Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Hell and the Mean and Exploitative Rich in the Non-Canonical Gospels

August 6, 2019

Leafing through the book The Apocryphal Jesus: Legends of the Early Church by J.K. Elliott (Oxford: OUP 1996) yesterday, I got to the chapter on heaven and hell. The book’s a collection of extracts from apocryphal Christian literature, the Gospels and various lives of the Apostles that weren’t included in the Bible because they were not considered historically reliable by the bishops of the Early Church. Despite being outside the accepted canon of scripture, they were nevertheless widely read and have influenced Christian art and literature. These writings include descriptions of the delights of paradise and the torments of the damned. Most of the torments are for moral offences, like fornication, adultery and homosexuality and failure to live according to proper Christian standards or neglect or rejection of Christianity. It’s grim stuff, and is the type of material and doctrines that now puts people off religion. How can a loving God inflict all these torments on people for all eternity, especially since the sexual revolution of the 1960s? Pre-marital sex is now the norm, homosexuality is accepted and opposition to it is seen as bigotry. It’s a good question, and I’m no fan of the hellfire and damnation preaching myself. As for Hell, I tend to follow the Father Duddleswell attitude from the books about the Irish priest by Neil Boyd. God’s justice demands it exists, but his mercy means there’s no-one in it.

But several of the torments described in these apocryphal books are for the rich and the exploitative. Like some of the people in the Tory and Brexit parties. One of the extracts is from the Acts of Thomas, in which the apostle raises up a dead woman, and commands her to tell what she has seen. And amongst the damned were people hung up by various parts of their bodies, including the hands.

Those hung up by the hands are they who took that which did not belong to them and have stolen, and who never gave anything to the poor, nor helped the afflicted; but they did so because they wished to get everything, and cared neither for law nor right. (p. 191).

In the Apocalypse of Peter, it is Christ Himself who describes the torments of hell, including those reserved for the rich.

‘And beside them, in a place near at hand, upon the stone shall be a pillar of fire, and the pillar is sharper than swords. And there shall be men and women clad in rags and filthy garments, and they shall be cast thereon to suffer the judgement of an unceasing torment; these are the ones who trusted to their riches and despised the widows and the women with fatherless children … before God.’ (p. 194).

In the Apocalypse of Paul, it is this apostle, who is taken by an angel and shown the heaven and hell, including this description of what happens to usurers:

And I saw another multitude of pits in the same place, and in the midst of it a river full with a multitude of men and women, and worms consumed them. But I lamented and sighing asked the angel and said, ‘Sir, who are these?’ and he said to me, “These are those who exacted interest on interest and trusted in their riches and did not trust in God that he was their helper.’ (p. 202).

We now have a government that is packed full of rich, highly rapacious individuals, who really don’t have any thought for the poor, the widows and the fatherless. And all too many of them are connected to the financial sector, like Jacob Rees-Mogg. Mogg and several other Tories come from the Christian right. It’s a pity they don’t read these passages, and those in the Bible itself, urging concern for the poor, the sick and marginalised, and do the right thing.

Which is stopping these exploitative, murderous policies of immiseration and exploitation, and resign!

As an old piece of graffiti in Bristol used to say: ‘Repent of your sins, Maggie Thatcher!’

 

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Geoffrey Alderman Accuses Tom Watson of Anti-Semitism for Talking about Christ’s Arrest

July 29, 2019

Geoffrey Alderman, a professor of Jewish history and columnist for the Times and the Jewish Telegraph, has made an official complaint to Jennie Formby accusing the deputy leader of the Labour Party of anti-Semitism. Why? In his Easter message, Watson referred to Christ’s arrest by a squad of Roman soldiers under the direction of the servant of the High Priest. Alderman states that

‘the allegation that Jews were Christ-killers, implicated in if not actually responsible for the death of Jesus, is widely regarded as an anti-Semitic trope’.

He then correctly states that it was condemned by the Pope at Vatican II in the 1970s.

