I wasn’t taking notice of much in 1987 when Paul Simon, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and others brought the Graceland Tour to London’s Royal Albert Hall. Joel Berlinger’s new documentary ‘Paul Simon – Under African Skies’ and the revival of Graceland in Hyde Park this month has been an occasion to revisit the cultural boycott of South Africa which intensified towards the end of the apartheid era.

I haven’t seen the film yet but Women Are From Mars, Raymond Soltysek, and Erik Lundegaard have written well about the ethical dilemmas. The joy, release and political impact of the music comes through strongly.


On the Today Programme (BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 17th July 2012, 08:53, which UK residents can listen to for the coming week) Ekow Eshun and Diran Adebayo discuss the term ‘choc ice’. Ekow Eshun takes the view that the term dates from a time when black people who made it to prominent positions or broadened their interests were often regarded with suspicion by others. He argues that to give ‘choc ice’ any currency – either as insult or as a social category – can only normalise the old narrow views of black people. He appeals for political responsibility.

This reminded me of the debates between those Israel supporters who conspicuously identify as Zionists in response to Israel eliminationists, and those others who feel that Zionism should be thought of as a historical movement whose purpose ended with the establishment of Israel, and that to give ‘Zionism’ any currency can only normalise Israel eliminationism. So, language matters. The difference is that Israel eliminationists have a big stake in getting the term ‘Zionist’ into common parlance whereas I think ‘choc ice’ is (as Diran Adebayo observed before being interrupted and misunderstood by Sarah Montague) a word bandied around by people who feel they’ve been denied their entitlement to ethnic or race loyalty – more like when ‘self-hating Jew’ is used as an insult.


41 Responses to “Perspectives”

  1. Noam Says:

    Israel is eliminating itself. We don’t need any help from the outside in doing that. The creeping annexation of area C, alongside increasing settlement construction and the squeezing of Palestinians away into areas A and B is meeting no political or public upheaval. We are currently pending an army general’s approval for the creation of our new university in the occupied West Bank (not occupied according to our new Levy report!). The committee who declared its readiness to become a university is appointed by (you guessed right) the same army general. I never thought the only democracy in the Middle East would be blending into the region so naturally so soon!

    This is Israeli democracy committing suicide. When saving what’s west of the green line doesn’t matter to Israel itself, I find the debate over Zionism and boycotts marginal, unless it’s purely intellectual and is more a European Jewish discussion anyway.

    • conchovor Says:

      ‘I never thought the only democracy in the Middle East would be blending into the region so naturally so soon!’

      That’s a good point. But most of the BDS crowd here in the UK are all about dissolving the one Jewish state for qualities allegedly apartheid but which pretty much every Arab, Islamic state or society in existence, including the Palestinian, if one is honest, has, or has had for most of the last 100 years, or more, at the very least with regard to Jews, but often with regard to other groups as well.

      I personally support a Geneva Accord type settlement. But such a goal is anathema to the leaders of the BDS movement in the UK, who would regard it as treachery to the Palestinian national cause. I think Netanyahu did attempt to signal negotiations preparatory to such an agreement by freezing building, to all intents and purposes, for 9 months or so. He could have, should have, done more. But Abbas hasn’t shown interest in a Geneva Accord deal ever since he turned one down from Olmert in 2008. I think Abbas plans to ride the BDS wave until he, or his successors, whoever they may be, get what they want without negotiations. And the more he and BDS plan to besiege Israel, the more Israel will act as one under-siege.

      Yes, the ‘there is no partner’ mantra is self-fulfilling prophecy, like most doom saying. But, if Israel is blending into the region more and more, the region, and its extra-regional appendages in the BDS-West, are scarcely not part to blame.

  2. Noam Says:

    I see that my comment doesn’t really respond to your interesting post, and I’d like to apologize for that. I don’t mean to spam or troll on this website. I just couldn’t help but cringe in light of the term “eliminationists”. I find it funny to accuse ill-informed, often antisemitic people for what Israel is itself doing tirelessly.

