Why Obama Must Shackle Bibi


Without any sense of irony, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told fellow paranoiac Jeffrey Goldberg that Iran is ruled by “an apocalyptic messianic cult.” Because as Goldberg makes clear, perhaps inadvertently given his own sympathy with Netanyahu’s hysterical views on Iran ( which we’ve previously explored on this site), Bibi’s own views are clearly apocalyptic, and his own sense of himself somewhat messianic.

Golberg suggests that Netanyahu feels a compulsion to act (militarily) to stop Iran attaining nuclear weapons capability, based on, uh, biblical tradition:

“Amalek,” in essence, is Hebrew for “existential threat.” Tradition holds that the Amalekites are the undying enemy of the Jews. They appear in Deuteronomy, attacking the rear columns of the Israelites on their escape from Egypt. The rabbis teach that successive generations of Jews have been forced to confront the Amalekites: Nebuchadnezzar, the Crusaders, Torquemada, Hitler and Stalin are all manifestations of Amalek’s malevolent spirit.
If Iran’s nuclear program is, metaphorically, Amalek’s arsenal, then an Israeli prime minister is bound by Jewish history to seek its destruction, regardless of what his allies think.

Curiously enough, Goldberg then lets on that Netanyahu doesn’t, in fact, believe that this “apocalyptic, messianic cult” will actually risk suicide by actually launching a nuclear strike at Israel. No, the real threat of an Iranian nuclear capability would be that it would change the regional balance of power. This more sober, balance-of-power talk doesn’t really rouse the public, in Israel or beyond, to the sense of panic necessary to sustain the demand for apocalyptic military action against Iran, so it’s quickly dropped.

Goldberg is more inclined to warn us that Bibi is not, in fact, a rational geopolitical actor perhaps cynically cultivating the “Iran menace” as a red herring to deflect U.S. pressure to settle the conflict with the Palestinians. Heaven forbid! (Presumably Jeffrey didn’t know that when Bibi was last Prime Minister, he actually tried to forge a diplomatic opening with the “apocalyptic, messianic cult” in the hope of reviving Israel’s traditional alliance with non-Arab peoples of the Middle East against the Arabs).

Instead, we are told that Netanyahu is a product of his father’s views of the Spanish inquisition and Jewish history in general:

Over more than 1,300 pages, Benzion Netanyahu argued that Spanish hatred of Jews was not merely theologically motivated but based in race hatred (the Spanish pursued the principle of limpieza de sangre, or the purity of blood) that reached back to the ancient world… A close reading of Benzion Netanyahu suggests a belief that anti-Semitism is a sui generis hatred, one that is shape-shifting, impervious to logic and eternal. The only rational response to such sentiment, in the Netanyahu view, is militant Jewish self-defense.

And also, somehow, that it was the Netanyahu family that was chosen to organize this defense.
I was treated to this same view of world history as an endless drive to destroy the Jews — you know, the kind of thing that makes you think World War II happened because Hitler wanted to kill all the Jews. Goldberg may be impressed by the elder Netanyahu’s scholarship, but I’m more inclined to read the Spanish Inquisition against the politics of post-Reconquista Spain — Jews had traditionally been aligned with the Muslims that had been the main enemy of the Spanish crown, and the Inquisition not only went after Jews, but also those Muslims that had remained behind or converted — later it targeted Protestants, too. It was a vicious institution that underscores the fact that the Catholic Church, as an institution, has throughout its history been as capable of committing despicable evil as it has been of acting in ways that Jesus might have. But I have a hard time reading history with the idea of a shape-shifting, eternal anti-semitism — much less assuming that such a phenomenon defines the present. (For an antidote, I’d recommend Paul Kriwaczek’s marvelous history of Jewish life in Europe, Yiddish Civilization).
If I had more time to blog, I’d have noted during the breaking of the Bernie Madoff scandal how bizarre it was that so many Jewish communal fretted that Madoff would spur a new wave of anti-Semitism. What? In the United States of the 21st Century, anti-Semitism was lurking just below the surface, ready to stir the mob at the flimsiest pretext? And I was particularly angered by the view of the gentile world that this paranoia reflected — an utter inability to accept the sincerity of the Western world having learned, through the Holocaust, the toxic consequences of anti-Semitism, and to have relinquished it, so much so that Israel gets a free pass from much of the Western world to do as it pleases with the Palestinians because of concern that opposing it might be deemed anti-Semitic.

Netanyahu, and Goldberg, are products of an apocalyptic Jewish nationalism whose toxic effects are brilliantly critiqued by Avraham Burg who calls it “a fearful Judaism, a paranoid Zionism”. Burg makes clear in his book that evoking a constant fear of recurrent Holocausts has been an organizing principle of modern Israel, maintaining cohesion and support from Jewish communities abroad by making the specter of annihilation its daily bread. But as the majority of the world’s Jews live in relative safety (outside of Israel, and even within), that starts to become increasingly absurd. Young American Jews don’t feel that their gentile peers are about to turn on them and build a new Auschwitz, which is why identification with Israel is on the wane among young American Jews. Because survival-in-the-face-of-annihilation is the only narrative on offer from the Zionists, and as Burg asks, for what moral purpose have we survived? That’s not a question the likes of Netanyahu and Goldberg can answer.
What Goldberg and Netanyahu are asking us to believe is that the Iranian regime exists in order to destroy the Jews. And that doesn’t really stand up to the most cursory historical scrutiny — and the Israeli leaders know it. (Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently became the latest to admit that Iran is no existential threat to Israel, even as his Prime Minister continues to toss out hysterical rubbish about Iran being the reincarnation of Nazi Germany — needless to say, that’s a contention with which Iran’s 20,000 Jews don’t exactly concur.)

My suspicion is that the reason Goldberg paints Netanyahu as an apocalyptic nutter basing his strategic assessments on Biblical scare stories is the idea, popularized by Dennis Ross, among others, that if governments believe the Israelis might launch military strikes on Iran, they may be more inclined to adopt tougher sanctions. But as Israeli journalist Aluf Benn warned recently if you tell Israelis, no matter how cynically, that they’re facing an annihilationist threat, they may be quite prone to believe you — and expect you to do something drastic about it. Benn writes:

In his speeches in recent years, Netanyahu has compared Iran to Nazi Germany and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Adolf Hitler, and has spoken of the international community’s silence in the face of both threats – in 1938 and at present.

“The second Holocaust” of which Netanyahu warns will not feature ghettos, trains or gas chambers, but will be characterized by an attempt to eradicate the State of Israel. In his opinion, the Jewish people’s continued existence depends on the State of Israel’s continued existence… Netanyahu sees Iran as the latest enemy that has surfaced and threatens the survival of the Jewish collective, an enemy that must be repelled, with the help of others or on our own.

A country’s leaders are obligated by commitments they make in public, which often compel them to keep their promises…

Netanyahu also sees himself as a prophet at the gate, who saw the dangers of terror and extremist Islam before others did, and has now received a second chance to prove the justice of his claims and remove the threats to Israel and the Jewish people. A person with such historical awareness does not just spew out empty words about existential dangers, Holocaust and destruction. These words obligate him to take action. And his declarations to date have been so extreme that he will have difficulty retreating from them.

