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Comments about Johann Hari: The loathsome smearing of Israel's critics - Howard Jacobson :


Karl Pfeifer, Vienna posted on May 10, 2008 at 03:58:01 PM
When criticism is confounded with demonization

Let me give an example of this: Gudrun Harrer leading journalist of the liberal Vienna daily “Der Standard” has been invited to a conference of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung of the German Greens in Tel Aviv November 2002
Her lecture there about >legitimate criticism or antisemitism<  was resumed in English thus:

Gudrun >Harrer talks about her own experiences as a journalist writing in the context of the Middle East conflict. She mentions the harsh criticism directed against her, especially the charge of anti-Semitism.
Harrer points out that accusations against alleged biased depictions of the conflict often lack the appropriate context, and goes on to emphasise that any constructive criticism should always be made from an empathetic point of view and include a perspective for conflictsolution.<
http://www.boell.org.il/download_en/Brochure-Final.pdf

Now the "Central Committee of former Muslims in Germany" has decided to have a conference on “enlighten instead of veiling” / Critical Islam-conference 2008 /Islam as political challenge”. The title of the opening lecture by Ralph Giordano is “not the migration – the Islam is the problem”.  
Now when I was told, that the same Gudrun Harrer who repeatedly has argued, that not every criticism of Israel is antisemitism [I agree with this statement K.P.] has written an angry mail to the University of Köln, claiming that this conference which will take place End of May/Beginning of June 2008 has “only a smear campaign against Religion as content”.
This is extraordinary, because she is doing exactly that, of which she is accusing others. Before the conference, which is organised by some known German intellectuals, she knows already that it will be a “smear campaign against Religion” and she is already protesting instead of listening to the constructive criticism of former Muslims in Germany.
I have published an article (in German) on this subject matter on:
http://www.juedische.at/TCgi/_v2/TCgi.cgi?target=home&Param_Kat=33&Param_RB=45&Param_Red=9844

and on

http://www.adf-berlin.de/wbb2/thread.php?postid=30915



Chaim posted on May 10, 2008 at 04:17:07 PM
From Hari’s article:
‘The former editor of Israel's leading newspaper, Ha'aretz, David Landau, calls the behaviour of these [media monitoring] groups "nascent McCarthyism".’
David Landau is probably not the most objective judge of media monitors.  I mean: one needn’t be a nascent McCarthyist in order to object to formulations such as  ‘in general Israel wants to be raped’:
http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c41_a1531/News/Short_Takes.html

observer posted on May 10, 2008 at 05:01:07 PM
"Landau, often outspoken in his views, is a bit of an anomaly in Israeli society in that he is a native Brit editing Israel’s oldest newspaper and an observant Jew (and former yeshiva student) with decidedly left-wing views."  From Chaim's link above

Waht is it about British society that it produces so many people like Landau? I am thinking of Tony Judt and some others. Is there something in the water there?
j.d. posted on May 10, 2008 at 05:06:00 PM
Hari writes:

“In the US and Britain, there is a campaign to smear anybody who tries to describe the plight of the Palestinian people. It is an attempt to intimidate and silence – and to a large degree, it works. There is nobody these self-appointed spokesmen for Israel will not attack as anti-Jewish: liberal Jews, rabbis, even Holocaust survivors.”

As with most such comments there it is full of empty rhetoric. It also makes a false claim since the people who claim to be “silenced” are in possession of TV stations and own newspapers where they publish their vile attacks on the Jews living in Israel. The Independent is not exactly a minor newspaper.

In England most news organizations from the BBC to the Guardian are not pro Israel as he knows.

In a recent review article in New York Times books section Geoffrey Wheatcroft a well known antizionist made a similar complaint. He said that people who criticize Israel are denied access to the media.  This while writing a piece in the New York Times criticizing Israel.

These twisted claims are baroque.  They are meant to intimidate and to silence any criticism of their point of view.

Hence, they are demonstrably guilty of the very thing they complain about.

In terms of offering evidence of pro Zionists “vilifying Holocaust survivors” this what it says:
“These campus battles often succeed. Norman Finkelstein is a political scientist in the US whose parents were both Jewish survivors of the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi concentration camps.”
First Norman Finkelstein is not a survivor himself. Second the man has written attacking what he calls “the Holocaust industry; (the book is used by German Nazis to deny the Holocaust), third Finkelstein has called on Hezbollah to attack Israel,… I could go on, but why bother.

