This is a guest post from Israelinurse
Seth Freedman has got something right. In his latest article on CiF he rightly says that all Jews remember exactly where we were on the evening of November 4th 1995.
I was at home in the Golan having coffee with a dear friend when her husband called to tell us the awful news. We never did finish that conversation.
But from here onwards, Freedman descends into the realms of fantasy, stating that “with three bullets, assassin Yigal Amir managed to irreversibly derail the peace process” and claims that the entire region’s political journey abruptly changed course as a result of that tragic event.
In actual fact, the Oslo Accords continued to be implemented. On January 20th 1996 agreements were made regarding the IDF redeployment from areas to be passed over to PA control, the election of the Palestinian Council and the head of the Palestinian Authority. The 23rd October 1998 saw the signing of the Wye River Memorandum and on September 4th 1999 the Sharm El Sheikh Memorandum was agreed.
Just as the peace treaty with Jordan, signed just over a year before Rabin’s murder, did not fall apart , so the agreements with the Palestinians went ahead. But on July 11th 2000, the Camp David negotiations fell through and just over two months later the second Intifada began, shaking Israel to its core.
Freedman chooses to ignore the fact that the extremist who derailed the Oslo Accords may have had the same initials as Rabin’s murderer, but his name was actually Yasser Arafat.
Even whilst Israel was still reeling from the effects of the second Intifada the Israeli government still accepted the Roadmap on May 25th 2003 and executed the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, continuing to try to secure peace for its people.
Freedman claims that Amir managed to “drive a wedge through the heart of the political system, splitting left from right and religious from secular in an unparalleled act of division”. My own experience of the aftermath of Rabin’s death was very different. There was a new-found sobriety and a sense of responsibility which led people from differing camps to consider what they had in common rather than focusing on the differences.
Freedman also asserts that in the last 14 years “the country has swung decisively to the right”. Those of us who remember the euphoria of Ehud Barak’s election in 1999 and the feeling that peace was now in our grasp may well dispute that claim. In fact, Israel has – like much of the democratic world – become more centrist. Just as it is difficult to identify any major differences between Labour and the Tories in Britain, so the divides between the Likud, Kadima and Labour in Israel have become increasingly blurred.
Unfortunately for Freedman, he fails to comprehend that opposition to the Oslo Accords was not an opposition to peace itself and that the vast majority of those who criticised Rabin at the time had nothing whatsoever to do with his death.
On September 9th 1993 Yasser Arafat declared on behalf of the PLO that, amongst other things, it recognised Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and renounced terrorism and other acts of violence. Given the hindsight we have all gained over the past 16 years, can we seriously declare that the people who were sceptical about this agreement at the time were way off the mark?
In the period after Rabin’s murder a new movement arose in Israel called ‘Dor Shalom’ – ‘generation of peace’. Many will remember their bumper sticker: ‘A whole generation demands peace’. These were people who like many of us had come of age listening to Abie Natan’s ‘Voice of Peace’ radio station and spent decades singing ‘Shir Lashalom’ and David Broza’s ‘Yihiyeh Tov’. For me at least, the second Intifada brought a new understanding that it is not enough to demand peace only from our own government; if we ignore the fact that there needs to be a desire to work towards peace on the other side too, we are no better than a toddler trying to impose his will upon an adult by throwing a tantrum.
“[T]hese remain dark days for anyone finding themselves on the receiving end of the far right’s wrath” declares Freedman, but I can assure him that being on the receiving end of the far left’s shrill denounciations and demonisations is no less intimidating. It was a concentrated campaign of demonisation on the part of a small number of extremists which gave birth to the atmosphere in which the assassination of a prime minister could take place. To my taste, there is little to choose between that demonisation by the far right 14 years ago and the demonisation of the right in which the far left is engaged today and which Seth Freedman so enthusiastically peddles in the foreign press. Will someone please pass him a mirror?
Striving for peace is a worthy goal, but if the price paid for that peace is the making of certain sections of our society into loathed enemies, then we will not benefit from it for long. I for one learned from Rabin’s death that such a price is not worth paying.
Yesterday we were treated to another Seth Freedman abomination entitled Israeli military gives settlers free rein that retraced familiar CiF territory: demonizing the settlers.
Perhaps the most fitting response to CiF and Freedman is a story reported in Ynetnews of how a religious settler came to the aid of a gay Palestinian man who was unable to return to Israel where he was living with his partner and who feared for his life from his fellow villagers who threatened to kill him for being gay. Chas Newkey-Burden over at Oy Va Goy has the full scoop.
Now thats a story you’ll never hear on CiF!
As an aside I just noticed that the Freedman thread has been kept open all night – is this an attempt to boost Seth’s numbers which have been on the wane of late or is this just another cock-up by the Guardian mods?
Oftentimes the title of a ‘Comment is Free’ article tells you everything you need to know about the kind of pond life that will be attracted to the comment thread. No more was this true when CiF ran a piece last week by Jonathan Freedland entitled “I knew the day the Holocaust ‘debate’ would come. Just not in my lifetime” that resulted in a comment thread rife with Holocaust denial.
In the same week, Michael Tomasky, the American editor-at-large of ‘Comment is Free’, ran a video blog entitled “New York senators turn down Jewish lobby’s invitation“, a piece which was used to promote the Guardian’s pet Jewish organization, J-Street, and bash AIPAC which Tomasky insidiously characterized over and over as a very “powerful” organization.
Predictably the Guardianista commentariat were out in force using the comment thread to propagate Jewish conspiracy theory. The most egregious yet undeleted examples of this can be found in the selection of comments below:
21 Oct 09, 2:59am
I will probably not see it in my lifetime because I am already an old geezer but I firmly believe that within the next 25 to 50 years the Oath of Office for the President of the US will be amended (through a constitutional amendment) to include allegiance to Israel. As God is my judge I just cannot understand how the American dog allows itself to be so humiliatingly wagged by the tail. Was Ariel Sharon right in his bragging perhaps?
20 Oct 09, 3:25pm
Unfortunately America’s economy has suffered grievously fighting AIPAC supported wars for Israel.
As long as AIPAC rules the US economy will continue to worsen with rising deficits, unemployment and homelessness.
When the pain becomes sufficient the US citizenry will demand a solution.
Not till then.
20 Oct 09, 9:09am
Interesting. I’m trying to think of another precedent in history for a small country managing so well to hijack a much larger and more powerful country to its own ends, you usually only get these things in biology (where they are called parasites). Future historians will have their work cut out trying to explain it. Its astonishing that loyalty to another country is seen as vital to ones political career.
But having had long experience of working within NGO’s, I’ve always found that when NGO’s start to compete with each other rather than cooperate, everyone loses. I would have thought the best strategy AIPAC would have towards J-Street would be a sort of condescending tolerance. But if they have decided to go for all out attack then it could backfire very badly on them.
20 Oct 09, 11:20am
Well if it is true that AIPAC have put pressure on these Senators then it’s definitley very sad, and indeed disturbing. As much as I support Israel’s right to exist, I’ve always found AIPAC’s influence to be insidious and an affront to democracy.
20 Oct 09, 1:49pm
If that is truth, then there is only one explanation, they are all sick of bumping into so many member of the Jewish lobby in the White House and Capital Hill [most of them are employed there by the Obama administration this days] that they find it boring and excessive to have to socialize with them as well.
20 Oct 09, 1:55pm
AIPACS paranoia reflect Israel’s concience. Most of congress belongs to AIPAC and will not say the meekest thing against Israel or the US policy towards them.
20 Oct 09, 3:34pm
There is not a single politician here in the US that needs reminding that even the slightest criticism of Israel is political suicide. AIPAC whistles and they come smartly to attention.
