Oxford University Palestine Soc: “We are All Hamas”

October 20, 2014 at 6:49 am (anti-semitism, conspiracy theories, Guardian, intellectuals, islamism, israel, Jim D, Middle East, palestine, reactionay "anti-imperialism", students)

I have been asked, by a regular reader, to carry more material explaining our position on antisemitism – and, in particular our allegation that a lot of contemporary antisemitism comes from the “left” and takes the form of Palestinian solidarity (a cause that, in principle, Shiraz supports). I intend to write at some length on this subject soon, but as a starting point I’d refer readers to Galloway’s recent refusal to support Palestinian statehood (and his explanation, here) and the following account of a meeting at Oxford University. Note that one of the main speakers is an Oxford academic who frequently writes for the liberal-left Guardian. In other words, these people are not fringe elements within the pro-Palestinian movement in the UK. Support for the total destruction of Israel (ie the Hamas position) and  casual comparisons between Israelis and Nazis, are now commonplace in the pro-Palestine movement. Even placards stating “Hitler was Right” are allowed on pro-Palestine demos, apparently unchallenged by the organisers or other marchers. As usual, when we re-publish material, it should go without saying that we don’t necessarily agree with all the article’s contents or endorse all the politics of the author.:

From Richard Black (via Facebook)

15 October 2014:

Tonight I had the misfortune to attend the inaugural Palestine Society event here in Oxford. I went with Sapan and Jonathan out of a mixture of open mindedness and intellectual curiosity.

What I heard and saw genuinely shocked me. I’ve heard a lot in my time but this was by far the worst event I have ever attended. I can only describe it as a two hour hate fest of the variety described in George Orwell’s ‘1984.’ It went from the downright idiotic to the explicitly anti-Semitic – and often both. I heard a girl complain about the evils of ‘Zionist’ control in her native America – she even attacked ‘Zionists’ for controlling the make up she wore! No one challenged this girl’s delusions: they only reassured her that fighting Zionism must remain paramount. I heard numerous people glorify the ‘right of the resistance’ and reject non-violent tactics, even including an Oxford academic on the panel (Karma Nabulsi).

I had a question of my own. I read to the panel a quotation from John Molyneux, a theorist from the Socialist Workers’ Party;

“To put the matter as starkly as possible: from the standpoint of Marxism and international socialism an illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim Palestinian peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically).”

I then added – “I’d be interested to know what the members of the panel think about this mode of analysis. Do they support what I consider to be a totally irrational – and dangerous – position?”

Not only did the panelists evade my question – Avi Shlaim, Karma Nabulsi and Barnaby Raine – to my horror, they actually agreed with its sentiment. Mr Raine, a student at Wadham College and a student activist, mocked me by saying that “anyone would stand up for the oppressed against an oppressor.” It should also be noted that Mr Raine noticeably hesitated when I put up my hand – he looked everywhere around the room before reluctantly taking my question. This person excuses the most morally reprehensible actions. He practically fetishises totalitarianism.

It got worse. Near the end of the talk, a local PSC activist defended Molyneux’s remarks by arguing that he’d rather be a Medieval, backward Chassidic Jew in the Warsaw Ghetto than a cultured German in a Nazi uniform. A sizable proportion of the room – hundreds of people – applauded this awful anti-Semitic distortion of history and trivialization of the Holocaust.

I am aware this status is long and most students couldn’t care less about student politics. However, I think it’s important that all students know that here, in 21st Century Britain, at one of the best universities in the world, political extremism is flourishing. Whereas far right fascists are, rightly, tarred and made into social pariahs, their equivalents on the far left get away with it time and time again. These are the totalitarians in our midst.

