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Comments about “The Great Debate” – The Truth About Zionism - 'Mikey' :
posted on December 10, 2005 at 05:59:32 PM
[Another question then came from the floor, this time from someone referring to himself as a political commentator who goes by the name "The Sharpener". He wanted to know how much antisemitism was on the rise and from where that antisemitism was coming. He claimed that there was no violent antisemitic activity amongst Muslims in this country and that the antisemitism that there was, originated from the far right. Alan Hart responded that the House of Commons Committee is considering this at the moment and they put the rise in antisemitic incidents at 40% last year. He went on to add that the idea that Muslims are antisemitic is not true. What drives Muslim fury is America's support for Israel. He claimed that the monster of antisemitism is the product of European societies.]
That person was me (and I gave my name), and "The Sharpener" is not a pseudonym for me but the name of a group blog to which I contribute. Its location is www.thesharpener.net.
I stand by the claims I made - if there had been a significant rise in Muslim violent antisemitism motivated by events in Palestine, it would have been noted by now in the newspapers, and it has not been. Not even the most biased Jewish writers have even begun to claim such a thing - not even Melanie Phillips or her friend Carol Gould, whose bizarre articles have started to be quoted at length on Phillips' "diary". I don't deny that antisemitism exists in the UK and I'm certainly not naive enough to think that an awful lot of Muslims aren't hostile to Jews.
David Hirsh posted on December 10, 2005 at 06:12:20 PM
There has been a rise in violent antisemitic incidents in the UK (they have roughly doubled since 2000) and also in a number of other European countries, notably France - although the absolute number of racist attacks against Jews is still significantly lower than other racist attacks (these figures are difficult to compare accurately - reporting rates may vary and many Jews are not instantly identifiable as Jews). Racist attacks against Jews in the UK correlate with the prominence of Middle East stories in the news.
Oli posted on December 10, 2005 at 07:22:11 PM
Thanks are due to Mikey for putting together that excellent write-up of last night's "debate," which perhaps should have been labelled something along the lines of "The Case Against Zionism". To call it a debate really stretches the meaning of the word.
The basic concept of a Muslim Public Affairs Committee is a sound and perfectly legitimate one. I was however disappointed by the following:
i) the fracas which erupted over the removal of a certain gentleman from the room - although to some extent I was pleased with the MPAC leadership's response to it and the apology given;
ii)Mr Bukhari's general tone - specifically the aggressive, excited and hot-headed manner in which he expressed himself - I believe it contributed to an unnecessarily tense atmosphere in the room;
iii) The fact that as a non-Muslim I didn't feel that Mr Bukhari was really talking to me, but rather was expressly and impliedly addressing his speech solely to Muslims. I felt if anything that I was the object of some of that tension;
iv) The fact that Mr Bukhari seemed to believe that budgetary contraints on his organisation and a lack of time somehow justified the reckless posting of objectionable material on MPAC's website - although I was to some extent pleased by his reaction when I spoke to him personally about the matter;
v) The fact that a march organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir was advertised by MPAC members in their MPAC capacity.
I don't share Mr Bukhari's views on the subject of last night's debate, but I am not really criticising them per sé (that is a whole other debate, one which I cannot go into here). Where I did take objection was, I as I say, to the tone of his remarks and his general manner, which was somewhat aggresive. If I remember correctly even a co-panellist remarked on this.
I welcome the creation of a sensible and professional Muslim Public Affairs Committee. I saw last night aspects which concerned me, but also there were causes for optimism. I call on the leadership of MPAC to recognise their responsibility to all involved in the Middle East Debate - on both sides, including the many people whom they claim to represent.
In recognising that responsibility, I call on Mr Bukhari and the leadership of MPAC to do as follows:
a)Ensure as far as is practicable that satisfactory checks are put in place to prevent objectionable material being posted on the website;
b)Strive to be more inclusive, cool-headed, moderate and amicable, both in style and in substance;
posted on December 10, 2005 at 09:38:34 PM
Kudos to Mikey for the comprehensive report of the event yesterday.
I am less inclined to be sympathetic to MPACUK, while Asghar Bukari is in charge anyway. I went to the meeting with a low opinion of them due to their website articles; the hysteria of an all pervasive Zionist influence, and Zionists portrayed as baboons etc. Asghar's language and tone was highly inflammatory, akin to a demogogue such as Nick Griffin. The excuse of not controlling the content of the website, due to tiredness and lack of funding, was lame in the extreme, as it is often the first portal of engagement. Virulently anti-semitics images and articles don't just fall on your lap.
Pooh posted on December 10, 2005 at 09:54:12 PM
"although the absolute number of racist attacks against Jews is still significantly lower than other racist attacks"
That is not so, at least in France.
From Normblog (March 2005):
The ministry [the French Interior Ministry] tallied 135 anti-Jewish acts through June 30, as well as 375 threats. The figure was nearly as high as the numbers from all of last year, when a total of 593 anti-Jewish acts or threats were registered.
Racist attacks, often against Muslims, also rose. There were 95 such attacks and 161 threats through June, compared to a total of 232 such crimes reported last year.
(See also here.) Using the comparative figures for attacks and threats respectively (135 as against 95, 375 as against 161), on a rough calculation Jews in France are over 14 times more likely to be attacked than Muslims and over 23 times more likely to be threatened. I was advised of this conclusion by a reader and friend some weeks ago. Now it is reported here.
David Hirsh posted on December 10, 2005 at 10:52:41 PM
I am extremely skeptical about these figures, "Pooh". I think that there is a huge problem in France with anti-black and anti-Arab racism. But I don't have detailed figures.
Bernard Maro posted on December 10, 2005 at 11:45:17 PM
David, you should not be skeptical. The data given by Pooh are correct. They correspond to the data of the ministry of interior for 2004. The anti-black and anti-arab problem in France is more a discremination problem (jobs, renting houses ...). There is less direct attacks and threats (see also the reports from CMDCH for 2003 and 2004). These numbers decreased significantly in 2005.
Pooh posted on December 11, 2005 at 12:20:02 AM
According to the Australian, which was linked to by Professor Norman Geras in that post, the figures came from the French Interior Ministry. Here's a direct link:
Perhaps the particular concern of the French Jewish community stems from the fact that just over sixty years ago Jews were being rounded up by the French police on French orders before being dispatched to Auschwitz on French trains. That "salle juif!" has once again become a routine playground insult in France brings shame on not just France but all of Europe.
We remaining European Jews are the last miserable remnants of a once thriving and brilliant culture. Personally, in the light of recent events and my own personal experience of Europe, I have grave doubts whether there will be any Jewish community left to speak of in Europe in another sixty years. If that comes about as a result of our emigration to North America or Israel, I do believe that that will be Europe's loss and our gain.
Dr. Hirsh, you are fighting a courageous battle, but I'm afraid it is all in vain.
posted on December 11, 2005 at 01:10:06 AM
It seems that the audience heckler has got involved in a discussion with someone by the name Saladin70 on the following forum:
This debate is mentioned on the web site of MPACuk
But let us see what Saladin70 says on that site: "And do you know that the birth rate in israel is declining, only certain settlers are producing enough zionists to sustain the current numbers."
Now if that is not confusing Zionists and Jews I am not sure what is.
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 11, 2005 at 04:31:07 PM
I also attended the meeting and it is ridiculous to say the "heckler" was not given enough time to ask his question, as he was given a lot of time...it was very courteous of them to give him any time at all as he had been a persistent nuisance, not just heckling but talking non-stop while the speakers were speaking..I didn't see the fist being raised, though I was some way away from the action...the heckler was behaving hysterically, shouting "don't touch me, you violent thugs", when they were just trying to escort him out...also not enough is said about the atmosphere of sorrow and shame about the "violence used to a guest" (violence more or less non-existent in my view); one Muslim man got up at question time and said how ashamed he was and was actually crying. Really, there was nothing to apologise for.
I thought it was appalling and undemocratic that UJS got this meeting banned at Westminster and that a right wing Zionist thug turned up with the obvious intention of disrupting it. I apologised on his behalf to the moderator (after she had apologised to me) and said how ashamed I was of him.
Alexandra Simonon posted on December 11, 2005 at 04:55:05 PM
Deborah Maccoby felt she had to apologise 'on behalf' of the heckler, because he was a Jew, and so she felt she carried the responsibility of whatever he did. This is appalling. But it explains a lot. I thought it was a bit funny when Jews for Justice objected to the EUMC definition of antisemitism because it included a bit on "holding Jews collectively responsible" for Israel's actions. But I realise now it is their general outlook: Jews are to be held collectively responsible for any action of any fellow Jew. This is why they are an exclusively Jewish movement: I guess they set themselves up to atone for their fellow Jews' sins.
Linda Grant posted on December 11, 2005 at 05:14:30 PM
Having been persitently heckled by the anti-Zionist Moshe Machover, who not only intterupted me, but people attempting to answer questions from the floor, I can sympathise with anyone sitting on a platform being harangued by cranks who like the sound of their own voice.
But I would like some explanation of why Stephen Marks was billed as representing JfJfP.
observer posted on December 11, 2005 at 05:14:52 PM
"I thought it was appalling and undemocratic that UJS got this meeting banned at Westminster"
Deborah, you should not believe everything you're told by MPAC.
I'm confused by the fact that you felt the need to apologise on the behalf of this man, what did his behaviour have to do with you? Why were you ashamed of him?
I wasn't at the debate (was observing Shabbat) but from what I've heard from people who did attend, this man wasn't a "Zionist thug" at all. If you think someone who heckles during a debate is a "thug" then you really should get out more.
Paul posted on December 11, 2005 at 06:12:59 PM
David writes: "I am extremely sceptical about these figures, "Pooh". I think that there is a huge problem in France with anti-black and anti-Arab racism. But I don't have detailed figures."
The figures cited by Pooh relate to actual attacks, and of course racism is also manifested in many other ways. There is indeed, in France, a huge problem of prejudice and discrimination against blacks and Maghrebis. Indeed, the recent riots have highlighted the way that both state and society have discriminated against them for decades. I think indeed it's fair to say there is more discrimination against them than against Jews. Yet it's entirely possible that at the same time there are more actual physical attacks against Jews. So the figures can be correct without David's observation being at all incorrect. Incidentally, there is also a vast difference, for example in Paris, between the experience of the Ashkenazi Jews, who are as a rule fairly well-off and live in the centre of Paris and are well integrated into society, and many Jews from Morocco and Algeria who often live in the same poor banlieux as the Arabs from the same countries and often experience much of the same exclusion from society as their Arab neighbours, being equally considered "immigrants".
Deborah writes: "I apologised on his behalf to the moderator (after she had apologised to me) and said how ashamed I was of him."
Why would you be apologising on behalf of someone you obviously totally disagree with, and why would the moderator be apologising to you? Did you bring him along? Or is it because both you and the heckler are Jewish or Israeli? If the latter, then both you and the moderator are continuing and reinforcing the mistake of making all Jews responsible for the actions of some Jews.
Jane Ashworth posted on December 11, 2005 at 06:19:31 PM
Its not a good idea to focus on the manners of some guy or other. Its a lot more important to talk about how best to combat the ideas of MPAC. What are your ideas? How would you characterise their attitudes to Jews and to anti-semitism?
posted on December 11, 2005 at 07:07:18 PM
If Mikey's report is really reflecting the Alan Hart's presentation, it seems that we are dealing here with a very trivial and even boring personality.
Even a person like this could have more spark in him.
As for the right wing Jewish heckler - too bad, but we have more than a fair share of them here (in Israel).
posted on December 11, 2005 at 07:26:13 PM
I was at the meeting* yesterday.(The asian guy who asked a question about the anti-semitic images and material on the website of the organisation.) What did you think of Asghars speech? Were you comfortable with his macabre use of images and violent language?
*meeting rather than debate-there were three countervailing points/questions during the whole event. It was an attempt to sell MPACUK as a counter to the pervasive "Zionist lobby."
Dov posted on December 11, 2005 at 09:13:55 PM
Forgive me for interupting here but have we forgotten who we are dealing with. MPAC is an overtly racist, antisemitic, misogyinist and homophobic "organisation". They could pass as a front for the BNP! And, people go along to their meeting and "discuss" with them, and "apologise to them" for someone who heckled? Why, I must ask, did only one person interupt and heckle? Where were all the others? Did anyone not read the reason they supplied for why their meeting at Westmister was banned? At least UW was under no allusion as to what MPPAC is? (See also David T's comments on Harry's Place)
To attend their meetings in "good faith", not only, but especially as someone concerned for the plight of the Palestinians,is not only naive, but politically foolhardy. Do you really think for one moment that a group that is virently racist, homophobic, misogyinist and antisemitic is, somehow "ok" when it comes to the Palestinians? that, "apart from their views on Jews, Women, Gays", they can be taken seriously as agents of liberation for the Palesinians? Fascists screw people over - that's what they do - even and especially, those they claim to "represent".
By respecting these idiots you offer a disservice to those within and without the Muslim community who are angry and furious that their voice, identify and point of view is being usurped in this way and are struggling in making their opposition known. Groups (and individuals) whose views on Israel and Palestine differ from many of those who contribute to this site, but who do not resort to the gutter to make their arguments.
Think seriously about this! To attend anything by this group in the hope of "learning" something about "Zionsism" or the Israel-Palestine situation, is akin to going to a beerkeller in Munich in 1925 to "learn" something about the Versaille Treaty!
And, to clarify, I am talking specifically about MPAC here and no other group.
posted on December 11, 2005 at 09:35:50 PM
I have just been to MPAC's open day in London and have some good news: an election is coming shortly for the leadership of the group and Asghar Bukhari is standing down. Although there were not that many people at the meeting, I did see a lot of ladies who seemed more capable and reasonable than Asghar and one or two of the other male leaders. There are at least some cool-headed and articulate people in that organisation.
saladin1970 posted on December 11, 2005 at 10:14:05 PM
I attended as well, and i was avidly listening to stephens speach when this zionist thug walked in with the deliberate intention of disrupting the meeting, and heckles the speaker before he even sat down.
From then on everyone kept diverting their eyes to this thug's carry on.
He should have been thrown out much earlier and dragged out if necessary. he was there under the rules of the engagement and if he felt it was neccessary to dirsupt the venue then he should have accepted being thrown out.
I saw that the events were being filmed, and i suggest that MPAC would be well within their rights to have this thug arrested and charged with assult on the stewards.
It seems cormac (as that is who he calls himself) may learn his lesson if he gets a crimnal record.
posted on December 12, 2005 at 06:33:08 AM
"By respecting these idiots you offer a disservice to those within and without the Muslim community who are angry and furious that their voice, identify and point of view is being usurped in this way and are struggling in making their opposition known."
posted on December 12, 2005 at 07:43:35 AM
Is this the same Saladin who starts threads on other web sites headlines
"Jews are like leeches"?
or what about these threads
"Jews consider women unclean"
"Beastailty permitted in Judaism"
"Jewish child molestors" ….
All these thread and more can be seen on the MIddle East Forum of Delphi Forums that is linked to on the MPACuk discussion about this talk.
In fact Saladin the list goes on and on doesn’t it???
Surely you would not be the same Saladin?
posted on December 12, 2005 at 01:13:23 PM
posted on December 12, 2005 at 02:51:28 PM
I was that Zionist 'troublemaker'.
I also admit that my behaviour was a little erratic.
I am not a serial disrupter, as MPACUK alleges: that was the first political meeting I have been to in the UK in five years (in Italy in 2003, I attended various Socialist and Communist anti-war functions) and only the second time that I have been in Central London this year.
I have been mostly house bound for 1 1/2 years following a mountain accident and operation, and, I confess, enforced isolation has found my behaviour a little eccentric.
For which I apologise, especially to the other Jewish members sympathetic to Israel, in the audience. I should have kept silent and patient: I rather egoistically assumed that I was the only pro-Israel person present.
Anyhow, this is my account of what happened. I apologise for its non -academic presentation.
What Happened at the MPACUK meeting by Cormac:
I was late: not a good start. I only learned of the meeting from Saladin70 on the Delphi Middle East forum at 5 pm. It was a nightmare journey, and I am still post ankle operation.
I arrived, apparently, half way through the second speaker's, Stephen Mark's, talk. Immediately I heard his saying that anti-Zionism could not possibly be antisemitism, since it is completely different from 1930's Nazi antisemitism.
I said, aloud, 'No, it's not'. And, of course, given the opportunity, could have adduced my argument.
I shouldn't have, I know. And in a proper debate, would have done no such thing. But this was not a proper debate, as advertised, where there are two opposing sets of speakers.
Despite, 'Zionism: the real enemy of the Jews''s, and Alan Hart's calling for a gentile plegde not to repeat the holocaust if Diaspora Jews cease being Zionist's being, I think, en effait, a de facto, not-so-veiled threat against most Jews who support Israel, I knew that there were no Zionist speakers present. Looking around the room, there were there no representative Zionist Jewish members of the audience that I could see (as if I could have recognised them!). Rather egoistically, I assumed I was the only one there. There were, in fact three others, and for their sakes, I should have kept silent.
To them, I apologise.
A very nice tall lady, charming and attractive-looking lady asked me to wait until the end of the session.
To be fair to Marks, he did say he would be happy to debate these points afterwards. Except that, obviously, there would not conceivably be sufficient opportunity or time to do so publically. Moreover, I think, MPACUK should have asked any Zionist Jews if they wanted to put the counter motion. That would have constituted a real debate, as advertised.
My personal host was a 6 footer, in Islamic green hoodie and black base ball cap, promising to physically to throw me out , if I didn't behave. I confined myself to exclamations ('shame', 'no' etc the usual stuff), tsks and laughs.