20 Oct 09, 7:32pm
Is that surprising? AIPAC has most of the US government and many state governments in their pockets. So the officials go to where the big bribes are not where the little bribes are!
Now compare the above comments with some of the comments that appear here and here which have been taken from cached copies of Stormfront threads [warning do not click on any links in the Stormfront cached pages as they contain neo-Nazi hate material]. For those not familiar with Stormfront, it is perhaps the most prominent of all neo-Nazi white supremacist hate sites. Here’s one example:
“Friend of Stormfront”
Sustaining MemberJoin Date: Dec 2004Location: Anchorage, Alaska.Posts: 1,397Re: Hillary Clinton Speaks at AIPAC Dinner Thursday Night
Hey, where else can you buy a 3 billion dollar foreign aid package and an entire goyim military to fight your wars for a few million dollars in political campaign contributions. Oy vey, Moishe, American politicians are such a bargain.
And what would a Jew-bashing thread be without Apartheid and Nazi analogies:
20 Oct 09, 3:49pm
TO Missmarmelstein etc and other so called Liberal supporters of Israel and Zionism. Dear folks let’s not mix up Jews with Zionists, although the cross section is huge throughout the Jewish Diaspora ( I speak in support of jewish anti-zionists ). It’s identity based so one can understand it from a migrant and historical perspective as other ethnics groups do have similar issues.
Now as far as influence goes America is a business, run by the very few at the top, who dominate all aspects of political life and the legislature. A significant number are Americans jews, who are also happen to be massive entrepreneurs, are fully aware of how influence is manifested in this system.
Yes America didn’t really support Israel on a huge scale until 1967 but WIlson etc decades before WW2 did, so there has always been US support of Israel unlike British anti-semite Balfour and his chums. It realised that Israel was the perfect strategic attack dog in the Middle East, helping to keep Arab nationalists in check, keep the cheap oil flowing the and puppet regimes in Saudi and Egypt under control.
But understand, supporters of Israel, PEOPLE CANNOT MONOPOLISE SUFFERING FOR PERSONAL GAIN, the current system for Palestinians is far for worse than Apartheid, ask Desmond Tutu. The blockade in Gaza, where even school books are not allowed, is shockingly disgusting.
AIPAC is a huge part of the hawkish American elite, Obama’s chief of Staff is a Rahm Emanuel !! This whole question of lobbying is like asking Hitler to take sides between Mussolini and Stalin !
How can you be a left winger and be a prominent member of AIPAC, left in America is very centrist/right wing in reality !!
20 Oct 09, 4:17pm
Dear Miss marmelstein
Jews and Israel are, and can be separate, not all Jews are israeli or Zionsit and indeed not all Israelis are jewish.
I have Israeli relatives who are older than the state of Israel and who are furious at the hijacking of their generous and open Zionist vision by an Arab-hating land-stealing olive-tree chopping (and sadly mostly American -educated) murderous bunch of thuggish settlers who are looking to get revenge for Schindlers List on mostly innocent Palestinians who have the illfortune to be the victims of their projected hatred
Then we have the Israelis are a bunch of racists, a CiF favorite.
20 Oct 09, 4:59pm
Well Pastrami sandwich eater you do not take issue with any the points raised because you simply cannot, you can divert the attention away to the language used but not the hellish truth of Israel and it’s unique American support !
Bigfacedog again as above you are delusional in your statement ” AIPAC have a bit more influence than others..” lol. Again you perpetuate the idea of victimhood instead of being brave and looking at the horror of what the US and Israel does to Palestinians. The rest of the world is fully aware of wwho the racists truly are !
And we have TheGreatGigInTheSky rejoicing in the Jew-hatred on the Tomasky thread.
20 Oct 09, 1:27pm
Very refreshing to see someone dare to mention “Israel” on CiF in anything but glowing adoration, and not be censored.
There doesn’t seem to be a way of being critical of Israel’s actions, BTL, and keeping the posting up.
Interestingly, TheGreatGigInTheSky’s picture on CiF is “CiF Junky”, reproduced below. Big surprise there.
Even more interestingly, the Tomasky video blog was preceded by an HSBC bank advertisement. Now I’m sure HSBC bank cares deeply about its reputation and would never advertise on a site like Stormfront so I wonder what management at HSBC would do if they were to see who their “target audience” really is.
If you thought that Brian Whitaker, the commissioning editor of “Comment is Free”, could not make more of a fool of himself than he has done so far, then think again.
Yesterday in the Michelle Goldberg thread on yet another article about J Street, we were graced with Brian’s presence no less than five times! It all started when blankedout complained that Israel was attacked with rockets yesterday and that there was no mention of it in the Guardian. It seems that Brian is a tad sensitive to the very serious and unanswered charges that CiF Watch and others have been levelling against ‘Comment is Free’ and the Guardian. So in jumps Brian with this:
BrianWhit 28 Oct 09, 2:07pm
Israel was attacked with rockets yesterday from Lebanon
why no mention in the Guardian
blankedout: Probably it wasn’t considered newsworthy because the rocket didn’t cause any damage or hurt anyone. As far as I can see from Google, no British newspaper reported the incident.
Well not exactly Brian. The BBC reported a follow up to the incident as pointed out on the thread by Sabraguy. And it was newsworthy enough for the New York Times and numerous other news outlets. Moreover, as acklothandsashes adds “no other British newspaper has this obsession with Israel and everything that happens there has it? So shelling of Israel is ignored because it shines a negative light on our neighbors. That rocket could have killed tens of Israelis Brian. Imagine if Israel had fired a similar rocket into Lebanon.”
To which Brian retorted with this:
BrianWhit 28 Oct 09, 3:16pm
Imagine if Israel had fired a similar rocket into Lebanon.
acklothandsashes: Exactly. Israel did fire back and that wasn’t reported either. As international news goes, it was a pretty minor story.
Totally disengenous response Brian. Though Israel shelled the Shaba Farms area from where the Kaytusha was launched, it was in response to an indiscriminate attack that barely missed Kiryat Shmona – not that you would care. Israel does not indiscriminately fire rockets directed at civilian targets as does Israel’s enemies. Acklothandashes point was simply that if Israel were to engage in such provocation you can be assured that ‘Comment is Free’ would be all over it. Not only that but since when has the extent of coverage of a news story been the measuring stick by which ‘Comment is Free’ determines whether or not to publish? Remember for example when you published a story by Seth Freedman about the “mentally disabled teenager” who was supposedly beaten up by border police. I don’t think any other news agency reported that one.
Anyway, MindTheCrap then joins in on the discussion ratcheting up the charges:
Please explain why during the week prior to the start of Cast Lead, when Hamas was firing 70+ rockets daily into Israel, the Guardian did not report these events, even though its full-time reporters in the area were obviously aware of the pending Israeli reaction?
“Probably it wasn’t considered newsworthy” ????
To which Brian responded as follows:
28 Oct 09, 4:14pm
the Guardian did not report these events,
MindTheCrap: You’re just making this rubbish up and it doesn’t fool anyone.Here’s one of the Guardian’s reports:
and here’s another
Now go and compare that with the coverage in other newspapers.
Rubbish. Oh really. The sheer arrogance. Well this is what MindTheCrap had to say in response:
MindTheCrap 28 Oct 09, 4:37pm
MindTheCrap: You’re just making this rubbish up and it doesn’t fool anyone.
Now go and compare that with the coverage in other newspapers.
The problem is that the articles that you cite are from Dec 19 & 20; Cast Lead started on Dec 27. During that week there were 70+ rockets fired daily on Sderot and environs from Gaza. A quick check of the Guardian archives shows that there were no reports on these attacks between Dec 21 and 26.
I check the facts before I make any claims.
