Support for Palestinian voices on campus are now called ‘extremism’


4:55 pm - June 1st 2011

by Ben White    


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Over the last decade, Palestine solidarity activism on campus has grown in size and impact, perhaps exemplified by the wave of occupations in 2009 protesting the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.

In response, there has been pushback, in the name of combating ‘hate speech’ and antisemitism, led by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).

One of the main tools UJS has been using is a draft “working definition” of antisemitism produced in 2005 by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC, now the FRA). This has been adopted by the NUS and pushed on a number of individual campuses.

Back in 2005, European Jews for a Just Peace described the working definition as “highly politicised”, not surprising when you consider the final draft was shaped by “representatives of the American Jewish Committee and European Jewish Congress”, two highly pro-Israel lobby groups.

Now the definition is looking increasingly discredited. On Monday, the Universities and College Union (UCU) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that criticises how the working definition “is being used to silence debate about Israel and Palestine on campus”.

But the “working definition” of antisemitism used by UJS is not only being used to attack Palestine solidarity on campus, it is not fit for purpose as a way to define and fight antisemitism.

FRA / EUMC now say “initial feedback” on the working definition highlighted “several issues that impacted on [its] effectiveness”. Even the Community Security Trust (CST) doesn’t seem to think much of it: it is not cited once in either “Definitions of Antisemitic Incidents” or the “Antisemitic Discourse Report for 2009“.

Context
Under the guise of combating ‘hate speech’, there has been a broader push to introduce “guidelines” for external speakers. Soon after the UJS lobby day of Parliament in February, MP Glenda Jackson revealed some students “argued that everyone speaking on campus should have their speech vetted”.

18 months ago, UJS Campaigns Director Carly McKenzie attended a conference organised by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on ‘combating antisemitism’, participating in a working group aimed at fighting the “evil” of Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS). Participants discussed campus advocacy, and putting in place “legislative prohibitions vs. BDS”.

UJS also helped organise a propaganda tour of Israeli students prepared by “Foreign Ministry professionals”, and have fostered links with right-wing Israel lobby group StandWithUs (though strangely refused to confirm the nature of the relationship).

Conflation
This deliberate and dangerous conflation of pro-Israel propaganda and fighting antisemitism stems from UJS’ core aims and identity. It is an “Executive Union” in the World Union of Jewish Students, one of whose aims is “to promote Zionism”.

The ‘About us’ on the UJS website only mentions Israel in passing, but they weren’t always so shy. Just a few years ago, one of UJS’ “Values/Guiding Principles” was: “To promote commitment to and the support of the State of Israel.”

Yet despite these efforts, the movement for Palestinian equal rights is inspiring and engaging students across the country who, despite Orwellian cries of ‘hate speech’, understand that theirs is a profoundly anti-racist struggle.

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About the author
This is a guest article. Ben White is a freelance journalist who has written for Guardian's CIF, Electronic Intifada and others. His book 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide' (Pluto Press), was published in 2009.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Education ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East

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Reader comments


Look, it’s quite possible to want justice for Palestinians and to support the state of Israel. It’s been there long enough to have a de facto right to exist, which is one of the reasons the problems of the region are so intractable.

I think it’s reasonable to accept the new term for the radical Zionists we now have running Israel: Neozionists. They have a strongly right-wing, nationalistic and expansionist ideology and will not stop until all of the Palestinian homelands have been settled and all non-jewish Israeli citizenships revoked.

I am pleased to see that the CST are not using the definition of anti-semitism you cite, and that the UCU are leading the way yet again in exposing this extremism.

God, there’re all a shower of bastards. Not particularly insightful, but I propose a pox on all their houses, and I promise to be particularly rude to all strongly in support of either side.

I don’t understand how objecting to anti-Semitism (or even just wanting a definition of anti-Semitism to exist for reference purposes – as far as I am aware no alternative has been proposed to the EUMC one) is stifling support for the Palestinian liberation cause.

That’s either a non sequitur or such a dystopian zero sum game view of the politics of the Middle East as to to make the mind reel back in horror, as it borders on eliminationism: neither shall thrive while the other lives etc. Disturbing in the extreme to see the worst excesses of Israeli & Palestinian political extremism imported into British acedemic thinking.

God save us from special interest groups.

Good article Ben.

Interesting to read the CST’s definition of anti-semitism, which is surprisingly sensible. Considering that is an organization not above a bit of pro-Israel lobbying itself, it’s good to see they are at least sensible enough not to slur criticism of Israel as ipso-facto anti-semitism (unlike the EUMC/FRA).

@MarinaS perhaps it was not clear from the above, but the problem is not at all to do with having a definition of anti-semitism, but the deliberate and cynical misrepresentation by pro-Israel groups of criticism of Israel as anti-semitism. The EUMC/FRA “working definition” of anti-semitism is problematic since it conflates the two, very different, phenomena. Which is why the University and College Union just voted to denounce the definition.

More on the problems with the EUMC/FRA definition here: http://jfjfp.com/?p=21466

6. Torquil Macneil

I know I am wasting my breath, but could we have just one instance of debate about Israel and Palestine being silenced on campus with or without an explanation of how the EUMC definition was used to effect it?

As someone who works on a campus, I think this is conflating two issues. There is the support for Palestinians (fine), and then there is opposition to Israel (theoretically fine, if a bit of a strange position, but it is generally expressed in terms that seem racist to me – most of those in this position seem to use Zionist as a synonym for Israeli (or just general) Jew (or at least have bought into a belief structure which allows such an appearance to be fine).

Articles like this, which seem to claim that opposing ‘Zionists’ is necessary to support Palestine do not help. It is quite simple to say you oppose Israel’s policies and the settlements (as I do) and to identify Israeli political parties that propose specific policies (hint – Likud is the major party in government…). It is merely lazy and at best ignorant to label this all Zionism – and then to seemingly oppose the right of Israel to exist under this label, as many do.

If anything, this sets back the Palestinian cause on campus. People like me (and in this particular sense I am aware of many) are not exactly likely to join with people who seem incapable of reasoned debate and analysis, but instead prefer to use a label which seems to be racially-motivated as well as politically simplistic.

And holding the UCU up as evidence of a sensible position is in this sense laughable – the UCU is one of the worst culprits for blindly supporting the Palestinian cause. They had the stupid idea of a boycott of Israeli univerisities (not generally noted for their Zionistic sympathies) for example. Unfortunately, in my experience the UCU has been hijacked on the Palestine issue by activists who share a mindset with Ben White.

8. Shachtman

Here’s the CST writing in support of the EUMC definition.

http://thecst.org.uk/blog/?p=2575

The CST understand antisemitism very well and the EUMC is a set of guidelines which they don’t need to refer to. If you look at reports from the CST, if you look at the CST blog , you’ll see how they write against the antisemitic themes mentioned in the EUMC definition.

9. Edward Carlsson Browne

I can’t help thinking that with all these links you could have provided one to the definition itself and shown why it’s inadequate.

Otherwise it looks like you’re throwing mud in preference to engaging with the issue at hand.

Here’s the CST writing in support of the EUMC definition.

http://thecst.org.uk/blog/?p=2575

The CST understand antisemitism very well and the EUMC is a set of guidelines which they don’t need to refer to. If you look at reports from the CST, if you look at the CST blog , you’ll see how they write against the antisemitic themes mentioned in the EUMC definition.

11. Torquil Macneil

It seems to me to be very depressing that a major academic union, having been warned by its own lawyers that its policies were antisemitic, should choose to redefine antisemitism rather than address the problem of increasingly institutionalised racism in the organisation.

@Asa – the WD doesn’t claim all criticism of Israel is a/s. It explicitly says that is not the case.

Here’s a link to a good short piece.

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2011/05/a-lesson-in-logic-by-eve-garrard.html

I find it odd that the UCU should spend its time repudiating a definition of antisemitism rather than representing members’ interests. (I’m a member)

13. Chaise Guevara

Agree with ECB: what is the actual “working definition”? Without seeing it it’s impossible to know whether or not it’s reasonable.

14. This machine kills fascists

Whatever,

A good number of them clearly have it in for the jews

They’re anti-semites. Not extremists as most are dozy spoilt rich kids who’ll end up in cushy jobs and forget about their youth I guess, but none-the-less anti-semites.

http://www.fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/material/pub/AS/AS-WorkingDefinition-draft.pdf

Here’s a link to a pdf.

Any useful document about a prejudice must go beyond the blindingly obviously which means that it will touch on areas which are more marginal, where you’d have to look at the whole context, where a single chance instance might quite possibly not be significant.

16. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 Sarah AB

Thanks for that. I read through it, and while the intent behind it seems honest enough, it does look like something that could be twisted to accuse people of antisemitism unreasonably. For example, I wouldn’t compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but people could easily do so along specific lines of comparison and not be antisemitic.

Also, at times it’s unclear whether it refers to statements about specific Jews or all Jews. For example, one thing it proscribes is accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel than their home country: if you said that about ALL Jews, that would be bigoted, but obviously you could say it about Jewish individuals.

For the record, it looks to me like it’s been designed to highlight genuine antisemitism, but like most written rulebooks (US constitution, anyone?), it’s open to interpretation and possible misuse.

Watchman “and then there is opposition to Israel (theoretically fine, if a bit of a strange position, but it is generally expressed in terms that seem racist to me “

It would not be strange, and racist to you if you had your land, and your house stolen from you and your children killed.”

As usual the Watchman troll tries to pretend that he is oh so fair to all sides , while all the time pushing his far Right wing pro Zionist position.

“If anything, this sets back the Palestinian cause on campus. People like me (and in this particular sense I am aware of many) are not exactly likely to join with people who seem incapable of reasoned debate and analysis, but instead prefer to use a label which seems to be racially-motivated as well as politically simplistic.”

Classic concern troll behaviour. Translated means “if only those silly palestians would smile sweetly while Israel steal their land I, and my Zionist friends might look more favourably on them . Yea right. Hell will freeze over first.

Having watched Israel’s Prime Minister last week in Washington when he had 12 standing ovations in the first 20 minutes of his speech to he joint houses of congress I am always fascinated that people still think the Americans are a neutral player.

No , definitely no pro Israel lobby in the US. Oh wait…………

18. An Duine Gruamach

In my limited experience (tending to keep as clear as I can of student politics), it seems to be the right-on, pro-Palestinian folk who are stifling debate by shouting down speakers from Israel, disrupting meetings and so on. I’ve not come across any Israeli or other Jewish students doing anything more stifling than handing out leaflets and having a table with free biscuits.

Sally, what do you think should happen to Israel?

Personally I do not think that opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic. However, opposition to Israel’s very existence and an obsession with Israeli crimes while ignoring those of far worse regimes might well be. I know it comes close to whataboutery but I do wonder why there are so many obsessed with Israel in comparison to, say, Burma.

20. Chaise Guevara

@ 17

I went to a vote at my SU once on whether we should twin with a Palestinian uni. Some Jewish guys were handing out flyers with pictures of terrorist attacks in Israel saying “these are the people you want to make friends with”. And when a Jewish guy got up to speak, a lot of Muslim people hissed at him before he even opened his mouth. So I’d say there are arseholes in both camps.

Chaise Guevara – I think one could invoke the definition in an overreactive way – but has that happened in any formal context? Obviously it might informally, I have a recent memory of someone in a blog comment making an absurd charge of antisemitism against a campaigner against a/s. People on the other side wave the term Zionist about over-freely as an insult – I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a Zionist, just saying that people on both sides over react. I think the things you are unsure about would depend on context. If you routinely call lots of people a Nazi as a random term of abuse, and by chance you call an Israeli politician a Nazi – that’s different from, say, a Latuff cartoon merging Gaza with the Warsaw ghetto. Don’t know about the loyalty point – as the definition says, depend on the overall context. But the same would be the case with guidelines for Islamophobia. I think criticising Halal slaughter could be said to be Islamophobic sometimes – and sometimes not.

“Sally, what do you think should happen to Israel?”

Shut it down, and set it up in Texas. They have got plenty of land, and they are mostly Christian fundies who only support Israel because they are taught that until Israel is safe Jesus will not come back to earth. It sounds nuts but that is the big driver of the American far right support of Israel. So let them give up some of their land to accommodate it.

“Personally I do not think that opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic.”

Dead right, there are many Jews who have nothing but contempt for the state of Israel. So the anti-Semitic claim is idocy.

‘Sally, what do you think should happen to Israel?

Personally I do not think that opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic. However, opposition to Israel’s very existence and an obsession with Israeli crimes while ignoring those of far worse regimes might well be. I know it comes close to whataboutery but I do wonder why there are so many obsessed with Israel in comparison to, say, Burma.’

I should have thought that this is quite obvious – Israel is fully, openly supported by our political and economic elites despite its many crimes. Burma is not (although clearly behind scenes it is traded with).

sally.

I always enjoy your no-nonsense postings. We could really benefit from some of your pithy responses on the forum which I administer:-
http://cuttingedgeuk.proboards.com/index.cgi

25. Mr S. Pill

Flood the place with Marmite. Job done (according to this, anyway….)

The EU definition is clearly seeking to criminalise or prohibit criticism of Israel, and not simply anti-Semitism. It declares it to be anti-Semitic to ‘deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination’, to claim that ‘the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour’ (for instance, by recognising that millions of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1949), to compare Israeli policy to Nazi policy (for example, collective punishment or ghettoisation or torture), or to apply ‘double standards’ to Israel (in practice, Israeli government figures cry ‘double standards’ on most occasions they are criticised). It’s quite clear that none of these views logically imply hatred for Jews, they imply strong opposition to a particular state.

For comparison:

Is the American government being ‘racist’ when it applies a double standard, condemning Libyan massacres of protesters but not those in Bahrain?

Is it anti-Arab racism to call the PLO and Hamas ‘terrorist’ – thereby implicitly denying the ‘Palestinian right to self-determination’?

Is it anti-white-American racism to declare that ‘American identity has always been a racist endeavour, founded on black slavery and the genocide of the Native Americans’?

