Friday 29 April 2016

"What Israel did"

Most of the chief T.V. anchors that find themselves hosting discussions on this topic are out of their depth, therefore incapable of getting anywhere near the heart of the matter.
They’re jacks of all trades, and when tackling a specialised and vitally important subject such as antisemitism, distinctly lacking in mastery.  
It doesn't help matters that the interviewees on both sides of the divide are mostly plucked from the left, no doubt through left-leaning commissioning editors.

Where are the Muslim voices? What are their opinions on antisemitism? Which BBC anchor-person is putting them under forensic interrogation?  Let’s hear something straight from the horse’s mouth.

Jeremy Corbyn has employed a well-known antisemite, Seumas Milne as a strategist. Where are the penetrating questions about that?

There is one predominant thread that seems to run throughout all the T.V. coverage, be it by interviewer or interviewee, and that is the so-called importance of separating ‘criticism of Israel’ from antisemitism. Some go so far as insisting that ‘anti-Zionism isn’t necessarily antisemitism, and should be assumed ‘not’, unless otherwise stated.

Without any understanding of what Zionism is, debating this subject meaningfully is difficult, if not completely pointless, but without any understanding of the history of the Middle East, ‘criticism of Israel‘ reduces layers of complexity to a crude, blunt and dangerous instrument.

 Just before the first question (about antisemitism in the Labour Party) was brought to an unusually premature finish by a nervous Dimbleby, a Q.T. audience member illustrated this kind of thing. Referring to the recent NUS controversy, she put her hand up to say: 
  “I’ve seen antisemitism used as a political tool [..] antisemitism is not the same as disagreeing with what Israel did. It’s not the same thing.” 

What Israel did

“What Israel did.” “What Israel does to the Palestinians”  This sort of expression is all that’s needed to get the ignorant mob clapping and cheering and nodding with moral superiority.

Sky News brought George Galloway in to the studio. The anchor was totally out of his depth, so  not only did he allow a predictable stream of racist venom to penetrate the consciousness  of hundreds of viewers, Sky quite unnecessarily helped revive a waning public profile that should have been left to die a natural death. Who knows, it might revitalise his "0% success rate" campaign for London Mayor.

People have been expressing all manner of racist bile, too. No wonder the unleashing of this monster has raised concerns for Britain’s Jews.  One moment there were sighs of relief that at long last this issue was being openly discussed, next minute there were fears that this was one Pandora of a box that should never have been meddled with. It’s the backlash. Which brings up all sorts of parallels, legitimate and illegitimate. Let’s address the knotty subject of ‘tarring with the same brush’.

We have Sir Philip Green, who has recently come under scrutiny for dumping a massive pension debt onto someone (or group) that lacks the wherewithal to honour it, impliedly following a pattern set by the late Sir Robert Maxwell.

This article entitled “The Demonisation of Philip Green” in the Financial Times (£) says “the demonisation is ugly and disproportionate.” However, many of the btl commenters are not so sure. They don’t like Philip Green, and you can’t help wondering if there is more behind this sentiment than meets the eye.

The OMG Daily Mail has gone to town with a luridly vilifying piece which attacks the  Green family and all who sail in her. Not to mention that yacht. I must say the yacht is a thing to behold. It literally screams vulgarity. “Look at me, I’m the embodiment of greed, bad taste and a massive waste of £100m that could have re- floated the NHS single-handedly.” 
Yep. The Greens are not doing the image of British Jewry a lot of good. But, and it’s a big but. Is there truly a comparison with that, and, say,  ‘tarring the whole Muslim community with the evildoings of ISIS?’ 
You mustn’t tar all Muslims with the same brush, even though “the UK Muslim community” have stated that while they support a whole tranche of anti-democratic, illiberal beliefs, they do not support Islamic State, and some still claim Islamic State is nothing to do with Islam. 

