by Martin Odoni

The founding idea behind Zionism is that Jews cannot safely co-exist with ‘gentiles’, and therefore require a homeland of their own. This concept led, for better or worse, to the existence of modern Israel, and is intermittently invoked by the Israeli Government, especially when Jews in other countries are the victims of atrocities or hate-crimes.

As I have commented before, I do not accept that Zionism was a ‘necessary’ ideology, and there is an absurdity in that many Jews living outside Israel are Zionists. But nonetheless, Israel sometimes encourages more and more Jews to move there. This may sound perfectly natural, but the real reasons for doing this may not be the ones you might imagine. They are less to do with the survival of the Jewish people, and more to do with the survival of Israel itself.

When Israel was formed in the 1940s, it was a bit of a patchwork of land that had previously been part of the British Mandate For Palestine. The division of land drawn up by the United Nations was rather bizarre and not very efficient, from the perspectives of both Jewish and Arab populations; –

1947 partition israel palestine

The lay-out of Israel in particular was quite puzzling, and strategically quite weak. The new country was a long, thin, curling ‘zig-zag’ of land, which had very long, complicated borders with few natural defences. There was no ‘territorial depth’ i.e. in many places, the border was close to the sea, meaning a defending army had nowhere to retreat to, and settlements were within easy reach of any invading force. There was also not a great deal of habitable space. Bits of Israel were cut off from other bits by narrow stretches of Palestinian territory, and vice versa.

Neighbouring Arab countries were furious that Israel had been founded on lands that they felt belonged to their own people, and had been ‘stolen’ from them. The arrangement was seen as a ‘sell-out’ to Zionist terrorists, who had caused a lot of chaos in the former Mandated territory over the previous few years. Therefore, just one day after Israel formally came into being, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt all invaded the fledgling country.

Under the circumstances, it is perhaps surprising how easily Israeli troops fought off their neighbours. But in the process, they also occupied much of the rest of the land of the former British Mandate. This land was useful for creating ‘buffer-zones’ against further invasions, but also gave Israel extra space into which more Jewish settlers could be accommodated – land that was taken from the Palestinians. Arab communities chased off this land refer to this displacement as ‘the Nakba‘ or ‘the catastrophe’.

Given the enormous strategic difficulties of a return to land-divisions even remotely resembling the lay-out of the UN partition, Israel is understandably very unhappy about the idea of a ‘two-state solution’ to the Palestinian crisis. It is unlikely under those terms that either Israel or Palestine would be anywhere near safe from invasion by neighbours.

Since that First Arab-Israeli War, the desire for more land has become a repeated feature of Israel’s existence. Part of the reason is that one of the sworn ideals of the state is that it will give a home to anybody of Jewish maternal descent, and some Jews abroad have chosen to make use of that of their own volition. As the Israeli population has grown accordingly, inevitably the Israeli Government has needed more land to accommodate them.

But there is another issue at play that Israel does not like to discuss, but which complicates its pursuit of land – relative population sizes. In a world in which (supposed) democratic practice is seen as a mark of humane Government, Israel wants to be viewed as a nation ruled by the majority. But it is also, in a manner of speaking, an ethnocracy i.e. a nation ruled by and for one ethnic group at the expense of any others. Israel is a land where the Jewish population has to be the priority – ‘primus inter pares‘ (“first-among-equals”) almost – in order to serve the country’s founding purpose of preserving the Jewish people. Israel cannot logically be a ‘Jewish state’ without treating the needs of its Jewish population as its most important duty. Unfortunately, such an approach runs contrary to the democratic principle of ‘one-man-one-vote’, and would probably be undermined by a Government elected on most other terms.

But the combined Arab population inside Israel and in territories under dispute is almost exactly as large as the Jewish population. Projections suggest that it will also grow faster than the Jewish population in the years ahead.

Hence Israel’s dilemma, and its reluctance to pursue a one-state solution any more than a two-state solution; the only way it can square the circle of managing to be both a democracy and an ethnocracy is to pursue (obviously undemocractic and unjust) policies aimed at keeping the Jewish population within its borders larger than the Arab population, so that should a one-state democracy come about, Israeli Jews will still be able to out-vote Israeli Arabs. Anything else, and the Jewish state will almost certainly be voted out of existence, when its continuation is so obviously against the interests of most Arabs. While a significant minority of Palestinians are actually quite happy to accept the Israeli way of life as their own, a great many others, especially those sealed in Gaza, and cut off from their real homes for generations, feel very differently.

This is the real reason why Israel makes little more than a token effort to discipline the soldiers of the Israeli Defence Force when they massacre Palestinians. Horrible as it sounds, every time a Palestinian dies, that is one fewer Arab voter to worry about whenever a completely free election is held. Massacres may not be good politics for Israel, but they are quietly in the interests of the Zionist ideal. Zionism, indeed any ethnocratic ideal, is simply incompatible with democracy, and sooner or later, the choice will always have to be made between them. While Israel appears to be putting off that choice for the time being, it is leaning in the ethnocratic direction.

This also, however, adds to Israel’s motives to play up the classic Zionist paranoia-chorus about how Jews cannot live safely among gentiles, and how any period without anti-Semitic persecution in other lands is just the pause-for-breath before ‘the next Pogrom‘. This is not only about justifying Israel’s original creation. No, the intermittent appeals for more Jews to come and settle in Israel are even more about increasing the Jewish population there, so that it can keep its numbers ahead of those of the Arab population.

