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« The Despicable Far Right | Main | The Egyptian wall of steel »

January 06, 2010

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David Schraub

I'm curious if you have since kept up any correspondence with Mr. Desai. I was not surprised to hear of your treatment at the PSC event -- I was surprised to see a prominent leader of the group apologize to you personally (under apparently no social or political pressure to do so). That speaks quite well of him, and indicates the opportunity for further dialogue.

Of course, I speak from thousands of miles away, so all I know is this snapshot -- I don't know any other background about either him or you other than what is given here. So this could be absurd. But in a conflict that is so often characterized by vicious polarization and mistrust, I look for the little green springs, and even that very simple gesture of an apology for mistreatment qualifies.

Barbara

Mohammed Desai is a leader at Wits PSC and a wonderful young man who is motivated out of a concern for civil rights for all people. His behaviour represents the true face of the PSC.

bigben

I wouldn't get to excited about Mr Desias apology. This is not the first time Vally has publicly tried to humiliate a Jewish student because they are Jewish. He apologized the time before as well. Every anti-semitic incident that has come out of the PSC, (and there have been a few) has come on his watch with his encouragement. He should stop apologizing and start dealing with the extreme nature of his movement and its foot soldiers.

Sinethemba

I regret the speed to which the apology is rejected. Mr Desai has shown integrity and humility. He should be applauded. It is this display of grace that can bring peace to Palestine and to land of Israel.

Jews and Palestinians just nee the will

Informed Commentor

Ilan, just be careful that you are not sued for a libel

Religious Fundamentalist 1

Informed Commentator has learnt the lesson of Ezra Levant and the kangaroos in Canada. Lawfare is the other front in Jihad.

Seems to me IC is either a coward or a libel-chill Jihadi. Feel free to sue.

ilan solomons

Hi all I just would like to clear something up. It seems that many of the readers have misinterpreted the actions of Mr Desai and therefore his character. Desai is no moderate with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict; he has often been at the forefront of virulent anti-Semitic campaigns on and off campus. Especially when he tried to justify a swastika being painted on a wall that equated the Magen Dovid symbol to Nazism. I have an interesting relationship with Desai in that we have what can best be described as an amicable disagreement on the issue of peace in the Middle East.

I truly believe that the only reason the he apologized was because he knows me and he has tried in recent times not to take me on personally, as he sees me as a moderate as opposed to other Jews that have dealt with him. I honestly believe if he were sincere about his apology he would have said something publicly at the time or at least tried to stop Salim. It was more face saving that genuine, in my opinion.

I sincerely feel that many of the readers have missed the main points of this brief article namely: 1) The singling out of a Jewish audience member, and 2) the vile racist, anti-Semitic ranting of a senior PSC member.

I hope this clears up some confusion.

Warm Regards,

Ilan Solomons

the Hebrew prophet

Why don,t certain pro-Israeli bloggers ask pertinent questions like Sunnis and Shiites murdering each other on a daily basis in Muslim lands ,or why the demented female suicide bombers sent to blow up fellow Muslims in village markets or why the Taliban opium fuelled Islamic killling machines, the mass cultivation of dagga in Swat and South Waziristan ,the $100 American paid daily to Gazan tunnel diggers,the bribes paid to Egyptian border guards to look the other way ,the closing of the Rafah Egyptian border crossing ,who,s paying George Galloway to cause trouble and will the Labour govt. of Gordon Brown impose strict guidelines on Hamas representatives who try and enter the UK for propaganda purposes ,all prtinent questions begging responsible answers?

the Hebrew prophet

It is appears as if certain Jewish pro-Israli spokespeople are to intimidated into asking about the Islamofascist mass murderer Omar Al-Bashir ,the butcher of Sudan and his fellow Muslim Janjaweed militia ,why so intimidated ?

RF2

Ilan

Your conclusion amuses me. Realy, you cracked a smile. It is typical of modern noe-liberals. You wrote an a number of paragraphs lamenting the vicious anti semitism in the Palestinian movement (or at least the PSC), which is nothing close that of the Palestinians in Israel (PSC boys and girls aren't killing Jews themselves), and you conclude with an almost poetic overture ignoring all of history, common sense and your very own experience.

Cute

Lawrence

Ilan Solomons writes "I have an interesting relationship with Desai in that we have what can best be described as an amicable disagreement on the issue of peace in the Middle East."

