by Martin Odoni

We already know that Israel and its supporters assume the right to interfere in the Governments of other countries – Shai Masot inadvertently made that pretty inescapable. But someone in the Zionist movement clearly forgot to tell academic Manfred Gerstenfeld that this reality is still supposed to go unspoken in public. It may be an open secret, but it is still an official secret.

Gerstenfeld, an Austrian-Israeli, at the weekend just past wrote an article that was published in the Jerusalem Post, in which he performed an all-too-familiar character-assassination on Jeremy Corbyn. He titled it in rather militaristic terms, Battling Corbyn, Israel’s main British enemy. The word enemy in particular is startling, as it implies that Gerstenfeld sees a critic or vocal opponent as indistinguishable from a violent, blood-seeking foe.

Gerstenfeld v Corbyn

Manfred Gernstenfeld, an Austro-Israeli academic, has written a hatchet-job article on Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, most of Gerstenfeld’s account of what has been happening in the UK Labour Party over the last couple of years is hopelessly biased and inaccurate – particularly his damnable lie that Corbyn has offered, “expressions of sympathy for genocidal Arab terrorists.” The people Corbyn has expressed sympathy for are ordinary Palestinian people imprisoned in Gaza and the West Bank, not terrorists. Despite endless media assertions, for instance, that Corbyn laid a wreath on a memorial to the Munich Terrorists of 1972 in Tunisia in 2014, he did not. But the desire to eclipse the harmless truth about Corbyn runs strong in Zionists.

We should expect no better than that from Gerstenfeld, or indeed from any Zionist discussing any Palestine sympathiser, so let us leave that on one side.

Instead, let us look at the bit where the twister writes,

Is there anything Israel’s allies can do to make it more difficult for a Corbyn-controlled Labour to rise to power?

This makes what we already knew quite explicit; Israelis really do think that they have a right to interfere – either themselves or by proxy – in the democratic processes of other countries, for the sake of Zionist advancement. Of course, Israel is very far from alone in this arrogance, but that makes the wish no less corrupt.

Gerstenfeld’s words are an open declaration of Zionism’s anti-democratic foundation, a foundation I have mentioned before. Israel has spent decades trying to be an ethnocracy and a democracy simultaneously, and it just cannot be done; the will-of-the-majority can only be reconciled with the will of one ethnic group over all others, by artificially making the chosen group larger than the others, which in turn can only be done by adopting policies that oppress the others – undemocratic in themselves. The democratic veneer of Israel is therefore more illusory than substantial. Zionism desires a ‘Jewish State’ be perpetuated at any cost, with even democracy being seen as a small price to pay. Respecting the sovereignty of other nations is also a lesser concern in the mind of the Zionist fanatics who dominate the Israeli Government and media.

Almost as telling as what Gerstenfeld says in the article is what he scarcely says. He is not speaking out against ‘anti-Semitism’. Indeed he only uses the term once in the entire article, and does not use the word ‘Jew’ even once. In the one paragraph where he uses the term ‘antisemitism’ (his spelling, not mine), he then starts discussing opposition to Israel instead of prejudice against Jews – the never-ending rhetorical trick of Zionists trying to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism rears its ugly head once more. From the omissions from his own writing therefore, we can take it as incontestable. Gerstenfeld’s objection to Corbyn is entirely on the grounds of Corbyn’s opposition to Israel, not any supposed hostility he may feel towards Jews.

Gerstenfeld, another specimen of the stupid Zionist fanatic, has let the metaphorical cat out of the bag.

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by Martin Odoni

Jews 4 Jez

I’m one of these. But this is not an easy position to adopt.

A ‘Theobald-Jew’

As I mentioned on a previous post, Jonathan Hoffman, the man who is to Zionist tolerance what the shark from Jaws was to convincing visual-effects work, told me the following recently; –

You are a disgrace. A Jew In Name Only. JINO According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations. The world is teeming with Theobald-Jews who are ready to betray their own people to serve what they regard as their advantage.

An expression like ‘Theobald-Jews‘ is just an obsolete way of saying, “The Wrong Kind Of Jews” of course. But what Hoffman, and other aggressive Zionist smear-merchants are not very good at is developing their accusations beyond the label. They throw the name, and they sometimes offer a reason why the action has provoked the comparison, but they do not really establish why they believe the motive matches up.

What does Hoffman mean precisely when he implies that I am “ready to betray [my] own people to serve what [I] regard as [my] advantage”? For one thing, why is the Israeli Government supposed to be ‘my people’? For another, how can I have ‘betrayed’ them, when I have never professed any particular loyalty to them? How can it be ‘betrayal’ if I have not done anything underhand against them against their knowledge? But above all, what ‘advantage’ does he imagine I gain on a personal level from opposing Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?

A frequent pattern

This is a frequent pattern I encounter when I cross swords with Israel supporters. A few years ago, an Israeli castigated me over social media in the following terms; –

such a “jew” martin, like yourself, cannot speak in the name of the jewish people. you see as “completely unnecessary” the existence and continuation of the jewish people, not simply of the state of israel!

i see completely unnecessary the existence of assimilated jews who are hostile towards jews/israel. Such jews should decide: either they’re completing the process of assimilation (and maybe becoming antisemitic – better antisemitic non-jew than a jewish anti-semite) or leave alone the jewish people. you can’t ride two bikes simultaneously and cynically use your “jewishness”: either one or the second.

NB: Please note that I did not change anything in the above passage. The poor grammar and appalling punctuation are not my doing.

Just to make clear, I had not said that I see the existence or continuation of the Jewish people as unnecessary. I had said that I did not believe that it had been necessary to found modern Israel, or to continue its particular status as a ‘Jewish state’. (My reasons why can be read here.) By the same measure, I had not claimed to speak ‘in the name of the Jewish people’. I had been speaking in my own name as a Jew. (“Two Jews, three opinions,” as they say.) Meanwhile, the Israeli’s insistence that my condemnation of Israel is me being “hostile to Jews” or a “Jewish anti-Semite” is not only yet another benighted conflation of Jews with Israel, it is also a variant on the same ‘Theobald-Jew’ accusation I got from Hoffman. When the Israeli accuses me of “cynically using [my] Jewishness”, he implies that I have an ulterior motive of some kind, but like Hoffman, offers no clear thoughts on what that motive is. The rest of his little rant basically amounts to saying that I have to be nice to Israel or I must keep my mouth shut, and ‘choose’ not to be Jewish anymore (which is not even possible, whether I like it or not – even if Gilad Atzmon thinks it is). His argument that the ongoing existence of myself and other Jewish anti-Zionists is ‘unnecessary’ seems like the real hostility, by any standards.

This demonstrates the oppressive attitude Zionist hardliners – gentile or otherwise – hold towards Jews. As far as the Zionists are concerned, Jews must ‘fall into line’. It is not gentiles, or Arabs, or even Palestinian Arabs more narrowly, that Zionist fanatics hate the most. The people Zionist fanatics hate the most are Jews who are not Zionists. Jews who will not fight to suppress the right of Arab people to have the self-determination that Zionists imagine they are fighting to bestow upon Jews themselves, Any Jew who steps out of that line is told he is no longer a Jew, which rather seems to run completely contrary to the idea of Jews having self-determination. That is why Zionism is not about granting self-determination to Jews, but about imposing a collective-determination upon Jews. Anyone, anywhere on Earth who questions it is attacked, but most especially if they are themselves Jewish, as they are not obeying the will of the ‘Hive-mind’ of Zionist imagination.

