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« Gaza: World's leading investigators call for war crimes inquiry - open letter | Main | Democracy of Hypocrisy denies Dalai Lama entrance visa »

March 17, 2009

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Benjamin

Humanism is a somewhat fuzzy concept (see this). The letter writer seems generally confused about a lot of terms so for the record:

Collins Concise Dictionary. HarperCollins. 1999.
"The rejection of religion in favour of a belief in the advancement of humanity by its own efforts." .

Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2007.
"humanism n. 1 a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. 2 a Renaissance cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholastic-ism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought." Typically, abridgments of this definition omit all senses except #1, such as in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Collins Essential English Dictionary, and Webster's Concise Dictionary. New York: RHR Press. 2001. pp. 177.

Sam

Of course newspapers love to be called courageous. The local Sunday Independent can't even be said to have a coherent editorial policy. They grab a few articles from their sister publications, and then try choose letters they think will spark debate. Of all papers I have been following in the British press, the Independent seems encumbered with the most vitriolic antisemitic readers - see the feedback after any article by Robert Fisk, or any piece even slightly willing to take an Israeli line. It's much worse than I would ever have expected. Too much exposure to a courageous stance seems conducive to a lot of things, but I wouldn't call any of them humanism - however you wish to define it.

Empress Trudy

I have never come across any newspaper that suppressed an antizionist comment, ever.

Sam

That soes not make sense ET - how would you know if something had been suppressed? All you see is what gets through.

TC

Sam, newspapers contain such a disproportionate amount of this bile that it's hard to believe that they suppress any anti-zionism. If they are suppressing any comments, one could only imagine the twisted, hateful quality of these comments.

Empress Trudy

Well let's say then that after a few thousand insanely bigotted comments are allowed to stand as is on any number of newspapers, journals, forums and blogs I would tend to believe that this whole stupid notion of unlimited 'fairness' is really a shill for standing on a crate, with a megaphone in order that someone may preach to the converted in the most angry, antisemitic obnoxious way they see fit.

John

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072040.html


Last update - 08:10 19/03/2009
IDF soldiers: We killed Gaza civilians under lax rules of engagement
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive.

The soldiers are graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon. Some of their statements made on Feb. 13 will appear Thursday and Friday in Haaretz. Dozens of graduates of the course who took part in the discussion fought in the Gaza operation.

The speakers included combat pilots and infantry soldiers. Their testimony runs counter to the Israel Defense Forces' claims that Israeli troops observed a high level of moral behavior during the operation. The session's transcript was published this week in the newsletter for the course's graduates.


The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children. "There was a house with a family inside .... We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof," the soldier said.

"The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold his fire and he ... he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders."

According to the squad leader: "The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.

"I don't think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to ... I don't know how to describe it .... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way," he said.

Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered.

The squad leader said he argued with his commander over the permissive rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning the residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, the squad leader's soldiers complained that "we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist."

The squad leader said: "You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won't say anything. To write 'death to the Arabs' on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It's what I'll remember the most."

The head of the pe-military course, Danny Zamir, told Haaretz Wednesday that he did not know in advance what the soldiers would say at the gathering, and what they said "shocked us." He said that after hearing the soldiers, he told IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi about his fears of a serious moral failure in the IDF.

The chief of staff's bureau requested a copy of the transcript of the discussion, and Zamir provided it. This week Zamir met with the IDF's chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, to discuss the matter. Zamir said he believed the army would take the matter seriously. "They do not intend to avoid responsibility," he said.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said: "As a result of the request of the head of the Rabin pre-military course, Mr. Danny Zamir, to the chief of staff's bureau, a meeting was held between Zamir and the chief education officer, Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister. The chief education officer described to the head of the preparatory course the processes of the operational and ethical inquiries being conducted by the IDF and the chief education officer's staff at all levels."

The chief education officer also described "the actions taken before during and after the operation to inculcate the soldiers and commanders with the moral aspects of the fighting."

The spokesman said that "Brig. Gen. Shermeister also made it clear that the IDF is now conducting intensive and comprehensive inquiries, and that commanders are encouraging discussion of these matters. The IDF has no supporting or prior information about these events. The IDF will check their veracity and investigate as required. The head of the preparatory course was also asked to pass on to the IDF any information he has so we can deal with it and investigate it in depth."