Are British people opposed to Scottish independence necessarily guilty of anti-Scottish racism?

Is someone who supports Baloch separatists, describes Pakistan as an ‘artificial nation’ (denying its right to self-determination), and condemns Pakistani atrocities against them (without mentioning, say, Indian actions in Manipur), guilty of anti-Pakistani racism?

Is it anti-Turkish racism to declare the Turkish nation-state to be racist in its treatment of the Kurds, to liken this treatment to the Nazis, or to condemn the Turkish regime without also condemning a string of others?

If someone declares that Iran should be a secular state and not an Islamic state, is this anti-Muslim racism?

If someone condemns 911, but doesn’t condemn killings of civilians in American airstrikes (double standard), is this anti-Muslim racism?

Is it anti-Russian racism if someone called the Soviet Union an illegitimate state and compared Stalin to Hitler?

Is it anti-white racism to deny that Afrikaners have a right to a separate homeland?

Is someone who condemns Indian human rights violations in Kashmir (and not any Pakistani actions), and who likens them to the Nazi occupation of Europe, guilty of anti-Indian racism?

If someone describes the Ethiopian regime as an ‘illegitimate dictatorship by a Tigrayan clique’, are they being racist against the Tigrayans, and by extension, anti-black racism?

If someone likens Chinese sterilisation policies to Nazi eugenics, is this anti-Chinese racism?

It’s easy enough to see: 1) that none of these statements are racist, 2) that none of these statements would be considered racist, 3) that none of these statements would be particularly exceptionable in a partisan speech or article, and 4) that anyone who knows what (say) anti-Pakistani racism or anti-black racism looks like would conclude that this is not an instance of it. And all this completely independently of whether one endorses the claim in question.

It is therefore bizarre and dangerous that the EU would make equivalent claims to these in the case of Israel (and only, exceptionally, in the case of Israel). It’s quite obviously an attempt to squelch pro-Palestinian sentiment by criminalising (by deeming as racial hatred) various statements which are clearly political objections to a particular regime or state, not prejudices against a particular race.

I have no doubt some anti-Semitic racists use anti-Zionism as a front for anti-Semitism, and that some people angry against Israel take it out on ‘the Jews’. In much the same way that racists will pick up on stories about Yardies or ‘black-on-black shootings’. In much the same way that racists like EDL and SOIE use ‘extreme Islam’ as a cover for racism against Pakistanis and Arabs. Now, nobody would dream of saying that everyone who opposes ‘extreme Islam’ or ‘black-on-black shootings’ is a racist – or even that opposing such things is indicative of racism. Why is it different in the case of Israel?

27. Mr S. Pill

When it comes to Israel/Palestine arguing for equality between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians is extreme.

@24+26 Well it can’t go any worse than the current policy of selling Israel fuckloads of weapons and hoping it all resolves itself nicely.

Ivan White ” Sally, I always enjoy your no-nonsense postings.”

Good Gawd, a fan. I should have you stuffed. ;-0

“I should have you stuffed”

sally.

LOL. Please wait until I’m dead! Or at least until the members are fed up with my administration of ‘Cutting Edge’ – please come and visit us!

This needs to be said, and an answer given:

“could we have just one instance of debate about Israel and Palestine being silenced on campus with or without an explanation of how the EUMC definition was used to effect it?”

re EUMC, three critiques worth highlighting:

European Jews for a Just Peace
http://www.zcommunications.org/concerning-the-working-definition-of-antisemitism-by-dror-feiler

Arthur Neslen
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/arthur_neslen/2007/04/when_an_antisemite_is_not_an_a.html

and Richard Kuper
http://www.jnews.org.uk/commentary/antisemitism-and-delegitimisation

And note again how the working definition is simply not fit for purpose – its flaws attested to by the EUMC-successor body the FRA. This feedback is entirely missing in the coverage of the issue by those who want to make it a kind of litmus test for anti-racist sincerity.

@Sarah AB

“I find it odd that the UCU should spend its time repudiating a definition of antisemitism rather than representing members’ interests. (I’m a member)”

Perhaps you know the answer to this – the EUMC motion was one out of how many total motions discussed/voted on at congress?

‘Support for Palestinian voices on campus are now called ‘extremism’’

Jews’ defining antisemitism is now called extremism against Palestinian voices?

If the AJC or EJC had an agenda with their definition of antisemitism (like, Why wouldn’t they?), Ben White has an agenda in defining antisemitism to suit himself: he wants, among other things, to deny Jews have a right of return or national self-determination in the land of Israel.

He wants to deny that to pursue his wider goal of dissolving the Jewish state of Israel, either by ending Zionism, or with millions of Palestinian Arab refugees, or both.

Quite what this has to do with a Just Peace qua Justice for the Jews concerned escapes me.

And hadn’t one who has engaged in apologetics for Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial (‘rhetorical barbs’, said White), or the whole ‘I don’t consider myself to be an antisemite etc’ thing, better steer clear of telling Jews in general how to define antisemitism, since he clearly has a fairly dodgy grasp of the issues himself, to put it politely.

Unfortunately White shows how pro-Palestinian activism can be more about anti-Israelism, about denying the Jewish people the historical right to return to the land of which White’s own Christianity has been saying Jews have been dispossessed from the beginning and most of Christian tradition and history.

Again, what that has to do with a Just Peace qua Justice for the Jews concerned escapes me.

The CST blog said it:

People who carp and quibble over definitions of racism often have ulterior motives; and even more so, when they seek to outlaw the mere suggestion of a certain definition of racism.

When the British National Party shouts “Rights for Whites” whilst urging racism against non-whites, you know what kind of self-serving hypocrisy you are dealing with. In the context of Jews and antisemitism, however, you have the striking phenomenon of far left organisations and individuals who bitterly oppose racism and are very quick to see and oppose it in all sorts of places: but are deeply and actively hostile to mainstream Jewish perceptions on antisemitism.

Step forward, then, the Executive Committee of the University and College Union (UCU), who have proposed a resolution for UCU’s forthcoming conference to banish all use of the “working definition of antisemitism”, which was drafted for law enforcement and human rights agencies by the anti-racism watchdog of the European Union, the European Union Monitoring Centre (EUMC, now renamed Fundamental Rights Agency) back in 2004/2005. It is not that the UCU approves of antisemitism, far from it: but its disapproval of antisemitism comes strictly within its own terms and its own guideleines, and appears utterly subordinate to its own ideological wordview.

The Monitoring Centre compiled the “working definition” because this was a central recommendation of its own 345 page report “Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003.” (Large pdf here. In particular, see p.3-4, 23-33, 318-329). This major report was the Centre’s initial response to the wave of antisemitic violence and intimidation that struck European Jewish communities in September 2000, concurrent with the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian violence that became known as the Second Intifada; and then again in 2002-2003 as the conflict intensified.

The report’s conclusion “Proposals For Action” (p.327) calls for its findings regarding antisemitism to “be seen within a general framework of measures against racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia , and related intolerances”. It starts by asking for legislation to be implemented that “will introduce effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties and define antisemitic acts”. Next, there is a section on “Recording Antisemitic Incidents”. “

http://thecst.org.uk/blog/?p=2575

‘And note again how the working definition is simply not fit for purpose – its flaws attested to by the EUMC-successor body the FRA.’

Really, Ben?

Then how come it is still on the FRA website?

http://www.fra.europa.eu/fraWebsite/material/pub/AS/AS-WorkingDefinition-draft.pdf

OK, Ben, so you’ve found some Jews to define antisemitism to suit your political purposes? But why does that mean it should exclude a far more representative and consensual view of Jewish academic specialists in antisemitism, among others?

What do you mean ‘fit for purpose’?

Whose purpose?

Yours? Your anti-Zionist purpose? What if it is? Why should that trump anyone else’s, least of all most of the Jews’ concerned?

And isn’t it a bit of a liberty to warn Jews such as those of the UJS that their pro-Israel activity is ‘dangerous’, when you spend a fair amount of time drumming up Christians such as yourself in pro-Palestinian Christian activity, qua Christian?

Is Christian tribalism kosher, but that of Jews not?

‘ its flaws attested to by the EUMC-successor body the FRA.’

The EUMC definition does not say, for instance, that deny Jews’ the right to national determination is categorically antisemitic, merely that it +could+ be, under circumstances.

But it sounds, Ben, that you and your friends want rule that out as a logical or doctrinal impossibility. Almost as a matter of orthodoxy v. heterodoxy.

But, then, Ben, you have been campaigning, have you not, with your friend Stephen SIzer (caught out recently in a fairly naked antisemitism), to anathematize Christian sympathy with Zionism as pretty much heresy?

Frankly, Ben, that all sounds to me pretty extreme, though that is admittedly all relative. But it seems to me an extremism directed no less at Jews than Palestinians, if not more so.

The UCU NEC sounds like a Bench of Byzantine Bishops.

But you’d know all about that, Ben, doctrine and heresy, being an Evangelical Christian yourself?

Ben,

someone who, qua Christian, even Evangelical Christian, cannot bring himself to concede to Jews any kind of historical right of restoration or return to the land of Israel, the basic of premise of Jewish nationalism or Zionism, despite the fact that normative Christian belief has been that Jews are a people exiled or dispossessed from antiquity, really either

a) does not know enough to start telling anyone how antisemitism should be defined or

b) is simply not intellectually or ethically rigorous enough for his opinion to carry any weight.

You really should stay out of it, Ben.

Either you will make yourself look foolish, or dishonest, or reflect badly on your cause, or both.

39. This machine kills fascists

37 cont:

c)…or is an anti-semite etc

’37 cont:

c)…or is an anti-semite etc’

If you say so. I didn’t.

“People who carp and quibble over definitions of racism often have ulterior motives; and even more so, when they seek to outlaw the mere suggestion of a certain definition of racism.

Well this is a bit bollocks isn’t it. Its easy to spot racism when someone says ‘Jews control the world’ or ‘Pakis are smelly and shouldnt be allowed here’ – but a lot different when its subtle.

And it seems to be a lot of people these days engage in *nudge nudge wink wink* accusations of racism too.

Isn’t that right ‘modernity’? Any time I post something about Israel you suddenly popup and accuse that person (usually me) of being “obsessed” by Israel, as if I have ulterior motives, while saying nothing of your fellow travellers who seem to be far more “obsessed” by Muslims. When I asked you to do a comparison between PP and HP you didn’t answer.

So this idea that ‘we can easily spot racism and don’t need to quibble over the definitions’ is simply rubbish.

Sunny,

Straw man, you should know better.

But let us get to the nub of the issue:

Suppose, there is one particular ethnic minority saying they are facing racism in Britain, and it is ignored.

That those suggesting there is a whiff of racism in the air are accused of bad faith.

Further, suppose that those bringing forth these motions are politically motivated activists, then you can understand the disquiet, if you take the trouble, if you are genuinely concerned about racism towards *all* ethnic minorities.

Now concerning this particular ethnicity, you can use any one you please, just substitute the words in the appropriate places and see if they make sense, any minority will do, Jews, Muslims, Skihs, the Irish, the Roma, etc

And once you’ve done that and realised there’s something distasteful about all of this, step back from the brink.

Further, suppose that those bringing forth these motions are politically motivated activists

I’m afraid you’re the one creating straw-men modernity.

1) There are lots of ethnic communities in the UK that face racism. If we really wanted to venture or compare which faced the most, I’d say the Roma community would be near the top of my list. I’d also say that Muslims feature pretty highly since they have political parties (such as UKIP and BNP) and campaign groups (EDL) constantly highlighting and attacking them. Not to say the lies published in the tabloid media.

2) As for ‘politically motivated activists’ – well that’s pretty broad isn’t it? By its nature if you’re talking about political issues you’re “politically motivated”. Again this is *nudge nudge wink wink* crap.

Yes there is something distasteful about all this. It is the unwillingness of some to admit how obsessed they are by Muslims. And you still haven’t addressed my point about soft vs hard definitions of racism…. you’re just saying: “yeah well I know who it is because they’re “politically motivated” activists” – which is funny but pathetic all the same.

People who carp and quibble over definitions of racism often have ulterior motives…

Without passing comment on this isolated case, this is nonsense. If racial bigotry is something we should be opposing – as, indeed, we should – we need to be clear on what it is that we’re opposing.

I agree that anti-semitism is a neglected issue. The focus on its supposed presence in the academia is overstated – I suspect because bloggers like to argue over people’s views rather than deeds – but the fact that it’s so widespread on the level of the streets is something that deserves attention.

(Rather higher – proportionately, at least – than any other ethnic group.)

Sorry Sunny, I didn’t spell it out because I thought you would see it, apparently not.

Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, it is now 1970s Britain:

Moreover that there is a definition of anti-Irish racism, which has been broadly accepted by many prominent organisations.

Then, hypothetically, a group of individuals wish to remove that definition, to say it is of no use.

They don’t put up their own definition, but they say that this policy on anti-Irish racism restricts their free speech. They say, it means that they can’t criticise Ireland, its reactionary policies, etc without being seen as anti-Irish.

How would you react in such circumstances, would you say?

“Ahh yes, the Irish are just complaining about racism because they wish to defend Ireland”

Or would you be tempted to reply “Why would any reasoned individual want to quibble about the definition of anti-Irish racism?”

As I said you could substitute other ethnicities, you could substitute Jews for Irish in this instance, or even Muslims, etc etc

But let me tell you, if there was a nationally recognised definition of anti-Muslim bigotry and someone started quibbling about it then I’d certainly wonder why, and I suspect you would as well, but it doesn’t occur to you to do that when the object of this quibbling is Jews.

Does it?

And just so you understand I think there is a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry in Britain (I blog on it), so do the CST, they have tried as far as I understand to help community organisations deal with it and learn from their own experience.

Again, any objective observer would see that it is exceedingly distasteful to quibble about definitions of anti-Jewish racism, and *only* anti-Jewish racism, not anti Irish racism, not anti-Roma sentiment or anti-Muslim bigotry. I can see why hard core racists do it, that is their raison d’etre, but why the intelligent middle classes (like you) should want to quibble about only one particular definition of racism is a mystery?