Now go and compare that with the coverage in other newspapers.
MindTheCrap is spot on here. You see between December 21 and December 27, there were over 120 rockets and mortars fired into Israel and during the preceding week almost 100 rockets and mortars attacks. The impact upon daily life in Israel was devastating and diplomatic activity in the Middle East during this period was frenetic in an attempt to avert an Israeli defensive operation. Even the BBC were reporting what was going on. Here’s an example news report from them on December 25.
And a review of the archives section of ‘Comment is Free’ Middle East is even more damning. It shows that in the two weeks prior to the outbreak of Operation Cast Lead there was not one article discussing the rocket attacks and every single one was anti-Israel in its bias. Here’s the list: an article on December 15 by Tony Klug calling for an Israeli peace initiative; an article on December 15 by Seth Freedman discussing life behind the green line; an article on December 16 by Ben White on the Shministim; an article on December 16 by Simon Tisdall discussing the failure of Middle East peace efforts; an article on December 17 by Jonathan Freedland discussing a four-state solution; an article on December 17 by Seth Freedman discussing his personal mission against Israel; an article on December 19 by Seth Freedman discussing gyms in Ramallah (another highly newsworthy piece); another article on December 19 by Richard Falk complaining about being denied entry into Israel. And wait it gets even better. The last article before Operation Cast Lead was on December 22 from none other than Brian Whitaker who was taking a gratuitous swipe at Bibi Netanyahu.
Meanwhile over at Ha’aretz in their Read & React section, on December 26, they were reporting that “a “limited operation” will begin within days that will combine an air attack with some ground operations against Hamas and other Gaza terror groups”.
Was this perhaps not newsworthy because the lead in to the article was that “Palestinian militants fired 22 mortar shells from the Gaza strip overnight”?
Or how about The Huffington Post which on December 25 had a comment thread entitled “Israel Moving Closer To Invading Gaza“. According to the article “Israel moved closer to invading Gaza, saying Thursday it had wrapped up preparations for a broad offensive after Palestinian militants fired about 100 rockets and mortar shells across the border in two days”.
Talk about dereliction of duty. So caught up in its visceral hatred of the Jewish state “Comment is Free’ completely ignored the biggest news coming out of Israel in years!!
Of course Brian Whitaker never responded to MindTheCrap’s comment. Maybe Bella M, the staff Mod, had a quiet word with Brian to tell him to shut up because he was making an utter fool of himself plus he was derailing the thread undermining poor Bella’s protestations to stay on topic (thanks Bella by the way for the plug (didn’t Brian tell you not to mention us)).
Now Brian if you really want to defend the charge that the Guardian promotes antisemitic discourse both above the line and below the line you are more than welcome to defend the indefensible.
Here’s an offer. Why don’t you write an article for us explaining why you think this is not case? I’ll publish whatever you write. In particular, our readers would be intrigued to know the following: Why do you feature a disproportionate number of writers deeply hostile to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state many of whom are self-hating Jews and have a track record of antisemitism? Why do you tolerate antisemitism in the comment threads? Why for example have the numerous antisemitic commenters that populate CiF not been permanently banned – its not as if you are oblivious to this? Why do you delete comments putting forward a pro-Israel position? Why did you ban AKUS, Cityca and others? And why do you insinuate that pro-Israel posters are paid agents of the Israeli government?
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your submission. I’m standing by.
This is a guest post by AKUS
The J Street conference took place in Washington, DC, this week, and has had the effect, for better or worse, of bringing J Street out into the open and exposing the factionalism that characterizes so many marginal groups. We have seen attempts to present an acceptable, “friendly face” rather reminiscent of the US Republican Party’s “Big Tent” – there is room for everyone, no matter how much you all differ on the message or platform, as long as you vote with us against the other side.
And it is the message targeting “the other side”, the ideology of many of those supporting it, and the misleading polls it has presented with which I take issue.
First, the message.
J Street has tried, with some success unfortunately, to hijack the terms “pro-peace”, liberal”, “progressive”, “left wing” and all similar descriptions for itself. The “other side”, especially the great Satan, AIPAC, is therefore, by contrast, “anti-peace”, “reactionary”, “right-wing”, and so on.
I object strenuously to this hijacking. Like most Jews I know, I have consistently supported “pro-peace”, liberal”, “progressive”, “left wing” causes. I have done that in the many countries in which I have lived, including Israel, and I have lived a varied life in many parts of the world. Now living in America, like most Jews in here I vote Democrat, and while I would have preferred Hilary Clinton to Obama, I swallowed the necessary pill and voted for the Democrats in the last election.
But – I also support Israel whole heartedly and come from three generations of fervent Zionist families on both sides. I naively assumed after 1967 that the Arabs would agree to make peace in exchange for the return of most of the West Bank, Sinai and Gaza (I have never believed Israel should return the Golan Heights). For years I voted Meretz or its equivalents in the various permutations, following Yossi Sarid’s and Shulamit Aloni’s paths into the political abyss with my vote, and gradually realizing that until the Arabs accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, there is no political solution. That being said, I do not accept this attempt to paint my support for Israel and its fight against Arab terror, as reactionary or right wing, or worse. I will not accept that terrorists firing rockets at civilians, or sending suicide bombers to blow up people in pizza parlors, night clubs, buses, hotels, and the streets of Israel can be dressed up as Palestinian “resistance”. And I will not accept that those who risk their lives to defeat this evil are in any way equivalent to the perpetrators of these horrors.
If there had to be a J Street, there should first have been an A Street – a powerful, devoted Arab lobby dedicated to breaking down Arab hatred of Israel and working towards a peaceful end to the conflict. There is no such organization, and I doubt that there ever will be.
For the record, I am not a member of AIPAC, though J Street and the Guardian are pushing me closer and closer to joining.
Second, the ideology.
On ideology, the J Street big tent includes a swathe of anti-Israel warhorses, inveterate Israel-haters and “one-staters” (a position opposed to J Street’s two-state” platform and greatly supported by the Guardian). The latter include Richard Silverstein, frequent CiF contributor, who blocks comments on his blog that dispute his bizarre and generally ignorant commentary about Israel. He was apparently a moving spirit behind a “progressive bloggers” panel that J Street had a hard time either accepting or disavowing. This panel, which was apparently held in a room rented by J Street, with J Street advertising material (banners, posters and such) included such fine examples of Arab liberalism as “Gaza Mom” (Laila el Hadad), who invited all to come to Washington on her blog with a promise that among topics to be discussed would be some not exactly supportive of J Street’s avowed “pro-Israel” stance such as “[the] Goldstone Report, human rights & BDS”.
Let me just say that I am in the camp of those who believe that those calling for a “one state”, majority Moslem Palestine, are doing nothing other than calling for the destruction of the State of Israel, with the attendant massacre and expulsion of the Jews now living in Israel.
J Street’s platform makes it clear that its leading members wish to advance US interests, and not, or only peripherally, Israel’s interests, and clearly does not see them aligned except by chance (unlike AIPAC):
J Street advocates for American policies that, in our view, advance the national interests of the United States, as well as the long-term interests and security of the state of Israel.
Now, there is nothing wrong at all with an American group, Jewish or otherwise, advocating for American interests. On the contrary, I find it hard to believe that one could argue otherwise other than a few ultra-left-wing, Soviet era-throwback American Jews who.
But J Street hides its concerns about American interests behind a smokescreen. It tries to show that by advancing American interests it supports Israel, even though it seems primarily to favor the fallacious proposition that support for Israel damages America’s interests and America’s opposition to Israeli policy would improve its standing in the Middle East:
J Street believes the policies it endorses improve the chances that America can promote a more stable and secure Middle East, an outcome that would serve the U.S. national interest, as well as Israel’s.
