Is this anti-semitism?

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That's Isreal, not Judaism

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:37 (10 years ago) Permalink

Is a state intolerant for forbidding someone to open his business, or restricting his hours of busines by law on the Sabbath no matter what his religion?

Pete (Pete), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:37 (10 years ago) Permalink

in·tol·er·ant    ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (n-tlr-nt)
adj.

Not tolerant, especially:
a. Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.
b. Opposed to the inclusion or participation of those different from oneself, especially those of a different racial, ethnic, or social background.
c. Unable or unwilling to endure or support: intolerant of interruptions; a community intolerant of crime.


I'd say a) is pretty different to b)

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:38 (10 years ago) Permalink

That's Isreal, not Judaism
-- run it off (davebeec...), January 27th, 2004 1:37 PM.


because people conflate judaism with the state of isreal?
-- Stringent Stepper (stringen...), January 27th, 2004 1:30 PM.

there you go mate

Stringent Stepper (Stringent), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:39 (10 years ago) Permalink

the State may well be intolerant if it restricted business hours for citizens who don't share the law of the Sabbath, but the religion isn't intolerant because the state does this.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:40 (10 years ago) Permalink

So, if the problem is the conflation of the state and the religion, does that mean it is racist to say that Judaism is intolerant instead of saying that Isreal is intolerant?

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:41 (10 years ago) Permalink

not racist, I mean anti-semitic...

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:41 (10 years ago) Permalink

Huzzah, The UK is intolerant (no shock there....)

Pete (Pete), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:42 (10 years ago) Permalink

Well, a lot of places in London settled by Jews had Sunday trading by dint of being closed on Saturday for Sabbath: see Brick Lane/Whitechapel, Golders Green/Hampstead.

suzy (suzy), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:44 (10 years ago) Permalink

the religion isn't intolerant because the state does this

I don't know enough about the tenets of Judaism to go into it, but by analogy -- it *is* intolerant if it sanctions the law, surely?

Judaism != Jews, maybe, run it off? It's clumsy, but race and religion are not the same. So it isn't racist to criticize a faith? I doin't know.

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:46 (10 years ago) Permalink

Religious Law is not intolerant of those who break religious law.

Surely religious las IS intolerant of people who break it. I'm guessing there must be punishments for transgression, even if it's just an evil look during church - and that kind of emotional punishment can be extremely effective/painful, especially in close-knit communities and ones where the people have a God's good will yo lose.



Laws are not opinions, so flouting the law is not a differing opinion either.
If you are a Jew, you do not drive etc on the Sabbath. This is a ritual by which you live a religious life. It is the code by which you get closer to god. That is not intolerant. Judaism would be intolerant if it forbid non-Jews to drive etc on the Sabbath.

-- run it off (davebeec...), January 27th, 2004.

Laws are opinions, they're (usually(should be!)) the opinion of the majority as to how individuals should behave.

Also, not being allowed to drive on a Sunday (or Saturday) IS intolerant: intolerant toward Jews. I think most religions are least tolerant of their own.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:52 (10 years ago) Permalink

Laws are opinions, they're (usually(should be!)) the opinion of the majority as to how individuals should behave.

That's a bit of a shallow view of jurisprudence.

Ricardo (RickyT), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 13:55 (10 years ago) Permalink

jurisprudence = ideological screen for repressive state apparatus

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:00 (10 years ago) Permalink

how could a religion as old as the hills sanction a state as young as Isreal? Still less the acts of the leaders of such a state.

The ideological screen idea is itself an ideological screen.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:34 (10 years ago) Permalink

Ideologies don't screen. They are productive not obstructive. Eagleton at one point uses the example of the phrase "the Prince of Wales is a nice chap". This is ideological because it produces a certain effect (support for the Royals as people) not because it hides the real social relations (Royals are social leeches, or etc). The fact that it makes no mention of politics, economics, and so on does not mean that it is a screen any more than a black and white photo can be said to be a screen against colour.

As such, juridprudence is not an ideological screen; it is ideological. That doesn't mean it is no different from other ideas or opinions. Opinions that are ratified and authorised are not opinions in the same way as opinions that are not.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:41 (10 years ago) Permalink

Sorry -- it was just my little joke. Nonetheless, I think it's interestingly provocative to call laws 'opinions'.

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 14:46 (10 years ago) Permalink

yes, I agree.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:02 (10 years ago) Permalink

Hey, we Jews are barely tolerant of each other, let alone the rest of you.

