Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The cutting edge

Essential reading:

Terry Glavin: Antifaschismus: Shifting the Paradigm, In for The Long Haul. (Also followed up here: A tribute to "activists with impeccable credentials on the European left.")

Decency, propaganda and the left: 

Martin has a post on that subject, referencing mine, and also recommending The Propagandist. I've been meaning to recommend the latter for a while too, partly because my blog is listed among "allied propagandists". It describes itself as a blog of the anti-fascist left and thinking conservatives. It has some good contributors, including some people I respect, such as Terry Glavin, Eamonn McDonagh, and Ben Cohen. I applaud the ambition to bring together commentators from across the increasingly irrelevant left-right divide. But, like Martin and Terry, it is a little uncomfortable to be in the company of some of the "thinking conservatives", and I feel odd being aligned with such as the Infidel Bloggers Alliance, Diana West, and No Dhimmitude.

As Martin and Terry note, these bloggers see the key battle as between "Western values" and its enemies, whereas we (in Martin's words) prefer to talk about "defending democracy, pluralism and freedom of thought and expression - which I believe are universal rather than specifically 'Western' values." The West may have given birth to some of these values, but it has upheld them very poorly, from the slave trade to the destruction of many of the Native cultures of the Americas to the violence of colonialism to the violence against Jews in the heart of the West. And, as Terry puts it,
I know no one in "the west" fighting for democracy, free thought and equality the way our Afghan and Iranian friends fight. Among my comrades, none are more fervent in their devotion to the cause of toleration and human rights than those of them who happen to be Muslim.
Read Terry's blog for some examples of this heroic devotion.

Comment trail:
Flesh is Grass: Unlucky roads – Roma in Europe (on Roma rights and the left crying racism); Tendance Coates: Michael Ezra and the falsification of history (on Roma rights in Serbia, Harry's Place, the white working class and swearing).

The English Defence League and its enemies:
As usual, a round-up of links, rather than any specific endorsements of analysis. The AWL on the EDL in BradfordSchnews: out of their league; the EDL's Muslim mascot; Anti-fascist strategies tested at Bradford; and lots more from the Stop Racism and Fascism Network.

One interesting thing about the EDL moment is proliferation of "defence leagues". I guess the Jewish Defence League (JDL) was first, and I've read Islamists claiming that they were going to demonstrate against Al-Quds day, although I'm not sure if they did, alongside the EDL. Then came the EDL, then its fake "Welsh" and "Scottish" offshoots. And then Aki Nawaz, ex of Fun-Da-Mental, starts a Muslim Defence League. And now Trot sect Workers Power are proposing an Anti-Fascist Defence League.

Oh, and the latest, a European Defence League. This last is important, and links to the stuff above, because this is the link-up between the EDL and the US/European counter-jihad movement, which includes the likes of Robert Spencer, Pam Geller, and Gert Wilders. To quote Marko:
A great struggle is brewing all over Europe and beyond. On the one side stands the liberal order and its defenders, representing the values of secularism, internationalism, cosmopolitanism, pluralism and respect for human rights. On the other stands the forces of reaction, which itself is composed of two rival but essentially similar wings. Extremist Muslims (an unrepresentative minority among the Muslim communities of the democratic West) and certain fellow travellers on the extreme Left represent one wing of the anti-liberal reaction, and assault the liberal order under the banner of anti-Semitism (or ‘anti-Zionism’), anti-Westernism, anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism.

But it is the other wing that is the Western liberal order’s more dangerous enemy – if only because non-Muslims vastly outnumber Muslims, so there is a much larger constituency for this current of reaction to draw from. This current represents the white nativist reaction against the liberal order: anti-cosmopolitan, anti-EU, often anti-secular, but above all extremely nationalist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant. It is on the basis of hostility to Islam and to immigration that the new far-right is mounting its assault on liberal values and the Western liberal world.

Other links:
Cutting edge DeptfordThe non-crazy left; Noga reads Hitchens; Andre Glucksmann on the Jerusalem syndrome; The Independent's 21st century racism; The forgetfulness of Monsieur Minc; and lots more links.