    And perhaps my post is also somewhat of an Israeli cry for help. There are good people on this site, who care about preserving an Israeli democracy within (more or less) the Green Line. I think they’re in denial of what’s happening here. At this rate, soon there won’t be any Israel over which they can intellectualize. At least not a somewhat democratic one. But the scorning I’ve received when trying to explain this during the “boycott prohibition law” here taught me not to expect much from some people here.

  3. Absolute Observer Says:

    I fear that you could be right. I appreciate also the despair the Israeli left is going through at the moment. It must be horrible. That does not mean, of course, that the eliminationists outside of Israel should be ignored. Indeed, one could argue that the despair that you are experiencing in the face of a thoroughly nasty right-wing government with links to those even further right is increased by the eliminationists and boycotters in the rest of the world that increases your sense of isolation and frustration. People outside Israel who you should be able to turn to for solidarity and support see no difference between you (and your politics) and the right (and their politics). To them, you are as guilty and responsible as Likud and the Settler Movement for what is going on.
    An example. I noticed that the presidents of almost all Israeli universities as well as other institutions and individuals are opposed to the move to make Ariel a full-blown Israeli university. Normally, they would make a call for support from the academic community both within and outside Israel. But, because of the obsession with boycott, that call will be ignored or those making it accused of complicity. As a result, those who think along similar (but, no doubt, not the same) lines as you end up as isolated and as frustrated as you.
    The anti-boycott position is often labeled and libeled as being forwarded by ‘apologists’ for the Israeli right. It is not. It is a plea for serious solidarity in the quest for a democratic Israel alongside a democratic Palestine.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      In line with what AO says, I’d say that we in Britain also need the solidarity of Israelis and Palestinians when Israel and Palestine are – either as proxies or straightforwardly – aggressively and antisemitically forced into our lives. Not to victimise myself – because I agree that our situation in Britain is a germ whereas Israel has a fairly advanced tragedy – but I don’t feel we receive the solidarity that you demand from us above. I maintain that dealing with a germ on your own doorstep, even while there are full-blown bloodbaths happening elsewhere, is a valid and reasonable thing to do.

      That said, we talk a lot more about Israeli politics both here and on Greens Engage, which unlike its parent here has a (self-appointed) remit to inform a political party with an international policy, beyond addressing antisemitic discrimination in Britain. It’s not very active at the moment but with respect to your cry for help, I hope there’s at least moral support and more at e.g.
      and more.

  4. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I have family and friends in Israel who, like Noam, fear for the future of Israel as a democracy. However, while some of their fears are the same as Noam’s, they also fear that the Tal Law will not be replaced by anything that, effectively, demands the ultra-orthodox join the rest of Israeli society on something like an equal footing. The more the Haredi, et al, retain their separate and privileged status, the less will they feel part of the state, and the more will they lend support to the “conventional” right and _their_ demands for a de facto expansion of Israel beyond the Green Line, irrespective of the consequences.

    I’m not sure that the BDS groups, here and in North America, offer as much a threat as is supposed. After all, UCU’s boycott (the reason for this website starting in the first place) is still pending, and few boycotts have actually seen the light of day – go to for reports on how much has or hasn’t been achieved by BDS in the US.

    As always, we can despair too soon!

  5. Last Friday mixtape for a few weeks « Bob's Beats Says:

    […] the wonderful Rita, born in Iran and living in Israel, singing in Farsi, truly beautiful. And Engage remind us of the debates around the cultural boycott of South Africa, accompanied by Paul […]

  6. Philip Says:

    Speaking of language, you should read this article:

    Freedland makes the argument that I’ve tried to make on this site before that the concept of ‘Zionism’ is either hotly debated or highly confused (I’m not sure I can say which). To give an example, (I know, I know) Avi Shlaim is often described as anti-Zionist. Well, not really, he believes in an Israel within the 1967 borders. Is it fair to disenfranchise his views like that?

