Lincoln’s blood libel and Seven Jewish Children

Dave Rich at the CST.

In February 2009, the playwright Caryl Churchill wrote a short play, called Seven Jewish Children, as her “response to the situation in Gaza” the previous month. The play is explicitly about Jewish parents and children (Jews are mentioned in the title and the text, whereas the word “Israeli” does not appear once in the play); but in attempting to explore Jewish attitudes towards children, both Jewish and Palestinian, Churchill achieved little more than to reflect the febrile atmosphere of the time, in which antisemitic incidents in this country reached an all-time high and public demonstrations against Israel regularly became violent.

If Churchill’s play was her response to events in Gaza, she was not the only writer to be so inspired: Howard Jacobson wrote his Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Finkler Question, in part as a response to the response to Gaza. While the period of the Gaza conflict has now passed and tempers cooled somewhat, Seven Jewish Children is still regularly put on by pro-Palestinian groups, refuelling their activism and providing a literary basis for their ongoing anti-Israel politics. One of the most eye-catching locations for an upcoming production of the play is Lincoln, the location of one of the most notorious episodes in English antisemitism; an episode which provided one of the earliest works in the canon of English literary antisemitism.

According to the website of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Seven Jewish Children will be performed in Lincoln on 11th April, at the University of Lincoln’s Performing Arts Centre. Not only is the University providing the venue: according to PSC, the play is organised by the University of Lincoln’s School of Performing Arts and School of Humanities. The play is not advertised on the website of the Performing Arts Centre, but it may be connected to a symposium on Caryl Churchill’s work being held at the University five days later.

It is fair to say that Seven Jewish Children divided opinion, and continues to do so. John Nathan, reviewing it in the Jewish Chronicle, wrote that, “For the first time in my career as a critic, I am moved to say about a work at a major production house that this is an antisemitic play.” Christoper Hart in the Sunday Times described it as “straitjacketed political orthodoxy. No surprises, no challenges, no risks. Only the enclosed, fetid, smug, self-congratulating and entirely irrelevant little world of contemporary political theatre.” His stablemate at The Times, Dominic Maxwell, on the other hand, considered the play “an impassioned response to the events in Gaza that is elliptical, empathetic and illuminating.”

The Guardian published a positive review of the play by Susannah Clapp, two byMichael Billington and even produced its own video version of the play which is still available to view on the Guardian website. But to their credit, the Guardian’sComment Is Free blog also published an article by me and my CST colleague Mark Gardner, arguing that the play (and particularly the Guardian’s production of it) evoked, in contemporary terms, the medieval blood libel, which accused Jews of having a particular bloodlust for the murder and mutilation of non-Jewish children.

We were certainly not the only people to feel that Churchill’s play carried echoes of this most vicious of antisemitic slurs. As its title suggests, the play talks only of Jews, not of Israelis; it traces Israeli behaviour to an unbroken line of Jewish attitudes and behaviour stretching back before Israel even existed; most of the Palestinians who die in the play are children, whereas the only Jews who die are adults; and the play ends with a monologue of genocidal racial hatred, culminating in that noxious mixture of Jews, children, death and blood:

…tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they’re animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldnt care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I dont care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.

As Howard Jacobson wrote in The Independent:

Caryl Churchill will argue that her play is about Israelis not Jews, but once you venture on to “chosen people” territory – feeding all the ancient prejudice against that miscomprehended phrase – once you repeat in another form the medieval blood-libel of Jews rejoicing in the murder of little children, you have crossed over.

Anthony Julius’s magisterial Trials of the Disapora includes a compelling chapter on English literary antisemitism, which identifies the way in which the blood libel and associated antisemitic tropes have framed how Jews have been treated by many of the greatest English authors, poets and playwrights. This is no fringe phenomenon, as Julius explains:

The literary canon is made up of those texts that have become central to the imagination of successive generations of writers, are taught in schools and universities, and contribute to a certain national self-understanding. They comprise an authoritative tradition. The pre-eminent authors of the English literary canon are Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dickens. Anti-Semites take pleasure in the fact they are also the pre-eminent authors of the English literary anti-Semitic canon.

Julius is referring to Chaucer’s The Prioress’s Tale, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Dickens’s Oliver Twist. He traces the English literary antisemitic canon from the first tellings of the blood libel in medieval English literature to the “contemporary moment”. The chapter concludes with Seven Jewish Children; but one of the earliest episodes explored by Julius comes from Lincoln.

The popular English balladSir Hugh, or the Jew’s Daughter, was based on the 1255 Lincoln blood libel, one of the best-known and most enduring of the medieval English blood libels against Jews. The actual story of the blood libel began in July 1255, when an eight or nine year old boy called Hugh disappeared in Lincoln. When his body was discovered a month later near the property of a Jewish resident of Lincoln named Jopin, the Jews of Lincoln were collectively accused of having kidnapped, tortured, crucified, killed and disembowelled him. Jopin was executed; 91 of the town’s Jews were then put on trial, 18 of whom were also executed. “Henry III”, writes Julius, “was the first monarch to have had Jews executed for ritual murder.” As with much medieval English antisemitism, the persecution came with economic benefits for the King and others. Lincoln Cathedral built a shrine to Hugh, which drew pilgrims for centuries afterwards.

In the version of the story told in the ballad of Sir Hugh, or the Jew’s Daughter, the boy accidentally kicks a ball through the window of a Jew’s house, and goes to ask for it back. The Jew’s daughter entices him into the house, then stabs him to death and disposes of the body. The child bleeds to death, as described in these terms:

And first came out the thick, thick blood,
And syne came out the thin;
And syne came out the bonny heart’s blood;
There was nae mair within.

When Hugh fails to return home and his mother goes to look for him, his dead body miraculously calls out to alert her to its location.

Versions of the ballad endured as popular oral tradition well into the 2oth century. Contemporary versions – without the Jewish aspect – were put to music by Benjamin Britten and Steeleye Span. It is mentioned in Chaucer’s The Prioress’s Tale – “O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also / With cursed Jewes, as it is notable” – itself a blood libel story. For Julius, the ballad “may be regarded both as an initial episode and as a continuing episode, because by its longevity it continuously accompanies the development of English literary anti-Semitism.” It was only in the 1950s that the shrine to Hugh was removed from Lincoln Cathedral and replaced with this notice:

St Hugh

By the remains of the shrine of “Little St. Hugh”

Trumped up stories of ‘ritual murders’ of Christian boys by Jewish communities were common throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and even much later. These fictions cost many innocent Jews their lives. Lincoln had its own legend and the alleged victim was buried in the Cathedral in the year 1255.

Such stories do not redound to the credit of Christendom, and so we pray:

Lord, forgive what we have been, amend what we are, and direct what we shall be.

It is not possible to know whether the staff or students at the University of Lincoln know the history of Lincoln’s blood libel, or the role it played in creating and sustaining a tradition of English literary antisemitism. It is possible that they are familiar with that history  but do not consider it relevant to Seven Jewish Children, even though Seven Jewish Children, like Sir Hugh, or the Jew’s Daughter, is based on the juxtaposition of Jewish and non-Jewish children, with the latter left covered in their own blood.

symposium in Lincoln on Caryl Churchill’s work, with an associated performance ofSeven Jewish Children, could provide the perfect opportunity to explore the idea thatSeven Jewish Children falls into a tradition of antisemitic literature that found one of its earliest expressions in a story about events in Lincoln some 750 years ago. We do not know what papers have been submitted to the symposium, nor what the keynote speaker, Professor Elaine Aston of Lancaster University, plans to say. But its organiser, Dr Sian Adiseshiah, did touch on this argument in her recent work,Churchill’s Socialism: Political Resistance in the Plays of Caryl Churchill. And what did Adiseshiah have to say about the idea that Seven Jewish Children evokes the master myth of English antisemitism, the blood libel, a myth that has framed an entire tradition of antisemitic English literature, which stretches back to the twelfth century and encompasses some of England’s greatest writers?

Of course, the play was accused by some of being anti-semitic, an accusation seemingly difficult to avoid for those campaigning against Israeli occupation and expressing Palestinian solidarity.

104 Responses to “Lincoln’s blood libel and Seven Jewish Children”

  1. University of Lincoln and Anti-Jewish Racism. « ModernityBlog Says:

    [...] CST, University of Lincoln, University of Lincoln Performing Arts Centre | Leave a comment » Engage reminds us that Caryl Churchill’s squalid and racist theatrical production, Seven Jewish Children is [...]

  2. Tweets that mention Lincoln’s blood libel and Seven Jewish Children « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CiF Watch and Margie in Tel Aviv, yidtech. yidtech said: Jew-hatred not only condoned but supported by the UK's University of Lincoln: http://bit.ly/fWUqxv (Please RT – this needs some attention.) [...]

  3. Dr.Dawg Says:

    This is free association of the most blatant kind.

    If every mention of Gaza that happens to also mention loss of life is to be construed as a “Blood Libel,” then dialogue is shut down before it even begins. (Indeed, that other anti-Semitic libel–well-poisoning–was laid at the door of scientists who discovered concentrations of heavy metals around bomb craters in Gaza.”)

    I know, I know–these are but variants of the famous “Livingstone Formulation,” which holds that calling attention to such silencing manoeuvres–poisoning the well in the strict logical fallacy sense–is in itself anti-Semitic.

    So I realize that I proceed at my peril. But for what it’s worth:

    I don’t think that Churchill would have much difficulty with the “Jewish/Israeli” conflation, in the context in which she has set her play for voices. She is humanizing relations between parents and children under various historical moments of extreme stress.

    This is from one of the quotations in this post:

    tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.

    I hardly see any joy in the killing of children here. I see nothing but an intense relief that the parent’s own child was not hurt. Indeed, a reading of the play as a whole (and I have both read and witnessed performances of it) reveals considerable humanity–reactions of individuals rather than clashes of forces, the ambiguities that define and to some extent sustain us.

    The voices are hardly unanimous–indeed, it is their differences in attitude, tone and content that provide much of the dynamic of the play.

    But ambiguity, the lifeblood of art, does not satisfy the Zhdanovs in our midst, either pro- or anti-Israel. That’s how narrow ideology stamps out the essentially human. And this post–libellously comparing Churchill’s intricate work with an anti-Semitic ballad–is, unfortunately, an example of precisely that narrow ideology.

    What would the author have the parents say? That’s the real question here, never posed. The problem for Gold is that parents say all kinds of things to comfort their children, some hasty and ill-considered, and never unanimous. If we locate the “meaning” of the play in parent-child relations, giving that notion some historical flesh and blood, I think we see in Seven Jewish Children something profoundly empathetic–towards Jews as well as Gazans, towards, in fact, all people caught in terrible and threatening circumstances.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      “The voices are hardly unanimous–indeed, it is their differences in attitude, tone and content that provide much of the dynamic of the play.”

      Like a show trial with the pretence of a defence barrister for show, when the verdict has already been decided.

    • conchovor Says:

      ‘I hardly see any joy in the killing of children here.’

      ‘Hardly’ being the catch and admission that you do see at least some.

      ‘I see nothing but an intense relief that the parent’s own child was not hurt. ‘

      As a sacrifice, in place of hers. She exults in it. ‘I was glad’, she says. Hamastan poses no existential threat to Israeli Jews, according to Churchill, any more than any Palestinians have.

      That is Churchill’s narrative: the Zionist sacrifice Palestiinian Arab Muslims and Christians instead of themselves: a crucifixion.

      A passion.

      A passion play.

  4. Dr.Dawg Says:

    And that verdict is…what, exactly?

    There is no “verdict,” of course, and no cheap political moral.

    Answer my question: what would you have the parents say?

  5. Dr.Dawg Says:

    Decorum? I’m afraid I don’t understand. If merely asking you questions is indecorous, perhaps I can spare your feelings by ceasing this attempt at discussion right here.

    I would only add that calling Churchill an anti-Semite might be taken by some as a flagrant breach of decorum. No matter. Your site, your rules.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      Well noted and all the best. Also the article as the link at the top indicates was written by Dave Rich over at the CST.

  6. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I too have read the play in its entirety, and unpleasant reading it was. Unlike Dawg, I found it reeked of (unwitting) antsemitism. I’m sure that Caryl Churchill is not an antisemite, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t employ antisemitic tropes throughout the piece. I’ve said before (along with many others on these threads) that employing antisemitic tropes doesn’t make a person antisemitic: they have to mean it, not use them unwittingly.

    However, if Churchill meant “Israeli children” why didn’t she say so? She called the play “Seven _Jewish_ Children”. The point has been made with reference to Clare Solomon that one doesn’t do that by accident, and certainly a playwright as experienced as Churchill certainly doesn’t. She wrote “Seven _Jewish_ Children”, thus she _meant_ _Jewish_ and _not_ Israeli. It is for her, not us (or you, Dawg) to explain, or explain away, the usage.

    And I assume that you have read the Jacobson piece linked to in the whole article that heads this thread:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/howard-jacobson/howard-jacobson-letrsquos-see-the-criticism-of-israel-for-what-it-really-is-1624827.html

    If not, you might like to, then come back and add to your comments.

