Israel, Zionism and the Media

Tag: anti-Zionism

Britannia Redux – return to the rabbit-hole

I wrote here about waking up one day and finding that a vile anti-Zionist was leader of the Labour Party.

Since writing that blog post I am more convinced than ever that at some point during the  last few months I did, indeed, pass through a wormhole into an alternative universe.

You don’t believe me? Well, that’s because you are denizens of that universe and I am a mere interloper who has lost his way and is desperate to get Back to the Future.

Look. In my universe, the Premier League is won by Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal or Chelsea. In your universe, Leicester City, a club of no known provenance, wins the Premier League. It may be normal for you, but not for me.

In my universe it is surely beyond credible that Wales would even qualify for Euro2016 let alone win their group. In your universe they end up as semi-finalists. It’s as if the laws of nature have been torn up. I would have to qualify that incredulity by observing that England’s performances appear impervious to whatever universe they are inhabiting.

Did you know, for example, that Novak Djokovic does not lose to someone ranked 41 in the world at Wimbledon? But he does in your universe.

Although sport is of the utmost importance, replacing religion, in my universe – let’s call it U1 from now on – in your universe (U2) it appears its place is taken by politics.

I now inhabit a universe in which the UK will soon be on its way out of the EU, Michael Gove might be Prime Minister and Boris Johnson’s political career is toast.

It’s all about the Law of Unforeseen Consequences (LUC). Well, in U1, where, I presume, none of this has happened, we didn’t foresee this .

But, I am trapped in U2 (no, nothing to do with Bono) and, by the way, if anyone knows a way back – maybe Professor Hawking (you do have a Professor Hawking, don’t you?) has created in U2 a method whereby I can return to the status quo ante – please let me know.

On the theme of the LUC, you guys in U2 voted for a Conservative majority, whereas in U1 David Cameron was expecting a coalition and, for all I know, is currently in power with Nigel Farage. Therefore, he thought it a clever ploy to agree to a referendum on EU  membership in the Tory party manifesto, which in U2 is known as Brexit. This was a sop to the Eurosceptics in his party and a device to win over potential defectors to U(2)KIP.

But what happened, my (now) fellow U2ers? He went and bloody won a majority. Instead of shutting up the Brexiters and putting Boris back in his box, he ended up having to have that referendum.

And here I am, in U2, no way back (Hawking?).

OK, I guess there are some unintended positives under the LUC; for example, having lost 10% of the value of my (Self-invested) pension overnight, and then finding sterling at its lowest against the dollar since 1985, my pension has more than recovered, the FTSE is at its highest for many months and only my bank stocks are looking a poor investment. Who knows – maybe your U2 Brexit will be good for the economy after all and I won’t have to pester Professor Hawking.

However, I did warn everyone that, if Brexit became a reality, the Scots would be justified in pushing for a second Indyref, and this time they would vote to leave the Union. What I didn’t contemplate was that Brexit would give the Northern Ireland Nationalists extra grist to their aspirations to unify the island of Ireland and stay within the EU.

I am pleased to say that in U1 Europeans in the UK feel welcome here, add significantly to our national story, our culture, our natural impulse to tolerance and our instinct for hospitality. This Europeanism makes browsing the aisles of Tesco (other stores are available) like a waltz through the culinary predilections of Europe. Who has not been drawn to fare on sale in the Polish section and not marvelled at how so much can be described with so few vowels in a language that appears to have been written in a cipher or by someone throwing the contents of a Scrabble bag in the air as a method of deciding nomenclature? (Apologies to my Polish colleagues).

Back in U2 those same fine folk are now subjected to abuse from a minority who have been emboldened by their perverted reasons for voting for Brexit (instead of the majority more nobly motivated). No doubt, this will die down, but it is not only Jews and Muslims now who are feeling the discomfort of being despised by random strangers.

And then there’s the Labour party. In U2 the party has allowed itself to be infiltrated and taken over by an unsavoury group of Marxists, Trotskyists, anti-Zionists and delusional ‘progressives’.

In U1 the Labour Party was a centre Left party with politicians of stature who respected the traditions of the UK Parliament and its flawed, but workable democracy. We in U1 may have disagreed with their policies and you might have voted for other parties, but at least they were, before Miliband, a credible opposition who could challenge the government and call it to account.

In U2 the Labour Party is run by a cabal with no respect for its own parliament, its own MPs or the electorate. Furthermore, it has presided over a plethora of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic ‘incidents’ that have made the majority of Jews in this country more uneasy than at any time since 1948.

This culminated in an event beyond parody where the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s anodyne report on anti-Semitism (and other forms of prejudice) within the Labour Party resulted in its leader using one of the comparisons of Israel excoriated by  Chakrabarti in her report and a Jewish MP being verbally harassed and ‘outed’ with a classic anti-Semitic trope.

