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« A shameful day in South Africa | Main | Pollak on the hypocrisy of the anti-Israel Jewish left »

January 20, 2009



See Jonathan Berger's attamepts to paint us of harbouring an agenda of hate here: (thanks Ariel).

I may respond tomorrow. But it doesn't really need a response. Its pretty sad that we the worst of the worst he can find, especially in light of a comparison with the fiends advocating a boycott on Jewish businesses.

Jonathan Berger

Dear Steve,

I think you may have misread my Thought Leader piece. While I stand by my submission that there are extremists on all sides who have used the crisis in Gaza to advance their agendas of hate, I do not place you or this weblog in that category. Having said that, I do believe that some people use this site - as do others use other sites - to advance their racist positions (whether anti-Semitic or Islamophobic).

Just for the record, my Thought Leader piece was not an attempt to compare the call for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses with this weblog's response to it. Instead, it singled out the call as being incredibly hateful, and then compared Nathan's response to yours.

In particular, I was - and remain - concerned about numerous unjustifiable attacks on Nathan, whether posted on your site or not. My piece sought to address some of those concerns.


PS - I hope you have seen

the pil

Steve the point is whether Geffen intended it or not (which seems to be the case) he cannot escape from the fact that his petition was used by anti-semites to demonize the larger Jewish community. Furthermore Geffen cannot escape the fact that if someone on the list of Jewish business wants to be taken off the list the easiest way to do this is to sign the petition and i assume one way to sign the petition would be to contact Geffen. Thus your point remains that Geffen can prevent the boycott of Jewish business. I do not believe that this was the intention of the petition but this is the consequence of the petition for this Geffen should be taken to account.

Just as an aside I am very pleased to see the Muslim against racism statement.


Muslim against racism statement?

The usual 'we only hate Jews who live in Israel so we are not anti-Semitic' story.

Nathan Geffen

Dear Steve and Mike

Thanks for the clarification and retraction which I much appreciate.My response on Sunday morning was very angry (justifiably so) but I should not have called you anti-semites and I apologise for that.

I think there is an argument to make that the vilification of Jews who are critical of Israel (e.g. by Masadah2000 and other attempts to ostracise people from the community) is a form of anti-semitism. Such
vilification is based on the singling out of people for their criticism of Israel primarily because they are Jewish and that is surely racism. Racism against Jews is anti-semitism. I shall likely write more on this
some other time.

Nevertheless, despite our vehement disagreements, I do not believe that the two of you fit into this category. Thank you for your successful effort to restore civility to what has been an unpleasant episode.


Geffen, what about singling out Jews according to what country they come from?
i.e "I only hate Israeli Jews"
If that's not anti-Semtitic than, by logic, somebody saying they only hate Blacks who live in Johannesburg is not racist.

Nathan Geffen

Phil, surely you have it the wrong way around?

The anti-semitic email starts off by referencing the SAJBOD, ZF, Chief Rabbi statement. Surely it is this statement that "was used by anti-semites to demonize the larger Jewish community." (as Phil puts it)

In any case, let's stick to holding anti-semites responsible for anti-semitism. Our official institutions should not fuel anti-semitism, but neither should they be held responsible for it when it happens.

And let's also stamp out the Islamaphobia in our community. It is becoming increasingly problematic.


Somebody who is prejudiced against Israel and Israelis is as much of a bigot as someone who is prejudiced against Jews per se.

This 'we are not anti-Semitic, we are anti-Israeli' attitude is offensive to me because it tries to tell Jews in the diaspora they should not be offended because the hatred is not directed at them, only at the Israeli Jews, whereas I believe all Jews are one people wherever they live.


Berger writes:

"I think you may have misread my Thought Leader piece. While I stand by my submission that there are extremists on all sides who have used the crisis in Gaza to advance their agendas of hate, I do not place you or this weblog in that category. Having said that, I do believe that some people use this site - as do others use other sites - to advance their racist positions (whether anti-Semitic or Islamophobic)."

This is disingenous. when one reads what Berger ACTUALLY WROTE on on the thoughtleader blog, as I pointed out on the previous thread (and repaste it here with quite a few modifications, I know I am repeating myself but this thread is appropriate to my comments as well, since Berger has commented here on his thoughtleader piece)

Berger wrote:

"So it’s Geffen, and not the Chief Rabbi, or the SAJBD, or any of their unquestioning supporters, who is primarily responsible for fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. Does that mean then that verligte Afrikaners – such as Frederick van Zyl Slabbert, Beyers Naude and Carl Niehaus – were responsible for fostering anti-Afrikaner hatred in the 1980s, and not the elected leadership of the day? PW, FW, Vlok, Malan and the rest were each entitled to a free pass?"