More soldiers' testimonies will be published in Haaretz over the coming days.

Shaun

read it last night..

Anybody stop to think why these stories are all about someone else?
All these testimonials are by soldiers who heard it second hand or “saw” someone else do something.
Also interesting that all these testimonials come for a Meretz affiliated organization…


RF2

Always look at the source. Shaun makes a good point.

Interesting how no names are mentioned.

Those who were involved know that of all the forces there was only one infantry reserves battalion sent in to gaza and they were sent in to an area which had already been swept by other forces. So I doubt the validity of such stories.

Thirdly, I was there, in a unit very much involved and the briefings we had were clear: If they did not pose a threat to us then civilians will not be fired upon in any way.

lastly, and most importantly. Anyone who has ever benn in any sort of urban, or even open warfare situation, will that things ar enever so clear. At the best of times it can be difficult to know who is combatant and who is not (hence friendly fire incidents) and Hamas is known, no infamous, for using civilians (including women, children and elderly) as combatants and shields. I have no doubt there were isolated incidents of non combatants killed or injured but all were unitentional and the blame for these deaths lies squarely on the shoulders of Hamas, who used civilian areas for military activities.

Shaun

Follow up to the story in Haaretz.
The head of the academy that collected the stories is Danny Zamir.
He no doubt will claim that never meant to harm the IDF, he is acting for the greater good of Israel and love fluffy bunnies...
This is the same Danny Zamir who, while serving in the IDF refused to guard Jews praying at Kever Yosef in 1990.

Anyone else smell a rat?

Andymo

"The problem is that very often, the criticism is anti-Semitic"

Guys this is absolute nonsense. Apart from the Arab/Muslim world the vast majority of young Europeans and Westerners don't care what religion a person is.

Atheist numbers have never been higher, regardless of whether you're a Xian, Jewish or Muslim, we don't care who you think your imaginary friend picks as the chosen race.

Algerian teenagers spraying swastikas on French cemeteries suddenly means Europe is anti Semitic.

Honestly, stop with the persecution complex.

Granted criticism of Israel is higher than that of repressive regimes like the Saudi's or Iran, but its because we hold Democracies up to a higher standard.

Lawrence

Andymo you talk so much nonsense, your post is entire rubbish. Since much of the criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, ie lying about Israel - making false accusations against Israel (eg the Al Dura affair, massacre in Jenin that never happened, faked photo footage from Lebanon War, condemning Israel for killing Hamas (not civilian) terrorists eg Yassin, lies about Israel using chemical weapons in Lebanon and Gaza conflict etc etc), not accepting Israel's right to exist, justifying and excusing Hamas and Muslim terrorism against Israel, when not ignoring it altogether, unquestioningly parroting Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah propoganda as factually accurate without questioning it at all as media broadcasters are wont to do, is anti-Semitic. Likewise praising Palestinian terrorists who have called for Israel's destruction and orchestrated terror attacks on Jews as moderates and peaceful partners eg Arafat is anti-Semitic, seeing Israel as controlling and manipulating the most powerful nation in the world America to go to war in Iraq, endorsed by many Leftists (and neo-Nazis and Muslim extremists), saying 9-11 is all ultimately the fault of America's support for Israel, is all anti-Semitic. Everything I mention is a pervasive problem. If many other countries in the Middle-East are not democracies they should be criticised for this, not be given a free ride for this very reason, and Israel should be commended for being a democracy, not have it's democracy be used as an excuse for anti-Israelism! Lying about Israel, and whitewashing the crimes of Israel's enemies and other nations of the world is anti-Semitism in action. It is what people who honestly admit to being anti-Semitic (they do exist you know) do all the time.

Saying Jews have a perseuction complex is so anti-Semitic. We have been persecuted, murdered in the millions in Europe, it is not the product of fevered imagination. Jews have been persecuted in Europe for over a thousand years. Likewise Israel is surrounded by Jew-hating enemies who admit openly to hating the Jews, and seeking to drive the Jews into the sea. Israel's neighbours, who greatly outnumber the Jews have tried in three major wars to destroy Israel. Their rhetoric on Israel at every strata of their society is Nazi-like in its irrational Jew-hate venom. Ahmandinjehad in Iran has promised to wipe Israel off the map and he soon will have a nuclear bomb or three. Hamas and Hezbollah call for the liquidation of all Jewry on the planet. What they don't mean it? Like Hitler never really meant it? You mean Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the like don't really mean any harm with those seven or eight thousand Kasseem rockets launched from Gaza over the last few years into Israel? It's all just a product of the fevered imagination of the Jews, like Ahmandinjehad's rants. It's not really happening... if only.

