Archive for the ‘Zionophobia’ Category

Swedish Jews don’t get it

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

The Aftonbladet scandal — in which the Swedish government refused to condemn an antisemitic and Zionophobic newspaper article which accused the IDF of stealing organs from dead Palestinians, falsely claiming that to do so would violate the Swedish constitution — brings the difference between the attitudes of Jews in the Diaspora and the Jewish state into sharp focus.

Here is how Israeli officials responded:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We do not want the Swedish government to apologize, we want it to issue a condemnation.” Netanyahu called the accusations “outrageous” and equated them to blood libels.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) also addressed the affair, saying “there is a crisis until Sweden offers a different response. The Jewish state cannot ignore such a manifestation of anti-Semitism. “Anyone who is unwilling to condemn such a blood libel could be considered unwanted in Israel,” Steinitz said. — YNet

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the government’s position would not have been as sharp had Sweden not reprimanded its own envoy for condemning the inflammatory article. The foreign minister said there was a degree of hypocrisy in the Swedish position – claiming they don’t interfere in freedom of the press – when in 2006 the Swedish foreign minister sent a letter to a Yemenite leader apologizing for offensive caricatures of the prophet Mohammed…

Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan lashed out at a Swedish reporter Sunday who asked him whether Israel should investigate the claims. “You know what, I have a suggestion for you,” Dagan retorted. “Why won’t you investigate why the Mossad and the Jews were behind the bombing of the twin towers? Why won’t we investigate why Jews are spreading AIDS in the Arab countries? Why won’t we investigate why Jews killed [Christian children to bake Matzot on Pessah]?” — Jerusalem Post

But some Swedish Jews don’t see it this way. It was painful to read the following:

According to Lena Posner, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm and president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, “Israel caused all this mess.”

Posner told Ynet, “The article was published here on Monday, but no one paid any attention to it. It wasn’t a news report and was buried in the back pages of a tabloid. The writer is known to many of us as anti-Israel, and so it the entire paper. This is why no one took it seriously – until Israel got involved.”

It appears that the affair has turned the Aftonbladet reporter, Donald Boström, into the star of news broadcasts. How did he get the great “scoop” on the Palestinian organ theft?

“He met a Palestinian youth in 1992 and based an article on an interview with him, because he wanted 15 minutes of fame for himself,” said Posner. “Now he is extorting this whole thing to the very end. He is a no-good, and has now become a famous person appearing on prime-time TV and radio every day. If the Israeli elements had avoided responding like they did, no one would have noticed and it would have never become part of the agenda. This is why we are so agitated here.” — YNet

They should be agitated, but for a different reason.

They should be agitated because, just as happened in pre-war Germany, the heat is being turned up on the pot of hatred, and their government is close to complicit in it. Do they think that the vituperation poured out on Israel is ‘legitimate criticism of policy’ and doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Israel is the state of the Jewish People?

Do they think that expressions like Boström’s article will simply go away if ignored? Do they think that because they are Swedish Jews they are not connected to accusations against Israeli Jews? Do they think that their ‘progressive’ government will protect them against Jew-hatred? If there is a pogrom in Stockholm next week, will the government claim that it is a legitimate expression of the antisemites’ right to free speech? Next year?

The precedent is not encouraging.

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A warning from history

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009
The Nazis: A Warning from History

The Nazis: A Warning from History

My wife is away for a week and I’ve been taking the opportunity to watch videos that she wouldn’t enjoy. No, not what you are thinking! Rather, historical documentaries, war movies, Clint Eastwood films, etc.

Now I’m watching a BBC documentary called “The Nazis: A Warning from History”. It’s quite interesting, loaded with period footage that I’d never seen and including many interviews with former Nazis (they always are listed as becoming ‘former’ in 1945).

An early episode describes the persecution of the German Jews before the war, of which Kristallnacht was the culmination (and the beginning of the Final Solution). What is interesting — not that there is anything new in this — was the way in which the antisemitic predilections of ordinary Germans were nurtured for years, while at the same time the Jews were gradually excluded from every aspect of German society: the professions, the arts, political life, education, business, even the right to marry non-Jews (by the 1935 Nuremberg laws).

With every succeeding year, new indignities were heaped on the Jews which would have been unthinkable the year before. But like the proverbial frog placed in water which is slowly raised to the boiling point, the German people (even many Jews) didn’t perceive the horror of the situation until it was too late. The combination of the continuous antisemitic input from the German media and political establishment, the step by step promulgation of exclusionary laws and the gradually increasing paramilitary violence against individual Jews made the later recruitment of soldiers and police for einsatzgruppen [extermination squads] possible.

One of the former Nazis said something like this: “In 1933, who could have imagined what would be in 1945?  Only 12 years — but it was unimaginable beforehand.”

So why do I mention this?

Because a precisely parallel process is underway today. It is not aimed at individual Jews, but at the Jewish state. It is not limited to a single country, but is taking place worldwide. The anti-Israel rhetoric continues to reach new heights and every day things are said which would never have been said before. What was unimaginable last year — like the Aftonbladet accusations — becomes standard fare this year. Just like Nazi propagandists, there are writers and media that specialize in Israel-hatred. I can imagine Max Blumenthal (see here and here) looking in the mirror every morning and asking himself “how can I stick it to them today?”

