Thursday, June 14, 2012

And still it comes

Once again, I am building up quite a backlog of links. Here are some things of note: 

Deptfordism: To add to the list here, Lil Richardjohn has a good concise post on the BBC Deptford doc.

Fascism and anti-fascism: Tony Greenstein's take on the tangled web between Neturei Karta, Alexander Baron, Troy Southgate and Gilad Atzmon (drawing on Waterloo Sunset's post here), plus interesting analysis of this milieu from Mark Gardner. At Workers' Liberty, Rebecca calls out Hope Not Hate for its sexism. Loads of new material on 1980s/90s anti-fascist in Britain at the Anti-Fascist Archive, including  the important “Filling the Vacuum” strategy document by London AFA and the pamphlet ”Bash the Fash” by K. Bullstreet (both already available at Libcom).

Bloggery: James Bloodworth profiled here.

Israel: False Dichotomies on +972's blame game on the anti-migrant pogroms, and Sacha Ismail on racism poisoning Israeli society (both relevant to this discussion).

A different Bob: Did the secret policeman and pro-Islamist Bob Lambert firebomb a department store while infiltrating the Animal Liberation Front?

Also: Ben Cohen on antisemitism and the Hugo Chavez regimeReuben on Brendan O'Neill's kneejerk anti-paternalism; Dave Rich on antisemitism in France after Toulouse; Raziq on Abid Hussain, Baroness Warsi and Hizb ut-Tahrir; Max Dunbar on family migration; and Sarah AB on multiculturalism.

More from Max Dunbar:
My review of Ed Vulliamy’s book about the Bosnian War, The War is Dead, Long Live the War, is now available at 3:AM. This was a long one to write and I consulted Nick Cohen’s chapters on Bosnia in his seminalWhat’s Left, which provides an overview of the war and a demolition of the denial claims. My paras on the Leuchter Report and holocaust denial rely heavily on Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory
A piece on Colin Shindler’s book about the relationship between Israel and the left 
An article explaining why John Lanchester’s Capital isn’t very good

10 comments:

Sarah AB said...

I found the HnH piece interesting - I don't think I saw the post that is being criticised. The one thing which stuck in my mind which is vaguely comparable (though not related to sexism) was a post critising a BNP candidate for being a 'swinger'.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Greenstein declares quite artlessly:

"The photograph certainly looks genuine enough and given Cohen’s previous record of attending the Tehran Conference which brought together an assorted collection of far-right freaks and holocaust deniers, then it is all too plausible."

Interesting that he doesn't mention the Far Left freaks who attended the conference, like, for example, the Canadian Professor Shiraz Dossa whose politics with regard to Israel would be indistinguishable from those held by Greenstein and his friends on the Crazy Left. He also forgets the International Holocaust Cartoon Competition that preceded and prepared the mood for the conference and in which all sorts of Far Left freaks (Latuff) participated, who I'm sure he approves.

There is a kind of desperate self- exculpatory tone in Greenstein's writing that suggests to me a chink in his confidence in what he believes in. All this casuistry trying to distance himself from Atzmon and cohorts. The fact is, that seen from this angle (my angle) there is no difference between them, since the bottom line for all these Freaky left factions is the same: destroy Israel, punish Zionists (How? I leave that to anybody's imagination). The fact is, Greenstein CANNOT blame Atzmon and co and simultaneously acquit his own outfit of holding obscene and horrible aspirations for Israelis. He and Atzmon share a vision and he cannot extricate himself from the association no matter how many words he pours on his computer screen. Add a spoon of wine to a pig's trough and it will remain a pig's trough. Add a spoon of pig's trough to a barrel of wine and it will become pig's trough. Greenstein cannot pretend he is a barrel of wine.

Bob said...

One more thing on the way HnH talks about far right women: often the sexism and class contempt are blended together, in a rather unpleasant way with derogatory remarks about their clothes etc - chav hate as anti-fascism - a poor form of politics.

The Contentious Centrist said...

BTW, "the anti-migrant pogroms" in Tel Aviv?

Pogroms? Really? If what happened was a pogrom, what do you call this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_anti-Sikh_riots

Was anybody murdered in Tel Aviv? Was the police complicit with the rioters?

If that was a pogrom, one wonders what the big deal was about pogroms against Jews in Russia.