    • Paul Miller Says:

      It seems a sort of polite dogma has established itself according to which those who promote or perpetuate anti-Semitism aren’t, themselves, anti-Semites. I can’t count the times I’ve read, here at Engage, people rushing to assure their readers “I’m sure that so-and-so isn’t an anti-Semite, but…”.

      Perhaps it’s the (generally quite admirable) politeness of British culture. Or perhaps it’s the UK’s admittedly frightening libel-law environment. Who knows.

      As far as I’m concerned, though, if you write an anti-Semitic play, you’re an anti-Semite. If you want to argue that you’re not one, the burden of proof is on you.

      Either this Churchill person is an anti-Semite, or she is far, far more ignorant than she would ever, I’m sure, admit to being (even though her parents misspelled her given name, which reminds me of Aunt Dahlia’s hilarious declaration that “no good can come of association with anything labelled Gwladys or Ysobel or Ethyl or Mabelle or Kathryn, but particularly Gwladys”).

  7. Absolute Observer Says:

    “There is no “verdict,” of course, and no cheap political moral.”

    Really? Well. how’s this…..

    “I know, I know–these are but variants of the famous “Livingstone Formulation,” which holds that calling attention to such silencing manoeuvres [lin this instance, calling "any" mention of the loss of life in Gaza as the "blood libel" (no straw man there then!)]–poisoning the well in the strict logical fallacy sense–is in itself anti-Semitic.”

    “Silencing manoeuvres”?
    Well, “no verdict” there or “cheap political moral”! Just the “truth” that simply raising the question of the play’s antisemitism is “really” just a “silencing manoeuvre” and those that do raise it are “really” nothing more than what? liars, manipulators? silencers? apologists for Occupation?

    What a great way to begin a “genuine”discussion – accusing your interlocutors of bad faith and (not so secret) hidden agendas and of seeking to silence all those brave people willing to stand up to such underhand and viscious tactics.

    “There is no “verdict,” of course, and no cheap political moral.”

    Really?
    “Michael Billington, the Guardian’s theatre critic, noted that the play “shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the ‘otherness’ of Palestinians.”

    I guess a theatre critic of decades experience simply read the play wrong or didn’t get it.

    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/cst/

    “Answer my question [you who are so adroit and free wth your "silencing manouevres"]: what would you have the parents say?

    From an earlier post,
    “What really annoys me about the Caryl Churchill play is this.

    I’m an Israeli parent -which is who, in fact, the play is criticising. I have raised 5 children in Israel, which is no easy task, over and above the normal difficulties of parenting. Like the majority of Israeli parents I have wrestled with the dilemma of how to raise happy, balanced children in an environment with so many instances of violence and fear.

    One has to cope with the fears of a child whose father and/or brother has gone to war. One has to cope with the anxieties of children forced to wear a gas mask for hours at a time for weeks on end and forbidden to leave the house. One has to cope with the nightmares resulting from seemingly unending terror attacks. One has to decide on a balance between the freedoms a teenager demands and the obvious dangers. One has to comfort teenagers who have buried friends.

    But all the while, from their infancy one tries not to opt for the easiest route. So one buys children’s books promoting Arab-Israeli co-existance. One takes them to play with the children of Arab friends. One encourages them to study hard in Arabic lessons in school. One discusses current affairs and politics taking care to present the other point of view. When they go to the army one makes sure that they discuss their difficulties and moral dilemmas over a shabbat meal.

    And then along comes Caryl Churchill and makes a complete stereotypical lie out of all those years of parenting and all those sleepless nights of dilemma.”

  8. Sarah AB Says:

    Dr Dawg – I don’t know the background but I do take your point about the well poisoning – unless the story about contamination was false or something – I’d have to know more to form an opinion.

    But I do agree with what others have said about 7JC – yes, there is much you can point to in the play and say ‘but it’s nuanced, these bits show some Israelis in a positive light, and the anxiety about how to talk to children is a universal one’ or whatever. But the way the material/incidents are selected is distorting and the lack of attribution allows for some really unpleasant readings which confirm the worst stereotypes of ‘zionists’.

    You use the word ‘ambiguities’ and normally we value literature which is ambiguous (and in fact from a cold-blood lit crit point of view I don’t have a problem with the play) but it’s its ambiguity which is part of the problem – if it was unambiguously antisemitic then people like you wouldn’t like it – e.g. if you could point to the line ‘tell her we didn’t mean to kill the children’ and say ‘the character is clearly lying’ then that would be less negative, in a way, because easier to demonstrate its offensiveness, than the actual situation – which is that you can make the line mean what you want it to mean because it’s not clear who is speaking it and why.

    (I’m getting a sense of deja-vu here!)

  9. Absolute Observer Says:

    A comment I placed on Dr Dawg’s site.
    Here is the remainder of the comments on Engage.

    However, one can see the problem with Dr Dawg’s take on the matter by the use of the word “dishonest” as in,

    “Today I commented on a post there that I found astonishingly dishonest: an alleged comparison between Caryl Churchill’s play for voices, Seven Jewish Children, and an anti-Semitic mediaeval ballad called Sir Hugh, or The Jew’s Daughter, an early instance of the Blood Libel.”

    This sum’s up precisely the problem.

    Apparently, the question of antisemitism in general and antisemitism in particular is not to be treated as a matter of reasoned discussion (it is antisemitic because of x and y or, converesly, it is not antisemitic because of a and b).

    Instead, for those like Dawg it is a question of “honesty”. Those who raise the question of antisemitism are not simply wrong or maybe wrong; but they are liars, cheats, manipulators. They are “dishonest”.

    It is this type of thinking that poisons not only discussions on the presence and meaning of antisemitism as it can (but not always) attach to discussions of Israel but poisons the atmosphere for those of us who, refusing binary oppostions, demand both an end to anti-Jewish racism and the demand for a vialble sovereign Palestine.

    Perhaps Dawg should spend some time considering what it really means to “purport” to be “progressive”.

    Here is the remainder of the discussion.

    Brian Goldfarb Says:
    January 24, 2011 at 9:19 pm
    I too have read the play in its entirety, and unpleasant reading it was. Unlike Dawg, I found it reeked of (unwitting) antsemitism. I’m sure that Caryl Churchill is not an antisemite, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t employ antisemitic tropes throughout the piece. I’ve said before (along with many others on these threads) that employing antisemitic tropes doesn’t make a person antisemitic: they have to mean it, not use them unwittingly.

    However, if Churchill meant “Israeli children” why didn’t she say so? She called the play “Seven _Jewish_ Children”. The point has been made with reference to Clare Solomon that one doesn’t do that by accident, and certainly a playwright as experienced as Churchill certainly doesn’t. She wrote “Seven _Jewish_ Children”, thus she _meant_ _Jewish_ and _not_ Israeli. It is for her, not us (or you, Dawg) to explain, or explain away, the usage.

    And I assume that you have read the Jacobson piece linked to in the whole article that heads this thread:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/howard-jacobson/howard-jacobson-letrsquos-see-the-criticism-of-israel-for-what-it-really-is-1624827.html

    If not, you might like to, then come back and add to your comments.

    Reply
    Absolute Observer Says:
    January 24, 2011 at 10:55 pm
    “There is no “verdict,” of course, and no cheap political moral.”

    Really? Well. how’s this…..

    “I know, I know–these are but variants of the famous “Livingstone Formulation,” which holds that calling attention to such silencing manoeuvres [lin this instance, calling "any" mention of the loss of life in Gaza as the "blood libel" (no straw man there then!)]–poisoning the well in the strict logical fallacy sense–is in itself anti-Semitic.”

    “Silencing manoeuvres”?
    Well, “no verdict” there or “cheap political moral”! Just the “truth” that simply raising the question of the play’s antisemitism is “really” just a “silencing manoeuvre” and those that do raise it are “really” nothing more than what? liars, manipulators? silencers? apologists for Occupation?

    What a great way to begin a “genuine”discussion – accusing your interlocutors of bad faith and (not so secret) hidden agendas and of seeking to silence all those brave people willing to stand up to such underhand and viscious tactics.

    “There is no “verdict,” of course, and no cheap political moral.”

    Really?
    “Michael Billington, the Guardian’s theatre critic, noted that the play “shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the ‘otherness’ of Palestinians.”

    I guess a theatre critic of decades experience simply read the play wrong or didn’t get it.

    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/cst/

    “Answer my question [you who are so adroit and free wth your "silencing manouevres"]: what would you have the parents say?

    From an earlier post,
    “What really annoys me about the Caryl Churchill play is this.

    I’m an Israeli parent -which is who, in fact, the play is criticising. I have raised 5 children in Israel, which is no easy task, over and above the normal difficulties of parenting. Like the majority of Israeli parents I have wrestled with the dilemma of how to raise happy, balanced children in an environment with so many instances of violence and fear.

    One has to cope with the fears of a child whose father and/or brother has gone to war. One has to cope with the anxieties of children forced to wear a gas mask for hours at a time for weeks on end and forbidden to leave the house. One has to cope with the nightmares resulting from seemingly unending terror attacks. One has to decide on a balance between the freedoms a teenager demands and the obvious dangers. One has to comfort teenagers who have buried friends.

    But all the while, from their infancy one tries not to opt for the easiest route. So one buys children’s books promoting Arab-Israeli co-existance. One takes them to play with the children of Arab friends. One encourages them to study hard in Arabic lessons in school. One discusses current affairs and politics taking care to present the other point of view. When they go to the army one makes sure that they discuss their difficulties and moral dilemmas over a shabbat meal.

    And then along comes Caryl Churchill and makes a complete stereotypical lie out of all those years of parenting and all those sleepless nights of dilemma.”

    Reply
    Sarah AB Says:
    January 25, 2011 at 7:14 am
    Dr Dawg – I don’t know the background but I do take your point about the well poisoning – unless the story about contamination was false or something – I’d have to know more to form an opinion.

    But I do agree with what others have said about 7JC – yes, there is much you can point to in the play and say ‘but it’s nuanced, these bits show some Israelis in a positive light, and the anxiety about how to talk to children is a universal one’ or whatever. But the way the material/incidents are selected is distorting and the lack of attribution allows for some really unpleasant readings which confirm the worst stereotypes of ‘zionists’.

    You use the word ‘ambiguities’ and normally we value literature which is ambiguous (and in fact from a cold-blood lit crit point of view I don’t have a problem with the play) but it’s its ambiguity which is part of the problem – if it was unambiguously antisemitic then people like you wouldn’t like it – e.g. if you could point to the line ‘tell her we didn’t mean to kill the children’ and say ‘the character is clearly lying’ then that would be less negative, in a way, because easier to demonstrate its offensiveness, than the actual situation – which is that you can make the line mean what you want it to mean because it’s not clear who is speaking it and why.

    (I’m getting a sense of deja-vu here!)

  10. Sarah AB Says:

    Yes – why dishonest – why not ‘strained’ or something? As I said – I’m open to persuasion either way about the wells point. I once came across an accusation of antisemitism about a particular discourse (essentially the word ‘elitism’) which seemed strained to me – but it didn’t seem ‘dishonest’ – it seemed deeply felt but not (to me, at that point) convincing.

  11. Absolute Observer Says:

    For those who care, here is my final comment in response to Dawg’s belief that Jews/Zionsts who note the antisemitism of Churchill’s play are involved in “silencing manouvers”.
    (for his evasive response on this matter, see,http://drdawgsblawg.ca/2011/01/how-engage-engages.shtml)

    An exercise in circularity

    1. Say that those who claim somethng is antisemitic (i.e. Chutchill’s) play is involved in “silencing manouvres” or “dishonest” and that one has to then proceed in the face of “peril”

    2. Claim that when those who note the similarity between allegations of “silencing” and dishonest” and the racist myth that “Jews” or “Zionists” manipulate the truth for their own purposes and narrow interests (and so dismiss what they have to say from the start)means that the one making the claim that Jews/zionists silence others by the “”dishonest allegation of antisemitism” is being unfairly tainted accusations of using antisemitic arguments.

    3. Having done so, claim that those utilising antisemitic myths are, in fact, the “real” victims of Jewish/Zionist “silenicing” and “dishonesty”. After all, as follows from point 1, that, when it comes to Israel, Jews/Zionists silent people who disagree with them by calling them “antisemitic” and so meaning that such a claim is, by definition, “dishonest”.

    4 Circle completed, discussion ended (or would that be “silenced”) since we all know Jews/Zionists
    only raise question of antisemitism to silence others, and so,

    5 Perpetrator (those uses antisemitism) becomes victim (the object of Jewish/ZIonist silencing) (kind of ironic that, since that is the underpinning theme of Churchill’s play. No wonder Dr Dawg is so enamoured of it.)

  12. Absolute Observer Says:

    Dawg ain’t coming back here.
    Can’t say I’m suprises.

    When all is said and done, he is simply just another mistaken person pushing the line that the play is about Israel and that those who think it touches on antisemitism are “dishonest” and “manipulative” and engaged in silencing and stifling debate about Israel.

    The words “two” “a” “penny” come to mind.

