UPDATE: another exchange between Hirsh and Rose, scroll down
This piece and the following comments come from comment is free.
Antony Lerman: Virtually anything can be said about Israel-Palestine, as Cif contributions and responses show only too clearly. Yet none of the words on any of the blogs hosted by any of the newspapers make a blind bit of difference to progress towards a just solution to the conflict. The power that derives from the barrel of a gun or the bombs of an F16 appears to be what does make a difference, although not to achieving peace. But at some point, if the conflict is ever unlocked on the basis of universal standards of justice, words will have played a central role. I don’t mean in the form of an agreement that fudges fundamental differences, but as a tipping point, in the form of a truth, previously unsayable, that is finally told.
What seemed obvious in Washington, when Prime Minister Netanyahu met President Obama, was that Bibi is a long way from expressing any form of words that might lead to the tipping point. Fevered speculation in the weeks and days leading up to the meeting, as to how he would find some way of doing what the new administration wants and endorse the two-state solution, proved to be just that. Neither the words “independent Palestinian state” nor “two states for two peoples” passed his lips, at least not in public. He can return home the “gever”, a macho hero, who stood up to the Americans.
It is, of course, grossly oversimplifying the issues to reduce matters to a few words not exchanged between Obama and Netanyahu. As if a huge celebratory peace bonfire has been constructed and all we’re waiting for is Bibi to light the match. The disturbing truth is that, despite opinion polls indicating that a majority of Israelis would accept an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, there are powerful forces stiffening Bibi’s resolve so that he will have all the arguments he needs to dictate his solution: economic progress for the Palestinians leading to a situation at some indefinable moment when the Palestinians will be able to rule themselves – but not completely.
According to Ofri Ilani in Ha’aretz, this is the role played by the Shalem Centre, an Israeli neoconservative thinktank, generously funded by American Jewish donors, whose “fellows areIf now sitting in government offices, helping turn abstract research into concrete policy”. Their approach on peace negotiations is summed up in the words of the man who is now the minister for strategic affairs, Shalem distinguished fellow Moshe Ya’alon, a former Israel Defence Forces chief of staff: “The diplomatic process can wait.”
Helping that along will be Michael Oren, Shalem fellow just appointed ambassador to Washington, and Natan Sharansky, author of an arch-neoconservative 2004 book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, warmly recommended by George W Bush. He is about to head the Jewish Agency, one of the arms of government that manages – or some would say manipulates – Israel’s relations with the Jewish diaspora. These people are not looking for short-term impact policy changes. They have been developing their ideas in many thousands of words since the mid-1990s. And they are looking 50 years ahead, aiming to inculcate in government the “world view of the Shalem Centre … neoconservative, Zionistic and based on Jewish culture.”
While the Obama administration is busy undoing the harm done by years of neoconservative thinktank dominance in the USA, the ascendancy of neoconservatives in Israel at just this moment could not signify a more fundamental clash of outlooks.
At one level, this will undoubtedly play itself out in a battle of words, one that will not leave diaspora Jewry untouched or uninvolved. The public positions adopted by the leaderships of diaspora communities around the world demonstrate solidarity with the state and government. American Jewish support for the Shalem Centre and other rightwing intellectual, political and religious forces in Israel is indicative of the important role a certain activist element of diaspora Jews play in propping up an expansionist Israeli stance. And Netanyahu can still rely on the quiescence of the mass of daspora Jews to be able to claim, as all Israeli governments have done, that Israel acts on behalf of all Jews.
But you need hardly dig more than an inch or two to find deep disquiet and confusion following the Gaza war and the appointment of the racist Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister. And some of that concern is being channelled into a form of lobbying that challenges Aipac, philanthropic activity supporting human rights organisations in Israel-Palestine and social activism based on Jewish universalism. These activities represent the growing strain of diaspora Jewish opinion desperate for a new way, which sees the damage being done to Israel and recognises the necessity of supporting Palestinian rights. Might this lead diaspora Jews to find a voice capable of speaking a previously unsayable truth?
A public meeting organised by the London Jewish Community Centre on Monday night titled “Can we talk about Israel?” provides a clue. The discussion was about the limits of what Jews can say when they want to be critical of Israel. The two key voices on the panel, the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland and Jacqueline Rose, professor of English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London, one of the founders of Independent Jewish Voices, demonstrated remarkable unanimity on what Freedland said he dreamed diaspora Jews would one day say to Israel. What prompted his dream was the Northern Ireland peace process, which he witnessed from a key vantage point as Guardian correspondent in Washington during the 1990s – at the same time as Israeli and Palestinian representatives were tramping backwards and forwards through the city busy with their own attempts at reconciliation. He said the key change which broke the deadlock was the pro-Republican, Irish-American community telling Gerry Adams that they had had enough of the terror and the murder. If it continued Sinn Fein-IRA could no longer rely on Irish-American support. That was the point at which the republican strategy changed to embrace the path of peace and led to the Good Friday Agreement.
