Independent

Former Editor of The Indepedent: Israeli ‘expansionism’ radicalises Muslims


Simon Kelner was Editor of The Independent between 1998 and 2011, and currently writes a column for the Indy’s i100 page. You may recall that Kelner defended his paper’s decision to publish that infamous cartoon by Dave Brown’s in 2003 showing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ‘devouring the flesh of a Palestinian baby’, claiming that it was not antisemitic.

On September 18th, Kelner published a piece at The Independent titled ‘In praise of Howard Jacobson‘, in which he praised the 72-year-old critically acclaimed British writer as “exacting” and as “unbelievably brilliant as he has always been”.

Kelner and Jacobson are both Jewish, and though Kelner characterized Jacobson in his Indy op-ed as a good personal friend, a stray comment about Israel by Kelner evoked one of the characters in Jacobson’s Man Booker Award winning book, The Finkler Question.

After noting that Jacobson’s latest book, J, “is one of the six books on the Man Booker Prize shortlist to be decided on October 14”, he pivots to a more personal reflection:

Howard and I have a few things in common, not the least that we are Jews from North Manchester. (You didn’t know Howard was Jewish? Well, he does try to keep it a secret.) Beyond that, however, there are subjects on which we have a very different world view.

During a discussion circle in a licensed establishment one night, I ventured the premise that you could understand why the actions of the West, and the expansionist policies of Israel, had helped to radicalise a sector of Muslim society. “You’re just a self-hating Jew,” someone shot back at me. “He’s not a self-hating Jew,” countered Howard, “he loves himself”

Leaving aside the risible characterization of the roughly 21,000 square km State of Israel – comprising about two-tenths of one percent of the Middle East landmass – as an “expansionist” country, Kelner’s suggestion that Muslim extremists don’t possess moral agency represents a classic example of liberal racism – the failure to hold those perceived as historically oppressed to the same standard of behavior as others.

Indeed, Kelner’s argument makes about as much sense as white supremacists in the US suggesting they’ve been radicalized by black crime, Islamophobes claiming they’ve become racist due to Islamist violence, or (closer to home) defenders of Baruch Goldstein attributing his radicalization to Palestinian terror.

If Kelner would never countenance such shameful alibis for the racism and extremism by whites and or Jews, then why would he do so when it comes to Muslims?

Whilst we’re of course not privy to any insight into Kelner’s feelings about his own Jewish identity, anyone familiar with the Jacobson’s all too real characters in The Finkler Question would be familiar with the insatiable appetite of some British Jews to not only criticize Israel, but to announce (to as many non-Jews who will listen) that it’s a uniquely malevolent force in the world – part of the Semitic clique fancied by the Indy and Guardian who are proud to be ashamed of the Jewish state.

60 replies »

  1. “If Kelner would never countenance such shameful alibis for the racism and extremism by whites and or Jews, then why would he do so when it comes to Muslims?”

    You make the elementary logical error of confusing causation with justification. It is an empirical fact that Islam extremists are motivated in some degree by the behaviour of Israel and the US; just ask them! Of course there are other motivating factors (the dream of the caliphate for example). Providing partial explanations for terrorist behaviour doesn’t excuse or justify it, and I doubt that Kelner would suggest otherwise.

    • My God, Sencar, you sound like such a freaking moron especially when you try so hard to sound so gosh darn smart. Causation with justification….. Tell me, Asshole, how is it that Sderot is the target of most Gaza missiles re Occupation when Sdeort was a part of the original UN Arab-Jew split?

      In other words, Fuckwad, the Occupation that Hamas is fighting is all of Israel. Get it now?

      • If you are incapable of understanding what I said, koufaxmitzvah, I suggest you ask your English teacher rather than reveal your ignorance here.

        • Nobody has confused causation with justification, because the causation is wrong, and the justification is wrong. And the implications are wrong, because if someone is fighting for his survival, your shouldn’t accuse him of radicalizing his adversaries. It’s a luxury he doesn’t have. So it’s all wrong.

          How about have a look at Arab and Muslim culture as MAYBE having something to do with it. Are they brainless meat puppets? Can they have some accountability?

          • The US and UK merely having friendly relations with Israel causes resentment against them. That resentment is bullshit IMO, but exist it does. So the causation is not wrong.

            • Yes Pretz. When we start analyzing irrational attitudes within societies and adjusting our lives to fit them in I know we are in serious trouble.

              It’s the irrational attitudes that needs changing not our norms.

              So no, you are mistaken.
              Israel’s actions do not cause anything.
              irrational hate and false education causes the hater to adjust his world view to believe said actions are the reason for his hate.