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:12 (10 years ago) Permalink

Enough with the kvetching!

suzy (suzy), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:41 (10 years ago) Permalink

kvetching - one of my favourites. A friend calls her young baby a kvetch box

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:47 (10 years ago) Permalink

Every time you moan you have to put a coin in the kvetch box.

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:55 (10 years ago) Permalink

[all babies are young, aren't they... doh!]

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 15:59 (10 years ago) Permalink

Laws are opinions, they're (usually(should be!)) the opinion of the majority as to how individuals should behave.
That's a bit of a shallow view of jurisprudence.

-- Ricardo (boyofbadger...), January 27th, 2004.

Jurisprudence is the philosophy of law isn't it? Isn't what I've said what that all boils down too?

Where _is_ the depth?
It's simple isn't it?

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:00 (10 years ago) Permalink

Can you explain how it all boils down to opinion?

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:01 (10 years ago) Permalink

Hey, we Jews are barely tolerant of each other, let alone the rest of you.
-- Chuck Tatum (sappy_papp...), January 27th, 2004.

See! Told you!

And more kvetchup please!

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:01 (10 years ago) Permalink

Laws (attempt to) make people behave in the ways other people _think_ they should behave.

How humans should behave is a matter of opinion. Different religions, for example, havie differing opinions.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:02 (10 years ago) Permalink

Sorry -- it was just my little joke. Nonetheless, I think it's interestingly provocative to call laws 'opinions'.
-- Enrique (miltonpinsk...), January 27th, 2004.

To clarify, laws themselves aren't exactly opinions, but what they attempt to enshrine as 'right' and 'wrong' ARE opinions.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:05 (10 years ago) Permalink

I might break the law even though I agree with it generally, but I may also break the law because I have a different opinion as to what is 'rihgt' and what is 'wrong'.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:06 (10 years ago) Permalink

who are these other people? Don't the laws apply to the people who write them? (Seriously)

If laws are backed by the state (and, after all, that's what makes them laws, rather than guidelines or codes or something else) then they are not just opinions, they are sanctified, ordered, institutionalied, backed up by the criminal justice system etc. I'm not saying power and hierarchy and stuff aren't involved -- of course they are -- but laws don't get to be laws without going through a socially sanctioned process.

The case of breaking the law because you have a different opinion (civil disobedience etc) does not mean that the law is treated as opinion it means that laws are seen as arbitrary and changeble, so that collective action can bring about social changes that force laws to change.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:07 (10 years ago) Permalink

Yes they do apply to those that write them (or they're supposed to).

Yes, they are socially sanctioned, they are the combined opinions of a lot of people.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:09 (10 years ago) Permalink

By 'opinion' here I mean 'what some people' think is right.

Also, I'm not saying the law is _treated as_ an opinion, I'm saying it _is_ an opinion.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:11 (10 years ago) Permalink

From dictionary.com

o·pin·ion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (-pnyn)
n.

A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof: “The world is not run by thought, nor by imagination, but by opinion” (Elizabeth Drew).

A judgment based on special knowledge and given by an expert: a medical opinion.

A judgment or estimation of the merit of a person or thing: has a low opinion of braggarts.

The prevailing view: public opinion.

Law. A formal statement by a court or other adjudicative body of the legal reasons and principles for the conclusions of the court.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:12 (10 years ago) Permalink

So for example, the law that says "kill someone, go to jail", implies that killing is wrong.

And "Killing is wrong" is "A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof".


(The last clause of that definition is a coincidence, and not what I was aiming at really, 'opinion' seems to be fairly slight homonym.)

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:15 (10 years ago) Permalink

I believe killing is wrong, but I'll admit that it's just a belief.

mei (mei), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:16 (10 years ago) Permalink

law is not an opinion except in an abstract sense. Even if an opinion is converted into law through the established procedure it is not an opinion. At least it's not an opinion anymore.

That's all I'm saying.

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:16 (10 years ago) Permalink

How can 'killing is wrong' be just a belief? Do you mean it's only wrong for you and people who agree with you? What about people who don't agree with you, such as, let me think, ah yes, murderers?

run it off (run it off), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:18 (10 years ago) Permalink

Our rabbi would curtail his sermon whenever Spurs played home, which was a great act of altruism and tolerance.