Freedland’s dream, predicated on the fact that Israel is heavily dependent on the support of diaspora Jewry to legitimise its actions, was that diaspora Jews would finally turn round to the Israeli government and say “Enough is enough. The occupation must end. The Palestinians must have their independent state. If not, however much we are with you, we can no longer support you.” Jacqueline Rose agreed, adding that central to this there had to be a full recognition of the injustice suffered by the Palestinians in 1948. And Freedland accepted this too.
If the tipping point comes and leads to a just peace, perhaps it will be triggered by a form of these true words spoken to Israel by an overwhelming tide of assertive diaspora Jewish opinion.
David Hirsh: I was also involved in the debate but evidently Antony Lerman considers that I was not a “key” voice on the panel.
Whilst I acknowledge Lerman’s apparent dislike of Hirsh (see the recent debate in the letters pages of the JC) it is still reprehensible to erase from the record a third active participant of the panel.
I had really thought that the days of making someone with whom one disagreed a “non-person” had longed been left behind. I guess I was wrong.
Antony Lerman: Jonathan Freedland provided a useful clarification of his comments at Monday night’s public meeting and I’m grateful to him for fundamentally confirming, in his second paragraph, my understanding of what he said.
I think, however, that a little further clarification is necessary in case anyone gets the impression that I distorted his views. I didn’t take a verbatim note of what he said, but as far as I recall, when Jonathan said something along the lines of “Diaspora Jewry must say ‘enough is enough'”, he never used the words ‘behind-the-scenes if necessary’. Similarly, in clarifying that he believes that ‘if the status quo continues indefinitely – the time will come when it will be unable to continue supporting Israel’, he never specifically said, on Monday night, ‘financially’.
More importantly, when he writes: ‘What I did not suggest is that Jews will – or should – make some kind of break from Israel altogether’, it should be clear that I never wrote or implied any such thing. It would, in my view, be absurd in practical terms, given the very large numbers of Jews outside Israel who have relatives and close friends in Israel. But also in terms of achieving the object of getting Israel to change its policies, because a key additional means of doing that must be to support civil society groups in Israel which are themselves working to achieve such an objective.
I’m pretty sure, though, that on reflection, Jonathan would want to revise his italicised reference to ‘financially’, if, as I think we’re supposed to assume, that’s the main threat Diaspora Jews have at their command. He knows full well that the time when the funds given by Diaspora Jews to Israel were crucial to Israel’s survival has long gone. When Yossi Beilin was a minister in the Rabin government that concluded the 1993 Oslo Accords, he went round the world conveying precisely this message to Jewish communities, telling them they should be spending that money on themselves. So the message from Diaspora Jewry would need to be rather more robust than simply telling Israel ‘we’ll no longer be able to support you financially’.
What I found rather disappointing in his comments was his wish to distance himself from Jacqueline Rose. I never wrote, nor assumed that anyone would think for one second, that Jonathan and Jacqueline agreed on everything during the discussion. He made that clear at the time, and she did too. But on the point of Diaspora Jewry saying ‘Enough is enough’, I still maintain that there was fundamental agreement. And to imply – as Jonathan seems to do, but he can correct me if I’m wrong – that Jacqueline’s ‘tone’ was along the lines of ‘a threat to sever all ties’, I believe that he is fundamentally mistaken.
There are surely enough divisions among Jews for it be extremely important for us to make an effort to reach out to others, with whom we disagree on so much, but with whom we can find agreement on some fundamentals, and make common cause to achieve a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict based on justice for all and on universal human rights values.
What is most damaging to the kind of constructive dialogue that I believe Jonathan Freedland and Jacqueline Rose were able to engage in on Monday night, despite serious differences on a number of issues, is the seemingly deliberate distortion of some people’s views, the willful misreading of what some people write, that certain rather vocal individuals indulge in. Jonathan and Jacqueline certainly cannot be accused of such dispiriting behaviour.
