David Hirsh on the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism

This piece, by David Hirsh, is published in Haaretz.

John Mann

Gert Weisskirchen

John Mann is a British Labor MP who explains that there isn’t a single Jew among the industrial workers, farmers and retired coal miners in his constituency. He is one of the handful of MPs who came out of the recent parliamentary-expenses scandals cleaner than he went in. He was honored with an award at the Knesset during last week’s conference of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, for his work in Britain and internationally against anti-Jewish racism. Mann compared the Jews to a canary, like the ones his constituents used to take three miles down into the mines to make sure that the atmosphere was healthy for human beings. The process of the decay of all human values begins with anti-Semitism, said Gert Weisskirchen, who was honored in the same ceremony. Weisskirchen is a scholar as well as a long-time member of the Bundestag, a man imbued with the spirit of the gentle, civilized and worldly social democracy that built post-war West Germany out of the ashes of the Holocaust.

So what’s going on? The Jews are hawks, not canaries, aren’t they? The Global Forum is run by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, making Avigdor Lieberman its current host. He is a political figure who has broken new ground in Israel, mainstreaming the kind of racialized thinking of which anti-Semitism was a historic prototype, garnering votes by rhetorically threatening the status of the state’s Arab citizens. He is the deputy prime minister in a government that continues to fail to bring its army and its settlers home from Palestinian territory, where they perpetrate the daily violence and humiliation characteristic of all occupations.

In truth, it is only by denying whole facets of reality that one can fit Jews and Israelis into a simple worldview that defines everyone either as oppressed or as oppressor. Similarly, we would all like to believe that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past, but the ready-made ways of thinking that it offers are too deeply embedded in various cultural imaginations around the world for it to disappear easily. No matter how much serious consideration of anti-Semitism is ridiculed as a dishonest attempt to silence criticism of Israel; no matter how much Israelis would prefer to think of themselves as strong, and as being responsible for their own situation rather than perceiving themselves as victims of anti-Semitism – the old libels are still manifested in the ways in which people think about Israel and about Jews.

Sammy Eppel, a journalist from Venezuela, explained to the conference in Jerusalem how half the members of that country’s Jewish community have left, as the Chavez regime continues to whip up fervor against “Jewish Zionist imperialism” and to embrace the Jew-hating Iranian regime. Furthermore, a 747 fully loaded with who-knows-what flies from Caracas to Tehran weekly.

Dovid Katz, who teaches Yiddish in Vilnius, raised the alarm about current trends to normalize the Holocaust in the Baltic states by portraying Stalin and Hitler as perpetrators of twin genocides. This is a rhetoric that hides a preference for Hitler, and allows surviving perpetrators of the Holocaust to be honored as anti-communist partisans, and anti-fascists to be put on trial as Stalin’s collaborators. An additional worry is that this kind of “re-understanding” of the Holocaust fits in with other kinds of revisionism – like those that portray the Shoah as an invented justification for the State of Israel, or as a minor intra-European spat, dwarfed in importance and impact by the history of European colonialism – of which the oppression of the Palestinians is currently the key manifestation.

Patrick Desbois, a quiet but hugely charismatic French Catholic priest, was also present at the Global Forum gathering, explaining how he has been traveling Ukraine and Belarus encouraging perpetrators, witnesses and bystanders of the Nazi genocide to divulge their memories before they are lost. Many who refuse to talk to investigators, and who appear to be Jewish, happily chat with him when he is wearing his comforting priest’s collar.

Stories were also presented to the conference about intellectuals, trade unionists, anti-racists and other good people who seek to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global academic, cultural and economic community; who declare that anti-boycott lawyers are financed by stolen Lehman Brothers money from New York; who say that “Zionist” Jews are the new Nazis, the new racists, the new imperialists, the new supporters of apartheid; who teach that the “Israel lobby” is responsible for the Iraq war; who find excuses for anti-Semitic violence and terrorism; who act as apologists for “critics of Israel” who learn from far-right conspiracy theorists; and who seek to silence those who speak up against anti-Semitism by saying that they only do so to give Prime Minister Netanyahu an easy ride.

Eminent Israeli scholars Yehuda Bauer and Emmanuel Sivan skewered the worldview of those who ignorantly and innocently embrace anti-Semitic notions when all they think they are doing is speaking up for Palestinians. Yet they both warned the Global Forum that the fight against anti-Semitism is only part of the general fight against bigotry. Both found it necessary to spell out what ought to have been obvious to the delegates: that the struggles against Islamophobia and other types of racism are intimately related to the fight against anti-Jewish racism.

David Hirsh

David Hirsh is a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

This piece, by David Hirsh, is published in Haaretz.