Perhaps you might focus on that particular point and explain why of all forms of racism in Britain, anti-Jewish racism should be without a definition, a working guideline in your view?

But let me tell you, if there was a nationally recognised definition of anti-Muslim bigotry and someone started quibbling about it then I’d certainly wonder why, and I suspect you would as well, but it doesn’t occur to you to do that when the object of this quibbling is Jews.

But this is disingenuous too isn’t it? There is no easy definition of racism in the same way there is no easy definition of Islamophobia or anti-Muslim bigotry or anti-semitism. I have rejected attempts by Muslim orgs in the past to paint their critics as motivated by Islamophobia or anti-Muslim bigotry. Why can’t there be a discussion of how anti-semitism is defined, given it is frequently and deliberately conflated with anti-zionism? In the same way, are rejections that something is ‘Islamophobic’ automatically grounds for concern that the person hates Muslims?

I’ve not once said that you don’t think Muslims face bigotry. Most right-thinking people already know that and see that. My point here is about the double-standards in narratives around anti-racism. While its automatically accepted in certain parts that some people must be anti-semitic because they raise the issue of Israel’s actions, similar standards are not applied when Muslims raise concerns.
If the definition of anti-semitism is so clear-cut and well-understood, why do I get labelled ‘Jew hater’ by trolls on PP as well as regulars on HP, without an explanation of what part of the definition i’ve violated.

Sarah AB – I think your fondness for assertions as to what is antisemitic is a good reason for people to oppose the bogus EUMC working definition of antisemitism. The comparison of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto is not of itself antisemitic unless you hold all Jews responsible for the State of Israel counting the calories in food allowed into that blockaded territory (that’s Gaza, not Warsaw) .

Actually, whilst the comparison has its limitations, it is an obvious one when you consider the various similarities. If you are saying that under the EUMC WD such a comparison would be considered antisemitic, then unless you think racist incitements should be permissible, you are suggesting that comparisons of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto should be at best not allowed and possibly illegal. I suspect that that goes for the other Israel protecting aspects of the working definition.

Also, I don’t know if you answered the question put to you about how many motions or issues were raised at the UCU congress but you seem to believe that international solidarity is not an issue for trade unionists. International solidarity has a long history in the international labour movement. Is there a cause other than the Palestinian cause that you feel should be ditched in favour of your perceived interests as an academic or UCU member?

Chairse Guevara – you presumably don’t know the genealogy of the working definition if you think “the intent behind it seems honest enough”. It has come from the Israel lobby in America with two caveats “could be” and “subject to overall context” thrown in as a sop to people like you who seem to believe that “the intent behind it seems honest enough”. The intent behind it is not honest at all. It is designed to protect Israel from any serious criticism as shown by the support it is receiving only from Israel advocates. But if I’m wrong (and I can live with that) the example that Sarah AB used as an example of antisemitism by reference to the EUMC WD shows that, even if well intentioned, what an Israel critic says or does, doesnt have to “be twisted to accuse people of antisemitism unreasonably.” The only people who support the dodgy definition are people who “accuse people of antisemitism unreasonably” all the time and always to insulate Israel from criticism.

By happy coincidence, Richard Kuper (mentioned above, founder member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians) has a new article out on openDemocracy about the EUMC working definition:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/richard-kuper/hue-and-cry-over-ucu

“As I show below, this ‘working definition’ is a bad one that has led to endless, unproductive argument. Opposing its use does not mean one is opposed to fighting antisemitism, or happy to tolerate it. It is simply to point out that this definition does not help in that struggle; on the contrary, it sows confusion. It can only be understood in the context of a quite different agenda, that of a propaganda campaign by Israel and its supporters against the country’s deteriorating public image.”

I see there’s already a good comment in the thread on Eve Gerrard’s “elementary logic”

http://www.opendemocracy.net/richard-kuper/hue-and-cry-over-ucu#comment-215947827

51. Dave Rich

Ben White’s research is as poor as his reasoning. The Working Definition is linked to from the CST website and quoted in our guide to combating antisemitism on campus. We use it as it was intended: as a rough guide to antisemitism, a starting for investigation. It is not the sole, definitive definition and was never intended to be: hence all the caveats about context etc.

I find the horror at the eumc’s consultation with Jewish groups laughable. Is the suggestion that it is wrong for a governmental body to consult with a particular minority when investigating prejudice against them? And if they found contradictory views, I guess they went with those views which carried more weight in that community.

The issue with UCU is not so much their rejection of eumc as their rejection of macpherson. In recent years large numbers of Jewish academics have complained about antisemitic bullying and harassment in the union and have been ignored, ridiculed and persecuted as a result. Many have resigned. You may disagree with their view of what is antisemitism, but this is their perception. The motion on eumce is just an attempt to formalise this, because the Union feels that any worries about antisemitism hamper their ability to campaign against Israel.

In reality, eumc does no such thing. NUS use the working definition, but just last month passed a very pro-Palestinian policy. However for people like Ben White, “criticism of Israel” is a euphemism to hide an anything-goes attitude to attacking Israel and its supporters. But then what do you expect from a man who says he can understand why people are antisemitic?

Consider the often quoted Balfour Declaration of 1917:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration_of_1917

Was this declaration antisemtic in intent? There seems to be a wide consensus among historians nowadays that it was and that Balfour’s undisclosed personal motivation was to promote emigration of jews from Britain to Palestine.

Does this following amount to Francophobia?

For centuries, Kings and Queens of England and then of the United Kingdom asserted their claim to be monarchs of France until King George III (1760-1801) formally abandoned the claim in 1800 and the fleure de lis were shortly thereafter removed from the royal arms of Britain’s monarchy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_claims_to_the_French_throne

This was obviously a terrible mistake made by a monarch whose mental state was often fragile and I venture to suggest the present British government begins early preparations to invade France to restore the ancient and rightful claim of Her Majesty the Queen to Her territories in France.

I strongly suspect that any contemporary British politician making such a declaration would be prompted to visit his psychiatrist again in the near future..

@Dave Rich

Important to bring up the CST’s own confused position.

You rightly say that “The Working Definition is linked to from the CST website and quoted in our guide to combating antisemitism on campus.” But CST, as I pointed out, is also able to answer the question ‘What is Antisemitism?’ without any reference to the ‘working definition’ (but citing Brian Klug’s good work).

CST also says that the working definition “is not so necessary in Britain” (http://bit.ly/jSkQz5), and that it is “part of an ongoing process” with “no legal basis” (http://bit.ly/jbdLSa). And we know what the FRA thinks about this ‘ongoing process’, namely – “no plans for any further development”.

CST has noted that it was set up in the first place “as a basic guide” for “data collecting agencies”. It’s precisely on those grounds that it is flawed – in the words of FRA, “initial feedback” highlighted “several issues that impacted on the effectiveness of the definition as a data collection support tool”.

Given your own organisation’s less than whole-hearted endorsement of this working definition, let alone the EUMC/FRA’s own assessment, one wonders why CST has so enthusiastically attacked those who question the working definition? A clue:

“…those who have the courage to speak out against anti-semitism and anti-Zionism”
http://bit.ly/dYSjUo

54. Dave Rich

Ben White

CST is not confused, but you appear to be.

The Working Definition was drawn up to help law enforcement agencies and personnel identify antisemitic hate crimes. For example, when a policeman on the streets of Plotzk finds some graffiti on the wall of a disused synagogue, how does he decide whether it is plain criminal damage, or a hate crime? From our experience, this is a problem in many parts of Europe, especially Eastern Europe (not just with antisemitism, but with all forms of hate crime). The Working Definition gives some examples of the sorts of discourse that may be used antisemitically (if I can coin that word).

However, people also use the Working Definition to try to identify antisemitic discourse, including when anti-Israel discourse becomes antisemitic. It has its limitations in this area, partly because not all antisemitic discourse is criminal and context is very important in assessing whether discourse is racist or not, but it does provide a useful starting point. This is why the CST website states:

“The Working Definition should be regarded as a helpful set of guidelines, rather than a strict legal definition of antisemitism.”

There are some people who disagree with the Working Definition. There are others who do not just disagree with it, but have taken active steps to try to obstruct its use. They do not do this in good faith; they do not do this out of a genuine desire to see the problem of antisemitism dealt with properly; often, they deny that such a problem exists at all, or in significant quantities.

Such people try to obstruct any use of, or reference to, the Working Definition, because they feel it may prevent them from saying whatever they want about Israel and Zionism – even if what they want to say may be antisemitic in its tropes, references or impact. They don’t care about this last point. A good faith critique of the Working Definition would include consideration of how some anti-Israel positions or themes may be antisemitic, and how this can be avoided. Yet few of the people opposing the Working Definition within UCU have ever entered a serious, open-minded discussion about the possibility of finding antisemitic themes and tropes in anti-Zionist discourse (much less the possibility that such things may exist in their own anti-Zionist discourse), and where the limits of this discourse should lie.

This is partly because anti-Zionists (and especially Jewish anti-Zionists) are so narcissistic, they think the Working Definition is about them, the same way they thought the Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism was about them. They are wrong, of course. Most of the Working Definition has nothing to do with anti-Israel stuff. However, a great deal of contemporary antisemitism, both physical and discursive, takes place in the context of anti-Israel activity or utilises anti-Israel and anti-Zionist references. Therefore, a definition that did not consider how antisemitism may occur in this context would be incomplete.

“Yet despite these efforts, the movement for Palestinian equal rights is inspiring and engaging students across the country who, despite Orwellian cries of ‘hate speech’, understand that theirs is a profoundly anti-racist struggle.”

This comment assumes all those supporting Palestinian rights are decent people. Isn’t it likely that many are decent and some are bigoted?

Any case attracts its share of people who are in it for the wrong reasons, and there probably are a small minortity of racists on both side of the debate. Certaintly, during my university days were reports of bigotry by some students supporting the pro-Palestinian cause.

Harry’s Place is worth a read on these issues.

56. mark gardner

the eumc guide is very short – but stresses the need for everything to be contextualised.

those claiming that it dictates Israel related incidents are automatically antisemitic are therefore either liars or idiots, or conscious antisemites – regardless, the effect is the same, to leave most Jews feeling even more isolated and vulnerable on campus.

if UCU, Ben White, or anyobdoy else fels that EUMC shouldn’t apply in a specific instance – then they can argue the point, can they not? This proactive banning of the mere possibility that something Israel related could be antisemitic, is a blatant contravention of standard anti-racist procedures, particularly Macpherson.

—-
the “what is antisemitism?” page of CST’s Discourse report
http://www.thecst.org.uk/docs/Antisemitic%20Discourse%20Report%20for%202009%20-%20web1.pdf (page10) has been quoted in the above chain, including our citation of Brian Klug.

Here, is the opening para’ of what we write regarding Klug

‘The Jew’ of the antisemitic imagination. Philosopher Brian Klug has stressed
the importance of the imaginary ‘Jew’ to antisemitic discourse, “where Jews
are perceived as something other than what they are…Thinking that Jews are
really ‘Jews’ is precisely the core of antisemitism.”

The opening paras of Ben White’s article here; and also the preamble to the UCU motion clearly show that the rejection of EUMC definition is motivated by the belief that those Jews who helped form it, and those Jews who now back it, do so primarily to shield Israel – and not because primarily they are Jews who care about antisemitism.

Ben White, UCU and others are calling Jews who back EUMC liars, and conspirators – whether that’s American Jewish Committee, European Jewish Congress or UK Union of Jewish Students. Lets repeat Klug’s sentence:

“where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are…Thinking that Jews are really ‘Jews’ is precisely the core of antisemitism.”

@Dave Rich

“This is partly because anti-Zionists (and especially Jewish anti-Zionists) are so narcissistic, they think the Working Definition is about them…”

Well I’ll leave you to your ad hominems. But AJC and EJC – the two groups who, after all the prior consultations and contributions, shaped the final draft – certainly know what the “working definition” is about.

Here (http://bit.ly/mqonzu), the AJC’s Kenneth Stern does his best to equate antisemitism with anti-Zionism, though he does allow anti-Zionism in the case of ultra-Orthodox Jews and “anarchists” (lol). Not Palestinians though: they must either applaud their own dispossession, or be dismissed as antisemites (likewise anyone in solidarity with them).

Here’s Kuper:
http://www.opendemocracy.net/richard-kuper/hue-and-cry-over-ucu

“Take, for instance, the example of “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination”. This could be antisemitic. Equally, denying that same right to Basques, Catalans, Scots or indeed the Zulu or Afrikaner nations/peoples, could be racist. But there are all kinds of non-racist reasons why someone might not support these national causes..”

The same AJC who promoted an essay on “‘Progressive’ Jewish Thought’ and the New Anti-Semitism’
http://bit.ly/88z9JC

And the EJC? Well they’re getting ready for a conference featuring Netanyahu on “the assault on Israel’s legitimacy”. Their president “is expected to call for the adoption of ‘clear boundaries’ to criticism of Israel, modeled on the working definition of anti-Semitism produced in 2005”.
http://bit.ly/in0v6J

58. Chaise Guevara

@ Sarah AB

“I think one could invoke the definition in an overreactive way – but has that happened in any formal context?”

No idea – I was only checking because the OP seems to criticise the definition without actually citing it, and I wanted to see what it actually said.

“Obviously it might informally, I have a recent memory of someone in a blog comment making an absurd charge of antisemitism against a campaigner […] People on the other side wave the term Zionist about over-freely as an insult”

Oh, I’ve seen people baselessly accused of antisemitism, islamaphobia and every other prejudice under the sun. The *potential* problem with this document is that it could form semi-official backing for the people who make this sort of accusation – what the other person said might be totally legit, but if the University uses the definition they could push it through on a technicality.

Again, this is totally hypothetical.

“I think the things you are unsure about would depend on context. If you routinely call lots of people a Nazi as a random term of abuse, and by chance you call an Israeli politician a Nazi – that’s different from, say, a Latuff cartoon merging Gaza with the Warsaw ghetto.”

