AWL statement on Clare Solomon’s antisemitic comments

Workers Liberty  have issued the following  statement. The original statement is here.

No to right-wing witch-hunts, no to ‘left’ anti-semitism

Shortly before Christmas, the media picked up on anti-semitic comments made on Facebook by University of London Union President Clare Solomon (a member of Counterfire, a group expelled from the SWP). This is an issue where the student left should proceed carefully, because these new media attacks on Clare cannot be entirely separated from an ongoing right-wing campaign to discredit the student movement. We must vigorously oppose such witch-hunts. At the same time, as left activists within the student movement, we see it as our duty to condemn Clare’s comments and moreover to criticise the deeply flawed brand of left politics out of which they emerged.

This is what Clare said:

“Actually, there is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race’. Yes, there is the Jewish religion but not a Jewish people per se. Identity politics is a very fashionable argument at the moment. It questions the samenesses that group people together. I think you’ll find that there is no one way of being Jewish.

“The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians.

“Although history is obviously a little hard to revisit, it is wrong to write off all the places where Jews, Muslims and Christians (and other faiths/non-faiths) have lived together.

“I think you’ll also find that ALL religions have had their oppressors-some worse than others true, but to paint the picture that ALL Jews have ALWAYS had to flee persecution is just plainly inaccurate.”
(Italics our emphasis)

Before we go any further, we want to make it absolutely clear that we are not chiming in with the predominantly right-wing thrust of most of the coverage so far. Clare’s comments were made on 1 May; they seem to have been brought up now, seven months later, as part of a right-wing campaign to discredit the growing student anti-cuts movement. In particular, the Daily Mail has openly tried to ‘tag’ the whole student activist movement with Clare’s comments and by doing so discredit our magnificent fightback.

As president of ULU and a high profile figure in the recent protests, Clare has come under attack from the right repeatedly. The current furore cannot be entirely separated from those attacks. We condemn such attempts to undermine our movement – particularly from the likes of the Daily Mail, with its own rabid record of racism including a history of anti-semitism (“Hurrah for the Blackshirts!”) We oppose the pseudo-campaign to oust Clare – which in concrete terms, if it really amounted to anything, would be a right-wing campaign to remove a prominent left-wing student officer. And the implication that the student struggle against fees and cuts is defined by Clare’s politics on the questions of Israel-Palestine and anti-semitism is wrong and should be resisted.

Nonetheless, Clare’s comments are now public and require a response. We do not accept the Tory press’ right to act as the arbiter of anti-racist standards in our movement; but that is all the more reason why left-wing student activists have a duty to speak out according to our own standards.

What Clare wrote is anti-semitic – and she does not deny she wrote it. She was quoted in the Queen Mary student newspaper explaining herself: “This badly-worded comment was something that I wrote in haste on Facebook at a very busy period. I’m sorry for any misunderstandings caused by what I wrote.” She effectively retracted the worst bit of what she had said (the bit in italics above): “My position is that Jewish people have always been persecuted throughout history nowhere more than during the holocaust when 6 million were murdered by the Nazi’s [sic]. I am totally against anti-Semitism and any persecution and oppression of Jewish people as I am against the oppression people [sic] on the grounds of any race or religion.”

Writing in haste is no excuse. In fact, carelessness probably revealed an underlying train of political thought. That Clare has made a retraction is welcome, but it does not solve the broader political issue.

The question is: why would a socialist write something like that? But it is not just a case of Clare Solomon! Many on the far left, most notably the SWP and now Counterfire, have adopted politics on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which push them in the direction of such stupidity. In place of rational criticism of Israel and condemnation of the Israeli government’s colonial war against the Palestinians, we get a mindless condemnation of all things Israeli or connected to Israel, and a grotesquely distorted version of “anti-Zionism” which in some cases can veer into conspiracy theories and, yes, anti-semitism.

One common element is the presentation of Israel’s founding, and its dispossession of the Palestinians, as purely and simply a malign conspiracy by Zionists, writing out or minimising the history of anti-semitic persecution, the Holocaust, the complex role of British imperialism (playing off the two nationalities against each other, rather than simply backing the Jews against the Arabs as is often claimed) and attacks on Israel by the surrounding Arab states.

This is the political matrix from which Clare’s claim that the history of anti-semitism has been invented in order to do down the Palestinians emerged. (We don’t deny, of course, that some, for instance on the Israeli right, cry anti-semitism even at legitimate, rational, anti-racist criticism of the Israeli government. But that is a different issue – and the point is that Clare’s criticism was not that sort!)

This is part of a wider phenomenon on the British left. Witness, for instance, the SWP’s repeated invitations to anti-semitic conspiracy theorist Gilad Atzmon to speak at their events as an authority on Palestinian solidarity; or their promotion of Hamas and Hezbollah in the anti-war movement. Obviously no socialist is individually hostile to Jewish people in the way the far right is; the problem is the politics advocated by some socialists.

While defending our movement and its activists against the attacks of the right, Workers’ Liberty will continue to challenge the politics which prompted Clare to make the comments she did from our own, socialist, point of view, fighting within the student movement for consistent opposition to all forms of racism, and rational solidarity with the Palestinians in place of demonising Israel.

100 Responses to “AWL statement on Clare Solomon’s antisemitic comments”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    “Obviously no socialist is individually hostile to Jewish people in the way the far right is; the problem is the politics advocated by some socialists.”

    Umm, I wish I could believe that. I wonder why I feel under _personal_ attack whenever this sort of statement is made, or the left BDS movement come out with their further efforts to, in effect, demonise Israel? There are a fair number of people on the left who make such comments: Tom Hickey for example:

    “In the case of Israel, we are speaking about a society whose dominant self image is one of a bastion of civilisation in a sea of medieval reaction. 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.” BMJ online, 19.07.07.

    And if this isn’t antisemitic, to say nothing of racist, then what is? After all, Hickey is generally taken to be on the left.

  2. Sacha Ismail Says:

    Sure. But I very much doubt Hickey is personally hostile to Jewish people! In fact, I imagine some of his best friends are Jewish!

  3. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Well the Union of Socialist Republics was leading from 1950 und until the late 80ies of the last century an antisemitic campaign.
    Antizionism is the antiimperialism of fools. It goes together with the denial of the existence of a Jewish people and with a pretended universalism granting every people on earth the right to exist except the Jewish people.

    • conchovor Says:

      ‘ It goes together with the denial of the existence of a Jewish people’

      Except the USSR didn’t: on every Jew’s papers was Natsionalnost: Evreiski.

      The USSR believed in Jewish nationality, as had the Tzarist and all other Christian empires before. Even if Shlomo Sand didn’t, stuck in his French time machine that doesn’t go further back than 1805.

  4. Sacha Ismail Says:

    Yes, indeed. And the USSR’s anti-semitic “anti-Zionist” campaigns were one of the many aspects of Stalinism which my group has worked for decades to highlight.

    Clearly denying the Jewish, Hebrew-speaking people of Palestine the right to self-determination is a violation of consistently democratic principle.

    • Steve Silver Says:

      Of course it is true that during the Stalin era – and beyond – antisemitism, thinly veiled as anti-Zionism, existed in the Soviet Union and terrible crimes were committed because of it.
      However, antisemitism on the left predated Stalin and the existence of the Soviet Union and could be found, unveiled, in the early British socialist organisations for example.
      Without a doubt the main carriers of this foul disease in Britain in recent decades has been Trotskyists of the WRP, SWP and a myriad of splinter and similar organisations.

  5. Mikey Says:

    For information, I have been discussing this matter with Sacha where the post was originally published:

    http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2010/12/29/no-right-wing-witch-hunts-no-left-anti-semitism

  6. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Sacha, not much has changed since the USSR started with that campaign. We have the same world conspiracy theory and ritual murder accusations.
    Now the antiimps even pretend that all the problems of the Middle East would be solved, if only there would be no Israel.
    It is the old irrational mantra at work.
    Only now the extreme right, the Islamist and the antiimps try to create a unity based only on antisemitism (pardon) “antizionism”. And of course those Jews, who are ready to participate in this choir are good decent Jews.

  7. zumb Says:

    “Actually, there is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race’. Yes, there is the Jewish religion but not a Jewish people per se. Identity politics is a very fashionable argument at the moment.”

    I wonder when ignorant academics will start paying attention to Science (and the journal Nature🙂. The Jewish people is genetically and ethnically well defined and yes, they came from the middle east. That’s the science and that’s the truth.
    See:
    The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people. Nature. 2010 Jul 8;466(7303):238-42.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20531471

    If people continue to deny hard scientific evidence, they do it at their own peril. They may as well deny the laws of evolution and gravity.

    • Raphael Says:

      Zumb
      This article certainly does not demonstrate the existence of “the Jewish race”, and indeed, it is correct to say that there is no such thing as the “Jewish race”. There is a Jewish people, a Jewish nation, etc, but there is only one human race and it is the human race. This kind of studies of patterns of genes in human populations can be harnessed by racists to reinvent biological racism. This should not go unchallenged.
      The UNESCO statement on the “Race question”, written just after WWII, is useful reading:
      http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001282/128291eo.pdf

    • Yehuda Erdman Says:

      zumb
      This is a very dangerous line to pursue because it leads down the road of racial superiority (or inferiority depending on your point of view). The concept that Jews are intellectually superior which has been advanced on the internet by the thesis that Jews have won more Nobel prizes than others is not credible as far as I am concerned.
      From the point of view of analysis of relatedness of genes and considering the huge size of the human genome, it has been shown that the differences between various groups of humans is very small indeed. Undoubtedly if you look at populations such as Iceland where there has been lack of mobility for hundreds of years there are demonstrable genetic similarities in the population. In your post you stated that the Jews were of middle east origin, which I accept but you must accept that in approximately 2000 years of their history, the Jews were in diaspora in the West as well as the East and inevitably by conversions and other means of introducing genetic variation there is now much differentiation in the genetic makeup of Jews. Indeed from the point of view of inherited disorders it is considered unhealthy for anyone to marry closely within family groups.