              There’s not if’s or but’s!
              We’ve passed this bridge with Chamberlain…

              • It’s the irrational attitudes that needs changing not our norms.

                Yes, absolutely – and nowhere did I suggest anything different.
                So we agree.

                • No we do not agree though I’d like to explain my issue again.

                  Sencar statement:
                  “It is an empirical fact that Islam extremists are motivated in some degree by the behaviour of Israel…”
                  This and rise in radicalisation of Muslims is not causation.
                  It is flawed from the begining. It is most certainly not an empirical fact the described extremist are motivated by Israeli or even US actions unless the two nations renounce their democracy and fall under the IS rule or any other Islamofascist doctrine.

                  So, what is the causation you ask, what does motivate those sadistic pigs?
                  What motivates them couldn’t be further away from the US or Israel. For starters brainwashing into xenophobia, Anti Semitism and their version of Islamic supremicy motivates them.
                  Any form of action that Israel takes or doesn’t take will have them effect because the starting point and the end goal will not change as a result.
                  Do we agree on this?

                  The slim minority among those fools who join such doctrines as a result of “seeing the light” due to US, Western or Israeli practices realise very quickly how wrong they were by which time they’d either be dead or badly injred mentaly, phisically or both.
                  The vast majority have already been brought up with negative views about Jews and Zionist early on or through unguided upbringing.

                  So the causation here is when you do not educate your kids right and help them see logic you end up with them failing down the road, whether as junkies, homeless, law earners, or i this case Islamists.

                  You said:
                  “The US and UK merely having friendly relations with Israel causes resentment against them.”

                  Once again, the causation lies in the education.
                  Most Islamists resent any Western government since democracy is clearly not their thing.
                  There’s your causation.
                  And as sencar said, simply ask them.

                  So let’s ask Anjem Choudary.

                  It goes without saying that the vision of Islam espoused by Choudary is not one shared by the majority of Muslims in Britain, but it is one that raises urgent questions about how to accommodate extremist views in a plural society. Choudary believes that there can be no such accommodation.

                  “The reason why the British government ditched multiculturalism is because Islam is not a spiritual belief,” he says. “The sharia has a penal code, it has a foreign policy, it has an economic system, therefore it cannot exist or coexist with capitalism or communism, which are also political beliefs.

                  “Islam certainly has a spiritual basis which those ideologies don’t have, but the reason it does not fit within the model of multiculturalism is because it challenges those things. As a Muslim you cannot live side by side with other beliefs; you continue to strive for sharia.”

                  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/07/anjem-choudary-islamic-state-isis

                • @ ItsikDeWembley

                  Of course there is ingrained bigotry at the core. But Israel’s very existence is also a “contributing factor” in that hostility. No this is indeed not about empirical facts as sencar claimed – but neither is this about a blame game.

                  I am certainly not suggesting that we and adjust our lives to fit such irrational attitudes.

      • Kouf, Sderot was most certainly not within the Jewish side of the original partition plan.

        But than again neither was everything north of Akko, the entire Western Galilee including Nazareth and Yokneam, much of the Jizrael valley, Arad, Ashdod, Yavna, Lod, Ramle, Modiin, Yahud, the triangle etc etc…

    • Searching for the guit of the west and Israel “who motivated” the Islamist to behead children, Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Alawites, Shiites, Yezids, ..
      No responsibility for their own deeds, that`s the great problem of societies never grown up, never understanding individualism and liberalism as political concept. A western educated and grown up should know it and its limitations and benefits.
      At least in the old sense of education, not the postmodern one for idiots.

    • sencar old chap, when you write: “It is an empirical fact that Islam extremists are motivated in some degree by the behaviour of Israel and the US; just ask them! Of course there are other motivating factors…” you seem to justify further more than what you mean to.

      With regards to Kristallnacht:
      “The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Polish Jew living in Paris. Kristallnacht was followed by additional economic and political persecution of Jews, and is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany’s broader racial policy, and the beginning of the Final Solution and The Holocaust.”

      As per goebbels:
      “Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels delivered the speech, in his place, and said that “the Führer has decided that… demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”[”

      With regards to Grynszpan family and the Polenaktion:
      “They were ordered to leave their homes in a single night, and were allowed only one suitcase per person to carry their belongings. As the Jews were taken away, their remaining possessions were seized as loot by both the Nazi authorities and by their neighbors.
      Among those expelled was the family of Sendel and Riva Grynszpan, Polish Jews who had emigrated to Germany in 1911 and settled in Hanover, Germany. At the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961, Sendel Grynszpan recounted the events of their deportation from Hanover on the night of 27 October 1938: “Then they took us in police trucks, in prisoners’ lorries, about 20 men in each truck, and they took us to the railway station. The streets were full of people shouting: ‘Juden raus! Auf nach Palästina!'” (“Jews out, out to Palestine!”).[22] Their seventeen-year-old son Herschel was living in Paris with an uncle.[7] Herschel received a postcard from his family from the Polish border, describing the family’s expulsion: “No one told us what was up, but we realised this was going to be the end … We haven’t a penny. Could you send us something?”[23] He received the postcard on 3 November 1938.”