Again, I have nothing against that statement if taken at face value – however, what J Street repeatedly tries to do is show that Israeli government policies, and AIPAC’s lobbying efforts that have the sole purpose of supporting Israel, damage American interests. That is a claim I dispute for many reasons, not least that American intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas had nothing to do with Israeli interests at all, even if, in fact, by chance they happened to serve those interests.
The following comment made by J Street’s university representative to support dropping the “pro-Israel” tag from J Street’s banner that was reported in the Jerusalem Post in its column J Street’s campus branch drops pro-Israel slogan showed the reality behind the mask. One should not be too harsh on a young college student who seems to have a short circuit between her brain and her mouth, but this showed the way some – and I believe many – J Street supporters and members think:
We don’t want to isolate people because they don’t feel quite so comfortable with ‘pro-Israel,’ so we say ‘pro-peace,’” said American University junior Lauren Barr of the “J Street U” slogan, “but behind that is ‘pro-Israel.’”
Barr, secretary of the J Street U student board that decided the slogan’s terminology, explained that on campus, “people feel alienated when the conversation revolves around a connection to Israel only, because people feel connected to Palestine, people feel connected to social justice, people feel connected to the Middle East.
“Pro-Israel”, to AU Junior Lauren Barr, secretary of the J Street U student board, means to be against peace, and “alienates people” – the people who feel “connected to Palestine” – the ones who feel more connected to Palestine, representing “social justice” apparently, than Israel, representing the opposite.
Lest you think this is the only representative of one student’s views, J Street U Director Tammy Shapiro had this to say in her official capacity:
As this conference has made clear, we believe that support for the creation of a Palestinian State alongside Israel is a core pro-Israel position, and that we need to reclaim the meaning of pro-Israel so that it never implies we are anti-others ….with only one constraint: that the work be done in a context that always embraces the right of a state for Jewish people in the land of Israel to exist beside a state for Palestinian people in the land of Palestine.
So J Street’s student representatives have reached the topsy turvey world where instead of the view now accepted by most US Jews and Israelis:
“the right of a state for the Palestinian people to exist beside a state for Jewish people in the land of Israel”
these J Street “liberal, progressive, left wing” representatives have actually accepted
“the right of Israel to exist alongside a Palestinian state”!!!
Third, the poll:
On “Comment is Free” I once took apart the methodology and results of the March 2009 J Street poll conducted by Gerstein | Agne Strategic Communications after Silverstein parroted some of its suspect conclusions. They repeated a 2008 poll using “a questionnaire for this survey of 800 self-identified adult American Jews, conducted February 28-March 8, 2009”. For brevity I will not repeat my comments, which you can read at the end of that thread.
Gerstein | Agne themselves admit: “Conducting reliable and affordable surveys of American Jews is a challenging task due to the small number of Jews as a proportion of the overall United States population.” Indeed, I wondered what sample bias this methodology introduces – self-selection, e-mail contact, web-based polling, regional effects, etc.
They identified the margin of error as “+/- 3.5 percent; the margin of error in the split samples is +/- 4.9 percent”. I estimated the margin of error as probably in excess of +/- 5% on two or three of the critical questions (Nos. 32 – 36) since those questions were not answered by all respondents, using a “split“ subset of 354 respondents.
Rather than repeating my lengthy analysis on the Silverstein thread at CiF, I will simply provide this “snapshot” of a key result from the report that forms the basis, in large part, for J Street’s claim that it has wide support from American Jews. There are still unanswered questions (how did they get to 400 respondents in split B from 354 who answered each question, why not 800, etc.), basically asking how the respondents felt about US activity and pressure (the “US ROLE, USROLEB1, AND USROLEC1” terminology refers to the questions on Pages 5 – 6 of the survey):
Q. 32/34/36 COMBINED SCALE
SPLIT B [400 Respondents]
FIRM SUPPORT – 48
(SUPPORT US ROLE, USROLEB1, AND USROLEC1)
CONDITIONAL SUPPORT- 40
(SUPPORT USROLE, OPPOSE USROLEB1 OR USROLEC1)
FIRM OPPOSE – 12
Note that in reality, there is no more “Firm Support” than the combination of “Conditional Support” and “Firm Oppos[ition]” when combining a set of questions asking how strongly respondents felt about the US playing a role in the peace process, from “helping” through “even-handed” to “pressure on Israel”. Q[uestion]. 36, which was the most pointed, asked how strongly the respondents would support the US playing an active role in the peace process if it meant putting pressure on Israel, and received only a 27% “strong support” response.
Yet this report has been trumpeted by J Street, especially based on these questions, as showing major support for US pressure on Israel, hinting at a majority view – for Israel’s own good, of course!
In summary, J Street sails close to the edge with its assertions of broad Jewish support. It essentially maligns the long history of American Jewish activism in liberal and left wing causes by claiming to occupy that space to the detriment of those who lobby for Israel rather than the opposite. It is supported by some gullible people like those university students, and manipulated by some less gullible for their own purposes. It uses a set of cooked statistics to try to prove it has broad support for pressuring Israel when that is in fact a minority view. If the Obama administration actually believes that, they will have a rude shock at the next election.
Finally, it was a shame that Kadima and various Israelis saw fit to support this conference, thus undermining Israel with the administration and to a lesser degree Congress for reasons more closely aligned with internal Israeli politics than any genuine belief that J Street represents them. I think Kadima will pay a heavy price electorally for raising J Street’s profile in Israel, and that is a shame as I would have liked them to have formed the current government, and certainly the next one.
That’s because I really am a liberal, progressive, left wing, one-time kibbutznik Israeli-American, or American-Israeli, who really would like to get free of the Palestinian tar-baby, not a J Street sham reluctantly agreeing that Israel could exist alongside a Palestinian state.
A couple of days ago we reported that the Guardian was conducting a poll purportedly to gauge support for J Street.
In a rather obvious attempt to skew the results, the Guardian featured a torn and tattered flag of the State of Israel together with an imprecise formulation of the question being polled.
Well things didn’t work acccording to plan for the Guardian. Although the poll initially ran in favor of JStreet, the results soon turned around. Here are the final results:
13.4% Roadmap. J Street’s voice is valuable
86.6% Roadblock. J Street muddies the debate
Am Israel Chai!
This is a guest post by Israelinurse
Did the champagne corks pop at The Guardian over the weekend with the announcement that Amira Hass had won a lifetime acheivement award from the International Women’s Media Foundation?
Judging by the gushing editorial over the weekend, one could certainly think so.
Amira Hass is of course a perfect example of The Guardian’s ideal pin-up girl. She is an Israeli-born woman who not only adopts the ‘asaJew’ stance in virulently attacking Israel, but also employs the memory of her Holocaust survivor parents as a means of supposedly adding moral weight to her arguments.
Indeed Hass seems to embody all that The Guardian holds dear, but even excessive admiration for all that she symbolises does not explain the mindset of the Guardian editor who wrote the following words:
“Only a Jew can invert the “never again” logic of the Holocaust that is used to justify Israel’s least justifiable actions.”
The ambiguity of this sentence leaves us no choice but to try to interpret the writer’s words. Does the writer wish to tell us that one has to be Jewish in order to turn upside down and demolish some perceived cynical use of the memory of the Holocaust on Israel’s part in order to justfy its actions?
If so, this would not only imply that Israel knowingly and deliberately abuses the memory of the Holocaust, it would also seem to suggest that any Jew not speaking out against Israel is morally compromised. Strangely, it also appears to exclude non-Jews from the equasion altogether.
Alternatively, does the writer wish to suggest that there exists some sort of moral perversion both exclusive to and universal to all Jews – not only Israelis –which compels them to distort the “never again” lesson of the Holocaust and thereby transforms them from abused into abusers?