  13. Smashing it Says:

    Gosh, if only HE institutions in the UK were as good with dealing with bullying and intimidating enviroments in the workplace as Sky tv!!

    No doubt the result of the clandestine manouverings of a covert and highly powerful “Women’s Lobby” or should that be “The Women’s Lobby”.

  14. zkharya Says:

    Personally, I would have avoided making a direct connection between Hugh of Lincoln and 7JC.

    But there is something ironic about it, about a play which certainly has, what I would call, neo-antisemitic readings, because it is a new sort of antisemitism, infused with, at times indistinguishable from, anti-Zionism.

    And it is troubling that the organizer of the conference completely excluded such readings as erroneous or malign (malign, actually).

    There was no space even for discussion with her:

    ‘Of course, the play was accused by some of being anti-semitic, an accusation seemingly difficult to avoid for those campaigning against Israeli occupation and expressing Palestinian solidarity.’

    She almost wears the accusation of antisemitism with pride. That is where the comparisons with Hugh of Lincoln begin to be more ironic. They were proud of it too.

    I fear, also, as with the Jews of the 12th century, there is not a damn thing one can do about it, except perhaps weather it. But I don’t see conditions improving, much.

  15. zkharya Says:

    One day, centuries hence, people will look on these accusations, and the depiction of 7JC, and see how dark and hysterical it is (the Jews, Israelis, being born in the hysteria/womb of the holocaust). One day people will study it, and see what a dark myth it spins.

    But when did the study of paleo-antisemitism reach its zenith? Decades after the holocaust i.e. decades too late.

  16. zkharya Says:

    The study is behind the phenomenon. The mythmakers have the edge.

  17. Absolute Observer Says:

    Looks like DD has got a bit upset at calling his views “two a penny”.

    Good to know that he reads Engage – at least I think it is this Engage since he calls us a “pro-Israel site”.

    From the fonding document of Engage,

    “We “support” neither Israel nor Palestine; we support a cosmopolitan or internationalist politics that supports those who fight for peace and against racism within both nations.
    We are not a “Jewish” campaign, whatever that might mean. We do not speak “as Jews” but as socialists, liberals, trade unionists or academics. A number of the people centrally involved in Engage are not Jewish……..

    “Engage is a single issue campaign. It focuses on one issue, antisemitism”.

    I guess in Dawg’s world, combatting antisemitism is the same as “pro-Israel”. Never heard that one before.

    As I say, two a penny………two a penny.

    No doubt these comments will appear on his site along with his calling me “bonheaded”, for “smearing” him (which at some point he puts down partly to the possibility that I might be a Jew!).

    “No doubt (if AO is Jewish, anyway) this is merely more evidence of my anti-Semitism.”

    Two a penny……….two a penny.

    Two a penny…….two a penny.

    “If every time “Israel” and “Gazan casualties” are brought up the Blood Libel is to be duly trotted out, there can be little or no dialogue.”

    “Every time”

    Two a penny……..two a penny.

    “Israeli Jews didn’t simply spring up in the ME. The Ashkenazim brought with them the weight of European history. That weight continues to bear heavily upon the Jewish people, as well it might.”

    Will people never forgive the jews for the Holocaust.

    Two a penny…..two a penny.

    The funny thing is that he thinks he’s being all lit crit and original.

    Two a penny………two a penny.

    Of course, I do hope DD appreciates with these comments in mind that there is “nothing like a little satire, however heavy-handed, to make a point” as he says about an earlier comment he sent in reply to Zakhyra at Engage.

    Oh what joshing good fun.

  18. modernityblog Says:

    I read the exchange at Dr.Dawg’s blog and it is very unsatisfactory.

    Two points:

    1) Until he and others make an effort to deal with the negative racial overtones of this play they won’t be engaging with the criticism of the play.

    2) The question of how such a play might be greeted if the main characters were *another* ethnic/social group is not touched upon, for example, Seven Roma Children, Seven Irish Children, etc etc

  19. vildechaye Says:

    Excuse me for entering this discussion late; This issue came up on Harry’s Place and I made a few comments that may be pertinent here regarding DD’s notion that this play is not anti-semitic. They might be worth repeating, so here goes, edited somewhat:

    “This play’s anti-semitism shocked me when I watched it online — and I’ve never been one to shout anti-semitism. First, the play is called 7 JEWISH children, not 7 Israeli children; a minor semantic point, but worth mentioning, given the rest. Second, like many anti-semitic criticisms of Israel (not all criticisms, now, just many anti-semitic ones), it links the holocaust to Israeli actions. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a link between the holocaust and Israel, but no link whatsoever of the kind Churchill makes; i.e., we treat them like the Nazis treated us. Third, as someone pointed out here, how the hell does Churchill know what Jewish parents or Israeli parents tell their children. Fourth, and this is probably the strongest point, if you substitute Muslim for Jew and terrorism for occupation, the play would never have been produced or shown anywhere, and I have no doubt it would have been condemned by all and sundry for being anti-Muslim — as it would be. Also notice, no mention of the blood libel.
    Finally, Howard Jacobson’s quote from a year ago blows DD’s premise about “I’m glad it wasn’t my child” to smithereens, so it’s worth repeating: “…lie follows lie, omission follows omission, until, in the tenth and final minute, we have a stage populated by monsters who kill babies by design – “Tell her we killed the babies by mistake,” one says, meaning don’t tell her what we really did – who laugh when they see a dead Palestinian policeman (“Tell her they’re animals… Tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out”), who consider themselves the “chosen people”, and who admit to feeling happy when they see Palestinian “children covered in blood”. Anti-Semitic? No, no. Just criticism of Israel.”

    And DD seriously believes this isn’t an anti-semitic play?
    (apologies to SarahAB)

  20. Sarah AB Says:

    I’ve just tried to post this on Dawg’s blawg but there was a technical glitch.

    “Dr Dawg – I have posted my lecture on my blog (as a pdf link) so that in the future I can just give people a page ref and not type so much.

    I’ll just add that my reading of the play accommodates most of your responses – apart from what I feel is your failure to consider another perspective.

    If Hugh of Lincon/7JC is a rhetorical link – and zkharya didn’t like it either – we don’t just disagree with you on principle! – then what about the Holocaust/OCL?

    For an effective and succinct take on the play which sums up the main problems see

    http://rosiebell.typepad.com/rosiebell/2009/04/notes-on-seven-jewish-children.html

  21. Absolute Observer Says:

    It is interesting to note that for all of Dawg’s professions for discussion and “engagement” the opposite is in fact the case.
    1.He is immune to even the possibility that his statement about “silencing manouvers” chimes in with one of the discursive aspects of modern and contemporary antisemitism.

    2. That despite his claim that texts are amenable to different readings, the one reading he excludes and refuses point blank and a priori is that the Churchill play contains antisemitic imagery.

  22. Bill Says:

    “The funny thing is that he thinks he’s being all lit crit and original.”

    He’s been into that here before, if I remember.

    But if someone cannot tell the difference between seven “jewish” children and seven “israeli” children, he should put down the book learning and start looking at the real world.

    • Bill Says:

      (And I might add that DD was also a weak apologist for the canadian HRCs — which if they were as even handed as they claim, would’t have permitted the play as per their fast-n-loose charter. The play is certainly objectively antisemetic in explicit language, and effect. To claim otherwise is to insist that Churchill was misquoted — verbatim!)

  23. Absolute Observer Says:

    Oh dear,

    I seem to have offended DD a bit,

    “In other, simpler words: I am accusing you, personally, of making things up. Given what you have revealed of yourself here and at Engage, I was sarcastically making the point that this accusation in itself, specific and personal as it happens to be, might be disingenuously taken as anti-Semitic if you were Jewish. I frankly wouldn’t put it past you.”

    Apparently, from DD’s point of view, if one’s interlocutor was Jewish, one could simply assume that they would “mistake” it as antisemitic!

    My, that’s shows what DD thinks about Jews who disagree with him (assuming I am a Jew). They simply take personal attacks and distort them into claims of antisemitism.

    For what it is worth, I have no idea if DD is or is not an antisemite. What I have argued consistently is that some strands of his thinking – especially his notion of the play’s critics and the CST carrying out “sliencing maneouvres” – chimes in with antisemitic discourse.

    Rather than define what he means by this phrase, he claims that I am making things up; that having done so thinks that being a Jew, I have distorted it into a smear of antisemitism Which as he says, he “frankly wouldn’t put it past” me.

    Not content with this he continues,

    “And, quoting me: “Israeli Jews didn’t simply spring up in the ME. The Ashkenazim brought with them the weight of European history. That weight continues to bear heavily upon the Jewish people, as well it might.

    Will people never forgive the jews for the Holocaust.”

    This comment is followed by the following,
    “Know what? I shall break my own etiquette [sic] rule right here. Fuck off. You’re banned.”

    What is interesting is that the banning comes after a comment DD makes about the play and my response to such a comment.

    The version of the play that is on his website begins with images of the Holocaust and is interspered with images of Jews moving to Palestine and moves on to images of Palestinians.

    Although DD refuses to acknowlege any reading that questions his own view that it is not and cannot b antisemitic, one of the central themes of the play itself is how the Jews’ experience of the Holocaust “leads to” their treatment of the Palestinians. A nonsense of course that turns politics into psyco-babble and implies that Israelis and Jews have been so damaged and brutalised that the only way they can act is by the same brutality.

    That would appear to be the point that DD is echoing and the point I was alluding too.

    But for DD, such a view is apparently the last straw that leads to him breaking down into profanities………..

  24. Bill Says:

    “For what it is worth, I have no idea if DD is or is not an antisemite.”

    I don’t think DD is an antisemite, to-be-sure. But I definitely get the impression that he rejects reasonable concern (as in Reasonable Person) about antisemitism when it’s dressed up as art of if it’s within “six (or maybe more) degrees-of-Israel” This is no different and no less wrong when academic freedom is used to justify a boycott against israeli-Jews-and-only-Israeli-Jews (except for those that agree with the boycotter) that would “otherwise” be illegal under anti-descrimination and harassment law. Similarly I suspect that he rejects legitimate concerns of actions and statements being anti-semetic in effect, nor has he been seriously confronted with raw antisemitism from the intellectual community and if so, the above art-is-an-exit-clause (as well as the Israel-is-an-exit-clause) covers his colleagues, his cohorts and his conscience.

    …And as his exchange with AO demonstrates, he obviously rejects peer review at least when his views are on the line…. He’s enjoying his bubble, ‘t’ain’t no doubt.

  25. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Modernity Blog notes above in his comment earlier today: “The question of how such a play might be greeted if the main characters were *another* ethnic/social group is not touched upon, for example, Seven Roma Children, Seven Irish Children, etc etc”

    Actually, way back (nearly two years ago now), when we were debating this very play, I posted, in part, the following comment, in response to Deborah Maccoby (dated March 27, attached to an article dated March 3, 2009):

    “I notice that yet again Deborah M, typically, ignores the substantive point I made, concerning her comment that such a play as “7 Muslim Children” would be “… typical Israeli government propoganda” when such a play has not actually been written, and the actual Caryl Churchill play has not (to my knowledge) been commented on by any official or even unofficial representative of the Israeli government. She does this by retreating to a letter published in the Irish Times which suggests a play not yet written (which may never be written – it’s _satire_, Deborah), which she says _would_ be Islamaphobic if actually written.
    Actually, by her argument, if the “7 Muslim Children” play, if written, would be Islamaphobic, how come the actual Churchill play “7 Jewish Children” _isn’t_, ipso facto, antisemitic?”

    I think that this, given Deborah M’s reaction, tells us all we need to know as to how such a play about a different ethnic group would be received.

    Does any more need to be said? Actually, yes of course, but those to whom it is addressed aren’t listening.

    Vildechaye makes much the same point in his edited comment above from Harry’s Place. However, what this is really about is that people like DD both fail to read what is written here with any degree of care (because to do so would demand a reasoned response instead of AO’s noted intemperate reaction from DD – and that too we have had before, often), and then continues to assert: AO notes significant examples from DD that are pure assertion and that fail to engage with the elements of what _should_ be a discussion/debate.

    No change there then!

  26. Absolute Observer Says:

    DD says on his own site,

    “Am I over-reacting? It is certainly the case that not all of those claiming to find anti-Semitic tropes hither and yon are speaking in bad faith. But the latter is all too common. It is a polemical tactic used by partisans against critics of Israel, and there are simply too many examples to count.”

    “Second, that assuming a defender of the play is either anti-Semitic or obtuse (not that you have done this) is hardly conducive to engagement.”
    The return of the straw man.
    DD’s defence of the play is not antisemtic. I, for one, never said it was.
    What chimes with antisemitism is his allegation that those who see the play differently (i.e. as antisemitic) is involved in “sliencing manouvres” – i.e. that some (here, the CST) are, in effect not just wrong about their views (Z and Sarah think they are and have said so) but also are driven by an agenda that aims to silence, to stifle, discussion of both the play and of the events that called it forth.

    He continues,
    “As an aside, you tell me that the Engage crowd is generally friendly, but judging from the trash-talking over there, still going on, and the editorial double standards at play, it is obviously not a place for serious debate. That it purports to be I find frankly hypocritical, even–dare I use the term?–dishonest.”

