Rankin: The apology

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

Yesterday’s CST blog (scroll below, or see here) covered allegations by the celebs’ photographer Rankin about movie stars running scared of the power of American “Jewish zealots“.

Today’s Telegraph carries an apology from Rankin:

In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject. Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.

The article includes this quote from CST:

It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism.

Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.

The Independent, which carried the offensive claims, today published this letter from CST:

Your article about Scarlett Johansson (Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam) and the supposed “power of a far right pro-lsrael lobby within the US” was redolent of openly antisemitic smears about Jews running Hollywood and the media.

Worse, the article relied upon quotes by the photographer Rankin that actually made no mention of “pro-Israel”. Instead, you quoted him saying “the Jewish zealots are so powerful” and “the main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism”.

Rankin is as “a humanitarian”, so is no antisemite, but he seems to repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. What a fitting snapshot of antisemitism today.

All of which should help to draw a line under this, but who would bet how much time will pass before a mainstream UK media outlet carries another such article, in one form or another. (The AIPAC conference starts on 2nd March, so anybody betting beyond that date will likely be on a loser.)

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Independent: Rankin’s snapshot of antisemitism today

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

[Yesterday's] Independent carries an interview with celebrity photographer, Rankin. He inadvertently provides a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that underpins so much of today’s antisemitism.

Rankin speaks as “a humanitarian”, so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. That is the snapshot. It shows how modern (and old) antisemitism is about conspiracy theory, rather than race theory. As so often, the focus is against American Jews.

This is what it boils down to:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…

Single names tend to denote Brazilian footballers, famous dead Russians, or really cool people – Rankin is the latter, a leading British photographer of fashionistas and luvvies.

Entitled “Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam“, the Independent article by Jenn Selby quotes him as saying that Scarlett Johansson chose the Israeli company SodaStream over Oxfam because:

in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry…what they could do to her career

Selby interviewed Rankin at length. In her article, she writes of his concerns, because apparently “the power of a far right pro-Israel lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians“.

Actually, nowhere is Rankin actually quoted as saying “far right pro-Israel“. This appears to be Selby’s paraphrasing or interpretation of his remarks. Did the Independent notice this? Did Selby? It all shows how permeable the boundaries are. Rankin is also quoted as saying:

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism.

What is this “kind of extreme Judaism“? He continues:

That extreme belief that this [ie Israel / Palestine] is their homeland and those people [ie Palestinians] are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. Its worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it?

(The website version goes further than the print version, quoting, “You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it“.)

Of course, we can presume that Rankin is no antisemite. He tells us he is “fascinated from a humanitarian perspective” and is “just about human beings“. Nevertheless, here he is aping the blatant antisemitic smear about Jews running the media and Hollywood. It is all so typical of what Brendan O’Neill recently described as:

not a resurrection of old, explicitly racial fears of the Jews, but rather the mainstreaming of the [antisemitic] conspiratorial imagination

The antisemitic conspiratorial imagination is amplified by Rankin’s explanation of how this all supposedly works:

People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list…I’m just about human beings.

Note the opener, “people have said to me…You will be put on a list“. And that is the conspiracy done.

Like all good photographers, Rankin has captured the essence of things.

Rankin names nobody. Not Steven Spielberg, not Aaron Sorkin and certainly not Woody Allen. Had he done so, perhaps the Independent’s lawyers would have stepped in on libel grounds. Instead, we can join the dots:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…You will be put on a list.

Finally, it is deeply depressing to see this in the Independent. Any newspaper that regularly publishes Howard Jacobson’s stunning deconstructions and analyses of antisemitism cannot be simply dismissed as unknowing, far less as antisemitic. Similarly, its recent articles on French antisemite Dieudonne have been amongst the most impressive of any UK media outlet…and yet, it still photoshopped and published this repellent snapshot.

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Economist removes antisemitic cartoon; apologizes for ‘inadvertent’ offense

Earlier today we posted about the following cartoon published at The Economist – used to illustrate an article about negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – which evoked the antisemitic narrative complaining of the injurious effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy.

Within the past hour, we learned that the Economist removed the cartoon from the online edition of the article, and issued the following addendum:

econ

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Nicolas Anelka and Dieudonne: the quenelle is an antisemitic salute

Cross posted by Dave Rich from the blog of The CST

The quenelle salute given by West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka when he scored in their Premier League match on Saturday is an antisemitic gesture, and he should be punished accordingly by the FA.

In the Luis Suarez and John Terry cases the FA established the ‘zero tolerance’ principle, that a player’s intention does not excuse the use of racist language. The same principle must be applied in this case. Anelka says that he is not racist or antisemitic and that he did not intend his quenelle to have an antisemitic meaning, but this is beside the point:  just as the FA accepted that Luis Suarez is not a racist person while banning him for eight matches after he used racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra.

That the quenelle is antisemitic is beyond dispute. In France it has become part of a social media craze in which people find ever-more offensive places to insult Jews by doing a quenelle: this blogpost shows photographs of people performing quenelles at Auschwitz, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, outside synagogues and Jewish shops and at dozens of other Jewish sites. There is even a photograph of someone doing a quenelle outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, where Mohammed Merah murdered three children and a teacher in March 2012:

 ob_43b6f7b494bb77257061d86e28388882_quenellemerah2

If the people in these photographs did a Nazi salute at any of these sites they would risk instant arrest and prosecution. The quenelle is a way of getting around the law, while still getting the same thrill of breaking the taboo against antisemitism.

The quenelle was invented by French comic Dieudonné Mbala Mbala. Anelka has excused his quenelle by saying that it was “just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné”; but this is no excuse, it just confirms the offence. Dieudonné has numerous convictions for antisemitism in France. One of these was for a sketch in which he gave a heroism award to French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. The ‘comedy’ was that the award was presented by a man in a concentration camp uniform, complete with a yellow star.

Dieudonné claims that the quenelle is anti-establishment and anti-Zionist, not antisemitic. This is true, but also misleading – because Dieudonné believes that the establishment is run by “Zionists”. He told Iran’s Press TV:

The Zionist lobby … have taken France as hostage and we are in the hands of ignorant people, who know how to structure themselves into a mafia-like organisation and… have now taken over a country.

This is not the anti-Zionism of people who think that the Palestinians get a raw deal from Israel: it is the anti-Zionism of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, of a conspiracy theory that believes “the Jews pull all the strings”, as French extremism expert Jean-Yves Camus put it. (There is more background about Dieudonné’s political journey here).

It is also a political worldview that has led Dieudonné into a friendship with leaders of the far right Front National (FN). In 2006, Dieudonné attended the FN’s annual festival, and in 2008 veteran FN leader Jean Marie Le Pen became godfather to one of Dieudonné’s children.