Here again the author of the article Johann Hari has it backward. It’s not pro Zionists who are attacking Holocaust survivors it’s the son of a survivor who has been attacking other Holocaust survivors.

Hari’s article is a pathetic attempt to exculpate himself from charges that his reporting from the West bank was at best shoddy and one sided if not outright propagandistic.  
As with most anti Israel writers Hari is motivated by some personal obsession than with a concern for the truth.  

One last note: the reference to McCarthyism in this context is also absurd. McCarthyism itself was a pretty mild form of censorship compared to the wholesale suppression of human rights not to mention the killing of millions of people in Communist countries in the same period.

Bill posted on May 10, 2008 at 08:57:51 PM
The irony is that Dershowitz makes a point to try to live the Thomas Friedman quote, "Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."  And Dersh has an antisemitism filter that's more generous than mine when it comes to those who gladly internalize their own politically correct bigotries.  But at the end of the day, you have to call a spade a shovel.

But that doesn't matter for Hari.  All that matters is that he gets his retaliation in first.

And the "argument" is pretty much a loser's red flag.  Its no different than the rest of the collection of getting in your second strike in first.  "McCarthyite!"  "Don't question my patriotism!"  "Don't you DARE call me a racist!"  "Who are YOU, a non specialist in the field of Gravity as a Social Construct, to question my competence?"  

Typically the people calling in their preemptive responses are simply transferring what they already know about their lame arguments and weak stances over to their would-be critics so that they can play the victim.  

Hari and the rest of the we're not antisemtic-but-we're-boycott-Jews-and-only-Jews crowd are no different(with people like Tom Hickey explicitly citing Jewish stereotypes about scholarship as a means to "guilt" their targets into doing their will -- which we are told not to call antisemitic).   They may not individually be into the old time tradition of jew hatin', but they have some 'splainin' to do.
Inna posted on May 10, 2008 at 09:29:53 PM
This is the e-mail I sent to Johann in response to that piece.  I did not try to get it published:

Johan (sic)—

Have you ever considered how under siege the Jewish community is?  Not perceives itself to be; is?  Perhaps when you can empathize with that, you will no longer receive any nasty e-mails because your criticism of Israel will be balanced by your knowledge that what you write will be used by (say) the BNP and others of their ilk (KKK, SWP, Respect, etc.)

Regards,

Inna

I phrased it that way because the biggest problem (IMO) with so much of what passes for Israeli criticism nowadays is a lack of empathy.  And this is curious indeed because this lack of empathy emanates from the Left and not the Right.  (I should say here that to me the biggest difference between the left and the Right is whether one is interested in the meta-cause or meta-explanation or whether one is interested in the individual and the effects the Big Things have on the "little people".)  It is for that reason (I suspect) that the Left, while rightly decrying the landslide election of mass murderer Narendra Modi said very little (again rightly) about the fact that much of Modi's politiking and fund-raising was done among the Indian community in the United States.  Why pick on a minority that finds it hard enough in so many ways?  And anyway, it is entirely possible that the American Indian community (like its Irish and Jewish counterparts) don't really know what is going on in India so it's a lot easier to push their (and our) buttons.  The Left, which places great emphasis on the individual, sees this clearly and so leaves the mistaken policies of the American Indian community alone.

But when it comes to the American or British Jews, this same empathy does not exist.  Instead what we find is that the Left and the Right both adopt a meta-analysis or explanation when it comes to "the Jews".  We are all alike and we ____ (fill in the blank according to your ideological predisposition).  That is what Johann did in that essay.  As you say--he is a thoughtful and fundamentally decent guy with whom I have had the pleasure to correspond a while back.

So seeing this was just.. well, sad.

Regards,

Inna
Bill posted on May 10, 2008 at 11:53:50 PM
"Perhaps when you can empathize with that, you will no longer receive any nasty e-mails because your criticism of Israel will be balanced by your knowledge that what you write will be used by (say) the BNP and others of their ilk (KKK, SWP, Respect, etc.) "

I suspect that antisemites will cherrypick what he says not matter what. Those three little dots strung together have done wonders for intellectual dishonesty.