While it’s amusingly ironic to find Watson, who has given so much aid and support to those fabricating false claims of anti-Semitism against decent, anti-racist people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, of anti-Semitism himself, the accusation is wrong and should be denied and rebutted.

Firstly, Alderman is absolutely correct that the accusation that Jews are Christ-killers has been responsible for much prejudice and often horrific persecution of Jews down the centuries. However, this does not mean that the description of Christ’s arrest and trial by the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea at the time, are fictional and anti-Semitic themselves. Alderman’s accusation is therefore wrong and should be strenuously denied and refuted.

As Mike has said in his piece about the accusation, all the Gospels state that Christ was arrested by the Romans under the direction of the High Priest, tried before the Sanhedrin, before being passed in turn to Pontius Pilate for judgment. I realise that many people do regard the Bible as completely fictitious, and that there have been books written against the inclusion of the Jewish authorities in Christ’s arrest and execution in order to counter what many believe to be a source of anti-Semitism. These attempts are based on descriptions of the power of the Sanhedrin in the Talmud, which claim that the Temple authorities could not hold such trials and had no power to issue the death penalty for blasphemy unless the name of God was explicitly pronounced. However, while some of the Oral Law is ancient, dating back to the time Ezra according to scholars of Judaism, the Talmud itself was compiled over a period of centuries from the Second Century AD onwards. Jewish scholars have said that there is difficulty in assessing the truth of the passages about the Sanhedrin, as it is not clear which are historically accurate, and which an idealised picture of how the Jewish sages at the time of Talmud’s composition felt it should have operated.

Christ’s execution is mentioned by the Syrian Stoic philosopher, Mara bar Serapion, in a letter that may date from 73 AD. The letter discusses the disasters that befell the Athenians after they executed Socrates, and the Samian after they killed Pythagoras. He asks rhetorically

or what did it avail the Jews to kill their wise king, since their kingdom was taken away from them from this time on?

The ‘wise king’ is believed to be a reference to Christ. See Kevin O’Donnell, Introduction to the New Testament (Hodder and Stoughton 1999) 78.

There is also a garbled reference to Christ’s crucifixion on a charge of sorcery and leading Israel astray in the Talmud, see O’Donnell, above, 78.

Similar events are also recorded by Roman historians. There’s a passage in the Jewish historian, Josephus, I believe, which records how the Sanhedrin brought before the Roman governor a man, who had been prophesying the destruction of the Temple. They demanded the man be executed. Instead, the governor simply had the man flogged and then sent away.

This was an extremely dangerous and politically volatile time. The Temple hierarchy was bitterly resented by many Jews both for the corruption of some of its priests and officials, and their collaboration with Israel’s Greek and then Roman overlords. The books of Maccabees in the Apocrypha records the heroic resistance to Greek rule by Judas Maccabaeus. He and the Jewish people were provoked into rebellion by the attempts of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Greek general, who ruled the province under Alexander the Great, to stamp out their faith. Mothers were forbidden to circumcise their sons, the teaching of the Law was forbidden and copies burnt and the Temple was turned into a temple to Zeus. Although the Temple was restored and the Jews allowed to practise their faith freely once again, the situation remained tense. There were tensions between the Pharisees, the Jewish sect that stressed absolute obedience to the Law, and which believed in spirits and the resurrection of the dead, and the Sadducees, who did not, and who seem to have been largely aristocratic. Josephus records another Jewish uprising just before the time of Christ, which was crushed with the execution of 19,000 Pharisees.

The Talmud also contains passages, which are believed to date from this time, which rail against the corruption of the Temple clergy and High Priest. One is a heartfelt account by the author of how he was beaten by Boethus, a member of the Temple hierarchy, while other priests and leading officials used their office to extort money from ordinary Jews.

Moreover, it needs to be remembered that Christ and His disciples were almost all Jews. St. Matthew’s is the most Jewish of all the Gospels, and its writer frequently assimilates Christ’s teaching with those of the great Jewish sages. He was therefore part of a Jewish Christian community, which continued to observe the Mosaic Law.