Agreed – and if a London mayor calls a journalist a Nazi, and that journalist turns out to be Jewish, the mayor is being a bit of an arse but not an anti-semite.

“I think criticising Halal slaughter could be said to be Islamophobic sometimes – and sometimes not.”

In theory there’s nothing wrong with criticising it, but there seem to be a hell of a lot of people who suddenly get really interested in animal welfare when Halal comes up. Given that the same people seem unconcerned about far worse abuses like factory farming, it’s pretty clear the animal rights issue is a stalking horse. But yeah, a bona fide animal rights campaigner should not be called Islamaphobic for objecting to Halal slaughter on grounds of cruelty.

59. Dave Rich

I find this objection to the EUMC consulting Jewish community bodies to be utterly bizarre. Would you seriously argue that, if the EUMC were to draft a working definition of how homophobia manifests itself in Europe, they should do so without consulting any LGBT groups?

The EUMC was free to consult who it wanted, and when it received contradictory submissions or advice, to choose which ones to accept. You may not agree with the EJC, but it comprises the main representative bodies of Jewish communities from across Europe. I think you’ll find most European Jews agree with their position on this – not all, I concede, but they represent a wider constituency than Richard Kuper does.

60. Richard Kuper

I think you are misreading Ben White, quite unfairly if I may say so.

As you know I’ve challenged the EUMC working Definition, on JNews (http://www.jnews.org.uk/commentary/antisemitism-and-delegitimisation) and now, at greater length, on OpenDemocracy (http://www.opendemocracy.net/richard-kuper/hue-and-cry-over-ucu).

You say “if UCU, Ben White, or anybody else feels that EUMC shouldn’t apply in a specific instance – then they can argue the point, can they not?” [I’ve corrected the typos]. Yes they can; but my point and Ben’s and the UCU’s is why should they have to start from what we all find is, at best, an inadequate definition. Why should a ‘draft’ drawn up behind closed doors, supposedly to be evaluated in the light of experience, one which the FRA feels has not proved its usefulness and which it has no plans to review – why should such a draft be accorded almost sacred status by all and sundry? I don’t want to have to refer to it. I don’t think it helps.

And, as you will know from my contributions, I think it hinders. Yes, I do think it was politically motivated. I do think it works by putting the onus on those who criticise Israel to somehow prove they are not antisemitic, a point I’ve made many times. And I know that Jewish organisations and individuals who find it problematic have never been allowed to say so in a forum that listens, where they might be able criticise this “working definition” as part of an attempt to formulate a better one.

When you write that “Ben White, UCU and others are calling Jews who back EUMC liars, and conspirators” for asserting that its primary purpose is to shield Israel I have to say I think you are losing it. This is plain silly and indeed abusive. No amount of quoting Brian Klug will make this assertion true. They may be wrong; they may even be misguided. I believe my paper has shown that they are neither. We probably will never agree on this point but calling them liars and conspirators is not something I would be proud of.

The truth is that you yourself doesn’t believe the definition has much relevance in Britain. As you wrote the other day on your CST blogspot “Rather, its purpose and primary benefit is about helping Police from Poznan to Ploiesti to recognise when a crime against Jews is (or is not) antisemitic.” (http://thecst.org.uk/blog/?p=2575)
Why then do we encounter it particularly in a quite different context on campuses in Britain where the dominant source of conflict arises from passions aroused by the Israel-Palestine conflict and where it seems to be deployed in arguments to limit free speech on campus – nothing to do with crimes against Jews as such? Are there in fact any serious disputes about the “working definition” that are not, at base, disputes about Israel-Palestine?

You will probably say that the critics are not paying sufficient (or any) attention to the feelings of Jewish members in the UCU or on campuses. Perhaps you’re right. But how much recognition is there on your part of the passions and the anger arising from the ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights and the illegal occupation – what has justifiably been described as the ‘ongoing nakba’? Why don’t you put the issue of the EUMC working definition in its proper context?

61. Richard Kuper

Sorry my comment posted at no 60 is in response to Mark gardner’s no 56

Actually Ben, assuming that Jews have a right to self-determination could be construed as antisemitic, asserting as it does that Jews from all around the world are a people apart. That is not the only part of this bogus working definition that is antisemitic. Comparing Israel to the nazis and decrying the establishment of the State of Israel as a “racist endeavour” (or “endevor” to quote the original American) are only antisemitic if you hold all Jews responsible for the State of Israel.

Also, asserting a Jewish right to self-determination is problematic in that self-determination for Jews in a specific country denies (as it has done) the right of self-determination to non-Jews in that same country. For example, the Irish might be entitled to self-determination whether they are Jewish or not. That sentence cannot be used with regard to the Jews. You cannot have Jewish self-determination whether you are Jewish or not. Unless self-determination is applied to something other than the people of a country as a whole then Jews are simply not a case for self-determination and, of course, it is not antisemitic to say so.

Timely article! I’ve had personal experience in how Jewish/ Israel socs in campuses throughout the UK have been trying increasingly desperate tactics to stifle any discourse critical of Israel. Last year they used the pretext of hate speech to scare Cambridge University into cancelling venues we had booked for an event on Israel/Palestine, this happened 3 times within a week before our advertised event, the last one was 24 hours before the event. Finally Cambridge ignored them and allowed us to go ahead with the event and despite of the last minute cancellations we had a full venue.
Very simply the Zionist lobby in our university campuses knows very well that it is impossible for it to defend Israel’s actions in an environment where free speech allows the plight of Israel’s victims (the Palestinians) to be heard, therefore, it has made free speech its new enemy!

64. mark gardner

eumc’s motivation lay in the wave of antisemitic assaults on european jews that accompained israeli-palestinian violence from 2000-2002; and the inability of data comparisons due to european police force’s failures to adequately consider or record these assaults as antisemitic.

it is disgusting that the anti-israel left denies the reality of this very simple fact.

the anti-israel left is welcome to care more about palestinian rights than the rights of european jews, that is its choice – but to portray jews (and others) who seek to simply retain eumc definition as an option for consultation as being conspiring liars for israel is despicable.

you have demonised israel and its supporters to such an extent that you have now reached an antisemitic place. mazel tov.

Mark Gardner: “you have demonised israel and its supporters to such an extent that you have now reached an antisemitic place. mazel tov.”

well that didn’t take long to reach the bottom

66. mark gardner

ben white, actually it did take a while – it took until you and your chums proved, yet again, that you don’t give a damn about the facts relating to what motivated eumc, nor about the message that its banning sends.

67. Richard Kuper

Mark Gardner, 64:

Mark, can I urge you to step back. Ben has not “demonised israel and its supporters”; He is not in an “antisemitic place”. He is in a place you disagree with. You disagree deeply. You disagree most profoundly. You think he is quite wrong. Isn’t that enough?

The EUMC definition provides no guidelines for assessing whether criticism of Israeli policies is anti-semitic. It says that criticism of Israeli policies may be anti-semitic. This doesn’t help us to assess whether any particular criticism is anti-semitic.

sally,

It would not be strange, and racist to you if you had your land, and your house stolen from you and your children killed.”

But since neither you nor any other commentator here has, it still seems strange. Logic and all that – I might understand blind hatred from someone who has suffered from Israeli policies; I do not understand blind hatred from people who have not.

As usual the Watchman troll tries to pretend that he is oh so fair to all sides , while all the time pushing his far Right wing pro Zionist position.

Far-right wing? Well yes, I believe both Israel and Palestine would do a lot better as open free markets. Ideally they and neighbouring countries could form an economic commonwealth as well, but that seems unlikely soon.

Pro-Zionist? What the hell? – I support automatic withdrawal of all Israeli settlers (or at least giving them the choice of that or becoming Palestianian citizens) and automatic statehood for Palestine. Hardly Zionist, simply because I also support the right of a country to exist.

As opposed to your moronic suggestion of putting Israel in Texas – I thought (from your support of the Palestinians) that you supported the right of people to not be driven off their lands and out of their homes? Well, since many Israelis have families that have been in what is now Israel for thousands of years, you seem to be suggesting exactly the same thing you are protesting about. I suppose this could be ignorance on your part (never…) but surely you can see how suggesting uprooting one group of people in favour of another might look sort of like racism?

Still in your simple worldview, anyone who is right wing must be Zionist (quite how you cope with Neo-Nazis is an interesting question – are they Zionist or left-wing?). It seems a retarded viewpoint, but the evidence above is that it seems to impress people…

No Richard, it is not enough for Israel advocates to “disagree deeply… disagree most profoundly…” or believe someone or something to be “quite wrong”. There aim is to silence what they believe to be “quite wrong” and that is serious criticism of the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

On another point, something I find quite worrying is the way in which MacPherson and Brian Klug are being invoked by the Israel advocates. MacPherson is about defending a marginalised community from exclusion and abuse and taking racism seriously as an aggravating factor in other offences. It does not say that racism is anything a member of a given identity group says it is. Re Brian Klug. Does he know that his name is being bandied about by Israel advocates to defend a dodgy definition that amounts to an Israel advocate’s charter in the way it seeks to insulate Israel from criticism?

Watchman – Supporting “the right of a country to exist” is meaningless without mentioning what that country has a right to exist as. The State of Israel exists as a state specifically for the world’s Jews and it does so at the expense of the Palestinians not because of the occupation commencing in 1967 but because of the ethnic cleansing that first gave Israel its Jewish majority together with the increasing dispossession, exclusion and displacement of the Arab population both within the pre-67 boundary and beyond it.

But the core zionist position is that there should be a state to which Jews have more right than non-Jews, including existing and past non-Jewish populations. Do you think such a state should exist? Or do you think states should be for all their people?

you have demonised israel and its supporters to such an extent that you have now reached an antisemitic place

Is that a new definition then?

“But this is disingenuous too isn’t it? “

#49.

Sunny,

If you really want to understand matters, then taking offence at what people say, accusing them of lying is the quickest way to close down a discussion and *you* end up no wiser.

If you wish to inform yourself on antisemitism, then please email me and I will draw up a reading list for you, alternatively if you read the CST’s discussions of the topic you would probably find it helpful.

The subject of antisemitism is complex and has a long history, modern anti-Jewish racism is often more intricate, particularly in the West, than is first seen.

I would recommend making a serious effort to read up on the matter.

This is where to look, http://www.thecst.org.uk/index.cfm?content=7&Menu=6

The CST’s Antisemitic Discourse Reports are very helpful in getting to grips with these issues.

modernity, I see you’ve tried to label all of us on your blog as: That’s, how antisemites, Jew haters and Jew baiter without explaining how you came to that conclusion.

So in effect, once again what you’re simply trying to do is smear people and scream RACIST without actually answering the questions I posed. How unsurprising. I really hope you stop reading this blog because it doesn’t seem to be gaining anything by your contributions.

#72 Sunny Hundal

lol (same reaction as when I read the post to which you refer)

76. skidmarx

This is the same “modernity”, who in response to a West Dubartonshire councillor’s complaint of a
torrent of vile abuse and threats of violence against our families from “modernity” and his pro-Israel friends with this suggestion:
Furthermore, if councillors are receiving abuse/threats then such a move [convening “a meeting between the council and an organisation able to represent the Israeli perspectives”] would go a long way to stopping that.
There’s a myth that teachers tell bullied kids that if only they saw the point of view of their bully then the bullying will stop, but it’s rare to hear the words from the mouth of the bully himself.

77. Joy Wolfe

I was more than a little surprised to see StandWithUs UK called “a right wing organisation”
As its chairman that is not a label I recognise.
Here in the UK we are an apolitical organisation dedicated to ensuring that there is an even playing field for Israel and that the truth, context and history of the Israel Palestinian conflict it disseminated to counter some of the media and Palestinian lobby misinformation and historical revisionism
We are seeking a balanced approach to the conflict, the recognition by Hamas and Fatah as a jewish state and an end to theviolence so that the peace process can move forward.
I do not believe that justifies us being “right Wing”
We also would like to see more promotion of themany good joint Israeli {Palestinian initiatives that exist among the grassroots, and to ensure that the millions of dollars and pounds given by the international community to quite rightly try to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people is actually used to do that rather than for corruption and the support of terror and that the money is used to improve their living conditions, infrastructure and quality of life rather than them being condemned to remain isunacceptable conditions because their leadership wants to keep their refugee status. It is time after 63 years that they were properly setttled like every other refugee community in history

“We are seeking a balanced approach to the conflict, the recognition by Hamas and Fatah as a jewish state and an end to theviolence so that the peace process can move forward.”

And a permanent halt to building Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian lands?

Ben White,

you adduce Richard Kuper’s view as carrying some academic weight, which it does.

But is his the only academic Jewish opinion on the matter?

The EUMC definition was itself made with plenty of academic input, from academics who have specialised in antisemitism.

So far as I know, few if any of the UCU NEC can be put in that category, which begs the question why their (and your) view should carry the day.

@ Joy Wolfe

“I was more than a little surprised to see StandWithUs UK called “a right wing organisation”…Here in the UK we are an apolitical organisation…seeking a balanced approach to the conflict”

Well this is a bit too easy, but what the heck.

Michael Dickson, Israel Director of Stand With Us: The illegal settlements in the West Bank are actually “communities in Judea and Samaria”.

“But an IPS investigation into the tax records of the donors to StandWithUs, which professes to be ideologically neutral, found a web of funders who support organisations that have been accused of anti-Muslim propaganda and encouraging a militant Israeli and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.” http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48946

Joy Wolfe, Chair, StandWithUs UK: “A strong legal challenge can be mounted to calling so called settlements illegal”

Chas Newkey-Burden, Advisory Board, StandWithUs UK: “A year on from the flotilla incident, the IHH scum are rotting in hell.”

81. Jonathan Hoffman

White is wrong on this as he is on everything to do with Israel

http://blog.z-word.com/2009/07/lies-damn-lies-and-the-apartheid-analogy/

The MacPherson Definition of Racism says that a minority has the right to define what is racist against it.

Whie would not argue wtih Muslims’ Definition of wnat constitutes Islamophobia so why does he abrogate for himself the right to criticise what Jews – and all EU governments and the US government – believe to be racist against Jews?