  8. Bialik Says:

    “Obviously no socialist is individually hostile to Jewish people in the way the far right is; the problem is the politics advocated by some socialists.”

    Not in public, perhaps.

  9. Adam Levick Says:

    While the condemnation of Solomon’s anti-Semitism is to be commended, I find this passage quite disturbing:

    “In place of rational criticism of Israel and condemnation of the Israeli government’s colonial war against the Palestinians, we get a mindless condemnation of all things Israeli or connected to Israel, and a grotesquely distorted version of “anti-Zionism” which in some cases can veer into conspiracy theories and, yes, anti-semitism.”

    To describe the I-P conflict as a “Colonial War” against the Palestinians is a trope which has the effect, if not intent, of assaulting Israel’s very legitimacy and, thus, should be a considered beyond the pale.

    I’d frankly be surprised if the editors of Engage, an admirable organization, didn’t share my concerns regarding the use of such language.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      I share Adam Levick’s concerns regarding that phrase, but there are, in my view, bigger fish to fry in this matter.

      I am not an editor of Engage, just a serial commenter.

  10. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Sacha Ismail says above “But I very much doubt Hickey is personally hostile to Jewish people! In fact, I imagine some of his best friends are Jewish!” Okay, the second sentence is irony. However, it has been noted in these columns that there are people who use antisemitic (and possibly racist) tropes without themselves being antisemitic (or racist).

    In that case, when this is pointed out to them, one would expect either an apology, a correction or a retraction. Solomon offers a sort of apology (and numerous of us here have commented on just how “sort of” it is). Hickey has never, to my knowledge, apologised, explained or in any way revisited or attempted to retract the BMJ article and the passage constantly extracted from it – the one above. If, as Sacha Ismail suggests, Hickey doesn’t have a personal antipathy to Jews, only a political antipathy to Israel, why has he _never_ revisited this quote? He can hardly be unaware of the “publicity” it has received.

    One can only assume that he stands by it, and by the implications drawn from it by numerous people.

    • Philip Says:

      I would agree that Hickey should revisit his comments.

      In that case, when this is pointed out to them, one would expect either an apology, a correction or a retraction.

      Actually, I would add to that respectful disagreement. At the margins, I think it’s possible to disagree about exactly what constitutes a racist statement. And I think one should be careful about making oneself the arbiter in such cases, especially when one has personal / emotional / sentimental attachment.

      But as I say, Hickey needs to apologise.

  11. Noga Says:

    “Clare’s comments were made on 1 May; they seem to have been brought up now, seven months later, as part of a right-wing campaign to discredit the growing student anti-cuts movement. ”

    The counter point to this statement is that for seven months none of Clare’s FB’s friends and readers saw fit to publicize these comments. They all kept quiet. How so? Is it because they are all Leftists interested in keeping such fulminations under wraps? Or is it because they don’t recognize them as antisemitic? If the former, then they are no less culpable than those cynical right-wing campaigners who only care about antisemitism when it serves their own ends. If the latter, then it’s a real stinkbomb for the virtuous Left, which they will hardly be able to clear away by claiming it’s a dirty Right-wing campaign trick.

    BTW, when the details of Henry Kissinger’s comments to Nixon about Soviet Jewry became public knowledge, via the NY times (if I remember correctly) a few weeks ago, I didn’t read anywhere that the NYtimes was being blamed for their publication in a Left-wing campaign to discredit the Right. And no one minded in the least that those comments were made 35 years ago.

  12. Sacha Says:

    Because Hickey is a semi-Stalinist political thug, that’s why! How often does an SWPer retract anything? My guess (purely a guess) is that if Solomon was still in the SWP she would have been less likely to make that apology.

    Yes, indeed, the fact that none of Solomon’s leftist friends and correspondents blew the whistle is significant. Equally, none of the large number of student movement right-wingers she is in contact with did so either. Or if they did, the Daily Mail kept in its back pocket till now.
    The AWL is not suggesting that this is a right-wing “dirty tricks” campaign. We haven’t said anything about dirty tricks. But there is a right-wing campaign against Solomon and others in the left-wing student movement, and it seems obvious that this is not entirely separable from that.

    Lastly: excuse me, how on earth does the claim that Israel is fighting a colonial war against the Palestinians undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a national entity? (Which is what I assume you mean – it certainly does undermine the “legitimacy” of this disgraceful Israeli government!)
    I spent some time in both Israel and the West Bank last month, and if you want I can explain in some detail in what sense Israel’s policy in the latter is colonial.
    Or see here http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2010/12/16/how-settlers-and-army-carve-west-bank

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “Because Hickey is a semi-Stalinist political thug, that’s why! How often does an SWPer retract anything?”

      Nonetheless, his failure to retract, etc, irrespective of his political persona, must make his motives suspect (to put it no more strongly than that).

      As for “Lastly: excuse me, how on earth does the claim that Israel is fighting a colonial war against the Palestinians undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a national entity? (Which is what I assume you mean – it certainly does undermine the “legitimacy” of this disgraceful Israeli government!)”, I have no idea, as it wasn’t me that wrote that, it was Adam Levick. While I share his worries about that: at the very least, left as a bland assertion, it demands a hard argument; without the argument, it comes across as sloppy and loose thinking.

      Whatever the argument, such a claim in no way undermines the legitimacy of the current Israeli government, unless you know something about the last election in Israel that we don’t.

  13. Sacha Says:

    On Kissinger, let us leave aside the fact that his comments were much worse than Clare Solomon’s.

    If in the early 70s I was a serious right-winger who valued his role for American imperialism, and at the time as a left-wing clamour for his head in connection to some other very big recent outrage (ie an analogy with the student demos), the comment about the Soviet Jews had come out – I might have criticised him, but yes I would have defended him because I wouldn’t want the left to defeat my government.

    Or, more likely if I was such a right-winger, I would say nothing (or participate in the cover up). As a socialist, in contrast, I am consistent and regard it as a duty to attack people in some senses on my own side – but I don’t forget to see the whole picture.

  14. Clap Hammer Says:

    At some point, every left leaning person has to decide which way they are going. Radical left or responsible left.

    Clare Solomon has made her choice and does not belong to the rational world anymore.

  15. Clap Hammer Says:

    Noga Says: BTW, when the details of Henry Kissinger’s comments to Nixon about Soviet Jewry became public knowledge, via the NY times (if I remember correctly) a few weeks ago, I didn’t read anywhere that the NYtimes was being blamed for their publication in a Left-wing campaign to discredit the Right. And no one minded in the least that those comments were made 35 years ago.

    Yes. Henry apologized for his comments saying that they should never have been said.

    Claire has said nothing.

  16. Richard Gold Says:

    Adam :


    “To describe the I-P conflict as a “Colonial War” against the Palestinians is a trope which has the effect, if not intent, of assaulting Israel’s very legitimacy and, thus, should be a considered beyond the pale.”

    I think Sacha is simply stating that he’s against the occupation of The West Bank and is against the growing settlements.

  17. Sacha Ismail Says:

    Actually what Clare said is:
    “This badly-worded comment was something that I wrote in haste on Facebook at a very busy period. I’m sorry for any misunderstandings caused by what I wrote… My position is that Jewish people have always been persecuted throughout history nowhere more than during the holocaust when 6 million were murdered by the Nazi’s [sic]. I am totally against anti-Semitism and any persecution and oppression of Jewish people as I am against the oppression people [sic] on the grounds of any race or religion.”

    Nowhere near enough – of course it wouldn’t be, given her politics – but not nothing.

    Is the AWL radical left or responsible left? Because in fact I regard my organisation as MORE left-wing than Clare Solomon – in our attitude to Palestine but also in terms of fighting the class struggle (smashed windows etc!)

    “While I share his worries about that: at the very least, left as a bland assertion, it demands a hard argument; without the argument, it comes across as sloppy and loose thinking.”

    Don’t be ridiculous. It’s an article about Clare Solomon and left anti-semitism (and right-wing attacks on the student movement), not a detailed piece about Israel’s policy in the West Bank (Engage’s editorial team have made a similar point repeatedly!) It’s not sloppy at all, but a summary. The reason you object to seems to be that you object to the sharp criticism of anything Israeli, even the Israeli government. If so, this is the mirror image of Solomon and her ilk!

    I’ve posted a link where I explain in detail how Israel’s policy against the Palestinians is colonial. In contrast, you seem to just object to the word because it triggers your ‘defend Israel’ mechanism. Be concrete! Or if I’m wrong about your view, correct me.

    “Whatever the argument, such a claim in no way undermines the legitimacy of the current Israeli government, unless you know something about the last election in Israel that we don’t”

    The moral legitimacy! Or does any government that wins an election deserves our support?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Sacha, you omitted the word “moral” earlier. Legitimacy in this context has both meanings: the election wasn’t stolen in legal, vote rigging terms (unlike numerous others we could name), and also, of course, moral legitimacy. In the sense that the current Israeli government has little in the way of a moral compass (or what I would recognise as one), I agree with you.

      However, words and how they are used are important (see yesspam elsewhere in these columns). I have serious problems with successive Israeli governments actions on the West Bank, but I think a separate discussion is needed on the use of _that_ word. Like many others, I wish for a 2 state solution, I believe that there should no Israeli settlements outside the ’67 Green Line, and so forth.