Let me spell it out again, what he writes above is nonsensical, and note the popular SA Jewish support for Israel, the SAJBD and the Chief Rabbi, "the unquestioning supporters" ie the IAS crowd for sure among them, are equated by Berger with the fascist apartheid era regime of the National Party, the subtext is very very clear here, nothing subtle about it - we are fascists, maybe the Chief Rabbi is P W Botha, and Mike and Steve are Ferdie Barnard and Eugene de Kock....Of course Berger and Geffen are the verligte Jews showing the way for the rest of us to follow and correct the error of our ways...

And Berger has the chutzpah to tell you that you misunderstood his intent, he has no hostile intent to IAS; the SAJBD, the Chief Rabbi and many of us here at IAS are fascists (let me repeat there is nothing subtle about the inference here - Berger hammers us over the head with it), and Geffen and Berger and the like are the enlightened ones, but don't take it the wrong way! Berger doesn't mean anything bad by it, we mustn't misunderstand him! Berger you ought to move into politics, you are full of it.

Not only that, Berger implies that just like the National Party enforcing apartheid and generating anti-Afrikaaner sentiment, Jews like ourselves, IAS, the SAJBD, the Chief Rabbi are fanning the flames of anti-Semitism by daring to uh oppose it and expose it in the form it takes today - lies and misinformation about Israel, and that would include exposing the useful idiot status of Geffen! Such an argument made by Berger is not only idiotic, it is in fact anti-Semitic. Blaming Jews for fanning the flames of anti-Semitism for you know daring to stand up for Israel against the onslaught of lies and slander and those espousing them (be they Jewish or not), is simply anti-Semitic.

Also what "unjusitified attacks" on Nathan your buddy, Berger? Exposing Geffen's status as useful idiot to South Africa's Jew-hating population? Geffen accused Steve of anti-Semitism which is not only nonsensical, it was irrational. It was an entirely unjustified attack and that's the nicest thing I can say about it. You have it the wrong way round Berger. The fact is Steve did not misunderstand you at the thoughleaderblog, your intent and meaning is obvious enough. You try and backpeddle, and say you didn't mean what you clearly meant. Your legal threats against IAS without any basis whatsover, like the insecure bully that he is, Geffen accuses Steve of racism (anti-Semitism!); but clearly you and Geffen whose not in my name letter to the press earned the support of Muslim Jew-haters imply that you are the "verligte" Jews, and we are like the Nat apartheid era fascists! The subtext or your remarks is very clear, nothing abstruse about it.

Never mind your odious moral relativism of the "extremists on both sides" claptrap of Berger's, like Israel and the Jewish Diaspora has a sizable minority of Jews who are what.. Nazis? Since Hamas and their large numbers of Muslim supporters around the world are clearly Nazis (it is beyond the pale to even debate this), which even small numbered Jewish political and/or religious group in Israel and/or the Diaspora SAYS the same things as Hamas (except with Muslims not Jews ie all Muslims must be exterminated and this is our Jewish religious duty - it is the will of HaShem), supports the execution of apostates, punitive taxes on infidels, honour killings of girls and women, the execution of homosexuals like yourself Berger, and celebrates the killings of Arab Muslim children, as Hamas and their ilk celebrate the killings of Jews in suicide rocket attacks and other terrorist attacks? Hamas celebrates the killing of Jewish babies, Jews don't even cheer, have parties, shoot off automatic rifles in celebration and the like when we kill Hamas terrorists! And you come with your predictable moral equivalence. Berger have you thought about a job at the UN.

the pil

Nathan thank you for replying to my post. I should have been more clear in what I was saying. The boycott email goes on to state that certain people, presumably the signatories of your Not In My Name letter, have distanced themselves from the statement of the SABJD and thus should not be targeted. Thus the writers of the boycott campaign have used both your letter as well as the SABJD to promote anti-Semitism.

I too feel that Islamaphobia is too great in the community and should be eradicated, there is no excuse for it.


Mike and Steve I hope you are not going to fall for Geffen's deceptive cant. He claims you have made a "retraction" when of course you never did, you made a - in your own words -clarification. He does that so as to pretend victory, he was right and IAS and their "racist" supporters were wrong and Mike and Steve admitted as such. You do realise Mike and Steve, that is the spin Geffen has put on it?

Geffen cannot even be debated with, he holds to his position whatever the facts, he just needs to be exposed for what he is. You make some so-called "peace" with Geffen you will come to regret it. He accused Steve of racism (a big lie) and then claims he is the poor victim, like the bully he is. And that you are the one who has made "the retraction"!

Geffen clearly sees me as one of the "racists" on this forum (there are no regular racists on this forum, despite our differences with one another - except for the occasional anti-Semitic troll hiding his anti-Semitism behind Israel hatred). Trust me Geffen, I would only want to be thought of badly by the likes of you. Insults from the likes of you are compliments.


