Matthias Küntzel and Colin Meade debate with Gilbert Achcar

Here is Matthias Küntzel and Colin Meade’s critique of Achcar’s book, The Arabs and the Holocaust.

Here is Achcar’s resposne.

Now Matthias Küntzel and Colin Meade have responded as follows:

Gilbert Achcar has decided, at least for the time being, not to deal with our central arguments, writing that “I won’t here discuss the substance of the two authors’ comments.“  This is his prerogative and we have no objection to his exercising it.

We are, however, surprised to find him indulging in ad hominem attacks: “Küntzel is the author of an infamous Islamophobic book” and both of us are “pro-Zionist zealots”, who are “much more fanatical in their defence of Israel than the Israeli mainstream itself” and to whom “standard academic practices … seem to be totally alien.”

Our critique of his book is not about Zionism or Israel, but about antisemitism and Holocaust denial in the Arab world – topics of major importance and topicality. By resorting to insults, Achcar confirms what we say in our review: that he considers those who takes these matters seriously to be Zionist propagandists.

The explicit message to the readers of this homepage is: don’t start reading the book review by Küntzel and Meade. The implicit message is: those in Britain who wants to avoid such insults should refrain from taking a serious interest in contemporary Arab antisemitism.

He supplements his attack with a hefty dose of self-praise.  Almost half of his text is devoted to an approving article from April 2010, to which he later adds: “My own book was praised by prestigious Holocaust scholars and Israeli scholars (Michael Marrus, Francis Nicosia, Peter Novick, Avi Shlaim, Idith Zertal).“

True enough. But does he think this is some sort of answer to the points we make? Leaving aside the fact that we mention his book’s supporters in our text, it should be noted that the support is reciprocal: Achcar praises or favourably quotes all the above authors in his book.

However, the centrepiece of his response, is the following extract from one of his interviews:

“The [Holocaust] denial in the Arab world today comes mainly from ignorance. However, you have to distinguish it from the Holocaust denial in the West, which is a pathological phenomenon. In the West, these people are mentally ill, complete anti-Semites. In the Arab world, the denial that exists among certain strains of public opinion, who are still in the minority, comes from rage and frustration over the escalation of Israeli violence, along with the increased use of the Holocaust. It began with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.”

This quote is not taken from his book but from the journal that we mentioned in our (now corrected) footnote.

We quoted this paragraph as follows: “The denial in the Arab world … began with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.” Achcar calls this a distortion and claims: “It is clear from the context that what I mentioned – and, mind you, this was an interview done over the phone – as beginning in 1982 is Israel’s ,increased use of the Holocaust’.”

Our interpretation of this passage was the obvious one. If Achcar now wishes to make it clear that he believes Arab Holocaust denial began earlier, then that is fine by us; we are not interested in distorting his point of view.

However, the key problem remains the same, regardless of how the passage in question is interpreted or where it originally comes from. This problem is the distinction Achcar attempts to draw in this interview between Holocaust denial in the West, on the one hand, and, on the other, Holocaust denial in the Arab world, which he considers forgivable because it is, in his view, ultimately caused by “rage and frustration over the escalation of Israeli violence” and stems “mainly from ignorance”.

Achcar’s response to our paper does not address, but distracts attention from this key issue and the substantive points we make, namely:

- that antisemitism and Holocaust denial are widespread in the Middle East at both the popular and leadership levels;

- that antisemitism and Holocaust denial cannot be adequately explained as responses to Israeli policies or any other real world political events;

- that antisemitism is not a marginal ideological twitch, but a political worldview that determines behaviour;

- that Achcar’s anti-Zionism makes him unable fully to grasp and draw the consequences of points 1-3.

This discussion has to start yet. We remain willing to engage in it in any appropriate forum, including in direct debate with Achcar himself.

45 Responses to “Matthias Küntzel and Colin Meade debate with Gilbert Achcar”

  1. conchovor Says:

    Oddly Achcar sees no continuity beneath (widespread) Arab Nazi/Holocaust sympathy and Holocaust denial. Some would call that itself a form of denial.