Since you write directly above that "he has often been at the forefront of virulent anti-Semitic campaigns on and off campus..", Ilan can you explain why you have a relationship with a man you admit is a Jew-hater, a relationship that you yourself say can best be described as one based on "amicable disagreement"? Why is it amicable? I mean considering Desai is a Jew-hater as you yourself admit. Do you always insist on having relationships based on "amicable disagreement" with Jew-haters? Or do you make an exception with Desai? If so why? Do you consider it more constructive to be amicably disagreeable with Jew-haters? Do you think that will make them less anti-Semitic in the long run? Is that what you mean by being a moderate Zionist?


the Hebrew prophet

The only time peace will reign is when Jordan is ruled by the Palestine/Fatah hierarchy not the occupying Hashemites who stole the homeland from them ,so gather in the exiles ,put the Fatah intellectuals,Erekat ,Ashrawi,Shaath and others in their positions/portfolios in the Palestine govt. in Ammman and stop with the lies and deceit ,time is moving ,no more time for silly childish excuses by corrupt Fatah leaders ,inshallah.

the Hebrew prophet

Tens of billions of European/American taxpayers money have been wasted on corruption, violence and Arab intransigence since 1948,two sides living in peace and prosperity ,side by side the original League of Nations mandate ,so what seems to be the problem as it,s pretty clear ,the wording that is ?

ilan solomons

Dear Lawrence,

Thank you for your questions. I believe your questions can be dealt with broadly under the heading of how should we act or behave towards anti-Israel/Zionist activists. There is an approach of just being hostile and having no constructive dialogue with such individuals and societies and there is one of having a level of engagement and just not stooping to their level. This does not mean you have to be friends or even acquaintances with such people, it simply means acting respectfully, and with a basic level of Derech Eretz, like if they greet you in a corridor you return the greeting or just not killing one another every time you’re in the same place. I have taken the latter approach (rightly or wrongly). Desai is no drinking buddy of mine and I would never associate with him on any social level, and the feeling in all likelihood is mutual from his side.

Another part of this issue is that I was once on the Wits University SRC, and I had to work with Desai as the President of the PSC Wits. That meant I had to not only be amicable to the PSC and Desai but as it was well known to all that I had a history of being involved in SAUJS Wits as the Political Officer – which entails a fair amount of Israel advocacy and countering all forms of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias that organizations like PSC brought onto Wits campus – I went out of my way to be extra nice to the PSC when I could, like giving them a nice stand on O-Week for example which I know Desai and his executive members acknowledges and appreciated. Which improved his attitude to myself personally and in some way had an effect on me as well I suppose? The truth of matter is that there are much more sinister members of that organization, compared to Desai. This is not an apologist piece for Desai by any means I am not his biggest fan but still I will behave like a human being when I have to interact with him.

I also believe strongly in engaging with people on all issues from a variety of view points, whether I agree with them or not. I value the concept of engagement and discussion, and as it says in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers), it states that we can learn from all people. I must state that going to speak to someone that you disagree with or going to hear a talk that is not coming from your view of the world, does not necessarily mean you are giving your hechsher to the event or the topic or even the speaker – in my opinion at least that is!

Do I believe that this constructive approach will change people that come from an opposite view; namely on the issue of the Arab- Israeli conflict? Will it make them less anti-Israel or anti-Semitic? The truth is I do not know. We live in hope, that on some level our opponents will choose peace and our radicals (i.e. Jewish nationalist and religious extremists), will do the same. I hope that one day engagement will lead us to having normal diplomatic relations with all our Arab neighbours and our Persian brothers in Iran even!

How do I define a moderate Zionist? My definition would be the following: It would be the belief that Israel has the right to exist as a secular democratic Jewish State, alongside a viable, contingous Palestinian State in security and peace. The moderate would seek a true understanding of the conflict and not only appreciate the great miracle of the re – birth of the Jewish State, but also being mature enough and sensitive enough to learn about the suffering of the civilians of Palestine ( note the civilians not the armed groupings that have carried out acts of egregious terror on the Jewish State), seeking an honest account of the history of the conflict namely the issue of the Palestinian Refugees, and how Israeli forces, and in the earlier years its militias and the political scapegoating of the Palestinians by the Arab and Muslim world has resulted in decades of suffering. But I believe this can not be done without people talking to one another or at least reading widely on the history and politics of the region!

I hope this has covered most of your concerns!

Warm Regards,

Ilan Solomons

Religious Fundamentalist 1

Ilan,

3 Qu's:

Contiguous
Have you looked at the map of Israel lately?