"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."
George Orwell

And where is the Israeli left in all this? Sitting in their fancy apartments in North Tel Aviv and Hertzliya, where the streets are clean, well maintained, and orderly, and all their neigbours are of the same high culture and "white" skin as they are (cue in sarcasm) and complaining about those darkies, Levantine Jews, and their fascist ways.

We need a new kind of Left in Israel. A genuine Left, the kind that actually cares about their fellow-Jews in their distress.

Amos Oz went to pick olives with Palestinians. I wonder if he ever went to a kindergarten in Hatikva or Dimona or Sderot, to read a story to those children of his own people, to tell them that they are just as human and deserving of love as those poor Palestinians. Does anybody know?

bob said...

Re Greenstein etc

I think I may have an overly Talmudic sense of making distinctions, but I think the gap between the Atzmons and the Greensteins is significant. (I place Gert and perhaps Levi within the gap.) However, I find it hard to articulate how to draw the line.

I think that part of the problem is that there is no barrel, as it were, where we can't find a spoon of pig's trough, one way or another. I know that some spoonfuls have spilled into my barrel, from anti-Zionists beyond the pale, but also perhaps from racist Zionists.

btw, see also: http://hurryupharry.org/2012/06/22/tony-greenstein-the-saddam-hussein-connection/

Re pogrom

I noticed CiF published a piece on the inappropriateness of the term as well. My view is that not all pogroms are the Kishinev pogrom. This was no Kishinev, and certainly no Kristallnacht. However, there were lots of non-murderous pogroms against Jews in Russia from the 1880s. And, to be honest, was it not a miracle that noone died in the arson attack on the apartment building where Eritreans lived?

The Jewish public sphere, especially after 1905, developed the idea that state complicity was essential to the definition of a pogrom, and sought for evidence of this in every case, not always successfully, but I am not so sure that's an essential precondition. If it is, then it is of course not the case that the Israeli police stood by while the riots happened, as they did in many Russian pogroms. But it is the case that the equivalents of Plehve in Israel have incited violence against migrants.

By the way, I note that in the past Olmert used the term "pogrom" to relate to non-murderous settler violence against Arabs: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7770384.stm and http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/settlers-attack-palestinian-village/2008/09/14/1221330653198.html

The Contentious Centrist said...

WADR, Bob, Olmert is not someone whose word counts for anything worth repeating any more. And he is certainly not an authority on the correct use of language.

More to the point: You can express yourself with all due outrage on what happened in TA with regards to the infiltrators (as they are better known in Israel) without always having to draw on the reservoir of violent experiences suffered by Jews throughout the centuries. Your explanation as to why a pogrom is an appropriate term as presented in your penultimate para is exactly the kind of corruption of proper thought and historical record I am concerned with. You were actually making a case as to how the Russian pogrom was not always as bad as we think it was.

If you want to use this analogy
then you should use Oliver Kamm's
formula:
"Historical analogies are never exact but sometimes useful. If they are to be useful, then the precedent needs at a minimum to be stated accurately". So when you make the case for a pogrom in Tel Aviv, you should be meticulous in drawing comparison not only between the perpetrators but also between the victims in both cases, and the circumstances that triggered the events.

As for racist Zionists, I am perfectly willing to be considered that by the likes of your friends Gert and others. And even by you. For as far as I understand, for the camp you represent there is no difference between a Zionist and a racist. Or better, a Jewist. Yes, I admit. I root for Israeli Jews. I think Israel should be a state for Jews, a place where Jews can actually be human without being vilified for it. And "human" covers a multitude of sins and flaws and aspirations and inclinations which somehow Jews are not supposed to experience and feel, because of the Holocaust. Or the Inquisition, or the expulsion from Spain. Or the persecution and expulsion from Arab lands.

Your comments demonstrate a great scepticism about the ability of Israeli society to deal with these circumstances in a decent and fair manner. It seems that you actually believe that Israeli society is so poisoned by racism that it cannot be relied on to act in a manner that fits a democratic ethos. It needs people like Greenstein and Gert and Abukhalil to tell them how to be decent human beings. And we know where they are gong with it, don't we?

Lame, Bob, very lame.

Bob said...

Re WADR - that was new to me - thank you for extending my internet language!