Here is Le Pen (centre) with the FN’s Bruno Gollnisch (left) and friends, doing a quenelle:

next

The quenelle was unknown in Britain before this weekend, but it has been at the centre of a public storm in France due to the viral spread of people doing it at Jewish sites and posting the photos on social media. Government ministers are talking of banning Dieudonné’s public appearances because they believe that he incites hatred of Jews and poses a threat to public order. Dieudonné denies this, but when Nicolas Anelka did his quenelle during a match that was broadcast live on French TV, he inserted himself into a race row in his home country – on the side of the alleged racist.

This does not mean that Anelka intended to make an antisemitic statement, or even that he understood the meaning of what he did: but now that the quenelle has entered British football, the FA need to set a clear precedent by acting swiftly and unequivocally to punish those who do it.

New CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain slams the Guardian

The last time we posted about the annual report on antisemitic discourse in Britain by the Community Security Trust (the charity organisation advising British Jews on matters of security and antisemitism) we focused on the fact that the Guardian was singled out for opprobrium.  

cst 2011

In fact, CST devoted an entire section of their 21 page report to the Guardian, noting that “in 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.”  Specifically, CST focused on an article by Chris McGreal characterizing US government support for Israel as “slavish” and a widely condemned ‘chosen people‘ slur by columnist Deborah Orr.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on McGreal’s “slavish” comment here and here, and our take on Deborah Orr’s ‘chosen people’ slur here and here.)

In the latest CST report on antisemitic discourse, released just today, the Guardian again was singled out.  

cst 2012

Specifically, the CST wrote the following:

The largest antisemitism-related controversy concerning mainstream media content in 2012 was a cartoon in the Guardian, by Steve Bell. This depicted Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary William Hague MP as glove puppets of the Israeli Prime Minister. Bell resolutely denied any antisemitic intent and the cartoon was not removed.

Steve Bell cartoon, Guardian. Nov. 15, 2012.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on the Steve Bell cartoon, here and here.)

The CST report also singled out a ‘Comment is Free’ commentary by Juan Cole, and included the following:

An intervention by CST caused the Guardian Comment is Free website to partly amend an article that had echoed antisemitic charges of Jewish conspiracy and warmongering.

(See CiF Watch’s posts about the row here and here)

Also of note, Robert Fisk was singled out for making “a highly insulting allegation about people supposedly being called antisemitic Nazis for writing the “truth” about Israel.”

(CAMERA posts about Robert Fisk can be found here)

CST’s summary of their annual report is here, while you can see the full 36 page PDF here.

David Ward MP – Jews, money and power

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Jews, money and power is a well-worn antisemitic trinity.

So, what possessed David Ward MP to send this tweet on 15th November?

That Roma are marginalised is not in question. If David Ward MP wishes they had a better reputation, or better representation, then let him say so: but this tweet appears to say far more about the Board of Deputies than it does about marginalised Roma.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is the representative body of British Jews. It does its job as best it can, and has done so since 1760. It is, in mundane reality, neither awash with money, nor all-powerful. Ward is an MP for Bradford. There are very few Jews in Bradford, but very many Muslims. Taken at face value, the Board would basically be an irrelevancy for both David Ward and his constituents.

Nevertheless, this kind of thinking, the well-worn drawing together of Jews, money and power, betrays Jews, Muslims and Ward’s own Liberal Democrat Party. It also betrays Ward, but only in the sense of revealing how he thinks, or what he may think appeals to his Muslim constituents.

David Ward has, in under a year, gone from relative obscurity to becoming a one man wrecking ball for the reputation of his party. (For brief example, see here; and see here for his attending a meeting on November 4th that disgraced Parliament.)

The Liberal Democrats must have thought that Jenny Tonge’s much awaited exit had put all of this aggravation and nonsense behind them. Unfortunately, Ward has swiftly occupied the space vacated by Tonge’s departure; and, once again, the Jewish community is left dismayed by the antisemitic resonance of statements made by a Liberal Democrat MP.

The last time we got here with Ward, the party leadership suspended him, and failed in attempts to educate him on the subject of antisemitism and Jewish sensitivities. Then, at the recent Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow, Ward attended an open meeting of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group, entitled,

Crossing the line: Israel, Palestine, language and anti-Semitism

Before it, he had tweeted:

looking forward to LDFI event tonight on use of sensitive language

On behalf of CST, I spoke at the meeting, as did Alistair Carmichael MP, Maajid Nawaz and Lesley Klaff.

David Ward and a colleague sat near the front. Ward appeared to be paying very close attention, his face a scowl of concentration as he scribbled furiously throughout. I tried to direct my explanation of contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism straight at him, including:

If I think that someone’s made an antisemitic remark, or that the accusations they make against Israel or Zionists sound just like an update of older antisemitism, with the word Zionist used where the word Jew used to be, then I’m not saying that that person hates every single Jew in the world…I’m just saying that they’ve made an antisemitic remark. The context surrounding that remark, and how they react to my perception of what they’ve said, how other people react in accordance with all of that – now that’s important to me.

Because that’s the basics of how racism works. Its a form of political violence. It feeds off loose language and stereotypes. If the media or the politicians or activist groups run anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim or anti-black scare stories, then attacks on those people increase. You know that, we all know that and its no different with Jews. If you don’t care about the anti-Jewish aspect of racism, or about the feelings of Jews as victims, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a dyed in the wool antisemite, but it certainly makes you part of the problem.

At the very least, David Ward MP is certainly part of the problem.

Why is a Swedish Jew filing for political asylum in her own country?

Last year we had the pleasure of interviewing a Swedish Jew (and Zionist activist) named Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, who recounted her experiences living in a country plagued by a dangerous rise in antisemitism.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm, September 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

As the recent poll on European antisemitism by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) confirmed, the already precarious situation for Sweden’s Jews has taken a turn for the worse, and Hernroth-Rothstein’s latest essay at Mosaic Magazine serves as an important personal story to add detail and nuance to the FRA data.

She writes:

Here in Stockholm this fall, we in the Jewish community have enjoyed our 21st annual Jewish film festival, a klezmer concert, and a number of other cultural diversions. I choose the word “diversions” advisedly. It’s thanks to such entertainments that so many of my fellow Jews can allow themselves to say that we’re doing okay here—that there’s no need to rock the boat or cause trouble.

But you know what? We are not okay, and this is not okay.

Kosher slaughter has been outlawed in my country since 1937, and a bill is now pending in parliament that would ban even the import and serving of kosher meat. Circumcision, another pillar of the Jewish faith, is likewise under threat. In my job as a political adviser to a Swedish party, I have dealt with two bills on this issue in the past year alone; a national ban is rapidly gaining political support in the parliament and among the Swedish public. When it comes to our religious traditions, those on both the Right and Left in Swedish politics find common ground; they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us, and from what one politician has called our “barbaric practices.” 

Later, she provides a more personal glimpse into life for Swedish Jews.