Sheer arrogance

82. Watchman

levi9909,

Watchman – Supporting “the right of a country to exist” is meaningless without mentioning what that country has a right to exist as. The State of Israel exists as a state specifically for the world’s Jews and it does so at the expense of the Palestinians not because of the occupation commencing in 1967 but because of the ethnic cleansing that first gave Israel its Jewish majority together with the increasing dispossession, exclusion and displacement of the Arab population both within the pre-67 boundary and beyond it.

But the core zionist position is that there should be a state to which Jews have more right than non-Jews, including existing and past non-Jewish populations. Do you think such a state should exist? Or do you think states should be for all their people?

I worry here that you are using the history of the late 1940s as justification for something some 60 years later. Whilst Israel has some unacceptably racist policies towards its own population, which I condemn, it is not an exclusively Jewish state by any means – the government there actually supports Christian and Islamic religious institutions for example. The worst excesses of Israeli politics reflect the stupidity of using a pure PR system to elect your government, so that violent minorities have to be heard, not that the country itself is evil.

I support the right of Israel to exist in direct contravention to the Hamas charter if you want a point of reference. As with all states, I would prefer to see a liberal democracy (Israel is most of the way there – just put a ceiling on the amount of votes required to cut out the extremists), but ultimately, I would only wish to see a state disappear if its own people decided it served no function – so I suppose I support the right of Israel to exist whatever (until the Israelis decide otherwise). I do the same with Palestine (so Israel is wrong here, and I repeat, should withdraw its settlements – it obviously retains the right to intervene militarily if attacked though (as states always do)).

Furthermore, I hold the leaders of Israel (and Palestine) responsible for their actions – they should be liable if they have committed war crimes for example. Support for the existence of Israel and Palestine has nothing to do with their history or their politics, but is simply a reflection of the fact that both countries exist in the minds of their populations, and therefore have a right to exist. And we, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (cumbersome name really) do not have the right to deny either the right to exist – for all we do have the right to campaign against illegal occupations, war crimes and terrorism by either state (spot which ones belong to which state in my view…).

83. Jonathan Hoffman

Let’s not forget that White is the man who said “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” and who tried to contextualise comments of Ahmadinejad denoting a disbelief in the Holocaust ….

White has an agenda and it is not one that looks kindly on the right of Jews to govern their own affairs in Israel …

Ah, Jonathan Hoffman. What are your thoughts on the status of the “working definition”?

“Short of needing to be ratified by national Parliaments, it is as ‘adopted’ as anyting in the EU can possibly be.”

I’ll tell you what – a contribution from the Jewish Division of the EDL could be good here – can you ask them Jonathan, next time you see them?

85. Jonathan Hoffman

As usual when Ben White is losing an argument about Israel, he resorts to the baseless smear … classic …

86. Jonathan Hoffman

Who is Ben White?

Ben White is a freelance journalist and author of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide”. A graduate (subject: English Literature) of Cambridge University in 2005, his articles have been published frequently in the Guardian, New Statesman, Counterpunch and Electronic Intifada. His hostility to Israel is thought to come from his Christian ‘supercessionist’ beliefs (that is, the belief that the Bible contains nothing to connect the land of Israel with the Jewish people).

White writes about what he terms “Palestine/Israel” to the point of near obsession. An open supporter of the antisemitic “One State Solution”, he regularly accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing, attributes the malicious slurs of colonisation, racism and apartheid to Israel, acts as an apologist for Islamist violence against the Jewish state, draws parallels between Nazi Germany and Zionism, has a problem with the police arresting those involved in plots to bomb synagogues, and has even gone as far as to flirt with Holocaust revisionism.

Ilan Pappe, the most prominent Israeli anti-Zionist academic, called White a “strong and clear voice”, while Ali Abunimah of the virulently anti-Israel Electronic Intifada described “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide” as “essential reading”.

Ben White events are nasty affairs. A woman has been jeered when she said her Jewish-sounding name prior to asking a question. Another Jew present at the same meeting (the launch of his book in Parliament) was told “the Nazis should have finished the job”.

About “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide”:

This is White’s first book and has been described by Jonathan Hoffman (co-vice Chair of the Zionist Federation), in a devastating demolition of the book, in the following terms:

“White’s book comes from the same genus as Walt and Mearsheimer’s “The Israel Lobby”. Like that book, everything is meticulously referenced but that enables the reader to see the circularity in the sources. Many are from known Israel bashers: Pappe, Uri Davis, Charles D Smith, Tom Segev, Tanya Reinhart, Jeff Halper, Hussein and McKay, and Maxime Rodinson.”

Replete with doctored quotes, twisted facts and based on the false premise that Israel is an apartheid state, Hoffman concludes:

“This artless, crude piece of Israel-bashing will no doubt be welcomed in all the usual circles but anyone with a modicum of independent critical faculty will soon see it for the tired piece of intellectually bankrupt propaganda that it is.”

Specific Points

Ben White understands why some people are antisemites

In an article in Counterpunch entitled “Is It ‘Possible’ to Understand the Rise in ‘Anti-Semitism’?”, White stated that “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are”. This after linking the rise of antisemitism with “the widespread bias and subservience to the Israeli cause in the Western media”. As observed by blogger, Seismic Shock, “White here jumps straight into transitional bog-standard antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion language”.

Ben White flirts with Holocaust revisionism

In an article entitled “History, Myths and All the News That’s Fit to Print”, White wrote a defence of Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial denying that Ahmadinejad engaged in Holocaust denial and contextualizing Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial.

Ben White includes an essay by a Holocaust denier in his ‘select bibliography’ of his book

Incredibly Ben White includes a Roger Garaudy essay on Zionism in his ’select bibliography’ (p.162) of his book. Garaudy was convicted of Holocaust denial in France in 1998 under France’s Gaysott Law. When questioned about this by Jonathan Hoffman at a recent meeting in London (9 February) White’s answer was that he only became aware of Garaudy’s conviction after his book was published. If he says this at Columbia the correct response is to point out that the offence was committed in 1998 so there is no excuse for White to have included the reference.

Ben White doctors quotes

White opened Chapter Two of his book with a purported quote from David Ben-Gurion: “We must expel Arabs and take their places!”

Ben Gurion never said this – in fact he said the opposite: “We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places.”

Having been called out on this by Hoffman, White has subsequently acknowledged that this is a false quote arguing in his defense “out of 399 listed footnote references in my book, Hoffman can only make a case for one quotation being incorrect.”

Ben White is a hypocrite who suppresses freedom of speech

Recently, Ben White led a Facebook campaign to prevent Israeli historian, Benny Morris, from speaking on campus at Cambridge University on the pretext that Benny Morris has made anti-Muslim racist statements. The reality is that Benny Morris has fallen out of favor with the anti-Israel movement as a result of his shift politically from the far-left to the centre of Israeli politics.

Additionally, at a War on Want (a British charity) event celebrating the launch of White’s book, Jonathan Hoffman was banned from attending.

Inevitably when he is cornered, White resorts to the lie that “Zionists censor free speech”.

Ben White has no problem with synagogues getting blown up
In his blog, Ben White claimed that the arrest of four men in New York threatening to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx was ‘a fully controlled threat to our freedoms.’

Mandela’s view

In April 2000 Nelson Mandela came to London and spoke to the Board of Deputies of British Jews. There he spoke of the need for Israel to leave the lands taken in 1967 but not unless there was first recognition of the Jewish State by the Arab States. He stated “I added a second position, that Israel cannot be expected to withdraw from the Arab territories which she legitimately conquered when the Arab States wanted to whip her out of the map of the world.” There was no mention of ‘apartheid’ in Israel – from a man who spent 27 years as a prisoner of the loathsome apartheid regime in South Africa.

Jonathan Hoffman accusing me (well, anyone) of a “baseless smear” is excellent.

I was actually just about to say that it’s not fair to tar Jonathan by association with the EDL. I mean, his sensitivty on these issues is well known – like when he distributed handouts of my face photoshopped into the body of a Nazi officer. #lol

88. Joy Wolfe

How pathetic that Ben White needs to resort to fiction to try to counter the truth
Linking the EDL to this debate really sinks to new depths
Maybe Ben had better make his own approach to the EDL since most of us, Jonathan Hoffman included, dissociate ourselves from them completely and deplore their efforts to tryto give the impression they are linked in any way

jonathan please, stop – to follow up your “baseless smear” comment with that copy and paste? i mean, even for you… lol

90. skidmarx

Mr.Hoffman, are you having “fun ascribing pathology to whom I like?“
While you’re at it, do you think that after statements like:
” Hiding behind Israel is a cowardly way for a Jew to express his anti-Jewishness,” you will be seen by anyone as rational on the question of defining anti-semitism?[And it is also of course insulting to appropriate the memory of Stephen Lawrence for your political campaign, but that will be water off a duck’s back]
It’s “arrogate” rather than “abrogate”, by the way. [Though I realise I failed to spell “Dunbartonshire” correctly in my last comment]

Joy, don’t let that EDL diversion stop you replying about StandWithUs’ famous reputation as a balanced apolitical organisation

92. Jonathan Hoffman

@SKIDMARX

I never wrote “Hiding behind Israel is a cowardly way for a Jew to express his anti-Jewishness”

But since when have the Israel-haters ever cared about the truth … see White’s so-called ‘book’

(You couldn’t make it up!)

93. skidmarx

Mr.Hoffman,my apologies, I see I have you confused with Howard Jacobson.

94. Watchman

Jonathan Hoffman accusing me (well, anyone) of a “baseless smear” is excellent.

Ben,

I might find your article and posts quite offensively one-sided (although not racist), but I have to say that unless Mr Hoffman wants to provide links to substantiate his points, you have a very good point there. Albeit unless Mr Hoffman has EDL links, your smear was baseless (and if he does, it was presumably a based smear).

It does seem both sides in these debates tend to switch immediately to character attack, which presumably serves to alienate moderates from both sides. Perhaps having the same debate over and over does tend to lead to insults rather than progressive debate, but even so, is anyone going to be impressed?

95. Jonathan Hoffman

@skidmarx

Accepted

(After all, being confused with Jacobson is not all bad….)

‘“As I show below, this ‘working definition’ is a bad one that has led to endless, unproductive argument.’

Unproductive for whom, Richard? Ben White and Sue Blackwell in their pro-Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian, but anti-Jewish/Zionist, nationalist crusade?

‘But CST, as I pointed out, is also able to answer the question ‘What is Antisemitism?’ without any reference to the ‘working definition’’

Of course that is possible, at least with regard to ‘old school’, pre-state of Israel antisemitism; at least with generalities if not specifics. It is all a question of detail. But antisemitism has evolved, even as the state and demography of the Jewish people has evolved. And Ben White is part of that, bless him, as he adduces every Israeli, Palestinian and Zionist Jewish sin he can, while doing pretty much the reverse with those of Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians.

Injustice and discrimination against Jews today (my minimal definition of antisemitism) is as much a matter of omission and ignorance, studies or otherwise. And that, like many things, can often only (as Sean Wallace says) be illustrated by reference to specific situations and contexts, such as those which the EUMC definition suggests, with a +could+.

And while the FRA may or may not have acquired problematizing feedback about the definition, it still retains it.

Surely such feedback might come from such as yourself, Ben, who have a fairly naked political agenda for so backfeeding.

”Actually Ben, assuming that Jews have a right to self-determination could be construed as antisemitic, asserting as it does that Jews from all around the world are a people apart.’

But it doesn’t ‘assert’ that.

Most Israeli Jews originate in parts of old world Christendom and Islam where very much more traditional definitions of Jews, as a people, historically exiled and dispossessed, held sway, a legacy of that view lasting into even the professedly secular Soviet period. Certainly into the Arab nationalist one.

Which fact the Evangelical Christian Ben White, who holds to some pretty ancient, pre-modern traditions himself, might at least have had the grace to acknowledge. As a matter of doing Justice to the Jews concerned.

‘Well I’ll leave you to your ad hominems.’

That’s rich, Ben, given your history of ad hominems about ‘Zionists’.

‘Not Palestinians though: they must either applaud their own dispossession, or be dismissed as antisemites (likewise anyone in solidarity with them).’

Ben. You equate Zionism with Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian dispossession. But the same thing might be said about Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian nationalism, which sought Palestinian or Israeli Jewish dispossession, of land or life. Palestinian Arab dispossession took place in the context of a war, in which the same was threatened against the Jews concerned, or worse.

It is precisely your omission of such facts that constitutes an injustice against the Jews concerned i.e. a blackening of the Jews concerned, and a whitewashing of the Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians.

And now you are suggesting a peaceful solution is possible whereby Israeli Jews are denied any justice to the process whereby they came to the land in the first place i.e. some kind of Jewish ROR; an ROR which you conspicuously accord Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, even qua Christian, even qua Evangelical Christian.

Which is another conspicuous injustice. I would say denying Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians the fundamental right to national self-determination to be unjust towards them, so long as it is in the context of two states for two peoples etc.

In any case, the EUMC definition does not say that such denial is categorically antisemitic, merely that it +could+ be so.

Richard Kuper complains this entails too much discussion. But some would say discussion and negotiation is what academe, as well as politics, is all about.

Negotiating two justices, ameliorating two absolute claims to justice, Jewish ROR with Palestinian Arab Muslim and Christian ROR, so that both find fulfillment, for instance, in two states.

But you don’t like negotiating, Ben, at least not with those sympathetic with Zionism, do you? Evangelicals don’t negotiate their beliefs, do they, as a rule? Their claims are, fundamentally, absolute and totalizing. And brook no compromise. Black and white (crucified and crucifier)?

Hence some would say the pattern of war, war more than jaw, jaw.

‘well that didn’t take long to reach the bottom’

But, hold on a second, Ben.

Asides your history of seriously misreading Iranian antisemitism, and your ability to understand some antisemites (something you didn’t allow the BoD with regard to, say, Israeli racists), you have, and do, consistently, adduce Israeli, Palestinian and Zionist Jewish sins, while conspicuously ignoring or omitting those of Palestinian (and arguably other) Arab Muslims and Christians.

