The lobby that didn’t bark “anti-semitism” in the night

November 23, 2009 at 11:05 pm (anti-semitism, Guardian, israel, Jim D, media, Middle East)

A few years ago I was talking to Dave Hirsh, of ‘Engage’, the left-wing campaign and web-site against anti-semitism. Dave was limbering up for a debate against the anti-Israeli academic Illan Pappe (who Dave wiped the floor with, by the way) and I came along to offer moral support and to intervene from the floor. In the course of our convesation I said something like, “of course there are some people who will accuse anyone who criticises Israel of anti-semitism.” Dave immediately asked me, “Who?; when was the last time you heard anyone denounce criticism of Israel as anti-semitism?” I had to admit that I never had – but everyone I knew said they had, so I assumed that I had simply led a sheltered life.

I began pondering Dave’s point and realised that legitimate, political criticism of Israel (as opposed to crazed conspiracy theories and calls for the total destruction of the state of Israel) is not denounced as anti-semitism by any serious people, left right or centre. And yet it has become a trusim – an article of faith almost – on much of the “left” that it is. I myself used to habitually preface speeches at the trades council and in the Labour Party on the subject, with some sort of disclaimer like “I’m not one of those people who thinks any criticism of Israel is anti-semitic.” But, as Dave pointed out: who are “those people”? Do they actually exist? Or are they a sort of anti-Zionist’s urban myth?

Similarly, British and European people who criticise Israel are frequently described as being “brave.” What form does this “bravery” take? What threat are they under? What dangerous and unpopular arguments are they putting forward?  This has never been satisfactorily explained to me.

I was reminded of all this when I read the following by Peter Wilby (a commentator I am fast taking a dislike to) in the current New Statesman:

“The Israeli lobby

“The journalist Peter Oborne is a brave man. The inevitable accusations of anti-Semitism are already flying around after his Channel 4 programme on Britain’s pro-Israel lobby. Given 20th-century history, anti-Semitism is just about the most damaging epithet that can be used against anybody, far more so than Islamophobia, and Isreal’s defenders rarely hesitate to use it, even against critics who are Jewish.”

Wilby goes on the rehash the tired and vacuous cliche that some anti-semites have, historically, supported the creation of the state of Israel.

But what I want to know from Wilby (and I sent a comment to the NS website asking this, but when I last checked it hadn’t been published) , is who, precisely, has made these “inevitable” claims against Oborne and his programme (which, like the Guardian piece accompanying it clearly stated, by the way,  that “there is no conspiracy, and nothing resembling a conspiracy”)?

I’ve been checking responses to Oborne’s programme, and his Guardian piece, especially checking pro-Israel publications and websites, and vigilant campaigners against anti-semitism (not always the same thing, by the way): I have come across plenty of criticism of Oborne’s programme and article – but not one single allegation of anti-semitism. No doubt some ultra-Zionist nutter has made such an accusation, somewhere. But most of the Zionist and Israel-defensist reaction has been along the lines of David Cesarani in the Graun‘s Comment Is Free:

“So what is Oborne’s beef about pro-Israeli activists? First, he complains that they operate semi-covertly. Although he disavows any imputation of a conspiracy, that is what his charge amounts to. But the same can be said about Michael Ashcroft, Rupert Murdoch, the arms industry, the Saudi Arabians, and the list can go on.”

Cesarani also makes the point that although few – if any – have accused Oborne of anti-semitism, plenty have seized upon his programme and article to make outrageous conspiritorial accusations about sinister “Israeli” (sic) and “Zionist” (sic) influence: just look at the comments on Channel 4’s website and the Graun‘s ‘Comment Is Free.”

So, Mr Wilby: where, exactly, are these “inevitable” accusations of “Anti-semitism” that are “already flying around”? Or could they just be a myth perpetuated by smug, lazy, unthinking “anti-Zionist” commentators like yourself? Unidentified flying allegations, even.

65 Comments

  1. voltairespriest said,

    It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody out there has accused Oborne of being an anti-semite, just as it amused rather than surprised me to see someone accusing Jim of being in the pay of international Zionism. The point though presumably is as Jim says: there’s no general current of people doing that, and no powerful “lobby” orchestrating such calls. In fact, such claims strike me as simply nonsense.

  2. skidmarx said,

    “Who?; when was the last time you heard anyone denounce criticism of Israel as anti-semitism?”
    On this site, on a regular basis.

  3. John Meredith said,

    “On this site, on a regular basis”

    On a regular basis? Then I expect it would be easy to point to a few examples for the sceptical, no?