In today’s Sweden, home to all of 20,000 Jews amidst a national population of some nine million, the public display of Jewish identity, like donning a kippah or wearing a Star of David pendant, puts an individual at severe risk of verbal harassment and, even worse, physical harm. Synagogues are so heavily guarded that Jewish tourists are turned away if they try to attend services unannounced. Inside the sanctuary, we celebrate our festivals and holy days under police protection. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, during the five-minute walk to the water for the ceremony of tashlikh, my young son asked a guard why so many policemen were accompanying us. Replied the officer: “so that no bad people can hurt you.”

This is the self-image—the reality—that Jewish children in Sweden grow up with: being Jewish means being under threat of harm from bad people. This is where we are at.

You can read the rest of Hernroth-Rothstein’s story and learn why she is filing for political asylum in her own country, here.

We also encourage you to read her passionate letter titled ‘How to survive as a Jew in Sweden? Shut up and fade into the woodwork‘.

For context on the situation in Sweden, you can read CST commentaries on the FRA poll about European antisemitism here, here, here and here.

FRA survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States

Cross posted by The CST

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) today published its ground breaking survey of Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism in the EU.

The survey covers the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy Hungary, and Latvia: around 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the EU. It will enable European politicians to understand Jewish concerns and to better respond to them.

CST wrote a preview of the survey, with some of its pre-released findings, on the CST Blog last week. The full survey has been published today and is available here, with a summary here (pdf). The full data of the survey can be explored here. It is highly detailed, with dozens of questions answered for each country.

Due to the wealth of information revealed, any summary will inevitably be limited. Some of the key findings are summarised below, in which figures are averaged out for Europe as a whole. Next week, CST Blog will analyse the UK statistics and other details.

Key findings – Europe general and UK:

Across Europe, 66% of respondents consider antisemitism to be a “very big” or “fairly big” problem in their countries. The UK is lowest, at 48%, and France is highest, at 85%.

Across Europe, 76% say the situation has worsened in the last five years. In the UK this figure is 66%; France is again the highest, at 88%.

Antisemitism is considered the fourth most-pressing social or political issue across the countries surveyed.

Across Europe, in the 12 months before the survey, 26% of respondents experienced one or more incident of antisemitic harassment, which includes verbal abuse or other threatening behaviour in the street, hate mail and antisemitism on social media. The figure for the UK was 21%. Across Europe, 4% of survey respondents had suffered antisemitic physical attack or a threat of violence during the previous year (3% for UK). 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment did not report the most serious incident to the police or any other organisation. (71% in the UK).

Perpetrators of the most serious incidents of antisemitic harassment were described by respondents. Across Europe, 27% of perpetrators were perceived as someone with “Muslim extremist views”; 22% were perceived as “left-wing political views”; and 19% as “right-wing views”. The survey report does not give individual country analysis.

Close to half of all respondents (46%) worry about being verbally insulted or harassed in a public place. One third (33%) worry about being physically attacked because of being Jewish. The UK has the lowest levels of fear, with 28% worrying about verbal abuse and 17% worrying about physical attack. Highest is France, at 70% and 60% respectively.

Across Europe, 19% experienced discrimination due to their religion  in the past 12 months. For the UK this figure was the second-lowest at 16%, but the UK showed the highest rate of reporting such discrimination, at 24%.

Across Europe, 27% at least occasionally avoid local places because they do not feel safe there because they are Jewish. Belgium (42%), Hungary (41%) and France (35%) are the worst places for this. 23% at least occasionally avoid Jewish events or sites for the same reason. 68% of respondents at least occasionally avoid wearing items in public that might identify them as Jewish. The figure for the UK is 59%; the highest figures were in Sweden (79%) and France (75%).

Across Europe, 11% have either moved or considered moving out of their neighbourhood in the past five years due to concerns for their safety as Jews. 29% have, at some time or other, considered emigration: this rises to 48% for Hungary, 46% for France and 40% for Belgium. In the UK, 18% have considered emigration.

Across Europe, 94% of all respondents consider somebody who says “The Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated” to be antisemitic. 81% consider somebody who says “Israelis behave ‘like Nazis’ towards the Palestinians” to be antisemitic. 72% consider somebody who supports boycotts of Israeli goods or products to be antisemitic. 34%  consider somebody who criticises Israel to be antisemitic. In the UK, the figures are 96%, 76%, 65% and 32% respectively.

Across Europe, 75% of respondents considered antisemitism on the internet to be a problem, and 73% thought it had increased over the past 5 years. In the UK, these figures were 63% and 64% respectively.

Across Europe, 68% of respondents said that the Arab-Israeli conflict impacts how safe they feel as a Jewish person in their country. This falls to 57% for the UK, but rises to 90% for France and 93% for Belgium.

The survey also showed significant differences between countries. For example, in the UK, 9% of respondents said they had often heard the statement “Jews are responsible for the current economic crisis”, while this figure rose to 59% for Hungary.

CST public statement

In response to media enquiries, CST’s public statement regarding the survey is:

The details change from place to place, but this official survey shows that many European Jews are increasingly affected by antisemitism and related trends. In some countries, including Britain, politicians and police are trying to deal with the problem, but these efforts are sorely needed everywhere. Jews also require basic anti-racist solidarity in all of this: solidarity that has been partial, or deliberately denied, far too often since the year 2000.

——————

Survey methods

FRA designed this survey to collect, for the first time, comparable data on antisemitic violence, harassment and hate speech to help tackle antisemitism today. The findings in the survey report compile the results from eight survey countries, which account for some 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the European Union. The results are based on the responses from 5,847 self-identified Jewish respondents (aged 16 or over) living in one of eight EU Member States – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Due to the sample size, the country results for Romania, one of the countries where the survey was carried out, are not included in the analysis of the survey results. However, the results from Romania are summarised in the report’s annex.

FRA designed the survey. The survey was carried out online from September to October 2012 – under contract to FRA following an open call for tender – by Ipsos MORI in partnership with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) in the UK. It was available in the languages of the survey countries, as well as Hebew and Russian. CST has long-standing relationships with both FRA and JPR and senior CST staff played an advisory role in the project.

The survey asked respondents for their opinions and perceptions on antisemitic trends and antisemitism as a problem in everyday. The respondents were also asked to describe their personal experiences of antisemitic incidents, witnessing antisemitic incidents and worrying about being a victim of an antisemitic attack (affecting their personal safety, safety of children, or other family members and friends). The survey also provides data on whether the occurrence of antisemitic acts against the Jewish community, such as vandalism of Jewish sites or antisemitic messages in the broadcast media or in the internet, is considered to be a problem in their countries by the Jewish respondents. In addition, the survey collected socio-demographic data, such as respondents’ gender and age, educational background, employment status, and income.

More data and analysis from the survey will be published on the CST Blog next week.