It therefore seems very clear to me that the accounts of Christ’s arrest and trial are historically accurate and reflect the very bloody tensions within 1st century Judaism. And while they have been used to foment anti-Semitism, they are not themselves anti-Semitic. It’s clear reading them that the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate were responsible for Christ’s death, not the Jewish people as a whole.

I went to the same Anglican church school as Mike, and as he says, we were very definitely not taught to hate anyone because they were of a different religion. Indeed, the clergy and Christian laypeople, who taught at the school had a horror of religious violence and bigotry. Mike and his year were taken on visits to a synagogue and mosque. This didn’t happen to my year, but we were taught about Judaism in RE lessons. I also remember going down the stairs just as one of the RE teachers was going up them with a bearded gentleman carrying a menorah and other Jewish sacred objects, presumably to show them to one of the other classes. And some of the older pupils I know were taught about the Holocaust and its horrors.

I also believe that the myth that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ has largely been laid to rest. Many of the Christians I know have very positive attitudes towards Jews and Judaism because of their religion. Where anti-Semitism does exist, I believe it largely comes from other reasons, like all the stupid, murderous conspiracy theories that try to tell you the Jews hate Whites and are importing Blacks to destroy the White race and enslave gentiles. And so, like Mike, I’m left wondering why Professor Alderman has chosen to accuse Tom Watson of anti-Semitism because of this. And so I agree completely with Mike’s conclusion:

Tom Watson is a wrong ‘un, no doubt. But to demonise him by trying to stir up animosity between Jews and Christians is completely unacceptable and I hope everyone of both religions condemns his words.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/07/29/this-anti-semitism-complaint-against-tom-watson-should-not-stand-up/

 

Priti Patel and the Barbarity of the Reintroduction of the Death Penalty

July 27, 2019

Yesterday, Mike put up a piece reporting that Boris Johnson, the raging, incompetent blond beast now in charge of the government, has appointed Priti Patel as his home secretary. And she supports the reintroduction of the death penalty.

I’m not surprised. Johnson is a man of the Tory hard right, and there’s a section of the British public that has been demanding the return of the death penalty for years. I think support for capital punishment is probably spread between both parties, but I’m reasonably sure it’s much stronger in the Conservatives. This is the party that, after all, tries to project itself as the party of law and order and keeps demanding tougher sentencing for criminals. And that includes the death penalty for murder. It’s clear that Bozza is now very much appealing to that constituency with his appointment of Patel, although he himself won’t say whether he favours it himself.

I very well understand why some people want it back. There are unrepentant criminals responsible for the most sickening crimes, who do make you feel that they should pay the ultimate penalty. Like the Nazis at Nuremberg, who planned and presided over the horrific murder and torture of millions of individuals and the proposed extermination of entire races. Before Eichmann was executed he said something about regret and remorse being for the weak and inferior. Himmler in a notorious speech to the SS at the death camps actually boasted about the horrors they were committing, claiming that it was deeply moral and that though it was hard unpleasant, they would come through it with the moral character intact, still pure. With such twisted morality, such deep evil, you feel that death really is too good for them. And the same with serial killers and child murderers, like the Moors Murderers.

But as Mike showed in his piece, there are very, very strong arguments against capital punishment. Not least is the fact that innocent people have been convicted of murder in gross miscarriages of justice. This was Ian Hislop’s argument in a clip from Question Time he put up in his article, in which the editor of Private Eye mopped the floor with Patel. Hislop said that over the years his magazine had uncovered many such cases, and that if we had had the death penalty, then the people wrongfully convicted would be dead. He also pointed out that if we had it, we would also have turned some very unpleasant people into martyrs. By that, he means the various terrorists that have shot and bombed their way across Britain since the return of Irish nationalist terrorism in the 1970s. And some of those convicted of Irish Republican terrorist offences were victims of the miscarriage of justice. Like the Birmingham Six, who were wrongfully jailed for the Birmingham pub bombings. If these men had been executed for the crime, not only would the British state have killed innocent people, but that fact would have been picked up and strenuously broadcast by the IRA as yet more evidence of British oppression. And the Islamist terrorists responsible for 7/7 and other outrages see themselves as shahids – martyrs for Islam. At one level, executing them would be giving them exactly what they want. And their deaths would be used by the other zealots for propaganda, as righteous Muslims going to their eternal reward for killing the kufar.

