Indy’s Mira Bar-Hillel complains on the BBC about Jews and CiF Watch trolls!

Briefly, here are a few highlights from our posts about Mira Bar-Hillel, a columnist at the Independent:

  • She complained that Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) often smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
  • She evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.
  • She recently accused British Jews (collectively) of ‘bombing Gaza’.
  • She admitted to being prejudiced against Jews.

In the following BBC interview with Bar-Hillel, she claims that Jews don’t criticize Israeli actions in Gaza out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from the Jewish community, and criticizes this blog for ‘trolling’ her.

You can listen to the whole interview here:

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(See recent post at Harry’s Place about Bar-Hillel, here)

Indy contributor Mira Bar-Hillel accuses British Jews of bombing Gaza

“Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” represents an example of modern day antisemitism, according to the EUMC Working Definition, a perfect example of what’s known as the new antisemitism, as it evokes the classic Judeophobic narrative ‘accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for the alleged wrongdoing committed by a single Jew or Jewish group’. 

To boot, the following Tweet by Indy contributor Mira Bar-Hillel:

Then there was this response:

We should point out (in the context of Bar-Hillel’s accusation to  that “you” bombed women and children) that Mr. Newmark is a British Jew and not an Israeli. 

To provide a little context, Ms. Bar-Hillel’s polemical history at the Indy has included the following:

  • She strongly suggested that Jews (per the Livingstone Formulation) often smear people unfairly with the charge of antisemitism to “gag into submission any critic of Israel”.
  • She evoked Nazi Germany in characterizing Israeli racism and IDF military actions in Gaza.
  • She admitted to being prejudiced against Jews.

Regarding her acknowledgement of being prejudiced against Jews, here’s the full quote 

The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles ) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.”

Yet, despite Ms. Bar-Hillel’s concern that “most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash”, she continues to be published by the Independent, a paper which just last year wrote a spirited editorial claiming that “neither Israel nor the broader Jewish community is demonised by this newspaper”.

Sorry, but when, as an editor for a major UK daily, you make the decision to license a commentator who admits to being prejudiced against Jews – and one who continues to advance Judeophobic calumnies on your op-ed pages – your righteous indignation over charges of antisemitism ring a little hollow.  

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Guess which British journalist re-tweeted Gilad Atzmon?

Say you’re a British Jew and work professionally as a journalist.

And, though you are highly critical of both Israel and many Jews, you still fancy yourself a progressive and anti-racist.  Indeed, you are buoyed by the fact that a mainstream “enlightened” British newspaper continues to publish your commentaries about Israel.

Again, supposing that you were such a “progressive”, ‘independent’ Jewish voice, what would your response be to an article written by Gilad Atzmon, an extremist who has advanced the following arguments?

  • Jews stifle debate about the scope of the Holocaust.
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a prophetic document which accurately characterizes (and predicts) Jewish behavior.

You would completely distance yourself from the views of such an extreme racist, wouldn’t you?  Further, you would emphatically denounce his views at every opportunity, right?

Well, there is one British Jew (who contributes to the London Evening Standard and the Independent) claiming the mantle of anti-racism who, when encountering the commentary of Mr. Atzmon decided to tacitly endorse it.

retweet

If you’re entertaining the notion that Bar-Hillel’s re-tweet of Atzmon did not in fact ‘imply endorsement’, consider that Atzmon’s post (The Milibands, The BBC and The Proloteriat, Oct. 13) included passages which are quite consistent with Bar-Hillel’s own complaints about the stifling of debate about Israel.

Atzmon’s post, which Bar-Hillel re-tweeted, included the following:

Now, is this a legitimate concern or, is socialism, like Jewishness, beyond any criticism or scrutiny?

Of course this is a rhetorical question. Apparently in Britain 2013, any attempt to question the intellectual foundations, history and meaning behind Marxism and socialist thinking is reduced simply to ‘antisemitism’. So, it looks like Marxism and cosmopolitanism, like Jewishness and Israeli racism, have been merged into one vague entity removed from our public discourse, let alone criticism.  