Would you prefer Israel to be contiguous or the palestinian state or have you discovered a new for of geometry they didn't have when I was at university?

Moderate
Hypothetically:
Would you consider it "moderate" if the "true understanding of the conflict" [your words] was that the palestinians will never ever accept Israel's right to exist and therefore must be soundly trounced and denied self determination in order to achieve peaceful co-existence?

Or do you take "moderate" to mean only spineless diplomacy, "make-nice" and try not to offend the Europeans and Americans, and hemorrhage Jewish blood, so that we can still sit in the European courts and shop in their malls and be welcomed when we arrive in their capitals?

Respect
Do you think Europe really respects Israel for it's concessions and disregard for its civilians or do you entertain the possibility they're laughing behind their hands and thinking what a spineless bunch of favour curriers we must be, might as well back the Arabs they have more spunk and will probably win out in the long run?

RF2

I'm sorry

RF1 is too nice. Let me be less subtle. When the SAJS National Political Officer doesn;t understand the simple geographical facts of the Israeli conflict how can he be able to grasp the political, religous and cultural nuances that are already so difficult for those outside of Israel to understand? How exactly di he get elected to this position?

Ilan, I'm sure you;re a nice guy, and you're not short of company in the short-sighted-no-comprehnension-of-the-situation-but-everyone-must-just-be-friends liberal brigade, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say you were swept up with peer pressure. But please, before you go commenting, and worse, representing SA Jews in public regarding the Israel/"Palestinian" situation, learn a little bit about it first. To simplify: There is no way that both Israel and a(heaven forbid) Palestian state can both be contiguous. Which brings me back to what I said to Steve. Show your allegence!

Steve

Ilan, thank God there are sensible people like you who work tirelessly and bravely defending antisemitism on campus.

There will always be the absolutists who will attack you. You can answer for yourself but its become acceptable to speak of a contiguous Palestinian state even though Gaza and West Bank are separate. I think by contiguous you mean the West Bank.

No one needs to tell you to show your allegiance. Keep up the sterling work you have done, despite the outrageous insults you have received from comments in this thread and from people like Zackie Achmat.

Shaun

Sorry to be so pesky,

But, if a two state solution means a continuous Israel and a continuous Palestinian state in the West bank excluding Gaza, would that not create a 3 state solution?

Religious Fundamentalist 1

Is absolutist NewSpeak for fundamentalist, right-winger, zealot, racist, islamophobe ... I can't keep up?

(Or is it, just maybe, a euphemism for the unswerving extremist devotion to the notion that if we just hug and talk nicely to everybody, eventually they'll stop murdering us and our children? ... isn't that a Christian concept?)

Lawrence

Ilan thanks for your response.

Yes I can imagine you in a difficult situation at Wits on the SRC. It is not a position I would envy in many ways. It is often in hindsight only that one realises what the best tactic would have been in any given situation, and that includes anti-Israel hostility. I myself regret not having had any real involvement with SAUJS when I was at Wits, so I commend you for your Israel advocacy in what must be a fairly hostile environment, and at best a very ignorant one.

I do think though that the realities of the middle-east cannot be ignored or wished away, we ignore the reality of Islamic extremism at our peril, and I think its dynamics and pervasiveness need to be acknowledged without flinching from uncomfortable truths. This is not merely academic, like an argument about the mechanisms of natural evolution or the role of the churches in wars from centuries long past, this is Israel's very survival at stake. Nothing less than that.

Ilan I agree with you that one needs to read widely to understand what is going on in the Middle-East, unfortunately the books and journalists and the academics, historians who specialise in this topic and the important inseperable topic of Islamic radicalism and actually deal with indisputable facts, historical and contemporary, are not stocked on the shelves of bookstores anywhere really. One has to actively seek them out, order them, check the internet blogs by academics and credible journalists (few and far between) who report the news and facts one doesn't see or read about in the unfunny joke that is the Western media.

We also need to acknowledge the reality of widespread anti-Semitism among the political Left, it is pervasive and deep-rooted and apalling. I do not mean just the radical Left, I mean the mainstream Left as well. The thing is many Leftist anti-Semites, who unlike neo-Nazis and Muslim radicals, pretend they are not Jew-haters but are (this is what makes their Jew-hatred especially sinsiter, it lacks the honesty of the latter groups), are thus a fortiori pushing for Israel's destruction. One way to do that is to push for Chamberlain-like concessions and appeasement from the Jew nation in return for empty feigned promises from those who do not accept our right to exist. Europeans and the Obama administration do not wish us well, even though they hypocritically pretend otherwise. The fact is the Oslo accords were a disaster for Israel, Arafat remained an unrepentant jihadist till his dying day, the Gaza withdrawal and Lebanon withdrawal have made Israel less secure. We ignore historical precedent - and this isn't even history from the last century it is history, if we can even call it that yet, from this decade! - at our peril.