In other words, Netanyahu has embraced an extreme view that obliges the U.S., in particular, to restrain him, and prevent him from initiating hostilities that have far-reaching tragic consequences, not least for Israel. To the extent that Netanyahu is truly caught up in his own apocalyptic fevers, he is a dangerous man — after all, if you believe you’re a Jew facing Nazi Germany, then any diplomacy amounts to appeasement, and you feel obliged to act militarily. The fact that Iran has not actually initiated a program to build nuclear weapons is irrelevant; they always could, and that in itself is intolerable. Israel, right now, has no meaningful role to play in resolving the Iran nuclear standoff. Obama appears to have recognized that, last week
dispatching CIA chief Leon Panetta to Israel to warn Netanyahu against launching any attack on Iran without first consulting the U.S. (If he asks, the answer will inevitably be no.) If Israel’s own messianic, apocalyptic cult leader is to be prevented from unleashing a catastrophe, the U.S. will have to effectively restrain him. Given the expectations he has created in his own public, doing so publicly may actually help Netanyahu behave more rationally.

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56 Responses to Why Obama Must Shackle Bibi

  1. Pingback: Wonk Room » Goldberg Blowing Bibi’s Dog Whistle?

  2. Pingback: Is our only role to kill supposed enemies? | Antony Loewenstein

  3. Arie Brand says:

    As children in Holland we were led to believe that Spanish activities against heretics were mainly directed against Dutch protestants. The “Council of Troubles”. popularly called the “Blood Council”, set up by the Duke of Alva immediately after his 1567-arrival in Brussels condemned, so we were told, thousands upon thousands of true Netherlanders to death (later research has taught that the number of death penalties was limited to 1073, though more than 11,000 people were exiled and their property confiscated – a handy source of income for the state).

    I had to think of this example of prepschool ethnocentrism when I saw recently a television program which pictured the inquisition as mainly set up to go after Spanish Jews converted to christianity but accused of backsliding. This is nonsense. The persecution of heretics in Europe was originally more a secular than an ecclesiastical affair.Zeal for the faith was inextricably mixed up with interest in the profits of confiscations and other political purposes such as restraining the influence of a potentially powerful bourgeoisie. Indeed, the papal inquisition was, in the thirteenth century, inter alia set up to take the struggle against heresy out of the hands of those who mainly served secular political goals. And after that the main stage was, initially, not Spain but Italy and France and the main targets were not Jews, converted or otherwise, but the Cathari and Waldenses.

    I haven’t read Netanyahu Sr’s tome on the fate of the Jews in Medieval Spain (and do not intend to do so) but what I find curious in Henry Kamen’s account of its main theses in the New York Review of Books is that apparently the persecution of the “Conversos” was initially triggered off by envy of their notable economic and political success – an envy that was subsequently transformed into a racial doctrine. If so, what does that make of Netanyahu’s apparent picture of hatred of the Jews as a fact of nature, as old and immutable as the hills?

    Does Jr. believe this stuff. According to Uri Avnery he does. Avnery wrote:

    “Binyamin is no intellectual. He is utterly devoid of any creative
    thinking, beyond tactical matters. His whole world view, his concepts
    and his philosophy have been absorbed from his father. Ben-Tzion
    laid down the conceptual tracks upon which the Binyamin train runs. And
    thus it is Ben-Tzion Netanyahu who, in effect, is running the country.
    And that is a scary thought.

    Ben-Tzion Netanyahu has a few fundamental premises: We live in a jungle.
    All countries are predatory animals. The whole world hates the Jews. “The
    Arab quest to annihilate the Jewish state has neither ceased nor
    abated…if allowed, they will slaughter us to the last person.” When
    this happens, in Ben-Tzion’s view, Europe will not even send ships to
    rescue the survivors.”

    How can Obama argue against that? He needs to enlist the support of a few psychiatrists rather than political consultants to deal with this.

  4. Shmuely Boteach says:

    On October 23, 1998 – a Friday – I sat in a London hotel with Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, a world authority on Jewish history, as his son Binyamin, the prime minister of Israel, signed the Wye River accords. The professor, the patriarch of a family of heroic sons who nobly serve the Jewish state, including Yoni who fell at Entebbe, had been my guest at Oxford, lecturing to students on the Spanish Inquisition.

    It was clear that this famous Jabotinskean defender of Greater Israel was pained by his son’s actions. He told me that, given the immense pressure from then-president Bill Clinton, his son had no choice but to capitulate and forfeit land to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority.

    Now, 11 years later, Binyamin Netanyahu is again prime minister, and he is no doubt about to face the same pressure from a new American president as he travels to Washington to meet Barack Obama. I first met the prime minister when as Israel’s young deputy foreign minister he accepted my invitation and electrified audiences of thousands of Oxford, most of whom were hugely hostile to him.

    Over that and subsequent visits, I discovered that Netanyahu is a Jew of immense pride and an orator of unequalled power. Contrary to the constant press billing of him as “a hardliner,” at Oxford he went out of his way to court the Arab and Jewish students who came to heckle him and managed to befriend more than a few. His message was consistent.

    The only hope for Middle East peace was Arab democratization. He repeatedly cited the unassailable fact that in the history of the world no two democracies had ever gone to war against one another. If there was to be Middle East peace it would have to come not from Israel, a liberal democracy, making territorial concessions when it was already the size of a postage stamp, but from the Arab world liberating their citizens from political tyranny and the Palestinians ceasing to teach their children that Israel is a cancer that must be eradicated.

    SO WHAT changed at Wye? We all know the answer. With the sole exception of Yitzchak Shamir, every one of Israel’s most recent prime ministers has caved to incalculable American and international pressure to exchange “land for peace.” In every instant the surrender was catastrophic, providing Israel with neither peace nor respect. Menachem Begin allowed Jimmy Carter to bully him into the Camp David accords. Yet Carter today accuses Israel of apartheid and Egypt exports more anti-Semitism than almost any nation on earth.

    The Oslo accords are the greatest self-inflicted wound by any nation over the last fifty years. Oslo gave us the suicide bomber which gave us Israel’s fence which gave us the condemnation of Pope Benedict last week in Bethlehem.

    And where is Israel after all these concessions? It is arguably the most hated and most vulnerable nation on earth. So hated is Israel that when the Iranian president broadcasts his intentions to destroy it, no other nation has the decency to break off diplomatic relations; Netanyahu himself is reduced to supplicating the pope, whose Vatican enjoys full diplomatic relations with Iran, to condemn Ahmedinejad’s promise of another holocaust.

    LAST JUNE I watched a compelling candidate Obama address AIPAC and say that he would get involved in the peace process “from the start of my Administration.” But did that mean pressure on Israel from day one? This year I heard Rahm Immanuel say that the solution to Iran’s bellicosity lies in progress in Israel’s peace process with the Palestinians.

    Come on, Rahm. Say it ain’t so. Surely you realize that it’s not Israeli intransigence which is responsible for the mess in the Middle East; the fault lies with Arab leaders who have oppressed their people and denied them democracy and human rights for more than half a century and have successfully scapegoated Israel as the source of Arab suffering. This week Netanyahu has the opportunity to marshal his stunning eloquence to set the record straight.

    He can begin by responding to Pope Benedict’s criticism of Israel’s security fence and recent war in Gaza. Surely it’s a little rich for a man who travels around in a bunker-on-wheels to condemn Israel for protecting its citizens. If Israel had Canada as a neighbor, it wouldn’t need a fence – just as if the pope only spoke to nuns he would not need a traveling fortress. No doubt we Americans would prefer to forego the intrusive security at our airports. But we submit to the inconveniences because we don’t take kindly to the sight of our citizens leaping from burning skyscrapers.