      With regards to the rounded up Jews:
      “The violence was officially called to a stop by Goebbels on 11 November, but it continued against the Jews in the concentration camps despite orders requesting “special treatment” to ensure that this did not happen. On 23 November, the News Chronicle of London published an article on an incident which took place at the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. Sixty-two Jews suffered punishment so severe that the police, “unable to bear their cries, turned their backs”. They were beaten until they fell and, when they fell, they were further beaten. At the end of it, “twelve of the sixty-two were dead, their skulls smashed. The others were all unconscious. The eyes of some had been knocked out, their faces flattened and shapeless”. The 30,000 Jewish men who had been imprisoned during Kristallnacht were released over the next three months but, by then, more than 2,000 had died.”

      With regards to the Farhud in pre Israel Iraq of 1941:

      “the pogrom or “violent dispossession” carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, on June 1–2, 1941, immediately following the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi War. The riots occurred in a power vacuum following the collapse of the pro-Nazi government of Rashid Ali while the city was in a state of instability. Over 180 Jews were killed and 1,000 injured, and up to 300-400 non-Jewish rioters were killed in the attempt to quell the violence.[3] Looting of Jewish property took place and 900 Jewish homes were destroyed.”
      “Sami Michael, a witness to the Farhud, testified: “Antisemite propaganda was broadcast routinely by the local radio and Radio Berlin in Arabic. Various anti-Jewish slogans were written on walls on the way to school, such as “Hitler was killing the Jewish germs”. Shops owned by Muslims had ‘Muslim’ written on them, so they would not be damaged in the case of anti-Jewish riots.”

      Shalom Darwish, the secretary of the Jewish community in Baghdad, testified that several days before the Farhud, the homes of Jews were marked with a red palm print (“Hamsa”), by al-Futuwa youth.

      Two days before the Farhud, Yunis al-Sabawi, a government minister that proclaimed himself the governor of Baghdad, summoned Rabbi Sasson Khaduri, the community leader, and recommended to him that Jews stay in their homes for the next three days as a protective measure. This may have been due to an intention to harm the Jews in their homes, or he may have been expressing his fear for the safety of the community in light of the prevalent atmosphere in Baghdad.[18]

      During the fall of the Rashid Ali government, false rumors were circulated that Jews used radios to signal the Royal Air Force and distributed British propaganda”

      With regards to Farhud in other Arab countries post liberations from the Fascists:
      “Despite liberation from Fascist Italian and Nazi German influence in 1943, North African Jews kept suffering innumerous attacks. Arab nationalists were incorporating effective propaganda efforts and on November 2nd, 1945, an anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a widespread wave of anti-Jewish rioting hit the cities in Aleppo (Syria), Cairo (Egypt) and the most severe, in Tripoli (Libya).[9]

      Some of the worst anti-Jewish violence occurred following the liberation of North Africa by Allied troops. From November 5 to November 7, 1945, more than 140 Jews (including 36 children) were killed and hundreds injured in a pogrom in Tripoli. The rioters looted nearly all of the city’s synagogues and destroyed five of them, along with hundreds of homes and businesses. In the aftermath about 4,000 Jews were left homeless, and 2,400 were reduced to poverty. Five synagogues in Tripoli and four in provincial towns were destroyed, and over 1,000 Jewish residences and commercial buildings were plundered in Tripoli alone.[10][11][12]
      The British troops in control of Tripoli waited days before restoring order, with an unconcern reminiscent of their conduct in the Iraqi Farhud massacre. As in the Iraqi case, the Tripoli massacre inaugurated a train of events that would demoralize and in a relatively short time dissolve the Libyan Jewish community. The event caused the beginning of the Libyan Jewish exodus. Thus, Jews began leaving Libya three years before the establishment of Israel and seven years before Libya gained independence.”