But in order to make that increase feasible, more land will continue to be needed to make space for the new arrivals. And that land will, of course, continue to be taken from Arabs, be it more territory confiscated from Palestinians, or more land taken from neighbouring countries. When land is taken from neighbouring countries, there is the danger that more Arabs may be brought into the fold with them, rather defeating the object of the exercise, and upping the territorial need still further.

Israel, in short, has rather trapped itself in an upward spiral of increasing the land to accommodate a population that it has deliberately increased. It does it only so that it does not have to become truly democratic, and can remain, at least in large part, ethnocratic. Every time it succeeds, its success is only temporary, kicking the proverbial can further down the road, as the Palestinian population continues to grow, even in spite of all the forces pushing against it. And with each passing effort to apply downward pressure on that Arab population, Israel creates more opposition internationally, opposition that cannot be shouted down for much longer with the usual cynical cries of “anti-Semitism!!!

Zionism, an ethnocratic ideal, may be Israel’s founding principle, but eventually, the country will be forced to ask itself, “Is being an ethnocracy really worth all this trouble?”

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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

Gaza Great Return March

The Israeli Government insists that thousands and thousands of terrorists are storming the Gaza boundary fence. They do remarkably little damage for being so numerous, don’t they?

The latest massacre on the Gaza boundary on Monday was the largest of the year, taking the death-toll among Palestinians during the Great Return March past one hundred. Among the predictable, nauseating attempts to blame the victims, or Hamas, for the atrocity, a lot of equally-predictable pick-up-and-play ‘experts’ on  the Israel/Palestine conflict are coming out of the woodwork in the West. These would-be experts appear only dimly aware of the conflict most of the time, but hear about it in the news frequently enough to think they have a fairly strong grasp of what is what. Most of these people are Zionist/Israel-sympathiser in their leanings.

Part-time Zionists do not have a complete monopoly on inaccuracies in the argument over which side is the aggressor, of course – I have no doubt some of my own knowledge is incorrect. But they definitely have the lion’s share, and when it comes to really glaring mistakes, they are pretty much in a realm of their own. It can be quite breathtaking how they get, not just the finer details, but even the most fundamental facts, completely wrong.

In six days of reading lame, anti-Arab, pro-Israel apologia on social media, I have seen claims that Palestine is a separate country from Israel, that the Palestinians are being shot at because they have ‘invaded’ Israel, that Hamas are behind the protests and are trying to make them turn violent, that the destitution in Gaza is the handiwork of Hamas, and that the Palestinians who have died are being punished for ‘trespassing’.

These are all predictable jumps-to-conclusion that often happen in the aftermath of atrocities abroad committed by people on ‘our’ side. The British media always like to portray Israel as ‘our’ side, and therefore habitually offer vague descriptions of the real history of this conflict, while playing down the violence of Israeli actions. The above myths however are easily debunked even before a detailed examination of the events is carried out; –

Palestine is not a separate ‘country’ from Israel. Palestine is Israel. The land that became Israel in 1948 had, for the previous thirty-one years, been a large part of the British Mandate for Palestine. Before that, it had for centuries been part of the Ottoman Empire. What the land is called is not as important to the Palestinians as simply the reality that the land was theirs and was taken from them without asking and without recompense. The Gaza Strip and several parts of the West Bank are officially governed by devolved Palestinian administrations, but even so, they are not countries in their own right, they are semi-autonomous territories that have been occupied alternately by Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

The Palestinians have not ‘invaded’ Israel, certainly not during the current Great Return March. Nor have they been ‘trespassing’. They have simply gathered near the boundary between Gaza and Israel-proper, and protested, at times slightly violently, at being effectively imprisoned in an enclave. The Israeli Defence Force have responded by stationing snipers on the boundary and having them gun down protesters. Despite claims, with no supporting evidence, that the protesters who were shot were attempting to break through the boundary fence and to attack innocents, the truth is that the vast majority of those to die were hundreds of yards from it. Any claims to the contrary are defeated by the fact that snipers were guarding the fence at all. Why use sniper rifles to defend against opponents at close range? Why not use rubber bullets on targets at close range? Why use technology designed expressly for targeting at a distance? I do not doubt that some protesters did go straight up to the fence, and probably tried to break through it, but “the punishment doth greatly exceed the crime”.

Either way, the Palestinians are not ‘trespassing’, as they are not getting across the boundary. They are staying on their own side of the fence, and therefore are staying inside the zone administered by the Palestinian Authority.

Gaza buffer zone

The red-pink-coloured area is the buffer zone that Israel declared in a territory over which it has no right of control.

The Israeli Government declared a ‘buffer zone’ at the boundary that it insists Palestinians must not enter. But as the buffer zone actually begins at the fence and extends only into Gaza, while leaving Israeli-administered territory untouched, it must be illegal; Israel has no right to impose a buffer/no-go zone on territory it does not directly govern. That is very important for reasons that go far beyond the current protests as well. Gaza, with a population density of over five thousand per square kilometre, is the third most-over-populated territory currently inhabited by Man, and desperately needs to use the land in the buffer zone to make more room for its inhabitants. But it dare not attempt to build houses in the zone as long as the IDF continue taking pot-shots at any Arabs setting foot there.