    As for Gaza, the pope himself witnessed the ravished state of Germany after the Second World War. But he would presumably not blame the demolition in Berlin, Hamburg, and Dresden on the allies but on the German people themselves who democratically elected a genocidal maniac as their leader and then dragged the world into history’s bloodiest war. He could have warned the residents of Gaza that in Hamas they similarly elected a terrorist organization, sworn to Israel’s destruction, as their leaders and that there are consequences to using one’s territory as a launching pad for murderous rockets.

    In our age some religious leaders make the mistake of believing that morality always involve love but never hatred, an embrace of victims but never a revulsion of their oppressors. My Christian brothers especially quote Jesus as saying, “Love your enemies,” as a teaching against hatred. Little do they focus on Jesus’ precision in saying “your enemies,” rather than “God’s enemies.” Your enemy is the man who steals your parking space. God’s enemies are terrorists who murderer His children. Rather than perpetuating the myth of Arab victimhood, Western leaders, the pope included, should call on our Islamic brothers and sisters to restore Islam to its historical grandeur as a religion that once embraced the Jewish refugees of the Spanish Inquisition when they were expelled by Catholic princes who betrayed Christianity by preaching violence in God’s name.

  5. Shlomo says:

    Good Lord. This is the first time I’ve wished for an entire thread to be deleted. Only that won’t help, because so many of the ideas expressed, both by Tony and opponents, have already gained traction.

    Boteach provides an example of the root causes. It is laudable to remember the Holocaust, and there are some good reasons to support Israel. But it is a disgrace to politicize the Holocaust to boost Israel. When British planes were carpet-bombing Dresden, Hitler was conquering Europe. But Hamas was clearly a nonexistential threat. When three people die, and we say that we have to carpet-bomb civilian villages with white phosphorous to “prevent another Holocaust”, something’s terribly wrong.

    But, after enough proclamations like this from Israeli militarists, we have the predictable and regrettable response. The other side also begins to politicize the Holocaust’s memory. Ahmedinejad is an extreme example. He denies it altogether, saying nothing special happened to Jews, but they were massacred along with many other peoples in the general violence of the times. Tony does not go as far, but his comments are still worrying. Here’s Tony:
    “I have a hard time reading history with the idea of a shape-shifting, eternal anti-semitism.”
    To prove his point, Tony contextualizes the Inquisition against contemporary Spanish politics. So, nothing special happened to Jews in history, they were massacred along with all the other Catholics’ victims.

    Really, Tony? There are so many things wrong with this.

    First, your choice of example. Spain is not representative, as it had the most enlightened Jew policy in Medeival times. That’s why they waited so long to expel the Jews, and why there were varied political motives. But what about France? England? Portugal? Germany? They didn’t have the same background politics, but they also expelled the Jews–BEFORE Spain.

    On a larger level, the pattern continues across historical eras as well. Before the Middle Ages, the Greeks and Romans tried to suppress the Jewish religion. After the Middle Ages, the Communists and Fascists tried destruction. Antisemitism was an INTEGRAL part of Hitler’s political program, although Jews were not a major political/security threat. When Stalin died, he was trending down Hitler’s path as well. Try explaining all this with the political environment.

    Now, with this history in mind, we can debate what the lessons are and how to apply them. Your views are probably more cosmopolitan than mine, which I have no problem with. But your “contextualizations” are just not historically accurate, and I think you’re going down a dark path.

  6. Arie Brand says:

    Shlomo. the “dark path” is right here:

    “And where is Israel after all these concessions? It is arguably the most hated and most vulnerable nation on earth. So hated is Israel that when the Iranian president broadcasts his intentions to destroy it, no other nation has the decency to break off diplomatic relations;… ”

    This descent into paranoia and delusions, solemnly made public in the columns of the Jerusalem Post, is spectacular – and frightening to behold.

  7. Patrick Cummins says:

    Tony,

    In addition to Roger Cohen’s op-ed, this 2006 BBC article provides useful background on Iranian Jews, putting their numbers at about 25,000:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5367892.stm

    Glad to see that you are blogging more frequently these days.

    Patrick

  8. Rod W says:

    “And I was particularly angered by the view of the gentile world that this paranoia reflected — an utter inability to accept the sincerity of the Western world having learned, through the Holocaust, the toxic consequences of anti-Semitism, and to have relinquished it, so much so that Israel gets a free pass from much of the Western world to do as it pleases with the Palestinians because of concern that opposing it might be deemed anti-Semitic.”

    This is a meaningless paragraph. First of all, there is no such thing as a “Western world” that can “learn”. People both before and after the genocide of WWII knew that anti-Semitism can lead to murder. But the vast majority of gentiles have no interest in harming Jews, and never have. It’s the failure to spot this ‘sincerity’ by the paranoid Jews (I’m not sure what fraction that is) which is so damning.

  9. Tony: I was wondering whether you thought it likely that Israel would attack Iran WITHOUT U.S. approval. It would be a radical act in U.S.-Israel relations. But every sign I’m seeing and what I’m learning from other well-placed sources indicates to me that this is coming sooner rather than later.

  10. DICKERSON3870 says:

    *SCHMUELY BOTEACH: “I sat in a London hotel with Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, a world authority on Jewish history…”

    *NETANYAHU’S FATHER: “The Bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetuate war.”…
    ….”The two states solution doesn’t exist. There are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population… there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation… they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.” – Benzion Netanyahu, 2009 interview 

    SOURCE OF NETANYAHU’S FATHER’S WORDS – http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2009/04/04/bibis-fathers-answer-to-the-arab-problem-hang-em-in-the-town-square/

  11. Matt says:

    The Israelis are, in fact, motivated by a myth of their own making:First the ‘Holocaust’ has been wildly exaggerated for political and financial benefit, without which the state of Israel could not exist.

    Second, Israel has a ‘right to exist’. In fact, there is no legal foundation to Israel’s claim. Israel exist because of theft of land and murder. Period.

    Israel’s ‘exceptionalism’ mixed with the Jewish notion of Jewish Supremacism keeps Israel from negotiating seriously with the non-Jewish world.

    Israel is not interested in “Peace” but in Conquest.

  12. Y. Ben-David says:

    Brand-
    Why is it that you “progressives” seem to think you speak for the whole of humanity? You say “Israel is the most hated country in the world”. That is nonsense. You guys with your obsessions with “the settlements”, Zionism and the such, seem to think that the whole world revolves around your political neuroses. Mondoweiss is thrilled because he has a poll that claims 50% of Americans want a freeze on settlements. He then extrapolates that Obama can use this to force Israel to make unilateral concessions. Who says that this supposed 50% of Americans are going to vote based purely on how much Obama pressures Israel. Sure Weiss and Tony and you spend a lot of time and energy worrying about these things. The vast majority of humanity doesn’t. Do you think Matt here cares about a “settlement freeze”? Do you think Ahmedinejad does?