      With regards to stripping Jews of everything and as the Nazis did allowing them only one suitcase at a day’s notice:
      “1,000 Jews were arrested and 500 Jewish businesses were seized by the government. A statement branding the Jews as “Zionists and enemies of the state” was read out in the mosques of Cairo and Alexandria.[citation needed] Jewish bank accounts were confiscated and many Jews lost their jobs. Lawyers, engineers, doctors and teachers were not allowed to work in their professions. Thousands of Jews were ordered to leave the country. They were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating” their property to the Egyptian government. Foreign observers reported that members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government. Some 25,000 Jews, almost half of the Jewish community left, mainly for Europe, the United States, South America and Israel, after being forced to sign declarations that they were leaving voluntarily, and agreed with the confiscation of their assets.”

      The above repeated itself across the middle east.
      The point in this reply is simple.
      Anti Semitism like Xenophobia or Islamophobia is an irrational hate or action.
      stating that this irrational behaviour is a result of actions by other people, let alone the actual victim, does infact legitimises the irrational act.
      It’s like saying, hey, if you remove the “provocation” then the irrational action will not exist.

      This is not only a stupid conclusion but it insults the readers’ inteligence.

      The only way to combat irrational attitude, fears and hate is through education or via mass murder.
      Which one will you go for?

      • “I wonder why arabs were terrorizing Israel until 1967?”
        They wanted to “liberate” “Palestine.” The question is, what was Palestine? Let’s first see what it wasn’t. It wasn’t Jordan or any part of Jordan – it wasn’t the West Bank, nor was it Gaza. What was it?

        • PLO charter in 1964 “This Organization does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or the Himmah Area.”
          WE know what part they want to liberated before and after 67 .

    • Sencar, try watching Vice TV’s documentary on ISIS. They hate you too! Europeans, Shi’ites, all infidels should be vanquished – conquered, converted or killed. And here you are, with nothing better to do than blame the yids for the colonial exploits of a genocidal, totalitarian mindset. You are a Jew-baiting apologist for contemporary Nazi-like murderers.

  2. One thing I like about this site is that with calm reason the articles here demolish the anti-semitism lurking in supposedly reasonable discourse and iforce the medi to correct egregious errors in reporting. it seems impossible to believe are inadvertent. Hurling insults and name-calling don’t usually figure much and undermine the crediblity of this site and its arguments.

  3. You didn’t know Howard was Jewish? Well, he does try to keep it a secret.
    I allege this is a lie as even I know about since I read an essay of him two or three years ago.
    Or does he mean it in a religious sense? Which would make sense as he uses was .

        • “Was” because of the “didn’t know” preceding it. It’s perfectly normal and correct English.
          I can only assume it was other non-natives of English who recommended your “lie” allegation. Either that or they have no knowledge of sarcasm. 😉

          • According to asinus English speaking people cannot distinguish between the meaning of present and past.
            But I should have asked, that`s correct, why past tense at all.
            In the context that he is Jewish the past tense is used as rhetorical device, a sort of irrealis, to indicate a second guess, my fault, but I doubt that this has a sarcastic connotation, or are the defintions of sarcasm differing? Irony works different, I would suggest an intended cynism, in this sense the second sentence indicates the contrary meaning. Nobody can ignore the constant self presentation of Howard`s Jewishness (while Kelner restrains himself, especially when acting ASAJ).

            • So the donkey you consult says it was not a sarcastic comment?

              Nobody can ignore the constant self presentation of Howard`s Jewishness

              Now you’re agreeing with Kelner’s point.

  4. ‘“He’s not a self-hating Jew,” countered Howard, “he loves himself”’

    That’s not wrong.

    Kelner was also the one who introduced Johann Hari to the paper, and tried to cover up for his plagiarism and fraudulent journalism.

  5. ‘ “You’re just a self-hating Jew,” someone shot back at me. “He’s not a self-hating Jew,” countered Howard, “he loves himself” ‘

    I don’t believe for one moment that Jacobson was defending Kelner. The point was made some time ago (I think originally at the Engage forum) that far from hating themselves, those Jews, like Kelner, who despise Israel and do everything they can to bring her down, are actually in love with themselves. It is a point about their preternatural arrogance and egotism and nothing else. Trust the vile Kelner to deliberately misinterpret Jacobson’s wise words. He isn’t worthy of a decent Jew’s spit.

  6. A few questions:

    If Israel is heavily criticized in Britain, especially in the media, how come Jihadists murder British citizens and threaten Britain with terror attacks?

    How is this claim different from American White supremacists accusing Israel of triggering 9/11?

    And for how long are these idiots going to blame Western colonialism? It’s been many decades since colonialism, why the terror now?

    And why aren’t we seeing terror from other former colonies? How come only from Muslim countries?

    And why is it coming from Muslims living in the west? Are they being colonized too?

    And does Simon Kelner have a brain?