And here, for Terry, and for all the wonderful people I spent time with in Belfast last week, the Fureys singing "Mountains of Mourne".

40 comments:

kellie said...

The energy level on Terry Glavin's blog in recent weeks has been absolutely incredible.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Bob, if you'll forgive the shameless plug, I've finally got round to setting up my own blog. I tackle this subject (a lot more critically than you, as you can probably guess) there

bob said...

About time mate! I'll go and check it out, and of course add you to my blogroll.

Noga said...

"But, like Martin and Terry, it is a little uncomfortable to be in the company of some of the "thinking conservatives", and I feel odd being aligned with such as..."

You have just been accused of being a fellow-traveler to fascists and racists, Bob. By your mate Waterloo here. It's the logic of "either you are with or against us" and no way you can see the merit and truth in the words and thoughts of thinking conservatives and still consider yourself a decent human being. No siree, Bob.

As for being a little uncomfortable: I recently learned that being uncomfortable is exactly what's needed to try and get ahead in a project. As I've been searching for work, I was urged, repeatedly, to go to "networking meetings" something I really don't want to do. I came up with all sorts of excuses why not but finally my employment counselor told me flatly: You need to get out of your comfort zone which is exactly where no such meetings take place or or are called for.

I have not listened to her because getting out of my comfort zone is too much of a challenge. The result being that I am stuck. And even as I fully take responsibility for it, knowing well that I'm not doing enough to promote the project of finding work, it's too much to make the effort to breach the boundaries of my "comfort zone". Who knows what I'll find there? There may be dragons lying that way, eh?

All of which by way of parable to tell you, Bob, that being a little uncomfortable is not a steep price to pay for thinking properly and having a civil conversation with the posters Watreloo denigrates so and tries to shame you into distancing away.

It's not about Left and Right. It's about thinking properly, thinking independently and without the compulsion to label every move we take in terms of an ideology. Anti fascists? Who are they? Where is the dawn of fascism emanate from, these days?

As per Orwell:

"it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own country. Public opinion -- that is , the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware -- will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of nationalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely internationalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself. God, the King, the Empire, the Union Jack -- all the overthrown idols can reappear under different names, and because they are not recognized for what they are they can be worshipped with a good conscience. Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one's conduct."

Being a little uncomfortable is exactly what Orwell prescribes. Terry Glavin is an Orwellian hero. A man who actually defies the limits of his own attachments to comrades and terminology in order to forge ahead with a a "genuinely internationalist outlook."

Waterloo, on the other hand, is the other kind of intellectual Orwell refers to in this little quote. He is like me in my cozy little comfort zone :)

James Bloodworth said...

Waterloo, that was a very enjoyable post. Consider yourself 'blogrolled' over my side too.

Take care
James

Waterloo Sunset said...

You have just been accused of being a fellow-traveler to fascists and racists, Bob. By your mate Waterloo here. It's the logic of "either you are with or against us" and no way you can see the merit and truth in the words and thoughts of thinking conservatives and still consider yourself a decent human being. No siree, Bob.

Friends don't let friends drive drunk. And, actually, I gave a specific example of a blog The Propagandist describes as an ally which promotes anti Muslim bigotry and supports Jihad Watch.

Funny that you carefully avoided discussing the specifics of the allegation in question. Is the blog in question linked to racists and fascists? Yes or no?

And no, I don't think you can do that and consider yourself a decent human being. Why don't you try and specifically defend the blog in question and what they have to say?

All of which by way of parable to tell you, Bob, that being a little uncomfortable is not a steep price to pay for thinking properly and having a civil conversation with the posters Watreloo denigrates so and tries to shame you into distancing away.

Do you think people should have civil conversation with Hamas supporters? Or is it only hatred of Muslims you think makes people worth engaging with?

It's not about Left and Right. It's about thinking properly, thinking independently and without the compulsion to label every move we take in terms of an ideology.

"I have no ideology" is an ideological position.

Anti fascists? Who are they? Where is the dawn of fascism emanate from, these days?