    Anway, not entirely relevant, except that I thought it fits in well witht eh use of language especially regarding Zionism.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Nationalisms are always confused and often internally ferocious. So are anti-nationalisms, as Freedland reveals.

      • Philip Says:

        Indeed nationalisms are confused, as are all facets of identity that humans take on themselves.

        Does this mean you think Freedland is an anti-nationalist? I wouldn’t hav taken that from this article.

      • Absolute Observer Says:

        ‘Israel’s policies are the cause; hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism are the consequences.’

        Dear Jews,
        if you want an end to antisemitism; behave yourself. Stop bringing it down to your own heads. What else can you expect of decent people, people who care and who really don’t want to hate you, but are forced to do so by your actions?
        Please, please, look at your history; your lives among us.
        Jewish policies are the cause, their refusal to accept Jesus; anti-Semitism is the consequence.
        Jewish capitalists are the cause; their refusal to act morally; anti-Semitism is the consequence.
        Jewish communists are the cause, their undermining of the national community; anti-Semitism is the consequence.
        Surely you must have learnt something by now?
        All we ask is that you behave properly and then you can live your lives free of fear and live in peace with us all.
        Best Wishes,
        A friend who cares about your well being.

      • Lev Bronstein Says:

        Avi Shlaim is clearly an anti-Zionist, as he has nothing positive to say about Israel and his writing is so full of agenda that it almost reads as propaganda. If nothing else it certainly provides a platform for more extreme anti-Zionism. The fact that he’s a professor of international relations at Oxford university gives credibility to his stance as part of the mainstream understanding of what Zionism is. In fact he was interviewed by the BBC news in 2009 to lay the blame on Israel for the escalation of violence in Gaza.
        Zionism in contemporary British discourse has an especially pejorative and negative connotation which is facilatated by people like Avi Shlaim.

        • Noam Says:

          No, no, no. This is demagoguery. Shlaim objects Israeli expansionism and the colonial-resembling nature of the settlement enterprise, and he is for complete civil equality within the modern Israeli state. He does not reject the legitimacy of Zionism as a historic liberation movement. Please note his nuances – “By Zionism today I mean the ideological, ultra-nationalist settlers and their supporters”. I myself would refer to them simply as ultra-nationalists, leaving “Zionism” out of it. But it’s hard to blame him when our ministers argue their nationalism as strengthening “Zionism”, whatever that should even mean today. (?)

          Shlaim argues that the ongoing occupation JEOPARDIZES Zionism as a “legitimate national liberation movement for the Jews”, and that “Zionism does not equal racism, but many of these hard-line settlers and their leaders are blatant racists. ” This is precise, and these are his words.
          He is no anti-Zionist. At least not in the slandering way you’re trying to attribute to him. Regardless of his angle on the Gaza escalation (which is far from being a black/white topic), it’s sad to see such McCarthyist rhetoric here on Engage.

        • Lev Bronstein Says:

          Noam I respect your views especially on the ultra-nationalist far right in Israel however on Avi Shlaim we will have to disagree. There are different types of anti-Zionism and anti-Zionists in the same way that there are different kinds of antisemitism and antisemites, and some are clearly more malicious and dangerous than others. I don’t view Avi Shlaim in the same way as more vociferous critics of Israel however in his historiography he goes out of his way wherever possible to willfully portray Israel in a bad light whilst also portraying Arab and Palestinian governments and politicians in a more favourable manner. I view his Anti-Zionist tendencies not so much in his bias and harsh criticism but rather in the especially bitter tone he uses in his language whenever writing about Israel. And as noted above ‘language matters’.
          I see your views shaped heavily by your context in Israel as a minority on the left, whereas mine come fom being a minority in Britain also on the left but who is concerned about the increasing hostility to Israel in mainstream media and culture. I’m not sure that is McCarthyist rhetoric? Perhaps have a look at ‘Trials of the Diaspora’ by Anthony Julius to ge an idea of where I’m coming from.