Geffen, until you answer my chargs that you are racist against Israel and Israelis i.e that you are guilty of Israelphobia, you have no moral auhthority to accuse people of any prejudices including 'anti-Semitism', 'racism', 'islamophobia' and 'homophobia'.


Geffen cannot answer the questions I raised to him re his and Isaac's invitations to the anti-Semitic Farid Esack and Drew Forrest of the Jew nation hating M&G (and ipso facto his opinions re the journalism of John Pilger) to be a part of the SAHRD (on a recent thread), and all that implies. He ignores these questions and just implies that I and others are racists, when he is isn't calling the chief rabbi "a fundamentalist" that is, a view supported by his buddy Berger who complains about "extremists". You gotta be kidding.

They make legal threats against IAS and Geffen then has the gall to come here and act as if it was nothing, he doesn't mention it even, and he pretends he was in the right and that Steve admits it. What else can "a retraction" mean? And now we must act as if everything is just jolly good old chum, nothing to see here.

Likewise Geffen cannot answer the fact about the implications of his admitted support for a boycott of some sort against Israel proper. Maybe Geffen will call me a racist for bringing up the fact that his considered support for a boycott against Israel is likewise supported by real Jew-haters the world over, Muslim Jew-haters and Jew-hating Westerners of whatever stripe. But I'm a racist for pointing this out don't you know. Just ask Geffen.

Nathan Geffen

Dear Lawrence and Gary

Would you also characterise these 500 odd Israeli citizens as Jew-haters and Israelphobes with, as Gary suggests, "no moral authority to accuse people of any prejudices including 'anti-Semitism', 'racism', 'islamophobia' and 'homophobia'."


Jonathan Berger

Dear Lawrence,

I think it is quite legitimate to suggest that the Chief Rabbi (the spiritual leader of the South African Orthodox Jewish community), by offering unquestioning support to a military operation that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians, may in fact be fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. His questionable conduct, however, does not provide a license to spew anti-Semitic thoughts - racism of any sort cannot be justified.

Two last points for now.

First, I do not seek the support of people you refer to as "Muslim Jew-haters". In fact, I don't seek anyone's support. Instead, I'm simply trying to find my way as an openly gay (not homosexual!) Jewish South African who believes in and works for social justice.

Second, please don't put words into my mouth. I'm big enough to speak for myself.



Dear Nathan can you answer the questions I posed you, no of course not!

Your question is offbase, an attempt to evade answering the questions I posed you - but I will answer it. Not that your bait and switch will work with me Geffen...

"The Free Gaza movement" from Israeli citizens you link to with approval is certainly supported by Jew-haters the world over, Muslim Jew-haters, radical Leftists who openly hate the Jew nation but don't have a problem with the other non-Jewish nations of the Middle-East despite their long record of gross human rights violations and routine tyranny, and for that matter the non-Jewish nations of say Africa, the rest of Asia, South America etc. The international Free Gaza Movement does have the support even of some of the neo-Nazi white supremacist groups in North America for example (if you doubt this, just e-mail these groups for uh clarification). Does that make "The Free Gaza Movement" anti-Semitic and/or anti-Israel? Well the possibility of anti-Semitism has to be seriously considered (I'm not saying they are all anti-Semitic/anti-Jewish, merely that anti-Semitism should not be ruled out as an UNCONSCIOUS motive, it should be taken into account as a possibility) and at the very least it is anti-Israel yes. It is unequivocally anti-Israel, 100% anti-Israel.

If not anti-Semitic, it is certainly anti-Israel and likewise misguided and misinformed, as well as hypocritical. Those who signed their names to this are guilty certainly of the latter at the very least, if not anti-Semitism. There is such a concept as self-loathing Geffen, is it beyond your comprehension?

A cursory bit of research revealed the "free Gaza movement" has the support of the likes of Norman Finkelstein, he who visits Lebanon to personally praise Hezbollah leaders face to face for what he calls their "courage" against Israel in the 2006 Lebanaon war. Besides championing Hezbollah he dismisses the Holocaust as an extortion racket against Germany, says that Jews run America, compares Israelis with Nazis, justifies al-Qaeda, and speaks alongside Hamas supporters and gives interviews to Holocaust deniers. (I can prove ALL of this btw). I just mention one person, there are so many other anti-Semites too numerous too mention who likewise support "the free Gaza movement". One can go to the the gazanewswordpress website for an idea of the viscious undisguised anti-Semitism of the "free Gaza movement" supporters.

"free Gaza" is a slogan adopted by viscious anti-Semites, those who spout out Jewish conspiracies and the like and even those who openly support the destruction of Israel - Muslim radicals, the radical left, even neo-Nazi groups. Is this a coincidence Geffen that you approve of the same language and slogans re the Middle-East conflict (by approvingly linking to this website) as viscious Jew-haters, in this particular case "free Gaza"?

