Antony Lerman is misrepresenting the views of UK Jews – again

From Simon Rocker on the JC blog:

In yesterday’s Guardian Antony Lerman had a crack at Israel’s controversial Foreign Minister and leader of the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, Avigdor Lieberman.

Among other things, he wrote: “In the UK, Jewish leaders have been silent on the dangers he represents. Have we heard a peep out of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on the subject?”

Without much difficulty Simon Rocker demonstrates that Lerman’s central claim is just wrong.  Read on.

For the last time Lerman mistrepresented the views of UK Jews, follow this link.

16 Responses to “Antony Lerman is misrepresenting the views of UK Jews – again”

  1. David Rosenberg Says:

    Good that some spokespersons put their head above the parapet with sound statements, although they are not the ones that tend to portray themselves as spokespersons for the community as a whole.

    The ones that do that are the Chief Rabbi (of the United Synagogue) Jonathan Sacks and the then president of the Board of Deputies (Henry Grunwald) who said precisely what about Leiberman?

    Maybe they are still thinking about it.

    Hope some of those that did speak out about Leiberman will also have the courage to speak out about the Palestinian evictions in Jerusalem the other day and the new Israeli Land reform law recently passed by the Knesset which promises more of the same.

  2. Richard Gold Says:

    Hi David

    Was nice to meet you the other week.

    Talking of people speaking out from oragnisations , will you speak out about the disgustign treatment that Steve Cohen received from the editor of JSG when he submitted a paper for discussion on marching with Hizbolla. You’re one of the machas of JSG and it was your editor Charlie who treated Steve disgracefully. So will you look into it and speak out ? I think the Chief Rabbi should grovel and beg , I think you should as well.

    Anyway was still nice to meet you and was good to see future potential Jewish leaders as yourself in the flesh !

    Best , Richard

  3. Richard Gold Says:

    “I would hate myself in the morning” – Steve Cohen

    The quote above comes from Ring Lardner Jr, the famous writer and member of the Hollywood Ten – who were convicted in 1947 of criminal contempt for refusing to cooperate with the House Unamerican Activities Committee. The ten were imprisoned for a year for their defiance. In fact Lardner was one of the few who did respond to a question put to him. The question of course was whether he was or had ever been a member of the Communist Party. To which he replied “ I could answer the question exactly the way you want , but if I did I would hate myself in the morning”.

    I am sure Lardner, whatever his position on Zionism (if he had one) would have responded in exactly the same way to the resolution passed at the NATFHE conference which calls for a “a boycott of those that do not publicly dissociate themselves from” Israeli governmental policies towards Palestinians. It is this imposition of a loyalty test which is so reminiscent of McCarthyism. And of course Lardner did not stand alone. The playwrite Lillian Hellman famously said “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions”. The fact that this year’s fashion –support for the Palestinians – is to be supported whereas old fashioned anti-communism is to be condemned – is irrelevant. The issue here is loyalty tests. It is being forced into making an open and public political statement not out of principle but out of blackmail.

    Loyalty tests have a particular significance when forced on Jews. The significance is the assumption of collective responsibility, of collective guilt. Intrinsic to this is the requirement to grovel. Groveling, the humiliation of Jews, is fundamental to all anti-semitism. Degradation ceremonies are central to Jew-hatred. Remember those shocking images of Nazi Berlin where rabbis were forced to scrub pavements. Likewise it was central to McCarthyism. As the actor Larry Parks said “I would prefer, if you would allow me, not to mention other people’s names. Don’t present me with the choice of either being in contempt of this Committee and going to jail or forcing me to really crawl through the mud to be an informer”. As far as I am aware Larry Parks (who rose to fame playing Al Jolson in the Jolson Story before being destroyed by McCarthyism) was not Jewish. However being a squealie, a snitch, an informer, has always been seen within the Jewish tradition as being an abomination – particularly where the victim of denunciation is another Jew. For what it is worth (and culturally it is worth a lot) it says in Genesis “Though they all be killed they shall not betray a single soul from Israel”. This is one reason why the Kapos (the Jewish guards of the concentration camps) are so reviled. Morally there is no difference between this and loyalty teats – including the NATFHE test (though of course politically NATFHE have not achieved the status of Kapos). Loyalty tests, by blackmailing some into “coming clean” only act to point a finger at others who refuse to submit and who then become subject to a blacklist. And there is no suggestion that Palestinian academics submit to such a test (why should they?). Only Jews (and why should they?).

