The Livingstone Formulation

I’m doing some work on the use of the Livingstone Formulation.  I’m collecting examples.  If anyone knows of examples that I’ve missed, please quote in the comments box with links or references.  I’m particularly interested in its use in academic and high profile public discourse.  I’ve got instances from, in no particular order:

Judith Butler, Ken Livingstone, Stephen Sizer, Jenny Tonge, Tam Dalyell, UCU, UCU mark II, Jacqueline Rose, Richard Ingrams, BBC website (on David Miliband), Anatol Lieven, Tony Judt, Antony Lerman, Mearsheimer and Walt, Charles Linbergh, Norman Finkelstein, David Duke, Nick Griffin, Caroline Lucas, Johan Hari, Bruce Kent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, BBC website (US withdrawal from Durban Review), Martin Shaw twice Caryl Churchill, Paul Oestreicher, Tariq Ali, Kare Willoch, Ken Loach, Fintan O’Toole, Michael Neumann.

There are two elements to the Livingstone Formulation.  Firstly a conflation of something which is arguably, at least, connected to antisemitism into “criticism” and secondly an accusation (usually implied) that the “critic” is being characterized as antisemitic knowingly and in bad faith by the Jews or by the ‘Israel lobby’ (usually implied)  in order to try to de-legitimize criticism of Israel.

All help gratefully received.

103 Responses to “The Livingstone Formulation”

  1. johng Says:

    Is your claim that any attempt to refute an allegation of anti-semitism which claims that the allegation is politically interested or mischievous fits into what you refer to as the Livingstone formulation, or are you suggesting that only those examples in which the attempt to refute such an allegation are politically or mischievous does? In the first case, I think it empties the ‘Livingstone formulation’ of any charge (simply because its grossly implausible), in the second place it suggests that the ‘Livingstone formulation’ does not stand on its own, and therefore is perhaps not the knockdown argument some might have imagined.

  2. David Hirsh Says:

    Johng,

    It isn’t complicated.

    there are two elements.

    Firstly, there is a conflation of antisemitism or concrete exclusion or demonization into “criticism”. This is a way of avoiding relating to the charge.

    For example, Jenny Tonge does conspiracy theory and then defends her right to do criticism. But she doesn’t defend her right to do conspiracy theory. It is a rhetorical device for her to avoid defending her right to do conspiracy theory.

    Secondly, there is the allegation that anybody who raises the issue of antisemitism when it has some connection to anti-Israel discourse, does so in bad faith in order to de-legitimize criticism of Israel. It is therefore not an allegation that the anti-antisemite is mistaken but it is an allegation that they are dishonest.

    And since they are all dishonest in the same way then it is also a charge of conspiracy.

    johng, don’t play dumb.

    • Anthony Says:

      I’m sorry, I think it is complicated.

      So, simply, does your analysis of this ‘Livingstone Formulation’ mean that claiming an adversary is erroneously welding together genuine criticism of Israel with anti-semitism is inescapable proof of the claimant’s anti-semitism?

      If so it possesses a certain brand of genius.

  3. Nancy Says:

    Roald Dahl?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Dahl#Controversies

    But he also sort of admitted to disliking Jews.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Dahl, in the wikipedia link, “There’s a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity . . . I mean there is always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.” That he admitted to sort of not liking Jews is awfully nice of him (“some of my best friends…”?), but doesn’t absolve him, even posthumously, from what appears to be a clear example of the Livingstone Formulation.

      Spot on, Nancy

      • David Hirsh Says:

        He doesn’t do it! He doesn’t say that he’s accused of antisemitism but really he’s only criticizing Israel. He says that Israel’s apalling behaviour has made him antisemitic.

        He doesn’t accuse anybody of maliciously accusing him of being antisemitic. He is proud of it and he thinks he has good reason.

  4. MattG Says:

    “johng, don’t play dumb.”

    If its the same JohnG that frequents the Comments threads on HarrysPlace (and then usually disappears with his tail between his legs) then Im afraid that is the only ‘play’ he knows.

    Back on topic Robert Fisk has been using the formulation for years.

    Or how about Alexie Sayle and the ‘as a jew’ crowd.

    As well as doing some work about “the use of the Livingstone Formulation’ how about a piece about people who pretend not to understand it? Preferably examples of people of consequence (ie not JohnG above).

    Cheers

    MattG

  5. James Mendelsohn Says:

    Stuart Littlewood

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/opinion/?id=31171

    Most of the responses to Howard Jacobson

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-jacobson-on-gaza-1628191.html

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-scots-suspicion-of-the-english-1629868.html (NB especially Ben White)

    Desmond Tutu

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/29/comment

    FWIW it would also be interesting to assess how widely the formulation is used at a more popular level. I was alarmed to see a classic usage in the letters page of a local newspaper a few weeks ago. If the formulation is filtering down from the level of academic and high-profile discourse into an everyday assumption of many in the wider population, then I believe that spells trouble for British Jews.

  6. Bill Says:

    Here’s a question from an old fart old enough to remember one of the honorees in his heyday — when he was promoted to make the KKK more socially respectable …

    Can a bona fide, proven and admitted antisemite like David Duke even use the Livingstone Formulation? Isn’t it supposed to be something to hide behind? He’s got a pretty big “silhouette” to be hiding behind a number-2 pencil like the LF!

  7. David Hirsh Says:

    well you’d think, wouldn’t you Bill – but there it is, in the second paragraph:

    David Duke: “It is perfectly acceptable to criticize any nation on the earth for its errors and wrongs, but lo and behold, don’t you dare criticize Israel; for if you do that, you will be accused of the most abominable sin in the modern world, the unforgivable sin of anti-Semitism!”

    Nick Griffin too, who is the ‘leader’ of the fascist party in the UK, the BNP:

    “Those who claim … that to criticise any Jew or group of Jews is a mortal sin against a group singled out by God or Hitler for special treatment and in consequence entitled ever-after to carry a globally valid ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, are clearly in the grip either of PC self-censorship or the last misguided upholders of the late 19th century ‘Master Race’ fantasy.”

    So yes, these two antisemites use the LF.

    And people who are not antisemites, but who stumble into antisemitic ways of thinking, often use precisely the same formula.

    • Bill Says:

      “And people who are not antisemites, but who stumble into antisemitic ways of thinking, often use precisely the same formula.”

      And even link to their webpages :-/

      Point painfully taken.

  8. johng Says:

    But the difficulty is, if your suggesting that it can never be the case that the charge of anti-semitism is used to deflect criticism of Israel, then this is just implausible. Its not about playing dumb. Its about taking your formulation seriously. If on the other hand you are discussing a case where someone conflates anti-semitism with criticism this is in fact a seperate issue. The issue here is to decide whether what they’ve actually said is anti-semitic.

    • David Hirsh Says:

      No the issue is not to decide whether what they’ve actually said is antisemitic. The issue is for the person to answer the charge. To take it seriously.

      So if somebody says that the UCU is implementing an antisemitic policy by excluding Israelis and if they say further than this policy fosters an antisemitic culture within the union, then the union can do one of two things.

      It can say why it doesn’t believe an exclusion of israelis is antisemitic and it can say why it doesn’t believe that the culture which drives so many Jews out of the union is antisemitic. That is what it ought to do. It might defend itself successfully or its defence might be found to be inadequate.

      But what it actually does is to say: “criticism of Israel cannot be construed as antisemitic”.

      or “criticism of Israel, as such, is not antisemitic.”

      It refuses to consider seriously the claim that is made by conflating it into something which everyone agrees is legitimate – criticism.

      But it goes further than refusing to engage with the claim.

      Because it then goes on to explain why the (obviously false) claim is made – it is made dishonestly in order to de-legitimize criticisim.

      So of course it is possible for somebody to defend themselves against a charge of antisemitism.

      But it is interesting that so often this particular formulation is employed which refuses to take the charge seriously and instead accuses those who make the charge of conspiracy.

      It is also possible for somebody to make a claim of antisemitism in bad faith. How would we deal with such a person. Firstly, we would have to demonstrate that their claim is false. This is not done by the Livingstone formulation. Then it is necessary to demonstrate bad faith. That is not done by the Livingstone formulation either.

  9. johng Says:

    The issue of demonisation is again a seperate issue. It is not at all unusual for campaigners to pick out States they regard as guilty of one kind of abuse or another for special condemnation. Demonisation can be anti-semitic. But it is not neccessarily so. Otherwise one would have to say that anyone who singles out Iran for special criticism is guilty of anti-Persian racism (which of course they might be). There can be no question that Aparthied South Africa was demonised by Anti-Aparthied campaigners, that they singled out this State for special condemnation etc. The issue about whether this was right or not revolved around discussion about whether the types of abuses of which the Aparthied State was guilty were especially egrarious or not: not whether ‘singling out’ or ‘demonisation’ were wrong per se. If your mounting a campaign against a set of practices which you think are very bad, its not abnormal to demonise the institutions which carry it out. News organisations which are not campaigning organisations will tend to report in more neutral tones (allegedly). Sometimes there seems to be a desire that those campaigning against the occupation of the territories and the abuses associated with that should be news rather then campaigning organisations (which by definition seek to mobilise support for their campaign against the institutions which carry out the abuses they are concerned with). I believe that the real issue here is whether or not the practices carried out by the Israeli State are especially egrarious or not. I think this issue is largely obscured in much polemic about the alleged motivations of those arguing about it.

    • David Hirsh Says:

      Demonization is to treat a phenomenon in the real world as though it were the work of the devil, as if it were uniquely evil. This is not smart politics. It is not smart social theory. It is not a democratic or a cosmopolitan mind-set.

      Demonization may be motivated by racism and/or it may lead to racism. Or it may not.

      But the point of the Livingstone Formulation is to side-step a charge of demonization.

      So if I say you are demonizing Israel then it would be entirely reasonable either to show how you were not demonizing Israel but were in fact making legitimate criticism of the kind that you make generally. Or you could show that Israel was satanic – or was at least uniquely evil in some sense or another – and so it deserved to be singled out for demonization.

      But the Livingstone Formulation doesn’t do this. It conflates demonization with criticism and it insists on the legitimacy of criticism.

      It doesn’t answer the charge. It turns defence into attack without answering the charge. And the attack it makes is simply one of bad faith. It is an ad hominem attack.