Now, here’s Bar-Hillel in an interview published in Haaretz:

Any criticism of the policies of Israel…is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash

Also of note, this was not a one-off between Atzmon and Bar-Hillel, as you can see in this ‘enlightened’ exchange in September:

tweet convo

One of the most common deceits advanced by many Jewish critics of Israel is that, though they may demonize Israel and even reduce its Jewish citizens to grotesque caricatures, they are nonetheless passionately opposed to “real” antisemitism.

Though there are some Jewish critics of Israel who can credibly claim to walk such a moral tightrope, Bar-Hillel’s decision to engage (and legitimize) a vile neo-Nazi style anti-Semite like Gilad Atzmon demonstrates that she can no longer fancy herself a principled anti-Zionist and a principled anti-racist.  

Her tolerance towards one of the most repugnant promoters of Jew hatred should, at the very least, disqualify her from contributing to any publication which takes its moral reputation seriously

The Hanukiyah and the Swastika: The story behind a haunting photo from 1931

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness” – Anne Frank

Last year we published an essay exploring the significance of the Hanukkah story in the context of the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people, and illustrated the post with the following photo:

hanukkah

Though the symbolism of the image was likely clear, we were only recently able to track down the story, per a news report in December 2010. Here are excerpts: 

Yehuda Mansbach told Israel National News in an interview: “This Hanukiyah [Hanukkah menorah] is the only remaining memory of the congregation my Grandfather, Rabbi Dr. Akiva Baruch Pozner, led before escaping Germany.”

The photo [above] tells much of that history, says Mansbach, a resident of Beit Shemesh. “In this photo you see the Hanukiyah stationed at a window, with a Nazi flag across the street.” The photo was taken in 1931, says Mansbach, long before the Nazis came to power. But, as it happened, the house of Rabbi Posner, who led the community of Kiel in Germany, was right across the street from the local headquarters of the Nazi Party.

“It was on a Friday afternoon right before Shabbat that this photo was taken,” says Mansbach. “My grandmother realized that this was a historic photo, and she wrote on the back of the photo : ‘Their flag wishes to see the death of Judah, but Judah will always survive, and our light will outlast their flag.’”

As Rabbi of the Kiel community, Rabbi Posner did everything he could to encourage Jews to escape Germany.

Indeed, Mansbach says, many did leave, and by the time the Nazis came to power, some half of the congregation had already emigrated, mostly to the U.S. and the Land of Israel.

The Hanukiyah made it to Israel as well, and ended up in Yad Vashem. But each year they make sure to “borrow” if for their family Chanukah celebration. 

May the light of truth continue to burn brightly.

Happy Hanukkah!

The SS-headache of Carlos Latuff

Cross-posted by Petra Marquardt-Bigman, who blogs at The Warped Mirror‘.

Among “pro-Palestinian” activists, the cartoonist Carlos Latuff is a widely admired artist. Like most of his fans, Latuff expresses his support for the Palestinian cause with an intense hatred for Israel, which is reflected in his large output of images comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. Unsurprisingly, Latuff’s achievements also include a winning entry for the 2006 Iranian “International Holocaust Cartoon Contest.”

The fact that comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany are generally regarded as antisemitic doesn’t seem to bother Latuff and his fans – quite the contrary: for them, it’s apparently just another reason for ridicule and amusement.

This flippant reaction was well illustrated when Latuff responded to his inclusion in a list of this past year’s “Top Ten Anti-Israel/Anti-Semitic Slurscompiled by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Tweeting his “Thanks to Rabbi Marvin Hier and @simonwiesenthal for the award for my toons on #Gaza slaughter,” Latuff attached a cartoon depicting himself being “awarded” a third-place medal by Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Wiesenthal Center.

latuff-wiesenthal-ss1As you can see in the screenshot of Latuff’s cartoon above, there is an unmistakable SS-symbol next to Rabbi Hier’s head. When I noted this in a tweet, Latuff quickly responded, claiming that I was wrong and that the “bolts are cartoon representation of headache.” To support his claim, he linked to the following picture:

pic

For comparison, here is the SS-symbol:

adlSince Latuff immediately blocked me, he didn’t have to face up and respond to the evidence showing just how flimsy his “headache”-explanation looked.