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:24 (10 years ago) Permalink

About 40.5% said Jews in their country had “a particular relationship with money”

So what if a culture is associated with professions like banking and so on? My Parsee ancestors held a similar position in India. Big deal.


That is not nearly as harmless an accusation as you may think. The belief that Jews are obsessed with money is one of the foundations to anti-semitism.

Also "playing the victim" in regards to the Holocaust has that vomit-inducing ring of Holocaust denial.

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:25 (10 years ago) Permalink

Why did people stop writing books of the bible, anyway? There should totally be one tracing the decline of Spurs that culminates in them being cast of the garden of 'big clubs'.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:26 (10 years ago) Permalink

So what if a culture is associated with professions like banking and so on? My Parsee ancestors held a similar position in India. Big deal.


That is not nearly as harmless an accusation as you may think. The belief that Jews are obsessed with money is one of the foundations to anti-semitism.

I think N made his point well, actually, in that within the matrix of (especially central and eastern) European culture, the link between Jews and banking/trade was made into an ideological justification for anti-semitism, and was therefore more harmful than in other contexts. Stereotyping according to race/culture is a touchy area, but the association, or the making of associations, is/are not in themselves bad.

Enrique (Enrique), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:30 (10 years ago) Permalink

Sorry for crossposting with a serious post.

bnw - I know that about the money thing. But the question didn't ask 'are Jews intrinsically obsessed with money?'. I know that a good number of the people who answered yes to the question are probably horribly anti-semitic, but I resent the implication that they all have to be. 'Vomit inducing rings' are what all these questions work with, but I prefer my anti-racism to be less 'you must mean that really', in character.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:31 (10 years ago) Permalink

"mentality and lifestyle" different from, and this is the important part, "OTHER CITIZENS." Reminds me of that Bojeffries Saga story where the cops burst in to see a slavering werewolf standing on the table in a restaurant, say "well, it's obvious what our job is here," grab the one black guy in the restaurant, beat him up and drag him away, as one of the other patrons says to his companion "I'm not racism, but they ent the same as us, are they?"

Douglas (Douglas), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:32 (10 years ago) Permalink

I know that a good number of the people who answered yes to the question are probably horribly anti-semitic, but I resent the implication that they all have to be.

My problem with it is how reasonable and academic it makes anti-semitism sound. It allows people to hold onto their suspicions about Jews, and not have to consider themselves anti-semites.

Really, what's the point of the association between jews and money if not anti-semitism? Have you heard this made in a positive light?

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:45 (10 years ago) Permalink

No, but I've heard it said in a neutral light, by Enrique four posts up.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:46 (10 years ago) Permalink

This thread made it past 60 posts without anyone mentioning the link to the article doesn't work?

Stuart (Stuart), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:52 (10 years ago) Permalink

Another thing is Jews are what.. like 3% of the population? That makes an 18% anti-semitism rate scary enough.

bnw (bnw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:52 (10 years ago) Permalink

bnw - I completely agree with that (though I don't understand what the 3% has to do with it)

Stuart - oops! I pasted all the text anyway but the link is here

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:55 (10 years ago) Permalink

I found it too just now. I didn't realize you'd posted the whole piece. I'm looking for the original survey but not having much luck so far.

Stuart (Stuart), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 18:56 (10 years ago) Permalink

More at good ol' Al Jazeera - including the delightful headline: Jews urged to stop playing Holocaust victim

It also makes note of this, which I hadn't heard about: One in seven Britons says Holocaust is exaggerated.

Stuart (Stuart), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 19:09 (10 years ago) Permalink

This stuff scares me a lot. Because, unless I just had my eyes closed as a young man, it seems that anti-Semitism has really grown just in the last five years. Since 9/11, really.

paulhw (paulhw), Tuesday, 27 January 2004 20:31 (10 years ago) Permalink

Judith Butler, who has become the movement’s premier philosopher and political theorist,

frightening words

espring (amateurist), Sunday, 23 March 2014 21:24 (1 month ago) Permalink

why?

My god. Pure ideology. (ey), Monday, 24 March 2014 11:42 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

that article linked to this paper which is long but deals in a pretty forthright, intelligible way about the link between anti-semitism + anti-zionism:
http://eprints.gold.ac.uk/2061/1/Hirsh_Yale_paper.pdf

Mordy , Monday, 24 March 2014 16:51 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

From Mordy's link from two days ago:

Also missing — at least from Butler’s account — is the fact that a comparable number of Jews were forced out of their ancestral homes in Arab lands as a consequence of the establishment of Israel; they and their descendants make up the majority of Israeli Jews today.

