Jon Carroll, a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, offers this interpretation of the recent spat between the White House and the NYT:
The name of the New York Times contains the word “New York.” Many members of the president’s base consider “New York” to be a nifty code word for “Jewish.” It is very nice for the president to be able to campaign against the Jews without (a) actually saying the word “Jew” and (b) without irritating the Israelis.
Eh, sorry, but I’m not buying it. Bashing liberal icons such as the NYT and Ted Kennedy is a time-honored bloodsport among conservatives (including politically conservative Jews), much in the same way that liberals never tire of attacking the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and Fox news. I might find the Chronicle’s crusade against anti-semitism a bit more convincing if it hadn’t just published a glowing profile of a progressive congressional candidate that tactfully overlooked his previous dealings with Holocaust deniers.
Additionally, I can’t help but guffaw at the subtext of Carroll’s argument–that George Bush found a way to subtly bash Jews without attracting the ire of his Israeli overlords. Clever guy, that George.
I see that Norman Finkelstein is once again lending his scholarly services to Holocaust deniers.
As I noted a couple of months back, he was doing interviews with the Iranian media. Well, now he’s doing Lebanese television as well. You can read the Memri transcript here. It’s typical Finkelstein–though what really leapt out at me was the narrator’s introduction to this program:
The “Holocaust” is the Jewish term for burning the sacrificial offering to ashes. Never has there been an issue subject to as many contradictions, lies, and exaggerations regarding the number of victims as the issue of the Jewish Holocaust. The number of people killed in the Holocaust was estimated in the film “Night and Fog,” by the French director Alain Resnais, to be between eight and nine million, on the basis of documents invented by the Jews. The number dropped to four million Jews in the Soviet report to the Nuremburg trials. The figure dropped further, to 300,000 victims, according to British historian David Irving, and reached only 50,000, according to Raul Hilberg the Jew.
Given the statistical contradictions in the number of Holocaust victims, the French intellectual Roger Garaudy asks how the truth can be determined. The Holocaust Industry, by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, recounts how the Jews of the world have turned Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis into a political and ideological industry in order to garner support for Israel, and into a source of economic extortion, which yielded inconceivable sums for the Jews and their organizations, using as a pretext the so-called victims of the Nazi annihilation operations.
Only 50,000 dead? The “so-called” victims? These are the people Finkelstein aids and abets? How does this guy sleep at night?
Yet more news concerning the ongoing fracas over the forthcoming WorldPride event in Jerusalem. The Jewish Press has just published an interview with Rabbi Yehuda Levin–the self-designated defender of Jewish morality who has convened a conference to oppose the gathering.
The good rabbi finds the silence from the Jewish community “puzzling” and “painful.” So, unable to galvanize moral outrage, he’s now playing the security card:
But having [support from] religious Jews alone might not be enough. And that’s why I held my press conference for the Muslim community last week….They promised to issue an extremely strong statement across the Arab world against having this thing in any part of Israel or the Middle East. Now, that should really give pause to the police.
I am doing this with the Arabs because I firmly believe that if we’re quiet, the Arabs will say, “Look at these Jews who did this terrible offence to the holy city,” and they will start to rile up people for months or, G-d forbid, years to come and there will be anti-Semitic violent incidents.
Schmuck. Still, with this piece of news, the proverbial circle is now complete. Consider the coalition that has formed a united front against the WorldPride gathering in Jerusalem: An anti-Israel gay organization opposed to the security fence has found common cause with right-wing religious zionists who claim WorldPride will threaten Israel’s security. The right-wing religious zionists have made common cause with Muslim clerics who oppose the “Judification” of Jerusalem. And the Muslim clerics who oppose homosexuality have made common cause with a gay rights group that is anti-Israel.
My brain hurts….
Wow, nothing brings people together (in anger) faster than a gay-lesbian pride rally in Jerusalem.
