Chris of Cafe Crema responds

Chris: "Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it..."

Chris: "Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it..."

The owner of the café near Goldsmiths which has decided to boycott Israeli (and only Israeli) goods has responded on BobFromBrockley to this debate as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris, Café Crema, New Cross

John Strawson Answers:

The arrogance of Chris’s position is astounding. Britain has been a colonial power for 3 centuries during which time it played a major role in the slave trade, ethnically cleansed most of North America and Australia, created concentration camps in South Africa and fought vicious wars to keep its colonies – do not forget some 100,000 Kenyans died in the 1950’s. Incidentially it also prevented many cictims of the Nazis from reaching Palestine – and did nothing to stop the Holocaust during World War II. The same Britain has recently been helping occupy Iraq since 2003. Chris is not frustrated by his own state and its bloody colonial record – he is only frustrated by a Jewish State. I think he has a problem.

164 Responses to “Chris of Cafe Crema responds”

  1. David Hirsh Says:

    Chris from Cafe Crema: “Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it…”

    David Irving: “You have been disliked for 3000 years. You have been disliked so much that you have been hounded from country to country from pogrom to purge, from purge back to pogrom. And yet you never ask yourselves why you are disliked…”

  2. David Hirsh Says:

    Chris from Cafe Crema: “…in terms of individual Israelis, I don’t blame anyone for the misdeeds of their government…”

    But we’re going to boycott anything made by anybody in Israel. So… actually we don’t blame anyone for the misdeeds of their government… but we’re nevertheless going to exclude them from the global community because of the misdeeds of their government. But we don’t blame them. We’re just going to punish them.

  3. Academic Says:

    Dear Chris of Cafe Crema,

    Some of your points are reasonable and credit is due to you for your sensitive retraction re the “Jews welcome” sign. But some of your statements are not reasonable. What I don’t understand is: If you’ve got such a good case, why would you want to spoil it with hyperbolae? (Or are you just ill-informed?) You write

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

    Well, in case you’re just ill-informed, let me draw your attention to the casualty list at:

    http://info.jpost.com/C002/Supplements/CasualtiesOfWar/

    or even to just one single incident from this list — the Netanya Park Hotel suicide bombing in March 2002 with 29 innocent civilian Israeli deaths:

    http://info.jpost.com/C002/Supplements/CasualtiesOfWar/2002_03_27.html

    Just that one incident exceeds (by more than a factor of 2) 1% of the death toll in Gaza (part of which was military deaths).

    I’m not saying that measuring “proportions” is the the measure of justice here, but why would you want to exaggerate them “in your favour” if you sincerely hope to gain a sympathetic response from people who care about deaths and suffering on *both* sides?

  4. zkharya Says:

    Personally, I would boycott Chris’ cafe. But I would go in and have a loud discussion with him.

    Why is he, white (cultural Christian?) Briton more entitled to be a pro-Palestinian Christian or Muslim nationalist than I, an Anglo-Jew, with friends and family in Israel, am entitled to be pro-Israeli or Jewish nationalist?

    He is entitled to buy or not buy what he wants. But if he declares publicly that Jewish nationalism and/or a Jewish nation state is fundamentally illegitimate, that Palestinian Christians and Muslims are more entitled to national self determination in historical Palestine than Jews are in Israel, while he harps on Israeli, Zionist or Jewish national abuse of Palestinian Christians or Muslims, but ignores, excuses or dismisses as irrelevant Palestinian and other Arab Christian and Muslim abuse of Jews, than I am entitled to have loud words with him.

    C’est tout.

  5. Joshua Says:

    “You cannot cite Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket attacks as being anywhere near the same league as what has been meted out by Israel”

    You cannot cite the 7/7 suicide bombings in London as being anywhere near the same league as what has been meted out by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan. I therefore take it that: you have little if any sympathy for the victims of 7/7, you will be boycotting Britain.

    “however in answer to the comment about taking fascist shekels”

    You truly are an ugly human being. David Hirsh’s comparison above is very apt.

    “But these facts do not give Israel a licence to kill and oppress, or to steal land, anymore than the legacy of British colonialism gives Robert Mugabe excuses for his behaviour, despite what he might say.”

    And given that the Holocaust could only have taken place with the complete collaboration of much of Europe and the total insouciance of Britain, I do not believe that, at least in principle, much of Europe has any moral right to exist.

  6. LizzyP Says:

    Didn’t Britain fight Total War against the Nazis?
    Or have you a new telling of WWII Joshua, where Churchill was a Quisling, Stalin was a Nazi, and the USA saved the day?

  7. Jacob Says:

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

    This is ignorant on many levels.

    In that case let me respost some facts I posted before. I am just interested in the figures and don’t agree with the whole thrust of the article:

    “Despite the media’s obsession with the Mideast conflict, it has cost many fewer lives than the youth bulges in West Africa, Lebanon or Algeria.

    In the six decades since Israel’s founding, “only” some 62,000 people (40,000 Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars and Palestinian terror attacks.

    During that same time, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in wars and terror attacks — mostly at the hands of other Muslims.

    In Arab nations such as Lebanon (150,000 dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990) or Algeria (200,000 dead in the Islamists’ war against their own people between 1999 and 2006),”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123171179743471961.html

    What do you say to the above, Chris? According to your logic we should just ignore the whole conflict since the causalty rate is not in the “same league” as say the numbers killed in the latest Agerian civil not to mention Iran Iraq war, or further afield the Indian Pakistani conflict.

    Will you be boycotting Indian goods also or only those made by Jews in Israel?

    Your response isn’t credible, Chris.

  8. Bill Says:

    Jacob,

    “Will you be boycotting Indian goods also or only those made by Jews in Israel?”

    Chris won’t get awareness kudos for boycotting Indian goods. He WILL get gold stars for “awareness” for boycotting Israeli goods, and even more by being so magnanimous to let Jews into his establishment (once they perhaps answer a short questionnaire to make sure they’re right-thinking Jews – if they don’t pass or decline the moral breathalyzer, maybe they’ll get their coffee after sitting through a short lecture).

    His stance, once he takes in your researched statistics (should he chose to be honest), isn’t about doing what’s right. It’s about doing what’s popular and fashionable. Sadly, it’s a grim and embarrassing reality of working near a university community.

  9. Susan Says:

    First of all Chris, no one is trying to shut anyone up. You are assuming that Jews are cynical liars. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t say what they believe. You may disagree with them, but they are only honestly expressing their opinion. I don’t know anyone who would call you or anyone else an antisemite unless they truly believed it.

    Hamas is not a legitimate Resistance movement. It is an antisemitic organization with a Nazi-like hatred for ALL Jews everywhere. Their literature is filled with Holocaust denial, antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories. That is classic Western antisemitism. Hamas isn’t fighting the occupation. It considers all of Israel, including Israel within its pre-1967 borders, occupied territory. It is a fascist organization. They shoot and kill gay men on the spot. Amnesty International has said that Hamas used the Gaza invasion to kill Fatah members.

    The reason why so few Israelis have been killed is that resident of Sderot live in caves or shelters. They just built an underground playground in Sderot. Rockets have just missed schools.

  10. john Strawson Says:

    The arrogance of Chris’s position is astounding. Britian has been a colonial power for 3 centuries during which time it played a major role in the slave trade, ethnically cleansed most of North America and Australia, created concentration camps in South Africa and fought vicious wars to keep its colonies – do not forget some 100,000 Kenyans died in the 1950’s. Incdentially it also prevented many cictims of the Nazis from reaching Palestine – and did nothing to stop the Holocaust during World War II. The same Britain has recently been helping occupy Iraq since 2003. Chris is not frustrated by his own state and its bloody colonial record – he is only frustrated by a Jewish State. I think he has a problem.

  11. Inna Says:

    Chris–

    As someone who has voted for Obama, let me assure you that I did not do so because you were boycotting American products. Indeed, the one thing McCain had going for him (until Mrs. Palin told the nation that she is as qualified as anyone to be Commander in Chief because she can see Russia from her living room window) was his knowledge of foreign affairs.

    So I am afraid that no, your boycott of American goods did not “work”. Sorry to disappoint you.

    I rather suspect your boycott of Israeli good will have the same impact on Israeli policy and government as it did on the American one: i.e., none. However, you have already, it seems to me, succeeded admirably in making a great many people think twice about stopping by your cafe.

    Regards,

    Inna

  12. Ariel H Says:

    Chris’s latest from BobfromBrockley:

    “It’s a small point, but I’d like to stop being slightly misquoted, and I’ve noticed that some contributors to this blog appreciate a good semi-colon. The sentence that keeps being brought up actually reads ‘We are not anti-semitic; we are anti-fascist.’

    Another small point: we’re a vegetarian cafe, although we do have some vegan dishes.

    “Those people who complain that we’re not also loudly boycotting Columbia or China: do you also complain that feminists aren’t doing enough for animal rights? Or that the ‘Free Tibet’ people aren’t making enough of a fuss about Zimbabwe? In my ideal life, I’d have the time and energy to espouse every good cause available, as well as to learn tap-dancing and to play the trombone; but I’m finding that just telling people that I’m boycotting one country is turning out to be fairly time-consuming.”

    Let’s repeat part of that last sentence;
    “I’m finding that just telling people that I’m boycotting one country is turning out to be fairly time-consuming.”

    Chris, have you ever paused to wonder why?

  13. Ryan Stokes Says:

    Its his right to critisize Israel if he wants to and he has told you all that he is not antisemitic, that his protest is just about Israels actions and not even against Israellis in general but rather their military actions against Palestinians. Israeli soldiers just came out and admitted that their conduct was wrong in Gaza – something you have all been telling us on this site is not true – we have been saying that the IDF have been killing indiscriminately and you have all told use that we are anti semites, that the IDF is the most moral armhy in the world

    And yet……

    its own soldiers have just addmitted that what they were doing amounted to murder – women and children shot that posed no risk at all – photos spat on – writing horrible racist remarks on walls – destroying buildings for no reason at all but to cause misery

    this is not what antisemites are saying – this is what soldiers within the IDF have jsut addmited – maybe they are self haters??

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israels-dirty-secrets-in-gaza-1649527.html

    Have a read and then i think all of the protesters who have been saying the IDFs conduct is wrong should get an apology from all on this site that have attacked them and called them anti-semites.

    I wonder what your reply will be? maybe you will ask me if i have read the hamas charter – or state a lot of facts about how other countries are a lot worse than Israel and yet get no criticism.

    This shows what happened is wrong – contrary to all of your claims that we are brainwashed by the media – your own soldiers are saying it!! if you dont trust the Independant then go and read the Israeli paper that first brought the story to light.

    Im sure you will find some exuse – these soldiers are probably delusional right??

    Maybe you will now say — “but look at what US soldiers and British soldiers have done”

    Thats right the US and the UK are wrong but Israels actions are also wrong and its about time that people on this site owned up to that fact and stopped diverting attention away from it – maybe you can even try to make a change, instead of always jumping to the IDFs defense.

    I predict i will just be insulted and told how stupid I am by whoever replys – getting used having no constructive conversation on this site.

  14. David Hirsh Says:

    Ryan catch up.

    Of course anyone has a right to criticize Israel or anything else. There is a video of me criticizing the occupation in the post above this one.

    When Cafe Crema had signs up criticizing Israel, nobody felt excluded.

    But when Cafe Crema moves from criticism to setting up a concrete exclusion, then people feel excluded.

    And a boycott is indeed a concrete exclusion. It is an attempt to exclude Israelis from the economic, cultural, sporting, intellectual and artistic life of the planet. Israelis and only Israelis. All Israelis. The fascist Israelis, the democratic Israelis, the antiracist Israelis, the middle-of-the-road Israelis, the Israelis who are not interested, the Israelis whose relations have been deliberately blown up by suicide bombers and the Israelis who have spent decades working against the occupation. All will be excluded by a boycott.

    Why are Israelis Israelis? Most of them are Israelis by chance. They were born Israelis to families who were driven out of the Middle East, Europe and Russia by antisemites.

    In this case it is the fruits of their labour which will be excluded.

    Chris says he doesn’t want to punish people for the behaviour of their government but that is precisely what he is doing.

    Can you really not see the distinction between criticism and exclusion, or are you only pretending to think they are the same thing?

    Engage is not a campaign against human rights abuses in Israel or in Palestine or in Sri Lanka or in Thailand.

    Engage is a campaign against antisemitism Ryan. That is why we write about antisemitism.

    We do not write about criticism of Israel. We are interested in exclusions and antisemitism.

    Is this clear now Ryan?

  15. Susan Says:

    Ryan, yes, soldiers commit atrocities in all wars, but it has not been shown that it was the policy of IDF to approve or even to allow such actions. It does not prove whether the IDF’s conduct was right or wrong without proof.

    A question for Chris on proportionality: How many Israelis have to die for Israel to have the fight to defend itself against rocket attacks?

    I happen to think that the Gaza invasion was never going to achieve its goals., but that is a completely different question.

  16. fred Says:

    david; if chris only boycotted produce from settlements, instead of doing a blanket boycott on all israeli produce, how might that change the picture for you?

  17. esther welch Says:

    “your own soldiers are saying it!”
    what exactly do you mean by “your” here?

  18. Susan Says:

    From The Forward:

    IDF Orders Investigation of Reported Abuses in Gaza
    By Amos Harel (Haaretz) and Haaretz Service
    Published March 19, 2009.

    In the wake of an Haaretz expose, the Israel Defense Forces on Thursday ordered an investigation into soldiers’ accounts of alleged misconduct and serious violations of the army’s rules of engagement.

    Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit instructed the Military Police Investigation unit to launch the probe after soldiers were quoted as telling a military cadet academy that combat troops in Gaza fired at unarmed Palestinian civilians and vandalized property during Operation Cast Lead.

    The head of the pre-military course, Danny Zamir, told Haaretz on Wednesday that he did not know in advance what the soldiers would say at the gathering, and what they said “shocked us.” He said that after hearing the soldiers, he told IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi about his fears of a serious moral failure in the IDF.

    The chief of staff’s bureau requested a copy of the transcript of the discussion, and Zamir provided it. This week Zamir met with the IDF’s chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, to discuss the matter. Zamir said he believed the army would take the matter seriously. “They do not intend to avoid responsibility,” he said.

    The IDF Spokesman’s Office said: “As a result of the request of the head of the Rabin pre-military course, Mr. Danny Zamir, to the chief of staff’s bureau, a meeting was held between Zamir and the chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister. The chief education officer described to the head of the preparatory course the processes of the operational and ethical inquiries being conducted by the IDF and the chief education officer’s staff at all levels.”

    The chief education officer also described “the actions taken before during and after the operation to inculcate the soldiers and commanders with the moral aspects of the fighting.”

    The spokesman said that “Brig. Gen. Shermeister also made it clear that the IDF is now conducting intensive and comprehensive inquiries, and that commanders are encouraging discussion of these matters. The IDF has no supporting or prior information about these events. The IDF will check their veracity and investigate as required. The head of the preparatory course was also asked to pass on to the IDF any information he has so we can deal with it and investigate it in depth.”

    Barak: We have the most moral army in the world

    In reaction to the revelations in Haaretz, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he was confident the IDF would look into the matter “with all seriousness.”

    “We have the most moral army in the world,” Barak told Israel Radio. “I spent dozens of years in uniform, I know what happened in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I say to you that from the chief of staff down to the last soldier, the most moral army in the world stands ready to take orders from the government of Israel. I have no doubt that every incident will be individually examined.”

  19. Ryan Stokes Says:

    That is great claim to make – but that is not what I have experienced. Howard Jacobson in his article “lets see critisism of Israel for what it really is” kind of says it all to me – and even if you claim that that article was just about the play and the use of the word “holocaust” you can look at Howard Jacobsons statements of how we as protesters do not listen to highly reputable generals who say the IDFs actions are the most most moral in the world. In that article he suggested – and the majority of posters backed him up that all these stories of attrocities are untrue and Anti Semitic propoganda.

    Take a look at the other aticle on this site that refers to the article in the independant about the Israeli soldiers claims – look at the first post and im sure many will follow – people dismiss the claims and divert attention away from the main point in the article and instead search for a way to make Johan seem anti Semitic.

    Im afraid aswell that Boycotts are used and have been used for many purposes and boycotting a state does not imply antisemitism – even if it is wrong because it punishes people that may have nothing to do with the reasons for the boycott. Boycotts happen all the time – Israel boycotts certain countries itself – the US boycotts many states, The UK. If you want I can give you a big list of all the countries that are presently boycotted and then you can explain to me how those boycotts are no anti Semitic but how the boycott on Israeli products is inherently anti Semitic.

    And really the majority of the conversations on this site do relate to critisism of Israel because the majority of people being labeled Anti Semites are in fact critics of Israel.

  20. Absolute Observer Says:

    “This shows what happened is wrong – contrary to all of your claims that we are brainwashed by the media – your own soldiers are saying it!!”

    “Your own soldiers are saying it”.

    No, Ryan,

    “My” own soldiers are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I wonder what type of thinking led you to such an error?

  21. Saul Says:

    Chris mentions mass-killings.
    If this is one of his justifications for a boycott, it would seem correct to ask him to provide evidence and sources for this allegation.

    If he is unable to provide empirical evidence for this potential libel, then he should retract it immediately.

    See also,
    http://www.thejc.com/articles/interview-yvonne-green

  22. Ryan Stokes Says:

    yes of course – you are so right – it was the subconscious Age Old Jew Hating thinking!

    Excuse me then – I rephrase – the Israeli soldiers which you defend constantly are saying it – some of you posting on the site are Israelis (I presume) so in reference to you guys i say “your” soldiers.