  13. DaveS says:

    What struck me about Goldberg’s article was his blind faith in Netanyahu’s honesty. The guy has been preaching war against Iran for years, using whatever rationales he thinks will be effective. At an appearance on Bill Maher’s show a couple of years ago, he said that Iran, if it acquired nukes, would use them “to bomb us out of existence” despite Israel’s nuclear deterrence because these are the kinds of people — a “pathological creed” and a “mad purist Islamist fantasist” regime — who fly airplanes into buildings, i.e., would commit national suicide to wipe Israel off the map. The Iranian leaders are musing that “we can get to heaven in a mad apocalypse in which miillions of people die on both sides.” Apparently, Bibi encountered a measure of disbelief in this ridiculous scenario and now urges war with Iran because it could provide a nuclear umbrella for Hamas and Hezbollah to terrorize Israelis. By focusing on the familial sources of his world view, Goldberg blithely accepts the sincerity of the man himself. But Bibi is not just a loonie, he’s a liar.

  14. Pingback: Palestine: Plus ça change…

  15. Steve says:

    Arab children, contrary to the loud pronouncments from the nutball zionists, do not need to be “taught” to hate Israel by their schools or their parents. The KNOW to hate Israel for all the things they see Israel do:

    The first time they saw the IDF Border Police throw their mothers to the ground and frisk them, for the crime of wanting to pass a checkpoint on the way to the doctor, THEY KNEW.

    The first time they saw their houses bulldozed for what their older brother had done (collective punishment), THEY KNEW.

    The first time they saw a childhood friend get shot by the IDF, for throwing rocks, THEY KNEW.

    The first time they stood in a 2-hour line at some IDF checkpoint, while Israeli settlers zoomed by in their late-model air-conditioned cars, THEY KNEW.

    The first time they saw the IDF hack and burn down their father’s olive groves, because it got in the way of an an Israeli settlement, THEY KNEW.

    The first time they themselves, as young adults, try to get to University, and must pass an IDF checkpoint, without their mom and dad around, just them and the leering IDF goons, and they are made to feel like animals, THEY KNOW.

  16. Arie Brand says:

    YBD wrote:

    “Brand-
    Why is it that you “progressives” seem to think you speak for the whole of humanity? You say “Israel is the most hated country in the world”. That is nonsense.”

    YBD – I QUOTED Boteach’s statement to that effect from the article almost right above it, the article by Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, originally pulished in the Jerusalem Post and sent to us by probably the same helpful spirit who has sent us all that other rubbish from the JP.

    Can’t you READ? This is the second time that you ascribe clearly quoted words to me.

    I quoted it (very clearly with the quotation marks in all the right places) to argue that it showed the paranoia that now seems to be the coin of the realm in your lovely country. At any case, I am glad that you too thought Boteach’s words nonsense even though you ascribed them to me.Will you now inform Boteach ?

  17. Bill Pearlman says:

    Two interesting things. Tony Karon, with a reflexive anti-Israel bias still manages to get published in Time magazine. I Have to call the elders in Jerusalem about that one. Second, it is no surprise that a guy like Richard Silverstein. A guy who is a fan of Samir ( head crusher ) Kuntar. A guy who revels in the death of Jews. Is a big fan.

  18. doalive says:

    gypsies,native Americans , Armenians,in order to apply a license to ?,ye’ll have to go back to the end of the line,and fill in the section about year zero under when and why,then your/my application will be processed homoganized and pasturized and feed back into the evolutianary recalitrent gruill line,pity the sympathy and the reason 4 doing the exzact same thing over and over again (INSANE)& proceed to complain when someway the situation said entity is found in appears not sustained without the great central very dark blue central local sun’s nagging nurtering self imploded demise (my childre accidently killed the fun and playful spirit of life,now go out and play in the hell ya ‘all have made for yer elses selves,whair OO where to begin,get yer own yer 0 and leave the rest alone and/or lose your license to defend yer self

  19. Jaime says:

    The other day I read that these blogs were populated by English-speaking IDF moles whose main objective is to defend the indefensible. I couldn’y believe it, but Boteach made me change my mind. How can someone say that Israel is the most hated country in the world when they do as they please? Even Europe seems scared to confront Tel Aviv. They kill amd massacre a defenseless population at will, and they have the gall to say that Netanyahu “suplicates” the Pope. Which is more terrorist? A person with explosives strapped around his waist or an F-16 with its full payload? I could also be irresponsible to the point of idiocy and say that so hated is Iran that when the Israeli politicians broadcast their intentions to destroy Iran, even threatening to use nuclear weapons (“all options are on the table”), nobody has the decency to break off diplomatic relations. Now, what’s the existential threat really about? It’s about Israel’s wanting to keep the monoply of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East. Moreover, according to the IAEA, Iran has fulfilled all its obligations as a signatory of the NPT. Can you say the same about your country Boteach? At least in South America, we are not fooled.

  20. Arie Brand says:

    “The other day I read that these blogs were populated by English-speaking IDF moles whose main objective is to defend the indefensible. I couldn’y believe it, but Boteach made me change my mind”

    In all likelihood Boteach, a rabbi who has produced bestsellers on how to engage in kosher sex etc., didn’t post this himself. His tirade was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and cut, pasted and posted by somebody who somehow, incredibly, believes this stuff even to be halfway plausible.

  21. Nathan Snail says:

    It seems substantiable that both the IDF and the COINTELPRO are both really jumping into these blogs now. A good case in point, was that some of us had discovered some really ‘verbatim’ Anti Israel hate speech in more than six or eight blog sites, and not saying that real people can’t cut and paste the same stuff in more than one blog, that’s not unthinkable, but what is unthinkable, is that this hate speech is so nonsensical and so vile and moderately smelly, that now with the U.S. House and Senate looking at hate speech bills that are designed by the A.I.P.A.C. lobby to curtail any criticism of Israel in the blogs, that these agents fully expect this HR-1913 and other bills just exactly like it to pass, and then give them the authority to cite the ‘planted’ hate speech posts, the ‘verbatim ones’ and shut those sites down. I will cut and paste the particular vernacular below the dashed lines here so you can see how many sites you see this post in ‘verbatim’ as many of us have found:

    ———

    We the American people are NOT Israel’s BITCH, Obama and Congress are

    F**K Israel
    Israel is NO Friend to America!!

    Congressional members with dual American / Israeli Citizenships are TRAITORS, they need to be lined up against a wall and SHOT!!

    Israel / Zionist Jews are the Blood Sucking Parasites of the World. They are nothing more then Leeches feeding on Humanity and sucking the life out of Mankind.
    The sooner this World is rid of them the better we all will be.

    “What’s the difference between an Israeli and a Catfish”?
    One’s a Scum Sucking Bottom Feeder and the other is a Fish.

    “Die You Scum Bastards, Die”
    ————-

    when you see this posted a zillion times on so many blog sites, you can rest assured that this and other ‘canned’ spam are designed to give these bastards the excuse they need to shut a blog down once HR-1913 or any other legislation gets thru, pushed by A.I.P.A.C., limiting what you can say about Israel.

    anyone else concur with this??

  22. Carroll says:

    The entire world is tired of the Israeli madness and the eternal Jewish hysterics.

    They feast on nightmares and victimhood specialties and then vomit their sickness up on the rest of the world.

    Enough is enough. The get out jail free holocaust card has been canceled.

  23. Lester Ness says:

    There’s no lack of messianic apocalypticists in the USA, either! Bush the Younger is out of office (thank G-d!) but John Haggee, Rod Parsley, et al., are still out there, wielding clout to kill Arabs in vast numbers, and bring back Jesus. They are Bibi’s real audience. (Not that they are philo-judaic in any real sense.)