While Hamas, an extremist Sunni-Wahhabist faction, probably deserves some blame for the current misery of life in Gaza, the above shows that the severe over-population (and eleven-year blockade by the Israeli security forces) plays a much bigger role. Palestinian voices have widely insisted that the protests were not Hamas’ idea at all, and have been carried out independently of the faction’s wishes, and have even extended their criticisms to Hamas themselves. It also needs to be noted that Hamas was only founded in 1987, and the general conditions in Gaza have seldom reached the heights of ‘tolerable’ at any time since the Second World War, so it seems a bit much to have Hamas carry the can alone for it all.

asa palestinian

Palestinians are not the brainwashed pawns that British Zionists like to paint them as.

Perhaps the most glaring myth I have seen spread is a historical one, and it left me gob-smacked when I read it. Someone, whose name I shall kindly keep confidential, claimed on social media that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians began, and led to the Palestinians losing their lands, because, and I quote; –

“Palestine attacked Israel in the Six-Day War.”

Intellectual confidence is often inversely-proportional to historical literacy, and this is one of the most startling examples I have ever seen. Let me itemise the reasons this claim is completely idiotic; –

  1. The conflict actually began in 1948-49. The United Nations drew up a plan to divide the land of the British Mandate between Arab natives and Jewish settlers roughly in proportion to their respective population sizes. The Jewish settlers were happy with the plan, the Arabs were not. Israel was officially founded in 1948, but neighbouring countries, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, invaded and took control of the Arab zone, and used it as a platform from which to attack Israel itself. Israel successfully fought off the invading forces, and in the process seized control of over sixty per cent of the Palestinian zone that had been allocated to the Arabs. The West Bank was brought under Jordanian control, while Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. This struggle is known as the First Arab-Israeli War, and the Palestinians did not really do any serious attacking at all, in large part because there was no immediate central authority to organise them at that point (bar the Arab Liberation Army, which in any event was more international than Palestinian, and was head-quartered in Syria). Large numbers of Palestinians were displaced from their homes during the conflict and had to flee to neighbouring territories, including Gaza. This initial dispossession is known in Palestinian infamy as the Nakba, roughly translated as the ‘Catastrophe’.
  2. The Six-Day War happened nearly two decades after Israel seized most of Palestine. The Six-Day War was a ‘re-match’ of the First Arab-Israeli War, but did not take place until 1967. Egypt and Israel had been on unhappy terms for many years over access to the Straits of Tiran, which were critical to Israeli shipping.Strait of Tiran
    When Egypt tried to close the Straits, and began a military build-up on Israel’s border in anticipation of a retaliatory attack, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of strikes on Egyptian airfields, wiping out the Egyptian Air Force in a single day, and gaining control of regional airspace. Jordan and Syria mobilised in support of Egypt, but in the days before they could intervene, the Israeli army overran both Gaza and the entire Sinai Peninsular. The Egyptian army was totally defeated, while the Israeli military turned east to defeat the Syrian and Jordanian forces in turn. The whole war lasted less than a week, and the Israeli victories saw them seize control of the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. And with the aforementioned seizure of  Gaza, Israel now had possession of all the land the UN had allocated to the Palestinian Arabs back in 1948. Again, the Palestinians, beyond unsuccessful defensive fighting in Gaza on the orders of the Egyptian Government, played no real role in the war at all, let alone ‘attacked’ Israel. On the contrary, Israel used the attack by Egypt as a pretext for capturing Gaza and the West Bank.
  3. Most Palestinian loss of land tends to happen outside of full-blown wartime. It has been a permanent feature of Israeli policy that any ethnically-Jewish individual on Earth who needs a home and ‘safe space’ against anti-Semitic persecution can automatically receive citizenship in Israel. But Israel was a small land at its birth, and soon ran low on space to keep taking in more refugees from around the world. Therefore, it became a routine process every few years for the Israeli Government in Tel Aviv to pass a new law authorising itself to seize the land and property of entire Palestinian communities, award it to Jewish settlers, and then cart the Palestinians off into Gaza or the West Bank. This sort of practice happens semi-frequently,  no matter how the Palestinians behave. The current protest campaign by the Palestinians, the Great Return March, marks the anniversary of Land Day in March 1976, which was a previous protest that ended in bloodshed against precisely such a shameless Israeli land-grab. You see, Palestinians have not lost so much land to Israel because they are being ‘punished’ for violent behaviour (even allowing for the fact that they have often acted violently). It happens because they have land, and Israel needs land. That is it. Occasional bursts of Palestinian militancy are just used by Israel as a justification for the mistreatment, but even when such militancy does not happen, land-seizures continue to happen anyway. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have little alternative but to use force, as they have few legal rights, and are not allowed to vote in Israeli Elections, but only in the Palestinian Authority Elections, which are fairly useless as long as the boundaries are controlled by Tel Aviv. And the Israeli Government will never change that, as the total Palestinian population in Israeli-held territory is roughly the same size as the Jewish population. It is projected to grow faster than the Jewish population too, and so, with suffrage, Arabs would soon be able to outvote Israeli-Jews. Given the original ethnocratic notion behind Zionism of a strictly Jewish nation, that is a prospect that the Israeli right wing in particular dare not contemplate. (It is also one more reason why I argue that Zionism is a failed ideology.)

Israel is not exclusively culpable in the history of this conflict. Much of the blame must go to neighbouring countries, especially Egypt, for fuelling a very paranoid emotional outlook in Israel. But it is time that the real history of modern Israel was properly understood in Britain. The Palestinians are far more sinned-against than sinning. Some atrocities they have committed against ordinary Israeli civilians during the various Intifadas have been terrible. But the Gazans are a people in a permanent condition of imprisonment and destitution, chiefly for reasons of their race. Atrocities they may be, but they are hardly unprovoked.

