General Antisemitism

University of Southampton – say no to antisemitism

Cross posted from the blog of David Collier

So much talk, so many arguments. Unsurprisingly, many of the people who favour boycotting Israeli academics, shouting down anyone speaking in favour of Israel, taking kosher products of shop shelves and verbally abusing Jews in the street are all suddenly worried about the importance of freedoms. The word ‘hypocritical’ comes to mind.

But this is not about the freedom to criticise the only nation in the Middle East where Arabs can vote for, talk to, sleep with and speak to whoever they want. The argument over this conference is simply about whether anti-Semitism is legal in this country or not.

Whilst there may be laws related to the fight against anti-Semitism, the upshot of simply discarding almost any comment about Jews or Israel as acceptable discourse, is the de-facto legalisation of racially motivated abuse against Jews.

The conference on the face of it is an academic investigation into issues about Israel’s core legitimacy as a state, except in reality it isn’t that at all. Admittedly, it would pass for such a thing in Saudi Arabia, it would pass for such a thing in Qatar and in Yemen; but we are not in any of those countries; we are in a nation that is democratic and free and where lynch mobs, witch hunts and blatant racial hostility have all been outlawed. In this country, women can drive, everyone can vote and such anti-Semitism is simply not acceptable in a university.

But is it anti-Semitism?

There are those who will only believe that an act is anti-Semitic if it is declaring itself to be and for as long as it can be excused, however blatant it may be, it will be excused. To those people, use of the words ‘Israel’ or ‘Zionist’ create umbrella coverage, allowing for every possible racist slur without the possibility of accusation. For them, if Hitler had first declared all Jews to be ‘Zionists’ and only then began with laws and boycotts against those Zionists, Nazi Germany would not have been anti-Semitic; the steps towards holocaust transforming into political warfare and not an anti ‘Jewish’ thing at all. There, laid bare, is the horror of the BDS movement and the despicable reality that is spreading its hate once more. But there will be far more about BDS another day.

This conference is designed to provide activists academic assistance in the political fight to de-legitimize Israel. In the manner in which the speakers align with a single cause, the wording in the call for papers and the themes themselves, this has already been clearly shown. Even the requests for donors were posted by ‘friends’ of Gilad Atzmon, such as Dr Gabi Weber from Café Palestine. If, as the organisers claim, it was never intended to be a one-sided hate-fest, how can it be that the original funding requests were only made to one side only?

But this alone is not enough. Universities are historical hotbeds of anti-establishment theory and political activity. Guilt by association is a nasty thing, and whilst the support of people like Weber and Atzmon along with words of encouragement from sites such as David Icke’s (NSFW), indicate the underlying premise of the conference is visible to all those that choose to see it, these things alone cannot move a conference from being part of the price to pay for free speech to one that should not be given airtime at all.

Nor is all criticism of Israel to be seen as ‘anti-Semitism’. It is perfectly legitimate to criticise any state, and that criticism doesn’t have to be fair, warranted or even-handed. People are not institutions, and whilst it is reasonable to make accusations against an organisation that spends all its time slamming Israel, the same argument cannot be made against an individual so easily. People generally pick and choose their fights, each with their own personal cause. Israel has problems and flaws and calling everyone who is critical of Israel an anti-Semite is both absurd and self-defeating.

But the conference doesn’t criticise Israel – it attempt to legally negate it, nor is the conference an individual. And the people involved are both meant to be academics and acting in that capacity. The defence of individual freedom at least, doesn’t hold, there are added implied and explicit legal responsibilities. With almost every nation on earth-born through war, revolution or the pen of the occupier; this conference has chosen to single out Israel. The question remains, is this conference simply an act of one-sided political activism or something more sinister?

Oren Ben Dor is Israeli born as are several of the panelists, some born Jewish, some Arab. His politics are, to put it mildly, off the Jewish map. In UK terms, Ben Dor, like Atzmon are akin to people such as John Amery or William Joyce (or for those who object to the fascist comparison, ‘the Cambridge 5′). They are not Labour or Liberals or Tories, or from UKIP or even the BNP; these people think, rightly or wrongly, the keys should be handed to the enemy. They view Zionism as the evil entity that has provoked the entire problem, and that Arab response to Israel therefore, however bad, becomes either legitimate or understandable. Dangerously extreme – yes, anti-Semitism – only perhaps.

For whatever reason, whatever child-hood trauma, whatever playground bullying occurred, these people grew up hating Israel. They are the extreme of the extreme, walking down a path that would lead them to exile. In most nations (and all nations have these people), they would have wandered off to the fringes, never to be heard of again. Israel however is different. Israel, like the UK in the 1940’s is fighting a war for it’s very existence which infers automatically, that Israeli people who demonize Israel have a use beyond the border; and given both a stage and outlet for their hatred, these people in effect simply become Israel’s very own ‘Lord Haw Haw’.