        • Philip Says:

          This is the whole point, of course. People use the word in different ways. It means anything to anyone, so to use it, as Freedland says, has become less useful. Mostly it’s used pejoritavely, as a proxy, or as a test of orthodoxy.

          Better just to explain what we mean, surely?

      • Absolute Observer Says:

        ‘it’s sad to see such McCarthyist rhetoric here on Engage.’
        Dear Noam,
        It is not ‘McCarthyism’ at all.
        It is a disagreement about what Shlaim thinks.
        You have argued your point clearly and forcefully – and thank you for doing so
        Lev has put his view forward. You and Lev are at odds on this.
        I have commented on one of Shlaim’s views on what he sees as the connection between Israeli policies and antisemitism.
        Several posters disagree. That’s what discussion is about.
        With all due respect (which I mean); racking up the rhetoric to accusations of ‘slander’, ‘McCarythism’ or, in the words of another poster, that of disagreement to “disenfrenchising’ are neither helpful nor insightful.
        There are enough sites of friction in matters dealing with Israel and Palestine – it is a shame to add to them.

  7. Absolute Observer Says:

    ‘Is it fair to disenfranchise his views like that?’
    What a strange use of language.
    ‘disenfranchise’ – ‘to take his vote away’.
    Who exactly is ‘taking his vote away’? Indeed, in the present context, what ‘vote’ did he have in the first place?
    The implication of such language is, of course, that those who ‘disagree’ (the correct word) with Shlaim more than merely disagree. That in disagreeing with him they demand his ‘silencing’ (his ‘disenfranchisement’). And, as we know, Philip not only believes this, but also that ‘(other) Zionists’ have the power to do carry this demand through.
    It is precisely this type of language use that offers an example of all that is poisonous in debates about Israel today.

    And, of course, the truth is the complete inverse. It is the anti-Zoinists and the BDS who seek to disenfranchise (in its more conventional meaning) Israeli Jews through their BDS campaign.

    • Philip Says:

      I used the word in a lateral rather than literal sense. But I’m glad to see that you have a dictionary. I’m also glad that Noam here agrees that the sentiment of some is to try to silence others through a test of orthodoxy. His disloyalty to the Zionist camp sees him excluded, as Noam argues below.

      I don’t think that ‘‘(other) Zionists’ have the power to do carry this demand through.’ As Mira Vogel says above, there is ferocious internal debate going on. I would think that you would want to lend your support to people in that debate whose views you support.

      Your last comment appears to misunderstand what ‘disenfranchisement means’. Which is hilarious given what precedes.

  8. Absolute Observer Says:

    btw a meaning of McCarthyism is,
    ‘unscrupulously accusing people of disloyalty (as by saying they were Communists)’
    For the accusation to stick, you would have to show that Lev (or myself, although my comments relate to a sentence written by Shlaim) are made ‘unscrupulously’ – ‘without scruples or principles’. That is an accusation that is as poisonous and unnecessary as the accusation you make at others.
    Why is it not simply a matter of, “Lev, AO, I disagree with you because……………” Why attribute a malevolent motive to those with whom you disagree? Why accuse those who disagree with you as lacking scruples or principles? Lev (and I) put our views forward in good faith; why assume otherwise merely because you have a different view which you consider correct? Just because we do not agree on everything (and even if we did) why use the language of absolutes, of ‘either with me or against me’? It gets everyone nowhere very fast and debases the meaning of dialogue (of which differences of view a part).

  9. Noam Says:

    Dear Lev,
    Avi Shlaim is no anti-Zionist. I believe I (by quoting him) have already argued why.
    You cannot just call someone who “has nothing positive to say about Israel” an anti-Zionist (you did that again, in your second post). That doesn’t add up to an argument. It’s like describing someone who “has nothing positive to say” about Cuba or Vietnam as anti-Socialist. These countries, although committing vile abuses of rights, were established as self-proclaimed Socialist states.

