OxBlog has just posted an interview with Christopher Hitchens.
Question: Today is the anniversary of the Cable Street riots in London’s East End, and also of Kim Jong-Il’s ascent to leadership of the North Korean Workers’ Party. Fascism is a word that has been used a lot today. So what is fascism?
Hitchens: Fascism? First of all, it has to meet two or three conditions. One is ethnic, national, even religious paranoia – either that the group itself is in danger, or has special privileges, or both. Almost inevitably, that means anti-semitism-the idea there is a secret government out there, responsible for your woes. Second, an alliance between the oligarchy and the lumpen. You couldn’t have it better than the Saudi sponsorship of madrassas.
Another is its irrationality. With the Soviet Union there was a degree of predictability, it was essentially rational. There were certain things we knew they weren’t going to do. It was containable. But fascism tends to irrationality. It is not an accident that suicide – the death cult – is a part of this. Attacking New York in broad daylight on 9/11, for example, when they could have taken over Pakistan, and had a nuclear-armed state in their hands, if they were just willing to do it quietly. On the other hand the elaborateness of the display meant battle is joined, which excited some of their constituents.
It both hates and envies modernism. It doesn’t want to do science, but it wants what science produces, to seize and pervert it. The Nazis could have had the nuclear bomb, but they got rid of all Jewish scientists. In this, you can look at A. Q. Khan, and his work to exploit science, and turn it against modernism.The leaders of the Soviet Union were even if bastard children of the Enlightenment, were its children nonetheless. It was nothing like the totalitarian principle: one book, one leader, one principle, the book is infallible – you don’t need any other.
Well okay, technically it’s called a Vertical-Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, but it looks like every sci-fi flying car that I’ve ever seen from The Jetsons to Bladerunner:
The Israeli company Urban Aerodynamics Ltd. has developed an aviation vehicle that can fly amid skyscrapers and park inside buildings. Its purpose is to become an effective life-saving rescue system.Called the X-Hawk, the vehicle is a “rotorless” Vertical-Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicle. Unlike a helicopter, the X-Hawk’s propellers are not extended, but incorporated into the body of the aircraft, enabling it to pull up close to the windows of tall buildings without danger of collision.
Those unique characteristics make the X-Hawk suitable for rescue and law enforcement work: evacuating injured people from high-rise buildings, high speed pursuit and other daring police activities. The X-Hawk is expected to be able to achieve a maximum speed of 200 KPH and to remain airborne for up to an hour and a half (like small helicopters).
A few weeks back, York University launched a “Stop the Hate” campaign to raise awareness about “Islamophobia, Homophobia, Patriarchy and Sexism, Racism and Black History Month, Aboriginal Awareness, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.”
It didn’t make it past the first day.
Hammam Farah, a member of the Arab Student Collective, objected to the participation of Hillel, because of its support for Israel: “There’s a contradiction in the ‘Stop the Hate’ campaign – they have a hateful group in the campaign. So I don’t see why I should be a part of it.” He also allegedly said: “The devil has arrived at York.”
“Obviously calling Jewish students devils is something that the YFS [York Federation of Students] condemns and we’ve extended an official apology to Hillel,” said YFS president Corrie Sakaluk. “Although, we do believe that it is important to draw attention to the illegality of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” added Sakaluk.
The affair prompted this editorial in the university newspaper:
I’m mad, and I’m not going to take it anymore. Since I was hired to be the Technology Editor for Excalibur, I vowed to remain silent. I knew that because I had such strong views about the most contentious issue on campus (the Middle East debate), it would be best for the paper to just keep my mouth shut. I just can’t do that anymore. My number one pet peeve – blatant stupidity from others – has been trampled on one time too many these last couple of weeks.
I was appalled at what occurred at the “Stop the Hate” campaign launch two weeks ago. It seemed like such a valiant cause, getting many groups – some of whom disagree on a number of issues – to come together to agree on something. I cannot believe that crumbled before the end of the first day. Hammam Farah, a representive of the Arab Student Collective, felt it necessary to call Hillel a hateful organization due to their support of Israel. Which part of Hillel is hateful, Farah? The part where they regularly make sandwiches and then get in a van to deliver to Toronto’s homeless, or the part where fair-sized delegations went down to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to help them rebuild?
