Perpetrators of the Holocaust were not anti-Communist patriots

Dovid Katz continues to map and to oppose contemporary attempts in Eastern Europe to normalize the Holocaust and to re-cast perpetrators as anti-Communist partisans.

His latest piece is here, on Comment is Free.

Keep a regular eye on his website,

University of Johannesburg sets ultimatum for Ben Gurion University

This report is from

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) senate on Wednesday voted not to continue its link with Israel’s Ben Gurion University (BGU), unless certain conditions are met.

“The conditions are that the memorandum of understanding governing the relationship between the two institutions be amended to include Palestinian universities chosen with the direct involvement of UJ,” the university said in a statement.

“Additionally, UJ will not engage in any activities with BGU that have direct or indirect military implications, this to be monitored by UJ’s senate academic freedom committee.”

The move followed calls from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, academics and the Congress of SA Trade Unions for UJ to cut ties with BGU due to its “direct and indirect support for the Israeli military and the occupation”.

The UJ senate also requested BGU to “respect UJ’s duty (and) to take seriously, allegations of behaviour on the part of BGU’s stakeholders that is incompatible with UJ’s values”.

It called on BGU to respond to reasonable requests from UJ seeking more information about the university’s formal policies and informal practices.

Should these conditions not be met within six months, the memorandum of understanding will automatically lapse on April 1 2011, UJ said.

The senate action is the result of findings by a task team established at a special meeting of the university senate on May 17.

UJ’s deputy vice chancellor Adam Habib said: “The committee met five times with a view to finding a principled common ground on which a recommendation to senate could be advanced.

“In developing this recommendation we were mindful that our recommendation would need to be consistently applied in other similar contexts where UJ’s central values were not upheld and where human rights abuses were identified.”

More support

Earlier on Wednesday, UJ’s student representative council (SRC) added its voice to the campaign.

“As the student representative council acting on behalf of the student community of UJ, we publicly announce our support for the principled position of over 250 South African academics who have made a statement in favour of terminating the agreement,” the SRC said in a statement.

The SRC said it joined Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s vice chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz, Rhodes University’s Professor Saleem Badat, Unisa vice chancellor Professor Barney Pityana and Durban University of Technology’s Professor Dan Ncayiyana in calling for an end to agreements between the two institutions.

The Mail & Guardian reported that ties between the two institutions dated back to the 1980s.

Israel National News online said growing pressure on UJ could stop a research agreement between the institutions to collaborate on biotechnology and water purification projects.

The petition, signed by academics, called for the termination of the co-operation, arguing that scholarly work took place within a larger social context.

“The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had a disastrous effect on access to education for Palestinians.

“While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation,” the petition reads.

This piece is from

Ilan Troen responds to the campaign at the University of Johannesburg to cut links with Israeli universities

Hijacking apartheid

This piece, by Ilan Troen, is from the Jerusalem Post

In 1997, I was sent to the University of Cape Town by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to be the master of ceremonies when the president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, received an honorary doctorate from BGU. Representatives from 40 universities from South Africa and neighboring countries marched in the academic procession.

Being Israeli and Jewish was a welcome and appreciated calling card at that the event, and at others over the years. As Mandela eloquently declared in his acceptance speech: “In Ben-Gurion University of the Negev we have a center of excellence which represents the best in the traditions of the Jewish people: a sense of mission, internationalism and inventiveness.”

This May, I was again in South Africa, but this time at a special hearing before the senate of the University of Johannesburg to help respond to a petition calling for a boycott of BGU, and by implication all Israeli universities. The petition charged BGU with violating the academic freedom of a colleague who urged a boycott of Israeli universities. It also claimed human rights violations in the theft of Palestinian water resources. This allegation in particular was used to support the demand that their university abrogate a signed and functioning agreement with BGU for joint research on water use issues. Both charges echoed the now familiar claim that Israel is an apartheid state.

The first two complaints were readily answered on factual grounds. BGU has a record of supporting academic freedom and a well-documented history of research to improve water quality for all the inhabitants of the region.

We further cautioned that South Africans should beware of having their experience with apartheid hijacked for the sake of polemical advantage in advancing the political causes of others, just as Jews guard against indiscriminate applications of “Holocaust” or “genocide.”

Yet the movement to discredit Israel by comparing it to apartheid South Africa is well orchestrated and has its own momentum.

It is hard to gauge what the final result will be. A subcommittee was to have reported back to the senate today, September 29. The vice chancellor and the university administration were then to deliberate and render final judgment in a month or so. We hope that common sense and courage will guide them in their decision and that they will dismiss the absurd arguments of the detractors and vote for cooperation and collaboration.