I have done what I can. I tried exposing rampant anti-Semitism in the Palestine Society at the start of this year and I was treated with ridicule. It’s time to take this stuff seriously. I saw many freshers at this event – freshers whose minds have been poisoned and given a wholly false narrative which demonises one people at the expense of the other, one that demonises the forces of peace and rewards the actions of hate and terrorism. I saw a room of intelligent, perhaps highly naive students, express the most hideous and morally warped trash. I saw no effort to condemn outright anti-Semitic prejudice when it was expressed. I saw pure intellectual fascism – people attending a talk to confirm their prejudices, and actively ostracising those that disagree with them.

I cannot think of a worse introduction to Oxford for incoming students to this University. Anyone who genuinely cares about Palestinians – whether in the West Bank or Gaza, or elsewhere in the Middle East or the diaspora – should stay the hell away from Oxford University’s Palestine Society. And remember that all it takes for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.

20 Comments

  1. Sarah AB said,

    Antisemitism does not always go unchallenged at pro-Palestinian events. At a demonstration against Gaza in Cambridge I was aware of organisers distancing themselves from someone with a placard saying ‘Israelis are Nazis’ (or something very similar). I believe they called the police – who couldn’t really do anything though I think they had a word.

    • Jim Den ham said,

      Btw, Sarah: apologies for not hat-tipping you for drawing my attention to Richard Black’s piece in your report on student politics over at Harry’s Place.

  2. Mark Wallace said,

    Richard Black’s statement is confusing. He says he went to the event out of open mindedness and curiosity, but later reveals he had been involved in exposing anti-semitism in the Palestine Society beforehand. It doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but it raises questions about his motivations and the reliability of his reportage.

  3. Paul m said,

    It’s getting difficult, not to conclude that the only thing that cretins will understand is having their heads aquainted with paving stones.

  4. dbav said,

    Is this ‘Medieval, backward Chassidic Jew’ bit a direct quote, I wonder? Specifically the word ‘Medieval.’ I ask simply because the Medieval period ended in the 15th century, and Chassidic Judaism emerged in the 18th Century – which would be considered the early modern period – and their various concepts and practices fit within that ideological and historical context; the very idea of a Medieval Chassidic Jew is as ridiculous as that of a Medieval Marxist, for example, both being necessarily modern phenomena. Perhaps it’s being overly pedantic, but considering Marxists seem to pride themselves on understanding the unfolding of history, the changing positions of different classes and the tensions between them, and how this influences prevailing ideology and the development of ideological movements (I mean, that’s literally their whole shtick), you’d think they’d be able to avoid a mistake like that. Unless, of course, they just don’t know the first thing about Jewish history…

  5. puss wallgreen said,

    care to tell us what the source is for your photo, Jimbo? a Google search indicates that it originates from David Horowitz’s Front Page website. I have no doubt you think Horowitz is an estimable fellow, but there is no indication that this image has anything to do with Oxford University.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Simples: I just looked for an image of a placard saying “We Are All Hamas”.

  6. puss wallgreen said,

    Yes, and it seems the only such image you could find was one which looks to be rather badly photoshopped on a notorious far right neocon nutjob website. Nor does your account give any indication of the phrase “we are all Hamas’ being used by anybody at Oxford University Palestine Society.Indeed, all that seems to have happened is that the president of the Oxford University Israel Society went to a Palestine Society meeting and didn’t like what he heard. Hardly surprising, and a rather flimsy basis for threatening violence against Palestinian solidarity activists in the manner of your comrade Paul M. On the reliability and “open mindedness” of your star witness here, I refer you to http://oxfordstudent.com/2014/01/23/49351/ and http://oxford.tab.co.uk/2014/01/17/oxford-israel-society-president-in-crisis/

    • Jim Den ham said,

      Are you saying, Puss, that you’ve never seen placards proclaiming “We Are All Hamas” on demos? That the placard in the picture is some phtoshopped fake?

      Get real.