Don't answer the question Geffen, I know you won't. Because you can't.

Why don't you contact those SA Muslims who call for a boycott of SA Jewish businesses Geffen (the ones you distance yourself from remember?) and ask them if they support the Israeli "free Gaza movement" will you? Will you get back to us with the feedback you receive from these South African Muslim Jew-haters on it? And IF the feedback of these Jew-hating SA Muslims who support the boycott against Jewish businesses is positive, if they support the same Israeli "free Gaza" movement you approvingly link to that is, will you answer this question for us Geffen?

How come you approvingly link to the Israeli "free Gaza" movement, which likewise
earns the approval of these SA Jew-hating Muslims? Assuming of course that they endorse and commend the Israeli free Gaza movement....

I'm not holding my breath here waiting for an answer.

Now this question you posed me, by my having answered it begs a further question (not just the ones above that you will never answer) - how come so much what you support and do/say re Israel - namely:
1 this approving link to the Israeli "Free Gaza movement"
2 the SAHRD to the Middle-East you helped to organise last year
3 the not in my name style letter to the SA press you put your name to very recently
4 your assertion that you would consider supporting a boycott of some kind against Israel
- has the support of so many Jew-haters, Muslim anti-Semites and anti-Semitic Westerners?

As I pointed out before, and do so again, somebody who I had the personal misfortune to know (a man who believes the Protocols of Zion is a genuine document), appreciates what you do. Does that put a smile on your face Geffen?

Geffen did you think I wouldn't notice that you didn't answer the questions I posed you in my previous post?

You know the ones about Esack and Forrest on the SAHRD, and the M&G, and the one about your considered support for a boycott of Israel and what that implies.

Well I am waiting....

On the subject of Geffen's little Machivellian jaunt re IAS and related, Joel Pollak (and I have had my differences with him of course, but always give him credit where it is due) has put up a blog post about it on his blog, "Guide to the Perplexed".
Those who have been following all this would do well to read up on what Pollak has to say about it all. Pollak's remarks are very pertinent and enlightening.



In all seriousness, without intent to insult, please explain the difference between gay and homosexual.I was not aware and although I'm not exactly PC, I still would like to know the difference.

Secondly, I would like to pose the same 2 questions to you that I posed to Nathan. Namely:
1) What is it you would like Israel to have done? Criticism of Israel is valid provided you can give an alternative that does not include previously failed methods or the continued killing of Jewish civilians. I know this is your que to say "what about Palestinian civilians". Well, that is irrelevent here, you criticized, you have to provide the alternative that does not involve hurting "Palestinian" civilians. (I could also argue that there is a difference between collateral damage and intentional firing on civilians). Which brings me to the second question.
2) Regardless of Israels behaviour, do you feel that Haniyah and Mashaal should be charged with war crimes given that they over the past 8years have deliberately (and alomst exclusively) fired on civilians.

I look forward to your reply

Jonathan Berger

Dear Brett,

The difference in meaning between gay and homosexual has nothing to do with being politically correct, but rather about being accurate. A gay man is a man who is emotionally and erotically attracted to other men - a description and an identity. A homosexual, on the other hand, is a person who only has sex with persons of the same sex - nothing to do with identity. And then you get men who have sex with men (MSM) - men who have sex with other men, do not necessarily identify as gay and may also have sex with women. I know, a mouthful!

Now to your main questions.

First, one cannot look at the invasion of Gaza out of context - the devastating blockade, for example, should have been taken into consideration. Absent a blockade, the unavailability of safe spaces in which civilians could seek refuge from war and no bona fide diplomatic attempts to deal with the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, an attack may have been justified. But only as a matter of last resort, only to stop the rocket attacks on Sderot, Ashkelon and other Israeli towns, and only with as much force as would reasonably have been required to achieve this aim.

I've not given much attention to the issue of prosecuting war crimes - whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis. At this point, I am doubtful that such action would bring peace to the region. In fact, some TRC-type amnesty may indeed be necessary to move forward.

I hope this answers your questions.



here's another question for everybody here.

What is it with the applause and approval of this "Muslims against Racism" statement Berger so approvingly cites and with such gravitas? That is so quickly commended without reflection. Namely why is it taken at face value? I mean we have many Western Leftists who pretend they are not anti-Semitic but clearly are given their selective rage against the Jew nation and their deafening silence on all the other nations? You think it different in this respect ie with SA Muslims?

There may well be plenty who signed that petition who are not anti-Jewish, but there may well be plenty who are anti-Jewish but pretend they are not and hide (and reveal) their anti-Jewishness behind a selective anti-Israelism just like the anti-Semitic Left who pretend they are not...

Some deeper reflection is called for, and not merely a parroting of the self-important opinions of a Jonathan Berger who engages in so much misrepresentation on Jewish persons in SA alone (read what I write above). My God was everybody born yesterday? Talk about naive.