Petra MB: A very interesting thread, indeed – particularly since David Hirsh and Jonathan Freedland have shown up to comment. It is certainly very telling that Anthony Lerman thought it’s OK to “erase” somebody he doesn’t much like from the picture — monnie, that might answer the question you asked upthread, and the answer would be: NO, it’s not allowed to disagree with Lerman…
But since Lerman likes psychological explanations a lot (link below), maybe one should try to explain his “erasure” of David Hirsh psychologically – all the more so since, judging from Jonathan Freedland’s comment, Lerman gives a very skewed account of what was said and who agreed with whom. What we do know for sure, however, is that Lerman agrees a lot with Jacqueline Rose.
Which brings me to pretzelberg – what makes you think:
“Mr. Lerman himself supports the state of Israel and is aware that he is on common ground here with most diaspora Jews.”
Indeed, be careful that you don’t find yourself sued for libel.
As to what the real progressive left thinks about Rose, and her admirer Anthony Lerman:
Jonathan Freedland: Apologies if this is getting tedious, but Antony Lerman asked me for “a little further clarification” of my comments, so here goes.
First, he suggests that I used phrases in this thread that I did not utter on Monday night. That’s because, as I hoped I had made clear, I was not seeking in my comment above to provide a transcript, but to explain my own views as they actually are – rather than let CIF readers rely on Tony Lerman’s account of them.
So, yes, my view is that the mainstream diaspora Jewish leadership may find it more palatable to confront the Israeli government “behind the scenes if necessary.” Not the exact phrase I used on the night, but clear from the context that evening – namely, the the precedent set by the Irish-American leadership which, I had said earlier, had approached Sinn Fein-IRA behind the scenes. What was implicit in my remarks on Monday had to be made explicit here.
The same applies to my use of the word “financially.” Here’s what happened. At Monday’s debate I said that diaspora Jewish leaders needed eventually to say “Enough is enough” about the occupation. A member of the audience later asked whether there had been an “or else” in the Irish case: had the Irish-Americans said “and if you don’t change, we’ll cut off the money?” I answered yes – adding that diaspora Jewish leaders might eventually have to say the same. Hence the word “financially.”
In both cases, the words may have been different – and Tony Lerman admits he did not take a verbatim note – but the meaning, given the context, was exactly as I stated it above.
Then Tony adds this:
More importantly, when he writes: ‘What I did not suggest is that Jews will – or should – make some kind of break from Israel altogether’, it should be clear that I never wrote or implied any such thing.
But the view Tony attributed to me was that I dreamed of the day when diaspora Jews would say, “we can no longer support you.” That sounded close enough to making a break from Israel altogether for me to want to set the record straight. Anyway, I’m glad that Tony and I agree that such a call would be, in his words, “absurd.”
Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Tony is disappointed that I apparently “wish to distance [myself] from Jacqueline Rose.” But I don’t just wish to distance myself from Jacqueline Rose, I am distant from her, on one issue after another. That much was clear to everyone in the room on Monday, as has been set out by those who were present and who have commented on this thread. (To quote lipschitz: “I was at Monday night’s meeting and Jonathan Freedland and Jacqueline Rose were most certainly not singing from the same hymn book…as Tony Lerman claims in his article.”)
In his original piece, Tony spoke of “remarkable unanimity” between me and Professor Rose. I’m glad he has now conceded that, in fact, we voiced “serious differences on a number of issues.” She advocated for the academic boycott of Israel and I denounced it. I said the most effective way for diaspora Jews to criticise Israel was for them first to make clear their warm support for the country; she left no doubt she could adopt no such stance. I insisted that Israel’s establishment was legitimate, given the Jewish existential need in 1948. She could not say the same.
Our loudest dispute was over her attempt to claim that the eminent and hugely admired Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg had written something which echoed her own views. I knew the piece in question and I know him – and I insisted that nothing was further from the truth. The quotation had been crudely ripped out of context. I was infuriated by this and, to her credit, Prof Rose withdrew the remark entirely.
She made the same move with the Israeli novelist David Grossman – as she has done before – attempting to claim him as an ally, when he is of course an avowed Zionist and Israeli patriot. On this point, Prof Rose was corrected by the chair, Ned Temko.
I confess this habit baffles me. Why does Jacqueline Rose repeatedly attempt to co-opt as allies people who don’t agree with her at all? I responded to Tony Lerman’s piece because I suspected he was doing the same thing with me, attempting to tell Guardian readers that I now shared a “remarkable unanimity” with Jacqueline Rose. We share, along with many, many Jews, an opposition to the post-1967 occupation – but that, I am afraid, is it.