He still enjoyed sharply fondling my shoulder, though.
After the speakers, Asghar Bukhari addressed the audience 'Salam Alaykum'.
'Sholem Aleichem', I said.
'There's always a clown', said he, obviously not best pleased.
'Why?' I asked, 'Because I said, Sholem Aleichem?'.
Of course, I should have said neither.
The nice tall lady and Chairlady again warned me that I would be removed if I was not silent.
Bukhari then gave a rousing address: 'Zionism is your enemy', and warning, like Marks and Hart later, how it all powerful, cunning and evil it is.
I confined myself to guffaws and such like. My minder told/asked me 'You're enjoying this, aren't you?'
'Yes', I said.
'Listen to the truth', said he. 'It's not the truth', I said. He looked daggers at me again, as though I were a vampire he had to slay. I couldn't help bursting out laughing.
Marks and Hart now began answering questions, and I tried to keep track of all his distortions and misrepresentations. I knew it would be impossible to address even a fraction of them in a post-speaker q/a sesssion when, obviously, many people, predominantly non-Jewish anti-Zionist, would prevent the few Zionists' making a case.
Again: 'not my excuse, just an explanation for my eccentric behaviour.
I looked for my bag to find a pen, only to find it had been removed by a little fellow who had decided to sit next to me, put his arm around my shoulder and begin, 'My friend', in that way that is not intended to be reassuring.
It was also quite hypocritical, since Bukhari had just told all MPACUK members present that 'Zionism is your greatest enemy'.
'I'm not your friend', I interupted, 'I'm your enemy. Give me back my bag. And you had better move up a chair, because I find your proximity threatening'.
Obligingly, he did so. I rummaged around in my bag, but couldn't find a pen. All the while I was being 'fondled' by my escort. Apparently Bukhari thought I was reaching for a gun or a knife.
A chap had introduced himself from the Independent, and said that he it would have been nice if more Zionists had been present, so that there could have been a proper debate. To the Independent fellow I indicated that I was a Zionist, 'I am sure this Brother would like to have a say at some point, then', he said.
Marks was now citing the fact that the largest single block of Jews voted for the Polish Bund in 1939, as though it had some anti-Zionist significance. I continually raised my hand wishing to point out that
a) the Bund were Jewish nationalists -you cannot use them to prove Zionism is illegitimate on the grounds that the Jews are not a nation.
b) it was not only shunned by, Polish Socialists, as they saw themselves, who, like Polish society as a whole, were not a little antiSemitic themselves but also had been effectively dissolved by the Soviet authorities, since they refused to recognise Jews right to regional or ethnic autonomy.
c) that even though the Soviet Union refused to recognise the Bund's claim to Jewish nationality, until 1989, every Jewish citizen of the U.S.S.R. had papers which read 'Natsionalnost: evreiski', Nationality: Jewish'.
d) that by 1939, 1 400 000 European Jews were paid up subscribing members of Zionist organizations -nearly 10 % of European Jewry and hardly an insignificant percentage.
e) the pre-and post-war Soviet Russian and Polish Jewish experience proved the Bund a failure, not through its own faults, necessarilly, but because the circumstances it tried to address were radically more hostile than it could cope with or anticipated.
But that was only one of a string of points that needed a Zionist response.
If it had been a proper debate, a Zionist panel could have made it.
In time, the Chairlady invited me a stand, introduce myself, and ask a question.
I apologised for being late, giving an explanation ('Too much information', an antiZionist Jews said' )
'I have read Mr Hart's summary of Jewish history in The Land, consisting in the '70 years of sovereignty under David and Solomon', which is straight out of the P.L.O. convenant circa 1970...'
I wanted to continue how that hardly constitutes an adequate address of Jewish historical and traditional attachment to The Land, but I was interupted by some fellow's spuriously raising 'Josephus (?)', and the Chairlady's pressing me to move on.
'My name is..., I am not a non-Jewish Jew, an anti-Jewish Jew. I am not an anti-Zionist non-Jewish Jew. I am a fairly regular Jewish kind of Jew, and, like most Jews I am pro-Zionist, I support Israel'
By now the Chairlady was getting impatient 'What's your question', she pressed.
'Well', I said, 'by 1984, most Israeli Jews were descended from most of the Arab Jews of whom the Arabs, effectively, ethnically cleansed the Arab world. By mid-2006 Israel will be the largest Jewish community in the world and by mid-21st century, even if no more Jews emigrate to Israel, because the Diaspora is disappearing, through assimilation and intermarriage, Israel will simply be the place in the world, where most Jews live.
'Mr Hart, you want to persuade us to stop being Zionist or supporting Israel.
Suppose you don't? What exactly are you going to do about it?'
Marks answered first, saying, in short, that he recognised the Arab Jewish nature of Israeli society (though he disputed 'ethnic cleansing'), we could call ourselves what we pleased so long as we removed disciminatory legislation, which would be illegal in Britain (It's a different situation, I said), and recognise the historial injustice done to Palestinians (But what about he historical injustice done to Jews: Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians have been quite happy to define the Jews as a nation dispossessed by g-d, through Rome, for their sins, for most of Christian and Islamic history -I began to say, but was drowned out almost immediately).
'So, what are you going to do about it? I pressed. 'Well, what can we do about it?' he replied -and to be fair, he, Hart and Bukhari had already spent a good while decrying the invincibly evil nature of the Zionist Movement.
Hart began by saying how much he admired Zionism, and that if President Bush could wave a magic wand and put Israel behind the '67 borders, creating a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem then, he said, 'I am sure he would have over 90% of the Arab world behind him'.
Another anti-Zionist Jew half-turned to me, saying how he wished that there had been a proper debate, for, he said, the issue of the Arab Jews was a lot more complicated than 'ethnic cleansing'.
'Why don't you ask the Arab Jews?' I asked, 'I have lots of Arab Jewish friends'.
He seemed to hesitate, 'Why', I continued, 'do you think you have more Arab Jewish friends than me?'
At this point he seemed to start looking questioningly at Marks but, by then, my escort obviously found he could contain himself no longer, and graduated from sharply fondling my shoulder to full body-contact manhandling.
'Don't touch me!' I shouted, standing up and turning towards him. I had tendonitis in both wrists following repeatedly spraining them on crutches, but I still made to throw a punch at him.
Bukhari then leaped from the speakers' table, presumably to his friend's defense, screaming, 'Don't touch my mate!'
'He touched me first!', I protested.
A crowd of others had begun to pile in and the tall, nice lady shouted, 'What have I told you guys before? No violence!'
I made to sit down, but she grabbed my wrist (how did she know?) and took my coat.
'You really must leave now'.
I was not really in a position to refuse, and, after securing permission to walk out slowly at my pace, I began to walk out.
On the way, a gentleman, who afterwards told me he was the publisher of 'Zionism: the real Enemy of the Jews', asked if he might walk with me.
Passing behind the speakers, I tried one last question, but the audienced drowned me out and clapped. I bowed and began to sing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.
Descending the stairs to the exit, Tony, for it was he, said that I must understand that they really did not want the book launch associated with that kind of event.
'There was a lot of courage in that room', he said thoughtfully. 'Whose courage?' I asked.
'Stephen Mark's', he said, 'yours'.
'You know', I said, 'he started speaking about the Bund: they weren't Zionist, but they were Jewish nationalists'.
'But a different kind of nationalist', he objected.
'Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. That is what most Jews believe. And, sooner or later, you are going to have to address that.'
'We could debate this for hours', he said whistfully.
'Yes', I said. Hadn't that been the idea?
He then told me that to understand the Balfour declaration, one must understand its context.
'Yes', I said, 'the first world war'.
The Russian Revolution, he disputed, to address the threat of 'Jewish Bolshevism'. I said that the evidence was that it had been made by the British to encourage American Jews to persuade America to enter the first world war.
Again, whistfully, he reflected what a great debate we could have had.
'Have you read the book?' he asked, 'And I do not ask you that only to sell it'.
'Of course not', I replied, ' No, not yet. I have many books to read, though I am sure I will give it a look when I get the chance. My mother is buying 'Palestine: 634-1099', for a present'.
'Who is the author?' he asked.
'An Israeli, Moshe Gil. It is the best history of that period; it draws on Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Syriac and Yiddish sources'.
Then, we bade each other goodnight.
posted on December 12, 2005 at 04:10:29 PM
It all seems useless. The vast majority of Jews are Zionists who believe in the right of Jews to self-determination. These speakers, as usual, are interested only in preaching to the choir.
Brother Mohammed posted on December 12, 2005 at 04:49:09 PM
AS SALAAMU ALAIKUM,
I GREET YOU ALL WITH THE GREETING OF ABSOLUTE PEACE.
I WAS AT THE EVENT TOO, WHAT ALL THOSE PREVIOUS TO ME HAVE FAILED TO POINT OUT IS THE FACT THAT THE HECKLER (CORMAC IS HIS NICKNAME) THROUGH THE FIRST PUNCH AT THE MPAC VOLUNTERR. THE HECKLER SWUNG BUT IT WAS A LAME PUNCH AND ALL THE MPAC VOLUNTEER DID WAS RAISE HIS FIST AS A SIGN THAT YOU TRY THAT AGAIN AND I WILL SHOW YOU. HE BY NO MEANS WHATSOEVER WAS AT FAULT, SO PLEASE DONT SPREAD LIES AND HATRED IF YOU DONT KNOW THE ABSOLUTE FACTS!
Alexandra Simonon posted on December 12, 2005 at 04:55:01 PM
"ALL THE MPAC VOLUNTEER DID WAS RAISE HIS FIST AS A SIGN THAT YOU TRY THAT AGAIN AND I WILL SHOW YOU. HE BY NO MEANS WHATSOEVER WAS AT FAULT"
And this is how 'stewards', or 'security', or whatever they are called, are supposed to behave, is it? They are supposed to communicate with the public by 'raising their fists as a sign that' this or that, are they?
BROTHER MOHAMMED posted on December 12, 2005 at 05:02:25 PM
HE WAS NOT ASSIGNED TO BE A STEWARD, BUT AS THE HECKLER CAME IN HE HAD TO STAND IN,
I HAVE NEVER PHYSICALLY HURT A PERSON IN MY LIFE BUT IF I WAS IN HIS SHOES I WOULD HAVE REACTED EXACTLY THE WAY HE DID. HE DIDNT PUNCH CORMAC, HE HELD HIS HAND UP THERE FOR A GOOD FEW SECONDS, IF HE WAS VIOLENT AND STUPID HE WOULD HAVE LANDED THAT PUNCH RIGHT IN CORMACS FACE BUT HE DIDNT.
posted on December 12, 2005 at 05:25:44 PM
Not only was my punch lame, nor make contact, if I recall, I did not initiate physical contact.
The Green Hoodie had been squeezing my shoulder, painfully, and threatening me, throughout the meeting, and then, when responding to a anti-Zionist Jews' comments addressed to me from the floor below, grabbed both my shoulders, pulling and pushing me roughly from the chair. A group had gathered around me too.
That is physical assault, which is why I shouted, 'Don't touch me!'.
I was also entitled to attempt to defend myself.
Now, I shouldn't have heckled. But that does not mean it is legal to assault me, either.
Dov posted on December 12, 2005 at 07:55:06 PM
Could we not engage with members of MPAC please. We have far more important things to do than to enter dialogue with racist antisemitic homophobes who are not representative of anybody but themselves
Paul posted on December 12, 2005 at 07:59:18 PM
Stephen Marks writes:
"The cancellation of the meeting by Westminster, in response to secret behind-the-scenes complaints, was scandalous. On those freedom of speech grounds alone I am glad I spoke.A phone call from persons unknown was enough to get the meeting cancelled - I don’t know of a Muslim organisation in the country that could get that result in that way.
"I don’t know who was responsible but if it was the UJS I wouldn’t be surprised - in my experience that is the way they operate. If you don’t like anti-Jewish conspiracy theories - and I dont - then don’t act like a conspirator."
Mr. Marks, have another look at what you've written there.
Do you really think anyone reading that is going to believe that you "don't like anti-Jewish conspiracy theories"?
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 12, 2005 at 08:36:48 PM
On the subject of collective responsibility - it is a complex idea and is not the same as collective guilt. It is actually a Jewish religious idea that all Jews are responsible for each other, and I think Muslims have - with the concept of the Umma - a similar idea. Sadia, the moderator, was apologising to me and Mark Elf, whom she knew to be Jewish, for an imaginary wrong she thought her Muslim brother had done to our Jewish brother; I was distressed that she was apologising for "violence" which was non-existent, so I apologised to her as a Muslim on behalf of my Jewish brother, as I could not see much hope of him doing it himself (he seems to have made some sort of apology but it seems only to the Zionists in the audience).
Even if a fist was raised, it was only as a warning and was actually a good way of preventing him from further violence. His aim seems to have been to disrupt the meeting, provoke the Muslims into hitting him and then accuse them of being violent. It is a pity Engage have fallen for this in the write-up.
On the subject of MPACUk, I don't think they are really anti-Semitic. As the chair acknowledged, they make mistakes out of naivety and ignorance. They do tend to sensationalise. Thus Ashgard's speech was really just saying that Muslims don't campaign enough; they've not activists; but he sensationalised it with all the stuff about the terrible power of Zionism. Though they know nothing about Jews and Judaism, it was clear from the meeting that they are curious about us. One Muslim girl told me she had learnt a lot from Stephen about Jews and Judaism. So the more we engage with them they more they will find out about us and the less they will demonise us (and the less we will demonise them). I think it is good that they are building up a politically active Muslim group; the more Muslims feel they can take part in politics and make their voices heard,the less there will be of the despair and rage which makes them prey to brainwashing and being turned into suicide bombers by groups like al-Qaeda.
repeat that it was appalling of UJS to get this meeting banned (and it is reported in the JC that the meeting was banned as a result of protests by UJS and Westminster Jewish society). I have written to the JC to protest and I hope others will too.
Dov posted on December 12, 2005 at 08:44:46 PM
I must say, when I first read Stephen Marks' comments, I was quote impressed. He seemed eminently reasonable and, indeed, quite brave. On reflection, however, this is not the case and the word disengenous springs to mind.
First,no evidence is produced as to his version of why the meeting at Westminster weas cancelled. Indeed, he states, "I don’t know who was responsible" but then continues as if it were UJS, again with absolutley nothing to support his thesis. He continues the mixture of allegation with "proof" through his comment "If you don’t like anti-Jewish conspiracy theories - and I dont - then don’t act like a conspirator" and his later reference to "banners". Even Socratres would have had a problem with this form of logical reasoning that jumps from lack of knowledge, through accusation, to conclusion. Yet, despite this lacuna of sense, it forms the backbone of his own argument.
Second,he makes the comment that "I would certainly like to see a serious discussion of the way UJS operates on campus to close down debate". This allegation simply hangs in the air. How do they exercise such power, and, moreover, can we have some proof please? Perhaps, he is referring to idea that anytime someone makes a criticism of Israel, the accusation of antisemitism is levelled against them? Well, not a good choice of context for is argument I'm afraid. Marks may well characterise comments about UJS and Cameron as a front for international Zionism as "childish", but, the truth of the matter is that they are antisemitic, pure and simple. If he really wanted to be brave and tell MPAC the "truth" to their faces, then he would have explained to them why, judging by the comments on these issues they are unreconsituted racist bigots rather than the feeble argument that they are blocking "serious debate" by what he sees as "mere" immaturity.
Finally, he attends a meeting of MPAC and then, apparently without irony, talks in his posting about gay rights and abortion. Has he not read their comments about Peter Tacthell, their conflation of gay men and pedeophiles; their rabid homophobia! Did the "brave" Steven Marks stand up and mention this to MPAC to their faces?
Whatver happened to that old-fashioned virtue of political judgement in which one's fervour for a (legitimate) cause was tempered by, at least, some form of principled position?
Julius posted on December 12, 2005 at 11:29:18 PM
Deborah - I thought it was great that UJS got this meeting banned at Westminster. Jewish students shouldn't have to entertain freedom of hate speech just because its yelled by angry men in brown skins, rather than brown shirts.
I thought it was appalling that at least one self-defined left wing Jew turned up with the obvious intention of legitimising the worldview of those who are the true enemies of democracy in this ugly drama.
Regarding the so called "right wing Zionist thug":
What gives you the right to apologise for the right-wing Zionist?
Why does his exercising his freedom of speech make him a thug?
A thug compared to what MPAC preach?
Do you approve of forcible removal of all such disruptive elements in all public meetings?
Are you questioning the "raised fist"? Please don't, there are too many witnesses to the contrary.
Dov posted on December 12, 2005 at 11:36:38 PM
You can go and tell a bunch of antisemites (MPAC) that Jews are really very nice people and Judaism is a very "noble" religion, but please have the decency not to tell everyone about it.
All I know is that all those who (from whatever backgound)over the years have defended my right not to be racially abused or attacked on the grounds of being a Jew have done so unconditionally and as a matter of political and ethical principle, regardless of whether they "understand" Jews and Judaism (whatever that may mean)
Get what I'm saying?
posted on December 13, 2005 at 12:45:52 AM
"As the chair acknowledged, they make mistakes out of naivety and ignorance."
This is patronising. Any decent half-intelligent person, irrespective of race or religion, would have not filtered through articles off David Duke's website. Their mistakes are due to their prejudice. If you still do not believe so, then at least remind then of their stupidity when you try to enlist them on next "Anti-Zionist" campaigns.
"The more Muslims feel they can take part in politics and make their voices heard,the less there will be of the despair and rage which makes them prey to brainwashing and being turned into suicide bombers by groups like al-Qaeda."