These things just didn’t happen in U1, I can assure you. Yet, this is another example of the LUC; give the members of the Labour Party one person-one vote – just like a referendum – and you don’t achieve democracy, what you achieve is a parallel democracy to the parliamentary system that has served this country for almost 400 years. Plebiscites and referendums are dangerous tools, and democracy is so nuanced and so finely balanced in the UK that you meddle with it at your peril. These tools are usually used when the launcher is expecting to retain the status quo and is demonstrating his or her democratic credentials whilst doing whatever they can do to guide the process towards their own desired result. This was true of Indyref where the government just prevailed, but in Brexit they came a cropper.

And what of ‘austerity’, which Labour and its cohorts thought – ha, ha – that they could dispose of by borrowing and spending on public services? Silly idea in U1, but in U2 George Osborne has loosened fiscal policies, signalling an end to full Austerity, and trailed an increase in borrowing to invest in public works to stimulate the economy and avoid a recession.

So we U1ers are justified in asking why the hell he couldn’t do that when the economy was, reportedly, so strong. It seems paradoxical to an ignorant U1er, like me. It might just pull the policy rug from under the feet of the Labour Party – or Labour Parties – because another result of the LUC is the possibility of the Labour party becoming a covert, or not so covert, Trotskyite Party and the 170 MPs who voted no confidence in their leader forming a new party. Wouldn’t it be something if we had 170 by-elections as anti-Corbynistas refuse to  take the whip, resigning from the party and, perhaps, creating a realignment in British politics. Maybe that’s one for U3. Whatever happens, the Parliamentary Labour Party must find a way of reconciling the clear antagonism of the party members to elected MPs who face the threat of deselection. One thing for sure, party conferences this year should be great theatre.

In the meantime, Nicola Sturgeon might be enjoying an extended period as leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition – something else we U1ers would never have predicted.

O brave new world that has such people in’t!

PS One of the leading proponents of the multiverse is the renowned physicist Dr David Deutsch. In U1, around 1970, we were at school together. I played him at chess – and won (ahem). Little did I know that almost half a century later I’d experience the reality of his great theory first hand.

Blog Wars

A couple of months ago I decided to start posting on the Jewish Chronicle (JC) Blogs.

I didn’t realise what I was about to discover; what I did discover was something of a revelation.

I don’t just post articles, I participate in the discussions which arise out of the majority of posts.

When I first arrived I landed in the middle of what I call the Blog Wars. Despite this being the JC, the blogs are open to anyone provided that they stick to some obvious rules. The blogs and their comments are moderated and it is not unknown for comments to be removed or even for bloggers or commenters to be banned.

What most surprised me was that I soon found there are two main camps: pro-Israel/Zionist and anti-Israel/Zionist. There are also one or two neutrals.

Almost every blog post can be the catalyst for some right old ding-dongs between these two camps. It’s a sort of Jewish version of the Guardian’s CiF (Comment is Free).

I actually found this very interesting, not only could I see how the ‘other side’ thinks, I could also challenge them,  be challenged by them, argue with them, but never, of course, persuade them. This is an excellent training and test ground to hone your own arguments, to make sure of your facts and sharpen your own polemics.

It is also, at least for me, as a bit of an old lefty, an opportunity to question your own views and convictions in the light of the counter arguments. But, I can honestly say, this self-examination has not fundamentally changed my views, but it has reinforced my commitment to balance and to avoid dogmatism.

Both sides in these Blog Wars tend to be unyielding, entrenched and assured of their own righteousness. Little quarter is given. Israel is rarely criticised by the Zios and the anti-Zios will continue to sympathise with Hamas and Hizbollah.

By far the most revealing of the anti-Zios is a certain representative of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfjfP). I am not going to name names here; go and read the blogs; it’s unfair to mention any individual here who is unlikely to respond in person and I’m not going to discuss or reproduce the comments that have appeared in the JC. I’ll simply summarise what these discussions ‘below the line’ reveal.

The JfjfP representative is polite and seems to try very hard to be poised and restrained. JfjfP are part of the left wing bloc that organises demonstrations for Palestinians and Palestine and against Israel and Zionism.

This particular JfjfP member claims she is not anti-Israel and recognises Israel’s right to exist (well thanks).  She is, however, of the opinion that Israel is a colonialist experiment, that the Occupation is illegal and cruelly prosecuted, that Hamas are understandable freedom fighters, that it is Israel and Israel alone and its policies which are the cause of the conflict; if only Israel would seek peace, negotiate with Hamas and the PA, this peace would magically materialise and 100 years of strife would dissipate into thin air, no-one would attack Jews anymore and her ideal, presumably Marxist, certainly Socialist, state would rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Israel.