Not to mention that Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND) Canada was formed at a national conference for Jewish student leaders. Hillel has, once again, taken the lead by assisting their activities. And then I would like to thank York Federation of Student (YFS) president Corrie Sakaluk for YFS’ apology. It’s refreshing to see someone who can sound so sincere in one breath, and prove to be so fake in the next. She basically implies (with her quotes to Excalibur regarding Farah’s statements), “We’re sorry . . . but it is important to note you’re criminals.”It is a sad state of affairs when an organization that claims to represent the views of 48,000 York students – yet only had the support of around 2,000 – feels the need to insult an organization (Hillel) that represents over 5,000 students.
“Stop the Hate” was a good idea at the time, but now it has become a miserable failure. When I hear that a three-hour YFS meeting about the campaign was consumed by two hours of pointless debate on the Middle East topic, this might not be a campaign worth saving. It’s disappointing that one person could not “Stop the Hate,” even for one day.
Judea Pearl, the father of slain American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl, says it’s time for some new terminology:
Pearl blames “classical anti-Semitism” for fueling the men who killed his son, but also sees “Zionophobia,” a term he coined. Zionophobia is different from anti-Semitism, and he feels the organized Jewish community has been slow and incompetent in fighting it.
“Denying Jewish people the right for nationhood is straight racism, not anti-Semitism. Jews fight Zionophobia by labeling it anti-Semitism, which is a mistake. It is so easily deflected by saying ‘My best friends are Jewish’ or ‘I’ll go to prison to defend a Jew’s right to wear a yarmulke or eat kosher food’ but still want Israel to be abolished,” argues Pearl.
Bandying about the term anti-Semitism “makes us look paranoid. It makes the whole fight against anti-Semitism lose its edge.”
George Galloway’s Respect Party has fallen on hard times lately, so they’ve come up with a brilliant plan to turn their movement around: Design a new logo!
Here’s the announcement:
Respect invites all budding artists to design a logo for the organisation.There will be a prize for the winner. Please note:Infantile scribbles bearing a vague resemblance to a tree will not be considered.
(Vague resemblance to a tree? WTF?) Anyway, I’m not much of an artist, budding or otherwise, but in light of George Galloway’s, um, previous affiliations and dealings, here’s my pick for a new logo:
So, the big news today is that an Argentinean prosecutor asked a judge to issue arrest warrants for the former president of Iran and seven other Iranians for their roles in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires.
Well, better late than never. I notice, however, that the story hasn’t gotten any play at the usual moonbat haunts (Counterpunch, Indymedia, etc.) Even the normally garrulous Juan Cole, who never misses the opportunity to defend the integrity of Iranian presidents, seems eerily silent on this story.
Still, I can almost hear the wheels turning…the various talking points coming together. Herewith my predictions:
(1) It’s the October Surprise! Are we really to believe that this is a coincidence, just two weeks before election day, with Republicans trailing in the polls? Clearly, the Bush administration needed to burnish its national security credentials and raise the threat level regarding Iran—so the neocons and their Zionist lobby operatives put pressure on Argentina to make this announcement.
(2) The Mossad bombed the Jewish cultural center and pinned the blame on Iran. (Bonus points to the first 9/11 “truth scholar” who claims that this was a dry run for the World Trade Center bombing. Expect grainy photos of those “dancing Israelis” in Buenos Aires circa 1994 to begin appearing on the Internet any day now.)
(3) The predicted “moderate” spin (courtesy of The Nation and The Guardian): This terrorist act should be condemned, but it was the inevitable consequence of the Israeli government’s repressive policies, which incite anti-Jewish hatred and put the lives of Jews everywhere at risk. (Plus: Add “ironic” observation that a former president of Iran has been indicted, while members of the ruling Likud cabal remain “at large.”)
Any others that I’ve missed?