    Lev, What angered me was NOT your different view. I respect other views. I also have much interest in your angle as a British Zionist leftist. And believe it or not, I have much empathy for your frustration with antisemitism in the left (all you people on Engage).
    What angered me was not your dislike of Shlaim, but your intellectual dishonesty, which I believe was applied in order to accuse him of disloyalty to the “legitimate” Zionist camp. This is why I used the term McCartyhist. That’s what McCartyhism is – witch hunting. This is why I still stand behind it. Sorry if it offended anybody and spoiled the atmosphere here, but it offended me, and I’m also an Engage engager.

  10. Absolute Observer Says:

    Hi Noam,
    Thanks for your comments. Again, why the reference to ‘your intellectual dishonesty’. Why dishonesty with the implication of ‘purposeful lying’? And, to follow this, why the ‘belief’ that Lev’s comments were made solely to ‘accuse’ Shlaim of ‘disloyalty’. Why, in other words, the language of Stalin and Mao? How do we know that this was Lev’s intention? How do we not know that Lev simply ‘got it wrong’ as we get lots of things wrong (and being a lefie myself, am also a member of a tradition that has ‘simply got things wrong’ in the past!).
    I do not care about being ‘offended’, that is not the issue. The issue for me is to bring to the fore the ‘added extras’ that poisons so much debate about Israel, Palestine and the Occupation. Surely the first step is to understand different positions for what they are; ‘different positions’ rather than assume the basest of motives in the person one disagrees with? This is precisely what has happened in discussions of Israel in the British left and, as Engage has shown, is partly responsible for the presence of antisemitism in the UK – the claim that those who oppose the boycott, etc. are nothing more than ‘liars’, McCarthyites and who lie to defend the indefensible (see Churchill’s comments in response to Jacobson’s criticism of ‘Seven Jewish Children). Why reproduce a mode of dialogue that cannot but break down before it begins?

  11. Noam Says:

    Oi, this is sure getting exhausting. Stalin and Mao language? You’re spiraling out of my orbit. I’m talking about a specific misuse of a term by Lev here, and you’re projecting your discontent with the nature of debate on Israel in Britain’s left, which is something I’m not getting into. Not everything revolves around it, even here on Engage. You just associated me with something totally unrelated.
    I didn’t assume Lev’s had the worst possible motives. I just pointed out that his claim doesn’t add up, and instead of rephrasing it, he repeated it. He keeps attaching a term which doesn’t apply to Shlaim, just to make the point of his dislike of him or the way he criticizes Israel. That adds up to a false accusation. Slander, some would say. It’s not an honest way of debate.
    “Avi Shlaim is clearly an anti-Zionist, as he has nothing positive to say about Israel”.
    Again, imagine I would pronounce you, AO, as “clearly anti-socialist” as you never have anything positive to say about Cuba. That’s wrong on so many levels. It’s also false to say Shlaim has nothing positive to say about Israel. It’s not the biggest crime in history, I’m sure Lev’s a nice guy and all – it’s just an attempt to debunk somebody of something using wrong, unbased rhetoric.
    This has nothing to do with how some British leftists accuse you of defending “the indefensible”.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      “That adds up to a false accusation. Slander, some would say. It’s not an honest way of debate.”
      Which itself is a conflation and a slander! Personally, I think that it’s counterproductive, undermining and odd of Shlaim to try to redefine Zionism as its most extreme and dangerous fringe, particularly when so many self-identified Zionists who are politically much closer to Shlaim are fighting hard to reclaim Zionism from the Israeli right. But I’d have no grounds to call him ‘intellectually dishonest’ i.e. a liar simply because I thought his views were far from the truth. Of course I hope you will continue to comment here Noam, but no matter how much you make out this is your favour to us, we can do without that kind of engagement. Simply disagree as strongly as you like – no need to go calling people liars without grounds.