One more point needs to be made, and that is on the matter of what caused the renewed protest on Monday – the US President deciding to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This was an astonishingly stupid move, even by Donald Trump’s standards, and not just because it was so obvious it would provoke furious protests. It also puts a huge obstacle in the way of the potential for a ‘two-state solution’ to the conflict, which would require Jerusalem to be neutral territory. East Jerusalem was originally meant to be the Palestinian capital city. For a major foreign embassy to Israel to be located in Jerusalem actively prevents that neutrality.

Many Israelis are celebrating Trump’s decision, which says little for their intelligence. They appear to miss the fact that the move leaves only a ‘one-state solution’, which ultimately will have to include full suffrage and legal equality for all Palestinians, if the arrangement is ever to be accepted by the majority of Arabs. Therefore, the demographic issue mentioned in section 3 above will be brought into play. The future existence of a Jewish state, if we must accept the notion that one is truly necessary, is being endangered by the very people its most fanatical supporters are applauding.

Sad? Yes.

Ridiculous? Certainly.

Symptomatic of the modern world? Totally.

by Martin Odoni

FOREWORD: I shall admit in advance that the title above is slightly misleading, as I am not the person being hatcheted as such.

Jewish not Zionist

“Fame at last”, eh?

That bastion of journalistic bastardisation, the Daily Mail, with its long history of racism and anti-Semitism, has been getting very sanctimonious over the last few weeks about supposed anti-Semitism among other people. Yesterday, it seems, I was one of the would-be ‘anti-Semites’ in question. Seriously. The Mail has published (oh! How dirty I feel linking to a page on that website!) an attack on a Labour councillor called Dorian Bartley, who in turn published social media posts comparing Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to the Führer of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler. This has been spun as ‘anti-Semitic’, and as usual with these sorts of attacks, that is quite a stretch; once more, anti-Semitism’s definition is being expanded to encompass all opposition to Israeli policy and politicians. But a little way down the same page, the following image can be seen of a link Bartley shared on social media; –

Bartley link

The Daily Mail has made me famous!

Bartley’s link was to the article I wrote a couple of weeks back dismissing the allegations of anti-Semitism against the ‘Brick Lane mural’. Now that article really went viral. At almost 65,000 hits, it has been read more than twice as often as the second most popular article on this blog, which is otherwise usually a quiet sound in a noisy room. So if we are to assume that Bartley is an anti-Semite for sharing it, then there must be an awful lot of anti-Semites in the United Kingdom. Obviously I should run for my Jewish life!

Daily Mail deceitfulness

What I note about this is how perfectly it encapsulates the cynical deceitfulness of the Mail and its style of reporting. It is hardly going to be a revelation to readers of my blog, I am sure, when I suggest that the Mail is not a newspaper but a hate-rag, and its hypocrisy about racism, given its history, is too stark to be worth the bother of getting angry about. But that this reversal would go so far as to use publication of the work of a Jewish writer as evidence of anti-Semitism requires some serious gonads.

It is more than that, however. All the Mail writer, Kate Ferguson, did was take a screencap of a bit of Bartley’s Facebook timeline. She did not offer a link to my article about the mural, so that readers could assess it for themselves and judge whether it really was credible evidence for Bartley’s ‘anti-Semitism’. Moreover, Ferguson either did not read the article I wrote, or she decided to avoid all mention of certain details – especially the fact that I stated quite explicitly in it that I am ethnically Jewish. It is not impossible to be prejudiced against one’s own race, but it is very counter-intuitive, and so it would have undermined Ferguson’s very obvious aim, which was to use Bartley’s suspension to add fuel to the ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ fire. She offered no specific quotations from my article either, which again should, I hope, raise alarm bells in the minds of healthy skeptics who have not yet read it. But also, note the rather amusing irony of what she wrote: –

And [Bartley] shared a post defending the mural which sparked the recent protests against Jeremy Corbyn – contradicting the Labour leader who admitted it was.

The sentence above is not only a classic example of appalling grammar – Ferguson wrote nothing to specify what Corbyn admitted. It should also make people laugh that the Daily Mail, and the rest of the mainstream media, spent the last three years telling everybody that Jeremy Corbyn is wrong about pretty near everything, and now tell us that we must accept that the mural was anti-Semitic, because Jeremy Corbyn has said that it was. (In this case, Corbyn is wrong. It was not. But his error in this instance is the exception rather than the rule.)

So, we have all the typical hallmarks of Daily Mail shabby ‘journalism’ – contrived outrage, hatred, quote-mining, hypocrisy, self-contradiction, ideologically-driven omissions, shoddy writing, and overall reporting shaped by an intolerant agenda.

Keeping the anti-Semitism narrative alive

This latest chapter reeks of desperation to keep the anti-Semitism narrative alive. There are signs, given the damp squib of the demonstration by the Campaign Against Anyone Being Allowed To Speak About Israeli Atrocities, sorry, I mean the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, on Sunday, that the furore is starting to fizzle out. (The CAA‘s laughable claim that the turn-out for the protest was over 2,000, when it was not a great deal more than 200, only serves to highlight once more how dishonest that ‘charity’ is.) Although this tiny protest was given ridiculously excessive coverage in the media – protests against the Conservative Party Conference regularly draw crowds in excess of 50,000 but seldom get any national coverage at all – the desperate attempt to talk up the occasion has led to a new pretence. That is, pretending that Maureen Lipman once again publicly martyring herself, by announcing that she is leaving the Labour Party, is some kind of big deal.