E.g. you would dissolve the Jewish state of Israel for its alleged apartheid qualities despite pretty much every Arab, Islamic state or society in existence, including the Palestinian, falling foul of those criteria, with regard to Jews, at least, based on past form and history.

It is not hard, it seems to me, to make out a case there, at least prima facie, of injustice toward the Jews concerned thereby. Especially in someone who professes to use specifically Christian criteria, which problematizes your position considerably.

You don’t have to agree with me. But you should allow me to make my case.

But, again, it seems to me, that the UCU NEC, yourself and others wish to rule out even the theoretical possibility that such denial/scrutiny towards Jews, but accord/forgiveness towards Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, constitutes injustice or discrimination against Jews, general or particular.

The EUMC definition makes things harder for your cause, Ben, doesn’t it? It means you have to get bogged down in messy things like discussion and negotiation.

That doesn’t suit your crusading, evangelical fervour at all, Ben, does it?

It really cramps your style.

Ben White is online 24/7, stalking and spinning. Always the Jewish state.

He’s a bored troll. Ignore.

Adam Levick

Surprisingly, given the standards of professionality and rigour for which your blog is famed, you seem to have missed my article on that very topic – on this same website. Two years ago.

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/07/17/smearing-opponents-as-anti-semitic/

Kennedy – um, you need to get out more.

Joy Wolfe – waiting…

I don’t think anyone needs to apologise to Skidmarx, after all, he pushes racist web sites:

http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/anti-zionists-and-the-whiff-of-racism/

100. Kennedy

‘‘Not Palestinians though: they must either applaud their own dispossession, or be dismissed as antisemites (likewise anyone in solidarity with them).’’

Does the EUMC definition really insist ‘Palestinians..must either applaud their own dispossession, or be dismissed as antisemites’?

Especially given its +could+ etc.

But, as I say above, this precisely, Ben, where your consistent omission of inconvenient facts comes to work injustice against the Jews concerned.

Zionist Jews committed acts of ethnic cleansing. But that, or worse, had been threatened against Palestinian Jews.

Had Palestinian and other Arab Muslims and Christians NOT denied Jews a right to national self-determination, and gone to war to thwart it, the war in which these dispossessions occurred would, obviously, not have occurred.

This is precisely what I mean, when I say, Ben White consistently blackens the Jews concerned, but whitewashes the Arab Christians and Muslims.

By all means adduce Israeli, Palestinian and Zionist Jewish sins in discussion. But the permitting of discussion (of which Kuper thinks the EUMC entails too much) allows the converse to be adduced.

That, I think, is doing justice to all parties concerned. It is the discussion which the EUMC’s +could+ allows.

I much prefer these pointlessly back-biting Israel V Palestine discussions on gay blogs, where the pro-Israeli side cam always fall back on raising the spectre of Islamic persecution of gays as a ‘trump card’, usually in a crude fashion. (ie it’s okay for Palestinians to be slaughtered if need be because, since they’re Muslim, they want all gay men dead anyway)

Only tenuously related I know, but I thought I’d break up the slanging match a bit.

102. Kennedy

‘Kennedy – um, you need to get out more’

Finally, Ben. A response. Thank you. And such a devastating one. You really get to grips with some of my points.

I need to get out?

Am I really more online than you? Mr Blog? Mr Twitter?

103. skidmarx

100.Had Palestinian and other Arab Muslims and Christians NOT denied Jews a right to national self-determination, and gone to war to thwart it, the war in which these dispossessions occurred would, obviously, not have occurred.
Had they not objected to being denied national rights in their homeland, the Palestinians wouldn’t have forced the Zionists to expel them.

104. Kennedy

‘Had they not objected to being denied national rights in their homeland,’

But they were accorded, for the first time in their history, a right to national self-determination in their land, to an independent Palestinian state.

But they thought it more important to deny the same to Jews.

‘the Palestinians wouldn’t have forced the Zionists to expel them.’

Hmm.

By ‘objected to being denied national rights’ I assume you mean Resisted Jews living in the land in above the tiny numbers to which imperial Christianity and Islam had accustomed them; then seeking to expel or eliminate Palestinian (and arguably other) Jews, even when fleeing genocide in the lands of exile.

105. Kennedy

‘I’ll tell you what – a contribution from the Jewish Division of the EDL could be good here – can you ask them Jonathan, next time you see them?’

Why is that, Ben?

Are you associating/smearing JH with the EDL even as you complain others do you, with whom you share platforms, literally, such as Azzam Tamimi, pretty much without criticism, it seems to me (though I could be wrong).

You’re pretty adept at smearing yourself, Ben.

106. Watchman

Is it just me, or is much of this thread obscure references to people I have never heard about and debates about what happened in the first half of the twentieth century?

Neither side of the argument is likely to win much popular support with this approach. In fact, I am now inclined to disagree with both sides…

107. Chaise Guevara

@ 106 Watchman

“Is it just me, or is much of this thread obscure references to people I have never heard about and debates about what happened in the first half of the twentieth century?”

One of the reasons I rarely get too involved in these conversations is that they tend to dissolve into a kind of “who can name the most atrocities” game.

108. Kennedy

‘Neither side of the argument is likely to win much popular support with this approach. In fact, I am now inclined to disagree with both sides…’

Perhaps would both sides need to do is less to grandstand to outsiders, and more to negotiate and discuss with each other, in any case.

109. Kennedy

‘One of the reasons I rarely get too involved in these conversations is that they tend to dissolve into a kind of “who can name the most atrocities” game.’

I’m not. I’m just telling Ben White that Justice does not consist in merely adducing the sins of one side while ignoring, excising or omitting the sins of the other.

The EUMC definition of antisemitism does not say that e.g. denying Jews the right to self-determination is categorically wrong in every instance. Merely that it +could+ be so in some.

But requires discussion, negotiation, listening to as well as speaking to (or against) the other.

It’s messy. Truths considered absolute and non-negotiable hitherto become blunted, and ameliorated or mitigated, by Truths so held by the other party.

White has a rather narrow historical focus. In fact, Arab-Muslim society has oppressed, exploited financially, humiliated and degraded Jews for 1400 years since the time of Muhammad, according to Muslim Arab sources. For instance, the medieval Hadith literature contains a fable –found in several versions– saying that when Judgment Day comes the Muslims will fight the Jews until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees. The rocks and trees will cry out: O Muslim, O Slave of Allah, a Jew is hiding behind me. Come kill him. This picturesque fable, expressing the profound tolerance of Islam for Jews, is found in a contemporary writing, the Hamas Charter, where it is at the end of Article 7. The charter also blames the Jews for causing world wars, which it grounds on the forged and plagiarized Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Arab-Muslim Judeophobia was also expressed in the Farhud massacre of Jews in Baghdad in Iraq exactly 70 years ago. That was seven years BEFORE there was a state of Israel. Since the Land of Israel was Jewish long before the Arab conquest in the 7th century, before the Arab usurpation, and since most of the Jewish population in the country was wiped out by European Crusaders from 1099 to about 1112, it seems to me that neither Muslims nor Western Christians are in a position to morally preach to Jews and Israel.

And before I forget, the British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, collaborated with the German Nazis in the Holocaust. Yet the Big 4 Allied Powers that won the war against Germany did not want to prosecute Husseini at Nuremberg, although Yugoslavia had put him on a list of war criminals who should be tried. So Ben White needs to consider that neither the Arabs in general nor the Palestinian Arabs in particular are innocent of crimes against Jews throughout history.

To be comprehensive, all non-Muslims in the Muslim state were in an inferior, subjugated position. That includes Jews, Hindus, Christians, Jains, Yazidis, etc.

112. Kennedy

‘White has a rather narrow historical focus. ‘

You don’t need to go back 1400 years. Though Ben White’s focus on Christianity, and especially evangelical Christianity, might well entitle one to go back 2000 years, to the birth of Christianity, and (Palestinian) Christian views and definitions of Jews e.g. as a people exiled and dispossessed for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets.

He scarcely has anyone to blame but himself for that. He can’t say ancient Jewish (or more recent Christian) tradition is irrelevant when he adduces ancient Christian tradition.

All one needs do is go back to the late 19th century, and the birth of Palestinian Arab nationalism. His focus is narrow as to time and space.

‘So Ben White needs to consider that neither the Arabs in general nor the Palestinian Arabs in particular are innocent of crimes against Jews throughout history.’

I think that is the opposite of what you intend.

Sunny,

How often does Liberal Conspiracy covers instances of antisemitism in the UK? By that I mean the physical attacks on Jews?

Does LC ever publish the CST reports, which go back years?

114. Jonathan Hoffman

http://tinyurl.com/6axo2aq

White associated me with the EDL. He knows very well that I have refuted this tired smear, see above link.

Now let’s see him defend his flirtation with Holocaust Revisionism …

115. mark gardner

@ richard kuper

i appreciate the sincerity of your request

if the opponents of eumc definition appeared to give a damn about antisemitism; if they appeared to give a damn about mainstream jewish feelings on the matter; and if they treated jews with even a fraction of the same respect they afford to other groups then I would neither feel nor say that they have reached an antisemitic place – but they do not.

instead, they laugh and sneer at our concerns, literally – and that puts them in an antisemitic place.

116. Kennedy

‘if the opponents of eumc definition appeared to give a damn about antisemitism; if they appeared to give a damn about mainstream jewish feelings on the matter’

Mainstream academic Jewish views on the matter, more to the point of the UCU NEC, including academic specialists in antisemitism.

As it is, it is a minority of both that is steering the matter.

117. Kennedy

What neither White nor Kuper care to appreciate is that antisemitism is not an immutable thing, it changes even as the Jewish people change.

A few hundred, never mind 2000, years ago a Christian like Ben White would likely have happily espoused views of Jews and Judaism deemed unacceptable today.

But even as such views, or their successors, drove Jews out, from old world Christendom and Islam, even from the lands of exile and dispossession, or from this world entirely, so now they evolve again, this time to address the state of Jews in which they are in large part constituted today.

It is no good treating antisemitism that is over 60 years old, largely out of date or irrelevant (except in the Arab, Islamic world -but Ben White et al. largely ignore it there too!), in solidarity with millions of the dead Jews it killed. That is a pretty empty kind of anti-racism. The mere form of it. An act. An hypocrisy.

It is the millions of the living that count.

I wholeheartedly agree with Ben. I have never been involved in Palestine solidarity campus activism, however, while a student at the University of Leeds, I saw the degree with which fellow students were targeted with the ridiculous claim of “antisemitism” simply for advocating for human rights and justice.

Thank you Ben for this important article.

119. Kennedy

‘at the University of Leeds, I saw the degree with which fellow students were targeted with the ridiculous claim of “antisemitism” simply for advocating for human rights and justice.’

Did that consist in saying Jews have no right to national self-determination in the land of Israel?

120. Richard Kuper

Tony Lerman has just posted an article on his blog which is an essential complement to what I wrote in my piece on OpenDemocracy (at http://www.opendemocracy.net/richard-kuper/hue-and-cry-over-ucu). See “The Farcical Attack on the UCU For Voting Against Use of the EUMC ‘Working Definition’ of Antisemitism” at http://wp.me/p1kmxM-6M

His judgement on the negative effect of the “working definition” is similar to mine, viz:
“Rather than make it easier to identify antisemitism, the promotion of the ‘working definition’ and the entrenchment of the concept of the ‘new antisemitism’ have so extended the range of expressions of what can be regarded as antisemitic that the word antisemitism has come close to losing all meaning. And it therefore makes agreement on what is and what is not antisemitic more fraught and more contentious.”

But, in addition, he provides valuable information about the history of the definition which I was not aware of when I wrote my piece.

‘“Rather than make it easier to identify antisemitism, the promotion of the ‘working definition’ and the entrenchment of the concept of the ‘new antisemitism’ have so extended the range of expressions of what can be regarded as antisemitic that the word antisemitism has come close to losing all meaning. And it therefore makes agreement on what is and what is not antisemitic more fraught and more contentious.”

The trouble with that, Richard, is that you do not seem to allow the possibility that antisemitism might evolve at all. Despite the fact that the objects of its hostility, the Jews concerned, have changed in all sorts of ways.

Which is odd, given the fact that anti-Jewish prejudiced and discrimination has ‘evolved’ before e.g. from Christian and Islamic anti-Judaism into Christian and Islamic antisemitism into post-Christian and Islamic antisemitism. And that is but one example.

In any case, the matter is a complex, living one. It would be surprising if anti-Jewish prejudice or discrimination remained constant and immutable, since it scarcely does so for other forms.

That is why, Richard, I question whether even a distinguished academic non-specialist in the subject such as yourself is entitled to exclude the views of other academic specialists, Jewish and non-Jewish, let alone the majority or consensus of them.

But, it seems to me, that that is precisely what has happened in this case.

It’s ironic that UCU’s offices are one stop from one of the largest Jewish Studies departments in the UK, that of UCL. Did Sue Blackwell, MPhil in…what? English Language? consult anyone there? Or Sean Wallis, specialist in English and computing?

I think this brings the union into disrepute, because it seems to me a clear breach of academic standards.

‘“Rather than make it easier to identify antisemitism’

Well, that’s a matter of opinion, Richard. Evangelical Anglican Christian Ben White (a rather odd character for JFJP to be in bed with) doesn’t have a great track record in identifying antisemitism. He totally missed it in Ahmadinejad of Iran, though some might have said it was staring him the face. I haven’t seen him comment on Stephen Sizer’s attributing Obama’s original reluctance to set a No Fly Zone to concern lest he spill Saif Gaddafi’s Jewish blood, which occurred just a few months ago.

But there are other sorts of antisemitism, Richard, too. One can commit injustice, or discriminate, against Jews by omission as well as commission. You don’t seem to allow for that possibility either. Isn’t a commission pro-Palestinian gripe that the Palestinian story is insufficiently heard?