  24. Shlomo says:

    Arie:
    “Shlomo. the “dark path” is right here”

    You’re right, in more ways than you know. Netanyahu is on a dark path. But so are you. There is more than one dark path. So please stop acting like my AIPAC friends, who paper over every Israeli misdeed by quickly changing the subject to Hamas. You’re changing the subject to Bibi, to paper over the dangers of Holocaust denial.

    Matt:
    “First the ‘Holocaust’ has been wildly exaggerated for political and financial benefit, without which the state of Israel could not exist.”

    There were 9 million Jews in Europe before Hitler. 6 million of these were killed. You name me another instance in which TWO THIRDS of a population was killed in 2 decades. Then we’ll talk about whether the Holocaust is exaggerated.

    Caroll,

    Never should have been a “get out of jail free” card anyways. But a lot of innocent people died, and their memory should be honored.

  25. Arie Brand says:

    “You’re changing the subject to Bibi, to paper over the dangers of Holocaust denial.”

    The boot is on the other foot, my friend. Netanyahu was the subject from the start, in both Tony’s and my posts. It was you who came up with the Holocaust, presumably to let us forget about Netanyahu Sr’s and Jr’s genocidal fantasies about “Amalek” and the “Amalekites”.

  26. DaveS says:

    Nathan Snail – Excellent detective work. Several years ago, I caught an Israeli posting anti-Israel hate speech on frontpagemagazine using an Arab name. He just laughed it off. While that is a mere anecdote, you have amassed impresive evidence of this practice. I would only add that it probably has been going on for a long time, and that the impending legislation has little to do with the original motivation, which was to discredit Israeli critics by mixing in enough vicious anti-Semitism to blur the distinction.

    On a related note, I saw video recently of a Gaza protest demo in Ft. Lauderdale in which one woman was captured on tape chanting Jews back to the ovens, directed at a pro-Israel demo across the street. The videographer himself was a pro-Israel plant who attended the anti-Israel demo, and I suspected that this one woman was his colleague rather than a genuine demonstrator.

    Maybe I was right, maybe not, but there is no question that the pro-Israel crowd wants to infect public anti-Israel discourse with rank anti-Semitism. They find this extremely useful, and you have done a great job in exposing this nefarious practice.

  27. Shlomo says:

    “It was you who came up with the Holocaust, presumably to let us forget about Netanyahu Sr’s and Jr’s genocidal fantasies about “Amalek” and the “Amalekites”.”

    I included historical examples, because Tony mentioned Bibi’s father’s view of history. I also started out by refuting Netanahu’s logic, before explaining that Tony had fallen into the same logical trap.

    Arie, I’m sorry you can’t hold two ideas in your head at once. You are correct–but so am I. Both sides have erred in their politicization of Jewish suffering. Why won’t you address my ideas directly? Too politically inconvenient to acknowledge Jews have historically been a special target?

  28. Arie Brand says:

    Shlomo, Tony wrote about Spain because he happened to discuss the Netanyahus, father and son, and it was Netanyahu Sr. who wrote about Spain. So if you have any complaints on that score direct these to him. I understand that he lives conveniently near to you.

    If I understand you correctly you are against any historical-sociological explanation of the fate of the Jews in the diaspora and would rather acribe this to an undying Jew hatred among gentiles. If you do so you lose any possibility to explain why in certain places, namely the country where I come from (Holland) and that where Tony comes from (South Africa) their fate was so different from, let us say, that in Middle Europe.

    You yourself point to their different fate in Spain as compared to that in England, France and Germany. How can you explain this otherwise than by invoking some kind of historical-sociological explanation?

    Indeed if I take Kamen’s review of Netanyahu Sr.’s study of medieval Spain at face value it is clear to me that Netanyahu the Elder himself came up with historical-sociological explanations to explain their fate.It was the exceptional success of the Jewish ‘conversos’ which led to the enmity of the ‘old christians’ and it was this kind of social-economic competition that led to the self serving racist doctrine on the part of the ‘old christians’ regarding ‘limpieza de sangre’.

    Where Jews have filled an ‘occupational gap’ aspired to by an up and coming native bourgeoisie they have been the target of particular enmity. Some such explanation also serves to explain the virulent anti-Chinese feelings among many ‘pribumi’ Indonesians as compared to the greater tolerance towards them in, for instance, the Philippines where a native elite was left in place (and in fact reinforced) by the American coloniser and not largely destroyed (as happened in Indonesia)in the turbulence of decolonisation.You might, in your preoccupation with Israel, never have heard about fairly recent anti-Chinese pogroms in Indonesia.

    I agree with you that such historical-sociological explanations hardly suffice to ‘explain’ the holocaust. As Amos Elon has emphasized there was nothing in German history that made this calamity ‘inevitable’.In many ways this seemed to be a historical event ‘sui generis’. But exactly because it was ‘sui generis’ it seems to me quite wrong to take it as a template to explain all Jewish history, past, present and future, in its terms. This can only lead to paranoia which now seems all too evident in Israel.

  29. Tony says:

    @ Shlomo — you’re missing what I’m saying — I don’t dispute that Jews were singled out for vicious treatment at the hands of the Catholic Church over centuries, and that an anti-semitic trope existed in much of Europe. But that doesn’t make antisemitism some sort of eternal, metaphysical, timeless phenomenon. The Catholic Church itself is an entirely political entity, and it’s war on the Jews served its political ends,even if the trope outlived some of the political circumstances that produced it.

    What I dispute is the idea that anti-Semitism is an ahistorical phenomenon that, as Zionism has maintained from the get-go, is immutable and cannot be fought and defeated, but instead must be accepted as a universal condition when Jews live among others.

    I was fed the idea of Jews being singled out through history in my Zionist youth, but when I began to udnerstand the wider context of many of those historical moment, like the Spanish inquisition, that I understood it in a wider context — far from accepting it (as Herzl did).

    The Ukrainian pogroms, interestingly, I was told were another instance of this timeless antisemitism, so I was shocked to discover that, in fact, that were part of a wider Cossack uprising against the Polish crown (to which the Jews of the 18th century Ukraine were intimiately tied, as bailiffs, feudal renters etc.) in which the Cossacks actually killed more Catholics than Jews (the Cossacks were Orthodox…) So far from just another instance of the timeless march of antisemitism, it was a product of particular political circumstances and power arrangements.

    Basically, Zionism is founded on teh premise that antisemitism can’t be defeated, and should be accepted as inevitable, and that Jews should therefore leave wider society and live among themselves in their own nation state. I don’t accept that premise. I grew up in a very anti-semitic white South Africa, but it was always clear to me that the anti-Semitism of the apartheid regime was hardly surprising or alarming given the vicious racism in which they were engaged, and that anti-semitism should be fought as part of the general struggle against racism in South Africa (as my Jewish heroes in South Africa had done for decades) rather than through special pleading with a racist regime to be nice to the Jews (as the official representatives of the Jewish community in South Africa had tried to do). That’s what this is all about, for me…

  30. Arie Brand says:

    I should add here that the emphasis on the uniqueness of the holocaust and its explanation in historical-sociological terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The German historians who in the so-called “Historikerstreit”, a wide ranging public debate among them, talked about the “Sonderweg” (the”separate route”)of German history saw uniqueness here, but then the uniqueness of German historical development.