    • Efraim Says:

      “The issue of demonisation is again a seperate issue. It is not at all unusual for campaigners to pick out States they regard as guilty of one kind of abuse or another for special condemnation. Demonisation can be anti-semitic. But it is not neccessarily so. Otherwise one would have to say that anyone who singles out Iran for special criticism is guilty of anti-Persian racism (which of course they might be).”

      What David Hirsh said, but in addition there is this wrinkle.

      If critics of Iran were to say that Persians have no right to a State of their own, that their very existence was a cause of strife in the world then yes the campaigners would be anti-Persian and not just against the policies of the Iranian government.

      Many of the people who attack Israel don’t stop at criticizing some government’s policy or policies; they claim that the very existence of the Jewish State is the problem. They hate the very idea of Jewish sovereignty. This isn’t just criticism, JohnG. It is antisemitism.

  10. Ed Kaplan Says:

    Hi David — surely James Petras qualifies. His website is here:

    http://petras.lahaine.org/

    For example, in a ditty titled “Challenging the power of the Israel Lobby: What should be done?” he writes:

    11. Organize boycotts and campaigns to demand that local, regional, and national mass media outlets report and interview Israeli critics as well as its spokespeople. Propose debates, round tables, and forums which include Israeli critics as well as its spokespeople; file legal suits against Jewish lobbyists making libelous accusations of “anti-semitism” against informed critics who suffer loss of career appointments or promotions. Organize legal teams to challenge the impunity of the vicious slanderers and perpetrators of hate crimes among pro-Israel ideologues.

    http://petras.lahaine.org/articulo.php?p=1661&more=1&c=1

    Here’s another one:

    Without the bluster and public hearings of former Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Jewish Lobby has systematically undermined the principal pillars of our fragile democracy. While the US Congress, media, academics, retired military and public figures are free to criticize the President, any criticism of Israel, much less the Jewish Lobby, is met with vicious attacks in all the op-ed pages of major newspapers by an army of pro-Israeli ‘expert’ propagandists, demands for firings, purges and expulsions of the critics from their positions or denial of promotions or new appointments. In the face of any prominent critic calling into question the Lobby’s role in shaping US policy to suit Israel’s interests, the entire apparatus (from local Jewish federations, AIPAC, the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations etc) go into action – smearing, insulting and stigmatizing the critics as ‘anti-Semites’. By denying free speech and public debate through campaigns of calumny and real and threatened repercussions the Jewish Lobby has denied Americans one of their more basic freedoms and constitutional rights.

    http://petras.lahaine.org/articulo.php?p=1688

  11. zkharya Says:

    “Demonisation can be anti-semitic. But it is not neccessarily so.”

    I think demonizing Jews is always antisemitic, especially when they aren’t behaving like devils. Demonizing Israeli Jews occurs in an historical context in which Jews have been demonized or regarded as especially ethnically evil or base for much of Christian and Islamic history.

    In fact the second or largest Jewish community of Israel exists, in no small part, for that very reason.

    John Game is an intelligent fellow, very knowledgeable in some matters, spectacularly ignorant in others. But, as I have said before, his view of the present, it seems to me, is as of a postmodern island floating anchorless and free on a surreal sea. A side but related issue, his castigation of the successors of the Nasser whom-he-lauds for the vices which that one in fact instigated bespeaks a mind that has difficulty ordering, or connecting, cause and effect.

    The Enlightenment in a few places, chiefly North and Western Europe, swept away the old religio-ethnic definitions of peoples, including Jews. But it also brought an oblivion of memory that forgot or simply grew up not to know the kinds of circumstances in which most Israeli Jews originated.

    The enemy of the Jew has always been the ignorant mob, led by the half-educated demagogue, to which rank John Game may not aspire, but with which he certainly chooses to associate.

    “If your mounting a campaign against a set of practices which you think are very bad, its not abnormal to demonise the institutions which carry it out.”

    “set of practices”. John seeks the extinction of the Jewish state, which even Richard Seymour admits would lead soon to the extinction of the Israeli. Galloway is openly for “a secular Palestinian state from the river to sea where every Jew, Christian and Muslim has equal rights”, and lately has assured an old Palestinian man that he will return to his home, if not drive out the Jews altogether. He has implied, if not actually said, that Israeli Jews behaved like Nazis when he said Gazan Christians and Muslims were in “the exact same position as the Jews in Warsaw in 1943”. This coupled with “shut down Israel’s shops” led to the week of smashing Starbucks. Of which acts John Game may not have directly approved, or shared, but similarly seems to have “let go” when he described fellow Muslim demonstrators’ attitudes to Starbucks, on that particular march, as “progressive”.

    Actually John’s argument for eradication of the set of practices which is Israel is exactly analogous to that used by those who argued for the eradication of the set of practices which was Israel long before the modern Jewish state of Israel existed.

    That is the historical context of “demonizing” Israeli Jews.

  12. johng Says:

    Demonisation of course literally means portraying individuals, groups or institutions as in some sense demonic and connected to the nether regions. Obviously if someone engages in this sort of literalism they are not engaged in rational discussion (unless and of course they are discussing hell). However singling out institutions or states for special condemnation is often referred to by opponents of such singling out as ‘demonisation’. This use of metaphore implies that the singling out in question is in fact irrational and akin to some kind of bigotry. Now there might be reasons why it is thought that a given State should be singled out for special condemnation. In the case of Aparthied South Africa these reasons did not simply include the bare facts of exploitation or oppression, other examples of which, unfortunately legion, but the principles which motivated this exploitation and oppression, in this case of racism. It was felt that this made Aparthied South Africa a special case, something very much objected to by those who would have preferred the exploitation and oppression which existed inside Aparthied South Africa with other African countries and indeed, countries behind the iron curtain during the cold war. A contributing factor seems to me to have been the structure of liberal thought. Critics to the left of Liberalism have often pointed to the asymmetrical relationship between political and social inequality charecteristic of Liberal capitalist societies. The strengths and weaknesses of this argument aside, the dominance of the ideal of political equality seems to have played a role in the singling out of South Africa to be treated as ‘a polecat among nations’ as a prominant Aparthied era South African politician put it. This may also be a factor in the growing public concern about Israel’s conduct towards the Palestinians irrespective of the detail of Israel’s actual conduct towards them (which is horrifying in itself) or indeed the often horrifying methods used by those who claim the mantle of the resistance towards that conduct amongst Palestinians. That Palestinians are in the curious position of not being focibly assimilated (as in the case of Tibet) or on the other hand granted statehood, may be one of the things that increasingly puts a questionmark on the legitimacy of a state responsible for mantaining this status quo. It is unclear to me that it is possible, in these circumstances, to consistantly apply the term ‘demonisation’ in its irrational sense, to those who argue that the Israeli State should be singled out for special condemnation.

    • David Hirsh Says:

      Johng, you have abandoned your defence of the Livingstone Formulation – or your critique of it as a category and have moved onto different ground.

      You believe that it is reasonable to single out Israel for something similar to demonization.

      That isn’t the argument I’m interested in having with you right now.

      The argument I wanted to make – and the one that you have conceded – is that it is not good enough simply to conflate demonization into criticism. It is necessary to take the charge of demonization seriously and to respond to it. Which you have now done.

      So congratulations, you haven’t use the Livingstone Formulation this time.

  13. Nancy Says:

    Michael Scheuer – author and former CIA analyst – has been odious for a long time. Don’t know how familiar readers here are with him. But, here’s an excerpt of his latest excreta, courtesy of Jeffrey Goldberg:

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/03/scheuer_emanuel_is_a_treasonou.php

  14. Alex Says:

    JohnG,

    At least one of us must have missed the point, so I will try to explain what I think the point of the LF is. Hopefully if I have missed the point, David will correct me, and if I haven’t, hopefully I will make things clearer.

    Before I begin though, I will say one thing about criticism of Israel. While not all of what is claimed as criticism of Israel is anti-semitic, it is remarkably easy to bring in anti-semitic language or imagery when criticising Israel.

    The situation works as follows: Someone either criticises Israel or makes antisemitic comments (usually while mentioning Israel in an attempt at cover) or both.

    Either the comments or the commenter are labelled antisemitic.

    The commenter then adopts the following (referred to as the Livingstone Formulation)

    The commenter claims that they were criticising Israel with some level between implicit and an explicit declaration that criticising Israel is not antisemitic. As I said earlier, it is possible to do both. More important than what they do is what they don’t do. They don’t try to explain why what they said wasn’t antisemitic. They don’t acknowledge that the concerns may have validity or try to demonstrate that their criticism was purely criticism and had no antisemitic element to it.

    The second thing the commenter does is to claim that they are being censored or suppressed and debate is being stifled by unfair and untrue allegations. Again, this is not demonstrating that their initial comment was not antisemitic. What it is doing is alleging that Jews are dishonest, devious and underhanded. That Jews are stifling legitimate criticism. What is significant here (aside from the accusation of bad faith) is that the commenter isn’t responding to an individual accuser. They don’t say “David tries to censor…” they broaden an individual’s accusation to encompass all possible accusers, as if they are being beset by a million accusers all acting dishonestly and speaking through a representative. This does two things: it moves into the realm of conspiracy; and it removes any legitimacy from the accuser, relegating them to the role of puppet.

    Most significantly, (to reiterate) the commenter never tries to justify why the accusation is false or why their “criticism of Israel” is legitimate. We don’t even get a weak, Carol Thatcher-like apology-if-anyone-was-offended or it was a jocular comment or private conversation. We don’t get a political “I was taken out of context” or “Mistakes were made”. All we get is a “she was asking for it”.

    David, have I missed something?

  15. Absolute Observer Says:

    “its not abnormal to demonise the institutions which carry it out”

    I’ve checked my sources, but can’t find it. Can you tell me exactly where Stalin said that.

  16. NIMN Says:

    “If your mounting a campaign against a set of practices which you think are very bad, its not abnormal to demonise the institutions which carry it out.”

    It would, indeed, be a vast improvement if the antizionists did start to campaign against “a set of practices which you think are very bad and then demomise it.

    Unfortunately, and this is Johng’s party’s line; they begin by demonising not only the very existence of the country (Israel) that carries out the disapproved of actions, but also that people’s claim to self-determation and the country that emerged form it *(after, of course, many, many mediations and then having done so, move onto the set of practices “which they think are very bad”(but completely acceptable, or not so “bad” elsewhere) which are then demonised.

    It is called a tautology, that begins and ends, and begins again, with demonisation (at least when it comes to Israel).