      • Noam Says:

        Mira, thanks for you comment. This whole debate went out of hand. I have a few remarks –
        A) The kind of Zionism Shlaim and you and I agree is dangerous is no fringe. Walk into a mall in Israel and look at how much industry is located in settlements. Try to get some organic yogurt. Half of that market is based in extremely isolated, very ideological settlements. Some of them are “illegal outposts”. If you call on people to avoid consuming it, or open a shop that would openly avoid selling them, that would be a civil tort under the Boycott law. What Shlaim is against became the dangerous, thick, ruling mainstream. The occupation and sovereign Israel are one and the same in the eyes of Israel. All the rest is academic debate. Important debate, which could better Israel’s future, sure, but still mere debate.
        B) I agree with you – unike Shlaim, I wouldn’t define right-wing nationalism as “Zionism” and then denounce it. However, by the definition you and me agree to on Zionism, Shlaim is no anti-Zionist, period. Read his text. An anti-Zionist is somebody who rejects the historical movement of Zionism as a whole, usually demonizing it as a particularly nasty nationalism, with zero empathy for the Jews it saved. Questioning if it aids Jews today, and whether it should be an ongoing “project” or policy within present-day Israel, is not anti-Zionism.
        C) The whole “slander” debate is running in circles. I was opposing an attempt to label Shlaim something he isn’t. That isn’t a mere opinion. Me proclaiming “Mira Vogel is clearly a vanadlist, since she never says anything in favor of cleaning up graffiti” is also not an opinion. That’s slander. There is a difference. Me pointing that out is not slander. Sorry, but you can’t turn everything around.
        D) When did I ever “make out this is my favor to you’ that I comment here? I know you could do without me, thank you. I could also do without this passive aggressive politeness, by the way. I started following Engage when I was living in Europe for a long period, baffled by occasional left-wing antisemitism. I got here because of an essay I read of Hirsh’s. I don’t feel more important than anybody here.
        I never called anybody a liar like you’re last sentence states (talk about lying). I did indeed have grounds to point out the pejorative out of place denouncing of Shlaim, which I can no longer repeat. It’s an example of “anti-Zionist” being used as an attempt of delegitimization, which I don’t like. You’re right Mira, that’s more than disagreeing strongly, that’s getting slightly upset. That also happens sometimes, we’re human beings. I did stay completely civilized, mind you, and didn’t get nasty to Lev like you have gotten towards me.
        From here on we can agree to disagree. Good night.

        • Philip Says:

          Noam never called anyone a liar, I don’t know where this idea has come from. He was doing the opposite, trying to stop one person’s views being discounted (at some unknown, but probably steep, rate), because Shlaim didn’t pass that person’s test of orthodoxy. The point being that the test was stupid conceptually, but also incorrect, in that Shlaim would pass the test of orthodoxy. It seems odd that the folks here would gang up on the guy who is trying to make discussion reasonable. Let’s re-read what’s gone before. I think Noam is owed an apology. But then, given the unreasonableness that has been allowed to pass below, well, it’s hard to know what to say.

          In terms of whether Shlaim is right to define ‘Zionism today’ (notice the slight nuance) in the way he does…well, that’s a debate to be had. I personally think the term has come to mean so many things that it’s difficult to use in commonplace debate. Which is also what Jonathan Freedland says.

  12. Absolute Observer Says:

    ‘I didn’t assume Lev’s had the worst possible motives. I just pointed out that his claim doesn’t add up, and instead of rephrasing it, he repeated it.’
    ‘it’s sad to see such McCarthyist rhetoric here on Engage’.
    ‘What angered me was not your dislike of Shlaim, but your intellectual dishonesty,’

    ‘you’re projecting your discontent with the nature of debate on Israel in Britain’s left, which is something I’m not getting into.’

    Not at all,I’m merely pointing out that you mode of argumentation that is peppered with abuse and accusations of ‘intellectual dishonesty’, McCarthyimsm, (and one could include ‘projection’), etc. appears to transcend national borders.

    Anyway, I have made my points and I would hate to exhaust you any further.

    (And as an aside, it is ironic that as a member of the Israeli left, your comments seem at one with the Israeli right’s (and many anti-zionists) view of anyone who disagrees with them is an ‘enemy’ and so a liar, ‘dishonest’, etc. etc.; but I don’t want to get into that.)