  4. Jim Denham said,

    Skidders: your last comment just goes to illustrate my point: neither contributors nor “commenters” here have (to the best of my recollection) *ever* described criticism of Israel as anti semitism. If we did, we’d have to denounce ourselves as anti semitic. My view (in line with the AWL and others) is that the denial of Israel’s right to exist (behind 1967 borders) *is* a form of anti semitism, as are some of the more extreme conspiracy theories that get bandied about in certain “leftist” (and not-so “leftist”) circles. But, I repeat, reasoned criticism of Israel’s internal regime, treatment of its own Arab citizens and its foreign policy (most obviously its treatment of the Palestians and the Netanyahu government’s encouragement of settlement activity) is all legitimate political comment, which (to the best of my knowledge) *everyone* associated with “Shiraz” would not only *not* describe as any form of anti semitism, but would actually agree with.

    Similarly, while I might have reservations about aspects of Oborne’s Channel 4 programme and ‘Guardian’ article (as I did about Measheimer and Walt’s book and article on the same theme) I would *not* describe them as anti semitic – and very few, *if any*, serious commentators have done so…

    …Which is my point.

  5. Rosie said,

    Yeah, I’d like Skidrow to produce a few examples of the criticise Israel=anti-semitism tendancy on this blog as well. I can’t remember any. You’d find some commenters on threads saying this on eg Harry’s Place, but not the main posters/contributors there either.

    I do get sick of this “brave” meme. Caryl Churchill was equally “brave” writing Seven Jewish Children. Oborne and Churchill get applause from eg The Guardian and the New Statesman and kicks from the Daily Telegraph. That’s par for the course if you write anything, some will applaud you and some will kick you. You’re only “brave” in this sense if you outrage your usual audience.

  6. Anybody who dares to criticise israel is accused of antisemitism « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism said,

    [...] can read the whole article here. Posted in Uncategorized. Leave a Comment [...]

  7. Duncan said,

    when was the last time you heard anyone denounce criticism of Israel as anti-semitism?

    Not a difficult question this.

    In the real world, the last time I heard people denounce even the mildest criticism of Israel as anti-semitism was during the wave of university occupations earlier this year.

    Members of the Labour club denounced the occupation in Oxford which, being carried out by Oxford students, was pretty mild as anti-semitic and argued that the student union taking a position on the Israel/Palestine conflict creating a hostile atmosphere for Jewish students on campus and so was anti-semitic as well (I believe the student union supports a two state solution and passed a resolution condemning the assault on Gaza as ‘disproportionate’).

    Around this time one member of Oxford Trades Council (who will remain nameless) argued that since Israel and thus the Jewish people are currently in mortal peril *any* criticism of Israel, however well-intentioned, damages its reputation, weakens the nation, gives comfort to its enemies and can therefore be seen as anti-semitic.

    Online it’s happened more times than I can possibly recall. I was once denounced as anti-semitic by a Zionist blogger for mentioning that members of the Israeli establishment had allied themselves closely with apartheid South Africa. This is an indisputable fact and, bizarrely, the accusation was during the course of a debate in which I was arguing that comparisons between the Israeli state and apartheid were totally wrong-headed!

  8. Steven said,

    “Similarly, while I might have reservations about aspects of Oborne’s Channel 4 programme and ‘Guardian’ article (as I did about Measheimer and Walt’s book and article on the same theme) I would *not* describe them as anti semitic – and very few, *if any*, serious commentators have done so…”

    Jim, while it was not antisemetic, the program did indeed play on antisemetic stereotypes (of a secret cabal controlling the government in the contract of a foreign [Jewish] power). The program will fuel ever increasing antisemetic attacks where I live in the UK.

    The aim behind the comments about these people being blamed for antisemitism is problem is to dilute the meaning of the term. These days, if you call an antisemite an antisemite it has no meaning. None.

    And let me make one more thing clear. Being a Jew in no way immunises one from antisemetic behaviour and or discourse.

  9. Steven said,

    The aim behind the comments about people being quickly blamed for antisemitism when they have “legitimate ‘criticism'” about Israeli policy is to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism, and thus dilute the meaning of the term.*
    [Clarification]

  10. Steven said,

    FYI: Antisemtism was a positive thing to the Germans when the term was popularised. Perhaps we will have a new word for this generations hatred towards the Jews. Either way, CST has recorded the greatest number of anti Jewish attacks in recent months, since its foundation.

    Regards.

  11. Richard Gold said,

    Hi Duncan. I’d like to see more details of your three examples. Is there anything in print or on the web as to what was said at Oxford. Also who was the guy from the Oxford Trades Council and what did he say exactly ? Was the zionist blogger from any organisation , who did he represent ? Or was he / she just an anonymous commenter ?

    Bearing in mind the accusation that anybody who criticises Israel is accused of being an antisemite , i’d say that your examples seem pretty weak and lacking in detail.