Steve

Andymo, I agree our history has caused us to develop a persecution complex. Sorry Lawrence, you may disagree, but I see it quite often at public talks in the local Jewish community.

I hear many people at my Synagogue speaking about people as if they are anti-Semites when I completely disagree. So yes, there is a perhaps understandable element of the persecution complex. In any event, I didn't say that criticism of Israel is ALWAYS anti-Semitic.

Andy, i doubt you could explain your assumed correlation between atheism and declining levels of anti-Semitism. Do you think your absense of a belief in God cures you from hating others? What nonsense.

Do you think that if people don't believe in Christ then they can't believe the Jews killed Christ and therefore can't hate Jews? Is that the answer to changing views on Jews? Spread the message of atheism? Maybe we need to kill the message of Christ in order to be saved!! (That is not my view - its a logical conclusion from Andymos absurd premise that an increase in atheism is lowering rates of antisemitism!)

I don't mind you holding Israel to higher standards if you sincerely agree they are a democracy. (Do you really?) But criticism of late has held Israel as the new Nazi state. Can one agree Israel is democratic and still agree that they are Nazis?

You are basically saying that criticism of Israel is NEVER anti-Semitic. There are no anti-Semites in the world?. Or at least, not among the enlightened and increasingly atheistic people of the Western world. Pity about the darker skinned folk, eh?

Why does the EU regard comparing Israel to the Nazis as fundamentally anti-Semitic? (There is a link somewhere on this blog that shows there definition.) Is it because they are controlled by Jews?

Bongani Masuku Of COSATU wants Jews supporting Israel to leave SA. Anti-Semitic or enlightened atheist?

Fatima Hajaig says that Jews control America - anti-Semitic or enlightened atheist?

Ali Mazrui says Israel is the new third Reich - anti-Semitic or enlightened atheist?

Independant newspaper includes letters saying that the 6 million killed in the Holocaust is a lie - antisemitic or enlightened atheist?

Independant newspaper column:

"“This is a systematic mass murder on a grotesque scale perpetrated by one of the most tyrannical regimes on Earth.”"

"“people can now witness first-hand babies being shot point blank by the brutal Israeli Defence Force (IDF), women being systematically raped by Jewish soldiers”

I suppose its just holding this Nazi democracy to higher standards.

These points notwithstanding, I agree that we suffer from a persecution complex naturally created by our history of real persecution and that criticism of Israel is definitely not anti-Semitic but that real anti-Semites (which you claim do not exist) do use criticism of Israel as a mask for their hatred of Jews.

Steve

Andy,
"Granted criticism of Israel is higher than that of repressive regimes like the Saudi's or Iran, but its because we hold Democracies up to a higher standard."

You obviously need to read more of the Sunday Times. Editor Mondli Makhanya wrote a recent editorial calling Israel "the most oppressive state in the world". And he knows.

You will just have to accept your democracy comment was wrong.

The Blacklisted Dictator

SERMON ON THE TABLE MOUNTAIN: VICTIMHOOD

The Cape Messiah speaks....

Today I speak to The Jews about victimhood. Some Jews might think it is a strange word but it is useful and refers to the state of suffering that endures when someone has treated you badly. It is an unpleasant feeling and is related to paranoia, depression and anger. Verily these are negative feelings and they prevent The Victim from getting on with a healthy unshackled life.

Of course, it is bad enough if your wife or girlfriend is suffering from "victimhood". But what if a whole people or a whole nation is under its curse? Can such a nation walk arm in arm with other nations without looking over its shoulder all the time and asking " Are you going to wipe me off the map?"

Although I am not a qualified clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist, I believe that many Jews, especially The Israelites, are suffering from victimhood. And to some extent it is understandable. If anyone has ever been to the holocaust museum in Jerusalem, known as Yad Vashem, they will be aware that, in the past, a terrible misfortune had been waged upon The Jews in Europe. Millions died and by looking at the various exhibits, many Jews still feel bad about it.