    Its absolutely amazing how you turn any thing at all – you search – you seem to want to find everyone and everything antisemetic – and as usual you do not address any of the points I or other critics put forward – instead you just look for any way possible to lable me and anyone else that criticizes Israel as an anti -semite. you ignore the fact that we say we also boycott other countries goods, criticize other countries actions, try to defend the rights of many different people from many different continents and continue to think, bizarrely, that campaigners against the IDFs actions only are concerned with Israels actions and ignore the attrocities that happen in other countries. We keep on telling you but you blissfully ignore what we say – just as you ignore the Cafe Crema’s Owners letter ad prefer to search for any comment that you can twist and make into propaganda for your cause.

    Well that is not true – Israel is not the only target of boycotts or criticism. And it would be a whole lot more productive if you ceased trying to take every bit of criticism as some Anti Semitic act and see that criticism is a healthy Democratic freedom and right and that labeling all critics of IDF – as Howard Jacobson and the majority of people on this site do as one group (which seems to be hypocritical considering the complaint being put forward by yourselves (“those on the site not all Jews” – you see – i am so scared to to make even the slightest slip in my writing because i know you will all pounce on me – oops ” he said you all!!!)

    And by the way – i dont think my statement can be taken in any way as being anti Semitic as the statement can only be interpreted as me having wrongly presumed that the majority of posters and in particular David Hirsch are from Israel. And doesn’t really concern a Jew , Jews or anything Jewish at all.

    Why is it that no one on this site is willing to discuss the true issues that these so called Anti Semites bring up?

    Instead you just look for a word, a statement, anything at all that may be turned into a reason to attack the person as an anti Semite. Instead, maybe engaging with those criticizing Israel and putting your point forward in order to have some constructive dialogue would be helpful. But it seems as if you are adamant in believing that everyone is against you – even if they explicitly and categorically tell you otherwise – as the owner of Cafe Crema has done – you believe they subconsciously hate you, that there logic is flawed – that any criticism of Israel implies anti Semitism. If this is not so then why is it that every Article in western news papers that criticizes Israel is seen by those on this site to be Anti Semitic, even if the writer goes to great lengths to state that it is not in any way anti Semitic.

    I wonder what the replies will be -start searching for it guys (oops – ther may be some girls posting on this site – what a sexist!!) im sure you can find something i said that shows me to be a bigot.

  23. Mira Vogel Says:

    Another Observer, what you just picked up on (Ryan’s conflation of Jewish and Israeli) is precisely the reason we worry about aggressive boycotting attitudes to Israel.

  24. Absolute Observer Says:

    Ryan argues that boycotts in the abstract are not antisemitic. He is right. However, boycotts of Israel are antisemitic.

    Why, first, the history of boycotts as a tactic against Jews.

    Second, the existence since 1948 of a continued boycott of Israel for the “sin” of its mere existence.

    Three, in an era in which the US is waging what is to all intents and purposes an illegal war, there has been no discussion to boycott or not.

    Four, China’s annexation of Tibet – no discussion of a boycott.

    Five, Zimbabwe, no call to boycott.

    So, the question that remains unanswered is why Israel?

    What is it that Israel has done, is doing, that makes it a “special case”?

    In the light of that history a call to boycott the Jewish State is prima facie antisemitic. As such, it is incumbant upon Ryan and others to make their case; to spell out what is unique about Israel and what pushes it beyond the pale.

  25. David Hirsh Says:

    Ryan, Where did I “defend Israeli soldiers”? Please give the quote. What did I defend them doing?

  26. Ryan Stokes Says:

    aggressiv boycotts – not buying any Israeli produce for a coffee shop?? very aggressive. I dont think i was being aggressive at all, but then again – my opinion doesnt count – stupid anti Semites!

    I see you are still ignoring all the points I make – dont worry I am used to this now.

    why do you bother to discuss anything on this site – it seems you just all agree with each other and praise articles rather than talking to any of those you criticize so often that want to discuss your accusations?

  27. David Hirsh Says:

    Ryan, if you are serious about wanting to understand what I think about antisemitism read this, part of which is in the video in the link above:

    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1683

    Or read this, which is what I said to the recent London conference against antisemitism: https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/david-hirshs-talk-at-the-london-conference-on-combatting-antisemitism-2009/

    If you want to know more about how I understand the distinction between demonization of Israel and criticism of Israel, read this:

    http://www.z-word.com/on-zionism/antisemitism-and-anti-zionism/anti-zionism-and-antisemitism%253A-decoding-the-relationship.html?page=2

    If you want a fuller, more academic analysis, read this:
    http://www.yale.edu/yiisa/workingpaper/hirsh/index.htm

    Are we going to have a serious debate here, or are we just going to throw around some insults and misquotes?

  28. Ryan Stokes Says:

    Once again I repeat that there are calls for boycotts against many other countries – but you choose to ignore this and just believe that we are only concerned with Israel – Even though i just told you that this is not the case. Do you really think that there has been no campaigns for a boycott against Zimbabwe (even though this would be ridiculous – should we starve the starving?? its a little different from boycotting Israel). There are many calls for public inquiries into the Iraq and Afghanistan war – constantly – people want Blair and bush to be tried for war crimes, the same people that want those responsible for attrocities in gaza to be held responsible. People boycott amercian companies and have been doing for years. I could write for ever about all of the boycotts that are proposed by campaigners – but im sure you will believe that the boycotts against Israel are Anti Semitic. Its a strange picture you have of the world – that people are only concerned with what Israel does and nothing else.

    So Israel in your eyes can never be boycotted in a fashion that wouldnt be considered anti Semitic?

    I dont understand your reasoning – explain to me a bit more please -i am interested.

  29. Absolute Observer Says:

    “yes of course – you are so right – it was the subconscious Age Old Jew Hating thinking!”.

    Yes, I suppose that’s possible.

    “Instead you just look for a word, a statement, anything at all that may be turned into a reason to attack the person as an anti Semite.”

    Ryan, we did not need to look very far, did we, for the confusion of those who conflated those fighting antisemitism with the Israeli military?

    You made the statement.

    We did not impute a false statement to you. did we?

    Rather than reflecting on that, you raise the libel that all critics of Israel are labeled antisemitic.

    Tell you what, when you stop making antisemitic comments, we’ll stop noting your antisemitism.

    “Excuse me then – I rephrase – the Israeli soldiers which you defend constantly are saying it – some of you posting on the site are Israelis (I presume) so in reference to you guys i say “your” soldiers”

    Why do you presume that? Would you prefer it if people stated their nationality? That is, after all, how a boycott would work.

    “you believe they subconsciously hate you”.

    So, again, the “paranoid Jew”, the Jew who sees antisemitism everywhere; the pathological Jew. Anything other than taking seriously the objective presence of antisemitism, and those Jews and non-Jews who raise it.
    One wonder’s why that is.

    What makes you think only Jews care about antisemitism?

    Finally, where has Engage “constantly defended” the Israeli army?

  30. Ryan Stokes Says:

    give me some time i will read them and get back to you – I was not insulting any of you David – but i have been insulted many times on this site – been called a weasel – all kind of names – my aim is not to demonize any of you on this site either – it is to defend the those that are criticized on this site because i am one of those critics of Israels actions and i do not believe i am subconsiously Anti Semitic.

  31. Absolute Observer Says:

    Yes, Ryan, it’s annoying when you want to discuss boycotts of Israel and people point out the ambivalence of your own comments; some that echo long negative assumptions about Jews and “dual loyalties”

    When they ask you to verify statements you have made.

    After all, it is far easier to make a case to those who simply know what “everyone knows”

    After all, It is far easier to fall back onto the myth that one cannot criticise Israel without being labeled an antisemite , even if, or especially, when you own comments belie that tale.

    After all, it is far easier to blame everyone else for your own shortcomings and place it in the language of conspiracy.

  32. Mira Vogel Says:

    Ryan, if you can tell me where you were called a weasel and and other names on this site then I will go back to the comments in question and deal with that.

  33. Absolute Observer Says:

    Ryan,

    I await your answer as to what makes Israel special.

    As I say, whilst you discuss boycotts in the abstract, boycotts have a specific history to do with Jews and the Jewish state.

    As I said, because of that history, it is incumbant upon you to make your case.

    You have not done so.

    Also, please do not distort this thread.

    No-one has accused you of antisemitism for your criticism of Israel (although as others have pointed out, criticism and boycott are hardly the same thing.)

    People have noted out that in your comments you have connected with antisemitic imagery which you confuse with “criticism of Israel”.

    That is, you replicate the very point Engage has been arguing for a while.

  34. Mira Vogel Says:

    Ryan, found the weasel reference on the Howard Jacobson piece. It’s difficult to deal with, actually, because it didn’t come out of the blue. You were also name-calling, and you were making other points about Jews which were rightly identified by the person who (wrongly) called you a weasel. I’m not going to inflame things further by reproducing them here.

    I don’t think you are a weasel at all – I think you’re writing in good faith, and it is good that you come on here to argue with us. However, I think that good faith and good intentions count for only so much. For example when you insist that you aren’t, even subconsciously, antisemitic, I think that you’ve missed a point about the subconscious. Isn’t it safer to assume that one might have subconsciously racist attitudes? Many people do, after all. It’s a kind of open-minded attitude which makes one sceptical of ones own intentions and reactions, less complacent, less shocked and hurt by criticism, and more analytical.

    Actually though, you have spent so much time thinking about it, that I think you are questioning yourself. Thank you for taking the time to read what David Hirsh linked to. They are excellent pieces on contemporary antisemitism, and when you’re done it would be good to hear from you again.

  35. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    John Strawson
    Thank you for your short and very important comment.
    Thank you David Hirsh, for reacting and informing us.
    Lets remember when Jewish survivors after the II WW could or would not go back to their country of origin the United Kingdom did not let them go to the only place
    where they were welcome, to the Holy Land. To refresh your memory, the persecution of Jews did not stop in May 1945. Pogroms were perpetrated in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

  36. Ryan Stokes Says:

    sure no problem Mira – It was a comment by Jacob – who frequently posts on this site

    Where:

    on the Howard Jacobson’s “lets see critisism for Israel for what it really is”

    Unfortunately the article doesn’t seem to be on the site anymore, although i know David Hirsch was part of the conversation, he however was not rude and did attempt to answer my questions in a constructive manner.

    if the page is somehwere you will also see me being called many different names, Including a Jew hater and Anti-Semite by people who havn’t even bothered to go into any dialogue with me at all.

    Its ok though – i dont feel you need to deal with it – i just wanted to point out that i do not call people names and that on the contrary a lot of people on this site seem to do so and in quite an aggressive way.

    Also i would like to point out Mira

    ” what you just picked up on (Ryan’s conflation of Jewish and Israeli) is precisely the reason we worry about aggressive boycotting attitudes to Israel.”

    He didn’t point me out being Anti Semitic – i just wrongly presumed that the majority of posters on here are from Israel – or more so i addressed you all as Israelis – which was wrong but in no way can it be considered as worrying, or Anti Semitic.

    I dont think so anyway, you can tell me if you think it is anti Semitic and i will take the point into consideration. I am not perfect – but I know i am not anti Semitic.

    Sorry David – still not gotten round to reading the articles – I will though and return to address the issue – and apologies if wrongly implied that you defended Israeli soldiers – but the articles in question refer to those apposing the actions of Israel’s military and more often than not on this Site – people seem to dismiss our criticism of the IDF’s actions as Anti Semitic and often defend the actions of the IDF, such as Howard Jacobson did in his article in the independent (I think he said something like “they choose to ignore the British general claims that the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world – that take the upmost care in terms of civilians” well im sorry but i dont really take anything a general who was responsible for so many deaths in Iraq, says seriously and dont believe he is a good person to be quoting reference to the IDF. As that article was put on a pedestal on this site – I presume that the majority of you agree with Jacobson’s and the UK generals view that the IDF has not been carrying out atrocities in Gaza. I believe the truth is going to come out now though, from the very mouths of those that took part in attack on Gaza. It is clear to almost everyone that civilians are not the IDFs priority.

    I hope that this somehow justifies those who have been critisizing Israel and will maybe stop the barrage of Anti Semitic accusations put against those who have been saying these things have happened.

    It doesn’t matter if other countries are worse, or “mistakes happen in war” or Hamas are terrorists – spitting on photographs shooting women and children and destroying the houses and livelihoods of those who are caught in the middle of this mess cannot be justified in any sense but we are attacked for criticizing these actions, called Anti Semites, told we are being duped by Arab propoganda (yes the word arab is used by so many of the posters on this site along iwth the word “Terrorist” – is this not completely wrong to refer to the Arabs being terrorists – or even talking about the Arabs in general as if they are all one all encompassing group with one view – dont get me wrong i know that i cannot refer to you all making such mistakes – but it happens a lot on this site in such discussions.

  37. Joshua Says:

    There exist innumerable nations whose human rights records stink to high heaven and are far, far worse than Israel’s. I have in mind countries like Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Sudan, China, Russia and even Britain (in the fairly recent past: the refusal to prevent genocide in Rwanda; the occupation of Ireland, Gibraltar and the Islas Malvinas; the almost total disregard for the many thousands of civilian casualties in the illegal wars in Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq; complete failure to stem the rising tide of anti-Semitism). Now, I wonder what would happen if I put up a sign outside a cafe I happened to own that suggested I was boycotting Pakistan or Egypt or Britain? I, of course, don’t wonder at all for we all know that my cafe would be forced to close because of the violent protests and I would probably have to either live in hiding or flee the country. How lucky for Chris Boddington then that we Jews, as well as other supporters of Israel, are so much more civilised about such matters. Our attitude is even more remarkable given the history of anti-Semitism in Britain as well as that nation’s utterly despicable role in the Holocaust.

    Britain and the Holocaust – the British Foreign Secretary’s fear that Jews might be saved

    “Four months after the State Department confirmed the dimensions of the Holocaust, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden met in Washington with President Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles. At this meeting, Eden expressed his fear that Hitler might actually accept an offer from the Allies to move Jews out of areas under German control. No one present objected to Eden’s statement.”

    http://tinyurl.com/49nc2

  38. Ryan Stokes Says:

    i would also like to say mira – that the worst thing i said was that “your mind is like concrete” – i never called anyone names – that comment was a bit harsh though.

  39. Absolute Observer Says:

    On another thread, Ryan states,

    “its unbelievable – you will look for any excuse to divert attention from the facts – Israeli soldiers admit to atrocities and yet that is not even enough. Are you blinded by your pride? Its interesting how you say that this kind of thing happens in war without, it seems, any remorse whatsoever.”

    “Pride”? – what does that mean?

    “no remorse” – where does he get that from?

    Please explain the references.

  40. Joshua Says:

    “Or have you a new telling of WWII Joshua”

    As this is a British blog and I am an extremely polite individual, I spoke of British insouciance when I actually meant British collaboration. I only bring this up now because you raised the issue and I felt obliged as a matter of honour to answer.

    And it is merely an account of that war stripped bare of a number of the myths about Britain’s role.

  41. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Chris

    In your statement in the earlier article you said the “fascist” Israelis subject the Palestinians to “daily humiliations at the checkpoints – soldiers, with fingers on triggers, aiming their guns at very patient civilians who are just trying to get to work or college”

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

  42. Absolute Observer Says:

    And one other thing…………who is “you”?

  43. Absolute Observer Says:

    Could you please tell me where anyone of this thread has called you an antisemite?
    I have pointed out that you have echoed antisemitic imagery and rhetoric.
    There is a difference.

  44. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Ryan Stokes

    That Independent story is based on a Ha’aretz story – Donald Macintyre cannot even br bothered to do his own research.

    What a surprise: ‘Independent’ journalists jumping on a Ha’aretz report about IDF atrocities in Gaza.

    Of course they do not tell us that Danny Zamir – the head of the Rabin pre-military academy whom they quote – has a long history of conscientious objection in a country where military service has been existentially necessary throughout the 60 years of its existence.

    Of course they do not tell us that the old woman was approaching the soldiers after being warned not to. She was probably innocent, but could have been a suicide bomber. Moreover it is not clear that she was shot; it may simply have been the case that there was an argument over whether to shoot someone who was approaching soldiers in a suspicious way.

    Of course in the context of the woman and two children who were reportedly shot by a sniper after soldiers ordered them from their house, they do not tell us that civilians have been frequently used as suicide bombers.

    And of course they do not tell us that further investigation by Israeli media suggests both incidents may not even have happened: The soldier who reported both alleged events did not even witness them – he heard them as a rumour.

    Amd you of course Ryan Stokes repeated it all completely uncritically………….

  45. Absolute Observer Says:

    https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/howard-jacobson-says-it-all-about-contemporary-antisemitism-in-todays-independent/

    Mira may be more senstive than me, but ryan’s arguments have not changed. The accusation of those who raise the question of sntisemitism are the same. The accusation that Jews are paranoid is the same. The denial of any possibility of a connection with antismitism is the same.

  46. Jacob Says:

    “Sorry David – still not gotten round to reading the articles – I will though and return to address the issue – and apologies if wrongly implied that you defended Israeli soldiers – but the articles in question refer to those apposing the actions of Israel’s military and more often than not on this Site – people seem to dismiss our criticism of the IDF’s actions as Anti Semitic and often defend the actions of the IDF, such as Howard Jacobson did in his article in the independent (I think he said something like “they choose to ignore the British general claims that the IDF is one of the most moral armies in the world – that take the upmost care in terms of civilians” well im sorry but i dont really take anything a general who was responsible for so many deaths in Iraq, says seriously and dont believe he is a good person to be quoting reference to the IDF. As that article was put on a pedestal on this site – I presume that the majority of you agree with Jacobson’s and the UK generals view that the IDF has not been carrying out atrocities in Gaza. I believe the truth is going to come out now though, from the very mouths of those that took part in attack on Gaza. It is clear to almost everyone that civilians are not the IDFs priority.”

    Ryan again, contradicts himself. He refuses to accept the word of a British General that the Israeli army is one of the most moral in the world. Why, because that General is “a general who was responsible for so many deaths in Iraq…” The absurdity of such a claim on many levels is breath taking. General who participate I war are “responsible” for many deaths simply because in war time people die. This is the nature of war, Ryan.

