“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.  http://www.hdot.org/

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.