Whichever way one choses to interpret these words, it is clear that antisemitic stereotypes are at play, in addition to the now tediously familiar tactic of linking Israel’s actions to those of Nazi Germany.
The invocation of the Holocaust as a means of criticising Israel’s actions is never done naively. The implied moral comparison of Israel to a racist, genocidal, totalitarian regime which aspired to eliminate entire groups of people from the face of the earth is not only repugnant and factually redundant, but clearly antisemitic as defined by the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism.
This is not some editorial from a fringe publication on the extreme Left or Right of the political spectrum. This is the ‘We Believe’ of a supposedly mainstream newspaper being set out for all the world to see, and it contains very worrying bigotry and antisemitism.
British society currently has its anntenae on high alert on the subject of the BNP’s despicable racism, but are Britain’s leaders and influencers of opinions capable of identifying racism from less obvious sources too?
Apparently Richard Silverstein has been stirring up trouble at the J Street conference by having an audience member, Hillel Stavis, forcibly removed by security from the “Bloggers” panel.
Hillel Stavis runs a rather interesting website called JStreetJive that questions the “pro-Israel” nature of J-Street and it seems that Stavis’ crime was that he doesn’t quite share Silverstein’s enthusiasm for the pro-Israel, pro peace group.
Sounds like a rather familiar problem if you know what I mean.
And of course we’re eagerly awaiting Mr. Silverstein’s return to CiF so he can rejoin the ranks of Lerman and the Guardian’s other house Jews and help dig a bigger hole for the Guardian than they are already in.
So what possessed Guardian staff member BellaM to intervene in the Isi Leibler thread yesterday with the following:
26 Oct 09, 4:39pm
Some people are dragging this debate waay off topic. The discussion about J Street is fascinating, please stick to it.
“Some people”. If I’m not mistaken, BellaM is referring to the “We’re all Hamas now” crowd that are naturally attracted to ‘Comment is Free’ threads. Here are some examples of the “off topic” posts:
26 Oct 09, 2:40pm
J Street policies are even more extreme than the most radical Israeli leftwing groups. The fighting with Hamas in Gaza, which was endorsed by all Jewish political parties in the Knesset, was criticised by J Street as “counterproductive” and “disproportionate”.
And the rest of the world.
Such a shame Israel has only militant, bloodthirsty chickenhawk warmongers in power, those who call for Arab civilians, women and children, to be butchered and exterminated in their hundreds and in their thousands, be it by boots on the grounds or from chemical weapons from the sky, to appease political expediency and back-slapping in Israel’s protracted ethnic-cleansing land-grab Settlement program.
Such a shame that proportionate and defensive are words that only exist outside of Israel, and that inside Israel those words are only uttered by traitors to the State.
26 Oct 09, 2:43pm
What is unacceptable is the moral equivalency made by J Street between the policies of Israel and Hamas and its difficulty in distinguishing “between who is right and who is wrong”.
I agree with that. I think that Israel is much worse than Hamas. Hamas is not occupaying the territory of other people. Hamas is not starving other people. Hamas is noy laying siege on other people. They have tryed to achieve cease fires with Israel which Israel rejected or broke. Hamas would accept a political solution to the Israeli occupation and agressions. Israel has never had interest in a political fair solution to the problem. Every time that there was a period of calm Israel used it to attack Palestinians. Ophir Paz-Pines, a Labour MK, has said that non-Jews are systematically discriminated against (link bellow). This doesn’t happen in Gaza. Israel imprisions a large number of people against the rules of a democratic state. Hamas does this only in one case and thi might be understandable (see link).
‘Israel has always discriminated against its Arabs’
26 Oct 09, 2:48pm
This is a typical AIPAC apologist reaction. First of all, try to discredit and insult those who do not agree with its policies. As a diaspora Jew I certainly do not support the brutal assault on Gaza, it was revealed in”Haaretz” that this was planned 6 months in advance, and would have gone ahead whatever Hamas did. You demonise Hamas, but it is no worse than the Irgun and Stern Gang, the Jewish terrorist organisations in Palestine in the 1940′s, who committed the massacre of Deir Jassin.
I would remind Mr. Leibler the Israel has been illegally colonising Palestinian land for over 40 years and is in breach of many Security Council Resolutions, international law and the Geneva Convention.
A typical AIPAC claim is that’s Israel’s existence is in danger, threatened by hostile Arab countries. What nonsense! How can home-made Hamas rockets defeat Israel, armed to the teeth and with nuclear weapons? – and have you ever heard of the Arab peace plan of 2002?
Ahmadinejad never said the wanted to wipe Israel off the map, he hopes it will collapse like the Soviet Union, so what nuclear threat?
The present Israeli government is making Israel a pariah state. J Street wants to pressure Israel into ending the occupation and making peace, which is in the best long-term interests of Israel Mr.Leibler want Israel to grab all the land it possibly can, leaving as few Palestinians as possible, which can only lead to endless conflict.
26 Oct 09, 2:51pm
Papalagi, so you support strapping bombs to children’s bodies and then sending them into bussess to massacre other children?
It take it then that you support:
The detention and torture of Palestinians? (As admitted by Shin Bet)
The forcing of civilians to be human shields? (As practiced by the IDF)
26 Oct 09, 3:15pm
I agree totally with Psychobabble’s last paragraph although “few” is something of an understatement when you consider what’s been happening to Gazans for decades.
And it explains why we should be providing the people of Gaza with the means of defending themselves against the maniacs who think that burning children with white phosphorous is acceptable conduct..
26 Oct 09, 3:16pm
Isi Leibler’s allegations are simply despicable. J Street represents the views of a clear majority of American Jews, who are horrified by the appalling behavior of the apartheid regime currently prevalent in Israel. Don’t assume that all Jews think alike, or that even a plurality endorse the rightwing extremism of Leibler and his proto-fascist cohorts. If anyone has betrayed the legacy of Judaism, it is Leibler, Netanyahu and Lieberman.
26 Oct 09, 3:17pm
The official position of Hamas is that Israel should disappear as a state.
The official position of Israel is they have the right to Settle – and through that commit ethnic cleansing – parts of the world that everyone else in the world, including the UN and US, states they have no right to settle. In other words, putting action onto the ground, activity that actually disappears the Palestinian people from their homes.
The words of Hamas are as nothing compared to the action of Israel.
26 Oct 09, 3:26pm
I hardly think that children that are being bombed ona daily basis writing a message to those trying to kill them is anywhere close to teaching your children to worship death and kill other children. But I guess that’s where we’re different.
Israeli children writing a message in a bomb about to be delivered? This is what you find good? And do you know how many children were killed by Israeli bombs against the Lebanon? Do you know how many children were presumably directly targeted by Israeli soldiers and killed? Read Gideon Levy about that. Yes, we are really different.
What you are speaking about Hamas is what Israel has done with the Palestinians a long time ago. Given that Israel’s government has said recently that peace is not possible, I think that Hamas’ pronouncement is understandable. It’s a consequence of Israeli pronouncements and practices. Why don’t you put a link to relevant pronouncements by members of the Israeli government if you want to discuss this question?
26 Oct 09, 3:51pm
A number of comments have asked, in essence, who is worse, Hamas or Israel? As actions count more than words (sticks and stones etc) the answer is simple, the side that’s doing the most killing. Israel is at least one hundred times worse than Hamas. Or are all lives not equal in value?