    Again, the use of the word “dishonest”

    From Dr Dawg, December 2010,
    “Turning to Canada, we are fortunate to live in a country where “anti-Semitism” is so minimal that it has to be invented.”

    And, on being called up on this breathtaking cliched statement, responds by saying,

    “I note that you don’t link to my actual post. As you know, I was referring to a column by Jonathan Kay, which took a critical look at B’nai Brith’s claims of increasing anti-Semitism in Canada. I have never claimed that all anti-Semitism in Canada is invented, and indeed I have confronted it in a number of posts……

    But you know all that, you slimy little weasel………….”

    And he accuses Engage of “trash-talking”!

    In fact, the words Jonathan Kaye and B’nai Brith do not appear anywhere in DD’s blog. Iit can be accesed by a link on the word “invented” but as such appears in the role of an example of a broader and more general phenomenon – “too many times to count – rather than the one-off he claims he meant.

    Apparently the commentator he calls as “slimey little weisel” is supposed to “know’ this.

    So, here we have it out of the horses, or is that Dawg’s own mouth.

    Critics of Israel” invent” antisemitism…….”too many times to count.” Such critics of Israel are said to include one of the most respected Jewish organisations dealing with antisemitism, and that anyone who disagrees with these views (or any on the question of antisemitism) can expect a volley of abuse.

    And since “partisans” of Israel apparently, nearly universally make things up (now, where have I heard that before?), DD feels that he can libel any Jewish organisation that raise antisemitism as engaged in “silencing manouvres” and/or calumny – Engage, CST……

    (And, if DD would have had the decency to check the source of the post he would have found that it comes from the UK CST. CST make it plain that they are concerned solely with antisemitism and not matters pertaining to Israel other than when it connects with racist discourse – hence, their refusal to label allegations of apartheid made against Israel as antisemitic.)

    In this way, DD slips from a claim that “pro-Israel” groups lie when it comes to questions of antisemitism, to accusing Jewish groups of the same underhand tactic.

    (All quotes are verifiable and are not “made up” by myself. Nor as I calling DD antisemitic; simply unwilling to listen to anyone but his own voice and views or those who agree with him.

    And people are, despite the words used, “know” what he means (that he was being “sarcastic”, that he was being “satirical”.

  27. Absolute Observer Says:

    Btw the article DD linked to has nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.
    BB was comparing the exclusion of female skiers at an event in Vancouver BC with the Olympics of 1936.
    May be a bit daft (to say the least), but the article DD links to, to repeat, has nothing to do with antisemitism (“invented or otherwise” nor with the claim he made.

    And, logically, if someone refuses to ever consider the possibility of antisemitism in, say, a play then, by definition, they leave themselves open to being able to claim that those who disagree with that view is “inventing” things. Needless to say, not everyone who disagrees on the content of a play, etc. will make such a claim. I don’t know whether this is a common phenomenon (indeed, it may not happen at all, other than the one incident documented here.)

  28. Dr.Dawg Says:

    Not that this comment will see the light of day, but “Absolute Observer’s steady stream of lies and mischaracterizations has, perhaps, peaked with this latest lie:

    Btw the article DD linked to has nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.

    One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. From the article that “has nothing to do with antisemitism”:

    Every year, B’nai Brith puts out an “audit” of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada. And every year, the document is reported on by the mass media, which uncritically parrots the group’s absurd contention that anti-Semitism is a growing epidemic in this tolerant country. Reporters politely overlook the fact that B’nai Brith’s definition of “incident” is dumbed down: Any web posting, stray comment, or scrap of graffitti fits the bill. This allows B’nai Brith to reel off thousands of examples.

    Most readers don’t stop to scrutinize how trivial these examples are: They just look at the impressive-seeming bar graphs, which purport to show a Jewish community in a constant state of terror. The result: Older Jews with dark historical memories become terrified, and the donations to B’nai Brith come rolling in.

    The author is Jonathan Kay, a conservative Jewish columnist in the National Post.

    Continue the anti-Dawg criticisms! Engage!

    • modernityblog Says:

      No doubt, Dr.Dawg, you believe the author is terrible, probably you believe that the organisation publishing these facts is terrible too.

      But as most rational people will admit, that doesn’t actually change the evidence on the ground.

      There are physical attacks on synagogues in Canada, as the London Free Press reported:

      “TORONTO – The annual B’Nai Brith audit on anti-Semitic incidents showed an increase of hate-related incidents across Canada in 2009.

      The audit showed an 11.4% increase in incidents last year over 2008.

      But the 10-year trend shows a five-fold increase in anti-Semitic incidents, the report shows.

      Last year, there were 1,264 incidents, including harassment, assault and hate graffiti, compared to 1,135 in 2008.

      In the Toronto area, the number of incidents dropped by 11%, but it increased in Ottawa by 14.5% and by more than 48% in Ontario overall.

      B’Nai Brith executive vice-president Frank Dimant said he couldn’t explain why there’s a drop in the Toronto area.

      The audit reported 884 cases of harassment, 348 of vandalism and 32 incidents of violence, which is twice as many violent attacks as in 2008.

      http://www.lfpress.com/news/canada/2010/02/24/13007276.html

  29. Absolute Observer Says:

    I saw this in today’s Guardian and thought of DD,

    “http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/27/rabbis-murdoch-fox-glenn-beck-holocaust”

    In this story, some American rabbis complained to Fox news about their tendency to compare almost everything they disagree with with Nazism and the Holocaust.

    In response, Fox news, said,
    “George Soros-backed leftwing political organisation”.

    When confronted will the possibility that his own comments may chime with antisemitism, DD, like Fox news, falls back on a similar version of conspiracy theory,
    “It is certainly the case that not all of those claiming to find anti-Semitic tropes hither and yon are speaking in bad faith. But the latter is all too common. It is a polemical tactic used by partisans against critics of Israel, and there are simply too many examples to count.”

    DD and Fox news, well, well, well.

    Then of course there is the reactionary underpinning of his own argument.

    Citing with glee a right-wing journalist that BB may overplay the question of antisemitism in Canadian society, DD takes this as “proof” that antisemitism is so minimal that it has to be “invented” (see Modernity’s comments)

    I was struck between the similarity of DD’s argument and that of those who take the occasional “false rape claim” and use that of proof of women’s mendacity and of denying the prevalence of violence against women in society.

    And DD thinks himself as a “progressive”, when in fact, he “arguments” are precisely those used by the more reactionary elements in society.

    Finally, DD lets his reactionary views slip one more time.
    He adds to his comment about the NP/BB article,
    “The author is Jonathan Kay, a conservative Jewish columnist in the National Post.”

    What is the relevance of Kay’s being “Jewish”? What does it add to the story? What does it add to the “force” of DD’s argument?

    DD could only think that it is important because he believes that if one can identify the author of a comment as”Jewish” then either they are “making things up” and, if that is no enough, “smear” their discussant as “antisemitic”; or, in the case of Kay, DD used his being Jewish as somehow giving the story “added value”. At this point Heine’s melacholic statement comes to mind, which reads something like this,

    Some praise me for being a Jew, some criticise me for being a Jew, but all see me as a Jew.

    After all, DD felt the need to assume I was Jewish so as to make the argument that I was somehow illegitimately smearing him with the tag “antisemite). (If you read my comments, I have at no time called him an antisemite (even in the light of the fact that he began this “discussion” by utilising the well-poisoning myth” and applying it to Engage and other groups that he sees adopting “silencing manouvres”.

    Well-poisoning – now there is a nice tradition to frame one’ comments about contemporary acts of “partisans of Israel”.

    DD – the more you refuse to listen about how tainted your articulations about antisemitism are the more foolish you look.
    Although, I have to admit I have a bit of respect for the hubris –
    “Continue the anti-Dawg criticisms! Engage! – with which DD shrouds his ignorance which he passes off as virtue.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/27/rabbis-murdoch-fox-glenn-beck-holocaust

  30. Absolute Observer Says:

    There is always debate within Jewish communities as to how to approach the question of antisemitism. Some think the right approach is to downplay it. Others think that its existence should be stated boldly and without apology.

    Unfortunately, those like Dr Dawg have no idea of what these debates are. Rather he exploits those debates for his own agenda – that Jews invent antisemitism for their own pro-Israel agenda.

    I think DD needs to be a little more aware and sensitive about the politics that surround the representation of antisemitism as well as its existence.

    After all, the debates in the Jewish community itself take place in and are the product of the hostile environment that those like DD do so little to challenge and, in fact, perpetuate.

  31. Reader of Engage Says:

    Funny, how Dr Dawg bans AO from his site and then comes to Engage to dump all over him there.

    (Really, what is the point of the sentence “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry”? Preening or what?)

    Good for Engage though for refusing a tit-for-tat response.

  32. Aristotle Says:

    The Canadian B’Nai B’Rith and the UK CST.

    Both are Jewish orgainsations.

    Therefore, all Jewish organisations “invent” antisemitism because all Jewish organisations that mention antisemitism are “partisans of Israel” and can only be treated as liars.

  33. zkharya Says:

    The bottom line, Dawg, is that 7JC professes to be the most sympathetic defence of Israel and Zionism possible, through the mechanism of ‘understanding’ (a highly distorted and selective ‘history’), while it is, in fact, a prosecution, finding Israel guitly of all-but-genocide, on the brink, in fact, unless the audience acts NOW!!

  34. Absolute Observer Says:

    Oh Canada, We stand on Guard for thee.

    ““Turning to Canada, we are fortunate to live in a country where “anti-Semitism” is so minimal that it has to be invented.”

    “Last Sunday, on accepting the Golden Globes’ Best Actor Award for his role in Barney’s Version, Paul Giamatti oozed out a tribute to the city in which it was filmed, “an incredible, beautiful city, Montreal, which I dream about…”
    It was thrilling to hear these words about my hometown. Montrealers are, according to all polls, the most liberal, secular and “tolerant” of all Canadians. I just love the place; but as with all love, there comes pain.
    So, the very morning after the Globes, I awoke to the distressing news that, at almost the same at which Giamatti was praising Montreal, co-ordinated attacks were being perpetrated against four of the city’s shuls, and a yeshivah. Windows were shattered and antisemitic graffiti sprayed on these sacred sites. Such organised attacks on Jewish institutions have been increasing at an alarming rate over the past decade.”

    Trouble is, this report is in the Jewish Chronicle, so, no doubt, according to DD’s binary thinking, the incidents can be be dismissed as either “minimal” and being blown out of proportion by these “partisans of Israel” or an”invention” of the same “partisans of Israel”.

    I wonder which it is to be…….I can guess.
    AO, you boneheaded smearer, you slimy little weasel, etc., etc.

    “There’s plenty of real anti-Semitism in the world, and it behooves Jews and non-Jews alike to speak out about it. And there’s a lot of misuse of the label, which is often a political silencing tactic, since no humane person wants to be associated with the disease in question. The latter is deployed by Jews and by non-Jews” (from the thread above).

    Note the use of the words, “political silencing tactic,” as in BB and CST being “silencing manouvers”. The opening comment DD made prior to denying everyone’s view of Churchill’s play but his own.

    This is DD’s a priori assumption of those critics of the play who smell the rat of antisemitism in its 9 minutes.

    And DD complains that he is the subject of a smear!! You couldn’t make it up even if you wanted to.

    So, we have no option but to conclude from DD’s own words, that those who question the content of 7JC are adopting a ‘political silencing tactic”.

    His position is exactly the same as this one,
    “Of course, the play was accused by some of being anti-semitic, an accusation seemingly difficult to avoid for those campaigning against Israeli occupation and expressing Palestinian solidarity.”

    So much for DD’s critique of the Livingstone Formulation which (I don’t know whether to laugh or cry) he – in an exercise of such good taste – he likened to the antisemitic myth of “well-poisoning”.

  35. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Not that this comment will see the light of day, but “Absolute Observer’s steady stream of lies and mischaracterizations has, perhaps, peaked with this latest lie”:

    1. Why would Engage not want your comments to come through?
    With each contribution you are illustrating the limitations of your predictable arguments and invective.

    2. Thank you for calling me a liar. I suppose it is an improvement on “slimy little weasel”, so some progress there.

    3. I find it interesting that when I summarise your own words, you see them as “lies”.

    So, to give one instance. You call me a liar when I note the way you link your assumption of my being Jewish to my accusation that I smear you as an antisemite.

    As I have said, I have never called you an antisemite. More importantly, you yourself said that this aspect of your “thinking” was nothing more than a personal attack on me. Fine, this is the internet, and as we know, and much to its shame, civility is not the first priority.

    Let us look at your own words shall we,

    “In other, simpler words: I am accusing you, personally, of making things up. Given what you have revealed of yourself here and at Engage, I was sarcastically making the point that this accusation in itself, specific and personal as it happens to be, might be disingenuously taken as anti-Semitic if you were Jewish. I frankly wouldn’t put it past you.”

    This is what you are saying,

    You have accused me of making things up – me and no-one else

    Having accused me of “making things up” you add icing to that cake by saying, that – “assuming I am Jewish” I would “disingenously” take it to be anti-semitic (the allegation of “smearing” raises its ugly head).

