Deborah Maccoby to Europe’s Jews: denounce Israel & live happily thereafter

Cross posted from the blog Simply Jews

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Deborah Maccoby… yeah, I know, my American friends will question my preoccupation with such minor and generally obscure elements of British society. And I don’t think that next picture will change their opinion significantly:

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Deborah Maccoby bills herself on some occasions* as “Executive, Jews for Justice for Palestinians”. Alternatively she presents herself as “a member of the Executive Committee of Just Peace UK, the Israeli-Palestinian peace group and the UK branch of ICAHD (the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions)”. At the same time she is gainfully employed “at the BBC World Service as a Production Assistant and has written book reviews for the Arabic Service”. Which is a significant point, showing a person with access to one of the heaviest propaganda juggernauts out there.

So, if after looking at the pictures, you have conjured in your mind an image of one of these slightly demented aunts that are very good in making their own preserves or jams, overcook the roast and are afraid of spiders – perish the thought. Deborah Maccoby is a very strong anti-Zionist presence on many fronts and, as a prominent member of the British “AssaJew” community, has quite a few ideas to offer on many subjects.

One of such subjects is a solution for antisemitism, which Ms Maccoby hinted about as early as 2009. In this letter that starts with predictable “Sir: I am a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and have participated in every one of the national demonstrations against Israel’s brutal onslaught against Gaza”, she offers the magic recipe in the last sentence:

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When George Galloway Shmoozed Gilad Atzmon

Cross posted from the blog of The CST

This Saturday saw George Galloway MP and his wife Gayatri interview Israeli saxophonist Gilad Atzmon on their Russia Today TV show, ‘Sputnik’. The significance of Galloway hosting Atzmon, a man whose views regarding Israel, Zionism and Jewish identity are so extreme that he is shunned by most of the anti-Israel movement in this country, should not be underestimated.

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Guardian letter notes the evils of our time: War, racism, rape…and Zionism

If you want to see a good example of the Guardian Left’s malign anti-Zionist obsession, and the capacity of some advocates for peace and progress to become nearly deranged when contemplating the Jewish state, look no further than this letter published by the Guardian on Dec. 11th, praising Bradley Manning’s defense of transgender rights. 

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CiF Watch follow up: Guardian blogger axed after crazy post about Gaza War

During the summer war in Gaza, we posted about Nafeez Ahmed, who published a truly bizarre, conspiratorial-minded post (at the Guardian’s Environmental blog!) claiming that Israel’s war was largely motivated by the desire to steal Palestinian natural gas.

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As we noted at the time, Ahmed’s theory on the “root cause” of the current conflict – which we fisked here - was not at all surprising given his history of such fanciful “truth” telling regarding the evidently “secret”, untold histories of the 9/11 attacks and the 7/7 London bombings.

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Guardian Letter: Palestinians are indigenous to the land, descendants of Canaanites

A letter published in the Guardian on Dec. 3, by Maher Othman of London, opened with the following passages:

Though I agree with Giles Fraser’s analysis (Loose canon, 29 November) that “Netanyahu’s nationality bill is at odds with [the] Hebrew Bible,” and contradicts Israel’s declaration of independence, which affirms “complete social and political equality for all its citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender”, his quotation from the Book of Numbers – “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you” – raises the question of who is and who is not a foreigner in historic Palestine.

The Palestinians consider themselves the indigenous people of the land and descendants of the Canaanites, while the population of Israel, which was established in part of Palestine in 1948, is made up of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Arab countries, Europe, the US and other countries.

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Guardian columnist Giles Fraser should know better than to hold Jews to higher standards

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Giles Fraser

“Of all people”, opined Giles Fraser in his Nov. 28th Guardian column about the proposed Jewish nation-state law, “Jews know what it is to live in somebody else’s country, without rights, subject to their laws, subject to their prejudices”, before citing the following verse from the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 15:15):

“The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord. The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.”

The point of citing scripture for Fraser is quite simple: 

“the Bible insists that both Jews and non-Jews are to be subject to the same laws, the latter having the same legal protections as the former.”

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Guardian publishes two anti-Jewish screeds by ‘ex-Jews’, but censors ‘ex-Muslims’

Over the last month, the Guardian has published two articles by self-professed “ex-Jews” – that is, Jews whose hatred of Israel – and the putative sins of Jews and Judaism – caused them to renounce their Jewish identity.  