Yes! Yes, everyone! Let me repeat that for you, so you can all take in this mammoth development worthy of mention alongside the Moon Landings for its gargantuan impact on human history. Maureen Lipman says she is going to leave the Labour Party.

how interesting

Yes, that was pretty much my reaction too.

Oh, come on, British media! Do you seriously imagine anyone cares which party Lipman supports? (Do most people even remember her for anything other than those irritating British Telecom commercials from the 1980’s?) Lipman previously claimed during Ed Miliband’s time as leader that she was leaving Labour, but apparently did not. So one cannot help but feel that there is an echo of ‘child-running-away-from-home-hoping-it-gets-her-more-attention-from-mummy-and-daddy‘ about it. Whether she stays or leaves, Lipman has one of the most perverse and twisted perspectives on Israel/Palestine in the UK. She thinks that Labour’s position of favouring a homeland for the Palestinians is ‘anti-Semitic and racist’. This is of course nonsense. Lipman’s opposition to a homeland for the Palestinians is anti-Arab and racist. She is therefore acting a little like the Daily Mail, in her reversal of plain reality.

Zionism – a failed ideology

Lipman’s hate-enriched bigotry is not about protecting Jews, it is about protecting the gains of Zionism. Not only is that immoral, given what was taken from Palestinian Arabs to make those gains a reality, it is also foolish. This is because Zionism is an example of what is often called ‘a failed ideology’. Its aim was to give Jewish people a country of their own, so any Jew facing persecution anywhere in the world would have a safe space to which (s)he could retreat. The reason this ideology is a failure is self-evident; Israel is an unsafe place for Jews in which to live.

As I wrote last year, this conclusion is objectively true, at least if we accept the present Zionist narrative of Israeli policy being a necessity to combat dangerous and hostile neighbours. The establishment of Israel after World War II has not made its occupants safe from anti-Semitism. All it has done is move the hostility largely (certainly not completely) away from Europe, and transplanted the brunt of it into the Middle East. Israel being unceremoniously ‘landed’ on the space previously occupied by the British Mandate of Palestine has led to bitter resentment, not just among Palestinians, but also neighbouring Arab countries. Whether one feels that resentment is justified or not, it is there, and it has hardened to differing extents across the region into anti-Semitic feeling. Therefore, Jews living in Israel are major targets for anti-Semitism.

This is ironic from a British angle. I suspect that, as ‘assimilates’ (as right-wing Israelis seem distastefully fond of labelling members of the Jewish diaspora), I and my family are safer from anti-Semitic violence here in the UK than we would be if we lived in Israel. Hence why I doubt that Zionism was necessary, and also why I contend that it has never really succeeded. If the point of Zionism was to create a safe space for any Jews to flee to from persecution, but the resultant nation of Israel is under constant threat, then it is time that Jews and Zionists around the world faced a sad reality; Zionism simply does not do what it says on the tin. If anything, it has renewed a problem that was partly-evaporated by the worldwide horror felt at the Nazi Holocaust.

‘World’s most moral army’ shoots teenagers in the back

If Zionism is not anti-Semitic in itself – and its acquiescence to the idea that Jews should be kept away from gentiles would suggest that it is – then it certainly results from anti-Semitism, and even provokes more of it. This is before we even take into account the appalling anti-Arab racism In Israel, which stubbornly manifests itself in the bloodthirsty way the Israeli Defence Force treats Palestinian protesters, even over the last two weeks. That British Zionists can persist in the fiction that the Israeli Army is ‘the most moral in the world’ after what has happened on the boundary of the Gaza Strip since ‘Land Day’  requires mental techniques that go beyond Orwellian doublethink.

Hoffman calls IDF most moral army

The bullying anti-Arab racist, English Defence League sympathiser, and former vice-President of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain & Ireland, Jonathan Hoffman, claims that the IDF is the most moral army in the world while its troops shoot unarmed Palestinian teenagers in the back.

Somehow, I doubt the complexities and nuance of the real discussion of this subject will ever be properly explored in the mainstream British media in my lifetime. It is far more click-bait-friendly to reduce the matter to the simple-minded, black-and-white, “If-you-oppose-Israel-then-you-hate-Jews” narrative so beloved of the British Zionist lobby. And if that narrative requires viciously telling Jews who oppose Israel that they are traitors who hate themselves, or that they are ‘the wrong kind of Jew‘, then it will continue to happen. As is always the way with these matters, what makes money is what decides.

While I am a Jew, I am not a Zionist, nor an Israel-supporter. I am also not a traitor, nor a self-hater. If that confuses people at the Daily Mail or their gullible readers, I suggest they learn to live with it. I am not going to change my moral or intellectual positions just to make it easier for the ignorant to slot different social groups into handy categories.

by Martin Odoni

I have received a comment on the article I put up yesterday. I am unsure whether the person who posted it – an Israeli Jew and presumably a Zionist – was aware of the irony, but in posting it, he demonstrated precisely the point the article was making.

NB: I considered concealing the name of the commenter from this screenshot, but then I thought, “What would be the point? He was happy singing out his name when making the comment in the first place, and he hardly deserves his privacy to be protected anyway.”

zionist malice

(Where Jacobs says “he”, he means Jeremy Corbyn.) The Jews to which Jacobs refers were the group ‘Jewdas’ and the fact that he put speech marks around the word “jews” shows that he cannot tolerate the idea that ‘Jewdas’ are Jewish people at all. They are “the wrong kind of Jew”.