    Read the rest here

  4. Richard Gold Says:

    BTW Here’s the piece that the JSG editor tried to suppress and also sent nasty emails to Steve Cohen.

    Do you condemn this David ?

    i think maybe you and the Chief Rabbi could grovel together ?

  5. David Rosenberg Says:

    it was good meet you too, when i spoke at Steve’s memorial meeting, which was a fitting tribute to Steve. And it was good to catch up with old friends and former members of the JSG in the north.

    I’d love to say that the intemperate response of the JSG’s internal bulletin editor to a poem that Steve sent in (for which the editor apologised and Steve acknowledged) was anything like as significant as the Chief Rabbi/Pres. of the Board of Deputies failure to comment on the strong vote for an Israeli party led by a “politician” widely condemned as a racist and fascist, and has now been elevated to the Israeli Cabinet, but frankly I can’t. That matter relating to the JSG’s internal bulletin was closed. The case of leiberman is not unfortunately.

    We can have a separate correspondence about the JSG and continue the fight for a better past if you like, but here I prefer to stick to the subject of this thread where David Hirsh said that Tony Lerman misrepresented the community leaders’ responses to Leiberman, and cited an article by Simon Rocker as proof.

    On my reading, Simon’s article actually confirms that the Chief Rabbi and the (then) leader of the Board would not utter any words of condemnation of Leiberman even though they were undoubtedly as well informed as the rest of us about precisely what Leiberman stands for. In that sense Tony Lerman is absolutely right.

    And no doubt Steve if he were still alive, as a trenchant critic of racism localy or internationally, would have also had some choice words to describe such cowardice by the Chief Rabbi and the President of the Board of Deputies.

    Grunwald has moved on, but last time I looked Johnny Sacks was still there (though a bit pre-occupied with the JFS) and his failure to speak about Leiberman is ongoing.

  6. Zkharya Says:

    I don’t think the chief rabbi is obliged to take a public position on Lieberman. He is, in my view, a good deal less reactionary than the leaders of Hizbullah or Hamas, on whom no British Islamic leader is obliged to take a position (though a case could be made that they are often willing to be positive).

    And I don’t think Lehrman is entitled to communicate to the antisemites of Great Britain that the chief rabbi is so obliged (though The Guardian frequently so obliges Lehrman).

  7. Zkharya Says:

    Sir Jonathan Sacks is the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and All Ireland. He is not the chief rabbi of Israel, however much Anthony Lehrman might want to confuse the two.

    In any case, it is easy to see why Antony Lerman is the former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Now let me see if I’ve got this right: a wide spectrum of plainly the great and the good of British Jewry are cited, presumably accurately, as being horrified by Avigdor Lieberman being Israel’s Foreign Minister and of the unrepudiated statements he’s made. However, because Jonathan Sacks doesn’t (or doesn’t do it in public), and nor does the former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, then all the other responses are irrelevant and can allow Lerman to imply that British Jewry is ignoring the Lieberman issue.

    The kindest thing one can say about Lerman is that this is hardly an intellectually honest statement from him. Actually, the kindest thing would be to say he hadn’t done his homework. And from a purported intellectual (twice Director of IJPR), that is or should be damning.

    And how can Comrade Rosenberg defend this?

    This is like accusing a minister in a government of letting down the whole government, as well as the party, etc, because they don’t comment on a matter that isn’t within their remit, while all those for whom it _is_ within their remit have made appropriate comments.

    Perhaps Chief Rabbi Sacks considers that his remit is or should be concerned with religious and moral matters of concern to Jews in general and British Jews in particular. Perhaps he doesn’t, but did “Tonyboy” Lerman bother to ask him or his office? And if not, why not? Because he feared the answer might destroy his latest attack on British Jewry? This might be good polemics, but it’s rotten journalism (unless the colour of the journalism is yellow, of course).

  9. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Oh, and will “David from the US” now attack me for making an ad hominem attack on his good buddy Anthony Lerman? If so, perhaps he could do up front, and not wait until the fifth round of comments to reveal his true colours.