Wow Brett are you impressed with the boilier-pate predictable response from Berger that doesn't tell us anything much about the war really at all. You know Hamas, the IDF, it's all morally equivalent to him. After all Berger writes "to the issue of prosecuting war crimes - whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis". Berger and his predictable moral equivalence between the Hamas Nazis and the IDF - the Jews with guns! How disgusting really, but that's Berger for you.

Berger whether gay or homosexual, let me repeat this to you...

Berger if as you clearly imply, most of your fellow SA Jews are fascists for sticking up for Israel, and opposing your and Geffen's "verligte" approach, don't you think you might be more comfortable in say Gaza with the non-fascist tolerant of alternative lifestyles Palestinians where Hamas are the ruling party and enjoy widespread popular support? Hamas initiated Sharia law prior to the latest war (not that we heard boo about it but there you go), I'm sure it will be business back to usual with Sharia now that the war has subsided perhaps..and Hamas police can get back to what they are so good at enforcing...

Do you know what Sharia law means to gay men and women Berger? Oh sorry I may have to stand corrected, make that do you know what Sharia law means to homosexual men and women Berger?

In Tel Aviv nobody looks twice at two gay men walking hand in hand down the street, even kissing, or is that homosexual men and women, or both? There are gay bars and gay hang outs (is that ok Berger gay bars, does that meet your approval?) In Gaza City it is another story though. But Berger I am sure you are willing to live dangerously and put your money where your mouth is, maybe the Chief Rabbi and the SAJBD will even offer you a free flight there, one-way (a return ticket will not be will see why once you are seen walking hand in hand down the streets of Gaza with your beau, whether he be gay or homosexual)


Berger clearly implies that the civilian casualties are the fault of the IDF, rather than Hamas who initiated this conflict in the first place and used civilians as human shields - a recognised war crime according to Geneva Conventions. So the Hamas war crime of using civilians as human shields (which they openly boast about but you won't hear about it from Berger), Berger vilifies Israel and the IDF for. Also if civilians are killed in war, and the fighting has occured in built up residential areas, unless one can prove that the deaths of these civilians was deliberate and intentional, one cannot accuse the IDF (in this case) of a war crime. Flippanty accusing the IDF of war crimes that one cannot back up with evidence (ie the deliberate and intentional targeting of civilians) is sinister, it's something anti-Semites are very quick to do.

Also Berger by calling the Chief Rabbi a fundamentalist for supporting the Gaza military operation against HAMAS, you paint everybody else who supported such an operation in the same colours ie we are all fundamentalists. Which only confirms the truth of what I wrote above about you above, namely that we are akin to Nat Party apartheid era fascists and you are the "enlightened one". Or are you going to tell me that "fundamentalist" and fascist are mutually contradictory terms, and that the one doesn't give credence to the other?

Berger writes:
"Second, please don't put words into my mouth. I'm big enough to speak for myself."

I wasn't putting words in your mouth. I accurately quoted exactly what you wrote and then commented on what you wrote. You clearly imply ie INFER that Jewish popular opinion on Gaza (ie at IAS, the Chief Rabbi, the SAJBD etc) is akin to Nat Party apartheid era fascism and you and Geffen and your ilk are the "verligte " ones. People can read what I write about it in my previous posts on this thread and come to their own conclusions. Like I said, it was not subtle.

It is simply obvious that we are equated with the fascist apartheid National Party regime by you Berger. You can beg to differ all you like on this, it's not my problem.

Blacklisted Dictator

I think that Geffen is up against the ropes and he donesn't like it. Because The SAHRD is so used to swanning around writing anti-zionism ad infinitum in the main stream media, it gets unsettled when confronted on your blog. So they have to threaten you with defamation and a trip to their mate Jody Kollapen (SAHRD+ SAHRC). What gets me is that your blog gives them an immediate right to respond and yet still they have to threaten you with sanctions. Quite pathetic.



Thank you for the clarification regarding homosexuality/gay etc

Regarding your first answer. You are mistaken regarding diplomatic efforts. peruse the last couple of years of Israeli (even left wing) media and you will see multiple requests of the international community. Regarding the blockade - it was a response to the rockets fired, not a cause. Even after the 2005 explusion of jews from Gaza the crossings were open. So your logic is flawed. Thirdly, you agreed that Israels response was justified with as much force as was necessary. Well Johnny my boy, we used less than was necessary because of our concern for civilians. Becuase your buddies, the "Pallies" shoot from, command from and hide in civilian areas what was needed to stop all the rockets was to carpet bomb the strip. Israel calculated what could be done without this but with still significantly hurting Hamas and thereby reducing rockets to a minimum.
Fourthly, you did not asnswer my question at all: What was Israel supposed to do?