    • Toby Esterhase Says:

      “If you’re mounting a campaign against a set of practices which you think are very bad, its not abnormal to demonise the institutions which carry it out.”

      This is absolutely barking mad.

      The idea that socialists or democrats or liberals – or decent human beings – ought to campaign against bad practices by demonizing them is utterly alien to any kind of political tradition of which I would like to be a part.

      We should look reality squarely in the face, describe it accurately and respond to it. We should respond to the bad practices and campaign against them.

      It is true that it “isn’t abnormal” to demonise. But the left should be able to provide an example here, some socialist leadership. It shouldn’t go along with a mob who can only think to demonise.

      We shouldn’t pretend that ‘bad practices’ are demonic. Or Satanic. And we shouldn’t set out to root out the evil. We should set out to make sure that better practices are adopted.

      I think Johng is betraying a real fascistic streak here. Or perhaps it is a Stalinist streak. So, come to think about it, perhaps it is rightly characterized as a totalitarian streak.

      Whatever it is, I think it sums up what is frightening about him and his political tradition.

  17. zkharya Says:

    Is the following a pertinent to a discussion of the Livingstone Formula?

    Never mind. The real issue here is the way its becoming impossible to prevent this stuff seeping out. I feel almost sorry for the HP/Engageniks in this context. Here they were busily trying to persuade everyone that there was a disproportionate fixation on Israel’s conduct, at bottom only explicable on the basis of the return of a new kind of anti-semitism. It turns out that some of the worst things in the world were going on in Gaza as they pontificated. I wonder whether any of them have any sense of shame?
    johng | 24 Mar, 15:07 | #

    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2009/03/one-day-of-zionism.html

    Note all the “essentializing”/“communalization”/”ethnicizing” of posters on HP or Engage as “engageniks”. The –nik ending is interesting, because it derives from the model usage of “Refusenik”, whether would-be Soviet Jewish olim or Israeli Jews who would not serve in the territories. What Johng means by the “-nik” ending is “Zionist” or “Jew”. Note the ascription to said ethnic group of an effort to “prevent seeping out”, “busily trying to persuade” i.e. dishonestly or disingenuously remarking disproportionality or criticism of Israel or her actions at a level or to a degree which the facts do not merit.

    The fact that Johng routinely stalks HP and Engage where many Jews do, in fact, hang out and discuss matters which, for all kinds of reasons, exercise them, sympathetically with the second or largest Jewish community of the world, and finds about it an alien exotique which both attracts and repels him (“revolting” is a word he uses), itself speaks volumes.

    Note “worst things in the world”. Israel actually ranks fairly low in the contemporary and historical world conflict lists, and, while some fairly nasty things have been reported, most have been shown to be tendentious.

    “The charges of war crimes and murder rest almost entirely on two stories. First, a Palestinian mother and daughter were being evacuated from their apartment. An Israeli officer told them to go one way; they went another. A sniper shot them, as instructed by the rules of engagement, which were formulated to protect soldiers from attacks by suicide bombers.

    In the second story, an officer told soldiers to shoot an old woman — again in the belief she might be a suicide bomber — and an argument broke out among the Israelis over whether or not to do it.

    These stories have been used to suggest bloodthirsty war crimes.

    In the first case, an Israeli television station interviewed the soldier who had told this story and he stated that he had simply heard it as a rumour.

    In the second case, it is not even clear that the woman was shot. And it highlights the caution and humanitarian standards of the Israeli army: enlisted men argued with an officer over obeying an order that soldiers in most armies would have obeyed without hesitation…

    … Suicide bombers so dressed have constantly approached Israeli soldiers. Given such tactics, a wide range of security forces from Western troops in Iraq to British police in London have shot civilians thinking they were acting in self-defence.”

    http://thejc.com/articles/the-blood-libel-alive-and-well-over-gaza

    “worst things in the world”: no Iraqi or Afghani missiles landed on US or European towns or villages. The civilian death count in Afghanistan is 27 000 and counting. Much more in Iraq.

    Hamas constitutes an existential threat to Israel, short, medium and long term. John Game has dedicated himself to the extinction, at least, of the Jewish state. Richard Seymour is at least honest enough to admit the dissolution of the Jewish state will lead soon enough to no more Israel. Both have ignored, denied or dismissed as irrelevant the exclusory, dispossessive, eliminationist or even genocidal nature, with regard to Jews, Palestinian, Israeli or other, of the Palestinian Christian and Muslim national movement since its inception. Both have harped on the faults and vices of one side of this conflict, but not the other. It is a discrimination, taken in Seymour’s case to the erasure of Israel from among the nations, that, arguably, is eliminationist, if not potentially genocidal, in its potential effect, if not intent. But erasing the legitimacy of an entire people from history, erasing the fact that Israel is a consequence of Jews’ being regarded as ethnically cleansed “Palestinians” for most of European, North African, Asian and, especially, Palestinian Christian and Islamic history bespeaks something altogether darker.

    One does not assume a holocaust denier “merely” quibbles on an historical detail. The same principle applies to a Jewish history denier, especially since the holocaust was the result, not the cause or beginning, of that too.

    “pontificated”, as though wanting Israel to get a fair hearing, as though justice, even for the devil himself, were a matter of no consequence –asides “pontificating”’s meaning to “pronounce forth as a pontiff”, and, arguably, to ineffably paint matters in black or white, absolute right or wrong, something arguably more akin to the practices of the SWP, and both irrelevant and unhelpful to a conflict such as the Palestinian Christian/Muslim-Israeli Jewish one, where there is enough right and wrong to go round for all parties.

    Finally, “shame”: as though Jews’, affiliated to Israel for all kinds of reasons, ensuring she gets a fair hearing, especially in the face of what Howard Jacobson calls the “rictus of hatred” which characterizes a movement the is preoccupied with the one Jewish state in the world like no other, were inherently shameful. As though seeking justice for one’s own in the face of injustice were shameful.

  18. NIMN Says:

    Indeed, the very appellation “antizionist” (as opposed to anti-the bad things Israel does) undermines the substance of johng’s “logic”.

  19. mikea Says:

    Alexander Cockburn has made a career out of this short of thing.

  20. johng Says:

    Dear David, thanks for your response.

    My reason for clarifying the question in relationship to singling out is related to the kind of difficulty I’m presented with by Alex’s similarly temperate and rational response.

    In the first place if the Livingstone formulation refers only to examples were someone makes an anti-semitic remark, justifies themselves by conflating anti-semitism with legitimate criticism, and refuses to explain why the remark wasn’t in itself anti-semitic, I would have no problem (although the formulation is weakened by this application, as the real issue here would still be the anti-semitism or otherwise of the declaration, as I originally argued: in other words stating that ones remark was legitimate criticism of Israel and not anti-semitic could be referred to as a syndrome, if and only if, the remark was itself anti-semitic).

    However the part of the argument which gives rise to problems is the further elaboration concerning allegations which might be made a) about bad faith and b) about a pattern of bad faith. First of all, in political arguments there is generally enough bad faith to go around. In the second place in a situation of heated argument about what is essentially an unresolved national question, it would actually be surprising (although the occassion for such surprise is of course regrettable) if there were not patterns of bad faith and well worn grooves down which such bad faith travels. Such grooves can of course be happily run down by many unaware that they are in a groove (I take it that this is often the thought behind a phrase like ‘unwitting anti-semitism), and it does seem to me that this can sometimes occur even in the instance of allegations of anti-semitism when connected to arguments about the Israel/Palestine conflict. This has nothing to do with anti-semitic stereotypes about Jews. It would be very surprising if it were not the case in such a bitter conflict.

    This is one reason why it seemed neccessary to me to explain why ‘singling out’ does not neccessarily amount to ‘demonisation’. There is a long history of anti-semitism of which we should be mindful. There is also a long history of the Israeli state shutting out and denying the very existence of the Palestinian people, an argument whose logical collary was that the only reason a group of people who had no reason to be upset should behave in such a beastly way was false ideologies: anti-semitism being a rather obvious candidate.

    Recall Said’s contention that in his youth he experianced the result of the conflation of the word Palestinian and the word Anti-semitism as ‘Palestinian=anti-semitism” the nature of claiming Palestinian identity being a political act regarded as little more then the same. Of this history, when discussing disputes about the Israel-Palestine conflict in particular (as opposed to Anti-Semitism in general) we should be equally mindful.

    The allegation of anti-semitism HAS in fact been misused politically in relationship to the Israel-Palestine conflict. As stated, it is a sad fact that it would be rather extraordinary if it hadn’t. Any identification of an anti-semitic syndrome which conflates recognition of that with real examples were anti-semites try to exploit that is seriously defective.

    • David Hirsh Says:

      You can be racist or antisemitic without knowing it or without understanding it – and while denying it. We all agree on that.

      But to accuse somebody of raising one issue – antisemitism – not because they are interested in that issue, or because they think that issue is important, but because they wish to de-legitimize criticism of israel by the mis-use of the charge of antisemitism – this cannot be done unconsciously or by accident or through ignorance.

      Either a charge of antisemitism is made honestly – because a person believes that there is a case to answer.

      Or a charge of antisemitism is made in order to de-legitimize what is otherwise legitimate criticism of Israel.

      Take Caryl Churchill for example. She what she accuses Howard Jacobson of:

      “… When Howard Jacobson confuses those who criticise Israel with anti-Semites, he is making the same mistake. Unless he’s doing it on purpose.”

      http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-jacobson-on-gaza-1628191.html

      She accuses him of being a lying little Jew who knows what he is doing when he plays the antisemitic card.

      So no, Johng, there is no parallel.

      Of course people can be antisemitic unconsciously.

      But they cannot raise the issue of antisemitism with the intention of de-legitimizing criticism of Israel unconsciously.

      The Livingstone Formulation charges the person who is concerned about antisemitism with bad faith.

      Look at the examples above. They all have links.

      Every one of them includes – perhaps by implication – an accusation of bad faith.

      Livingstone: “For far too long the accusation of anti-semitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been.”

      There is no possibility in this formulation that anti-semitism “has been used” unconsciously. To use antisemitism against someone who “is critical of the policies of the israeli government” is to act consciously.

  21. zkharya Says:

    It’s odd that John complains of anyone’s taking “demonizing” literally when he literally said it isn’t necessarily antisemitic of Jews.

    He wasn’t complaining of opponent’s using the term as a stick to beat him or others with. He was saying that it wasn’t necessarily antisemitic of Jews.