After all, for somebody like Latuff who works with images, it is hardly credible to claim that he was unaware of the obvious SS-reference in this cartoon. How about this very similar “headache” in an undeniably antisemitic cartoon from 2006?

new pic

Screenshot showing part of a Russian cartoon from a report by Tom Gross on anti-Israeli and antisemitic cartoons published in the international media in the summer of 2006

It is also noteworthy that Latuff didn’t link to any of his own images to illustrate his claim that an SS-symbol look-alike was a common cartoon representation of a headache. But his claim is most severely undermined by the fact – illustrated here – that he has made it something of a specialty to work Nazi-symbolism into his cartoons relating to Israel. He now has only himself to blame if it seems that this has become second nature to him.

Harriet Sherwood cynically exploits a Holocaust survivor on Yom HaShoah to criticize Israel

Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel’s day of commemoration for the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of actions carried out by Nazi Germany.

At 10 AM sirens sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time, as every year on this day, people ceased from action and stood at attention; cars stopped; and most of the country came to a standstill as people payed silent tribute to the dead.

On Yom HaShoah ceremonies and services are held throughout the country.

On Erev Yom HaShoah and the day itself, public entertainment venues are closed, and Israeli TV airs Holocaust documentaries, Holocaust-related talk shows, and low-key songs are played on the radio. Flags on public buildings are flown at half mast.

Israel is home to just under 200,000 Holocaust survivors.

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood decided not focus on one of the many heroic tales of survival against impossible odds, or the scars still carried by survivors’ children and grandchildren, those who are still haunted by stories of their parent’s and grandparent’s suffering, relayed by fading memories – a population still able to provide first hand accounts of their encounters with human evil.

Rather, Sherwood, published “Holocaust survivors struggling to make ends meet in Israel“, which is hard to surpass in the manipulation of genuine suffering in the service of agenda driven journalism.

Sherwood opens:

Despite the horrors of a childhood in the shadow of the Holocaust, Ros Dayan survived to build a life she could be proud of in the new Jewish state of Israel.

She trained as a nurse, she sang in a choir that toured the world. She learnt Hebrew, though she never lost her central European accent. She paid her taxes and eventually bought the tiny house in Jaffa that she had rented at a subsidised rate for years. She even learned to live with the pain of three broken vertebrae, the result of an assault by a Nazi soldier.

But, now, in the last years of her life, Ros is ashamed. One of the 198,000 Holocaust survivors still alive in Israel, she is also one of the growing proportion who cannot make ends meet, who struggle with insufficient funds on a daily basis. Wiping a single tear with a shaking hand, she says: “For the first time, I don’t have enough money for food or clothes. I used to have pride, now I am ashamed.”

According to studies, around a quarter of Holocaust survivors in Israel live below the poverty line, struggling to pay for food, heating, housing, medication and care.

But the most manipulative passage is here, where she finds her desired quote:

“A lot of survivors face big medical bills, and life in Israel is very expensive generally,” says Deborah Garel of the Jaffa Institute, which distributes bi-monthly food parcels to Holocaust survivors. “Holocaust survivors going hungry in Israel? This is not right. After being hungry in the ghetto, they shouldn’t be hungry in the Jewish state.”

Whatever the real economic hardships faced by Holocaust survivors in Israel (and even one survivor without enough to eat is, of course, one too many), to evoke hunger in Nazi era ghettos, where the mortality rate due to malnutrition and disease among babies and infants, for instance, was 100 percent, in the context of difficulties survivors face paying for food in the Jewish state is as callous as it is cynical.

(As a side note, the percentage of survivors cited by Sherwood as living below the poverty line 25%, though of course unacceptable, is exactly proportionate with the general population.)