Jacqueline Rose: Since some of the discussion about Mondays evening JCC debate refers to me I think I should take this opportunity to set the record straight, not least because my position on a number of issues is being, and was on Monday night, so misrepresented.
As I have stated several times in print, I was a reluctant supporter of the last academic boycott. I was never a proponent or organiser of it or involved in the campaign in any way. It was a counsel of despair born of the failure of the international community to exert any pressure on Israel to end the Occupation. It was legitimate in my view only if it targeted institutions and not individuals. Given the change, in many ways deterioration of the situation, the focus now – as it was in the impressive run of university occupations across the country during the Gaza offensive at the start of this year – is rightly on military disinvestment (a number of Universities have agreed to withdraw funds in companies involved in military trade with Israel). Given too the chance or perhaps I should say hopes of a real change in US policy towards Israel – I do not believe now is the time to consider an academic boycott. I have not therefore decided what position I will take should the matter arise again.
So one of the most striking things about Mondays debate and indeed Jonathan Freedlands comments here is the attempt to make me an unequivocal adherent of the boycott policy overall. What I did in the debate was explain why it had arisen – the destruction of Palestinian academic freedom, for example, had to be raised as an issue from the floor – and why under the circumstances it had felt justified, even though imperfect and problematic in many ways. It is as I see it an honourable disagreement. I respect the arguments on both sides of this difficult debate which is more than can be said for some others in this discussion.
On the question of expressing `warm support for Israel. I stated: ` Critique can be part of solidarity. It can be based on the belief for example, one which I hold, that for Israel to continue on its present path will be disastrous, not just for the Palestinians as a people, but also for Israel itself. All my remarks therefore are made in the context of fear for Israels future. This for me is a strongly felt expression of support. What I disagreed with was his use of the word `love. I suggested that the love of those in the Jewish diaspora should not be for Israel to the exclusion of others, but based on a more universal ethic.
Freedland suggests that I `could not say that Israels establishment was legitimate. I have said many times that Israel was born out of the legitimate desire of a persecuted people for a homeland. My point on Monday was something quite different – that the disaster of 1948 for the Palestinian was being glossed over, and even when acknowledged by him, it was – as it felt to me – in passing.
The most serious misrepresentation by Freedland is however in relation to Rabbi Wittenberg and David Grossman. I quoted the following passage from Wittenberg from the latest issue of Jewish Quarterly: ‘I find myself weeping many times over things especially the Gaza war. But my biggest difficulties are with the West Bank, particularly the eviction from houses. Certain anti-Zionist comments are racist, but certain actions of the State of Israel are definitely racist. I’ve heard from people and I’ve seen with my own eyes that they’re not accidental but part of a clear policy of wanting to remove non-Jewish inhabitants from certain key areas. I worry this is part of a process of long-term defeat for Israel. In the end, this is a rabbinic matter, ultimately Judaism is much greater than Israel.’ When Jonathan pointed out that Wittenbergs remarks were indeed framed in the context of stating his love for Israel, of course I accepted his point, but the point I was making still stood, that he was indicating that the question of Judaism was `greater than that of Israel, that the two cannot therefore be equated.
In relation to Grossman, I was not citing him to support my views. I only learn from Grossman and am dismayed that this suggestion is being made again, unjustly as before and with some relish. I was referring to a discussion which I had the privilege of hearing in Seville last summer between Grossman and the Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury when it seemed to me that Grossmans expression of fear on the part of Israelis and Khourys insistence on the trauma of 1948 for the Palestinians were not incompatible narratives as it first seemed but deeply related to each other. This was my thought, what I had learned from listening to these two extraordinary writers. Ned Temko misunderstood what I was saying and accepted my correction which Freedland omits to mention.
Contrary to what he suggests, I do not claim Grossman as an ally, any more incidentally than I was claiming Khoury as an ally. I have also acknowledged more than once that Grossman is a committed Zionist, as Jonathan in fact knows since I said this to him in conversation after Mondays debate. It is Grossmans ability to combine that commitment with the most profound critique of his nations policies which I, like so many, admire.
That David Hirsh should choose to caricature and simplify my views is only to be expected. I would have expected something else from Jonathan Freedland. In fact Antony Lerman is right that Jonathan and I, despite our disagreements, agreed at several points in the evening and by no means only on 1967. Why he should then wish in print so completely to disavow this reality is a question only he can answer.
Jacqueline rose (2009) (above): “I was a reluctant supporter of the last academic boycott. I was never a proponent or organiser of it or involved in the campaign in any way.”
