Guardian

Sowing the Seeds of Hatred


So Seth Freedman – the darling of  CiF and the Israel-bashers – has given his seal of approval to Israel boycotts.

Indeed he says boycotting Israeli companies is “to be applauded”

I wonder if he used his computer to create and dispatch his article, or used his mobile phone to do any of the research.  If so, he does not adhere to his own principles. For if he supports boycotts (even though he wants to direct his divestment and boycotts at companies that “make money from piling misery on the Palestinians”) he needs to be consistent and not derive any benefit from the Israeli research and innovation in the technological, medical and cultural fields that has benefited us all. So throwing away his mobile phone and not using voicemail or computer should be top of his list when boycotting………

How ironic that the Israel-bashers in the UN benefit so greatly from Israeli expertise.

And which country is always among the first to offer practical assistance and aid when there is a disaster?

Who will forget that while people were dying in Iran following the earthquake in 2003, the Iranian government agreed to accept aid from “any country other than Israel”!

Just what good for the Palestinians do the boycotts Freedman advocates do? Is it not better to support the many joint Israeli-Palestinian projects and initiatives that can bring positive benefit to the Palestinian people who have suffered so badly from the devotion of their leadership to the destruction of Israel, rather than to the betterment of their own people?

Don’t the Palestinians derive more good from the Israel/Palestinian economic co-operation iniatives that have recently taken place or from the football tournament between Israeli and Palestinian children that Sir Bobby Charlton supported when he was in Israel in July?

Does that not bring more benefit to the relationship between the next generation of Palestinians and Israelis than teaching hatred on Palestinian TV childrens’ programmes and in school textbooks?

The espousal of boycotts by the likes of Freedman, Ken Loach, Neve Gordon, Jeff Halper, Naomi Klein and George Galloway does nothing to further the cause of peace or bring the benefits that would show the Palestinians that living in peace alongside their Jewish neighbour is far preferable to terrorism, suicide bombing and pointless hatred. And if the ‘Women for Peace’ and organisations such as B’tselem put their undoubted energies into positive projects rather than seeking out sticks with which to beat Israel, how much better things could be for grassroots Palestinians….

Palestinians should be asking themselves a lot of  “What if?” questions: What if in 1948 they had embraced their Palestinian state instead of going to war against the Jewish state that had been given legitimacy by an international vote? What if they had not initiated so many wars and wasted all their energies on fighting Israel rather than cooperating with her? What if the handshakes on the White House Lawn had not been cynical ploys to fool the world into thinking that the Palestinian leaders had a real interest in peace? What if the vast sums of international aid had been properly monitored and had gone to support the people and build up the infrastructure of the Palestinian state they deserve instead of funding terrorism, paying the families of suicide bombers, the ficticious salaries and lining the pockets and Swiss bank accounts of Yasser Arafat and many of his henchmen? Would the millions of dollars that Mrs Arafat continues to receive be better used in funding Palestinian families who have been forced to live in refugee conditions as political pawns?  And what if President Abbas did not speak with a forked tongue?

The problem with the Israel-haters and supporters of boycotts is they never let historical context or the truth get in the way of a good story. In the recent call for a boycott of the Toronto film festival (because they were showing films to mark the 100th anniversary of Tel Aviv), the co-director of the festival said that the status of Tel Aviv as part of Israel was still unresolved!

If that doesn’t show that the Palestinian message is one that claims the very heart of Israel – I don’t know what does.

It is time for the boycotters, Israel-haters and supporters of violence and war to wake up and recognise that the path to peace does not lie in demonising and badmouthing Israel, but in pursuing joint projects and cooperation that can bring benefit to both sides.

And it is time Comment is Free gave more space to positive aspects of solving the Middle East conflict than to fermenting more hatred from the pens of Seth Freedman and his fellow Israel bashers.

33 replies »

  1. Seth has been known to say that he shows his commitment to Israel’s welfare by the fact that he lives here (in Israel). It is beginning to look to me as if he lives here so that he can be closer to those he wishes to vilify.