There's more than one kind of fascist out there. At the moment, the most significant street presence in the UK is undoubtably the EDL. (The ones that JihadWatch link to). The most important electoral force over here would be the BNP. The clerical fascists are actually a pretty trivial group, although still worth opposing. See, for example, the Antifa mobilisation against both Abu Hamza and the NF.

Terry Glavin is an Orwellian hero. A man who actually defies the limits of his own attachments to comrades and terminology in order to forge ahead with a a "genuinely internationalist outlook."

So, in essence, your problem with the post is that I said meen fings about your pop idol? Bless.

Waterloo, on the other hand, is the other kind of intellectual Orwell refers to in this little quote.

Really? So which Fatherland have I supposedly transfered my allegiance to? I wait with baited breath to hear this one. Although it's flattering to hear you see me as an intellectual, I have to say I think that's rather undeserved praise. (And the really hilarious thing about this one is that you've actually managed, by getting stuff upside down, to miss a far more obvious and insightful criticism of my politics. It's reasonably obvious that, in many ways, despite my rejection of the nationstate, my approach to politics is painfully English and really wouldn't exist outside of that cultural context).

You really shouldn't use quotes you don't understand. People will laugh at you. And you don't like it when people fail to take you seriously.

Noga said...

I've been wondering how to respond to this rant by waterloo-san and decided that I would just provide another quotation:

"When dinner was over, she returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as she was out of the room. Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no stile, no taste, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added,

``She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.''

``She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!''

``Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.''"

:)

Waterloo Sunset said...

I shall merely list the direct questions that Noga is unable, or unwilling to answer. The reader can draw their own conclusions on why this might be the case.

Is the blog in question linked to racists and fascists? Yes or no?

Why don't you try and specifically defend the blog in question and what they have to say?

Do you think people should have civil conversation with Hamas supporters? Or is it only hatred of Muslims you think makes people worth engaging with?

Really? So which Fatherland have I supposedly transfered my allegiance to?

Noga said...

What are you, waterloo-san? A "painfully English" Anarchist Internationalist wannabe? Do you consider "Zionist" to be a racist/fascist designation? I think you do, which is why I cannot answer your questions. They are premised on an understanding of meanings of terms which are alien to me.

You may infer from my reluctance to engage with your questions exactly what you have inferred. It's not possible for someone like me to have a proper conversation with some like you. You are an advocate of boycotting trade with Israel, at the very least. You schmooze very comfortably with people who want to "dissolve" Israel and criminalize Zionism. You think learning about Islam and its incompatibility with values of freedom and liberalism is "racism". And don't forget you are "painfully English" so you are infallible.

I don't belong to your circle comrades. I actually come from a long line of hardy, working class Zionists, which in your ideological fantasies excludes me automatically from knowing what is good either for the working-classes or for Jews or for Israel.

I am also exuberantly Israeli, which is like anti-matter to your matter.

As I've very little interest in entimology, to me ants are ants. I don't care about the differences among the various species of ants. Not unless they are carnivorous ants which I hear are easy to recognize.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Do you consider "Zionist" to be a racist/fascist designation?

No. I consider Zionism a form of nationalism, as it is. And this is proof to everyone of your dishonesty, as I have never said anything of the sort. And I challenge you to find a single quote that suggests otherwise.

You are an advocate of boycotting trade with Israel, at the very least.

Another lie. Where did I say that? This is, yet again, proof that you're making up arguments to suit yourself, despite the fact you have no evidence for them.

I am talking, as I made clear, about the links to JihadWatch and via them to the English Defense League, as I clearly showed on the post that you took such an objection to.

So, the EDL and Jihadwatch. Are they racist? Yes or no? Or are you going to carry on avoiding the question?

You think learning about Islam and its incompatibility with values of freedom and liberalism is "racism".

Bingo. And Noga has finally come clean. She's not against Islamists or Muslim extremists. She's against Islam and by extension all who follow it.

Noga has just shown why she was so outraged at my attack on anti Muslim bigots. She is part of their movement and has the same analysis. And, unlike her lies about me, you will notice my evidence is all based on direct quotations from her.

I don't belong to your circle comrades.