All Patel could do in the face of this argument was bluster about being absolutely sure of the accused’s guilt before sentencing. That’s right – judges were obliged to point out to juries in murder cases during capital punishment that if they had any doubt whatsoever, they should not convict. But as Hislop then went to argue, innocent people were still convicted even with the weight of the burden of proof. And then Patel fell back on the old canard that it acted as a deterrent. There’s no evidence of that. A friend of mine, who’d actually read Pierrepoint’s memoirs, told me that Britain’s last hangman had said that in his experience, it didn’t act as a deterrent at all. According to Peter Hitchens, who is very much one of the law and order brigade – he’d like to see people jailed for drunkenness, for example – Pierrepoint changed his mind about this just before he died. But I think the evidence is that it doesn’t. In fact, it seems to encourage violence. I can remember reading in article in one of the papers back in the ’90s – the FT perhaps, or the Independent – that there’s actually a rise in violent incidents around the time of executions in the US. The article said that it was almost as though people felt that if the state could inflict violence, so could they.

I’d also argue that there are some murderers, who should be punished, but who also can be rehabilitated. When I was working as a volunteer at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, some of my co-workers were convicts at the end of their sentence. They were working towards being finally paroled and released back into the community. It was quite an experienced working with these people. Although they were murderers, they weren’t monsters. They were articulate, and often creative and highly educated. Some were so inoffensive, you wondered what circumstances led to them committing their crime. I realise that the people I knew may not be entirely representative. The Museum only took those who were genuinely willing to work there, rather than just exploit the system. And I am not suggesting for a single minute that murder should be treated leniently. I am merely arguing that there are some people responsible for this crime, who can be usefully rehabilitated after their punishment. And there may well be mitigating circumstances in individual cases that should rule out the death penalty.

And sometime, letting a murderer live and contemplate his guilt can be more terrible than simply killing them. One of the priests at my local church in south Bristol was a prison chaplain. He told us once how a murderer in one of the prisons in which he ministered told him one day, that he had no idea how difficult it was for the prisoner to live with the knowledge of what he’d done.

Way back in the 12th century, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the cleric who wrote the constitution for the Knights Templars, once saved a murderer from execution. He had him taken down from the scaffold. When the crowd objected, he told them he was going to take the man to do something far harder than simply being killed, and led him off to become a monk. This was during the great age of monastic reform, when life in some of the new orders being founded was very hard.

Many of the early Christians under the Roman Empire also had very strong views against the judicial system and its punishments. They objected to the death penalty, because Our Lord had been unjustly condemned to death by the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, Christians had no choice but to adopt and become responsible for the trial and punishment of criminals. But some bishops and clergy remained firmly against it to the end. One clergyman stated that he could not see how any Christian could have a man tortured or sentenced to death, and then lie back in ease and luxury on cushions afterwards. The Christians, who object to the death penalty are heirs to this tradition.

The reintroduction of the death penalty cannot be justified, not least because of the very real danger of wrongful conviction. By appointing Patel, one of its supporters, Johnson has shown how amoral he is in pandering to such vindictive populism. He, Patel and the other horrors in his cabinet are an affront to British justice. Get them out!