  2. conchovor Says:

    Also, on this CSPAN video, Edwin Black talks about his book ‘Farhud: the Nazi-Arab alliance’. Although ‘Nazi-Arab’ seems to actually mean, for the most part, ‘Nazi-Palestinian leadership’ (why Achcar called Herf’s ‘Nazi-Islamist alliance’ a ‘figment of the imagination’), it is worth hearing:

    http://www.booktv.org/Watch/12168/The+Farhud+Roots+of+the+ArabNazi+Alliance+During+the+Holocaust.aspx

  3. conchovor Says:

    (sorry I am the only one commenting on these threads; there are other Engagers more qualified and able than I) M/K are right that theirs +is+ the natural reading of the passage concerned, though A. is right that he implies elsewhere in the interview that Holocaust denial goes back +at least+ as far as 1970.

  4. Lynne T Says:

    “The [Holocaust] denial in the Arab world today comes mainly from ignorance. However, you have to distinguish it from the Holocaust denial in the West, which is a pathological phenomenon. In the West, these people are mentally ill, complete anti-Semites. In the Arab world, the denial that exists among certain strains of public opinion, who are still in the minority, comes from rage and frustration over the escalation of Israeli violence, along with the increased use of the Holocaust. It began with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.”

    Er, no. If it all began with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, how do you explain the extent to which Arab and Muslim governments throughout the region and beyond continue use the media, religious institutions and academia to, among other things, promote Holocaust denial, fund “academic studies” the sole purpose of which is to deny the continuing historic Jewish connection to the land or promote the destruction of ancient Jewish relics?

    If Arab or Muslim hostility towards Jews and Israel was truly about military aggression and the continued occupation of lands, you’d think that there was no need to “sex up” the case against the existence of a Jewish state in the Levant, wouldn’t you? If the cause is just, why go so far off message?

    And how do you explain the various pogroms that took place in places like Safed and Damascus in the early to mid-1800s against those ancient, original Jewish communities, if not a long legacy of unprovoked or orchestrated sectarian hostility toward Jews?

  5. negative potential Says:

    “that he considers those who takes these matters seriously to be Zionist propagandists.”

    Oh give me a fucking break already. I have no idea who Meade is, but Matthias Küntzel definitely belongs to the hardcore Pro-Zionist spectrum of former leftist so-called “Anti-Germans”. His book is published by ça ira, a publishing house which is gleefully open about its agressively Pro-Zionist positions and publishes other books dealing with the alleged psychopathology of Muslim men, as well as dealing in Stürmer-esque imagery like this: http://www.ca-ira.net/img/maul-sex.djihad.despotie.jpg

    Küntzel cut his political teeth in the Stalinist Kommunistischer Bund in the 70s and 80s, and has been trying to cleanse his guilty conscience ever since. Attacking ethically impeccable Trotskyists like Gilbert Achcar is one manifestation of his pathic projection.

    I’m very familiar with discussions and debates concerning Left anti-Semitism in Germany. Initially I was enthusiastic about projects like Engage that attempted to deal with these issues in the Anglophone world, but now I think you are really just cynical Eustonites. Rather than engaging with serious and rigorous scholars of Anti-Semitism like Klaus Holz and Wolfgang Benz, you join up with vicious Muslim-hunters like Küntzel.

    Either Engage is comprised of completely guileless suckers, or you’re cynical racists.

    • Benjamin H. Says:

      Do you have any evidence of his hardcore pro-Zionism? I’m completely serious when I ask this question; I’d really like to know.

      On another point, you take an inordinate amount of your reply with criticism of Kuntzel’s character, similar to Achar. Again, if you have points rebutting his response, then your message would certainly be more well received.

    • Yigal Gluckstein Says:

      So no actual attempt to engage in Kuntzel’s arguments just pathetic name calling.and childish insults.

    • conchovor Says:

      ‘Either Engage is comprised of completely guileless suckers, or you’re cynical racists.’