    “Palestinian Christians and Muslims are in the curious position” of having historically denied return, restoration or justice to another historically dispossessed people and, when given the chance of unique historical statehood themselves, thinking it more important to deny that people statehood (or, arguably, any place in the land at all) than acquire it themselves.

    Unfortunately characters like John Game seem keen to promote their repeating that position, for arguably at least the second time.

  22. Absolute Observer Says:

    “It turns out that some of the worst things in the world were going on in Gaza as they pontificated. I wonder whether any of them have any sense of shame?”

    Damn, you saw right through “us”. We hoped that we could hide what was going on in Gaza by raising the question of antisemitism. Oh, how we tried; but, clever you saw right through us; like so many of your kind have before.

    Shame? – that is so goyishe.

    Only the stupid goyim talk of “shame”. “We” talk of blood and vengeance; what use do “we” have for “shame”?

    “Shame” is what has held you and all the rest back?

    The one time we were weak and you nearly had “us”; what did you do for forty years or so’ you put your heads down in shame; whilst “we” were busy starting again. Back to our normal habits – killing, laughing in the blood of the innocents.
    People think now that “we” learnt that from the nazis. Let me tell you a secret, the nazis learnt it from us.

    You know nothing about “us”.

  23. zkharya Says:

    “demonizing” means, whether one literally of devils or not, that a given act or peope is evil or wicked beyond context.

    So, for instance, Israeli Jews do bad things, but not in a context where Palestinian (or other Arab or other) Muslims, more than Christians, do or threaten things which are no less bad, or acquiesce in or perpetuate a discourse which facilitates them.

    So, for instance, “Zionist”, for Johng, essentially means an evil one, or a “f—” he calls upon Seymour to ban, possessed of or by an irational ideology with whom he cannot seriously debate. Which accounts for his ritual “flyby”s of HP and elsewhere.

    “Zionism”, which is in no small part why Israel is the second or largest Jewish community today, is fundamentally illegitimate, and the Jews of Israel are only entitled to be there henceforth on Palestinian and other Arab Christian and Muslim sufferance.

  24. zkharya Says:

    “This is one reason why it seemed neccessary to me to explain why ’singling out’ does not neccessarily amount to ‘demonisation’.”

    It was johng who originally said “demonization” was sometimes acceptible. He seems now to back track.

    “There is a long history of anti-semitism of which we should be mindful. There is also a long history of the Israeli state shutting out and denying the very existence of the Palestinian people, an argument whose logical collary was that the only reason a group of people who had no reason to be upset should behave in such a beastly way was false ideologies: anti-semitism being a rather obvious candidate.”

    In which case there is an equally long history of Palestinian Christians and Muslims the right to return, restoration and justice in the land of which they were historically dispossessed, leading, inter alia, to their denying them a refuge even from genocide.

    “Recall Said’s contention that in his youth he experianced the result of the conflation of the word Palestinian and the word Anti-semitism as ‘Palestinian=anti-semitism” the nature of claiming Palestinian identity being a political act regarded as little more then the same.”

    Well, such a thing is wrong. But making a case that the Palestinian Christian and Muslim national movement was fairly antisemitic from its inception would not be too hard. Of which fact Said was in deep denial.

    ” Of this history, when discussing disputes about the Israel-Palestine conflict in particular (as opposed to Anti-Semitism in general) we should be equally mindful.”

    Would that would lead johng et al. to be “equally mindful” of the merits of the Zionist Jewish and Israeli cause, as well as the demerits of the Palestinian Christian and Muslim.

    That would be justice, It would also be the opposite of demonizing.

  25. David Hirsh Says:

    “If you’re mounting a campaign against a set of practices which you think are very bad, its not abnormal to demonise the institutions which carry it out.”

    This is how you demonize Jews:

  26. zkharya Says:

    “The allegation of anti-semitism HAS in fact been misused politically in relationship to the Israel-Palestine conflict. As stated, it is a sad fact that it would be rather extraordinary if it hadn’t. Any identification of an anti-semitic syndrome which conflates recognition of that with real examples were anti-semites try to exploit that is seriously defective.”

    Livingstone wasn’t called an antisemite by the Board of Deputies, nor the The Guardian. They all thought he behaved badly though, and should have apologised. He refused, and claimed the former were acting as agents of the Israeli government.

    The fact is

    a) calling for. inter alia, the dissolution or extinction of the Jewish state, equating Israeli Jews with Nazis etc is not mere “criticism”, and is worthy of note as such.

    b) then retorting that whoever remarks that fact is then “calling all or any criticism of Israel antisemitic” has a logical inconsistency that is equally worthy of note.

    • David Hirsh Says:

      The particular accusations against Livingstone were nothing to do with Israel.

      They were to do with a stupid little late night insult outside a party. Which had nothing to do with Israel. It had to do with saying that Feingold was like a concentration camp guard because he was a journalist.

  27. zkharya Says:

    correction

    In which case there is an equally long history of Palestinian Christians’ and Muslims’ denying Jews the right to return, restoration and justice in the land of which they were historically dispossessed, leading, inter alia, to their denying them a refuge even from genocide.

  28. benw Says:

    I wonder how many of the same people who employ the Livingstone Formulation also employ one of the following two tricks?

    — “As a Jew, …”
    — “Some of my best friends are Jews.”

    Judith Butler seems to be using the first one:

    “What do we make of Jews such as myself, who …”

    I see Ken Livingstone using the second one:

    “The truth is that I have appointed black, Asian and Jewish people to the highest levels of my administration …”

    Jenny Tonge too:

    “I have so many friends and colleagues who are Jewish and I don’t want to see them suffering in this way.”

  29. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Dear David, thanks for your response.”

    What a load of crap!

    Three days ago, Johng says this,

    “It turns out that some of the worst things in the world were going on in Gaza as they pontificated. I wonder whether any of them have any sense of shame?”

    Will the real johng stand up?

  30. Absolute Observer Says:

    “There is a long history of anti-semitism of which we should be mindful. There is also a long history of the Israeli state shutting out and denying the very existence of the Palestinian people, an argument whose logical collary was that the only reason a group of people who had no reason to be upset should behave in such a beastly way was false ideologies: anti-semitism being a rather obvious candidate.”

    Antisemitism 1875-1945
    False claims of antisemitism 1948 -

  31. Absolute Observer Says:

    This is what John Game says when he’s hanging out with his antisemitic friends:

    I thought it was funny the way they had to get the anonymous saul in because of the barking ignorence of some of the commentators. an interesting enough account of salo, arendt et al, but shame that he had to tell lies about what lehman said to ensure that he did not fit into the pantheon. ah the dilemmas of liberal zionism. I can imagine arendt having a right laugh.
    johng | 03.10.09 – 2:49 pm | #

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/levi9909/8419978828012595012/#340228

    there is also the increasingly strange habit of self reference on that blog which is in the end just confusing. I read the article, thought to myself, quite interesting, and then on engage saw the reference to the word ‘new conservative’. Hmm I thought to myself wonder what kind of conservative he is. clicking on the link I discover that the labeling of the guy as a ‘conservative’ is justified by David Hirsh’s earlier re-definition of anyone concerned about a possible connection between Israel’s actions and anti-semitism as a ‘new conservative’, or, rather more distastefully a ‘Court Jew’.

    One wonders what Arendt, or indeed the critical tradition hailed by Saul would make of this kind of absurdity. Then of course there is the old standbye ‘The Livingstone formulation’ which originates as a way of alleging that someone is an anti-semite if they complain about being accused of being an anti-semite (so just SHUT UP) or, more generally, disagree with David Hirsh about anything at all, and can subsequently be endlessly re-used.

    It does seem more and more like a smaller and smaller diminishing vicious circle which will perhaps end with David Hirsh talking only to himself. Savage attacks on that thread directed at anyone at all who disagrees that Lehman is a disgusting individual.

    Like Harry’s Place its increasingly outofstep with reality.
    johng | 03.10.09 – 5:12 pm | #

    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/levi9909/8419978828012595012/#340230

  32. Absolute Observer Says:

    I love johng’s world…..

    In the one corner there are “antisemites”.

    In the other corner there are those who criticise Israel but who are wrongly called antisemitic.

    No middle ground; no Steven Rose (if SWP fame) who claims the AUT boycott was overturned by a Zionist cabal.

    No Tony Benn who said that ZIonists would stop the BBC broadcasting the gospel of love (or is that “shame”)

    No John Wight (SPSC) who speaks of international jewry

    No Independent Reporter who speaks of the “Jewish Lobby”

    No Mearsheimer and Walt who speak of the “power of the Israel Lobby”.

    No SWP who made nice with Atzmon

    No SWP who published a letter from a neo-nazi because it “criticised” Zionism.

    No cartoon in the SWP’s paper of an Israeli in a SS unifiorm.

    No Caroline Lucas who says you can’t say a word against Israel without being labelled an antisemite.

    No Jenny Tonge who says that Zionists have their claws in her own political party.

    No Hamas whose charter plaigarises the Protocols.

    No President of Iran who denies the Holocaust.

  33. Alex Says:

    Sorry to move off topic, but I have to rise to John G’s bait:

    “Recall Said’s contention that in his youth he experianced the result of the conflation of the word Palestinian and the word Anti-semitism as ‘Palestinian=anti-semitism” the nature of claiming Palestinian identity being a political act regarded as little more then the same. Of this history, when discussing disputes about the Israel-Palestine conflict in particular (as opposed to Anti-Semitism in general) we should be equally mindful.”

    Actually, if we ascribe to Said’s Orientalist thesis both validity and universality (i.e. anyone, even the most knowledgeable, well-meaning and sympathetic of people from one society, cannot have a viewpoint on another society that is undistorted by the behaviour of their society as a whole), then applying Said’s thesis to a Palestinian viewing Israeli Jews must necessarily mean at least one of three things.
    1) Palestinian and antisemitism are inherently conflated
    2) My assumption on universality is wrong, at which point the theory is racist and/or a disingenuous attempt at shutting down criticism of Palestinians
    3) My assumption on validity is wrong (so the question of universality is irrelevant), at which point the theory is even less than meaningless, and why bother quoting it

    Take your pick.

    “First of all, in political arguments there is generally enough bad faith to go around.”