      It’s just that nearly 4 decades of the academy have taught me that the careful use of language is vital.

      Apologies for any misunderstanding between, and what AO says below this comment.

  18. Absolute Observer Says:

    It is interesting how some of the comments mirror the trolls that often appear on Engage.

    This thread started with the AWL’s take on the place of antisemitism on the left and how it must be rejected along with how it can be separated from criticism of Israel and ends with a seemingly semantic argument about the word “colonialism”.

    Sacha’s depiction of Israel’s occupation of the WB and the settlements that it is building is colonialism, or, at best, creeping colonialism.

    For many of the right, those settlements, built on land outside Israel’s borders, is to be considered part of Israel proper (a view shared by many antizionists and BDS campaigners who also refuse to see a difference between Israel and the OT).

    For many on the left (and left of centre) in Israel and elsewhere such thinking is nothing more than an attempt to colonise.

    Sacha’s views appear to me to be of the latter; a recognition of Israel as a legitimate state and criticism of a specific state policy whilst leaving that legitimacy beyond question. In other words, Sacha sees nothing “special” about Israel and has the political integrity to treat it, as he says, as he would any other state, whilst at the same time, refusing not only to fall for the populist antisemtism that accompanise such alleged “criticism”, but being honest enough to raise it as an important issue.

    And, on this point, it is worth recalling Engage’s founding statement,

    “Engage is a left wing campaign. We “support” neither Israel nor Palestine; we support a cosmopolitan or internationalist politics that supports those who fight for peace and against racism within both nations. We are not a “Jewish” campaign, whatever that might mean. We do not speak “as Jews” but as socialists, liberals, trade unionists or academics. A number of the people centrally involved in Engage are not Jewish.

    There are plenty of people in the world who fly the Israeli flag, defend whatever Israel does, and regard Palestinians as being incurable rejectionists, terrorists or fundamentalists. There are plenty of others that fly the Palestinian flag and regard Israel as being an “oppressor” state, an essentially, unchangably racist, illegitimate, imperialist or apartheid state.

    Engage comes out of a socialist tradition that maintains a skeptical view of nationalism. We do not see nationalism as necessarily racist or evil, but neither is it our own tradition; we are not nationalists. To the extent that nationalism defines community, and as far as nationalism represents a collective response to oppression, or a means of self-defence, we recognise that nationalism sometimes plays a positive role. Yet nationalism always also has potential to exclude those who are not thought of as being part of the nation and it has the potential to set one nation against another. This does not mean that we hope that nationalism (or particular nations) can be wished away or artificially destroyed. It means that our perspective is not one that puts any particular nation first, but one that aspires to a world in which people can enjoy guaranteed rights irrespective of national identity.”

  19. Noga Says:

    I can see my last comment did not make through the moderation. I wonder why. Is Sacha not to be held accountable for the kind of reckless language he uses, when he chooses the loaded term “colonial” to describe Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians?

    I have no problem with Sacha criticizing specific Israeli policies, but I do have a problem when he tries to impose on this conflict a narrative that to support its own premises, uses language befitting the historical adventures of world empires. Does Sacha indeed support a two-state solution? If so, what kind of two states does he have in mind?

    • Richard Gold Says:

      Noga, why don’t you check out the Workers’ Liberty site to see their position on Israel. They’ve published quite a lot on Israel. They’ve published quite a lot on antisemitism as well – which is what this article is about.

  20. Sacha Says:

    I’m going to leave the argument about “legitimacy” there, except to say it’s absolutely clear that I didn’t mean it had “stolen” an election or anything like that!

    Thanks, Absolute Observer and Richard!

    I think “colonial” is a straightforward and reasonable description of occupying and controlling another people’s territory, planting your settlers on it, using your army to defend their rights against those of the inhabitants, controllings its borders and building a wall around them which, btw, annexes lots of resources and territory, forcing people to go through checkpoints, from time to time occupying the cities etc etc etc etc. It’s not just a question of this or that policy! It’s a question of the whole nature of Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians. One is an oppressed nation, the other the oppressor (though an odd oppressor, potentially under threat of becoming oppressed itself – whether or not this is a real possibility, it is something that is an understandable part of the consciousness of that nation’s masses, not simply chauvinism).

    I don’t understand the idea that “colonial” can only be used to describe huge world empires. So what Serbia did in Kosova was not colonialism (or imperialism)? Where exactly does one draw the line? Funnily enough, that is the same argument I’ve heard Stalinist-type ‘leftists’ use to defend Serbia; you’re using it to defend Israel! (No, I’m not saying the Israeli regime is the same as Milosevic’s…)

    I think this argument is actually quite important. It’s perfectly possible to defend and champion Israel’s right to self-determination while also condemning what it does to the Palestinians in these (in my view highly accurate) terms.

  21. Sacha Says:

    Yes, two states. We use the slogan “For a Palestinian state with the same rights as Israel”. Withdraw the troops, take down the Wall, evacuate the settlements and hand them over to the Palestinians. An independent state on the 1967 borders with full control over its territory and borders. Any land swaps to be negotiated from that starting point. Reparations from Israel, the US and EU. A negotiated settlement to the refugee question. After separation may come federation. As a longer term goal, a democratic federation of the Middle East!
    Clear enough?

  22. Absolute Observer Says:

    “After separation may come federation. As a longer term goal, a democratic federation of the Middle East!”

    Yes!!

  23. Noga Says:

    Israel/Palestine federation will only emerge as a result of two small nations coming to the realization that pooling their resources together will have a direct impact on their well being and prosperity. For that to happen, a massive paradigm shift will be required to take place in the way Palestinians think about themselves and their relationship to this world of nations. This calls for very arduous and systematic re-education of the masses. I don’t see it happening. Palestinians enjoy their hatred and resentment of Israel too much to give them up.

    There are ways of neutralizing hatreds. For that you need a leadership that has a vision of a genuinely peaceful future and the courage to stand behind it. So these fantasies are all nice and well, but do not bring us even one step closer to actually solving the conflict. And of course if Sacha, who is obviously a moderate among the Far Left, can only conceive of a pure revolution as the first and only given condition for achieving some mode of co-existence, then we can safely look forward to more bloodshed and war.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      “And of course if Sacha, who is obviously a moderate among the Far Left, can only conceive of a pure revolution as the first and only given condition for achieving some mode of co-existence, then we can safely look forward to more bloodshed and war.”

      But Sacha supports a 2 states settlement and then the possibility of a federation. Not quite the ” first and only given condition for achieving some mode of co-existence” that you say. Arguing for the sake of it…………….

      • Noga Says:

        Do you see anything particularly doable in Sacha’s rigid formula for a “two state solution” of Let’s go back to June 4, 1967 and then we might start talking?

        I’m trying to penetrate through the fog of stiff ideology and implacable “justice” that Sacha seems to promote as a “moderate”. I’d like to understand how serious he is about finding a workable solution and how much he is doing to influence Palestinians to deal with the term “compromise”.

        I can’t see anyone here, on this declaratively non-Zionist blog, trying to actually excavate into what Sacha is offering Israelis who want to reach some agreement with their neigbours.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          So Sacha believes in a 2 state settlement along the 67 border. Seems like a fair position to hold unless you support the settlements. And he also then goes on to talk about land swaps. Sounds like a left zionist position to me. And as Sacha isn’t negotiating, he doesn’t have to hold back anything as part of a negotiated settlement. Noga, go argue with the enemy not a representative from a group which for over twenty years has consistently argued for 2 states and argued against those on the far left who refuse to recognise Israel. Not to mention their numerous attacks against antisemitism on the left and against the demonisation of Israel. don’t think this is a suitable forum for you Noga as you just argue for the sake of it.

  24. Borochov Says:

    “Trotskyists I’d Be Happy To Have Around For Pints At My Local”

    http://transmontanus.blogspot.com/2010/11/trotskyists-id-be-happy-to-have-round.html

  25. Sacha Ismail Says:

    Richard has dealt with some of the important points (thanks).
    Noga, when you say that you don’t see a shift in the Palestinians masses’ consciousness happening because “Palestinians enjoy their hatred and resentment of Israel too much to give them up”, I could see where you were coming from IF you noted the same things about the Israeli masses’ – who are, to put it mildly, not exactly internationalist in their attitude to the Palestinians!
    But in fact you apply a different standard there, because you seem to be an Israeli chauvinist.
    It is the Israelis who are occupying and colonising the Palestinians’ land, not the other way round! That is not the only fact in the conflict, but it is a central one.

  26. Noga Says:

    Obviously, Sacha, you are incapable of speaking in anything but Rococo Left cliches: Israeli chauvinist, internationalist. I’m left pretty cold by these tired sentimental outbursts with their anachronistic tabulations.

    There can be no comparability between the place hatred for Israel as the core of Palestinian nationhood and Israelis’ hatred of Palestinians which is the more “normal” type of hatred towards an enemy that openly and daily declares his aim is to destroy and annihilate you.

    Israel underwent its paradigm shift when Ben Gurion accepted 1947 UN Partition resolution. Re-affirmed in 1967, with 242. Again, with Oslo Accords. Again, in Camp David II. again, with Olmert’s proposals.

    From the Palestinians we get reverberating “NO”s, campaigns of terror, low-intensity terror, and threats of terror. There are other possibilities. Palestinians can be taught, told for a change, that “compromise” is not a dirty word and often is the only ethical solution to be had from a pretty meagre selection of solutions.