      Such an incisive response to M/K arguments. Not in the least ad hominem. You must be a clever chap.

      • Thomas Venner Says:

        “…ethically impeccable Trotskyists…”

        Ah yes.

        “We must rid ourselves once and for all of the Quaker-Papist babble about the sanctity of human life.”
        Leon Trotsky

        You were saying?

        • Yehuda Erdman Says:

          I am neither a Trotskyite or even a Marxist, but I feel Thomas Venner is wrong to dismiss everything Trotrsky said and did before he was bumped off by Stalin in a one liner. Did Trotsky not lead and probably form the Red Army? This might not appeal to everyone who reads these posts but most historians agree that the role of the Red Army in the fight against Nazism was paramount. It follows that the very survival of the Jewish people depended on it. This even applies to the Yishuv because the leaders of the Yishuv had a plan for a last ditch stand around Mount Carmel in the event that Rommel broke into Palestine from North Africa.
          Everything that happened to our parents and grandparents generations in the 20th Century was interconnected especially during World War 2. The part played by antisemitic Muslims including Haj Amin el Husseini was relatively small, even though there is no doubt about his antisemitic credentials.
          Even the part played by the regime in the newly formed Iraq in the Farhood was relatively inconsequential when viewed against the backdrop of what was happening to the Jewish people mainly in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. So it is essential to keep a sense of perspective and in my view Holocaust denial in the middle east and Iran is not of great consequence to the people on the street in those countries. They are much more exercised by the fate of the Palestinians under Israeli control since 1967.

        • Absolute Observer Says:

          “was relatively inconsequential when viewed against the backdrop of what was happening to the Jewish people mainly in Europe at the hands of the Nazis.”

          Name me something that was and is not “relatively inconsequential when viewed against the backdrop of what was happening to the Jewish people mainly in Europe at the hands of the Nazis.”

          And, yes, maybe you are right and maybe you are wrong about the consequence of Holocaust denial in countries who see themselves in conflict with Israel, but that is a judgement that needs to made in it own terms, thought about and reflected about (which Achar (and others are doing). Merely setting it against the impossible benchmark of mass extermination hardly seems a productive way to understand the phenomenon they are discussing.

          It is also a fact that the materials of Holocaust denial produced in one part of the world are easily communicated to other parts of the world; and, as such, the “consequence” of their appearance cannot be limited to any specific region but instead circulates around the globe with who knows what “unintended consequences”.

          There is no such thing a a non-malignent form of racism of antisemitism; no matter where it appears.

        • Comment is not free Says:

          Fortunately Holocaust Denial is of little consequence to the people in the street of Europe too. They are much more exercised about cuts to public services, their countries going bankrupt, etc. etc.. Despite these facts, some so-called “supporters” of Palestine have recourse to such a pernicious libel, a fact recognised by PSC itself.
          Anti-racists are right to condemn it in the European context, just as anti-racists are right to condemn it in the Arab context. To be told that it is more or less irrelevant is not only politically wrong, it undermines also those who in the conflict with Israel realise that appeals to racist ways of thinking achieves nothing in the fight against real injustices other than more injustice.
          Or would you rather anti-racists just be quiet about the whole thing and maintain that since those pushing the lie in the Arab context are in a real conflict with the Jewish state they cannot be expected to steer clear of vile lies which in any case should apparently be treated as nothing more than a minor irritant?

        • conchovor Says:

          ‘They are much more exercised by the fate of the Palestinians under Israeli control since 1967′

          Which kind of begs the question then how come they en effait expelled all their non- or anti-Zionist Arab Jews?

          Holocaust denial is a symptom of a wider malalise, a denial, rather than confrontation, of wider historical Arab Nazi and Holocaust sympathy, itself a symptom of a deeper, Arab, Islamic anti-Judaism that, on seeing Jews return to the land in above the token number permitted, and successfully resisting attempts to subjugate, expel or eliminate them, went on to develop into full-blown expulsionist antisemitism; that, having expelled virtually all Arab Jews, mostly to Israel, has gone into a denial about that too (or a fundamental ‘blame it on Israel/the Zionists/the Jews/the US/the whole lot, anyone but ourselves’), a denial that feeds a psychopathy towards even their descendants, who comprise near half Israeli Jews today.