  12. Fabian from Israel said,

    Lets say that I declare that I am against the power of “bankers”. So I deplore their power to influence the government, imply that they may have the interest of another unnamed country in mind, and give examples in which every single banker I mention has a last name that ends with “…stein”, “…man”, “…witz”, “…sky”.
    Someone -I think, rightly- points out that I am being an antisemite.
    I say, no, I am against bankers. Can’t you ever criticize bankers without being called an antisemite?

    This is the same example as with the Oborne program. The Oborne program would no be antisemite if they actually came out against the idea of a lobby (i.e. “bankers”). But they came out against the idea of a Jewish lobby (i.e. “Jewish bankers”). It simply is antisemitism and I suggest people read about the history of antisemitism to understand how innuendo has always worked to shelter the antisemite from accusations of racism against Jews. I have no problem calling Oborne’s program an antisemite program, but then, I have actually read about antisemitism as opposed those who are ignorant followers of anti-Israeli academic poisoners.

  13. Fabian from Israel said,

    I am also against crooked noses and trilby hats. But I am not being an antisemite, I just am someone very concerned about fashion and beauty. Can’t you criticize people with crooked noses and trilby hats and not being called an antisemite? Sheesh…

  14. maxdunbar said,

    None of you understand what bravery truly means. The old bourgois definition of courage would be something like ‘volunteer to be an aid worker in Rwanda’. The true meaning of bravery is to regurgitate received wisdom about a particular ethnic group, in front of an audience who think the same exact way you do.

  15. skidmarx said,

    4. So denial of the right of a racist state to maintain its existence, on the basis of the expulsion of a million Palestinians is perforce anti-semitism?
    5. Goldfish

  16. anengagingmanoeuvre said,

    “I have come across plenty of criticism of Oborne’s programme and article – but not one single allegation of anti-semitism.”

    Not looking very hard then…

    “the barely-concealed antisemitic undertones”
    Jonathan Boyd, JPR

    “Anti-Semitism in Britain has risen alarmingly in recent times. Jewish conspiracy nonsense, even timid and half-hearted stuff such as Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby cannot but feed it.”
    Worker’s Liberty

    “I now realise that the power of this unique cabal is so vast and unprecedented in its truly demonic power…”
    Melanie Phillips, in a sarcastic mood

    “This is worrying, because while we would not expect Dispatches or Hardcash Productions to make an antisemitic programme, all the standard tropes of antisemitic conspiracy theory are present in this website text… The allegation that Jews, or Zionists, conspire to secretly control politicians through their financial clout has always played a central role in the propaganda of openly antisemitic organisations.”
    CST blog

    “I wonder whether the directors of Britain’s well-regarded Channel 4 television, or the program-makers, have read — or even care about — the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism…”
    National Review online

    “The deliberate conflation of bloody bodies and Jews eating dinner was an early low. Full of familiar innuendos and stereotypes…”
    Chas Newkey-Burden

  17. shug said,

    It is a thorny topic to discuss the actions of Israel in the Gaza strip.Unfortunately certain sections of the Jewish people, have turned their religion, culture, and actions, into a precious right ,and if commented on in a un-favourable manner those who do are pigeon holes as anti-semetic.

    As an example of this attitude.I was watching a documentary the other evening regarding the evictions of Palestinians from their homes,and as they where out in the street in tears looking on as Israeli families took possession of their home, the reporter turned to two Israeli women no more than 30 years of age and asked, how can you condone this.And their reply was what should we do go back to Auschwich.And then they climbed into him with venemous insult about his support of the Palestinian people.

  18. Steven said,

  19. Harry Tuttle said,

    skidmarx wrote:

    So denial of the right of a racist state to maintain its existence, on the basis of the expulsion of a million Palestinians is perforce anti-semitism?

    Is Israel the only nation which should cease to exist, or do you also oppose any state which fits the criteria listed? How should Israel be dismantled, and by whom? What becomes of its population?

  20. Fabian from Israel said,

    The idea that the existance of Israel is racist, is clear Arab antisemitism.
    What, the existance of 22 Arab states and 57 Muslim states is not racist? Of course not…

  21. FlyingRodent said,

    Well sure, having a go at the Israelis isn’t exactly like charging a machine gun nest in your pants. OTOH, neither is denouncing half your readership as fellow travellers with fascism, but commentators such as Nick Cohen and Hitchens clearly seem to believe they’re performing an act of outstanding political courage.

    And come on, who are you trying to kid with this I see no mendacious accusations of anti-semitism stuff? Never mind the reactions from various Decent and wingnut internet figures to Oborne’s show – although there have been plenty, ranging from deeply misleading to outright irresponsible and probably libelous – Robin Shepherd from the HJS scored an op-ed in the Wall St. Journal to denounce it as part of a new, all-encompassing anti-Jewish conspiracism…

    http://bit.ly/16Egzm

    Why the hell is the WSJ offering time and space to a tiny British thinktank to attack a show that a) wasn’t shown in America, b) contained no major inaccuracies, even by the admission of some of its harshest critics and c) must’ve been seen by – at best – about half a million people?