As I noted previously, various anti-Israel groups are opposing this event, including a organization calling itself Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, or QUIT (not to be confused with their rival splinter group–Queers Undermining International Zionism, or QUIZ). Members of QUIT recently crashed a LGBT Freedom Day celebration in San Francisco and passed out…get ready for this…”Estee Slaughter Realityfold sleep masks.” The black mask, tastefully emblazoned in gold with the ES logo, bears this explanatory text on its flip side: “Going to Jerusalem for World Pride? Worried the sight of so many Walls and Checkpoints will keep you from getting your beauty rest? Estee Slaughter’s Realityfolds will protect you from the harsh glow of Occupation so you can party in virtual peace.” Parade security monitors escorted QUIT away from the festivities–in part, because they didn’t have a permit, and in part because they were really, really silly.
Meanwhile, religious groups are none too happy about the event either. Rabbi Yehuda Levin (the Jerry Falwell groupie who heads “Jews for Morality”) organized a Jerusalem conference attended by both Jewish and Arab religious leaders who expressed their staunch objection to holding the Gay Pride Parade in the Holy City. (Wow, they’re breaking down barriers!) Among the participants were Arab-Israeli sheik and MK Ibrahim Sarsur, who declared: “if they (gays) will dare to approach the Temple Mount during the parade – they will do so over our dead bodies,” adding that “the Gay Pride Parade is an attack on Jerusalem that aims to damage the Islamic identity of young Arabs in the city.” This attack “is more venomous than the Zionist attack to make Jerusalem Jewish,” he said.
Some good stuff, with articles covering topics as diverse as Jewish Wrestling All-Stars, a photo essay of Israelis and Palestinians wounded in the Intifada, and a compendium of Yiddish insults (“Hang yourself with a sugar rope; you’ll have a sweet death.”)
One article of particular note is Micha Odenheimer’s profile [pdf] of Neutrai Karta, the anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox sect whose members are routinely invited to be the token Jews at various anti-Israel hatefests. But, in a new, disturbing twist, Odenheimer reports that the group is suddenly gaining a new cachet in the most unexpected of circles — namely, the far-right religious Zionists:
For a substantial portion of the religious right, the Gaza disengagement and the imminent threat of the further dismantling of settlements in the West Bank has been defining. For these people, Neturai Karta’s notion of the Jewish state as being in direct opposition to the Jewish religion has acquired a new resonance. Recently, at the Western Wall, several “hilltop youth,” the religious Zionist (and anarchistic) progeny of West Bank settlers, were seen wearing T-shirts printed with the words of Neturai Karta’s theme song. “After the disengagement from Gaza,” a spokesperson for one religious-right group told me, “we saw that it wasn’t the wasn’t the Arabs that are our enemy, but the state.”
“The state of Israel is the new bin Laden,” says Rabbi Dov Wolpe, a prominent Chabad Lubavitch rabbi who organized a rally in November in support of the displaced Gaza settlers titled “We Will Not Forgive and We Will Not Forget.” This is strong stuff for Lubavitch, a group that has for decades been perceived as the Hasidic faction most sympathetic to Zionism. Wolpe now echoes Neturai Karta in calling Zionism a false messiah. “Belief in the false messiah is preventing the real messiah from coming,” he says.
The “We Will Not Forgive” rally organized by Wolpe was attended by 7,000 people. In its final hours, the Israeli pop star Ariel Zilber, whose politics have shifted gradually to the right over the past few years, took the stage. To the audience’s great surprise, he belted out a syncopated, trancedance version of the Neturai Karta anthem: “In the government of the heretics, we do not believe,we do not believe,” he sang. “And their laws, we will not follow, no, we will not follow.”
I can’t keep track of all the various leftist groups in the UK, but one of them, Workers’ Liberty, has just issued a leaflet denouncing George Galloway’s Respect Party, the academic boycott, and, more broadly, the efforts of the looney left to isolate Israel.
Can we be expected to be united behind the SWP’s opposition to all but the friendliest criticism of the Iranian regime which over the last months has imprisoned and terrorised bus workers setting up a trade union? Should we be united and quiet as Islamist police beat up hundreds of women protesting last week at the increasing arrests and punishment of them for not wearing Islamic dress? Are we happy with the SWP’s interpretation of the struggle against fascism as centred round allying with Islamists like the gay-hating Sir Iqbal Sacranie?
An academic boycott of Israel would immediately set up an obstacle in the way of international solidarity action with both Palestinian and Israeli leftist academics. Look at the examples: Mona Baker’s sacking of Israeli members of her journal’s editorial boards – though one of those was a peace activist, a one-time leader of the Israeli branch of Amnesty International.