    As the saying goes, sucks to be you. I’ve engaged in a political argument or two over the last few years, and bad faith isn’t the most prevalent attribute. Hardened positions, yes. Close mindedness, yes. Sharp disagreement, yes. Bad faith – not as much. But then, I guess I’ve rarely encountered someone who adopts the Livingstone Formulation.

    At the moment it seems to me that you agree with David that the first part of the LF is real and bad.

    “stating that ones remark was legitimate criticism of Israel and not anti-semitic could be referred to as a syndrome, if and only if, the remark was itself anti-semitic”

    Agreed with one caveat. Assuming sufficient amounts of good faith (and I try to as much as I can), if one’s remark was legitimate criticism AND not anti-semitic, but someone has interpreted it as having antisemitic elements, wouldn’t the honest (and probably productive) thing to do be to engage in dialogue, to understand whether you have inadvertently made an antisemitic comment, whether the other person has misunderstood or whether they have indeed taken legitimate criticism of Israel as antisemitism? Part of the LF is that they are disengaging and delegitimising the other.

    On the 2nd part of the LF, you seem to be taking the view that accusations probably are made in bad faith because that’s just what happens in discourse. If that really is the answer, then there is no point to Engage, no point to dialogue, no point to discussion, no point to argument. In that world, the preacher only sings to the choir, we only engage in partisanship, we have closed minds and entrenched positions. We cannot change because we do not listen. I’m sure you don’t really believe that, because if you did why would you waste your time here? The fact that you are prepared to engage in discussion means you at least hope for good faith on the part of those who don’t agree with you.

  34. Absolute Observer Says:

    Interesting how all of a sudden “politeness” and “respect” has broken out.

    All this, “civility”, all this, “isn’t this nice that, despite the fact we disagree, we can still talk through things”, all this, “Dear David, thanks for your response.”

    First, “Ryan Stokes” (the mask slipped when he ignored any link he was given) then “Anthony Randall” (his mask slipped when he was “surpised” that no-one played the “big AS card”), and now “johng” (whose mask fell but only three days ago).

    However, once we get past all the formal manners, we are left with the same garbage as before.

    Israel is to be boycotted.
    Israel does the “worse things on earth”
    “Defenders” of Israel use antisemitism to deflect from criticism of Israel.

    But, hey, we are being so polite, so open to dialogue; thank you for your time; and, hey presto, before you know it, “boycotts” etc. become “respectable” topics of conversation; something that “polite people” can discuss, openly and without recrimination.

    Well guess what, shit is shit even if old but newly wrapped in the most beautiful of wrappers. In fact, it seeps through into the wrapping. You can smell it a mile off.

    In case my point is missed. Johng is still spurting the same toxic garbage, making the same evasions, that he always has. He is not interested in “dialogue” or “conversation”.

    Take a look at his comments on other sites (especially the one’s he agrees with……..you know, where he thinks his is “among friends” (I will not give them the satisfaction of naming the sites).

    Earlier I asked for the real johng to stand up.

    The fact is, there is only one johng, and all the wrapping in the world can’t hide the stench.

    And, please do not misunderstand, I mean all of this with the greatest respect.

  35. Toby Esterhase Says:

    isn’t it “with all due respect”?

  36. Absolute Observer Says:

    “My reason for clarifying the question in relationship to singling out is related to the kind of difficulty I’m presented with by Alex’s similarly temperate and rational response.”

    Who the hell is johng to decide what is “rational” or not, what is “temparate: or not?

    By so doing, he can pretend that his refusal to discuss points raised by others is not evasion, but, because they are not polite enough; that they are not “respectful” enough; and so don’t “deserve” to be answered.

    Well, johng. You are talking the same bollocks as you and your party have for ages. You are still peddling the rubbish that ZIonism is wrong from its inception. You are still arguing that antisemitism is of the right and that you and your ilk are completely innocent.

    Prove me wrong. Explain to me how Steven Rose’s comment, made above and which, word for word, appeared in your party’s paper is not antisemitic, but merely “antizionist, the one that said the AUT boycott was overthrown by a secret Zionist cabal.
    Explain that to me in a way that detaches it from antisemitic tropes, images and rhetoric.
    Explain to me what you mean by “Engageniks” having no “shame”.

    And, in so doing, you may be as rude as you like. It is the content I am interested in, not the form within which it is packed.

  37. Mark Gardner Says:

    JohnG – “But the difficulty is, if your suggesting that it can never be the case that the charge of anti-semitism is used to deflect criticism of Israel, then this is just implausible.”

    As a veteran of far too many international conferences and such like on antisemitism, I have never actually heard anyone admit to knowingly using the charge of antisemitism to deflect criticism of Israel.

    I have disagreed quite vehemently at times with some of the things that have been claimed as being antisemitic (particularly from Americans), but I have never believed that anyone was actually faking their personal belief as to what constitutes antisemitism. I disagreed with their analysis on the basis of their arguments, but not on the basis of their being meaningfully dishonest.

    David H or others who have attended such conferences are welcome to agree or disagree with me on this, but that’s my personal experience and interpretation.

    The thing I find most depressing about the Liv Form is that it is seldom if ever actually made against a specific individual, and rarely against a specific organisation (Honest Reporting probably being the main target). Because its never actually specified who is supposedly lying on Israel’s behalf, it leaves every Jew who speaks on the subject of antisemitism being placed under this cloud of suspicion.

    That is one antimisetic impact of the Liv Form, and its foundational importance then prevents any serious contemplation (never mind behavioural change) from those on the Left who ought to give a damn.

    All very sad, and all based upon a very straightforward case of cognitive dissonance – I’m not an antisemite, in fact I’m an anti-racist philosemite; therefore those Jews who claim that my anti-Israel fervour has antisemitic antecedents and impacts must actually be liars trying to protect Israel from my valid criticism.

  38. Absolute Observer Says:

    Over my time commenting on Engage, the accusation has been made that that people are insulted or “savagely attacked” when they deign to post here.

    Looking back over the threads, I find this to be the case when,

    1. People claim Jews are responsible for antisemitism (Lerman)

    2. When people claim that because they were the object of extermination, that should make them more “moral” than any other people – i.e. those who do not “speak out” against Israel are immoral (Suissa)

    3. That Israel is involved in a crusade against Islam (Randall)

    4. That Jews raise antisemitism to silence “criticism” of Israel (johng)

    5. That (those he perceives to be “Zionists”) know no “shame” (Johng)

    And, finally, that Israeli Jews – and only Israeli Jews – should be excluded from the global community of scholars (Stokes and a few others).

    It seems to me that none of these views, no matter how “rationally” or “temperate” their presentation, deserve to be taken seriously, let alone “respectfully”.

    Only a couple of years ago, decent people would have been embarrassed even to think these things, let alone say them in public.

    I see no reason to give any time, credence or civility to arguments whose roots can be traced back to antisemitic ways of thinking and which, in being articulated, are left uncriticised by those who say them.

    It’s not rocket science.

  39. Nancy Says:

    Ah, how about Hugo Chavez?
    Noam Chomsky?

    • Bill Says:

      Noam yes, Hugo no, in my eyes.

      Hugo, is known to wield the power of the state capriciously to extort compliance, adoration and agreement. Add to that Hugo’s people broke into a synagogue and stole their databases which included a goodly number of Venezuela’s Jews. Meanwhile his minions started a thing where they would be concurrently “asking” Jews in Venezuela to prove their stones by criticizing Israel and it’s policies. Methinks that’s not the LF, but a totally different, and maybe even an opposite animal – potentially intimidating Jews as Jews to criticize Israel to curry favor from an autocrat and his it’d-be-rude-to-call-them-antisemetic cronies abroad. That’s a far cry from “guilting” people from criticizing dishonest critics of Israel by crying McCarthyism.

  40. Jonathan Romer Says:

    Johng,

    “It is not at all unusual for campaigners to pick out States they regard as guilty of one kind of abuse or another for special condemnation.”

    That defence is not available to you. An Israeli, a Jew, a Palestinian or other Arab, or a Muslim may claim the right to apply “special condemnation” by virtue of their personal stake or the bonds of affinity and shared interest between members of a national, ethnic or religious group — the right of groups to stick together for their mutual protection.

    But that’s not you. You are a member of a different group, part of the spectrum of the ideological left, and your allegiance is supposedly to principle and justice. “Special condemnation” — or “disproportion” if that helps clarify your understanding — is irreconcilable with universal ideals. If you’re honest about what you claim motivates you, you are conscience-bound to offer justice equally to all. Special condemnation may not be unusual, but it’s not justice either. To defend it marks you out as an undeclared partisan and your pretence of higher motives as just that — pretence.

  41. Jonathan Says:

    I think this letter was in The Indie:

    Rod Cox (letter, 10 December) disgracefully accuses Howard Jacobson of blaming anti-Israel criticism for both terrorism and antisemitism, when Jacobson clearly said nothing of the sort. Nevertheless, the saddest thing is that Cox is merely repeating the self-serving canards that are now so frequently expressed in supposed liberal-left circles. Namely, that any criticism of Israel is immediately denounced by Jews as antisemitic, and that Jews are cunning co-ordinated liars who only cry antisemitism in order to conceal Israel’s supposed crimes. For Cox and so many others, Howard Jacobson’s identity obviously counts for far more than his many carefully written words and articles ever will.

    Mark Gardner
    Director of Communications, CST
    London NW4

  42. Alex Says:

    AO,

    “I see no reason to give any time, credence or civility to arguments whose roots can be traced back to antisemitic ways of thinking and which, in being articulated, are left uncriticised by those who say them.”

    It depends what the goal is. If the goal is righteous indignation, agreed. If the goal is to try to help someone understand why what they have said is offensive, I don’t see how you are going to change that except through civil discourse, patient explanation and an assumption of basic humanity and good faith. Yes, you will encounter rusted on bigots. You will also encounter people whose cognitive dissonance means argument is futile. But you will sometimes encounter people who are prepared to listen, to understand and to think.

    And for what it is worth, I am always happy to be called rational and temperate. I like it better than right-wing warmonger, anyway.

  43. johng Says:

    I had posted this earlier but it didn’t seem to get through:

    Just a few points of clarification. I never implied that special
    condemnation was based on affinity or community or any other non-universal value. Human Rights abuses in South Africa were not worse then those carried out in some neighbouring countries. However South Africa was singled out for special condemnation because of the
    principles animating those practices, ie racism. This is perfectly compatible with universal principles.