As Richard Millett noted on these pages, the latest work by discredited historian Shlomo Sand was featured in the print and online editions of the Guardian in October – a lengthy book excerpt which vilified Israel, and suggested that Judaism itself was compromised by immutable – theologically based – racism. 

Here are a few passages from Sand’s article in the Guardian.

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More pseudo academic anti-Israel propaganda in London

Cross posted from Richard Millett’s blog

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

Joel Beinin and John Chalcraft in discussion last Tuesday at LSE.

It must be November because Joel Beinin, Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University, was in town. Last November Beinin was telling a SOAS audience that “Israel is heading into the abyss” and that Israel is putting Bedouin “into what would effectively be concentration camps”.

At LSE last Tuesday when asked during the Q&A after his talk “Why has the world stood by while Israel built the wall when we boycotted South Africa in the 80s?” Beinin replied, inter alia, that:

“The state of Israel is in some measure a response to western guilt for having sat on their hands during the murder of six million Jews. Now the Palestinians had nothing to do with that but, as Edward Said said, they are ‘the victims of the victims’.”

Beinin’s talk was called High Risk Activism and the Popular Struggle Against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank and was chaired by well-known Israel boycotter Dr John Chalcraft under the auspices of LSE’s Middle East Centre.

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Guardian silent about Labour candidate’s suspension for racist tweets

British Labor Party Parliamentary candidate Vicki Kirby was suspended on Saturday by Party leaders after it emerged that she was responsible for a series of hateful Tweets about Israel.

One tweet read:

“We invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher.”

Another claimed:

“Hitler might be the “Zionist God”

And, one pledged:

“I will never forget and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is!”

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Jewish, proudly British and increasingly concerned about rising antisemitism

Daniel Finkelstein, associate editor at Times of London, provided an extremely lucid, measured and penetrating look into antisemitism in the UK, in a column published in August.  It’s behind a pay wall, and we thought it was valuable enough to provide excerpts.

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Focus below the line: Profile of ‘anti-Zionist’ Guardian commenter Eileen Kuch

We first noticed commenter ‘Eileen Kuch’ on a ‘Comment is Free’ thread about the Ukrainian-Russian crisis in April, where she vehemently supported Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

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This comment, putting aside the “Zio-controlled” trope (that can be explained off as some kind of anti-Zionism – she didn’t write “Jewish controlled”; did she?), reminded us of a crazy conspiracy theory – on some completely off the mental spectrum website – alleging that Barack Obama’s stepfather Lolo Soetoro must have been Jewish because “soetoro” is a Hebrew word used in the Hebrew Bible.

We were mildly surprised that the Guardian allowed such a bizarre claim on their site, and, wishing to understand the very generous flexibility of the moderators, searched for her other comments.

Reading her writings taken from her public profile on CIF is a beautiful example of the level of racist hate speech that the World’s Leading Liberal Voice is evidently ready to tolerate, completely disregarding their own ‘community standards’. Here are a limited number of examples of her comments, along with the ‘source’ of her knowledge.

Israel and its puppet the USA are the instigators of all ongoing unrest and upheaval in the world:

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Another comment puts some light on her ‘sources’.

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Her suggested useful reference on the mass murder of “Christians” by the hands of Lenin and Trotsky is a book of a certain Estonian author – Juri Lina – titled ‘Under the Sign of the Scorpion‘. To illustrate what she considers ‘an important source’, we will only quote the well-known neo-Nazi and conspiracy theorist Henry Makow: 

Estonian journalist Juri Lina has examined the recently opened Soviet archives and documented the connection between the Bolshevik Revolution and Jewish Illuminism in his book “Under the Sign of the Scorpion.” (1994)

I will probably devote a separate column to this book. Suffice to say here that Communism was the outcome of the plan outlined in Protocols. No wonder this book was banned in the USSR on pain of death! Its informal ban in America is a measure of our condition.

Karl Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, were all Jewish Freemasons, dysfunctional losers who were employed by the Illuminist bankers to hoodwink the masses. Lenin for example had been an unsuccessful lawyer who had only six cases in which he defended shoplifters. He lost all six cases. A week later he gave up the law to become a highly paid revolutionary.