Re pogroms - I have never thought of the word as exclusively Jewish. I recall, for example, using it about anti-migrant attacks in Rostock and elsewhere in Germany in 1990s or attacks on Roma in Northern Ireland recently. I didn't mean to deploy it strategically to make any anti-Israel point or even as historical analogy; it was simply the word that came to mind.

Perhaps I should have thought it through more. But I don't think a pogrom is defined by who its victims are. The circumstances are relevant, but I don't know what the circumstances would be that make something a pogrom and something else not.

Re As for racist Zionists etc

I didn't mean, in case you thought I did, that all Zionists (or even most Zionists) are racist, just that there are some racist Zionists. (On the other hand, I don't think all anti-Zionists are racist.)

Re It needs people like Greenstein and Gert and Abukhalil to tell them how to be decent human beings. And we know where they are gong with it, don't we?

Gert is not my friend, in any way. I don't think that Israel needs a dose of Gerts. He has no moral authority at all in my eyes, Greenstein has little and Abukhalil none. I don't see what I say that makes you think that I think Israel needs them telling it anything.

I think Israel should be a state for Jews, a place where Jews can actually be human without being vilified for it. And "human" covers a multitude of sins and flaws and aspirations and inclinations which somehow Jews are not supposed to experience and feel, because of the Holocaust. Or the Inquisition, or the expulsion from Spain. Or the persecution and expulsion from Arab lands.

I agree with all of that.

Your comments demonstrate a great scepticism about the ability of Israeli society to deal with these circumstances in a decent and fair manner. It seems that you actually believe that Israeli society is so poisoned by racism that it cannot be relied on to act in a manner that fits a democratic ethos.

Well, increasingly sceptical, yes. But I am increasingly sceptical of Europe's ability likewise, and see the rise of xenophobia, intolerance, populism and authoritarianism in Israel as not so different to the same rise across Europe. I remain hopeful, about both, but my hope is getting thinner. I don't see Israel in any way as exceptionally, let alone intrinsically, incapable of dealing with these things. I think the Israeli far right is a poison in its body politic (a cancer even), just as I think the rising far right in Hungary, Netherlands, etc as a poison in those countries.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"But I am increasingly sceptical of Europe's ability likewise,"

Israel is not Europe and Israelis are not European. Nor are they Middle Eastern in the same way Arabs are. To me it doesn't make sense to compare Israel with Europe. Its politics and concerns are formed on the very edge of existential angst, with many aspects to it, in ways that Europeans' politics are not.

BobFromBrockley said...

1. Thinking about this overnight, I am thinking that I probably was wrong to use the term "pogrom". It is true that this term comes from a specific moment in history, and there are dangers about applying it to other moments, which I recognise.

2. As language matters, I also find the term "infiltration" very disturbing.

3. I don't think Israel is part of Europe. The rise of the far right is probably global, rather than European as I said, and related to processes of globalisation. (The Hindu nationalist movement and the Muslim Brotherhood are other manifestations of this.) But I think that the secular far right in Israel has a close kinship with the various forms of post-fascist ultra-nationalism politics we see in almost every European country from Spain to Poland and from Scandinavia to Greece. This is a politics which racialises migrants as migrants rather than simply reproduces older racisms, although it draws on older racisms too. It has manifested itself in violence in almost every country in it has emerged, although not always as dramatically as in South Tel Aviv in the last month. This trend, rather than some ionist/Israeli exception, seems to me an appropriate context for thinking about the violence against migrants in Israel. I don't mean by this that Israel is part of Europe, at least not straightforwardly. (I would think of it perhaps as part of a European neighbourhood, in the way Turkey is, but that's another discussion.)

The Contentious Centrist said...

"Infiltrators" is an accurate term to describe the kind of migrants that Israel attracts. What's disturbing about it? Ben Dror Yemini uses it in his opinion pieces and I have much confidence in his linguistic acumen. That's what I meant that Israel is not Europe; basically, you automatically translate a term that is quite emotionally neutral in Hebrew into a loaded term in English and you assume that all the connotation that apply in English are the same in Hebrew.

The term "infiltarors" (mistanenim) used to have a rather ominous cadence to it in the fifties when it meant the fedayeen who used to infiltrate from Gaza to commit terror attacks in Israeli settlements near the border. But now what it means is literally, people who breach the border to get in.

Perhaps Israelis should be extra careful in the way the form their words and terminology lest it offend some Englishmen with a great deal of suspicion and little knowledge of Hebrew, about their basic decency :)