In other words, socialist ideology colours her opinion of Israel which is demonised in her mind to the extent that it can never be right, can never be lawful, because it is an illegitimate state in the first place. And because of this ideological blindness she, like so many others on the far left, be it George Galloway, Alexei Sayle, Tony Benn, Gerald Kaufman and, indeed, a number of post-Zionist Israelis who take the same stance, she is prepared to overlook the anti-Semitism, the homophobia, the misogyny, the Islamofascist death culture of Hamas and its fellow travellers; for her, their charters are just pieces of paper and they can be persuaded to make peace and forswear their previous acts and deeds and policies and bigotry.

Thus the far left supports representatives of the most dangerous, religio-political movement of our times: fundamentalist Islam. They do this in the name of their own socialist vision of the world and history.

The level of self-delusion, double-think and self-deception involved in this world view is astonishing and frightening. It is anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-Enlightenment and it makes a pact with the real devil by demonising an imperfect state – Israel.

I am not saying that we Zionists and pro-Israel supporters never take an ‘Israel can do no wrong’ position. It does happen and it happens more when Israel is under mortal threat. What room is there for any self-criticism when your opponents are relentless in theirs. Yet I can never ever find the ‘other side’ critical of the Palestinians and their supporters. It’s as if they are perfect, blameless, beyond criticism because if they do anything wrong the Zionists forced them to do it. At the same time, I do find a very lively debate in the Israeli press and the Jewish World.

There is a big difference between fair criticism and an agenda of demonisation and delegitimisation.

It is very sad indeed to encounter Jews who see history only through a socialist or Marxist prism, even if it means contributing to the efforts of those who would destroy Israel and kill all Jews and, therefore, the very Jews who now support them.

I wonder why some Jews who claim to uphold true Jewish values through sympathy and justice for Palestinians must also simultaneously join in with the chorus of the demonisers of their own people.

Why do they have to create a soi-disant ‘Jewish’ group?
What is it that is so important for them about Jewish values that they have to group together as not-in-my-namers?
What is Jewish about denying the right to Jewish self-determination?
What is Jewish about sympathy, even tacitly, for those who would commit genocide of the Jews given half a chance.
What is it that is Jewish about demonising fellow-Jews?

I’m currently reading Howard Jacobson’s latest novel, The Finkler Question, I found a very apt and devastating paragraph which amusingly describes Jews who give succour to their would-be destroyers. In the book there is a group not too dissimilar from JfjfP called ASHamed Jews:

To be an ASHamed Jew did not require that you had been knowingly Jewish all your life. Indeed, one among them only found out he was Jewish at all in the course of making a television programme in which he was confronted on camera with who he really was. In the final frame of the film he was disclosed weeping before a memorial in Auschwitz to dead ancestors who until that moment he had never known he’d had. ‘It could explain where I get my comic genius from,’ he told an interviewer for a newspaper, though by then he had renegotiated his new allegiance. Born a Jew on Monday, he had signed up to be an ASHamed Jew by Wednesday and was seen chanting ‘We are all Hezbollah’ outside the Israeli Embassy on the following Sunday.*

*Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question, Bloomsbury 2010, pp 138-9

Denis MacEoin and the ‘A’ word

I’d like to bring your attention to an article recently published by Denis MacEoin on his blog entitled ‘Lies, lies, and lies about lies.

As Denis MacEoin is not a Jew and as he is a lecturer in Islamic studies and editor of the Middle East Quarterly and as he has written and studied and, indeed, earned a PhD on Islamic and Middle East subjects, I think that the neutral observer should give considerable respect to his views on a related subject: anti-Semitism.

In his article MacEoin does not mince his words:

I’m going to start this by talking about anti-Semitism. You’re probably all aware that anti-Israel activists, when told they are anti-Semites, hotly deny the charge, saying they are just opposed to Israel and its policies. I don’t believe them, any of them.

Strong stuff. Even though the staunchest Zionist is prepared to give the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to the ‘A’ word, to those who criticise Israel or the policies of its government, anti-Israel ‘activism’ is MacEoin’s subtle point here.

MacEoin continues by describing how, after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism became unfashionable and how, initially, the Left was pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli.

Then it all changed. Why? His theory is that the Left requires a a cause, someone to ‘pity’ as he defines it. As the Jews in the shape of Israel were no longer ‘pitiable’. Suddenly some atavistic European Jew-hatred rematerialised in anti-Israel or anti-Zionist polemic. MacEoin seems to say that there is a psychological aberration in the thinking of these Europeans which makes them dislike strong, even arrogant, unrepentant, assertive Jews/Israelis.