  27. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    @Sacha:
    “It is the Israelis who are occupying and colonising the Palestinians’ land, not the other way round! That is not the only fact in the conflict, but it is a central one”
    No the central fact of the conflict is, that Jews should be dhimmis, have no right whatsoever to the land between the see and the Jordan. As Noga points out no compromise was ever agreed upon by the Palestinian side.
    Now it looks, that some Palestinians are ready to make such a compromise, but now they can get only less.
    And I always wonder how sloppy people are when they use the word colonialism. One does not need to be a marxist to know, that the colonialism of let’s say England was based on exploitation of cheap labour and exporting every penny of profits made in the colonies. Zionists did not exploit cheap Arab labour and channeled a lot of capital in that barren land.

  28. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Come on Noga, you’re way over the top now as far as Sacha is concerned. I’m not sure he and I agree on our definition/understanding of “colonialism”, but that’s small beer (probably resolvable over strong coffee, appropriate social scinece reference books, and a handy white board with markers) comapred with your take on the situation.

    What of the following does Sacha not agree with: return to the ’67 Green Line; no settlements on the West Bank; a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza; (presumably) a disarming of Hamas and Hezbollah – if no other way can be found to ensure peace/security between the parties; mutual recognition between the parties (including interested other states)? All else (as the famous story involving Hillel has it) is commentary.

    Sacha’s use of “colonialism” is actually his problem (apologies, Sacha), but you’ve made it yours by making a big deal out of it. Sacha, like his comrades, is a Marxist (or maybe a Marxian, I won’t quibble over the details): he and they are bound to use such terminology. You, presumably, are not, but that doesn’t excuse an attack on the terminology and the person.

    Just as”my enemy’s enemy is by no means necessarily my friend (they may be just as obnoxious and dangerous as the original enemy), so the friend I argue furiously with is by no means, therefore, an enemy.

    And that, Sacha, along with my previous comment on 31 December at 7.35 pm, is the closest you’ll get to an apology from me! After all, I am a Weberian rather than a Marxist!

  29. Noga Says:

    “…but that doesn’t excuse an attack on the terminology and the person.”

    Terminology provides the backbone of any account or argument. Once you cede to Sacha’s penchant for applying colonialist vocabulary to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, you accept his premises about the denouement of Israel’s history, that is, you accept Palestinian narrative. My problem with Sacha is that he holds a hammer in his hand and thinks he can knock any nail into the frame of his own ideology. So from Israel the colonialist state flow immediately such pearls as “Israeli chauvinist” and “internationalist” and a mean-spirited tone, all for disagreeing with his rigid and unworkable solution.

    Language matters awfully. If one decides to refer to women as tramps and to men as rapists, there is no way you can discuss gender relationships but through the prisms offered by these terms.

    Sacha knows it. That’s why he keeps piling it on.

  30. Peter 9880 Says:

    The Mail published a really good article on the Israel/Palestine conflict:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1319157/Gaza-Strip-Lattes-beach-bbqs-dodging-missiles-worlds-biggest-prison-camp.html

    Th Mail kicks up a storm against an antisemite who has a senior position in the student movement.

    good. what’s the problem?

  31. Sacha Ismail Says:

    The problem is that the Mail has also spent the last two months attacking the left-wing student movement, including Clare Solomon, in chorus with the rest of the right-wing press and the Tory government. We won’t let that undermine our fight against left anti-semitism (or the left’s other failings), but nor will we close our eyes to it!

    I agree that Marxists have a tendency to use jargon-y vocabulary, but this seems to me straightforward. “Colonial” because Israel is occupying the Palestinians’ country and planting settlers on it. “Internationalist” in the sense of having consistent, universalist, internationally applicable principles of democracy, human rights and working-class solidarity, rather than subordinating such considerations to special pleading for one’s own country.

    I think we should leave this here.

    • Noga Says:

      According to Britannica Concise Encyclopedia:
      Western colonialism is:

      “a political-economic phenomenon whereby various European nations explored, conquered, settled, and exploited large areas of the world. The purposes of colonialism included economic exploitation of the colony’s natural resources, creation of new markets for the colonizer, and extension of the colonizer’s way of life beyond its national borders. In the years 1500 – 1900, Europe colonized all of North and South America and Australia, most of Africa, and much of Asia by sending settlers to populate the land or by taking control of governments. The first colonies were established in the Western Hemisphere by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th – 16th century. The Dutch colonized Indonesia in the 16th century, and Britain colonized North America and India in the 17th – 18th century. Later British settlers colonized Australia and New Zealand. Colonization of Africa only began in earnest in the 1880s, but by 1900 virtually the entire continent was controlled by Europe.”

      __________

      In the I/P conflict history, war followed by occupation is a much more accurate description than the reckless “jargon’y” title: colonialism. Why can’t Sacha use these terms rather then submit to the dictates of Jargon-tethered ideological interpretations?

      There is no comparison between the rationale of historical colonial forces and Israel’s occupation of the WB, either from an economic or cultural perspectives.

  32. Peter 9880 Says:

    Don’t you think that if Clare Solomon is able to employ conspiracy theory against Jews, then it is also likely that her political reasoning in relation to leading the fight against education cuts is also likely to be rubbish?

    Antisemitism is a symptom of a wider political disease. Isn’t it? Not just an aberration.

    Should we side with the antisemites against the cuts or should we side with the cutters against the antisemites?

    Perhaps antisemitism has shown itself to be more dangerous, not least to the labour movement, than a few education cuts.

  33. Lynne T Says:

    Sacha:

    Up until a few years ago, Israel occupied Gaza too, and then evacuated it completely. I won’t bother recapping the results which are well known to all. Khaled Abu Toameh says it would be a disaster for the Palestinians as well as Israelis for Israel to do likewise in the West Bank at this time because Abbas & Co are not competent to manage Palestinian affairs and rely on the IDF to continue governing parts of the territories that aren’t under Hamas control. He also makes no bones about who is responsible for the current impass and it’s not Israel nor are the settlements the obstacles that they are made out to be: http://www.hudson-ny.org/1756/trying-to-kill-peace-process

    http://www.hudson-ny.org/1622/settlements-obstacle-to-peace

  34. Absolute Observer Says:

    “Should we side with the antisemites against the cuts or should we side with the cutters against the antisemites?”

    Oh dear.

    Perhaps nothing exhibits more the poverty of thought that attaches as much to an understanding of, and opposition to antisemitism as it does to an understanding of the current social and political situation from which, as Peter rightly says, antisemitism emerges.

  35. Wildlife plots Says:

    Apologies for disrupting the thread, but, first it was sharks, and now……………………

    http://hurryupharry.org/2011/01/05/zionist-vulture-under-arrest-in-saudi-arabia/#comments

  36. Mikey Says:

    I was not intending on getting further involved in this matter but I have found this emotive debate about using the term “colonial” in relation to Israel interesting.

    Adam Levick and Noga seems to be getting particularly upset at Sacha’s use of the word.

    I shall state the following, the use of the word “colonial” to describe Israel and Zionist criticism of this is not new. The best case that I am aware of to apply the term “colonial” to Israel is that written by the French Marxist and orientalist, Maxime Rodinson in his seminal essay, Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? (Pathfinder Press, 1973).

    In my opinion, the use of the term is wrong, and the reason for this is because it confuses colonization with colonialism. There is simply no doubt that the Zionist idea is colonization of the land of Israel by the Jewish people. Rodinson (pp.29) quotes the case that was put forward by the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF) in 1966 against the idea of Israel being a colonial settler state:

    Not one of the traits that characterize colonialism – the military lending a strong hand to missionaries in order to open up a path for merchants and to make it possible to exploit the labor of the colonized – can be found in the Jewish immigration movement in Palestine. In place of a mother country – Jews chased from one country to another country in Europe; in place of soldiers – proletarians and intellectuals armed with pickaxes; merchants (Jews = merchants?) – there were none; as for missionaries, it would be well to recall that Zionism was a lay movement inspired by socialism (for example, Borochov).

    Rodinson adds the further case against (pp.30-31):

    the Arab Palestinian fellahin [peasants] are not exploited. And by the very fact that the Jews have settled there, their standard of living, their buying power, and their cultural, technical and health standards have been raised to a considerably higher level, so that they are now much better off in Israel in every respect than they would have been in the independent Arab countries. The image they present seems to have little in common with that of miserable victims of colonialism.

    It can be seen that Karl Pfeifer has made the argument earlier in this thread – the key one about not exploiting the local labour.

    It is fair to say that Rodinson spends the majority of his essay (which I do think should be read by those interested in this discussion) suggesting otherwise – that Israel is indeed a colonial-settler state.

    This is of course historical. Sacha has not used the term to deligitimize the State of Israel – (Rodinson, of course, was very much an anti-Zionist) – as Sacha clearly does support a two-state solution. He states: “‘Colonial’ because Israel is occupying the Palestinians’ country and planting settlers on it.” Because of his 2 state position, and Sacha can correct me if I am wrong, but in this sentence I doubt he is referring to the pre-1967 borders but has in mind the colonization of the West bank. (As I have already stated, I believe there to be a confusion between colonization and colonialism). Earlier in this thread Sacha had, in more detail, said:

    I think “colonial” is a straightforward and reasonable description of occupying and controlling another people’s territory, planting your settlers on it, using your army to defend their rights against those of the inhabitants, controllings its borders and building a wall around them which, btw, annexes lots of resources and territory, forcing people to go through checkpoints, from time to time occupying the cities etc etc etc etc. It’s not just a question of this or that policy! It’s a question of the whole nature of Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians. One is an oppressed nation, the other the oppressor.

    With respect to Sacha, I do not think that this is really a description of colonialism. He has argued that others in this thread, “Be concrete!” I think he should “be concrete” himself and not use inappropriate terminology. Whether the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia’s definition of Western colonialism provided by Noga is right or wrong is not the issue; what is fair is that the definition provided by that encyclopaedia is one that is commonly thought of when thinking about colonialism.