Ms Kuch can’t be fooled; she knows the real name of the players in Ukraine:

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Independent posts op-ed by Ilan Pappe calling Israel a ‘supremacist’ Jewish state

The Times of Israel recently published a story titled ‘Israeli soldiers sperm in hot demand‘, which reported an increase in the number of Israeli women seeking sperm donors with a military background, likely reflecting the fact that the war in Gaza may have given many of the women new insights into the value of heroism and patriotism.

However, as we’ve seen time and time again, the most popular anti-Zionists among British news editors tend to be those who can take a relatively innocuous fact about the Jewish State, and manage to impute the most malevolent and racist motives.

To boot, an Aug. 17th op-ed at the Indy by the anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe (What a rising demand for the sperm of IDF soldiers and a “fun” questionnaire reveal about Israel) takes the Times of Israel story about sperm donation trends into a predictable direction.

Here are the relevant passages in Pappe’s op-ed:

The first is the present drive among infertile Jewish parents to seek the sperm of the combatant elite units who fought in Gaza. This is to ensure the purest and most supreme DNA possible for their prospective children. And it is fully supported by the official Israeli Sperm Bank.

To be honest, these soldiers did not do too well in the battlefield. Conventional armies are inept when it comes to battling face-to-face with desperate guerrillas dug deep in tunnels and bunkers. Possibly the HAMAS DNA would have been a bit more fitting for this purpose, if one wishes to take ad absurdum this Israeli Jewish obsession with human engineering.

It was bad enough to base the whole Zionist idea on the wish to create an exclusive and supremacist Jewish democracy, in a land where the Jews were not and are not going to be ever such a majority (unless they genocide the local population).

There are other enormously problematic elements of Pappe’s op-ed, but the charge leveled against Israel that those Jewish Israeli women who want the father of their children to be Israeli soldiers reflects some sort of endemic Jewish racism should briefly be put in context.

The term “Jewish supremacism” – an especially vile form of the ‘Zionism = Racism” charge – has been popularized by extreme antisemites such as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and a neo-Nazi style extremist named Gilad Atzmon. Indeed, the doctoral thesis written by Duke was titled ‘Zionism is a form of ethnic supremacism’. 

But, at the heart of Pappe’s charges is something much darker than merely a commentary on Zionism.  If you recall, back in 2011 the Guardian’s Deborah Orr achieved well-deserved notoriety for complaining that so many Zionists believe “that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate [Palestinian] neighbors” – “Zionists” of course being a euphemism for “Jews”.

Such an ugly distortion of the Jewish ‘chosen people’ idea often suggests that the Jewish faith, in practice if not by theological design, arguably shares an ideological similitude with other odious, exclusivist 20th century ideologies in that they see their group as a superior race.

Ilan Pappe had to be aware of the ideological baggage associated with that the term “supremacist” in relation to the state of the Jewish people, and editors at the Indy – which claims to be a champion of enlightenment values – should certainly not have allowed its editorial pages to be used as a repository of such reactionary, racist notions about Jews and Israel.  

Owen Jones, and the Left’s blind spot over antisemitism

Cross posted by Jeremy Havardi at The Commentator

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Owen Jones

Leftists have long had a blind spot when it comes to antisemitism. This is partly because some have found comfort in this rank bigotry, seeing Jews as a privileged elite and a personification of the capitalism they abhor. But it is also because they like to define antisemitism on their own terms, showing disdain for how Jews themselves feel.

They recognise and condemn its more usual manifestations, particularly when it comes packaged with swastikas, jackboots and lethal rhetoric. But they refuse to recognise the other side of Jew baiting — the double standards, the conspiracy thinking, the Holocaust inversion and the anti-Zionism.

Owen Jones clearly has the blind spot just mentioned. In an article in Monday’s Guardian [Aug. 11], Jones discusses the menace of antisemitism in Europe. He recognises that it has spiked during the conflict in Gaza and argues that ‘attempts to belittle it are dangerous, allowing the tumour to spread unchecked’.

He dismisses those who try to deflect blame onto the Jews themselves. This, he says, is like ‘rationalising anti-Muslim prejudice as the inevitable consequence of Islamist fundamentalist terror’. So far, so good.

But then he gets unstuck. First, he raises the old canard that pro-Israel supporters accuse ‘pro-Palestinian’ protestors of being antisemitic in an attempt to silence criticism of Israel.