26 Oct 09, 4:04pm
##, who is worse, Hamas or Israel ..killings?? ..Israel is at least one hundred times worse than Hamas ##
The reply I keep getting whenever I ask is that Hamas ‘ intentions are worse …coincidentally also by a factor of a hundred to one ! :)
Interestingly most of the above comments were deleted without trace. I suspect that this has a little something to do with the antisemitic outbursts last week on the Evans and Freedland threads that we exposed.
Word of advice to Georgina, Matt and Brian – if you really want to deal with the problem of antisemitism on ‘Comment is Free’ you can start with permanently banning each of the above posters – a step that you failed to take even after we exposed the antisemitism of the likes of Moron, Berchmans and Arkasha here. Attempting to hide the evidence to cover your backsides ain’t gonna wash with us.
The Guardian, which is opposed to just about anything that Israel says or does, is trying to support J Street since it sees it as another way to create a wedge between US Jews and Israel.
Its running a poll under a picture of a torn and tattered Israeli flag* (hat tip AKUS)
The poll poses the following question: Is J Street helping or hurting the peace process?
Ask yourself what subliminal message the Guardian is trying to convey with the use of this image and what this has to with the question being polled.
In any case, if you have an opinion about the poll, and would like to vote, please do so soon by clicking here – the poll closes in 2 days time.
At present the poll results weigh unsurprisingly in favor of J Street.
63.4% Roadmap. J Street’s voice is valuable
36.6% Roadblock. J Street muddies the debate
* Reproduction of this image is being made to illustrate the Guardian’s perception of Israel. See our Fair Use Notice.
Good news. For most of the day the poll has been running 14% in favor of J-Street and 86% against. The way it should be.
By far the highlight of the day however was the comments in the CiF thread that accompanied the poll.
First we had this from Santa Moniker:
27 Oct 09, 1:07pm
Well, well … its not over till its over, but this poll seems to be going the “wrong way” :-)
I was initially disgusted by that attempt to deride Israel with that picture of the tattered Israeli flag – then I remembered something:
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Just like that star spangled banner, the tattered single blue star of Israel still proudly flies!!!
Am Israel Chai!!!
Then we have this from MindTheCrap:
27 Oct 09, 3:02pm
No doubt Georgina Henry will soon issue a statement similar to this:
Thanks to those of you who have raised the issue of the use of the tattered Israeli flag. The intention was clearly not to offend in that we were using the tattered flag in its colloquial sense, and in a general way. But I have asked the Guardian’s style and fashion editor (who shudders whenever the word “tatter” is mentioned) whether guidance should be included on its use. Since we’ve taken the point on board, perhaps the thread could now concentrate on debating the merits of this argument.
And it gets even better. It turns out MindTheCrap was almost right. However rather than Georgina jumping in, we got Brian Whitaker with this utterly moronic comment:
27 Oct 09, 4:29pm
A torn flag of Israel? Revealing. Very revealing. I like to see where else we have seen the Guardian disrespect a nation’s flag.
georgeindia: Here’s a British flag getting burnt at a demo.
The link that Whitaker was pointing to was of a news article entitled “Yard wants ban on flag-burning in crackdown on demos by extremists” that reported Scotland Yard wants to get tough with rowdy flag-burning protesters. A picture of demonstrators burning the British flag accompanied the news report. How this is even the slightest bit responsive to georgeindia’s comment is totally beyond me.
And it didn’t take long for georgeindia to respond with this:
27 Oct 09, 4:47pm
Nice try. Other than reports from incidents such as demonstrations, do you have nice little picture where the only object presented is a burnt/torn British flag (or a flag of any other country for that matter) to represent a country?
You see, this picture of the Israeli flag is not in the context of a demonstration, or flag burning, or anything that fits with the context of the report. Heck, this wasn’t even a report or even an op-ed!
This picture is that of the Israeli flag – that’s it. And the only Israeli flag the Guardian could find was one torn to shreds. The photo is not even related to the poll or another article for that matter. I don’t understand, Or maybe I do. What clever explanation can we expect? With your level of access, I’m sure it’ll be easy to know.
And then we had Santa Moniker weighing in with this:
27 Oct 09, 5:04pm
“Here’s a British flag getting burnt at a demo “
Um … the caption says:
Yard wants ban on flag-burning in crackdown on demos by extremists
· Calls for firm action after Muslims’ cathedral protest
· Opinion divided over ‘get tough’ measures
Could you explain the relevance?? Did Muslims tear or burn that Israeli flag?
So come on Brian please enlighten us all. We’re all sitting on the edge of our seats in anticipation of your response…
Perhaps though the best of the bunch was this from AKUS:
Three Misguided Idiots: Third Act
I’ve got a great idea – let’s have a poll to show support for JStreet – that’ll stick it to that CiFWatch (a feig – you should pardon the expression) crowd.
Brian – you’ve been spending too much time with your house Jews – that kind of ethnic language is inappropriate here.
I saw this great picture of a tattered Israeli flag we could use – that’ll get the troops worked up!
Great idea – I bet we run 90% pro-JStreet!!! Do it – NOW!!!
Let’s see how our poll is doing – OMIGOD! NOOO!!!
16.3% Roadmap. J Street’s voice is valuable
83.7% Roadblock. J Street muddies the debate
What did you idiots do to us????
Call the accountants – how much could we save by replacing these ethical cretins with Jonathan Hoffman???
Georgina Henry recently made her worst decision so far by attempting to excuse and apologise for an ill-judged and reprehensible by line for an article by Michael Lerner on CiF in which he referred to those who protested against Goldstone’s lunatic and highly creative interpretation of events in Gaza as “a choir of ethical cretins.”
For the reader who may have missed Henry’s priceless and inane attempt to dig herself out of a hole of her own making, it is reproduced below (and it even got 5 recommendations!):
21 Oct 09, 12:34pm
Thanks to those of you who have raised the issue of Michael Lerner’s use of the phrase “choir of ethical cretins”. The intention was clearly not to offend in that he was using it in its colloquial sense, and in a general way. But I have asked the editor of the Guardian’s style guide (where the word is currently not mentioned) whether guidance should be included on its use. Since we’ve taken the point on board, perhaps the thread could now concentrate on debating the merits of his argument.
Obviously Henry came in for a lot of stick from intelligent people for writing such rubbish, but below is a fly-on-the-wall take of what might have led to that asinine comment and what should have ensued as a result of her making it, if the Guardian/CiF had had any ethical sense at all.
It’s called “Three Misguided Idiots: a play in two acts” and stars Georgina Henry, Brian Whitaker and Matt Seaton, with a last act appearance by Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian’s Editor in Chief:
Georgina Henry is moaning and chewing the carpet in her office, having been plied with strong coffee by her PA following an avalanche of emails of complaint about Lerner’s spiteful and inelegant remark. The telephone rings and she picks herself up from the floor as her PA hands her the receiver:
HENRY (spitting out bits of carpet): Yes? What do you want? Oh Matt… What is it now?
SEATON: Well frankly Georgina (and I really don’t want to upset you) it’s this remark by Michael Lerner. What’re we going to do about it (not that I think that we should do anything about it unless you say so of course).
HENRY: (sighs… then): Let’s have a meeting. Go get Brian (Whitaker) and come to my office.
Several minutes pass. Then a knock on the door and Seaton and Whitaker join Henry.
WHITAKER: This is a bit of a nasty one, but of course it’s been planned by Zionists and people in the pay of the Israeli Government so do we actually need to do anything?
HENRY: So are you saying that Lerner deliberately did this to make us look bad? Well, we may be able to spin that…..
SEATON (eagerly) : Well, I think he did..
Both look at him pityingly and then roll their eyes at each other.
HENRY: Well I suppose I could go onto the thread and try to defuse it.
WHITAKER and SEATON: Good idea! Do it now.
Henry dashes something off to the thread and sends it immediately, and shows it to Seaton and Whitaker afterwards.