    • a) Because it is the British government’s actions that matter.
      b) Please explain (especially the “trigger” part).
      c) Which idiots (there are so many on the planet) are you referring to?
      d) I hope you have more than one answer to that complicated issue/question.
      e) See c)
      f) Obviously yes. Why the nastiness?

      • a) The British government is highly critical of Israel too.

        b) “Bad things happening because of the Jews” is the oldest page in the book. Recession: Jews to blame. Iraq war: Israeli lobby to blame. 9/11: Israel’s policies to blame, angering Muslims. ISIS: Same. See a pattern here?

        c) “The idiots” are the left-Islamist coalition. The neo-Orientalism school of thought, that claims everything that ever happens in the Arab world is somehow caused by the West. Because the brown-skinned meat puppets are incapable of independent thought or accountability, even many decades after any Western influence has ended.

        d) I actually have one simple answer: Arab culture is violent and backwards, with no tradition of tolerance or democracy. This has to do with geography, limited resources and their structure as tribes, not from Western influence. South America, Africa and Asia have all suffered MORE from Colonialism but terror against civilians and death-cults are extremely minimal.

        e) same answer.

        f) No, he doesn’t. Because has doesn’t express individual thought. “Expansionist polices of Israel” is ludicrous and agenda-driven, and is a cliche of the Israel- hating left.

        • There is no “left-Islamist coalition” for god’s sake. Get real.

          And Israel is expanding its territory, so the “expansionist policy” claim is substantiated. It’s not rocket science – but you do need a brain to understand it.

          And if you can see no difference between Kelner and those bigots who blame Jews for all the world’s ills, then I feel sorry for you. Then again: I don’t feel sorry for people who make bigoted comments like “Arab culture is violent and backwards”. People like you have more in common with white supremacists than Kelner.

          • Israel is not expanding its territory. That the territory is disputed- fair enough. But it’s not expanding it. You talk about having a brain but continuously ignore the definition of the word “expand”. expanding is a CHANGE in size.

            “Arab culture is violent and backwards”. No, my friend. That is not bigoted. Facts are not bigoted just because you find them uncomfortable. Levels of violence and intolerance are objectively higher in Arab countries. A supremacist would say an Arab individual separated from his society is violent. That is bigoted. The fact that some societies are more violent than others is objective quantifiable fact.

          • “There is no “left-Islamist coalition” for god’s sake. Get real.”

            Maybe tell the Judith Butlers of the left to “get real.”

  7. a) Israel does have expansionist policies.
    b) Like it or not, this probably is a factor in the radicalisation of Muslims (although the very existence of Israel is a bigger one).
    c) It was a personal comment in a forum, not an op ed.

    • “EXPANSIONISM. : a policy or practice of expansion and especially of territorial expansion by a nation.”

      Israel hasn’t expanded its territories or borders for the last 47 years. You can argue they are not reducing them. Building houses on existing territories cannot be regarded as “expansionism”, by definition.

      • FYI the West Bank is not “existing territory.” Maybe it’s part of Israel in your dreams, but not in reality.

        • De facto it is, even if you disagree with it. That is the whole dispute. You seem to assume I’m a right-winger which I am not at all.

        • If you took the time to read a little history you would realize that Israel and the Jews have much more historic and legal right to Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank” than the more recently arrived nomadic Arabs who live in some of the region now.
          Just another 1 of the “Big Lies” thrown at Israel. Get a book.

    • hopeful, this is from your article:

      “As the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Muslim Council of Britain said in a joint statement, we must not import conflict, but export peace. There is no excuse for Islamaphobia and antisemitism, from whatever quarter it comes from.”

      Last time I checked here in Britain you are innocent until proven guilty, yet here you are already casting judgment when it could be anyone who torched the Rabbi’s car.

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  9. This canard about the “settlements” causing all the Arab anger and radicalism is just another ridiculous and dishonest canard often promulgated by hypocritical Lefty racist antisemites like Kelner.

    If the “settlements” are the cause of Arab extremism and violence, why did Arabs attack Israel iso frequently BEFORE there were ANy settlements? Why are Islamic radicals murdering so many other Muslims who happen to disagree with their particular brand of Islam, as well as Christians and other non-Muslims in innumerable terror acts around the world for so many years?

    People like Kelner are just pathetic self-hating and fundamentally unethical “journalists”, spouting what are easily demonstrable lies to service their bigoted antiIsrael and antiJewish agenda. He’s simply pathetic.

    • A better question is what was the Hebron Massacre motive and how so many simply rallied around in order to kill Jews randomly in 1929?
      They killed Jews that they had tea with a few hours earlier.
      Surely they couldn’t predict the future.

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