    • Toby Esterhase Says:

      “impeccable trotskyists”

      Well what have we learned over the last ten years?

      Some people who come from a Trotskyist tradition are entirely drawn into the whole stalinist anti-zionism agenda.

      And of course others from the Trotskyist tradition have moved in all sorts of ways which take anti-totalitarianism seriously as well as anti-imperialism and have ended up in all sorts of places – not least, but not only, the neocons.

      But Kuntezel didn’t argue about Achcar’s impeccability or non-impeccability. He didn’t say Achcar comes from here or there, he didn’t say Achcar is this or that.

      Kuentzel related to what Achcar writes, in good faith. And Achcar has so far not responded.
      And neither have you, Ms Impeccable Credential.

    • Toby Esterhase Says:

      Isaac Deutscher was an impeccable Trotskyist.

      http://www.engageonline.org.uk/archives/index.php?id=49

  6. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Note that negative potential’s link takes us to a website called http://communism.blogspot.eu, and much of it is translated from German. The title alone probably explains the tone of the comment as, regrettably, an awful lot of those who still call themselves “communists” (as distinct from marxists) appear to be enamoured of, well, let’s call it “vehement anti-Zionism”, shall we?

    Some readers may recall a link from Engage to a “debate” (I’m being euphemistic here) in the pages of the UK communist house paper Morning Star earlier this year which illustrated this tendency perfectly. While some party members protested at the (euphemism, again) “anti-Zionism”, others could see no wrong.

    Further, given where “negative potential” (first bit’s rather appropriate, at least) posts from, accusing Kuntzel of being a former Stalinist does demand the obvious response that the words pot, kettle and black are what come to mind. And like everyone else, I do note the assertion without either evidence or anything even vaguely resembling an argument. Finally, what has the Maul cartoon got to do with Kuntzel? Again, evidence before potentially libel, please.

  7. negative potential Says:

    “So no actual attempt to engage in Kuntzel’s arguments”

    I also don’t engage the arguments of Creationists, Holocaust deniers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists.

    Honestly, who came up with this idiotic notion that every whacked-out idea deserves to be engaged ad naseum? People on the German left know who Küntzel is. If he likes to present himself abroad in English-speaking circles like some moderate tweedy policy-wonk, and he can actually pull such a scam off, then I suppose that works out well for him, but the joke’s on you, suckers.

    “accusing Kuntzel of being a former Stalinist”

    Who said anything about “former”`? As far as I know Küntzel has never renounced his KB past. The KB fell apart as a result of internal struggles after German reunification, but the people who went on to become “Anti-Germans” still referred to themselves as “communists” even when they were cheerleading Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush.

    But the fact that you use the word “communist” as a sort of pejorative makes me think I was mistaken in seeing Engage as some forum to engage with. I thought Engage was something like a leftist project dealing with anti-Semitism, like Contested Terrain. But now I think you’re probably Eustonite liberals who subscribe to some sort of “totalitarianism” theory. If that’s your thing, fine, but those aren’t the type of political circles I’m interested in engaging.

    • Yigal Gluckstein Says:

      Still no attempt to engage with what Kuntzel wrote………………..

    • conchovor Says:

      Another litany of distracting ad hominems…

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        “Who said anything about “former”`?”

        So “negative potential” didn’t write “Küntzel cut his political teeth in the Stalinist Kommunistischer Bund in the 70s and 80s, and has been trying to cleanse his guilty conscience ever since.”? It’s someone else using the same nom-de-plume which goes back to the same website? Either you manage to forget what you have already posted or you take us for ignorant poltroons. However, as you notice, we have, collectively, the ability to remember, note, and then copy and paste your own words back at you “negative”. And we are able to reason, use logic, and also understand the english language.