The danger is that the ‘meaning of antisemitism is lost, making it all the more difficult to identify and eliminate hatred against Jewish people at a time when it is rising’. He goes on to say that for some defenders of Israel’s governments, the ‘supposed special attention received by the conflict is itself evidence of antisemitism’.

In reality, he argues that these protestors are condemning the actions of a heavily armed state backed by the West.

The idea that Israel’s supporters routinely accuse their critics of antisemitism is essentially fictitious. The vast majority of these supporters can recognise the difference between criticism of Israeli policy and baseless hatred. Virtually no sane Zionist sympathiser would label someone antisemitic simply for criticising policy on the West Bank or settlements. These are matters of legitimate public discourse.

But what these supporters will argue, justifiably, is that the discourse on the conflict has become badly corrupted. Israel has been likened to a Nazi state that is engaged in a policy of wholesale extermination. Only recently, Lord Prescott labelled Gaza a ‘concentration camp’ in an article for the Mirror. Others, like David Ward and Lee Jasper, have used Holocaust Memorial Day to attack Israel and the Jews.

Cartoonists have routinely tapped into antisemitic stereotypes to depict Israeli leaders, the most popular of which evoke images of the blood libel. The ‘all powerful’ Israel lobby is accused of being an evil puppet master, manipulating western foreign policy for its own insidious ends. This taps into a centuries old stereotype of sinister and demonic Jews controlling the world.

Supporters of Israel have every reason to condemn such ugly displays of bigotry. Yet the accusation is trotted out that they accuse every critic of anti semitism, which is absurd. This is an attempt to silence and smear Zionists, not critics of Israel. Maybe Owen Jones should answer this question: How nasty must criticism of Israel become before it can be considered antisemitic, or at least bigoted?

Is it acceptable to portray Netanyahu as a hook nosed Jew revelling in Palestinian blood, as a latter day satanic Hitler or perhaps as an evil puppet master controlling western leaders? Unfortunately, images such as these have proliferated at anti-Israeli rallies around the world.

Jones is anxious to defend those who go on ‘pro-Palestinian’ rallies. But the unmistakeable sentiment from marchers is unmitigated hostility to Zionism and a Palestine free ‘from the river to the sea’. Yet Zionism is simply the acknowledgement that the Jews are a nation with a collective right to self-determination.

Anti-Zionists deny Jews this right while granting it to every other nation. That is why true progressives, like the great Martin Luther King, have long recognised the connection between hostility to Zionism and hostility to Jews.

Jones secondly fails to understand how antisemitism is often dressed up in ‘progressive’ form. He (rightly) mentions the danger from Front National, Jobbik and Golden Dawn, three extreme groups suffused with xenophobic prejudice against Jews, immigrants and Muslims. He condemns attacks on synagogues in Paris as well as other assaults.

But antisemitism is not just about jackboots and swastikas, torched synagogues and racist insults. It is about discriminating unfairly against Jews, Jewish institutions and Israelis.

It is about holding Jews to a different standard or demanding from them a unique level of behaviour. It is about calculated offence, such as abusing the memory of the Holocaust for political ends. Nor does antisemitism have to be intended for it to be real.

When we stop viewing this prejudice through far right tinted spectacles, we can understand why Kilburn’s Tricycle theatre has been accused of racism. Last week, the Tricycle boycotted the UK Jewish Film Festival after the latter refused to accept a condition that it first reject £1,400 of funding from the Israeli embassy.

The Tricycle suggested that UKJFF was being politicised by this money and, by implication, the theatre would be taking sides over the Gaza conflict.

Yet this condition has not been imposed in other cases where cultural institutions have received government funding. To take one example, the Tricycle hosted the London Asian Film Festival, even though it was financed by the Indian government, a party to the long running conflict over Kashmir.

Moreover, the Tricycle has happily taken a sizeable grant from the Arts Council, a government funded body. Yet British governments have recently been mired in controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a blatant case of an egregious double standard applied to a Jewish cultural group. They, and only they, have been forced to sign up to a political credo (i.e. to dissociate from Israel) before they are deemed ‘acceptable’. In an attempt to appear self-righteous, the Tricycle’s organisers have engaged in a most pernicious form of bullying.