  37. Lynne T Says:

    Mikey:

    Whatever your initial intentions, words do matter, so thanks for what you have provided above.

  38. Sacha Ismail Says:

    More later, but I’m not arguing that Israel itself is a “colonial” state – I’m talking about the West Bank.

    A truly appalling article here claims this statement was written by Richard Gold. Obviously, it wasn’t!
    http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004217

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Sacha: “but I’m not arguing that Israel itself is a “colonial” state – I’m talking about the West Bank.” You have, possibly, confused the issue yourself by talking, much earlier, about the colonialism of Israel (not in those words – I haven’t trawled back up the thread). This is where Adam, Noga and I took issue with you. You now appear to be saying that you intend the word/term to be used more narrowly than we suggested you were using it. Good. This makes my point (as stressed by Mikey and Lynne, just above) that how words are used is of vital importance.

      As for the link you provide, well, it is to the CPGB. What do you expect them to say? As for ascribing the article to Richard, that’s just sloppy by them.

  39. Mikey Says:

    To be fair to CPGB on that one point, If you accessed the post from this blog as opposed to the AWL blog, and you did not know the names of the people, it does look like the post was written by Richard. There is no link in the main post to the article on the AWL site and the only name that appears here is Richard’s. That does not excuse the CPGB for the rest of their article.

  40. Richard Gold Says:

    Well Sacha emailed the link to the statement to Engage and i posted the statement. I don’t think anybody else thought it was a statement by me. I often post articles by other people and when i post them my name appears at the top automatically. Anyway i’ve amended it and put the link to the statement on the AWL site.

  41. modernityblog Says:

    I thought the Weekly Worker could sink no lower, but ….really….

    btw, who is Eddie Ford?

  42. david Says:

    how’s this for a new take on anti-semitism
    it’s hilarious…..

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Funny sense of humour you’ve got, David. Especially when the article and thread are all aboutnantisemitism.

      But then you always have been a joker, of sorts.

  43. Absolute Observer Says:

    Ho hum,

    This “criticism” of antisemitism (or, rather the implicit denial of its existence) is as simplistic and simple-minded as the claims it believes it is satirising (which is not to say that it is not amusing – in the same way as, say, Spitting Image or Ben Elton in the UK in the 80’s).

    No wonder, “david” who, after the totalitarian terrors of the 20th century, still insists on thinking of certain things, in this instance, the “Jewish state”, being on the “wrong side of history” (an earlier comment which can be found here, https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/robert-fine-on-the-singling-out-of-israel-for-boycott/) finds it not only “hilarious”. but somehow of relevance to the AWL’s views on Israel and contemporary anti-Jewish hostility.

    In fact, it is of interest only as evidence of the increasing social and political polarisation (and frustration with the dominance of the right) that is currently present in Israel.

    Indeed, as anyone knows, or should know, Israelis have never been that good on the question of antisemitism; so no change here – from either side. (see, for example, the recent film Defamation and the recent statements by Leiberman).

  44. david Says:

    AO…..glad you included a link to what i actually said some time ago on this site ….. I said that the “Israeli ethnocracy” will be shown to be on the wrong side of history, not the Jewish state (although the Jewish state and its loyalty oath are one mechanism for preserving ethnic rule). Other examples of ethnocracies supplanted by history are the Southern US states before 1865, British rule in India and the white ethnocracy in South Africa.

  45. modernityblog Says:

    david,

    Just to clarify:

    Do you think it is right to criticise Clare Solomon for her racism, or do you agree with her?

  46. absolute Observer Says:

    Ha Ha,

    Using a “wrong side of history” argument to argue for things being on the wrong side of history.

    Now, that is what I call irony.

  47. david Says:

    @modernity
    I don’t live in the UK anymore and I am somewhat out of the loop regarding Ms Solomon and her facebook statement, but note that she gave an apology and put it down to posting in haste, a crime many of us are guilty of.
    Is she a racist? I don’t know her personally and make no call on that. What I do see is a presumably Jewish woman being rounded on by various interest groups for their own purposes.

    • modernityblog Says:

      David, let’s deal with your points systematically and then you can answer a simple question or 2.

      1. The fact you don’t live in the UK has no bearing on this issue, you have access to the Internet, Google and the ability to read that’s all that is required in this instance.

      2. Clare Solomon’s supposed ethnicity has no bearing on this issue, either way wouldn’t make her comments any more acceptable (incidentally, she acquired the name by marriage and was a Mormon).

      3. Her apology has the same ring of sincerity that is uttered when a politician is caught with his trousers down. He apologises for being caught not the deed. Her apology does not rescind her previous statements so is not terribly germane, unless someone wanted to excuse her racism.

      So David, looking solely at her contribution, can you see anything racist in it?

      Or do you agree with her on these issues?

      Which is it, David?

      “There is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race’. Yes, there is the Jewish religion, but not a Jewish people per se.

      “The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians. To paint the picture that all Jews have always had to flee persecution is just plainly inaccurate.”

      http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/emotional-tired-or-racist/

  48. david Says:

    AO….here is one reason why the Israeli ethnocracy may be on the wrong side of history i.e. be forced to become a true democracy, from Tikun Olam:

    EU LAYS BASIS FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL

    In late Apartheid-era South Africa, the momentum among the international community shifted inexorably toward toppling the discriminatory system. Crippling sanctions took their toll on the country’s economy and psyche. While the white regime clung desperately to power, finally a spark of realism emerged within the ruling party which allowed the rise of a leader like F.W. de Klerk, who negotiated a peaceful transition to democracy and majority rule.
    In the past few months, a similar process has emerged outside Israel with multiple Latin American nations (the latest being Chile) recognizing a Palestinian state within 1967 borders. Now, Haaretz reports on a sensitive new EU report drafted by consuls general in Jerusalem and Ramallah which would lay the groundwork for a possible EU sanctions regime against Israel as long as it continues the Occupation and rejects a Palestinian state.
    Among the recommendations:
    1. a boycott of all Israeli products, services and businesses operating outside the Green Line including East Jerusalem
    2. refusal to attend meetings with Israeli officials outside the Green Line (including East Jerusalem)
    3. creating a settler black list forbidding entry to EU countries of those suspected of committing violent acts against Palestinians
    4. discouraging citizens of EU countries (most likely directed at European Jews) from purchasing property in East Jerusalem
    Returning to the South African analogy, the chief difference is that there seems to be no realism whatsoever within the Israeli political system nor any moderate or pragmatic leader capable of being the Israeli de Klerk. In that event, it seems that Israel’s future is deeply clouded. Without political leadership, and with the gathering storm of opprobrium against the Occupation and denial of Palestinian national rights, it seems something has to give. It could be an international diktat jointly negotiated by the U.S., EU, and Quartet compelling Israel to yield. Or it could take some other form. But it appears more and more likely that Israel simply cannot come to terms with what it must do and that the rest of the world must help or even force Israel to get where it needs to be so that both that country and the rest of the region can find stability and peace.

    • Jonathan Romer Says:

      David,

      Being on the wrong side of history seems to be a Jewish specialty. Ask anyone from Titus, to Augustine, to Luther, to Hitler.

      With that in our background, you will need to argue the case for why “being on the wrong side of history” is wrong.

      If you think that’s flippant or irrelevant, perhaps you could instead argue the case that compelling Israel to yield will help “that country and the rest of the region find stability and peace.”

  49. Toby Esterhase Says:

    David, she said this, in a public forum. She is an elected official of the University of London Union.

    “The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians.”

    This is antisemitic conspiracy theory. You don’t have to know her, or understand her motivations, or delve into her relationship with her father. Look at what she said.

    She is saying that this view is a fabrication, a secret fabrication, a secret Jewish fabrication, concocted in bad faith in order to justify a persecution.

    Not in order to justify the state of Israel or anything which may or may not flow from its existence.

    But to justify a persecution.

    Why do those Jews who say that the Jews have been persecuted thoughout history say that? They say it because they are the persecutors really, yes?

    Jews pretend to be persecuted so that they may persecute.

    The Spanish inquisition, the blood libels, the Christ-killing libels, the pogroms, the holoaust, the expulsion from the Arab states, Russian and Soviet Jew-hating, East European “anti-Zionism”, Holocaust denial, Iranian conspiracy theory, the history of the Catholic and orthodox churches, the quiet English exclusions, the 19th Century European political antisemitism, the exclusion of Jews from American univrsities until the 1960s, the popular view that Jews are tight with money, that they are clever and calculating – all this is invented in order to persecute the Palestinians.

    She apologised. But she didn’t come to terms with what she had said.

    She denies antisemitism, makes an antisemitic statement and then apologieses for it – but is still denying antisemitism.

    She doesn’t explain how this racist mistake was made.

    She never sends out accidentally anti-black racism or anti-asian racism. She never sends out homophobic tweets.

    So why antisemitism?

    Why, David, is it your impulse to explain away an antisemitic statement, to make the issuer of the antisemitic statement seem like a victim? Why? Where is your outrage at the poor political education or today’s activist? Where is your outrage at the casual antisemitism, the causual apology, without being really sorry.

    You save your outrage for those who pick out the antisemitism, not for those who think in terms of antisemitic conspiracy theory.

    Why does somebody educated on the English left find it so natural to slip into antisemitism by mistake? Why do you, David, explain it away as thought it was natural?

  50. absolute Observer Says:

    Oh, yes, Richard Silverstein. My there’s someone who knows what he’s talking about!
    http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=2257
    And
    https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/

    Be that as it may, reluctantly, I’ll forego the opportunity to carry on this discussion with you (although I look forward to having the opportunity to carry on with it in the near future)

    Rather I think it fair if I leave you to respond to “modernity’s” and “toby’s” comments and questions. After all, this thread is not about Israel and/or the OT or Gaza or Hamas or whatever. It is about antisemitism.