        “If that’s your thing, fine, but those aren’t the type of political circles I’m interested in engaging.” So, why are you back? Seeing if you can rile us? Upset us? Get real. You write anonymously from a clearly communist website and plainly get upset when we don’t immediately fall into (your) line. Tough. If you bother to read enough of Engage, you will notice that the collective we that is Engage (“Eustonite” or not, but whatever, that’s _your_ problem not ours) actually expect any view put forward to provide evidence, where necessary, use logic, and argue rationally. Mere invective is far from enough.

        You’re actually a joke, because Marx would have denied you. He was a brilliant social scientist who employed all the tools of that trade to make his case. The last thing he would have relied on would be invective and barely veiled verbal threats to intimidate intellectual opponents. If, for example, Kuntzel’s real or alleged past or present Stalinism is so important (as it clearly is to you, at least), how about some evidence? Especially considering that you’re so in love with the “ethically impeccable Trotskyist[s like] Gilbert Achcar”.

        Funny that, I always thought that communists were, to say the least, distrustful of Trotskyites. After all, they had him killed.

        By the way, you say that “I also don’t engage the arguments of Creationists, Holocaust deniers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists.” Who said you did? You’re just using this lame formulation to avoid responding to the points made by others that all you’re doing is refusing to answer direct points directed at you with invective and evasion. Funny, it’s what lots of people do when they come here to attack those who oppose antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Is it because they don’t have an answer to the points raised?

        If you do have answers beyond invective and insults, we’ll be delighted to hear them. Then we can respond with evidence, logic and rational argument. Until then, put up or shut up, negative.

  8. negative potentrial Says:

    Do you read?

    “I also don’t engage the arguments of Creationists, Holocaust deniers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists.”

    • Yigal Gluckstein Says:

      So you just come to Engage to call people names, hardly communist in spirit. Rather childish.

    • Benjamin H. Says:

      And he’s comparable to any of them how? I personally don’t consider ‘hardcore Pro-Zionist’ an ideology that deserves complete and utter exclusion, just like I don’t believe anti-Zionist thoughts, words, and writers are either. (Granted, I’ve yet to see any evidence for him holding what I consider ‘hardcore right’ Zionism, but I’m willing to take your word on this matter,) Comparing Kuntzel to holocaust deniers, however, isn’t a matter of taste, it’s downright offensive.

      I was honest about wanting to know those things about Kuntzel; the fact that his publishing house chooses to publish bigoted material is disquieting to me, and should be condemned. However, you’ve deigned to engage with rudeness and offensive comparisons, much like Archar. To quote you, “Give me a fucking break already”.

      • Thomas Venner Says:

        I wonder what Jehovah’s Witnesses or Creationists (cranks, but harmless cranks) ever did to “negative potential” to get them lumped in with Holocaust Deniers and Scientologists…

      • Ben Tzur Says:

        By the way, the “Eustonites” that Negative Potential gives such a complimentary recommendation by his/her especially emphatic condemnation are indeed worthy of such a high compliment, as discerning readers of all democratic persuasions might have guessed even if they were not familiar with the group. Those who joined in formulating “The Euston Manifesto” aim to preserve genuinely liberal and democratic values within a left progressivist framework. They are concerned about the abandonment of such values by left liberals in general, who have drifted to outright support of anti-democratic and even totalitarian agendas, obliviousness to raw antisemitism, and a common front with jihadi Islam.

        In their article “The Euston Manifesto” in the New Statesman of 17 April 2006 (at: http://www.newstatesman.com/200604170006), Norman Geras and Nick Cohen summarized its basic principles as follows:

        We value the traditions and institutions of the liberal, pluralist democracies, and we decline to make excuses for, to indulgently “understand”, reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy. We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal. Equally, violations of these rights are to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. The manifesto speaks of our attachment to egalitarianism in all domains.
        We reject the anti-Americanism which is infecting so much left-liberal thinking. We support the right of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples to self-determination within the framework of a two-state solution. There are paragraphs opposing racism and identifying the resurgence of anti-Semitism; on terrorism and against the excuses made for it; on humanitarian intervention when states violate the common life of their peoples in appalling ways.
        We argue that the time is long overdue to break with the tradition of left apologetics for anti-democratic forces and regimes; that there is a duty of respect for the historical truth; and that it is more than ever necessary to affirm that, within the usual constraints against incitement, people must be at liberty to criticise beliefs – including religious beliefs – that others cherish.