  13. Absolute Observer Says:

    ‘the sentiment of some is to try to silence others’

    Phillip, fuck off and take your nasty little antisemitic cliches with you

    • Philip Says:

      Moderators, this is the second time that ‘Absolute Observer’ has told me to f*** off on this blog. Is this kind of comment fair game? I can put up with the false accusations of antisemitism, especially when given the opportunity to rebut and hopefully refute them, but surely there has to be a line?

  14. Absolute Observer Says:

    ‘I could also do without this passive aggressive politeness,’

    You are a complete dickhead Noam who is suffering from some form of persecution complex brought about by your failure upon failure in doing anything constructive within the country you live.


  15. Absolute Observer Says:

    ‘I did indeed have grounds to point out the pejorative out of place denouncing of Shlaim, which I can no longer repeat’.

    You can repeat it you your heart’s content – see, you’ve just done it. The only thing that is objectionable is your views that anyone who disagrees with you is ‘intellectually disloyal’, is a “McCarthyite’ – a sort of ‘traitor’ to the Israeli progressive movement; you know the same type of thing the Israeli far-right accuse those Israelis and/or diaspora Jews who criticise Israel or those who think that things in that country could be different.
    You just be very, very proud of yourself and to be such a symbol of the times.

  16. Noam Says:

    AO, you’re a real gentleman. I cannot top your vocabulary and rhetoric. And you’re a great observer, you see how I’m part of a progressive clique that won’t tolerate any opinion but my own. I observe that we both seem to find each other remarkably self-righteous and arrogant. All I can say is you’re getting me terribly wrong. I wonder would any admin would ban somebody who verbally abuses and bullies other people here, while hiding behind a fake name.

    • Philip Says:

      I quite agree.

      • Absolute Observer Says:

        Phillip, we all know who and what you agree with!
        And now you claim that I am silencing people.
        What other two’appeny antisemitic allegation are you going to throw at me?
        So, to repeat, fuck off.

        • Absolute Observer Says:

          From an earlier post,

          ‘The problem is, Philip, that you don’t think the ideas of the ‘Israel Lobby’ and of Jews being in positions of power making US safe for Israel is antisemitic. And that is you problem. That is why it would be wrong to call you a liar or an antisemite. You simply don’t know what antisemitism is; what its tropes are; and how it has oozed its way into contemopary debate.

          Otherwise, how could you write,

          ‘One can also find in the archives his belief that because of Obama’s choice of chief of staff there will be no US change of policy in the US (from his blog) ; that Israel pushed for the war in Iraq, that Shlaim is the only historian worth reading (I paraphrase), that the modern state of Israel is based on the unilateral theft of land, that the Israel Lobby thesis is quite right, that the cry from “the river to the sea” does not mean what it implies and so on and on. (In fact, Israel, Israel, Israel as if it is the only country in the world!).’

          Philip Blue seems to think ‘the Jewish vote’ is holding back fair play:

          Remember Phillip, when I had to explain to you that there are only 5 US states with a sizeable population? Remember when you spole of Obama and the AIPAC ‘lovefest’ (your word) and when it was pointed out to you that in that ‘lovefest’, Netanyahu got nothing from Obama that he hoped?

          And when you own words (including those of your own blog) are recounted back to him he makes accusations of ‘being smeared’, etc. etc..

          So, maybe the moderators have been quite lenient after all.

  17. Absolute Observer Says:

    Look Noam let’s see what’s happened.
    I asked you not to call people McCarthyites and ‘intellectually dishonest’ during discussions.
    I did so politely.
    You may note that in the past, I have agreed with your substantive comments. I also did not comment on your reading of Shlaim, other than his silly comment on antisemitism.
    You chose to defend your abuse. In so doing you interpreted my politeness as ‘passive-aggressive’.
    In the light of those comments, I said as I see it. And now you complain!