The theory that Jews are considerably richer than yow is definitely flawed. It’s a myth.  I have no idea whether or not the bulk of the Jewish community hanker after super-yachts, or whether, given half a chance, they would offload huge debts without a care in the world. Trevor Phillips should organise a poll;  I can only assure you that I, for one do not and would not.  But, there is a palpable tendency to insinuate that the perceived greed of one man and his family exemplifies a racial characteristic. (No-one seems to do the same thing when someone Jewish like Green provides employment by running successful businesses.)  

The backlash is as inevitable as the continuing, ever-present antisemitism. Nothing will change unless the BBC and the other mainstream channels address the issues head-on with some balanced and thorough information, concerning both the history and the current situation surrounding the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. Truthful reporting of Arab incitement would be a good start. 

As it is, George Galloway and Ken Livingstone are given plenty of space to implant the implausible idea that Hitler collaborated with Zionists and supported Zionism. This is one interpretation of events leading up to WWll adopted by certain Judeophobic writers and authors - some of them Jews  themselves. These writings are popular with a particular kind of audience; reviews and comments related to these publications show which kind of person the notion appeals to.

I expect the BBC will lose interest in this topic (don’t forget John Whittingdale; don’t forget the migrant crisis.) (What? forgotten already?) And I get the sense that it’s already ebbing away, just leaving behind a nasty, scummy stench.

It seems Ken intends to “prove” the accuracy of his  argument because everything he said about Jewish people "was true".

He says Labour should reinstate him.  “I will be presenting the academic book about that to the Labour Party inquiry,” he said.” I understand it’s all there in a book by an American Marxist-Trotskyist writer author named Lenni Brenner.

He may as well quote David Irving to prove something or other about the Holocaust.

“It is inconceivable that Hitler could have wanted to move Jews to Israel, because there was no such place in 1932.Using the word "Israel" when what is meant was "the British mandate of Palestine" has the unfortunate consequence of stripping away the actual historical context and putting the words "Hitler" and "Israel" in the same sentence.Hitler was not a supporter of Zionism.He believed, on the contrary, that Zionism was one of many deliberately deceptive labels that Jews placed upon what he believed to be their endless striving for global power and the extermination of the human species.”


  1. This morning, I think it was on the Today programme, but it might have been Mark Mardell, but in response to something that was said, immediately came back with, 'you are not saying it is wrong to criticise Israel'. But of course that gets to the crux of the prevalent form of antisemitism. Of course it is not wrong to criticise Israel if it has done something wrong, but if the BBC is going to do that, it must also criticise other countries in a similar fashion. How about criticising Muslim countries for their treatment of gays, or treatment of Christians, criticising Hamas in Gaza for the treatment of its citizens, not paying out to its people money paid by the UN, or indeed critising Hamas for pushing its political opponents off high buildings. It is the fact that Israel receives so much criticism whilst other countries, doing far worse, receives none that puts the BBC in the anti-Semitic camp.

    1. I think you are getting to the nub of the matter. It is not criticising Israel that is a problem, it is the pattern of concentration of criticism on this one country. There are plenty of other territorial disputes around the world e.g. Kashmir, Tibet, and Morocco/Western Sahara that get hardly any coverage, and certainly not on the same scale. Even more so, there are far more bloody conflicts going on around the world in places like South Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Philippines which get hardly any coverage.

      If the argument is that the BBC and other media have to focus on human rights violations, well far worse violations take place every day in places like Somalia, Russia, Pakistan, Turkey, Tibet, China, Burma, India, Congo, South Africa, and parts of Latin America still.

      The argument is sometimes used that the Israel-Palestine dispute is different because of it being capable of sparking a World War. Well maybe that was an argument that had some force 30 years ago when the Cold War was still in full swing but it seems less arguable now. But really, isn't the danger of widespread war more likely now to come from India-Pakistan or Islamic State or the China Sea or North Korea?

      The of course there are the rarely spoken of positives about Israel: a democracy, a country where the rule of law prevails, a highly talented population that punches well above its weight in nearly all fields of human endeavour. Israel's response to terror is never put in context e.g. would we in the UK not launch military strikes on areas from which missiles were being fired against us? Are we really expected to believe we occupy superiour moral ground here?