But verily that holocaust was not the fault of The Hamasites. They were minding their own business trying to live a peaceful life in The Land of Palestine. It was The Germans and other fascists who were blameworthy. They were not growing olives but they were doing plenty of gassing and shootings.

If one goes on and on about the holocaust, and by this I mean watching movies movies like "The Reader" and "The Boy in Striped Pajamas", does it do you, or anyone else, any good? Does it help you to get over the trauma of the holocaust ? Wouldn't it be better to watch films like "Slumdog Millionaire" which widens your horizons and tells the story of poverty stricken children in India?

I believe Hollywood is partially responsible for victimhood. Jewish producers should start making other, more fascinating films about social justice and human rights in the modern world. A bio-pic about Nelson Mandela or even Barack Obama would surely be a good place to start.

Here endeth my sermon on victimhood.

Benjamin

Andy, your problem is that confuse Religious views with the morals of the society it exist in. Christianity used to be anti-semitic, that is no longer true. The church also used to be: anti-heliocentric, pro-slavery, anti-evolution, sexist, racist and homophobic. Benedict aside - who seems to be a little nuts - those beliefs have changed too. Religion's ethics reflect the societies they exist in.

There are passages that are anti-semitic eg. Mathew 27:25. They are either ignored or re-interrupted in the same way that passages that indicate that we are the center of the universe are. Secularism would not have lead to a heliocentric view. Scientific understanding of our universe did that - the church just followed (eventually anyway).


The other point is, stop talking about atheists as if they are some coherent group. Atheism is not a belief system, it is a lack of belief. That is why you have words like Humanist! It is almost impossible to correlate anything meaningful against anti-belief. I mean what could you say about people who don't celebrate Christmas have in common?

I agree with you that most Europeans are not antisemitic. Unless you equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism - an emotional over reaction.I doubt that is because it has become more secular.

Lawrence

Benjamin, NOBODY (except maybe some anonymous twit somewhere typing on the keyboard of his PC in his mom's basement) is saying criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, this is straw man argumentation that is usually employed by Jew-haters ad nauseum who pretend they are not anti-Semitic, and they do so in order to pass of anti-Semitic criticism of Israel as legitimate criticism. So untrue and unfair criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. If the "criticism" of Israel involves the 3 D's as N Sharansky calls them, namely deligitimising Israel's right to exist, double standards re Israel and Muslim terrorists and their supporters and demonisation of Israel - it is anti-Semitic. As is simply lying about Israel for that matter. All these "criticisms" of Israel are pervasive and so then is anti-Semitism. A widespread survey of Europeans some years ago revealed that something like 60% of Europeans consider Israel the biggest threat to world peace, the world peace that doesn't exist. That alone (if the survey is fairly representative) makes the majority of Europeans morons and visciously anti-Semitic. Of course millions of Europeans are not anti-Semitic, so one can't generalise.

As far as atheism is concerned, it is a belief system, a belief that there is no God or gods, and a belief they hold to, usually very dearly, as dogmatically as any religious fanatic.

And of course Christianity is still in many ways fostering anti-Semitism. It would depend on the church and the particular creed, it's complex. But anti-Semitism is still a reality in Catholic and Protestant churches and the Eastern Church. One merely needs to look at the viscious anti-Israelism (recent support for boycotts and disinvestment against Israel and the like) and thus anti-Semitism in the Anglican and Lutheran churches, and the anti-Semitism of NGO ChristianAid, in the present day for obvious examples. The recent row with the Pope over Bishop Richard Williamson's Holocaust denial a recent example from the Catholic Church.

Benjamin

Lawrence, I'll distill your points as I see them (hopefully not unfairly):

1. Untrue and unfair criticism of Israel is anti-semitic.

I disagree completely. Sometimes it is simple untrue and unfair. A critic can simply be wrong without holding a hatred of the Jewish race. It is true that someone who hold a hatred for the Jewish race will probably voice untrue and unfair criticism. Because they are an idiot. Aside: An anti-semite might voice true and fair criticism. Calling someone anti-semitic is not a defense and as such it really is a very poor and lazy way to argue.

2. "NOBODY is saying criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic."