But what got my goat was despite his reputation for sobriety, he enabled neither overt nor internalized antisemitism (and we too often deal with the latter when confronting the boycotters), but rather the unjustified defense of them. That's worse in my book. He should know that, yes, there are antisemites out there hiding as "bien pensants." He should know that leveraging a tired out racial stereotype into a rationalization to target only Jews in an academic boycott is antisemetic. He should know that antisemitism itself was coined to give jew hatin' intellectual street cred (meaning intellectual's can indeed be bona fide antisemites). Yes, I'm harsh and maybe unfair to him, but seeing someone get hit in the face with an explicitly anti-Jewish smear at a party in grad school ("You aren't a European, you're a Jew") by one of those bien pensant people, that'll do it to you. But someone like Hari should know better. When dealing with any other form of racism, he'd be very much on top of that game. He wasn't.

Call someone a racist and you have a good shot of turning them into one (if they aren't already). BUT, call your critic who's loaded with facts and rational argument a McCarthyite (especially on this issue), and you have an even better shot of proving your critic's would-be concerns to be valid.
Inna posted on May 11, 2008 at 01:59:34 AM
Bill--

I am not disagreeing with you.  But to me it's not a question of knowledge but of empathy.

Regards,

Inna
Fred posted on May 11, 2008 at 03:54:39 AM
Jacobson:

"In support of his assertion that Palestinians were forcibly and by deliberate pre-arrangement evicted in 1948, Johann adduces the conclusions of the historian Ilan Pappé – something of a believer in campaigns and conspiracies himself, a man whose work has been questioned at every turn, not least by historians on whose findings he has drawn. Johann can if he so desires make Pappé his historian of choice. But there are problems of context and attribution with his history, in this case an immoderate rhetoric of blame, a refusal to consider the circumstances in which peoples are moved, not simply as a matter of temporary expediency but in response, in the heat of battle, to a similar ambition on the other side. When you are threatened with rather more than eviction yourself, you do not always act with probity. "

It would be interesting to hear Jacobson address the following,  from an interview Morris did with Ari Shavit in Haaretz in 2003:

http://www.counterpunch.org/shavit01162004.html
Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?

"From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created."

Ben-Gurion was a "transferist"?

"Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist."

I don't hear you condemning him.

"Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here."
Bill posted on May 11, 2008 at 08:57:57 AM
No argument about having empathy, Inna!  If only the boycotting UK academics were able to put themselves in the place of their Israeli counterparts, especially when they're all members of the "Coalition of the Willing" (like it or not).
Joshua posted on May 11, 2008 at 12:17:47 PM
Johann Hari posted this yesterday at the Independent, but it seems now to have been pulled for reasons that I think are quite obvious (you'll need to read Hari's entire post). I have provided a link to the Google cache version of the piece.

Beyond the boundaries of civilised disagreement

'I have disagreed with her view of Israel – that the Palestinians are a “terrorist population” who must be collectively punished – so she [Melanie Phillips] writes:

“The most remarkable and revealing comment of all by Hari is this: ‘Alan Dershowitz and Melanie Phillips are two of the most prominent figures sent in to attack anyone who disagrees with the Israeli right.’ ‘Sent in’, eh? By whom, exactly? By the world-wide Jewish/Zionist/Likudnik conspiracy, of course. Yup, it’s those Protocols again. Whoops, what a giveaway. Case proved, I think.”

Actually, Melanie, you are sent in by TV and radio producers who feel the need to create a debate. Why? Not because of any ‘conspiracy’, much less the grotesque Protocols. No: because they know that if they don’t ‘balance’ any discussion of Israel/Palestine between one person – like Jimmy Carter – stating the simple facts, and another person calling them an anti-Semite, they will be subject to severe condemnation  and harassment by people like you and your friends at Honest Reporting and CAMERA.'

http://tinyurl.com/6j5zss
David Hirsh posted on May 11, 2008 at 01:25:48 PM
Follow the link in the piece to Hari's colunn.  it is still there.
observer posted on May 11, 2008 at 01:46:06 PM
"Johann Hari posted this yesterday at the Independent, but it seems now to have been pulled for reasons that I think are quite obvious (you'll need to read Hari's entire post). I have provided a link to the Google cache version of the piece." Joshua

What reasons are those, Josh. the Zionist lobby?

"Follow the link in the piece to Hari's colunn.  it is still there." David Hirsh

Thanks David I was able to access the article by Hari without any problems.

So much for Joshua's credibility.


