Seth Freedman

Seth Freedman emigrated to Israel in 2004 from London after a six-year stint in “binge trading” as a stockbroker. Though Freedman may have once described himself as a Zionist, since moving to Israel, he performed a volte face and became an anti-Zionist.

His regular contributions to ‘Comment is Free’ reflect the conflicted nature of his relationship with Israel.  The articles are as often criticised for their anti-Israel bias and poor background research as they are praised by a small group of regular anti-Israel posters there.  Typical of the creativity of his prose was the unfortunate, tactless and ill-deserved reference to the spread of Israeli settlements as a cancer.

However, on the rare occasions that Freedman attempts to be even-handed on ‘Comment is Free’, he is criticised by the same posters for being a Zionist stooge. His much-vaunted book, based on his army experiences, was published recently and although widely publicised on ‘Comment is Free’, a review on Harry’s Place by one of his friends received a somewhat mixed reception and based on Amazon ratings does not appear to be doing very well.

Freedman was the center of controversy in September 2008 when a commenter on the Jerusalem Post inappropriately threatened to “kick Seth Freedman in the nuts if I see him”. After complaining to the Jerusalem Post, the entire thread where the comment was posted was removed and an apology made to Freedman. This being the same Freedman who on ‘Comment is Free’ apparently threatened to bottle another blogger with an empty glass and stated “ i’ve always said i don’t care what people say to me on the threads, as long as they can take what they dish out”.

Below is a selection of statements made by Seth Freedman in ‘Comment is Free’ “in his own words”:

“In Cellcom’s eyes, as bloggers have observed, even the most tragic and traumatic experiences of an entire people can be harnessed to the selling of mobile phone services. That the wall is detested by millions of Palestinians, has been ruled wholly illegal by an international court, and has been proved to be a tool for blatant and brazen theft of Palestinian land is neither here nor there; at least, not when there’s a cheap laugh to be had and an in-joke to be shared with the company’s target audience.” Cellcom’s cynical commercial July 20, 2009

“Much is made by the Israeli right of hostile forces having been co-opted into a wider religious war; with Islamic Jihad, Hamas and al-Qaida militias regularly held up as proof that Israel’s enemies cannot be placated via negotiations or concessions. Those groups’ religious convictions are, they assert, intractable to the point of no return, and the only way to fight against such intransigence is through the sights of a gun.

However, the same characteristics can, and should, be ascribed to a growing section of the IDF, especially in the wake of statements such as Rontzki’s, as well as the military rabbinate’s crusader stance during Cast Lead.” Religious dogma has no place in the IDF July 6, 2009

“There are dozens of countries with abominable human rights records, thanks to their autocratic leaders’ adherence to racist and reprehensible philosophies, but Britain is light years away from handing the reins of power over to such extremists. Israel, on the other hand, is a prime example of what happens when the lunatics are allowed to take over the asylum: formerly reviled and sidelined nationalists suddenly find themselves catapulted onto centre stage, wielding improbable power and leaving a trail of diplomatic carnage in their wake.” It’s not British fascists we should fear June 12, 2009

“As has been proved throughout the build-up to the state of Israel and in the decades since its inception, the dominant strand of Zionism does not make a comfortable bedfellow with core Jewish values, thanks to the callous way in which all those frozen between the headlights of the Zionist juggernaut are treated. Nationalism has trumped religious values to the point (seemingly) of no return, and as every year passes, the malaise seeps deeper into the collective Israeli psyche. Opening eyes in Israel March 4, 2009

“The disproportionate and indiscriminate actions by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead rightly earned Israel’s leaders international opprobrium, and in some cases the verbal outrage was backed by concrete sanctions.” Upgrade Palestinian Rights February 27, 2009

“However, what those who criticise the Peer decision and call foul against the UAE authorities fail to acknowledge is that Israel practises its own equally repellent system of persecution against nationals of countries with whom it has political differences. Despite officially cloaking all visa refusals under the oblique umbrella of “security reasons”, Israel’s previous for selective admission to its shores is no less repellent than that of the UAE government.” Whose court is the ball in? February 16, 2009

“In his article this week, Khaled Diab dismissed the idea of a one-state solution, falling back on the rationale that because Israelis don’t cleave to the notion, it therefore carries no weight as a viable option. However, to rule out the one-state argument on the basis of one side not approving is to do a massive injustice to those in the opposing camp, and will do nothing to ameliorate the status quo of “hatred and animosity” about which he writes.” We all need a home February 4, 2009