      My choice of headline for the piece is, I think, a fair summary of the politics of the people described in the article. After all, what else does the following mean:

      “Avi Shlaim, Karma Nabulsi and Barnaby Raine – to my horror, they actually agreed with its sentiment (ie of the pro-Hamas quotation from .John Molyneux). Mr Raine, a student at Wadham College and a student activist, mocked me by saying that “anyone would stand up for the oppressed against an oppressor.”

      • puss wallgreen said,

        “Are you saying, Puss, that you’ve never seen placards proclaiming “We Are All Hamas” on demos?”
        Yes, I am, and I suspect I have been on far more Palestine demos than you. If the slogan was so prevalent why is it that the only photographic evidence you can find is an unattibruted snap on a far right nutjob site? It is of course perfectly possible that Islamists might raise this slogan, but what does that have to do with OUPS?

        @After all, what else does the following mean: “Avi Shlaim, Karma Nabulsi and Barnaby Raine – to my horror, they actually agreed with its sentiment (ie of the pro-Hamas quotation from .John Molyneux). Mr Raine, a student at Wadham College and a student activist, mocked me by saying that “anyone would stand up for the oppressed against an oppressor.””
        It means once again that Mr Black is a rather confused individual, since he initially says that the panelists evaded his question, as well as apparently responding to it very forthrightly. I’m intrigued to learn that the AWL now considers standing up for the oppressed to be anti-Semitic, but I would not take a second hand report from an unreliable witness as a suitable basis for putting words into anybody’s mouth. Strange, I thought Trotskyists might be suspicious of doctored photographs and fabricated quotes – in any case, while I know nothing of Mr Raine, I would hope that Avi Shlaim and Karma Nabulsi would consider taking legal action against you for publishing this slur.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I would welcome legal action of the type you describe: it would force these people out into the open and expose their true politics.

        But I’ll offer you a little bet (name your price): such legal action will never come, for precisely the reason I’d welcome it.

        Btw: I simply don’t believe you when you say you’ve never seen (or heard) the slogan “Wer’re All Hamas” (or “Hizbullah”) on demos. And I’d be interested to know what makes you so sure you’ve been on more pro-Palestinian demos than me.

        Is this a fake as well? http://www.crethiplethi.com/the-western-left-non-violent-terrorist-sympathizers/israel/2010/

  7. puss wallgreen said,

    • Jim Den ham said,

      Errr … and your point is ..?

      • puss wallgreen said,

        My point is that Mr Black doesn’t sound like a very reliable witness, going on the evidence of members (or rather ex-members) of his own society.

      • Jim Den ham said,

        Oh, that’s your point is it?

        You think Black’s making it all up, or (perhaps) exaggerating?

        As for him being my “hero”, please re-read the intro to the piece, ie:

        “it should go without saying that we don’t necessarily agree with all the article’s contents or endorse all the politics of the author.”

    • ZINR said,

      Whatever you do, Pussy, be sure not to engage with the huge and blindingly obvious problem which all British “Palestinian solidarity” (i.e. anti-Israel) groups have with antisemitism. Be sure especially to have your hands over your eyes and your fingers in your ears if you should attend a PSC demonstration…last time I went to one (to counter-protest, obviously) their supporters were shouting “get back in the ovens” and “Hitler should have finished the job”…but you’re right, no “We are all Hamas” banners on that occasion. Just Hezbollah T-Shirts and banners equating Israel with Nazi Germany.

      Your entire movement is utterly, irredemably rotten. What do you expect? These organisations, in the UK at least, are all single-state lobby groups (hence their support for the Nazi butchers of Hamas). The laughably termed “Palestinian solidarity” movement is solely concerned with kicking Jews out of the middle east (this is no hyperbole – a single Arab-run state of “Palestine”, as we well know, will contain no Jews whatsoever and there’s nowhere else in the middle east that promises to do anything other than slaughter them), yet you offer no actual solidarity to Palestinians at all. What did you have to say when Assad massacred more Palestinians in two years than the Israelis had managed in 65? Why aren’t you vigorously opposing Hamas, an organisation which brutalises and opresses the Gazan population and is despised there? Why promote a boycott movement which even the PA thoroughly opposes and which does nothing but harm to West Bank Palestinians?