47 Responses to “David Hirsh on the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism”

  1. johng Says:

    “a 747 fully loaded with who-knows-what flies from Caracas to Tehran weekly”

    Whats the suggestion here? Iran surely does’nt need Venezuela’s help. Genuinely puzzled by this.

  2. johng Says:

    In relationship to venezuela, chavez and anti-semitism this might be of interest:


    The accusations of parochialism made against the Israeli left in the thread below in this context may be a little one-eyed.

  3. David Hirsh Says:

    Sammy says that there are many treaties between Venezuela and Iran – including a large number of secret treaties. He believes that Iranian geologists are looking for uranium. Presumably the 747 carries technicians, missionaries, diplomats and various kinds of secret cargo.

    Three was an attack on the main synagogue in Caracas in the pre-election period. Chavez had, during this period, stopped the daily antisemitic propaganda which reappeared immediately after the election. The perpetrators of the attack, who took away hard disks containing names and addresses of members of the Jewish community in Venezuela, were arrested by the Chavez regime and turned out all to be policemen. They have been kept incommunicado and have not been put on trial – and have been denied the possibility of telling their story or of defending themselves in court.

  4. David Hirsh Says:

    JohnG you really are something.

    The synagogue in Caracas is broken into and desecrated. Lists of Venezuelan Jews are taken away. Under pressure the regime has arrested the people who did it – who are police officers – it has not put them on trial and has not allowed them to speak. The Chavez regime routinely uses antismetic rhetoric and makes antisemitic propaganda. It is allied closely with a genocidally antisemitic regime. Half of Venzuela’s Jews have left the country in fear.

    JohnG, you send us a piece of propaganda which claims that the Jews faked the antisemitic attack in order to rob their own synagogue.

    For a member of the antiracist left, JohnG, you are really quite something. What happened to the young JohnG? How did you end up like this?

  5. johng Says:

    It does not claim any such thing David. It states that this was a robbery disguised as an anti-semitic attack. I think you should read the article properly if you are at all serious about any of these issues.

  6. Suzie P Says:

    Chavez’s antisemitic “explanation” for his own attack on the synagogue has been debunked all over the internet.

  7. Mary Says:

    “Sammy Eppel, a journalist from Venezuela, explained to the conference in Jerusalem how half the members of that country’s Jewish community have left”

    Comrades there are two simple explanations for this :

    a) Sammy Eppel is conflating jews in Venezuala with zionists. It’s obvious that he meant zionists have left (though they may be jews or possibly some of them are Christian neo-con zionists). This is the same kind of tactic as used by those zionists who bizarrely claim that Hamas is anti-semetic !

    b) They confused a simple matter of theft with anti-semitism.

    By the way i’d just like to say that I am an anti-racist. I’ve been on several demos in the last twelve months (mostly UAF) and i have several Jewish friends. SO please don’t smear me as an antisemite which no doubt you will do.

    It’s a shame that so many Jews (of all people) have become the oppressors. It’s obvious that this article is just an attack on the socialism now being practiced in Venezuala.

  8. johng Says:

    Sorry Chavez attacked the synagogue? Please direct me to the relevent source.

    • David I Says:

      I’m with John G on this. Can you show me anything in writing – a single order from Chavez ordering an “attack”. Or anything in writing by Chavez or any of his comrades even discussing the possibility of such an “attack” ?

  9. US prof Says:

    I have been told that antisemitism is a problem in Britain. I have always thought that it was wholly over-cooked by the Israel lobby.

    But now I have met John G. And I am humbled.

  10. Susan Says:

    Since the attackers of the synagogue were policeman, either the police in Venezuela are antisemites or someone in the governmnet authorized the attack. I’m a socialist myself, but becoming chummy with Ahmadinejad who is a fascist is not a socialist action.

    I hate the “Jews of all people” comment. It takes away my humanity. You are using the Holocaust as a cudgel to beat up Jews, because Jews have turned out to be human beings. You are putting Jews on a false pedestal for the purpose of knocking them off.

  11. Richard Says:

    Maybe just this once we should give JohnG the benefit of the doubt because he left a comment today on Socialist Unity saying how he’s “pissed as a fart”.


    I put that all so much more eloquantly on splintered sunrise. Unfortunatey its boxing day and I am pissed as a fart.

    Comment by johng — 26 December, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  12. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “Mary” has been here before, lo, these many months ago. She promised, under huge pressure, to go away and read certain items (books, articles and the like) urged upon her, and come back having done so.