A new Jewish blog on the block — CampusJ:
Our reporters, who are student journalists at various universities, cover the Jewish beat for their respective campuses, under the guidance of our editorial staff of professional journalists…..A major part of the novelty of CampusJ is that our reporters use blogs with which to present their work….The content on CampusJ doesn’t take any specific ideological approach, and isn’t here to tout any specific Jewish institution or position. We’re only interested in finding out what Jewish students have to say, and exploring the issues affecting them.
Good stuff. Be sure to read this account of a meeting between Jewish students and the chancellor of UC Irvine over anti-semitic incidents on campus.
I think that Klein and the Republican Jewish Committee were well within their rights. I have a perfect right, which I would defend to the death, to express my views on the question of Palestine. But I do not have a perfect right to express that opinion—which would have had to come up, even in a discussion of Iraq and the degeneration of the United Nations—at a meeting of a private group that takes the opposing view. Nor do I have an absolute right to criticize Theodor Herzl and all his works from a podium belonging to a neutral organization. Such outfits have their own right to pick and to choose and even to reconsider.
What a chance I missed to call attention to myself. I now can’t open my e-mail or check my voicemail without reading or hearing about the repression visited on professor Tony Judt of New York University. It seems that he was booked to speak at a meeting sponsored by a group called Network 20/20 at the Polish Consulate in New York and had his event canceled when the relevant Polish diplomat decided that the evening might be—given professor Judt’s views on Israel—more trouble than it was worth. I now hear of a fulminating letter, signed by no fewer than 114 intellectuals, that has been published in the New York Review of Books (there’s glory for you) in which this repression is denounced.
The astonishing extent of this brouhaha recalls the reception accorded to the John Mearsheimer-Stephen Walt critique of Jewish-American influence on U.S. foreign policy. And the two episodes are, in fact, somewhat related. Once again, absolutely conventional attacks on Israeli and U.S. policy are presented as heroically original. Once again, it is insinuated that the bravery of those making the point is such as to draw down the Iron Heel. Once again, no distinction is made between private organizations and the public sphere. Mearsheimer and Walt ended up complaining of persecution because they got a rude notice from Alan Dershowitz! Such self-pity.
Professor Judt has a podium of his very own, at the Remarque Institute at New York University. He once invited me to speak there. He would not have invited me if I were a Kahane supporter and, though I defend the right of the Kach Party to hold its own meetings, I would protest if it were allowed to use the Remarque Institute for this purpose. This distinction seems worth making, at a time when free expression has much deadlier enemies who succeeded, for example, in preventing any of the editors who signed the Judt letter, as well as the magazine in which their letter appears, from publishing the Danish cartoons. To do that would have taken some nerve. This protest does not.
Gershom Gorenberg, a senior editor and columnist at Jerusalem Report, offers this simple, elegant explanation of the distinction between Zionism and “Christian Zionism”:
Gorenberg points out the contradiction in the use of the term Zionism by these Christian leaders, who, he says, are “seeing the Jews as actors in a Christian drama leading toward the end of days.” By contrast, says Gorenberg, “real Zionism, as a Jewish movement, is a movement aimed at taking Jews out of the mythological realm and making them into normal actors in history, controlling their fate and acting for pragmatic reasons connected to the here and now. So what’s called Christian Zionism is actually very distant from Zionism.”
I know there are some, such as writer Zev Chafets, who argue that we should be happy that we have zealous allies like Jerry Falwell in our foxhole–but I think Gorenberg’s comments reveal how cozying up with the Christian Right, in itself, contradicts Zionist principles. We’re tired of being the sock puppets in other people’s dramas–be they Biblical, or otherwise.
In response to the question, “Do you you agree that the work of the Israel Lobby on Congress and the Bush administration has been a key factor for going to war in Iraq and now confronting Iran?,” 39 percent agree, while 40 percent disagree.
As always with polls, it’s fun to drill down and take a look at the demographics. Among those who describe themselves as “progressive,” there is nearly 50 percent agreement on the role of the “Israel Lobby.” (As opposed to 36 percent among “moderates” and 34 percent among “conservatives.”)
And, the strongest support for the “Israel Lobby” thesis is found among those who didn’t complete high school (61 percent), as opposed to those who completed college (34 percent).
Behold, the Walt-Mearsheimer constituency: Progressive, high school drop-outs.