Irish Times op-ed: Sharon tried cleansing Palestinians due to ‘chosen people’ belief

In October we posted about a shameful smear at The Irish Times - by a socialist activist, former Trotskyite and occasional ‘Comment is Free’ contributor named Eamonn McCann – with the following headline: 

McCann’s piece included fantastical anecdotes such as this:

The late Mary Holland once explained to me why she had changed sides on the Israel-Palestine issue after spending just a few hours in the region.

[when you] walked out of the hotel, she recalled, you could see something was terribly wrong. Arabs shrinking back on the pavements to allow Jews to pass, being literally, physically pushed out of their way if they didn’t move fast enough, and, worst of all in her account, the Arabs’ heads-down acceptance of it all.

McCann added a few more alleged examples of racism before concluding that it’s such “settled hatred that lies at the heart of Israel’s official ideology“, and predicting that such Israeli hatred will be the “cause of its downfall in the end“.

Today, Jan 16, The Irish Times published another vicious attack on Israel by McCann, in a piece ostensibly comparing Ariel Sharon with Ian Paisley:

irish timesMcCann begins:

Ariel Sharon and Ian Paisley shared more than bulkiness and belligerence. Each based his ideology on books of the Bible – the fundamental reason neither could contemplate compromise or regard enemies as equals.

The first five books loomed large in each of their ideologies. (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy constitute the Torah.)

Sharon will have been mindful of: “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and saidTo your descendants I give this land . . . the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:18-21).

McCann further contextualizes the passage from Genesis, thus:

Sharon’s ruthless determination to cleanse the land of Israel of Palestinians was not rooted in analysis of contemporary reality – he didn’t see it primarily as a necessary response to anti-Semitism in the wider world, or to the Holocaust – but in the first instance as a duty conferred on the Jewish people by Yahweh.

The massacre [in the Palestinian village of Qibya in 1953] was undertaken [by Sharon] as retaliation for the killing by Palestinians of a Jewish mother and her two children. Sharon will have believed as he went about his work that he was wielding the sword of God – and will have had the same sense of righteousness when supervising the Phalangists’ pitiless butchery of more than 2,000 Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon in 1982.

First, McCann’s charge that Sharon tried to “cleanse the land of Israel of Palestinians” is a libel “not rooted in reality”, and of course nothing but ahistorical anti-Zionist agitprop.

Additionally, his claim that Sharon “supervised” the Christian Arabs who massacred Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila in 1982 is of course demonstrably untrue.  The Israeli commission on the incident found Sharon “responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge when he approved the entry of the Phalangists into the camps”, and nowhere is there any suggestion that he “supervised” the killing.  Indeed, the commission explicitly criticized IDF leaders for NOT supervising (their word) the Phlangists’ activities.

But, most importantly, McCann is suggesting that the recently deceased (and decidedly secular) Israeli leader initiated such supposed acts of “ethnic cleansing” because he felt, by virtue of the words written in the Torah, that Jews are “chosen” by God, rendering non-Jews expendable.

As we observed following Deborah Orr’schosen people slur at the Guardian in 2011, the antisemitic use of the idea of Jewish “chosenness” – which most Jews understand as a requirement to fulfill an elevated ethical purpose – has a long and dark history.

In 1973, the Soviet Union actually initiated a debate at the UN on the subject of Jews as the chosen people, which they argued was evidence of the Jewish religion’s inherent racism.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the most widely distributed antisemitic forgery in history – a book still quite popular in much of the Arab world – is premised partly on the distorted idea of Jews’ “chosenness”, and represents a widely used theme at one of the more popular antisemitic sites on the web Jew Watch, a clearinghouse of Judeophobic conspiracy theories replete with quotes such as these:

“The Jewish conception of the Jews as the Chosen People who must eventually rule the world forms indeed the basis of Rabbinical Judaism.”

The most well-known white supremacist in the U.S., David Duke, uses the theme of Jews’ “chosenness” to prove that Jews are the most racist people on the planet, and has argued the following in his book ‘Jewish Surpemacism:

“Israelites are a “chosen people,” chosen by God above all the other peoples of the world…[which] is a blatant expression of ethnic supremacism.”

The odious notion that Jews are religiously programmed to conquer, rule and murder non-Jews due to a sense of superiority has a undeniably racist pedigree and, at the very least, shouldn’t be legitimized by the editors at the Irish Times, or any other “respectable”, putatively “progressive” media outlet. 

 

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In article on Syria, Deborah Orr again throws in antisemitic ‘chosen people’ slur

Deborah Orr evidently can’t help herself.  

orr

In 2011 the veteran Guardian journalist was forced to apologize after engaging in a gratuitous and ugly smear against Jews as inherently racist by completely distorting the concept of ‘the chosen people’ in a commentary on the Gilad Shalit prisoner release exchange. Here’s the infamous passage:

“At the same time, however, there is something abject in [Hamas's] eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbors.”