    Well, she’s come back, but doesn’t appear to have done that reading (none of it suggested by me, so no special argument here). And certainly none of the thinking urged upon her and that she p[romised to do. Sammy Eppel is far from the first to make the argument about half of the Venezuelan Jewish community leaving the country because of a rising tide of antisemitism there. And it is Mary who is suggesting that this is the segment of that population that is Zionist, with the implication that the other half are not. Nothing Eppel says (or is reported as saying) can be construed in this way. Don’t you hate it when people tell you what you _really_ meant to say or what you _really_ mean? If Eppel had meant the zionist component, he’d have said so. Why not, for heavens sake.

    The clue lies in her addressing us as “comrades”: this appears to be part of the left anti-zionist attitude typified by the hard left in the UCU (see only Tom Hickey).

    And, by the way, the “I have Jewish friends” claim has a null meaning. It doesn’t stop anyone being antisemitic, any more than the claim that one is an anti-racist (see Tom Hickey, again) although Mary’s comment shows no such inclination.

    I’ll say that again: Mary’s comment shows no such [antisemitic] inclination. So don’t say anyone here has made the accusation. This appears to be an example of the Livingstone formulation in advance of the response. Neat trick!

  13. Mark2 Says:

    “It’s obvious that this article is just an attack on the socialism now being practiced in Venezuala.*

    For lack of proportion this is really hard to beat. The passage about Venezuela made up about 10% at most of the original article. But then I suppose someone who can write that “Jews … have become oppressors” is well versed in political disportionality.

    I wonder whether she would write of Mugabe or the janjaweed say ” for blacks (of all people) to become oppressors”.

  14. Absolute Observer Says:

    “By the way i’d just like to say that I am an anti-racist.”

    Judging by your comments, this is evidently not the case.
    Of your two “simple” explanations – antisemitism is not one of them that you are even prepared to consider. The implication is, of course, that Jews are lying when they say it is. This is a position you imply when you state,
    “It’s obvious that this article is just an attack on the socialism now being practiced in Venezuala.”

    “I’ve been on several demos in the last twelve months (mostly UAF)”
    So you don’t like the BNP – is that a test now for being a serious anti-racist. UAF are, of course, the group that smeared Searchlight for being “Zionists”. A line similar to your pathetic distinction between “Jews” and “Zionsts” as in,
    if a Jewish synagogue gets attacked under the name of “zionist” that somehow is ok for fools like yourself. It’s ok to beat up a Jew for a “good reason” but bad to beat them up for the “wrong reason”.

    Of course, even if you are right, then the presence of nazi daubings on synagogues says more about the kind of “antizionism” you support than about the distinction between Jews and Zionists.

    “and i have several Jewish friends.”
    Do people really still say things like that?

    “SO please don’t smear me as an antisemite which no doubt you will do.”

    When people have wasted words on making spurious disitnctios between “ZIonist” and Jews and then conclude with a “It’s a shame that so many Jews (of all people) have become the oppressors” implying first, a reworking of the “Chosen People”, a moral double-standard and a reference to “Jews” – and not Zionsts” – why hardly needs to smear you with anything – you have done the job yourself. This is especially the case when you believe that a political movement’s charter that includes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is not antisemitic (Of course, you could argue that the reference to “Zion” makes it antiracist)

    (Gosh, it must be hard for those like Mary who, what with the death of the Leader, we will never know if the Doctors were guilty or not. After all, dupes like Mary believed that Stalin was practicisng “socialism” and that all criticism was “propoganda”. So much for won’t get fooled again.

  15. Critical Leftist Says:

    What has happened to the left that people like Mary and johng epitomises,

    Nowadays they support junior military officerson the grounds that they supply hospitals to the poor and think that is “socialism” (and, let’s not mention the shooting of students on their campuses – they probably deserve it, eh?)

    They support clerical regimes because of its seeming anti-imperialist rhetoric even when they hang their opponents.

    They support movements that quote wholesale from the Protocols.

    The refuse to take seriously antisemitism in any of those contexts.

    They pick out tiny bits of articles to defend their revolutionary heroes and remain silent about all the rest – including incidents of antisemitism within the British labour movement and their own sects such as the hosting and defending of race-hate speakers.

    They have reached the stage that denying antisemitism (unless replete with an armband – even though it says pretty much the same thing as their new revolutionary surrogates) becomes the badge of the left and the “anti-racist”.

  16. Avi in Jerusalem Says:

    How do we know that Mary is not a spoof? The post sounds like an ironic caricature of a no brain “anti racist”.
    If it is not a spoof then the situation in the UK seems even worse than it looks.