Preview of official survey on European antisemitism

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at The CST

Next week, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Krystallnacht, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the European Union will publish the results of its keenly awaited survey, “Jewish people’s experiences and perceptions of hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism”. It is the largest survey of its type, covering countries in which 90% of European Jews live - Britain, France, Hungary, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Latvia.

The survey does not ask what level of antisemitism ought to somehow be expected, or tolerated. Its questions include asking  Jews what they perceive to be antisemitic, what they experience, and how it impacts upon their sense of belonging and future. It does not seek to tell Jews what is or is not antisemitic. It does not define a particular level of antisemitism as “good” or “bad” or “normal”. Instead, all of that is quite correctly decided by the respondents. 

So, this is an exceptional opportunity for Jewish communities, European politicians, and researchers, to understand both Jewish experiences of antisemitism and Jewish perceptions of antisemitism. The hope and intention is that this gives an urgently needed kick-start for improved protection of European Jews. 

The FRA collects data on human rights and racism for EU policy makers. CST has worked very closely with both it and European Jewish partners for many years. This survey arose from our shared concern that Europe’s politicians and lawmakers needed to understand, and act upon, a situation that has worsened considerably since the year 2000.

Crucially, our concern was shared by the European Commission, which actually ordered the survey be undertaken. They needed it, because most countries (Britain being an exception) held insufficient data on antisemitism. Furthermore, individual countries could be better held to account for their efforts.

Opposing antisemitism in post-Holocaust Europe should be the most basic of human rights issues. Disgracefully, it is not. Jewish concerns and motives are misrepresented, treated with suspicion, or simply lied about, by all too many supposed anti-racists: including sections of the media, trade unions and churches, where urges to attack Israel and so-called Zionists overwhelm other considerations. That some Jews embrace this corrupt enterprise merely deepens their comrades’ contempt for mainstream Jewish (therefore so-called Zionist) concerns. 

Regardless of the FRA survey, the reality and impact of European antisemitism has been plainly visible in France, with Jews having been murdered in cold blood, and thousands of French Jews having moved overseas. Hungary is also very worrying, but the problem there is far right nationalists who blame Jews for socioeconomic difficulties: what you might call “the old antisemitism”.

Then, there is Malmo in Sweden, widely regarded as the worst example of a local community living in fear, due to high levels of antisemitism from some Muslim residents and a lack of concern, or worse, from local authorities. For the pessimists, Malmo is what the future holds for European Jewry. (See here, for a short impactful article on wearing a kippah in Malmo.) 

In Britain, we are relatively fortunate. CST and the Police have had excellent relations since the 1990s; and over the last decade our politicians have taken antisemitism increasingly seriously, with the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism helping to lead the way.

The survey itself was rigorously conducted by London’s highly respected Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Ipsos MORI. It posed dozens of questions and each was to be answered by every country. The very few statistics that have already been revealed (mainly by the EU delegation to the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism) contain much food for thought. They include:

  • 7% of the 5,847 respondents experienced some form of antisemitic physical attack or threats in the last five years.
  • 26% of respondents experienced antisemitic harassment at least once in the year before the survey. This rose to 34% over the past five years.
  • 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment, 64% of victims of physical attack or threats, and 52% of victims of vandalism did not report the incident to the police, nor to any other organisation. 
  • 22% of respondents sometimes avoid “Jewish events or sites” because of safety concerns.

These figures are overall European totals. The specific UK totals are likely to be generally less alarming, but it remains to be seen if they will be substantially different.

The most striking figures released thus far concern Belgium, France and Hungary, where between 40% and 50% of respondents said that they had considered emigrating because they do not feel safe. This statistic goes to the heart of how the present and past experience of antisemitism impacts upon Jewish feelings of safety and future, and upon Europe itself. 

The few figures released thus far more than justify why the survey was commissioned. The perpetrators and triggers of antisemitism may differ across the continent, but there is an urgent need for local politicians to develop effective counter-strategies against it.

  •  The Jewish Chronicle carries a slightly shorter version of the above article. 

Cageprisoners, Rowntree Trust and “Jews did 9/11”.

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the Community Security Trust

The “Jews did 9/11″ lie says everything about the enduring nature and appeal of antisemitism in our modern world. It is a Big Lie that draws on a long and dangerous tradition of blaming Jews.

Usually, racism depicts its victims as primitive and inferior. This is where antisemitism is different. It depicts Jews as powerful and cunning, as if Jews are superior: rather than inferior. (Except in a moral sense that is. Antisemites always depict Jews as being morally inferior.)

The antisemitic mindset regards itself as the little guy, bravely exposing and opposing the fiendish might of concealed Jewish power.

Humans killed the son of G-d? Blame the Jews. Plague? Blame the Jews. Lost World War One? Blame the Jews. Losing World War Two? Blame the Jews. Twin Towers destroyed, facilitating a “War on Terror” charade against the Muslim world? Blame the Jews.

Now, an antisemitic anti-Zionist variant of “The Jews did 9/11” slander is on the website of Cageprisoners. It is not the straightforward (and widely believed) Hizbollah version, whereby 4,000 Jews were cunningly warned to throw a sickie on 9/11. Instead, it is an article claiming that 9/11 could be an insurance job involving so-called ”Zionist” billionaires. (For actual detail / content see the foot of this blog post.)

This article actually draws upon two antisemitic traditions. As well as the Big Lie of blaming Jews, we have the Jewish lightning slur: a snide little phrase meaning a fire that is deliberately set so the owner can falsely claim insurance. This term (which is not in the actual Cageprisoners article) associates Jews with money and fakery, so its ’logic’ is not so different to the thinking that underpins many antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, Cageprisoners is nothing like as fringe as one might expect. It is a British advocacy group that is given respect by mainstream media; and has, in six years, received £300,000 in grants (including  £255,000 “core costs” in 2008-2014) from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. In 2010, it was at the centre of a controversy with Amnesty International. Cageprisoners Ltd describes itself as:

a human rights organisation (company registration no: 6397573) that exists solely to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror.

Until his overdue return to Jordan, one of Cageprisoners’ best known clients was the notorious Abu Qatada. CST Blog recently quoted UK legal documents citing Qatada in 1996 and 1999 advising British Muslim youth on the killing of Jews, including Jewish children. We also noted how this fact had been ignored by Victoria Brittain, on the Guardian website. For brevity, we did not say that Brittain’s awful Guardian apologia for Qatada was similar to another article she did for Cageprisoners.

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Blind-eyeing Qatada’s alleged antisemitic incitement to murder Jewish children is bad enough, but at least it fitted a larger picture of Brittain having ignored reams of other evidence against him. Now, we have Cageprisoners running an antisemitic anti-Zionist 9/11 conspiracy article. Perhaps they think it also fits a larger picture: standing up to the power of Jewish Zionists?