Well done, you have used a straw man argument to attack a staw man, that is truly impressive. And as an aside you have implied that I am anti-semitic.

So often legitimate criticism is caricatured into as you put it the 3 D's. Narrowing the allowed criticism to nothing. It also means that instead of debating anything you have long and pointless arguments that go nowhere - sort of like this one. An example from this blog, Gary commenting on Human Rights Activist Takes on Tutu:
"Tutu has being making anti-semitic speeches since 1984.
He is clearly a Jew-hater extraodinaire and you would have to be deaf and blind to deny it."

You agreed saying:
"He is a Jew-hater through and through. "

Notice how neither you nor Gary have made any arguments just juvenile slurs. You have shut down any real dialogue. And most damaging given protection to actual anti-Semites. Bishop Richard Williamson's can now compare your arguments against him to ones you have made against Tutu and laugh them off.

Re: Atheism. By your definition everyone has to be at least half Atheist after all you are either apolytheist or amonotheist. But it would be stupid to define someone that way, ditto for Atheist. Negative beliefs are mostly irrelevant, we are (I am sure) both aApolloists but that is a completely meaningless connection.

Re: 60% of Europeans, a general discussion:
The survey Viewpoints: Anti-Semitism and Europe I am very wary of statistics used in this way.

Re: Christianity. I agree it is immensely complex and general remarks are somewhat pointless. You would need to look at specific cases. Distinctions between the clergy and the parishioners, general trends etc etc I was arguing against the tying of the doctrine of Christianity to it's practice.

The Blacklisted Dictator

As regularly as clockwork on this blog, a variation of the anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism debate crops up. The current debate has added "atheism" into the pot to spice it up.

Of course, the strength of Supernatural is that bloggers can discuss whatever they like; Steve is bravely committed to freedom of expression so virtually nothing is ever deleted.

My two pennyworth... the debate goes nowhere.

Benjamin

BD,

Agreed, I have been involved in far too many of these and as I said:

"It also means that instead of debating anything you have long and pointless arguments that go nowhere - sort of like this one."

I propose to Mike and Steve a /. type model of commenting. You can rate the comments out of 5 (Interesting, Informative or Funny). Low rated comments can be read but most users filter them out. Plus, instead of a long roll of comments they branch out with replies into separate threads. So a pointless argument doesn't take over the whole blog. Check it out here. It is obviously over kill with a blog like this but a simpler model could be adopted.

Gary

I have explained many times why anti-zionism is actually anti-semitism but from the standard responses it is obvious nobody actually read them.

Maybe some of you can actually take the time to read this thoughtful article by Judea Pearl.
http://www.zionismontheweb.org/Anti-Zionism_is_racism.htm

The Blacklisted Dictator

Benjamin,

I don't think that assessing the strength and validity of the comments is a solution.

I am not sure how to improve the standard of debates on the blog. One cant get away from the fact that, to a large extent, the debates are determined by the editorials. Inevitably some editorials are more thought provoking than others.

I think that there should be a lot more guest blog editorials to spice things up. But, of course, such a policy seems to be anathema to Steve. I don't think that he wants big mouths like me shouting the odds!

Running a first rate blog is very time consuming and Steve/Mike do wonders given the constraints on their time. But there is only so much that they can do and many important issues are inevitably passing this blog by.

Lawrence

This blog's comments section is like groundhog day except there is nothing humorous about it, sad really.

People can READ the articles but it don't mean a thing, if they do not use their grey matter, in actually comprehending them.

Gary you can bring the horse to water, but you can't make it drink..

Those articles by Pearl are good, but not as good as others I think, like this one by from of all places The Guardian by Emanuele Ottolenghi www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/29/comment

and this one from Andrew Bostom on Martin Luther King Jr's recogntion that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
www.wzo.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=1823

anyhow as I have pointed out uh before sigh all openly honest anti-Semites are anti-Zionist sigh, all neo-Nazis and all Muslim extremists from around the world including Hamas and Hezbollah and you know the Iranian regime of Ahmandinjehad are anti-Zionist sigh. These obvious facts have obvious implications but, if you don't have the grey matter to get it, you don't get it. sigh sigh sigh.