This is unbelievable! Muslims are not savages. You can confront the tiny minority in this country who are active in far-right groups with their prejudices in the safe knowledge that they are not going to blow themselves up. Those British Muslims who have and may participate in terrorism don't believe in democracy and wouldn't join lobby groups like MPACuk.
"Thus Ashgard's speech was really just saying that Muslims don't campaign enough." The consequences of which would be..
“Today it is Palestine. Tomorrow it could be your neck on the block. Remember Bosnia.”
Sensational, yes. Incendiary, yes. Hateful, yes. I felt sick after hearing his speech.
posted on December 13, 2005 at 03:51:43 AM
<i>David, you should not be skeptical. The data given by Pooh are correct. They correspond to the data of the ministry of interior for 2004.</i>
The figures may be skewed, though, by (1) French Jews being better-organized and having a more effective reporting mechanism; and (2) a great deal of violence against Arabs and Africans being perpetrated by the police.
Linda Grant posted on December 13, 2005 at 09:37:55 AM
I'm sorry that neither Deborah nor Stephen chose to address the question of how Stephen came to be billed as speaking for JfJfP. He asserts that the accounts of the meeting are not as he remembers it, biut has not yet provided his own account. I'd like to know what the audience heard from someone who had been advertised as representing JfJfP.
Both Norman Geras and I asked for our names to be withdrawn from their statement, not because we had changed our minds about its content, but because the name of the organisation was being used to endorse political events we don't support and views we don't hold.
BROTHER MOHAMMED posted on December 13, 2005 at 10:33:51 AM
As Salaamu Alaikum,
i greet you as usual with hte greeting of peace.
due to your appaling behaviour, you was constantly being tapped on the shoulder.
constantly you were asked to be quiet.you had enough chances.
when the chair asked you to leave you should have left on your own accord, then there would have been no reason for you to be forced out. its all on tape so i dont see why you are trying to play the victim and over exagerrating. if you didnt want him to touch you on the shoulder where should he have touched you, grabbed you by the ear?
dont even try to say he assualted you, apart from making sure you left the hall by force (because you refused to go voluntarily) no one laid a finger at you.
you are the one that over reacted and you are the one who caused trouble and you are the one who was acting like you have been brought up in a jungle.
so please dont play the victim, u just making yourself look like a FOOL.
posted on December 13, 2005 at 10:45:56 AM
I would like to come back on a few points.
1. In relation to the fist being raised. In your first post on this thread you said “I didn't see the fist being raised, though I was some way away from the action” and you go on to add “Really, there was nothing to apologise for”. In your next post you state “Even if a fist was raised, it was only as a warning”. I am at a loss how you can make the second statement after the first. You did not see it. However I am sure you must have heard the moderator scream “No Violence” and then admonish the steward. I can assure you a fist was raised, it was seen by a lot of people in the room and the moderator did have something to apologize for.
2. On your view of collective responsibility, do you also go around apologizing to all Christians you see for the death of Jesus Christ?
3. You seem to accept that it was due to the actions of UJS that got the meeting banned. Have you not looked at the University of Westminster’s web site for an explanation? In case you have I detail the relevant passage “the room booking was granted in the belief that it was one of the University's alumni holding a book launch. In fact, the event centres on an author with no connection to the University.”
4. You state “I think it is good that they are building up a politically active Muslim group; the more Muslims feel they can take part in politics and make their voices heard, the less there will be of the despair and rage which makes them prey to brainwashing and being turned into suicide bombers by groups like al-Qaeda.” You however fail to mention in all of this that MPACuk advertised a march the next day organised by Hizb ut Tahrir. This particular organisation puts out statements discussing which aeroplanes it is ok to hijack
It is also an organisation that has put out leaflets arguing that Jews should be killed wherever they be found.[url=http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/08/03/hizbut_tahrir_airbrushes_racism_from_its_past.http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/08/03/hizbut_tahrir_airbrushes_racism_from_its_past.php[/url]
5. “One Muslim girl told me she had learnt a lot from Stephen about Jews and Judaism.” If knowledge about Jews and Judaism is learnt from Stephen Marks then in my opinion this is highly unfortunate. As I am sure even you will admit, Stephen Marks’s speech on Zionism was not in line with the sort of speech that the vast majority of Jews would give on the matter.
6. You state “On the subject of MPACUk, I don't think they are really anti-Semitic…. they make mistakes out of naivety and ignorance.” Firstly ignorance is no defence to anti-Semitism. Secondly even if there was a “mistake” once then you would think they would be scrupulous in the future to not make the same mistake. MPAC however have on numerous occasions used anti-Semitic imagery and vocabulary on their web site. With credit due most notably to David T at Harry’s Place – you can see many of these examples by carrying out a search on MPAC on the web site
“I would like to see a serious discussion of the role of Conservative Friends of Israel and its Labour equivalent, as well as of the Labour Middle East Council and CAABU”. I would like to hear a serous discussion from Jews for Justice for Palestinians on the matter of Anti-Semitism in the left and in the pro Palestinian and Anti-Zionist movements.
To the comment on Mark Elf’s web site
“one of the Harry's Placers then accused them of anti-semitism for referring to Cameron's victory as "Likud wins" as anti-semitic when it was just plain silly (as Stephen Marks said at the meeting to the embarrassment of the MPAC speaker). The "Likud Wins" headline was based on celebrations at the Conservative Friends of Israel for Cameron's victory.” That person was me, however I also commented that the anti-Semitism was in part due to the fact that the article referred to Cameron’s “Israeli masters”.[url=http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/12/08/rambling_racist_loons.http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2005/12/08/rambling_racist_loons.php[/url]
This particular comment could have come straight out of a modern day Protocols.
Quite frankly I am at a loss how the substantial evidence of anti-Semitism emanating from the MPAC web site can just be put down as “silly”.
On Jews for Justice for Palestinians. “Both Norman Geras and I asked for our names to be withdrawn from their statement, not because we had changed our minds about its content, but because the name of the organisation was being used to endorse political events we don't support and views we don't hold.” I would be interested to know how many other people who signed the statement on the JfJfP web site would also withdraw their names if they knew about the activities of people like Deborah Maccoby and Stephen Marks carry out in their name.
Linda Grant posted on December 13, 2005 at 11:04:13 AM
I would like Stephen Marks to have clarified with the auduience the views of the organisation of which he is a member, and on whose behalf he was erroneously billed to speak, specifically and I wouyld also like to know if Deborah Maccoby actually endorses point two herself, because she gives me the impression that she does not:
WHO ARE WE?
Jews for Justice for Palestinians is a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practising and secular, Zionist and not. We oppose Israeli policies that undermine the livelihoods, human, civil and political rights of the Palestinian people.
We support the right of Israelis to live in freedom and security within Israel’s 1967 borders.
As well as organising to ensure that Jewish opinions critical of Israeli policy are heard in Britain, we extend support to Palestinians trapped in the spiral of violence and repression. We believe that such actions are important in countering antisemitism and the claim that opposition to Israel’s destructive policies is itself antisemitic.
We cooperate with other organisations on specific issues without necessarily endorsing everything they do.
We work to build world-wide Jewish opposition to the Israeli Occupation, with like-minded groups around the world and are a founding member of European Jews for a Just Peace, a federation of Jewish groups in ten European countries whose principles include:
• condemnation of all violence against civilians in the conflict, no matter by whom it is carried out.
• recognition of Israel’s 1967 ‘green line’ borders;
• commitment to the Palestinians’ right to a state in the territories currently occupied by Israel in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza;
• calling on Israel to acknowledge its part in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem and tits obligation to negotiate a just, fair and practical resolution of the issue.
posted on December 14, 2005 at 02:06:16 PM
Mikey asked Deborah
2. On your view of collective responsibility, do you also go around apologizing to all Christians you see for the death of Jesus Christ?
Jews didn't kill Jesus, the Romans did.
The Jewish method of execution was stoning, the Roman method was crucifixion. Jesus was crucified.
posted on December 14, 2005 at 02:28:33 PM
In response to Linda Grant, I may be able to shed some light onto how Stephen Marks became billed as representing JfJfP.
MPACUK asked me if I could recommend a speaker from JfJfP for their event. He/she did not have to be a Zionist. They had been impressed with Stephen's compering at the concert which featured the cantata for Rachel Corrie, and so he was seen as a possible candidate.
It seems that there had been an oversight in regard to how Stephen should be billed. Although Stephen was not speaking on behalf of JfJfP on this occasion, he has on other occasions. We use different speakers for different audiences/occasions.
JfJfP is non sectarian and caters for a wide range of views, so there is no less reason why Marks should not represent JfJfP than say, someone like Grant, (before she took her name off). Personally, I would not be surprised if there were more people in JfJfP that agree with Marks than with the more conservative end of the organisation, though unfortunately, it seems to be the latter who are dictating the agenda. As a result, I feel we are becoming increasingly paralysed and losing sight of what we are trying to do.
Unfortunately, I missed the debate, but have complained by phone and email to Westminster university about the cancellation, to which I have received no reply. It is just as well that the Hackney Empire did not show this sort of weakness and thus did not give into right-wing Zionist pressure to cancel the premiere of the Rachel Corrie cantata, which had already been cancelled in the US.
Linda Grant posted on December 14, 2005 at 04:12:54 PM
So if I have this right, the MPACUK decided to host a debate on Zionism. They already had Alan Hart, who was not a Zionist, and then they approached JfJfP for a speaker, saying that he did not have to be a Zionist. So they did not feel that a debate on Zionism required that there be a speaker representing that position?
There is a JfJfP statement, to which individuals are asked to sign up, but you're saying that it is not necessary to actually agree with it to be a signatory?
You say that JfJf is incrasingly losing sight of what it is you are trying to do. My understanding is that what you are trying to do is contained in the statement. If the agenda is being dictated by what you regard as the more conservative side of the agenda, then surely you are bang on target?
Deborah Fink posted on December 14, 2005 at 05:19:34 PM
I think MPAC simply wanted a Jewish speaker and were not familiar with any other organisations.
Of course one would expect a jfjfp signatory to agree with the statement , but the statement does not say what we can or cannot do to achieve our ends, an example being the different types of boycott.
I did not say that jfjfp is being dictated by the more conservative side of its agenda, but by the more conservative members who object to certain initiatives!
They bring their own fears/attachments (i.e. to Israel) into the organisation, which is understandable, but inflict them on everyone else, don't seem to do very much and passively stop us the rest of us from doing things. As a result, we are not taking a public stand any more.
JfJfP can't please everyone but they are trying to. There seems to be a disproportionate fear of losing signatories who don't do very much.
Linda Grant posted on December 14, 2005 at 06:16:40 PM
I'm merely surprised that someone like Stephen or Deborah support and seek to reperesent an organisation which states this:
"We support the right of Israelis to live in freedom and security within Israel’s 1967 borders."
I haven't heard either of them say anything that would indicate that this is their position, and I'm bothered that when JfJfP speaks, this basic principle does not seem to be part of the agenda. This is why Norman and I withdrew our names.
As for MPACUK, you say they wanted a Jewish speaker, but they clearly wen't concerned about having the debate that they advertised, otherwise they would have asked for someone who could represent the other point of view.
Maybe it would be best for those who feel stifled by the statement, to join another organisation with more transparent aims, such as Jews against Zionism.
observer posted on December 14, 2005 at 07:57:06 PM
" I was distressed that she was apologising for "violence" which was non-existent"
But she also says..
"I didn't see the fist being raised, though I was some way away from the action..."
posted on December 14, 2005 at 09:11:29 PM
Many thanks for Vivien for answering Mikey's question to me about apologising for the death of Jesus; of course all the historical evidence shows that the Romans did it, not the Jews.
Re Mikey's question about the fist being raised; I genuinely did not see this, but Brother Mohammed has said one of the volunteers did raise his fist as a warning, so it seems it did happen. What am saying is, well so what? Is this really violent as a way of dealing with someone who is lashing out at you with his own fists? Surely the best way to stop a violent, bullying person is to make it clear to him/her that if he/she carries on he/she will get hit back. And it worked. Yes, the moderator rushed to the scene and shouted "no violence" and apologised to me and Mark and someone in the audience said how ashamed he was. But in my view this was a massive over-reaction which evidently derived from extreme sensitivity to accusations of being violent, terrorist Islamists.
deborah maccoby posted on December 14, 2005 at 09:16:10 PM
I meant to put my name on my previous comment but forgot...I also meant to answer Linda's question. My position on the two state solution is that I would support a genuine, viable two state solution if it were to happen. It would not be my ideal solution, because I think one state is much more equal and would work much better, but if it were to happen I would accept it as a reality and as the will of the two peoples and in the hope it might later turn into something better. This is why I have signed the JfJfP statement. But a genuine two state solution is extremely unlikely to happen and there is a strong case for saying it is now too late for two states. And it is important to emphasise that Israel itself has destroyed the two-state solution by building the West Bank settlements and the Wall.
Linda Grant posted on December 14, 2005 at 10:22:41 PM
The question for me Deborah is whether or not you support - wiat for these two next words - "the right - of Israelis to live in freedom and security within Israel’s 1967 borders."
The statement asserts that this is a right. Do you think that Israelis have such a right?
Linda Grant posted on December 14, 2005 at 10:25:01 PM
And would you be prepared to stand on a public platform, say at an MPACUK meeting for example, as a representative of JfJfP and tell the audience that Israelis have this right?
Deborah Fink posted on December 15, 2005 at 12:52:53 AM
In response to Linda, I don't disagree with the right of Israelis to live within the 1967 border but did not mention this as it had nothing to do with the points I was trying to make. At the same time, this does not have to be interpreted as meaning a two state solution; merely that at the moment, the 1967 borders are recognised as Israel and are not being occupied, so Israelis have a right to live there, whereas they don't have the right to live in the Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. But I don't feel this part of the statement should be a priority for jfjfp to emphasise when other Jewish groups do this anyway. JfJfP redresses the balance by highlighting Palestinian suffering.
I don't personally have a position on one state versus two as it is not up to me and I do not know what would be most viable. As the situation is now, both solutions look unlikely. I will not be joining Jews Against Zionism as I do not think Zionism is the most important issue and would rather concentrate on facts on the ground and human rights than argue about ideology. Likewise, I am not interested in defining myself as 'left' or 'right' but in taking action, which is why I joined JfJfP. I do not feel stifled by its statement but by those who are frightened of us doing anything.
Linda Grant posted on December 15, 2005 at 08:19:47 AM
Our positions are very similar, Deborah (F.), with perhaps, the difference that I can't find a shred of evidence that a one-state solution could possibly be viable.
Bernard Maro posted on December 15, 2005 at 09:36:12 AM
In response to Linda, <<<I don't disagree>>> with the right of Israelis to live within the 1967 border ...... merely that <<<at the moment>>>, the 1967 borders are recognised as Israel and are not being occupied
Strange wording, even for a frenchman that does not understand all the subtleties of the english language !
Why a direct answer like <<<I agree with the right of Israelis to live within the 1967 border>>> is not possible ?
Why should Israel be the only state where the international (UN) borders are recognised at the moment only ?
Would that mean that Deborah (and jfjfp) would like to see the disappearance of the jewish state of Israel in the future ?
Finally, Deborah should remember that there is no more settlements in Gaza ...
posted on December 15, 2005 at 12:21:23 PM
Bernard asked: Would that mean that Deborah (and jfjfp) would like to see the disappearance of the jewish state of Israel in the future ?
(not answering for Deborah)
Linda quoted from the website:
"Jews for Justice for Palestinians is a network of Jews who are British or live in Britain, practising and secular, Zionist and not ....."
NB the last three words.
Perhaps “post-Zionist” should be included as well. Some signatories support a one-state solution and would like to see the disappearance of the jewish state of Israel in the future; others support a two-state solution. I support the Geneva Accord and not a Jewish state, rather a state which will have a majority of Jews and equal rights for all its citizens.
cormac posted on December 15, 2005 at 07:36:20 PM
Miss Maccoby, Brother Muhammed et al.
I came to what had been advertised as a debate.
It was, of course, nothing of the sort.
Now, strictly speaking, I should have waited to the end for the one, measly question I would have been permitted to ask, with which to make some semblance of a counter motion.
Except, of course, not even such a semblance would have been, nor, indeed, was remotely possible, as other speakers, Mikey et al. will testify.
I merely availed myself of every opportunity.
My 'thuggish-ness', since not even you impute to me the initiating of any physical, hurtful contact, nor responding with any, rests in the fact that, while I was prepared to avail myself of such opportunities, I was not in the least afraid of forcible attempts to silence or deport me.
Nor, I assure you, was I in the least afraid of the raised fist, which you recommended above as a deterrent.
It seems, Miss Maccoby, that you have as small regard for Jews’ courage, physical or otherwise, as our Muslim hosts.
Which, I suggest, says rather more about you, and the assumptions, if not prejudices, into which you have fallen, than it does about me.
You merely charge me with attempting to 'provoke', which sounds a little strange from the mouth of someone who, I suspect, would soundly condemn, say, the violence 'provoked' by an anti-Zionist heckler at a Zionist, alleged ‘debate’, where an anti-Zionist platform had been denied.
Your definition of 'thug', in short, is a little idiosyncratic.
By your definition, Jesus was a thug, for provoking violence against him.
And I doubt your father, Hyam Maccoby, would agree with that.
My father, by the way, was a great fan of your father's works, which is why I, in turn, read most of them (we have a copy of a book - Friedlander’s- I think, awarded to your father as a school prize –I often suggested to my father that he use it as a pretext to introduce himself to (Dr?) Maccoby, at the Manor House library).