    Moreover, the fact that the Israeli itself is holding hearings on the level of civilian causalities in Gaza only confirms that General’s judgment. If that army had a policy of deliberately targeting civilians do you think that it would be holding hearings?

    Did the Russian army hold hearing about the civilian casualty rate in Chechnya, do you even care? Did Syria investigate Hama, or the Syrian government their involvement in Lebanon?

    Your comments reek of one sidedness and you are still working overtime trying to prove that you are not an antisemite when what you should be doing is showing equal concern for Hamas and Hezbollah’s deliberate targeting of civilians.

    “I hope that this somehow justifies those who have been critisizing Israel and will maybe stop the barrage of Anti Semitic accusations put against those who have been saying these things have happened.”

    It won’t for the simple reason that your claims haven’t been proven to be true. In any case, we are dealing with an ongoing investigation.

    Now, what about showing some concern about Hamas’ activities in Gaza?

  47. zkharya Says:

    “Israeli soldiers just came out and admitted that their conduct was wrong in Gaza”

    Well, a few did, and none about their own conduct. But this is simply testimony to the open-ness of Israeli society. Soldiers’ shopping other soldiers. This wasn’t how brutality was uncovered in the British army, which is a non-citizen army and does not reflect the relative open-ness of wider British society.

    Further, US, UK and NATO forces have killed 10s of 1000s of civilians in Afghanistan, many more in Iraq. Is Chris going to boycott products from the US, UK or NATO countries?

    My foot he will.

    Which means that he takes a singular interest in the one Jewish state in the world, the second or largest Jewish community in the world.

    I doubt Goldsmiths would tolerate that in any campus establishment.

    A Jerusalem Post analysis of the soldiers’ accounts of brutality and war crimes:

    “Obviously, everyone abroad who wants to accuse Israel of war crimes in Gaza will jump at these stories; every anti-Israel NGO will disseminate them as further proof of our evil.

    What is lacking is context.

    First of all, this type of testimony is legendary in Israel – there is even a phrase to describe it: yorim ve’bochim (shoot and weep). The most famous book of this genre, Siach Lochamim, came out immediately after the Six Day War in 1967, and was translated into English a few years latter under the title The Seventh Day.

    The testimonials from the Rabin preparatory course have a similar feel: soldiers talking about their war experiences – what they saw, what they heard, what they felt good about, what they didn’t feel good about.

    It is important to note that none of the testimony was about what the soldiers did themselves, but rather of what they heard or saw other soldiers do. It is also important that what was reported seems to fall within the realm of aberrations by individuals during war against a cruel enemy hiding behind civilians, not a systematic loss by the army of its moral compass.

    The second piece of context is Dani Zamir, the head of the program, who had the soldiers‚ words transcribed and published. A story in Haaretz on Thursday said that in 1990 Zamir, then a parachute company commander in the reserves, was tried and sentenced to prison for refusing to guard a ceremony where “right-wingers” brought Torah scrolls to Joseph’s tomb in Nablus.

    Zamir, in an interview on Israel Radio on Thursday, said that the soldiers from Operation Cast Lead who spoke at the meeting reflected an atmosphere inside the army of “contempt for, and forcefulness against, the Palestinians.”

    Zamir himself appears in a 2004 book titled Refusnik, Israel’s Soldiers of Conscience, compiled and edited by Peretz Kidron, with a forward by Susan Sontag. The book, which earned commendation from no less a personage than Noam Chomsky, includes a section by Zamir, described as “an officer in the reserves from Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar who was sentenced to 28 days for refusal to serve in Nablus and now heads the Kibbutz Movement’s preparatory seminary for youngsters ahead of their induction in the army.”

    “With stupid resolve and the smugness of the all-knowing, primitive preachers and unbridled nationalists are leading and misleading us to calamity, while Pompeii is preoccupied with watching boxing matches and with banquets in advance of the disaster,” he wrote.

    “I see a volcano in the land where one-third of the inhabitants are banned, by dint of their national and ethnic origins and geographical location, from voting as equals, where they don’t have basic civic rights and where thousands are detained under administrative decree – under a military justice system that is farcical.

    “A land, a third of whose inhabitants have been subjected to extended military occupation for over 20 years – which means restrictions of rights and a different code of law for Jewish and Arab residents in the selfsame land – is not a democratic country.

    “Accordingly, collaboration with a regime or government that forces or orders me to be part of an anti-democratic apparatus that leads to self-destruction, disintegration and national decay, along with the utter denial of its own foundations, is illegitimate, unjust and immoral, and will remain so as long as the state does not take one of only two feasible actions: annexation of all or most of the territories conquered in 1967 and granting full civil rights to those residing there; or withdrawal from densely populated areas and a settlement that will release us of responsibility for the residents of those areas, who will chose for themselves whatever regime they desire (of course with security arrangements included).”

    That was what Zamir wrote in 1990, reprinted in 2004. The testimonies of the soldiers that he brought to the public’s attention seem to corroborate – what a coincidence – his thesis.”

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1237461630293&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    “He didn’t point me out being Anti Semitic – i just wrongly presumed that the majority of posters on here are from Israel – or more so i addressed you all as Israelis – which was wrong but in no way can it be considered as worrying, or Anti Semitic.”

    Well, if your first reaction is to regard Jews’ expressing views sympathetic to Israel as de facto fellow Israeli Jewish nationals, you could be construed as a more extreme type of Zionist.

    Further, I think it is fair to ask just what Chris hopes to secure by a boycott: an Israeli and Palestinian state? An Israeli but not Jewish state? A single state? Right of return of all Palestinian refugees to Israel proper? An end to Jewish right of return? An end to the positive discrimination that led to the birth of Israel in the first place?

  48. Gil Says:

    Mira, I believe that Ryan is not arguing in good faith:

    1. His throwing about of the word ‘paranoid’, on the Harold Jacobson thread, to describe people commenting here, including using it in capital letters which is akin to shouting on the internet. This is what I believe that Absolute Observer is saying too. Therefore, how can we take Ryan’s words at face value when he says he isn’t calling people names?

    2. On the Jacobson thread, David Hirsh pointed Ryan in the direction of some linked articles. Ryan said he would read them and then comment. I believe that Ryan didn’t comment on these pieces. Even now he says that he still hasn’t got round to reading them.

    3. Ryan’s comment regarding ‘your soldiers’ and his subsequent explanations of why he said this leave a lot to be desired.

    For the record, I take Ryan’s comment that he is not antisemitic, at face value. The issue is not whether Ryan is antisemitic or not but whether he is debating in good faith – which I believe he isn’t.

  49. Mira Vogel Says:

    Ryan, a few things – the first about the name-calling, and how (not that this justifies anything) it started, and the second about the reference to “your soldiers”, then about alternatives to boycott. Sorry it’s long – but I wanted to carefully explain.

    On the Howard Jacobson article in question, in your opening comment you ended by shouting “STOP BEING PARANOID” (Another Observer points out that your line here hasn’t changed). Engage is a site that exists to respond to contemporary antisemitism. People spend a lot of time documenting and reasoning on here about stuff they think should be obvious. You rock up and shout “STOP BEING PARANOID”, and then are indignant about being called a “weasel” … I do accept that weasel is a bad thing to be called – but equally you didn’t really think that the Engage readers were paranoid, did you? Paranoia is a mental illness – you have to deal with it gently and sensitively. You said that everybody posting on Engage was paranoid. There’s a long history of Jews being mis-called paranoid when they raise antisemitism – it is an insult used to shut down debate about antisemitism. It works by discrediting the mental faculties of the person raising the concerns. No amount of careful argument can counter it. You then went on to suggest that you might be unjustly censored on Engage for making those points. I hope you can see now why people got so angry with you on the HJ piece. You were also called an antisemite (Another Observer, it was on that the HJ thread) – I’m not one to diagnose either way but I don’t think you are an antisemite, but that’s not to say you haven’t made antisemitic statements.

    With regards to your conflation of Engage readers with Israelis, your reference to “your soldiers”, and your strong reaction of 1.39 above – are you really surprised? There’s nothing Israeli about Engage. But many who come to Engage have Jewish-sounding names because (unsurprisingly) Jews are more likely to recognise antisemitism and have more of a stake in keeping it at bay. You are only one of many people (I have a lengthening list of references and can provide on request) to mis-attribute Israeli actions to people involved in opposing antisemitism. It is this conflation which anti-racists respond to strongly, and which Jews can feel particularly keenly – because it creates links between non-Israeli Jews and the policies of Israel. And it is very usual that people who have made these links – allbeit inadvertantly – react angrily when this is pointed out.

    On boycott , on criticising the IDF – there are many, many anti-occupation organisations and individuals who find boycott counter-productive to their work. I pointed out a few of these to Chris and will reproduce:

    http://olahadasha.typepad.com/
    http://yishaym.wordpress.com/
    http://www.machsomwatch.org/en
    http://www.gisha.org/
    http://www.abrahamfund.org/main/siteNew/index.php
    http://www.onevoicemovement.org/
    http://➡.ws/ㅪ⇩
    http://www.ipcri.org/
    http://www.foeme.org/
    http://www.bustan.org/

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

    So, the way I see it, people who want to end the occupation can either boycott Israel against the wishes of the peace-making rights-seeking organisations on the ground and in a way which entrenches the conflict, or they can try to strengthen those organisations to change Israeli policy and Israeli public opinion. The two approaches are not compatible.

    These peace-making rights-seeking organisations exist and yet people seem to want so badly to boycott Israel. This is what I find disturbing. Why do far-away people want to boycott when the peacemakers on the ground don’t?

  50. NIMN Says:

    “I am well aware of the Holocaust (my wife’s stepfather was in a concentration camp as a child) and the unjust treatment and displacement of Jews in general, in much of the world, for centuries. But these facts do not give Israel a licence to kill and oppress, or to steal land”

    Not sure who said it does. Perhaps, Chris, you can tell us that.

  51. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

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

    Sorry, here is the correct link for my 3:41 comment

  52. zkharya Says:

    On a tangential but related note, George Galloway said of his recent ban from Canada:

    “”On a personal note – for a Scotsman to be barred from Canada is like being told to stay away from the family home.

    “This is not something I’m prepared to accept.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/mar/20/george-galloway-banned-canada

    Presumably that is not how he, or Chris, is prepared to accept Jews feel about the second or largest Jewish community in the world, the Jewish state of Israel: at least not without the threat of boycott.

  53. richard millett Says:

    “I am well aware of the Holocaust..But these facts do not give Israel a licence to kill and oppress, or to steal land”.

    Chris, no one, except yourself had mentioned the Holocaust. Your Kaufmanesque comment is actually abusing the Holocaust and its victims. Israel was not created because of the Holocaust but because, like every other nation, the Jews have a right to express themselves as a nation in their ancestral homeland where they have mantained a continual presence. If this nationhood had been implemented at the same time that many different Arab nationhoods were, being after WW1, then the Holocaust might not have taken place. And in fact one main reason Jewish nationshood wasn’t implemented was because the Arabs of Palestine rose up against any form of Jewish nationhood (they even rejected the 1937 Peel Commission proposals of giving a mere 20% to the Jews) and this, tragically, provided some of the conditions for the Holocaust i.e. the Jews could not escape to Palestine. So please spare us your Holocaust analysis.

  54. Ryan Stokes Says:

    wow!! thats alot of replies…

    theres a good debate going here..

    its going to take me some time to read all of them and reply to each one.

    first reply to Jacob:

    “General who participate I war are “responsible” for many deaths simply because in war time people die. This is the nature of war.”

    to this i would refer you to a great quote:

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” Martin Luther King, Jr

    And i would like to point out that Jacobs attitude is exactly what i am talking about. Its a kind dismissive attitude that shocks me and many others seem to have such an attitude on this site – but i of course cant refer to all of you we are all different people after all.

    the point about the general makes little sense to me either jacob – Just because Israel is investigating Civilian casualties does not mean that atrocities didn’t occur – we will see from those enquiries (if they are independent and corroborated) what the results are.

    I have told you before that I do not support Hamas or Hezbollah.

    I do not accept that an academic boycott is the right way to go because of all the points put forward by Mira – but I do believe that a consumer boycott can be a valuable way of bringing about change in the right conditions – this has been done many times in the past and has reaped results. I dont believe boycotting Israel is Anti-Semitic because people boycott other countries as well – i.e China – big movement to boycott Olympics – Remember the carrying of the torch through the world and the response in each place. Israel itself boycotted goods in the past. Many people boycott US products – the US itself boycotts the products of so many countries (Cuba to name one of them – not a boycott that i agree with) and so you see in all these other situations the boycott is not against the people but rather the government in order to change its actions and whether or not Israel comes up more or not does not necessarily mean that it is because those boycotting have anti Semitic intentions (ive said that word too much now!!). But a boycott can be bad or good – it really depends.

    perhaps though, a consumer boycott of Israel is not the answer, I think it would make a difference but then again i might be wrong, but it has nothing to do with Jews in principle. i personally dont buy anything Israeli because of my views and that’s my right and its got nothing to do with Jews – rather the to do with the continuous flouting of international laws (setllements) the horrible situation in Gaza (over a million people locked into one of the most densely populated areas in the world, who are not allowed anything in, fuel, food) and for so many more reasons – bulldozing houses, the use of phosphorous munitions, the policy of assassination, the list goes on and on for me.

    Im sure you can understand my dismay and lack of hope that even once the investigations are concluded into the civilian casualties, we will not know the truth. Unfortunately Israel doesn’t have a very encouraging history in that respect – I really hope the investigations will be transparent.

    By “Pride” I mean unrelenting confidence in the IDFs actions,
    by “no remorse” i refer to the first posters statement on that page, where, like Jacob, he dismisses any atrocities as an inevitable part of war.

    Maybe you did not call me antisemitic but you implied nevertheless and so I took it for granted that that is what you would think I was if i was echoing antisemitic imagery and rhetoric – I think having conversed with Jacob for so long I presume to many things on this site. Lets leave that behind – im more interested in discussing the topics now and it seems we all have strong opinions which is good – I am learning through these discussions.

    I did say stop being paranoid – would like to leave that behind as well as there was a lot of posts discussing my use of the term but I can say that i was not saying that everyone is paranoid of antisemitism existing – its just that in reference to the article i thought people were being paranoid because for me Jacobson was attacking people that want to stop war plain and simple and i believe the majority of those people have good intentions because they care about stopping war.

    In reference to the “your soldiers” i really think that you are taking it too far because we are talking about a guy in a coffee shop that is boycotting Israeli goods because of his opposition to Israels actions. I actually used to go to Cafe CRema when i lived in New Cross Gate and can tell you its a nice place to grab a coffee and i doubt you will feel any bigotry if you visit (close to goldsmiths Uni) – the place is full of students and Lecturers – a great ambiance!) And he is talking about the IDF and soldiers so i wrongly presumed you may be Israeli. But i did not presume you supported Israels actions because of you being Jewish – but rather because you are arguing about a mans choice to personally boycott Israels products because of its military and other actions in the region. Because everyone tears apart any claims about atrocities that have occurred and dismisses them as propaganda on this site i also (maybe wrongly presume that you do support the IDF). nothing to do with your Jewish name – nothing to do with your Jewish anything – He probably put that sign up because of all of the people on this site- he was probably so scared about being labeled an Anti Semite that he thought he should put the sign up so that people didn’t automatically think he was anti Jewish and rather was Anti Israel – Even though he should not have to do this – its messy because opposing Israeli actions shouldn’t in any way be interpreted as opposing Jews but in the current climate I can understand why he chose to do so if that is the reason. He wanted to be clear but even this can be turned around and used to attack him.

    I did reply to those articles that David directed me to last time – specifically discussing the Goldsmiths visit. I stil havn’t gotten round to reading David’s articles he directed me to today because i am spending all my time answering you guys and would like to take some time to read over them carefully.

    I think its his right to boycott the store if he wants and he has gone to extra special lengths to try to make sure that he didnt get this type of reaction by saying Jews are welcome even though he boycotts Israel so that no one thinks he is an Anti Semite and confusing Jews with the policy of Israel.

    The part it seems you all dont agree with is his opinion on Israels policies. It cant be the sign surely….

    it seems no one can criticize Israel in any way without being labeled an anti Semite.

    I quite sick and not sure how long i can stay up and continue this but I will be back to reply to any quotes later or tomorrow. Damn Flu!!

  55. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    Ryan Stokes

    Yo have managed to ignore mine of 3.47pm showing that the Independent article you cited at 10.24am is pretty much fabricated………….

  56. Jacob Says:

    “first reply to Jacob:

    “General who participate I war are “responsible” for many deaths simply because in war time people die. This is the nature of war.”

    to this i would refer you to a great quote:

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” Martin Luther King, Jr…”

    Funny thing happened on my way to the engage website this morning. I logged on and here was this poster Ryan Stokes who mentioned something I wrote by way of reply to him a while ago. Now, I didn’t remember him, I certainly didn’t think about him, but it seems that he has remembered me and he seems to be obsessed with me. Must be that I have a memorable name, I don’t know.

    In any case, here is my quick reply to Ryan’s latest claims:

    The MLK quote doesn’t answer my point about warfare. People die in war, period. How does MLK quote disprove that fact? (MLK is also quoted as saying, btw, that criticism of Israel is often a cover for antisemitism. I don’t think that is always the case, but too often it is the case.) In any case to blame General for all deaths in war is like blaming boxers for hitting their opponents.

    Next you said:

    “And i would like to point out that Jacobs attitude is exactly what i am talking about.”

    My name isn’t Jacobs, it is Jacob. I am sure that this is just an honest error on your part, but you seem to make a lot of them, Ryan.

    And I don’t have a special attitude. I’d be happy to discuss these issues face to face if I were in England, but as I live in the US I doubt this will be possible. My “attitude” is to respond to slanderous comments about Israel.