Meanwhile, anti-Semites think that all Jews already are in line, and that all Jews are somehow ‘secretly working behind the scenes to take over the world’, and other such would-be-hilarious-in-any-other-context tropes.

Anti-Semites and Zionists are flip sides of the same coin, especially to Jewish dissenters. One group hates us for trying to run the world when we are not, and the other group hates us for not trying to.

In short, we get it in stereo.

Anti-Semites & Zionists both hate Jewish dissenters

Now here is the detail I need to get across; an anti-Zionist Jew (or just a Jewish opponent of Israel) gets the worst of both worlds. We know, and anticipate, that anti-Semites are not going to stop hating us simply because we oppose Israel, because they will assume our motives are ingratiation, and will still assume all the other stereotype-Jewish characteristics are true. While Zionists accuse us of being ‘traitors’, and ‘Jews In Name Only’.

With this in mind, it should be as clear as the midsummers day sky that I, and other non-Zionist Jews, have no ulterior motive to adopt the position we do. It is not in our private interests to support Palestinian rights. All it does on a personal level is double the number of opponents we have. Our lives would be infinitely easier if we just shrugged our shoulders and supported Israel without question. The temptation to cave in and get back into line can be strong, especially when we become ostracised by Jewish communities that are stubbornly Zionist.

It is also an immensely frustrating position to be in in wider society, due to our voices being drowned out to the extent that few people realise we are here. Jewish anti-Zionists are routinely ignored by a media near-conspiracy that is determined to present a black-and-white “British-Jews-feel-they-are-under-siege!!!” narrative that is a useful weapon with which to attack the Left. Certainly, no one prominent in the media will ever speak up for Jewish anti-Zionists, and no one is eager to give us a platform to speak for ourselves. This is probably because a Jew who opposes Israel and Zionism is a confusing, water-muddying anomaly in many minds.

As an example, James O’Brien, the Thinking Liberal’s Idiot of LBC Radio, is always bending over backwards to sound sympathetic and sensitive to what he thinks are ‘Jewish concerns’ about the threat of the ‘next Pogrom’. But in doing so, he joins in with the right wing media insistence that ‘British Jews’ are a homogeneous mass with that same aforementioned ‘Hive-mind’. He therefore assumes that if one Jewish Briton expresses wild paranoia about ‘surging anti-Semitism’, and the need for Israel to do absolutely anything it sees fit to prevent it, all Jewish Britons are feeling the same panic, and believe in the same remedy. A Jew who opposes Israel is therefore a cause of confusion, and no likelier to get a platform from O’Brien, or others of his ilk, than a Blackshirt. Indeed, I see no evidence of the existence of Jewish anti-Zionists even being recognised in wide stretches of the western media. O’Brien, if he truly wants Jews to believe he cares and sympathises, needs to get it into his head that by projecting the views of some Jews onto all, he is being profoundly offensive.

Before anyone suggests it, Jewish anti-Zionists certainly do not get paid expressly for speaking out against Israel – or certainly I never have been. This blog is entirely free to read, and I have never been paid a penny for any of the articles written on here, even from adverts that sometimes appear in headers and footers. During my stint writing for The Canary, I did get paid a (very) small amount for my work, but only three of the forty-odd articles I wrote there were about Israel/Palestine. I do not have the precise figures, but I reckon the pay I got for all three articles would have been around £6. Not really worth all the bad feeling just for that, is it?

I have also lost friends within Jewish communities, several of whom were quite close to me, over my position on Israel, and I know I am far from the only Jewish anti-Zionist to experience that. Moreover, I frequently have very bitter arguments with members of my extended family who live in Israel, and who believe I am brainwashed by ‘politically correct’ propaganda.

All of that grief for the sake of £6? Seriously?

If you believe I would go through these miseries for an amount of money that piddling, you must believe every stereotype you ever heard about ‘Jewish money-grabbing’.

Any friend of Netanyahu is a friend of anti-Semites

No, I have no ulterior motive for supporting the Palestinians. I do it because it is right. It is right, because I recognise that Palestinians are as entitled to the same human rights as any other people. It is right because I recognise that Israeli policy encourages and creates a pretext for anti-Semitic feeling, potentially endangering Jews worldwide. It is right because I recognise that creating Israel at the outset was an act of anti-Semitism, as it created a geographical schism between many Jews and the rest of the human race. And it is right because, when Binyamin Netanyahu, without asking, tries to carry out his crimes in the name of the Jews of the whole world, my silence would make me complicit. That gives me a responsibility to say no, and to make damned clear why I am saying no. Especially when Netanyahu

  • tries to condemn a Labour Party leader, who has fought against anti-Semitism his whole life, as an anti-Semite,
  • tries to acquit Adolf Hitler of much of the blame for the Nazi Holocaust, and transfer it to Palestinians,
  • invites to Israel a Filipino elected-dictator, who boasts of being like Hitler, to open a memorial to the Shoah,
  • publicly expresses sentiments that resonate loudly with echoes of Nazi Germany’s ‘Survival Of The Strongest’ narratives.

When discussing ‘Bibi’, we are talking about a self-proclaimed ‘leader of the Jewish people’ who says Jeremy Corbyn is a racist, that Adolf Hitler was not, and that Rodrigo Duterte is a sensitive choice for unveiling a memorial to victims of a genocide. If the price of opposing a country led by a doublethinking megalomaniac like Netanyahu is for me to be labelled a ‘Jewish anti-Semite’, then so be it. It hurts and demeans me, but I am used to it, and I will simply shrug it off.  However, that will not always be easy, especially this week; –

I should know this week whether I am to be expelled

As regular readers should know, the latest aggravation I am experiencing in my capacity as a Jewish opponent of Israel is that I have been suspended by the Labour Party. From what I hear on the grapevine, my suspension is one among a number of cases that are expected to be assessed this coming Tuesday.

I genuinely do not know how it will pan out. It will truly anger and frustrate me if my case is assessed, as appears likely, by a gentile who knows little about the subject, and she judges me – a Jew who has experienced the sharp end of this prejudice – to be an anti-Semite. All because of a hopelessly-flawed definition of anti-Semitism being treated as Holy Writ. Anyone who understands and accepts that definition will not only imagine they know what anti-Semitism is better than I do, but will even be judging me under those terms. That is not only absurdly back-to-front, it is also a painful, powerless feeling.

As I say, my life would have been a lot easier had I just toed the line. But it would still have been wrong of me to do so.

by Martin Odoni

The notorious outgoing President of the British Board of Jewish Deputies this week made perhaps the most ridiculous public statement of his entire, lamentable career. The eternally right-wing Jonathan Arkush, speaking to the eternally right-wing Daily Telegraph, claimed,

“Delegitimising the state of Israel is antisemitic. [Jeremy Corbyn] was a chairman of Stop the War, which is responsible for some of the worst anti-Israel discourse. If he shares the prevalent discourse about Israel, then that view is unquestionably antisemitic… [The BDI] will not accept a discourse which denies the existence of their own land to the Jewish people. I think we are all entitled to some clarity on his real views about Israel.”