    In other words, DD your readiness to resort to this type of things shows many things.

    One such thing is that this is what you think/believe/expect Jews (well, those “Jews” who disagree with you at least) to do and do.

    You expect Jews (those Jews who disagree with you) to lie and to call people antisemitic (which, again, I haven’t) who don’t deserve it.

    If this is not the case, why “assume” anything about whether I was “Jewish” or not? Why not treat me, Jew or not, as you would any other questioner of your views? Indeed, why limit the allegation that antisemitism is invented to Jews?

    For you, the fact that an interlocutor with whom your disagree is a Jew is important for you. It is a way through which you understand what is being said to you and why. You see the Jew first and the argument second (as I say, “two a penny”); otherwise why else make reference to one’s being “Jewish” or not on the question of antisemitism. This also explains your reference to Kay as a “Jewish” journalist.

    In fact, DD, you repeat on a personal level to me what you have alleged on a “communal” level. That Jews, collectively and individually, “invent” antisemitism (i.e. make things up) and, because they are Jewish, scream antisemitism at whoever displeases them.

    You imply also that these underhand traits are unique to Jews and no-one else (hence, your need to pigeon hole me into the categories of Jew and non-Jew, or why else would you do it?).

    This is what you have said, and this is the implication of those words – that “as a Jew” not only do I make things up (something that you do not believe is uniquely “Jewish” but I bandy around the accusation of antisemitism (something you see as a uniquely “Jewish” phenomenon, individually and collectively.

    And then, and here is the funny bit, you think you have something serious to say in a debate of whether a play may or may be be antisemitic in whole or in part!!

    I am sorry if your own views offend you. But you really have no one to blame but yourself.

    Btw – why are you so rude and arrogant in tone? COuld it be that is how you treat everyone with whom you disagree or only those who happen to be Jewish (assuming I am Jewish for the moment)?

    I have a feeling that, on this issue at least, you treat everyone with the same contempt. It is really not an attractive attribute you know.

  36. Thomas Venner Says:

    Just wondering, why are we all taking someone who goes by the pseudonym “Dr. Dawg” so seriously? This whole thing looks a lot like some annoying troll trying to make himself feel clever by getting other people to waste time attempting to argue with him. Nobody here can really expect to get him to change his viewpoints, any more than anyone could get Fox News to support socialised medicine, so why bother? Don’t give him the satisfaction.

  37. Thomas Venner Says:

    *sorry, there was supposed to be a space between my first and second lines:

    Just wondering, why are we all taking someone who goes by the pseudonym “Dr. Dawg” so seriously?

    Also, this whole thing looks a lot like some annoying troll trying to make himself feel clever by getting other people to waste time attempting to argue with him. Nobody here can really expect to get him to change his viewpoints, any more than anyone could get Fox News to support socialised medicine, so why bother? Don’t give him the satisfaction.

  38. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    DD’s use of the notion of the “silencing tactic” by those in favour of the continued existence of Israel, that is, claiming that (he says) all or many criticisms of Israel are descried as antisemitic, and therefore need to be silenced, reminds me of the furore over the establishment of Independent Jewish Voices. We can all remember their heart-rending cries that they were being silenced and censored by the Jewish community in the UK, led by the Board of Deputies, and, as I recall, the Jewish Chronicle .

    Indeed, so silenced were they that they took out full page ads in The Times and The Guardian (and the Indie & Telegraph?) and generated 100s of column inches (not least in the Jewish Chronicle, which I recall reported them with admirable fairness), not forgetting, as Linda Grant so memorably noted in these columns, that many of them were (and indeed still are) but a phone call away from an op-ed article in the very papers in which they took out the ads.

    Funnily enough, some of them even turned up in these columns, even though the collective that is Engage was seen as part of the conspiracy against their freedom to speak of their anti-Zionism.

    Thus is DD and his ilk silenced. However, regrettably for his attitude, here, as “Reader of Engage” notes just above: “Good for Engage though for refusing a tit-for-tat response.” Despite his attempt to flounce away, he’s back, even though he’s banned Absolute Observer from his blog.

    How even-handed of him!

    Such even-handedness from such nice people.

  39. Curious Says:

    Dear “Dr Dawg” (that does sound strange :))

    I am a bit lost with all this tooing and froing.

    Can I ask for some clarification.

    Abosolute Obsever’s arguments (and rhetoric) seems to turn on your paragraph,
    “I know, I know–these are but variants of the famous “Livingstone Formulation,” which holds that calling attention to such silencing manoeuvres–poisoning the well in the strict logical fallacy sense–is in itself anti-Semitic.”

    More specifically, he appears to be making much of the term, “silencing manoeuvres”.

    In the hope of avoiding any more unpleasantness, perhaps you could explain in clear terms exactly what you did mean. This may avoid us all going round and round in circles/

    Likewise, Absolute Observer seems rather upset about whether you think it important if he is Jewish or not.

    Again, to avoid this type of contestation, could I ask you to clarify what you meant by, and I think this is the phrase causing the most problems,

    “In other, simpler words: I am accusing you, personally, of making things up. Given what you have revealed of yourself here and at Engage, I was sarcastically making the point that this accusation in itself, specific and personal as it happens to be, might be disingenuously taken as anti-Semitic if you were Jewish. I frankly wouldn’t put it past you.”

    After such clarification I am sure – I hope – we can all move forward in helpful way.

    Thank you.

  40. Absolute Observer Says:

    “But why does the tragedy of Palestinian individuals and families have to begin with the Holocaust?” Sarah AB asks,

    Why, DD replies,
    “Because, no insensitivity intended, for many Jews the Holocaust is the defining moment in their history that has powerful resonances to this very day?”
    Note the word “the” defining moment and not “a” defining moment.

    An echo of his previous comment that,

    “Israeli Jews didn’t simply spring up in the ME. The Ashkenazim brought with them the weight of European history. That weight continues to bear heavily upon the Jewish people, as well it might.”

    Now, apparently, he is an expert on how “many Jews” relate to their history.
    Funny, how those who know Jews think they know what their defining moments are.

    For Churchill (and DD) the Holocaust is responsible for the Jews state’ to act in the brutal way it does.
    For others the Holocaust itself is an ethical event that Israel has betrayed.

    For some it is years of “exile”.

    For others (Hickey) it is Jews relationship to education that grew up from the 17th -18th/19th history.
    For others it is the “ethics” of the Jewish prophets
    For others it was the Third (?) Commandment, not to make images of God.

    Not only does this show a complete ignorance of any knowledge of Jews’ history or their own (diverse) reading of the past, but also reduces the Jews to the damaged basket-case that Churchill and Jaqueline Rose portray them as.

    It also shows a complete lack of any awareness and knowledge of the complexities of history (of which Jewish history is a part). It also shows an ignorance of the complexities of the legacy of the Holocaust to the present of which, again, Jewish history is only a part.

    In the place of complexity, he, like Churchill works on a simple, and simplistic notion of cause and effect.

    No wonder he doesn’t think 7JC is antisemitic. He too reduces contemporary Jewry (and not just those in Israel) to what the Nazis did to them.

    Perhaps someone can correct me, but was it not Rosenweig who said that, after the Shoah, the 614th Commandment was not to give Hitler a posthumous victory? As in – we Nazis did this to the Jews and as a result they can never be like any other “normal” people. We have scarred them forever and people will reduce them to nothing more than that scar. That is our victory.

    As I asked above – when will people forgive the Jews for the Holocaust?

    Nice one DD – sharp, real sharp.

  41. Jimmy Says:

    DD said on his blog “I was told I was unwelcome and left the discussion.”

    But i read the comments on Engage and nobody said he was not welcome. He just made it up. Still looking at his comments, in particular his abusive comments, his swearing and name calling, it looks like he’s lost it.

    “The Emperor has no clothes”

  42. Stephen Rothbart Says:

    I have to say that having read all these comments, I am baffled by many of the arguments expressed here.

    It seems to be all about nuance and the degrees of anti-Semitism, or even if there is anti-Semitism. Can you be almost pregnant?

    AO brings up the Engage charter, that we are neither for Israel nor against it, neither for the Palestinians or against them.

    It’s a wonderful charter, but sadly it leads to dilaogue that seems to go nowhere, because if you don’t choose a side, how can you really understand what drives the visceral hatred of Israel amongst so many intelligent people.

    To analyze that properly, you have to have a perspective, and to have a perspective you have to have a view on the two sides that take into account certain facts.

    So let us deal first with the concept of ‘Occupation,’ a word thrown around to describe the situation that Israel has found itself saddled with.

    Again my interpretation of history is devoid of all the variations along the way, but keeps to essential factual events.

    The first given is that Jews have always lived in the Middle East. Always.

    The second given is the Balfour Declaration that allocated the area of Palestine (not the State of Palestine) that Britain felt able to claim some control over, to the setting up of a Jewish home. And it happened before the Holocaust, so Israel is not the result of the Holocaust.

    The third given is that Palestine and Israel exist in a part of the Middle East that was controlled by Turkey and its Ottomon Empire for many centuries. So the State of Palestine that so many think Israel stole land from is a myth.

    After WW1 the Ottomon Empire was dismantled and Palestine was declared a protectorate of the British (still no Palestinian nation to be ‘occupied’).

    In 1948 the UN voted to declare Israel as a legitimate Jewish nation, and partitioned the two tribes of Jacob and Esau. The Arabs mainly decided not to accept this decision and immediately joined forces with Egypt, Jordan and Syria and several minor paramilitary groups to attack the Jews of Israel and to try to destroy their tiny nation that was, in some places only 8 miles wide.

    That they failed was not due to the wave of sympathy that folllowed the Holocaust thus leading to all the great nations to send guns or help to save Israel. She was left alone to fight for her life. Through sheer tenacity and the fact that many of the enemies hated and mistrusted each other more than they hated Israel, the Jews of Israel perservered.

    Indeed they ended up with more land than they had started with. But did they start the war? No. Did some of their more fanatical zealots behave badly and treat Arabs in such a way as to create ethnic cleansing? Yes, some did, but they were a tiny minority and were not to come back into prominence until much later, in fact about 30 years later.

    In 1967 the Arab nations attacked again and again they were defeated. Some signed peace treaties and some did not.

    They again lost more land and Jerusalem, which was a city where most of the important Jewish religious sites, including the Wailing Wall, were controlled by Jordan and no Jews were allowed in. It became an open city, controlled by Israel but where all faiths were allowed to roam and worship.

    More wars, more losses, more refusals by the vanquished enemies to sit down and hammer out a peace treaty in exchange for land and for a meaningful Peace.

    Few of these defeated states would even recognize Israel’s right to exist. Hence an ‘Occupation,’ because if you give back territory you won in war, you normally get something back in return. What have the Syrians or the Palestinians ever offered to Israel in return. Leave Gaza and we will stop attacking? Er… no.

    And so on….

    Years of missed opportunities as the leaders of the Palestinians stole money from the UN and the EU and the USA and lined their personal bank accounts, while keeping their people in abject refugee status.

    Gradually the Israelis grew tired of the intifadas, and random terrorism targeting the shops, buses and restaurants, and they turned away from the Labour Party and its supporters who, with once the support of 70% of the Israeli public, wished to find an accommodation with the Palestinians.

    Sure some of the Israelis today behave badly, and there are some racists in the government, and the stupidity of an electoral system that gives undue power to these religious bigots, has made it easy to criticize Israel
    if you want to find a reason, but they do not represent the entire nation.

    Israel today is a thriving state. Its doctors were among the first to fly help and aid into Haiti last year (only to have some senior British government people and anti-Zionists claim they only did it to harvest children’s organs!).

    It has Arabs in its Parliament, it has Arabs in its Army, it has Arabs in its national soccer team, and it has had no gay discrimination in its Army long before the US got round to it. It is open to women to make a career, to have a child out of wedlock. If you decide to leave the Jewish faith you are not persecuted for it.

    So from my perspective, this makes it a pretty fair society to have sprung up when its young men and women have to join the military and its labour force has to serve time in the army on a regular basis, and has been in a State of War for pretty much the entire 60 years of its existence.

    I have driven the roads of Israel, seen at first hand the shelters under roads that were built at a time when the Jordanian Army would regularly and without provocation shell the eastern boders of Israel.

    So forgive me if I take sides with a nation, whether Jewish or not, that has achieved so much despite everything its neighbours have thrown at it.

    Engage is magazine of the Left, AO says. But these are the values of the Left, are they not?

    Now look at those on the other side. I am not talking about the Palestinian Arab as a bad or evil entity. But they are governed by a vile and intolerant leadership that has conspired to keep them in refugee status for over 60 years! They use them as cannon fodder – literally in some cases, and glory in their martyrdom.

    As one of their leaders recently said about their differences with Israel, ‘they glorify life and we glorify death!’

    Wow such a nice comparison. Women have to take second place to their menfolk, no other religious worship is allowed except some Christian worship, and their schools teach the most vile anti-Semitic canards to their children.

    So which nation, Jewish or not, is it likely that I would side with in a conflict?