    On Said, as far as I know he never stated that it was, in principle, impossible for people to understand another society. He suggested that in the case of what came to be designated the orient there were a special set of power relations which did have that impact, and which
    he was concerned to analyse. Again, this in no sense implies cultural relativism or the absence of universal values.

    Nor should such a (mistaken) theses about Said’s work be used to dismiss the reality which he
    describes of a persistant equation of the bare fact of Palestinian nationalism with anti-semitism in much propaganda produced from the
    1960s onwards. Nor is it unusual that States embroiled in a conflict over an unresolved national question engage in propaganda of this kind, it would be unusual if this was not the case.

    However the existence of these ‘grooves’ in the Israel-Palestine conflict need to be acknowledged if a theses about accusations of bad faith and their role in generating possibly dangerous deflection of charges of anti-semitism is to have validity.

    Thirdly I do think that in Gaza during those weeks some of the worst things in the world were happening. I do not see how this is objectionable or appalling. I nowhere accused anyone here of bad faith over these recent events. In fact quite the reverse. I suggested that you might feel badly about it.

    The question of whether people believe or don’t believe in statements that are untrue is however not the final determinate in accusations of bad faith. I fully accept that refusing to address concerns about anti-semitism is reprehensible. Equally, to refuse to address concerns
    of the kind raised by Said above is also reprehensible. In both cases people may be operating within certain grooves. But in both cases, refusing to listen or acknowledge other kinds of claim, preferring NOT TO KNOW, may be referred to as Bad Faith.

    Unfortunately in the case of unresolved national questions this is very common. One difficulty with the Livingstone formulation is not only that it ignores this, but also that it seems to believe that all the bad faith is on one side of the argument. I don’t believe this to be the case.

  44. David Hirsh Says:

    “One difficulty with the Livingstone formulation is not only that it ignores this, but also that it seems to believe that all the bad faith is on one side of the argument.”

    It is an empirical finding that very often when the problem of antisemitism is raised that people respond with precisely the same and inadequate formulation.

    Johng has admitted that it is inadequate.

    It is a rhetorical device for enabling a person to refuse to take the issue seriously. It is an ad hominem counter-charge which leaves the issue unresolved.

    It is only interesting because the same formulation is employed time and time again when somebody raises the issue of antisemitism.

    David Hirsh didn’t invent the formulation. The formulation has become a standard and rather vicious way of side-stepping the issue of antisemitism – of refusing to take it seriously.

    I have provided about 40 examples (above) of very different people using precisely the same disgraceful formulation. It is a formulation which alleges that I am a propagandist and not a sociologist and it alleges that Howard Jacobson is a lying Jew and not a novelist or a literary critic; it is a formulation which alleges that the Community Security Trust is a whole institution set up to tell lies; it is a formulation which alleges that most Jews are in on this strategy of ‘playing the antisemitism card’ in bad faith in order to defend the indefensible by illegitimate means.

    I am not asking anybody to defend the Livingstone Formulation because it is indefensible. I am asking people to recognize its ubiquity – and to think about what consequences this might have for a serious consideration of contemporary antisemitism.

    You might say that David Hirsh believes that all the bad faith is on one side and not the other, but to say that the Livingstone Formulation believes this or ignores that – is just gibberish.

    David Hirsh does not believe that all the bad faith is one one side or the other of the Israel/Palestine conflict. David Hirsh does not take sides between Israel and Palestine – I fight for a cosmopolitan politics which campaigns against both nationalisms, and against racism within both nations. I am for a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine and I am for an independent, sovereign, democratic, secular Palestinian state – and of course an independent, sovereign, democratic, secular Israeli state too. And I am for good and democratic relations between them and I am for each treating minorities as equal citizens.

    Johng, on the other hand, sides with Hamas against the Palestinian people, he sides with Palestine against Israel, and he sides with the antisemites against the antiracists. He is for the conquest of the Israeli state (Israel Must Lose) and he pushes the nasty little fantasy that the result of the military defeat of Israel could be a democratic or a secular state.

    This attempt to say that people who oppose antisemitism are necessarily supporters of one side or the other in the conflict is really and transparently just rubbish.

    In truth, as the Israel Must Lose letter makes clear, it is the boycotters who take sides with one nationalism (or fundamentalism) against Israel – and that letter makes clear that BDS is intended to hasten the military defeat of one side by the other in the conflict.

    So stop with your cod equivalences Johng. As I said, stop playing dumb. Nobody here believes that you are as dumb as you pretend to be.

  45. johng Says:

    Ah we seem to have departed rational argument and gone in for wild accusations instead. Not a game I wish to play. I hope in some way my arguments might be helpful to you in tightening up your analyses. Many thanks.

  46. Duncan Bryson Says:

    John, all of what you say makes sense and I wouldn’t disagree with it. I think I would like to pick up on the point you make about the ‘equation of the bare fact of Palestinian Nationalism with anti semitism’. I have no doubt that this occurs, in fact Palestinian nationalism has been wrongly equated with terrorism, corruption, murder and other crimes, often echoing unpleasant western stereotypes about Arabs. I think all people would agree that this equation is wrong and racist, and anybody pointing at examples of murderous, corrupt, anti-semitic Palestinian nationalists as ‘proof’ of its truth was misguided at best. In fact you could say they were constructing a ‘Livingstone formulation’ all of their own: ‘I’m not an anti Palestinian racist, I’m just criticising suicide bombers/ Fatah corruption / Hamas murderers etc’. Perhaps we could call this a ‘Sharon formulation’ or some such.

    Thankfully among the people with whom I organise politically, in the labour party and in the UCU, I do not hear this equation made. However I walked into the foyer of the last congress of my union, the first which I had attended, to be greeted by a banner with foot high letters proclaiming ZIONISM = RACISM above a sanctioned stall. When challenged, these people can often offer plenty examples of racism committed by zionists as proof. They go on to equate Zionism with other unpleasant traits which echo older stereotypes of jewish behaviour.

    Do you see the parallel? Do you see that we are fighting the same battle? The reason that many of the people here are fighting the second battle and not the first is because nobody in our union and in our left wing political parties are openly espousing ‘orientalist’ views of palestinian nationalists as dirty, murdering arabs. Unfortunately it is acceptable to espouse a view of zionists that is equally offensive.

  47. Efraim Says:

    “Ah we seem to have departed rational argument and gone in for wild accusations instead. Not a game I wish to play. I hope in some way my arguments might be helpful to you in tightening up your analyses. Many thanks.”

    Typical of Johng to claim victory when he loses an argument.

  48. benw Says:

    David, I’m not sure whether this completely counts, but here is a review of James Bamford’s book “Unfriendly Fire”, where he tries to resurrect the discredited view that Israel deliberately bombed the USS Liberty in 1967 (claiming that it was done because the Liberty had evidence of the Israelis just having murdered 1,000 Egyptian POW’s — another fabrication):

    http://www.powells.com/review/2002_12_26.html

    This paragraph in the review indicates that Bramford uses at least the second part of the Formulation, and it seems quite likely he also uses the first part in his book:

    Having laid out his theory of the attack, Bamford moves on to the alleged cover-up. Following the assault on the Liberty, he writes, American Jewish organizations conspired with the Johnson administration to quash any investigation of Israel. “With an election coming up, no one in the weak-kneed House and Senate wanted to offend powerful pro-Israel groups and lose their fat campaign contributions.” No evidence whatsoever is presented to support this slur, which belies Bamford’s contention that “critics [of Israel] are regularly silenced by outrageous charges of anti-Semitism.”

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Actually, benw, as David H. said to Nancy and me near the beginning of this threead regarding Roald Dahl, Bamford doesn’t appear, in the review, to be accused of antisemitism by the reviewer. Only of poor (maybe biased) reporting/writing. Only if Bamford had been accused of this and he then asserted that he was being accused of antisemitism in order to halt perfectly valid criticism of Israel would this be a use of the LF. Would equally apply if he appeared to be prima facie guilty of antiwmitism and did the same.

      Otherwise it’s not the LF.

      • benw Says:

        Thanks for the clarification.

        • benw Says:

          Hmm, I think the reviewer is in fact asserting that Bamford made an anti-Semitic comment — I take that as the meaning of the word “slur”.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          But there is no evidence relating to the review of Bamford’s response: did he ignore it? Did he scream the LF in his own defence? Maybe he did, but for it to be an example of the LF, he needs to use the form “my perfectly valid criticism of Israel is being accused of being antisemitism in order to stop me criticising Israel…etc”

          Did he do this?

  49. hasan prishtina Says:

    “But it is not neccessarily so. Otherwise one would have to say that anyone who singles out Iran for special criticism is guilty of anti-Persian racism (which of course they might be).”

    I don’t think we have to use hypothetical cases. From the late 1980s many Serbians have said precisely that those who single out the actions of the Serbian authorities in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia are guilty of racism. Indeed, it was to rectify racial slights that they had engaged in war against the Croats, the Bosnjaks, the Kosovars and NATO. There was an extremely small number of people of analysts, commentators and politicians who were anti-Serb, but not even they had any desire to see the end of the Serbian state or the Serbian people. As for the rest, there is mountains of work written by people who have devoted their lives to Serbia and the former Yugoslavia who are still accused of anti-Serb racism.

    As far as I can see, there are three differences here: a) the users of the Livingstone Formula often do wish to see an end to Israel and the Israeli people (and more than one or two to the Jewish people); b) there is no vocabulary of anti-Serb imagery and literature in the West (apart from Germany and Austria) from which could resonate with racist statements; and c) a large number of those facing accusations of anti-Serb racism have know the country very well while few who demonize Israel have been to or even wish to go there.

    • Toby Esterhase Says:

      It could be true that antisemitism has a much greater global potentiality than bigotry against Serbs or bigotry against white South Africans. Especially in anti-hegemonic movements.

      It might just be that one reason for being extra careful about demonizing Jews is because we know that Jew-hatred can easily get seriously out of control. Jew hatred has legs in a way that some other bigotries don’t.

      That is why Israel is there in the first place, isn’t it?

      So perhaps we should be extra careful to guard against Jew-hatred?

      Or will this be seen as an illegitimate use of the Holocaust in order to make special pleading in the interests of Jews?

      See what I mean?

  50. Absolute Observer Says:

    As I was saying,

    “By so doing, he [johng] can pretend that his refusal to discuss points raised by others is not evasion, but, because they are not polite enough; that they are not “respectful” enough; and so don’t “deserve” to be answered.”