This remark is either a cynical smear, or a call from the heights of deranged paranoia. Arkush and his allies in the Zionist (important; not Jewish) community keep levelling charges like this at the Labour leader, among many others on the left of the party. But each time, they put precious little meat on the bones of their accusations. There is never a coherent explanation from Arkush as to what Corbyn has really said that is so objectionable, examples are few-and-far-between, and what quotations are offered are usually taken out-of-context.

Arkush also said that Corbyn’s Labour has British Jews wondering: “Do we have a future here?” Not for the first time, and probably not the last, I find myself wanting to ask the Board, “When were you going to ask me before speaking for me?” Because I am one Jew who has never wondered whether I have a future here at all, and no one has ever asked me if I have.

Arkush also stated quite concretely that Corbyn holds ‘anti-Semitic views’, but again offers no specific examples to that effect, just more generalised grumbles about Corbyn’s history of criticisng Israeli policies.

More particularly, Arkush’s leading attempt to imply that Corbyn has a history of ‘delegitimising the state of Israel’ is an outrageous lie. Corbyn’s associations with the Stop The War coalition reveal not a shred of evidence of that; Stop The War are frequent critics of Israel, beyond doubt, but they have never argued particularly for its destruction. (And no, before anyone comments with the familiar urban myth, Stop The War did not publish an article four years ago literally demanding a war with Israel. The often-cited article by Professor Richard Falk was arguing for non-military action against Israel.) Stop The War question the decision to create Israel, and the process by which it happened – especially the much-under-discussed role of Zionist militancy in the mid-1940s – but that is quite different from wanting the country to be destroyed. The coalition, like most critics of Israel, want to see the country reformed with full rights for all Palestinians on an equal footing with all Jews, be it by a one-state or two-state solution. Condemnation of policy is quite different from condemnation of existence.

Arkushleep

So on examination, Arkush’s protestations are not against the way anyone in the Labour Party or Stop The War treats Jews at all. He objects instead to the way that the left will not endorse Israel’s treatment of Arabs. The refusal to approve the repeated slaughters of Arabs is anti-Semitic, according to Arkush.

The only conclusion we can draw from Arkush’s rant – probably his last before rightly stepping down as the Board’s President – is that he sees Israel/Palestine in the most childish of binary terms. He thinks that people can be anti-Semitic, or they can be anti-Arab. (They can also, perhaps, be both.) But as far as Arkush is concerned, it is not possible to be neither. So if you are not anti-Arab, you have to be an anti-Semite. That is how dimensionless Arkush’s reasoning skills are.

I have written numerous times before about the subconscious anti-Semitic mindset required to weaponise anti-Semitism allegations, reducing Jews from human beings to mere tools of disputational convenience – even when the weaponiser is Jewish. So if the Board as a whole endorses Arkush’s remarks, then the Board of Jewish Deputies is now an anti-Semitic organisation.

by Martin Odoni

A couple of articles on this blog have received ‘pingbacks’ from a German blog that was, in turn, reblogging a post from a site called the ‘Jewish Concerns Forum‘. The reblogger clearly thought that the articles he linked to were related to what was under discussion.

I traced back to the original post, and, being the sort of person I am, I felt I had to respond to it. It discusses the ongoing conflation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in current discourse, and tries to argue that activists who criticise Israel are usually just anti-Semites trying to rationalise their prejudices.

The author of the post makes no attempt to identify him/herself, but my cross-examination of their post follows.

NB: This is a very long article.

“Not Anti-Black, Anti-Africa – A Guide to the Anti-Semitism/Anti-Zionism Debate”

This title implies that no one would condemn African Governments headed by black men or women in the same way they condemn Israel. This is made explicit by the author writing,

“I will attempt to shed light on the problem through satirical illustration of how the phenomenon plays itself out, if we were to apply the ‘anti-Zionist, not an anti-Semite’ logic to a different minority group, the Black community for example.”

The problem with this ‘I’m-being-persecuted!!‘ argument is that it ignores long stretches of modern reportage. Brutal black African Governments headed by the likes of Idi Amin have in fact been subjected to excoriating, damning condemnation for long years, and with good reason. The writer is saying, “This would never happen,” when there is comprehensive evidence that it not only would, but has.

The writer’s further speculation as to how an anti-Zionist argument might translate to an anti-African-Government critique is based on a fundamental flaw. The critique, as worded by the writer, is suggested to be approximately as follows; –

“I am not racist, I am in fact a life-long anti-racist. No one should be discriminated against based on their skin colour. I have nothing against Black people (Jews), I am anti-Africa (anti-Zionist) and critical of the policies of African governments (the Israeli government).”

The flaw is so obvious, it should not need pointing out, but just in case any readers have missed it, here it is: The writer is suggesting that being ‘anti-Africa’ is comparable to being anti-Zionist i.e. the only difference would be a change of parameters. But that is clearly ridiculous. Being ‘anti-Africa’ is about being hostile to a continent, and by extension its peoples and cultures. Being anti-Zionist, by contrast, means being hostile to an ideology. They are scarcely comparable at all.

The speculative nonsense then goes up a scale, as the writer puts into the mouths of Israel’s critics words that they almost never say, be it about black people or Jews. He suggests they would say something on the lines of,

“Africans (Israelis) behave in a primitive, tribal, manner, they are rude, aggressive and barbaric, brutal murderers of children. Their mentality is backward compared to modern nations in the west. With all the aid that is given to African countries (Israel) they use it to wage war and violence and do nothing to advance the stability and well being of the peoples who live in the region.”

Yeah, okay. Give me ten examples of anti-Zionist statements meaning such things about Israelis.

The writer then goes on to claim that anti-Zionists

“ascribe evils to Israel, such as Nazism or Jewish supremacy as well as classical anti-Semitic stereotypes that have traditionally been ascribed to all Jews. However, these types of anti-Zionists insist that they are not anti-Semitic, they are just opposed to Israel and Zionism and those who support this supposed ‘evil’ state. Let us return to how this might play out with our anti-Africans.”

Just because criticisms of Israel occasionally chime with vintage anti-Semitic tropes does not necessarily make the criticisms untrue or unfair. It also does not mean that the criticisms are based on the ‘Jewishness’ of Israel. And if the criticisms resemble descriptions of Nazism, maybe a reassessment of Israeli actions genuinely is required?

More of the same speculative made-up quotations then follow, to which my response is much the same.

To digress for a bit, the German reblog also sources other articles, including a history lesson provided by a website calling itself The British Observer. This too is somewhat flawed.

“Up until the post-war period, Jews were a stateless diaspora who resided predominantly in Europe and Russia, and throughout the 19th century the desire for a nation state of their own gathered momentum as a reaction to real or perceived antisemitism.”

This is misleading at best, as what ‘momentum’ was gathered by the Zionist movement was slight. The reality of Zionism in its early era was that it was notable for its unpopularity with Jews. There was a recognition among the diaspora that it simply proposed co-operating with anti-Semite wishes to see the Jews cast out of their then-home countries.