Regarding war crimes, you again did not answer. (I have not read all your other writings so forgive me if you answered this somewhere else). Regardless of whether it will help, do you think hamas leaders are guilty of, and should therefor be tried for war crimes. Yes or no?
If, as you hinted, amnesty should be granted ala TRC, do you advocate such amnesty for Israelis accused of the same (although no Israeli has ever been found guilty of deliberately firing on non combatants, so this is purely theoretical.)



Nathan Geffen

Dear Brett

Sorry I did not answer your questions, which I think are very good incidentally. To be honest I don't remember being asked them. I think Jonathan has answered them well. I'd add a bit more about what Israel should do: Give full civil rights to Palestinians living in the West Bank for example. I've read a lot about how the latest attack started and the best that can be said is that it's complicated with both sides probably violating the ceasefire. Definitely more should have been done to avoid it. And definitely the way that Israel executed it was unacceptable.

Haniyeh and Mashaal have almost certainly committed war crimes. Same likely goes for Olmert, Livni and Barak. It can be argued that all of them should be charged. But I'd rather there be negotiations.

For the record. I'm happy to answer questions. My only constraints are time and whether I have the knowledge to answer them. Also whether I see them - presumably I often don't. My email address is widely known though, so if I get a question on email, I'll try to find the time.

However, I'm not going to answer questions that are rhetorical in nature, trying to score debating points or laced with hate-filled invective. It's a waste of everybody's time to engage in such "debates". Unfortunately most of the questions I'm accused of not answering fall into this latter category. (Brett, this paragraph is not directed at you.)


The statements of the members of the SAHRD and the signatories of the latest petition by Jews condemning Israel is more notable for what they don't say rather than what they say.
For example they have effectively allied themselves with Hamas and have never condemned this organization.
Did they condemn Hamas when they openly called for the killing of Israeli children?
They claim to be progressive and concerned with human rights but refuse condemn a movement that calls for the killing of all Jews (at least all Jews in the levant).
The threat facing the people of Israel is reflected in the fact that 1 million Israelis live within 10 seconds of a bomb shelter. Such a blinkered and one-sided approach shows that the real agenda behind these protests is hatred towards Israel rather than any overriding desire for peace or concern for human rights.
After all if you are really for peace human rights then you will be for the human rights of Israeli Jews, but it escapes the attention of the hard left (including the SAHRD delegation, the ANC/SACP/COSAT/SACC etc, The TAC etc) that Israeli are also entitled to human rights.

For months Hamas rockets rained down on innocent people in Israel. During that time not one word of condemnation was forthcoming from the rag-bag assortment of trade unionists, Marxists and gay rights activists who have taken to the streets, the airwaves and the media to attack the Israeli people, who are defending themselves from murderers and criminals in Hamas (and that includes all these self-styled 'progressive' Jews who signed Nathan Geffen's petition).

why do these same people, not even in passing , defend the rights of people such as the as the Tibetans , Kurds , Berbers . religious minorities in Iran and the people of Darfur.
Their focus on ONLY the Palestinians show that they believe these people are worthless and not worthy of consideration for their plight.

These people are far more opressed than the Palestinians but recive no recognition of their plight from the UN, unlike the Palestinians who have more NGOs devoted to their cause than NGOs working on any other issue.

I think the real reason behind all this is simply a hatred of Israel and her people and the fact that hating Israel is mandatory in the circles of the modern international left.

Jonathan Berger


I stand by my view that Israel's attack on Gaza cannot be justified, nor can its use of disproportionate force (even though you somehow conclude that I agreed on the level of force used). I don't believe we can take this any further - you have your view of the facts and I have mine.

On the war crimes issue, here's a response that will most probably annoy you. I'm a lawyer. I evaluate facts and then apply the law to such facts. Let's assume that the facts support the conclusion that Haniya's actions were responsible for civilian deaths in Israel. That does not immediately make them war crimes - much depends on how international criminal law defines a war crime. I'm not an expert in international criminal law and don't have the time or the patience to spend the evening researching what for me appears to be a purely academic question. You can do that for yourself. If the proven conduct satisfies the definition, then it's a war crime. My opinion should not matter one bit.

Just a couple of additional points:

First, Jews were not expelled from Gaza. Under international law, occupied territory cannot be settled. (Even the Israeli Supreme Court has recognised that the territories captured in 1967 were then occupied. The West Bank remains occupied; Gaza is effectively occupied.) Illegal settlements were dismantled. The settlers had no legal right to remain on the land - not because of their religion, but because of their status as illegal settlers. They should never have been allowed by Israel to be there in the first place.

Second, I don't appreciate you referring to me as "Johnny my boy". It's patronising. Nor do I appreciate the reference to my "buddies" the "Pallies" - it smacks of the racist apartheid-era term "kaffirboetie". If you think that means I'm calling you a racist, well, if the cap fits ...