    No need to respond – it’s because what we call the Israel lobby in the US is really just a large collection of well-connected and highly belligerent right wing nutters, and the WSJ is the paper of record for belligerent right wing nutters. Note that it isn’t necessary – or legally advisable – for Shepherd to call Oborne a racist. It’s more than sufficient to just declare that there is lots of racism in Europe, and then to pretend that Oborne is both feeding and feeding upon that phenomenon.

    This is the point that Walt & Mearsheimer were making in that LRB article*, BTW – that the pro-Israel faction in America is neither a Jewish nor even an Israeli enterprise, but is instead an insane neoconservative lunatics of various nationalities enterprise. Watching the responses to their book was pretty hilarious, as reviewer after reviewer stepped up to admit that M&W’s argument was basically sound; to note their caveats, and to then start howling about Iran and waffling about racism and dropping dark hints about propaganda in certain 1930s regimes.

    I could continue in this vein, taking in the wide variety of internet wingnuts prone to mad acts like accusing the International Red Cross of trying to make Israel look bad by collaborating with Hezbollah to attack its own ambulance, just to make Israel look bad, but that’ll do for now.

    *Never bothered reading the book, since the article said it all pretty succinctly.

  22. voltairespriest said,

    FlyingRodent; I hardly think that “decents” (I assume by that you mean the pro-war “left” types) count for anything much outside of the blogosphere, to be honest.

  23. skidmarx said,

    19. What other states fit the criteria? With care, by Palestinians and whoever they want to help them. Like whites in Southern Africa, those capable of accepting non-racial rule could stay , though those living on stolen land might be asked to give it up.

    18. I’m all in favour of equal representation for pianists and jugglers.

    3.Denham said,
    October 12, 2009 at 8:24 pm
    I repeat: the SWP is an (“objectively” I like to add, but only to be polite) anti-semitic organisation
    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/my-enemys-enemy-is-still-my-enemy/#comment-26869

    John Meredith said,
    October 5, 2009 at 4:09 pm
    I agree that the parodies are flat-footed, but, yes, it is true that johng is a vocal supporter of at least one genocidally antisemitic organisation.

    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/my-enemys-enemy-is-still-my-enemy/#comment-26802

  24. Richard Gold said,

    Interestingly no examples from Jewish representative groups such as The Board of Deputies , or lobby groups fore Israel such as Bicom. You thought there would be loads of examples from what people claim.

  25. Richard Gold said,

    sorry for the typo “for” not “fore”

  26. Lbnaz said,

    It’s always such a joy to encounter venomous liars and cowards, from the comfort of their own foreign homes, preaching final solutions for the Israelis on the internet unless Israelis first commit suicide to satisfy their marginally informed predilections. Thanks skidface.

  27. Harry Tuttle said,

    skidmarx wrote:

    19. What other states fit the criteria?

    The United States, Canada, Mexico, most of South America, Pakistan, Morocco, the list goes on.

    With care, by Palestinians and whoever they want to help them.

    With care? What does that entail? The details are important here Skidmarx. How are the Jewish people to be made stateless again? Every attempt so far has been through violence. Is there a peaceful way?

    Like whites in Southern Africa, those capable of accepting non-racial rule could stay , though those living on stolen land might be asked to give it up.

    What constitutes stolen land? Does it encompass all of Israel or only land taken since 1948?

    I’m all in favour of equal representation for pianists and jugglers.

    That’s nice. How are their rights going to be ensured?

  28. Jim Denham said,

  29. John Meredith said,

    Skidmarx, re your #23, I am not sure what point you are making by quoting my remark. Are you suggesting that Johng is not a supporter of a genocidally antisemitic organisation? I would love it if that were true, has he distanced himself from them? If not, that is just a statement of fact, isn’t it?

  30. skidmarx said,

    26. You’re welcome.
    27. THey are based on racism in the same way? I don’t think so.

  31. John Meredith said,

    “27. THey are based on racism in the same way? I don’t think so.”

    They were all founded through the expulsion or murder or populations or lareg sections of them, so they are illegtimate according to your definition.

  32. Duncan said,

    Relevant to this thread, here are commenter’s over at Harry’s Place arguing that Francis Sedgemore is an anti-semite because, as far as I can gather, he is a member of the NUJ which is an anti-semitic organisation:

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/11/24/nuj-conference-still-quite-mad/

  33. Richard Gold said,

    Duncan – any chance of you answering my point 11 addressed to you ?