Naturally. Because your circle of comrades includes, as you've made clear, people who support the English Defense League. A group that is led by an ex activist from the fascist British National Party and specialises in staging provocative marches through areas with a high Muslim population.. So yes, racist supporting Noga, we definitely are not reading from the same page.

And, to repeat, this has nothing to do with Zionism. There are many Zionists who would have no truck with racist organisations.

But, yet again, you have repeatedly refused to dissociate yourself from racists, instead complaining that I pointed out that the Propagandist was connected to such. A claim that you still notably aren't denying outright, instead trying to create a smokescreen by bringing up Israel. Israel is not relevant to this discussion.

I believe this incident has proven my point about decency perfectly.

Can anyone point to a substantial difference between Noga's analysis and that of the likes of Gates of Vienna? Because I don't think you could fit a cigarette paper between the two.

Now, naturally, Noga will deal with this by evasion, refusing to address direct points and deliberately lying about my position, with no direct quotations of what I've supposedly said. But then, I expect no more.

Noga said...

"Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving.”

Waterloo Sunset said...

Still avoiding the questions...

Noga said...

Waterloo, you have the soul of a troll.

bob said...

Apologies for my non-participation in this discussion - I'll try and write my thoughts in later, probably tonight. And apologies for the spam filter. Not sure why it didn't like the comment at 19:46 above. Anyone following the discussion, check above for the one you might have missed.

Noga said...

Waterloo is a scary individual. He reminds me of the Spanish Inquisitors. Not kidding. Your "matey" he is, Bob?

_____________

Zionism is not racism, but "a form of nationalism". What form? He doesn't say. But, never fear. The answer is there, folded between the various hallucinations and insults: Zionists are racists whose "circle of comrades includes, as you've made clear, people who support the English Defense League.".

As Gwendolyn said, satirically: "I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different."

Why should I care anything about the EDL? They are even more "painfully English" than Waterloo here, though I'm not sure quite as scary.

__________

"Israel is not relevant to this discussion. "

what are you, an idiot? You speak of Zionists and then claim that Israel "is not relevant to this discussion. "??

________


"You are an advocate of boycotting trade with Israel, at the very least.

Another lie. Where did I say that? This is, yet again, proof that you're making up arguments to suit yourself, despite the fact you have no evidence for them."

"I’m not currently in favour of a general boycott (I think a much stronger case can be made for targetting of arms sales to Israel and/or settlement goods), but I don’t certainly think it’s a discussion that is in any way ‘beyond the pale’. "

http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/zionism-jews-and-gaza-letters-to-the-morning-star/

____________

Like I said, a Spanish Inquisitor. Anything, to get their man tied to the stake. And all for a good cause.

Noga said...

(Noga): "You think learning about Islam and its incompatibility with values of freedom and liberalism is "racism".

Waterloo: "Bingo. And Noga has finally come clean. She's not against Islamists or Muslim extremists. She's against Islam and by extension all who follow it."

The deranged religious nut Waterloo doing his party duty:

".. he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture... turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic..."

What a bunch of "socialist-minded" do gooders. Last week it was Will with his terrorist mindset and this week it's Waterloo with his Spanish Inquisition paranoia and hatred.

Waterloo Sunset said...

It's funny how Noga tries to start a fight on a post I make, then refuses to engage with any points made. That, alone, is proof that Noga knows her position is indefensible.

Further questions that Noga is unable or unwilling to answer to add to the last list.

No. I consider Zionism a form of nationalism, as it is. And this is proof to everyone of your dishonesty, as I have never said anything of the sort. And I challenge you to find a single quote that suggests otherwise.

Noga: You are an advocate of boycotting trade with Israel, at the very least.

Another lie. Where did I say that?


So, the EDL and Jihadwatch. Are they racist? Yes or no?
Still, this is no surprise. Let's remind ourselves that Noga has previously stated that she is entirely different offline then she is online to the point where people would be surprised. What kind of person changes into someone different when they have the security of hiding behind their computer screen and says things they wouldn't dare to in real life? And, it seems, even that isn't enough protection to allow her to take the risk of directly debating points.