So it is no surprise that people such as Ben Dor have risen to prominence in the fight against Zionism; they are the perfect stooges. Unlike those on the Palestinian side, these Israelis tend neither to be successful nor well-known in their chosen fields; their fame, their fortune and the ‘love’ they receive *only* occurs when they open their mouths about Zionism. They are paraded around by the enemy as the ‘enlightened ones’ or the ‘chosen few’. This too however is not necessarily anti-Semitism.

For blatant anti-Semitism we have to extend beyond Zionism, to make Zionism merely a symptom of a greater issue. We need to identify me, a British Jew, as part of the problem, and we need to take it beyond personal choice to an all-encompassing ‘psychosis’ embedded into world Jewry. Does that belief still have a right to be heard in a University? Or is it fairer to state that when we connect the dots between someone who believes that when he talks of Israel, he is addressing a ‘Jewish problem’; not Zionism – is he also to be given a stage?

Hitler’s anti-Semitism isn’t the historical one; the idea that the Jewish gene needed to be eradicated isn’t always the one that surfaces in history. Many times, historical anti-Semitism allowed a way out for the bad Jew – renunciation of the ‘Jewish’ and conversion to the ‘good other’. In modern speak, there is similarity in the demand for a rejection of Zionism, the denunciation of the Jewish right to nationhood, that allows one to cross from ‘bad Jew’ to ‘good Jew’. For Ben Dor it seems, my Zionism is a symptom of a deep-lying Jewish psychosis, one that is ‘suicidal’ and ‘self-destructive’. Apparently only Ben Dor’s ‘enlightement’ can save me. Boy, have we been down this road before.

And suddenly we have left Zionism behind. For Ben Dor, this conference isn’t about Israel or Zionism at all; it is about me, a British Jew. If I were to say that ‘Zionism’ is merely a convenient way of saying ‘Jew’ without fear of accusation, perhaps it would be easier to criticise – but Oren Ben Dor also states this openly. For those that have the stomach, the video of this speech is on YouTube, where someone kindly uploaded it. I do thoroughly recommend those in doubt listen to the entire speech (embedded below).

The voice of Jews against Zionism and the *political correctness* of Palestinians that will say “we have nothing against the Jews

He also talks of Jewish ‘provocation’ of the holocaust:

It is the denial that there is something so Jewish in that which has provoked the holocaust and the dealing with which has been so successfully postponed by the holocaust.”

In that comment Ben Dor appears to be stating, that there is something in me, a Jew, that historically brings about its own persecution. Not concerning Israel, not Zionism, but outside of it. We are meant to look historically at 2 millennia of persecution and blame the victim for the horrors they suffered.

On Zionism as a possible symptom of the greater ‘Jewish psychosis’:

“is still not finding a connecting issue to the apartheid being and thinking of the people whose god drove them into perpetrating and rationalizing these injustices done to the Palestinians in the Jewish name. Indeed Zionism may just be a symptom and not the cause”

And finally on the connection between Zionism and the Jewish question:

““*It is important to connect the Jewish and Zionist question*, because pathologies of Zionism, its racist mentality, its righteousness and something that is not often mentioned, its self-destructiveness , collective suicidal tendency …all these pathologies may be in the service of righteousness and aggressive victim apartheid mentality that pertain to Jewish being and thinking.

Now I cannot get into the mind of people like Ben Dor or Atzmon to judge the processes that drive them; nor despite a feeling of disgust can I claim that what Oren Ben Dor says crosses lines of legality. But I am absolutely certain that whatever issue these people have with Jews, it goes way beyond the Palestinian cause; it goes way past an issue with Zionism. For them the Palestinians become the stooges – it is a marriage of convenience. This at its heart is an anti-Jewish struggle.

For those reasons, even if it is good that people in this country speak their mind; there is no way it is justifiable to place this conference in a University. The action of doing so would be a strike against me as a British Jew, the action, supported by the public purse, would give credit to the call for my conversion. The action of placing this conference within a University would itself be anti-Semitic and that is why this anti-Jewish hate-fest must be moved off campus.


7 replies »

  1. Painful to read.

    Which country would the super-pc, super-pro-the-under-dog Brits allow to be flagellated, dissected, lied about, libeled & disparaged other than Jewish Israel?

    For this as David Collier makes clear, is the bone in the throat of these vile haters.

    Israel is a country of Jews who have dared not only to have their own country,but to have made a whopping success of it,
    An economic, academic, innovative success with freedom of speech for all that surpasses that of the home of freedom of speech, America

    A beautiful, magical country where people who want to be happy can be, and as we have seen, where people who want to be bitter can be that too.

    • A beautiful, magical country where people who want to be happy can be,…
      Exactly this is the reason they hate Israel and its citizens so much. Losers hate the winners is natural – it is a well known fact.