    I have no illusions that Israel is perfect. Israelis have all the faults that flesh is heir to and we have been fighting a war for all of our existence. That is bound to leave its mark and it does. What our Seth does is to dig out the mark and turn it from side to side seeking its darkest and most suspect aspect and to add his own bit of malevolent spice. The one thing he is good at is slinging insults and he does this very effectively at Israel and at those who criticise him. It is a great defence but perhaps apt to corrode when it is the sole means of communication.

  2. “How ironic that the Israel-bashers in the UN benefit so greatly from Israeli expertise.” A good point indeed.

    How ironic that the fundamentalist Arab terrorists reject the 21st century and dream of turning the clock back 1000 years to the time when their Empire was all-powerful – but the only way they can defeat the West is to use OUR technology ( computers, mobile phones, military hardware ) bought largely with OUR money in exchange for their precious black gold.

  3. I read Freedman’s article and then started to read the comments following. And then I noticed – my recommending rights have now been removed, as well as my posting rights! I didn’t realise I posed such a threat – apparently I do.

    To go back to the article, it strikes me that his applauding of Norway’s divestment is consistent with the way that Israel is generally treated. All around the world, there are conflicts and horrors being visited by many groups against others. Whether state or private, each are supplied by a plethora of suppliers, from water bottles to tanks, socks to jet fighters. And yet who does Norway choose to make a political statement about? An Israeli firm, Elbit.

    Is Norway refusing Chinese imports? Have they now stopped using Saudi Arabian oil? Do they ban beef from Brazil or Argentina? Are Japanese or Korean cars to be stopped at the docks? No of course not. Only Israel and the US apparently comes in for censure and boycott.

    Norway’s economy is built on petroleum and gas, food processing, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metals, chemicals, timber, mining, textiles, fishing, according to the CIA World factbook.

    So I’m going to stop buying Jarlsberg cheese, Norwegian paper and timber and will ask my wife not to buy fish if it comes from Norway.

    Then I’m going to find out about buying Elbit shares.

    And finally, since Freedman is so keen on principles and he is so anxious to criticise the state of Israel, let him move next door to Gaza or the West Bank and put his money where his mouth is. I’m quite sure the Guardian can pay him there just as easily as in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, and his money I’m sure will go further.

    Boycotts are a nonsense – but they can work both ways.

  4. Looking further down the posters, I see that my nom de plume, cityca has been used to place an old post of mine against Freedman.

    My identity has therefore been stolen by someone posting onto CiF.

    I will be writing to inform them – meanwhile anyone know of a legal way to prevent my identity being stolen and misused on websites? Thanks.

  5. As stated above these anti-Israeli boycotts are nonsense, but it is noticeable that many of the Western pro-boycotters are more concerned with token gestures than truly inconveniencing themselves.

    If they were to boycott all Israeli products then they’d have to stop using the web, as a lot of traffic is passed along on routers developed by Israelis.

    Still worse, pro-boycotters would have to stop using Intel based systems and XP/Vista etc, again developed with the expertise of Israelis.

    Finally, pro-boycotters would have to stop using Google, as it uses algorithms developed by an Israeli.

    But that’s not going to happen.

    Pro-boycotters wouldn’t go that far, it would be too hard on them, rather they want to delegitimize Israelis and Israel, that’s their intent, even if their real reasons goes unarticulated, everything else is just a gesture.

    This boycott movement is wholly negative and not really in interested about peace and co-existence in the Middle East.

  6. One particularly mean-spirited example of “boycotting” was the Guardian’s coverage of the Venice film festival. Day after day they reported on it, including everything from gossipt to reviews of some movies being screened.

    At the end, they hyped up a pretty meaningless award for best actor (I think) for Colin Firth … and carefully omitted any mention of the film that won the Golden Lion award .. the Israeli film “Lebanon”. (see http://www.demotix.com/news/israeli-movie-lebanon-wins-venice-film-festival-2009).

    Similarly, when hyping up the unsuccessful attempt to buycott Israeli films in Toronto, the Guardian manged to overlook Jane Fonda’s retraction of her signature on a document drafted by an British film-maker (unknown, I think, to any but a small group of British “cinephiles”) after commisoning one or two articles about the proposed boycott on CiF. The Impact of a few people like Jerry Seinfield opposing the boycott swamped the Gaydrian’s campaign.