Of course the accusation of anti-Semitism should not be mobilised to stifle criticism of the Israeli state. But equally the cry “look at Israel’s crimes” should not be used to excuse politics which actually target the Israeli Jews as a nation, and often Jews in general.
Mearsheimer and Walt were on C-Span’s Washington Journal yesterday. It was their first TV appearance since publishing the “Israel Lobby.”
You can see the video here, but here are some of the highlights:
– These guys just love Jews! Several times, Mearsheimer made it a point to say “We are happy that there is a Jewish state” and “We believe the existence of Israel is a wonderful thing.” (Hey, thanks for the affirmation, John!) Funny, though, I didn’t pick up on that in their essay. I must have missed it somewhere in between when they declared that Israel is not compatible with American democratic values since it is a nation “based on the principle of blood kinship” and when they said Israel had a historical record “not distinguishable from that of its oppponents.”
– No, really, they love Jews! When a caller complained about the “Jewish” influence on U.S. politics, our man Walt set her straight. The Lobby, he exaplained, is a small group of elites (not all of them Jewish) who do not represent the views of mainstream Jews. And besides, Walt made clear, they never used the term “Jewish Lobby” in their essay. Well, he’s right about that!Instead, they made it very clear in their essay that “Jewish Americans have set up an impressive array of organisations to influence American foreign policy.” (I’m so glad he cleared that up!) And, curiously, in their essay, they attribute the stranglehold of the Israel Lobby (not the Jewish Lobby!) to the clout of Jewish voters: “Thanks in part to the influence Jewish voters have on presidential elections, the Lobby also has significant leverage over the executive branch. Although they make up fewer than 3 per cent of the population, they make large campaign donations to candidates from both parties…. And because Jewish voters have high turn-out rates and are concentrated in key states like California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania, presidential candidates go to great lengths not to antagonise them.” Seriously, I don’t know how anyone could possibly read that essay and walk away with the impression that this is a “Jewish Lobby.”
– It helps to have friends in high places. So, is the Israel Lobby (not the Jewish Lobby!) responsible for the war in Iraq? “They were critical, they were necessary, but they were not a sufficient condition for going into Iraq,” Walt explained. So, what was the missing element? “It took 9/11 and the commitment of Bush and Cheney…[But] without the Lobby there would not have been a war.” Ah, I see, all that was missing was a gullible Texan, mesmerized by his neocon advisers! In fact, Walt said the Lobby had been agitating for war since 1998. (Although, curiously, Walt and Mearsheimer never mentioned that in this 2003 essay criticizing the reasons for going to war in Iraq. I guess they’ve seen the light.)
Walt and Mearsheimer also mentioned that, in light of the tremendous response to their article, they will soon be publishing a follow-up essay in an academic journal. (But, wait, I thought this article was supposed to have destroyed their careers?) And, you can be sure, that a book will also be forthcoming.
Here’s a question from an actual sample exam on metaphysics, posted at the philosophy department of the University of Birmingham:
“Only George Galloway can genuinely remember the experiences of George Galloway. What significance, if any, does this fact have for the possibility of defining personal identity in terms of psychological connections?”
Um, any takers?
Filmmaker Andy Abrams has made a documentary titled “Tattoo Jew.”
An article over at Kosher Hollywood describes the project:
Abrams admits that when he began, he thought he’d find “a bunch of screw-ups,” or at least people with serious attitude problems. Instead he found people who had put a great deal of thought into the images they’ve chosen to permanently etch into their skins, images that are often explicitly Jewish.
“I found people incorporating [tattooing] as a part of not religious so much as spiritual expression. It’s an act of pride and it is really well thought out….The Judaic tattoos range from simple Stars of David and Hebrew characters, to elaborate pieces sometimes incorporating other elements of the person’s cultural identity. One man has a Hindu deity with the Hebrew character Aleph set in a ring behind. Another man, a former member of an anti-racist skinhead group, has a Star of David incorporated into a shield behind which sit two battle axes. “Young Jewish people are craving a new way to identify with being Jewish that fills the void. We don’t have a lot of easily digestible images in our daily lives about being Jewish.”