Is this true? I did not know this, and I suspect very few of the people I've talked Israel with knows this.

Frederik B, Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:15 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

yes- i thought it was common knowledge but maybe not:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_exodus_from_Arab_and_Muslim_countries

Mordy , Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:23 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

fanatics will argue that zionist conspiracies were responsible for undermining the security of jews in those countries (a popular accusation is that zionists were responsible for bombings in egypt + iraq to convince jews to emigrate). i'm sure the state of israel was happy to accept more jews (esp since the state's position has been that all jews should ultimately move to israel - including american jews) but hopefully that conspiracy is self-evidently insane.

Mordy , Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:26 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

the jewish population of france that suffers continued deprecation from soi disant antizionists contains a large number of sephardic/mizrahi refugess from the maghreb

nakhchivan, Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:30 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

from what i understand they now comprise the majority of the jewish french community, whereas pre-war it was primarily ashkenazi

Mordy , Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:35 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

I don't think a lot about 1948 is common knowledge. I've been thinking a bit about it lately, like, why did so many people flee on both sides. That rarely happens without people being pretty concerned for their safety...

But Israel mainly being made up of descendants of Arab jews I think could be brought up a lot more in discussions of the right to return. Because then the problem isn't, that Palestinians don't have a right to return - since neither does the jews. The problem is, that the Palestinians want to return, and that problem is created by the other Arab countries keeping them in refugee camps (as well as by the fact that Israel isn't a xenophobic cesspool, where the returnees would probably feel less than safe)

It just seems like a really good point to bring up often. (Though, obviously, it's not that I didn't grasp that the Arab countries keeping the refugees in camps is awful.)

Frederik B, Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:43 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

I think the exodus of Jews from Arab countries is an important part of the discussion but I don't think it's entirely analogous to the creation of Palestinian refugees, hence I dislike the construction of "people fleeing on both sides"

james franco tur(oll)ing test (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:47 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

FWIW though, I often hear the disingenous comment that Palestinians were "not kicked out" but "left of their own free will," as though fleeing a war is ever considered that in any other conflict.

james franco tur(oll)ing test (Hurting 2), Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:49 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Yeah, reading that wiki-article, it's more complicated than what I got from that other article. The jews didn't really come from the countries where the palestinian refugees went, for one, and it was over a much longer period. So the two things aren't really comparable.

Frederik B, Tuesday, 25 March 2014 19:52 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

I don't think that's precisely correct:

The number of UNRWA registered Palestine refugees by country or territory in January 2010 were as follows:
Gaza Strip 1,106,195[44]
West Bank 778,993[44]
Lebanon 425,640[44]
Syria 472,109[44]
Jordan 1,983,733[44]

Lebanon and Syria both had Jewish communities that emigrated.

Of course the craziest thing is the 1.1m and 778k "refugees" in Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Not to mention Jordan.

Mordy , Tuesday, 25 March 2014 20:16 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Well, yeah, but hardly any refugees in the Maghreb, for example.

Frederik B, Tuesday, 25 March 2014 20:20 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Well yeah, they didn't go far. All the above-mentioned countries share a border w/ Israel.

Mordy , Tuesday, 25 March 2014 20:21 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

Judith Butler, who has become the movement’s premier philosopher and political theorist,
frightening words

― espring (amateurist), Sunday, March 23, 2014 4:24 PM (2 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

why?

― My god. Pure ideology. (ey), Monday, March 24, 2014 6:42 AM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

well YMMV of course but if I were part of a movement Judith Butler is the last person I'd want as my "philosopher and political theorist." she couldn't philosophize or theorize her way out of paper bag.

espring (amateurist), Tuesday, 25 March 2014 20:31 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

whoops last part not supposed to be a quote!

espring (amateurist), Tuesday, 25 March 2014 20:31 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

xx-post, well yeah, but it still makes it more complicated than the quite simple quid-pro-quo I had gotten in my mind.