Well, Richard, that is a Sin of Omission.

correction

Isn’t a COMMON pro-Palestinian gripe that the Palestinian story is insufficiently heard?

Well, Richard, that is a Sin of Omission.

“So in effect, once again what you’re simply trying to do is smear people and scream RACIST without actually answering the questions I posed. “

NO, Sunny, that was NOT the point.

I was talking about the Extreme Right, Toben.

NOT you, or anyone else HERE..

I don’t do subtle, I’m rather direct, if you want to know my opinion about you just ask.

But you seem intent on misreading whatever one of your perceived opponents writes, why I can’t say, I would have supposed as a journalist you would have the gift of understanding language and meaning, but seemingly not.

Again, my point in the post is twofold 1) I am surprised that you give Ben White a platform, given the nature of his views over time 2) how the Extreme Right and semiprofessional antisemites like Toben use these topics, that’s why the EUMC is handy.

I would say this once more, if you’re going to venture into this field, you might at least do some reading, and understanding the Extreme Right’s motivations and actions is part of that.

I hope that’s clear, I would confess I’m not a writer which must be obvious, but I can normally get my point over, if you’re willing to exercise your comprehension skills 🙂

So, Sunny, have you ever read any CST discourse reports? Or their reports on violent attacks on Jews?

I dont really see a) why ‘anti-semitism’ (stupid phrase) should be given special treatment above and beyond any other kind of racism and b) why comparing actions of isral to nazi germany can IN ANY WAY be called anti-semitism? Crassly exagerrating perhaps, but anti-semitic? Surely when a country containing many descendants of victims of appalling human rights violations go on to commit egregious human rights violations of their own (even if much lesser in scale and scope) then it is very much a natural comaprison to make?

Try this sobering assessment in Friday’s FT of peace prospects in Palestine:

When Tahrir Square comes to Israel
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0bcb3dc4-8d49-11e0-bf23-00144feab49a.html#axzz1ODJMfUIL

127. Kennedy

‘why comparing actions of isral to nazi germany can IN ANY WAY be called anti-semitism? ‘

The short answer is that it isn’t necessarily. But it could be.

For instance, if one castigated the severity of Israel’s war against Hamas and its de facto state in Gaza, alleging excesses etc, without at least mentioning the fact that Hamas professes eternal jihad until the extinction of any kind of Israel, one would, in my view, be committing an injustice.

German Jews didn’t say Germany was really Judea, nor swore eternal war until the expulsion or elimination of German non-Jews, among other things.

The sin of omission of probably Ben White’s forte. He does again, in his latest piece. Saying Palestinian refugees were not a consequence of invading Arab armies.

Except he omits to mention that the threat of invasion, and the threat of subjection at best, expulsion or elimination at worst, did precede that invasion, which necessitated Palestinian Jews thwarting it a priori. Nor does he mention the fact that Palestinian Arabs fired the first shots after the partition vote.

Ben White doesn’t actually suggest what measures Palestinian Jews needed or should have taken to preserve themselves. One is left with the implication that they should have done nothing.

Which, I think, is rather lazy thinking on Ben White’s part. Once again, the moral onus is entirely or primarily on the Jews concerned. Only they are moral adults, in Ben’s world.

128. Kennedy

Bob,

thanks for that link. I was pleased to see a basic iteration of the Geneva Accord:

‘The Palestinian Authority, the three declared, “has developed the capacity to run a democratic and peaceful state, founded on the rule of law and living in peace and security with Israel”. As for the parameters, they were what they had always been: borders based on 1967 with agreed land swaps, absolute security for Israel, a shared capital in Jerusalem, and a negotiated agreement on refugees.’

But, Bob, that is not what Ben White is about. Ben White has a ‘vision’ of millions of Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians storming the borders of Israel:

http://www.benwhite.org.uk/2011/05/31/turning-the-right-of-return-into-reality/

129. Kennedy

Also, Ben, the short answer to your Engage query:

‘David, in your own minutes, you had a delegate down as saying that “some West Bank settlers” are an “expansionist people”.

This, you concluded, was an “antisemitic claim”. How so? I suppose you must agree with the conclusion of TULIP, who tweeted that someone at the conference had said “Jews are ‘an expansionist people’”. And thus, in a disgusting bit of antisemitism, equated “some West Bank settlers” with all Jews.’

Ben, ‘some etc’ are only ‘an..people’ if you assign to them a discrete ethno-nationality. However, it is hard to see how this was done other than qua ‘Jew’.

Normally Jews are ‘a/the people’; Israeli Jews the territorial-state form; and ‘settlers’ a subset of those.

But by assigning the last a discrete ethno-nationality, qua and via ‘Jew’, the speaker muddled the two, or three.

It was he or she who ‘equated “some West Bank settlers” with all Jews’ thereby, and thus, by your criteria, indulged in ‘a disgusting bit of antisemitism’.

You’re really not very sensitive to this kind of thing, Ben. You have a very poor track record. You really should start listening, and thinking, before speaking, and pronouncing forth.

@128: “But, Bob, that is not what Ben White is about. Ben White has a ‘vision’ of millions of Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians storming the borders of Israel:”

I doubt Christians will be storming the current borders of Israel unless they are also Palestinians but Philip Stevens, in his piece in Friday’s FT, mentioned the possibility of a new intifada failing any progress in the Palestine peace process.

A team from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), based in America, visited Palestine during the last intifada when Ehud Barak was Israeli PM – he is now the Israeli defence minister. This is what PHR team reported in November 2000:

“PHR sent a medical team to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank from October 20-27, 2000 to investigate claims that Israel Defense Force (IDF) is using excessive force in the current conflict that has pitted Israeli troops and settlers against Palestinian demonstrators and combatants. (full report attached) . .

“Physicians for Human Rights USA (PHR) finds that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has used live ammunition and rubber bullets excessively and inappropriately to control demonstrators, and that based on the high number of documented injuries to the head and thighs, Israeli soldiers appear to be shooting to inflict harm, rather than solely in self-defense.

“The three person team was composed of forensic pathologists Robert Kirschner, M.D., University of Chicago Medical School, Nizam Peerwani, M.D., Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, and James C. Cobey, M.D., M.P.H., an orthopaedic surgeon based in Washington, D.C.”
http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/documents/reports/report-useofforce-israel.pdf

I suspect Palestinian supporters at British universities are well aware of this report by PHR – even if Ben White and Israeli cheerleaders aren’t.

131. Kennedy

‘I doubt Christians will be storming the current borders of Israel unless they are also Palestinians’

Wasn’t it clear, Bob, that it was to Palestinian Arab Christians, as well as Muslims, I referred? Usually it is for most people.

132. Kennedy

The other thing, Ben, is that the number, even of settlers, who have genuinely expansionist aims up to the Nile and Euphrates are very small. That trope appears in early (and subsequent) Palestinian Arab Christian and Muslim nationalist discourse, probably in an attempt to exaggerate the claims of Zionism and Zionists to garner pan-Arab and pan-Islamic support.

It is a little surprising to see it crop up in more sophisticated western discourse and, again, the speaker muddles this very small group with Jews in general, qua and via ‘a people’ i.e. does exactly what you impute to David Hirsh.

‘‘why comparing actions of isral to nazi germany can IN ANY WAY be called anti-semitism? ‘

The short answer is that it isn’t necessarily. But it could be.

For instance, if one castigated the severity of Israel’s war against Hamas and its de facto state in Gaza, alleging excesses etc, without at least mentioning the fact that Hamas professes eternal jihad until the extinction of any kind of Israel, one would, in my view, be committing an injustice.’

It might not be ‘fair’ or ‘balanced’ but it would not constitute anti-semitism under any but the most self-aggrandizing and disingenuous point of view.

Still noone has an explanation as to why racism against jews is so special as to deserve/require its own nomenclature/treatment above and beyond any other racism?

‘The other thing, Ben, is that the number, even of settlers, who have genuinely expansionist aims up to the Nile and Euphrates are very small.’

Can you give us a ballpark on the numbers who would like to take over all existing Palestinian land, say just up to the River Jordan?

135. Kennedy

‘It might not be ‘fair’ or ‘balanced’ but it would not constitute anti-semitism under any but the most self-aggrandizing and disingenuous point of view.’

I beg to differ. In some circumstances it would be a very serious injustice. ‘Self-aggrandizing’ or not, whatever that means.

‘Can you give us a ballpark on the numbers who would like to take over all existing Palestinian land, say just up to the River Jordan?’

No. But of Israeli Jews a decided minority, and a minority among those in the OT, even, albeit more than for the Nile or Euphrates, certainly.

136. Kennedy

BTW, Joe, may I ask if you are Joe 90 Kane? Please forgive my asking if you are not.

137. Kennedy

‘Still noone has an explanation as to why racism against jews is so special as to deserve/require its own nomenclature/treatment above and beyond any other racism?’

A loaded question, whose premises I do accept, hence I cannot answer.

138. Dave Rich

Sigh.

To answer Joe’s various questions and statements:

The word ‘Antisemitism’ was invented by an antisemite, Wilhelm Marr, in Vienna in 1879 or thereabouts. He meant it in a positive way, to attract voters to his new part, The Antisemitic League. That is the main reason why it has its own name. But yes, antisemitism does differ from other forms of racism in significant ways.

Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is antisemitic because it is just about the most hurtful thing you can say to any Jew who holds the remotest emotional bond to Israel and to the Jewish people. It is basically a contemporary form of Jew-baiting. Think about it: why is it that the only political demonstrations you see people carrying swastika placards on just happen to be demonstrations against something that is Jewish (I.e. Israel)? Where else do self-defined leftists and anti-racists get the thrill of busting the ultimate political taboo? It has no basis in fact, it is just done to get a rise out of Jews.

As for the Nile to Euphrates nonsense: it is a conspiracy theory that you only hear in wilder Arab propaganda (and in Cairo Conference declarations that the Stop the War Coaliton signed up to). It is not part of any serious Jewish or Zionist thinking.

139. Mr S. Pill

Can we not all just agree that if you hate someone because of their religion or ethnicity then you’re a dick? Is that too troubling a concept nowadays?

If I was a Palestinian or an Israeli I’d be mightily pissed off to be “represented” by the Sophist reasoning going on in this thread.

140. Jonathan Hoffman

Let’s remember what Martin Luther King said:

“When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking antisemitism.”

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=8&x_article=369

If the EUMC changed the definition of antisemitism because of what they perceived as a new context, then it is no longer possible to say whether the level of antisemitism is increasing or decreasing.

142. Kennedy

Correction

‘A loaded question, whose premises I do NOT accept, hence I cannot answer.’

Has Gerald Kaufman been excommunicated by the Board of Deputies for making this speech in Parliament?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGuYjt6CP8

145. modernity

Are you antisemitic ?

Try this test:

http://www.talkingsquid.net/archives/1702

“Are you antisemitic ? Try this test”

As a regular critic of Israel for years, I was dubbed “an antisemite” and a “friend of David Irving” many years ago, all of which IMO are just ridiculous.

It was then I came to realise that rational, informed debate on this was near impossible and any critic of Israel is automatically pronounced to be an “antisemite”.

In fact, my position is similar to that of the British government, which abstained in the UN debate on the partition of Palestine in November 1947, saying that partition would lead to continuing conflict – which it has.

I can easily post again the long list of atrocities and massacres perpetrated by Israelis – which can be readily documented, not least from speeches by Gerald Kaufman or from Avi Shlaim’s book: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books, 2001) on the history of the Palestine conflict.

I’d be interested to know what modernity thinks of this link.

‘The word ‘Antisemitism’ was invented by an antisemite, Wilhelm Marr, in Vienna in 1879 or thereabouts. He meant it in a positive way, to attract voters to his new part, The Antisemitic League. That is the main reason why it has its own name. But yes, antisemitism does differ from other forms of racism in significant ways.’

Right – so a lunatic used a meaningless term once in another century, therefore we are stuck with it. Makes sense. And I notice you don’t detail those ‘significant ways’. Maybe because they don’t exist perhaps?

‘Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is antisemitic because it is just about the most hurtful thing you can say to any Jew who holds the remotest emotional bond to Israel and to the Jewish people. It is basically a contemporary form of Jew-baiting. Think about it: why is it that the only political demonstrations you see people carrying swastika placards on just happen to be demonstrations against something that is Jewish (I.e. Israel)? Where else do self-defined leftists and anti-racists get the thrill of busting the ultimate political taboo? It has no basis in fact, it is just done to get a rise out of Jews.’

Just because it offends does NOT make it ‘anti-semitic’. There is absolutely nothing racist about it whatsoever. As I say, such comparisons clearly exaggerate, but they are used as a vehicle for the disgust many feel when horrendous atrocities are being committed in the name of people who were treated so appallingly not all that long ago.

‘A loaded question, whose premises I do NOT accept, hence I cannot answer.’

Riigggghhht… does seem a bit tricky for you extremists to answer, that one… I wonder why.

No I am not ‘Joe 90 Kane’, whiever he may be.

150. modernity

“Just because it offends does NOT make it ‘anti-semitic’.”

I would like to say I am surprised by this response, but it is a consequence of the low level of consciousness on the topic of racism.

Let’s pick it apart:

1. Its equivalent to saying ‘just because it offends doesn’t make it racist’.

2. If a situation occurred where certain people, constantly make a choice to use similar tactics towards any ethnic or social minority in society.

3. would you:
a) consider it incredibly stupid?
b) think that those doing it were insensitive?
c) assume that they know what they’re doing
d) or maker working assumption that they hold some form of bigotry or phobia, even if they can’t acknowledge it [I’m open to other suggestions.]

As a parallel, I think if someone consciously made a point of making comparisons with slavery towards Afro-Caribbean’s, dragged it up all of the time, without a moment’s thought, then you would reasonably conclude that they have a racist mentality or at the very least are incredibly, blindingly so, insensitive.

Anyone who is entered into the world of antiracism will have seen similar circumstances and that is not where people who consider themselves to be anti racists, should be.

Again, if someone deliberately, consciously and persistently makes an effort to be offensive towards *any* ethnic or social minority, then there is a problem

151. Dave Rich

“Right – so a lunatic used a meaningless term once in another century, therefore we are stuck with it.”

