This is a guest post by blogger DAPHNE ANSON
Daphna Baram, an anti-Zionist sabra based in the UK, has been for some time one of the Guardian’s small but eminently useful claque of Israel-delegitimising Jews. CiF Watch readers may recall her piece for Comment is Free in February 2009 entitled “It’s time to rethink Zionism”, which contained such malicious phrases as “The desire for ethnic purity that drove out Palestinians and bars the way to democracy in Israel” and claimed that the results of the Israeli general election had “brought to the surface some of the most rotten fruits of a debate that has been going on throughout the state’s existence: the idea that a mono-ethnic Jewish state is feasible, legitimate and desirable”. Okay. We know where she stands, then.
This week, Tuesday, 3 August, Comment is Free carried Ms Baram’s highly tendentious and mischievous “Who will speak up for Israeli citizens’ right to free speech?”, subtitled “Liberal Israelis who dare to speak out against the treatment of Palestinians may soon be facing prosecution”. The operative word, of course, is the “may”, but that was entirely irrelevant to Ms Baram as she pressed home her propagandistic drivel, as well as to the Israel demonisers who infest Comment is Free; in their accustomed fashion they rushed to supplement Baram’s anti-Israel bile with the usual nonsense of their own. And, inevitably, they were ready with jibes regarding “whataboutery”, which they aim at anyone who dares to mention that Islamic states such as Iran are the real enemies of democracy and freedom of speech, or who ask why they’re quick to denigrate Israel yet seldom if ever say one word about true human rights abuses in, for example, Darfur, Iran, Tibet, or Burma. As we know only too well, CiF generally ignores the reality of oppression in such places because CiF’s meat and drink is focusing on supposed oppression in The Zionist Entity.
Ms Baram opened her onslaught with the risible claim that the top talking point in Israel today is Pastor Niemoller’s now rather hackneyed remark which begins “First they came for the Communists …” No matter that the remark seems more applicable to somewhere like Iran or Taliban-run Afghanistan – we’re used to such hypocrisy from the Guardian’s anti-Zionist zealots.
Next, she made the demonstrably false assertion that “Naturally, a shrill self-righteous choir castigate those who seem to compare Israel to the Germany of 1933-1945. But actually nobody does.” Really? Is Baram wilfully blind? Did she not see for herself the many obscene analogies drawn by the usual suspects regarding Israel’s anti-terrorist Operation Cast Lead and the Nazi liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto? (She herself has not been above dragging in her Polish grandmother – and not in a nice way – into a propaganda piece she wrote elsewhere about Arab refugees.)
And then we come to the core of her onslaught – the insistence that certain proposed items of legislation tabled in the Knesset will be used to prosecute not only Israeli Arabs who refuse to swear a mooted oath of loyalty to the state but also to all those big-hearted “pesky lefties” who propose boycotts of their own country. “This spirit of xenophobia, and the hunt for traitors and backstabbers, naturally increases the already alarming levels of racism in Israel,” Baram tells us. “The demand for proof of loyalty is no longer confined to the Palestinian citizens, but directed at the Jewish ones, too. This new racism is widening its scope …. [T]he current atmosphere marks anybody who is not Jewish as a prospective enemy.”
Call me a neo-con – I’ll wear the label with as much pride as I do the Zionist tag – when I say that I would have thought that any state, anywhere in the world, would be duty-bound to prosecute citizens who actively undermine that state’s national security. Proposing boycott and divestment against one’s own nation sounds somewhat treasonous to me.
Mercifully, some magnificent rejoinders (I suppose they can also be termed “pearls before swine”) to Baram’s Israel-defaming idiocies have not been removed by CiF moderators. I especially like one by Peter Jackson:
“This article follows a familiar pattern on CiF, and the comments likewise. The author takes some quotes from extreme right-wing politicians and commentators in Israel, mixes them in with proposed extreme right-wing laws that will never be passed, and then suggests that these quotes and proposed laws represent the secret thoughts of all Israelis. The commentors then seem to assume that these laws have all been passed, and that professors like Neve Gordon are being rounded up in plain vans alongside all members of B’Tselem and Peace Now…. Can’t we wait until the Great Persecution of liberals actually starts before slagging it off?”
And there is this from FergusQuadro:
‘Talking of racism, I suppose you missed the statement by Abbas this week Ms Baram because for some reason it didn’t appear in the Guardian or the UK press where Mahmoud Abbas said: “I’m willing to agree to a third-party that would supervise the agreement, such as NATO forces, but I would not agree to having Jews among the NATO forces, or that there will live among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land.”
As well as this, from Geoffrey Alderman:
“It is worth bearing in mind that Israel is at war and that in war even a liberal democracy is permitted…to curtail civil rights. For instance, during WWII habeas corpus was suspended in the UK and people considered a danger to the state were imprisoned without trial (including one sitting Member of Parliament).”
The MP referred to by Professor Alderman was the pro-Nazi A. M. Ramsay, who shortly after war was declared in September 1939 wrote a poem based on “Land of Hope and Glory” entitled “Land of Dope and Jewry”. Also among those arrested was Oswald Mosley, as well as Admiral Barry Domvile, who would later peddle the fantasy that, between them, Jews and Freemasons control the destinies of the world. Pure rubbish, of course, but a conspiracy theory with a long history. It appears in The Book of the Kahal by an apostate Jew in nineteenth-century Tsarist Russia called Jacob Brafman, whose work undoubtedly influenced the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That’s why my alternate term for “Theobald Jew”, which I first encountered on CiF Watch, is “Brafman Jew”. It’s equally apt, don’t you think?