Frederik B, Tuesday, 25 March 2014 20:44 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

i finally finished that Yale paper i posted above and it's good. some parts are redundant as he clarifies points over + over, and it's long so i don't expect a lot of ppl to read it. here were some parts i thought were interesting/well argued:

Ilan Pappe (2006) argues that Israeli forces are committing genocide in Gaza. The charge that Israel commits genocide, in Gaza or the West Bank, or in Lebanon, is a charge commonly made by anti-Zionists. At first sight, such a characterization would appear to be entirely counter-productive, since while Israeli forces are regularly responsible for serious human rights abuses, they can easily show themselves to be not guilty of genocide. When there is no genocide in Gaza why do anti-Zionists like Pappe continue to assert that there is? These repeated allegations have the effect of demonizing Israel, of implanting and reinforcing the notion that Israel is a unique evil. It simplifies: Israel is the ‘oppressor’, Palestine is the ‘oppressed’ and anything more complicated only serves to confuse this central issue.

The genocide charge is a particular kind of demonization. Genocide has a particular relevance to Israel, which was created three years after the end of the Holocaust. The contemporary claim that there is a genocide in Gaza is related to the claim that Israel uses the Holocaust instrumentally to justify its violence. The charge that Israel is like Nazi Germany functions to neutralize this alleged instrumentalization of the Holocaust. In order to neutralize the Holocaust in this way, it is necessary to normalize it and to distort its reality.58 So anti-Zionists often push a number of myths: (a) what happens in Gaza today is, in some sense, the same as the Holocaust, which is the point of naming it ‘genocide’; (b) ‘Zionists’ collaborated with the Holocaust and so were partly responsible for it;59 (c) ‘Zionism’ is ideologically akin to nazism.60

Pappe (2006) writes: ‘Nothing apart from pressure in the form of sanctions, boycott and divestment will stop the murdering of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip.’ Perhaps his wish to advocate for this campaign is what has led him to make the over-blown claim of genocide; he does not use the term ‘genocide’ to describe events in 1948, which is his area of historical expertise. Yet his proposed remedy today does not seem to fit the alleged disease. If there was really genocide occurring in Gaza, surely a more urgent, powerful and desperate response would be appropriate than carrying on the long, slow campaign for sanctions, boycott and divestment. Pappe finishes by exhorting the world ‘not to allow the genocide of Gaza to continue’. He precedes this exhortation with the words: ‘in the name of the holocaust memory’. The irony is that so long as Pappe employs this kind of political rhetoric, then it is unlikely indeed that it should communicate successfully with the majority of Israelis and Jews. But perhaps he is not writing for Israelis. Perhaps he has given up on building a peace movement and he has given up on Israelis as potential agents for progressive change: ‘There is nothing we here in Israel can do against [the genocide in Gaza]’, writes Pappe. Shortly after writing this piece, Pappe accepted a job at Exeter University in England.

"We’ve received death threats for actually daring to discuss the idea of a boycott of a racist university system within Israel itself. And so in fact the rise in antisemitism is precisely because this equation of being Israeli and being Jewish. We don’t say that but the Israelis do."

Rose is clearly implying here that it is ‘the Israel Lobby’ that sends out death threats to him and his colleagues. And he is right. Because his understanding of the term ‘lobby’ includes everyone from AIPAC, the ADL, the AJC, Campus Watch, Melanie Phillips, to the UJS, the Board of Deputies, the All-party Parliamentary Committee, to Engage, Workers’ Liberty, Jonathan Freedland, David Aaronovitch, Meretz USA - to loony late night green-ink letter-writers who send death threats. All those who stand against Rose’s characterization of Israel as apartheid and illegitimate speak, in his imagination, with one voice, say one thing, adopt one tactic, have one politics. In other words, the ‘lobby’, in the way that Rose uses the term, is a global Jewish conspiracy. Nearly all newspapers, TV stations, websites, publishing houses, Hollywood itself, oppose his focus on Israel as a uniquely racist centre of global imperialism. And Rose can not just be wrong; the fact that most people disagree with him needs to be explained; and it is explained with reference to the existence of a vast conspiracy.