This dearth of enthusiasm is evidenced by the movements of Jewish communities in that era. The brutality of the Russian Pogroms, for instance, forced many Jews to retreat from the Baltic lands in great numbers. However, it is reckoned that, while around four million Jews left Europe between 1880 and the First World War, a bare one hundred thousand of them settled in the Holy Land. So The British Observer’s suggestion that Jewish nationalism ‘gained traction’ in the nineteenth century is dubious.

Indeed, a telling detail about the drafting of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 is the response to it of the British Cabinet. There was almost unanimous approval for it, but not quite. Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, was notable as being the only Minister who opposed the Declaration. He was also the only Jew in the Cabinet. He knew, as other British Jews did, that starting the process of re-creating Israel would only serve to increase pressure on the Jewish diaspora to leave their then-present homelands. He described the Declaration as a “rallying ground for anti-Semites”. That danger would be demonstrated all-too-clearly in Nazi Germany less than twenty years later with the creation of the Haavara Agreement.

Another article sourced is written by David Hirsh, and is an excerpt from a book called, The Livingstone Formulation.

“Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, said at a fringe meeting of her party’s conference:

‘The pro-Israeli Lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party (Hirsh 2006).’

“This seems to be an antisemitic claim because it articulates a mindset in which a Jewish conspiracy controls the western world through its financial muscle. It is not a claim about influence or lobbying, but about singular and global financial control.”

It is rather circular reasoning on Hirsh’s part that he tries to explain that anti-Zionism is largely just rationalised anti-Semitism, but when trying to prove it, he simply makes a claim that depends on the assumption in the first place. In the quoted text, Tonge makes no mention of Jews but only of the Israeli lobby. Sure, there will be a high representation of Jews in that lobby, but Hirsh is still making a conflation. That many Israel supporters are rich is just fact, not prejudice. It is prejudice however to assume they are all Jewish, or that the rich sub-section of them are rich because they are Jewish. Tonge makes no suggestion of either, but what we can argue with some justification is that Israel supporters, both rich and poor, do tend to put considerable pressure on the media not to sound critical of Israel’s policies, especially towards the Palestinians.

“David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, took the opportunity of Holocaust Memorial Day to announce that

” ‘he was saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… (Quinn 2013).’ “

It is a little odd that Hirsh has decided to put this statement by Ward with Tonge’s, as there is no perceptible link between them bar the implied condemnation of Israel. While I would agree that Ward’s use of the term ‘the Jews’ where he should be referring to ‘Israel’ does raise suspicions about his outlook, that is hardly Tonge’s responsibility.

As for what Hirsh says about Ward’s follow-up remarks, framed by quotations from Lesley Klaff and labelled ‘Holocaust inversion’, no clear explanation is provided as to what is wrong with the implications of what Ward said. Hirsh quotes Klaff,

inversion of reality (the Israelis are cast as the ‘new’ Nazis and the Palestinians as the ‘new’ Jews), and an inversion of morality (the Holocaust is presented as a moral lesson for, or even a moral indictment of ‘the Jews’)…

Casting the Israelis as the new Nazis and the Palestinians as the new Jews may be hyperbolic, but there remains a legitimate parallel. It is only an ‘inversion of reality’ if we are to assume, quite preposterously, that the world is much the same now as it was in the early-1940s. It is not. Israel’s very existence is just one example of how much has changed since the time of the Holocaust. In the Holy Land today, the Israelis are the Government, just as the Nazis were the Government of ‘Greater Germany’ in 1942. In the Holy Land today, the Palestinians are a second-class, dispossessed people living in dire misery, just as the Jews were a second-class, dispossessed people living in dire misery in ‘Greater Germany’ in 1942. The establishment of Israel in 1948, and its subsequent annexation of Palestinian territory, was the turning point that allowed the previously oppressed to become the oppressors. The description is therefore not an inversion of reality, but a description of a reality that had eventually become inverted by physical events.

Equally, the reference to ‘inversion of morality’ is quite, quite ridiculous. No one is suggesting that the Holocaust is an indictment of the Jews at all. They are saying that the mistreatment of the Palestinians is an indictment of Israel, and that there is a danger of that mistreatment evolving into another Holocaust. It is not because the perpetrators of the crimes against the Palestinians are mainly Jews that they are being condemned, it is because the perpetrators are committing crimes. The fact that Jews were the victims of persecution so extreme that it led to a genocide, and that Israel repeatedly claims to be acting in the name of Jews globally, means it is doubly legitimate to point out that what the Government in Israel is doing is unforgivable – precisely because many survivors of the Holocaust came to live in Israel, and brought the full knowledge of those horrors with them. If any nation should know, therefore, that mass-killing, ethnic persecution is wrong, it is a self-proclaimed ‘Jewish State’.

Anyway, back to “Not Anti-Black, Anti-Africa”, whose author has more claims that need answering.

“Israel is central to the identity of the overwhelming majority of Jews not just in Britain, but all over the world. The reason is because it is central to Judaism.”

This claim is unproven – perhaps uncheckable – rubbish. A great many Jews, myself included, have never so much as set foot in Israel, let alone seen it as ‘central’ to our identities. It means no more to me on a personal/identity level than, say, Papua New Guinea, and if I ever chose to live in Israel, which I cannot see ever happening, I doubt I would feel particularly at home there. It is possible that the writer means the ancient Israel of the Bible, but that means there is an equivocation fallacy at play here, because anti-Zionists are not discussing the Israel of Roman Empire days, they are discussing the Israel of the modern world, and it is that Israel that the writer is also trying to defend.

Moreover, if Israel is so central to the Jewish identity, then logically, there can have been no such thing as a ‘Jewish identity’ from late in the first century AD, when the Jews were cast out of the Holy Land, until 1948. To repeat the earlier point, Zionism has always faced its greatest opposition from among the Jews themselves, and even today, it is opposed by many more Jews than one might expect. Zionism’s implied acceptance of an anti-Semitic assumption – that Jews cannot safely co-exist with gentiles – would lead ultimately to Jews casting themselves out of all other societies, and exiling themselves from the human race.

Israel was the result of that sadly nihilistic vision, and so if it is ‘central’ to the Jewish identity, it follows that it is part of the Jewish identity to consider oneself to be not really human. It is thus more than a little ironic that many Israel supporters like to taunt Jewish opponents of their country with the crude insult, “Self-hating Jew”. What could be more self-hating than a human being who endorses an ethnic ideology that thinks its own subjects not to be human?

And of course, even if this identity issue really were so prevalent, it would not make Israeli policies towards the Palestinians any more acceptable, and so the criticisms of it would not become anti-Semitic.

“Even if a Jew or non-Jew does agree with an Israeli government policy which is unpopular abroad, this doesn’t make it legitimate to unleash hatred against them.”

Of course not. But then in most cases by far, nobody is. They are just criticising the Israeli Government. Nothing that the writer has described – bar the quotations he or she openly admits are made up – sounds like someone ‘unleashing hatred’ towards Jews for reasons of them being Jewish. They are simply criticisms of the Israeli Government, and the way its supporters try to shut down discussion of what that Government does. That is quite different from unleashing hatred.