Well, it caught on for some reason. It was called Jew-hate before then, you can use that if you prefer.

The point about the Nazi analogy is that people use it precisely because it offends Jews – that is why it gets a reaction, which is what they are after. You yourself has tried to justify it on the basis that Israel is Jewish (however defined) – or in other words, Israel’s Jewishness is the line of attack whe the Nazi analogy is invoked.

@150: “Again, if someone deliberately, consciously and persistently makes an effort to be offensive towards *any* ethnic or social minority, then there is a problem”

Does that include Gerald Kaufman who has made a series of speeches in Parliament critical of Israeli governments and politicians such as Ariel Sharon?

“Israel has turned into a ‘pariah state’ under prime minister Ariel Sharon and his ways of dealing with terrorism are ‘unacceptable’, Jewish senior Labour MP Gerald Kaufman has claimed.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1874459.stm

And what of this passage about the Qibya massacre in 1953 in Avi Shlaim’s book?

“. . Unit 101 was commanded by an aggressive and ambitious young major named Ariel Sharon. Sharon’s order was to penetrate Qibya, blow up houses, and inflict heavy casualties on its inhabitants. His success in carrying out this order surpassed all expectations. The full and macabre story of what happened at Qibya was revealed only during the morning after the attack. The village had been reduced to a pile of rubble: forty-five houses had been blown up, and sixty-nine civiliains, two-thirds of them women and children, had been killed. Sharon and his men claimed that they had no idea that anyone was hiding in the houses. The UN observer who inspected the reached a different conclusion: ‘One story was repeated time after time: the bullet splintered door, the body sprawled across the threshold, indicating that the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside until their homes were blown up over them.’”
Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books, 2001), p.91.

153. Trampolene

Ben White’s argument has been comprehensively taken to pices by, amongst others, Mark Gardner, Jonathan Hoffman and Kennedy.

It’s telling that when faced with detailed rebuttal, he can’t manage anything more substantial than ‘you should get out more’ and ‘lol’. Sad, really.

154. modernity

Let me go through this again very slowly:

1. It is both offensive and racist to make comparisons between Jews and Nazis.

2. It is both offensive and racist to make comparisons between people of Afro- Caribbean extraction, slavery and a whole host of related imagery.

Try to stop for a moment, think about the parallels.

Try for a moment to understand the history at play here, if you genuinely are against racism.

If, however, you like winding up ethnic and social minorities or deliberately being offensive to them then you probably won’t get the examples, but that’s where we came in.

@154: “It is both offensive and racist to make comparisons between Jews and Nazis.”

As a young school boy I was taken on an exchange holiday to Amsterdam in Netherlands in 1948 – not that long after WW2 had ended. While there, I was taken to see street memorials with national flags flying and flowers in memory of ordinary Amsterdam citizens who had been rounded up at random on their way to work by squads of the occupying German troops and shot in reprisals for German soldiers who had been killed in raids by Dutch resistance fighters.

There is virtually no difference in kind between that and what the Israelis have regularly done even before the state of Israel was founded in 1948 – remember the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948?

As I’ve learned from years of online debates, to remark on this transparently obvious convergence is instantly dubbed “offensive”, “racist” , “antisemitic” or “extremist”.

In many cultures, the likes of Sharon and Menachem Begin – who organised the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing more than 90 people – would likely have been diagnosed as psychopaths. In Israel, they were made heroes and Prime Ministers in due course. And then Israelis complain about Palestinian terrorism.

C’mon. “Antisemitism” is flung around as a PR device to put down any who criticise Israel and Israelis for the massacres and atrocities inflicted on Palestinians

Now answer for the Qibya massacre in 1953, as documented in Avi Shlaim’s book, – or the sinking of SS Patria in Haifa Harbour in 1940:
http://ww2today.com/25th-november-1940-ss-patria-sunk-in-haifa-harbour

156. skidmarx

Let me go through this at snail’s pace:

It is perfectly OK to compare anti-Zionists to Nazis
It is perfectly OK to compare the experience of Jews and black people.

Any comparison that validates the arguments of pro-Israelis is a justifiable analogy that shows their truth so clearly that only those blind with anti-semitism could fail to see it.
Any comparison that invalidates the arguments of pro-Israelis is offensive and racist.

Now that we’ve got that clear, perhaps modernitybully could tell us if his threats have forced West Dunbartonshire to the negotiating table yet.

157. modernity

I think it’s perfectly possible for people to criticise the government of Israel without being racist.

However, what you see amongst a lot of Westerners, educated Westerners is them crossing a line, that line which leads to racism.

Skidmarx is one example, he has a habit of reading racist websites and posting links from them.

Sites which consider the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be legitimate & seemed to enjoy the pleasures of reading the neo-Nazi website, ‘Jew Watch’.

I think such activities give anti-Zionists a bad name, not that Skidmarx is too troubled by his own choice of reading material or where it leads.

I have detailed it here, http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/anti-zionists-and-the-whiff-of-racism/

158. Kennedy

‘Riigggghhht… does seem a bit tricky for you extremists to answer, that one… I wonder why.’

No. It’s a loaded question, whose premises I do not accept. Hence I cannot answer it.

I also do not accept your premise that I am an ‘extremist’.

159. Kennedy

‘It is perfectly OK to compare anti-Zionists to Nazis’

It depends on, inter alia, to what end. If it is to equate Israel with Nazis, and that is unjust, it is, to say the least, problematical.

If it is to shame Israeli Jews, that is not necessarily antisemitic, though it could be. If it is said while, as Ben White does, blackening Israeli Jews and their history as much as possible, while whitewashing that of Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, that may well be an injustice.

If it is said to hurt Jews, or the Jews concerned, then it is antisemitic

But I can think of few if any similar instances where the suffering of one people is cast back in their teeth.

In failing African states, for instance, their behaviour, or that of their rulers, is often +excused+ by reference to western colonialism. It is rarely, if ever, cast back in their teeth as an additional layer of +criticism+.

Other states and peoples have been treated better, or suffered less, yet behaved worse, sometimes far worse. E.g. Russia or Turkey. Or Sri Lanka. Yet none of them endure the kind of +scrutiny+ to which such as Ben White subjects Israel (even while he envisions the storming of its borders).

None.

‘It is perfectly OK to compare the experience of Jews and black people.’

Quite possibly. It depends. But ‘black people’ and ‘Nazi’ are obviously not in the same category.

160. Kennedy

‘In many cultures, the likes of Sharon and Menachem Begin – who organised the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946,’

Which contained a military target.

‘killing more than 90 people’

Most staff of the secretariat.

I don’t approve of the attack. But I understand (as Ben White would say) the rationale of making Palestine ungovernable, given that the British goverment was breaking its Promise (as Peter Komnisky omitted to mention) of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

‘ – would likely have been diagnosed as psychopaths. In Israel, they were made heroes and Prime Ministers in due course. And then Israelis complain about Palestinian terrorism.’

Freedom fighter-terrorists are lauded in not a few cultures. Including Northern Ireland and Palestine.

Your attributing this psychopathic uniqueness to Israeli Jewish society could be construed as an expression of antisemitism, Bob.

“Your attributing this psychopathic uniqueness to Israeli Jewish society could be construed as an expression of antisemitism, Bob.”

That’s mere name-calling. I’m more concerned about the Qibya atrocity in 1953 as documented in Avi Shlaim: The Iron Wall (Penguin Books, 2001) p.91P:

“. . Unit 101 was commanded by an aggressive and ambitious young major named Ariel Sharon. Sharon’s order was to penetrate Qibya, blow up houses, and inflict heavy casualties on its inhabitants. His success in carrying out this order surpassed all expectations. The full and macabre story of what happened at Qibya was revealed only during the morning after the attack. The village had been reduced to a pile of rubble: forty-five houses had been blown up, and sixty-nine civiliains, two-thirds of them women and children, had been killed. Sharon and his men claimed that they had no idea that anyone was hiding in the houses. The UN observer who inspected the reached a different conclusion: ‘One story was repeated time after time: the bullet splintered door, the body sprawled across the threshold, indicating that the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside until their homes were blown up over them.’”

That amounts to powerful evidence that Ariel Sharon was indeed a psychopath.

Doubtless the jihadists believe they are bombing or firing rockets at military targets in Israel. By your own reasoning that is as legitimate as when Menachem Begin organised the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing more than 90 people, some of whom were Arabs and Jews. I notice no one has responded on the sinking of SS Patria in Haifa Harbour in 1940.

“The son of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been jailed for nine months for illegal campaign fundraising.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4712698.stm

‘That amounts to powerful evidence that Ariel Sharon was indeed a psychopath.’

In which case, there is plenty of evidence that the leaders of Israel’s enemies have been or are psychopaths.

“Your attributing this psychopathic uniqueness to Israeli Jewish society could be construed as an expression of antisemitism, Bob.” That’s mere name-calling.’

Well, I stress ‘could be construed’. I meant more your singling out of the Jews concerned.

‘Doubtless the jihadists believe they are bombing or firing rockets at military targets in Israel.’

That’s hard to maintain of, say, Sderot. And many if not most of those jihadis have been seeking the expulsion or elimination of Palestinian, then Israeli Jews, for a long time.

‘By your own reasoning that is as legitimate as when Menachem Begin organised the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing more than 90 people, some of whom were Arabs and Jews.’

It depends to which nationalist movement they are allied to, and why. Despite Begin and the Irgun, Palestinian Jews accepted partition. Hamas does not. The P.L.O. only did in 1988, 40 years late.

I might add that Begin’s act was directed against the British and British intelligence, who had reneged on the Balfour Declaration, and the promise of a Jewish national home, and expressly intended to give the Palestinian Jewish minority over to the mercy of the Arab majority, whose nationalist and national militants had made clear what they intended to do the Jews, often.

But, again, many freedom-fighter terrorists become national leaders subsequently (the IRA springs to mind), so why single out the Jews? Which is what you did do.

‘ I notice no one has responded on the sinking of SS Patria in Haifa Harbour in 1940’

I do not defend it, but those were desperate times, and the British White Paper of 1939 had reneged on the promise of a Jewish national home, and would, as I said, throw the Palestinian Jewish minority, ultimately, on the mercy of the Arab majority.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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    RT @libcon: Support for Palestinian voices on campus are now called 'extremism' http://bit.ly/l8Eugu @Mondoweiss @JStreetUMich @BarackObama

  19. scnnr

    Support for #Palestinian voices on campus are called 'extremism' #LibCon @benabyad please read and join in on the… http://fb.me/zdX8G1AO

  20. kay

    Support for Palestinian voices on campus are now called 'extremism' http://t.co/NZUKHo6 #ben white #palestine #zionism

  21. Ben White

    Published: Richard Kuper on UCU & EUMC "working definition of antisemitism http://bit.ly/lqb6Xq My post on UJS & EUMC http://bit.ly/j3VvYq

  22. JNews

    Published: Richard Kuper on UCU & EUMC "working definition of antisemitism http://bit.ly/lqb6Xq My post on UJS & EUMC http://bit.ly/j3VvYq

  23. Liberal Conspiracy, Ben White And Racism. « ModernityBlog

    […] the discussions a member of the CST, Dave Rich, tries to correct White’s misrepresentations: “Ben White’s research is as poor as his reasoning. The Working Definition is linked to from […]

  24. Naadir Jeewa

    Disagree with this piece on the EUMC Working Definition on Antisemitism: http://bit.ly/moqTGo . But the comments section is poor too

  25. Daniel Pitt

    Support for Palestinian voices on campus now labelled 'extremist' http://t.co/TdZdQCr #ConDemNation #Palestine #solidarity

  26. John Edginton

    Support for Palestinian voices on campus now labelled 'extremist' http://t.co/TdZdQCr #ConDemNation #Palestine #solidarity

  27. Electronic Intifada: Don’t mention the ‘A’ word: attack on freedom of speech turns into another own goal | Seriously Free Speech Committee

    […] context is the adoption by the Birmingham student union in 2010 of the notoriously politicised and discredited ‘EUMC working definition of antisemitism’. This 2005 document, left to gather dust by the […]

  28. Don’t mention the ‘A’ word: attack on freedom of speech turns into another own goal | SHOAH

    […] context is the adoption by the Birmingham student union in 2010 of the notoriously politicised and discredited ‘EUMC working definition of antisemitism’. This 2005 document, left to gather dust by […]

  29. London Student » Blog Archive » BDS: Can three simple letters spell liberation for one of the world’s most polemical conflicts?

    […] is challenged, a tension will occur: between those who seek to remove it, and those wanting to defend the status […]

  30. Ben White » Blog Archive » BDS: Can three simple letters spell liberation for one of the world’s most polemical conflicts? -

    […] is challenged, a tension will occur: between those who seek to remove it, and those wanting to defend the status […]

  31. Ben White

    @Izaakson unfortunately, UJS have track record in conflating pro-Israel advocacy w/ fighting antisemitism http://t.co/PFPiHKTN (1/2)

  32. Ben White

    @Izaakson like joining working group to fight evil BDS at Israeli govt 2009 conference on "antisemitism" http://t.co/PFPiHKTN (2/2)

  33. Ben White

    My article in June 2011 about attacks on Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/PFPeaaKD

  34. David R. Evans

    My article in June 2011 about attacks on Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/PFPeaaKD

  35. Rebecca A-P

    My article in June 2011 about attacks on Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/PFPeaaKD

  36. Palestine Today

    My article in June 2011 about attacks on Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/PFPeaaKD

  37. Shellyfish

    My article in June 2011 about attacks on Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/PFPeaaKD

  38. Life 'n Poetry

    My article in June 2011 about attacks on Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/PFPeaaKD

  39. Aviva Stahl

    My article in June 2011 about attacks on Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/PFPeaaKD

  40. pigspotterPe

    Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/zSAPfhMM"#Palestine

  41. oukappie

    Palestine solidarity activism on UK campuses looks relevant to situation at UC http://t.co/zSAPfhMM"#Palestine





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