  17. johng Says:

    sorry could you please give me a link suggesting that the police force authorised an attack on the synagogue. I have heard nothing about this. The claim that any of my comments here (pissed as a fart or not) would lead anyone to think that I was soft on anti-semitism are bewildering. Chavez’s connection to Iran relate to his traditional third worldist politics (ie the notion that the correct response to the disasterous economic and political interventions of the US in Latin America are best responded to by building up some kind of an alternative bloc). The resulting denunciation of the mass movement in Iran is something which, for the record, the bulk of the left in Britain have repudiated. But there is nothing anti-semitic about noting that the US is concerned about the emergence of left of centre governments in Latin America (as are the far right in Latin America itself) and that therefore much media production emenating from the US should carry a health warning. And anyone concerned with anti-semitism should be cautious about tying that campaign to black propaganda whose origins lie in US geo-politics.

  18. David I. Says:

    John G “The claim that any of my comments here (pissed as a fart or not) would lead anyone to think that I was soft on anti-semitism are bewildering.”

    I agree with John. And again it’s not the first time that “zionists” have been unable to find a written order.

  19. NIMN Says:

    “But there is nothing anti-semitic about noting that the US is concerned about the emergence of left of centre governments in Latin America (as are the far right in Latin America itself) and that therefore much media production emenating from the US should carry a health warning. And anyone concerned with anti-semitism should be cautious about tying that campaign to black propaganda whose origins lie in US geo-politics.”

    All of this is very true. But, of course, historically, for left and right, antisemitism has often become attached to such positions. According to Foreward magazine, this has happened and is happening in Venuzuala.

    Unfortunately, as this thread has shown, johng amongst others, are not only turning a blond eye to what is in front of them but will no doubt start talking about anyone who briings this matter up as “neocons”.

    “One of the first points of tension was the April 2002 coup attempt against Chavez. Michael Penfold-Becerra, a political scientist at Caracas’s institute of superior administrative studies, said that among some government officials, suspicions against Jews were fueled by the alleged support of prominent rabbi Pinchas Brenner for the authors of the short-lived coup, as well as by the perception that Israelis and Jews were active in the arms business.”

    “The honor was used by some pro-Chavez circles to claim that an American-Zionist conspiracy was trying to oust the president from power.”


  20. Absolute Observer Says:

    “And anyone concerned with anti-semitism should be cautious about tying that campaign to black propaganda whose origins lie in US geo-politics.”

    And this is how a representative of the left presents the now common argument that when Jews raise the question of antisemitism, they are “crying wolf” or that they are raising the question of antisemitism for nefarious purposes.

    Johng’s comments that not only deny antisemitism, but alos that it is nothing other than a weapon in the hands of the unscrupulous are entirely in keeping with the contemporary left’s fanatasy that they are “concerned with antisemitism”.

    “Mr. Chávez turned on Venezuela’s Jews. “Let’s hope that the Venezuelan Jewish community will declare itself against this barbarity,” Mr. Chávez bellowed on a government-controlled television channel. “Don’t Jews repudiate the Holocaust? And this is precisely what we’re witnessing.”

    “Government media quickly took up the chorus. One television host close to Mr. Chávez blamed opposition demonstrations on two students he said had Jewish last names. On a pro-government Web site, another commentator demanded that citizens “publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park” and called for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property and a demonstration at Caracas’s largest synagogue. On Jan. 30 the synagogue was duly attacked by a group of thugs, who spray-painted “Jews get out” on the walls and confiscated a registry of members. Mr. Chávez denied responsibility; days later, the attorney general’s office said that 11 people detained in connection with the attack included five police officers and a police intelligence operative.”

    This comes from a WP report from Feb. 2009

    Now, either Johng is saying that these incidents did not happen,
    that they did happen but are not “antisemitic”
    that since it is the WP none of this is to be believed (it is a fabrcation or a twisted take on reality) and it can be dismissed as “black propganda”.

    What Johng is not saying, and appears not even to countenance is that Chavez is willing to use antisemitism to shore up his support which is, in effect, a classic use of political antisemitism (as is being seen by some parties in Central and Eastern Europe).

  21. Curious Says:

    Dear Johng,
    You note that,
    “The resulting denunciation of the mass movement in Iran is something which, for the record, the bulk of the left in Britain have repudiated.”

    Could you please offer me a link or refer me to where I might find where the left in Britain have repudiated Ahmadinejad’s antisemitism (i.e. Holocaust denial).


  22. David Hirsh Says:

    “And anyone concerned with anti-semitism should be cautious about tying that campaign to black propaganda whose origins lie in US geo-politics.”

    No JohnG the story about the police being involved in the attack on the synagogue and the Chavez administrations refusal to put the perpetrators on trial for fear that they will talk does not come form “black propaganda whose origins lie in US geo-politics”. They come, as I reported in the piece, from Sammy Eppel, a Venezuelan journalist and Jewish communal leader.

    He went to the Global Forum and he told the story of what has been happening in Venezuela.