It is not enough to READ something Gary, even very slowy, one has to use one's critical thinking skills to get it, to recognise the validity of what one is reading (or not as the case may be). And in our society, critical thinking skills are in very short supply and criticial thinking is actively discouraged by our so-called schooling.

Lawrence

I agree with Posner, rating comments (which I see on other blogs) can be kind of silly. I mean who is doing the rating? It's a popularity contest and doesn't help raise standards or improve things in any way really. And whose standards? Who is to do the judging on this? There's the rub.

Gary

I imagine one of the key criteria will be how 'nuanced' we are.

Benjamin

Steve, which Steve btw?

Re: Solution. You are right ratings are probably a bad idea. I do think threading would help. I am not sure exactly what TypePad allows you to do. I'm sure Steve/Mike don't have time to spend time programming.

If you get annoyed enough you can implement your own personal filter killfile using grease monkey.

Mike

Anthony,

How can you say we do not support guest blogs? You yourself have recently written a piece for us. We would like to share other views and ideas.

Gary

Benjamin, did anyone ask you?

Shaun

If no one minds that I get back to the original topic…

How will the local “humanist” community respond to the Dalai Lama being denied a visa to South Africa?

The Blacklisted Dictator

Mike,
Guest editorials are quite rare on Supernatural. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I get the impression that you and Steve want to keep a tight rein on things. Although some of my "Sermons on The Cape" have been published as comments, they have not been punted as satirical editorials. I think it is a pity, because they get lost.

Andymo

Lawrence writes: "Saying Jews have a perseuction complex is so anti-Semitic."

I don't know how to respond to this. Its like criticising the ANC makes you a racist.

"Do you think your absense of a belief in God cures you from hating others? What nonsense. "

No, and thanks for the definition on Atheism, like I needed it explained to me. You misunderstood, my argument was that cultural differences mean less and less to people (not advocating Atheism), my Atheism comment was more so I could get a dig in at the Abrahamic faiths (followers of the desert god) than anything else. In our multicultural societies (Western World), being defined by your religion is less important (see catholic vs protestant). Do I think this is a good thing? Absolutely (but thats another debate).

"I don't mind you holding Israel to higher standards if you sincerely agree they are a democracy."
I do. Strange as it may seem, I am more outraged at the 'Patriot Act' in the US than the 're-education' camps in N Korea. This is for a number of reasons - access to news, proximity, family relations in the US, part of the same cultural sphere, the US is a democracy etc. Similarly I would consider Israel in the same cultural, political sphere. This is part of the reason I feel Israel comes in for so much flak.

Honestly, I can guarantee you editors at the Guardian or the Independent do not 'hate the Jews'. There is no secret cabal of Westerners out to get you.

Gary

Andymo, If what you say is true, about holding Israel to a higher standard, then surely those who profess Communism should hold China, Cuba and North Korea to a higher standard, rather than Israel or the USA.
As regards "There is no secret cabal of Westerners out to get you".
When leftwing intellectuals praise groups Hamas or Hizbullah whose professed aim is genocide of Jews, or state that Israel has no right to exist and it's people should merely thrown themselves at the mercy of Hamas et al in a 'unitary one state solution', or that the killing of Israeli children is justified as part of the Palestinian's liberation struggle, then I, as a Jew, see that as an attack on my people, no less repulsive, evil and racist than anything said by rightwing anti-semites.

Lawrence

Andymo I don't really care to bang my head on brick walls, it's tiresome for one and I have a life. Believe whatever you want, your level of "argument" is uh lame to put it politely.

You guarantee that the editors of the Guardian and the Independent don't hate the Jews blabla. How would you know? For one many people today (especially Leftists) are largely not conscious of their Jew-hatred, it's deeply held, not something they are aware of, so it's not something they admit to, even to themselves. I'm not talking about Hamas and neo-Nazis who are honest about their Jew-hatred here.

The Guardian and Independent have a long history of lying and distorting news about Israel and whitewashing and engaging in apologetics and excuses for the crimes of Israel's enemies. It's nothing you would know anything about. So I think, in the light of this, it is only reasonable to charge them with anti-Semitism. Like duh. Anybody who has a clue and gets it on the Middle-East and knows the reporting of these newspapers knows all this. It's nothing you appear to know anything about.