I remember, at university, often, if not habitually, using your father’s arguments to dispute Christian origins with Christian academics.
Until I grew up, that is.
For I realized, that my desire to deconstruct Christian origins stemmed from a deep insecurity about my own, Jewish origins, that your father’s attempt to, effectively, Christianize Talmudic Judaism, in the end, to ‘universalize’ and ‘spiritualize’ it, did justice neither to Christianity, nor to its subject.
The true magnificence of the Talmud, is the rabbis’ attempt to preserve every scrap of Jewish law and lore, lest the people be lost among the nations.
Exactly, I suggest, as Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians have attempted to codify, even ritualize What Has Been Lost to themselves.
In the end, what distinguishes Christianity from Talmudic Judaism, is that the latter was, in some sense, more ‘tribal’, ‘national’ , less ‘universally’ applicable. In trying to deprive Christians of their origins, I risked depriving myself of mine.
I realized that your father’s approach was a dead end and led, ultimately, to a kind of self-negation and dissolution.
And so, I am not in the least surprised that you are your father’s daughter. His thesis, the effective ‘Christianizing’ of Talmudic Judaism, leads to a de-ethnicizing of Jewish identity, making the one, essentially, into an imitation of the other.
But it has little to do, not only with how most Jews have viewed themselves, for most of Jewish history, but with how most Christians and Muslims, including the Palestinian Arab variety, have viewed Jews for most of Christian and Islamic history.
It was very kind and generous of you to both to forgive and apologize to Sadia (?), on my behalf.
But since, miss Maccoby, you are hardly representative of most Jews, let alone this, Jewish Brother, and since, you appear not to show the slightest regret that mainstream Jewish opinion was not represented by a counter motion, of any kind whatsoever, I wonder, in what capacity you were really entitled to accept Sadia’s apparently investing you with the High Office of Representative of All Jewry.
Some might say, Miss Maccoby, that that was a little egotistical of you.
And, of course, Sadia’s motive for doing so, I suspect , is precisely that she knew full well she would be immediately Forgiven , when she Confessed, on behalf of the Green Hoodie, to my Elder and Better.
But you are not my Confessor, Miss Maccoby, nor can you absolve the Confessors of sins committed against me, on my behalf.
If the Son of Man has no authority to forgive sins, committed by and against others, why do you?
Perhaps you should have read your father’s work a little more closely.
Julius posted on December 16, 2005 at 12:30:49 AM
Deborah (M) in her own words: "On the subject of MPACUk, I don't think they are really anti-Semitic. As the chair acknowledged, they make mistakes out of naivety and ignorance. They do tend to sensationalise. Thus Ashgard's speech was really just saying that Muslims don't campaign enough; they've not activists; but he sensationalised it with all the stuff about the terrible power of Zionism. "
So, Deborah, "the terrible power of Zionism"...err, have you ever heard of The Protocols? (You remember, of the "Elders of Zion"?).
Defending Islamist antisemitism is almost as naive as your belief in "a one state solution". It may, however, be far more damaging. MPAC already know what kind of one state solution they're seeking, and your endorsement of that is an irrelevancy. On antisemitism, however, you're providing them with a moral shield, and actively undermining Jewish students right not to be subjected to antisemitc hate speech - no matter how much you downplay the hatred as "naivety and ignorance".
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 16, 2005 at 07:38:13 PM
Yes, I do support Israel's right to live in freedom and security within its 1967 borders. The PLO affirmed their support of this in 1988 and still recognise and supporr it. Most of the world recognises and supports it. The Arab world recognised it at the March 2002 Beirut summit, when they offered Israel full normalisation within the region if it would withdraw to its 1967 borders. So I would be happy to stand on an MPACuk platform and say I too recognise and support it. Apart from the Iranian President, whose comments have been universaly condemned, the main people who do not support Israel's right to live and security within its 1967 borders are the Israeli govenment, backed by the silence of the Israeli Jewish public and the Jewish Diaspora, who have tacitly supported the destruction of the two state solution by the buiding of settlements and the wall. If Israel supported its own right to live in freedom and security within its 1967 borders it would withdraw to them - which it shows no sign of doing.
Re Bernard's comment "Why should Israel be the only state where the international (UN) borders are recognised at the moment only " what about the Republic of Cyprus? There is a UN plan to create a united, binational Cyprus, which would work much better than a divided Cyprus, but this plan doesn't mean that the present borders of the Republic of Cyprus are not recognised. Putting forward a one state solution as a greatly preferable (and probably now the only feasible) solution to the conflict does not preclude recognising Israel within the 1967 borders (even if, as I've said, Israel itself does not recognise this).
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 16, 2005 at 07:45:19 PM
What a pity you now think my father's approach to the Talmud was too "universalised" and "spiritual" and you yourself prefer to adopt a tribal, ritualistic and nationalistic interpretation of the Talmud, Judaism and Israel. Strange that you don't see that you are agreeing with anti-Semites such as Israel Shamir, who argue that Judaism is tribal and non-spiritual, in contrast to the universalism and spiritual qualities of Christianity. I am pleased that you recognise that my father saw the Talmud and Judaism as universal and spiritual and I am proud and flattered that you say that you are not in the least surprised that I am my father's daughter.
Deborah Fink posted on December 16, 2005 at 09:01:54 PM
I was pleased to see that the JC published my letter (well, a third of it) re. the cancellation of this debate. As they only published the first paragraph, I thought I would post the rest of it here.
' I was appalled that the University of Westminster gave into pressure to cancel the booking for a meeting to discuss Alan Hart's book 'Zionism is the real enemy of the Jews' (JC, Dec. 9th). Surely universities are the last place where censorship should be imposed and free speech suppressed?
Given that Zionism is a political ideology and not a religion or race, I fail to see what the cancellation has to do with the university's policies on 'religious belief and tolerance'. The university itself is showing an intolerance by cancelling the meeting. Zionism has been discussed by Jews since its birth so I do not see why now should be any different. Once again, the UJS, by pressurising the university, is asserting its pro Zionist agenda and not acknowledging the full spectrum of opinion and beliefs that exist among Jews.
I have written to the University but so far, not received a response.'
On the matter of this week's letters page, I am wondering why Linda Grant and Norman Geras, rather than writing about the cancellation of the debate, used this space to criticise and undermine JfJfP? As I explained before, the statement lists our aims, but not how we should or should not achieve them. I have never known JfJfP to indulge in any activity which goes beyond the statement and fail to see how it could be driven by activists with a 'narrower ideological agenda' than the statement when its activists have different agendas! The statement to me, includes different agendas, and does not merely represent activists who have identical, broad agendas.
Grant's and Geras' lack of tolerance towards those with different agendas to their own seems to suggest that THEY have a narrow ideological agenda and are merely upset that some members of JfJfP sometimes do/say things with which they do not approve. Perhaps some of us are not happy with the things that they say/do, or don't do, but we don't blackmail and leave JfJfP over it ,and then go and announce it in the JC!
Linda Grant posted on December 17, 2005 at 10:54:11 AM
I think that JfJfP could be the leading organisation in the UK which opens the eyes of the Jewish community here to the ugly reality of the occupation. I believe it could could play a formidable role in shattering the coy illusions about the current state of the country. I KNOW, because of the talks I have done to WIZO groups about the book about my mother, that behind closed doors they are prepared to speak out. One woman, at a meeting in Liverpool, shouted, 'Sharon is sending Jewish boys to become child murderers.'
If you want to build an organisation that goes far beyond the 1000 signatures that it presently holds, you don't send a representative to stand on a platform at what has been billed as a 'debate' about Zionism, to talk of how the evil Zionists colluded with Nazi Germany, without even mentioning what the principles and aims of JfJfP are, and who its members are.
Now I know it seems to be a mistake that he was billed as representing JfJfP, and of course I don't know what he said, because I only have a report of what he said, and he has not as yet provided his own account. But the point is this:
what kind of organisation do you want JfJfP to be?
I think it could perform two powerful roles:
one would be to become an affiliate of the PSC, an activist-based organisation which would seek to build a joint movement, Jewish and Palestinian, which would form the basis of a what would be needed to actually create a one-state solution. It would seek to support the Israeli far-left, people like Ilan Pappe, and build up those movements from abroad.If I actually saw that anyone was serious about building the basis for a one-state solution instead of talking about it as a fair accompli whose conclusions can only be benign, I might be a bit more sympathetic to it.
or it could work within the Jewish community to build a wide diaspora movement opposing the occupation, penetrating the JSS and even the Board of Deputies with a view to changing their positions. A campus based Jewish movement opposed to the occupation would be fantastic. Organisations like WIZO already know the social damage inside the country because they are funding its rape crisis and battered women's shelters. Imagine if they put their weight behind Machsom Watch, and publicised at their meetings its activities.
Those to me at the choices, and as far as I can make out, JfJfP wants to use the tactics of the first to carry out the aims of the second. Which is a hiding to nothing.
Linda Grant posted on December 17, 2005 at 11:17:04 AM
'the main people who do not support Israel's right to live and security within its 1967 borders are the Israeli govenment, backed by the silence of the Israeli Jewish public and the Jewish Diaspora, who have tacitly supported the destruction of the two state solution by the buiding of settlements and the wall. If Israel supported its own right to live in freedom and security within its 1967 borders it would withdraw to them - which it shows no sign of doing.'
It has begin the withdrawal. The point surely is to support those forces within Israeli society which will propel the withdrawal back to the Green Line, instead of indulging in defeatism.
posted on December 17, 2005 at 06:43:25 PM
It was not just Stephen Marks that was billed as coming from JfJfP on the flyers etc, but when Deborah Maccoby got up to raise a point/ask a question at this meeting she gave her name said her organisation was Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
Whilst it was made clear at the meeting that Stephen Marks was speaking in a personal capacity as Linda Grant and Professor Geras said in their letter to the JC the damage was already done.
Deborah Maccoby however did not however state that she was speaking in a personal capacity.
If JfJfP was purely campaigning on the statement that it asked people to sign, I am sure it could get many more people to sign up. However what concerns me is that are all signatories aware of what some people are doing and saying in the name of the organisation? In my opinion if they knew then many more people would follow the line taken by Professor Geras and Linda Grant. The letter to the JC (that seems to cause Vivien Lichtenstein some concern) may just make some more people aware of it.
Deborah Fink posted on December 17, 2005 at 07:45:59 PM
Linda, you are going back on yourself.
You write, 'Now I know it seems a mistake that he [ Stephen Marks] was billed as representing JfJfP...', yet you knew that when you wrote to the JC, and said so in your letter. So what IS your point and what WAS your point when you wrote to the JC?
If you were not happy with what JfJfP was doing, why didn't you come to meetings and make suggestions? And why did you not offer to co-ordinate/participate in our 'Working in the Jewish Community' group? We can't all do everything.
Whatever organisation I'd like JfJfP to be, is not the point, though I will say one thing: we cannot be all things to all people, we cannot do everything and we cannot expect things to go how we would like all the time as there are other people to consider. Now that your are not a signatory, why should you be so concerned? You can always join Peace Now.
cormac posted on December 17, 2005 at 10:52:41 PM
Well, Miss Maccoby, the point I was trying to make, was that devoting too much effort to deconstructing Christian origins, displays rather more insecurity about one's Jewish.
Talmudic Judaism is not Christianity, nor is there a need for a Christianizing apology for it, which, I suggested, was the logical implication of much of your father's work. Indeed, what primarilly distinguishes it, in my view, is its ethnic character, its 'peopleness'.
Tbe comparison I made, was between the compilation of the Talmud as the repository of the nation in exile, and the consolidation of Palestinian Arab national identity in exile.
I think that is a not unsophisticated, indeed potentially fruitful comparison between traditional Jewish and Palestinian Arab Islamic and Christian narrative and identity.
Which comparison I think essential for any dialogue between Jewish nationalist, Zionist, and Palestinian Arab nationalist positions.
Yet too unsophisticated for you, it appears.
Nevertheless, that is an uncontraversial view, from a rabbinic point of view. The idea, for instance, that Jews do not comprise a nation, rather national citizens of the Jewish faith of whatever state they reside in, dates only from the French revolution, and obviously, historically, only pertains to a small part of the world, where most Israeli Jews originated.
Which fact, I think, is crucial to understanding the birth of modern political Zionism, and should have been made by any speaker permitted to put the pro-Zionist counter motion.
I would have been happy to. Perhaps you would have been unable to.
So, I am now in the league of Israel Shamir, am I?
I have, apparently, gone from being a 'right-wing Zionist thug', to an out and out antisemite.
Oh dear, Miss Maccoby: can you really do no better than that?
Linda Grant posted on December 18, 2005 at 09:14:18 AM
you are misreading the construction of the sentence, Now, does not mean this moment in time, but rather , 'Now we all my disgaree that' or 'now and then.'
cormac posted on December 18, 2005 at 12:05:15 PM
Further, Miss Maccoby, how, exactly, is Judaism without ritual, and, to that extent, 'ritualistic', Judaism?
cormac posted on December 18, 2005 at 12:28:52 PM
I must confess, I am a little surprised that not one person so far has addressed what was the main thesis of Alan Hart's book, and, in fact, what was intended to be the principle thrust of MPACUK's 'debate'.
Hart's USP is that the 'gentiles' make a 'covenant' with the Jews of the Diaspora that, in return for non-support of Israel, non- or anti-Zionism, they swear never to execute another Holocaust.
This is what has led such as Clare Short to heap praise upon it.
The implication of 'Zionism: the real enemy of the Jews', is that, unless Jews stop supporting Israel, being Zionist, or pro-Zionist, another Holocaust is precisely what they can expect.
In fact, for all those decrying my question at the debate, I think my 'If you cannot pursuade the dwindling Diaspora to cease supporting Israel, what, exactly, are you going to do about it?', was the one that was most pertinent.
The 'Great Debate' was, in fact, little more than a de facto, not-so-veiled threat against the majority of Jews who do, in fact, support Israel.
Which, of course, is precisely why it was banned by Westminster University.
posted on December 18, 2005 at 05:08:05 PM
"If JfJfP was purely campaigning on the statement that it asked people to sign, I am sure it could get many more people to sign up. However what concerns me is that are all signatories aware of what some people are doing and saying in the name of the organisation? In my opinion if they knew then many more people would follow the line taken by Professor Geras and Linda Grant. The letter to the JC (that seems to cause Vivien Lichtenstein some concern) may just make some more people aware of it."
JfJfP has a weekly (approx) mailout to all signatories by email (unless they request otherwise) and snail mail (by request) which includes all activities, monthly meeting minutes*, notices of events (not only JfJfP's), articles and appeals; the website
is extensive; and on some issues we have consulted all signatories. *including reports from working groups and statements to which JfJfP has added its name.
JfJfP makes every effort to keep its signatories informed.
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 18, 2005 at 05:15:58 PM
Brief replies to various questions:
Mikey: You have forgotten that I was asking a question. My question was simply: is it too late for two states? Does that question do any damage at all to JfJfP? I didn't say I was asking that question in the name of the whole of JfJfP; I just identified myself as a member of that organisation. And I cannot see what is wrong with asking that question, whatever organisation I belonged to.
Linda: I think you already know that I do not agree that Sharon has begun the withdrawal. Yes, he has withdrawn from Gaza, but surely it is obvious that this was a tactical move to strengthen his hold on the West Bank and to keep Jerusalem the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people. Why else is he massively expanding the settlements around Jerusalem and hastening to finish the Wall?
Cormac: I am actually not sure what you are saying here (copied below). Could you explain it a bit more? Why is the idea since the French Revolution that the Jews do not comprise a nation crucial to understanding the birth of modern political Zionism?
From my own understanding, the rise of nationalism since the French Revolution led to the concept of homogenous nation-states for one people only - 19th century nationalism which eventually became fascism - and to an increase in anti-semitism, since the Jews were not seen as belonging to these nations - French, German etc. So in response, they decided to be a nation-state themselves, which was the origin of political Zionism. It was a reaction to nationalism and anti-semitism, creating its own nationalism (which had little to do with the original religious idea of a Jewish people). But I don't think you mean this.
best wishes to all,
"Nevertheless, that is an uncontraversial view, from a rabbinic point of view. The idea, for instance, that Jews do not comprise a nation, rather national citizens of the Jewish faith of whatever state they reside in, dates only from the French revolution, and obviously, historically, only pertains to a small part of the world, where most Israeli Jews originated.
Which fact, I think, is crucial to understanding the birth of modern political Zionism, and should have been made by any speaker permitted to put the pro-Zionist counter motion.
I would have been happy to. Perhaps you would have been unable to."
posted on December 18, 2005 at 05:24:41 PM
Have just noticed this further question from Cormac:
Further, Miss Maccoby, how, exactly, is Judaism without ritual, and, to that extent, 'ritualistic', Judaism?
I don't mean Judaism without any ritual at all, I mean a Judaism in which ritual is paramount, more important than its universalistic moral principles. I would advise you to read the Prophets, such as Isaiah and Micah, for a more comprehensive denunciation of ritualistic and tribal Judaism.
cormac posted on December 18, 2005 at 11:49:14 PM
The Jews have been regarded, and regarded themselves as a nation, for most of Jewish history.
Which explains, at least partly, why the relatively recent, originally French notion, that they are fellow national citizens of the Jewish faith of whatever state they reside in, was largely, before the period of Israel, confined to North Western Europe.
The Orthodox, east and west, were among the greatest resisters to Emancipation.
Even in the USSR, where the Jewish nationalist Bund’s claim to Jewish national autonomy was refused, and rewarded by the Bund’s dissolution, the identity paper of every Jewish citizen read ‘Natsionalnost: Evreiski’: Nationality: Jewish.