    There is another explanation possible that takes away the uniqueness of this catastrophe but not by reference to eternal and enduring Jew hatred of which the holcaust was the most shocking result – an explanation which you would possibly prefer.

    The Anglo-Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman sees the holocaust as a possible outcome of modernity in which the civilisationprocess, aiming at order and regulation, is neutral in terms of morality (in Weber’s terms ‘goal rational’ rather than ‘value rational’) and, by its nature, hostile towards ‘the stranger’ who doesn’t quite fit into ongoing bureaucratisation aiming at ‘order’ and ‘obedience’. Also, in this process of bureaucratisation and the further overall division of labour, decision makers tend to get more and more removed from those who implement and those who are at the receiving end of their decisions. So, when, as in the holocaust, people become ‘units’ at the end of a deadly production line there is no place for pity at the suffering of fellow human beings. The frightening message is that given a certain set of social circumstances we are all capable of being victims as well as perpetrators of genocide.

    Bauman, a Polish Jew by origin, survived the war in the Soviet Union but his wife Janine is a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto.

  31. Arie Brand says:

    Tony, I am surprised to hear about “a very anti-semitic white South Africa”. I have never been there but understand from what the Anglo-Polish sociologist Stanislav Andreski (who taught there for a while) wrote about it is that anti-semitism was muted there because the Jewishness of Jews was less important than their white skin.

  32. Shlomo says:

    Arie,

    I agree there is a historical-sociological explanation to everything. I think you illustrated that well with your examples. But I think we should remember, there are two components to “historical-sociological.”

    The sociological component is based on current events, and is more hopeful. Jews were targeted because of sociopolitical realities of Spain in the Reconquista, or because of the challenges of modernity. To lay all the implications on the table, take a purely sociological explanation of Hamas’ antisemitic remarks and its attacks on civilians. Sociologists would say this is due to the contemporary realities of military rule, breeding despair, crushing democratic political culture, etc.

    The historical component less hopeful. It is based on what already has happened, and carries over. For example, because Jews have already been accused of blood libels starting in 11th century England, the accusation was more likely to be repeated in 19th-century Syria. Because, in the past, European antisemitism was quite potent, Hamas has a readily available milieu of antisemitic arguments that it can and does use through verbal and physical attacks. This explanation is closer to an idea of “timeless antisemitism,” because the historical milieu exists regardless of current behavior.

    Every hatred has an origin, and I’m sure that sometime in the past, antisemitism was purely sociological and a new innovation. But as time built up, historical precedents were created. These precedents, as they grew stronger, became increasingly the “default”.

    Other political groups also have a historical precedent, but I think it is especially strong for Jews. That is why, despite pogroms on Chinese or concentration camps against Dutchmen, and despite problems of modernity the world over, genocide happened to Jews and not to the Chinese or Dutch. Despite occupational tensions impacting many Medieval groups, Jews were unusually likely to be expelled en masse.

    But I also think we can create new historical precedents by changing contemporary social realities. Israeli-Palestinian peace is one factor that would eliminate a major contemporary driver of antisemitism. The question is how much. Would it change the social realities so much, it would convince antisemitic militant groups to stop targeting Jews? Or, would these militants return to historical “autopilot”, and continue attacks because there would be no special reason to stop them?

    I don’t know.

  33. Shlomo says:

    Tony,

    I guess I would say something similar to my comments for Ari. I TOTALLY agree that antisemitism is not an immutable phenomenon. In fact, despite everything, I think it is more weakened than it has been in a long time. This is partly because the Holocaust snapped the world to its senses, and led to reduced antisemitism after. (There was also a larger context to this: the whole WW2 ordeal gave weight to human rights.)

    But I gotta say, I also think the founding of Israel reduced antisemitic acts, if not sentiments. I know that the Yishuv committed horrific acts at the birth of the state, which the Palestinians did not deserve and which were regrettable, to say the least. At the same time, I know that millions of European Jews were in mortal danger during the critical period.

    They had already tried, and failed, to find refuge in a variety of countries during the Holocaust. After the Holocaust, Hitler’s threat was removed, but Stalin was trending toward increased antisemitism, and laws against Jews were increasing in the Arab World. The guns had fallen silent and peace had been proclaimed, but the same had happened after WW1, to epic failure.

    During the specific historic moment of the late 1940′s, a Jew didn’t need to be paranoic to fear a second round of killings, or to feel time was his enemy. Palestinians were naturally unhappy about these European strangers invading their land, and tried to ban Jewish immigration to Mandate Palestine. This could have led to many more Jewish deaths–it had during the Holocaust.

    These were the circumstances of Israel’s founding, and of the period when Zionism shot up in popularity among Jews. I can not tell you how I would have responded to that, and for this reason, I am not anti-Zionist. But I am a post-Zionist, because I think that historical moment is long over. Now, in part because of Israel’s existence, prospects of a catastrophic slaughter of Jews are WAY less likely than they were then. Israel has served its purpose in a time of emergency, and fought off the most troubling existential threats to Jews.

    In 1967, Israelis felt themselves under existential threat. They were digging mass graves as Egyptian forces mobilized. By 1978-82, the mortal threat had been removed, and there was only the threat of terrorism and guerilla warfare causing great suffering to Israelis. By 2006, even this threat was largely gone.

    But as Zionism and its accompanying practices became less justifiable, it also became more cruel. The 1967 War fought a conventional war. In 1978-82, Israelis began systematic use of indiscriminate force, with their attacks in Lebanon. Finally, there’s the Gaza offensive. Qassam rockets caused pretty minimal damage, but this war seems qualitatively worse than the others.

    Each year from 1967 to today, increased civilian casualties caused antisemitic animus. I believe suffering of Palestinians due to Israel is the primary cause of antisemitism now, however unjustified these attitudes may be. WIth the existential threat clearly removed, Israel is less and less a force for reducing antisemitism and antisemitic acts each year. It may actually cause an increase by this point.

    To try to blind Jews to this fact, Israel’s strongest partisans have taken to manufacturing existential threats where none truly exist. So, Iran is an existential threat because it might manage to nuke one city. Hamas is an existential threat because it might hit a playground of schoolkids someday. These are all awful prospects, but not existential threats. Zionism, which was built for existential threats, does not have the tools to address these.

    This means that, like in S Africa, antisemitism is best reduced with justice for everyone. After thousands of years, I see a chance to deal a mortal blow to antisemitism. Zionism is not the best way to fulfill ZIonist goals. More force or lobbying or power will not give Jews what they seek. Victory will only come through a reconciliation with Palestinians that inspires the world, as South Africans inspired us with Mandela. That’s my goal, and that’s why I have such intense concern for Palestinians, even though my primary concern is helping the Jewish people.

  34. Bill Pearlman says:

    I wonder if Iran stuck a rocket up your ass would you find that an existential threat. Or if Samir Kuntar visited the Silverstein house and crushed his kids heads, would he feel differently.

  35. MFB says:

    South Africa is a complicated case. Some of the biggest mining capitalist houses were dominated by Jewish businesspeople; meanwhile, at lower level, there were a lot of Jewish peddlers selling to the poor whites.

    The National Party in the 1930s was sympathetic to the Nazis because it hated the British occupation, and it easily adopted anti-Semitic tropes (“Hoggenheimer”, from the Afrikaans newspaper Die Burger, was practically out of Streicher’s stable.)