    One that tries to live my values of racial, sexual and religious tolerance, that really needs to live in Peace so its children don’t have to go fight every few years, or the other totalitarian state, run by armed gangs, and where children are dressed up as suicide bombers instead of ET?

    One where the values of what I thought the Left stood for exist, or one that was the antithesis of EVERYTHING the Left stood for, unless by the Left you include Stalinist, which I am sure Engage members are not?

    So what drives the Left, the literary and the playwrights to put on plays like Churchill did? What excuse can be made for them, to so distort the truth that the Israelis are the callous murderers and the Palestinians always the innocent victims?

    What causes them to always use emotive words like apartheid and facism or Nazism when referring to Israel, call for boycotts, How can a leadership that supresses free speech, free worship unless Islamic, womens’ rights and persecutes homosexual men and women, be able to accuse its enemy of apartheid, with the support of so many so-called intelligent people who must KNOW deep inside how stupid that makes them look?

    Well, I have a proposition to make. Just, perhaps, I don’t know, but perhaps it’s because they hate Jews?

  43. Eliezer Zusken Says:

    More often than not I disagree with Dr. Dawg on most things related to Israel. However as a Canadian I can tell you that the B’nai Brith here are viewed very much as hard right and strong supporters of the governing Conservative party.

    Its audit has been questioned by many and Jonathan Kay has been one very strong critic. Mr. Kay is also a dyed in the wool Conservative.

    Most Canadian Jews look to the politically impartial Canadian Jewish Congress for a progressive mainstream view. Though the CJC has not commented on the B’nai Brith audit it has been critical of B’nai Brith recently when it tried to claim that a Quebec newspaper cartoonist drew anti-Semitic themes in his paper. Turns out the theme was his portrayal of the Parliament Hill Clock with a Star of David. Using the Star claimed BB was anti-Semitic. Truth be told the cartoonist is a strong ally of Israel and Jews and the Peace Tower clock does have a Star of David http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19956&Itemid=86

    So take on DD as needed but cut him some slack on the B’nai Brith issue.

    • modernityblog Says:

      “Its audit has been questioned by many and Jonathan Kay has been one very strong critic. Mr. Kay is also a dyed in the wool Conservative.”

      Perhaps you could provide some evidence to substantiate your argument?

      Further, could you explain, rationally, how the ability to count, and see the visible signs of attacks on synagogues, is impaired by holding one particular political view or another?

      • Martha Lichtenstein Says:

        Modernity:
        Eliezer is right and so are you. The audit is not a subjective analysis of anti-Semitism in Canada. It is a count of alleged incidents (interestingly the police count is usually lower since it has the capacity to investigate allegations). So one should not extrapolate specific tropes.

        However Eliezer is quite correct that when it comes to specifc alleged anti-Semitic incidents, Canadian Jewish Congress is far more respected for its cooler more rational approach.

        One should not (as Eliezer has done) confuse the audit with positions taken by B’nai Brith Canada. CJC does not do an audi;t BB does. CJC is usually better accepted for its approach in dealing with Jewish issues impacting on the Canadian scene. It is that simple.

        I do agree with Eliezer on his take of DD. I have traversed his site and it is not friendly to Israel but in comparison to some other extreme leftwing blogs it is tame. And I can find little with which to agree with Mr. Dawg but on the issue of B’nai Brith, on balance, it is shrill, has lost much credibility in recent years and does tend to fulminate on anti-Semitism even to the degree of seeing demons where they do not exist.

    • Stephen Rothbart Says:

      I would have to say that having looked at a photo of the Peace Tower in Parliament Hill, it is a bit of stretch to say that the dominant feature is a Star of David. In fact were I a practioner of the Dark Arts, I would say the dominant star here is a Pentangle, but that is a mute point.

      It is clear in hindsight that B’nai Brith overreacted here by not first checking if the cartoonist had ‘form’ but in the light of the use of the Star of David being used as a weapon in cartoons appearing in mainstream magazines, such as Newweek, and the constant whining by the anti-Zionists about how the Zionists control all governments and all the media (in which case they should all be fired because they are doing a pretty poor PR job), it is perhaps understandable why BB is becoming paranoid.

      Also I fail to see what being a Conservative has to do with anything.

      There are Conservative Jews, especially among the religious Right in Israel that are anti-Zionist, and there are people of the Left that support Israel and Zionism and are as devoted to combat anti-Semitism as any humane person should be.

      This debate should move away from this kind of labelling.
      I often feel the incredibly self-defeating flagellation of Israel by liberal Jews is because of the fact that right now, the Israeli government is Right wing, and therefore nothing they do can be good.

      It’s the same with the US. While Bush was in charge, the US media complained constantly about Iraq, Afghnanistan, Guantanimo etc., but now they have Obama in charge, and he has done little to change any of Bush’s war strategies, including Guantanimo, the sniping seems to have stopped about the iniquity of the US foreign policy.

      So is Israel fair game for castigation by the Jewish Liberal because of its government, or because of its behaviour?

      Under Labour, Ehud Barak made huge concessions to make a settlement with Arafat. It was rejected. Now we see. thanks to Wikileaks, that under Kadima, a similar offer was made to Abbas, and also rejected.

      Now Israel has voted in a hard line government that is trying a different route – enriching and trading the West Bank Palestinian economy in joint economic initiatives. This has worked well so far for both sides, as the West Bank economy takes off.

      No one on the Left either praises this or even believes it.

      Well, nothing else has worked so far, so let’s hope this attempt, to by-pass politics and try instead economic cooperation, will work, and that if it does, Left or Right, it does not matter.

      What matters is what is good for the people of Israel and Palestine.

  44. Absolute Observer Says:

    How interesting.
    DD is asked to clarify his point about silencing.

    He is asked to explain why he thinks it important to identify his interlocutor’s as Jewish or not.

    His is shown how his views on Jewish history is unidemsional.

    He is shown that he knows nothing about the legacy of the Holocaust on Jewish history and contemporary Jewry.

    He is shown to know nothing of the diverse opinions within contemporary Jewish communities about how to deal with antisemitism.

    He has shown himself completely ignorant of what antisemitism is and how it manifests itself.

    He has shown that he knows absolutely nothing about the subjects under discussion.

    His response to all these issues is to tell those who know far more than he does to “fuck off”, to call them liars, and to refer to others as “slimy little weasels”.

    And, as if to prove what many of us at Engage already recognised, he reduces the whole discussion to the myth that “partisans of Israel” silence debate by screaming antisemitsm – what on his latest post he refers to as a “knee-jerk defamation”.

    And how does he prove this? Why, of course, by linking to an article in Counterpunch (no, seriously!)

    He suggests that, “It seems that we should just shut up. :)” (although I am not sure who the “we” are).

    Now, of course, I not think that DD should “shut up” at all. I think that maybe before his speaks he should think first.
    Unfortunately, as he has shown, there does not seem to be much chance of that.

    As I said so long ago, “two a penny, two a penny”.

    After all, if Jews (I’m sorry,”partisans of Israel”) are so very good at silencing debate, how come they can’t even “silence” a two bit rag like Counterpunch.

    If they are so good at “silencing”, how come they can’t “silence” the purpose whom it is claimed has been silenced?

    If they are so good at “silenicng” why is there even a “debate” about silencing?

    If they are so good about “silencing”, how did IJV secure a two week front page in the Guardian.

    If they are so good at “silencing”, how did the Royal Court manage to get 7JC on stage in the first place?

    If they are so good at “silencing”, how is Robert Fisk and Seamus Milne still in employment?

    If they are so good at “silencing”, how was it that LRB and Penguin published “The Israel Lobby”?

    If they are so good at “silencing”, how is that they could not stop a piddly little irrelevant site like Dawg’s?

    The fact of the matter is that the allegation of “silencing” is, as with most antisemitic myths, a projection of the desires of antisemites and those who accept antisemitic arguments (not the same thing) as their own.

    Let’s take DD, for example.

    He began his comments about Churchill’s play with his belief that all those who claim 7JC is antisemitiic is “silencing” debate (see also the quote above from the Professor at Lincoln).

    Far more than any “partisan of Israel” – who, as far as I am aware, have not stopped one single planned production of this play – DD has sought to silence those critical of the play by arguing that the claim that the play is or maybe antisemitic is a priori a “silencing manouver” a “knee-jerk reaction” a “political strategy”.

    He has ruled out of court any discussion on the play’s possible antisemitism before it has taken place.

    And how has he done this?

    By claiming “partisans of Israel” “silence” debate!

    In fact, what he claims such “partisans” want and do is exactly , exactly what he had hoped to achieve from the start. After all, if his pretensions to debate were sincere, why exclude this view from the start and why turn so quickly to abuse when this point was made to him?)

    But such a tactic has other effects.

    It gives the impression that “partisans of Israel” have real, effective power. Power over the press, Power of institutions of Higher Education, Power over Parliaments, Power over political parties, Power over publishers. Power over websites.

    How, after all, without this Power could “partisans of Israel” silence debate?

    According to this contemporary myth of omnipotent Power, all it takes is but a single letter, a single phone call and the “partisans of Israel” get what they want.

    And, should this Power not be immediately effective, the Partisans have one other weapon in their arsenal. One so effective, so efficient, so immediate (but, considering how powerful they are portrayed, are forced to use it in more and more situations!) – the power to call someone an antisemite or something, antisemitic!

    The fact that such an accusation has had virtually no real effect – criticism of Israel continues (and remember that for DD and his ilk, this is where the partisan Power is said to be most effective) and becomes more widespread. 7JC gets more and more showings (the Guardian, a UK national paper has it on its webpage) – is not only irrelevant, but has an even more subtle effect.

    It makes those who claim that such silencing not only exists but is (miraculously) effective appear as “victims”; appear as nothing more than victims of the Partisans’ Power.

    It converts those who really want to silence (see, for example, DD’s insistence that those who raise the question of antisemitism are a priori “silencing” Churchill and her “criticism of Israel”) into apparent victims – victims, as I said, of what can only be a super-social and super-political, indeed, super-natural Power.

    It turns those who truly wish to silence views other than their own into apparent martyrs and as true heroes standing up to Power, of speaking “truth” to a power that only they imagine, but which they themselves want.

    As a result, antisemites and antisemitism (not the same thing) inverts into an appearance of “radicalism” of “resistance”, an act of “emancipation” – “resistance” to what? emancipation from what? Jewish Power (now not in the form of Capital, but rather in the form of partisans for the Jewish state, Israel).

    For those who know the history of antisemitism and for those who know the history of “radicalism”, this is not the first time that the reactionary ideology that is antisemitism inverts and clothes itself in the language of “freedom” – “freedom” from the Jews.

    Indeed, to see this phenomenon in practice, one only need follow DD’s line of thinking in this thread and on his own webpage, a thread that, in fact, could only end in his citing of Counterpunch and an image of a man with a lock and chain over his mouth.

    Needless to say, and to paraphrase someone who, some 100 years ago and whom history proved right, recognised at the time – it is the emancipation of fools (and a foolish emancipation. Antisemitism has freed no one, neither its practitioners, neither those who, under the name of “progressiveness” adopt it as their own and with a different name; and, needless to say, neither Jews).

    And with these thoughts, I shall leave Dawg with the twisted smile that hides his complicity with a history that is yet to be consigned to the past.

  45. Absolute Observer Says:

    Martha and Eliezer,
    I am not a Canadian, so don’t know what you say is right or not. However, I suspect that you are indeed correct about the Canadian BB.
    However, that is not the context Dawg cites in his report.
    He linked the Kay’s NP criticism of it in his original post under the world “invent”, as in “antiemitism in Canada is so minimal, it has to be invented” (invented – at least for him – for no other reason than to “silence” debate).

    In other words, for Dawg it does not matter whether it is right or wrong, respectable or not respectable, “right” or “left”, indeed, accurate or not.

    For Dawg it is merely evidence pure and simple of the underhandedness and the seeming power of “partisans of Israel” in their goal, their “knee-jerk defamation”, their automatic response to those who wish (legitimately) to criticise Israel.

    It is simple another bit of “evidence” that can be slotted into a pre-arrranged theory, a theory, that for Dawg, has no place for gaps or for nuances.

    Regards,
    AO

  46. Martha Lichtenstein Says:

    AO, I get it trust me I do, the problem is that folks like DD can use the fact that BB have in fact seen anti-Semitic demons where none exist. We need not shout anti-Semitism when it clearly is not. Doing so gives fodder for the DDs of the world to say that Jewish groups “invent” it. And in the case of the cartoonist (which received national coverage in Canada and was a real embrassment) this truly was made up anti-Semitism.

    Let’s continue to confront DD on his very messy attitude towards Israel and lets go at him hard. But I tend to agree with Eliezer on the issue of B’nai Brith and on that alone we need to show great care. DD is more right here than wrong.

  47. Reader of Engage Says:

    In the comments to Dawg’s most recent post, he says,

    http://drdawgsblawg.ca/2011/01/silencing.shtml

    “I have considerable difficulty being accused of anti-Semitism for protesting that such accusations are meant to silence.”