YET JUST last week, Bishop Desmond Tutu signed a second petition calling for the suspension of any relationship with Ben- Gurion University on the grounds that it is the creation of a criminal state and complicit in its noxious behavior. Even as sanctions were used to break apartheid in his country, he argues, sanctions should be used against Israeli universities.

This new petition nowhere mentions the issue of academic freedom or violations of water rights. A host of other outrageous charges raised against Ben-Gurion University at the May senate meeting and, answered at that time, have similarly disappeared. Instead the second petition makes far more general indictments.

They constitute, in effect, an accusation against Israeli society as a whole. It is hard to understand such animus, since it so patently and deliberately rejects both reason and self-interest.

I have not entirely overcome the frustration and anger at having to answer baseless and mendacious accusations.

Yet I believe it is clear that it is not BGU and Israel who are on trial, but the academics of South Africa.

Israel is a world leader in arid-zone and water research as in much else.

Literally scores of countries have collaborative agreements with Israeli institutions.

Students and academics from around the world come to Israel, from the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, from across Africa and Europe, the US and Russia.

The University of Johannesburg cannot match that record of achievement and engagement. The much maligned water project will help produce pure water crucial for Johannesburg. To deny fellow citizens such a benefit on the pretense that this action demonstrates concern for the human rights of Palestinians and furthers their cause is a cynical effort to appear self-righteous in the absence of any serious commitment. It cannot compare with and should not be allowed to overshadow the agricultural, technical and health collaborations and assistance BGU has offered over the years to UJ and other South African universities as well as its Arab and Palestinian neighbors.

The sad irony is that the benefits of the UJ agreement are marginal for BGU.

There are many other suitors eager for cooperative arrangements. There is one benefit, though, that Mandela well expressed in welcoming an association with BGU. It is in the opportunity for service that is deeply embedded in the Zionist ethic that animates Israeli scholarship as a whole. Despite the indignity of confronting this assault on the university and the country, BGU has remained ready to reach out and share with colleagues everywhere who value what the application of good science can do for mankind.

The writer is professor emeritus of history and formerly dean of humanities and social sciences at Ben-Gurion University. He is currently director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University.

This piece, by Ilan Troen, is from the Jerusalem Post
Some links on the Israel/Apartheid analogy from Engage here

Neonazi Jobbik and “völkisch” (nationalistic) Fidesz

This is a guest post by Karl Pfeifer

It was on “9/11”, the 11th of September, that the Hungarian Neo-Nazi party Jobbik choose to celebrate it’s “Day of Hungarian-Arab Friendship”. There were proclamations by Gábor Vona, Jobbik’s leader, and by Lóránt Hegedüs jun., a pastor of the Reformed Church of Hungary and president of “Hamasz” (the official acronym of Hazafias Magyarok Szövetsége, the “Association of Patriotic Hungarians”). During the celebrations of Hungarian-Arab Friendship in Ajka both state they are sure Israel is buying up Hungary.

Nine eleven was just an excuse

What is the Western World under leadership of America doing in Afghanistan?” Vona asked rhetorically. According to him “9/11” was just an excuse for the USA to occupy Afghanistan, as the actual facts of the day are not really known. Even if the official explanation should be true (which he doubts), “9/11 was just an act of revenge by some Arab terrorists because America had been making life in Arab countries miserable and, by supporting Israel, hindered the creation of the State of Palestine.”

Vona, who spoke of his good fortune to have visited Arab countries, said that he can confirm from first hand experience that Arabs are good people who do not constantly commit suicide attacks, at least in their own countries. He believes they have no chance to defend their rights, and fell victim of a battle for raw material. “Lets thank Lóránt Hegedüs jun. that the local Arabs now have the opportunity to express their opinion in a Reformed church, because they are not allowed to do so elsewhere.”

According to Vona Jobbik is fighting against the Israeli occupation of Hungary. His proof: a quote by Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, who stated publicly, at an economic conference, that Israeli realtors are buying up Hungary. As the statement was never denied, he considers it to be an official declaration of intent.

According to Vona “the days of Israel in the middle of an Arab sea are numbered”; the failure in Afghanistan proves how strong and forceful Islamic countries are. Therefore the Israelis are looking around for a new homeland, and have decided on Hungary, where the soil, food and water are good, and the inhabitants have been mistreated so much and for so long that they might not notice that their land is being occupied.