You will also notice that, yet again, she shows she fails to understand Orwell. (One problem is that, quite obviously, Noga isn't actually very bright. That's why she has to quote others words so much in preference to making arguments of her own). Because, ironically, the two minute hate is precisely what Noga happily participates in when she talks about Islam. A simple thought experiment will prove this. Change the word "Islam" to the word "Judaism" in her comment. And see how close Noga is to traditional antisemitic conspiracy theories in her claim that Muslims are alien outsiders, incompatible with 'our' way of life.

Strange bedfellows indeed...

I never realised Will was a terrorist though. I always thought he was just a lairy drunk bloke. Have you informed the relevant authorities of this startling development?

The Contentious Centrist said...

I am actually considering reporting Will. He has spoken about my children and knows that I spend thousands of dollars a year to give them a Jewish education. How does he know that? After I read his missive, I noticed that someone has visited a few times my linked-in account in the last 6 days when no one has been there for months before. Someone has been going to a lot of trouble finding out my identity and investigating the way I spend my money. Somebody has been able to establish that I have school kids for whose schooling I pay money. The two events are too close for coincidence. Someone was perhaps too drunk to conceal his terrorist mind set when he mentioned my kids in a thread which had nothing to do with me or my kids or private schooling.

I have decided to publish these facts here just so that it is known. As I have done in the past:

http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.com/2009/02/jihadists-valentine-more-than-1330-of.html

http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.com/2008/01/internet-bullies-this-seems-like-valid.html

Waterloo Sunset said...

Fair enough. We don't like each other and I suspect this will mean nothing to you accordingly, but to be clear, I don't condone dragging your kids into stuff. This is nothing to do with them and that's over the line as far as I'm concerned.

(I still don't reckon he's a terrorist mind, nor do I think he's any kind of actual threat to you).

James Bloodworth said...

Don't mean to self-publicise, although I will anyway, but I've written a post on the so-called 'decent' left. :)

http://bloodworthweb.blogspot.com/

bob said...

This conversation has gone in a peronalised and unpleasant direction that I have no desire to feed or encourage, apart from commenting that I think it is completely and totally unacceptable to involve anyone's children in whatever disputes we might have.

However, there are two or three substantive issues that I don't mind having a conversation about, although I haven't got that much time at the moment.

First, it seems indisputable to me that Zionism is a form of nationalism. I believe that all nationalisms are suspect. To my mind, there is nothing uniquely or specially suspect about Zionism. To think that there is anything uniquely evil about Zionism vis a vis all other nationalisms is to think in a racist way.

Discussing boycotts of Israel is in no sense beyond the pale of legitimate discourse. Believing in a boycott is not even necessarily so. In particular, I think it is cmopletely legitimate to discuss a boycott of goods produced in the settlements, or to discuss divestment from companies that sell arms used in the occupied terrotories (although I wouldn't support such boycotts). I also think it is perfectly legitimate to have a criterion by which states might be boycotted and to judge Israel to fit that criterion (although I can imagine no legitimate criterion that would mark out Israel and only Israel).

To think that there is something uniquely evil about Israel amongst all the nations, however, is to think in a racist way.

Second, it seems to that the distinction between Islam on the one hand and Islamism, political Islam or fundamentalist Islam on the other is an important distinction. Islam is a complex, heterogeneous thing about which it is difficult to make generalisations. However, it seems to me that it is not in itself illegitimate to try to make such generalisations. If it is racist to make generalisations about Islam, then those who claim "Islam is a religion of peace" are also being racist. And if it is racist to make generalisations about Islam, why is it acceptable to make generalisations about Christianity, as the secular left has been doing since Voltaire's day?

But there is another distinction too, which is between Islam and Muslims. Making a claim that Islam is incompatible with freedom is very different from saying that Muslims are incapable of living in freedom, for example. When we start making generalisations about Muslims, we are moving into racist territory.

We move further into that territory, incidentally, when we say "the" Muslims, just as talking about "the" Jews (or, for that matter, "the" Zionists") is doing something qualitatively different from talking simply about Jews.

These distinctions are important not just in some politically correct discussion, but important because of the level of violent attacks against individual Muslims across Europe - just as comments about "the Jews" or "the Zionists" are never innocent when antisemitism is ascendant.