On the contrary, most of the aggression and bullying in my experience is coming from quite the other direction. Long-time followers of this blog will be aware of very nasty remarks thrown my way by the likes of Jonathan Hoffman, supporter of the (almost entirely-misnamed) Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who last year called me a ‘Shill’ for speaking out against Israel.

In recent weeks, an Israeli put an unsolicited comment on one of my articles, calling me and other Jewish critics of Israel “Kapos”, a slur that may not be familiar to gentiles, but is in fact on of the most vicious and hurtful insults that can ever be directed at a Jew. (It implies a Jewish Prisoner-of-War in Nazi Germany who co-operates with the Holocaust. I would argue that it is comfortably worse than calling a Jew a “K*ke“.)

I am far from alone, even among Jews, in experiencing that blind, bigoted hostility either. Remember Max Blumenthal almost being physically assaulted by Zionists at a book-launch event I attended in Manchester three years ago? Or how about the incredible tidal wave of Zionist hate directed at young members of Jewish communities in the UK, when they have dared to demand an end to Palestinian persecution? (“When a British Jew steps out of line, the full weight of the community will fall on them.”)

This is another reason I get so angry and frustrated at all the largely-manufactured fuss about ‘Anti-Semitism-In-The-Labour-Party’. It is not just because very little of it is real, although that is bad enough. It is also that so much of the media are cheerfully ignoring the enormous waves of hostility, abusiveness and thuggish yobbery coming from the very people – British Zionists – who are painting this gargantuan picture of ‘socialist anti-Semitism’ to begin with. No attempts to impress the other side of the story onto the media seem to have any effect.

“British Jews have other connections to Israel beyond religious reasons. Many have family members who live there.”

I find it very difficult to see what point the writer is trying to make with this. ‘Many British Jews have family in Israel, therefore do not criticise Israel’? Or something? Nope, not following this point at all. I myself have family who live in Israel, cousins of my mother. They are quite patriotic Zionist Israel-supporters, and I often get into very heated and unhappy arguments with them over social media over how Israel treats the Palestinians in Gaza. So you see, it is perfectly possible to criticise Israel, even though I have family there, without insulting me or offending my ‘identity’. You would only be doing what I already do myself.

“Like many other minorities in Britain, such as Indians and Greeks for example. They have strong connections to the culture of these countries and to family and friends who live there.”

Not that this is particularly relevant either, but there is an important difference that the writer misses. Greeks and Indians have emigrated to Britain over the last few generations from Greece or India. British Jews, by and large, have not emigrated to Britain from Israel. Instead, their families have been mostly British for many generations, frequently dating back to long before Zionism was even thought of. So the family and friends in the main have moved to Israel, usually in living memory, and Palestinians have often been unsentimentally thrown off the land to make room for them. It is a bit much to appeal to sentiment over links to Israel, when those links have been created by acts stemming from a complete lack of sentiment.

“The anti-Zionist assumes that being Jewish is just a faith, rather than an ethnicity, that doesn’t need to have any connection to a particular land or people. Therefore, one should be able to completely divorce Israel from their Jewish identity.”

This is a wild generalisation. Some anti-Zionists assume that, some do not. And yes, not only should a Jew be able to divorce Israel from their Jewish identity, they very much are able to. My Jewish identity is divorced from Israel by default, because I have never been there. The identity of Jews before the 1940s was also divorced from Israel by default, because the country had not existed for nearly two thousand years. The integration of a ‘Jewish identity’ into Israel is a completely recent artifice, and is only as important to any Jew as they allow it to be.

“The anti-Zionist, essentially mimics an earlier version of anti-Semitism through the notion of a good Jew and a bad Jew. They have to demonstrate their ‘worthiness’ by denouncing Israel.”

This complaint by the writer is kind of rich, seeing what he/she says later about the “type of Jews Jeremy Corbyn associates with”, whom he describes as “like the Hellenists of our time”, which clearly implies that the writer has definitions of his own for ‘good Jew’ and ‘bad Jew’. The writer’s prejudices are profoundly insulting in their own right. That underlines the point I made above about Zionists being the really abusive ones.

“In the past a good Jew abandoned the beliefs of the Jewish community, i.e. Rabbinic Judaism and converted to Christianity. The Christians then would have said similarly, they do not hate Jews as people (in the way the Nazis did) they are just anti-Judaism and what Jews believe in, if they abandon their beliefs and practices and become Christians then they would accept them.

In our day, anti-Zionists similarly expect Jews to abandon the beliefs that the majority of them hold, which are central to their identity. The beliefs that were condemned in both periods are different, but what they share in common is that they are and were both beliefs that were central to Jewish identity in their time.”

This again, is the paranoia of the persecution complex. Very few people who criticise Israel care one way or the other what ‘beliefs’ or ‘practices’ Jews adhere to in their own lives. Hardly any of them care whether modern Jews convert to Christianity, or any other faith. They just think Israel should stop dispossessing Palestinians of their land, or trying to starve Palestinians into leaving the region altogether. If supporting these Israeli ‘practices’ is the writer’s idea of ‘Jewish beliefs’, then he/she is clearly a disciple of a very strange and remote school of Jewish thought, one that I have never encountered.

Likewise, the conflict between the Jews and ancient Greece was similar. The Greeks were fine with a Hellenized version of Judaism that would inevitably lead to its downfall but felt threatened by a Judaism as it was and the Zealots who refused to have their identity colonized by Greece. The Greeks banned Brit Milah (circumcision), Shabbat observance and the New Moon.

And who is trying to stop practising Jews today from observing rituals in the way the Greeks tried to? Okay, there is talk of stopping circumcision being practised on infant children, but that is not proposed for reasons of anti-Semitism, but for concerns over possible child abuse. As I was circumcised as a baby, long before I had a voice to protest against it, I happen to agree with putting a stop to it.

Anti-Zionists know that in our day, what keeps the Jewish people strong and proud is Israel.

Do they? How many of them has the writer asked?

This is, in large part what the Jewish festival of Chanukah is about, a victory against an effort which began with a Greek Hellenization of Judaism which became an internal struggle between Hellenized and non-Hellenized Jews, with the latter reigning victorious.

Yes, but Chanukah does not take place in the spring, so what that has to do with current developments is quite unclear.

Today that battle takes place with efforts by those who seek to undermine the source of Jewish identity and strength, the state of Israel and Zionism by appealing to, tokenizing and misrepresenting fringe groups and individuals as mainstream, that have internalized anti-Jewish tropes or are detached from the mainstream Jewish community for one reason or another and do not speak for the majority of the Jewish community.

As I pointed out the other day, most of that practice is done on behalf of Zionism, by the media projecting the views of prominent Jewish/Zionist organisations onto Jewish people as a whole. The proclamations of the Board of Deputies, Labour Friends of Israel et al are always being presented as the views of British Jews altogether, when in truth they do little to consult the wider Jewish population of the UK.

The type of Jews that Jeremy Corbyn associates with, for example the anti-Zionist Jewdas and other fringe Jewish groups are like the Hellenists of our time.

See my reply to this offensive snobbishness above.

The anti-Zionists also know very well, that without the state of Israel, the Jews will once again be defenceless in what is clearly still a world which is hostile to them, giving them free reign again to oppress the Jews as they wish. The state of Israel stands in their way, as it allows Jews the dignity and strength to stand up for themselves.