What are the limits of wounded pride as opposed to the protection of ordinary dignity? It should be clear to all that Steven's reconciliatory clarification was exactly that and not also a retraction as Nathan Geffen says. Must there always be a on-up-one-down scenario in operation? There is just too much ego involved here. There is now an "entente cordiale", but one should wonder how long it will be before Steven and Co. will again become "the other"?


Well in the minds of the SAHRD ect and those disapora Jews who attack Israel so viciously (including the signatories of the Geffen petition), Israelis have become the 'other' whose lives and rights dont matter.



You have every right to not support Israel's moves, but you still have not said what they should have done instead. It appears that I am not going to get an answer from you.

Regarding the "Johnny" comment - very clever - it was meant to be patronizing. You can get a gold star on your chart for the week.

Regarding the "buddy" comment. In all seriousness I had no intention of making any comparison to apartheid, nor the use of the "K" word. I see no connection other than perhaps that boetie and buddy rhyme, sort of. It was merely meant to continue the patronizing theme. Although I takem offense that you acuse mr of being racist when there is no ratinal indication of this whatsoever, don't worry, I take it from whence it comes - I'll sleep fine tonight

Why patronizing - my way of saying that you are avoiding my questions and your statements are bordering on unfactual.

Regarding expelled. Yes Jonathan, they were expelled. Your little thesis on international law only says why it may have been legal to expel them.

To digress. Israel occupied Gaza in a defensive war (before you claim that Israel initiated the 1967 war, even Egypt and Syria admit they were about to attack). Gaza belonged to Egypt, not the ethnic group that a section now refers to itself as the Palestinians. You're a lawyer, go read Dershowitz's legal arguments as to why land captured in a defensive war should not be returned to the aggressor. Furthermore, Egypt doesn't even want it back.

Furthermore, I find it amusing that you you do not have the "time or patience" to examine the international law regarding war crimes but you seem to be quite the expert regarding international law in ocupied territories.

And lastly, I taken comfort in knowing that you yourself admit that your opinion "should not matter one bit"
Just kidding, I know its out of context - that was just to annoy you.


I have to agree with the above comment, I did not post a retraction.

Your contention that the Board's statement fuelled anti-Semitism doesn't sit well with me.

A political opinion where there is so much legitimate debate cannot be deserving of such a consequences.

To hold your opinion you have to believe you have an absolute monopoly on the truth. That Israel is so outstandingly wrong that supporting them is the equivalent to supporting the KKK (in that if I released a public statement praising the KKK I could then be said to deserve the klap I get.)

I know I don't have clarity or absolute truth. Every day I learn more about the conflict and how broad the gray areas can be. But I think its incredibly short-sighted to say that any Jews that continue to support Israel are fuelling anti-Semitism.

Your position amounts to the stifling of legitimate expressions of opinion. Really, think about it.


Thanks for the link to the Muslim condemnation.

I will correct my statement about there being no Muslim petition, though I have my reservations about its content. It spends very little time on what its focus purports to be and amounts to a condemnation of Israel.

But here's my thinking...why a petition/collection of signatures. It now looks like there are only 50 odd Muslims that condemn the boycott? Where is Naeem Jeena's name? Iqball Jassat? Salim Vally? Firoz Osman? etc etc etc. I may have actually seen another condemnation with Naeeem's name somewhere, cant remember...



You're missing the point. You believe in freedom of expression. But freedom of expression only exists if you say what the left and ultra left want you to say. If you say anything else then its hate speech/racism/bigotry etc.

Some examples. You suggested based on good evidence, that Nathan and Berger have agendas that suite the moslem anti semitic left - they threatened to sue you. They then, on this blog used incredibly strong language to inslut you and acuse you of being an anti semite and accuse me of being a racist, withoit any evidence whatsoever.
It was pointed out on this blog (I have not seen the quotes myself) That Dennis Davis referred to Israel as Nazi's but threatened Mike Berger with legal action when he made the same compariosn regarding Hamas. Ironic given that Hamas has publicy and repeatedly called for the destruction of all Jews. Israel has done nothing of the sort.

Sadly Steve there are countless more examples in SA and even more amognst the left in Israel where the left have manipulated, distorted and abused democracy and freedom of speech a number of times over the past few years in order to get their way. Caroline Glick wrote a very good article in JPost (yes I know "very good article" and Jpost, or even "remotely literate" anf Jpost should not be mentioned in the same sentence - but this was an exception) on the topic, if anyone i interested I'll search for the link.

Jonathan Berger

Dear Brett,

Just a few points:

First, I have not threatened to sue anyone on this or any other blog. The only time I have ever threatened to sue people has been in the context of my work at the AIDS Law Project. So far, I have a pretty good track record of carrying through on my threats successfully - ask Manto, Ngconde Balfour, GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck!