  34. Richard Gold said,

    “Relevant to this thread, here are commenter’s over at Harry’s Place arguing that Francis Sedgemore is an anti-semite because, as far as I can gather, he is a member of the NUJ which is an anti-semitic organisation:”

    Two anonymous commenters on a blog. Pretty desperate Duncan.

  35. Duncan said,

    Richard,

    I didn’t see your reply at 11.

    Having read it, I don’t think they are serious questions in any case given this remark:

    i’d say that your examples seem pretty weak and lacking in detail.

    There is considerable detail in my initial comment about each of the instances so this sentence, and the rest of your comment, is simply intended to cast doubt on the veracity of my account because you don’t like what it says.

    Anyway:

    Is there anything in print or on the web as to what was said at Oxford.

    OULC (Oxford University Labour Club) puts very little online. I know what I heard though.

    Also who was the guy from the Oxford Trades Council and what did he say exactly ?

    The individual concerned is a politically active trade unionist so I’m not going to name him. He is an active member of the Zionist Federation of Great Britian and Ireland though. People politically active in the Oxford area will know who I mean. What he said is mentioned in my first comment.

    Was the zionist blogger from any organisation , who did he represent ?

    I don’t think the blogger in question represented any organisation. I don’t think this matters though. The initial question in the post was this: “when was the last time you heard anyone denounce criticism of Israel as anti-semitism”” so I answered with a couple of examples that detailed occasions where I have heard criticism of Israel denounced as anti-semitic.

    You can question how widespread this attitude towards criticism of Israel is (not very, would be my guess) but to say that these events did not happen is basically to accuse me of lying.

    Two anonymous commenters on a blog. Pretty desperate Duncan.

    You may have noticed that most people on the internet don’t use their own name.

    For example, I don’t think ‘Voltaire’s Priest’ was the he was given at birth… Why this would make his opinion’s, or anyone else who uses a pseudonym online, less legitimate is not clear.

  36. John Meredith said,

    “so I answered with a couple of examples that detailed occasions where I have heard criticism of Israel denounced as anti-semitic.”

    Yes, Duncan, but this is just more of the same. People such as yourself, who claim that there is a persistent tactic of crying ‘antisemitism’ oo deflect criticism of Israel can only ever offer personal anecdote to back it up (except for mad ramblings in copmments threads). When we look to the record, it just isn’t there and those of us who never hear this tactic used are understandably suspicious of your personal recollections.

  37. voltairespriest said,

    For example, I don’t think ‘Voltaire’s Priest’ was the he was given at birth

    Yes it was. I only changed it when people at school took the piss.

  38. skidmarx said,

    31. Those historical events are certainly deplorable, but aren’t an ongoing process in the way the oppression of the Palestinians is.

    27.How are the Jewish people to be made stateless again?
    I didn’t say they were.
    Is there a peaceful way?
    Would be nice.
    What constitutes stolen land? Does it encompass all of Israel or only land taken since 1948?
    Somewhere between the two. There are Palestinians that still have the keys to the homes they were thrown out of in 1948.
    “I’m all in favour of equal representation for pianists and jugglers”
    That’s nice. How are their rights going to be ensured?

    The key is that they have the balls to stand up for themselves.

  39. Duncan said,

    John,

    People such as yourself, who claim that there is a persistent tactic of crying ‘antisemitism’ oo deflect criticism of Israel

    I make no such claim.

    In fact, I rarely comment on this sort of thing at all.

  40. Richard Gold said,

    Hi Duncan. Thanks for your reply.

    So it looks like we’re in agreement then that it doesn’t happen very often. But to listen to anti-zionists you’d think it happened all the time. As you say ” (not very, would be my guess)” which is really the point of Jim’s post.

    As Jim quotes David Hirsh, it’s become a sort of “anti-zionist’s urban myth”.

    I do wonder why that is. Do people who use this accusation really believe it or is it just a tactic ? For example – at a bricup fringe meeting in favour of a boycott at UCU Congress last year , Haim Bresheeth said that Emgage had called him an antisemite. I asked him to give one example because i knew it wasn’t true. he said that it had happened often and that he read Engage every day. I asked him again for just one example and he conceded that he may have been wrong. I wonder if he believed it when he made that accusation of whether this was just a tactic which had backfired.

    A similar example is when people cry intimidation when they are challenged on their criticisms of Israel (and i don’t doubt that there’s a lot to criticise Israeli governments for their actions). For instance when people challenged Rupert Reed’s views (after he had linked to an Atzmon article in favour of the Dispatches programme) he talked about the “name-calling that” he had suffered.