Hindu Nationalist Persecution of Christians in India under Modi’s Government

July 4, 2019

One of the ladies at our church gave a talk on Wednesday about the growing persecution of Christians in India by Hindu extremists, aided and abetted by President Narendra Modi and his squalid Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. This is an important issue for a number of reasons, and needs to be discussed. It’s naturally important to Christians concerned with the persecution members of their faith face in many other countries, but there are other reasons why it is important. It contradicts the view being pushed by the islamophobic right, that Christians are only, or primarily persecuted by Muslims. This is being particularly promoted by the neocons and Christian Zionists, like Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, who, it seems, are using it to work up support for Israel and for further western imperialist wars in the Middle East. Although the article was written for Christians, the laws criminalising Christian conversion and the mob violence they face are also part of a general persecution directed at other non-Hindu religious minorities, such as Muslims and Sikhs. Discussing the resistible rise of the BJP two decades or so ago, Private Eye’s ‘Letter from India’ described how the BJP was connected to the militant RSSS, a militant Indian nationalist organisation which was partly modeled on Mussolini’s Fascists, and which was responsible for attacks on Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

I am also certainly not blaming all Hindus for the actions of the BJP, or trying to attack Hinduism generally. Hinduism is a religion with a bewildering number of deities and sects, and thus has an impressive reputation for pluralism and tolerance. The extremists encouraged by the BJP also target moderate, liberal or secular Hindus because of their support of Gandhi and Nehru’s vision of India as a religiously tolerant, secular nation in which people of different faiths could live together in harmony and peace. The Hindu extremists not only reject this, they also passionately and vehemently despised its founder. A week or so ago one of the columnists in the I published a piece about how shocked they were when they first met a Hindu, who hated Gandhi. The Hindu extreme right despise and vilify Gandhi because they wanted India to be a Hindu state, and believed he had done too much to appease the Muslims.

I am also very much aware that Christian has also been spread through imperialism and military force, and has persecuted non-Christians. I don’t approve of or justify this. Religious persecution is wrong, no matter which religion is doing it.

Christianity in India is very ancient. Before Europeans arrived, there was already an indigenous Indian, Syriac Christian church. The Mar Thoma Christian church of Kerala believe that Christianity was brought to India in 50 or 52 AD by the apostle Thomas, who was martyred in Chennai in 72 AD. In 883 AD Sighelm, an ambassador to Kerala from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, visited his shrine to present thank offering from King Alfred. Another apostle, Nathanael (Bartholomew) also visited India in the first century, who brought with him a copy of Matthew’s Gospel in Hebrew. Documentary evidence suggests that Christianity had reached India by the early third century AD. By 225 there was a bishop in Baith Lapat, now Shahabad in Northern India, caring for the souls of a Christian community that had been converted by missionaries from Persia and what is now Iraq. The following century, Bishop John the Persian signed the Nicene Creed, which had been drawn up as the formal statement of the Christian faith “on behalf of (the churches) in the whole of Persia, and in the great India.”

The Indian Christian population is 65 million., and comprises about 2% of the population of India, 80% of whom are Hindus. In 2016 there were 348 incidents of persecution in India recorded by the Evangelical Fellowship of India. In 2017 this increased to 736, of which 351 were violent. Many incidents probably haven’t been recorded, and so the true number is probably higher.

The BJP has also passed a series of laws, ostensibly against forced conversion, as part of their campaign against Christianity. These forbid the use of force, fraud or allurement in conversion. I’m very much aware of the term ‘rice Christianity’, dating from the 19th century. This came from the supposed tactics of some missionaries, who promised the starving a bowl of rice if they converted. The use of such inducements to get people to convert is clearly immoral. But the laws brought in against them allow Christians to be falsely accused of these tactics. In September 2017 the Jharkhand state government passed a freedom of religion law, which punishes those guilty of using ‘coercion’ to convert Hindus with three years in prison. Anyone, who wishes to change their faith, has to obtain prior permission from a magistrate. Christians have been subjected to violence and arrest, and churches disrupted because of accusations that they are breaking these laws. But the BJP is determined to roll them out nationally. The opposition party has also moved rightward to compete with the BJP, and there is fears that this will also lead to greater intolerance of religious minorities.