More paranoia, completely divorced from what is happening in the real world. Again, I must refer to a point I have made previously. Far from what the writer indicates here, Israel is not necessary to the survival of the Jewish people, and Zionism is in fact a failed ideology. Were Israel so necessary, why is there still a Jewish diaspora at all? Why have Jews like myself, who not only do not live in Israel but have never even visited it, not been slaughtered by this ‘world which is hostile’ to us? How does the State of Israel ‘protect’ us in countries all around the world, far beyond its reach?

Indeed, I would argue, and have done before, that Jews in Israel are in more danger of violence than I and my family are here in Britain. Israel is surrounded by countries like Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, all of whom, rightly or wrongly, are usually hostile towards Jerusalem. That hostility is the justification that Israelis always use for their Government’s policies, so they can hardly change that story now. The founding of Israel has created the hostility with which it is immediately faced. Here in the north-west of England, I do not have to worry about rockets being fired across the Welsh border, meant to wipe out the large Jewish community of Manchester. But Israelis insist that Hamas is hurling rockets their way from the Gaza Strip almost daily. (This claim is enormously exaggerated, but nonetheless, it is still more anti-Jewish violence than I can generally expect to face.)

I will even suggest that the writer’s own existence appears to be an absurdity. He/she clearly, from what is in the article, writes as an Anglo-Jewish Zionist. But such a person is innately absurd. As are American-Jewish Zionists. Or German-Jewish Zionists. Or Australian-Jewish Zionists. In fact, any Jewish Zionist who does not live in Israel is an absurdity. Given Zionism’s ideology is grounded in the idea that Jews trying to live among gentiles cannot be safe, and therefore need to move to Israel to survive, how can any Jewish Zionist possibly live anywhere other than Israel? By living in Britain, the writer is clear evidence that Jews can co-exist safely with gentiles. The writer disproves his/her own ideology by his/her own location.

Sure, some parts of the world remain dangerous places for Jews to venture into, but by no means all of them.

Our anti-African example would take people like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela and those who fought for rights for Blacks and turn them into African Supremacists and racist trouble makers.

No it would not, because Luther-King and Mandela were struggling against oppression in their respective societies. Israel is imposing oppression on Arabs on the fringes of its society.

They would be ok with Blacks as victims or collaborators in their hatred towards their fellow Blacks/Africans but they would oppose those who have self dignity and stand up for themselves.

Imposing an eleven-year blockade on the walled-in inhabitants of an autonomous region that has little access to clean water or electricity, while frequently launching missile attacks on their heads, can be called many things. “Self-dignity” or “Standing up for themselves” are not among them.

would conflate any mistake or wrongdoing by such rights groups or leaders as being as bad as slave owners, turning them into their own oppressors and perpetrators of their own persecution. They would point to the fact that slavery didn’t begin with America and that Africans sold slaves for centuries as well. This would then get misconstrued as Africa being the true arbiter of the slave trade.

The tragic irony of this prediction is that it is precisely what Israel and its supporters do to Palestinians desperately fighting for their freedom.

For all the criticism one might have, we all know, that most decent people would not dare say something as offensive as to equate a Black person with a slave owner, as Ken Livingstone casually, knowing he was a Jewish, compared journalist Oliver Finegold to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Well firstly, it would depend on the record-of-behaviour of this hypothetical black person. The worst of the slave trade in history by far was the handiwork of white men, but there have been black slave owners too. If the hypothetical black person the writer is speaking of happened to be one of them, or at least one who has a history of very bullying or coercive behaviour, then yes we would.

As for the reference to Nazi concentration camp guards, again, this is rich given the aforementioned habit of Zionists of calling Jewish opponents “Kapos”.

But our hypothetical anti-Africans would, like Ken Livingstone, refuse to see it as racist, not care that it was offensive or insensitive or apologize, its their right to free speech.

I repeat, its ‘racist’ or ‘offensive’ qualities depend entirely on the behaviour of the person being accused of being a slave owner. Just as Israelis should know better than anyone that ethnic persecution of a people is wrong, so black descendants of Africans who were shipped to the West Indies should know better than anyone that slavery is wrong. If they do it anyway, it is quite reasonable to point out to them why they should intimately know better.

I could go on and provide other analogies and equivalences, but I hope that what I have discussed above has provided some insight into how many Jews currently experience the type of remarks that are made about them and Israel emanating from the ‘anti-racist’, anti-Zionist left.

What you have provided is an insight into how fallacious, paranoid, and muddled your thinking is.

by Martin Odoni

Owen Jones responded to yesterday’s news that Ken Livingstone is leaving the Labour Party, over the unending anti-Semitism controversy, with an unthinking renewal of a very frequent myth.

Yesterday morning, Jones tweeted the following; –

Before addressing the myth, I should mention that I question the first paragraph. There were some things Livingstone said that could have been worded much more sensibly and carefully. But looked at objectively, Livingstone’s claim that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism is true, at least in a sense. It is certainly untrue to suggest that Hitler was a doctrinaire Zionist, who adhered to the complex minutiae of the ideology. But then Livingstone never implied that, and it should further be recognised that, back in the 1930s, Zionism did coincide quite neatly with the ugly ideas of Hitler’s desired Lebensraum. ‘Living space’, as the term means, for the Nordic/Aryan peoples across Europe would, rather by definition, be advanced by expelling the millions-strong Jewish population to another land beyond Europe’s boundaries, as that would leave more space for Hitler’s imagined ‘Master Race’.

Livingstone should have empasised that the Haavara Agreement between the Nazis and German Zionists was very lopsided, and that the Zionists signed up to it under duress. That he did not was foolish, but it did not really make his words anti-Semitic, especially as he was discussing Hitler more than he was discussing the Zionist movement or the Jewish people.

Indeed, I would go further and argue that if Livingstone’s remarks are offensive at all, they would be offensive to Zionists, not to Jews. While there is inevitably a lot of overlap between the two groups, they are not the same, and the points Livingstone was discussing were politically Zionist ones, not religiously or ethnically Jewish ones. The links between Haavara refugees and Holocaust victims who were left behind are being twisted by Zionists to make Livingstone’s remarks sound anti-Semitic. (As I have intimated before, I find manipulation of the Holocaust as repugnantly offensive as denial of it, so British Zionists really have soul-searching to do before they make hay about this.)

The second paragraph in Jones’ tweet is what really irks me, though in fairness to him, he is only replicating a mistake that the media make very widely. The ‘bad relationship’ between the Labour Party and the ‘Jewish Community’ – a fallacy-of-homogeneity term if ever there were one – is the most question-begging assumption of the modern media. It comes from the constant clamour of Zionist (again note: not necessarily Jewish) groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Labour Friends of Israel, the British Board of Jewish Deputies and so on, offering wildly-exaggerated tales of ‘anti-Semitic’ behaviour that is supposedly rife in the Labour Party.

It is lazy and profoundly incurious of the British media just to assume they can get a clear idea of the opinions of ‘Britain’s Jews’ just by consulting these groups. That they are ‘representative’ is a tenuous suggestion, especially given the maddening conflation that exists between Jews and Zionists.