  9. Absolute Observer Says:

    A discussion of when and to what extent Holocaust denial entered debates into the Israel Palestine conflict is apparently one with Holocaust Denial, Creationism, etc..
    Funny, this type of argument is of a kind usually produced by Holocaust deniers and Creationsim for their own absurd fantasies. Unlike the normal runs of things, however, potential whatever seeks to turn a rational subject of debate into an irrational one akin to little green men from Mars. In so doing he or she is in effect demanding that one does not address it and the broader question of antisemitism in the so-called “Arab world” in any way whatsoever; something with which Achtar evidently disagrees. And if I were Gilbert, I would be very, very, upset for being reduced to akin to a Holocaust denier.
    And it is Zionists who are accused of trying to silence debate!!

  10. Comment is not free Says:

    “I thought Engage was something like a leftist project dealing with anti-Semitism, like Contested Terrain. But now I think you’re probably Eustonite liberals who subscribe to some sort of “totalitarianism” theory. If that’s your thing, fine, but those aren’t the type of political circles I’m interested in engaging.”

    Oh great positive potential, please engage with us. We are but lost souls who still strive for the Truth. Please teach us how to read Marx. Please tell us who gets Marx Right and who gets Marx Wrong. We are lost without your Word and Words. We know not what Line to tow. How can we ever become True to the Truth if even you, oh great One, do not deign us fit for Instruction? Please teach us how to speak of Communism and Antisemitism in ways that are Acceptable. We for our part promise only to speak of Communism in hushed and revered tones. We promise to repeat with You that its adherents have never erred but has simply be misled by its False Prophets. We promise never to read Marx without your Guidance, lest we get him Wrong. And, finally, we promise to be just like Other and Better Websites that, in your Infinite Wisdom, we shall acknowledge as Superior to our own thoughts.
    In all these ways, we promise to line up to the Immortal Name of Communism.

  11. Absolute Observer Says:

    Sorry we are not ideologically not pure enough for you; but thanks for the link to Contested Terrains. It is much appreciated. It looks a really good site.
    Good to see Engage is on its blog role amongst many others.

  12. Rottweiller Says:

    Anyone nostalgic for “objective enemies”?

    “But now I think you’re probably Eustonite liberals who subscribe to some sort of “totalitarianism” theory. ”

    “but now I think you are really just cynical Eustonites”

    “but Matthias Küntzel definitely belongs to the hardcore Pro-Zionist spectrum of former leftist so-called “Anti-Germans””

  13. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    negative potentrial Says:
    September 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm
    “Do you read?”

    Yes, _we_ do. It’s why we are responding in the way that we are. The question is, do you?

  14. Ben Says:

    To this day militia cadres in the radical Arab movements use the fascist raised arm as their salute. The Palestinian Authority, the Hizbollah, Hamas and others see nothing wrong or shameful about doing so. They are happy to associate their cause with the Italian and German practitioners of this salute, because they share the same anti-Jewish ideology and policies.

  15. negative potential Says:

    You guys obviously don’t *want* to known that Küntzel is an unseemly character, so my comparison to Jehovah’s Witnesses is accurate.

    However, for those who haven’t completely swallowed the Kool-Aid, and who can read German, a friend of mine wrote a blog post a while back demonstrating the kind of rigorous scholarly work Matthias Kuentzel is known for:

    http://abdelkader.blogsport.de/2010/08/21/die-verdraengung-natascha-wiltings-durch-matthias-kuentzel/

    TL;DR for the Non-German readers: Küntzel cites the Bahamas author Natascha Wilting to support a claim concerning the libidinal economy of the Muslim brotherhood (at this point, I really shouldn’t have to mention that Bahamas is a non-academic political journal known for its virulent anti-Muslim racism. Even apologists for Israel distance themselves from this rag). A few pages later he purports to quote from the Koran, but the context of quoting indicates that it’s lifted straight from the same Natascha Wilting article.