    He told about the antisemitic propaganda emanating from the Chavez regime daily, denouncing Venezuelan Jews as agents of “Zionist Jewish imperialism”. He told about the link-up with the genocidal regime in Iran – a link up which is consumated in the adoption of Iran’s Holocaust denial and its state-sponsored Jew-hatred – as well as, apparently, in Chavez having sold Venzuela to Iran as some kind of neo-colony, in which Iran can prospect for the minerals and raw materials that it requires.

    So this isn’t the wicked Americans inventing this story.

    This story comes from the Jewish community in Venezuela.

    If a Jewish community say that there is a problem of antisemitism, if half the Jews of Venezuela are so afraid that they have had to leave their home country, then we should listen.

    We should be very careful before we accept the story of the antisemitic regime, that the Jews have invented the antisemitism for their own communal reasons.

    Which story can be corroborated by the evidence? Does the regime make antisemitic propaganda or not? Well it isn’t done in secret is it?

    What is left wing about an antisemitic regime? Why do you call it left wing? It is a racist regime. It also talks big about the poor but does nothing.

    Have we not learned yet, that a little “socialist” dictator who prances around in a military uniform is not on the side of the poor?

  23. modernityblog Says:

    I think what we are witnessing with JohnG’s attitude is a constant.

    The SWP and its members, such as JohnG, have been in the vanguard of pushing the anti Israeli boycott in AUT/UCU, irrespective of any caution that was advised.

    Their members have sailed close to the wind on a number of occasions, Hickey and the idiocy of recommending Roger Garaudy (1), and more recently Sean Wallis’s borderline joke concerning Lehman Brothers, etc (2)

    To be honest, the vast majority of SWPers would have a problem spotting any subtle form of antisemitism, if it wasn’t marching down the road with an armband and a skinhead haircut.

    The evidence of this is the fact that the SWP hosted a well-known anti-Jewish racist, Gilad Atzmon, for fours years.

    They did it even when they were told about his views and how changing the word “Jew” to “Zionist” didn’t make the ideas behind Atzmon’s racism any less palatable.

    In fact, the SWP have yet to admit that Gilad Atzmon is a racist, although readers can find Atzmon bringing up the old tropes of “Jews finance wars and revolutions” (3), yet the SWP are still undecided on the topic.

    Quite the opposite, the SWP had put out a statement(4), previously, arguing that Atzmon wasn’t an antisemite, etc.

    So **if** the SWP can’t bring themselves to admit Atzmon’s racism, how on earth will they spotted anywhere else? Particularly in Venezuela?

    Even within recent memory the SWP have a fairly appalling record when it comes to tackling non-right wing anti-Jewish racism, nothing, little short of Chavez admitting it on TV (which isn’t going happen) they won’t be convinced. They are impervious to evidence and reason, as their recent history shows.

    They are in denial, that is the constant here.

    1 http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=832
    2 https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/ucl-ucu-branch-secretary-sean-wallis-lines-up-with-antisemitic-lehman-brothers-conspiracy-theorists/
    3 http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/gilad-atzmon-david-duke-and-cif/
    4 http://tinyurl.com/yfmbqgf Note: the SWP have deleted the statement, but it is still in the Google cache, as a record.

  24. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “The resulting denunciation of the mass movement in Iran is something which, for the record, the bulk of the left in Britain have repudiated.” Have they? Do they, in fact, support a regime which is prepared to shoot down its opponents on the streets, who are not, in fact, armed? Do they, in fact, support a regime which imprisons, tortures and executes trade unionists? Can johng supply the appropriate links toi deminstrate this support? Or is it confined to splinter groups like the SWP who have failed to win a single public election for Parliament or a local council anywhere in the UK, with the possible exception of Galloway and Respect, and that election is tainted by dubious tactics.

    And Chavez and his “leftist” revolution is so loved by the population of Venezuela that a majority (a slim one, but still a majority) rejected the referendum that would have allowed him to change the constitution and still for more than two terms.

    Seems johng has problems with reality over on his part of the left.

  25. Absolute Observer Says:

    “The SWP would also like to make it clear, that we would never give a platform to a racist or fascist.”

    Do’h! Did someone from the SWP forget to tell Tom – with respect we have allowed the question, and now we will respectfully not answer it – Hickey that this was his party’s line.


    (See also his understanding of Jews as in his BMJ article in 2007,
    “And we are speaking of a culture, both in Israel and in the long history of the Jewish diaspora, in which education and scholarship are held in high regard. That is why an academic boycott might have a desirable political effect in Israel, an effect that might not be expected elsewhere.”