The tactics used against Christians not only include social exclusion, but also assault and attacks and sabotage of church buildings and private homes. They are also subject to boycotts, and a campaign, “Ghar Wapsi” (homecoming) to force Indian Christians to renounce their faith. Two years ago, in January 2017, a 50 year-old Christian convert, Bartu Urawn, and his wife were immersed in a pond by a mob for 17 hours by a mob from their village in order to force them to recant their faith. Urawn refused, dying afterwards from his ordeal. The police, however, recorded his death as ‘natural causes’. Rural Christians are especially vulnerable, and all too often the police arrest the victims instead of the perps.

Many Christians are also Dalits, formerly the untouchables, the lowest-rung of the Hindu caste system, and are considered impure and polluting by the higher castes. There is a quota system to give them access to education and employment, but these quotas don’t apply to Christians or Muslims. They’ve also suffered attacks on their homes, churches, and water sources.

See ‘Courageous faith: India’s pressured christians’ in barnabasaid, March/April 2019, pp. 6-7.

I am also very much aware that the Christian right in several American states is trying to pass ‘freedom of religion’ laws with the same intention as the Hindu extremists in the above article: to exclude religious and secular minorities from political involvement. It hasn’t quite reached the level of the Hindu extremists as described in the above article, but the intolerance of parts of the American Christian right is similar in intensity.

The BJP is, if not Fascist, then certainly fascistic in its extreme nationalism. Indeed, a prayer used by one of the BJP’s allies or constituent organisations is included in an academic textbook on Fascism to illustrate Fascism’s mystical component. The BJP is part of the growth of religious and ethnic intolerance throughout the world. And as the book, Falling Off The Edge shows, a major cause of this tension and conflict is neoliberalism. The doctrine of absolute free trade without any form of government interference means that conditions for ordinary working people across the globe, whether in the developed West or the developing world, has got worse. And as conditions of grinding poverty have increased, so people have turned on minorities as scapegoats for their rage and desperation.

It’s what’s behind the growth of fascism in working class White communities in Britain. And I’ve no doubt it’s also behind the growth of Hindu extremism in India, all encouraged and promoted by Modi. It’s one of the classic tactics of the wealthy elite everywhere to divert opposition away from themselves by claiming that mainstream society is perfect. It’s only ethnic or religious minorities, who are behind all societies problems. Minorities like Jews, Muslims, Christians, Blacks, Asians or gays, depending on the society.

But one thing is absolutely certain: Fascism and intolerance has to be fought everywhere, along with the neoliberal economics that force people into poverty, despair and racism or religious extremism, whatever the colour or creed of the persecutors or their victims.

Zelo Street Publishes Piece Supporting Mike Against Anti-Semitism Smear Merchants

May 5, 2019

Thanks to everyone, who’ve sent donations to Mike to help him fight the libel threats brought against him by rich, bullying z-list celebs Rachel Riley and Tracey-Ann Oberman. They’re threatening anyone and everyone, who says anything about them they don’t like, with writs, and alleging that because they’re Jewish, their detractors must be anti-Semites. Mike’s one of those they’ve tried to bully into silence, because he, like so many others, blogged about how the gruesome twosome had ganged up and bullied a vulnerable sixteen year old schoolgirl. A young woman with anxiety, whom they smeared as an anti-Semite.

As Mike points out, his article was a perfectly valid opinion piece. Mike is a trained journo, and they have to know the law. Mike has also sought counsel from m’learned him friends, who have told him that Riley and Oberman don’t have a case. But he needs money just in case they try to bring it anyway. It’s a nasty piece of legal strategy called lawfare, where an individual or group tries to silence their critics using the law, even when they know they don’t have a case. They bring the actions knowing that fighting them and employing lawyers will cost tens of thousands of pounds, and hope that the legal costs alone will frighten their critics into silence. It’s the action of bullying scoundrels. Riley and Oberman also have the advantage over ordinary schmucks like Mike, in that, as celebrities, they can also count of the support of their legions of fans and their fellow ‘slebs. Riley was on the Jonathan Ross show a couple of months ago, for example, where she thanked all the people supporting her in her spurious campaign against anti-Semitism.

