Norman Geras: it doesn’t matter if criticism of israel is antisemitic if it is also antizionist

“I will not say the spirit of the times, but the spirit of a significant sector of contemporary opinion….”

“It doesn’t matter if criticism of and attitudes to Israel are anti-Semitic, so long as they are also anti-Zionist.”

Who thinks this?  Ghada Karmi, Martin Jacques, Seumas Milne, and the editors of the Guardian comment pages.

Read Geras here.

BMI and Airbus wipe Israel off the map – for people flying to certain destinations

See Simply Jews for the story.

Where will the plane land if there is no Tel Aviv?

Where will the plane land if there is no Tel Aviv?

Norman Geras on Antony Lerman’s latest Cif piece


What does Caryl Churchill know about how Israelis bring up their kids?

This is from the comments box on Harry’s Place, written by someone who calls themself “Israelinurse”:

What really annoys me about the Caryl Churchill play is this.

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

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

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

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

Don’t buy from the Jews!

Don't buy from the Jews!

Don't buy from the Jews!

Kenneth Marcus has paper published: “Jurisprudence of the new anti-semitism”

Kenneth Marcus

Kenneth Marcus

Abstract: What is wrong with the new anti-Semitism which is now resurgent across the globe, including on American college campuses? The question is deceptively simple, but it carries considerable resonance. Numerous governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, scholars, and civil rights practitioners have documented the dangers inherent in anti-Semitism’s recent manifestations, both globally and on United States college campuses. Yet many critics still deny its existence, severity, newness, anti-Semitism, or difference from mere criticism of Israeli policies. Moreover, some argue that it is a stratagem devised to silence opposition to these policies. For this reason, it is necessary to demonstrate that persons subjected to the new anti-Semitism are harmed in a manner which should be cognizable to the law. Specifically, it must be shown how some incidents of the new anti-Semitism, which may appear to target Israel rather than individual Jews as such, nevertheless constitute prohibited forms of discrimination against Jewish Americans. Under the conventional rubrics, the question amounts to whether the new anti-Semitism abrogates anti-differentiation or anti-subordination principles. Ultimately, the answer will turn on the extent to which this new phenomenon demeans Jews, encourages anti-Jewish prejudice, and derogates Jews as morally inferior. This Article argues that the new Anti-Semitism achieves these results in part through reracialization processes which stigmatize Jews as morally blameworthy and which mark them for reprisal.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism, Judeophobia, Jewish, Discrimination, Harassment, Civil Rights, Anti-Zionism, Israel JEL Classifications: J71, J78 Accepted Paper Series

Marcus, Kenneth L., Jurisprudence of the New Anti-Semitism (April 10, 2009).  Wake Forest Law Review, Vol. 44, 2009. Available at SSRN:

“Antiracists” think Ahmadinejad was right

“…Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s UN speech on 21 April struck many as obnoxious, but in terms of understanding the 1948 roots of the Middle East conflict he was spot on. Vilifying him may feel good, but it is a diversion form the real issue.”

Ghada Karmi, Author, Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine

“However we may deplore the tone of President Ahmadinejad’s speech at the UN conference on racism, it is difficult to deny the principal facts that he presented…”

Geoff Simons, Author, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Karmi thinks Ahmadinejad was “spot on” in his understanding of the roots of the Middle East conflict.

Simons agrees with the “principal facts” that he presented.

Neither stops to wonder why it is they agree with a genocidal anti-Jewish racist on the central question concerning Jews in the contemporary world.  Perhaps it is just a coincidence?  A stopped clock is right twice a day?

But perhaps there are other lessons to be learnt from the fact that they agree with Ahmadinejad.

And why is the Guardian printing this support for the understanding and analysis of the world’s most powerful antisemite on its letters page?

If people don’t understand what is racist about holocaust denial then they should make use of Deborah Lipstadt’s magnificent website, which is an excellent resource, Holocaust Denial On Trial.

Holocaust denial is antisemitic firstly because denial was part of the crime itself.  Those who were murdered were told that nobody would ever believe that this happened and that nobody would ever know that they even existed.  Denial is not a response to the Holocaust but it is part of the Holocaust.

Secondly because Holocaust denial necessarily assumes that the Jews are sufficiently powerful and sufficiently evil to have invented such a horrible lie and to have made believing it a precondition for acceptability in public life.  It is antisemitic conspiracy theory.

John Strawson

John Strawson

UPDATE – John Strawson adds:

Karmi and Simons rely on ignorance of history  in order to make their case: a case that Ahmadnejad is able to trade on.

“Their” history is that Western guilt for the Holocaust meant that the Jews were given Palestine in order to make amends.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Reading the United Nations documents that led to the partition plan – debate in the General Assembly May through November 1947 and the report of United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) – there are no Western expression of guilt whatsoever. The only speeches that linked the creation of a Jewish State to the Holocaust were from the Soviet Union and Poland.

Indeed what is striking is that despite many anti-Semitic remarks, not one Western country rises to object. The partition plan itself explicitly stated that it was plan for the future of government of Palestine and not a solution to the “Jewish question” – the latter formulation being a reference to the survivors of the Holocaust in displaced peoples’ camps.  Far from guilt there is indifference bordering on callousness.  The Jewish population of between 600,00-650,000 (and 18,000 in detention in in Cyprus) [UN figures]) were of course in Palestine in 1947.

They constituted a clearly constituted a national community.  It is this national identity that the Karmi et al wish to deny. Modern anti-Semitism mainly takes the form of discrimination against Jews as national community – something that the Durban II statement reinforces when it places anti-Semitism between “Islamaphobia” and “Christianophobia.” (draft article 10)

John Strawson

Jacqueline Rose, Jonathan Freedland, David Hirsh ***TODAY***

logoJonathan Freedland, Jacqueline Rose and David Hirsh, chaired by Ned TemkoClick here for details and tickets.

The Guardian production of Caryl Churchill’s Antisemitic Play


Howard Jacobson’s critique is here.

Omar Barghouti: “Do as I say, not as I do”

Omar Barghouti: you boycott, I'll study

Omar Barghouti: you boycott, I'll study

Omar Barghouti is one of the leaders of the campaign for the boycott of Israeli universities.  He is a founder of PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural boycott of Israel.  He says that the boycott of Israel is “a justified form of international intervention… [and] an imperative one as well”. He spends his time hectoring anyone who has anything to do with Israeli academia, telling them that they are collaborating with a racist and apartheid regime.

But Barghouti has decided not to boycott Israeli academia himself.  He is now enrolled to study for a PhD at Tel Aviv University.  What is “imperative” for others is, apparently, not quite so “imperative” for himself.

When an Israeli newspaper asked him for comment he said: “My studies at Tel Aviv University are a personal matter and I have no interest in commenting.”

There is a campaign to persuade Tel Aviv University to expel Barghouti, who wishes the institution nothing but harm, and who routinely libels it around the world.

But the libels are not true.  Contrary to the lies of the boycott campaign, Tel Aviv University is a real university and not some kind of ideological or pro-apartheid institution.  So of course Tel Aviv University does not discriminate against students on the grounds of ethnicity or on the gounds of political commitment and will not expel Barghouti, no matter how many people are outraged by Barghouti’s hypocrisy.

Tel Aviv University is right to uphold Barghouti’s academic freedom.  Perhaps he’ll learn something about what a university is while he has the privilege of studying there.