    Perhaps nothing illustrates the bias and pettiness of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel better than these examples.

  7. Cityca: The divestment and boycott article we are discussing is not new. If it was published before your banning the chance is that that was a posting made by you.

  8. Freedman is terminally confused and his article is proof positive of that.

    “..The problem with the Israel-haters and supporters of boycotts is they never let historical context or the truth get in the way of a good story…”

    Freedman wouldn’t know how to research historical context if he was given a map and compass – he can’t research some of the specious facts he writes at mouth-breather level for CiF. But he can spin a yarn, even though his yarns are not selling too well in the bookshops I gather. Does anyone have the latest sales figures for them?

    The sticking point is, of course, that he actually falls for his own rhetoric and actually believes some of the BS he writes. That has to be evidence of some sort of mental aberration – or the fact that he knows that there will always be a place on CiF for whatever BS he may write.

    Nobel Literature Prize winner he ain’t though.

  9. Gaydrian’s campaign??

    My spellchecker at work!! But there’s a joke in there somewhere ….

    Guardian’s campaign

  10. “..Seth has been known to say that he shows his commitment to Israel’s welfare by the fact that he lives here (in Israel)…”

    He’s also been known, when he first began writing his gloop for CiF, to have said that he was holding onto his British passport, too, because it was his golden ticket out of Israel if things went pear-shaped there. (I am sorry that I can’t give a reference for that but I did read it in one of his articles).

    He was jumped on for saying it and hasn’t repeated it since but I’d be willing to bet that he wouldn’t relinquish his British citizenship and would probably be on the first plane out of Ben Gurion if, heaven forbid, things began to go badly wrong for Israel in a future conflict.

    He took to soldiering as a hobby and was probably not given the respect he thought he deserved in his short army service, hence his animus towards everything Israeli except those who want to undermine her.

  11. “..Seth has been known to say that he shows his commitment to Israel’s welfare by the fact that he lives here (in Israel)…”

    Maybe, but it’s far more likely that he had reached a dead end in his “glowing” career in the City.

    And with Freedman for a friend, Israel doesn’t need enemies.

  12. Demeter

    And with Freedman for a friend, Israel doesn’t need enemies.

    Freedmann certainly not a friend of Israel but neither a real enemy. In Israel he is simply a non-entity with zero significance, and exactly this is his problem, what he is trying to solve by fueling hate against the society where he is not taken seriously.

  13. Peterthehungarian “In Israel he is simply a non-entity..”
    —–
    You have probably hit it. He is not only a nonentity but is lonely, feeling out of place and given the way he responds on thread (”keep quiet” as he said to one commenter) he is not good at making friends. When you come on aliyah finding where you belong in society, making friends, understanding the many levels of the culture, its norms and the way people communicate is a long and involved process.

    It takes a long time to feel part of Israel and to start seeing through the people to their hearts.

  14. Margie

    It takes a long time to feel part of Israel and to start seeing through the people to their hearts.

    It depends. If you are open enough and don’t consider yourself some kind of “wise white man among the savages” it is easier. Freedman thinks that his fart makes a tornado (pardon my Hungarian) and when realizes that it only stinks he gets hissing fits. Venting of his frustration is perfect stuff for CIF that’s all.

  15. “Freedman wouldn’t know how to research historical context if he was given a map and compass”

    Good one!

    Which is why more and more frequently his sources for his articles – are his own previous articles!!

  16. It’s not easy to fit into Israeli society when you come from an Anglo-Saxon background. Judging by the few personal tidbits he’s offered, Freedman came from a fairly affluent NW11 London Jewish family background and from this and his City career, he now has enough investment that he wouldn’t really need to work for a long time.

    I’d say he’s probably hoping to make a career and a name for himself in journalism, and to be fair, he’s not totally without talent, like many of us online, and he doesn’t lack courage either. His army service and his journalistic forays into the West Bank are evidence of that.

    The problem is that he’s not very original or creative for a journalist, and in the field of Israel-Palestine affairs, the competition is intense. Apart from anything else, he wants to become a big shot in a country where everyone thinks they know more than you, where if you start to tell a joke, people finish it for you and can often tell you a better one. It’s hard to be a Jew in Eretz Yisrael and I can confidently predict that Freedman will make his yerida ( exit ) in the next year or two. In any case, he’s still got a lot of living to do before he can write his autobiography…

  17. Sababa

    The two most colorful languages regarding rudeness are Hungarian and Arabic.