    Regards,
    AO

  51. david Says:

    Toby you ask if I agree with the following statements by Clare Solomon:
    1.“There is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race’. Yes, there is the Jewish religion, but not a Jewish people per se.”

    I have no background in genetics but as i understand it, the Jews of Israel (like diaspora Jews) have as wide a gene pool as the rest of the human race. Personally I think the ethnicity of Israeli Jews is irrelevant, but as the state has been established to privilege ethnicity in the form of Jewish rule, and as that ethnicity is used, absurdly, to justify Jewish occupation of Eretz Israel on the basis that “Jews” lived there 2000 years ago, I don’t think the Solomon statement on race is without argument. I have heard it said that the Palestinians are more closely related to the Semites of Israel 2000 years ago than are most Israelis.

    2. “The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 or so years to justify the persecution of Palestinians. To paint the picture that all Jews have always had to flee persecution is just plainly inaccurate.”

    I don’t know what she’s studying there at SOAS, but I don’t suppose it’s history. This statement is just ignorant and, as i said earlier, she retracted it and issued an apology.

    • Gil Says:

      But aren’t you going to comment on the point Modernity made about the sincerity or otherwise of the apology? Since you can’t see the wood for the trees and are oblivious (wilfully?) to the sheer banality of the ‘apology’ then what’s the point of people debating you?

      And your comment about Israel being like the South US pre-1965 is malicious. Did blacks serve in the States’ legislatures as the Arabs do in Israel? Did they serve on the judiciary as the Arabs do in Israel?

  52. david Says:

    sorry, that last post was in answer to Modernityblog, not Toby Esterhase.

    • modernityblog Says:

      David,

      Will you constantly quibble, or just admit straight out that Clare Solomon’s comments were racist?

      1. If you want to quibble, would you quibble as some have done to say there is no such thing as a “black” race, either? [I wouldn’t argue that, but it is equally applicable to Solomon’s first point].

      The argument being that *IF* a “race” doesn’t exist you can’t be racist against it, etc. Do you see the point?

      As for the nonsensical argument about “Semites”, that was a linguistic classification from the 19th century, which subsequently has been twisted by the Far Right, to confuse the issue.

      Might I suggest as you have access to the Internet that you familiarise yourself with its usage and avoid it, lest people think that’s where you’re coming from.

      2. Once more she **did not** retract her statement.

      Her apology was over the fact she was criticised, she got caught, she didn’t disown her previous ignorant and racist views.

      This is what she wrote:

      “”This badly-worded comment was something that I wrote in haste on Facebook at a very busy period. I’m sorry for any misunderstandings caused by what I wrote.” She sought to clarify her position, saying that “My position is that Jewish people have always been persecuted throughout history nowhere more than during the holocaust when 6million were murdered by the Nazi’s.”

      http://www.qmsu.org/news/article/7739/351/

      Typically, when people issue a retraction they normally say something along the lines of “My previous comments were wrong”, “I was wrong…” etc etc. She didn’t.

      She’s just stated the obvious, there’s nothing heartfelt or sincere in her remarks.

      So David, will you now agree that her previous comments were racist?

  53. Gil Says:

    David would deny the Jews their sovereignty in Israel and let the Arabs who rule 22 states, rule a 23rd because David, who ‘has no background in genetics’, can bear the thought of the Jews sovereign in their own land.

    • david Says:

      well done Gil…..you’ve encapsulated everything that’s wrong with Israeli non-democracy in one sentence. What would you say if I said the Anglo-Saxons should be “sovereign in their own land” (England) and that the constitution should be set up to ensure this for evermore?

      • Stephen Rothbart Says:

        David, in England, the rest of the integrated community is not trying to wipe out the Anglo-Saxons through ethnic cleansing.

        I find it really hard to understand how so many clearly intelligent and well read people cannot see that the whole of the Middle East is full of toxic racism and an unparalled violent scale.

        The recent attacks on Coptic Christians by the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt, similar attacks on Christians in Iraq, Pakistan and Lebanon. Is no one paying any attention out there or are we all too interested in the true meaning of the word ‘colonial?’ to actually engage in the real world.

        It is a sad fact that Islam is in the midst of a civil war within its own miriad ranks for the ‘meaning of Life,’ ofr in their case, the meaning of Allah and his words.

        And unlike the Jews, who can argue the legs of a horse, they resort to capital punishment on those they disagree with.

        Sadly,with the connivance of the intelligentia in the West, and the ignorance of our leaders, the extremists are winning.

        Moderate Islamic voices are being eliminated and Christians forced to move away from their homelands on an unprecedented scale. As for the Jews, they were kicked out of most of the Arab states years ago.

        And into this maelstorm of intolerance and violence, there are people that think the Jews of Israel should tear down their defences and trust in the goodwill of those Arabs who have just spent the last 60 years trying to kill them.

        Apart from the logistics of such an action, how long do you think it would take Iran and Syria to make sure that Hamas, the PLA and Hezbollah militias to force every (disarmed) Jew in the land out? I would think about a year, but then I was always an optimist.

        So please let’s not keep on comparing Israel to the UK. Or France or Germany.

        Instead compare Israel to its immediate surroundings. How many Jews in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic Republic of Iran? For that matter how many Christians?

        Yet no one is boycotting their leaders or calling for sanctions on the basis of ethnic cleansing, or, the biggest insult of them all, comparing them to South Africa.

        Israel has nothing close to comparison with South African apartheid. All religions and races can live and worship in Israel without fear of being imprisoned, and if free speech was banned, as it was in SA, half of the Jews of Israel would themsleves be in jail!

        So, in the words of my late gradfather, ‘shut up already!’

  54. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    This is what david says above, in response to AO’s comment:

    “AO…..glad you included a link to what i actually said some time ago on this site ….. I said that the “Israeli ethnocracy” will be shown to be on the wrong side of history, not the Jewish state (although the Jewish state and its loyalty oath are one mechanism for preserving ethnic rule). Other examples of ethnocracies supplanted by history are the Southern US states before 1865, British rule in India and the white ethnocracy in South Africa.”

    What he said in the link provided by AO was”
    “Exactly. As Philip points out it is the political props ensuring the continued existence of a specifically “Jewish” state that are the obstacle to full democracy in Israel and the occupied territories. Israel cannot allow all adults to have a vote in the territories it controls because eventually demographics will ensure it will become something other than a “Jewish” state. The day will come when the Israeli ethnocracy is shown to be on the wrong side history.”

    Note the subtle differences, which he chooses to elide away. He makes the assumption (hoping we won’t notice) that Israel is going to encompass the West Bank, and that therefore Israel cannot allow voting rights to the Palestinians because…(see above). This ignores the inconvenient truth that Palestinians already have the vote in the WB & Gaza, and have used it to elect a Palestinian Authority. I am not going to argue the fact that this is relatively powerless, that Hamas has staged a coup in Gaza, etc. All true, and far from the necessary solution that many, if not most, who comment here already see as the only way out.

    No, david would rather be “clever” and present statements that ignore not only what we have said but also what many in Israel have said and the majority see as the only acceptable final outcome: two states, with Israel back behind it’s ’67 borders, subject to agreed (if any) land swaps. david won’t acknowledge that, it undermines his spoiling tactics.

    Then david goes on to say, in reply to Toby Esterhase (or maybe Mod Blog), “I have no background in genetics but as i understand it, the Jews of Israel (like diaspora Jews) have as wide a gene pool as the rest of the human race. Personally I think the ethnicity of Israeli Jews is irrelevant…”, clearly demonstrating that not only does he not have a background in genetics, he doesn’t have one in social science either. It has long been noted that there are greater genetic variations (in terms of patterns of DNA) _within_ so-called “races” than across (or between) the human race as a whole. And “ethnicity” has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with culture.

    Actually, this makes the term “ethnocracy” a null term, as far as descriptive power is concerned.

    When david goes on, in the same comment, to say that: “I don’t know what [Clare Solomon’s] studying there at SOAS, but I don’t suppose it’s history. This statement is just ignorant and, as i said earlier, she retracted it and issued an apology”, he shows that he plainly hasn’t bothered to read these threads closely, if at all, or, at best, reads them highly selectively. It has clearly been stated, by numerous of us (including Sacha Ismail, who started this particular ball rolling) that not only does one not get to make the sort of statement that Clare Solomon did “carelessly”, no matter how stressed, but that her apology was far from adequate: “oh, sorry, folks, it was late at night, I’d had a few, and I didn’t proof read what I’d written” _That’s_ an apology? The best one can say about it is that is a “yes, whatever” type comment.

    david, read these columns with far greater care, please. To do otherwise is as careless as Clare Solomon’s original comments.

  55. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Darn it, knew I’d forgotten something. david also gives us this:

    “EU LAYS BASIS FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL”.

    While he gives us some detail, I notice that there is no link, so we can’t check out just where it’s from, who says so, how official it is, or whether it’s just one government flying a kite. Further, it’s taken, he says, from Tikun Olam, which is suspect to a degree anyway. Perhaps that’s the reason we aren’t given a link.

    Poor show, david, you’re over there in the US, you’ve presumably read the article, why no link? Why not even a date, etc, if you read it in hard copy. You don’t take our word for it (whatever “it” is, and why should you?), why should we take your word for it?