The article is by Kevin Barrett, an American who runs Truth Jihad Radio, talks of “Zio-Nazis” (here, disgracefully with United Nations Human Rights rapporteur Richard Falk), and seems determined to prove that no Muslim perpetrated 9/11.

Barrett’s article comes from the website of Iranian state broadcaster Press TV, where you can find numerous grotesque antisemitic articles (ranging from Holocaust denial to Jews run global narcotics).

Barrett’s article quotes heavily from another American, Christopher Bollyn, whose “islamic-intelligence” website is here (but please consider if you really wish to access it from your computer). On his site, Bollyn states:

I am currently working on the next chapter of Solving 9-11, “9-11 and the Elders of Zion.”

This chapter will focus on the secret Jewish network which is behind the crimes of 9-11 — and the cover-up — and the illegal wars of aggression in the Middle East.

…The fact that all of the key players in the sordid 9-11 saga are Zionist Jews has already been established and proven.

What needs to be proven and clarified is how the conspirators are connected in a secret criminal cabal. This will identify the true architects – and culprits – of the crime of the century.

…This chapter will do that by identifying the secret network which connects all the key players of 9-11. By exposing the connections between the main actors it can be proven that there is a secret Zionist brotherhood to which the terror architects of 9-11 all belong.

This is a plain example of antisemitic anti-Zionism, combining “Elders of Zion” (ie The Protocols), “secret Jewish network” and “secret criminal cabal”, with “Zionist Jews” and “secret Zionist brotherhood”.

Barrett’s article, on Cageprisoners website, does not use such obvious antisemitic terms as Bollyn. Instead, it talks throughout about Zionists and their money links. It is archetypal of an antisemitic slander that is dressed up in (extreme) anti-Zionist clothing for ease of sale.

But why would it appeal to Cageprisoners?

Cageprisoners’ basic narrative is that “the war on terror” is an excuse for America and Britain to terrorise the Muslim world; and many of those accused of Jihadist terrorism are innocent proof of the evil power of the US / UK secret state.

From this worldview, it is a relatively short step to believe that the entire “war on terror” charade is founded upon a lie, perpetrated by the same secret state that now exploits it for its own malign purpose. How seductive must it then be to allege that 9/11 itself was a foundation myth, perpetrated not by Jihadists, but rather by the usual suspects? After all, if you regard it as axiomatic that Zionists and Israel are an intimate – but concealed – component of the US / UK “war on terror”, then you are on the doorstep of all sorts of conspiracy tales about Jews, Zionists, Israel and the West.

Regardless of how Cageprisoners came to run Barrrett’s article, if 9/11 conspiracies are to be a new part of their victimhood narrative, then they will become an actively antisemitic organisation: rather than just another ‘pro-human rights’ UK institution that turns two blind eyes to antisemitism because it suits them to do so.

To conclude, some actual excerpts from Barrett’s article are shown below. His final sentence is especially striking:

In order to triumph, truth and justice will have to defeat the world’s wealthiest and most powerful criminal network.

Jews know what this is a reference to. Do Cageprisoners? Do they care? Do their funders and partners and co-publishers?

Barrett / Cageprisoners:

[World Trade Center owner] Silverstein engineered his purchase of the Trade Center through fellow Zionist billionaire Lewis Eisenberg

…As Christopher Bollyn wrote in 2002:

“Silverstein and Eisenberg have both held leadership positions with the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), a billion dollar Zionist ‘charity’ organization. Silverstein is a former chairman of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, Inc. This is an umbrella organization which raises hundreds of millions of dollars every year for its network of hundreds of member Zionist agencies in the United States and Israel.”

According to Ha’aretz, Silverstein is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. They speak on the phone every weekend.

…The insurance companies have likewise neglected to mention that after doubling his insurance coverage immediately before 9/11, Silverstein re-doubled his winnings

…on the morning of 9/11, Silverstein and his daughter both failed to show up for their daily breakfast at Windows on the World restaurant atop the North Tower.

…Like Silverstein and Eisenberg, Hellerstein is a rabid Zionist with close ties to Israel. The judge’s son and sister both emigrated from the US to orthodox Zionist settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Investigative journalist Christopher Bollyn writes:

“Hellerstein’s son is an Israeli lawyer who emigrated to Israel in 2001 and whose law firm works for and with the Rothschild-funded Mossad company responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks.”

…Additionally, Bollyn writes, “Both Alvin Hellerstein and his son Joseph worked for the well-known Jewish law firm of Stroock, Stroock & Lavan before moving to the positions they now hold…Stroock, Stroock & Lavan played a key role in the setting up of 9-11…Stroock has a long history of representing the Rothschilds and other high-level Zionists.”

…In order to triumph, truth and justice will have to defeat the world’s wealthiest and most powerful criminal network.

Abu Qatada: a lesson for British Jews

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Finally, Abu Qatada is back in Jordan, facing questioning about terrorism. The extradition has been a lengthy legal saga, summarised by headlines such as “hate preacher” and “send him back”.

The Guardian Comment is Free website has two articles on Britain’s handling of Abu Qatada. The first of these, by Victoria Brittain, is simply a blanket defence of him. The second, by Simon Jenkins, is far more ambiguous. Neither article details Abu Qatada’s actual UK activities in the 1990s and early 2000s, such as his links to British Muslims who later became terrorists, or his links and financing with overseas “mujahideen”: despite these facts being well-known and having appeared in Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) judgements.

The SIAC evidence is extensive. The 2007 judgement reads like a 1990′s and early 2000′s who’s who of the global jihad movement. Section 84 is one of its more succinct paragraphs:

In short, his views are to be found linked to many terrorist groups and their actions, providing the religious cover they seek; he propagates radicalising views, and his fund-raising is aimed at advancing the Islamist extremist cause.

The SIAC judgements also reference Abu Qatada’s incitement for the murdering of British Jews (from 2007, section 28):

…even in December 1996, the Appellant was already proclaiming that it was acceptable to fight Jews within the UK.

Similarly, section 31, but now with Jewish children clarified as legitimate targets. Britons and Americans are also added (presumably this also includes British and American children):

In October 1999, the Appellant made a speech at the Four Feathers mosque [in Marylebone, London] in which he effectively issued a fatwa authorising the killing of Jews, including Jewish children.  He told the congregation that Americans should be attacked wherever they were, that in his view they were no better than Jews and that there was no difference between English, Jews and Americans.

The Guardian coverage is important because it shows how some liberal-left opinion makers and activists are blinding themselves (and others) to the realities of extremism. British Jews have long despaired at the failure of such people to acknowledge antisemitism when it comes from Arab or Muslim sources, but this coverage of Abu Qatada shows that selective blindness to antisemitism is only part of a wider failing.

For British Jews, the lesson is obvious. If these people are even soft on Abu Qatada, then we should expect absolutely nothing from them regarding any overseas hatred or incitement: whether that is Hizbollah terrorism against Diaspora Jews, Hamas terrorism against Israel, the appalling overall levels of antisemitic attitudes and hate speech, or visits by overseas preachers to the UK.

