez without knowing or whithout wanting to know the two sides of the conflict. Maybe there are suffering from post-colonial guilt. I am not as I have been part of your empire and have been persecuted by the people of the EU for generations upon generations.

  80. Gordon Hodgson Says:

    Jesus, there’s no better way to renind someone they’re accidentally American as to find out that a British Cafe was boycotting American products. I wonder if they would have reminded me I was welcome?

  81. Lutz Riedrich Says:

    Hi,
    I am a non jewish German citizen and I am wondering if Mr Boddington boycotts anyone else because of noble reasons, for example Iran, Syria or different other countries or is this the privilege of Israel? How about the human rights situation there?
    Further more does it mean that he supports oranisations like Hamas, Hizbullah and so on in their fight against the facist Israel?
    Maybe we can meet for the next Christopher Street Parade in Teheren or Kairo?

    Best regards

    Lutz Riedrich

    P.S.: I am not gay but I like to have the freedom to go to the CSD!

  82. modernityblog Says:

    I think Creme’s boycott is a mere gesture, after all how likely are they to actually use Israeli products in the process of providing tea and cakes?

    Not very.

    As with many anti-Israelis they’ll moan a bit, but would rarely inconvenient themselves by boycotting Israel’s technological developments, such as the latest Google search algorithm or Israeli medical advances.

    No, I can’t see these anti-Israeli types really putting themselves out, vacant gestures are more their style.

  83. Ethan Nechin Says:

    First of all i am a student at Goldsmiths. I did a film for school and wanted to film in a coffee shop for an hour. when I asked if I can come and film for the student project, the manager asked me for 20 pounds for the use of one table for an hour. I find it disgracefull that a place that does not hold anyt licenses and that begged us to keep it open can not accomadate students.
    Secondly, I an ISRAELI! I saw this ad as well. I just find it hypocritical that a place like this that accomadates “free” thinkers can be so racist. Chris’ policy is anti semitic, he probably does not even know it. “Jews are welcome”, if you need to post this on your wall it means that you actually contimplated not to welcome jews. I don’t blame you. a lot of shop owners in Europe had that same question when Nazi Germany came in. probably in the begining they made a stand but it was damaging for buisness so they excluded them. Oh well Chris, when the time comes just say you were caught up in the herd mentality and that everybody was doing it. As for your cafe, I hope it will continue so it can be a symbol for the haterid and the new undercover anti-semticism dressed up as anti-zionism.
    You are most welcome to come to my house and chat… although I carry Elite coffee!

  84. OliConwayGoldsmiths Says:

    This has obviously been a very provocative issue and any response i have has been echoed by 90% of the people commenting.

    I saw the sign as not only ignorant but not business minded… with the opening of the goldsmiths “common room” run by an ex-crema employee, which im sure has affected mr. chris’s business hugely from what i have heard as they have copied to the letter his business model.

    To cause such a large part of the student community and i re-iterate LARGE, as it offends not only the jewish/israeli community but those like my self which deeply sympathise with jews and israelis…to give reason to these people not to frequent a struggling business in a harsh economic climate seems madness.

    i would have far more respect for a business thats only sign stated “leave your beliefs and poltics at the door, Humans welcome!…(guide dogs aslo welcome)… :)”

    alas such a day seems so distant.

    division sells.

    peace always.

    Oli.x

  85. anonymous Says:

    To oppress another is to be as bad as the worst oppressor, in a sense it is fair to compare Israel and Nazi Germany on this fact alone. When you are born it could be said to be chance where you then appear upon the earth, however to take this stance you are accepting that we are all equal, so to take part or not actively react against a regime which does not agree with this stance is to reinforce the regime, the people who are oppressed by the said regime do not have a choice to be complicit with the actions of the oppressed; yet the individuals within the state which is the oppressor do have this choice therefore they can act against the oppression with the chance to remove this oppression. To boycott is to take a stance which if implemented widely can allow financial disruption in the country which refuses to accept we are all of the same worth. I am not anti semitic, I am anti religion and to have a distinguishing factor with which you can claim (with no factual basis) to be consistently correct and of higher worth than another is inherently unjust and unforgivable. No one person is of more worth than another until people realise and act upon this we will have block condemnation of a group which will only serve to perpetuate this hurting more than it serves to help.

  86. Olympia Food Co-op boycott: wrong « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] College Union, for example) they have identified a problem in pro-Palestinian movements and (unlike Cafe Crema, for example) consider it their problem: “Unfortunately, anti-Semitic statements have [...]

  87. Stan Athel Says:

    Israel is not a fascist state. It is a democratic ethnic nationalist state, in which group membership is largely defined by pedigree.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Perhaps some of the commentators here will show the same forbearance when indigenous British people try to promote their own ethnic group interests?

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      “group membership is largely defined by pedigree.

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ”

      I think I know what you’re getting at Stan. Thing is, Zionism didn’t grow out of a sense of a pedigree. It grew out of fatal persecution. In Israel, the trend for anti-racist law is good – it’s improving, for the time being. “Indigenous British people” are not persecuted because they are British. If “indigenous British people” choose to frame their interests as ethnic interests, it has different implications. They need a different response.


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