    Oh, and then there is this gem,


    The accusation of anti-semitism is both absurd and offensive. Accusing those who criticise Israel of being anti-semites presumes an identity of interests between Israel and all Jewish people, wherever they may be. This is illogical and contrary to the facts. Most people who spoke in favour of the motion at the our congress are Jewish, as are the members of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine. The response of Israel’s defenders is to say that such people are not proper Jews—that they are “self-hating Jews.” Jewishness thus becomes transformed from a cultural or religious identity into an ideological position.”

    Note the myths that,
    a. Those who “criticise” Israel are labelled antisemitic.
    b. That some of my best pro-boycotters are Jewish.
    c. That the response of “Israel defenders” (note the implication of an undifferentiated mass) is that they are not proper Jews or called “self-hating Jews”.

    Interestingly, in the article there are several footnotes. However, in the claims Hickey makes on the subject of “antisemitism”, there are no footnotes.

    Tom Hickey is the President of UCU where the continual and continuing harrasment of “Israel supporters” who dare raise the question of antisemitism is common currency as it has been for the last five or so years (and, I am not talking about “critics of Israel – although they may be that too – but those who, includes antisemitic imagery, not only in their depictions of Israel, but also those who are brave enough to raise the matter of antisemitism at all.

    Oh, and this is the person the UCU have chosen to chair their three sessions of antisemitism (no, honest.)


    • Bill Says:

      Geeze… people are still whitewashing the Synagogue raid on Venezuela? Then again that’s from the same people who insist on the following addendum to AOs bullet list.

      a.1) citing specific antisemetic incidents (targeting jews as jews — anywhere) is the same as saying that any criticism of Israel is antisemetic.

      I think we learned that one last week.

  26. Toby Esterhase Says:

    Greenstein: “Whenever a radical, anti-American regime comes to the fore in South or Central America, you can be sure that it is going to be accused of ‘anti-Semitism’.”

    John Game: “Chavez’s connection to Iran relate to his traditional third worldist politics … But there is nothing anti-semitic about noting that the US is concerned about the emergence of left of centre governments in Latin America…”

    Maybe, boys, there is a simpler explanation? Maybe it is just true that “radical anti-American regimes” or “traditional third worldist politics” tend to be antisemitic????

    Either we then have to write this off as incidental and unimportant compared to the really good bit of being anti-American and third worldist, or we have to conclude that being anti-American and third worldist is dumb and appeals to the same dumb people who find Jew-hatred appealing.

  27. Absolute Observer Says:

    News Flash from the NY Times,

    Today a religiously-dressed Jew was found dead with multiple stab wounds to his back. Near his body was a note stating how “Zionists” were the instigators of all the world’s evils.

    Tony Greenstein issued a statement that, saying that,
    “Whilst it is a terrible pity that a person is dead, this is obviously a case of suicide. To think otherwise is to fall into the trap laid by US Jewish neocons. Indeed, it would not suprise me, as an anti-racist, socialist and anti-Zionist, if the suicide was carried out with the sole purpose of furthering the Zionist agenda.”

    John Gane stated,
    “This is a genuine question. How do we know this happened? It was reported only in the US Press and, as such, probably bears no resemblence to what actually happened?”

    (n.b. this is satire)

  28. NIMN Says:


    What was that about history repeating itself first as tragedy and second as farce.

  29. Historical correspondences Says:

    Compare and contrast,

    The first quotes are from
    Letters to the Editor
    Germany under the Nazis
    Saturday 1 April 1933

    The one’s following are of those who deny the antisemitism of Chavez,

    “No planing without chips

    For many years I have been a reader of the “Manchester Guardian” and have always liked its objectivity. But I am sorry to tell you that, during the last few weeks, its reports regarding present events in Germany are untrue and more than offending for this country.

    In my opinion all these lies are dictated by the infernal hatred which the German Jewish press has against all that is national in Germany”

    “Right away, U.S. news outlets, including The New York Times and The Miami Herald, linked the incident to Venezuela’s increasingly strained relations with Israel, after the two countries suspended diplomatic relations two weeks earlier over Israel’s bombing of Gaza, then still under way.

    A Herald editorial went so far as to describe an “official policy of anti-Semitism” in Venezuela and implied that Chávez’s foreign policy had unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic violence in the country, culminating in the assault on the synagogue.[1]”

    “Our old friend Abe Foxman of the ironically named Anti Defamation League wrote last year of the ‘The rising wave of anti-Semitism in Venezuela is part and parcel of this effort by Chávez’s increasingly repressive regime.’

    This was followed up by Wall Street Journal’s “Americas” columnist, Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s “The New Tehran-Caracas Axis,” and an article in the neoconservative Weekly Standard by Aaron Mannes that focused on a distorted version of Chavez’ Christmas Eve broadcast as evidence of his anti-Semitism.”