Jacquline Rose (2005): “I think there should be economic and military sanctions against Israel, and an academic and cultural boycott as well. In face of the complete destruction of freedom of speech in Palestinian educational infrastructures, to point to the forms of creative dialogue that might take place across academe is evasive. This is a time for deciding which side you are on, and what you can do to prevent the deterioration of the situation.”
“True, there is a risk of boycott hardening the identity you are trying to open up. But at certain moments you must recognise that you are involved in different kinds of political calculation, and ask: what is being done to end this situation? What forces are being brought to bear? The answer is: none. That is why I feel that it is beholden on academics as a matter of conscience to do something about this, even if it creates something of a mess. ”
Jacqueline Rose on the boycott, Open Democracy, 18/8 2005, http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-debate_97/zionism_2766.jsp
At risk of being again loftily and professorially swatted aside by Jacqueline as “choosing to caricature and simplify her views”, I would also like to point out a couple of inconsistencies in Jacqueline Rose’s argument relating to the boycott.
As demonstrated above, and in spite of her curious denial, she was indeed a clear and enthusiastic proponent of the boycott in 2005.
On Monday she re-stated her support for the boycott but then tried to retreat from that position when it was strongly criticized by Jonathan Freedland and myself.
Firstly she stated her support for co-operative cultural and academic projects between Israel and Palestine such as Baremboim’s orchestra and such as the Olive Tree Project, which brings together Israeli and Palestinian students to study in London.
This is opposite to her 2005 position (above) which was to claim that “to point to the forms of creative dialogue that might take place across academe is evasive…”
When I pointed out to Jacqueline that she had to choose: either boycott Israeli academia and culture, or support joint projects, she insisted that it was possible to do both. She thought there could be some kind of machinery set up to make a decision on which Israelis should be boycotted and which should not, on the basis of their political cleanliness.
In fact, of course, the boycott campaign which exists, as opposed to the one in the mind of Jacqueline Rose, strongly opposes all cultural and academic links between Israel and the outside world on the basis that it normalizes the occupation.
drawnintoit: “That David Hirsh should choose to caricature and simplify my views is only to be expected. I would have expected something else from Jonathan Freedland.”
Of course, this is not the first time that Jacqueline Rose has accused Hirsh of “misrperesentation”.
Her (and Anthony’s) letter in response to the article linked below, begins, “David Hirsh (“Do not confine Israel to the couch”, April 10th) performs the double feat of misrepresenting our views and showing his ignorance.”
I am not sure whether this recourse to claims of “misrepresentation” and “ignorance” rather than engaging with the views of one with whom one disagrees serves as the best good model for the peace and the processes that Rose so desires for the Middle East. Maybe she just thinks that some people are simply beyond the pale. Now, that’s kind of ironic!
Jacqueline Rose: David Hirsh objects to the suggestion that he simplifies my views. Yet he quotes my comments in the opendemocracy interview of 18 August 2005 but for some reason chooses to omit these further comments which I made on the same site two weeks later (September 5).
`In this context to call for a boycott – academic, cultural, or both – is indeed (on this much we agree) a mark of despair. I should have stated in my openDemocracy interview, as I have elsewhere, that I was a reluctant supporter of the Association of University Teachers boycott in Britain, for two reasons: because it seemed inconsistently and somewhat randomly applied, and because I too have the desire to keep open paths to dialogue wherever possible. But imperfect as it was, I welcomed the attempt by academics to do something on the grounds that, at the level of international politics, nothing is being done.
… although I think we should be cautious about any unqualified equation of Israels policies with apartheid South Africa, the experience of the boycott in the latter case has some lessons. It is worth remembering that the supporters of United Nations general assembly resolution 2396 (passed in December 1968) calling for a cultural boycott of South Africa were similarly accused of supporting censorship, of endangering academic freedom, cutting off the black population from much-needed contacts with the west, and alienating the whites.
None of these objections were completely wrong, anymore than are the objections to boycott in relation to Israel. But the boycott against the apartheid regime endured, and it is also worth remembering that – together with the dialogue which flourished with the countrys artists and writers at the same time – it helped bring the regime to its end and lay the foundations for an inclusive democracy.’
http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-debate_97/boycott_response_2800.jsp – 50k –
I continue to be a reluctant supporter of the 2005 boycott, am uncertain – as I say above – about any possible future boycott. Given that the stated aim on Monday night was to promote dialogue, Hirsh’s determination to present my views as unambiguous is as ironic as it is politically dispiriting.