    True to form, johng’s last post……

    “Ah we seem to have departed rational argument and gone in for wild accusations instead. Not a game I wish to play. I hope in some way my arguments might be helpful to you in tightening up your analyses. Many thanks.”

    What “wild accusations” would that be, then johng? (and this for a person who thinks demonisation is a legitimate position for left politics and debate!)

    “Explain to me how Steven Rose’s comment, made above and which, word for word, appeared in your party’s paper is not antisemitic, but merely “antizionist, the one that said the AUT boycott was overthrown by a secret Zionist cabal. (fact)

    Explain that to me in a way that detaches it from antisemitic tropes, images and rhetoric.

    Explain to me what you mean by “Engageniks” having no “shame”.” (fact; indeed, your very words).

    Or these,

    “In the one corner there are “antisemites”.

    In the other corner there are those who criticise Israel but who are wrongly called antisemitic.

    No middle ground; no Steven Rose (if SWP fame) who claims the AUT boycott was overturned by a Zionist cabal. (fact)

    No Tony Benn who said that ZIonists would stop the BBC broadcasting the gospel of love (or is that “shame”) (fact)

    No John Wight (SPSC) who speaks of international jewry (fact)

    No Independent Reporter who speaks of the “Jewish Lobby” (fact)

    No Mearsheimer and Walt who speak of the “power of the Israel Lobby”. (fact)

    No SWP who made nice with Atzmon (fact)

    No SWP who published a letter from a neo-nazi because it “criticised” Zionism. (fact)

    No cartoon in the SWP’s paper of an Israeli in a SS unifiorm. (fact)

    No Caroline Lucas who says you can’t say a word against Israel without being labelled an antisemite. (fact)

    No Jenny Tonge who says that Zionists have their claws in her own political party. (fact)

    No Hamas whose charter plaigarises the Protocols. (fact)

    No President of Iran who denies the Holocaust” (fact)

    i.e. the very fact (all can be linked to) that johng choses to ignore?

    In the old days, johng’s tactics were different.

    He would make a comment, then, when challenged, would retort that he has said what he has wanted to say, and then, finally to state that it is a crappy site anyway.

    Same result, same tactic, same evasion.

    Johng is a party hack. He argues like a party hack, he toes the line like a party hack, he distorts reality like a party hack.

    Alex,
    I appreciate your views. However, this is not the Montel show.

    Regards,
    AO

  51. zkharya Says:

    “worst things in the world”

    Well, if you define “worst things in the world” pretty broadly, then I suppose Johng’s supposition works, at the risk of emptying “worst” of its superlative meaing.

    Trying to draw the issue of Palestinian nationalism into the Livingstone Formula doesn’t really work since

    a) the LF really concerns those in liberal western democracies, chiefly Britain, who are criticised in reference to offensive remarks they make about Jews e.g. Livingstone, Feingold and concentration camp guards, and who then, rather than apologise, accuse their critics of ulterior, Zionist motives and

    b) Palestinian nationalist discourse was arguably heavily anti-Jewish or antisemitic from its inception, and continued so, and which fact Said never really addressed, in my view.

    Is Johng concerned the latter will irremediably contaminate pro-Palestinian anti-Israeli discourse, making him have to work apologetically over-time?

    What objection could Johng possibly have against criticism of anti-Jewish or antisemitic discrimination, racism or gratuitous offence?

    Is that a silly question given his memorable defence of the SWP’s retaining Gilad Atzmon’s services, if not (some, at least, of) his views?

    As for allegedly accusing Engage of bad faith, what else is imputing to them, as an ethno-social group, the joint action of “preventing seeping” certain informations?

    Johng did not allow for the possibility of “Engageniks”‘ having shame, quite the opposite. He wondered whether any had any shame i.e. he implied they could only do what they do i.e. “prevent seep out” and defend the indenfensible had they NO shame.

    But, again, “worst things in the world” is extraordinary given the 10s -100s of 1000s of civilians dying in Afghanistan and Iraq, not a few by his beloved “resistance”, but under the less discriminating aegis of US, UK and NATO forces.

    And what of Arab Muslims’ killing in Darfur?

    Israel, while careful to minimise her own casualties, behaved with more care in an urban area than probably any modern army hitherto.

    One wonders whether the shame of Johng would accomodate more the death of more Gazan militants to civilians than vice versa.

    I say “shame” because Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are the Great White Hope of Johng’s vision of a Jewish-state-leading-to-an-Israel-free middle east, whose “struggle” he assiduously espouses.

    He urges on the fight, but decries the consequences.

  52. zkharya Says:

    “One difficulty with the Livingstone formulation is not only that it ignores this, but also that it seems to believe that all the bad faith is on one side of the argument.”

    The LF assumes that a response to a legitimate criticism of genuine anti-Jewish or antisemitic racism, discrimination or gratuitous offence that the critic is saying “all criticism of Israel is antisemitism” is unsatisfactory.

    One wonders of just how big a problem of anti-Jewish or antisemitic racism, discrimination or gratuitous offence on his “side” of the argument Johng is aware for him to find the LF so “problematic”.

  53. zkharya Says:

    “In the second place in a situation of heated argument about what is essentially an unresolved national question, it would actually be surprising (although the occassion for such surprise is of course regrettable) if there were not patterns of bad faith and well worn grooves down which such bad faith travels. Such grooves can of course be happily run down by many unaware that they are in a groove (I take it that this is often the thought behind a phrase like ‘unwitting anti-semitism), and it does seem to me that this can sometimes occur even in the instance of allegations of anti-semitism when connected to arguments about the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    (sentence of note)

    *This has nothing to do with anti-semitic stereotypes about Jews.*

    (i.e. such antisemitism is not really antisemitism, or really racist or discriminatory against Jews)

    It would be very surprising if it were not the case in such a bitter conflict.”

    i.e. Johng is saying some antisemitism should be “let go”, because, in the cause of the greater good, more harm will be done by remarking than ignoring it.

    That’s flat.

    This is ironic given his and Seymour’s especial interest in Israeli Jewish anti-Arab racism. If he or Seymour do not regard Palestinian Christian and Muslim nationalism as racist, one or both certainly regards Zionism as racist.

    But this is extraordinary. He complains of those who say Palestinian nationalim=antisemitism. He claims Said truly confronted antisemitism in Palestinian nationalism (haha), and then goes on to say that such antisemitism is not really antisemitism.

    This is Johng: socialist, intellectual, anti-racist extraordinaire.

  54. Saul Says:

    Looking over this thread, one is struck by the fact that Hirsh and many others point to concrete examples of the “LF”, as it has become known.

    johng, however, hovers a safe distance above them. He speaks in the language of a universal as if these concrete examples do not exist, thereby turning the debate into something merely “academic”; as if the particulars are non-existent.

    Of course, if he was serious about aiding others in their thinking, and if he was a serious person of the left, he would have drawn his universalism from the concrete examples and thought it through accordingly.

    Instead, and in keeping with the worse traits of a pseudo leftist thought, he allows the universal to dominate the particular, and, in so doing, erase from the discussion what is actually happening – that sections of the left and of the antizionist left are tapping into, consciously or not, antisemitic modes of thought and of presentation.

    In many ways, although I am not sure I wold have phrased it in quite the same way, “Absolute Observer” is right.

    After all, it sounds like johng’s “rationality” is of the exactly the same kind that Adorno and others have warned us against – the idea that “rationality” dominates and wipes out the concrete.

    Even Marx recognised that Feurbach was not entirely wrong.

    So, if johng really wanted to discuss the LF, and to “help” clarify Hirsh’s thinking, he could have, and should have drawn upon one of the many actual, empirical and concrete examples of the LF that Hirsh mentioned in his original post.

    Needless to say, he didn’t.

  55. Christian leaders who use the Livingstone Formulation « Seismic Shock Says:

    [...] 29, 2009 · No Comments The Engage website this week notes that Bruce Kent (Pax Christi UK), Jenny Tonge (Friends of Sabeel UK) [...]

  56. Absolute Observer Says:

    When push comes to shove, johng is saying,
    “look, we don’t really believe your claims of antisemitism around the question of Israel and Palestine. You raise it but I am showing you it does not exist. So, why do you keep raising it? You continue to raise it as a way of evading and deflecting criticism of an illegitimate state and an illegitimate – you are shameless “.

    David,
    I think you have another illustration of the LF here; one that on the surface appears more “sophisticated”, but is as cheap as everyone else’s.

  57. Mark Gardner Says:

    Johng, when I point out that nobody is lying, you reply:

    “The question of whether people believe or don’t believe in statements that are untrue is however not the final determinate in accusations of bad faith.”

    I’m not sure if I agree with that philosophical outcome, or if its just a bit of cod sophistry. Whatever – do you actually think that your analysis is more relevant than the fact that those who care about antisemitism are all being libelled as Liars for Zion?

    Can we imagine SWP etc saying similar things about Islamophobia or anti-Black racism? No…And, ultimately, perhaps that’s why so many of those who employ Liv Form are actually antisemitic – at least in terms of treating anti-Jewish racism in a manner that is the opposite (not merely inconsistent) of how they treat other racisms.

  58. Shachtman Says:

    Chris Davies.

  59. Shachtman Says:

    John Wight

  60. Absolute Observer Says:

    “The question of whether people believe or don’t believe in statements that are untrue is however not the final determinate in accusations of bad faith.”

    No, but it is the core of antisemitism.

    I dpn’t give a toss whether is in bad faith, good faith, or part of “rational” or “temperate” discourse.

    Johng seems to think that antisemitism is a subjective point of view.

    He confuses mitigation with objectivity.

    The question here is not what one “believes”, but why so much “antizionism” echoes, utilises, falls back on antisemitic tropes – objectively.

    As anyone knows, the last person to rely on to decide what is antisemitism and what is not is either antisemites or those “good folk” who trail antisemitism but not on “bad faith” (as if one can use racist arguments in anything but “bad faith”).

    Johng is an apologist for antisemitism.
    It’s what he does;
    It’s what his party does.

    Take a look, I bet you in any time at all this whole “discussion” will be summarised on some nasty little site where in all “good faith” johng will let it be known what he really thinks of those who note antisemitism on the left; to the acclaim of all those little people.

    It stinks!

  61. Shmuel Says:

    This is most ironic. Having a discussion with John Game about the finer points of what constitutes a bad faith argument is like discussing the art of vegetarian cooking with a Great White Shark.