Then, there is Jacobs’ use of the slur ‘Kapo’. This is a particularly malicious and dirty insinuation. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Jacobs is accusing myself and other Jewish opponents of Israel of being prisoners in a World War II concentration camp who help the Nazi officers to run the facility, including by informing on any fellow prisoners who disobey the rules. It effectively implies a Jew who co-operates with the Holocaust. I am a Jew who dares criticise Israel’s barbaric treatment of the Palestinians, therefore I am the enemy-within. That makes me “the wrong kind of Jew” as well.

Is everyone clear just how cruel, and yes, anti-Semitic this topic of ‘undesirable kinds of Jews’ really is yet? And how vicious, bigoted, and aggressive hardcore Zionists can be, especially towards Jews themselves? Can you imagine the public uproar there would be if a Zionist had received remarks similar to these from someone in the Labour Party?

Zionism as a whole is anti-Semitic in tendency; it accepts the anti-Semitic notion that Jews cannot co-exist with gentiles (which is plainly untrue given how large the Jewish diaspora is) and so should be sent elsewhere, and its frequent intolerance of non-conformity of Jewish opinion is oppressive to Jewish people.

Zionists are not the victims in modern Britain, they are the aggressors in Palestine, and it is high time that the current establishment-narrative was exposed for the deceit it is.

by Martin Odoni

What happened on Good Friday in Gaza seemed bitterly appropriate, after a week of anti-Semitism hysteria back here in the United Kingdom. The Israeli Defence Force massacred seventeen Palestinian protesters who were observing ‘Land Day’ – the anniversary of a 1976 protest against one of a number of illegal land-grabs by the Israeli Government that led to bloodshed – and injured well over a thousand more, with heavy use of live ammunition.

The protests are being held over the course of the next six weeks at the fence that marks the border between Israel-proper and the Palestinian-administered Gaza Strip. According to reports from the Israeli side of the border, riots broke out among some protesters. The IDF, who had positioned snipers at key intervals along the fence, opened fire.

There have been uncorroborated reports that Hamas, the faction currently administering the Gaza Strip, may have been using human shields in the crowd, and that rioters were trying to pull down the fence and force their way across the border. Reliable evidence to these effects has been in very low supply (READ: none whatsoever). Footage from Palestinian sources shows disturbing signs of over-zealous Israeli behaviour, including apparently shooting unarmed Palestinians retreating from the fence in the back. (Trigger warning.)

Other sniper-fire appears to have been aimed at a group of protesters who were knelt in prayer. One of them appears to have taken a bullet in the thigh. (Trigger warning again.)

Whether the riots were really happening at certain points of the border, it seems incontrovertible that at least some of the actions by the IDF were completely needless and indiscriminate. They also appear to have been very deliberate and premeditated, rather than reactive, judging by the IDF’s own words. One rather boastful tweet its leaders had circulated on its Twitter account was later deleted; –

IDF boast

They don’t exactly sound like their consciences are over-burdened by the deaths, do they?

All of this is, in short, typically squalid on the part of Israel, a country that continues to adopt the pretence of defending itself while using sledgehammer-lethal force on a tiny, poorly-armed opponent. This is not to say that there is no possibility that the Palestinians were behaving aggressively of course. But the dearth of credible evidence for the IDF’s claims, and the IDF’s smug lack of contrition over the deaths, do not inspire much confidence in their word.

Here in the UK, we have gone through a week of crazed hysteria about supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. For reasons I have explained previously, a lot of this perception of anti-Semitism stems from a mixture of fraudulence and paranoia. Some of it stems from the same old problem of conflation of opposition to Israel with hatred of Jews. But this does mean that the massacre has presented us with a bitter opportunity; it allows us to judge whether anti-Semitism is really so prevalent as is currently suggested.

The aforementioned conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism (if we are to assume that ‘Zionism’ is the correct name for supporting Israeli policy, which technically it is not*) works in two directions, both equally dishonest. Zionists like it, because it allows them to shout down legitimate criticisms of Israel by accusing the critic of being motivated by anti-Semitism. Actual anti-Semites also like it, because it allows them to rationalise their hostility towards Jews by reference to Israeli policy, implicating the rest of the Jewish people using a rather elongated form of guilt-by-association logic.

My impression is that some of the British reaction to the massacre has been disgusting, but not for anti-Semitic reasons. Arguably it has been for Islamophobic reasons. In fact, the lack of official reaction has been almost disturbing. Boris Johnson, who as Foreign Secretary is supposed to be what passes for the UK’s leader in international relations (heaven help us!) has had absolutely nothing to say about it at the time-of-writing. Also no noticeable interest has been displayed by our great moral and spiritual leader, the Prime Minister. So, after this and the hysteria about Labour anti-Semitism, this week reveals to us two Tory inner values; –

Sort of half-defending a picture that may or may not have been slightly anti-Semitic is completely unforgivable.

Massacring Arabs is not worth the bother of comment.

I have personally had some testy discussions on social media with Zionists, including the notorious bully and smear-merchant, Jonathan Hoffman. He informed me absolutely emphatically that all the protesters were ‘terrorists’ (seventeen thousand terrorists? Wow, how did they do so little damage? How were so few of them armed?) that they were in a military zone (how is that even possible when they were on the Gaza side of the border, over which the Israeli military has no right of jurisdiction?) that the young man shot in the back in one of the clips above was not shot, he “just fell over”, and that the Israeli military is the “most moral in the world”. In other words, the people who were shot were only Arabs, therefore Hoffman cares not a jot if they all die. He always complains about racism against Jews, even where there is none, but fails to recognise his own racism against Arabs.