Socialism and Zionism were both active and aggressive Jewish responses to modernity, and the modern Jewish situation, with which Orthodoxy, with its traditional acquiescence in suffering, was ill equipt to address.
Socialism, in the form of the Bund, failed, as Marks should have mentioned, not through its own fault, necessarily, but because it faced conditions more averse than it anticipated.
The emancipation of the proletariat did not remove antisemitism: it merely transmuted it, into ‘antiZionism’.
Which is why Zionism is the last modern Jewish ideology standing.
Your distinction between the ‘religious’ and the ‘national’ is, of course, a modern one, which would have been quite alien to a 19th century traditional Eastern Orthodox Jew. And the Zionist, by no means incorrectly, foresaw that it be a distinction alien to most gentiles where, in fact, in turned out, most Israeli Jews were to originate, including in the Arab Islamic world.
The matrix of modern political Zionism was not France, or Germany, but fiercely anti-Semitic, then ‘anti-Zionist’, eastern Europe, pre- and post- Soviet, where, at the time, most Jews lived.
Your account of the birth and evolution of modern political Zionism is crass, to put it mildly.
Then, why would I have expected better?
It originated, firstly, among Jews of traditional upbringing, in a world were Jews had always been a distinct people, or ‘nation’, and had always been so regarded.
It is true that in the late 19th century, many frustrated ‘Russian’ Jewish assimilationists turned Zionist. But, like the Bund, their daily experience, among their fellows, in their language, synagogues and institutions told them that they were a nation.
And Russian cultural Orthodox or Polish Roman Catholic, again, pre- and post- Soviet, did not tire of impressing them with the fact either.
But these identities, experienced and perceived, did not originate in the 19th century.
If you think that, then your understanding of Jewish history is superficial, to put it generously.
And I doubt your father would agree with it, either. I suspect he is rather more sophisticated than that.
cormac posted on December 19, 2005 at 12:37:52 AM
the evolution of the traditional Orthodox passive hope and prayer for the miraculous restoration of the exiles of Israel to The Land into the active decision to Return is also the evolution of traditional Jewish acquiescence in suffering into a modern active Jewish response to it.
Jews, and their attitudes, have evolved to adapt to a changing situation.
That is why active Zionism has evolved from a minority to a majority position within Orthodoxy, as elsewhere.
But, then, most movements begin as minority movements.
Orthodox passivity could cope, just, with pre-modern antisemitism. It failed with racial, genocidal antisemitism.
As did Jewish national socialism in the form of the Bund.
You speak as though 'nationalisms' were born as though independent of any pre-existing national groups or entities!
And if Zionism is 'European' in origin, so, by the same criteria is modern Palestinian Arab Christian and Islamic nationalism -only more so.
You are really going to have to develop a more systematic account than that, if you expect anyone to take you seriously.
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 19, 2005 at 08:47:56 PM
"Your distinction between the ‘religious’ and the ‘national’ is, of course, a modern one, which would have been quite alien to a 19th century traditional Eastern Orthodox Jew."
If you go back and look at what I actually wrote, you will see that I was making this precise point: that political Zionism as it derived from Herzl - the mainstream form of Zionism - was a secular nationalistic movement divorced from religion, based on 19th century nationalism (which one one legacy of the French Revolution; the other contrary legacy was, as you say, the liberal idea of equal citizenship). My point was that this had little to do with the Jewish religious idea of peoplehood, which is virtually unique - an inseparable mixture of a religious community and a nation (the Muslim umma is quite close but not the same). Indeed, this was why so many religious Jews were against Herzl. Even the Russian Hoveve Zion were mostly against Herzl. Binationalist Zionists like Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, among others, kept pointing this out to political state Zionists, who wanted to create an ethnic, homogenous Jewish nation-state on the European and East European model. I agree with you that the Jews are a people in the religious sense, which is actually precisely why I felt a sense of responsibility for you and the need to apologise on your behalf, as my Jewish Brother.
Inna posted on December 21, 2005 at 01:59:37 AM
Deborah writes "I agree with you that the Jews are a people in the religious sense..."
Jews are a people full stop. Furthermore, I, as a Jew, do not need anyone to define for me why or how I am a Jew--and that goes for a fellow Jew such as yourself.
(To other Forum participants: I apologize on Deborah's behalf for attempting to label me as she assures me that I have personal responsibility for her behavior.)
observer posted on December 21, 2005 at 07:31:41 AM
"I agree with you that the Jews are a people in the religious sense, which is actually precisely why I felt a sense of responsibility for you and the need to apologise on your behalf, as my Jewish Brother."
But your "religious sense" didn't kick in when you noticed that a "debate" where Jews were to be discussed by like likes of Alan Hart, was being held on a Friday night? Did you ask the organisers why it was being held on a Friday night?
Linda Grant posted on December 21, 2005 at 08:57:13 AM
The problem of what a Jew is preys on the mind of intellectuals, who are anxious about definitions and categories. Pinning down a Jew presents serious difficulties, and the attempts by various thinkers to do so have in themselves posed serious problems for Jews.
Nonetheless, the vast array of life manages to go on, without, say a cat, being aware that it has been placed in the genus feline (if that's what it is, knowing nothing m myself of Zoology.) So the Jews have decided over the course of the millennia that we know what we are and will behave in accordance with that whatever-it-is.
Not that this will stop the babble of debate on the subject. But just to place down a few markers:
Jews are not a race. It is possible to convert to the category of Jewishness from any race.
Jews may or may not be followers of the religion, Judaism.
Jews could be said to be a paradox, an anomaly, a teaser sent by God to drive intellectuals mad. But for most part, as Inna says, Jews manage to rub along without caring a whit what others define them as, unless forces from outside set those definitions in a manner that will lead to trouble.
cormac posted on December 21, 2005 at 09:14:59 AM
Dear Miss Maccoby,
in that case, may I also apologise and forgive on your behalf?
Despite your alleging my being in the category of 'right wing Zionist thug' and Israel Shamir, you de facto endorsed the central thesis of Alan Hart's book, namely that, in return for Disaspora Jews' ceasing to support Israel, 'gentiles' make a 'covenant' not to perpetrate another Holocaust against them
i.e. a not so veiled, de facto threat -which is why I asked what Hart intended to do if he failed to persuade a dwindling Diaspora.
May I also employ the same rhetorical device you used earlier upon me?
It is a shame that you cannot see that you performed the exact role at the MPACUK 'debate' analogous to that of Jewish converts to Christianity at the medieval 'debates' about which your father has written so extensively.
They too thought that theirs was the True, Spiritual, Universal, non-Ritualistic fulfillment of Judaism.
Then, of course, they had to convert to Christian anti-Judaism.
Now, of course, it is necessary to convert to post- (or is it Neo-?) Christian, or Islamic anti-Zionism.
And both, of course, assumed and assume that the proper state of the Jews was national dispossession or dissolution for their sins.
posted on December 21, 2005 at 12:03:04 PM
Zionism is simply the belief that Jews should have a homeland. That is all. Alan Hart creates a false definition of Zionism to attack, because it is easier than understanding the real thing.
He may be right that most Jews, both thoughtful and not thoughtful were not Zionist before the Holocaust, but the Holocaust was the ultimate proof that assimilation did not end prejudice and that Jews needed a state.
Paul posted on December 21, 2005 at 12:17:43 PM
Linda, you get closest to the truth when you say that "Pinning down a Jew presents serious difficulties" (I guess you mean "pinning down the definition of 'Jew'", as the difficulty of pinning down an actual Jew would depend on his or her size and strength. It's probably easier to pin down Natalie Portman than Harvey Weinstein).
But then you contradict yourself by categorically stating that "Jews are not a race". By your own reckoning, such categorical delineations are unlikely to be correct. The correct version of what you are trying to say is this: "Jews are, among other things, a race. HOWEVER, not ALL Jews are Jews by race (and those that are not are, obviously, Jews by virtue of something else, such as religious conversion). On the other hand, some Jews are Jews ONLY by virtue of being part of that race". In other words, Jews are a race... and a religion, and a tradition, and a culture, and a nation, etc.
Think about it this way: would you say that "Judaism is not a religion"?
If you question whether Jews are a race, consider this: if you can prove that your maternal lineage is Jewish purely by descent, then you can marry under the auspices of United Synagogue in the UK and get a ketubah without the slightest religious or even traditional knowledge or practice, much less belief. In that case you can come from a long line of pork-eating, Sabbath-breaking atheists; it matters not a whit. On the other hand, if you cannot prove any such lineage but want an orthodox Jewish marriage with a recognised orthodox ketubah, you'll have to go through a very demanding conversion process and become a Jew in the religious sense. (There are plenty of Jews, secular and religious, who call this racism, and I see their point although I do not join them in saying that.)
I would also submit that while it is, of course, up to Jews to define themselves, not just anyone can say "I'm a Jew" and have it be true. There must be some broadly accepted reason for that claim, such as, indeed, either descent or religious conversion. Imagine a guy who one day decides to just start saying "I'm a Jew"; you ask him why he's having a ham-and-cheese sandwich and he says "Oh, but I'm totally atheist, I don't actually practice Judaism or anything like that, in fact I know nothing about it"; you ask him if he has any Jewish parents or ancestors and he says "Oh no, none at all"; you ask him what he has to do with Jews or Judaism or Jewishness and he says "Oh, nothing, I've just decided to call myself a Jew". Is this guy a Jew? Not in my opinion.
What this all adds up to is this true statement: to be Jewish can be a racial categorisation or it can be a religious categorisation or it can be both.
Now of course, there is a problem with the use of the word "race" and "racial". Let's say that you are a Jew by descent, as described above, but that's because a set of grandparents or great-grandparents converted to Judaism; you yourself are a totally assimilated, atheistic type. In fact, you are not only not religiously Jewish; you are also not racially Jewish, either. (But you may still be Jewish, and have perfectly valid grounds to claim that you are, as opposed to the chap I imagine above.) But notice that religion and "race" (descent) are still the only two factors at play here.
There is of course yet another problem with the use of the word "race", and that is the negativity associated with the word because of the phenomenon of racism, from everyday racism to the extreme of the Holocaust. Less tainted is "ethnicity" or "ethnic group", although that isn't precisely correct. Most strictly correct would be "gene pool", but that sets off lots of alarm bells in peoples' heads, too, for the same reasons as "race" does. All that notwithstanding, it just doesn't do to deny biological facts, as I've already said elsewhere on this site. Is there such a thing as physically "looking Jewish"? Of course there is. Not all Jews look Jewish, but, by a significant margin, a much higher proportion of Jews look Jewish than the proportion of Gentiles who look Jewish. And that's down to genes. In other words, race.
So after all this "babble", what's my point? It's that I agree that pinning down a definition of "Jewish" is so difficult as to be in practice impossible. But you cannot categorically exclude race from the equation. You might want to, and you might see some nice advantages in doing so, but it's just not true. Again, as I've said or implied elsewhere, the way to fight racism isn't by denying the existence of racial identity. That would not only be a bald denial of objective fact, but it would be taking away from many people something that is very important to them.
posted on December 21, 2005 at 12:26:16 PM
"We support the right of Israelis to live in freedom and security within Israel’s 1967 borders."
I personally support the idea of a settlement based on the 1967 borders, although I think that modifications are needed for Israel's security. It can be replaced with other land that is now a part of Israel.
You also seem to be implying that attacks on Jews living outside the 1967 borders are acceptable. I do not. I think that you need to make it clear that attacks on settlers is not an acceptable way to solve this problem.
Linda Grant posted on December 21, 2005 at 03:56:29 PM
Paul, I'm reminded of that character in The Big Lebowski played by John Goodman who keeps saying he can't go bowling on Saturday because he's shomer shabbos, and Jeff Bridges, about three quarters of the way through the films says, but you're not Jewish.
Paul posted on December 21, 2005 at 05:10:01 PM
Linda, thank you for reminding me of John Goodman in The Big Lebowski, I'm now going to be laughing for the rest of the day, just remembering that! What a side-splitting performance!
Dov posted on December 21, 2005 at 06:27:44 PM
The original posting deals with the question of antisemitism, and mutates into a debate on the definition of "a Jew"!!!! Am I the only one to see the bitter irony of such a development?
Can we stop this nonsense right now!
Inna posted on December 22, 2005 at 06:08:25 AM
Dov writes "Can we stop this nonsense right now!"
Since I started this nonsense, I apologize. It is indeed ridiculous for a discussion on anti-semitism to morph into the thing that anti-semites (in my limited experience) love to discuss to death. (And their discussions generally conclude with 'there are no Jews')
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 22, 2005 at 08:30:08 PM
On the subject of Friday night, I was actually meaning to ask Cormac what, as such an advocate of ritual, he was doing there on Friday evening? Sadia told Mark Elf and me that she wished there had been more Jews present and she even wished there had been a lot more Zionists present, so there could have been a real debate. We pointed out to her that Friday evening was not a good time to hold a meeting if she wanted many Jews to come to it, and it is typical of the complete ignorance MPACuk has about Jews that she obviously didn't know about the reason for this...which is why we need to engage with these people, to educate them about us. They want to find out about Jews and have a debate and dialogue with us.
I actually agree with Linda that Jewish peoplehood is something unique and indefinable. But surely this was why it was such a tragic mistake to force it into the mould of 19th century nationalism and the ethnic nation state. As Tony Judt has pointed out, Israel is an anachronism, out of date even in 1948.
Cormac has presented a complete travesty of Alan Hart's book. I have started reading it and hope to finish it over the Christmas break (I hope I can say that word without Cormac thinking I have converted). I suggest to Cormac that he does the same and does not try to sum up a book he has not read. When we have both read it perhaps we can have an intelligent discussion about it.
posted on December 23, 2005 at 10:25:38 AM
"On the subject of Friday night, I was actually meaning to ask Cormac what, as such an advocate of ritual, he was doing there on Friday evening?"
Cormac mentioned at the meeting that he was a regular Jewish Jew who was a Zionist. He never said at any stage that he was a religious Jew. That question might be fair to ask of him if he said he was, but he didn't.
You also comment about the "complete ignorance MPACuk has about Jews". If they are as ignorant as you say about Jews that they do not even know that Friday night is the Sabath, do you not think it is odd that they comment so much about Zionism. It seems logical to me that anyone who was competent to discuss Zionism would know certain basic facts.
Are you inclined to believe that the pictures put up on then web site of MPACuk of "Zionists" depicted as baboons or like devils with pictures taken from Neo Nazi web sites are "mistakes" as mentioned by Bhukari or are you willing to accept that there is quite a bit of evidence pointing to anti-Semitism within that organisation?
cormac posted on December 23, 2005 at 10:20:15 PM
Dear Miss Maccoby:
'travesty', eh? Not given to hyperbole, are you?
I suggest, in fact, I did actually make an attempt, before the 'debate' to discover what the central thesis of Hart's work was.
Below is what I found, in his own words. Perhaps, Miss Maccoby, you can tell me how my summary, that the 'gentiles' make a 'covenant' with the Jews of the Diaspora, not to perpetrate another Holocaust against them, in return for their turning anti-Zionist, and my characterising that as a not so veiled, de facto threat, constitutes a 'travesty'?
I do not think it a 'travesty'. And since, if Diaspora rates continue to fall, Israel will be where most Jews live, mid 21st century, I think even such a threat is becoming increasingly redundant.
Which is why I tried to make the point at the 'debate'.
Word Power Books Edinburgh Scotland UK
cormac posted on December 24, 2005 at 03:01:19 PM
Dear miss Maccoby:
the other point I tried to raise in the 'debate' was his existential travesty of Jewish history and historical attachment to The Land.
This he summarizes as the 'seventy years' rule of David and Solomon, (which wording, incidentally, is drawn straight from the original P.L.O. Covenant) as though nothing else followed. He even seems to think the Talmud was compiled following the dissolution of state of the 'ancient Hebrews' .
He appears to have no idea of the traditional rabbinic definition, never mind Christian or Islamic, including Palestinian Arab, that the Jews are a nation dispossessed and in exile.
'spiritual', schmiritual: Kethovot 111a is not talking spiritually with 'lo yaalu bechoma'.
Nor are adurations on the nations 'spiritual' ones.
In short, the man, to be generous, is phenomenally ignorant . Which, I suggest, to pronounce forth so portentously, if not threateningly, he has no right to be.
observer posted on December 27, 2005 at 12:10:34 PM
"It seems logical to me that anyone who was competent to discuss Zionism would know certain basic facts."
Indeed, it seems particularly odd that the same people who champion a book entitled "Zionism: The real enemy of the Jews" can at the same time be so completely ignorant about Jews.
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 30, 2005 at 09:31:41 PM
Thank you for posting this piece by Alan Hart. Here (copied below) is the relevant bit about his central thesis. The central thesis, you will note, is all in the first paragraph. He then says "I also say" and then talks about his idea of a deal between Jews and Gentiles, whereby Jews will give up support for political Zionism in exchange for the end of Gentile anti-semitism. So this deal is NOT the central thesis. And in fact I know it isn't because I have just finished reading all 560 pages of Volume 1 of his book (vol 2 has not yet been published) and this idea has not yet been mentioned in all the 560 pages. I gather it only appears in the last chapter of Volume 2.