  2. “Nor is all criticism of Israel to be seen as ‘anti-Semitism’. It is perfectly legitimate to criticise any state, and that criticism doesn’t have to be fair, warranted or even-handed. People are not institutions, and whilst it is reasonable to make accusations against an organisation that spends all its time slamming Israel, the same argument cannot be made against an individual so easily. People generally pick and choose their fights, each with their own personal cause. Israel has problems and flaws and calling everyone who is critical of Israel an anti-Semite is both absurd and self-defeating”

    It often starts with a bit of criticism, but as the debate unfolds, one realises that the interlocutor is not merely engaging in criticism , but delegitimising and defaming a whole country and anyone who says a word in favour that suggests more than criticism

    • “It often starts with a bit of criticism” – maybe 5 years ago. These days, the antisemites more often than not don’t even bother with a semblance of camouflage, but go the whole right-in-your-face-antisemitism hog right from the start.
      Of course, Britain is turning into a country where unless the Jew-hater wears a swastika, they are no longer regarded as an antsemite. Especially in academia and the trade unions.

  3. Some strategic thoughts on the re emerging of antisemitism in the west and about some Jews like Blumenthal and others eager to serve in denouncing and demonising Israel, demonstrating their short termed usefulness
    Historically, until about 1990, there was a degree of truth in the second view. The US typically saw Israel as a strategic asset that would generally align itself with American interests in the Middle East. This was partly because both were hostile to what were then radical movements of Palestinian nationalism and pan-Arabism. Both those movements viewed themselves as fighting for a degree of autonomy in the region outside of Western interference. It was also a time when the US was itself reluctant to intervene too openly in the Middle East. Instead, it depended on local allies, such as Israel and (until 1979) Iran, to help pursue Western interests.
    What the contemporary critics of Israel miss, however, is that this set-up was swept away a quarter of a century ago. In Operation Desert Shield (1990/91), the US led a huge military force against Iraq. This was followed by a full-scale Western invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the sending of large numbers of troops to Afghanistan from 2001 onwards. There have also been numerous smaller-scale interventions, including the 2011 military intervention in Libya and the launch of numerous drone strikes in Yemen.
    Such interventions mean that Israel has long since ceased to play its role as a strategic asset for the West in the Middle East. On the contrary, in the days of the Islamic State and civil wars across much of the region, the Israeli state is typically viewed by the West more as a liability than an asset. The West is increasingly keen to distance itself from Israel rather than to befriend it.
    This is the broader context that explains Obama’s falling-out with Netanyahu. It is far more than just a personal matter. In the decades that followed the Second World War, both of the main US political parties could be relied upon to give Israel broad support. However, in recent years Israel has become particularly estranged from a large section of the Democratic Party, including the current president. It is true that, for the time being at least, Israel still has generally warm relations with the Republicans. But the fallout with the Democrats represents an important shift in relations between Israel and the US. It is also one that is likely to persist after Obama leaves office in January 2017.
    That still leaves what critics of Israel typically regard as their trump card: the fact that the US still gives Israel about $3 billion (£2 billion) every year in aid. This, they contend, proves that the two countries still have a special relationship.
    But a closer look at the aid figures shows the trend is going in exactly the opposite direction to that the critics claim. For a start, the $3 billion aid figure should be set against Israel’s GDP of $320 billion and US GDP of $16.5 trillion. In other words, US aid to Israel is equivalent to about one per cent of Israel’s annual economic output.
    A closer look at the figures also shows that, in real terms, the amount of US aid to Israel is steadily trending downwards. A study by the official US Congressional Research Service shows that official US assistance to Israel peaked at about $4.9 billion in 1979 (the year of the overthrow of the pro-Western shah in Iran, as well as the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt). Converted into current prices, using the official US inflation calculator, that is equivalent to about $15.8 billion in today’s money. In real terms, then, the level of US aid to Israel is running at less than a fifth of what it was running at at its peak. This confirms that the US is distancing itself from Israel. Even if 1979 is regarded as an exceptional year, the amount of US aid to Israel has diminished sharply in real terms over the years.

  4. very thought provoking ^

    price of oil also lowered as US made shift away from ME dependence, weakening of OPEC . Also affected ME nations who exported . eg Libya . and others like Venezuela
    Lowering in value of $ resulted in EU and Euro basically contributing in wealth terms to ME policy .
    Instability amongst Arab Nations means no alternative to trust there . Just simply get the petro dollars as investment .
    Domestic American issues also taking precedence .
    Finally US as a world leader in fighting for democracy . I don’t think they are interested in sending the cavalry out anymore . John Wayne has retired .
    Matters not helped by an inept president who governs arse to tit and has no vision of what ME should be other than a headache . He has fallen out with Israel the staunchest ally . Fallen out with Egypt, Iraq { both considered client states whose military dependence upon US aid . And free flowed with Iran and Qatar , clearly 2 competing centres of terrorism and corruption in the ME . also sucked up to Turkey led by that rabid looney Erdogan.
    US foreign policy under Obama has lost its way and clarity .