Finally, In the penultimate paragraph, Sherwood finds one last quote to polish off her narrative.

“I love this country, but I don’t feel Jewish here. I came here to feel Jewish. Every Holocaust day I’m sad for what we lost, and I’m sad I didn’t end up in a country that loves me,” [Ros] says.

Whatever the very real economic problems of survivors like Ros, it beggars the imagination that Sherwood couldn’t have avoided vilifying the Jewish state on such a solemn day.

Further, to provide a bit of context to the British-Israeli relationship, it should be noted that had a sovereign Jewish state been created prior the Holocaust the number of Jews killed would have been dramatically fewer, and indeed the British White Paper in 1939, a document influenced in large measure by Arab demands, dramatically limited the number of Jews allowed to immigrate into Palestine (75,000 over the following five years).

So, the gates of Palestine largely remained closed duration of the war, stranding hundreds of thousands of Jews in Europe, many of whom became victims of Hitler’s Final Solution.

The fact is that Israel has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors, and nearly a million Jews expelled from Arab lands, since the end of WWII, and offered them citizenship, economic assistance, and didn’t let them languish in refugee camps.

But, most importantly, Israel provided these stateless, homeless Jews a safe haven in the first sovereign Jewish polity in over 2000 years – a historically persecuted minority finally no longer at the mercy of the goodwill, whims and wishes of “enlightened” non-Jewish rulers. 

It is not at all surprising that a Guardian reporter like Sherwood can always find someone to serve a desired narrative of Israeli villainy, even in the context of the Jewish state’s response to the Shoah.  But, the ubiquitous nature of such tendentious journalism doesn’t render it any less irresponsible or offensive.  

But perhaps, just perhaps, her sensitive soul could have been moved (just this one time) to recount just one of the many stories (among the remaining survivors) of those Jewish men, women and children who risked everything to escape the fires ready to consume them in Europe to reach the shores of their promised land.

Having lost much if not all of their family, they had finally arrived in Eretz Y’srael. They had finally reached freedom.

Life in the modern Jewish state is, of course, not perfect, but it is not unreasonable to expect Harriet Sherwood to, at least on this one day, this supremely solemn occasion, display just a modicum of respect, a bit of self-restraint, and avoid such characteristic ideologically driven caricatures of the nation she’s covering. 

MEMO and Carlos Latuff, “respectfully” criticizing Israel

H/T David T

No, it’s not surprising that the openly pro-Hamas, anti-Semitic UK group, MEMO (Middle East Monitor) interviewed political cartoonist Carlos Latuff.

Latuff is one of the most prolific anti-Israel activists, who, in his work, frequently and explicitly compares Israel to Nazi Germany, portrays Israelis as taking pleasure in the death of Palestinian babies, and draws without inhibition on anti-Semitic stereotypes.  

Latuff is also, evidently, deemed perfectly respectable by the Guardian, as they posted a cartoon of his during the Palestine Papers series (in the context of Guardian editorials suggesting that Abbas sold-out on the “rights” of Palestinian Refugees) depicting PA President Mahmoud Abbas as a gun wielding, sinister looking Orthodox Jew – thus legitimizing the odious notion that Jews and/or Israelis represent the nadir of moral betrayal. 

However, the following exchange between the MEMO interviewer, Dr. Hanan Chehata, and Latuff is worth noting, as its well beyond caricature.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

So, for Latuff, what he’s engaging in when publishing his cartoons is mere respectful criticism, which is acceptable, and which is far different than “attacks”, which are off-limits.

So, by virtue of this no doubt well-developed moral calculus, which ethically distinguishes between respectful political critiques and hateful attacks, Latuff’s following depiction, entitled “Baby Killer Zombies“, would naturally fall in the former category.

Respectful criticism of Israel

 

A comparison from hell

“The problem from hell.” – Samantha Powers’ characterization of genocide in the 20th century.