The parallel is not exact, because unlike most German Jews the state of Israel is capable of defending herself. But the process of isolation — the product boycotts and divestments, the UN resolutions, the attempts to restrict Israeli participation in international sporting events, the academic boycotts, the anti-Israel conferences, and the escalating vilification in the media — are all intended to disconnect Israel from the world, to ensure that she will have no friends to stand by her when her enemies feel ready to challenge her directly.

The response has to be to not allow the temperature to be raised imperceptibly, to not get used to the anti-Israel rhetoric as, for example, “just what one expects from NPR, the Guardian, the LA Times, etc.,” but to push back vigorously against each attack, each lie, each fake ‘investigation’ and every ‘pro-Israel’ group that is actually the opposite.

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Zionists are entitled to speak

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

So far the ADL, AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, the Republican Jewish Coalition, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), and approximately 1,627 Jewish or conservative bloggers have criticized President Obama for planning to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Robinson presided over the infamous 2001 Durban Conference at which Israel was vilified for alleged racism, apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing and other crimes. At a regional conference in Teheran which preceded the main event, Israel was actually accused of such crimes as antisemitism and committing holocausts! When asked about Durban, she said

I don’t care who tells me or who doesn’t tell me that Durban was a success. I know because the I know what the consequences of failure were … it would have dramatically worsened North-South relations.

In her position as President of Ireland and her UN job, Robinson consistently took strong anti-Israel positions. She represents the all-too-common ‘progressive’ European and UN view that sees Israel as the villain in the conflict, the Palestinians as victims, etc.

But I am not writing to object to Obama’s giving her a medal. He can give medals to anyone that he wants. After all, they gave a Nobel Prize to Yasser Arafat! What could possibly beat that?

I also don’t think that this shows that Obama disrespects Israel. Of course he does — his actual policy shows that. But chances are, he’s never thought about Mary Robinson’s record in this regard; only Zionists and Zionophobes obsess about Israel in every context.

No, what interests me is the reaction to the reaction, the howls of rage that came from the legions of antisemites and Israel-haters when we had the temerity to express ourselves about this. “Who’s good enough for the lobby on Israel/Palestine?” writes the inimitable Philip Weiss, furious that Abe Foxman dared to express himself. “And Zionists never fail to disappoint. They just can’t sleep until demonizing at least one critique [sic] of Israel a day … Bullying. That is all Zionist hoodlums know what to do”, says Marco Villa.  And Robinson herself said this:

There’s a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community. They bully people who try to address the severe situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Archbishop Desmond Tutu gets the same criticism.

How could anyone criticize Tutu, another well-meaning ‘progressive’ who sees only the Palestinian slant, indeed? But never mind — the point is that we — Zionists — are as entitled to speak as anyone else.

After all, we are outnumbered who-knows-how-many times to one. And the “Israel Lobby” in the US pales in comparison to the Saudi lobby, with its well-rewarded network of former officials like Chas Freeman and Jimmy Carter. We are also developing a hefty Arab-American lobby, who met recently with the president for the second time.

Finally, we mustn’t forget the best-financed most powerful anti-Israel lobby of all: Ms Robinson’s own United Nations.

So please stuff all the “lobby” talk. Perhaps we should ask who is actually ‘muzzling’ and ‘bullying’ whom.

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Zionophobia is racism

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Prof. Judea PearlProfessor Judea Pearl, the father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, invented the word ‘Zionophobia’:

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. — JWeekly

I have been looking for this word for some time, but I want to add to Pearl’s definition a little. In part it’s anti-Zionism and denial of Jewish nationhood, but it’s also something else:

Zionophobia  is an extreme and irrational fear and hatred of the state of Israel.

  • It’s the force behind the propensity of so many journalists to apply a double standard to the conduct of Israel and its army, in a way that other nations are never judged.
  • It’s the force behind the apparent need to focus so closely on the Israeli-Arab conflict when far more bloody conflicts — like the recent events in Sri Lanka or the continuing saga of Darfur — receive only passing mention.
  • It’s the force behind so many academic conferences, Mideast Studies departments, human rights groups, and even ‘social action’ projects which do nothing but bash Israel.
  • It’s the reason that there can be groups like ‘Queers for Palestine’ when homosexuals in Gaza would be murdered if they came out.
  • Its concrete realization is the United Nations, with its resolutions, committees, rapporteurs and even divisions devoted to trying to damage the Jewish state.

It is related to antisemitism but not identical to it. Golda Meir touched on it when she said that “Israel is the Jew among nations”, and most antisemites are also Zionophobes. But a Zionophobe does not have to be antisemitic.

In fact, as Pearl pointed out, it is counterproductive to ask this question: it is no less reprehensible. Zionophobia is racism, and just as white racism gave rise to the horrific phenomenon of lynching in recent American history, Zionophobia has as its aim the destruction of a nation, Israel.

For some reason, some of the worst Zionophobes are Jews: Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappé, Philip Weiss and others proudly proclaim their Zionophobia before the world. Others claim to be ‘pro-Israel’ but their public positions are in fact Zionophobic: organizations like J Street, and Jewish Voice for Peace come to mind.

There is no more reason to accept Zionophobia as a legitimate position than antisemitism or any form of racism.

It’s time for those who like to say that they are only engaging in ‘criticism of Israel’s policies’ to ask themselves if they have taken ‘criticism’ a bit far and slid into a racist extreme and irrational hatred.

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