    Reading this thread it is interesting to see that no-one has accused Dawg of anti-semitism. Rather, the accusation appears to be that his arguments on silencing, “chime with”, “tainted with” as AO says with anti-semitism.

    For all his bluster, AO and others seem to me to be asking him to reflect on how this connection may well be there.

    Even AO has not called Dawg an anti-semite or that he knowingly uses anti-semitism as a resource – the opposite is in fact the case.

    He has evidently missed the entire point of this discussion and interpreted as nothing more than people accusing him of anti-semitism. (Circular argument per chance!0

    I note also that the debate he has had with Engage that he links to on that post is to his own take on it.

    It’s a pity that for the sake of his readers wanting to obtain a more complete picture of the debate, he doesn’t link to this thread on Engage as well.

    A strange decision for someone so strongly opposed to silencing and letting all (well, most) voices being heard. Just a thought, nothing more!

    That seems to me to be the proper thing to do in this instance.

  48. Absolute Observer Says:

    Hi Martha,
    Thanks for your comment.

    Just a couple of points in response.

    Some people will use anything to make a point, no matter what it is. A case of “theory” first, “evidence” later.

    There may well be problems with BB’s views – and as I say, I think you are probably right – but, that it can be used as “evidence” of Jews’ or Zionists’ “knee-jerk” reaction to “invent” antisemitism for the purpose of “silencing” discussion is not one of them.

    Toby Esterhouse on Dawg’s thread raises an interesting point. He says,

    “It is time, Dog, for you to stop and think about the argument that you have been making.

    Really stop and think.

    Jews do not invent antisemitism in order to silence critics.

    If you think people are wrong to raise antisemitism in this or that instance, then make your argument, use your judgmet.

    Don’t say that contemporary antisemitism is invented by Jews for their own instrumental interest. it stinks. And it is dangeorus.”

    Now, I am happy for people to discuss what is and what is not antisemitism –

    After all, I have yet to find a political matter that is not open to questions as to its meaning, motive, significance, etc. (including, of course, antisemitism) Indeed, 7JC is a case in point along with Dawg’s reading of the play. I think he is wrong, but he thinks I (and others) say it is wrong for other, “dishonest” reasons.

    What I am unhappy with though, as I think Toby is saying, is the framing of that discussion the starting point of which is an assumption that, rather than a particular point of view being wrong, something more sinister is “really” at play. In these cases, there is no question left, simply the gathering of pre-judged evidence and an equally pre-judged answer.

    Regards,
    AO

  49. Absolute Observer Says:

    Btw Martha,
    I have no idea of his views on Israel.

    In fact, I am not concerned with his or any others take on Israel and Palestine.

    My concern is with antisemitism.

    People’s view on Israel concern me only when they utilise, often unwittingly, antisemitic ways of thinking (which, whilst it happens) is by no means a universal phenomenon.

    AO

  50. David D. Says:

    Unfortunately, John Baglow (aka Dr. Dawg) has a somewhat of a history with topics related to antisemtism. In August 2009 he borrowed one of the most notorious antisemitic statements in Canadian history (when asked how many Jewish refugees might be allowed into the country after the war an immigration official is reprted to have said: “None is too many”) to head a post about Israeli border official’s refusal to allow a Palestinian-Canadian into the West Bank), and in Decmeber 2009, a post “reluctantly” suggesting that there may be some truth “after all” to the story of “IDF organ haversting”, bore the title “Truth is a Defence”. To which the Canadian blogger Terry Glavin retorted: “Honestly. I don’t know what’s worse, the fascist Jew-hater who would happily disseminate such a lie, or the moral illiterate who would claim in his defence that he is only the lie’s manservant, he’s just the lie’s masseur.”

    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009/12/truth-is-defence.html

    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009/08/none-is-too-many.html

    http://transmontanus.blogspot.com/2010/01/organ-harvesting-scare-mutant-offspring.html

  51. modernityblog Says:

    It seems clear, from even a cursory search of the web, that he has “issues”:

    http://www.themarknews.com/articles/692-anti-semitism-too-broadly-defined

    Perhaps this discussion should be taken elsewhere, as it detracts from the theme of the thread? Or maybe it doesn’t?

  52. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Thank you, David D., for the links, and especially the one to Terry Glavin’s blog. On the blood libel and organ harvesting, oh boy, have we been before. Not only do we have Dr Dawg, we have this from way back, August 31, 2009, to be precise, from someone calling herself owl minerva and/or Sandra: “Just this morning I read about the Israeli traffickers in human eggs that were arrested in Rumania (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=101871&sectionid=351020606). And just in June we had the human trafficking rabbi that had set up a little illegal organ trade ring here in NJ and that is connected to Israel.”

    What is important about this is that Sandra/owl minerva took this as somehow implying the guilt of Israel in the crime of the taking of human organs for transplant without permission. This was despite the fact that this was and is a crime in Israel and people have been brought to trial and, where found guilty, imprisoned. One of my responses was to ridicule this notion of the guilt of nations for the crimes of its citizens (we all know there are exceptions as far as state-sponsored crimes are concerned).

    More importantly, of course, is the idea that only Israel is, somehow, uniquely responsible for the crimes of its citizens, _even when the action is clearly a crime in Israel and punishable as such_. Many of us here in the UK will recall the scandal of the Alderhay Hospital, Manchester, where some 10 or more years ago, the organs of very young children and babies who had died there were taken without parental permission and used for transplant and research. Heads rolled and jobs were lost. But I don’t notice the likes of Dr Dawg using this as a stick to beat the UK government. However, in the case of Israel (or if one should dare to d=raw a parallel with the blood libel)…

    • David D. Says:

      Brian: It seems the Dr. Dawg links no longer have the comments threads attached. Those were especially revealing. I’ll see if there’s any way to retrieve them.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Possibly any links from his blog (as linked to by you) have gone, but one can still – at this time – reach Dawg’s blog and Terry Glavin’s via your links. I didn’t tru to follow any of Dawg’s internal links. My nerves aren’t _that_ strong!

        • David D. Says:

          No, Brian, the links only reach the original posts (Dr. Dawg’s blog address has since changed), not the long and often heated comments threads that followed. The comments were apparently not saved and transferred when he changed address and blog software. In any case, I can remember the “None is Too Many” thread quite well. I didn’t participate in it myself but I was thoroughly impressed with one long comment (I’m sorry I didn’t retain the commenter’s name) and decided to save (most of) it. It’ll give you an idea of the tenor of the exchange:

          As soon as you use ‘None is too many’ you have invoked the Holocaust. And Kevin is entirely right: invoking the Holocaust and its associated terminology seems a favourite gambit with Israel attackers. Not the right-wing anti-semites (after all, many of them deny the Holocaust altogether; for them it’s straight back to the Protocols and medieval blood libels, terminology that is in also in wide use today in the Middle East), but the left-wing, uh,
          ‘anti-zionists’. It’s never Stalinist Russia (or Russia today
          vis-à-vis Chechnya), never Mussolini or Franco, never Mao (or China today vis-à-vis Tibet or the Uighurs), never Khomeinist Iran, and so on. With Jews and Israel there’s always a link to Hitler and the Nazis.

          Kevin had the right words for this gambit: clever and contemptible. What could be more delicious than to imply that Israel has inherited Naziism or the associated anti-semitism of that era? There is a whole school of (largely quack) pop-psychology backing it up… you know:
          the kid who is abused grows up to be an abuser. It can work in several ways. 1) We’re sorry we abused the Jews back then (when? in the 20th century or over 20 centuries of persecution?), but now they (the Israelis and their supporters) are the abusers. Or… 2) We abused the Jews back then, so we have an obligation (announced in
          very solemn tones) to ensure (ha, ha, see the pop-psych theory above) that they don’t become abusers themselves. Or… 3) We may have abused the Jews back then but our guilt is absolved (well, at least mitigated) by the fact that they are now the abusers. What could be neater!… Clever and contemptible.

          Here’s my guess how you came to write this post. You saw on your calendar that it was time for another Israel-bashing piece (just kidding; I’m sure your Israel-is-evil antenna doesn’t depend on any calendar). You read about Sawabi in the Globe (more likely you are on a political listserv that alerted you), did a bit of rummaging and
          were (rightly!) offended by Israel’s new policy. Immediately (you were already rolling with Ottawa’s immigration and citizenship policies) you thought of how to kill two birds with this stone. Never mind that Israel bases its (thoroughly misguided) policy not on the sound of anyone’s name (there is no such thing as ‘Palestinian-sounding'; as Kevin pointed out, one out of every five Israelis have ‘Palestinian’ – read ‘Arab’ – names and Arabic is an official language in Israel) but on the actual papers (i.e. birth
          place, past and current residency, citizenship, visas, etc.) a
          traveler carries. Never mind that Israel is (again, rightly) on guard at its borders – hell, with neighbours out to wipe it off the map, I too would be vigilant. Never mind that the policy applies only to Palestinians – not Qataris, not Moroccans, not Egyptians, et al. Pointing out such details would ruin the symmetry of the equivalence that this post constructs. And pointing out that it is a purely political issue and has no religious or ethnic (let alone ‘racial’) dimension, would also undercut the post. So these facts are conveniently fudged with ‘xxx-sounding’. Then comes the post’s heading. What would be more perfect for your purposes than to invert a policy that targeted Holocaust-era Jews in order to bash the country that became their refuge?

          ** If Canada or any other democracy started refusing entrance to people named “Cohen” or “Goldstein,” you’d die of apoplexy. **

          As I indicated above, that’s a lie. Israel does _not_ refuse entry according to anyone’s name. Otherwise Salim Joubran would be excluded, Otherwise Sabine Haddad (the Israeli immigration official quoted) would be excluded. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haddad ) A person’s name may alert the immigration officer to her religion or ethnicity, but ultimately it’s place of birth, residency, citizenship, passport, etc. that decides whether a person gets a visa. But, of course, admitting that the accusation is a lie would undercut the entire post, wouldn’t it?

          **And then we’re told we shouldn’t hold Israel to a higher standard. I, for one, don’t. Just the same standard as any other country.**

          Another lie (the part beginning with ‘I for one…’). It has already been well established that this blog singles out Israel for particular vituperation. Just count the number of posts dealing with Israel or its defenders versus posts dealing with (i.e. critical of) say Iran, Russia, China, Burma, Zimbabwe, Congo, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, etc. Any takers? My guess is 100 to 1. In short, I’m glad Kevin called you on this… and I hope he comes back to point out that the emperor’s ‘progressive’ clothes may be not be entirely absent but are seriously frayed and stained.

  53. Sarah AB Says:

    I don’t think I’ve read quite all the comments so apologies if someone else has made this point – but it’s interesting – in relation to’silencing’ that it’s Dr Dawg who has banned a commenter from Engage from his site whereas (as far as I know) he is not banned from here although his comments, like all others, are subject to moderation.

  54. Absolute Observer Says:

    This is how Dawg deals with Toby’s comment cited above,
    Note the final sentence,

    “You are a liar. Go, please, and do not come back.”

    So, when confronted with a view that challenges his own, DD retorts with a refusal to answer, an insult and a banning.

    He claims that he has been accused of antisemitism “on countless occassions”. Well, considering that he thinks people who disagree with him on the question of what is or is not antisemitism, what the motive are for wanting to discuss this question is prima facie accusing him of antisemitism, it is not surprising that like some paranoid obsessive, he sees himself the victim of everyone and their dog calling him “antisemitic”.

    What he does not do; what he does not even consider doing is
    by thinking through the allegation and seeing if there is something in what he says that may give that perception. and, having thought it through, conclude, yea, I see what you mean or No, I disagree. Instead he resorts to his initial premise, that everyone but him is a liar, a cheat, a “partisan of Israel” and engaged in a giant (but leaderless) conspiracy to silence him!!

    He lives in a world of his own vacuous imaginings and confuses this with reality, poor love.

    (btw does anyone have a link to Gary Younge’s article on taking antisemitism seriously?)

    I am reminded here of that joke where a person goes into a shop and asks for a particular product. The shop assistant replies, “Look, you are the twentieth person today – as I keep saying, we don’t stock it as we have no demand for it!

    Instead, he argues that people who mentions this possibility are a “liar” and an “Engage cultist”.

    @Toby:

    Judging from the inaccuracies in your comments, you must be one of the Engage cultists.

    1) I don’t use the word “Zionists” very much if at all, and certainly not pejoratively.

    2) I certainly do ascribe motive when the motive becomes blindingly obvious. That doesn’t mean–nor have I ever claimed–that there is only one motive for the finger-wagging that goes on when critics of Israel speak out.

    3) I have in several posts given specific examples of “mistaken” accusations of anti-Semitism. Indeed, my posts and comments on Caryl Churchill are one such example, but there are many others. The proposed banning of IAW, for example. The smearing of my university department for backing a faculty member falsely accused of being a terrorist.

    4) I don’t believe in “Zionist conspiracies.”

    5) “invent Jewish conspiracy?”

    I think that we have had enough of this charlatan and cheat.
    We all now know what sewer he swims in.
    Not only do his views “stink” but so does he.

    It was fun whilst it lasted.