The fact is the anti-Semitic Europeans, the anti-Semitic Obama administration and the anti-Semitic Arab nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and others and the anti-Semitic Erdogan administration in Turkey all wish us to give up Judea and Samaria/West Bank to a Palestinian autonomy, contiguous or otherwise with Gaza. An obvious question needs to be asked - why do those who wish us ill, by the very fact they are anti-Semitic even as they pretend otherwise, even to themselves; insist on a Palestinian state despite the fact that the Palestinians don't recognise our right to exist and remain mired in Islamic extremism, and where children in their society are indoctrinated in levels of Jew-hatred indistinguisable from Nazi Germany? The question answers itself.

Unfortunately I have neither the time nor the inclination nor is this the place to get into more details (a massive tome is needed!), but a few things...

Ilan have you seen the DVD 'Farewell Israel: Bush, Iran, and the Revolt of Islam' by the American documentary filmmaker Joel Gilbert? I recommend it (even though Obama is now in office, which only makes this doccie more relevant). Unfortunately it deals with uncomfortable truths that hardly anybody wants to know anything about. Hear no evil, see no evil.. so it goes.

I also suggest historian Bat Ye'Or, Andrew Bostom, Robert Spencer, Bridget Gabriel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan and Serge Trifkovich's recent books on the history and dynamics of Islam and its relations with non-Muslims, Christians and Jews included. The lies of writers like Karen Armstrong and Jon Esposito (who are naturally the only ones you therefore find in Exclusive Books or a Barnes and Nobles overseas) are shown up for what they are.

On modern day anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism and Jewry's denial of the reality of the enemy they face, Harvard psychiatrist Ken Levin's 'The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege' is recommended.

Steve

Well I was trying to come up with a term that is less antagonistic. With absolutist I can describe my perception of your views (no compromise, demand for absolute victory) without presuming to judge your character.

ilan solomons

Dear Religious Fundamentalist 1,

You raise three interesting questions.

The first is: “Have you looked at the map of Israel lately?”

- Answer: Yes I have, and I am fully aware of the fact that Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not geographically connected. It was already discussed in the early stages of Oslo and the 2001 Camp David Accords how this would be circumvented. The proposal was to link these areas with either an underground tunnel between the territories or a high way that would link the territories, which would be link them, this is not my proposal it is something that is well documented between the Israeli, American and Palestinian negotiating teams. It was agreed such an arrangement would be considered a contiguous state of Palestine. This arrangement would in no way make Israel non-contiguous as neither of the options would result in the cutting off of parts of Israel as in both cases Israeli roads would run over the underground tunnel or underneath the highway! I hope that clears up that confusion.
- The other issue is the re – connecting of Palestinian towns, cities and villages that have been cut off from one another as a result of illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, this would be overcome by the removal of most of the settlements that cause the divisions and other things like checkpoints and the like which would be taken over or removed by the Security forces of the Palestinian State. All these things have been highlighted and agreed upon previously by the negotiating teams – under the section of the final status agreements.

The second is: How do I define moderation with regards to how Israel should solve the conflict?

- Answer: I believe that we – especially in the Diaspora should support the government and the various peace movements in the state, that seek to end the conflict where an independent Palestinian state is created along side the Jewish State and Israel will have normal relations with its surrounding counties. In the fulfilment of the modern father of Zionism (Theodore Herzl) dream to see Israel being fully integrated into the region.

The third is : Do I believe that the world community respects Israel when it makes concessions for the sake of the world?

- Answer : Do I care, Israel as an Or Lagoyim must be a light unto the nations, it must do what is just and moral for its own people and for the civilians of Palestine that are affected the most by the current Occupation of Palestine.


ilan solomons

Dear Steve,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to post on your blog, it is an incredible blog and you are doing an incredible service to the Jewish and Zionist community!
And thanks for you kind words!

Thanks very much!