In any case, your presentation of it is a travesty, because Hart is not threatening Jews with anti-semitism if they don't give up Zionism. He is saying that the harm done by political Zionism is inevitably going to cause a rise in anti-semitism, because atrocities committed in the name of the Jews will inevitably, though of course unjustifiably, spill over on to the Jews of the world. He asks why Jews continue to support Israel despite the crimes it is committing and the rise in anti-semitism it is fomenting, and says this is because of the Jewish fear of a second Holocaust and thus the need for Israel as a refuge. If Diaspora Jews can be reassured by Gentiles, he is saying, that anti-semitism has come to an end, then they can give up the need for Israel as a refuge and speak out against the crimes committed in their name and get Israel to change and thus avert nuclear catastrophe.
I recommend that you read the whole book.
best wishes for the coming year,
"The underlying thesis of the book is that because of the settlement facts American support for Zionism right or wrong has allowed to be created on the ground, in defiance of UN resolutions and international law, it's now too late for any U.S. administration to call and hold nuclear-armed Israel to account; and that only the Jews of the diaspora have the influence to do it - cause Israel to change its ways and make peace on terms which almost all Palestinians and Arabs everywhere can accept. But…
I also say that it's unreasonable and unrealistic to expect the Jews of the diaspora to play their necessary part in bringing Israel to heel and averting a Clash of Civilisations (Judeo-Christian v Islamic), unless and until they receive the maximum possible in the way of reassurance about their security in the lands of the mainly Gentile world of which they are citizens. "
Linda Grant posted on December 30, 2005 at 10:22:18 PM
Let me get this straight - there is going to be some world body of Gentiles who will come to what will have to be a unanimous agreement that now and until the end of time, as long as Jews give up Zionism, under no circumstances will they ever be persecuted again. And under whose aegis is this fabulous promise to be made and how is it to be policed and by whom? How exactly do you control the thoughts and deeds of the entire population of the earth bar 13 million?
Do you have any idea how absolutely pathetically barking mad this sounds and how foolish it makes you seem that you can spout this nonsense?
Deborah, you seem to me to live in a fantasy world, one where Palestinians have no weapons, despite what must surely be the evidence of your own eyes, and crackpot books with knit-your-own solutions to the racism and regional wars are taken serriously.
posted on December 31, 2005 at 03:07:49 PM
I haven't yet read the last chapter of Volume two, which is not yet published, so I am waiting to read it to get the full explanation of what Alan Hart means. I was just pointing out what a travesty of this view Cormac has been putting forward, since it is clear that Cormac's interpretation is not at all what Hart is saying. And I also wanted to make it clear that this idea of a "deal" between Diaspora Jews and Gentiles is not the theme of the book but just an idea - maybe fanciful, but I will have to read the whole chapter before judging this - which is put forward at the end. Evidently it will need to be read in context.
best wishes for the new year,
Deborah Maccoby posted on December 31, 2005 at 03:19:04 PM
I also wanted to comment on your other posting: Hart was saying that there was a united and independent Jewish kingdom - the kingdom of David and Solomon - for only 70 years. Surely this is true; after Solomon, the kingdom split into two, so it was no longer united; and even after the return from Babylon, when there was one people again, they were under the rule of various empires - apart from a short-lived period of independence under the Maccabees. So Hart is really not wrong about this. Also the Babylonian Talmud was written in Babylon, as actually was much of the Bible. It should also be pointed out that from very early times there was a large Jewish Diaspora; in the time of Jesus half the Jewish people were living outside their holy land.
I should also stress that Hart makes a clear distinction between spiritual Zionism, which recognises the Jewish attachment to their spiritual homeland, and political Zionism, which demanded an ethnic nation state on the lines of 19th century nationalism.
posted on January 01, 2005 at 08:48:03 AM
Zionism is a form of nationalism. However I think this is one of the central thesis of the Engage team. If you accept that every nation in the world has a right to a state apart from the Jews, then it leads to double standards.
I believe the Palestinian people should have a state. I also belive the Jewish people should have a state. Deborah, I do not see you arguing against nationalism per se. If you wanted to argue for some utopian world with no nations then your arguments against Zionism could be seen within that context. However this is not what you are arguing.
If you believe in the right of self determination then why do you accept it for the Palestinians and not for the Jews?
posted on January 01, 2005 at 08:56:07 AM
as you were at the talk can you also comment on the comments made by Alan Hart as to the lack of reiews of his book. He stated that he believed the reason why his book had not been reviewed was that the media did not want to upset their corporate sponsors who provide the advertising that make money for the media companies.
The implication of that comment is that the corporate sponsors are all "Zionists" and that these "Zionists" would use their power to withdraw advertising from the media if his book was reviewed.
Do you not believe that his statements in relation to this matter were to say the least - erroneous???
posted on January 02, 2006 at 01:28:05 PM
Re your comments on Zionism being Jewish nationalism, oddly enough this is precisely how Alan Hart defines political Zionism: Jewish nationalism. So Alan Hart and Engage are in perfect agreement on at least this definition. I am not sure how you would define the word "nationalism" but I immediately think of George Orwell's famous distinction between patriotism and nationalism. In fact, I have looked it up and here it is (it was written in 1945):
"By 'patriotism' I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life which one believes to be the best in the world, but does not want to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality." Interestingly, Orwell lists Zionism as an example of nationalism: "Nationalism, in the extended sense in which I am using the word,includes such movements and tendencies as Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, Anti-Semitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism." He goes on to say: "It does not necessarily mean loyalty to a country, still less one's own country, and it is not even strictly necessary that the units in which it deals should actually exist. To name a few obvious examples, Jewry, Islam, Christendom, the Proletariat and the White Race are all of them objects of passionate nationalistic feeling; but their existence can be seriously questioned, and there is no definition of any one of them that would be universlly accepted." All of which is worth thinking about, however much you disagree with it.
In his book Hart argues that Zionism was not a typical national liberation movement fighting against British imperialism, despite its efforts to portray itself in that light - because it was a movement from outside which was actually linked to British imperialism and had many imperialistic and colonial attitudes. Also before the Holocaust only a minority of Jews actually supported Zionism. He argues that Zionism has always been an instrument of imperial powers and this has made it act in a way contrary to the moral and universalistic ideals of Judaism and thus contrary to the true needs of the Jewish people.
Of course one can argue that Israel has become the focus of Jewish national identity - and indeed Hart himself recognises that Israel is a fact and a reality which can't just be wished away - but in view of the complete failure and defeat of Zionism which we are witnessing now, it surely needs to be reassessed by the Jewish people.
Deborah Maccoby posted on January 02, 2006 at 04:12:17 PM
Re your second point re corporate funding: I can't help thinking that this is not exactly what Alan Hart said at the meeting, so I have written to him to ask him to clarify what he actually said. In any case, it may be true that there are a few corporate sponsors who are rich Zionist Jews, or even non-Jewish supporters of Zionism and who are exercising pressure in this way (just as a small group of rich Zionist Jews provide campaign funding for American politicians, as he also points out in his book) I don't think it would be anti-semitic to say this if he did say this; it is not as though he is attacking "the Jews" en masse as Jews.
observer posted on January 02, 2006 at 07:02:03 PM
"in view of the complete failure and defeat of Zionism which we are witnessing now, it surely needs to be reassessed by the Jewish people."
What complete failure and defeat?
Deborah Maccoby posted on January 04, 2006 at 08:06:55 PM
Well, it looks as though - barring a miracle - Sharon is going to be voted in as Prime Minister for the third time, even though it is clear he is going to implement a plan of ghettoisation and politicide against the Palestinians. Even if Peretz becomes Prime Minister, he doesn't seem to be planning to dismantle the Wall or the major settlement blocs around Jerusalem - which surely make a viable two state solution very unlikely. And if a viable Palestinain state is no longer possible, then a viable Jewish State is also no longer possible.
In any case, surely in a age where European states have moved beyond the ethnic nation state concept into a new concept of pluralistic, inclusive citizenship, the whole idea of a Jewish ethnic state belonging to a people the majority of whom don't live there needs to be rethought.
cormac posted on January 05, 2006 at 05:55:43 PM
Dear Miss Maccoby,
I apologize if my language was insufficiently precise to satisfy you. It is always easier to hone these things more finely when an opponent actually deigns to read and discuss what one writes.
I admit that Hart’s proposing a Convent is, rather, his concluding thesis, where he ‘ends up’. But even he writes that this his ultimate goal.
So, while it may not be physically central to his body of work, it is hardly peripheral to it, except in the trivial sense that it occurs in the physical periphery of his book (though hardly of his own review on Amazon.co.uk) –at the end!
Moreover Hart himself ‘nationalizes’ the Jews of the Diaspora by proposing a Covent between the Gentiles ( as an ethnic, not a religious Islamic or Christian group) and the Jews (by implication, also as an ethnic group) who are held responsible for the behaviour of their de facto Israeli Jewish fellow nationals.
Such a Covenant assumes a fellow national responsibility. I did not say Hart was overtly threatening to harm Jews: I said that he was threatening, however, more or less overtly, to Withdraw Protection, unless Jews pay the appropriate Jizya of becoming satisfactorily anti-Zionist.
Now, perhaps, my argument is rather more philosophical than i allowed: is the threat to Withdraw Protection all that different from the threat of the perpetrating of That From Which Jews must be Protected, should they fail to pay the appropriate Jizya?
I think that the ‘promise’ or ‘guarantee’ of Protection is always ambiguous or ambivalent.
How else could such a threat be made, after all, in a state such as the UK, without risk of prosecution?
Especially since, at the meeting of, largely Anglo-Asian Muslims, the only specific group he singled out as expressing a rise in anti-Semitism, were Muslims themselves.
In other words, he was addressing his proposal of Protection-for-Jizya to the very group whence That From Which Jews Must Be Protected, in his view, must surely (else why the urgency of Protection?) arise.
Moreover, Miss Maccoby, I do not think it a travesty to say that his seeking to Protect Jews from ‘Holocaust II’, in return for anti-Zionist Jizya, is in fact, intended to intimidate Jews into paying the latter, out of fear of the latter.
Hart, an advocate of Palestinians (which, incidentally, I do think inherently a crime) and the P.L.O., for some time now, is, I think, quite capable of making the soft voiced, politically correctly couched threats of his biographical subject, Yassir Arafat. That was, after all, what the P.L.O. Charter’s calling of the dismantling of the Zionist Entity was. His adopting the language and thesis of the original P.L.O. Charter suggests that to me no less strongly.
Of course, I do not dispute the historicity of the United Kingdom of 70 years or so.
What I dispute, as, I believe, would your father, is that it constitutes, in any way, an adequate address of Jewish history and attachment to The Land. There are over 1000 years of it ensuing.
Of course the Tanaach was redacted in exile: it was the experience of exile, the crisis of the fear of assimilation, and the loss of identity that prompted the consolidation, and ritualization of Jewishness.
A similar process to that which Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians are currently undergoing.
The process was repeated from 70 and 135 onwards.
Yes, there was a Diaspora: first Babylon, then Alexandria, whither Ptolemy originally deported 10s of 1000s of Jews.
The Land could not support so many Jews, so many migrated, to Asia Minor, to Greece, Rome etc.
Half? Some would say at least 2/3 of all the Jews in all the world lived outside The Land at the turn of the Common Era. Some say there were as many as 8 000 000 Jews in the world at the time (Michael Grant, for instance).
But all Jews were regarded by Classical authors as, in some sense, an ethnos, or natio, –as they did themselves.
They certainly did not qualify for citizenship, except occasionally, for citizenship as did ethnic Greeks.
Not only did they pay the annual half shekel, after the Jews of Judaea and Galilee revolted, those of Alexandria, and elsewhere joined them, experiencing, in some places, the utter destruction of their communities.
Clearly you find it no less acceptable for Pakistani or Asian Muslims to feel no less strongly about Palestinian Arab Muslims (as does Hart), nor you deny them the right to express it, though The Land has never figured as significantly for Muslims or Islam, as it has for Jews or Judaism.
After loss of Temple, and a large portion of The Land, the loss of the Patriarchy etc Jews not only faced the ‘de-Zionization’ of pagan Rome, but experienced a new set of imperial Christian restrictions, leading to further erosion of the Jewish presence in The Land, and hardship within the Diaspora.
Further, if anything, Christian Rome, regarded Jews as even more of a national group than did pagan: in their narrative, as in the rabbis’, the Jews as a whole were a dispossessed and humiliated people, specifically as a punishment for their rejection of Jesus and the prophets.
Which view, of course, was to be also imbibed by Islam, should you ever care to read Surat Al Isra’a, in the Quran.
Moreover, loss of temple and state led to the Judaizing, or Hebraizing of Diaspora Jewry, leading to a further cultural homogenaizing, as the rabbis intended, lest the people be lost among the nations.
Do you de.Palestinize Edward W. Said for having written in the US? Then why do you deJudahize the rabbis for having redacted a good portion of their thoroughly Palestinian material in Babylon -the Talmud’s being the largest redaction of authentically indigenous Palestinian material until modern times?
But The Land has always been central to rabbinic tradition: there no return elsewhere. Moreoever, what Hart singularly fails to address is his own position as a gentile, cultural, if rather ignorant Christian, speaking on behalf of Palestinian Arab Christians and Muslims.
For most European, Asian, North African and Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians have believed, for most of Christian and Islamic history, that, not only are the Jews a nation, they are a nation dispossessed of temple, city and land -ethnically cleansed, in modern parlance- by Rome, the original western European empire, by g-d, as a punishment for their sins.
It is hypocrisy for a white western European cultural, if rather ignorant Christian journalist, like Hart, to castigate Jews, Zionist or otherwise, for believing, and acting upon what most Palestinian Arab Christians and Muslims have believed for most of Christian and Islamic history.
If the Jews were not a nation, 2000 years ago, their experience in Christendom and Islam made them one. From 8 000 000 to 1 800 000, on the eve of the Holocaust, in 2000 years, does not suggest great natural increase, let alone conversion. Most Jews, quite simply, ceased to be Jews. For the rest, through intermarriage and rabbinic, Talmudic Judaization, the narrative of those directly dispossessed and exiled became the narrative of all.
Which is why, on Tish b’Av, all Jews most mourn Destruction and Exile as they themselves were actually present –as must do all Palestinian Arab (and, increasingly, other) Muslims and Christians on An Nakba day, today.
As to a riposte that Arab Muslims have not regarded Jews as a nation.
The almost universal response of Arab Muslims and Christians to the Zionist Jewish enterprise, was to treat non- or anti-Zionist Arab Jews as de facto fellow nationals and nationalists, Zionists, with their Palestinian or Israeli Jewish brethren.
Their response was not to treat their non- or anti-Zionist Arab Jewish ‘brethren’ as de facto fellow Arabs.
Which is why, as I tried to say, to Hart and Company, most Arab Jews and their descendants comprised most Israeli Jews by 1984.
Moreover, as I said, Hart himself ‘nationalizes’ the Jews of the Diaspora by proposing a Covent between the Gentiles ( as an ethnic, not a religious Islamic or Christian group) and the Jews (by implication, also as an ethnic group) who are held responsible for the behaviour of their de facto Israeli Jewish fellow nationals.
What is ‘spiritual Zionism”? That Jews may return to The Land, believe in the restoration of Israel to The Land of Israel, as long as it is non-corporeal?
What is such a ridiculous notion to us? Does this too, for you, constitute an adequate address of Jewish attachment to The Land?
Moreover, your harping on the alleged illegitimacy of ‘’19th century, ethnic state’ is equally ridiculous.
Zionism neither is nor was monolithic: but its principle goal was always that as many Jews should reside in The Land as possible.
That they should organize themselves was an obvious necessity. Nor was there any other possibility, since most Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, and their representatives, did not want the Jews in The Land in any large numbers whatsoever. Perhaps a more spreadout, homogenous population might have resulted from Jews’ being permitted to settle in Trans-Jordan. But that hope was scotched in 1922, making some kind of partition, one part’s being inevitably of a greater Jewish character, a state, de facto or otherwise.
The ‘ethnic’ character, 19th century or otherwise, of the Jewish state of Israel arises from the pre-existing ethnicity of Jews, whether self-perceived, or perceived by others, including, nay especially, in this case, Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians.
Even the Bund, which Stephen Marks tried to utilize in an anti-Jewish nationalist capacity, were self-declared Jewish nationalists, who requested a Jewish national, territorial autonomy within a federal, Socialist Russian state. Even the Soviets, who rewarded the Bund’s request with ultimate dissolution, marked the papers of every Soviet Jewish citizen with ‘Nationality: Jewish’.
As to your distinction between ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’.
Most, if not all modern national movements began as defensive, or liberating movements.
Indeed, the one most affecting of West European Zionists, my dear, was not French, but the Italian Risorgimento.
This was rooted in Niccholo Macchiaveli’s exhortation to throw off the chains of Papal, Vatican rule, that the states of Italy by reunited in a secular state, evocative of ancient Rome.
Patriotism, my dear, only arises with the liberation of the Patria, the (feminine) Fatherland.
Moreover, the Bund were Jewish nationalists.
In the case of Zionist Jews, as with Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, the first principle of liberation is the restoration, or repossession of as many of the people to The Land as possible.
If you have lost your land, your Patria, how else can liberation take place?
Hart is an idiot: by empires (or hagoyim, 'the nations', 'the gentiles', as the rabbis often write in the Talmud) had Jews been dispossessed (and the province or Syria Palaestina been created), first Babylonian, then Roman.
By empire they had been, and could again be, restored, first Persian, then British.
Were it not for the modern European imperial powers’ inducing the collapse of the Ottoman empire, no modern Arab national states exist, including, incidentally, the possibility of Palestinian one.
If a Palestinian Arab Islamic and Christian state comes into existence soon, as I believe it will, it will owe the fact in no small part to the current de facto imperial power, the United States.