    • David Says:

      No, because for once your attack is not ad hominem. At least not on Lerman. Although you cannot, apparently, restrain yourself from inserting at least one ad hominem attack, albeit on me not Lerman.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        This from David, above: “you (that’s me, Brian) cannot, apparently, restrain yourself from inserting at least one ad hominem attack, albeit on me not Lerman”. This is immensley rich from someone who _started_ his very first response to me with an ad hominem attack on me, and included insults, aspersions as to my learning and a bald statement that I was unfit to comment on Jewish affairs. All this is in the comments thead to an article posted, as noted below, on 27 March 2009. The moderator chose to close the comments column several comments after David’s last attack on me, when David revealed that his animus arose because I had apparently made an ad hominem attack on Lerman (not that David knew this closure was about to happen). Thus, I was unable to respond. With the moderator’s indulgence, I would like to respond now, and show who attacked whom, and who was ad hominem.

        The comment below is an edited version of a response I wrote then, and have stored until now.

        David appears to be quite content to attack others by assigning to them things they have not said and meanings that cannot be implied from their actual words. The following (starting with “No, David, _your_ argument…) was posted by me on the comments thread of an article posted on the site on 27 March, 2009, titled “Reconciliation and understanding, not boycotts and exclusions”. David said (among other things) “Please try to follow the object of the sentence”. This was posted on 2 April, 2009. My reply was posted on 3 April, 2009, at 3.13 pm, and was attached to the above article. Despite the thread remaining open for over a week thereafter, “David” failed to respond. He appears to be very good at attacking others, and very slow in responding to criticisms (_not_, note, attacks) of his work. I’m getting very tired of people imputing words and meanings to me, then, when I respond, often crying foul, and asserting that I am attacking them.

        Please judge for yourselves. And David, please have the grace to stop character assassination and assertion, let alone ad hominem attacks on others, all the while asserting that this is what they are doing to you.

        The comment relating to Lerman back then starts here.

        No, David, _your_ argument is based on asserting that “[Brian’s] arguments are premised on the idea that “Jews should know better” is identical with “THE JEWS should know better.” I made, make and will not make any such assumption.

        This is becoming typical of the way you respond, certainly to me. I made a perfectly valid argument as to whether assertions that Jews (whether it is all of them, some of them or only a handful, it matters not which) should know better was tantamount to singling out Jews and Israelis as somehow different from everyone else, and also threatened to treat Israel from all other nations.

        Nor can it be asserted that anything I said is equivalent to saying that “It is absolutely and demonstrably false to state that all attributions to individual Jews or groups of Jews (including by other Jews!) are synonymous with attributions to “The Jews.” Not only false but actually one of the essences of racism itself!” This is unequivocally _your_ false interpretation of what you wish I had said, or what you wish I could be imputed as having said.

        Your very first comment to something I wrote was “”Who on earth is/was Salo Baron?”
        I presume you are joking…if not as someone who has chosen to make something of the fact that you are a sociologist, you have just demonstrated a level of ignorance for which you should be thoroughly embarrassed. At the very least, you have made it clear that your academic position qualifications have absolutely no bearing on the significance or relevance to your comments on anything Jewish”.

        This was, rude, insulting, an attempt at character assassination and ad hominem attack on me – all the things you go on through your comments on that thread to accuse others of doing to you: not surprising, really, when you _start_ off like this, that others might well respond in kind. You deliberately decide to take no notice of the comment designed to offer a reason as to why I might have no knowledge of the historian in question. You prefer to traduce me.

        Please note that at no time do I raise the names of eminent sociologists whose writings might have a bearing on the matters debated here. Nor do I ever suggest, let alone state outright, that anyone who hasn’t heard, and read every word, of X is an intellectual ignoramus beneath contempt. But it’s an accusation you are fond of making.

        Further, until the very last comment of yours on that thread (before the moderator chose to close the thread), you made no reference to the _real_ reason for your ad hominem attack and attempt at character assination of me. It was because I had noted Anthony Lerman’s latest attempt to blame Jews in general for the rise in antisemitism across the west. He referred to Baron and _his_ reference to “lachrymose Jews”, and used this to say that until Jews started _not_ supporting Israel, antisemitism would continue (blaming the victims, _yet again_).

        This is that last comment, not quite in full:
        “Brian: The first comment on this thread consisted of your ad hominem attack on Tony Lerman. That’s all there is to it.

        You seem to have been unable to stomach any questioning of your knowledge of Jewish history…, even though you constantly parade around your own academic credentials.