Ilan

Religious Fundamentalist 1

Thanks Ilan,

Re your answers:

1) Thanks for clarifying.
2) You didn't answer my question - you made up your own. To quote the Mythbusters:" I reject your reality and substitute my own". Nevertheless, your "no answer" says enough.
3) I appreciate your answer on C. If you will indulge me, on what basis do you define this morality? Touchy feely Tanach and Pirkei Avos quotes that you self interpret or Halacha?

Shaun

And yet Peace is as illusive as ever.

I guess we’ll just keep trying the same old failed methods again and again.

Religious Fundamentalist 1

Steve,

No problem about the "absolutist" - I'm made of firmer stuff than that. Indeed, as you may have noticed I accepted BD's challenge of the RF1 moniker. Fundamentalist and "absolutist" are indeed pretty close.

However, you misunderstand my views, in the same way that Ilan misunderstood question 2. I'm perfectly happy to compromise - I'm not happy to surrender. When the difference is understood negotiations can take place, until such time you end up with the Oslo farce, the Iranian nuclear farce and the joke that is politics in central africa.

ilan solomons

Dear Lawrence,

You are very correct that we can never ignore the hard realities related to the conflict especially the issue of the deep rooted anti-Semitic attitude that permeates the Arab and Muslim world. If one ignores this he/she is ignoring a fundamental pillar of the whole conflict. This is no joke by any means and it is a very problematic to say the least. You also mentioned the complex history of general anti-Semitism emanating from the left.

I mean the Palestinian and general leadership has also shot its own people in the foot by not agreeing to partition in 1917 and again 1947, and the other peace initiatives in the past 60years.

Some of the historians’ and documentaries I have seen or know about, and I do try to read as widely as possible. However as you mentioned yourself it is not always easy or cheap to get hold of these materials in this country the general selection of the ME history is generally very poor. But thank you for your suggested readings I am always keen to find out about other authors that I may not be aware of.

There is a new book out actually entitled Globalising Hatred – The New Anti-Semitism by Denis Shane a long standing member of the Labour Party in the UK; it touches on the issues you raised and gives a greater insight into how Jewish students and Zionists have been mistreated especially in the last few years. I highly recommend it to all!

Take care,

Ilan

Religious Fundamentalist 1

Ilan,

If you don't mind - don't bother answering, you've made your views clear.

I would like to point out only the obvious i.e. that "just and moral for its own people and for the civilians of palestine ..." - i.e. that what is just and moral and the path of the Or Lagola might not be negotiating your own death warrant.

To put it a different way: moderation is a balanced middle path between two goods, or two evils - it's not moderate to bleed slowly to death.

RF2

Ilan

Again, to clarify, a linking road or tunnel is by no means contiguous. In fact, that road or tunnel would cut through Israel, seperating it into (at least) 2 parts. You don;t need to be Sun Tzu to see the security implications.

I believe that both Steve and Ilan are fundamentally misunderstanding what myself and RF1 are saying. We are not saying we on;t want peace, we are not saying we don;t want to negotiate and we are not even say we are not willing to compromise. What we saying is that the Palestinians have shown no will for any of the above. The are not a peace partner. Ilan, go back to your precious Oslo and count have many of their respective obligations each side has fulfilled. Essentially, the bunny hugger parade (that you) wants to believe that if we talk then we;ll get somewhere. We are saying Oslo was nearly 20 years ago, since then we have had no gains in security, no peace and not even vague acceptence of our right to exist. All this in payment for the vast improvements in autonomy, conditions, security and welfare that the "Palestinians" have gained.
These are not a people that want peace, there is nothing you can give them, baring your soul, that will deter them. I respect your desire for peace, I am appaulled by your ability to ignore the last 20 years of evidence.

amie

Ilan: You will appreciate the experience of Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Fed here in London, who indefatigably plunges into the lion's den repeatedly, to ask his question in front of baying hostile audiences. He sometimes gets thrown out. Here is his most recent experience, when Masuku came to town: Watch the video to see how he is treated. The way they deflect the question has something in common with your experience. The difference here is that there are other Jews jeering as well.
http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/12/15/antisemitic-meeting-at-soas/
and the follow up repercussions:
http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/12/19/jew-ish/

amie

Ilan: The author of Globalizing Hatred is Dennis McShane (you left out the Mc) and I can confirm he is a real mensch. Another worthwhile new book available on Amazon is
Robin Shepherd's A State beyond the Pale:

http://www.thejc.com/arts/book-reviews/21604/review-a-state-beyond-pale
Robin, who like McShane is not Jewish, lost his job at Chatham House over his support for Israel.
Here is his blog.
http://www.robinshepherdonline.com

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