David Hirsh: It is extraordinary of Jacqueline Rose to claim that I somehow mischievously “simplified” her view.
She claimed that she was “never a proponent” of the boycott.
I showed that this isn’t true and that she was a clear and unambiguos proponent of the boycott in 2005. And she was again at the beginning of the debate on Monday, although by the end, she was more ambiguous.
So that I could not be misunderstood, I quoted two paragraphs of hers, from 2005, in which she was clearly a proponent of the boycott.
So that I could not be accused of taking the quotes out of context, as she sometimes does, I provided the link, so that anybody who wanted to see the context could do so at the click of their mouse.
And again, instead of engaging with the issues, Jacqueline Rose chose to make an ad hominem attack against me, claiming that I “simplify” her ever-so-complex and nuanced argument.
What complexity, what nuance? Oh, this complexity, this nuance:
“This is a time for deciding which side you are on, and what you can do to prevent the deterioration of the situation” (quoted and contextualized above)
Well either you support those who are trying to build a movement on UK campuses to exclude colleagues who work in Israel, and nobody else, or you don’t. Jacqueline Rose did.
Does she now? Who knows? Perhaps she should say before UCU Congress on Wednesday?
I suggest that it would have been better for Jacqueline Rose to engage with the issues: specifically with the issue of contemporary antisemitism and its relationship to the campaign to exclude Israeli Jews from campuses.
Nobody is impressed with her refusal to deal with the arguments.
She can insult me as much as she likes, but it does not solve the important questions which relate to antisemitism. And we need to take those questions seriously.
This piece and the following comments come from comment is free.
I also support Palestinian rights and I did so clearly on Monday. I argued that the project to settle the occupied territories was, from the beginning plain wrong, and was also wrong from the point of view of any conception of Israeli self interest. I argued that the occupation has to come to an end and I argued that the occupation requires a regime of racism and violence which is unacceptable.
But Antony Lerman’s telling of what happened at this discussion is twisted to fit the rather eccentric ideological framework which he is trying to build.
Lerman is trying to pretend that there are two opposing Jewish identities, an inclusive “diasporic” identity which respects human rights and an ethnic “Zionist” identity which doesn’t. If Jews adopt the former then they can undercut antisemitism and be happy in Europe. If they cling to the latter then they will be more and more marginalized by antisemites as an alien force in Europe.
Lerman is trying to re-raise “the Jewish Question”.
He co-opts Jonathan Freedland as a good Jew, and he pretends that Freedland was in fundamental agreement on everything important with Jacqueline Rose on Monday. He wasn’t.
Lerman just airbrushes me out of the picture because he cannot fit me into his binary opposition.
Jonathan Freedland: I’m flattered to be identified by Antony Lerman as a “key” voice at the debate he refers to – though he omits to mention the third panel member, Goldsmiths College lecturer and sometime CiF contributor, David Hirsh.
For the record, I should also like to clarify the summary of my views he offers. It is quite true that I urged – and urge – diaspora Jews to play the constructive role leading Irish-Americans played in the northern Ireland peace process at the start of the 1990s. True, too that I look forward to the day when – behind-the-scenes if necessary – the diaspora Jewish leadership says to Israel of the occupation that began in 1967, ‘Enough is enough.’ I even believe that the diaspora has to be able to say that – if the status quo continues indefinitely – the time will come when it will be unable to continue supporting Israel financially.
What I did not suggest is that Jews will – or should – make some kind of break from Israel altogether. On the contrary, I insisted that the power of that initial Irish-American intervention was that those leaders of the Irish diaspora always presented themselves as solid, reliable friends of Irish republicanism. As I put it on Monday night, their message to Sinn Fein was, ‘We love you, we stand with you, we’re never going to abandon you. But this has to stop.’
That is the message I want to hear from the Jewish diaspora to Israel – not a threat to sever all ties, but the kind of firm, yet supportive, advice one family member might give another.
This was not quite the tone Jacqueline Rose adopted or advocated on Monday. She, for example, supports an academic boycott of Israel, which I adamantly oppose. On this, and in several other areas, we took wholly different stands.
Lipschitz: I was at Monday night’s meeting and Jonathan Freedland and Jacqueline Rose were most certainly not singing from the same hymn book (or should that be siddur) as Tony Lerman claims in his article.
I can see that Jonathan Freedland has already said as much, further up the comment chain.
drawinintoit: If Anthony Lerman considers his account of the meeting on Monday as an accurate reflections of its proceedings then I am afraid I cannot believe another word he says.
I am afraid that Rose and Freedland disagreed on many points.