      The disproportionate focus on Israel suggests that the motivation is not pure and that it is largely driven by hatred of the Jewish people. In the case of Islam and the Far Right, that is clear. On the Left I would say things are more complex but a lot of things have come together - anti-colonialism, anti-Americanism (especially),a kind of herding instinct (remembering that 60 years ago the Left generally were quite sympathetic to Israel) and dislike of countries with basically free market economies - but those are often a cover for more traditional anti-semitism, including conflation of Jews with capitalists.

  2. I saw that moment on last night's Question Time. The hedge fund guy had already pointed out the problem of conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. That woman's statement was very revealing of this whole problem, and it's too bad Dimbleby chose that moment to move on to the next topic. Plenty of time had already been spent on the Labour/Jew issue, but it was mostly the usual "There's no place for anti-Semitism in Labour....all forms of racism are wrong..." posing, and the root of the problem was barely touched. That's not the BBC's fault, I guess, but it is illustrative of the difficulties in dealing with it.

    Off this topic but still on QT, Hull is - very slight majority - for Brexit. The panel was three pro-EU, life-long politicians versus the two people who live in the real world. Not totally a fair fight, as the politicians offered no coherent or fact-based arguments, while the two civilians made point after point. The only fearmongering came from the Salmond toad, who said don't listen to the fearmongering, just be afraid that Scotland will vote for independence if Britain does. What's Gaelic for chutzpah?

    1. I live very close to Hull (I admit to Beverley) and when I talk to people in the area, and this does include the swimming pool changing room, I would say that people really don't know how to vote. It isn't that they don't care but they feel neither side is giving them the true facts on which to make a decision. If they vote 'stay' it will not be with pleasure nor conviction but because the alternative is the greater unknown

    2. That seems to be the overarching theme: people aren't sure, which usually results in the 'safe status quo' vote. But they respond more positively to reasons for leaving than for remaining. When trying to gauge audience reactions, I'm constantly reminding myself that Leavers are the ones with conviction and are more likely to make noise in response to something. Nobody on the Remain side seems to have any conviction or passion about it at all. Even taking that into account, I believe I detected a slight tilt towards Brexit overall. I think this is actually the closest any audience has been in the 9 or 10 weeks I've been keeping an eye on it. Project Fear worked for the Scottish referendum, but that's more because it was painfully obvious that the SNP's case for economic success was sheer fantasy. It's not the case here. Britain already has its own currency and national government infrastructure. Scotland would have had to invent all of it from scratch.

      Also, I noticed the BBC has accepted they have to spend half the hour each week on the EU, but have now shifted it to the second half after dealing with all the other agenda issues of the week. Don't give in to what the unwashed masses want, right, BBC?

    3. I have been buoyed up by the latest polls.

      If Leave can achieve an albeit lead after the most sustained barrage from all the "heavy guns" - IMF, Bank of England, OECD, President of the USA, to name just a few, then there is hope because as we get closer to the Referendum day, a reluctant media is going to have to offer more balance and allow Leave arguments to see the light of day.

      The Leave campaign need to get the message across loud and clear that it is the Remain campaign who are asking us to step into the unknown world of economic stagnation, migration chaos, the rise of the far right, increased terrorist attacks and further advance by Islam.

  3. Anyone who holds the view that Israel has a right to exist, or professes to believe in a "two state solution" is by definition a Zionist. That would make the Labour Party a Zionist Party, as far as I'm aware, and Jeremy Corbyn might as well come out and say so.

    If he did so, perhaps we can then start to draw a distinction between those who are simply critics of the Israeli government, and those who go much further. Using phrases such as "Zionist media", or talking about the mass transportation of Jews go far beyond what any rational person can describe as simply "criticism of the Israeli government"

    1. Except behind closed doors they do not believe in a two-state solution.

  4. Behind and to the right of Corbyn in the purple top - Is this 'what Israel did' woman?


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