    As far as I know, however, anti-Semitism in South Africa was somewhat muted at mass level. There was a degree of it in early apartheid because Jews were quite prominent in the white Left (partly Trotskyites, partly Congress of Democrats).

    Of course all that changed when Israel got into bed with apartheid South Africa. And even before then, the apartheid state soft-pedalled its anti-semitism in part because it wanted to win over big business, and big business — even Afrikaner big business — wasn’t into antagonising wealthy Jewish businesspeople for ideological purposes.

    So I suspect Tony is exaggerating a little, but not altogether.

    Excellent post, except that of course Obama isn’t gonna shackle anybody who marches against brown people under the Star of David.

  36. Gavin Evans says:

    First, on Boteach’s and Bibi’s reheating of the endlessly repeated “unassailable fact that in the history of the world no two democracies had ever gone to war against one another.” This, frankly, is nonsense. The most obvious example is America’s role in the war against the democratic Chile. Pinochet’s coup against the democratically elected Allende government was, from start to finish, a US product: planning, funding, training, logistics and personel. If, say, China was found to have organised, planned, funded and helped carry out military action against the US president, including sending in what, in comparitive terms, would have been thousands of military officers to oversee the project, would that not be considered an act of war? So why should America’s act of war against the democratic Chile be considered any differently?

    Second, this notion of a timeless, reflext anti-semitism needs to be explored. Where do those holding this view believe it comes from? From some defective gene in the goyim? From some in-bred hatred at not being God’s chosen? From Satan?

    Unless one settles for this kind of nonsense then one needs to accept that anti-semitism, like any form of xenophobia, is, always, contingent. Of course, the fact that anti-semitism pops up all over the place needs to be explained, but so does that fact that anti-black racism pops up all over the place and has done for centuries and perhaps millenia, and, for that matter, why is it that wherever the Gypsies go, they face racism and abuse – again over centuries or millenia? Certainly, the cultural seeds of anti-semitism, or hatred of Gypsies, or anti-black racism run deep. They get passed on from generation to generation and flare up and die down for historical reasons, but that does not imply that any of these forms of xenophobia are rooted in any other than culture. Equally interesting is to explain why one gets cultures and periods of history which seem to be relatively devoid of these forms of xenophobia, or, more commonly, which replace one form with another. Would anyone seriously maintain that, for example, there is more xenophobia against Jews in the United States today, than, say, against Muslims or black people?

  37. Arie Brand says:

    Shlomo – differences remain (particularly concerning your claim about the one time necessity of Zionism) but I am glad we have discovered some common ground.

    Here is a statement from Bauman (made in an interview with Ulrich Bielefeld) that points to his conviction that ‘modernism’ has generated the pre-conditions for a holocaust.

    “Perhaps I overemphasize the non-national grounds for the origins
    of the Holocaust, that is, overemphasize that it is not a German question. I think this is necessary because the whole tendency of argument in sociology is to do what you did, that is, to relate the event to specifically German questions.
    But what I wanted to say and still say at every opportunity: don’t be
    self-satisfied, the roots of this event are everywhere, they are only waiting to be fertilized and to bear fruit…”

    And Bauman was not just thinking here of the Jews as potential victims.

    I had to think of his statement when I saw Cheney’s snarling performance today in his anti-Obama speech. Particularly his statement regarding the ‘phony moralising’ on ‘enhanced interrogation’ got to me. This man, I thought,even though he goes on about the ‘values’ that cause Moslems to hate America, is the embodiment of ‘goal rationality’. He would therefore be the perfect chief in an enterprise of which Bauman sees the danger lurking in all ‘advanced’ Western societies.

    Yet though Bauman might be right in his belief that “animal pity” is overcome in societies where victims and perpetrators are placed at a distance from each other and responsibility for cruelty and killing is shared by a great number of people, I took some consolation from what I happened to see on television this very same night. Here is the transcript:

    “Dmitry Tokarev
    was the NKVD chief for the Kalinin region of the Soviet Union in 1940. In March of that year, Tokarev was instructed to oversee the murder of Polish prisoners who were to be transferred to a Kalinin prison from the nearby camp, Ostashkov. Each night for about a month, junior NKVD agents murdered Polish officers, intellectuals, and other members of the elite.

    “I should tell you that on the first night they brought 300 people. I thought it was too many. The night was short and we could only work during the hours of darkness.

    I saw all that horror. They came in and a few minutes later Blokhin [a junior NKVD officer] was wearing his special clothing–brown leather apron, brown leather gloves with cuffs over his elbows. This produced a horrible impression on me. I saw an executioner.

    The mechanics of the killing were worked out by Blokhin together with the commandant of our administrative board, Rubanov. They covered the doors to the shooting cells that led to the corridor so the sounds of the shootings couldn’t be heard. Then the accused, well, let’s call them that, were brought through the corridor. They were brought into the cells to be shot.

    I want to say the following: it was certainly a horrible business. Rubanov, for instance, went mad. Pavlov, my first deputy, shot himself dead. Sukharev, my driver, shot himself dead and even Blokhin shot himself dead.”

    Even in ‘modernity’ killing doesn’t seem to come ‘natural’ to human beings. Neither, of course, did it in non-literate societies, as Bauman emphasizes by referring to the biological roots of ‘animal pity’. I remember that a colleague district officer in what was once Netherlands New Guinea told me that he had met a group of Marind Anim tribesmen coming back from a ‘successful’ headhunting expedition. They seemed to be quite upset about their recent performance. He knew these people in ordinary life and was surprised at their transformation. He made in fact this very point – that killing didn’t seem to come natural to them. And yet headhunting was culturally sanctioned there …

  38. Arie Brand says:

    At the risk of getting very far off-topic I would like to react to MFB’s interesting answer to my question (which Tony left unanswered).

    I knew about the enduring animus against the British and Anglo South Africans among a segment of the Afrikaners and the sympathy for Germany (the ‘Ossewa Brandwag’ and all that) but that they were therefore in the thirties also tainted with Nazi anti-semitism is new to me.

    I must confess though that I find the enduring animus against the British among people who had been involved in the guerilla against them more understandable than the total turn around of a man such as Smuts who in little more than a decade became, from former guerilla leader and Boer general, such a trusted pillar of Empire that he during the First World War was, as you know, one of the five members of the British war cabinet. Wasn’t he also involved in ordering, during the First World War, the hunt for his former commanding officer, the ex-Boer general De la Rey who drowned while being pursued? This must not have gone down well with the Afrikaners either. That De la Rey could be painted as a ‘traitor’ to the British cause must have meant squat to them.

    I was told though (or rather written) by somebody who could be supposed to be in the know that during the Second World War Smuts had subterranean contacts with leading personalities or a leading personality of the ‘Ossewa Brandwag’ whose name he mentioned but I have forgotten. This part of the story is a complete mystery to me.

    There is another rather prominent example of a person of Afrikaner extraction who became a complete Anglophile and apparently not only anti-Afrikaner but anti-Dutch to boot. I am referring to Laurens Van der Post. This had, unexpectedly, ramifications for the post war history of Dutch decolonisation in the Netherlands East Indies. As you probably know Van der Post spent the last war years in Java, where he was imprisoned together with Dutch people and people of other nationalities in Japanese camps. There his anti-Afrikaner attitude was apparently carried over into an anti Dutch stance.

