General Antisemitism

Hidden Agenda at Southampton University?

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

The cancellation on “health and safety” grounds of a planned anti-Israel conference at Southampton University is causing much controversy. This hides a deeper problem with the conference: its organiser’s insistence that Zionism can only be understood by deep reference and understanding of Jews, Judaism, “Jewish being” and “Jewish pathology”.

The organiser is Professor Oren Ben Dor, whose thinking sits alongside that of the better known Gilad Atzmon. Both men are ex-Israelis living and working in Britain. They both hold up Jewish anti-Zionists as some kind of ultimate supposed proof that Zionism can only be fundamentally understood (and more importantly opposed) as an extension of Jewishness.

Atzmon’s anti-Zionism has caused turmoil in anti-Israel circles. Most left-wing anti-Israel activists anxiously manufacture distance between Zionists and Jews (i.e. between anti-Zionism and antisemitism).  Ben Dor derides such thinking as “politically correct” and opposes it every bit as bitterly as does Atzmon.

Atzmon’s insistence on linking “the Jewish Question” and Zionism means leftist Jewish anti-Zionists have led a fractious but largely successful campaign to have Atzmon declared antisemitic and beyond the pale within anti-Israel circles. Now, with Ben Dor at its core, the Southampton anti-Israel conference threatens to derail this.

As Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein has stated of Ben Dor’s association with Atzmon:

he has aligned himself with a small, anti-Semitic current on the fringes of the Palestinian movement.

Ben Dor is a staggeringly turgid writer and speaker, whilst Atzmon is a showman: but nobody is compelled to visit his website, read his book or attend his meetings. In the case of Professor Ben Dor, university students (Jewish and non-Jewish) are being taught by this man.

Ben Dor’s defence of Atzmon in Counterpunch gives some indications of his ideology and impenetrable style. It begins “…No thinking person could fail to be stimulated by the deep connections Gilad [Atzmon] makes”.

It emphasises the link between Zionism and “Jewish being and thinking” and asks if the original aggressive Jewish  “victim mentality” and “choseness” persist into Zionism:

…Zionism can be conceived as a symptom the non-empathetic manifestations of which are historically and existentially continuing certain facets of Jewish being and thinking. It is very important to ask whether the originary aggression of victim mentality as well as the choseness-begotten separateness existentially links the Zionist and the Jewish question.

It opposes attempts to sever the deeper ontological connection of the “Jewish Question with the Zionist Question”. (Ontological means“the nature of being”.) Ben Dor says this is so deep, that Jews perhaps cannot even oppose Zionism:

…The anti-Zionist struggle must not encage itself in too simplistic a link between the Jewish Question with the Zionist Question–a simplistic link that in fact craves to sever the deeper ontological connection that might persist between the two questions…this very denial of the existential link between the Jewish Question and the Zionist Question – a link that is suppressed by formulations such as “Jews Against Zionism” or, more broadly, by many attempts of “Jews” to become anti-Zionist – that needs to be questioned and destabilised.

He then implies that the meaning of the Jewish link with Zionism means that it is not sufficient to only challenge “the symptom – Zionism”:

To be an anti-Zionist without due regard to that being and thinking that Zionism may so tragically continue, may well be to confuse symptom and cause, thus perpetuating that history that leaves the symptom – Zionism – intact…

On and on Ben Dor waffles, until he hits upon the Holocaust, stripping its meaning for Jews. This is where his ivory tower is perhaps at its ugliest.

Despite his family having lost many relatives in the Holocaust, Ben Dor shows a startling failure on the most basic human level to accept that Jewish backing for Israel (ie Zionism) is an overwhelmingly natural and human reaction to the Holocaust. He goes further, suggesting that Nazi perpetrators were somehow captives of a deeper historical force that may repeat in the future. Ben Dor does not explicitly rule out the possibility that this “corruption” “between humans and Being long ago” is somehow due to Jewish longevity and influence:

The horrors and murderous violence against Jews may have been a response to events that had corrupted the relationship between humans and Being long ago. Grasped thus, the Holocaust may have been severely distorted by National Socialism; by those who are said to “deny” the Holocaust by some arguments about facts; by self-righteous Jews-against-Zionism; by Zionists. All these forms of forgetfulness of the Holocaust may well be on a common matrix of denial. Indeed this denial may constitute a chronicle of another Holocaust foretold.

My point is that the Holocaust’s significance lies beyond the actions by the Nazis who actually perpetrated the violence and who justified these actions by turning this significance into a militarist object of an idea. The same claim can be made in relation Zionists and their Jewish opponents.

None of this mumbo jumbo features in the actual Southampton conference programme. Instead, it reads as just another faux academic anti-Israel hate fest. Which of its many attendees and defenders even know of Ben Dor’s deeper animosities is open to question: but these animosities are fundamental to his ideological position and place him firmly in the same ball park as Atzmon. An environment in which antisemitic discourse is permitted, even if not fully endorsed and encouraged…thus far.