Israel-Nazi Comparison:

Robin Shepherd, in 2009, wrote:

“Attempts in Europe to portray Israel as the modern incarnation of Nazi Germany were once the preserve of the extremists. Islamists, fascists and communists — each acting for reasons of their own — have employed the technique to portray the Jewish state as the epitome of political evil with which no compromise can be made.”

The cartoon above, from Arab News (April 10, 2002), shows Ariel Sharon wielding a swastika-shaped axe to chop up Palestinian children. Arab News is a Saudi-based English language daily which is supposedly one of the Arab world’s more moderate papers.

“It is a sign of the times”however, that the Nazification of Israel as a technique of denigration has begun to invade the mainstream.”

In 2008, this cartoon appeared in the student newspaper of Emory University (near Atlanta) which directly compared the Nazi ghettos with the separation fence the Israelis have erected on the West Bank

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The Death Wish of the Jewish Intellectual Left

This was published by Barry Rubin, at Pajamas Media.   (Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal)

It’s always fascinating to find historical parallels to contemporary events. When one discovers an obscure gem of this type, cutting the stone to let it reflect the light of truth is irresistible.

For well over a century, the Jewish people have been beset by an eleventh plague inside their own house: extreme left-wing intellectuals who urge they throw away their own interests, concerns, and even lives for the supposed higher ones of humanity or the chimera of being morally perfect.

According to this view, their supposed true interests lie in bringing about utopia for everyone, paved by abandoning their own aspirations, dissolving their identity while other groups are encouraged to do the opposite.

While I admire Bertram Wolfe for things he did in later life, he spent thirty earlier years campaigning for Communism. During that period he produced one of the greatest examples in this genre of left-wing calls for Jewish suicide. On April 6, 1939, Wolfe made a speech to the Keep America Out of War Congress, opposing U.S. involvement in the looming war in Europe against the Nazis, the worst persecutor of the Jewish people (so far) in modern times.

Wolfe was then an exemplar of what has become known recently by the name “As-a-Jew.” That is, those who never identify as a member of the Jewish people or religion except when bashing some aspect of it, usually in our era, Israel. So they start their rant by saying, “As a Jew…” I oppose this or that thing. (With the implied meaning: Aren’t I a great and noble person!)

In this tradition, Wolfe’s speech ordered Jews to sacrifice themselves for a left-wing cause based on a distorted left-wing view of reality:

The element that makes the war party [who want to fight Nazi Germany] so much larger in New York than elsewhere in this country, [are] those whose anguish blinds their visions as each day their spirits are bruised and shocked afresh by the daily budget of news of Jewish persecutions throughout the world. Profiting by their anguish which amounts to hysteria, there are those who would sell them the coming war as a war against antisemitism. And this is the more dangerous delusion because the growth of militarism and reaction in this country is bringing with it the growth of antisemitism.

In those days, “New York” was a code word, often used by anti-Semites, for Jews. True, he expresses sympathy to gain credibility but only uses it to warn that the worst thing Jews could do was to advocate a war against Hitler.

Why? The left always portrays the true threat to Jews in America as being from the right-wing. Of course, historically there was real truth in it — Charles Lindbergh made a similar antis-Semitic speech at the time — and of course it was quite true in Europe at the time. Still, everyone remembers that conservative British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain practiced appeasement; nobody remembers that the Labor Party voted against Chamberlain’s last-minute reversal of that policy to rearm Britain’s army.

The threat to the east came from fascism, but the danger in the west came from not fighting fascism. You are free to make a modern-day parallel to that sentence.

Those conservatives in America — as well as the more numerous liberals doing so — advocating the United States ally with Britain and France to fight Nazi Germany weren’t anti-Semitic. On the contrary, the isolationists were anti-Semites. And those anti-Semites on the extreme isolationist right held precisely the same view as Wolfe and the Communists or pacifists on the left. Both extremes were enemies of the Jews, not just one. And you are also free to make a modern-day parallel to that paragraph.

Read the rest of the essay, here.