To return specifically to these two Guardian articles, Victoria Brittain’s is by far the more obviously ridiculous. It’s title is a classic of the genre:

I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist

Usually, it is the Guardian sub-editors who choose how to entitle articles, based upon their reading of them. So, Victoria Brittain may not have actually called it this. Her article lauds Abu Qatada as “a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while in prison”. He phones his kids from prison to encourage their homework etc, but Brittain does not explicitly say that Abu Qatada is no terrorist. Instead, it is Qatada’s family that is “innocent” and:

No one suggests Othman [ie Qatada] is physically dangerous himself.

Which may even be true, but it completely ducks the central allegation that he encourages many others whom we might describe as “physically dangerous”. 

Brittain also says, “no one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s”. Perhaps Brittain does not regard the 1999 example of incitement to killing Jews (including their children and Britons and Americans) as controversial. She also says that the security services should have followed her lead:

If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar…I believe that, rather than being scapegaoted, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth.

British Jews should be deeply thankful that Muslim youth are no longer exposed to Abu Qatada’s “moral standards”. Besides, the security services did, repeatedly, speak to Abu Qatada. SIAC states (2007, section 29) that he:

…warned his congregation to be wary of MI5’s approaches and provided them with physical descriptions and names of MI5 officers approaching Muslims.

So much for Victoria Brittain, but is such a person really someone whom British Jews (and others) should take seriously? Sadly, almost unbelievably, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Brittain was associate foreign editor of the Guardian, is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and offered £10,000 surety money for Sheikh Ra’ed Salah.

CST believed Sheikh Salah had preached a sermon in Jerusalem that included a blood libel, alleging that Jews need the blood of non-Jews for “holy bread”. CST supported the Home Secretary’s ban on him. The ban was condemned by the Guardian, which also misrepresented Jewish and Home Office concerns and actions. Salah eventually won his appeal, despite being found to have made the blood libel speech (see ruling pdf here, section 59). The Guardian’s defence of him never relented and they never did acknowledge the blood libel ruling (see CST pdf here, p.18-22).

If Brittain defends Abu Qatada, then is it any wonder she defended the far less clear-cut case of Salah? Ditto the comments pages of the Guardian.

The Guardian’s other comment piece on Abu Qatada is by one of its senior regular writers, Simon Jenkins. Chairman of the National Trust, former editor of the Times and Evening Standard, he is somewhat more establishment than Victoria Brittain.

Jenkins’ article differs markedly from Brittain’s piece, but is another important marker in how Qatada is viewed, and what we can therefore expect regarding all those other cases that are far less clear-cut. His position starts out promisingly enough:

The state is entitled to deport people it considers a threat…I have no problem in sending home people in the category of Abu Qatada, who arrived on false documents, became an ally and counsellor to terrorists and then cited fear of torture as a reason for not being deported…

However, it then turns very lazy:

That said, Abu Qatada by all accounts does not fall into the ranting cleric category of his contemporary, Abu Hamza. He is closer to the vagrant revolutionary tradition to which London has offered refuge throughout history. The city should be big enough to encompass him, even if his activities merited watching…

Jenkins knows enough to realise that the charges against Abu Qatada are extensive, but ultimately he seems to be simply failing to take Abu Qatada seriously. Whatever the cause of this ambivalence, it is yet another reason why British Jews can have no confidence in such circles to safeguard their wellbeing; and the rest of society ought to feel exactly the same.

Finally, for light relief, compare Victoria Brittain’s “He’s no terrorist” schtick with this brief Simpson’s excerpt below.

Is the Guardian awol at #AIPAC2013?

Last year, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal, their Washington correspondent (previously assigned to Jerusalem) who was singled out by the CST in their 2011 report on antisemitic discourse in the UK, covered the annual AIPAC conference, published several reports and tweeted his contempt for the ‘power’ of the pro-Israel lobby with abandon.

Here’s one of his tweets:

Here’s one of his retweets:

This year, however, there has been no sign of the Guardian’s journalistic/activist footprint at the 2013 AIPAC Conference in Washington.  (McGreal is still reporting on US politics, but now appears to be stationed in Portland, Oregon. However, a quick glimpse at his Tweets indicate he still has Israel on his mind.)

I’ve scoured the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ and couldn’t find a thing. I placed “AIPAC” in their search engine and came up with seven hits for January, but nothing since Jan. 20 – a piece by Harriet Sherwood.

One possibly complicating factor may be the fact that Glenn Greenwald, one of those who, even by Guardian standards, most acutely suffers from Israel-lobby-phobia, is on vacation.  Similarly, Harriet Sherwood appears to have been away from her desk, as she hasn’t published since Feb. 17.

The conference, which began on March 3, ends tomorrow so it’s possible there’s something in the works but, given the Guardian’s fixation on Jewish power, it’s surprising they’ve been silent until now.

If any of our fellow ‘hasbarafia’ friends see any sign of the Guardian at the ‘Zionist Lair’ in DC, in the social media (or anywhere in print or online), please let us know.

A letter to CiF Watch from the Guardian, via King Ahasuerus?

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Dear Mr Levick,

I am writing to inform you that we have been reviewing our codes of practice at ‘Comment is Free’ and have decided that closing your account and deleting your previous comments was unjustified.  We have therefore decided to re-open your account. Unfortunately your previous comments have already been removed from our systems and cannot be returned, but we would be happy to have you return to the below the line commentary.

Furthermore:

In the course of our review we came to several conclusions with regards to the character of the above the line writers at ‘Comment is Free’ and have reached a number of conclusions:

  1. We shall no longer be publishing commentary from contributors associated with terrorist groups.
  2. We will be seeking a greater breadth of above the line copy, including more commentary from Zionists.
  3. Our moderators have been instructed to adhere to the working definition of anti-Semitism as laid out by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and to delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.  We have asked the Community Security Trust for help in this regard.

In short Mr Levick, thanks to organisations such as CiF Watch we have decided to fundamentally alter the way we approach contributions to ‘Comment is Free’ and the way that we deal with below the line comments.

Yours Sincerely

Natalie Hanman

Editor, ‘Comment is Free’ 

 

(This Purim Spiel was written by Marc Goldberg)

David Ward’s Bulldozer

The following was written by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

David Ward

David Ward

Old friends and (new) foes have advised David Ward MP that he is in a hole and really should stop digging. (For background, see here and here.) Unfortunately, whoever runs his website disagrees, and has posted an article that renders Ward unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament for so long as it remains there.

With this new article, Ward has swapped his spade for a bulldozer.

The article is entitled, “Guardian continues the hounding of David Ward”. It exemplifies the type of loose – and therefore dangerous and highly offensive – language about Jews, Israel and the Holocaust that got Ward exactly where he is today.