    A further irony is that when it comes to developments in Israel, I have a great deal of sympathy with your views. What I find childish and counter-productive is your persistence in calling people with whom you disagree names that one should have been left behind in a first year student bar.

    But, as I mentioned, it is easy to blame and assume ill-intent in others than recognise one’s own failures; a failure that is definitely a mark of the current left of which you (and I) are a part.


    (And as to Philip, who I assume you are referring to. I have a very low tolerance of people who adopt well-known antisemitic conspiracy theories to explain US politics and matters concerning the ME. (as he has done); who posts antisemitically tinged articles on his own website and positively recommends people to read them. I have a low tolerance of people who cite the antisemitic claim that ‘Zionists’ (Jews) silence their opponents (see above). There are plenty of sites where he can not only express this garbage, but where people will take him seriously. As for me, I believe that people who push antisemitism to explain the world as it is cannot claim the right to push their poison anywhere they want, especially on a site dedicated in opposing antisemitism as it manifests itself in debates about Israel and Palestine. Hence my response of telling a person who pushes antisemitic views to ‘Fuck Off’ – which, to my mind is the only sensible and rational response to those who pushes this crap.)

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Sorry (as moderator) for letting this get out of hand. Don’t get personal – or if being personal is called for, be sensitive. No more allegations of McCarthyism, or fuck-offs, or careless antisemitic cliches on a site concerned with antisemitism. Be careful with assertions, back up what you assert. Be slow to rise to provocations. Don’t hold back on making points strongly but remember that feelings run high in the comments here and some people may enjoy playing with that. Engage is a campaign. I don’t view blog comments only as a way for people to communicate with each other, but also as discussions that people read, sometimes a long time afterwards, to initiate themselves to the big debates. Ideally it would be good not to post heated personal stuff that won’t make sense to anybody who hasn’t been following your exchanges with other commenters over the years. Just as you wouldn’t do that in a face-to-face conversation, because it would be rude and self-indulgent.

      I think the most important assertion to come out of this thread, for Engage’s purposes, is that Shlaim’s views in combination with his standing have created space for extreme anti-Zionism. We could test this by looking into who quotes, hosts, likes Shlaim. Otherwise the assertion remains an assertion, and anybody not initiated into the arguments about anti-Zionism and Zionism reads this thread and goes away not only none-the-wiser, but also thinking that there’s more heat than light here.

      Noam, on the Boycott Law, last time I looked into it, some Israeli activists were planning to test the law. Do you know anything more?

  18. Absolute Observer Says:

    ‘Only when they are free of the electoral necessity to court the Jewish vote will Democratic presidents strike a more evenhanded pose. But for now, Mr Obama’s promised change will not materialise.”

    From Phillip’s webpage cited above – something he recommended others to read!!

    But, following Mira’s comments, I shall not sign off as I was intending.

  19. Noam Says:


    Funny that you refer to me as someone suffering from some form of persecution complex – my ENTIRE post (5:57 PM) was addressed to Mira. It was to her that I said I can do without the passive aggressiveness. I wasn’t addressing you. What’s wrong with you?

    You find my “persistence calling people names” childish. Hmmm. Okay. I used the terms McCarthyism, intellectual dishonesty and slander. You repeatedly suggest Philip fucks off and address me as a complete dickhead, followed by quite some nasty personal insults, some based on my nationality, and a false, shallow psychological analysis of me.

    You’re so jumpy and sensitive to people accusing people of silencing. You say I’m like radical anti-Zionists and nationalists in doing so. I didn’t accuse anybody of silencing nor did I try to silence anybody. What Lev said did not add up and wasn’t true. I thought it was ill intended. I explained why. I was being civilized.
    Everything you added there was part of your paranoid, rage filled soul. I suggest you see a psychologist. I’m seeing one for years. It can really help with different things.

    My side of the discussion is shutting down. Good luck and goodbye, AO. You are not only “exhausting” (that one really got to you, huh?) but frankly utterly unbearable.

  20. Mira Vogel Says:

    OK, that’s it now. Comments closed.

Comments are closed.

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