      Go on – explain to me that the Oxford Palestine Society supports peace talks, co-operation between Arab and Jewish workers and trade unions, moderate secular government for the Palestinians and a negotiated two state solution….?

  8. Aaron Aarons said,

    1) I wonder if you would publish a report by a (hypothetical) supporter of Hamas who is too extreme even for other supporters of Hamas on a meeting of supporters of the JS (Jewish State) with no caveats other than the ritual disclaimer:
    “it should go without saying that we don’t necessarily agree with all the article’s contents or endorse all the politics of the author.”
    (Keep in mind that we are talking about a supposed report on an event, for which the credibility of the reporter is important, and not an expression of opinion on matters of public record.)

    2) What is the supposed similarity between (a) pointing out parallels between Zionism and Naziism, which is usually done by people (like me) who oppose both, and (b) the assertion that “Hitler Was Right”, i.e., that Naziism was right? Certainly, the latter assertion should not be tolerated anywhere, although it’s not always physically possible to stop it in every situation.

    3) How is the statement “by a local PSC activist [who] defended Molyneux’s remarks by arguing that he’d rather be a Medieval, backward Chassidic Jew in the Warsaw Ghetto than a cultured German in a Nazi uniform” an “awful anti-Semitic distortion of history and trivialization of the Holocaust”?

    4) Coming from the likes of Richard Black, the statement that “Anyone who genuinely cares about Palestinians […] should stay the hell away from Oxford University’s Palestine Society” is like a leader of a White Citizens’ Council in the U.S. in the 1960’s saying that anyone who genuinely cares about ‘Negroes’ “should stay the hell away from” one or another Black Power group.

    • Jim Denham said,

      1/ I published the report (complete with “ritual” disclaimer – what would a non-“ritual” disclaimer look like?) because it rings true and tallies with my experience of such events and such individuals. If anyone wants to argue that it isn’t, they’re welcome to, but no-one actually has.

      2/ Anyone who genuinely thinks Zionism is comparable to fascism is unhinged and politically illiterate. Anyone who says it is (whilst not really believing it to be true) is an antisemite.

      3/ Same answer as #2

      4/ Ignorant, slanderous rubbish

  9. puss wallgreen said,

    @And I’d be interested to know what makes you so sure you’ve been on more pro-Palestinian demos than me.”
    Because you routinely portray pro-Palestinian demos and solidarity events as Hamas-loving HItlerite hatefests, so I would be surprised at your attending them. Because while you always have time to link to Likudnik websites, as above, and reblog statements by the Israeli ambassador or eulogies to West Bank settlement enterprises, you have never publicised a single Palestine solidarity initiative or published a single article written by a Palestinian here. Perhaps you attended these demos when you and your organisation were, by your own admission, avowed anti-Semites.
    “I published the report (complete with “ritual” disclaimer – what would a non-“ritual” disclaimer look like?) because it rings true and tallies with my experience of such events and such individuals. If anyone wants to argue that it isn’t, they’re welcome to, but no-one actually has”.
    Actually this account has been questioned by members of Mr Black’s own Israel Society, who have asked him to withdraw it and have been expelled for their pains. We have of course been here before, when you claimed that the UCU conference had been given over to an an orgy of anti-Semitic hatred – unfortunately for you the proceedings had been recorded and were minutely examined by a legal tribunal which found no evidence for such allegations. Not that you have apologies to UCU members for that, or for the AWL’s collaboration with an attempt to use the bourgeois courts to overturn a democratic union conference decision.

    • Jim Denham said,

      I think we’ve had enough of your lies, half-truths, distortions and all round pig-ignorance and dishonesty, Puss. In addition, there’s only so much educative benefit to be had in engaging with antisemites. So goodbye.

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