“Just as numerous Jews routinely distance themselves from Israel’s actions by declaring “not in my name”, they should do likewise with regard to the WJC. Because, for all the self-important cheerleading going on inside the halls of the Inbal Hotel, the WJC represents only itself and its cosy group of acolytes. Shimon Peres is not the president of the Jewish people; nor is Ron Lauder. And the more Jews speak out against the manipulative stances of both men, the better for the real interests of world Jewry – such as security, integrity and communal continuity.” A suffocating consensus of self-congratulation January 29, 2009

“Israel’s shocking lack of adherence to democratic values, its inequitable treatment of its non-Jewish citizens, and the never-ending subjugation of the Palestinians under its control deserves condemnation at every juncture; not to do so would be to abet decades-old injustice in one of the most fractious regions on earth.” Come out of your bunker, Elizabeth January 16, 2009

“Whether on the balmy streets of Jaffa, or in the upper echelons of Israeli officialdom, the message appears to be the same: if you raise so much as a murmur of dissent in a time of war, the strong arm of Israeli law will come crashing down and stifle your protests in a flash. Israel’s boast that it is the “only democracy in the Middle East” rings more hollow now than ever before.” A week is a long time in Israel January 13, 2009

“I/P threads are notorious on Cif for bringing out the worst in certain commenters, myself included, thanks to the hyper-sensitive nature of the issue at hand and the equally defensive attitude of those taking sides in the debate.” A gentleman among commenters November 17, 2008

“A collective memory stretching back generations, encompassing the Holocaust, eastern European pogroms, and events all the way back to Temple times, has taken a heavy toll on many Jews, allowing rhyme and reason to be replaced with rampant nationalism and state racism when it comes to modern-day Israel. While the fear in no way excuses the abhorrent treatment of the Palestinians, it has to be first identified and isolated before the malignant disease coursing through Israel’s psyche can be dealt with at all.” The immeasurable toll of war November 11, 2008

“In the circumstances, it is amazing that fewer Palestinians take up arms to resist the incessant assaults on them and their property. Bereft of adequate protection by the the IDF – the only security force allowed to operate in the area – and unable to fend off the wave after wave of settler attacks, that more Palestinians don’t take the law into their own hands is down simply to good fortune as far as ordinary Israelis are concerned.” A bitter harvest October 23, 2008

“Religious fervour has an alarming way of dragging its followers, and their unfortunate victims, back to Bible times. Stoning women in Iran is matched by stoning Arabs – or anyone else – daring to contravene Jewish law in Israel; the violators apparently deserving to be injured or killed for simply exercising the free will that the modern world extends to them.” Israel’s own religious fanatics October 10, 2008

“However, given Israel’s undeniable failure to adhere to either the Annapolis agreement – as highlighted in the aid agencies’ report – or to any other preceding deals signed between the two sides, it appears that the Palestinians will have a long wait coming before their dream is finally realised.” The view from Jericho September 26, 2008

“Their sorry situation is by no means unique; similar repressive tactics are used throughout the West Bank. The policy was described to me by a local activist as “ethnic cleansing by stealth”, with the ultimate aim being to make life so tough for the Palestinians that they hold their hands up in despair and relocate elsewhere. Where they go is of little interest to those holding the reins of Israeli power, so long as it’s far enough away for the vacated land to be redistributed to a new generation of settlers…

Judaism teaches its adherents not to “place a stumbling block before the blind”; yet – as is seen time and again – despite ostensibly being a Jewish state, Israel pays scant attention to the laws of our religion, and runs its business according to an entirely different rulebook.” Ethnic cleansing by stealth September 4, 2008

“Torah-based ethics and morality have been casually discarded, and replaced by the worship of false idols such as the tools of military and political power. To them, Judaism has morphed from a being an ancient religious tradition into a national identity that begins and ends with dominion over the land of Israel.” Land alone means nothing August 27, 2008

“Describing the situation in the West Bank as a form of apartheid causes offence to some, despite all the clear evidence justifying the term. The same people object to the wanton destruction meted out in villages by the IDF being likened to pogroms – the word having been somehow arrogated by certain Jewish people for their exclusive use, and only then in relation to the Jews’ own historical suffering.” Harsh words: but true August 21, 2008

“lipschitz – “If you understand the power of language, why do you need to demonise all Zionists?”