  56. David D. Says:

    David,

    You heard wrong. Arguments about race are inherently distasteful, but it is important to establish that myths about most Ashkenazi Jews being Khazars or the stuff that Shlomo Sand peddled in his notorious book, are pernicious nonsense. One of the happy consequences of recent advances in genetic research is to put the lie to such calumnies. It seems that the Jews are indeed a “people”, that they are genetically and ethnically well defined and they did, indeed, come from the Middle East. That’s not a political claim; it’s science (a selection of citations below). It doesn’t settle the Israel/Palestine problem, by any means, but it does, definitively, refute pretensions that the Jews are merely a “construct” and are somehow less indigenous to the land of Israel than the Palestinians, whose own history as a distinct ethnic group is measured in mere decades.

    “Who are the Jews? For more than a century, historians and linguists have debated whether the Jewish people are a racial group, a cultural and religious entity, or something else. More recently, scientists have been weighing in on the question with genetic data. The latest such study, published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics, shows a genetic connection among all Jews, despite widespread migrations and intermarriage with non-Jews. It also apparently refutes repeated claims that most Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Central Europeans who converted to Judaism 1000 years ago.”

    http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/06/tracing-the-roots-of-jewishness.html

    “Studies Show Jews’ Genetic Similarity”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/science/10jews.html

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/03/the-dna-of-abraham-s-children.html

    “This study demonstrates that European/Syrian and Middle Eastern Jews represent a series of geographical isolates or clusters woven together by shared IBD genetic threads.”

    http://www.cell.com/AJHG/abstract/S0002-9297%2810%2900246-6

    “Jews’ Genetics Make Them A ‘Distinct Population'”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/04/jews-genetics-make-them-a_n_600384.html

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/06/genetics-the-jewish-question/

    “The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people.”

    Nature. 2010 Jul 8;466(7303):238-42.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20531471

  57. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Now we know that david _really_ doesn’t read these threads other than highly selectively. Not only has David D. presented comprehensive links concerning the common genetic origins of Jews, traceable back to the Middle East 2000 years ago (some of which have already been made available to us earlier, but thanks for the extensive links David D., and in fairness, “david” won’t have had time to read yet), but “david” ignores the long refutation of Philip Blue on this very topic.

    Not only was the term “antisemitic” coined by a mid-nineteenth century virulently anti-Jewish German (Wilhelm Marr), he coined it to refer _specifically_ to Jews and only Jews. Other references to “semitic” (and certainly by respectable scholars) are to the appropriate language group, shared by Hebrew and Arabic.

    All this can be found on the previuos page, when the first references to Clare Solomon and her comments were published here. So perhaps david would care to go back and read those exchanges. Shouldn’t be difficult, just click on “older articles” at the foot of the page.

  58. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Sorry, that should be lower down this page, under “Top 10 antisemitic slurs of 2010”. In the 37 comments are some (towards the end of the thread) by a person disguised as “yesspam”, with the above refutation, at greater length.

  59. absolute Observer Says:

    Brian,
    david is nothing more than a troll. He appears here not for discussion or debate but merely to push his anti-Israel agenda which, for him includes inverting claims of the presence of antisemitism into indictments of those who raise them as an issue.
    As Toby says of Solomon’s statement, so too the same is true of david,
    “She (he) is saying that this view is a fabrication, a secret fabrication, a secret Jewish fabrication, concocted in bad faith in order to justify a persecution.”

    Yawn

  60. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I have to note that if one follows david’s link above to the Tikkun Olam article, one finds interesting differences between that and the original Ha’aretz article (to which there is a link within the Tikkun Olam article itself. Quite reasonably from their point of view (I guess, given their ideology), Tikkun Olam introduce the “apartheid era of South Africa” analogy, which is absent from the Ha’aretz article.

    What is perhaps more interesting is that the Ha’aretz (and to a large extent, though with a gloss, Tikkun OLam) article note that the EU consul generals are arguing for many of the things argued for here.

    One would miss this if one relied on david’s original reporting of the piece. Also missing from david’s report is the final sentence from Ha’aretz: ‘The report further recommends that the European Union “encourage Arab countries to acknowledge the multicultural dimension of Jerusalem, including its Jewish and Christian heritage.” ‘

    This is also absent from the Tikkun Olam report.

  61. david Says:

    AO
    There is some truth in what you say. What usually prompts me to post on Engage are the apologetics of self-described liberals and socialists for some of the worst excesses of the Israeli right, like Mavi Marmora or the Gaza siege and assault. For the record I have never denied the historical reality and significance of anti-semetism, nor the fact that it can still be found today, unsurprisingly, often amongst the victims of Israeli policies in the Middle East, but also elsewhere. It would seem from you comment above “Indeed, as anyone knows, or should know, Israelis have never been that good on the question of antisemitism; so no change here – from either side” that we are in agreement that Israel’s government has used “anti-semetism” as a tool of state policy although I refute your suggestion that I am “saying that this view is a fabrication, a secret fabrication, a secret Jewish fabrication, concocted in bad faith in order to justify a persecution.” That statement suggests that I hold with “Jewish conspiracy theories” which I do not. I have not doubt that governments conspire and spin.

  62. modernity Says:

    I get the impression that “david” is about as serious in opposing anti-Jewish racism as Sarah Palin is against Guns….

  63. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I’ve finally got around to reading David D.’s links to the genetic evidence that Jews are genetically related to a greater extent than by chance. And very interesting they are too. However (there’s always a “however” or a “but”, isn’t there?), the following, from the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/04/jews-genetics-make-them-a_n_600384.html) I found a step too far (linguistically): “A comprehensive study of Jews from around the world has revealed that Jewish people are genetically different from other people”.

    More accurately, that _should_ read ‘are more like each other genetically than mere chance or cultural choice would allow’ (or words to that effect). Jews are not _that_ different from the rest of humanity, just more like each other than might be expected.

  64. Absolute Observer Says:

    How tiresome.
    I was foolish enough to expect something serious rather than the tired old cliches……..

    Those who raise antisemitism are apologists for Israel’s right-wing.

    Israel causes antisemitism and then, having done so, manipulate it for its own purposes.

    This type of lazy thinking has been commented on in numerous threads prior to this one, making any serious response in this instant redundant.

    • Stephen Rothbart Says:

      What is truly tiresome is the way the Left always tries to stifle serious debate by accusing anyone holding Right wing views as racist or fascist (read ‘wrong about everything’).

      There are other valid points of view than those held by people who take the high road, thinking that they speak for Truth and Reason just because they have Leftist views.

      They never debate, but fall back on insults.

      Yes, Absolute Observer, I do mean you.

      By your way of thinking, it is perfectly OK for everyone to hate all Muslims because of the odious regimes that run Iran and Syria and Gaza and Saudi Arabia, and the anti-blasphemy activists in Pakistan and elsewhere. Why? Because they behave so badly that they ‘deserve’ it and so we will all blockade and boycott every Arab and Islamic state – except…er… no we won’t.

      And in attacking the Jews of Israel with their anti-Semitic rants and teachings in their schools, on their broadcasts, and by their determination never to recognize Israel (yes just last week the ‘moderate’ West Bankers under Abbas confirmed that his government would never recognize Israel), though most of the Press and Media have ignored that announcement.

      Might not be able to put all the blame on Israel if the talks fail (again).

      The fact is that the Left in Israel, by always looking for compromise with the Palestinians, are now redundant, because most Israelis recognize that the Palestinians and their leaders will never be partners for a lasting peace.

      Why vote for a party that only has a one, failed policy agenda to solve the problem.

      Under the present Right wing agenda, and behind the scenes, Netanyahu has allowed Israeli business to cooperate with ordinary Palestinan businessmen to create an economic alliance that has seen the West Bank economy grow at an astonishing rate compared to any country in the world today. Its still not perfect and there is a lot of work to do, but by building economic bridges and mutual respect, away from the posturing politicians, a top down strategy, rather than a political bottom up strategy, is creating the right climate for an eventual possible reconciliation.

      Yes while this happens, some loony parties in the coalition are behaving appallingly, but certainly no worse than the leaders of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

      But in Israel there is a Supreme Court to temper the worst Israeli abuses. Sadly, there is no one to do that for the Palestinians.

      But it is this kind of bridge building through economic growth and a means to provide a future for the young Palestinians coming into manhood that is the hope for their future. Instead of nihilism and death being their only ambition, the chance for work and self-improvement will be far more valuable to enhance their lives than anything that leaves their fates in the hands of those corrupt or barbarous governments that rule their lives now.

      That is the way of the Right. The Left tried their way and failed.

  65. Absolute Observer Says:

    Stephen,

    Wilst I disagree with your defence of the right-wing in Israel and remain committed to social-democracy (brroadly intepretted) whether it be in Israel or elswhere, I think you misunderstand my last point.

    It was a distillation not of my views, but of “david’s” last comment. I appreciate this point was not flagged up on my comment.

    As I say, I disagree with your analyis of Israel’s politics, the question of Palestinian sovereighty and of the role of the right within those analyses.

    However, I am not really interested to discuss these matters in a forum devoted to the problems associated with contemporary antisemitism in general and its links with so-called “criticism” of Israel.

    Regards,
    AO

  66. Stephen Rothbart Says:

    AO, I respect that you need not get into any debate which you wish to avoid, but just answer me this point.

    The number of UN initiated condemnations and sanctions called on Israel, the directives by the EU, the human rights organizations and calling for boycotts by Trade Union and University commitees: do they not seem to be a little disproportionate considering the numbers of other and much more deadly human rights abuses around the world? When one considers what is happening with Iranian, Saudi, Hamas-led, Syrian, North Korean, Chinese, Russian and not to mention a host of African nations’ abuses that have led to millions of deaths, jailing of citizens without trial, killing of journalists, supression of universities and trade unions, etc. supression of women, homosexuals, Christians, Muslims and other religions.