    • Yigal Gluckstein Says:

      Still waiting for you to explain what is actually factually wrong with Kuntzel’s critique of Achcar’s book……………………….

      And you have the cheek to compare people to Jehova’s witnesses (and holocaust deniers).

      • Bill Says:

        Well, Kuntzel (Meade seems to have dropped by the wayside) isn’t really making a factual critique. Mostly, he’s in agreement with Achcar’s facts. It would be difficult for him to challenge Achcar factually anyway, as he doesn’t have Achcar’s knowledge of Arabic sources. The argument is about the significance of Arab anti-semitism and Holocaust denial.

        • conchovor Says:

          ‘ It would be difficult for him to challenge Achcar factually anyway, as he doesn’t have Achcar’s knowledge of Arabic sources.’

          With which Achcar is extremely selective, if his chapter on Nasser is anything to go by. Achcar adduced little if anything new so far as primary Arabic sources go.

      • Bill Says:

        One thing that’s factually wrong is that Achcar’s criticism of anti-Semitism is not limited to saying that it interferes with the struggle against Israel.

    • Benjamin H. Says:

      I can speak for the others, but I was honestly curious about what you said about him; I appreciate the fact that you came back and posted a source for (one) of your claims (albeit a source that I cannot read). As mentioned in the above comments, however, your rudeness and insults most likely turned away those who would have listened to you otherwise, or at the least gave people the excuse not to pay attention to you.

  16. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I note that “negative potential” (hereafter np) still fails to respond to the direct points aimed at him/her. One can only assume this is because there is no answer, or such answers would be even more revealing than the silence.

    In np’s second comment, we find “I also don’t engage the arguments of Creationists, Holocaust deniers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists.” Having said that, np comes back twice more to this site, the second time specifically referring to most of as Jehovahs Witnesses, with whom np doesn’t engage. Except that s/he clearly does, because, presumably, the fact we collectively dispute what is said, demand evidence, and urgently request that the latter two be used together is beyond np’s comprehension. S/he is not used to confronting robust democrats and so resorts to invective and insults.

    A real communist would employ Marxist logic and expect a robust debate. Whatever else np is, they are a pale shadow of a once great movement and its members, and a person, at that, who reverts to defending a Trotskyite, despite the mutual loathing between communists and Trotskyites, because they are np’s “enemy of my enemy”

    BTW, none of the points I have raised have been responded to by np. Not surprising, really.

    Any response in polite debating mode, please, he said, without much hope of such happening.

  17. Ralph Anspach Says:

    Ashcar patronizes Arabs by giving them a pass for deliberate lying, which is a kind of reverse racism. But he has succeeded in changing the frame of reference about Holocaust denial which is especially important in European countries in which this outrage is criminal. And it is sad to see that a Kuentzel who tries to so hard to rescue German honor from its past is forced to even debate such garbage with people who have lost all their moral compass. I think the best response to Ashcar was given by General Eisenhower when he visited the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by the American army. He ordered the army photographers to take pictures of the scene from Dantean hell: thousands of Jewish skeletons dumped in open graves, more thousands spilling out of cattle cars, and cadaverous survivors wandering aimlessly around or lying on the ground waiting for death. When asked why he wanted to have photos of this, he said something like “We have to get this on the record because some day some son of a bitch will stand up and say that this never happened.” Well they are standing up all over the Arab world and Ike forgot to mention that there will be apologists who will bottom-feed to justify it.