  55. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Two comments from AO just above:

    “(btw does anyone have a link to Gary Younge’s article on taking antisemitism seriously?)”

    No, I don’t, but I certainly also like it, to keep and remind people every once in a while what a real liberal does when it is suggested that a comment by them might just be antisemitic.

    “It was fun whilst it lasted.” Umm, if you say so, AO, but I’m not sure “fun”is the word I’d use, even on an ironic note.

  56. Absolute Observer Says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Not sure its “interesting”; just predictable.
    After all, by swearing at everyone who disagrees with him and banning them from their site, it evades the difficulty of actually responding to their views and comments.

    As I have mentioned, he thinks that he is being oh so original and gets terribly upset when those of us who have heard his types of argument a hundred times or more shred them to tiny little pieces and scatter them in front of his uncomprehending eyes.

    He is not the first, and alas, will not be the last.

  57. Harry Abrams Says:

    Just for the record… here are 3 three instances by that blighter Bagelow (as AO so aptly describes him ) illustrating his blog with the erudition of noted Jew hater Carlos Latuff…

    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009/02/that-word.html

    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009/02/silence-of-speech-warriors.html

    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009_02_01_archive.html

  58. modernityblog Says:

    Oh well, he’s a fan of that racist cartoonist, Carlos Latuff?

    That explains a lot and why he is so keen to down play antisemitism?

    It is a pity that Dr. Dawg’s not more of a student of history or he’d realise that Canada has had these problems for sometime.

    “From the beginning, anti-Semitism in Canada was never restricted to the extremists of society. Rather, it has always been part of the mainstream, shared to varying degrees by all elements of the nation. Until the 1950s it had respectability; no one apologized for being anti-Jewish – no one asked them to. Expressions of anti-Semitism were heard in the halls of Parliament, read in the press, taught in the schools and absorbed in most churches. Indeed, anti-Semitism existed in Canada 100 years ago, when there were scarcely any JEWS living here.”

    http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0000247

    • Martha Lichtenstein Says:

      The Canadian Encyclopedia is about 20 years out of date.

    • modernityblog Says:

      Yes, but is factually incorrect?

      If you believe so, then please provide evidence.

      Assertions don’t cut any ice :)

      • Martha lichtenstein Says:

        It is correct for its time….my point is that anti-Semitism in Canada is much different today and that there have been better analysis. See http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-prutschi-f04.htm or http://tinyurl.com/4ry2tct both giving a more modern analysis

        • modernity Says:

          Thanks for the links, Martha,

          The Canadian Encyclopedia’s article provided historical context, so logically things have moved on, but that does not negate its point, antisemitism was a perennial problem in Canada and to deny this, is to deny history.

          Whilst researching a post on Canada recently, it became clear to me that there was a problem with anti-Jewish racism there, from physical attacks on synagogues to the media caricatures of politicians in Hasidic garb, etc etc

          http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/?s=canada

        • Martha lichtenstein Says:

          of course there has been anti-Semitism in Canada, what country is free of it? But and its a big BUT, a few stupid Nazis today breaking shul windows does not require an “oy gevalt” from anyone.

          Today anti-semitism comes in the form of anti-Zionism and radical Islam. The Bnai brith audit is fraught with questions and provides a count of telephone calls with no real ability to followthrough for real verification. Only suggesting that you dont overplay this issue.

        • David D. Says:

          You’re right Martha. On both counts. The classic (i.e. rightwing) antisemitism in Canada is largely inconsequential today. Not eradicated, to be sure, but at the very least in hibernation. But this has been accompanied by a rise in Muslim-immigrant and leftwing antisemitism, each of which feeds off the other. Of course, this current runs counter to the dogma of leftwingers like Baglow, so it must be constantly dismissed as non-existent or merely a “Zionist” invention, while the competing narrative of “Islamophobia” is promoted in its stead. In this, the Baglow manoeuvre is no different from what is being practised in the UK.

        • Martha lichtenstein Says:

          There is a small difference, thankfully in the UK you recognize your real friends from your enemies. hence groups like the English Defence legue are roundly condemned by most ethical people and virtually all jewish groups including the UK JDL.

          In Canada our homemade version of the JDL warmly welcomes and supports the EDL. It even had a rally in their support recently.

  59. modernityblog Says:

    Oh, I just noticed Dr. Dawg’s defence, with a reference to a Counterpunch article!

    http://drdawgsblawg.ca/2011/01/silencing.shtml#comments

  60. Absolute Observer Says:

    Modernity, I know. You couldn’t make it up!

  61. Anonymous Says:

    That may have been 20 years ago, but this is more recent,

    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/york-university-ontario-mob-ringleaders-reprimanded/

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/German+Canadian+group+assails+Holocaust+exhibit/3995924/story.html

    Now whether this is antisemitism or not is debatable, but it certainly speaks to a certain amount of discomfort for, predominantly, Jewish students on campus.

  62. David D. Says:

    To be fair to Baglow (Dr. Dawg), he has never denied Canada’s history of antisemitism. Indeed, as he proudly reminds everyone, he has banned several overt antisemites. Rather, what he has attempted to argue is that antisemitism is entirely a product of the right, that it is a disease to which the left is innoculated. So “progressive” commenters are given wide latitude. And any objections, references to, say, a “socialism of fools”, to Stalinism or — more relevantly — to contemporary anti-“Zionism” are almost always met with a “no true Scotsman” response. Either the incident never happened, or it wasn’t really antisemitism, or it was merely fair comment that “hasbaraniks” (a favourite epithet of his) had falsely labelled in order to deflect “criticism” of Israel. In Baglow’s Canada, jihadi terror arrests (plots which generally include Jewish targets) are invariably “overblown” or violations of human rights, not to say products of racist bias against “brown people”, and accusations of antisemitism are never made in good faith, unless, of course, they are in response to actions of the right.

  63. modernityblog Says:

    David D,

    *Anyone* that uses the material of Carlos Lutaff is seriously stupid, if not a bigot.

    Anyone that then compounds it by employing the racist Counterpunch as backup is profoundly clueless about antisemitism.

    Readers might want to take a look at Bob’s post on Counterpunch, it gives a good feel of the issues.

    http://brockley.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-is-counterpunch-vile.html

  64. NIMN Says:

    I have been following this thread and was pondering this question.

    It seems to me that in the US and Canada, the notion that Jews “shout antisemitism” to silence criticism in Israel, etc. etc. is far more prevalent that in the UK.

    As “AO” and others have shown, the implication in effect, if not intent, this claim connects with an anti-Jewish narrative that implies that Jews cannot be trusted to tell the truth and that they are so amoral as to manipulate and exploit the modes of oppression that they have suffered in the past* whilst at the same time denying Jews of what they thought was a (the only) means with which they could counter the hostility aimed at them. As a commentator noted a while back,

    “No one has had the sense to notice that, actually, the claim of antisemitism is the first and last line of defence for Jews attacked as Jews. It is not a “trump” card; it is their only card. It is a sign, not of the Jews’ strength, but of their weakness.” http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=337#

    (*and it always is in the past – see
    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/david-hirshs-talk-at-ucu/ “We have heard a lot about fighting antisemitism a long time ago and far away. I wish to turn to events closer to home.”)

    I am old enough to remember discussions of “uneven development”, just wondering if such thinking is relevant today?

  65. Toby Esterhase Says:

    Yes, NIMN, Jews cannot be trusted, are amoral… but also fiendishly clever.

    But not quite as clever as Dr Dawg, who is so utterly clever that he can out-clever the clever Jews….

    wow.

  66. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    To go sort-of off topic: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) have a petition against academics boycotts (against _anyone_ and _everyone_ not just Israel) going around. It starts with 40 Nobel Laureates, mostly in science, engineering and medicine. Contact them here:
    Scholars For Peace in the Middle East ; I’m sure that they’ll direct you to the petition site, so that you can see it for yourself. To sign it, go to:
    http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/display_petitions.cgiID=21&Action=Sign

    Remember: against boycotting any academics anywhere.

  67. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Please delete last comment, and replace with this (if anything is posted): email address of SPME is:
    SPMEforum@spmeforum.com

  68. Absolute Observer Says:

    “But this has been accompanied by a rise in Muslim-immigrant and leftwing antisemitism,”

    Ah, “we” Canadians are fine now; we used to be bad, but now we’re good, ever so good. The problem now is its the immigrants and the left that have the problem.

    Now where have I heard this one before?

    Indeed, a similar perception abounds in England.
    However, the CST report (posted above) shows this NOT to be the case.

    The answer in combatting one myth is never lie with another myth.

  69. David D. Says:

    “The problem now is its the immigrants and the left that have the problem.”

    Only if you regard immigrant Canadians and leftwing Canadians as, somehow, a lesser category of Canadians. Personally (being of the left myself) I regard that (i.e. leftwing antisemitism) as a worrisome development.

  70. Absolute Observer Says:

    Not at all. But the implication of your comment was that contemporary antisemitism is a product of (Muslim) immigrants (and the left) whilst the old-style antisemitism – now virtually gone – was the product of old Canada. So, as you say, you locate the problem with “new” Canadians – new Muslim Canadians – and not with the more established Canadians,

  71. Absolute Observer Says:

    Martha, I assume you are referring to this,

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/43689/edl-woos-canadas-jewish-far-right,

    It looks to me that the support for the EDL in Canada amongst Jews is the same as in the UK – the province of a few nasty right-wing nutters.

    It is a tiny group that was heavily criticised by the mainstream Jewish communal organisations in Canada who took exactly the same position as the Brits.

    “We join with all the leading British Jewish organisations in condemning the intolerance and violence that the EDL represents.”

    “But the Canadian Jewish Congress said the JDL invitation to Mr Robinson was “disappointing”.

    Bernie Farber, CJC chief executive, said: “Islamic fundamentalism is a real threat. But fighting it with generalised hatred against Muslims, as does the EDL, is only a recipe for fuelling more conflict.”

    Martha,
    To be honest, I am not quite sure what your point is.
    On the one hand, you are saying that “traditional” antisemitism has decreased in Canada and on the other that it now takes the form of “anti-ZIonism” and “radical Islam”.

    Are you saying, therefore, that the BB’s, for example, is misplaced in looking for hostility to Jews in the “old places” when they should be looking for it in “new” places. Are you, in other words saying that aside from these forms, antisemitism is not a worry in Canada and the BB should stay quiet, even in the face of a “few shul windows” being broken and that all attention should be turned to when antisemitism connects with anti-zionism?

    Indeed, by focussing on “radical Islam” are you not coming increasing close to the EDL view of things, a view I know that you would not be happy with.

    For my part, I am not too happy with this. As the CST noted, antisemitism is opportunistic. Antisemites jump on as many bandwagons as they can. It is the question of antisemitism we need to understand and combat, rather than merely concentrating on one of its specific forms. It is the similarities as well as the differences between the “old” and the “new” – phrases I dislike – that we need to think through.

    It is for these reasons that the CST refer to “contemporary” antisemitism and seek to understand hostility to Jews in that context.

  72. modernityblog Says:

    I echo AO’s point,

    Martha, I am not too sure precisely what you are getting at?

  73. Martha lichtenstein Says:

    AO, of course I hold that all anti-Semitism must be fought vigorously. I only want us to be clear on the level of threat. Our community has excellent organizations that seem to be able to find that balance and send out the correct signals.

    As for B’nai Brith, I applaud its work that is until it becomes silly. Complaining about a newspaper cartoon that is far from Jew-hatred or claiming that the Canadian ski team’s decision in last year’s olympics to not permit woman’s skijump is like the Nazi olympics of 1936 just makes us look silly.
    And I join obviously in condemning groups like the EDL and was proud when CJC made a public statement. There was no similar statement from any other Jewish organization in Canada.

    And I do not generalize but see clearly that anti-Semitism can come as much from the left as the right; as much from Christianity as Islam. We would be fools to think otherwise, no?

  74. Absolute Observer Says:

    Thanks Martha for the clarification.
    As I mentioned before, I am not too worried about groups looking “silly”. As we know, many people note antisemitism (unlike that cited by BB) and still get the response that they are being silly, or that they are liars, or they are inventing stuff, or they are “really” protecting the more dubious side of Israeli politics, etc..

    The response is not whether they are “silly” or “not”, but if they are “wrong” or “not”.
    So the response to BB is, shh, you are being silly, you will give people ammunition, but, BB you are wrong. You are wrong because of x and y.
    And, if they are wrong, that’s fine.
    After all, that is how normal discussion goes.
    I do not see why antisemitism should be different.
    (Of course, I don’t want to imply that there will be agreement, but that seems to me the right way forward.)
    Regards,
    AO

  75. Martha lichtenstein Says:

    Yes AO to an extent the discussion should be on an intellectual level. However you are not here in Canada and do not see the extent to which our enemies will pounce on any perceived mis-step. And as Forest Gump would say, “stupid is as stupid does”. It simply does not help our cause when any established Jewish organizatuion makes ‘wrong” and yes even stupid statements. Yes we roll our eyes but we also must expose it as wrong and even silly if the shoe fits. We can have no expectation of being taken seriously by our own mainstream if we don’t.

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