Her apology – a quite mealy-mouthed one at that – included the following:

Last week, I upset a lot of people by suggesting Zionists saw themselves as “chosen”. My words were badly chosen and poorly used, and I’m sorry for it.

Remarkably, given the paper’s history with sanctioning such Judeophobic narratives, the Guardian’s readers’ editor wrote the following about Orr, two weeks after her column, in a piece titled ‘on averting accusations of antisemitism':

Two weeks ago a columnist used the term “the chosen” in an item on the release of Gilad Shalit, which brought more than 40 complaints to the Guardian, and an apology from the columnist the following week. “Chosenness”, in Jewish theology, tends to refer to the sense in which Jews are “burdened” by religious responsibilities; it has never meant that the Jews are better than anyone else. Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read “chosen” as code for Jewish supremacism.

Though Orr has been relatively silent about issues pertaining to Jews and Israel since then, in an essay she penned yesterday, on the Jewish New Year, she managed to again revisit the ugly ‘chosen people’ smear. Though the article was ostensibly about Syria, (‘Russia is holding a lot of the cards in the Syria crisis. We should face that, Sept. 6), she was only able to stay on topic for eleven paragraphs, before pivoting inexplicably to Israel, ending with the following five paragraphs:

This would be a splendid time to try to get Egypt to sign the [chemical weapon] convention as well. And Israel, as yet, has not ratified. One can hardly blame Israel for this when two hostile countries on its borders haven’t even signed. However, one can blame Israel – and also the US – for going ahead with missile testing when the region is in crisis. The excuse given was that the exercise had been long-planned. Oh, dear. Could there be a more powerful declaration of the long-standing partisan interest the west has in the Middle East?

In the Middle East, people insist that all their troubles come back to Israel. It’s certainly true that some of them do. Israel, of course, is another country brought into being in the region largely by outsiders. Also, it was done without the agreement of either the majority of those living on the land at that time, or the neighbours, who have predictably proved to be so determinedly hostile. The creation of Israel has not been what anyone could call an unmitigated success, least of all the refugees whose descendants live until this day in camps, the product of a stalemate that has remained since 1948.

Israel has a right to exist, because it exists and because millions of people need it to continue to exist. But Israel’s creation was in part a response to another refugee crisis, after another terrible war. Just like all other religious groups, Judaism tends not fully to understand that its own sacred beliefs are true only to itself. I believe that the Jews are God’s chosen people no more than I believe that Christ was the son of God, or that Mohammed was God’s final prophet. How can I, when I don’t believe in God? I do believe, however, that the Middle East is the cradle of all three monotheistic religions. That’s a fact.

The idea that Israel is the product of some sort of ancient first-dibs right to a slice of the Middle East? That’s something that Jewish people – and anyone else – have every right to believe. But, in all religious groups there needs to be an understanding that even if a belief forms a crucial part of their own identity or faith, it isn’t a fact to be accepted by others who don’t share that identity or faith. A workable Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement grounded in 21st-century geopolitical fact, and stripped of ancient religious belief, is a necessary part of any wider settlement in the region.

Israeli Jews are no different to other religious, ethnic or nationalist groups in the Middle East in a basic respect: they want a land to call their own, in which they are safe. That’s only human. It’s time for the Middle East and the world to start trying to build on the things that humans have in common with each other, even if progress is difficult and slow. The things that make us different are the things we tend to insist are more important. These, unfortunately, offer no basis for agreement at all – only for continued conflict.

First, the degree to which Orr deviated off-topic is simply staggering – imputing significance to a concept in Judaism (which she egregiously misinterprets) in a piece ostensibly about an Arab on Arab conflict that has nothing to do with Jews.  In the face of unimaginable savagery in a Syrian war which has claimed over 100,000 lives, and has included the regime’s use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians, the Guardian journalist looks around the region and can’t help but see Jews. 

More importantly, however, she once again shamefully legitimizes the distorted idea of ‘chosenness’ – derived from a passage in the Torah understood as a Jewish requirement to uphold an especially high standard of ethical behavior – as Jews’ belief in something akin to religious supremacy, an idea her readers’ editor dismissed as the propaganda of antisemitic extremists.  

The Guardian readers’ editor, in his piece on “averting antisemitism” cited above, concluded thusly:

I have been careful to say that these examples may be read as antisemitic because I don’t believe their appearance in the Guardian was the result of deliberate acts of antisemitism: they were inadvertent.

The Guardian should not be oppressed by criticism – some of the language used by our critics is abusive and intimidatory – or retreat into self-censorship. But reporters, writers and editors must be more vigilant to ensure our voice in the debate is not diminished because our reputation has been tarnished.