  62. Maven Says:

    Jenny Tonge – more recently in this speech in a Parliamentary debate (via MPAC UK) http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/5470/102/

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Surely just an example of antisemitism. She’s blaming any rise in antisemitism on the actions of Israel. Though she does blame AIPAC, BIPAC and the Board of Deputies for the loss of position by certain critics of Israel (the actions of the Israel lobby). At this stage, straight antisemitism. It’s when she gets to accuse those telling her she’s being antisemitic (again) and she replies that this charge is only made to stop her legitimate criticisms of Israel…that’s the LF.

      She’s so silenced she’s forced to stand up in the chamber of the House of Lords to make her antisemitic comments.

  63. Maven Says:

    Enage should pick up this contribution at The Independent

    http://news.independentminds.livejournal.com/1532539.html

    “Because these newspapers are controlled by Jews – we are pounded with anti Islamic stories.

    Why not monitor Jewish charities that support the genocidal acts of Israel? — oh… I see.

    Jews keep wondering why everybody hates them…. well, stories like this are a start.

    I’m sick of hearing Jews tell me Muslims are terrorists… and Jews are saintly suhvivahs….

    enough!”

    Saturday, 28 March 2009 at 04:30 pm (UTC) by gustafus21

  64. vildechaye Says:

    Here’s an example from over the pond:

    A woman candidate, Mabel Elmore, wins her riding nomination to stand for office in British Columbia for the New Democratic Party (the socialist/social democratic party). She was a union organizer for the bus drivers union in the vancouver area. In 2004 she told an interviewer that “vocal zionists” blocked her union anti-Iraq war efforts. The current NDP leader forces her to apologize for her remarks, which she does. In blog after blog, posters start to slag off the NDP leader, Carole James, but also state that “whenever you criticize Israel you’re accused of anti-semitism.” This is interesting and germane to David Hirsh’s inquiry because this issue did include criticism of israel at all. It seems that simply taking the candidate to task for her past usage of “vocal zionists” (which I believe she was correctly forced to apologize for, for a number of reasons that are only tangentially related to this topic), was enough to get the “boo-hoo whenever you criticize Israel you’re called anti-semitic” crowd out in full force.
    What do you all think. If you want to know more, you can go to terry glavin’s web site or simply google Mabel Elmore.

  65. benw Says:

    David, just came across something you may well already know about — this from Wikipedia’s article on Alvin Rosenfeld’s “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism”. According to this article, Rosenfeld describes a “dialectical scam” that sounds nearly identical to your Livingstone Formulation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_H._Rosenfeld

    Rosenfeld argued that there was a “dialectical scam” amongst the far-left critics of Israel:

    The ubiquitous rubric “criticism of Israel,” however, has also come to designate another kind of discourse–one that has almost become a politico-rhetorical genre unto itself, with its own identifiable vocabulary, narrative conventions, and predictable outcomes. At its ideational core is what the British scholar Bernard Harrison calls a “dialectical scam.” It goes something like this: (1) Spot an Israeli action that can serve as the ground of “criticism of Israel” (e.g., Israel’s military incursion into the area near Jenin in April 2002 in response to Palestinian terrorist massacres); (2) Then “dissent” in the strongest possible terms, for instance by likening the “razing of Jenin” to the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, while anticipating that “powerful” and “repressive” Jewish institutions will try to “silence” the critics by calling them anti-Semites; (3) When taken to task by more sober-minded critics who find that, contrary to your charge, there was no such thing as “the razing of Jenin” and that the IDF has nothing in common with the SS, cry “foul” and claim their censure perfectly illustrates the point that there really is a Jewish organizational conspiracy to silence “criticism of Israel” by branding the authors of such criticism “anti-Semites.”

    For some, this dialectical scam works nicely and validates their sense of themselves as intellectual martyrs suffering for a higher ideological cause. Once one is on to it, however, the scam readily dissolves into what it actually is: political bias, compounded by a touch of hysteria, masquerading as victimization. Thus, when a tiny political group calling itself “Jewish Voice for Peace” sets out to track “a growing epidemic of intimidation and harassment from fellow Jews seeking to stifle open debate over America’s policy toward Israel,” it can hardly be expected to be taken seriously.[8]

  66. David Hirsh Says:

    Warm thanks to everybody who has helped me in this discussion. Thank you. DH

  67. Jacob Says:

    Here is another example of the Livingston paradigm. Alexander Cockburn is probably one of the first to have used it:

    “Cockburn and anti-Semitism: Cockburn has written a great deal on the use of anti-Semitism accusations in modern politics, particularly by the state of Israel and its supporters, and has co-edited a book on the subject, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.[17] Cockburn himself has also been accused of anti-Semitism, which he denies and considers an example of the use of that accusation to intimidate criticism of Israel and avert attention from Israel’s policies.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Cockburn#Cockburn_and_anti-Semitism

  68. zkharya Says:

    “However South Africa was singled out for special condemnation because of the
    principles animating those practices, ie racism.”

    In other words, Israeli or historical Palestinian or Jewish racism is racism, but Palestinian, Arab or other Christian or Islamic racism isn’t, or, if it is, it’s irrelevant because Palestinian and other Arab Christians and Muslims both failed to thwart a Jewish state and acquire one themselves, and Palestinian and Israeli Jews succeeded.

    i.e. winning is proof of guilt, losing is proof of innocence.

  69. Absolute Observer Says:

    “More importantly, as long as legitimate criticism of Israel is blocked by accusations of anti-Semitism, it is the responsibility of Jews committed to universal justice to speak up.”

    LF from the Jewish Voice for Peace in the US!!

  70. Paula Says:

    This is a pre-Livingstone (1949) Livingstone Formulation. All the ingredients are already here. It refers to Israel:

    “It is young, intensely chauvinistic and highly-strung. Its people suffer from an acute inferiority complex and are preoccupied with themselves and their own affairs. They are incapable of seeing the other side’s point of view or, on occasion, of admitting its existence. Thus opposition or even criticism by others must be due to anti-Israel or anti-Semitic feelings.”
    British Diplomatic report on the State of Israel, 1949
    Public Records Office
    (PRO)/FO/371/82506/Report on the State of Israel, prepared by Colin Crane, British Delegation in Tel Aviv

    quoted by Neill Lochery
    “Loaded Dice, the Foreing Office and Israel”

  71. Clawes Says:

    Antony Lerman on the Oliphant cartoon:

    “The effect of the complaints of antisemitism made by the American Jewish organisations is to attempt to protect Israel from legitimate, if deeply unpleasant, criticism. But the fact is that the accusation of antisemitism, which is being used so often now, doesn’t seem to help. All it seems to be doing is devaluing the currency.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/02/tony-lerman-oliphant-cartoon-israel

    Might I suggest a third part to the LM? (iii): ‘The false charge of anti-semitism makes it impossible to filter out real incidents of anti-semitism’ (where one presumes the bleeding-heart liberal wishes to distinguish their valid critique from the knee-jerk violence of the skin-head thug, and blames society’s inability to do so (and to combat the latter) on Jews themselves.

  72. Al Jazeerah article praises the Crusaders as “Christian men of action” « Seismic Shock Says:

    [...] in bringing attention to antisemitism within Christian circles, and disastrously slips into the Livingstone Formulation: Criticise Israel in the US and you’ll lose your job. Criticise Israel in the UK and the [...]

  73. Al Jazeerah article praises the Crusaders as “Christian men of action” « Wizreport Says:

    [...] in bringing attention to antisemitism within Christian circles, and disastrously slips into the Livingstone Formulation: Criticise Israel in the US and you’ll lose your job. Criticise Israel in the UK and the Jewish [...]

  74. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    As Lerman shows in the CiF article Clawes links to above, he can’t stop his usual practice of questioning whether accusations of antisemitism help or hinder the cause. What an admittedly fast read of the article didn’t reveal was whether he felt that if the accusation of antisemitism was accurate, it made any difference. That quick read suggested that he didn’t think so. But at least this time Lerman didn’t appear to be suggesting that if Jews in the Diaspora would only stop defending Israel, then there would be less (or even no) antisemitism in the world: his more common practice of blaming the victims for prejudice and discrimination.

    The last time I commented on Lerman, “David” attacked me for being an ignoramus. Perhaps this time, if he wishes to defend Lerman, he’ll do so openly and not via character assassination.

    Did anyone else notice the thanks to Brian Klug (“Grateful thanks to Dr Brian Klug for some ideas and phrases used in this article.” – birds of a feather…).

  75. Nancy Says:

    Check out Malcolm Fraser, former Australian PM, today:

    “One doesn’t like to be anti-Semitic. And that charge, or fear of that charge, has been used to stop debate (in Western countries) on Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which is hotly debated in Israel itself.”

    The whole article is here: http://www.theage.com.au/national/end-favouritism-for-israel-fraser-20090407-9zou.html

  76. Matt Says:

    Just realized that Arun Gandhi should be added to the list. Sorry I don’t have much time for finding all the original links, but they’re included in this one

    http://ignoblus.blogspot.com/2008/02/arun-gandhi-has-been-sacrificed.html

    “There is no escaping the fact that the language I used and the generalisations I made in an article that I wrote hurriedly and did not revise were the main cause of the controversy. In addition, of course there are a strong group of radical, right-wing Jewish people who don’t entertain any criticism of Israel at all…

    “I think the Jewish lobby is strongest in the US and therefore the reaction was stronger here than it would have been anywhere else…

    “I was told that the university was under tremendous pressure. There was a possibility that some funding would be cut off. I thought that the institution is greater than the individual and so I was willing to sacrifice myself so that the university and the institute did not suffer.”

  77. Meet Lega Nord’s “unofficial chaplain” « Seismic Shock Says:

    [...] an extreme example of the Livingstone Formulation, Williamson’s Holocaust denial was merely ‘criticising Zionist policy’, which has [...]

  78. PZ Says:

    I’m sure you could find some examples in the articles on Channel 4’s Dispatches programme.

  79. David Hirsh: The Livingstone Formulation « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] NB some more examples of the Livingstone Formulation and some interesting discussion in the comments box here [...]

  80. Wenn Christen kritisieren « Says:

    [...] zu versehen. Mit dieser Vorgehensweise, die der britische Soziologe David Hirsh in mehreren Essays kritisch gewürdigt hat, wird von nicht geringen Teilen der Linken jegliche Kritik am [...]


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