While orthodox Jews remain fairly rigid on the subject of tattooing (Abrams is quick to point out that this doesn’t mean that orthodox rabbis can’t be “hip” too), there does seem to be some small, growing acceptance of tattoos within the larger Jewish community. One reform rabbi recently called Abrams and spoke with him about helping a congregation member research a tattoo. The congregation member and her mother were tattooed just before the young woman’s Bat Mitzvah. Another participant recounted the time he was stopped at the door and told that he could not enter temple on one of the high religious holidays because of his visible tattoos. Catching word of what was happening, the rabbi came to the door and addressed the situation simply: “He’s a Jew. You let him in to pray.”
Question: What do Evangelical Christians and socialists have in common?
Answer: They’re true believers with a messianic obsession over Israel.
I use the term “messianic” purposefully. As for the Evangelicals, we all know the basic narrative of their beliefs: They’re the “friends” of the Jews, paving the way for us all return to Zion, establish a Kingdom of God…then Jesus returns, we finally “wise up” and embrace him as the messiah–thus ushering in the End Times, the apocalypse (presumably, with lots of cool special effects), and then (phew) salvation for humanity.
As for the socialists, well they’re our “friends” too. They want to “save us” from Zionism, which has corrupted the Jewish soul. As Sue Blackwell once declared: “Amongst Jews, there is a long and honourable alternative current to Zionism: namely, socialism…The socialist ideology of Marx, Trotsky and Luxemburg, of Abraham Leon and Marek Edelman, is an inclusive one, urging unity with non-Jews against the common enemy instead of either going meekly to one’s death or running away to Israel. I recommend it to you.” And, then there’s Steve Cushion, a lecturer at London Metropolitan University (and a supporter of the academic boycott of Israel), who says: “A two state solution in Palestine institutionalises a racist divide in the region and is a bar to peace. The only possible solution is for a secular socialist state from the river to the sea.”
Sometimes I wonder: If Blackwell and Cushion are so keen to see a modern socialist state, then why don’t they devote their full-time energies to fomenting a workers’ revolution in England as opposed to outsourcing their fervor to Israel? In part, I think it’s because they smell opportunity. According to their beliefs, Israel is not a true country, but an anachronistic imperialist entity built upon religious identity (because nationalism is sooo 19th century). They see a country beseigned from without and rotting from within–A house of cards propped up by American patronage, just waiting for the workers’ revolution to tap it over and knock it down.
But, there’s also a messianic element to their beliefs — like the Evangelicals, they believe that ushering in the “end times” for Zionism is the lynchpin to creating an era of peace. Consider this speech delivered earlier this summer by Joyce Chediac to the Workers World Party conference on socialism:
If we want to understand the people of the Middle East, we need to understand that the Palestinian struggle is the central cause of the Arab people. This is because Israel is an extension of the Pentagon in the Middle East and its guns are aimed at the entire Middle East. Israel stopped a revolutionary upsurge, it stopped oppressed countries in the region from seizing their own gas and oil resources and using them for development. This has stifled, stunted and warped any independent bourgeois development and left workers in the Middle East locked in poverty. As a Lebanese-American, I know that Lebanon can never be free until Palestine is free. The same can be said of all the countries and nationalities in the region. So the Palestinian struggle is held important not only by Arabs, but by other Middle Eastern peoples as well.
Similarly, the Socialist Worker informs us:
The collapse of a democratic, secular alternative–the socialist alternative–in the Middle East has left a vacuum filled by Hamas and other fundamentalist forces. But ultimately, peace in the Middle East can only be achieved if Palestinians win justice. And justice will only be won if a different kind of movement is built. That movement must try to link the heroic resistance of Palestinians to the struggles of Arab workers throughout the region to free themselves from U.S. domination and the forces–including their own Arab rulers, as well as Israel–that back it.
In other words: Get thee behind me Zionism, give thyself over to socialism–and only then will the Kingdom of Heaven (or the secular equivalent) finally reign in the Holy Land. Can I hear ya say, “Amen”?
So, there you go. We’ve got messianic Christian “friends” to the right of us, messianic socialist “friends” to the left of us. And all of them look at us as pieces on a gameboard, where the ultimate prize is salvation for everyone. Sometimes I think we’ve got too goddamn many “friends.”