    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/green-councillor-and-candidate-rupert-read-pushes-gilad-atzmon/#comments

    I checked the comment thread and there wasn’t any name calling. Often when people are challenged they resort to playing the victim of intimidation by zionists and the “zionist lobby”.. It amazes me how people who are used to political debate suddenly become so fragile when challenged. The far right have done this for years , when Jews , anti-fascists , etc have challneged the far right on their views , the far right response has often been to cry intimidation. It’s another example of how certain people on the left (and i don’t include you or your comrades in this Duncan) have taken on far right wing discourse over the Palestine / Israel debate.

  41. Lobby Ludd said,

    John Meredith #29:

    “Are you suggesting that Johng is not a supporter of a genocidally antisemitic organisation?”

    I guess we all know johng is a SWP member.

    I assume this means that the SWP is “genocidally antisemitic”.

    Mr Meredith, do you know what ‘pissing on your own doorstep’ means?

  42. FlyingRodent said,

    I have to paraphrase Jarvis Cocker here and ask, after you’ve called your political opponents “Genocidally anti-semitic,” what exactly do you do for an encore?

  43. anengagingmanoeuvre said,

    Richard Gold
    “Two anonymous commenters on a blog. Pretty desperate Duncan”

    John Meredith
    “When we look to the record, it just isn’t there…”

    Did you miss my previous comment? It’s #16

    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/the-lobby-that-didnt-bark-anti-semitism-in-the-night/#comment-27376

    That’s the result of 10 minutes on google, on this one TV show.

  44. John Meredith said,

    “I guess we all know johng is a SWP member. I assume this means that the SWP is “genocidally antisemitic””

    I said that Johng supports genocidally antisemitic organisations (one at least), not that he is a member of any, and that is true. Johng does not deny it, as far as I know. That does not mean that his hostility to Israel is necessarily antisemitic, of course. It may be that Johng supports other racist organisations elsewhere for all I know.

  45. Richard Gold said,

    anengagingmanoeuvre – you did a ten minute google and saw examples where people claim there has been antisemitism. Unless you are saying there cannot be antisemitism in the context of any criticisms of Israel. If you look at what Boyd said , if you look at what the CST article said then you’ll see that these are not responses to just criticism of Israel.

    So again from what you say there can be no antisemitism if it’s to do with Israel.

  46. anengagingmanoeuvre said,

    Richard Gold

    This post was significantly based on the following claim:

    “But what I want to know from Wilby (and I sent a comment to the NS website asking this, but when I last checked it hadn’t been published) , is who, precisely, has made these “inevitable” claims against Oborne and his programme…I have come across plenty of criticism of Oborne’s programme and article – but not one single allegation of anti-semitism.”

    I provided a (partial) list of examples that suggest this claim is not entirely correct. Examples that were not difficult to find.

  47. John Meredith said,

    But, as far as I can tell, none of those comments is an accusation of antisemitism. They discuss antisemitism, but that is a different thing all together. None of the comments you give can be construed (as far as I can tell without reading them in context) to be an attempt to shut down criticism of Israel through accusations of antisemitism.

  48. Lobby Ludd said,

    “The lobby that didn’t bark “anti-semitism” in the night”

    I’m beginning to think that the title of this post set up a straw man.

    Plainly there are lobbyists for various interests in Israel, just as there are for any interests in any state.

    There is no single Israeli lobby to make the call of anti-semitism. Accusations of anti-semitism may or may not come from certain lobbyists. What is without doubt is that criticism of, or opposition to, the state of Israel does attract accusations of anti-semitism in public debate. It’s just part of the landscape, and it’s not good enough to say that the ‘accusers’ don’t really represent anything.

    Look at comments above, quite what is Meredith saying? Maybe he represents nothing, but it does taint any sensible discussion.

  49. john meredith said,

    “Look at comments above, quite what is Meredith saying? Maybe he represents nothing, but it does taint any sensible discussion.”

    What have I said that you take issue with Lobby? The only statement of fact I made was about Johng’s support for a genocidally antisemitic party, that is just a matter of record and so it can hardly be unfair to mention it. Bear in mind that Johng himself does not deny it. If you were an outspoken defender of, say, the BNP, it would be faitr to point that out when you commented on racism in other organisations.

    What has not happened, as far as I can see, is for johng’s specific criticisms of Israeli policy to be dismissed under cover of accusations of antsemitism. That doesn’t happen. The issue only arises when Johng, Richard Seymour and those like them set out to defend antisemitism explicitly.

  50. skidmarx said,

    And when do they “defend antisemitism explicitly”?

  51. Lobby Ludd said,

    Meredith:

    “The only statement of fact I made was about Johng’s support for a genocidally antisemitic party, that is just a matter of record and so it can hardly be unfair to mention it.”

    ‘Mention it’, in everything but name. Well, we can all play guessing games (my money is on ‘We are all Hezbollah now’). This is not an honest way to conduct a discussion.