    “Just because Israel is investigating Civilian casualties does not mean that atrocities didn’t occur –“

    Nor does it mean that they did occur. In any case, atrocities occur in all wars, Ryan. Do you think Hamas is investigating its own atrocities?

    “we will see from those enquiries (if they are independent and corroborated) what the results are.”

    Yes, we will see. I see that you are giving yourself an out not to accept the conclusions of the investigation, Ryan. I may be wrong but I doubt you are capable of accepting any exculpatory evidence in favor of Israel. Am I wrong?

    “I have told you before that I do not support Hamas or Hezbollah.”

    I would believe this when and if I see you investing as much passion criticizing the behaviors of these two antisemitic and murderous organizations as you do when attacking Israel.

  57. Inna Says:

    Ryan–

    Let me give you a small example of anti-Semitism in my own back yard. We have a Jewish day school in this town for pre-school children. That is to say for children up to about six years old. I am told (we don’t have children) that it’s a very good school. Unfortunately it costs money to send your child there and, as a result of the economy, they are not doing as well as they used to.

    So they did what any business would do: they took out an advertisement in the local paper. The ad spoke about the kinds of classes the kids get, how much individual attention they receive, how flexible the staff is (don’t worry parents if you’re running late), etc.

    But there was one thing missing from this ad for a school for up to six year olds: the address.

    They didn’t want the guys who throw rocks into synagogues and spray paint Jewish grave-yards to find them … and attack Jewish six-year olds.

    So when I say that when I am in London next I will not stop by Cafe Crema, I am not thinking of the wrongs committed by the IDF or of Israel’s foreign policy at all. I am thinking about those children (the oldest of whom is six years old) who must be protected even in an advertisement for their school.

    Regards,

    Inna

  58. Mira Vogel Says:

    Ryan, I haven’t time to read what you’ve written very carefully, but for now thanks for taking the time with this, and to reply to people here. Your spirit is appreciated.

  59. Ryan Stokes Says:

    sorry John – i will take a look at it now – there were so many posts – im sorry if i missed out anyone else…

    Sorry Inna – I am well aware of the situation – I dont really agree with children being sent to Jewish school as much as i dont agree with them being sent to catholic school or any other faith school – children should go to school with other children and I am quite ashamed that my country, the UK allows children to attend faith schools. Everyone should have the same education, free from faith – because a six year old cannot really understand Religion – and i think that it is kind of an indoctrinating process to send someone so young on a daily basis to such an institution. What does everyone else think of this?? it would be interesting to know.

    But getting back to the cafe – How exactly is Cafe Crema causing these problems you talk of? Because it is critisizing Israel (its boycott? not buying coffee or cookies or herbs from Israel?)?

    So what exactly do you intend – that anyone who is unhappy with the actions of a country should not boycott it because it may insite hatred? then we live in a society that is not free – that because of some Bigots we all have to refrain from voicing our opinions because they may be incited by our actions. That kind of thinking can then be extended to so many things that soon we would all be living in an environment akin to Saudi Arabia.

    The Shop has a sign that says “Jews welcome” a clear message that it is not the establishments intentions to incite any hatred of Jews – and for those such as yourself who take any such boycott to be an attack on Jews rather than Israel.

    Give me a minute John and ill get back to you – Im so sick – got a fever and feeling really bad. Dont be insulted if i take a while.

    Ryan

  60. Ryan Stokes Says:

    hi john trying to find the article on that site but i cant find it it the link takes me to a story about pipe bombs.

    can you post the link for me again

    Ryan

  61. zkharya Says:

    “By “Pride” I mean unrelenting confidence in the IDFs actions,
    by “no remorse” i refer to the first posters statement on that page, where, like Jacob, he dismisses any atrocities as an inevitable part of war.”

    Hi Ryan. Israel was far more justified in its actions in Gaza than US, UK or NATO in Afghanistan or Iraq, and far more careful about inflicting civilian casualties (10s of 1000s of deaths in Afghanistan, many more in Iraq -and how many Afghani or Iraqi missiles fell on US or European cities or towns?).

    When are you going to boycott any of those countries?

    Who, apart from you, says ‘pride’ must be ‘unrelenting confidence’? And since when have atrocities not occured in a war zone? And why does the Jewish state of Israel have to be the first to perfection (ahead of US, UK or NATO countries?).

    Some Israeli soldiers did bad things. According to former NATO Commander Afghanistan, Kemp, the IDF acted far more carefully in an urban fighting situation than any force hitherto.

    Israel doesn’t have to be perfect, and she doesn’t have to subscribe to your efforts to perfect her out of existence.

  62. Ryan Stokes Says:

    woops – im really sick completely misunderstood you John. Can you show me an article that discusses the claims you make please – i would be interested to see exactly how these statements are being refuted. What about the claim that soldiers argued with their commanders about the way they would shoot into houses without giving any warning?That what one said is that what they did amounted to murder? that their orders were to kill anyone left in the areas they were entering as anyone left must be a terrorist?

    Im going to have an in depth look into it all now – any sources anyone can provide me with would be much appreciated.

    Does anyone else here feel that the approach taken by the IDF was wrong and that dropping bombs into such a densley populated area and destroying much of the strips infrastructure was justified? and .. does anyone believe this has been a good thing for Israel? It does not seem as if Hamas is going anywhere soon – the quality of life is even lower now, which can only result in more resentment. And many people have been killed – all of these people have families and i can only see the IDFs actions as having put Israel and the rest of the world in a whole lot more danger.

    Good to hear your opinions

    Ryan

  63. zkharya Says:

    I iterate, Ryan:

    Israel was far more justified in its actions in Gaza than US, UK or NATO in Afghanistan or Iraq, and far more careful about inflicting civilian casualties (10s of 1000s of deaths in Afghanistan, many more in Iraq -and how many Afghani or Iraqi missiles fell on US or European cities or towns?).

    When are you going to boycott any of those countries?

  64. Gil Says:

    ‘it seems no one can criticize Israel in any way without being labeled an anti Semite.’

    Firstly, this is an utter falsehood and it is used by people who want to shut the debate down.

    Secondly, why did you have to write such a long, rambling and incoherent piece when what you really wanted to say was in that one sentence?

    You are not arguing in good faith.

  65. Inna Says:

    Ryan: I think that the abuses of the IDF were terribly wrong. I think that war itself is horrible. I also know that there is much debate over whether Cast lead was the right or wrong thing to do, given the rockets. I am not a military expert so my opinion probably counts for little.

    I do know that if a foreign government forced me and my family to literally live underground for years I would expect my government to retaliate against that foreign power. Densely populated or not.

    Regards,

    Inna

  66. Ryan Stokes Says:

    zkharya

    People do boycott the USA and the UK. I dont really understand your reasoning – that because one country is worse than the other it means that the lesser guilty one cannot be criticized. By “Pride” I told you what i meant by that.

    I dont trust the generals assertion and the fact that you say the UK army has committed much worse atrocities (which i agree with) than that of Israels kind of points out what i was trying to say. I will not take one murderers assertion that the other is not a murderer very seriously. I look to the organizations on the ground that have all said that atrocities have occurred.

    Why should Israel not be perfect exactly? it can do what ever it wants then – is that what you are trying to say – that it does not need to listen to me or others – why exactly? she does not have to listen to my crap? I think any country involved in war does need to subscribe to my and everyones efforts to perfect its conduct. If not then it can just do what ever it wants?? sounds quite scary the way you talk….

  67. zkharya Says:

    More on the hypocrisy of some UK students:

    “Such international warrants have been sought in recent years against Israeli generals. They have also been sought on the continent against former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks. So far they have been entirely one-sided political tools.

    In the event, we didn’t have to arrest Moussawi. But the first day of the SOAS course will still feature Kamal Helbawy. In a recent interview on the BBC Arabic service, he told his interviewer: “I condemn the targeting of any civilian.” You can hear the “but” coming. Sure enough, he went on:

    “But incidentally, I believe that every Israeli civilian is a future soldier.”

    “What? Even if he is two years old?” asked the interviewer.

    Helbawy: “Even if he is a child.”

    So although the main speaker will not appear, SOAS still think it appropriate that the warm-up act should be a proponent of infanticide for Israelis.”

    http://thejc.com/articles/let%E2%80%99s-treat-all-bigots-equally

  68. Ryan Stokes Says:

    i would be nice to hear some critisism of each other as you all seem to take quite different stances to each other – some sounding fanatical, some sounding reasonable but all only addressing my points and not really pointing out the errors of each others approaches – surely you do not all agree with each other – surely someone else on this site sees that this logic put forard by zkharya doesnt make any sense.

  69. zkharya Says:

    Oh, and Israel’s fighing in Gaza was exemplary. Urban fighting against militant and terrorist organizations behind human shields is likely the shape of 21st century warfare. The nations of the world were watching Israel, and doubtless drew many lessons.

  70. Jonathan Hoffman Says:

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1237461630293&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Here is an article refuting the Ha’aretz/Independent story. More has been on TV in Israel, I cannot link to that.

  71. Ryan Stokes Says:

    im going ot bed – good night everyone

  72. Inna Says:

    Ryan–

    I was struggling with how to explain my position to you about the boycott of Israeli goods. And just now I am re-reading Machiavelli’s Prince which incidentally seems a whole different book now that I am long out of college.

    Anyway, I just re-read the justly famous (or infamous–certainly Leo Strauss took Machiavelli to task for this) passage in the Prince:

    “… many have imagined republics and principalities which have never been seen or known to exist in reality; for how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather bring about his own ruin than his preservation.”

    Now, it seems to me that while there are indeed (as you point out) boycotts of many different governments such as China for its occupation of Tibet, none of those states are criticized, let alone boycotted for not being ideal states. The demands made of China (stop occupying Tibet) seem to me reasonable. But there is more.

    I have not seen the kind of passion aroused by China’s atrocities that I have seen by Israel’s many mis-steps and worse. I have not seen thousands of people for example marching through any major capitol of the world carrying signs that read “Death to China” or “Death to the Chinese” or any sign (let alone debate) about whether China is just like Nazi Germany or whether it is perchance worse.

    People do “boycott” Chinese products–because they are not safe.

    And then there is your personal position. You say you do not support Hamas and Hezbullah. You also say you boycott Israeli goods. In other words, while you do not support (do you oppose? do you condemn?) a terrorist organization and a terrorist government you do not seek to punish the peoples who live under either. You do not seek to punish Gazans, for example, for their presumed complicity with the Hamas Government of Gaza. You do, however, seek to punish Israelis for their presumed complicity with the Israeli government. Why is that?

    And then there are the claims made by the boycotters themselves. I hear (again and again) that Israeli actions have made anti-Semitism “understandable”. If I am to take those claims at face value then I would say that people are “understanding” of (say) threats against Jewish six-year olds so long as there is organized opposition to Israel’s foreign policy.

    In other words, your or Chris’ boycott of Israeli goods does not (by your own admission) change Israeli policy. But, if the boycotters are right, it may be having an immediate and direct impact on Jewish six-year old children in my home town.

    And that (in a rather lengthy nutshell) is my problem with the boycott.

    Regards,

    Inna

  73. Jacob Says:

    “Sorry Inna – I am well aware of the situation – I dont really agree with children being sent to Jewish school as much as i dont agree with them being sent to catholic school or any other faith school – children should go to school with other children and I am quite ashamed that my country, the UK allows children to attend faith schools. Everyone should have the same education, free from faith – because a six year old cannot really understand Religion – and i think that it is kind of an indoctrinating process to send someone so young on a daily basis to such an institution. What does everyone else think of this?? it would be interesting to know.”

    Unlike your one sided criticism of Israel the above position is well balanced whether one agrees with it or not and I don’t for many reasons. This, though, is not the thread to go into the question of homogeneous and centralized education versus a more diverse and privately funded educational experience.

    Still, the point Inna made had nothing to do with the utility of faith based schools. It had to do with the fact that Jewish children and only Jewish children in her community are targets of vandalism and intimidation. I wish you would address directly issues brought up and not go off on tangents.

    Do you think Jewish children should be subjected to intimidation, Ryan?

  74. Jacob Says:

    “Oh, and Israel’s fighing in Gaza was exemplary. Urban fighting against militant and terrorist organizations behind human shields is likely the shape of 21st century warfare. The nations of the world were watching Israel, and doubtless drew many lessons.” zkharya

    Well said, zkharya.

    Here is what the writer Eamonn McDonaghon said about the hysterical critique of the Israel Hamas war:

    “Jews Behaving Normally Redux:the IDF in Gaza”

    http://blog.z-word.com/2009/03/jews-behaving-normally-reduxthe-idf-in-gaza/

  75. Noga Says:

    “Why should Israel not be perfect exactly? it can do what ever it wants then – ”

    Is this what you conclude from “not being perfect”? The opposite of “not being perfect” is “can do what ever it wants”?

    Have you never heard Voltaire’s quote, that “The perfect is the enemy of the good”?

    This subject is a good example of why he would make that observation. If Israel were to follow the path of perfect morality (never hurt anyone no matter what), then the result would be that its people would be massacred within a few days. Is this a good, Ryan? Is this what you are aspiring to see, so that when a memorial is held for 1 or 2 or 6 million exterminated Israeli Jews, you will be able to squeeze a few tears and feel how noble and perfect Israel was in its pursuit of moral and absolute perfection?

    Can you even begin to see how ridiculous you sound?

    Why aren’t you extolling Palestinians to be just a little more “perfect”, in accordance with your lofty ideals, and stop their quest for the annihilation of Israel?

  76. richard millett Says:

    Does anyone know whether, despite the contrition of “I assure you that i am 100% not an anti-Semite, honest, guv. I mean how can i be as i employ a Jew to work for me?” Chris, the sign in question is still up in Cafe Creme? Thanks.

  77. Bill Says:

    “i would be nice to hear some critisism of each other as you all seem to take quite different stances to each other ”

    Sorry Ryan, I hadn’t realized we were supposed to follow a script on this thread or any other thread.

    And if you think we’re the Waltons, you should examine other threads where we are hardly a choir preaching to one another regarding responding to boycotts, discrimination/harassment, the appropriate role of university negotiating units, the I/P conflict, antisemitism, globalized “antizionism”, islamophobia, academic freedom, free speech, media bias against Israel, “The Lobby” and the lot. And there has certainly been particular disagreement, collegial and otherwise, specifically regarding Israel’s response Gaza’s prolonged rocket attacks.

  78. Mira Vogel Says:

    Inna, not so long ago a swastika was carved into a patch of grass on the allotments opposite one of my local Jewish primary schools. It’s been broken into too, daubed with swastikas and Combat 18 tags. Wonder what Caryl Churchill would “Tell her…”

    Ryan, I think people are addressing you in particular because we feel that if we can change your mind then there might be some hope of changing all the other minds – a lot of our readers come here to find ways of doing that. There is certainly disagreement between commenters – but since none of us have a potentially threatening project like a boycott campaign, my guess is most of us feel it is better use of our energies to argue with what threatens us than what we simply disagree with. I realise that you aren’t intending to be threatening – it’s the campaign against Israel I’m talking about.

  79. Bill Says:

    Plus if you take the “Israel” out of Chris’s attitude, it’s on par with the guy that Mira cited a while back who would boycott Starbucks and other establishments over US or Israeli policy but smugly use their “facilities.” Do you really want to deal with someone like that? Here, would Chris have gone on a tear over Mugabe or Blood Diamonds and then say blacks are welcome? Honestly? The guy’s a sanctimonious jerk… I doubt it (at worst, better angles in his establishment would have intervened — which leaves you wondering). But I’m sure there are other places around Cafe Crema where I can have an overpriced cup of coffee and pay for something other than uncouthly served politics.

  80. David Hirsh Says:

    Ryan, I don’t think you’re an antisemite.
    I don’t think, either, that you are arguing in bad faith.

    I think that you are an antiracist and I think that you are arguing in good faith.

    However, I think you are also thinking in an antisemitic way and saying antisemitic things. I think you don’t know this and I think you don’t believe it to be true.

    Given all these facts, it is not surprising that you are angry and contemptuous of some of what has been said to you and about you in this thread.

    But now things get a bit more tricky for you Ryan.

    Because you are no longer innocently ignorant. The problems have been pointed out to you. In great detail and at great length.

    True, some of the things said to you are not helpful, but some of them are. And you’ll have to work out to your own satisfaction which is which.

    But in future, when you say antisemitic things, it will be difficult to defend you on the basis that you didn’t know any better. Because you do, now, know better.

    It isn’t enough just to shout that people who raise the issue of antisemitism are doing so in order to de-legitimize criticism of Israel.

    It isn’t enough to point at Israeli human rights abuses and say how bad they are.

    I, for one, agree with you that Israeli human rights abuses are bad; they are as bad as any other human rights abuses.

    You are an antiracist and you are arguing in good faith. Therefore, you also have to engage seriously with the question of antisemitism.

  81. zkharya Says:

    Ryan,

    “surely someone else on this site sees that this logic put forard by zkharya doesnt make any sense.”

    Perhaps if you logically explained why they might see.

  82. zkharya Says:

    “People do boycott the USA and the UK.”

    Neither you nor Cafe Crema does.

    “I dont really understand your reasoning – that because one country is worse than the other it means that the lesser guilty one cannot be criticized. By “Pride” I told you what i meant by that.”

    Who said Israel couldn’t be criticized. Perfected out of existence is another matter…

    “I dont trust the generals assertion and the fact that you say the UK army has committed much worse atrocities (which i agree with) than that of Israels kind of points out what i was trying to say.”

    So when begins the boycott of the US, UK and NATO countries? When the sign outside Cafe Crema?

    “I will not take one murderers assertion that the other is not a murderer very seriously. I look to the organizations on the ground that have all said that atrocities have occurred.”