    Two weeks after his post war release he happened to catch, on board of a British warship, the ear of Edwina Mountbatten who was touring the Indies. Van der Post was apparently a very convincing fantasist and though he knew next to nothing about it he painted the pre-war Dutch regime in the Indies in colours of the deepest dye and gave her a very inflated idea of the prospects of the fledgling Indonesian government, about which he knew even less. All the same he apparently managed to convince the spouse of the Supreme Commander in South East Asia who in turn convinced her husband. I have written at greater length about this at http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=node/1418, in correspondence following my post.

    The Wiki about him is far too lenient. We had at the last University where I taught a lecture from a visiting anthropologist who blasted Van der Post’s fantasies about the Bushmen of the Kalahari, a topic on which he also pretended to be an expert on the basis of a two weeks stay among them.

    In the little Australian town where I have been living now for many years the main road in the local park is called the Transvaal Road and the trees bordering it were planted at the occasion of the Relief of Mafeking which apparently caused great jubilation throughout the Empire. At its entrance there is a photograph of the mass gathering there on that day, apparently with the biggest crowd that had ever come together in this neck of the woods.

    There is a monument with the numbers of those people from this region who participated (about 275)and fell (13) in the Boer War. As a sort of conciliatory afterthought the local clergy has also organised in recent years the erection of a pillar on which the number of Boer women and children that died in the British concentration camps is mentioned – 56,000, which seems to me an inflated number.

  39. Arie Brand says:

    MFB – As you probably have noticed I was wrong about the way in which De la Rey died. He was shot at a police roadblock, apparently by accident but it was believed by some that he was shot intentionally and that Smuts was behind it.

    It was in fact General Beyers who drowned in the Vaal River while being pursued. I don’t tell this for your and Tony’s edification, since you no doubt know these things, but for the benefit of anybody else who might be interested in these matters.

  40. PB says:

    Tony, I am surprised to hear about “a very anti-semitic white South Africa”. I have never been there but understand from what the Anglo-Polish sociologist Stanislav Andreski (who taught there for a while) wrote about it is that anti-semitism was muted there because the Jewishness of Jews was less important than their white skin.

  41. Robert Avrech says:

    There is no question in my mind that so-called anti-Zionism serves as a fig leaf for Jew-hatred.

    There is no other explanation.

    I know of no other country whose legitimacy is as relentlessly questioned and undermined as is Israel’s. You would think that those who espouse the love of human rights and rejection of violence and government oppression would attack, with proper fury, countries like Congo, Sudan, Jordan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Cuba, Libya, Dubai, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Venezuela, and of course the most repressive country on the planet, North Korea.

    But Israel is the target of choice, and a fetish is made of the so-called Palestinians (before World War II, “Palestinians” were understood to be the Jewish residents of modern-day Israel, while the Arabs were called well, Arabs.

    I get a fair amount of hate mail accusing me of being a Zionist pig, a dirty Jew, a Zionist Jew usurper of Palestinian land and (alas, the unkindest cut of all) a filthy Hollywood Jew.

    Call me hypersensitive, but I have a feeling these rabid e-mails do not come from people interested in historical fact or reasoned argument.

    I also get a fair amount of mail challenging me to defend Zionism. When I quote various articles and books the response always goes something like this: “Your sources are well known Zionist propagandists; why don’t you reference legitimate academic sources?”
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    Of course, delegitimizing the authors I quote is much easier than refuting their arguments. It’s the same tactic used in exaggerating Israel’s sins in order to delegitimize the entire Jewish state and, by inference, Judaism.

    Much of the current Israel-bashing originates, or at the very least acquires an intellectual patina, on our college campuses. I’m always amused by the trust placed in the judgment and morality of academics. Some (though by no means all) of the most stupid people I know are respected academics, and they have less common sense than an amoeba.

    As far as ethics and values are concerned, if you want your children to unlearn everything you spent a lifetime instilling in them, send them to a liberal arts college for four years and watch their brains turn to jelly under the unrelenting assault of charismatic radical professors.

    You think American terrorist Bill Ayers is unusual in academic circles? Ayers is more like the norm. I spent four years in a liberal arts college and can’t even count the number of my professors who were proud and vocal Marxists.

    (Historical note: As the Nazi party gained traction in Germany, the first professional classes to sign up to the genocidal Nazi program were academics and physicians. The Nuremberg Laws were written and legislated by Ph.D.s and lawyers.)

    No, almost all anti-Zionism is Jew-hatred. Western Jew-haters, mostly found these days on the Left, understand their proclivity is a bit of an embarrassment – in the Muslim world it’s a badge of honor – so hatred of the Jewish state provides the perfect cover for those who would rather their anti-Semitism have a human face.

    Of course, when we label Jew-haters as Jew-haters, they rear back in self-righteous horror and ask, “Can’t I criticize Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism?”

    Which is a lot like asking, “Can’t I beat my wife without being accused of domestic abuse?”

    The answer is no.

    The truth is, these creatures aren’t criticizing Israel, they’re demonizing Israel, preparing the groundwork for the end of the Jewish state.

    Once upon a time Jews were despised because they were a people cruelly exiled from their homeland. Now Jews are despised because they have returned to their biblical homeland.

    The Australian’s Greg Sheridan, in a recent article addressing the phenomenon of Western liberals aligning themselves with some of the most ferocious haters on the planet while singling out Israel for opprobrium, cited, among other examples, the case of the Bahais.

    “The Bahais, wrote Sheridan, “fled to Israel and India, two states where minority religions are not subject to official persecution, because of the murderous repression they suffer in Iran. Yet the Western Left is infinitely more active about Israeli human rights abuses, real or alleged, than Iranian human rights abuses.”

    Indeed, the hypocrisy and the double standards are as remarkable as they are never ending.

  42. olivio says:

    @Robert Avrech
    yawwwnnn!!!

  43. Tony says:

    Apropos anti-Semitism in SA, it was never a dominant feature of the social system, and it was more social than anything else — country club racism (Jews being barred from membership of various sports clubs among English speakers), but a more vicious Nazi aligned strike in the Afrikaner nationalist movement. As a result, Jewish immigration was actually barred in the mid 1930s, eased after the war. There were blackshirt movements in Joburg in the prewar era marching against Jews. And all this translated for me into things like a teacher barging into one of my high school classes and walking menacingly around the classroom saying “The problem with this class is that there are too many Jews here”. At the same time, of course, particularly after 1967, the regime treasured its relationship with Israel, so that functioned to mute the anti-semitism. The classic moment that defined, for me, that tension between their own Nazi-aligned past (even teachers of mine at high school had “revisionist” views, to put it kindly, about WWII) came when SABC in 1977 bought the “World at War” documentary series — and planned to excise the episode dealing with the Holocaust. After an outcry from Jewish organizations, mindful of their Israel ties (remember, Vorster had just been to Israel to do a nuke deal) they backed down and showed it…

    Like I said, though, social antisemitism, mostly, and hardly a dominant feature. But it was present, certainly in my own experience

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  46. mersin emlak says:

    There is no question in my mind that so-called anti-Zionism serves as a fig leaf for Jew-hatred.

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  48. The Australian’s Greg Sheridan, in a recent article addressing the phenomenon of Western liberals aligning themselves with some of the most ferocious haters on the planet while singling out Israel for opprobrium, cited, among other examples, the case of the Bahais.

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