"Actually, Melanie, you are sent in by TV and radio producers who feel the need to create a debate. Why? Not because of any ‘conspiracy’, much less the grotesque Protocols. No: because they know that if they don’t ‘balance’ any discussion of Israel/Palestine between one person – like Jimmy Carter – stating the simple facts, and another person calling them an anti-Semite, they will be subject to severe condemnation  and harassment by people like you and your friends at Honest Reporting and CAMERA.'"  Joshua

Got any proof, Joshua, that Jimmy's appearance anywhere was "balanced" by the appearance of Melanie Phillips?






Joshua posted on May 11, 2008 at 01:50:41 PM
'it is still there'

This is what I receive when I try the link in Firefox (both at that link and also the link at Google):

The requested URL /openhouse/2008/05/beyond-the-boun.html was not found on this server.

And in Internet Explorer:

The webpage cannot be found

Perhaps the problem lies with my ISP, I really don't know.
Karl Pfeifer, Vienna posted on May 11, 2008 at 03:21:51 PM
Fred can you please answer my question, how comes, that the fact, that 1947/48 about ten million Indians and Pakistanis hat to flee the place of their birth, that about one million people on the Indian subcontinent were killed at the time, does not raise any emotions in Europe?

Whatever Morris said, Ben Gurion did not advocate transfer. Greece/Turkey 1923 did transfer, and there was a mighty transfer of population after 1945 in Europe. For instance millions of Poles were transferred from what is now White Russia and Ukraine to what was once the German Reich. Please can you explain, why nobody in the world is criticising this, and so many people criticise Israel, because during a war, which was not started by Israel about 650.000 Arabs fled (only about 10 percent were asked to move a few miles away to a territory held by their Arab brethren)

Why did the oil rich Arab countries not solve the problem of Arab refugees, if poor Israel could integrate about 900.000 Jews without any property?

Is it a fact, that there is not one Arab democratic state and that they use the question of Palestinians in order to draw away the attention from the misery and the problems of the Arab world?
j.d. posted on May 11, 2008 at 06:04:10 PM
"Ben-Gurion was a "transferist"?"

No, he wasn't. Efraim Karsh presents a more complicated picture here:


http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/1948--israel--and-the-palestinians-br--the-true-story-11355


Read the footnotes, the real story is there!
Home page modernity posted on May 11, 2008 at 06:22:35 PM
the link provided by David Hirsh is still there and working fine, an expanded version is

http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:xXZed2WKgR8J:blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/05/beyond-the-boun.html+Beyond+the+boundaries+of+civilised+disagreement&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1

if there is a problem just cut and paste the link to the small browser windows
Noga posted on May 11, 2008 at 06:39:52 PM
"Actually, Melanie, you are sent in by TV and radio producers who feel the need to create a debate. Why? Not because of any ‘conspiracy’, much less the grotesque Protocols. No: because they know that if they don’t ‘balance’ any discussion of Israel/Palestine between one person – like Jimmy Carter – stating the simple facts, and another person calling them an anti-Semite, they will be subject to severe condemnation and harassment by people like you and your friends at Honest Reporting and CAMERA.'" Joshua

Got any proof, Joshua, that Jimmy's appearance anywhere was "balanced" by the appearance of Melanie Phillips? "

I believe Joshua was quoting Hari.
Joshua posted on May 11, 2008 at 09:49:28 PM
'What reasons are those, Josh. the Zionist lobby?'

1) I noticed earlier today a post by Hari that was in the Google Cache but was no longer at the Independent's website.

2) I posted an extract of that piece here together with this link to the Google cache:

http://tinyurl.com/6j5zss

3) I sent a copy also to Melanie Phillips who also noticed it had disappeared. She posted the new link to the page at Google cache at her blog at the Spectator.

4) I saw David Hirsh's post above and tried the link to the original piece once again without success.

5) I just tried it and it now seems to be working.

6) I suspected it might have been pulled because of at least one defamatory comment. I imagined that the Independent's legal team and/or editors might not have been happy with it.

'So much for Joshua's credibility.'

Oh, do grow up.

'Got any proof, Joshua, that Jimmy's appearance anywhere was "balanced" by the appearance of Melanie Phillips?'

You need to take that up with Johann Hari.
Philo posted on May 12, 2008 at 09:18:03 AM
"Johann Hari Saw a Pipe, and Robert Fisk Cheers for the Enemies of Civilization" - Solomonia blog

http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2008/05/johann-hari-saw-a-pipe-and-robert-fisk-c/index.shtml
Saul posted on May 12, 2008 at 09:42:52 AM
Yawn, will Fred will ever post anything relevant to the story in question..............Boring!
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