    OK, ditto: when begins the boycott of the US, UK and NATO countries? When the sign outside Cafe Crema?

    “Why should Israel not be perfect exactly?”

    Because

    a) it’s impossible and

    b) you only seem to expect perfection of the one Jewish state in the world (my cultural Christian friend?).

    “it can do what ever it wants then”

    So say you, not I. Just as you say “cannot be criticized”, not I.

    “- is that what you are trying to say”

    No. What you are tryin to say, apparently.

    “- that it does not need to listen to me or others – why exactly? she does not have to listen to my crap?”

    If you say so. Listen is one thing. Perfect out of existence another.

    “I think any country involved in war does need to subscribe to my and everyones efforts to perfect its conduct. If not then it can just do what ever it wants??”

    The US, UK and NATO, by your implicit reasoning can.

    “sounds quite scary the way you talk….”

    No enough for your own state, the UK, or its allies the US and NATO to provoke you to boycotts or equivalent “criticism”.

  83. zkharya Says:

    Quoting from Jacob’s link:

    3.

    The armies of the UK, the USA, Canada and the Netherlands are engaged in large-scale operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any infantry unit from these countries that finds itself in difficulties immediately summons air support. What this means in practice is that large bombs are dropped on the area from which the European or North American forces are being fired on. This area may also be raked with fire from helicopter gunships. As warfare is an uncertain and confusing business, this constant resort to air airpower regularly results in the death of large numbers of civilians. This loss of civilian life is reported in the press in Europe and North American and there appears the occasional op-ed piece lamenting it. Not much more than that. One sees little evidence of anyone being shocked or surprised. Few find it odd that, given a choice between risking their own lives and risking those of civilians, British, Canadian, Dutch and American soldiers decide they’d rather go on living and call in an F16 to destroy the location they are being fired on from or, for that matter, that they shoot the unidentified individual approaching their position in case he turns out to be a suicide bomber. In due course we’ll find out about acts of vandalism and insults to religion of the enemy too, because that’s what war is like.

    4.

    When Israeli soldiers behave in a similar manner the reaction is different. There is much talk of “the truth coming out” and such like. Why the difference? Perhaps because for many commentators it’s only permissible for the Jews to have a state and an army if that state and that army comply with standards of behavior far higher than that required of other states, including their own. Any failure to live up to these standards tends to be taken as evidence of the basic illegitimacy of the Zionist enterprise. Our own armed forces can be permitted and, if the need arises, forgiven for the killing of civilians and the destruction of their property in campaigns being carried out thousands of miles from our shores while we luxuriate in phony outrage occasioned by similar behavior on the part of Israelis fighting a short bus ride from their front doors in operations against an organization which is determined to liquidate their independence and which enjoys the support of a neighboring militant theocracy, a state that daily roars its determination to have done with the “Zionist entity” – and which is making rapid strides towards acquiring the means to make its dreams come true.

    http://blog.z-word.com/2009/03/jews-behaving-normally-reduxthe-idf-in-gaza/

  84. Susan Says:

    “Why should Israel not be perfect exactly?”

    Because no country can be perfect, because every country is made up of human beings, and human beings are never perfect. To expect perfection of Israel only, is to deny the humanity of Israelis.

  85. Ryan Stokes Says:

    Wow – just woke up and have read all the replies – Not very happy with them to be quite honest. I have tried to not presume anything in the last posts I have made and I have posed some questions which I genuinely was interested in hearing replies to. It seems however that no one is interested in answering these questions seriously – the ones which define my opinion.

    Inna – the quote:
    “that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather bring about his own ruin than his preservation.”

    is a terrible quote – much like the “thats what war is like” quote from the link Jacob has posted – it seems so cold the way you discuss casualties and – the link you gave is shameful and doesn’t really offer me any evidence of anything jacob – its more a list of excuses and diversions for mistakes that the IDF has made – this “there’s bound to be few soldiers that indiscriminately kill, destroy property and vandalise in War” isnt very productive and to be quite honest is inhumane – you may call it realistic but I, quite proudly, call it grossly dismissive of life and can say that i do not believe that such an attitude is acceptable in modern day society – regardless of the circumstances. But everyone on here just seems o fall back on the – “Look at how bad the US and UK” ploy. Its quite a fascist approach really – blatant disregard for the mistakes of an army.

    In reference to the ” why do you only pick on Israel”
    Maybe everyone has forgotten about all of the demonstrations against the USA and UKs actions in Iraq and Afghanistan – i definitely haven’t because I attended many of them and in my town and towns accross the UK you will still find many demonstrations occurring – you will still find debates happening across the UK about whats happenning in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did anyone posting on this site attend any demonstrations? You may all have forgotten the shock and disgust that was voiced every time the nation found out about the brutality of its soldiers and the US soldiers – you may all blisfully be forgetting all of the Articles in the Independant, Guardian and many others that continue to address issues such as the detention centre at guantanamo bay – The disgust of the UKs involvement in extraordinary rendition. the marches throughout london, the demos in Hyde Park, the continuing and absolute Disgust (Inna!) of China’s civil rights record, the demonstrations against burmas governments, demonstrations against the candian government for seal hunting, against Japan for Whale hunting, the Boycott by so many people in the UK of products from companys that carry out animal testing, the boycott of companies such as Mcdonalds and Starbucks (and people are not all hypocrits – they do not all boycott mcdonalds and then go and have lunch there and from what Chris has said i doubt he is a hypocrite and will be found munching on some Israeli Basil any time soon). Maybe those of you who are not in the UK don’t know that there are so many calling for an inquiry into what has happened into Iraq and that an Inquiry will happen but is being delayed due to legislation and that this fact enrages many British citizens who want certain members of the government to be tried for war crimes – not just citizens but many in the government – even those within the labour party. Should i really go on here – so that you believe it is not just Israel the world has a problem with – I can do if you want to ….. it will make little difference it seems because i have pointed all of this out before but still get ridiculous statements such as “no on boycotts products from the USA or have grievances about zimbabwe, or critizes the UK” –

    I believe Anti Semitism exists and it is a horrible thing that needs to be stamped out. If you want to talk to me about Anti Semitism then lets talk about it – vandalism at schools, discrimination – i am happy to engage in discussions with you about real anti Semitic events – but not about some guy who chooses to boycott some guy who chooses to boycott some Israeli produce (and even goes to lengths to try to make sure he is not being Anti Semitic).

    I don’t believe children of Six or any age should be victims of any aggression – I never said such a thing and i don’t believe Many Anti War campaigners would ever do such a thing (unfortunately there has been occurences of such events but i dont believe we should refrain from voicing our opinions out of fear that someone may carry out such horrible acts – this may be difficult to swallow for some but that is how free democratic society works – the police are there to prevent/ and or prosecute anyone that carries out any such illegal activity. I boycott companies that do animal testing – some people take the whole issue to far and kidnap scientists or make threats – should i stop boycotting such products because of these people that go to far – am i responsible for the acts of these people – is Chris responsible for people vandalising schools because of his boycott – it doesnt make any sense to me at all what you guys are suggesting.

    zkharya – you have no idea what else i boycott – you have not even asked me. Also zkharya the logic i am reffering to is what i was metioning before – this dismissive inhumane attitude that in war Life doesn’t matter.

    you also always presume that someone such as Chris supports Hamas or through not boycotting Gaza he is being biased – what products should he boycott from Gaza exactly?? nothing is allowed out of Gaza as far as i am aware.

    My one sided Critisism Jacob – exactly how is my critisism one sided and Innas is not? Im sorry if you dont like the questions i pose but i really dont find anything you say to be constructive or remotely usefull. I also think Jacob that you have absolutley no understanding of the situation in the UK because you are American are you not? do you come from the UK? we talked about Howard Jacobsons article and you spoke as if you really knew what the sentiment was in the UK and what people were saying at the campaigns and demonstrations and yet you and the majority of others on this site havnt even been to a demonstration once in you life i imagine (Unless it was an demonstration against Anti Semitism😉

    thanks for your condescending message David – please don’t think in any way that you have won me over or that i have somehow learned from you all how to not be Anti Semitic – or say Anti Semitic things – I am happy that i am no longer Innocently Ignorant and hope that i do not make any further mistakes.

    As no one seems to ever disagree with the dismissive attitude of people such as Jacob and only seem to concentrate upon my grievances i wonder how productive this site really is – you all act like champions of the free world and yet you allow fellow posters to make fascist like statements without even one of you saying … “wait a second, thats not really correct”

    what a bunch of yes men – all agreeing with each other that the world is against you and never questioning each others views – only attacking those who disagree with you. If you dont think so try and find anyone on the site that disagrees with any articles but is not against Isreals poilicies? Its strange how not even one person has said – I dont really think he is being Anti Semitic and then a discussion is had between yourselves.

    I apologize if my tone has changed somewhat but I have put forward many questions and have addressed as many of the points you guys have put forward but no one has really answered any of my questions in a comfortable and constructive way.

    I am happy after discussing for so long that David has actually just come out and said that Israeli human rights abuses are bad – Jacob and Zkharya seem to be deluded and think that there are not any abuses at all. Not even Jacob I believe has an excuse for the illegal settlements that continue to spring up and happily avoids any such points put forward. I would place money on Jacob living in Texas – A Bigot searching for people to call Bigots.

    Well it all really comes down to this – I have told you i am against Hamas – that i believe Anti Semitism Exists – that i am willing to discuss serious Anti Semitic events – that I am not biased in my boycott of Israeli goods or that i only campaign against Israel – Chris Has told you that he is not an Anti Semite and has put up a sign to make sure that you all dont misinterpret his actions – you all say that our criticism is inherently or subconsciously Anti Semitic even if we plead with you all to believe us – you all seem to think that it is more important protecting Jews from discrimination, the six year olds in schools, than freedom of speech – the right to criticize a Occupying countries actions on the battlefield – according to Inna it is vital to not critisize Israels Precision and morals in its campaing on Gaza so that stones are not thrown at Primary schools. And Jacob my point about faith Schools is completely valid as sending a child to a religious school at the age of 6 is absolute indoctrination – what purpose does the religious element of the school serve exactly? maybe in Israel or Saudi Arabia this can be accepted but in the UK our children should all go to school together and if you are religious you take your child to the mosque or church outside of education – this fosters and encourages Unity within our society and will help to root out Anti Antisemitism, Racism and a lot of the problems we currently have in the UK – you may not like that idea but we moved away from including faith in all areas of government and society a long time ago and tensions have improved a great deal since then. It also allows you child the chance to one day choose for themselves if they want to be religious. You will probably misinterpret this as me saying that Jews are responsible for ostracizing themselves from the rest of society and therefore are responsible for the Anti Semitism that exists but please dont go down that line because that is not what i mean. Not all Jews put there kids into Religious Schools, All Jews are not the same. So calm down people – i know this would have enraged many.

    I leave you all to agree with yourselves and insult anyone who disagrees with you.

    Good Bye

  86. zkharya Says:

    “zkharya – you have no idea what else i boycott – you have not even asked me. Also zkharya the logic i am reffering to is what i was metioning before – this dismissive inhumane attitude that in war Life doesn’t matter.”

    Well, Ryan, do you boycott US, UK or NATO country goods?

    Who said life in war doesn’t matter? You, not me. If life didn’t matter to Israel the civilian casualties would have been in the order of those inflicted by Russia, US, UK or NATO in similar circumstances.

    But Israel does not have to be held to nor hold to higher criteria than, say, the US, UK or NATO. She does not have to be perfected out of existence.

  87. Ryan Stokes Says:

    I boycott many things – any company, organisation or group that is involved in any way with the arms trade (that i know of)

    I also boycott major companies that do not take sustainabilty and workers rights into consideration.

    I grow my own vegetables and buy our meat and dairy products from a farm in the country so that we don’t help the large supermarkets (Wall Mart that has now taken over Asda as an example) eliminate all of the shops in our towns and villages.

    I use public transport because I care about the environment.

    I boycott the majority of american products unless I know explicitly what the company stands for both economically and politicaly (so not many).

    I live in the UK so its difficult to boycott British products entirely. I care about a lot things but I dont think this is the point anyway – A person has the right to get interested in just one topic in the world and campaign against it – it doesnt mean that they are doing it out of hate – So many people got involved in the South Africa apartheid movement and some may not have necessarily took part in other campaigns. There are different groups involved with different issues – its not racist if you are just campaigning against the dictatorship in Zimbabwe and not in another place. A person can make a lot of progress concentrating his/her efforts on one area of abuses, one country, one government, one person.

    and an economical boycott can be very effective as economy is intrinsically linked with politics and can effect it quickly.

  88. zumb Says:

    Ryan Stokes said:
    “I boycott many things – any company, organisation or group that is involved in any way with the arms trade (that i know of)
    I also boycott major companies that do not take sustainabilty and workers rights into consideration.
    I boycott the majority of american products unless I know explicitly what the company stands for both economically and politicaly (so not many).”

    After reading this the conclusion is inevitable: Why bother arguing with Ryan? He is clearly paranoid.

    And if you insist in your boycotting “way of life”, I have another one for you:

    “I grow my own vegetables and buy our meat and dairy products from a f
    farm in the country so that we don’t help the large supermarkets”

    Did you know that by buying from heavily subsided European farmers you contribute to demise of agriculture in third world countries? I suggest you grow your own cows and chicken as well.

    Ryan, stop bullshitting. Get a job and do something useful!

  89. Jacob Says:

    “…much like the “thats what war is like” quote from the link Jacob has posted – it seems so cold the way you discuss casualties and – the link you gave is shameful and doesn’t really offer me any evidence of anything jacob – its more a list of excuses and diversions for mistakes that the IDF has made – this “there’s bound to be few soldiers that indiscriminately kill, destroy property and vandalise in War” isnt very productive and to be quite honest is inhumane – you may call it realistic but I, quite proudly, call it grossly dismissive of life and can say that i do not believe that such an attitude is acceptable in modern day society – regardless of the circumstances. But everyone on here just seems o fall back on the – “Look at how bad the US and UK” ploy. Its quite a fascist approach really – blatant disregard for the mistakes of an army.”

    Ryan I believe our conversation has become repetitious, a sign that we are at a dead end.

    However, I’ll try one more time:

    There is nothing “inhumane” when pointing out some facts about war. War is inhumane, however, as long as people need to defend themselves there will be war. This was true of the British during world war two and it’s true of Israel today.

    It’s also callous of you to keep pointing out Israel’s wartimes mistakes as proof of ear crimes while totally ignoring both the cause of the conflict (Hamas’ firing rockets at civilians in Israel) as well as the conduct of Israel’s enemies during the war (holding civilians hostage as well as using the war as a pretext for eliminating Hamas’ enemies in Gaza).

    This is what makes your criticism of Israel sound so hollow in my ears. At least have decency to criticize Israel’s enemies along with Israel.

    There is also nothing “fascist” (I find your use of the term tendentious) about demanding that critics of Israel should apply the same standard to all countries engaged in conflict and not demand a level of conduct which is from a country whose civilian population is under attack which is impossible to maintain and still defend itself.

    People like Ryan will not be satisfied till Israelis suffer a similar fate to that of the Tutsis.

    “I also think Jacob that you have absolutley no understanding of the situation in the UK because you are American are you not? do you come from the UK? we talked about Howard Jacobsons article and you spoke as if you really knew what the sentiment was in the UK and what people were saying at the campaigns and demonstrations and yet you and the majority of others on this site havnt even been to a demonstration once in you life i imagine…”

    I seem to know more about The UK then you do about the US and certainly about Israel.

    Yes, I have been to many antiwar demonstrations in my life so you are wrong there. I have also been to the UK and found a level of subtle and not so subtle Jew hatred that amazed me.

    No I wasn’t at your demonstration, and I don’t wish to go over all debates again but from what I read about demonstrations in the UK they weren’t that different from those in other parts of the globe.

    Why do you think that Howard Jacobson and others wrote as they did about it? Are you accusing them of lying?

    “I am happy after discussing for so long that David has actually just come out and said that Israeli human rights abuses are bad – Jacob and Zkharya seem to be deluded and think that there are not any abuses at all. Not even Jacob I believe has an excuse for the illegal settlements that continue to spring up and happily avoids any such points put forward. I would place money on Jacob living in Texas – A Bigot searching for people to call Bigots.”

    There shouldn’t be any preconditions for discussions. And you are dead wrong about my living in Texas. You let yourself indulge in fantasies way too much.

    You are also trying to change the subject (as you did earlier by introducing religious schools) the issue isn’t settlements on the West Bank it’s the war in Gaza as well as the boycott of Israel.

    You can also call me a “bigot” if that makes you feel better. You are only showing your ignorance, yet again. It’s what you do when you have nothing else to say, Ryan. It’s the way you reacted to zkharya when you decided that his posts where “illogical.”

    Zkharya for your information is one of the most learned and logical posters I have read on the internet.

    Your arguments are inconsistent and willful, Ryan, not to mention repetitious.

    “And Jacob my point about faith Schools is completely valid as sending a child to a religious school at the age of 6 is absolute indoctrination – what purpose does the religious element of the school serve exactly?”

    It wasn’t valid because you were trying to change the subject. Inna never said that “it is vital to not critisize Israels Precision and morals in its campaing on Gaza so that stones are not thrown at Primary schools” this is another one of your fantasies. She linked attacks on Jewish schools to antisemitism and not to Israeli actions per se. Your callous comment excuses attacks on six year old children which is disgraceful. And you call other people bigots.

    In any case, all education of six years old is “indoctrination” and religious schools which are not all the same aren’t any more guilty of it then say secular schools that teach six year olds about “cultural” subjects.

    I know Jewish kids who went to Catholic parochial schools and didn’t come out Catholic. I also know of many non Jewish kids who attended Jewish schools without becoming Jews. Try to do some research on the actual working of religious schools in the US before you shoot your mouth off. The Muslim madrassa model doesn’t apply to other religious schools. ( I don’t how if it applies to all Muslims religious schools because I didn’t research the subject yet.)