EvolvePolitics, meanwhile, eagle-eyed as ever, spotted that the Zionist side of the conflation-habit remains depressingly consistent. Chaim Gordon, a Zionist Tax attorney, called Nadeem Ahmed, a disability activist, a “Corbyn supporting anti-semite”(sic) for the heinous crime of noticing the massacre.

Gordon went on to claim that he knew Ahmed must be an anti-Semite because the protesters had all been sent by Hamas. He offered no evidence to that effect. He was making assumptions against Hamas, while also assuming that anyone not accepting those assumptions must be an anti-Semite. Both of which are quite prejudicial in themselves.

So we have silence from Conservatives, and warm approval from prominent Zionists, what do we have from the media? Well, I think the most disgusting element of all was rightly identified by Owen Jones. It was the disingenuous response of the BBC; –

The BBC puts blatant spin on a massacre

It is doubtful that the BBC headline would have sounded anything like this had Bashar al-Assad massacred 16 peaceful protesters.

For the BBC to encourage, however subtly, the notion that the protests were ‘terrorism’ was completely outrageous, and that in itself dismisses any possible suggestion that the Corporation might be trying to foster anti-Semitic feeling. On the contrary, it was trying to foster Islamophobic feeling.

The Labour Party’s response, meanwhile, has not been one of anti-Semitic disgust, but of measured and correct disapproval. None of the responses I have seen from Labour MPs so far have even mentioned the words, ‘Jews’, or ‘Judaism’, nor offered any thoughts on supposed ‘Jewish character-traits’. They have simply focused on the killings. Jeremy Corbyn, keeping his usual astonishing dignity in the face of the endless attacks to which he has been subjected, was forthright but entirely correct.

The right wing of Labour has been noticeably quieter, a little like their real allies in the Tory Party. Chuka Umunna was happy to join in the public parade against anti-Semitism during the week, but has gone mysteriously silent in discussions of the massacre. Stella Creasy at least saw fit to mention the killings, although her initial thoughts did rather veer towards the old ‘well-obviously-there’s-fault-on-both-sides‘ safe narrative. Creasy also needs to be a little more careful about implied criticism of Corbyn supposedly failing to recognise racism, given her own recent history.

Screenshot from 2018-04-01 09-39-17

Tony Blair, who was quick to leap on the anti-Semitism bandwagon but slow to remember his own past dalliance with the prejudice, has also shown no detectable concern over the massacre; so much for the Middle East Peace Envoy, right? John Mann, who is seemingly unable to shut up about anti-Semitism, also seems scarcely aware of events in Gaza. The impression one gets is that the massacre has come at a most ‘inconvenient’ time for Labour rebels who want to use anti-Semitism as a stick with which to beat the left. They probably fear losing their artificial ‘moral high ground’ if any implied criticism they make of Israel is presented as anti-Semitic. That is pretty cowardly, and possibly gives in to Islamophobic elements, but it is not anti-Semitism.

So insofar as I can test the water for anti-Semitism triggered by the attack, I have yet to see anything from Labour, at least among prominent voices. (If there is a clamour from less-prominent voices, surprisingly little attempt is being made by the usual accusers to draw attention to them.)

Okay, I concede I have not been able to search comprehensively, so my analysis should not be seen as scientific. But I have to say, from what I have seen, the prejudice seems very much to be on the pro-Israeli side, with an upswing in anti-Semitism not really featuring, no matter how much Chaim Gordon would like to pretend otherwise.

The indicators would reinforce what I said the other day, and indeed have been saying for several years – the ‘anti-Semitism-in-Labour’ crisis is wildly exaggerated.

_____

* Zionism is merely the belief that the Jewish people require a country of their own. It does not necessarily follow that adherents to that belief agree with Israel’s long-term policy towards its Arab neighbours. Indeed, there are some Zionists who disapprove very keenly of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. However, they are in a very clear minority. Most Zionists, certainly in Britain, take a very uncompromising view that Israel can do no wrong.

by Martin Odoni

Denying the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews is a crime in some countries. Whether it is right for Holocaust-Denial to be outlawed is debatable, but there is no doubt that it is a horrible behaviour brought about by anti-Semitism. In particular, it comes from a hatred of Jews so severe that it leads to resentment of seeing any Jew receiving sympathy. When there is evidence to demonstrate that such sympathy is merited, the evidence must simply be denied. That the Holocaust happened is incontrovertible to any reasonably objective eyes. Sadly, anti-Semitism – indeed all forms of racism – is prejudice, which by definition is not objective, and so the incontrovertibility of the evidence is simply denied.

Holocaust-Denial is sometimes even called ‘a revisionist industry’, given the vast, comprehensive library of ugly, deeply-misleading literature attempting to distort the facts. Perhaps the most notorious ‘scholar’ at the apex of this industry is David Irving, a man who has never heard of me and knows nothing whatever about me, but plainly would nonetheless be very happy if I were dead. Because I am an ethnic Jew.

Even were I not an ethnic Jew, I would still see Holocaust-Denial as disgusting. As I am a Jew, I find Holocaust-Denial completely abhorrent.