Had he cast his net further, Jones might have condemned George Galloway after his recent statement that no Israeli tourists were welcome in Bradford.

Galloway was saying that a boycott of Israeli goods and services was not enough; not one Israeli was welcome to step foot in his constituency either. By demanding that Bradford become Israelfrei, Galloway was not engaging in political debate. He was demonising an entire nation.

Equally bigoted was the decision of the Edinburgh Festival to axe ‘The City’, a play staged by Jerusalem’s Incubator Theatre. There were calls for its artists to publicly dissociate themselves from Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank before being allowed to perform.

But again, such draconian demands have not been imposed on other nationalities. No other performers have been asked to pass a ‘values test’ before they can appear, nor should they be. Such behaviour is an outrageous affront to the principle of artistic freedom.

All three examples revolve around Israel and its conflict in Gaza. But Israel is the ‘Jew among nations’ and the country deserves equal treatment in the court of international opinion. Singling her out unfairly demands some form of explanation.

The motive for doing so is not always racist. Anti-Americanism and hostility to western power galvanise the left, and Israel is a bastion of democratic, western values as well as a staunch ally of America. It is also perceived, wrongly, to be a colonialist power. Hence it is a target of leftist discontent with western power. But the effect of such irrational discrimination and disproportionate focus is no less hurtful than a verbal insult.

It is still targeting the Jews.

It is only when we understand the many ways in which antisemitism manifests itself that we can start tackling it properly. It must be confronted warts and all, and with the blinkers and blind spots removed.

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

Independent op-eds spew hate and vitriol at Israel

The Independent doesn’t have a Jerusalem correspondent at the moment. So, during the war, they’ve been mainly relying on stringers and wire service reports. However, their lack of on-the-ground coverage hasn’t stopped them from using the ‘expert’ analysis of a few of their op-ed contributors:

Here are a few examples:

Adam Withnall

As noted on these pages yesterday, the Indy’s Adam Withnall seemed to characterize a few dozen Sderot residents – a community which been on the receiving end of thousands of Gaza rockets since 2001 – applauding attacks on Hamas military targets as an act of almost unparalleled human cruelty.  Withnall cited one Twitter user who opined about the ‘spectacle’, that “If this is true then God help us all”, before asking,  “What’s become of the human race?”

Robert Fisk

A July 13th op-ed on the war by their “award-winning” Middle East correspondent titled (Why doesn’t the media ever mention the lack of progress in the Middle East?) blamed the Western media for being too soft on Israeli “blood-letting”, by failing to inform news consumers that they state has been “engaged in “pitiless, infinitely more wicked and obscene war”.

Mira Bar-Hillel

Hillel, the British reporter who (though Jewish herself) has acknowledged being antisemitic, published an op-ed on July 11th (Why I’m on the brink of burning my Israeli passport), which likened alleged Facebook comments (the veracity of which is in doubt) by Israeli MK Ayelet Shaked to crimes committed by the Nazis:

Hillel wrote:

She [MK Shaked] made me think about my mother’s sister Klara and her three small children who were living in Krakow in 1939 when the Germans invaded. They decided that the Jews – all Jews – were the enemy and had to be eliminated, not least the women and the little snakes they were raising. “Why? Ask them – they started it”, as the Nazis would say if asked

Later, Hillel referred to a few random hateful Tweets by Israeli teens as “angelic faces of evil spouting such genocidal rhetoric”, before ending with a rhetorical flourish worthy of a character in Howard Jacobson’s book The Finkler Question:

 I pick up my Israeli passport and a box of matches. “Not in my name, people. Not in my name!” 

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Alibhai-Brown’s July 13th op-ed (Israel’s reaction has been vicious and misdirected) characterized the “mindset of hardline Zionists” thusly:

It is a combination of paranoia, indiscriminate loyalty and odium towards any person or group opposed to Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians.

Alibhai-Brown then seemed to compare Jihadists attacks with the actions of the Jewish State, and vilifies ‘British Zionists’ for not speaking out:

When Jihadis commit atrocities, British Muslims are collectively blamed, told to protest, to issue statements from mosques, to say sorry, to stop the Islamicists. Israel builds walls, grabs land, introduces racist rules, imprisons Palestinian children, uses grotesque force and gets undeclared donations from British Zionists, and British Jews are not asked to march, or issue condemnations or promises.