    In any case, not all Jewish schools are religious. Judaism is a culture as well as a religion and there are many Jewish schools that teach Jewish cultural subjects and languages and are secular and not religious as such.

    All things being equal I prefer secular to religious schools, but this is another issue.

    “maybe in Israel or Saudi Arabia this can be accepted but in the UK our children should all go to school together…”

    Your lumping Israel and Saudi Arabia shows how little you know about Israel. That country which you hate so much has a thriving secular school system which has produces graduates who have went on to do original work in the sciences and the humanities. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you, Ryan?

    Your ignorance of Israeli society is phenomenal and frankly it’s a waste of time responding to you.

  90. Bill Says:

    Now be nice, Zumb. Ryan, judging from his 1:51pm BDT post clearly has validation issues (“Wow – just woke up and have read all the replies – Not very happy with them to be quite honest…” and so on, especially his not-atypical “mighty-white-of-him” acceptance of David once he indicated his long standing and consistent honest criticism of Israel ). I do have to admit that his described holier-than-thou lifestyle pushes the barriers of credibility but you never know, it’s not totally unheard of even though, as you demonstrate, such exhibitionistic “awareness-ism” is as inconstant and truly unattainable as being a 100% pure vegan, kosher or halal while eating in the university dorm halls.

    Regarding his need for us to demonize Israel and other posters to his satisfaction. Please. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being asked to read off someone’s script when they don’t have the manners to provide it to me in advance. Seriously and more importantly, there was considerable debate here, heavy and contentious debate I might add, over how Israel should conduct herself against the Hamas regime (not to mention other posts on Israel). If he is unwilling to do the due diligence to see it, that really can’t be my problem. I simply don’t have the patience for such crap.

    Moving on to the issue at hand, there’re enough reasons in the undercurrents of Chris’s backhanded welcome to Jews (and let’s not pretend, he means only the bien pensant Jews, that once again, play the role and read off the script given to them by sanctimonious prigs, or just keep their mouths shut while Chris & Co. preaches to them) just avoid his shop out of general distaste, to heck with any internalized antisemitism he may have. I don’t have to get into the Israel thing with Chris to avoid him and his establishment — much as the Chaz Freeman drama doesn’t even have to touch his views on Israel for me to reject the embittered and foolish loser from any public service post.

  91. zkharya Says:

    OK, Ryan, so you boycott some or not many American goods -it wasn’t clear. Do you, as a matter or interest, advocate a universal boycott of British, US or NATO countries’ goods?

    Cafe Crema doesn’t. Nor do most of those calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

    Do you boycott NATO countries’ goods? And have you called for a boycott of British goods, even if you yourself have to buy them? You could, you know.

    So could Cafe Crema. Of course that might have to entail calling for some to boycott the British service of Cafe Crema. But it could.

    “A person has the right to get interested in just one topic in the world and campaign against it – it doesnt mean that they are doing it out of hate”

    Suddenly “all” you or Chris of Cafe Crema have been doing is “getting interested in just one topic in the world”. And there some of us thought you were advocating boycotting Israel until the dissolution of the Jewish state.

  92. NIMN Says:

    Ryan stamps his feet and leaves because he can’t set his agenda.
    He wants to talk about Israel; some point out that there are ways of talking about Israel that contain antisemitic imagery, and ways that aren’t.

    He refuses to acknowledge that possibility and turns on everyone who challenges him. He demands people “criticise”Israel before talking about antisemitism.

    He is a fraud; he is someone who feigns to learn and to understand. He learns and understands nothing but bite size
    slogans.

    He is a fool.

  93. Bill Says:

    Sez NIMN:

    “He is a fraud; he is someone who feigns to learn and to understand. He learns and understands nothing but bite size slogans. … He is a fool.”

    As the saying goes:

    “Too smart to study. Too dumb to learn.”

    I’d call it a teachable moment for Ryan, but the above line sorta makes it pointless, eh?

  94. Inna Says:

    Ryan–

    Please try to read what I wrote again. I was quoting Machiavelli to point out that people get extremely passionate when Israel is not perfect (look at your own posts) but not (say) when China or the Hamas Government of Gaza or the UK is not perfect.

    I am asking you why you think that is.

    Because I think we will both recognize that–whether we like it or not–our government often behave in a Machiavellian manner. However, our governments and states do not get boycotted. Indeed, we more or less Expect them to behave in this manner.

    But when Israel behaves in this manner we take to the streets in protest.

    Why?

    Regards,

    Inna

  95. Inna Says:

    “the police are there to prevent/ and or prosecute anyone that carries out any such illegal activity.”

    Well, yes the police are there for those occasions when members of society are not willing to police themselves.

    The fact that a last measure (the police) exists does not however obviate members of society from responsibility to ensure that children and others are not threatened.

    My point about boycott was simple. You are not changing the government’s policy. You are however having an immediate and adverse effect on Jewish members of your community. The fact that there is the police around to make sure that the worst does not (often) happen (i.e., that Jewish members of your community don’t often get murdered) does not mean that you should not take responsibility for doing your part as it were in creating a threatening environment for the Jewish members in your community.

    Regards,

    Inna

  96. Ryan Stokes Says:

    haha – thank you for all of your ridiculous replies. none of you listen to anything i say – a bunch of bigots.

    I have a great Job, a BA and a Masters thanks you very much zumb and Bill – i wonder what you both do? Does it really matter?

    Jacob – you don’t sound very convincing – you sure not from Texas?

    You do know more than me about Texas which is why i would never try to go onto a site and discuss something that has happened in Texas because I wouldn’t really know what i was talking about.

    “mighty-white-of-him” acceptance of David – what was that when i said “thanks for your condescending message. You all need to take some more time to read through what i wrote i think.

    Thanks moderator for removing two posts today – wonder why?

    Good bye stubborn people. It was nice trying!!! I will return to talking to my subconscious Anti Semite friends and continue with my subconscious Anti Semite way of thinking.

  97. Inna Says:

    “according to Inna it is vital to not critisize Israels Precision and morals in its campaing on Gaza so that stones are not thrown at Primary schools.”

    Please point out where Inna said that? I was simply pointing out that the widespread and very passionate demonization of Israel is (according to the boycotters) creating a hostile environment where (again according to the boycotters) it is “understandable” when 6-year old children are harassed and abused.

    I am simply repeating the boycotters’ argument to you, Ryan. Feel free to disagree with it.

    Regards,

    Inna

  98. Mira Vogel Says:

    Late to this thread today – look, when reasoning with somebody isn’t working well but they are still trying to engage, don’t you (those who called him names) think it’s important not to antagonise them?

  99. Ryan Stokes Says:

    yes Mira – your probably right – this all makes me upset – im not going to post on here anymore.

  100. modernityblog Says:

    Ryan,

    if you want, we’ll donate some read material so that you can better inform yourself on these issues?
    🙂

  101. Jacob Says:

    “haha – thank you for all of your ridiculous replies. none of you listen to anything i say – a bunch of bigots.”

    “Jacob – you don’t sound very convincing – you sure not from Texas?”

    I think I’ll move to Texas just to make your right. Till then, though, you’ll have to stay young and ignorant.

  102. NIMN Says:

    Mira,
    I have the upmost respect for you.
    But the fact is Stokes refuses to engage. Every question of antisemitism that inheres is certain of his thought he merely say “let’s leave that behind”. Well, that’s not good enough.
    He constantly demands that “we” speak about Israel and not antisemitism. He refuses to countenance any connection between certain forms of antizionism and antisemitic tropes – a point ilustrated by his dichotomy between “real antisemitic events” and the types of issues raised here.
    He thinks, a. that “we” are all apologists for the IDF; he thinks that “we” are all Israeli; he thinks “we” are all “yes-men”; he thinks we are all “bigots”.

    Dialogue is a two way street!

  103. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Not having previously contributed to this thread, I feel able to suggest that, whatever Mira might wish to believe, it is Ryan who appears to be the greater sinner here. Most commenters are trying to suggest to Ryan that there are alternative ways of approaching the “problem” of Israel and his is, as presented, counter-productive.

    Many posters _have_ offered constructive suggestions to him, but he resorts, in his penultimate post, to name-calling.

    I don’t see Bill’s comment, fo instance, of “Too smart to study, too dumb to learn” as name-calling. Suggestive of a particular pattern of behaviour, yes. Name-calling, no.

  104. Mira Vogel Says:

    I don’t want to pontificate, but I feel bad that 100 comments have been made, most of which have been directed to Ryan, who I thought tried to be open and responsive, was hastty, became frustrated, bounced back a few times, but ultimately left upset and hardened. Perhaps this was inevitable, because of his views – clearly he formed a conclusion that we are all self-centred and cosmicly neglectful – the concept of a single-issue campaign was hard to communicate. At the same time he was debating with 8 or 10 people simultaneously. People are liable to blend into one – after all, they all look the same on here. They look like paragraphs. (I might enable avatars, perhaps.) I’m not surprised things went a bit tits up.

    I don’t mind so much if he got the hump and left because he was losing – I suppose I would just like to be able to say with confidence that it was not ridicule that inflamed him and drove him away before things subsided on their own. I see Engage comments as partly a place where people protest, commiserate, let off steam – and also a place to try to develop persuasive arguments. Persuasive, concerned, understanding, rather than merely rational, because isn’t it at the heart of our arguments that antisemitism and, often, anti-Zionism are not rational, but reside in something else – a deep suspicion, a utopian yearning, a sense of grievance – that kind of thing? There’s no reason to expect just being rational – appealing to sense or logic or facts – to do the trick. That’s the frustrating thing.

  105. Inna Says:

    Mira-

    I have seen this sort of thing happen on forums before. Once I made a friend of a person who was in much the same position as Ryan and we kept up an e-mail exchange until he moved and then we lost touch. I also have been in a similar position over an environment-related issue that I felt quite strongly about.

    In both cases the behavior of the individual (myself included I’m afraid!) was not terribly gracious. I know I was not at all happy to have been shown to be wrong and in a public setting at that. But in both cases, minds were changed.

    I still feel that we need to do more to control green house emissions but I think that the panacea I had believed was a great boon may actually be increasing green house emissions while costing us jobs. So I guess I changed my mind about that method.

    But it really is hard to admit that you were wrong in the heat of the moment as it were. (At least it was for me.) The real question (IMO) is whether going forward attitudes and/or behavior will change.

    Regards,

    Inna

  106. zumb Says:

    “because isn’t it at the heart of our arguments that antisemitism and, often, anti-Zionism are not rational, but reside in something else – a deep suspicion, a utopian yearning, a sense of grievance – that kind of thing?”

    Yes Mira, you could not be more right.
    That’s exactly why I think arguing with anti-semites is a waste of time. If antisemitism isn’t rational, how would you convince them they’re wrong?
    Sorry, but I don’t feel bad Ryan Stokes is unhappy and frustrated.

  107. Mira Vogel Says:

    I accept that Ryan may feel unhappy and frustrated because he is wrong, and because he has encountered robust objections to his discriminatory attitudes to Jews – I agree with NIMN. I feel bad if Ryan is unhappy and frustrated because he has been ridiculed as dumb, a fool etc – not least because it might prejudice him needlessly against Engage.

    Zumb, I have done zero research into antisemitic attitudes – but while they themselves might be irrational I don’t get the impression the people who hold them necessarily are, wholely. If Ryan was one of the few people who had never changed their position on anything then I’d agree with you. But I hope things are more like what Inna says.

  108. Mike Says:

    Mira – Perhaps if Ryan was more polite and less abusive himself then he might have found it easier to Engage. But he wasn’t. He came to lecture and to mock , not to Engage. Now he’s found the going a bit tougher than he thought (refusing to address issues people have put to him) he’s gone off in a huff. Standard tactic from people who like to “dish it out” but can’t take it.

  109. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Mira, unfortunately, Ryan displays the approach that certain others, equally unhappy with Israel, do when commenting on these threads. They start by making assertions, then repeat these when challenged to produce evidence to substantiate these assertions. Whatever the words they use, however differently they phrase their later comments, this is what they are continually doing.

    Unable or unwilling to do the research and/or the reading they are invited to peruse, they flounce off, often leaving behind a trail of name-calling. In my teaching days, one of my tasks was to persuade students that _reading_ was actually quite important, closely allied with thinking about what they were reading (or other material they were presented with). Of course, I had a degree of power over them: I (and others of like approach) marked their work.

    Nevertheless, Ryan and his ilk appear to refuse to carry out the appropriate measures that would _allow_ a proper debate.

    I have been told I accused the wrong person (an opponent) of saying something here. I trawled back through the comments threads (it _was_ a couple of years ago, there was a lot less to go through!), found I was wrong, and apologised. Similarly, I and others _have_ read and otherwise considered what we have been presented with – and then changed our minds (see Inna above).

    It’s not much to ask Ryan et al to do the same. If they choose not to, well…as Bill says “Too smart to study, too dumb to learn”.

  110. modernityblog Says:

    Mira, you wrote:

    “There’s no reason to expect just being rational – appealing to sense or logic or facts – to do the trick. That’s the frustrating thing.”

    But there is a wider problem, if highly educated individuals, like Ryan, cannot substantiate their heart felt belief in a boycott of Israel by reason, logic or evidence then it is entirely permissible for people to question why and on what basis that such a belief has been arrived at?

    Further, when someone holds a strident and aggressive view, and one which they wish to foist on others, then it is perfectly reasonable to question them, to scrutinise that view and see if it is the product of ignorance, prejudice or animosity.

    That applies to political fanatics, someone at Speaker’s Corner or even pro-boycotters.

  111. Mira Vogel Says:

    Yes Mod. But it wasn’t just questioning and scrutiny – somebody called him dumb, somebody called him a fool, somebody earlier called him a weasel. If this kind of thing is avoided (relieving though it is) then we will have a better understanding of where we stand.

    (Ryan in turn called us all bigots, paranoids and liars, and attributed to various commenters here patently invalid assertions which could have been easily checked out. I have what I think is an appropriate double standard – I’m more concerned about tactics of those of us who are trying to reason/persuade against antisemitism than against people who are – perhaps unwittingly – purveyors of it.)

  112. Mira Vogel Says:

    OK, I have taken some measures rather than continuing this futile lament.

    I have shown avatars (little pictures attached to commenters who have accounts) – if you go to WordPress and set up an account with a pic (you can select just a username rather than a blog if you like), this should make it easier to follow an individual’s contributions. (Also enabled Gravatars, for those who know or care – you can get a little avatar without setting up a WordPress account).

    Also towards this end, I have enabled threaded comments (a recent WordPress innovation).

  113. Bill Says:

    Mira

    I’ll gently put you on the spot here, and I’ll divorce this from the local issue at hand since it has broader implications.

    “I have what I think is an appropriate double standard – I’m more concerned about tactics of those of us who are trying to reason/persuade against antisemitism than against people who are – perhaps unwittingly – purveyors of it.)”

    Double standards are never appropriate. And you don’t get the PR boost these days you used to get when you play it to your disadvantage. We all crawled out of the primordial goo at the same time, and in this globalized era, facts are at our fingertips with a little due diligence (at lest for those of us in western democracies). There’s no excuse, the age you could get away with the myth of the Noble Savage (especially when they drink grande mocha frappaccinos) has passed. I really do appreciate your need to take the high road, but therein lies the danger of expecting you and yours to “rise above everything” while holding your and our “adversaries” to a lower (or worse still, no standard).

    Such is the case for Israel in world opinion. And as we all know, such is the case for Israel’s defenders, even it’s honest and critical ones. We are expected to be collegial. Yet in contrast they can bully, violate RRA (yours) and equivalent laws elsewhere and then play the victim and then get sympathy and solidarity. David when debating Karmi, must accept Israels flaws; Karmi need not even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. They can engage on horrible vicious street theatre, while even protesting religious inspired terrorism can be turned into an actionable offense. We are scrutinized and disbelieved on every well articulated and researched argument. They can use “fautography” and forgeries and have what Linda Hunt (I think) once called “reporters of interests.” And so on… And then there is that The Lobby thing.

    Once again, I recognize and sympathize the need to be seen wearing the white hat and getting the girl at the end of the day. But it’s become so increasingly futile to fight the good fight against so-clearly dishonest opponents and their enablers that I’m thinking a black cape a mask and a rapier would look damn good on some of us — and Antonio didn’t do too bad for himself either. (Its not like I’m asking to be an Our Man Flint villain or anything — not that a volcano lair wouldn’t be nifty.)

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Bill, I stand by it. I want the people who are making antisemitic arguments to have bad tactics and I want those of us who oppose those arguments to have good tactics.

      (It’s not really a double standard, is it).

      Anyway, thanks for that – point taken on board, and now I have to go.

      • Bill Says:

        I’m putting my participation on this thread to bed too but in parting this thread,

        Yes, it’s great that we have good arguments and they have bad arguments. And normally, and to be true, here as well obviously, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. But when we present our good arguments and they then cry foul (e.g., “You’re violating my academic freedom to make my personal boycott of one a boycott for all of us whether you like it or not” as one example that we all have come to know) and then they pretty much get away with it (of course one of them just [finally] got her comeuppance!), … well I think you can see the fatigue and exasperation of which Modernity below speaks.

  114. modernityblog Says:

    Mira,

    I appreciate that point about calling people names, but surely if someone was, hypothetically speaking, proposing a boycott of the Irish Republic, or even Scotland (for whatever reasons) then I imagine that the responses would be a bit stronger than being called “dumb, a fool or a weasel”?

    Sentiments run strong on this issue, both sides.

    So whilst I probably wouldn’t use those words on this blog I could understand why they might be used, particularly against highly educated people like Ryan, who stubbornly refuse to engage with the counter arguments of their interlocutors.