Second, how have I insulted Steve? In my response to him posted on this site and my own blog, I expressly stated that I did not believe he was seeking to advance an agenda of hate. Yes - I criticised the logic employed in his response to the racist call for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. But that's fair comment - nothing more, nothing less.

Third, I did not call you a racist - I merely said that your comment referring to my ""buddies" the "Pallies" smacked of racism. I don't know if you are indeed a racist, but that comment of yours certainly raises the question.

Fourth, there is a clear distinction between international criminal law and other branches of international law. I am quite familiar with those aspects of international law that deal with belligerent occupation (a legal term) because I have read a number of Israeli Supreme Court decisions on the matter - actually official translations of those decisions contained in a book given to me at a meeting last July with the Israeli Chief Justice.

Fifth, Gaza is a part of the territory allocated to an independent Palestinian state by the very same UN resolution that legitimised the creation of an Israeli state. Neither Egypt nor Israel has any lawful claim to that land.

Finally, there is a distinct difference between occupying land and annexing it. I believe we would be having a very different conversation if Israel had annexed the West Bank and Gaza (as it did in respect of the Golan Heights), applied Israeli law equally to all residents of these territories and granted them all Israeli citizenship. But Israel chose not to do so, instead remaining in control of the land as a belligerent occupier (a term also used by the Israeli Supreme Court).

Enough for now, I have my day job to attend to now.




Finally a intellectual and factual post. Thank you.

My post to Steve was referring more to the "hate speech" he has received from others.

Lets not play the semantics game, you implied that you think I'm a racist. To this I do not tke much offense. I take offense to the warped and non sensical way at which you arrived at this conclusion. All I was implying was that you are taking their side.

I was not saying it was impossible to know somne aspects of international law and not others. Clearly it is. I was saying that I find it amusing that you find the time and patience to read about one and not the other. My amusement need not concern you.

Fianlly. Excellent point regarding the choice (in my opinion mistake) of Israel not to annex Gaza. It makes for fascinating legal arguments and I thank you for bringing up the issue. It obvioulst has tremendous bearing of the argument for justifying the expulsion in 2005 of the Jews living there. Perhaps we can debate that seperately. I do feel though that is has no bearing now, given that after the expulsion we disengaged and gave it to the "Palestinians". We have not occupied the area for 3 years.

Religious Fundamentalist 1

A few general points, gleaned from the above:

1) Jonathan's lawyerly opinion is not the final word on the issue. There are plenty respectable and knowledgeable lawyers with different opinions i.e. settlement is not illegal, gaza was ethnically cleansed of Jews etc

2) Nathan wants Gazan's to have civil rights, which from experience, come at the obvious expense of Israeli's life to right. odious.

3) Again from Nathan:
"Such vilification is based on the singling out of people for their criticism of Israel primarily because they are Jewish and that is surely racism."
But singling out Israel for criticism (because it's Jewish) is just fine. I trust you won't be brazen enough to suggest that the worlds opprobrium directed at Israel is "proportional" to that directed at other offenders. (tip for further research: Moyhnahans Law)

4) Berger's throwaway on "proportionality" is another lovely example of dissonance. As he points out, he's a lawyer. Which means he is intimately familiar with what "proportionality" really means (Hat tip to Joel Pollack).
Berger, being a lawyer, will also know what the Geneva convention permits Israel in terms of responses, and what it permits hamas in terms of uniforms, hiding amongst civilians, hiding arms amongst civilians, placing their HQ under a hospital etc. Again ... odious

5)Finally, Hamas clearly did an extremely good job at smuggling in war material. Indeed, they even managed to use UN humanitarian aid for the same nefarious purposes.

Now for my own comment:
Hamas succesful smugling begs the question, why they couldn't use the same route for humanitarian supplies, protection for the citizenry etc. The blockade clearly didn't help much. Moreover, the blockade was not complete and Israel did allow supplies in, and further Gaza shares a border with Egypt. Where do you think Hamas get's the petrol, gas and electricity to make their weapons?

The fact that this is ignored, or glossed over is proof of the deep seated bigotry and racism that causes the Left (inter alia Jonathan Berger and Nathan Geffen) to fail to hold all people irrespective of their skin colour and religion to a reasonable and generally accepted international practices and of course international law. Little caveat's at the beginning of an article (see for example Doron Isaacs "Yes, Hamas is an authoritarian organisation, but ...) just doesn't cut it. Indeed it highlights the depravity.

Suggested reading for people willing to actually step outside their world view and think for themselves:
- Jonah goldberg: Liberal Fascism
- Ezra Levant

And a token lefty, for the committed totalitarians who can only get their toes wet, or who only read other lefties:
- Nick Cohen: What's Left

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