Friday, November 23, 2012

Hospitals, Palestinians, antisemites, etc

Lewisham hospital
Lewisham readers (and indeed London readers), don't forget the demo tomorrow to save our A&E department. The march starts at 2pm on Loampit Vale, getting to the hospital around 3pm.

Israel/Palestine
Read Ralph Seliger: Enough Money, Too Much Occupation*: fascinating despatch on Palestinian Authority finances, from a trip to Ramallah
"It's not so much that the PA is a basket case, but rather the international community which is willing to keep dumping money into a bottomless bucket rather than hold Israel accountable, is the real basket case."
This is from the Open Zion section of the Daily Beat, edited by Peter Beinart. I don't really like Beinart, and obviously I disagree with many of the commentators in Open Zion,  but for those interested in Israel/Palestine I strongly recommend it, for a range of interesting views.

And read Yaacov Lozowick on three ways to be against Israel,* reflecting on the attitudes appearing in the Twitterverse during the recent phase of the Israel/Hamastan conflict, is also very well worth reading.

Antisemitism watch
Antisemitism in the West tends to spike with every spike in the Israel/Palestine conflict, suggesting that anti-Zionism and antisemitism will always have at least a blurry space between them. One example comes from Antwerp, a Belgian city with a sizeable (mainly Haredi) Jewish population.
Approximately 150 extreme-right and extreme-left activists gathered Sunday afternoon outside the Provinciehuis concert hall in Antwerp to protest the Israel Defense Forces Orchestra’s performance there, according to the online edition of the Flemish-Jewish magazine Joods Actueel.
Several demonstrators can be heard chanting “Hamas, Hamas, all Jews to the gas” in recordings from the demonstration, which Joods Actueel posted on its news website...
Another wing of the demonstration comprised activists from the extreme right, including Eddy Hermy, an activist of the N-SA movement, Joods Actueel reported. He has twice been convicted of racist speech and his articles are regularly published on the neo-Nazi website solidarisme.be.
Another example comes from Rome, where Tottenham, a football team with Jewish connections, played Lazio, a Rome team with a large far right support base. At the match, Lazio fans, who are not known for their pro-Arabic or pro-Muslim sentiments, waved Free Palestine banners and Palestinian flags. The following day, a group of neo-Nazis, chanting antisemitic slogans, violently attacked Spurs fans in a bar, with police collusion according to at least one British witness. Two AC Roma fans have been arrested, although Roma and Lazio are rivals, suggesting an organised, non-football-related, specifically anti-Jewish incident.

Closer to home, last Thursday the Guardian published a cartoon by the great Steve Bell, depicting Netanyahu as not just a warmonger using rockets on Gaza to boost his electioneering (true) but also as a puppetmaster controlling William Hague and Tony Blair (not only untrue, but perpetuating an old antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish puppetmasters controlling whole governments). The CST complained, very carefully, and were portrayed, predictably, as playing the antisemitism card to stifle criticism etc etc.

And in Sweden, a prominent TV personality, Eurovision presenter Gina Dirawi, recommended an antisemitic book by the ex-leftist conspiracy theorist Lasse Wilhelmson.** In Poland, an agricultural researcher, Polish nationalist and Anders Breivik fan has been arrested for an anti-Jewish bomb plot. Meanwhile, an activist in the main opposition party, Law and Justice, wrote on his website: "As they [Jews] going here and harm Poland and me, I have only one thing for them - get the f**k out!" (Law and Justice are part of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, secretary general the UK's Dan Hannan.)  Finally, in Canada, a pro-Israel Jewish professor had “Heil Israël” graffitied on his door.

And also
Here's something else you should read: "Moscow-on-ThamesBritain's Conservatives are rolling out the red carpet for Vladimir Putin's wealthy oligarchs" by Michael Weiss.

Hat tips: *The New Centrist. **Jonas Vils.

6 comments:

Sarah AB said...

Some depressing stuff there. I'm glad there was a good turnout for the Lewisham march though. I read the Lozowick piece because someone linked to it on HP, and I thought it seemed perfectly fair, but I wondered whether, even though so many on the Palestinian side have eliminationist views rather than the narrower goals of the IRA, there might still be room for hoping that attitudes can shift, that many Palestinians could be swayed by pragmatism (don't many have a preference for one state but agree they could leave with two states if pushed?). One small example - a Palestinian writer who changed her mind about supporting suicide bombers after she began a long correspondence with an Israeli woman. (Though obviously Israel cannot simply hope for the best, but must prepare for the worse. )

bob said...

I basically agree. Although the Northern Ireland parallel is of course inexact, it gives me hope.

Brian Goldfarb said...

"The CST complained, very carefully, and were portrayed, predictably, as playing the antisemitism card to stifle criticism etc etc."

Umm, well, yes, sort of. What actually happened was that the CST (among others) accurately called out Bell for his use (witting or otherwise - given the paper he works for, quite possibly unwitting) of clear antisemitic tropes. He, and others on his behalf (he's a big boy and doesn't need any help on this), promptly employed the Livingstone Formulation, to whit: "All I was doing was criticising Israel, and I get accused of antisemitism".

No, sunshine, you weren't criticising Israel, you were using antisemitic tropes.

BTW, Bob, thanks for your nice remark about my style of commenting on Engage. Much appreciated.

Sarah AB said...

Brian - and Bob - did you see this apology buried away here?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/25/accusations-of-antisemitism-political-cartoon

Brian Goldfarb said...

I had a long correspondence with the then Readers' Editor 6 years or so ago. They had published an article by Timothy Garton Ash on "The Role of Europe in the Rise of Antisemitism". The letters page (when the responses rolled in) was illustrated with a pocket cartoon of the Star of David overlaid on a map of Western Europe.

Despite a very long correspondence, the paper would not accept that other meanings can, quite legitimately, be attached to symbols (especially symbols) other than those intended by the user. This was said as a social scientist. We have exactly the same scenario here: Steve Bell isn't antisemitic (probably not) and didn't intend the symbology to be seen as antisemitic, the Readers' Editor is saying, so that's alright then. No it bloody well isn't alright, then or ever.

They are all, at The Guardian, missing the vital point that others, many others, DO see these images as antisemitic, and therefore both Bell and the paper should be saying some variant of "Ooops, didn't mean that. Sorry. Will try not to do it again."

It was the lack of saying anything like this that made us, all those years ago, stop being Guardian Readers, and their behaviour now will certainly keep us away from it for the forseeable future.

Brian Goldfarb said...

Sarah, I meant to start my comment differently, but then lost it to cyberspace. I meant to start by noting that it was 'a sort of apology'. But what I believe the Readers' Editor should have said but didn't (rather than excusing occasional lapses in the paper, whether hard copy or online) was as I noted at the end of my 3rd paragraph.