    I can fully sympathise with the frustration of trying to debate ill-informed pro-boycotters, but receiving little response. A degree of exasperation is to be expected in these circumstances.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Mod (sorry to be brief) – anger about antisemitism and prejudiced hyper-scrutiny of Israel is appropriate (necessary, I’d say). Exasperation and frustration are something else, though – I just think that they complicate and undermine arguments, although I sympathise.

      Not that I want Engage to be a lifeless place without satire, or weirdly pleasant like Annette Bening trying to sell houses in American Beauty. No.

  115. NIMN Says:

    Mira,
    I understand and fully respect your points.

    I think that it is unproductive to continue discussing this point here and now. We have strayed a long way from what this orignial post was about, and I do not see why relfections on Stokes should do that.

    May I suggest that if poster’s find themselves in a similar position, we take on board Mira’s comments.

    I, for one, will now think twice about caliing someone a fool.

    It may well have been an accurate presentation, but, as Mira said, why sink to the level of one’s opponents.

    Best,
    NIMN

  116. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Anyway, there are all sorts of methods of labelling people without ever resorting to invective. Bill’s “Too smart…” is one, always demanding evidence and argument, and _keeping_ on demanding this is another.

    And we we can always make it clear that if we forget ourselves, the moderators/editors are free to edit us.

  117. Ryan Stokes Says:

    The truth is that i only resorted to such language because of the way i was being strung up by so many posters, many of whom i think joined the conversation very late and didnt read all i had to said – I didnt want to end up in a slagging match – Jacob does frustrate me and i feel bad about insulting him (he does ignore everything i say though – when i answer him and told him i dont support hamas and gave him reasons for why i dont boycott Gaza – i actually did try quite hard to address most of what people said, even him) – Apart from Jacob youll find i didnt insult anyone else until i was insulted – and i only really got into such language with him because it is his tone that is so aggressive and arrogant. I kept on asking you all questions on the other hand and was only presented with questions by yourselves and never any answers – I may even be wrong but its so difficult to try and make a point here without being told to get a job, have ones ideals ridiculed, called dumb – a fool.

    To be quite honest guys as i had said – i am genuinly interested in the questions i asked you because they form the basis of my opinion and it would be good to hear your views.

    And Everyone keeps on asking why i am talking about Israels actions and not Anti Semitism or Hamas’s actions – but i have told you that I do not support Hamas, that i believe they are terrorists, that Israel has the right to protect itself – but that i disagree in the way it is doing it. But the article above all these posts is about Boycotting Israel – and as people who boycott Israel are concerned with Israels actions that is why i am speaking about it. I can honestly tell you i dont want to insult any of you and i started off in good faith – but then the majority of you ignored trying to answer my questions in any polite fasion and instead chose to attack me – to be quite honest i think the conversation was productive untill all the newcomers arrived – especially Jacob.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      OK then Ryan, could you do me a favour – summarise your questions and post them below as a comment?

      My plan is to try to weave a systematic response to each of your questions out of what has already been said above, and make into a separate post. I can’t do it immediately, but if you would summarise your questions, then I’ll get started when I can.

      Meanwhile, I want to strongly discourage anybody else from continuing with this thread.

      I’ll wait for your list of questions, Ryan.

      • Ryan Stokes Says:

        Ok Here are my questions:

        Im going to start with the sign that Chris put up.

        1. Why exactly was putting up the sign Anti Semitic? Is it because Israel should not be be associated with all Jews? I can understand this completely but now Chris has told you his motives for putting up the sign were not Antisemitic and rather an attempt to declare he was not making this Anti Semitic affiliation (He shouldn’t have needed to do it, but he does sound honest in his explanation and has even apologized for putting the sign up) is the act still Anti Semitic, and if not then why is everyone still so critical of it being put up.

        Im not really sure what everyone’s opinions are on boycotts so:

        2. Is a Boycott wrong no matter which country it is carried out upon or for for any reason? is the argument that boycotts are fundamentally wrong because they punish people that have nothing to do with the country? Is a Boycott then never ever acceptable, on an individual or national level? By a person or a government?

        3. If so then is it not that Chris has just chosen the wrong method to criticize Israel. If so then is that not all it is – rather than an Anti Semitic act – If he has professed to you that he has no anti Semitic intentions quite genuinely?

        4. Is it Anti Semitic just because he is not boycotting every other country in the world that is involved in war – Could this not be better interpreted as being biased rather than Anti Semitic if anything?

        5. Would it be possible to give equal attention to everything?

        6. How does one Boycott Hamas?

        7. If Chris was to give equal attention to every single other war and human rights abuse in the world would his boycott then be acceptable and not deemed Anti Semitic?

        8. If not then is it just because of the underlying reasons Chris has for his boycott?

        9. Is it that you believe his belief in human rights abuses occurring is flawed and the only reason he believes in such abuses is because he is Anti Semitic or believes Antisemitic propaganda.

        10. Could his view on the occupation not be wrong in your view but not necessarily Anti Semitic?

        11. If Human rights abuses have occurred even if Israel is defending itself is it not Chris’s right to try to make a change or stand against it even if he doesn’t stand up to anything else (i would imagine he maybe does)?

        12. If others are Anti Semitic but not Chris – should Chris cease his actions because of the possibility of his actions influencing these other people?

        13. Why is that many here seem to believe that because greater atrocities occur Israels lesser atrocities should somehow not be addressed?

        Sorry for so many questions…..

        Regards

        Ryan

        • modernityblog Says:

          Ryan Stoke’s question: 2. Is a Boycott wrong no matter which country it is carried out upon or for for any reason? is the argument that boycotts are fundamentally wrong because they punish people that have nothing to do with the country? Is a Boycott then never ever acceptable, on an individual or national level? By a person or a government?

          [I will prefix my comments on the above question by stating that I am not connected to Engage, just an occasional reader and I’m not even an academic, not a graduate, just interested in the Middle East and antifascism, so I will answer the question in my own way.]

          I think the acceptability of a Boycott is based on its selection and why. That is the most fundamental argument that rational people can make on the subject, if you’re going to pick something whatever it is, you have to substantiate your selection criteria logically.

          If you were to select any country for Boycott then the criteria by which you choose that country should be as substantive as possible.

          Otherwise, they would always be the question of a selective selection, picking a particular country not because it failed or met certain criteria but rather because of a bias against that particular country, and in all probability its occupants.

          So the selection and its intellectual justification are key elements in any discussion of a Boycott.

          If the selection cannot be substantiated by reason or evidence then the motives for selecting that particular country are brought into question.

          For example, if you were to create objective criteria such as, boycotting the country with the highest level of State sanctioned death penalties, then there would be no natural bias in that choice as the number of capital punishments carried out vary from year-to-year and from country to country.

          On the other hand, if you chose to Boycott a country simply because its capital is Beijing, then that would be a manufactured criteria and thus invalid.

          So when picking a country, for Boycott, the criteria for that choice comes under scrutiny and unless or until those pushing a particular Boycott can intellectually justify, based on reason, logic and evidence, their criteria for a Boycott then the motives and choice will be questioned.

          I hope that answers the question sufficiently, and you will notice that the method applies in nearly any circumstance.

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          With respect to Ryan’s Question 2 including “is the argument that boycotts are fundamentally wrong because they punish people that have nothing to do with the country?“. Boycotts do punish people – they ostracise and exclude. Getting support for them involves the creation, in the public mind, of a pariah. Jews have a (recent) history of this which, in combination with the singling out that Modernity has identified just above, leads to a suspicion that there is more to boycott than there seems to be (even to the people who are campaigning for it).

          This suspicion is also strengthened by the apparent neglect of any discussion about how boycotts are expected to effect change, what those who are boycotted can do to lift the boycott, and the circumstances under which it should be lifted. Israel is not like South Africa in many important respects and it is not at all self-evident that boycott would work. It is debatable whether it worked in South Africa, either – there were certainly many other unrelated political forces at play.

          And if nobody cares about how boycott would work, why this intense, persistent eagerness on the part of so many to pursue boycott, and the punishment of ordinary Israelis it is felt to represent?

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          Further to my 5.28 comment, David Hirsh made a comment on another thread which is relevant to Ryan’s Q2. He says:

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

          I feel the same.

          Israel is part of Jews.

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

          And that is dangerous.

          And it doesn’t do any good.”

        • Ryan Stokes Says:

          The last comment on this thread has got me thinking Mira – It makes me then wonder – that if this is the case as you and David put forward – Would it not be that any criticism of Israel would automatically be taken as criticism of Jews if Israel as you are implying represents Jews (or most of them as you state). I didn’t believe this was the case or that that is what you and David thought.

          I believed that you were trying to state that the mistake all of such critics was not that people were criticizing Israeli policies but that they were incorrectly affiliating these policies with Jews – or that the reasons behind their criticism was their Particular dislike of Jews.

          But then what you have just said implies that it is wrong not just to boycott Israel but to direct any criticism whatsoever towards Israel because the majority of Jews – even if they are not Israeli feel as if Israel represents them in some way. Would this not mean then that those addressing Israel in any way, even complementing it, would be addressing Jews.

          I think I maybe have misunderstood your post?

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          Ryan, re your Mar 26 2.15 post (please reference posts if you can – I wasn’t a hundred percent sure which you were referring to):

          “Would it not be that any criticism of Israel would automatically be taken as criticism of Jews if Israel as you are implying represents Jews (or most of them as you state)”

          I am interested in how you got that impression. No – definitely not – that would be very wrong because it would forestall criticism of Israel. States do need critics.

          Jews and anti-racists with a sense of history, though, have a particular vigilance and sensitivity, which is formed by centuries of Jewish experience in the world. This vigilance leads to certain demands about criticism of Israel (the now-controversial largest Jewish collectivity) – that it should be pertinent, well researched, balanced, not selective about human rights or international law (i.e. based on universal values). Not biased. Part of not being biased involves engaging with both sides of a conflict. It doesn’t mean not being partisan – I think that it’s ok to stand up for Palestinians when they are subjected to Israeli aggression, as long as there is no attempt to minimise Palestinian aggression. It is also valid, for activists/organisations which are disproportionately or selectively interested in Israel, to wonder why Israel? I think there is way too much intense, selective, hostile, uninformed interest in Israel to explain away without bringing up antisemitism. I realise that many activists don’t see themselves as part of a bigger movement – we on Engage are following this movement and we see links.

          I gave a list of just a few of the many organisations and individuals, far above which make trenchant criticism of Israel. This criticism sticks close to notions of rights, law, conflict resolution and Israel’s departure from these things. One specific example is Gisha’s work on freedom of movement.

          This kind of criticism does not exceed itself by attributing Israel’s problems to its Jewishness, as Chris did when he referred to Israel as ‘fascist’. That’s when criticism curdles into antisemitism, and when antisemites become attracted to a movement. Not inevitably – but often.

          All for now – but I will make something out of this huge thread, based round your questions, next week.

        • Ryan Stokes Says:

          Sorry Mira – im refferring to the post right above my one – the one that was last in this thread.

          March 24, 2009 at 5:47 pm

          where you say:

          “I feel the same.

          Israel is part of Jews.

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

          And that is dangerous.”

          and you quote David saying:

          “I feel uncomfortable about the idea of boycotting Israeli goods. That’s because I am Jewish and Israel feels a part of me”

          I was wondering how, if this is the case, you could replace the word boycott for criticism without it also referring to Jews.

          if Israel is part of Jews as you say here then surely this means that if you criticize Israel you are criticizing Jews.

          I think I have misunderstood you or that this comment can be easily misinterpreted.

          Were you answering in relation to that post or did you think i was referring to another post?

          Regards

          Ryan

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          Ryan, I see – it’s my use of speechmarks that let me down. The entire thing there (from “Elisabeth” to “doesn’t do any good”) was David’s quote.

          “I was wondering how, if this is the case, you could replace the word boycott for criticism without it also referring to Jews. if Israel is part of Jews as you say here then surely this means that if you criticize Israel you are criticizing Jews.”

          I suppose I’d say a) that criticism – even sharp criticism – tends to be positive, and b) no good criticism of the state of Israel could be confused (except by people with prejudices of their own) with criticising Jews in general. It’s the bad criticism – or punitive non-criticism like boycott – which is felt to be hostile and threatening, not the good criticism.

          I think an example of good criticism is the Foreign Office’s over labelling of settlement goods. The Foreign Office wants the occupation to end, and has – late – found a way to reinforce this which won’t animate a single antisemite. Its action is to insist that the terms of an existing trade agreement be kept, in a way which allows customers to distinguish settlement products and exercise choice. I don’t know of anybody who has a problem with this. (Famous last words…) And here is some related horrible activism campaigning for the same thing – but extrapolating to call for a general boycott of Israel.

        • Ryan Stokes Says:

          sorry – i only repeat the question because im not asking you wether it is ok to criticism Israel which you have made clear it is but about the particular comment about the affiliation of Jews in other parts of the world taking offense at boycotting Israel because they feel it is part of their identity.

        • Ryan Stokes Says:

          sorry – terrible spelling there – in a bit of a rush.

          Regards

          Ryan

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          I haven’t forgotten about this, by the way.

  118. Jacob Says:

    Since Ryan has again invoked my name, I therefore get to respond briefly one more time.

    Ryan, you seem obsessed with me. In any case, you I responded to you as I did because I find your responses a little disingenuous.

    I have no problem with your criticism of specific Israeli policies as I and others here have also done so.
    I also have no problem with your criticism of the way Israel took action against the attacks from Gaza.

    I do have a huge problem with your insistence against the evidence that anti Israel demonstrators are not antisemitic. In short I have a problem with the way you ignore evidence offered you to counter your claims.

    You have a right to your private opinions but not to your private facts.

    Since I want to be brief I’ll stop here.

  119. Sabato Says:

    “Why exactly was putting up the sign Anti Semitic? Is it because Israel should not be be associated with all Jews?”

    Ryan, the sign was in bad taste whether or not it was antisemitic. If I were to visit his café and I saw such a sign I would wish to know what it was about. Wouldn’t you?
    Why did Chris put up a sign welcoming Jews but not Serbians? It is a puzzle, don’t you think?

    “Is a Boycott wrong no matter which country it is carried out upon or for for any reason? “

    Well, it depends on how it is carried out. Boycotts of countries are not usually effective. Boycotts make boycotters feel better that’s all. Hence, the question to ask is, why boycott a country? On the other hand,
    boycotting of minorities are an effective way of isolating them. Jews are a minority and have faced many boycotts in its history. This is why they are so sensitive to the idea of a boycott of Israel.

    In boycotting Israel you are saying, that Israel responsible for the conflict it faces with its Arab neighbors. You are also saying that the Arabs are not to blame. If you don’t feel that way, why don’t you boycott the Arab States who refuse to make peace with Israel along with Israel?

    “Is it Anti Semitic just because he is not boycotting every other country in the world that is involved in war – Could this not be better interpreted as being biased rather than Anti Semitic if anything?”

    Well, antisemitism is bias directed at Jews.

    “How does one Boycott Hamas?”

    “If Chris was to give equal attention to every single other war and human rights abuse in the world would his boycott then be acceptable and not deemed Anti Semitic?”

    Yes, if he were to condemns British actions in Afghanistan, or Russian’s in Chechnya, or China’s in Tibet, or American in Iraq, or Iran’s squashing of dissent and would proceed to boycott these countries then his boycotting Israel would not be antisemitic.

    “Could his view on the occupation not be wrong in your view but not necessarily Anti Semitic?”

    It could but let’s stipulate that one can criticize Israel’s behavior in the West Bank and not be antisemitic. Still one can be right about this and still be antisemitic. Chris hates the occupation, George Galloway hates the occupation. Chris may not be antisemitic but George surely is antisemitic.

    “If others are Anti Semitic but not Chris – should Chris cease his actions because of the possibility of his actions influencing these other people?”

    That’s up to Chris to decide. If he decides that his actions could lead to an increase in antisemitism and he says that he doesn’t care, well then draw your own conclusion.

    “Why is that many here seem to believe that because greater atrocities occur Israels lesser atrocities should somehow not be addressed?”

    I don’t know any one who thinks that. It’s the addressing of wrongs done by Israel’s policies but the way they are addressed that is the real issue.

  120. David Says:

    David Hirsh draws the following comparison:

    “Chris from Cafe Crema: “Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it…”

    “David Irving: “You have been disliked for 3000 years. You have been disliked so much that you have been hounded from country to country from pogrom to purge, from purge back to pogrom. And yet you never ask yourselves why you are disliked…”

    How can you make such a bogus comparison. You are way off base with that one dude, way off.

  121. richard millett Says:

    Wow, according to Ryan, someone is not anti-Semitic if they say they aren’t. This is the same Ryan who believes the Independent’s reports on intentional killing of Palestinians in Gaza by the IDF without waiting for any kind of investigation. Ryan seems to take everything at face value. I trust that this amazing job that Ryan talks about having is not in the legal sector.

  122. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Perhaps the moderator will permit me to tell a story in response to Ryans first point in his latest posting. He says:

    “Why exactly was putting up the sign [by Chris] Anti Semitic? Is it because Israel should not be be associated with all Jews? I can understand this completely but now Chris has told you his motives for putting up the sign were not Antisemitic and rather an attempt to declare he was not making this Anti Semitic affiliation.”

    This is only part of the quote, but will serve to make my point. Way back in 2005, The Guardian printed an article by Timothy Garton Ash entitled “The Role of Europe in the Rise on Antisemitism in the 20th Century”. The letters that were published following this article were illustrated with a pocket cartoon of an outline map of western Europe overlaid with a Star of David. There ensued a very long email correspondence between myself and, first, the letters editor and then the Readers’ Editor.

    My point was that, essentially, the cartoon was no different from the New Statesman’s “A Kosher Conspiracy?” front cover or The Independent’s “cartoon” of a stars and stripes with the US stars replaced with Magen Davids. _They_ said that as many of the letters concerned the role of Europe in the rise of zionism in the 20th C., this was fine. _I_ noted that that I knew, as a sociologist that the meaning that one person placed on an action, etc, was by no means the only one available, possible or logical. _Their_ final position was that as they hadn’t intended the image as a “lobby” reference, that was alright.