Anti-Muslim racism is able to mobilise thousands of people in every single European nation at the moment, and this mobilisation is, to me, truly scary, both in itself and because of where it might lead.

Fighting political Islam, one of the great dangers facing the world today, is vitally important, but we cannot let this fight become an alibi for anti-Muslim racism.

bob said...

Oh, and one other thing. I want to draw attention to my phrasing here: "is to think in a racist way". Note, I did not say "people who think X are racist". I think we should avoid saying "Y is an antisemitic blog" or "Z is a racist organisation". (Sometimes, of course, such claims are completely sensible: the BNP is racist, fascist organisation; Hamas is a racist, fascist organisation.)

Probably all of us are racist from time to time, consciously or not. We should attend to when we find ourselves or our friends talking or thinking or acting in a racist way, and deal with it. For example, if A talks about "the Jews" in a racist way, we can point that out without saying "A is an antisemite".

Terry Glavin said...

Dear Bob:

Thankyou for your kind comments and for that lovely song by the Fureys. I haven't heard them in ages and I think that might be one of their best.

If anyone is interested I have taken up some of the lines of argument here in a more direct response to "Waterloo Sunset," here:

http://everybodyhatesatourist.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/strange-bedfellows/#comment-3

modernity said...

Bob,

Great minds think alike? Or....well, you know...

I looked at the Propagandist, and I have too say I am rather broad in my antifascism, I don't much mind people of a different view as long as they are positive and clear in their opposition to neo-fascism (and related strains), I would even go to the extreme of saying a half way pleasant word about a Tory, if I think he/she has done something good against neo-fascism, but, and this is a big but, I don't feel happy with the Propagandist.

Scanning their stuff I thought some bits were interesting, but shallow, and others unnecessarily provocative without achieving anything.

I'll skip it, there's a lot better on the web, without the baggage....

The Contentious Centrist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Contentious Centrist said...

Bob says:

"Discussing boycotts of Israel is in no sense beyond the pale of legitimate discourse. Believing in a boycott is not even necessarily so. In particular, I think it is cmopletely legitimate to discuss a boycott of goods produced in the settlements, or to discuss divestment from companies that sell arms used in the occupied terrotories (although I wouldn't support such boycotts). I also think it is perfectly legitimate to have a criterion by which states might be boycotted and to judge Israel to fit that criterion (although I can imagine no legitimate criterion that would mark out Israel and only Israel). "

_________

From TNR's Jonathan Friedland critique of "The Trials of Diaspora" by Anthony Julius:

"He even demonstrates a left-wing ancestry for the boycott tactic, noting that the French socialist Proudhon wanted to see Jews barred from all kinds of employment, their synagogues closed. “In the end it will be necessary,” Proudhon wrote, to “send this race back to Asia or exterminate it.” Julius wants today’s boycott advocates to know the historical company that they are keeping. “Every call to boycott Jews or the Jewish state,” he writes, “contains within it every previous such call. Anti-Semitism’s discursive history makes this unavoidable.... A boycott call can never be innocent.”

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/magazine/77373/the-living-lie-antisemitism-england

11 September, 2010 14:56

bob said...

I don't agree with Julius that every call to boycott the Jewish state contains every previous boycott of or call to boycott Jews (if Freedland is accurately summarising his argument here).

I do think that the BDS movement, as it stands now, has succeeded in turning Israel into a pariah state, such that it has become common sense in many circles that Israel should be boycotted.

I also think that an Israel boycott might be considered antisemitic in effect, as its victims would be overwhelmingly Jews (although Arab Israelis, and arguably non-Israeli Palestinians too, would also suffer as a result, and obviously not all Jews are Israelis).

And of course many of the advocates of boycott have the same antisemitic blood running through their veins that Proudhon did.

But I still contest that simply to call for a boycott is NOT in itself an act of Proudhonian antisemitism. During Operation Cast Lead, one of the very few (non-Jewish) people I know who has no antisemitic bones in his body, said "I don't want a boycott, but surely we now need to do SOMETHING." Why we don't now need to do SOMETHING about Sri Lanka or Burma left him flummoxed, but I don't think Proudhon's ghost was speaking through him.

bob said...