  52. FlyingRodent said,

    genocidally antisemitic

    “Not an honest way to conduct a discussion” doesn’t really touch it, does it? If there’s a political party in this country that literally wants to murder millions, then you’d think that the only way to deal with them would be, you know, quite violent.

    Or – and I’m playing devil’s advocate here – perhaps John’s comment is a great example of how completely insane blog commenters can be, when they put their minds to it.

  53. Lobby Ludd said,

    ““Not an honest way to conduct a discussion” doesn’t really touch it, does it? ”

    You’re right, Mr Rodent. or can I call you ‘Flying’?

    I’m just trying to be polite.

  54. charliethechulo said,

    Flying and Lobby: I think the problem is that the SWP *is* comprehensively hostile to the vast majority of Jews in the world, and *is* politically anti-semitic. That doesn’t make make individual SWP members *personally* Jew-haters, any more than Christian anti-semites (who wanted to convert Jews and save them) hated Jews: they didn’t; they LOVED Jews. The Jews just had to stop being Jewish. Just like for the SWP, the Jews just have to stop being Zionists and renounce Israel. Simple as that. then they can join the pantheon of approved Jews, alongside Tony Cliff, John Rose and Gilad Atzmon.

  55. FlyingRodent said,

    I think the problem is that the SWP *is* comprehensively hostile to the vast majority of Jews in the world, and *is* politically anti-semitic

    Politically anti-semitic! You have to love that.

    I have to say that I couldn’t give a shit for any political party of whatever stripe in this country or any other, and yet I still think that “genocidally antisemitic” is absolutely hilarious as a term of political abuse, except for actual Nazis. Which is what it is – hilarious – rather than a term describing anything that exists in reality.

    I mean, surely other commenters can see the irony in some joker calling his political foes “genocidally antisemitic” under a post that kids on mendacious bullshit accusations of antisemitism barely exist, right? I mean, how can anyone miss it?.

    And I’ll finally note that my fairly reasonable (I thought) post about three days ago, pointing out that the Dispatches documentary was attacked in a major American newspaper for no reason at all by a tiny, who-gives-a-shit British thinktank, has not been addressed at all in this thread. Like Robin Shepherd’s views on, fuck it, the price of fishcakes in Hong Kong would be heard in the Wall Street Jounal otherwise. My bahookie.

    Except, that is, for Voltaire’s Priest, who took the time to pretend that the pro-war left don’t count for anything outside the blogosphere. Except, of course, that they hold major opinion and editorial writing positions at the Times, which is Britain’s premier newspaper, I’m told, That’s before we get to the Tory allies we’ll be hearing from over the next decade – get ready for a lot of boo-hoo defences of that horrible tosser Michael Gove.

  56. Voltaire's Priest said,

    I hardly think that Oliver Kamm writing in the Times every now and then, or for that matter Nick Cohen having a column in the Observer, is a mark of massive “Decent” infiltration of the mainstream media, Flying. Furthermore, I think you’ll find that poll after poll shows their opinions have very little sway over anyone at all.

    As for Michael Gove, he’s a Tory so therefore not even on the “left” in the highly tangential sense that the hedge fund manager Kamm would consider himself to be.

    So… your point is?

  57. FlyingRodent said,

    your point is?

    Well, it was basically that my mention of the pro-war left, barely a footnote in what I said, is the only point anyone’s objected to. Although I do have to reiterate that the use of “genocidally antisemitic” as a term of political abuse in a thread about how nobody would EVAR make a mendacious accusation of racism is pretty damn funny.

  58. voltairespriest said,

    John Meredith wrote that comment I believe – he’s not the author of the post, and besides, I don’t agree with his comment. So what if he thinks that?

  59. FlyingRodent said,

    Oh, I know John wrote it – I just thought it was a pretty graphic indication that maybe, just maybe, some people somewhere may sometimes make ridiculous accusations of racism for political reasons. We could probably put it better in rubbish haiku form…

    Bullshit racism cries/
    O liberal left!
    Why are you such Nazis?

    It guess what I’m trying to say is that Jim is clearly wrong. Some folk do make mendacious accusations against people who just object to stuff like bombing heavily-populated cities; pretending that this is not the case is counterproductive and not a little insulting.

    Further, implying that anyone who refers to this entirely obvious fact is some kind of race-baiting conspiracist totally refutes the point he’s trying to make, reducing his argument to a level of bathos you seldom see expressed in such detail. He’s basically saying “There’s no such thing as politicised accusations of racism and anyone that says there is, is a horrible racist”. He would really be better saying Israeli partisans would never do anything so nasty. because before whacking himself in the face with a wet fish.

  60. Jim Denham said,

    Flying Rodent & Ors: what do you make of the following:

    “Writing in The Independent on Sunday, our former ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles, points out that two members of the Iraq inquiry are Jewish and that one of them, Sir Martin Gilbert, “has a record of active support for Zionism”.