Hart is not only trying to propose a pseudo-Talmudic covenant (based on Ketovot 111a), couched in pseudo-rabbinic language, but also applying to it half-baked arbitrarily imposed Marxist criteria!
Are we supposed to take this, or you, seriously?
I have no intention of contributing to the Alan Hart welfare fund by purchasing his book. I think there is quite enough material of his online to discuss, should you deign to do so.
In any case, I have many books to read, of greater worth: I am currently reading Moshe Gil’s A History of Palestine, 634-1099.
I recommend you read it too.
cormac posted on January 05, 2006 at 07:19:50 PM
Major typos above.
Moreover, Miss Maccoby, I do not think it a travesty to say that his seeking to Protect Jews from ‘Holocaust II’, in return for anti-Zionist Jizya, is in fact, intended to intimidate Jews into paying the latter, out of fear of the FORMER.
Hart, an advocate of Palestinians (which, incidentally, I do NOT think inherently a crime)
cormac posted on January 05, 2006 at 07:42:48 PM
Dear Miss Maccoby:
so, Hart's Call to Covenant i.e. for the Jews to turn anti-Zionist in Zionist in return for Gentile Protection, is not central, is it?
The end of his amazon.co.uk review which you did not quote:
'Stripped down to its fundamental essence, my book is a call for the Jews to become the light unto nations...to the best interests of Jews everywhere'
i.e. Jews had better turn anti-Zionist -if they know what's good for them!
Moreover what does this mean?
'To tell the truth necessary for real understanding, informed and honest debate and peacemaking, I’ve had to re-write Judeo-Christian history, DE-ZIONISE it'
What 'Judeo-Christian history'. which, clearly, is too 'Zionist' to escape 'DE-ZIONIZATION', is this!?
I think Hart is balmy.
posted on January 12, 2006 at 08:16:06 PM
I've been meaning for some time to reply to your very long last posting. Here are a few brief comments:
Re one of your very last comments: Hart says the fundamental essence of his book is the call for the Jews to become the light unto nations - ie it is NOT his idea of a Covenant between Jews and Gentiles. That idea is an after-thought, intended to solve the problem of how to overcome the fear which prevents Jews speaking out against Israel's politicide of the Palestinians.
If the Jews were indeed to become "the light unto nations", surely this would be real Zionism - the creation of the true Zionism of a real Holy Land, not a Holy Land full of injustice and a Zionism which means Jewish aggressive, expansionist nationalism - ie wanting to take over the whole land for the Jews - which would have to happen if what you say is the real goal of Zionism is to take place - ie the emigration of most of the Jews in the world to the Jewish State.
If you were to read Hart's book you would find that he is actually supportive of the idea of an Israel confined to the pre- 1967 borders and says that if Israel had taken the numerous opportunities it has been given since its birth to achieve peace and acceptance by the Arab world within those borders (as some Israeli leaders, such as Sharett and Eshkol actually wanted) it would have been a truly Jewish State. There has been a lot of discussion on one Engage item recently about the meaning of a Jewish State - does it mean a religious state or an ethnic - but Hart defines it as a state acting according to the moral principles of Judaism - a definition few other people have made, and which I think is very important. He says it is not a Jewish State but a Zionist state, because it does not act with any moral principle at all. (Hart now thinks it is too late for two states, but he would support a genuine two state solution if it were possible, but he believes Israel itself has made it no longer possible.)
Lastly, I would like to take up this comment you have made:
"Of course the Tanaach was redacted in exile: it was the experience of exile, the crisis of the fear of assimilation, and the loss of identity that prompted the consolidation, and ritualization of Jewishness."
Surely it also prompted the development of the universalism of Judaism. The loss of the Temple and the land helped to create the Prophetic protest against nationalism and ritualism. Again, if you won't read Hart's book, at least read Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Micah.
cormac posted on January 16, 2006 at 11:17:03 AM
Dear miss Maccoby:
The passages in Isaiah which speak of Israel or The Suffering Servant as a Light to the Nations explicitly state that it is a covenantal context:
"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles
And, of course, in the context of the return of Israel to the land: it would be nice if Hart asked Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians to recognise justice for Jews as much for themselves:
he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
Moreover, the language is heightened (obviously) biblical and intended, like Hart’s explicitly covenantal language drawn from Ketuvot 111a, to draw the discourse beyond customarily political or even moral.
In what way does Hart’s calling Diaspora Jews to be a Light unto the Nations/Gentiles not coincide with his calling that Jews deport themselves in a suitably anti-Zionist fashion towards those same Gentiles?
In what was does his saying that this will work ‘to the good of Jews everywhere’ not coincide with his saying Jews’ anti-Zionism will both pre-empt anti-Semitism and pay for Gentile Protection against it.
I am afraid I think your ‘argument’, ‘Jews to become the light unto nations - ie it is NOT his idea of a Covenant between Jews and Gentiles’ non-axiomatic, to put it kindly: it is manifestly obvious that the two proposals and discourses are strongly related.
Moreover, I think both Hart and you fail to address why Diaspora Jews are at least as concerned for Israel: because any Holocaust they fear is at least as strongly for Israel. Diaspora Jews are not responsible for Israel, but that does not mean that they are obliged to compel Israel to take measures in a situation only she can assess from the view of her own survival. By holding the Diaspora responsible for Israel (with at least the implied threat of withdrawal or absence of Protection), Hart, like many Muslims in the Arab world, is de facto nationalizing the Jews in the very way he (says he) considers illegitimate. Further, Hart proposed his scheme for Protection to the very group he says shows a rise in anti-Semitism –western Muslims, in this case, those affiliated to MPACUK.
Hart is arbitrarily defining Jewish morals and values to suit both himself and his pro-Palestinian Arab Islamic and Christian agenda: had Jews, Zionist or otherwise, followed them, no large scale Jewish presence in The Land, never mind a state, would have occurred. Hart is effectively calling for Jews to have placed the good of Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians when the latter, manifestly, did no such thing for Jews –even denying them a refuge from genocide, even in the lands of exile, at the hour of their greatest need.
Hart is entitled, I suppose, to insist that Jews out Christian Christianity, or out Islamic Islam, but he should be at least as zealous in demanding that Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians do the same given that, for all his and your deconstruction of Jewish history with a view to deconstructing the Jewish state of Israel, the latter have not only regarded the Jews as a nation for most of Christian and Islamic history, but also a nation dispossessed of temple, city and land –in modern parlance, ‘ethnically cleansed’-by g-d, through Rome, the original western European colonial empire, as a punishment for their sins, specifically the rejection of Jesus and the prophets.
As you also ought to know, had you paid attention to your father.
Zionism is thus perfectly in accord with traditional Palestinian Arab and other Christian and Islamic morality, which is really the only standard Christian Hart, and his friend, Muslim Arafat, are entitled to judge it by. Moreover, to recap: by empire had Jews been once restored. By empire were they restored again: such a view is perfectly in accord with traditional rabbinic morality.
You are also conflating ‘Zionism’ with ‘aggressive, expansionist Zionism’, just as, no doubt, you would conflate ‘Greater’ with ‘Lesser Israel’. Avi Shlaim (whose thesis of good Shertok v bad Ben Gurion I see you also assert –it was you who first recommended your father read The Iron Wall, was it not?) played the same rhetorical trick at the Intelligence Squared debate, to the applause of the audience: with regard to Jews, there are sometimes those who prefer to put the worst possible interpretation on whatever they can. Perhaps that partly arises from the necessity of distinguishing good from bad nationalism, without actually having to acknowledge that you managed to condemn both together in your earlier post.
The ultimate moral values Hart seeks from Israel is her intellectual, if not her political or physical suicide –yet.
Yes, Israel in Babylon had to reconcile her values and divinity with the world without. To survive as exiles, yet maintain a distinct ethnic and religious identity, Jews had to ‘compromise’: that is the point Edward W. Said makes in Out of Place.
But does Said sacrifice his national identity, or ask other refugees to do so? Certainly Ghada Karmi does not, in In Search of Fatima. Nor, conspicuously, does Hart demand it of them either.The future of post-Babylonian Jewry and Judaism lay with those who effected a return, since it was only they and their desire to continue and, no less importantly, write the Story of Israel for posterity, Jewish and, also, ultimately, Christian and Islamic.
It is true the Liberal Jewish movement from the 18th century on, tried to erase Israel and The Land from liturgy and identity in western Europe. But it was always opposed in this by Orthodoxy. I have a great deal of respect for David Goldberg, and believe he seeks the best for his congregation and Anglo-Jewry, but I think he is out of tune with certain realities with regard to the development of Jewish history, East and West.
I have read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Micah: where, say, they criticise aspects of temple cult, where do they call for its abolition (and where do I call for its restoration –though such as Yehuda Ha Levy did?). Where they warn of Israel’s dispossession for sin, where do they not also prophesy her restoration when forgiven?
And when are you going to suggest to Christian Hart, or Muslim Sadia, that, if Palestinian Arab Christianity and Islam have traditionally held the former, that, logically, at least, is implied, theoretically, the possibility of the latter?
Deborah Maccoby posted on January 23, 2006 at 08:19:58 PM
Sorry not to have replied earlier - I have been very busy (actually reading vol two of Hart's book; he sent me an advance copy) and also I disagree so much with your long posting that it is difficult to know where to start...surely the idea of the covenant is moral; I can't see any point in it otherwise. You claim I condemn all nationalism, but I have actually pointed out the difference between patriotism (which could be called good national feeling) and nationalism, which is aggressive and expansionist. (Similarly I am not against ritualin Judaism, only against ritualism, ie the predominance of ritual so that ritual becomes more important than morality). Hart's attitude towards Israel in its 67 borders is interesting and complex. He thinks the creation of Israel was illegitimate; it was created as a result of a rigged UN partition vote, followed by ethnic cleansing; but it became a fact and a reality and therefore could have been non-nationalistic (and therefore non-Zionist) if it had limited itself to the '67 borders and tried to see integration and acceptance in the Arab world on that basis (with a morally acceptable solution to the refugee problem it had created). But because of the aggressive nationalism, the Zionism inbuilt into it, Israel could not limit itself to the 67 borders, even though there were various Israeli leaders - Sharett, Eshkol, Rabin - who did seek to limit Israel's ambitions -so it was never inevitable that Zionism would take over Israel.
I didn't recommend The Iron Wall to my father - the Evening Standard sent it to him for review, and he reviewed it very favourably.
That's all for now!
cormac posted on January 25, 2006 at 02:43:25 PM
Dear miss Maccoby,
I disagreed with much of what you wrote, but that did not stop me writing to tell you what and why.
I do not believe I said whether the idea of a convenant was
'moral' or not (another one of your straw men, I fear): merely that it was existentially the idea of a covenant which was Hart's concluding and, therefore, by no means peripheral thesis -with which issue you took issue.
I see you are not pursuing that line of argument quite so strongly.
But the nature of this covenant is Protection for suitably anti-Zionist deportment, as though Diaspora Jews were de facto fellow nationally responsible for the actions of Israeli Jews.
I wrote that
a) the assumes that Jews are some kind of national group (for all Hart's, or your, protestation otherwise),
b) threatens, implicitly, at least, the Withdrawl of Protection should anti-Zionist Jizya fail to be paid and that
c) the guarantee of Protection is usually, if not always an ambiguous, ambivalent affair, especially since it was suggested to Anglo-Asian Muslims -the very group Hart singled out as showing the greatest rise in antisemitism (if you recall his dispute with Yusuf Ali/Inigo Jo).
Miss Maccoby, you distinguished in your 'Orwell' post, not between good or bad nationalism, but between good patriotism and bad nationalism.
I never asserted ritual above all else, let alone 'ritualism': you implicitly accused me of being 'ritualistic' when I compared the ritualizing of Jewish identity during the crisis of identity following the first and second exiles, contained within the redaction of Tanaach and Talmuds respectively, and that of Palestinian Arab Muslims' and Christians' identity in their exile-diaspora communities.
You seem to have taken that as an expression of 'ritualism', in a bad sense, as though it were at the expense of higher morality.
I agree Hart thinks the Jewish state of Israel fundamentally illegitimate, and he is entitled to his opinion. We are equally entitled to ignore it.
We are equally entitled to ignore his demand that we conform doctrinally to the position for which he will extend to us Protection: the Confession that in nowise is Zionism, Jewish nationalism or Israel Jewish, and that we commit a kind of intellectual suicide on behalf of them all, lest he or his friends commit murder for us.
Zionist Jews did/have done bad things, as such as Benny Morris has meticulously documented.
a) they were done in the context of a war in which the Arab League promised the extermination of the Yishuv and
b) Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians have been perfectly happy to regard the Jews as a nation ethnically cleansed of old as a punishment for their sins, for most of Christian and Islamic history, while feeling perfectly entitled to deny Jews even a refuge from genocide (if not for that very reason).
White western European cultural, if rather ignorant Christian Hart is insisting that Jews both ought, and ought to have behaved better than Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians.
That, my dear, is sheer hypocrisy.
You are arbitrarily defining both 'nationalist' and 'Zionist' to suit yourself, as though the Jewish state of Israel before 1967 was non-nationalist or non-Zionist (just as Shlaim did at the Intelligence Squared debate).
Hart plays that game because what he seeks, above all, I think, is a Jewish Confession that Israel and the movement that created it is both fundamentally wrong, if not 'non-Jewish' i.e. a kind of intellectual suicide, if not a political or national one.
The prevailing opinion among Israeli and other Jews is that the capture of East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza were defensive and legitimate: Jordan banned Jews from Har habayit, the holiest Jewish site in the world, and the Arab League, both before and after Israel's offer of return, refused to recognise and threatened Israel most militantly.
Both you and Hart would hold Israel guilty of all you can, yet forgive Araby everything.
In the Christian Hart, that is especial hypocrisy.
Prevailing Israeli and other Jewish opinion, whether you like or not, is that only Land for Peace was could or can deliver any kind of secure treaties or peace with the Jewish state's neighbours.
I see you slipped in Rabin's name, as though he thought that the 1967 war was a mistake: what evidence have you that he did? Surely his philosophy was also Land for Peace?
I beg your pardon for my supposing whence your father derived Shlaim: I merely included it to show a) I knew whence is your thesis -good-Shertok v. bad Ben Gurion and that b) your father had read it and, as you say, favourably reviewed it.
Perhaps Israel could have conducted her self in a better way towards the Arabs; perhaps the Arabs could have conducted themselves in a better fashion towards Israel.
That is the thrust of Morris' critique of Shlaim: that almost all his material is Hebrew-Israeli and none- Arabic Arab. Morris, quite rightly, calls The Iron Wall an excellent history of Israeli diplomacy. It fails, as a balanced history, for exactly the same reason.
Hart is not entitled to judge Jews by a higher standard than their enemies, especially when he is setting himself up as an advocate for those same enemies.
It is for that reason that I still maintain that Hart's thesis is not primarilly intended to persuade Jews, as to threaten them.
cormac posted on January 25, 2006 at 03:50:46 PM
Dear miss Maccoby:
I agree patriotism could be construed as good nationalism. You, or Orwell, however, quite explicitly contrasted it with nationalism per se.
But what happens when one, like Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, or Jews, has lost the Patria? Then your patriotism or nationalism will concentrate primarily on getting it back.
Miss Maccoby, you implicitly accused me of being ‘ritualistic’, as I recall, when I compared the ritualising of Jewish identity in the crisis of the first and second exile, with that of Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians in theirs.
Apparently, my so doing, was exalting ‘ritual’ over ‘morality’ (as though neither can be the same), though exactly how, you never made clear.
Hart is entitled to think the Israel is fundamentally illegitimate. We are entitled to disagree. He is not entitled to compel us to agree with him, by coercion, offers of Protections, threats of its Withdrawal or anything else. If that is the Confession Hart seeks, he is not interested in genuine dialogue, merely imposing his view, or will on Jews regardless.
You fallaciously imply that Israel before 1967 was non-nationalist or non-Zionist: it was only by being both that it came into and maintained its existence in the first place.
The Arab League refused to recognise Israel within the pre-’67 borders before and afterwards: Hart is judging Israel by higher moral standards than her enemies which, since he is the professed advocate of her enemies, he is hardly entitled to do.
Perhaps Israel could have conducted itself more morally, or wisely towards the Arabs; perhaps the Arabs could have conducted themselves more morally or wisely towards Israel.
Once again, Hart is judging Israel by higher moral standards than her enemies which, since he is the professed advocate of her enemies, he is hardly entitled to do.
Once again, you are conflating automatically Zionism, Jewish nationalism with the aggressive variety, just as Shlaim did.
Most Israelis, most Jews regard Israel’s actions in 1967 as both legitimate and defensive: the Old City and Har ha Bayit were cut off by Jordan, the Arab League, and the leading individuals within it conducted themselves both rhetorically and militarily in ways that most of the world regarded as blatantly aggressive.
Moreover, most Israelis and Jews, including Yitzkhak Rabin, regarded the trading of Land for Peace as the only sure way to secure permanent borders and treaties with the neighbours of the Jewish state.
Morris’ principle critique of Shlaim’s work is that it relies almost solely on Israeli-Hebrew sources (it is, he wrote, the best Israeli ‘diplomatic history’) while almost entirely ignoring, as do both you and Hart, the Arabic discourse of the contemporary Arab world.
Hart arbitrarily selects moral criteria which penalizes Israel to the advantage of her enemies. Or as it is known elsewhere, Extracting one’s Neighbour’s Mote while conspicuously Ignoring one’s Own Plank. That is not fair, that is not just. Moreover, in a white, western European cultural, if rather ignorant Christian like Hart, it is rank hypocrisy.