But there is another industry that has thrived from the Holocaust, not by refusing to acknowledge it, but by exploiting its irrefutability. That industry is simply referred to by the controversial Jewish author, Norman G. Finkelstein, as ‘The Holocaust Industry’.  I do not think that name is specific enough. I think it should be referred to as ‘The Holocaust-Manipulation Industry’.

The ‘profit’ for this industry is political expediency, and it trades, not in lies about the past, but in using the truth about the past to blot out the present. More specifically, it uses the memory of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews in the 1940s to draw attention away from the misdeeds of the State of Israel in the present day.

This industry prevails in Europe and North America in particular. In the United Kingdom, its most despicable exponent is probably the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a supposed ‘charity’ whose real title should probably be ‘The British Wing Of The Israeli Thought Police‘. As I have asserted in the past, the organisation’s behaviour is not only deceitful and far more focused on silencing criticism of Zionism than combating prejudice against Jews. It is also effectively anti-Semitic in itself, due to the way it reduces Jewry to a political tool rather than a human condition, and the way it tries to compel British Jews to support Israel. I have personally been accused by one of its most aggressive members, a particularly unpleasant individual called Jonathan Hoffman, of being a ‘shill’ for supposed Arab prejudice against Jews. (What I would have to gain by ‘selling out’ in such a fashion was never explained. Perhaps the CAA imagine that a ‘shill’ is merely someone who does not take the ‘side’ that might be expected at first glance.) It should be noted that Hoffman has a history of collusion with the English Defence League, making the CAA membership’s own opposition to Nazism less consistent than they would have people believe.

Long-time readers of this blog (yes, all seven of you) may remember a declaration of support I wrote last spring for Mike Sivier, the writer of the Vox Political site, after the CAA had written a cynical hatchet-job attack on him. Today, Mike was hatcheted again, this time in the national media, especially by a characteristically distorted report in the Sunday Times. (Subscription required.) Mike posted an article on Saturday detailing what he really said to the reporter from the Times, in wise anticipation of being misrepresented, and today Mike has posted a response to what he correctly sees as libellous journalism. I wish to add my ha’penny’s-worth.

Firstly, to address the Labour Party’s own very inadequate investigation into the allegations of anti-Semitism, there is a detail about it that I think needs to be put on record; –

In October, a few months after Mike’s Labour membership was suspended, he asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed by the party about my involvement in the dispute, which had become quite significant by then. I happily agreed to speak to the National Executive Committee’s disputes panel, and Mike gave them my contact details. It is an indication of how lacking in rigour, and how narrow-ranging, the ‘investigation’ was that the disputes panel never contacted me. Not once.

Secondly, and more pertinent to my general point about Holocaust-Manipulation, after seeing what happened today, it is quite clear to me that it is time for this industry to be taken every bit as seriously as Holocaust-Denial. Perhaps even taken more seriously.

Not only did the Times help the CAA to sully Mike Sivier’s name with implications of Holocaust-Denial. Robert Peston did the same on his ITV programme this morning, in a manner that was as unprofessional and irresponsible as it was unfair. Peston described Mike as ‘vile’, clearly without ever checking that the allegations against him stand up to scrutiny.

The CAA and other Manipulator groups have politicised the Holocaust in a way that shames their (and of course my) ancestors. And sadly, as the Sunday Times and Robert Peston have so comprehensively demonstrated, the mainstream media are either too lily-livered to take them to task over it, or too lazy, or too biased.

Mike Sivier has never written anything I have seen – and I have been following his blog for something like six years – that could be sensibly construed as anti-Semitic. The CAA deliberately targeted him with accusations through cynical quotemines in order to influence a council election unfairly – therefore illegally. They did it because they are scared of Jeremy Corbyn and his history of support for the Palestinians, and because Mike Sivier in turn supports Corbyn. The fewer Corbyn supporters there are in positions of authority at a national or local level, the weaker Corbyn’s position as a potential Prime Minister will become.

That is what this is really all about. And influencing elections in this way is explicitly against the law. The CAA’s behaviour is not only deceitful, it is politically corrupt.

Therein lies the reason why I believe Holocaust-Manipulation is now a more urgent issue than Holocaust-Denial. Denial is terrible and hurtful, and has long-term dangers. But at present, its influence is tiny. Holocaust-Deniers are widely regarded with contempt, even mockery. There must be guards against it, to make sure it does not recapture the public imagination, but the short-term danger of that is minimal.

Holocaust-Manipulation, on the other hand, does not just pose a threat of exerting political influence, it already does exert political influence. Corrupt, probably illegal political influence. It is distorting the political process, and tilting the electoral playing field in favour of the right wing.

The false conflation of Jews with Israel (I am a Jew and I have never set foot in Israel – so how can I or others like me possibly represent both?) is not the only aspect that is corrupting. The Holocaust was one of the worst crimes of the Twentieth Century beyond question, but it is doubtful that it is even particularly relevant when discussing the matter of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

Moreover, frenzied cries of ‘ANTI-SEMITE!‘ when such treatment is condemned could, paradoxically, be manipulated into a horrifying defence of the Holocaust. After all, if it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to criticise Israel for its violent repression of Palestinians, it could be countered that it is ‘anti-Aryan’ to criticise Nazi Germany for its violent repression of the Jews. Such an argument of course would be as disgusting as it is absurd, but groups like the CAA have to face the fact that they are the ones opening the door to it in the first place.

star of david swastika

Mike Sivier is innocent of what he is accused of, I am completely confident of that.

The CAA are not innocent of manipulating a crime for propaganda purposes, a crime that was so heinous that no human being should even consider exploiting it in such a way.