Jobbik MP wants concentration camps in Hungary

The “völkisch” (nationalistic) Fidesz-KDNP party wants to be considered abroad as a normal conservative party. However in Fidesz aligned Media, for instance in the daily „Magyar Hirlap“ [1], Jobbik’s MP Gábor Staudt can propose seriously to concentrate criminal Gypsies and their families in “settlements for the defense of the public good”, an euphemism for concentration camps. Prison inmates would have to work on buildings, the homeless on public works. And Staudt, Jobbik’s official candidate for mayor of Budapest, would intern socialists (MSZP-members) as well.

He “doesn’t understand” why Fidesz does not support Jobbik’s idea to create “settlements for the defense of the public good”. After all Fidesz proposed in parliament a law – supported by Jobbik – to sanction petty crime with confinement.

Crime has no skin-color, and perpetrators must be held accountable to an objective standard. But this doesn’t mean that Gypsy crime should not be dealt with.“

However coded the words may be, there’s no doubt that Jobbik wants to set up concentration camps in Hungary for all those it does not like: Jews, Gypsies, Socialists, Homosexuals and others.

It is high time for the EU, which is so quick to condemn France for expelling Gypsies, not to close its eyes to what happens in the middle of Europe in Hungary.

Jobbik attacks Hungarian history

Eva Balogh publishes her comments on Hungarian affairs almost every day in English.

I highly recommend her Website:

Two days ago she wrote: “Huge political controversies can erupt in Hungary, even on Sundays. Here is the latest. Yesterday morning Árpád Szakács, a lawyer and history buff, gave a press conference in front of the Budapest Public Library named after its founder and chief librarian, Ervin Szabó (1877-1918). He demanded the removal of Szabó’s name because he was a communist.

First, some background. On September 16 MTI (Hungarian News Agency) reported that a group of historians established a foundation “to correct and neutralize the negative influence of Marxist historical writing that is still perceptible” in Hungary. The new organization is called the Foundation for National Conservative Historical Research and is headed by Gábor Vincze, editor-in-chief of a publication called Nagy Magyarország (Great Hungary). As the people close to the publication explained, the name cannot cause any confusion concerning possible revisionist tendencies b cause the title is not Nagymagyarország or Nagy-Magyarország, which would designate Greater Hungary. No, they simply want to make it clear that their research extends to all regions of the Carpathian Basin. I might add here that this has been always the case in Hungarian historiography and the distinction seems forced to me… What I find astonishing is that reactions to Szakács’s demands pro and con talk about everything, including the nature of Ervin Szabó’s political views, except what is really important: the far right is working on rewriting Hungarian history. They are trying to eradicate all traces of the Hungarian social democratic tradition of which Ervin Szabó was a part.

The Jobbik attack on Hungarian history began with an assault on Mihály Károlyi, the prime minister, later president of Hungary in 1918-1919. They demanded the removal of his statue that stands close to Parliament because, according to them, Károlyi was a traitor who was responsible for the Treaty of Trianon and who handed over power to the communists. I’m not planning to go into the details of this very confusing period, but believe me that Károlyi didn’t do anything of the sort. He happened to be a decent man who thought that because of his well-known pro-Entente stance the Great Powers would be kinder to Hungary. As we know, that was not the case. The accusation that he handed over power to the communists is also baseless.

One could easily ignore Jobbik’s demands if they didn’t receive support from important Fidesz politicians. In the case of the Károlyi controversy it was László Kövér, the speaker of the house, who came to the rescue. Yes, he said, Károlyi’s statue must go. He even had a suggestion about who should receive a statue in its place: Anna Kéthly, one of the leaders of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party who ended her life in exile after the 1956 Revolution.

There is no question that Ervin Szabó was a socialist who translated the works of Marx and Engels into Hungarian with his own introductions. It is also true that in his later years he was attracted to revolutionary syndicalism, but it seems to me that Jobbik’s real problem with Szabó is his total rejection of any kind of nationalism. If we had all read Magyar Hírlap religiously we could have predicted that Ervin Szabó would soon be a target. Gábor Szabó, one of the founders of Jobbik and the Hungarian Guard, wrote an article in Magyar Hírlap (September 17, 2010) about Ervin Szabó entitled “An anti-Hungarian ‘revolutionary.'”(In fact, in the original it was “népforradalmár” [people’s revolutionary], a word that doesn’t exist and makes no sense.) In it, he accused Ervin Szabó of being the initiator of the Hungarian socialist movement’s antagonism toward natonalism which is of course nonsense. After all, social democracy was a movement based on internationalism.