The Liberal Democrats are the centre party in UK politics, generally understood to be politically to the left of the Conservatives and to the right of Labour. Notwithstanding the complexities of such a characterization, they are a mainstream party in British political life and could not be understood as either an extreme left wing or an extreme right wing party. Jenny Tonge was fired as a Liberal Democrat spokesperson in January 2004 after having said that if she had been a Palestinian, she would have considered becoming a suicide bomber.68

There are two senses in which these remarks are interesting. Firstly they demonstrate an ignorance of conditions in Palestine and of Palestinian politics and of Palestinian paramilitary capability. Palestinians respond to the world in which they live in a whole number of different ways; some respond politically, as nationalists, as socialists, as Islamists; some try to look after their communities, as doctors, as teachers, as leaders; some struggle to look after themselves and their families; some are involved in peace organizations and in groups which aim to bridge the divide; some argue for a boycott of Israel; some engage in forms of armed resistance. It is not empirically true that Palestinians have no choice other than to blow themselves up near Israelis. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians find other ways to live and other ways to respond.

Yet Tonge’s premise is that ‘if she were Palestinian’ then she would think differently from the way that she does, being British. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that at the bottom of such a sentiment is an ‘orientalist’ (Said 1978) othering of Palestinians. I am British, so I am a Member of Parliament, I think, I act politically, I speak. But if I were Palestinian then I would not think and reflect and act politically or ethically, but rather I would be driven by rage to the only course open to me, which would be suicide bombing. I would be forced to extinguish my life in a drama of anger and despair because no other form of expression would be open to me, if I was a Palestinian. But the truth is that most Palestinians do not act as though reading from the script of a twentieth century orientalist movie; they do not act the part of the irrational emotional anger-driven Arab, who has no choice and who cannot think beyond their fury. Tonge misrepresents, de-politicizes and essentializes Palestine.

Mordy , Wednesday, 26 March 2014 16:35 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

The meeting at which Tonge made her ‘Lobby’ comments was organized by Chris Davies, who had been the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament until some months earlier, when he had also been forced to resign. On returning home from a trip to Gaza, Davies expressed his anger and his horror at conditions there on his website and in the press. One comment he made was:

I visited Auschwitz last year and it is very difficult to understand why those whose history is one of such terrible oppression appear not to care that they have themselves become oppressors.70

This was a classic example of the ‘Jews should know better’ argument. The Jews ‘appear not to care that they have themselves become oppressors’. He could only mean ‘the Jews’. He is talking about ‘those whose history is of such terrible oppression’, who came to his mind when he visited Auschwitz. Jews used to be oppressed; now they are oppressors, and they don’t even care (apparently).

This generalization, that the Jews have become oppressors, goes to the heart of that current of contemporary antisemitism which is connected to anger with Israel. Davies shifts focus from acts which he understands as oppressive to those people who he holds responsible for them and he calls them ‘oppressors’. And then he adds that they (apparently) don’t care. As though Jews spoke with one voice (or cared with a single conscience).

The overwhelming majority of the Jews who were at Auschwitz (where Davies visited as a tourist, or perhaps as a VIP) left that place through the chimney. Many of them, one may assume, did not have time to sit down and ponder the lessons that they were supposed, by this Member of the European Parliament, to have been learning there. What were the lessons being taught to at Auschwitz? What should ‘the Jews’ have learnt from the Shoah experience? It would seem that the lesson learned by many Jews from Auschwitz is ‘next time, have more tanks and fighter planes’; ‘Have more powerful friends’ perhaps, too. Many Jews learnt the central lesson that the twentieth century seemed to go to such lengths to teach so many people: ‘If you don’t have a nation state of your own, then you have no rights’. It is hardly a surprise or a sign of a moral deficiency if this lesson was taken on board. The corollary to this lesson is that ‘if you don’t look after ‘your own’ then nobody else will look after you’. Many Israelis seem to be more attached to these lessons than to the ‘Jews should know better than to oppress others’ lesson that we might think they ought to have learnt.

It was, of course not just ‘the Jews’ who learnt this lesson in the twentieth century but many others too. The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires taught people across central and Eastern Europe, as well as across the Middle East, the same lesson. And so the fall of these two Empires in 1918 was followed by upsurges of ethnic nationalism and bloody struggles to carve out nation states in Czech and Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria Turkey and throughout the region. Following the Second World War, the big European Empires faced nationalist opposition throughout Africa and Asia, and were pushed out by people who also had learnt the lesson of the twentieth century, ‘If you don’t have a nation state of your own, then you have no rights’. Following the break-up of the Soviet Empire in 1989, many more people learnt the lesson that history had taught them. And so in Croatia, Serbia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech and Slovakia, there were struggles for ‘national’ independence, often trampling on the rights of minorities who were held not to be part of the nation that was to be self-determined (Arendt 1975; Fine 2001).