        …I will join…the LONG list of those who…have been run off by the self-righteous crowd that seems to think character assassination on the Engage blog has some connection to fighting antisemitism…”

        Note that David _hasn’t_ been run off, but has come back. Note also that the above comment is his first mention of my allegedly ad hominem attack on Lerman (anyone going back to that article and the link to Lerman will say that I was far from ad hominem). Note also that he complained constantly of people being rude and insulting to him.

        But note also that his very first comment on me is everything he says others have inflicted on him. Note that he prefers to distort what others have done to defending Lerman from people like me – assuming that he thinks Lerman is worth defending, why didn’t he do this in his first comment? And if _my_ knowledge of and right to comment on Jewish history is so lamentable, how do we judge if _his_ is any better? Or must we take his (suspect) word for it?

        Okay David, how about a reasoned response to this? Or do you prefer to cry “ad hominem” every time someone either criticises you or one of your sacred cows? The latter is what you spent your time doing back in March/April of this year.

        • David Says:

          I must say, I find your personal vendetta and the amount of time you are spending on it to be extremely bizarre.

          I haven’t posted on Engage in many months, and have barely had time to glance at it. Yet when I do, I find this weird and ramdom attack on me from completely out of the blue.

          Give it a rest Brian. Surely you have more important things on which to spend your time.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “I must say, I find your personal vendetta and the amount of time you are spending on it to be extremely bizarre.”

          As I note below, given that you _began_ your first set of comments on something I wrote with an ad hominem attack, combined with attempted character assassination and personal rudeness, who is weird and bizarre is a matter for serious debate.

          I would be delighted to “give it a rest”, but find it difficult when someone says, the first time that they comment on something I said, that I am an ignoramus and not fit to comment on matters Jewish. Someone who, when what they really mean is that I have been unkind about a third party, disguises what they are really concerned about (an alleged ad hominem attack on Anthony Lerman) behind an ad hominem attack on me, combined with a disparagement of my qualifications (of which you know nothing), along with attempted character assassination.

          It is not until your fifth comment on me on that thread that you reveal your concern with Anthony Lerman’s probity. Until then, you have attacked me, and then complained bitterly about everyone else’s allegedly ad hominem attacks on, and rudeness to, you.

          The response from me is hardly random, let alone weird. Until you learn the rules of civilised debate, you can expect to have it constantly pointed out that you _started out_ doing to others what you complain is done to you. Go back to very first comment to me, back in March, and present cogent reasons (_not_ unsubstantiated assertions) why _that_ wasn’t everything you accuse me and others of doing to you. Remember, you started it. And my comments above are rooted in what we both wrote in March this year.

          I disagree with a fair number of people who post comments here, some of them on the “same side” as me. However, I don’t attack them, because they don’t attack me first.

          So, either respond to the actual words written, or be prepared to be accused of what you appear to be: an intellectual bully.

  10. Paul Miller Says:

    Surely Rabbi Sacks is right not to take a position publicly on Lieberman. For what would be the goal of that? To assure everyone in Britain that the British Jewish community, at least, continues to be worthy of the broader public’s stamp of approval? To borrow Cohen’s words, I would not want to see him being a “court jew kneeling before the throne of the idiot anti-zionist”. I have no doubt in my mind that Sacks is privately as horrified by Lieberman as I am. But his public silence on the matter is absolutely right.

  11. prelberema Says:

    Lermn is simply a troublemaker with a chip on his shoulder. His narcissism should not be indulged.

    He has blamed Israel for antisemitism: “ … by provoking outrage, which is then used to target Jews, Israel bears responsibility for that anti-Jewish hostility”

    He says Jews want there to be antisemitism: “so much of the Jewish world is more comfortable with an identifiable enemy that hates us than with a multicultural society that welcomes Jews on equal terms“

    And he has hinted at the equivalence of the Warsaw Ghetto with Gaza.

  12. Absolute Observer Says:

    Speak out now against the smelly beared Ostjuden. Us assimilated, clean-shaven civilised Jews must make our view known of this new “incomers”. We, who believe in progress, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality, secularism, must call on our religious leaders to speak out against those of our more backward “brethren”. They are the cause for the animoisity and hatred that we, the innocent, are now having to confront from those who, only yesterday, were our friends.

    “Instead I want to scream out “Jews don’t need to disassociate themselves from collective guilt cos there is no collective guilt”

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