WHITAKER: (reads the post) What the…??? Well that could have been done better. The Zionists and their chums could drive a coach and horses through that. What if CiF Watch get their hands on it?
SEATON: Yes, I agree with Brian. We could really be in the doggy doo.
HENRY, (glaring at them furiously): I have made an executive decision and I stand by it.
SEATON: Quite right too. I agree with Georgina.
Henry glares at Whitaker and he sinks into his seat.
The telephone rings. Alan Rusbridger wants a word with all of them immediately.
END OF ACT ONE
Henry, Seaton and Whitaker are in Rusbridger’s office
RUSBRIDGER: (Pacing up and down mumbling under his breath and waving his arms about) What the hell do you three think you’re playing at?
The three look at the floor.
RUSBRIDGER: I am getting emails and letters of complaint about this idiot Lerner, whom I’ve never even heard of and the ‘phone’s been ringing nonstop. It’s bad enough that we allowed ourselves to be led up the garden path about Jenin but this is another blow.
Georgina! Don’t look at the others, all this is your responsibility. And I’ve just read your idiotic post to the Lerner thread. What on earth did you think you were doing?
HENRY: I felt it my duty to keep the thread on track and in the service of freedom of expression …..
RUSBRIDGER: BY DOING WHAT FOR GOD’S SAKE? MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF BY EXCUSING THE SUPREMELY IDIOTIC? DON’T YOU REALISE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE? I COULD LOSE MY OWN JOB BECAUSE OF THIS!
And I’ve spent the morning looking at all your commissioned articles about the Israel/Palestine issue and I’ve got to say I think all of you are unhealthily obsessed – there’s no other word for it. And precisely what do YOU mean, Georgina, by “in the service of freedom of expression?” I’ve been looking at the comments as well and I notice that most of them are frankly crazy and you’ve allowed them to remain. But they can’t all have been crazy. What’ve you done with the comments which disagreed with this man Lerner?
HENRY: (Sullenly) I made an executive decision and told the moderators to delete almost all of them. (Leaps to her feet and gesticulates, voice rising and with dilated pupils and then:) They cannot, they must not be allowed to derail the threads!! I see it as my duty to bring the truth to the nation ….. (Suddenly realises that the others are staring at her and sinks into her seat again, looking at her feet and playing with her fingers).
RUSBRIDGER: (looking shocked) You just don’t get it do you? YOU ARE MAKING US LOOK BAD!
Well, that’s it – I’ve marked all of your cards now and I’ve had a gut full of your attitude Georgina – you’ve done this once too often. I thought you had potential, I gave you free reign to use it creatively, and this is the thanks I get. I am not going to go before the Board to defend your stupidity any more – you’re on your own from now on to clean up your own mess.
(Whitaker opens his mouth to protest, but catches Rusbridger’s eye and thinks better of it)
RUSBRIDGER: And Whitaker, don’t you give me any rubbish either, about this being a Zionist plot by people in the pay of the Israeli government. That may wash with the intellectually challenged who are allowed to spout rubbish underneath what you write but it won’t wash with me. I have several bones to pick with you about making that so obvious too. “Zionist plot” indeed… You have to hint at it otherwise they’ll be all over us, and yet you have all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop.
The Guardian is losing money hand over fist and I’ve been told to economise. There’ll be some changes around here, mark my words.
And as for you, Seaton (Seaton gulps and gets out his handkerchief). WHAT POSSESSED YOU TO WRITE TO MEL PHILLIPS’ COLUMN IN YOUR OFFICIAL CAPACITY? Let’s see what you’ve written:
” We admire Melanie’s work so much that we had to nominate this blogpost as one of our ‘best of the web’ on Cif (Cif, please, Mel; not CiF).
” hope she won’t feel too compromised by being included in our ‘institutionalised intellectual and moral depravity’.”
SHE COULD EAT YOU FOR BREAKFAST AND YET YOU STILL TRY TO BE SMART! HAVE YOU SEEN SOME OF THE COMMENTS? (Seaton starts to cry and rubs his eyes).
If I’ve told you all once I have told you a hundred times – DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE CIFWATCH! DO NOT REFER TO IT! DO NOT ENGAGE WITH IT! DON’T EVEN HINT THAT IT EXISTS! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? (they all nod). If we ignore them then they may just leave us alone.
SEATON: I just wanted to say sorry…..
This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman
“Seven Jewish Children” is the antisemitic play that was written by PSC Patron Caryl Churchill after Operation Cast Lead.
CiF Watch readers will not be surprised that “Seven Jewish Children” was thoroughly embraced by The Guardian.
Michael Billington of The Guardian wrote the following defamatory sentence “But Churchill also shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the “otherness” of Palestinians and how, for generations to come, they stand to reap the bitter harvest of the military assault on Hamas.” Notice the eugenic redolence of that word “bred”.
On last Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening it was performed at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton in the UK. On Saturday afternoon there was to be a debate on it and ‘All My Sons’, the main play being featured by the Octagon Theatre. The event was to be a cosy Israel-hate session with speakers from the PSC, JFJFP and the local MP who is secretary to the All Parliamentary Britain-Palestine Group, with the line up as follows:
Linda Clair – Chair of Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Of Jewish origin. Recently visited the West Bank.
Dr Brian Iddon – Labour MP for Bolton SE and secretary to the All Parliamentary Britain-Palestine Group. Has visited Palestine several times. He is also a patron of the Octagon Theatre.
Asad Khan – Consultant Physician in Bury. Visited the West Bank in 2007. Member of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel and the British Medical Committee on Palestine.
Richard Kuper – Chair and Publications officer of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, an organisation of more than 1,300 Jews in Britain.
Norma Turner – Manchester health care worker. Visited Gaza post Jan 2009 and recently visited the West Bank.
But thanks to someone on the theatre mailing list, I was alerted to the event in good time and insisted that the ‘antidote’ play ‘Seven Other Children’ was shown as well and that I and others be called on to speak at the debate. This was accepted – the theatre has close links with Bolton University and receives public money.
The Artistic Director of the Octagon, David Thacker, told me that “Seven Jewish Children” was being performed at the request of the PSC. If you look at a cached copy of the Octagon website you will find the same explanation:
When premiered the play caused uproar. It was the Bolton Palestine Solidarity Campaign who approached the organization to produce Seven Jewish Children. The Octagon Theatre would like to thank Bolton Palestine Solidarity Campaign for their ongoing support.
Yet when we debated on BBC Radio Manchester on Monday night (starts 41:20) and in the theatre on Saturday, Thacker insisted the play was his free choice to perform. Go figure. If the BNP asked him to perform a play called “Whiter than White” would he oblige and claim it was his own idea?
And how come in 1994 he had such concerns about “Merchant of Venice” but now seems to have none about “Seven Jewish Children”?
With increasing racist assaults and Nazi activity throughout Europe, we have an obligation. There is a real responsibility to not only avoid any possibility of fuelling that racism but moreover to confront and reveal the source of that racist upsurge.
Engage has also been following this story. See the comments by Morten and IsraeliNurse who were both also there. IsraeliNurse suggests that a more appropriate Arthur Miller play for the discussion would have been The Crucible …
This is a guest post by AKUS
We hear an awful lot on CiF about the destruction in Gaza, most recently from Judge Goldstone, apparently since CiF is one of the few forums willing to let him provide his bizarre attempt at self justification. He said he was shocked by the destruction:
“I did not anticipate seeing the vast destruction of the economic infrastructure of Gaza including its agricultural lands, industrial factories, water supply and sanitation works.”