After all Andymo you endorse moral and cultural relativism with your North Korea camps and the US Patriot Act comment, and don't even see yourself doing it, and don't see anything wrong with such dubious moral relativism in the first place. How sad.

Gary

And Andymo, more people have been killed by the progressive, enlightened, humanist, anti-cultural discrimination ideology of Communism in the past 90 years, 100 million plus, than by all religious conflicts put together.
Also I find it interesting how enlightened leftwing humanists like yourself are happy ot condemmn what they see as abuses carried out by believing Jews Christians, but Muslims are free of all condemnation simply because leftwingers see them as the exotic 'other' and therefore always the victim never the perpetrator.

Benjamin

Andymo. Welcome, I for one, am happy for some diverse voices. Unfortunately you have already been labeled: a naive humanistic cultural relativistic communist. Try to ignore that.

Re: "access to news, proximity, family relations in the US, part of the same cultural sphere, the US is a democracy etc. "

Then your outrage is relative, relative to who you are and where you live - emotional and arbitrary. (It is sadly ironic that excusing American policy by pointing out it is better than North Korean is also relativistic.) But why the need for some sort of ranking of outrage in the first place?

I am outraged by both the Patriot act and North Korean re-education camps.

There is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared in 1948 by the UN. Not a bad starting point, if only the world would get around to implementing it...

Re: "cultural differences mean less and less to people"

Emo Philip's joke (second one down the page). That pretty much sums up human nature.

Lawrence

Benjamin, reveals his own moral relativism by endorsing Andymo's. About as surprising as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

Calling Andymo a moral and cultural relativist is not labelling Benji, it is what he is - like you. Like calling a Jew a Jew, a Hindu a Hindu, or Robert Fisk - that well-known journalist for the Independent beloved in South Africa for his consistent anti-Israelism - an anti-Semitic idiot, because that is what he is.

Benji why don't you start reading up on you know Middle-East history, and current affairs, you know the real stuff, not merely parrot ideological candyfloss and rote CNN soundbites, and in the process proudly parade your cluelessness on this forum while at the same time pretending to know what you are talking about. I could give you a list of historians I recommend, and current academic commentators and the like - I doubt you would have even heard of any of them.

Benji how old are you if you don't mind me asking? You come across as very young, you are a teenager, right?

Andymo

Gary and Lawrence.

I'm libertarian by the way, do not consider myself a left wing liberal or even vaguely communist.

You criticise my cultural relativism (which its not), however under your definition do not realise that it is exactly what you practice yourself. You are Jewish (I assume) you are more interested in Jewish affairs than say human rights issues in Myanmar.

Obviously affairs in my sphere (for lack of a better word) whether it be SA or the Western world interest me more. You seem to have confused my being less interested in foreign spheres with me somehow condoning conditions in those spheres.

Its like saying Supernatural practices moral relativism because it doesn't want to talk about issues in China.

Regardless - we seem to be at loggerheads. I have been labelled a left wing liberal and am the enemy.

There is a danger here of adopting a laager mentality, retreating into your own, anyone who questions us is against us. Its you against the world. Adopting a persecution complex.

So for someone like myself who is comparatively pro Israeli, I am a bit surprised to be categorised with the rest of the anti-Semites.

In this environment you need to be making as many friends as possible, not burning bridges. (I don't mean making friends with me, I mean winning the hearts and minds of certain population sectors).

Steve

Andy,
As one of the people who responded to you, I can assure you I don't consider you an antisemite. I have had some useful discussions with you in the past (a while back) and definitely know you are not an antisemite.

People here have confused anti-Zionism with crticisim of Israel. One can criticise Israel without being anti-Zionist. I think its a useful way of framing the debate because we then don't get lost in the related discussion of whether antizionism is antisemitism.

My problem is that you essentially are saying that no criticism of Israel is antisemitic. That whenever we say it is, we are suffering from our persecution complex (which I readily admit we do have, for good reasons I'm sure you will agree). You seem to be denying the very existence of antisemitism.

Following a premise that it exists, it is logical to conclude that the antisemites that do exist will then use criticism of Israel as a mask for their antisemitism. But you say it doesn't exist. That is what we should be discussing.