Having posted this, it is clear that David Ward and his constituency team neither understand the power of words, nor the importance of precision of language. They most certainly underestimate its importance in the context of dealing with Jews and in relation to racism. So it is fitting, and somewhat sad, that the article is itself a counterattack on a recent Guardian interview with Ward, headlined “David Ward: ‘The solid ground I stand on is that I am not a racist’ ”.

The interview, by Aida Edemariam, criticises Ward for not understanding why he caused offence with his Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians linkage, but it does seem to afford him every opportunity to state his case and quotes him at length. It is well worth reading, but outraged John Hilley who wrote about it on his (ill-termed) Zenpolitics website. This is the article that is now on Ward’s website, where it resides under Ward’s name and the logo of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Hilley begins by reminding us what Ward originally said about “the Jews” having suffered in the Holocaust and then “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”. He acknowledges that Ward’s wording was poor, but states that the outrage about it is somehow artificial: 

whatever lack of qualification or carelessness in his words, were we really to believe that Ward meant or implied that all Jews were/are responsible for Israel’s repressions and occupation?

To which the answer, for most of us, would be a resounding “yes”. When someone says “the Jews”, we take that to mean “the Jews”. Indeed, isn’t that the standard defence of every anti-Zionist who has ever been accused of antisemitism? “Errr…I didn’t say ‘the Jews’, I was clearly only talking about Ariel Sharon / the IDF / Israelis / Zionists / George Bush / the Board of Deputies of British Jews…”.

Building from this self-serving deceit, the article vilifies those who have taken issue with Ward’s Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians construct. It includes these misrepresentations of complaints:

the expected criticism from outraged Zionists…

Edemariam like all Ward’s detractors, really knows what he meant…

his [Ward’s] meaning is likely to have been well understood…

Ward’s real ‘mistake’, as far as the Zionist lobby and many liberal commentariat are concerned – and as his Liberal colleague Jenny Tongue also found out to her cost – was to criticise Israel at all…

Those, like David Ward, who courageously speak in any kind of similar vein – despite his subsequent corrections – are, as usual, pilloried for being anti-Semitic and hounded by liberal media types for not subscribing to the template Zionist narrative…

There is a small mercy in that the article’s insistence that Ward did not mean “the Jews”, helps inoculate it against similar charges. Hilley clearly does not mean all “the Jews”, but this article still leaves the reader believing that any complainant is part of a conspiracy to silence all dissent on Israel, Zionism, or prevailing Holocaust narratives.

As Ward has previously put it and as positively cited again in this article:

Ward’s point about the “huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism” also applies to this kind of liberal baiting.

(“Liberal baiting” is a reference to the Guardian interviewer, Aida Edemariam. The news that the Guardian is also somehow in on this alleged conspiracy to silence Ward, Tonge and their ilk, may surprise those who have followed debates about ‘the new antisemitism’ in recent decades.)

Despite all this, the article’s primary thrust tries to reinforce Ward’s post-facto rationalisation of his behaviour in the controversy thus far: the notion that he is bravely trying to kick-start an urgent debate on how the Holocaust impacted upon the subsequent actions of Israel and/or Zionists (but not “the Jews” – or at least not those Jews who kept out of it all).

Now we are no longer talking about the offence caused by stupid routine accusations about all criticism of Israel being falsely jumped on as antisemitism; or the even sillier (and far more original) idea that the Guardian is now in on the act. Instead, we are back to talking about the Holocaust. We are back to the original cause of the outrage against Ward.  You might, therefore, expect the language to now, at long last, be careful and precise, empathetic even towards those who were so upset. Sadly, this is not the case:

Nor was Ward linking the Holocaust and the Occupation by comparing or equating them as “categories”. He was linking them in the obvious sense that the Holocaust was used as a part of the Zionist agenda for occupying another people’s land…

Indeed, how dare Zionists not ignore the near genocide of European Jewry, but to move on, Ward’s insistence that he was not equating “the Holocaust and the Occupation…as ‘categories’” has been central to his defence since day one of this squalid controversy. Bizarrrely, having just stated the above, Hilley then bulldozes under both his and Ward’s position, writing:

And if Edemariam really does believe after sixty years of ethnic cleansing, mass IDF murder, settler takeovers, apartheid transfer policies and the continued prison camp siege of Gaza that Israel “is not setting out to annihilate [the Palestinian] people”, perhaps she is the one who should be more carefully considering her incendiary language.

In the space of two small paragraphs, Hilley has gone from saying that the Holocaust is obviously not the same as “occupying another people’s land” to outrage that Ward’s interviewer has denied Israel “is not setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people”.

To be precise, “setting out to annihilate” is not the same as perpetrating an annihilation / Holocaust, but to the man on the Clapham (or Bradford East) omnibus, there will be little difference. Then, there is the seriousness of what Hilley’s angry denial of Edemariam’s words implies – that Israel is actually setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people, as the Nazis set out to annihilate the Jews.

If this is to be Ward’s chosen category comparison / equation, then he has no place continuing as an MP.   

Hilley’s article is not yet done. It has “a rather basic set of sequential things to restate”. Bullet points follow, beginning with an accurate description and full condemnation of the Holocaust against “the Jews”. Nevertheless, the centrality of antisemitism and the Holocaust to Nazi ideology is undersold by the next point:

  • “It was part of a systematic purge on any community, Jews, Gypsies, Communists, deemed inferior or/and a threat to Nazi ideology and power.”

The article continues:

  • Anyone who seeks to deny or misconstrue these basic facts is either peddling lies, misinformed  or uninterested in the truth”

More “basic facts” follow and again we are told that if you do not agree with them then you are either a liar or a fool. They include:

  • “The Holocaust formed a central ideological, political and militarist agenda in the Zionist formulation and creation of a Jewish state.”

If anything, this goes even further than the earlier mention of the Holocaust and “the Zionist agenda”. Notwithstanding the first of Hilley’s points, it is as if the Holocaust has now been stripped of all meaning for Jews and reduced to some kind of deeper, more elemental truth about it being a Zionist tool. The bullet points continue, including:

  • “We cannot reasonably learn or understand anything about Palestinian suffering without referencing the Holocaust and the ways in which Zionism has used it to legitimise the Occupation.”

So, whilst the basic reasons as to how and why the Holocaust might feed into Jewish support for Zionism are dehumanised, the opposite must apply for Palestinian suffering. For now, let us just say that this is a striking double standard.

Then, Hilley cites Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein “whose own Jewish family were murdered in extermination camps…this has been turned into ideological propaganda through the Holocaust Industry”.

All of which feeds to the article’s conclusion about Ward’s “careless discrepancy” being maliciously used “to keep other journalists in a state of  cautious apprehension about discussing the Holocaust in relation to the Occupation…[this] personalised hatchet-job does exactly what the Zionist lobby and self-protecting editors want in keeping all that prudently off-limits”.