The first comment at the TNR piece reminded me of what we are up against. I would have left a comment there, but am not a subscribor and cou;dn't work out how to. (So I also didn't read the whole article.)






Jonathan Freedland, is known as an dyed in the wool anti-Israel critic who has all too often sided with Arab and Muslim enemies of Israel who wish to destroy the Jewish State.

Many of his essays on the Guardian’s Comment is Free have taken the side of genocidal anti-Jewish groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

That he can even acknowledge that British society and culture is rife with antisemitism is a step forward.

I hope that he will in time come to understand the just as deep historical tradition of Jew hatred in the Arab and Muslim worlds.


Where on earth has Freedland ever taken the side of Hamas and Hezbollah? In what possible sense is he a dyed in the wool anti-Israel critic? Where has he denied the power of contemporary antisemitism? Where has he ever denied Arab or Islamist antisemitism?

And, for that matter, is the tradition of Jew hatred in the Arab and Muslim worlds actually as deep, historically, as the tradition of Jew hatred in Christian Europe that Julius describes?

It seems to me that someone who believes this stuff has lost grip of reality, and this is a big problem. Of course, the sheer quantity of Jew hatred out there makes it easy for me to understand how someone can enter this distorted world, but we need to combat this, not feed it.

The Contentious Centrist said...

I can send you by email the article. But I can't find an email address on your website.

You need to have a paid subscription to post a comment.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"is the tradition of Jew hatred in the Arab and Muslim worlds actually as deep, historically, as the tradition of Jew hatred in Christian Europe that Julius describes?"

I think it is as deep but in a different way.

Julius concentrates on English antisemitism, which, I think can be described as a sort of bootless kicking, compared with the continental European strain.

(The "bootless kick" is not my invention but I can't quite remember where I read it)

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Bob

I also think it is perfectly legitimate to have a criterion by which states might be boycotted and to judge Israel to fit that criterion

This is an extreme example, butI do know a handful of "eurovegans", who won't eat anything from outside of Europe. That has a lot to do with air miles from what I recall and they are in a position to grow their own fruit and veg.

That's legitimate I think, if a bit hairshirt. Although I have to admit that I stop off at the chippy after going round there for tea!

bob said...

Thanks for e-mail offer Noga. I'm bobfrombrockley at gmail dot com

I should probably subscribe to TNR I guess!

--

Don't tell her I said this, but my sister is a great one for boycotting things that seem arbitrary to me but she has a complex sensible excuse for them.

In my time, I've boycotted Nestle, coke, Starbucks, South Africa, Chile and that's about it.

I once (mid-1990s?) met someone from the Communist Action Group (not sure if they still exist), and they said they'd just come back from Turkey. I said I've always wanted to go on holiday there and they looked disgusted and said "It is a fascist state you know". They, of course, had been there doing some obscure "solidarity work"...

bob said...

P.s. I like the characterisation of English antisemitism. And, yes, Muslim antisemitism is deep in a different way, but I am still irritated at the whataboutery implicit in the immediate move to Arab antisemitism.

The Contentious Centrist said...

I actually have been thinking a lot about the relatively recent flowering of interest in Arab and Muslim antisemitism. The Internet might have a lot to do with it, as MEMRI and other resources make it no longer possible not to know. But there is something else. There has not been too much interest in Muslim antisemitism because there has not been much interest in Jewish suffering in the Arab lands. The center of attention has been European antisemitism because of the Holocaust. That event had raised the bar on suffering to such a high watermark that Jewish refugees from Arab countries who had suffered persecution, humiliation and displacement had to sort of hunker down.

So as the Holocaust grows more remote in memory and European antisemitism is no longer as frightening as it used to be, and as Muslim and Arab voices grow exponentially harsher and louder in their hatred of Jewish power as incarnated in the state of Israel, people have "re-discovered" Arab antisemitism. As in any order of activities, first you tend the most urgent and needful, and only later to other things in need of attention and repair. That is why, at least in part, in my opinion, we have not explored the depth and spread of Muslim antisemitism as thoroughly as the European brand.