If it was not inevitable that Israel conquered the Old City, West Bank and Gaza, nor was it inevitable that the Arabs consistently refused to recognise Jewish claims, both before and after 1947, nor the State that expressed them.
But they still constituted existential facts of history.
I am sorry for speculating whence you father acquired The Iron Wall –he wrote that those close to him had recommended it to him. I merely intended to convey that I knew whence was your thesis good-Shertok v. bad Ben Gurion, and that your father had read it, and, as you say, approved it.
Deborah Maccoby posted on January 27, 2006 at 08:52:27 PM
Once again, it's hard to know where to start....let's begin with this:
"You are arbitrarily defining both 'nationalist' and 'Zionist' to suit yourself, as though the Jewish state of Israel before 1967 was non-nationalist or non-Zionist (just as Shlaim did at the Intelligence Squared debate)."
The word "Zionism" tends to be defined in many different ways, leading to confusion and people talking at crosspurposes, so it is very helpful that Alan Hart makes it clear at the beginning of his book what he means by the term. He means the historically mainstream form of political Zionism, which is inherently aggressive and expansionist, since it wants all the Jews in the world to emigrate to the Jewish State and demands the whole land in order to provide enough room for them. He differentiates this from the spiritual Zionism of Ahad Ha'am or Judah Magnes, which only sought a cultural and spiritual centre which would be limited in numbers and did not have to involve a Jewish majority. But, he argues, despite the illegitimacy of Israel's founding, it became an established fact and so had to be accepted as legitimate within its '67 borders. Though of course other people could still define the wish for a Jewish State within the '67 borders as Zionist, according to the definition he is using it is not Zionist, since it involves a compromise and is no longer aggresive and expansionist and hence nationalistic, in the meaning of nationalism as aggressive and expansionist. Unfortunately the kind of Zionism which demands the whole land has now taken over - and this is the kind of Zionism you support, since you have said you think all the Jews in the world should go to Israel.
Re the Covenant, Hart is arguing that Diaspora Jews who recognise the disastrous, destructive and self-destructive direction in which Israel is moving, because of Zionism in the sense in which he uses the word (a disastrous direction whcih could lead to a nuclear holocaust and also to a major upsurge of anti-Semitism) should join together with non-Jews and work together with them, and also with the sane elements of Israeli society, and this will involve a kind of new Covenant, a reciprocal alliance by which Gentiles repudiate anti-Semitism and fight against it wherever it raises its ugly head, while Jews oppose Zionism, in the sense in which he uses the term. I don't see that this is a threat or an offer of protection. He is not asking Jews to stop supporting Israel, only to stop supporting Zionism, in the sense he means - indeed to stop supporting Zionism is to support Israel. He sees the Jewish mission to the world as providing "a light to the Gentiles", but surely this is how Jews have traditionally seen their own mission to the world. So how can we object when Gentiles like Hart, who have been brought up on the Bible, which is our greatest contribution to civilisation, take us seriously?
cormac posted on January 30, 2006 at 11:26:36 AM
Dear miss Maccoby,
why not start as did I: at the beginning?
Well, if Hart does define 'Zionism' so, he is doing the same as you: defining it to suit his agenda/polemic.
'Political' Zionism simply means the desire to establish some kind of Jewish Polis, or State in The Land.
I challenge you to produce a single Zionist author from the 19th and early 20th centuries, the formative years, surely, of the modern Zionist movement, who advocated 'all' the Jews of the world migrating to Palestine.
The assertion that this was, therefore, 'expansionist' and 'aggressive', is highly problematical: one suspects that the latent 'expansion' and 'aggression' that you say was inherent in it, was simply that relatively large numbers of Jews should come to live in The Land.
Before 1948, very few Palestinian Arab Muslims or Christians were displaced, since most Jews settled in The Land perfectly peacefully, largely under the aegis of Britain, employing violence only in self-defense.
Certainly one finds in Zionist authors, periodically, the desire for all The Land, or, perhaps more accurately, the scope of all The Land to settle in. But a hope or aspiration is not the same as a political policy.
But such a notion was effectively scotched in 1922, when Transjordan was closed to Jewish settlement. Thereafter, the region were Jews could settle was greatly restricted, to such an extent that, in 1936, a partition, consisting in a tiny sliver of the northern coast could have been considered for a Jewish state.
But Ahad's and Magnes's notion were a non-starter for most Zionists and most of the Jews concerned: theirs certainly bore no relation to the need for a Jewish refuge which had become pressing by the 1930s.
If Hart thinks he can foist on the Jews a nationalist right restoration, return or existence that is non-corporeal, he, clearly, has no desire to enter into genuine dialgogue with most of the Jews concerned.
Hart, like you, is arbitrarilly defining Zionist, to mean Absolute or extreme Zionism.
That is a very low rhetorical trick, and betrays someone who again, as I said, is not interested in entering a genuine dialogue with most of the Jews concerned who, at least, should be allowed to define the criteria of Jewish nationalism for themselves.
Hart is a pro-Palestinian polemicist, who had close relations with Arafat, and whose discourse betrays strong influence by the latter's Palestinian Arab nationalism.
If you think that the majority of Israelis cling to the idea of a Greater Israel then, I think,
a) you are either out of touch with, not only mainstream Israeli, but also mainstream Jewish opinion (compromising the value of your contribution to any Israeli-Palestinian, Jewish-Muslim dialogue) or
b) are simply, for your own innate reasons, perversely ignoring it.
It suits extremists to define the opposing side in the most extreme terms possible, and it is the antithesis of peacemaking, rather, quite literally polemical i.e. warmongering.
You are perversely misreading Hart, again, for unfathomable reasons of your own.
Hart's Covenant is clearly Quid Quo Pro: in return for Diaspora Jews' turning suitably anti-Zionist, they will receive Protection.
Implied is its absense or withdrawl without it.
All Covenants are a form of Quid Pro Quo, else they are not a Covenant, nor can they be kept or broken: I wonder that you can think to lecture me on the matter when such a simple, fundamental notion seems to escape you.
Hart, clearly, is not interested in how the majority of Jews or Israelis define Zionism, else he would not arbitrarilly define it to suit his polemic -with or without your help.
If he were genuinely interested in a dialogue with Jews or Israelis, he would have made some effort to find out from those who, after all, are the only ones who can define Jewish nationalism i.e. Jews.
It would have been better to host a (real, this time) Debate on What is Zionism?
That suggests, rather, that he is primarilly interested, either in imposing his opinions, or doctrines, on them regardless, or grandstanding to an auidience, possibly primarilly Arab or Muslim, in whom such polemic is intended to rouse hostility or conducivity to the notion of Covenant i.e.Quid Pro Quo, Protection for anti-Zionism.
That he can do so to a Muslim audience that is highly familiar with the notion of Protection for Jews is most disturbing.
That one as foolish (Linda Grant's words, I recall) as you is happy to facilitate, is no more consoling.
According to his idea of Covenant or Quid Pro Quo, the primary way Hart sees that Jews may be a Light to the Gentiles, is by their turning suitably anti-Zionist, if not, ultimately, politically dissolving the Jewish state.
Such a position reminds of that of Christian evangelists, past and present, who preached that the True, Universal or Spiritual way for Jews to fulfil Judaism or The Law, was to substitute for it Jesus Christ, cease being practising Jews and to start being Christians.
Indeed, Hart is the exact analogue of that mediaeval Christian preacher, post- (or neo) Christian or Islamic 'anti-Zionism' 's being the new Confession, instead of Christian or Islamic anti-Judaism, and the entrance ticket of Jews to the New Accetability (as, once upon a time, conversion to Christianity or Islam was a Jew's ticket to wider social accetablity).
In this case, according to Hart's Covenantal thesis Acceptibility=Protection, Unacceptibility's being, implicitly, equal to non-Protection.
And, as I said, earlier, your position is analoguous to that of the mediaeval Jewish convert who cited all kinds of Biblical proofs of the 'Jewishness' of the Evangelical project. And somewhat ironic, given your father's work on the subject.
cormac posted on January 30, 2006 at 12:27:36 PM
As to your assertion that Hart takes the Bible seriously.
Hart does not take the Bible seriously.
For a start, he does not recognise that the Tanaach is not only the oldest indigenous Palestinian tradition that has survived, it is the only indigenous Palestinian tradition (with the exception of the Talmud) that has survived, whence are derived, 2nd or 3rd hand all subsequent Palestinian traditions, be they Palestinian Arab Christian or Islamic, from Jews or Christians.
That alone means something highly significant about the relation of Jews to Palestine.
But what is, exactly, Hart's relation with the Bible: is he a Jew?
No. But he is a cultural, if rather ignorant Christian. And, given that he is not a Jew, he is obliged to take his own Christian tradition, as well its reception of the Tanaach with in it, seriously, if he, as a non-Jewish cultural Christian sees fit to lecture us about our tradition.
What he must address, at least, is that Christian, and Islamic tradition have held the Jews to be a nation dispossessed, as a punishment for their sins, for most Christian and Islamic history -including, nay, especially, the Palestinian Arab variety.
If he seeks to extract the mote from our eye, he is at least obliged to draw out the plank from his own.
He cannot arbitrarilly mix and match ancient and modern standards of morality in such a way that is designed to make primarilly, if not only, Jews pay the price for them.
That you could seek to assist him in such an enterprise, given your father's background is, frankly, extraordinary.
But, perhaps, I was wrong: you are not so much your father's daughter, and having a scholar for a father is no guarantee of one's child's being one.
Hart is no Jew, he is a Christian: if he wishes to lecture us on Tanaach or Talmud, he must permit us to lecture him on New Testament, Patristics, Qur'an or Hadiths.
Especially when he seeks to lecture Jews on Jewish tradition with the goal of penalizing Jews and exalting Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians.
That, madam, does constitute hypocrisy, with which, I might add, you are fully complicit.
posted on January 31, 2006 at 08:00:43 PM
If I were to deal with all your points from the beginning I would have to write pages and pages....so let me just for now answer your challenge to cite just one Zionist author from the 19th and early 20th centuries who said all the Jews in the world should emigrate to the proposed Jewish State. Here is a passage from the Conclusion to Herzl's The Jewish State which shows that he saw the creation of the Jewish State as the end of the Diaspora:
"once fixed in their own land, it will no longer be possible for them to scatter all over the world. The diaspora cannot be reborn..." In fact the whole book assumes a majority of Jews in the world emigrating there.
But more to the point is to quote you yourself in your posting of January 5th at 5.55 pm:
"Zionism neither is nor was monolithic: but its principle goal was always that as many Jews should reside in The Land as possible" (by the way "principle" should be "principal").
By the way also, the idea of a spiritual centre did not mean something incorporeal, but a corporeal but relatively small settlement of Jews, with the majority of Jews in the world remaining in the Diaspora.
cormac posted on February 03, 2006 at 12:44:55 PM
Dear miss Maccoby,
I wrote pages to address your points: it is a shame you cannot extend to me the same courtesy.
Oh dear, miss Maccoby, the preceeding sentence of Herzl's that you accidentally omitted:
' As for those who remain behind, since prosperity enfeebles and causes them to diminish, they would soon disappear altogether. '
Your quotation does not show that Herzl envisaged all Jews' settling in The Land, merely that all who do so will no longer 'scatter throughout the world'.
That he may well mean that the Diaspora cease to constitute the majority of, nor continue to define Jews, even if it does ultimately disappear, does not mean that 'all' will migrate to The Land.
You are somewhat given to sweeping, non-axiomatic statements, miss Maccoby.
That is perfectly in accord with the Tanaachic and Talmudic view which places especial signficance on the presence of Israel in The Land.
While, until the Restoration, the Galut may characterise Israel, it is not her essence: it is a condition imposed on her, by g-d and the nations, which, it is to be prayed, will ultimately be rescinded.
It has always been those who valued The Land as the proper, restored seat of Israel who preserved or continued the story, or identity of Israel.
Nor does 'as many Jews as possible' axiomatically mean 'all': it merely means 'as many Jews as possible'.
I challenge you to adduce a Zionist author who did advocate the migration of 'all'.
Thank you for your spelling correction. I hope you equally appreciate my correction to your half-quotation.
As an addendum to it: the Diaspora is shrinking, relative to Israel, not because Jews are migrating to Israel, but through assimilation and intermarriage. If current trends continue, most Jews in the world could live in Israel mid-21st century, not because more Jews migrate there, but because Jews elsewhere are simply ceasing to be Jews.
If only a relatively small number of Jews were entitled to live corporeally in the land, it means that the right of the rest was, indeed, non-corporeal.
But that had little to do with the desire or needs of most of the corporeal Jews concerned. Both Hart and yourself are welcome to your notions, however.
But the Orthodox Jews have not prayed daily, for nigh on 2000 years for a spiritual restoration of a spiritual Israel to a spiritual Land.
And I doubt Hart's frankly amateurish attempts to rewrite Jewish (and Palestinian Arab Christian and Islamic) tradition to suit his pro-Palestinian Arab nationalist agenda will carry much weight will most Jews, with whom Hart, in any case, shows no sign of wishing to enter into a dialogue in the first place.
Even if he does have your help to do it.
Deborah Maccoby posted on February 05, 2006 at 04:16:37 PM
It may not mean "all" in the literal sense, but "as many Jews as possible" or Herzl's evident aim that the majority of Jews should go to the Jewish State creates a sense of open-endedness and leaves little room for acceptance of a limited space for these Jews to occupy. Hart's point is that political Zionism always included within itself the idea that all the Jews in the world might one day have to go to the Jewish State in case of a major turning-against the Jews - and this idea was of course reinforced by the Holocaust. Hart says this is why Israel can't limit itself to the 1967 borders.
I have to stop now but will write more later.
cormac posted on February 07, 2006 at 11:11:18 AM
I merely observed that I had never read a significant (if any) Zionist author from the 19th early 20th centuries who had advocated all Jews migrate to The Land.
For the record, the principle sources I have read, off the top or my head, are Hertzberg's Zionist reader, The Zionist Idea, Walter Laqueur's A History of Zionism and David Goldberg's To the Promised Land.
You claimed you had, which suggested to me that, had you read them, you had not paid especially close attention.
Neither 'As many Jews as possible', axiomatically, nor a even 'a majority of Jews' means 'all'.
In fact, as I used 'as many Jews as possible', the 'as possible' assumed the impossibility of 'all'.
I was merely remarking your imprecise use of language (even if it is impeccably spelt) and correlative of sweeping statements, putting the most extreme interpretation on those with whom you disagree as possible, a practise that resembles that of Hart.
A little like calling me 'right wing Zionist thug', or, effectively, 'Israel Shamir' or 'Melanie Phillips', or Zionism=aggressive Zionism, nationalism=bad nationalism.
I accept that Herzl would have wished to secure as much of The Land as possible; Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians wished to secure as much of The Land as possible.
In the end, the de facto presence of two national groups by 1947 led to the recommendation of Partition, which Jews accepted, Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians rejected.
Once again you are weaving word magic: what does 'political Zionism always included within itself the idea that all the Jews in the world might one day have to go to the Jewish State in case of a major turning-against the Jews' mean?
That, perhaps, all Jews might one day need a refuge?
And how, exactly, can that be a reproach against Zionism or Zionists?
It is a contigency plan, not a call for total emigration.
One thing is not another thing; all things are not the same.
This is precisely this kind of poor argument that your father dissects in the epistles of the apostle Paul.
Herzl did not predict the Holocaust: he thought Germany one of the safest places for German Jews in the world.
According to Hart (and, perhaps, you), unless Diaspora Jews conduct themselves in a suitably anti-Zionist fashion, they will have need of Israel as a refuge.
i.e. unless they become anti-Zionist, they will have to become de facto Zionist.
Hart is an idiot, as Linda Grant correctly observed.
In majority Israeli and Jewish opinion, it was precisely Israel's conquering the Territories that has allowed her to negotiate with her Arab neighbours.
Certainly none of Israel's neighbours were prepared to recognise her before it.
Hart is not interested in majority Israeli or Jewish opinion because he is primarilly a pro-Palestinian Arab nationalist polemicist of a not particularly sophisticated kind (to the extent of still practically quoting from the original P.L.O. Charter): he is, therefore, not really interested in a dialogue with fully half of the people partisan to the conflict.
That is why he, and, to that extent, you, will likely be permanently irrelevant to any kind of genuine discussion, negotiation or dialogue.
Hart is grandstanding to those on whose behalf he is professing to be advocate and, I think, indirectly, attempting to threaten or intimidate the rest, for the reasons I have said elsewhere and would be happy to restate.
cormac posted on February 07, 2006 at 03:55:00 PM
Dear Miss Maccoby:
I wonder why I should not have taken your 'all' in its literal sense. If you wish my taking anything you say metaphorically, would you kindly signal me so.
The idea of an ever expanding Jewish state is, palpably, nonsense. Israel has already withdrawn from Gaza and the Barrier implies that, shortly, Israelis will be behind its Israeli side.
Most Israelis and Jews have regarded Land for Peace as the only viable position from which Israel can negotiate her recognition with her neighbours.
That Hart (or you?) is not interested in engaging with majority Israeli or Jewish opinion hardly obliges them to enter into a very onsided, unequal dialogue with him.
I understand you are a production assistant with the BBC World Service's Arabic programming.
Are all you productions so even handed?
You seem to cite Zionists' allowing for the possibility that all Jews might need a refuge as a reproach.
That sounds a little strange from the mouth of someone defending Hart's position.
According to Hart, unless Diaspora Jews turn anti-Zionist, they will have need of a refuge.
i.e. unless they turn anti-Zionist, they will have to become de facto Zionist.
As Linda Grant more or less observed: Hart is an idiot.
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