  18. Ben Says:

    Jehova’s Witnesses were some of the bravest and most idealistic resistors of Nazism and Nazis. Many went to their deaths for refusing to accede to the Nazi state and its orders. It is sad that this website allows the memory of the matyred to be mocked and defiled by the likes of np.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Ben, short of banning the freedom of speech on this site, there’s little else the moderators can do, until and unless np oversteps the mark and goes way beyond the level he(?) has so far reached or adds nothing to the points already made – although I am of the view np has already reached that leve.

    • Ben Tzur Says:

      In a Germany where there was effectively no resistance left (the only significant attempt on Hitler’s life by his own officers was merely from a group that differed in military views while being thoroughly Nazistic and mired in blood itself), in which the Churches very publicly fell into line with the Nazi machine and the liberal leadership was rolled up and wiped out very early, the only group that maintained a public, principled and explicit resistance to collaboration was the Jehovah’s Witnesses. One does not have to agree with their religious doctrines (in which, I’m sorry to say, there is also a gratuitous strain of theological antisemitism) to praise their stand and admire their dauntless courage.

  19. conchovor Says:

    Re-reading the K/M review, Achcar incontestably runs down as ‘Israeli propagandists’ the most assiduous documenters of Arab, Islamic antisemitism.

    ‘Achcar criticises Arab antisemitism not because it envisages the murder of Jews and renders the Middle East conflict insoluble, but because it impedes the necessary struggle against Israel: “These anti-Semitic ravings or mindless denials of the Holocaust, far from undermining the Israeli cause as their authors intend, in fact help Israel produce anti-Arab propaganda”.[19]

    [ravings/mindless=illness or idiocy, not, say, immoral or evil i.e. not something for which to take moral responsibility]

    While in the first part of his book Achcar set himself the task of describing and criticising the historical antisemitism of the Islamists, in the second part, he derides those who describe and criticise contemporary Islamist antisemitism as conscious or unconscious agents of Israel.

    He thus characterizes the Middle East Media Research Institute MEMRI, which documents these “ravings”, as “a function of the Arab-Israeli conflict, acting like a subdepartment of the Israeli propaganda services“ and Professor Wistrich, possibly the world’s most renowned expert on antisemitism, as “another professional of the anti-Arab propaganda war.“[20]

    Achcar does not criticize MEMRI or Professor Wistrich for any mistranslation or misinterpretation, but because Israel allegedly benefits from their work. Within his mindset, this “propaganda trap” can only be avoided by ignoring Arab antisemitism or by excusing it.’

    Other quotations show him minimising, mitigating or even excusing antisemitism, or simply denying it is antisemitism, as he does for his hero, Nasser, with the Protocols.

    ‘Achcar has decided in favour of excusing, rather than ignoring it. He does not deny the existence of ugly expressions of Arab antisemitism but instead makes Israel responsible for them. Thus, he sees in Arab antisemitism “… fantasy-laden expressions … of an intense national frustration and oppression for which ‘the Jews‘ of Palestine in their majority, as well as Israel, the ‘Jewish state’ they founded, must, in fact, be held responsible.”[21]

    However, were he to examine these “expressions” more closely – an activity he would consider “propagandist” – he would soon see that they are violent fantasies directed at the destruction of the Jews or Israel. Such fantasies cannot be excused as merely a “response” to anything that may or may not have happened in the real world.’

    http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/in-the-straightjacket-of-anti-zionism

    Achcar doesn’t challenge K/M on this, because he can’t.

  20. conchovor Says:

    According to Julie Ensor, formerly of the Daily Star,

    ‘the Lebanese government still refers to Lebanese Jews as Israelis in official documents despite having no connection to the Jewish State, and with their religion marked on their ID cards it can be hard for them to live a normal life.’

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josie-ensor/the-last-jews-of-beirut_b_391032.html?show_comment_id=36346846

    I wonder whether Achcar classifies that as antisemitism.

  21. Academically Playing Down Arab Antisemitism - ScrollPost.com Says:

    [...] to protect the dogmas of Western anti-Zionism from the reality of Arab anti-Semitism” (click here to access a debate between the reviewers and Achcar).’According to the article, the Dr Achcar [...]


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