because the zionism you and i are talking about is a racist ideology – it has to be by definition. if mainstream zionism was just about bringing jews to live in israel (which i wholeheartedly support), and ended there – then it’d be a different story. but it isn’t – the zionism we’re talking about demands jewish rule over the entire country, and over all who dwell in it. and that’s racist – whether the “overwhelming majority” of your friends and family like it or not.” Comment posted by Seth Freedman on August 21, 2008 at 11:38am

“The parallels between Palestinian residents of Jerusalem being discriminated against and persecuted by the Israeli authorities and the ignominy suffered by Jews throughout the ages are as clear as day, yet don’t make the slightest impression on those for whom Jewish dominion over Greater Israel is everything. Did we learn nothing from loss and hardship August 12, 2008

“Israelis should be under no illusions as to why we’re being targeted by terrorist killers such as Hosan Dwayyat. It’s not because we’re Jews; it’s because of the relentless oppressive tactics employed by successive Israeli governments since the very foundation of the state. After all, pre-state Israeli militias were similarly deadly in their violent uprising against the British – and that was no anti-Protestant crusade.” The inevitable overreaction July 2, 2008

“topher – “Lets imagine, say, an Israel without Zionism: a secular, capitalist Israel but with the same pejorative relationship with the USA and with the same battered Palestinian population on its doorstep…”

but surely if there was no zionism, there’d be no objection to letting the palestinians be part of the future state, and hence they’d not be “the same battered Palestinian population on its doorstep”. once you remove zionism from the equation, the rest of the racist policies currently in place ought to collapse like a house of cards, and the country becomes a democratic state for all its citizens” Comment posted by Seth Freedman on June 26, 2008 at 1:34pm

“damnwymz – “Do you consider yourself a Zionist still then, by your own definition of it rather than the dominant form? (And can you define your version then?)”

i believe that jews have a right to live in the land of israel. that’s as far as it goes for me. i don’t believe any one ethnic group should be allowed to dominate/rule over/etc any other group of people on the basis of their ethnicity alone (whether in israel, saudi, or anywhere else). so no, i’m not a zionist by the popular definition.” Comment posted by Seth Freedman on June 26, 2008 at 12:08pm

“For there to be a justification for Israel’s existence, there first has to exist an existential threat to the Jewish people. Granted, history has handed us that fear of annihilation on a plate, but just because the fear exists, it doesn’t necessarily follow that what is feared does too.” Culture of fear June 22, 2008

“Urgent action is needed to prevent large scale humanitarian crises among the Palestinian people; instead, the Israeli government prefers sabre-rattling in Gaza and relentless occupation and plunder in the West Bank. The Palestinians are no fools; they know full well who is responsible for their continuing plight, and it’s little wonder that their anger and hate bubbles over periodically, when they are so persistently mistreated.” A drip, drip solution? June 17, 2008

“In this case, the patients were the villagers of Nilin, the disease they were vainly fighting was the ever-spreading cancer of Israeli settlements across the corpus of their ancestral land.

In 1948, the first symptoms of Nilin’s impending malaise took the form of an expropriation of 40,000 dunams of land by the newly formed Israeli army. While crushed by the weight this blow dealt to their livelihoods, the townspeople believed the tumour had gone into remission, only for a second attack to strike during the six day war, when several thousand more dunams were invaded.

Since then, they have realised that the malignant growth is spreading further: yet more of their land has been sequestered by the Israeli authorities and the detested security wall erected in the midst of their olive groves.” A village in its death throes June 9, 2008

“have just skimmed through the thread and my initial thoughts are:

petramb – shoot the messenger all you like – it’s water off a duck’s back to me. instead of trying to defend the indefensible, you’ve got all over the cancer analogy like a rash, which is pretty indicative of how incapable you (or any of your cheerleaders, for that matter) are of dealing with the matter at hand – ie the rape of nilin and the ensuing fallout from the assault. instead you focus on the language i employed, in the vain hope that you’ll muddy the water and take everyone else’s eyes off the underlying viciousness of the army/government’s policies. it doesn’t wash – so put the soap and water down.

as for those who complain about the cancer analogy – tough. i couldn’t care less if it’s comparable to iranian rhetoric about israel, or anyone else’s. it’s a perfect metaphor for what’s going on over here – i’m not interested in sugar-coating the truth and repackaging it so that the giyus mob can sleep easier. if it makes you uncomfortable, then all the better – perhaps it’ll wake you from your slumber and make you think twice about what’s being done in the name of expansionism, rampant nationalism and all-out oppression by the israeli authorities. i see it first hand, and i’m free to say my piece using whatever language i see fit. so i do. that your best line of defence is bleating about nazi comparisons, iranian bellicosity, etc, etc is as good a sign as any that you’re on the ropes, with little chance of beating the ten count. i’m still standing – and, more importantly, still writing. see you on the next thread…” Comment posted by Seth Freedman on June 9, 2008 at 10:57pm