For some reason, a lot of people don’t like this. But they still don’t like to be called anti-Semites, because anti-Semitism is a form of racism, and they aren’t racists. They think they aren’t racists because anti-racism is the keystone of modern right-on politics. But they are racists, so they have a problem. They have a lot of circles to square, and to do that they have employed a range of lies that cast a spell on the media and most of the general public. It goes something like this. The Jews are no longer suffering, but someone must be suffering in order to deserve our pity, and the obvious candidates for victimhood are the Palestinians, because those nice Arabs I met at our conference tell me they are. This must mean that the Jews are… A hard think here, I suppose, then the obvious answer. The Jews, sorry, the Israelis are Nazis. Not ‘like the Nazis’. They are Nazis.

In other words, so aghast are these people at their own racism and historical guilt that they have to cleanse their Socialist souls by imprinting their own self-hate on the objects of this guilt. The only way they can justify this strange irrational hatred is by moral inversion and by transferring the historical crimes against Jews to crimes against Palestinians by Jews.

if there’s to be some sort of equivalence, there has to be a Holocaust. What? you say. What? But it’s obvious, they reply. There has been a Holocaust of the Palestinians. If this makes you feel nauseated, I don’t blame you. You ask, when, how many, where? They sneer and talk about Jenin (51 dead) and say it’s worse than gas chambers. And to make this worse, a lot of them deny the real Holocaust, aided and abetted by a UN member state, Iran.

So Israel is always referred to in terms of the darkest possible aspects of human behaviour: Holocaust, massacre, apartheid, racism, Nazism.

They hate Israel with a viciousness that can only originate in dark psychological problems with Jews. I don’t know why that is, and I don’t know how to solve it, but it’s the most dangerous single thing in the world today. I mean it.

MacEoin does not really explore why so many on the Left are so enamoured with people and regimes that should be inimical to their core beliefs. Why does George Galloway, for example, so love Hamas which represses women, kills gays and indoctrinates young minds to hate and martyrdom? Why did he appear to idolise Saddam who gassed his own people amongst his many other crimes. Why does Chavez love Ahmadinejad. Why does the IRA feel fellowship with Hamas and Hizbullah?

MacEoin has the answer – anti-Semitism. But that is almost too simple. The Leftists see a successful, highly technological, democratic, free society in Israel, yet a society that is basically capitalist and supported by the great bogeyman of the Left – the United States. Is it, perhaps, envy. Envy that their politics does not work, that they have based their political life on a system that does not produce wealth, freedom, humanity. And to make things worse, it’s those damned Jews who are showing them the error of their thinking.

But let me add a rider, as I always do. Israel is not perfect. There are many things to criticise about Israel as there are in other western democracies.  Israel’s perceived injustices in the West Bank, its wars in Lebanon and Gaza can all be subjected to scrutiny and criticism.

But the debate, when it comes to Israel, whether from the Left or from Muslims and Islamists is always so hysterical, so hate-ridden, so genocidal, so shrill, so irrational and so vile that it does not leave any room for valid criticism. No other country in the world is treated in the press or at the UN like Israel. And if you think that is because Israel is the nastiest country in the world, then go there and take a look. Go to the West Bank. Go to Gaza. Then go to Sudan and Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran; go to Tibet and North Korea. Then tell me Israel deserves this level of vilification and demonisation.

You may then come to the conclusion that, essentially, MacEoin is right.

With people like Denis MacEoin around there is still hope, at least, that hordes of irrational Jew-haters and enemies of civilisation can yet be defeated.

Iran’s Hogwarts Hogwash

For those of you who doubt that anti-Zionism does not equate to anti-Semitism just look at a recent TimesOnline article by Daniel Finkelstein here:

Iranian TV is ludicrously promulgating Harry Potter movies as part of the Zionist global conspiracy, Jewish corruption of the world’s moral fibre and so on and so on into ever more demented rhetoric. (NB that Zionist=Jewish and please note carefully what is said in the video which makes it clear that Iran makes no distinction between Zionists, Israelis and Jews)

And all this is done by seeming academics in smart suits speaking calmly and eruditely. It would be hard to keep a straight face if it were not so scary.

Although I can’t believe that many Iranians really believe this sort of twaddle, nevertheless, it can, drip by poisonous drip, erode their ability to think rationally.

In the Arab world especially there is an ongoing vicious Jew-hating propaganda industry which now seems to have spread to Iran (which is not an Arab state, of course).

In 1933 much of Europe was primed for genocide. In 2009 it seems that much of the world is moving inexorably toward agitating for a second Holocaust whilst the would-be perpetrators deny the first one.