    What is it about Israel and 600,000 displaced Palestinian Arabs that so excites this concentration of abuse and call for action? How many millions of Africans have died without one single boycott being called for by these enlightened bodies, not even on Mugabe.

    When almost the entire Muslim population of India decided to partition itself and create the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, did the world rise up and condemn the new state as an aprtheid state? Does the world care about the Turkish and Iranian oppression of Kurds?

    Please explain how and why Israel brings forth such a howl of anguish.

    Is it so unreasonable for some people to argue that Israel is the only self-acclaimed but UN sanctioned Jewish State in the world, and that this visceral focus by so many organizations and authorities, who cannot but express a yawn when facing the abuses I have mentioned above, is related to this fact?

    By all means show me another reason and argue the point. That is why I read and contribute to Engage. To learn.

    But for now, as they say, if it looks like an elephant, smells like and Elephant and sound like an Elephant, it is probably an Elephant.

    It is not enough to say it is not true without even trying to explain why.

  67. Absolute Observer Says:

    “AO, I respect that you need not get into any debate which you wish to avoid.”

    “do they not seem to be a little disproportionate considering the numbers of other and much more deadly human rights abuses around the world?”

    Yes

    “Is it so unreasonable for some people to argue that Israel is the only self-acclaimed but UN sanctioned Jewish State in the world, and that this visceral focus by so many organizations and authorities, who cannot but express a yawn when facing the abuses I have mentioned above, is related to this fact?”

    Not unreasonable at all.

    “Please explain how and why Israel brings forth such a howl of anguish.”

    Robert Fine argued on these pages earlier in his discussion with Ran Grrenstein that the irrational hatred dished out to Israel by many (but not all people) under the rubric of “criticism” has an intimate connection with the “Jewishness” of Israel, and so cannot be disconnected from earlier antisemitic attitudes.

    I have no reason to disagree with that view.

    As a matter of principle, I never let antisemitism determine my thinking. Consequently, if I think that there are certain aspects of Israeli politics that I disagree with, I will say so in the appropriate forum. However, a discussion of antisemitism is not such a place.

    I hope this provides clarification.
    Regards,
    AO

    • Stephen Rothbart Says:

      Thanks for your response AO. I apologize for mixing up your penultimate views with those of David’s and it is clear from this last answer where you stand.

      I will only add my final point on this matter. Ignoring the aspect of blatant anti-Semitism behind the many actions advocated by the likes the UN, EU and Universities, Trade Unions etc. and thus holding the Jewish State to the same standards as European behaviour is neither helpful, nor is it fair.

      It ignores the fact that Israel’s tiny population of 6 million Jews is immediately surrounded by 330 million Arabs and sits on a sliver of land representing about 1% of all the land the Arabs have, and that in most of these lands, religious tolerance, even between fellow Muslims, let alone between Islam v Christianity or Judaism is almost nil and in some countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, is nil.

      So Israel is living in ‘clear and present danger’ as it were, and perhaps the best example of what happens when such circumstances arise is to look at what happened in Sudan, where the Christian population needed to split from the Muslim north to survive! Remember how Britain more or less imprisoned its German population, Jews and Nazi sympathizers alike during WW2? Terrible but we were at war. So is Israel.

      But because Jewish intellectuals and liberals live and judge by the same standards of a Cato instead of a Cicero, they provide ammunition for the people that want to de-legitimize Israel and its right to exist at all.

      Quoting from Israeli and Jewish ‘stoics’ allows their anti-Semitism to be hidden, and useful idiots like the now discredited Goldstone are provide the UN with their slings and arrows with which to chip away at Israel.

      Seeing this, the leaders of Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah have no reason to negotiate. They can see the way the tide is turning in their favour. The more the say no, the more Israel will be blamed. Not them. The ‘Fix’ is in, and it’s endorsed by Israel’s critics.

      Does this mean that no one should ever criticize Israeli actions? No of course not. I dislike the racist Right as much as anyone. But the racists on the other side of the borders are far worse and they have blood on their hands, both Palestinian and Jewish blood.

      Be critical by all means, but beware of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

      Crying ‘foul’ because one dislikes the Right wing makeup of the ruling coalition can thus be petulant and self-indulgent given the stakes.

      To recap then, forgetting that anti-Semitism is probably the principal motive behind the Islamic reaction to the Jewish State and much of the support of the anti-Israeli secular world is impossible. It is just the other side of the same coin.

      In my opinion it cannot be seperated

  68. david Says:

    AO
    Irony can get you into trouble…..

  69. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    david, I don’t think that AO was employing irony in his last comment addressed to you, before he and Stephen Rothbart became involved in a separate discussion. Why should he? His comment is quite straightforward and clear.

    “irony, n. the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite…” Oxford English Dictionary

  70. david Says:

    Brian

    AO was presumably being ironic when he/she said said that:

    “Those who raise antisemitism are apologists for Israel’s right-wing.”
    And
    “Israel causes antisemitism and then, having done so, manipulate it for its own purposes.”
    That seems to fit your dictionary definition, does it not?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      No, because AO says, in response to Stephen Rothbart, that he was summarising what he took to be _your_ stance. Actually, it was what I took AO to be saying as well. You might (as you have every right to do: it’s your comment AO is interpreting) disagree, but even if you do, that still doesn’t make AO’s comment ironic, just (in your view) wrong.

      A very different matter.

      • Stephen Rothbart Says:

        Brian, I rather fear we are straying from the point. Whether the comment on anti-Semitism is David’s or AO’s irony is minor compared to remarks like Clare Solomon’s and possibly immaterial.

        What I have been arguing with AO, and I think, also with David, is that Israel’s existence is in a perilous State at the moment.

        Having failed, so far, to defeat Israel militarily, the Arabs and their allies in the East and West have embarked upon a strategy to disinherit the Zionist State from any right to even exist.

        This is through a combination of a re-writing of history and a distortion of facts to fit their own narrative. First step is that somehow there was a Palestinian State whic Israel stole land from illegally and slaughtered its people. Second step is the idea that the Jewish refugees came to Israel because of a so-called Holocaust (which many of these people even deny happened) for which the Palestinians had to pay the bill.

        Then, to make sure that any residual sympathy for these Jews is exstinguished, the third step is to compare Israel to the Nazis and to South African apartheid.

        This is a favorite tag of the Trade Unions and some of the Universities and Leftist institutions (as well as many on the Right too) because it gets them off the idea that people might consider them as anti-Semitic, but just anti-fascist or anti-racist or just plain anti-Zionist.

        Yes there are racists in Israel and there are racists in England (BNP, EDL), France (Le Pen anybody? 25% of French votes, nearly won an election a few years back), Germany, Hollland Spain, Portugal, etc. and certainly in China, and the USA, and practically every state in the Middle East.

        But who is calling for a boycott of all those countries just because they have racists in government?

        So now we have a movement that is trying to paint Israel as an abomination because it is illegal, a war-mongerer, and a nazi state that practices apartheid as bad if not worse than South Africa.

        Who could support such a State?

        Then up comes J Street and other Liberal Jewish Hollywood types, and up comes all the left -wing Jewish intellectuals and Jewish anti-Zionsists and anti-Semites etc., and people like AO who argue, as is their right, that a 2 wrongs don’t make a right, and if Israel has a racist or disgusting element in its Right wing government, we should jolly well say so.

        The problem with what I called the Cato principle of stoic behaviour is that admirable though the sentiment might be, the result is that this sad rag tag collection of Palestinian supporters and their allies (and by that I mean PLA and Hamas, not the poor victims of their conceits) use these comments by the Jews as ‘proof’of their Cause and justification for their heinous actions.

        This is where I challenge the Clare Solomons and her ilk and her pro-boycotting Jewish allies. Not that they cannot hold these opinions, but for the damage they do to both causes.

        Why should the Palestinian leadership budge an inch when they see their strategies working? And if they will not budge an inch, the Israelis will not budge either, and so the status quo of death and injustice is destined to go on and on, and the poor Palestinian Arab is destined to remain victim of UN and EU donations that basically enrich their leaders at no real advantage to themselves, and Iranian islamo-fascism gains an ever stronger hold in Gaza through Hamas and Hezbollah, which is now troubling the Christians in Lebanon.

        If Jews really want a more wholesome brand of Israeli leadership and a rise in the welfare of the Palestinian Arab, they should be working to expose the lies and name calling of their allies, and to work on creating a climate of mutual respect between the ordinary Israeli and Palestinian.

        Instead, they just help heap flame upon the fire, and one day, that flame may engulf everyone and everything they were working to save.

        This is my point. This why I implore Jews and pro-Palestinian supporters to stop legitimizing these anti-Semitic people with boycotts and blockades, when such actions, which single out only one State in the entire Middle East, give them a sense of legitimacy.

      • david Says:

        I take your point and regret any lack of clarity. As I’m sure you’re aware, the irony in the situation was in Stephen’s defense of the Israeli right against AO’s (imagined) slurs.

  71. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Stephen, I’m not about to start arguing with you: I suspect (please excuse the phrase) it would soon get rather jesuitical – or, if you prefer a Jewish simile, somewhat pilpul-like. I’m going to restrict myself to saying that, like AO, I’m on the left of the political spectrum, I believe in a two-state solution, I think that there shouldn’t be any settlements outside the 1967 Green LIne, but nor should those displaced by the 1947-48 hostilities have any right of return. And any question of compensation should be balanced by considerations of compensation to the Jews displaced from Moslem lands.

    Beyond that, I feel that while the Israeli electorate have the right to elect whatever government they wish, I fear that the current one is hardly going to reach a settlement with _anyone_.

    Should you wish the last word between, my pleasure, but I will try to refrain from replying, as, like others here, I think we’re straying from the topic of this thread.


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