The CAA, as I have demonstrated more than once on this blog, is scarcely interested in combating anti-Semitism at all, but only in discrediting critics of Israel. It is a tiny ‘charity’, is not elected in any plausible sense, and seldom consults anyone on a wide range of issues, bar complaints about possible anti-Israeli rhetoric. To imagine that the CAA knows what the general Jewish community’s thoughts are on, say, Brexit, or controlling inflation, or Scottish independence, or balance-of-trade is therefore comical.

LFI, equally, seem less interested in British Jews than in Israeli politics, as quite openly implied by their name. They seem to serve a similar purpose to the CAA – except to attack Labour ‘from within’ as it were. Many members of LFI are not even Jewish, and support Israel for reasons quite other than the survival of the Jewish people. Again, to suggest that LFI offer reliable insights into wider Anglo-Jewish thinking is ridiculous.

Links to LFI's Facebook Group

If Labour Friends of Israel are representative of Jews in the Labour movement, why do they have so few members in their Facebook group?

 

The Board of Deputies can at least claim to be somewhat representative, as they are appointed by a multi-layered election process of sorts. But this process only applies to synagogues and other Jewish organisations, not to Jewish individuals more broadly. This means that Jews like myself i.e. secular Jewish atheists are not consulted on who should be elected to the Board, or what our views are on any political or social issues. It is my choice that I am irreligious and do not practice any rituals or ceremonies of Judaism, but ethnically, I am still a Jew, a fact about me that can never change whether I like it or not. Therefore, when the BJD say they are expressing the views of “British Jews”, they are claiming to speak for me and others like me when they have never attempted to learn what our views are. If they claimed they are speaking for “practicing religious British Jews”, they would be on stronger ground. But they do not, and it is high time that the media questioned them on that instead of just parrotting the BJD’s assertions all the time when wanting to lend credence to anti-Semitism claims with which to beat up Jeremy Corbyn.

I know I am not alone in saying that I am unhappy for these groups to claim to speak on behalf of all British Jews, just as I am horrified when Binyamin Netanyahu claims to act on behalf of all Jews worldwide. I am also not alone in saying it is past time that the media dared to question these groups when they make such presumptuous claims.

by Martin Odoni

I do not discuss the matter of Israel/Palestine on this blog as much as perhaps I should. Events this week however are forcing me to state my position quite explicitly.

The events in question are the smears against Vox Political writer, Mike Sivier. He was standing as a Labour candidate in the Local Elections this week, when he was targeted by activists for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who accused him of a history of anti-Semitic writing. Now Mike has addressed the accusations in detail himself, and so there is no need for me to join in with the deconstructions – although I do feel compelled to point out how hilariously silly one of the accusations was; –

'Anti-Semtic punctuation' is now a thing.

Zionists are now becoming such uncompromising censorship-trolls, they have now invented ‘anti-Semitic punctuation’. (See here for more info.)

However, I did post a declaration of support for Mike in mid-week. I also got caught up in a social media discussion of the matter on Facebook, one that CAA members targeted in an apparent attempt to maximise the damage caused by the smears. Sadly, they appear to have succeeded, as Mike lost the constituency vote.

During this online argument, one of the CAA members insinuated that I am not really a Jew and that I have made up my ancestry. (Just for the record, that accusation is not only untrue – I am a non-practising Jew in religious terms as I am an atheist, but I can no more cease to be a Jew by that than Morgan Freeman can cease to be a black man simply by voting for the Republican Party. The charge is also offensive, and another attempt to discredit an opponent by means of a smear. As a matter of historical clarity, my ancestors were Lithuanian Jews who were forced to flee the old Russian Empire during the Pogroms of the late-19th Century; if you have ever seen the movie Fiddler On The Roof, well, my family’s story is essentially the same as that, minus the singing of course.) This is always a difficulty for Jews like me who oppose Zionism. We are treated as either treacherous or ‘fake’, and these stubborn accusations are frequently used by Zionists as a substitute for reasoned argument.

I responded by pointing out that the general stance of British Zionist activists is in fact anti-Semitic, and I stand by that; as I wrote the other day, to use anti-Semitism claims as a means of silencing honest debate of Israel is to reduce Jews to a tool, and therefore make them less than people. It is also, if not anti-Semitic, then certainly bullying and repressive behaviour to tell a Jew that he or she does not ‘count’ as a ‘real’ Jewish specimen unless he or she is an unquestioning supporter of Israel.

(I have been accused on Twitter, by the way, of saying one of the CAA people has a “Jewish vulpine nose”. This was a characteristic verbal sleight-of-hand for a Zionist.

18308959_406247426440480_439228925_n

I did indeed say the individual in question had a vulpine nose, by which I meant he is always sniffing around like a feral canine for any pretext for making trouble and for assassinating the characters of perceived opponents*. It was not a reference to the supposed ‘Jewishness’ of his appearance, and I did not use the word ‘Jewish’ in the sentence at all. That would be quite ridiculous, not least because my own nose, with its prominent bridge, has typical Jewish qualities too.)

The CAA members have told me they have reported me to the Labour Party’s compliance unit, so I imagine I may join Mike in getting suspended by the party. I expect it, given the pusillanimous way the party panics and does whatever Zionists tell it to do whenever they cry out about supposed ‘anti-Semitism’.

Like the wider and wildly exaggerated ‘anti-Semitism in Labour‘ controversy over the last year and more, the whole attack on Mike was really about forcing supporters of Jeremy Corbyn out of the party. This is because Zionists are terrified of any possibility of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister, as he is a consistent critic of Israeli policy.

But I suppose the question must be asked why I, as a Jew, do not support Israel, or even the founding principle of Zionism. This week’s argument has led me to realise that I have never really articulated this in any fully coherent way. So now is as good a time as any; –

As a young Jew being brought up in Exeter in the 1980s, I never really understood the origins of modern Israel and so I blindly followed the lead. I was well aware of the horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, and I understood the stated aim of giving the Jewish diaspora – forever ostracised and resented in other countries – a nation of their own. After all, if the Jewish people were never going to be fully tolerated in other countries, what alternative was there but to give them a country of their own? Everyone has to be somewhere. And as there was an ancient historical ‘Israel’ in the region around Jerusalem, it sounded to my young ears like that was where the new Israel was meant to be.

But as I entered my teenage years, I ceased to believe in God, which led me to drift away from the Jewish community in Exeter – I had never taken religion all that seriously in the first place. My family then moved to Glasgow in 1989, which essentially broke all contact with Exeter’s Jewish community, and disconnected me from the Israel-only perspective by which I had previously been surrounded. In its place, through the Scottish school curriculum’s subject of ‘Modern Studies’ (probably nearest equivalent subject elsewhere would be ‘political science’), I finally began to learn the other side of the story. I learned through one teacher in particular – her name was Mrs Bauld – of how hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the ‘British Mandate of Palestine’ had been forced off their lands to make room for Jewish settlers. Moreover, I learned about the murky reality of the ‘Occupied Territories‘, and the illegal settlements that Israel was establishing and expanding within them. I was still young and felt an instinctive, tribal wish to defend Israel, but as the 1990s wore on, this gradually receded. By the time I had moved in 1996 to Manchester, with its very large Jewish community, I had been completely disabused of the simplistic notion of the Israelis being ‘the good guys’ and the Palestinians being ‘the bad guys’.