Let us be clear, an article such as Hilley’s is not exceptional within proper anti-Zionist and anti-Israel circles. Its weird claim that “Jews” really means “Zionists” or “Israelis” repeats what we have previously heard from Caryl Churchill and Paul Foot, two wordsmiths beside whom Hilley and Ward pale into insignificance. Its claim that outrage over Ward’s spitting on Holocaust memory is proof that any and all criticism of Israel is falsely accused of antisemitism is merely routine; as is the coterminous accusation that such claims succeed in shutting up all criticism.

Even the idea that Israel wants to repeat what the Nazis did is not that unusual, with Holocaust Memorial Day fast become a lightning rod for this sickening, perverse claim. 

However, for all of this rubbish to be brought together in a single article on an MP’s website brings shame upon the Liberal Democrat Party, and upon Ward’s many decent colleagues who keep getting spattered with mud from these issues. So long as this article remains on David Ward MP’s website, he is unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament.

Genocide Abuse Day at the IHRC

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

With Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January) fast approaching, so does its annual bastardisation by our local pro-Iranian and pro-Hizbollah fans, the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

(See previous CST blog for IHRC’s role in London’s annual version of the Iranian-inspired anti-Israel hate festival, Quds Day, replete with Hizbollah assault rifle flags.)

Unlike the Iranian regime and its Press TV outlet, the Islamic Human Rights Commission is not so stupid or crass as to engage in outright denial that the Holocaust ever happened, but the group is still stuck between a rock and a hard place: how to acknowledge the reality of the Holocaust, without lending legitimacy to the most basic and blatant of arguments in favour of Zionism?

The far left have tackled this problem by keeping Jewish victimhood centre stage, whilst alleging that Zionists wanted the Holocaust and/or actually colluded with the Nazis to bring it about. They turn the moral tables on Zionism, by claiming that Zionists needed and desired and worked towards dead Jews in order to gain global sympathy for their enterprise.

The pro-Iranian IHRC, however, prefer the tactic of declaring a Genocide Memorial Day. This year it is subtitled  “Remembering Man’s Inhumanity to Man” and will be held on 20th January. The day’s title enables the IHRC to gently subsume the genocide of European Jewry under the sheer scale of man’s inhumanity to man. Challenge this as sophistry and you are forced into a somewhat nauseating comparative study in human suffering.

As a bonus ball, IHRC also get to define and blur the meanings of the word “genocide” and the phrase “man’s inhumanity to man”. So, they include Palestinian suffering and seamlessly move Palestinians and Israelis onto the same moral planes as Jews and Nazis.

In 2011, CST blog detailed that year’s IHRC Genocide Memorial Day calendar. For brevity, here are four of the entries:

January – Gaza: During the Israeli assault on Gaza during the 22 Day war (2008 – 09), 1,434 Palestinians were killed of which 288 were children and 181 were women. A further 5,303 Palestinians were injured in the assault, including 1,606 children and 828 women.

April – Auschwitz: Estimates of numbers of Roma and Sinti people killed by the Nazis in the second world war range from 200,000 to 500,000.

October – Treblinka: The Treblinka concentration camp was set up by the Nazis in Occupied Poland. Between July 1942 and October 1943, 800,000 people were killed there, the majority of whom were Jewish, and a substantial number of whom were Roma.

November – Palestine: The Nakba (The Catastrophe) refers to the events of 1948 when Israel was created. That year saw the mass deportation of a million Palestinians from their cities and villages, massacres of civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages.

Note how the Gaza and Palestine entries balance those of Treblinka and Auschwitz. Note how Treblinka mentions Jews and Roma, whilst Auschwitz mentions Roma and not Jews. Note how Treblinka seeks to play up the Roma element, despite the overwhelming majority of its victims having been Jewish. (I write this to show the IHRC’s underhand ghastliness, not to diminish the dreadful suffering of Roma and Sinti.) Note how there is no actual mention of the Holocaust, nor of gas chambers. The spin is both subtle and repugnant.

This year, to mark Genocide Memorial Week 2013, we have a cutesy little animation video on the IHRC website. (It can be viewed here, but does not need to be.)

The animation shows an adorable child holding a red balloon. The child’s ethnicity and religion gradually changes (including Jewish and Muslim). The child is simply drawn in a charming and naive style, walking along without a care in the world to the tune of a happy background jingle. At the foot of the animation runs a series of children’s names that begins with “Ann Frank (Germany)”. This is followed by “Renate Wolff (Germany)” and “Agnes Ringwald (Hungary)”, before listing one Kurd, two Guatemalans, two Japanese and two Australians, then ending with “Mu’tassim – Muhammad Ali Samour (Gaza)”.

The name “Ann Frank (Germany)” (sic) is, of course, very well-known. It immediately establishes for the viewer what the other names are all about. Unavoidably, your awareness is heightened that you do not actually recognise most, or perhaps any, of the other names scrolling along the screen. This causes you to pay greater attention to them. You cannot help asking yourself, ‘why don’t I know these other names and what tragedies have they suffered?’. (In actuality, not all of those listed were actually murdered in genocides and some of them are still alive. Again, this is to be forced into a comparative study of human suffering.)

The names change as the animated child also changes. As the words “Muhammad Ali Samour (Gaza)” appear, so the screen explodes blood-red and the music changes to gunfire. The words “Sabra & Shatilla” are now stamped on the blood-red background, with the figure 3,500. Next, there is “Srebrenica 8,000”, then “Nazi Holocaust 11,000,000”.

So this year, the IHRC did actually mention three Jewish child victims of the Holocaust by name and they did draw a sweet picture of a boy in a kippah. The Nazis’ six million Jewish victims are, however, conveniently subsumed within the larger figure of eleven million victims. Why commemorate the ethnocentric six million total, when you can commemorate the universalist eleven million total? (Whether this eleven million figure is even accurate is another, not unrelated, matter. See for example here.)

In all, 16 events and death tolls appear. Having begun with “Sabra & Shatilla 3,500″, the list ends with “Gaza 2009 over 1,000”. The opening and closing sections are the only ones that relate to Palestinians. It is their victimhood that literally brackets all of the other entries: this is subtle stuff, but it is highly effective and, as with the 2011 calendar, it moves Palestinian suffering centre stage and places it on an equal, or even higher plane, than that of Jewish suffering. The message is as subtle as it is unmistakable; and the IHRC’s motivations for Genocide Memorial Day are shown up for being not quite as universalist as they would have you believe.       

The Iranian regime (and indeed the far left) could learn a great deal from this sleight of hand. Will the IHRC advise them to follow suit?

Finally, it should be noted that when searching “Genocide Memorial Day” on Google,the top result is a Wikipedia entry saying that this is a national holiday in Armenia. Curiously neither this, nor any Armenian children, feature in the IHRC’s video.