But Mike also has his supporters, who know perfectly well that he’s very, very far from any kind of anti-Semite, and appreciate all the work he’s done on behalf of the disabled and vulnerable. The great folks who sent in £5,000 worth of donations in a single day last week were some of these people, as were the peeps, who defend him online, unasked, against the anti-Semitism trolls.

And one of Mike’s defenders is the good fellow in Crewe, who puts up the Zelo Street blog. Yesterday he put up a piece defending Mike against the anti-Semitism smears of Riley and Oberman, ‘The Shameful Silencing of Mike Sivier’. After explaining who Mike is, and his work attacking the DWP and discussing issues like climate change, health, the Labour party, Brexit and the colossal ineptitude of the Tory party, he tells how Mike has been accused of anti-Semitism by Riley and Oberman. He states that Mike isn’t, and those papers that tried to smear him as one have been forced to retract their allegations by IPSO. He also describes how Mike’s target of £5,000 to help him fight the terrible twosome’s threats was raised in one day, though leaves it an open question whether this is a measure of Mike’s popularity or a sign of displeasure at the behaviour of Princess Countdown and her mate, Tracey-Anne Cyberman. He makes the point that their threat to Mike came after they had similarly threatened other people on social media for supporting an article against them written by Shaun Lawson. Who, for some reason, they haven’t threatened. Zelo Street then asks

Why should this be? Perhaps Ms Riley and Ms Oberman would care, in the fullness of time, to impart that information to the world. Perhaps they would also like to tell Mike Sivier, or his legal team, what specifically he has said in regard to either or both of them which they consider libellous. Because Sivier does not appear fazed by the claim, and nor do his lawyers, which suggests they are confident of having the action struck out.

He then provides a couple of quotations from Mike, which might have provoked the ‘orrible pair into threatening him, pointing out that one is no more than a statement of opinion. The second is one, where Mike describes how the two try to justify their bullying behaviour by claiming it is part of their campaign against anti-Semitism. Zelo Street attacks this by asking

How can anyone be combating anti-Semitism by threatening someone who concludes that you’ve been indulging in bullying? Is bullying an anti-Semitic code-word?

He states that Countdown and Cyberwoman have a problem in that it looks very much like their word against Mike’s, and that as Mike’s comments are like those of Lawson’s, who hasn’t been threatened, Lawson’s comments are the key to this case. He concludes

Attacking those who campaign for the weak against the strong in an attempt to silence them inevitably leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I’ll just leave that one there.
See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-shameful-silencing-of-mike-sivier.html
As for Jonathan Ross, I stopped watching his show years ago, mostly because I simply don’t find it interesting. He is a very clever man, and I share some of his taste in trash and popular culture. But Wossy also wants to be a bit edgy himself, and so indulges in puerile jokes, like the phone call to Andrew Sachs with Russell Brand that got him into so much trouble.
And when he was on the radio I think he was trying to be as close as he could to an American-style ‘shock jock’ within the limits of the Beeb and the broadcasting regulations. So he couldn’t be as openly politically biased nor as racist as some of them are. Nor can he be as sexually explicit. Howard Stern had on his Christmas show, for example, a gay choir singing ‘I’m dreaming of a little light torture’, but Wossy on his show for years had a gay singing group ‘Four Poofs and a Piano’. I’ve absolutely no objection to them appearing on his show, but it does seem to be an example of Wossy following the Americans’ taste, which he genuinely shares, for the transgressive and camp.
But I do wonder how he gets away with some of it. A few years ago while looking for something else on lunchtime radio, I accidentally got his lunchtime programme. Wossy was talking to the late, great Dale Winton. On finding out that Winton was Jewish, Wossy announced that he himself was half-Jewish, and then asked him if he was circumcised.
Eh? What has that got to do with anything? That’s a personal question, which is between a bloke and his rabbi. It’s not a question you ask, and certainly not on the radio at a Saturday lunchtime.
A more reasonable question might be how his Jewish background has influenced him as a person or a performer. Many performers come from a religious background, and various Christian actors and musicians took their first step in showbusiness in the church choir. I don’t know if something similar has inspired Jewish showbusiness peeps through membership of their synagogue. In traditional Judaism, for example, the readings from the Hebrew Bible were chanted by the cantor. This chant, cantillation, was often sung very beautifully, and in the 19th century the best cantors in European Jewry enjoyed a celebrity status like that of opera singers in mainstream society. It seems to me that asking whether the Jewish musical tradition, whether religious or secular, would be a far better and fairer question than making such a personal inquiry.
But Wossy had to ask him, no doubting counting that as someone, who was part Jewish, he wouldn’t be accused of anti-Semitism for it, which he certainly would if he was a gentile. It’s stupid, puerile antics that like that which rightly stop people wanting to watch his show or listen to him on the radio.

