Ben Cohen on how contemporary antisemitism works


Iranian blogger Azarmehr writes on C4’s Xmas message

“I am so pissed off, I am so livid at the incompetency and lunacy of this Western media, I want to get hold of one of these snobby condescending fartbag journalists, editors and media bosses and pulp them to the wall. Channel 4 has invited President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not for a debate, not for an interview, but to give an “alternative” Christmas message!”

“Who will they invite next? Kim-il-Jong? Mugabe? This is rubbing salt on the wounds of all those jailed journalists in Iran, this is an insult to the family of murdered photo-journalist, Zahra Kazemi, this is giving platform to a regime which is persecuting Christian converts in Iran, to a regime which is persecuting religious minorities.”

“I am tired of all this complacency and deranged madness of the Western media. British people wake up before your media destroys all the privileges you take for granted.”

via Shiraz Socialist

Dorothy Byrne is a sucker

Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4

Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4

“As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential,” said Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs. “As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.” “We are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.”

But in fact Ahmadinejad’s ‘Alternative Christmas Message’ did not offer any insight into what he really thinks and what he really does.

His message offers a pseudo left-wing and pseudo spiritual critique of British and American policy with regard to the ‘war against terror’.

But in reality Ahmadinejad is an antisemite and a tyrant. He supports and arms antisemitic terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah which want to kill Jews and who want to ‘wipe Israel off the map‘. Ahmadinejad is an active Holocaust denier and he gives material and political support to Holocaust deniers.

In reality Ahmadinejad supports the violent suppression of strikes and the killing of Trade unionists.

In reality Ahmadinejad allows the stoning of adulterers in Iran and he sanctions the execution of gay people.

If Dorothy Byrne wants us to know about the “alternative world view” which Ahmadinejad stands for, then why doesn’t C4 news and current affairs tell us about it, instead of offering lies and propaganda?

Does Byrne believe that Ahmadinejad’s “message” was what he really thinks and what he really does or is she aware that it is just dishonest propaganda? Would C4 offer us a message from Ahmadinejad in which he really said what he thinks? Would it carry his Holocaust denial, his racism, his bigotry, his propaganda?

What kind of negotiations went on between C4 and Ahmadinejad beforehand? Was it agreed explicitly, for example, that he wouldn’t include homophobic or antisemitic statements or was it just understood that he would be too smart to do so?

More from here.

BRICUP is sniffing round Israeli academics, not boycotting them – Paul Frosh (HUJ)

Paul Frosh

Paul Frosh

I recently received a surprisingly friendly e-mail from BRICUP. It was optimistically entitled ‘Working Together for Academic Freedom’ and was addressed to me as an Israeli academic. It was signed by Haim Bresheeth and Jonathan Rosenhead. This is what it said:

“This message is a follow-up to last summer’s petition, of which you were a signatory, that called for freedom of movement, academic study and instruction to be available as of right for both staff and students in the Occupied Territories.

We are sending this message on behalf of BRICUP (the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) of which we are both members. The Committee has asked us to say that they were heartened by this evidence that there are some hundreds of Israeli academics who are willing to take a stand for their Palestinian colleagues and for their principles.

We are writing to you, and also to other signatories, as we feel it can only be advantageous to establish contact with fellow academics who evidently share at least some of our perspective. That said, we need to stress that in our view the issues covered in your petition are only a small part of the problems resulting from the occupation and the associated policies of the Israeli government. There are evidently far stronger criticisms that can be made after more than four decades of illegal and increasingly brutal occupation.

It is BRICUP’s clear view that the only satisfactory solution is a complete end of the Occupation and the removal of the settlements. We would be happy to enter into dialogue with you about how academic opinion on these issues can be mobilised to still better effect. We would be interested, for example, in your views on the situation of the many hundreds of Gaza students currently prevented from taking up university places abroad, and how pressure might be applied to end this lamentable situation.

Yours sincerely”

The petition to which they refer, and which I and many other Israeli academics signed last summer, is here.

This communication from the leaders of the campaign in Britain to boycott Israeli academia appears to be a remarkable volte-face. Only a few weeks ago these people were resolutely refusing to talk to me at all (not that I made any overtures), simply because I am an Israeli academic. Now I have made it onto their party list and they seem to feel that I show enough promise to warrant a friendly lecture about the ultimate inadequacies of my position. Plus – oh joy of joys – they would be “happy to enter into a dialogue” with me. Clearly the spirit of goodwill to all men has been deeply imbibed.

A nagging question remains, however. Why don’t they favour me – and the other Israeli academics who were sent this e-mail – with an honest account of who they are and what they have been up to? Why don’t they mention that they have been vociferous advocates of the academic boycott of Israel? Surely they are not ashamed of their record? Surely, in this sudden surge of cooperation and generosity, they would not wish their new approved Israeli comrades to harbour any misapprehensions about their real views?

BRICUP would find any such admission unthinkable, of course. Because once you know who they are, what they have done, and what they have failed to disclose in this sanctimonious e-mail, there is only one question left to ask: why would an Israeli academic want to enter into a dialogue with them?

Paul Frosh

Journalism and Communications

Hebrew University Jerusalem

Paul Frosh is, amongst other things, author of this classic Engage piece about joint work and co-operation between Israeli and Palestinian academics.