In any case, in those days being a social democrat or a syndicalist or a translator of Marx and Engels was tolerated by the authorities. Ervin Szabó published widely in Népszava, the official organ of the Hungarian Social Democratic party, he became founder and chief librarian of the Municipal Library and was also accepted in Hungarian liberal circles. But this world is totally alien to Jobbik’s leaders. Even historical figures who don’t share their worldview must be banished. Their statues must be removed, streets or institutions named after them must be renamed: they were communists, traitors, “nemzetietlen,” or whatever. They held opinions different from what Jobbik considers to be acceptable. And that’s enough.

Géza Szőcs, born and educated in Romania, decided to support Jobbik in its quest to marginalize Ervin Szabó, the man who introduced the public library system to Hungary. Szőcs is a poet and writer who was picked by Viktor Orbán himself to head what used to be the ministry of culture. A few months ago Szőcs got all mixed up between linguistics and DNA; echoing Jobbik’s infatuation with Kazakhstan, he promised money and government support to find the real relatives of the Hungarians in that region. He now wholeheartedly supports Jobbik’s demand to remove Ervin Szabó’s name from the Municipal Library network in Budapest. After all, he knows so much about syndicalism. Just as much as he knows about the origins of Hungarians.

And now we come to the crux of the matter. We don’t know where Jobbik ends and Fidesz begins. The Hungarian right is composed of shades of radicalism that has nothing to do with conservatism even if Jobbik’s historians call themselves “nationalist” and “conservative.” The editors of Nagy Magyarország proudly claim that well-known, mainstream historians, economists, and academics have published in their quarterly. And indeed, Géza Szőcs himself appeared in the very first issue which was devoted to Trianon. We find in subsequent issues the names of the late Jenő Gergely, ELTE professor of history, Ernő Raffay, historian and undersecretary in the Antall government, Sándor Szakály, military historian, László Bogár, economist, member of the first Orbán government, and one could go on.

With thousands of threads these people are connected to one another and thus it will be practically impossible to get rid of Jobbik. Or, rather, one can destroy it as a party, and Viktor Orbán is very skillful at such maneuvers, but the spirit will live on in any party that claims to belong to the right.” [2]

PS. The neonazi Website hunhir commented the initiative to change the name of Budapest city library: „It does not behove one of the most important national institutions of the land to flaunt the name of an ultra-leftist Judeo-Bolshewik ideologue, a trailblazer of the Jewish Rat-republic.”



The “moderate” Qaradawi

Edmund Standing rounds up what the man Livingstone embraced at City Hall thinks. On Harry’s Place.

Livingstone cuddling up to antisemite Qaradawi

OPINION SOUP: Are Jews Ashamed of being Jewish?

Monday 25th October

Is Jewish identity in crisis? Does the prevailing world view of Israel make us feel uncomfortable, ashamed even? Does it jar with our self-image as a liberal people?

And has proving those liberal credentials to non-Jews become more important to us than identifying with the Jewish state?

British Jews who publicly oppose Israel often say they are the true upholders of the time-honoured Jewish values of social justice and compassion. Their detractors say that far from turning to their Jewish identity, they are turning against it.

And is Jewishness now always refracted through the prism of Israel, or can we be proud British Jews, irrespective of what’s happening in the most Jewish place on earth?

Join celebrated novelist and broadcaster Howard Jacobson

philosopher at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, Brian Klug

former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research Antony Lerman

award-winning journalist and commentator Melanie Phillips.

This compelling discussion will be chaired by JC editor Stephen Pollard.

After the discussion, Howard Jacobson will be signing copies of his latest novel The Finkler Question which has been shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker prize. Brian Klug will be signing copies of his book Being Jewish and Doing Justice, which comes out in October, and Melanie Phillips will be signing copies of her new book The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power.

8pm, Hampstead Town Hall, 213 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4QP, £10 in advance, £12 on the door

To book Click here

Livingstone and Qaradawi

Livingstone still can’t admit the truth about Qaradawi who he has trouble seeing as an individual.  Here.

Jewish objectivity called into question by MEMO

Matthew Gould is Britain’s new ambassador to Israel. Modernity has discovered that he blogs.

In a post about a flimsy think tank called MEMO, he observes how your credibility to comment on Middle East matters is called into question if you are Jewish and not hostile to Israel, and paradoxically how readily Jewishness can be used to give credibility to criticism of or hostility to Israel.

New blog on antisemitism

TUC is not thinking clearly on Israel and Palestine

Eric Lee on the British Trades Union Congress position here.