If Ben Dor is now to be defended within current mainstream leftist anti-Israel and anti-Zionist discourse, this represents a significant lurch towards an anti-Zionism that holds  Jews and “Jewish being” as fundamentally responsible for every crime that is laid at Zionism’s door. The antisemitic danger of such a shift is blatant.


For a more comprehensive view of Ben Dor’s animosity, the below video should be viewed. It is too long to summarise, but these give a taster of it:

10.50 [self-hatred mentality] “stems…from sublimated hatred of, and supremacy towards, all others”

15.55 “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”

18.19 [on Jewish anti-Zionists] “Nothing would prevent them for going and celebrate many feasts of hatred of all others”

18.50 “the connective tissue to the Jewish pathology that actually moves Zionism and the deeper historicity that Zionism is just a fleeting phase of”

12 replies »

  1. Re: Guardian vis-a-vis J Street as a merely a dovish leftwing Jewish group is essentially incorrect. I’ve found from reading many postings J-Street members seem to fall into two categories: the terribly uninformed/brainwashed who don’t know our history, how the State of Israel came to be, Arab reaction, the 6-Day War, the fact that Israel offered to return most of what was gained for Peace, recognition and security, the Khartoum Declaration in reply by the Arab League in Sept the Same year and so on. Since this category lacks this essential information and weren’t even alive at the time they’ve been malleable for the devious to shape and form with non-sense. The other category the one who controls J Street acts a Cobra snake, has all the knowledge the need but prefer to be selective so that it will fit either their Leftist views or some guilt they’ve carried since childhood and now have transferred it to the Palestinians, their cause are blind to history and the terrorism and wanton murder of fellow Jews. We have a fellow “Jew” an alleged ex-“Kapo” who hung notices for Jews to meet at the Railroad yards during the Shoah but said he was only 14 and didn’t know what he was doing. Mr. Soros has even set up a Foundation carryon work along his current beliefs once he takes the one way journey so that even after death he can torment act against the Jewish Community. Therefore I hardly believe that J Street is a Dovish Leftist group benign and trying to contribute to the dialog of ideas within the Jewish Community. How can anyone work with the enemies of the Jewish People with Jewish blood on their hands. J Street needs to define for themselves who they are and where they are going. BDS has admitted they want to BDS us out of existence and they aren’t joking; they are telling just as others before them have told us their intentions.

    Regarding our two ex-pats and whether they are Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic or both. The two speak clearly for themselves but do try to window dress it with words strung together that may impress other pseudo-intellectuals and like minded folks but once you parse the concepts that Ben Dor is trying earnestly to convey it’s non-sensical. It doesn’t take deep thought what to do if someone comes to use lethal force against you, maybe Ben Dor would try to get into a deeper meaning conversation. I would wIthout hesitation blow his brains out before that is my state of my mind. Maybe that sounds cruel Mr Ben Dor but I plan on seeing my family again. I know you discuss this collective psyche of persecution responsible for Zionism. If you pick up a prayer book once in your Jewish life Mr Ben Dor you might discover the eternal yearning our People have had for two millennium to return to Zion, to Jerusalem. This long before modern Zionism my boy. It is long before our persecutions because we were considered a people without a Land, a stranger to every place we settled.

  2. “Fleeting historicity.” Another archaic term used by an anti-Zionist “scholar” that I have never heard used before. So many of these individuals are so completely enamored by their supposed intellectual gifts, but have any of them accomplished a single thing in their lives? Would the world be any different if they did not exist?

    • Despite your distaste for big words, you scrambled towards the pretense of a response. So, I guess your ostrich-like hypothetical — “What if he didn’t exist?” — only proves that he does.

      • My distaste is not for “big words,” you imbecile, but rather for pretentious morons who masquerade as intellectuals. Most anti-Zionist “scholars” fit into that category, based on my experience. Using obscure and archaic terms, (i.e., “historicity,” which is not even recognized by is just fucking obnoxious….

      • Does Marcion’s alphabet soup mean anything in English, or in any other terrestrial language?
        Maybe he is one of those ‘post-modern’, ‘post-Zionist’ idiots who pollute every British and American university with their presence. These prats are not supposed to utter meaningful sentences, as long as they sound terribly lerned.

  3. Oren Ben Dor is a student of Martin Heiddegger.

    I suppose its quite appropriate he embraces the philosophy of a Nazi to defend a fellow anti-Semite.

    Of course, the irony of the origins of his intellectual world view appear to be lost upon him.

  4. I’m glad to see more Jews standing up for truth and humanity against ethno-religious supremacism. You guys had better go after Ben Dor’s job like you did Norman Finkelstein, et al.

  5. <i<The cancellation on “health and safety” grounds
    Well, it approximately fits the defintion of antisemitism considering humanity after the holocaust, doesn`t it?