Try as they may to “avert” such charges, their journalists and contributors’ obsession with Jews will continue to earn the “liberal” broadsheet the just reputation as one of the leading mainstream media purveyors of antisemitic tropes. 

Steve Bell continues to giggle about antisemitism

Here are the last three cartoons by the Guardian’s Steve Bell:

Feb. 4

feb 4

Feb. 5

feb 5

Here’s his latest, on Feb 6.

Steve Bell's If… 06/02

As we revealed yesterday, Bell’s body of work includes several cartoons about Israel which employ the blood motif, and a few which depict Jews pejoratively as the ‘chosen people’.

His latest two cartoons evidently demonstrate that he finds the whole idea of antisemitic tropes (which he SO cleverly spells as “Aunty Semutic”) amusing, despite the fact that he was warned to avoid engaging in depictions which evoke classic Judeophobia by Guardian readers’ editor, Chris Elliott.

tumblr_m3ri2xiV2n1rtflzjo1_500

Steve Bell

I can’t wait to see his next schoolbook doodle about those overly sensitive, silly Jews. 

Richard Millett: An evening with Ronnie Kasrils, where Jews are painted as racist & “demonic”

Cross posted by Richard Millett

Ronnie Kasrils (left), Alan (Chair), Gary MacFarlane (Right) last night.

Last night a few of us journeyed deep into Tottenham, north London, the area that sparked last year’s London riots, to hear hardcore anti-Israel activist Ronnie Kasrils, who was over from South Africa.

Haringey Palestine Solidarity Campaign hosted the evening in the St John Vianney Church.

It was an evening where Jews were painted as “demonic”. This didn’t apply to Ronnie Kasrils who told us that he was able to break with the ethnic position of being Jewish, Zionist and white skinned in a white society, which helped him to “find my freedom”.

Kasrils told how South African Jews thought of blacks in apartheid South Africa as “the wretched of the earth”. This was followed by a woman in the audience who opined about “what Jews have become”.

Kasrils’ opening attack was the usual nonsense:

“The Jews took that land from the Arabs who had been there for over 1,000 years…The mythology of the establishment of the state of Israel is ‘The Lord Our G-d acting as an estate agent’…and He decided He has a Chosen People… ‘There is a Chosen People and it’s me the Jews and we are specially given the land’…We are the Chosen People and we can come here and evacuate, we can dismiss an entire population of people, at that time 700,000, by all means possible.”

He compared the landing of the forefathers of South Africa in 1652, when they discovered “black skinned people”, to Zionists. Both the forefathers and Zionists, he said, “argued that the land was empty”:

“In 1948 people were fleeing Europe from the Holocaust but the Zionists misled the poor wretches to a land without a people for a people without a land.”

Then he described what Jews in South Africa told their children:

“Don’t worry about the blacks. They’re used to it. That’s the mantra. Don’t worry, they’re used to it. All the poverty and the way they have to live etc. Each to his own. Focus on your own life. You can give the beggars some money. But these people; the poor, the wretched of the earth, they’re used to it. Don’t waste your time.”

Here it is:

During the Q&A a woman spoke of her visit to Gaza. She said she hadn’t met any terrorists there, just “freedom fighters”. She had met an amputee who had been walking to hospital one day to give birth when her husband was “liquidated” next to her after which she gave birth while Palestinian doctors were patching up her amputated legs. The woman continued:

“This is Israel. This is Israel. And it’s much more than an apartheid state; it is a demonic state!”

She addressed Jonathan Hoffman who had also been allowed to speak during the Q&A:

“Your behaviour is so atrocious that we when see someone acting like you act, if this is what the Jews have become it is a great shame. But I know that is not true because there I see a man, a Jew, and there are many others who I know who are standing up for what Judaism is really about. Ronnie Kasrils it is very nice to see you here…What is happening now about Iran and about Syria? I was teaching in school when a young Jewish boy stood up many years ago and said ‘We Israelis, we Jews, are going to bring Syria down’. This is 10 years ago.”

Here is the sickening audio:

“What’s become of the Jews?” – Haringey PSC

Meanwhile, I was under strict instructions from Alan, who was chairing, not to take any photos eventhough I had politely asked at the beginning. As ever everyone else was allowed. On my way out of the event I quickly took the above shot from the back of the room whereupon I was pushed and shoved out of the room by two thugs.

I just don’t get how anti-Israel activists think they have the right to even lay a hand on someone, let alone push and shove them.

Once outside though it was funny to see bins for the church provided by Veolia, one of the companies that there had just been a call inside the meeting to boycott because of its links with Israel (see below).

Oh dear, Veolia bins in the church grounds.