“But when the tables are turned, and suddenly it’s the Jews’ turn to demonise another demographic group, then suddenly the phenomenon becomes acceptable. Centuries of being kicked when we were down has done more than physical damage; it has cemented the belief in our minds that the only way to prevent it happening again is to dole out an almighty beating to whoever’s nearest in order to show the world how tough we’ve become.” No refuge from responsibility May 29, 2008

“Whilst people might expect the Israeli authorities to show at least slightly more respect to bedouins than they do the Palestinians, purely on the basis that they are Israeli citizens, the fact is that the government prefer to see things in a binary fashion. Jewish = 1, non-Jewish = 0.” Citizens but second class May 26, 2008

“Instead of calling me “self-hating Jew”, or any of the other charming sobriquets that are like water off a duck’s back to me, the defenders of Israel’s version of apartheid would do well to take a deep breath, consider the facts on the ground, and see if they can honestly manage to rebut the charges continually levelled against the state. Those of us who see it for ourselves, who witness the crime and punishment carried out by the authorities on an ever-harsher scale, know when to call a spade a spade. The evidence speaks for itself. And rather than suffering ad hominem attacks, the likes of Halper, ICAHD and all the others who are prepared to bring the truth into open should be praised to the skies for the invaluable work that they do.” A true housing crisis May 22, 2008

“The dominant form of Zionism might be a racist, supremacist ideology – but Judaism is most definitely not. And the more Jews who make this distinction, the better: both for the security of their fellow Jews, as well as to prove to the Israeli authorities that they most definitely do not have carte blanche to crush the Palestinians for ever more under the guise of religious values.” Self help for self-haters April 14, 2008

“While IDF brainwashing might be more sophisticated than that of Palestinian extremist groups, the entire army experience is based around the notion that Israel is a vulnerable, susceptible entity that must be defended at all costs against the Arab hordes who seek to attack it at any opportunity. There is no room in the army for seeing things through the eyes of the Palestinians and educating the troops about alternatives to armed conflict with their enemies; instead, the message is “kill or be killed”, both on a personal and national level.” Road to redemption April 1, 2008

“We believe there are only two lasting solutions to the conflict: A two state solution of a sovereign Israel and a sovereign Palestine; or a one state solution encompassing all of Israel/Palestine. Given the latter option appears unworkable in the present climate, thanks to the apparently insurmountable opposition to it from several major players in the peace process, we have opted for the former solution as being the best interim option.” We believe in miracles March 10, 2008 [article in joint name of Assim Siddiqui and Seth Freedman]

“Those who accuse me of being anything from a fifth columnist to a self-hating Jew because I don’t take the crimes of the government lying down would do well to consider the Catholic mantra: love the sinner, hate the sin.” Love the sinner, hate the sin March 1, 2008

“nochamol – “This is the guy who once threatened violence against another blogger. He said “All I need is an empty glass”

the old ones are the best. though you didn’t tell it as well as i did the first time round.

anyway, who cares? i’ve always said i don’t care what people say to me on the threads, as long as they can take what they dish out. while we are in a position where there are no enforceable rules, then it’s a case of if people don’t like the heat, the kitchen door’s always open. writing pieces like this won’t make the blindest bit of difference.

that said, there are ways to make people responsible for their words/actions on the threads – and when they’re introduced, everyone’ll wish they’d behaved themselves better before cif had to turn draconian. but the vicious minority petra’s referring to won’t respond to her (or anyone else’s) calls for calm in the interim.” Comment posted by Seth Freedman on February 25, 2008 at 1.47pm

“And that, despite the protestations of the Israeli embassy in Canada, is why Israel is doomed to remain lumped together with the likes of Afghanistan, Iran, China and Egypt on official lists as a country where ill treatment and torture are all too often inherent to the judicial process.” Crime and impunity January 24, 2008

“Demonising the “other” is the easiest way to convince a public that an entire people are dangerous enemies who must be avoided at all costs. Israel’s far from alone in its practising of this method – the Daily Mail’s scaremongering about Polish immigrants, the Sun’s rabble-rousing about Gypsies, and so on, are all perfect examples of England’s own hysteria when it comes to people slightly different from themselves.” Beyond the city limits January 22, 2008