Alibhai-Brown’s diatribe then devolves further, accusing Israel of engaging in a plan of genocide:

The Holocaust – one of the most obscene, inhumane pogroms in world history – is now used as a guarantee of perpetual indemnity by a state which was to be a sanctuary and an exemplar of survival, dignity and morality. Israel’s leadership has discarded moral sense and wants to eliminate Palestinians altogether from the pitifully small bits of land they live in. They have learnt the wrong lessons from their own history and seem to be modelling themselves on Europeans who took over Australia, North and South America.

In contextualizing the UK media each day during the war, we can honestly say at this point that recent Indy’s attacks surpass even the Guardian in the level of malice and vitriol directed towards Israel and its ‘Zionist’ supporters.

Finally, you may recall that last October the Indy published a spirited editorial refuting accusations that the paper was institutionally antisemitic, claiming that the charges were “false”, “myopic” and “willfully ignorant” – words which actually quite aptly characterize the hateful agitprop directed against the Jewish State by Fisk, Bar-Hillel and Alibhai-Brown over the last few days.

Guardian erases the ethnic cleansing of Jews in the Mid-East, again and again and again…

A few hours ago we published our reply to a June 11th Guardian article which whitewashed the ethnic cleansing of over 800,000 Jews from Arab countries between 1947 and 1972 – consistent with a pattern of such historical revisionism at the London daily which manifested itself again in a June 16th op-ed by .

Ramadani made the following claim in a piece titled ‘The sectarian myth of Iraq‘:

[Nobody] has yet produced historical evidence of significant communal fighting between Iraq’s religions, sects, ethnicities or nationalities. Prior to the 2003 US-led occupation, the only incident was the 1941 violent looting of Jewish neighbourhoods – which is still shrouded in mystery as to who planned it. Documents relating to that criminal incident are still kept secret at the Public Records Office by orders of successive British governments. The bombing of synagogues in Baghdad in 1950-51 turned out to be the work of Zionists to frighten Iraq’s Jews – one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world – into emigrating to Israel following their refusal to do so.

There are two claims – one about the 1941 “violent looting” (known as the Farhud), and another about a specific synagogue bombing in Baghdad. 

Farhud

First, regarding the “violent looting of Jewish neighborhoods“, Lyn Julius, an expert on the issue of Arab refugees from Arab countries, provided a brief account of the incident in a recent essay:

The Farhud — a Kurdish word meaning “forced dispossession” — erupted at the peak of World War ll. Over two days of rioting coinciding with the Jewish festival of Shavuot, a frenzied mob, including Arab neighbors and policemen, murdered around 180 Jews in Baghdad and other cities (the exact figure is not known); 242 children were orphaned, scores of women raped, hundreds wounded, 900 homes and 586 Jewish-owned shops were looted. Although some Arabs did heroically defend their Jewish neighbors, stories abound of pregnant women eviscerated, babies mutilated and Jewish hospital patients refused treatment or poisoned. The dead were hurriedly buried in a mass grave.

Though the question Ramadani raises – whether the anti-Jewish riots were “a direct result of incitement and deliberate, organized, German-Nazi propaganda” – is an interesting one (one which Julius addresses in her essay), by focusing on the narrow issue of who ‘incited’ the riots, he deflects from the more pertinent fact: that a “frenzied mob” of Iraqi Muslims perpetrated the atrocity, and they bear most of the moral responsibility.

Synagogue bombing:

Regarding the 1951 synagogue bombing:

Evidence revealed in 2006 by Tom Segev (a historian not known for towing the ‘Zionist narrative’) demonstrated that Iraqis from the Muslim Brotherhood threw the deadly bomb – not Zionists, as Ramadani claims.

On January 14, 1951, at about seven in the evening, a bomb – or perhaps it was a hand grenade – was tossed into the open courtyard of the Masuda Shemtov synagogue in Baghdad. The courtyard served as a gathering place for Jews, prior to their departure for the airport, on their way to Israel. At the time of the terror attack, the place was filled with several hundred people. Four of them, including a 12-year-old boy, were killed; about 10 were wounded. The Iraqi authorities blamed two activists from the Zionist underground, and had them executed.