Before Hitler came to power many Jews rejected this narrow politics of nationhood, ‘national liberation’ and ‘self-determination’. Most Jews chose, either through political commitment or through inertia, not to go to Palestine to build a Jewish state. Zionism was an eccentric, utopian, minority project amongst Jews. It was only during the 1930s and 1940s, when the Nazi plan to sweep Europe clean of Jews came together that nationalist politics really began to take hold amongst Jews. The European labour movement and the European left had been defeated and the Jews who had put their faith in it were killed or were running for their lives. Jews from the great cosmopolitan cities of the Middle East were later pushed out of their homes by Arab nationalist regimes which had also been busy learning the ‘gotta have a state’ lesson. A million Russian Jews came in the 1990s after enduring decades of Soviet antisemitism, which had come packaged in the language of hostility to Zionist imperialism.

And of course many Palestinians have learnt the lesson of the twentieth century too: no state, no rights. Without a state of their own, they have been treated appallingly both by Israel and by a number of Arab states.None of this is to support the politics of nationalism. But analysis begins with the world as it is and this is a world structured by the fact that human rights, in the absence of a nation state to guarantee them, have often, under pressure, turned out to be worthless promises. So the cosmopolitan task, in Israel/Palestine and also further afield, is to find a politics that creates a different truth for the 21st century. (Hirsh 2003; Fine 2007)

When it is pointed out to anti-Zionists who use the Zionism-Nazi analogy that the analogy is not appropriate, they often respond with something like the following : “The Gazans, you tell us, are not facing genocide. Indeed. We must really give Israel high marks for not killing all of them? They are facing starvation, in plain and simple English - food, medicines, electricity and fuel are being stopped at the border, not to mention students who cannot leave to study. So all that is not important, as long as there is no genocide? I cannot believe that you are comfortable with this.... Are you really comfortable with Israel’s continued barbarities? If so, please tell us.” This was written a well known boycott supporter on the internal UCU activists list under the heading ‘Not yet enough hell in Gaza’. As well as giving readers a small taste of the quality of the boycott debate within the union, it is also an example of a standard anti- Zionist form of argument. It concedes that the Nazi analogy is inappropriate but then insists that the one can infer that the one who said it was inappropriate therefore thinks that there is no problem in Gaza. Either Gaza is like the Warsaw Ghetto or it is like North London – there can be no middle position. Anti- Zionism often sets up spurious binary oppositions and insists that we choose one or the other. Notice that in this case, it also presents a false picture of events (there is no starvation in Gaza), and, particularly since it is repeated again and again and with authority, many people accept that picture of events as true.

Mordy , Wednesday, 26 March 2014 16:36 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

To me it seems obvious that there are a lot of forms of oppression short of genocide. Of course Israel is oppressing the Palestinians, and of course it's not genocide.

james franco tur(oll)ing test (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 26 March 2014 16:42 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

there's no fun in not making your point in the douchiest, most offensive way possible

instant wrinkle filler (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 26 March 2014 16:44 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

well YMMV of course but if I were part of a movement Judith Butler is the last person I'd want as my "philosopher and political theorist." she couldn't philosophize or theorize her way out of paper bag.

― espring (amateurist)

quite an odd claim in light of her work on gender (I mean we're not talking about a joke like Zizek here) but hmmm ok.

My god. Pure ideology. (ey), Wednesday, 26 March 2014 16:58 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

i thought one of the most damning things in that piece about butler was how she jettisoned the entire cultural mediation argument she pioneered w/ gender when it came to israel

Mordy , Wednesday, 26 March 2014 17:01 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

i don't think i've posted this anywhere on ilx yet? it's pretty lol imo:

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/02/11/professor-strips-thesis-of-judith-butler-sourcing-calls-for-rds-retractions-and-disavowals-in-scholarship-to-oppose-bds-interview/

Mordy , Wednesday, 26 March 2014 17:03 (4 weeks ago) Permalink

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26855043

Mordy , Wednesday, 2 April 2014 20:07 (3 weeks ago) Permalink

the quotes from the mayor in this piece are basically "everyone knew his views, no one believed what he said about Jewish people, he didn't have many followers, yeah I'm not surprised he did this. I consider him a friend."

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/16/justice/kansas-jewish-centers-shooting/index.html?c=us

christmas candy bar (al leong), Wednesday, 16 April 2014 16:05 (1 week ago) Permalink


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