There is, no doubt, there was destruction in Gaza – after all there was a mini-war there a few months ago. But it is nowhere near as widespread as the Guardian would have us believe from its articles and replaying the same pictures of the same few destroyed houses. Actually looking at Gaza tells a rather different story. A few pictures may help you see Gaza in a more balanced way.
Go to Google Maps and enter “Kibbutz Nir Am, Israel” and you’ll see a little reservoir west of the kibbutz. Follow the road that skirts the reservoir about 1 km east, and if you look carefully, you’ll see a small road just west of the reservoir leading to a little white patch near a “V” shaped intersection – this is the little hill from which the TV crews reported on Cast Lead, and from which I shot the pictures below on August 8th this year, at about 8:30 am as the morning mist was lifting. It is about 1 km from the fence between Gaza and Israel. Kibbutz Nir Am, which has been subjected to heavy rocket fire from Gaza, lies about 2 – 3 km north east of this spot.
The first picture looks into Gaza from about ½ km on the Israeli side of the fence with Gaza, just west of the Nir Am reservoir. In the foreground, beyond the fence, is Bet Hanoun, one of the villages used frequently by Hamas and its cohorts from which to launch rockets into Israel. Behind that, you see high-rise buildings probably in Jabalya or just west of Sheikh Zaid. Next to the big white house in the foreground there appear to be a couple of destroyed houses, but clearly other buildings and the high rises are in good condition.
You can see the security fence, with a gate that allows Israeli troops to enter Gaza when terrorists are detected approaching the fence or for other military purposes.
The second view looks south west, and I provide it to emphasize that there is, in fact, open territory in the Gaza Strip, and that the terrorists could, if they chose to do so, fire their rockets and mortars from sites not located in built up areas.
Finally, next time you read about the “wall” around Gaza – remember these pictures and how simple a defense mechanism it really is.
CiF-veterans knew what to expect when the Guardian published Harold Evans’ critique of the Goldstone report, which Evans condemned as “A moral atrocity”. Obviously, this sound verdict could only elicit howls of protest by the assorted antisemites and Israel-bashers who are drawn to Cif for their daily fix of “down-with-Israel” delirium.
And it was equally obvious that CiF wouldn’t wait long to provide what the crowds were clamoring for: The next day, Michael Lerner – excuse me: RABBI Michael Lerner – dismissed Evans’ piece as a “screed” and opined that the “global choir of ethical cretins who condemn Goldstone’s Gaza report do Israel no favours.” If you are offended by the “ethical cretins”, you simply demonstrate your inability to appreciate political correctness a la GWV, and in any case, Georgina Henry herself made an appearance to assure everyone that it wasn’t meant “to offend”, it was just “colloquial” and “general”, and the “Guardian’s style guide” (oh-la-la) would ponder the question just how stylish Rabbi Lerner’s general colloquialism/colloquial generalism really truly was.
Naturally, the commentariat adored the good Rabbi’s pious pc-stylishness, but just to be on the safe side and to really make up for allowing Evans to call a spade a spade, CiF also wheeled in none other than Richard Goldstone himself.
True to form, Goldstone opened his piece with the bold claim: “Five weeks after the release of the report of the fact-finding mission on Gaza, there has been no attempt by any of its critics to come to grips with its substance.” Well, it’s not the first time Goldstone makes a claim that would be kind of difficult to support by facts: Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up a website that perhaps doesn’t quite “come to grips” with the “substance” of the Goldstone report, but it does show that there isn’t all that much “substance” to it, and a group of bloggers have set up a website that offers many detailed and devastating rebuttals of Goldstone’s report from a variety of sources.
And then there is of course this authoritative verdict about the Goldstone report: “If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.” Quite so.
Oh, you wonder who said this? Well, this is the eminently venerable (?) Judge Goldstone judging the Goldstone report in a recent interview with the Forward…
And Goldstone was good enough to elaborate why his report wasn’t really worth all that much: referring to a similar report that had been prepared in the 1990s for Yugoslavia, Goldstone reminisced:
“We couldn’t use that report as evidence at all […] But it was a useful roadmap for our investigators, for me as chief prosecutor, to decide where we should investigate. And that’s the purpose of this sort of report. If there was an independent investigation in Israel, then I think the facts and allegations referred to in our report would be a useful road map. […] I wouldn’t consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved.”
You see how simple it is: Richard Goldstone wouldn’t be embarrassed if it turned out that the outrageous accusations he leveled against Israel and the IDF were shown to be baseless. And you know what: Richard Goldstone is right. Frivolous accusations against Israel is all that it takes – they quickly take on the aura of “facts” and dominate the headlines for weeks and months on end, generating floods of enraged comments and talkbacks demonizing Israel, and when it turns out that there was no evidence to back up the allegations, it won’t be much more than an obscure news item placed in a not too conspicuous spot. We have been through this, and there is a good name for it: the “Jenin massacre syndrome”.
Remember Jenin? Back then, a Guardian editorial opined that “Israel’s actions in Jenin were every bit as repellent as Osama Bin Laden’s attack on New York on September 11.” That was in April 2002. But what do you know: it took just some six years, and presto, there was this follow-up – in the Jerusalem Post: “‘Guardian’ editor apologizes for Jenin editorial.”
This belated apology came during a session at the 2008 Jewish Book Week, where Alan Rusbridger even said that Israel is a “moral necessity” – which is obviously a view that would be news to most Guardian/CiF readers who come to the site because it can always be relied on to describe whatever Israel did and didn’t do as “repellent”. And whoever doesn’t agree can be dismissed as an “ethical cretin”.
The poisonous atmosphere that is thus created is not unique to the Guardian or CiF, but it is of course their editorial choice to endorse and reinforce this kind of atmosphere through a relentlessly negative coverage of all things Israeli and, by inevitable extension, of many things Jewish. As Mark Gardner emphasized in a recent post on the CTS blog:
“It is plain that if the Jewish state is regarded as a pariah, a compulsive serial abuser of human rights, then Jews everywhere will suffer by (real or imaginary) association.”
Mark Gardner makes this point in his analysis of the undignified reaction of Human Rights Watch (HRW) to the criticism of the organization by its founder and long-time chairman, Robert Bernstein, who recently wrote in the New York Times:
“Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
HRW is for sure not the only organization that “has lost critical perspective” when it comes to Israel, and the evasions and distortions that Mark Gardner highlights in HRW’s response to Bernstein’s criticism will be familiar to anyone who has followed a few debates on CiF’s Israel-related threads. Indeed, as Mark Gardner points out:
“There has long been an instinctive reaction from groups such as HRW to savage their critics as being antagonistic pro-Israel lobbyists. There is no way that Robert Bernstein fits that ugly ethnic profiling, and yet HRW’s public reaction effectively treats him as just another pro-Israel snake in the grass. This suggests that HRW’s public reaction to Bernstein reflects an institutionalised inability to deal fairly and squarely with any concerns that are raised by Jews who don’t spend half their lives condemning Israel. The suspicion is strengthened when you contemplate the behaviour of the many groups, politicians and media that share HRW’s milieu. It is as if the constant drip, drip, drip, of their attitude to Israel has gradually eroded all of the sense and sensibility that such parties ever had towards the mainstream of the Jewish community.”
CiF is certainly among the “media that share HRW’s milieu”: on CiF, the “antagonistic pro-Israel lobbyists” are dismissed as the GIYUS brigade, or the paid-per-comment Hasbara rent-a-crowd; the “pro-Israel snake in the grass” is easily translated into something “colloquial” and “general” like the “global choir of ethical cretins”; and if “Jews who don’t spend half their lives condemning Israel” want to raise any concerns about this kind of atmosphere – well, tough luck: they will find out that Jews who don’t spend half their lives condemning Israel are not entitled to have any valid concerns when it comes to anything even remotely related to Israel.