    At this point, I became an ex-Guardian reader.

    Ryan, just because you are convinced of _your_ and Chris’s innocence and rectitude in these matters does _not_ mean that other interpretations of what you (and he) say and mean aren’t equally valid. Some pages back, a link was provided to an article in The Guardian by Gary Younge (a staff reporter there) who said (I paraphrase) that if he was ever accused of antisemitism (unlike many of the other faults he’s accused of), he _always_ stops to consider whether the accusation might just have a grain of truth in it. Becuase he might _just_ have committed the offence in question: unlikely but possible.

    To paraphrase Cromwell (and assuming that you are, nominally at least, a Christian) what we are doing is “beseeching you in the bowels of Christ” that you (and Chris) might just have committed this offence (as I accused The Guardian of doing), and further, that your apparent unwillingness to examine the evidence we have (collectively) directed you to, and/or your apparent unwillingness to present evidence and argument based on that evidence in support of your own views, give rise to suspicions that you are being less than honest in your protestations.

    Hopefully, we are wrong; however, we need convincing.

  123. Paul Milson Says:

    Important article about an anti-Israel boycott:

    “French Jews end dialogue with Muslims”

    Haviv Rettig Gur , THE JERUSALEM POST

    “”We understand the Muslim support for the Palestinians. It’s as natural as the Jewish support for the Israelis,” Habib said. “I was an organizer of a 15,000-person demonstration for Israel [during the fighting].

    “But within the [UOIF] demonstrations there were signs calling for ‘death to the Jews.’ Some of the organizers from respectable organizations were comparing Israel to the [Nazis] in the Holocaust.

    “These are dangerous comparisons,” he said. “Until they apologize – which I don’t think will happen anytime soon – we will have no contact with them.” ”

    and later on:

    “Meanwhile, on Friday a body of French Jewish groups filed a complaint with the public prosecutor of the Bobigny district, northeast of Paris, against a campaign under way calling for local supermarkets to boycott Israeli products.

    The complaint concerned “the invasion of Paris suburban supermarkets by anti-Israel boycotters,” the groups said in a statement.

    They said the language of the campaign – which targeted Carrefour supermarkets around Paris – included “incitement to hatred against Israel” and instigated “anti-Jewish acts in the country.”

    “This boycott campaign should be viewed as a discriminatory and punishable crime, inasmuch as many of the targeted products serve the kosher dietary needs of Jewish citizens,” according to the groups, which included the Simon Wiesenthal Center-affiliated National Bureau Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA), the French Association for Assistance to Israel (SFSI) and the Jewish Communities Council of Seine-Saint Denis (CCJ 93).”

    Read the rest here:

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1237727518980&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

  124. Mira Vogel Says:

    OK, let’s stop now. Ryan has left questions. I will (next week) weave together the various responses and post a summary.

    Would appreciate no more responses here.

    Thanks.

  125. Mira Vogel Says:

    Or if anybody is desperate to continue (because these questions are not extraordinary – they are widespread and they are interesting, and because they do move this conversation along) please address Ryan’s questions, identify them by their number, reproduce the question for reference, try to cross reference with other comments above, and (while it’s reasonable to question the helpfulness of a question) try to avoid making Ryan feel bad for asking them.

    Ryan and those who sympathise with his views – in your turn, please keep in mind that everybody on here has different opinions, and that these are not necessarily the views of Engage. Please also keep in mind that many here (me included) find your views indicative of a wider threat, regardless of your intention, which is clearly the opposite. Cut them some slack.

    Or if people have finished discussing this thread, I will digest it in relation to Ryan’s questions, as I said above. Sorry to flip-flop – I am not (yet) a seasoned moderator. Thanks.

    • Ryan Stokes Says:

      Point taken Mira, I agree and also will try my best not to get involved in any exchange of arrogance or slander anymore – the threads and avatars have made it so much better to handle so many posts – and to answer each question individually – its also great for tracking the conversation – easily seeing the link between posts.😉

  126. Another Observer Says:

    David,
    Can you point to any antizionist rhetotic that you think echoes antisemitism?

    Hirsh’s point is that an antisemitic trope that Jews bring hostility upon themselves was replicated in Chris B.’s comment that,
    “Israel needs to think about why so much of the world is against it…”

    CB’s point also assumes, of course, that so much of the world is “against it”, a point that is often asserted but rarely proven (other than the idea that governments, states, etc, are frightened or frightened off by the “Israel Lobby” from saying what they “really” mean”).

    Thanks

  127. David Says:

    AO, not sure what your question means, but I suspect it’s a leading question. (Leading into the depths of parsing of unintentional implications and circular logic, that is).

    There are lots of anti-Zionists who say antisemitic things. But saying that “so much of the world is against” Israel certainly doesn’t merit a comparison with David Irving talking about Jews being hounded from country to country throughout history. That’s a really low blow.

    One might say that Chris’ comment begs the question what “against Israel” means, but if he merely means “hostile to Israel” as one might be “hostile” to the United States (as I assume it to mean) then DH’s comparison is ludicrous and outrageous.

  128. Paul Milson Says:

    “One might say that Chris’ comment begs the question what “against Israel” means, but if he merely means “hostile to Israel” as one might be “hostile” to the United States (as I assume it to mean) then DH’s comparison is ludicrous and outrageous.”

    That’s the real problem, isn’t it, David?

    What does being against Israel mean?

    Many of the so called independent Jewish voices, for example, are not just against Israel, the way “one might be hostile to the U.S. They are against the very idea of Jewish sovereignty.

    This needs to be taken into account when discussing the issue of boycotts. To many boycotters such action is merely a means to an unstated end.

  129. Noga Says:

    “To many boycotters such action is merely a means to an unstated end.”

    Khaled Abu Toameh:

    “The so-called pro-Palestinian “junta” on the campuses has nothing to offer other than hatred and de-legitimization of Israel. If these folks really cared about the Palestinians, they would be campaigning for good government and for the promotion of values of democracy and freedom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Their hatred for Israel and what it stands for has blinded them to a point where they no longer care about the real interests of the Palestinians, namely the need to end the anarchy and lawlessness, and to dismantle all the armed gangs that are responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians over the past few years.”

    http://www.hudsonny.org/2009/03/on-campus-the-pro-palestinians-real-agenda.php

  130. Gordon Hodgson Says:

    Did Chris really imply that his boycott of American goods led to regime change?

  131. Paul Milson Says:

    ” It makes me then wonder – that if this is the case as you and David put forward – Would it not be that any criticism of Israel would automatically be taken as criticism of Jews if Israel as you are implying represents Jews (or most of them as you state). ”

    Ryan, the issue is boycott, not criticism. Boycotts tends to be general and affect individual people not associated with their government’s policies, sound criticism is specific and is aimed at certain policies.

    Boycotts delegitimize, constructive criticism does not.

  132. Bob Says:

    Just a minor footnote to the debate, especially question 7: in fairness (?), Chris claims he boycotted American goods in the Bush period (although he never put up a sign saying so, nor even one that said Americans were welcome). If that’s true, does that make a difference?

  133. Nora Says:

    Good parody, Bob.

    I admire Mira’s attempt to convince through fair debate that boycotting Israel is not the way to go.

    I am afraid though that not every one will be so convinced. I dont think that Ryan Stokes is capable of changing his mind since he trapped in his self righteous stance.

    Whatever convincing arguments one presents him with he will still try to find a way to rebutt them. As was noticed above he even tried to change the subject from boycotts to criticisms.

  134. Ryan Stokes Says:

    Nora – im not being self righteous – im asking questions and trying my absolute best now not to presume anything or attack anyone anymore. We all have views and that’s why we are here discussing them.

    If you look at the particular post and Mira’s reply you will see that I was only asking for clarification of her and David’s statement and was not rebutting her.

    Try – as I am trying to do now – to not see questions as an attack but rather an attempt at gaining insight into another persons opinion.

    This is a whole lot easier if we avoid arrogance or slander.

    Before I have pandered to such statements and even made such statements myself – this usually ends up in us insulting each other and the debate breaking down. We dont really know each other or exactly what each others opinions or intentions are. I have come to the conclusion there is no point in us making such presumptions of each other based on a few posts as it is counterproductive for all of us.

    The topic of a boycott is a complicated one and that is why we are debating it and these questions are fundamental to those who are carrying out boycotts – whether in relation to Israel or any other country – so put your view forward – answer my questions if you want to prove to me your point of view.

    I would also say – try to avoid answering a question with another question unless it is clearly related as we all seem to drift off into unrelated directions very easily when this happens.

    If my mind was made up and I was not interested in hearing your or the views of anyone else I would not be posting anything on this site – and I have posted a great deal and tried to answer many questions.

    Remember that all of our opinions may be flawed in one way or another and be open to question your own opinions as I guarantee you I am open to questioning mine. If you stick to answering my questions and I stick to answering yours we can both reassess each others views, and even if we don’t change our opinions it is still a healthy and productive process.

    These comments are all not directed to you Nora but to the majority of people posting on this site. I think we can all have a much better debate if we stop trying to prove each other wrong in an arrogant fashion.

    Regards

    Ryan

  135. Nora Says:

    Ryan, all your leading questions beg the question of why should you want to boycott Israel in the first place. What has this country done to you that you should be so determined to see it ostracized and its people defamed?

    In what way is Israel guilty of a boycotting offense? Is it because it is guilty of defending itself from attacks on its civilians? Or is it because it is guilty of existing?

    I see no point in debating any of your questions until you tell us that.

    • Gil Says:

      Nora, I just want to mention that in fairness to Ryan he has said explicitly in one of his posts that he: 1. Supports Israel’s right to defend itself (albeit not in the way she does so). This implies that he supports Israel’s right to exist.

      2. That he doesn’t support Hamas and Hizbullah.

      This doesn’t detract from the importance of the rest of your questions.

    • modernityblog Says:

      I echo Nora’s point, if Ryan (and others) are incapable of logically explaining their selection of Israel as the object of an international boycott, bearing in mind that the world contains over 190+ nations, and specifying their objective criteria for such a selection, then others might assume that the pro-boycotter’s actions are either motivated by:

      1) political malice
      2) an entrenched ideology
      3) following a fad
      4) some irrational loathing
      5) bias
      etc

      Now that might not be the case, but until pro-boycotters can explain themselves, logically and employ evidence based reasoning then those doubts will remain.

  136. ChrisCafeCrema Says:

    Contributors to this blog can’t have failed to notice, in recent months, the wave of goodwill towards America that has washed around the world since the election of Mr Obama. It turns out that an awful lot of humanity didn’t have ‘anti-Americanism’ flowing through its veins; just anti-Bushism, and revulsion at aggressive/paranoid US foreign policy. President Bush was fond of saying ‘They hate us because they hate our freedom’ when the truth is that the majority of us don’t give a damn about their ‘freedom’(and many of us love a great deal of American culture – in my case, much of the music); it’s what the US army, and other representatives and allies, do to other nationalities that counts. If Israel were to change its course, it might find the same. I grant you that Israel changing its course is about as unlikely as a black President of the USA.

    There’s far too much on this site for me to respond to, and Café Crema’s even become famous enough to merit an article in the Jewish Chronicle (who appear to wish to perpetuate the myth that we put out a sign – perhaps outside the café – saying ‘Jews Welcome’.) But think on this: after all the criticism, I am more entrenched in my position, of boycotting Israel, than ever. Statements defending Israel’s actions serve only to convince and comfort others who hold similar opinions. This is a fair enough purpose for them to serve; it’s a bit like going on a demonstration – they never achieve anything (even when there’s a million of you) but it’s nice to spend time amongst a large number of kindred spirits. I should know, I’ve been on enough.

    We are not excluding Israelis, David, from Café Crema. I have debated our boycott with Israeli customers before, and will happily do so again. Although I am better informed about the history of Israel/Palestine, going back to the early 20th Century, than I ever was about Apartheid South Africa (and I believe I turned out to be right about that, and the need to boycott it, Thabo Mbeki notwithstanding) I don’t have hatred of Israel etched into my bones, I just hate what it does to the Palestinians. I wouldn’t feel excluded from a café that boycotted British products, on the grounds of the Iraq war or anything else. And when I’ve been in the West Bank, Ireland and Scotland – all places that have plenty of historical reasons to resent the British – I have always felt extremely welcome. People appreciate it when you make the effort to be friendly, against stereotype. I’ve even shared some brief moments of humour with Israeli soldiers. Where there are human beings, there is always hope.

    I’m unlikely to check in on this site very often (although I appreciate the level of debate going on here). With a café to run and a family to look after, I’m surprised I even find the time to write incendiary statements on blackboards. If anyone – Jewish, Israeli or otherwise – would like to continue this debate (loudly or quietly) with me outside of cyberspace, you know where to find me. The message on the board now reads: We don’t use any Israeli products here. This is because of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

    Shalom

    • Albatros Says:

      “We don’t use any Israeli products here. This is because of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians”

      What about Chinese products because of chinese policies towards Tibetans?

      What about Turkey because of turkish policies towards Kurds?

      What about Russia because of russian policies towards Chechnyans or Georgians?

      What about Canada because of Céline Dion?

      Your list of bad countries with bad policies is either too short, or too long.

    • Albatros Says:

      I forgot one question (I cannot debate in your Café for two reasons: a) I boycott shopkeepers who boycott Israelis & b) I live in Montreal)

      You say that good people weren’t anti-Americans, they were anti-Bush, and now they do love Obama sooo much (well, just wait a few more weeks…)

      I guess you’re telling us that you didn’t like Bush’s policy, just like you don’t like Olmert’s?

      Did you, during the 8 years of Bush’s presidency, boycott US products?

    • Nora Says:

      “Contributors to this blog can’t have failed to notice, in recent months, the wave of goodwill towards America that has washed around the world since the election of Mr Obama. It turns out that an awful lot of humanity didn’t have ‘anti-Americanism’ flowing through its veins; just anti-Bushism, and revulsion at aggressive/paranoid US foreign policy.”

      Hi from Canada, Chris. I think it’s premature to say that anti-Americanism has subsided around the world. Here in Toronto there still a lot of hatred towards our southern neighbors on the part of many far leftist intellectuals. I am told that the same is true in Continental Europe.

      “But think on this: after all the criticism, I am more entrenched in my position, of boycotting Israel, than ever. Statements defending Israel’s actions serve only to convince and comfort others who hold similar opinions…….I don’t have hatred of Israel etched into my bones, I just hate what it does to the Palestinians.”

      There is a big difference between defending all of Israel’s actions and boycotting that country. I am critical of some Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, settlements on the West bank, for example, but I am not ready to mount a boycott because Israeli policy isn’t the sole problem.

      The general Arab reaction to the Jewish State and to Jewish life there since the 1920’s has been outlandish discriminatory and they have reacted with violence and pogroms across the region. Even today in Yemen the few thousand Jews living there need government protection because of violent assaults on individuals and property. These are the Jews who decided to stay there after most of the community left for Israel a generation or so ago yet even they as committed as they are to their country are made to suffer for being Jewish.

      Are you ready to boycott Yemen or to express outrage over that, Chris?

      Also the Palestinian Arabs too have to share some of the blame for the violence in the territories.
      While Israel is to blame for some of its policies, it did leave Gaza and dismantles settlements there; the reaction of the Palestinians there has been to mount attacks on Israeli towns.

      The policy of the Israeli government since Oslo has been to accept a two State solution. Arafat refused to sign an agreement negotiated in the US and instead launched the second intifada. Even Netanyahu has said that it is open to further negotiations and Olmert has recently said that Israel will have to offer even more land to the P A than it did in the Taba agreements.

      On the Taba agreements see:

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

      My point is this, the Israeli government, whatever its faults, has been willing to negotiate while the Palestinian leadership has reacted with violence.

      To boycott Israel is to agree with those Palestinians who believe in violence. It is one sided and can only be justified on the grounds of antisemitism.

    • Nora Says:

      Here is a recent article on the situation of the Jews in Yemen, Chris:

      ” Yemen government breaks promises to relocated Jews”
      By David Eden · March 17, 2009

      http://jta.org/news/article/2009/03/17/1003776/yemen-government-breaks-promises-to-relocated-jews

  137. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Chris of Cafe Crema appears to believe that he knows all he needs to about Israel/Palestine. Pity, because he clearly doesn’t. If he reads just one book on Israel/Palestine this year, it should be Benny Morris “1948: The First Arab-Israeli War” (it might be even more valuable to him given that a couple of young Israelis I met here in the UK recently were less than enamoured of Morris than I imagined they would be – they are members of Peace Now).

    To paraphrase the book: Arabs attacked Jews in Palestine throughout the Mandate period, without provocation (Hebron Massacre, anyone?). Then, after the UN Partition Resolution was passed in November 1947 (which the Jews of the Yishuv accepted but the Palestinians and their Arab nation sponsors rejected out of hand), the Hagana, Palmach and Irgun (but mainly the first two) fought a defensive war against the Palestinian militias – and fought them to a standstill. Between March and May 1948, they went on the offensive and destroyed the militias as a fighting force. After May ’48 (the declaration of independence, they then took on and defeated the invading Arab armies.

    So, Chris, the Palestinians and their Arab nation sponsoprs are not exactly innocents here, they rejected the UN Plan and _explicitly_ stated their intention of throwing the Jews into the sea. This does not excuse the later behaviour of the Israelis, but it does put it in context.

    So a little less one-sidedness, please. Or do you prefer to explain World War 2 in terms of UK, US & Russian agression against Germany? And of course there is nothing here of the contemporary antisemitism of Hamas and Hezbollah and _their_ proclaimed intent of killing as many _Jews_ as they can, as well as establishin g an Islamist state “between the river and the sea.”


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