    “Such facts,” says Mr Miles, “are not usually mentioned in the mainstream British and American media.” (This column has been a lonely exception to the rule.)

    “Sure enough, to prove the ambassador’s point, he was swiftly denounced by a leading representative of the mainstream media, The Times. “Oliver Miles’s contribution to the debate is extraordinary and disgraceful,” proclaimed an editorial on Wednesday. “The members of the panel are eminent in scholarship and public service. They should be allowed to get on with their deliberations without a volley of snide attack and irrelevant innuendo.”

    “The ambassador’s comments and the attention paid to them by The Times may be helpful in the long run, if only by drawing attention to the Israeli dimension in the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a dimension that hitherto has scarcely been mentioned. Yet it is a fact that the campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein was initiated, well before 9/11, by a group of influential American neocons, notably Perle, Feith and Wolfowitz (once described by Time magazine as “the godfather of the Iraq war”) nearly all of whom were ardent Zionists, in many cases more concerned with preserving the security of Israel than that of the US.

    “Given that undeniable fact, the pro-Israeli bias of Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman, both of them supporters of the 2003 invasion, is a perfectly respectable point to raise. It is equally legitimate to ask if at any point the panel will investigate or even refer to the US neocons and their links to Israel. Call me snide if you like, but I very much doubt they will” ?
    .
    Is that anti-semitism? Can you imagine any other ethnic minority being discussed in such terms in the mainstream, bourgeois press?

  61. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘FlyingRodent; I hardly think that “decents” (I assume by that you mean the pro-war “left” types) count for anything much outside of the blogosphere, to be honest.’

    Neither does Flying Rodent, or skidmarx.

    Incidentally, Mr Miles is connected financially to a government which funded the IRA, and which (prior to the seizure of the Eksund) was complicit in the former’s intention to stage a ‘Tet Offensive’ in Northern Ireland. He’s also connected to a government complicit in the murder of a Met police officer, and the Lockerbie atrocity of 1988. Now, funnily enough, all the bien pensant types worried about ‘lobbies’ aren’t concerned about Mr Miles’ links to a regime responsible for abetting terrorism. I wonder why?

  62. charliethechulo said,

    The ‘Morning Star’, Weds Nov 25: “Taming The Zionist Lobby”
    …begins…

    “Last week’s Channel 4 Dispatches programme probing the antics of thr pro-Israeli lobby in British politics has opened up this hitherto forbidden subject to public debate.”

  63. FlyingRodent said,

    what do you make of the following?

    The guy sounds like an utter bellend, and I’d expect anyone arguing that people be blocked from their jobs on ethnic grounds to swiftly find their reputation taking a rocket-propelled nosedive into the toilet. The Independent need to give themselves a fucking good shake, putting such obvious bollocks in the press.

    Is that the Condemnathon over, or do you have a raft of new jokers with whiffy opinions for me to denounce? Because you’ll notice that nowhere have I said that racism doesn’t exist, but to read your comment you’d think I’d been arguing exactly that.

    As a small point of interest though, I think it’s worth noting that the message that “insane neoconservative bullshit” and “Jewish people” are synonyms is aggressively pushed with equal enthusiasm by both actual antisemites and insane neoconservative bullshitters. While some might – correctly – take this as a sign that we need to show less tolerance for racist shitheads, I think it should also make us reconsider whether insane neoconservative bullshit should be given similar treatment.

  64. charliethechulo said,

    But, FR, the guy (Richard Ingrams), *isn’t* some eccentric “joker with whiffy opinions “: he’s a columnist on a mainstream national newspaper (The Independent on Sunday): you can’t dismiss his opinions so easily.

    The rest of your comment: ” I think it should also make us reconsider whether insane neoconservative bullshit should be given similar treatment”, I just don’t understand. But it sounds quite nasty.

  65. John Meredith said,

    “Although I do have to reiterate that the use of “genocidally antisemitic” as a term of political abuse in a thread about how nobody would EVAR make a mendacious accusation of racism is pretty damn funny.”

    This is just daft. Hamas simply IS a genocidally antisemitic organisation, the murder of Jews is part of their political charter and they act on it consistently. If you defend them politically or ally yourself with them you are allying yourself with an antisemitic organisation. Why we should avopid noticing that is beyond me. That is not to say that everyone who supports or defends Hamas is an antisemite, but they are supporting and defending antisemitism. Johng is a notable example. I notice that Johng does npot ally himself with other expressly racist orgnisations even if he agrees with tyhem on other issues. For instance he will not join in with the BNP to protest against housing shortages. If he did, it would be fair to point out that he is giving succour to racists even if he does not consider himself to be one.

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