    “Of course there is no planing without chips! But tell me, please, of a single Jew maltreated without being guilty of having supported the Socialists and Communists for the purpose of gaining a powerful influence upon political and administrative State affairs. There is not one. No, our national revolution is the most un-bloody revolution the world has ever seen.”

    “However, subsequent investigations by U.S. Jewish leaders found that, among the estimated 50 practicing Jews who lived in Nicaragua at the time of the Sandinista revolution, most had ties to the toppled dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza and left the country of their own accord”

    Chavez is no Hitler – the point is the correspondence between his defenders and apologists and those who, in the past, had apologised for totalitarian regimes in precisely the same terms and tones.

  30. Left mistaken again Says:

    “The same ADL and neo-conservatives who see a wave of anti-Semitism in Venezuela because of a distortion of a speech by Hugo Chavez actually supported the persecution of Argentine Jews who were anti-fascist.”

    So, like the uncritical fool that he is Greenstein repeats the mistake and remains quiet, denies and blames the Zionists for antisemitism under a leftist regime; as if the fact that it it is pro-Israel organisations is enough to prove the falsity of the allegations in the face of all the evidence, because of the fear of “assimilation”!!

    (n.b. the Sandinistas did, in fact, “confiscate all Jewish property and imprisoned the community leader, Abraham Gorn, who later managed to escape and flee the country.”)

    But, as long as they are anti-American, anti-Zionist and fool some into believing they are “socialists”, then, ssshhhhh, not a word.

  31. modernityblog Says:

    Surely, this thread is an illustration of the futility of arguing with entrenched pro-boycotters or SWPers?

    Despite having his arguments torn apart, JohnG (or any of his fellow SWP members, etc) is largely incapable of replying.

    Despite the evidence and arguments, it is unlikely that a single SWPer will change his/her mind.

    They are simply pushing the line that they’ve been told to push.

    SWPers are not interested in the facts of the matter, I imagine that they are utterly ambivalent to the fate of Jews in Venezuela.

  32. Zkharya Says:

    The synagogue attack may not have been directed from on high (it’s hard to tell in Venezuela’s current justice system) but

    a) it has more to do with the government than the Lavon incidents

    b) happened not coincidentally with Chavez’s asking whether/insisting Venezuelan Jews distance themselves from Cast lead i.e. because, at the very least, the police involved thought the time conducive

    c) is symptomatic of a wider situation which has alarmed Venezuelan Jews, and which was the original substance of Dr David Hirsh’s article (had Jonathan Gam taken the trouble to read it properly, with a view to being taken seriously about these issues.

    d) is the notion that these police were only pretending to commit antisemitic acts really valid?

    e) and, perhaps most importantly, all that seems to been stolen (and unclear whether recovered, never mind copied) are hard drives containing lists of Venezuelan Jews.

    f) Al Aissami’s father was president of the Baathist Party of Iraq in Venezuela, and referred to Bin Laden as The Great Mujihad. Which needn’t indicate anything of his son, Tarek; other than his allegedly hosting more non-students and guerillas at university dorms than students, during his union presidency; and his having issued passports to members of Hizbullah and Hamas while minister of immigration and passports, inter alia (e.g. the matter of military connections with Hizbullah: article in Spanish):


    However, one can understand Venezuelan Jewish concerns.

    Further, it has been surmised, though, admittedly, unproven, that Tarek Al Aissami instigated the synagogue raid of 2004, coinciding with Ahmadinejad’s visit.

    Likewise Anglo-Jewish concerns about such as (non-Dr) John Game’s or Dr Tom “Jews are academic so let’s boycott Israeli Jewish academics to generally convey to all of them our resolve to dissolve the Jewish state of Israel” Hickey’s chairing seminars on antisemitism.

    Full of Yule Tide Cheer, or otherwise.

  33. Another Observer Says:

    Meanwhile talking of the left,, here is George Galloway bringing the blood libel into the 21st century (along with “the Jews are the new nazis”)


    The actual facts of the story are here,
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/21/israeli-pathologists-harvested-organs – note the sentence that the story is “likely to reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians.”
    In Galloway’s case, it is stereotypes of Jews and not Israel since he links the events in Israel specifically to the Shoah and that “it was beyond belief that a country calling itself the “Jewish State” could ever do such a thing.”

    Its occurrence in the UK is here,

  34. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I wasn’t planning to comment further on this thread – everyone else is doing such a great job of showing johng how intellectual discourse _should_ be conducted – until Another Perspective provided a link to Tony Greenstein’s blog, above. I haven’t noticed any comments on the heading, presumably Greenstein’s own: “Arson at Venezuelan Synagogue in Caracas – CIA/Mossad Suspected”, followed by the first sentence:

    “Reports of the attack on a synagogue on 1st February in Caracas, Venezuela give one a sense of déjà vu. Whenever a radical, anti-American regime comes to the fore in South or Central America, you can be sure that it is going to be accused of ‘anti-Semitism’.”