Now, a recent publication is shedding new light on the mystery. The revelations come from Yehuda Tager, an Israeli agent who operated in Baghdad, was exposed and spent about 10 years in prison there. According to Tager, the bombing of the Masuda Shemtov synagogue was not carried out by Israelis, but by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Further, at Point of No Return (the blog on Jewish Refugees from Arab countries), further refuting claims that Zionist may have been behind the bombing, notes that by March of that year (1951), all but about 6,000 Jews had decided to register to leave Iraq – calling into question why ‘Zionists’ would go to such efforts to spur Aliyah when the overwhelming majority of Iraqi Jews had already decided to do so.

Also, Israeli historian Moshe Gat has argued that it is “highly unlikely the Israelis would have taken such measures to accelerate the Jewish evacuation given that they were already struggling to cope with the existing [mass] immigration”.

Leaving the one bombing aside, the broader fact that Jews in Iraq, once a community of 135,000, fled the country due to antisemitic persecution is undeniable, and the Guardian contributor’s suggestion that Zionist agitation caused their flight is simply a lie.

As Point of No Return has noted about life for Jews prior to the bombing in 1951:

Jews were leaving [Iraq] illegally at a rate of 1,000 a month in 1949. Jews fled because they were being persecuted, because of the execution of the anti-Zionist Jew Shafik Ades in September 1948, because they were sacked from the Civil Service, because they could not enroll in universities and colleges, because they could not travel, because money was being extorted from them, because they were being arbitrarily arrested and unfairly singled out as Zionists.

Here are the major antisemitic events, again, per Point of No Return:

  • 1932: German Charge d’affaires, Fritz Grobba, publishes instalments of Mein Kampf in Arabic daily newspaper. Radio Berlin begins Arabic broadcasts.
  • 1934 – 36: 600 Jewish clerks dismissed from government
  • 1934: regulation introduced requiring Jews to deposit £50 to travel abroad.
  • 1935: state secondary schools impose quotas on Jewish students. Hebrew and Jewish history instruction forbidden. Only the Bible can be read without translation.
  • 1936: government-licensed Jewish businesses must have a Muslim partner.
  • 1939: Iraqi public school system begins to follow a Nazi education model.
  • 1936: Three Jews murdered in Baghdad, one in Basra. Bomb thrown into synagogue on Yom Kippur.
  • 1936 – 39: despite the Chief Rabbi officially dissociating himself from Zionism and a condemnation of Zionism signed by 33 Iraqi Jewish leaders, seven murders of Jews and six bombings take place.
  • 1941: In the interregnum following a pro-Nazi coup, 179 Jews are killed and 911 houses looted in the Farhoud pogrom.
  • 1947: Iraqi Foreign minister threatens expulsion of Jews as part of coordinated Arab League plan if Partition of Palestine goes ahead.
  • 1948: state of emergency declared; 310 Jews court-martialed.
  • 1948: Jews receiving letters from Palestine accused of Zionism.
  • September 1948: Shafik Ades, Iraq’s richest Jew, hanged.
  • May 1948 – Dec 1949: 800 – 1,500 Jews dismissed from public service. Jewish banks lose their foreign exchange trading licences. Restrictions on high school and university students.
  • Jewish community ‘donates’ 113,000 dinars to war effort against Israel. Fines collected from Iraqi Jews: $80 million. Travel ban on Jews and on buying and selling property. Retroactive tax on Jews. Property of all Jews who had emigrated since 1933 confiscated. Government ceases to service Jewish areas. Property of Jewish prisoners impounded. Jewish newspapers shut down.
  • Feb and March 1949: 100 Jews tried for connections to Zionism.
  • March 1950: Iraqi Parliament Ordinance permits Jewish emigration upon forfeiture of citizenship. Some 120,000 Jews register to leave.
  • March 1951: Law no. 5 deprives all stateless Iraqi Jews of their property.

All of these events of course wildly contradict Ramadani’s suggestion that there was no significant ethnic, sectarian or religious inspired violence prior to the Iraq invasion in 2003.

As Elder of Ziyon argued in his own excellent fisking of Ramadani’s op-ed, The Guardian whitewashes historic Iraqi antisemitism, “Comment may be free, but The Guardian has an obligation to fact-check what people write”.

UPDATE:

Yiftah Curiel, spokesperson for the Israel Embassy in London, had a letter published at the Guardian on June 18th in response to Ramadani’s op-ed.