    Fairplay

    …he doesn’t lack courage either. His army service and his journalistic forays into the West Bank are evidence of that.

    I have to tell you that none of the above require any courage.

  18. It’s all relative, Peter. After the 2nd Intifada, things have changed for the worse. Anyway, you wouldn’t catch me walking around Jerusalem alone at night. Mind you, there are equally parts of London or Paris that I would avoid, even during the daytime.

    I only meant to say that he volunteered to do 18 months of army service when he didn’t need to – by all accounts. Maybe what I should have said is that Freedman is certainly reckless or foolhardy.

    I’m surprised to hear you say that Arabic is a colourful language for swearing, but I’d love more examples of Hungarian humour to liven up CW. I still chuckle at the way you belittled Berchmans on CiF. Well done !

  19. Ben White or Seth Freedman : if you had to choose which one of them to throw out of the proverbial balloon or boat – it would be a tough decision.

  20. Fairplay

    I know that travelling on the occupied territories is a dangerous adventure for ordinary Israelis, but Freedman’s case is different. In according to his own account he is escorted by local activists and uses his British passport.
    Serving in the IDF doesn’t require some extraordinary courage, for most Israelis the service is a natural part of their life. Believe me I fear more the tax inspector, the traffic-cops and naturally the dentist.
    Freedman is a certified coward – he chickened out from an open discussion with PetraMB on CIF, he photogtaphed from afar the participants of an alleged atrocity – in according to his assertions border policemen in Jaffo beat up an Arab youth – but he didn’t intervene at all only wrote about it on CIF naturally without proving any of his allegations.

    Regarding the use of colorful language I consider myself an international expert. I worked in many countries mostly with ordinary people and learned the most important expressions from Arabic to Swahili.

  21. Point taken, PetertheHungarian.

    Fairplay, you make some interesting points, but for myself I wonder how well Freedman actually did in his career. My sense of him is that he gets easily bored – I can imagine him acting out in the classroom when he was young because of that and just to get attention. He’s the type to argue with the ref in a football match and get sent off just to give himself a buzz.

    But “courage?” No. I don’t see it. He did the equivalent of taking his bat and ball home after his military service. I remember someone asked him on CiF why he did not himself make an official complaint to his senior officer about the alleged brutality he had witnessed while he was in the army. Now THAT would have taken courage, rather than writing ill-researched and ill-informed rubbish about things he knows little about in a rag which hates the country he allegedly loves.

    And you are right that it can be hard to be a Jew in Israel when you think you are the centre of the universe and should be treated accordingly, but others merely treat you with the (dis)respect they think you deserve.

    And why not throw both out of the balloon….? Having said that I think Ben White would be a better candidate. Freedman is muddle-headed and his articles facilitate hatred, but White is deliberately and perniciously antisemitic.

  22. Seth Freedman – he should start his boycott of Israel by leaving the country, then he’ll make way for people who genuinely want to be there.

  23. Dunno, Peter but you certainly are an expert at showing people the way you feel about those you have reason not to like. Perhaps the languages make a difference but you certainly have a natural talent. I won’t take you on in any cursing contest: that’s a promise, now.

    Seth, however, reminds me of a bad tempered old dog I once had that kept being bothered by puppies who wanted to play. He used to spit and growl curses at them over his shoulder every time they approached him. Seth’s details tell me he is about 29 or 30 but he was probably born cranky and curmudgeonly.

    I would let Ben and Seth fight it out about who was to jump out of the balloon. I would bet that Seth would crowd Ben and annoy him so much with his Jewishness that Ben would jump voluntarily to get away from him.

  24. October 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

    peterthehungarian

    Martyn Jones

    Please explain me poor barbarian the point of your post!

    Peter, why do you call me a “poor barbarian”?

  25. Martyn Jones

    Forget about the poor barbarian please, just explain me the point of your post if there is one.

  26. Israel just reported a 4.4% growth in GDP in the last quarter of 2009.

    How are those boycotts doing then? 🙂