    Maybe I missed it, but a quick perusal of the entry (I don’t have tongs _that_ long to hold the article away from me) showed no evidence or further links to support the ludicrous claim that that either or both of the CIA or Mossad had carried out this attack. Such an assertion, completeley unsupported by anything even vaguely resembling evidence, qualifies this particular blog (maybe all of them, for all I know) for an entry in my musings on conspiracy theory, posted here as an article about a month ago.

    I am prepared to believe that the CIA might well carry out “black” operations, to undermine regimes of which it and/or its political masters might disapprove, especially if it could be made to look as though elements of the regime in question had carried out the operation. However, given the evidence seeping out that it actually _was_ elements of the regime, we need more than Greenstein’s fevered imaginings. We need more than bland assertion, with no evidence attached, especially when such a claim fits so neatly into his world view: in essence, his far-left ideology _demands_ that it be the CIA and not his beloved leftist Chavez regime that perpretrated this attack.

    As for it being Mossad…sorry, Tony, but Mossad isn’t that cynical as to attack synagogues or Jewish cultural centres. And you will need even more and better evidence than that you think you’ve produced (and signally failed to) so far for a CIA involvement to make _that_ stupid assertion stick.

  35. zkharya Says:

    I suspect “another perspective” was Johng.

  36. maasanova Says:

    Just curious, was it considered racist when Judea called on all of the Jews of the world to unite and crush the German people with an economic boycott of Germany?

  37. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Who’s the racist, maasanove? The one who refers to the world Jewish population as “Judea” or the group which called for a boycott of Germany? And did you bother to put a date on that? Did you bother to tell us that it was not only after 1933, not only after the Nazis had come to power, but after the passing of the Nuremberg laws which stripped German Jews (citizens of German in good standing in law until that point, note) of their rights as citizens, solely on the basis of their religion? Although, of course, the Nazis defined them as a “race”. Interesting, that: if they were a “race”, and thus, in some sense distinguishable from everyone else, why did they have to wear yellow stars to mark them out from the rest of the population?

    You have had the nerve to post antisemitic garbage and expect to be taken seriously.

    Let’s be honest here: you’re not curious, you’re just an antisemitic troublemaker hoping to convince some innocent who doesn’t know their history, that there might be some truth in your lies.

    Pity your contribution was considered worth posting. It’s not: it insults the intelligence and defames scholarship.

  38. zkharya Says:

    At the time, Judea was the only place where some Jews could flee with some of their capital. It was also, it turned out, one of the few places where German Jews could flee to absolute safety (before Palestinian Arabs terrorised 100s of 1000s into remaining in Europe, where they perished). Germany was already confiscating all Jewish wealth. The transfer agreement allowed some Jews to keep some of what was theirs, in addition to keeping their lives. It’s easy for you to say they should have sacrificed both in the service of your notion of justice.

    Trust you to penalise Jews for breaking some of the embargo on both their lives and property.

    “unite and crush the German people”: fine words which mean nothing. As if world Jewry could. Who taught you 20th century or any Jewish history?

    And what about a Palestinian Arab embargo on Germany?

    BTW, are you Ben White?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      No, Z, it’s not Ben White. The term “Judea” was used by Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists (later British Union Movement – no difference) to mean “Jews”. Mosley used the phrase “PJ”, meaning “Perish Judea” to end letters and, possibly, meetings. Whatever else he is, I don’t think that Ben White is a fascist or a Nazi, neo- or otherwise. Thus Maasanova is clearly a fascist, and a follower of Mosley. Is his posting name a bad joke on “new master”?

      I urge the editors that he should be barred from this site as a racist, antisemite and a fascist.

  39. sammy eppel Says:

    I was born and live in Venezuela and have been reporting on the continous state sponsored antisemitism for the past six years. The government controls most of the media and from those outlets comes the most vile attacks. Our wonderful community is not leaving the country after having lived here in peace for generations just for the hell of it. Please do not take this as a fluke, Chavez is as evil individual as was hitler and if left to do his work, the world an not just venezuelans, will suffer a great deal. sammy Eppel………

  40. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Thank you, Sammy Eppel, for reminding us of what you said, why you said it, and also that you know whereof you speak, unlike johng (John Game), “Mary” and Tony Greenstein, to name but three.

  41. Media Chronicle | Holocaust in the Baltics Says:

    […] 25 December 2009.  Haaretz: ‘Jews as canaries and hawks’ by David Hirsh. Also at: Engage. […]

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