While I still accept that the Jews should have a land of their own, somewhere to which the diaspora should be allowed to retreat when they face persecution in other lands, I do not accept that it was right founding it in ‘The Holy Land’. I further consider the implementation of the Zionist project to be the epitome of British post-colonialism; an arrogant, cack-handed mis-step in dismantling an Empire that the country no longer had the resources to control. The familiar pattern in other places such as Ireland and India applied just as firmly in Palestine. High-handed partitioning of land between two antagonistic populations, ignorance of historical rights and wishes of the local peoples, forced re-settlement of very large numbers of people, and a patronising insistence on British convenience taking priority over the realities of the foreign maps they were redrawing.

Naz Shah MP notoriously shared a joke map – originated by that most Jewish of anti-Zionists Norman Finkelstein – implying that Israel could have been located in the United States of America instead of the Middle East. In the process, Shah inadvertently started up the ‘Anti-Semitism In The Labour Party’ controversy, but she was not being as offensive or silly as one might imagine. Indeed, I have long-since concluded that establishing Israel somewhere like North America would have been a far better approach than the one that was adopted in the 1940s. Yes, a lot of Jews who had fled the threat of Lebensraum in Europe had settled in Palestine, and yes, the most devout and Orthodox among them wanted quick and easy access to Jerusalem. But the number one raison d’etre of the resurrected Israel was to be a homeland and safe haven for any and every Jew who wanted one. This is precisely why it was not only immoral but also impractical that Israel was founded around Jerusalem.

Israel’s justification for its policies is that it is surrounded by enemy countries populated in large part by people who feel they have a right to kill Jews. Whether one agrees with that perspective, or sees it as exaggerated and even a little paranoid, the inference from it that is impossible to avoid is that Jews in Israel are not safe.

That Israel has hostile neighbours is an unmistakeable fact. The reasons for that hostility are varied. Some are justified e.g. resentment that Arab/Islamic land has been confiscated and given to mainly Europeans, a perception that the Arab world has been punished for the crimes of Nazi Germany, deep anger at the very harsh treatment of people in the remaining Palestinian territories, the ongoing encroachment of Israeli settlements into territories over which Israel has doubtful right of sovereignty, and the Israeli control over Jerusalem, a city that is as sacred to Islam as it is to Judaism and Christianity. Other reasons for hostility to Israel are thoroughly offensive, and all of these ones boil down to genuine anti-Semitism i.e. a distaste felt by many at sharing what they see as ‘their’ lands with Jews.

But quite simply, that is my main point. What the blazes were the British thinking in the immediate post-war period, establishing Israel in a part of the world where it was bound to be met with enormous resentment, and in a fashion that was certain to increase it?

There is so much land in the USA, just for instance, that is surplus to its Government’s requirements. While no one should be under any illusion that there was not a serious anti-Semitism problem in the USA then, and indeed it is still far from ended there today, it would surely have been better to establish a new Israel somewhere like North America. As much as anything else, the reason Israel keeps encroaching into the Occupied Territories is because its heartlands are tiny and narrow but with long borders and minimal natural defences. By contrast, there are parts of North America where the natural defences, such as mountains and large bodies of water, are formidable, and yet are sparsely-populated. If the Jews need a land of their own where they can be safe – and as I say I think they (oh all right, we) do – surely there could have been a better place to establish it in North America? Surely the USA, given the size of the Jewish lobby there even back in the 1940s, would have at least considered co-operating with the idea. Sure, large numbers of Jews had already settled in Palestine by 1948, but then I am not saying they should have been forced to move to North America. It would simply have been better to give them the option of moving there, instead of destroying Palestinian society.

Both practically and morally, Zionism’s insistence on having a Jewish homeland actually in the Holy Land was and remains wrong. It forcibly dispossessed huge numbers of people who had had nothing to do with the suffering of the Jews, while also defeating the object of the exercise, because it did not make the Jewish people safe. Jews in Israel still feel threatened. That was not supposed to happen. That perception of danger has led Israel to commit a lot of aggressive acts – be they extenuated or otherwise – against neighbouring countries, and to mistreat Arabs within its own borders. Atrocities like the ‘51-Day War‘ against the Gaza Strip in 2014 make Israel look increasingly like a monster. One can criticise Palestinian terrorism as well, but, firstly, it is quite evident that Israel exaggerates the extent of it, and secondly, we must recognise that, as a people who feel occupied and second-class within their own land, the Palestinians feel that they are defending their home. (If what happened to the Palestinians ever happens to the British, I have no doubt the British would feel the same way and respond the same way; just look at the xenophobia and animosity uncovered by Brexit.) In any event, the harshness of Israel’s attempts to suppress Palestinian uprisings is so severe that it only invites more attacks.

Had the Zionist movement accepted the idea of a homeland for the Jews elsewhere, I would support it without hesitation. But it did not. I recognise that it is much too late to go back and change what happened now, but there is a refusal among Zionists to accept that the chosen location for their country has created problems that still show no signs of being resolved today.

(There is also an unsavoury ‘if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em’ defeatist aspect to Zionism that I find unsettling. It implictly accepts the anti-Semitic notion that Jews and non-Jews cannot co-exist. For Jewish Zionists living outside Israel in particular, there is a clear contradiction in this; how can a Jew living outside Israel hold a Zionist stance, when the very fact he/she lives outside Israel demonstrates that Jews and non-Jews can co-exist?)

The paradox of Zionism is that it was meant to make the Jewish people safe, and yet it has led the Israelis to seventy years of paranoia instead. And while I am also a Jew, paranoia is something I can never endorse, even when I understand it. This paranoia leads not only Israel, but the Zionist movement, to behave with great aggression and dishonesty; hence the attack on Mike Sivier on absurd grounds. Hence also the Zionists’ never-ending expansion of the definition of ‘anti-Semitism’**.

That is why I am not, and never will be, a Zionist.

_____

*It is further worth noting that the individual I accused of having a vulpine nose took further offence at me calling him an anti-Semite, on the basis of his habitual exploitation of anti-Semitism to stifle debate. What is interesting is that he voiced his outrage at this, but did not see anything objectionable in his fellow CAA supporters accusing me of faking my ancestry on the basis of no information whatsoever. This alone demonstrates that the CAA are quite partizan, tribal, and arbitrary about what they consider offensive, and what they consider fair.

**During the row over Mike Sivier’s written work, one of the CAA supporters explicitly stated that anti-Semitism is now whatever the Jewish community finds offensive. The implication of this is scary enough in itself, but is made all the more unsettling in the way that the ‘Jewish community’ is not really defined. What if not all Jews agree what is offensive and what is not? I am a Jew and I, among others, do not agree with the recently-affirmed International definition of anti-Semitism, as it extends further the dangerous conflation of Jews with Israel. But other Jews do agree with it. Does this division of opinion not mean that the ‘Jewish community’ cannot be said to accept the definition? Well, it seems that the CAA insist that it still does accept it. My worry therefore is that when the CAA talk about the ‘Jewish community’, they are pulling the same transparent trick British and American politicians pull when talking about ‘The International community’. In other words, what the CAA really mean by the ‘Jewish community’ is the CAA itself.