I think we need to reserve labels of antisemitism for the more extreme cases and just agree that much of the criticism is exaggerated, incorrect and even destructive. I also admint though that alot of it is congruent with general political biases against the West in general - biases not particular to the Jews. Fisk is as anti_American as he is anti-Israel. (Maybe Fisk is a bad example, but many Guardian reporters are good examples.)

I think a person can produce an article that does damage to Jews in general by using untruthful cabals as criticism of Israel even though they are not aware of it.

Newspapers that are supposed to cover all conflicts equally should not give disproportionate coverage and criticism to Israel. This blog focuses on Israel so it is fine. The mandate is broad, so when the criticism disproportionate and narrow we react.

A journal focused on Israel - fine. A newspaper covering world affairs - not fine.

Benjamin

It is not that antisemitism doesn't exist, what is the best way to engage with it?

If someone criticizes Israel (say in a Guardian editorial) it is far better to deal directly with the criticism. Rather than attacking the person writing the editorial. You are much more likely to resolve the issue.

Lawrence,
Did you even read what I said? Facepalm

Steve

Benjamin,
I don't think the authors of the worst articles are really willing to engage on the issues? I am not talking about a normal article criticising Israel for a disproportionate use of force. Use of cluster munitions etc. I am referring to articles like that authored by Makhanya where he said that Israel is one of the most tyrannical regimes on earth. It really isn't worth engaging Makhanya on that type of issue. If that is his belief, its not worth engaging him on any issue.

How does one engage with the author of the article in the M&G which said:


"Finally, let us now be honest. Who on the left did not feel a sense of Schadenfreude at the sight of the World Trade Centre towers crashing to the ground? It is the same instinct that now leads us to quietly celebrate the news of an Israeli casualty. In the end, oppression and its appeasement can bring out the "terrorist" in all of us."

Benjamin

Steve,

I was talking about a "normal article criticizing Israel" which some do label antisemitic. I should have been more specific.
I agree you cannot engage with such a view. It is beyond an sort of reason and deserves nothing but condemnation and ridicule.

Lawrence

Andy I think we mustn't downplay the extent and depth of anti-Semitism in the West, there is a lot of often undisguised hostility to Jews throughout the Western world (particularly Europe and the UK) from both Muslims and native Westerners, that you did flippantly dismiss with your "persecution complex" remark. This is grossly insensitive and reflects a complete lack of awareness of what is going on, and the harsh disturbing reality that Jews face once again. So your remark here could easily be construed as anti-Semitic, it is at the very least grossly insensitive to the realities of being Jewish at the dawn of the twenty first century in a world that has so obviously not learned any lessons from the Holocaust and fascism. I'm not saying you are anti-Semitic Andy, but your remark could be construed as such, since it is something one hears from anti-Semites.

Remember that the Jews do face the very real threat of another Holocaust, in their homeland this time, and even in Europe things are very unpleasant for Jewry...once again.

I live in Israel Andy, just the other day a major terrorist attack was narrowly averted at a car park of a Haifa mall/station, 100 kg worth of explosives packed with ball bearings in a car failed to go off, and was defused by sappers. If it went off it would have been carnage. I used to go through that station fairly frequently when I worked up north in the past. We are surrounded by very real enemies in our very tiny homeland, who outnumber us greatly and whose Jew-hatred is at Nazi-like levels of irrational venom and bloodlust. Really I don't exaggerate. Thousands of Hezbollah rocets, never mind Hamas's are aimed at Israel with the intention of killing and maiming Jewish men, women, children and babies. They openly admit their goal is the same as the Nazis, the eradication of Jewry. Then there is Iran with the nuclear bomb..and time is running out. What also of Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? Many in the west, as Steve points out, openly or surreptitiously support our Muslim extremist enemies, and those that don't are largely indifferent to our fate, as before. And many of those indifferent to our fate, or worse, are so-called Jews, many of whom are living in la-la land (particularly American Jews still stuck in 1968). So when you write about "a persecution complex", well you need to think more carefully on the harsh disturbing realities of the Middle-East before you put finger to keyboard.

And things are getting more and more uncomfortable for the Jews in Europe and the UK, look at Venezuela as well. There are many parts of Europe where Jews cannot be openly Jewish, wear a yarmulke or star of david - in many parts of London, Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, Marseilles, Leeds etc - without provoking hostile stares and even face threats or worse. And it is getting worse and worse with every passing year.

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