It is also related in my mind, btw, to the Ashkenazi/Mizrahi divide. (In a recent discussion on TNR I was roundly attacked for expressing my views on the matter.

http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-spine/77271/the-taliban-and-rabbi-ovadia-yosef?page=1 )

To put it in the crudest bluntest way possible, while Muslim antisemitism was not perceived, or treated, as a major factor in Jewish history before, it has now emerged as such. And good thing, too.

(I still remember the Jewish history textbooks in Israel in which the chapters were arranged in temporal order. Each chapter would teach us about Jews in Europe and then, towards the end of the chapter there would be a very short summary explaining what was happening to Jews "in the meantime" in Arab lands. I had one history teacher who devoted more or less equal time to both histories but she was the exception.)

bob said...

Very interesting and convincing final comment, CC. I will have to think more about it. But it seems to me that Muslim antisemitism is often thought of through the lens of the Shoah, so it is assumed a priori to be genocidal in its logic, which it may be but may not be.

The other thing I've been noticing recently, which might go against the grain of your suggestion (I'm not sure) is the way that specifically Ashkenazi racism is increasingly invoked within the "intensified" as an additional stick with which to beat Israel. I can't think of good examples to point to, but the most extreme example would be the anti-Israel marches where the word "AshkeNazi" was seen on banners (just googled |Ashkenazi Nazi| and got some pretty horrible stuff).

The Contentious Centrist said...

"...is the way that specifically Ashkenazi racism is increasingly invoked within the "intensified" as an additional stick with which to beat Israel."

Yes. But I wouldn't, under any circumstance, call it "racism". It's too strong a term for it. If anything it is bigotry in the sense that "A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices... The predominant usage in modern American English refers to persons hostile to those of differing race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation and religion."

It's not even a very strong hostility. At least not in the way some whites are hostile to black people or Latinos. It's more like looking down their noses without being too concerned about concealing it.

One of the reasons I don't like to talk about this uppitist sniffiness is exactly the reason you invoke about it being used as another hammer by which to bludgeon Israelis. When I did speak about it, attributing to Marty Peretz some of that bigotry, I got into a squabble with another commenter on TNR. Sometimes I don't know how to express a view without it being misinterpreted in some adverse way.

BTW, the term "AshkeNazis" used to be employed by the so-called "black panthers" movement in Israel, which at the time I considered as mostly a bunch of whiners who pretended that their plight was anything like the blacks' in the US. Years later I worked with some of their leaders at some educational center in Jerusalem, and was surprised at how much they ridiculed their own past shenanigans.

During my last years in Jerusalem I worked at a foundation for the development of the Negev. The woman who used to come to clean the premises was a Kurdish Jew in her late fifties though she looked much older, her life being one long uninterrupted suffering and strife. Her name was Yaffa. When she finished her work, we would have coffee together and talk. She was an illiterate woman and I learned a lot from her wisdom. She once toldme about how had felt at the time when those "black panthers" punks would call Ashkenazi Israelis "AshkeNazis". She used to cry when she heard it "They suffered so much in the concentration camps; how could these boys call them such names". Which goes to show that you don't need to be educated or even be able to read to know something is deeply cruel and out of order.
_____________

http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-spine/77271/the-taliban-and-rabbi-ovadia-yosef?page=1

The Contentious Centrist said...

There is also that Rachel person, whose last name I can't recall, an Iraqi Jew who fulminates about Ashkenazi "racism" by way of proving that Israeli society is a racist one vis a vis the Palestinians.

No wonder I can't remember her name but she posted a few time son CiF, where else?

The Contentious Centrist said...

Shabi. That's it.

bob said...

But I wouldn't, under any circumstance, call it "racism".

I should have said "alleged racism" - I quite agree with you.

bob said...

Probably a matter of time before the Black Panthers make it into the "intensified" anti-Zionist narrative, as they fit it pretty well - probably just historical ignorance standing in the way of it.

I first heard of them when I read a very nice little book called The Cross and the Pear Tree: A Sephardic Journey, by Victor Perera.