Tony Greenstein on Zionist Anti-Semitism

April 28, 2019

Last Wednesday Tony Greenstein, a veteran Jewish opponent of racism, Fascism and Zionism, put up on his blog a piece about how Zionists resort to anti-Semitic rhetoric when attacking their Jewish opponents. He made it very clear that this was because, in his view, anti-Semitism was at the very heart of Zionism.

The Hate Mail Directed at Jenny Manson, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein

Greenstein began his piece with some very nasty examples of Zionist anti-Semitic hate messages sent to himself, Jenny Manson, the chair of Jewish Voice for Labour and Jackie Walker. Manson was left a vile message on her voice mail calling her a ‘f***ing Nazi bitch’, ‘Nazi cow’ and ranting that she should be burned in a gas oven, and should burn in hell, in acid. He points out that this disgusting rant mixed the Zionist accusation that non-Zionists are Nazis, with the real Nazi abuse that a Jewish person should be gassed like the innocent millions in the Holocaust. He compares this with another unpleasant message sent to Jackie Walker, which questioned whether she was really Jewish and that she should be put into a burning bin. He also put up the full text of a hate message he received, which called him a ‘traitorous b***ard’, ‘a left-liberal Jew’, ‘a cowardly traitor’, who should go back to the shtetls and ghettos under non-Jewish domination, and said that it was a pity that Hitler or the Angel of Death missed his house, that of his family, and Naturei Karta’s, the Jewish anti-Zionist organisation. Greenstein compared this with another message he’d received which denied the existence of the Holocaust. Greenstein states he passed on both of these messages to the Community Security Trust, which compiles lists of anti-Semitic incidents. They duly logged the second message, but refused to list the first, as they don’t include anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated by Jews. Discussing the reason for this omission, he quotes the Jewish American anti-Zionist, Aurora Levins Morales, who states in her book, On Anti-Semitism, that she gets anti-Semitic abuse from Zionists, because they really believe that the only way Jews can be safe is to have their own homeland where only they are the privileged people.

The Nazi Nicknames Adopted by Israeli Soldiers

Greenstein goes on to make the point that under the right circumstances, every people can become racists. It was, he states, inevitable that Jewish Israelis should develop the same mindset and attitudes as their Nazi oppressors. He cites articles in Haaretz and al Hamishmar from 1989 about Israeli army units that called themselves after Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor, who experimented on Jews and other human victims in the concentration camps; ‘Our Nazis’, for those squaddies in the IDF who liked to beat Arabs, and ‘the Auschwitz 10’ and ‘Demjanjuks’, after a sadistic concentration camp guard, who was just being tried. He also quoted a supporter of Lehava, the Israeli group that campaigns against racial mixing, who said that it was ‘unfortunate’ that Hitler attacked the wrong nation, as Jews were the chosen race. He also describes an incident from 2012 involving Israeli schoolchildren, who had been taken to see the play Ghetto, about Jewish life in Vilna during the Nazi occupation. Instead of sympathising with the suffering of their parents’ and grandparents’, the kids instead applauded the Nazis, even cheering on a scene in which a kapo struck a Jew.

Herzl and Anti-Semitism

Greenstein then goes on to show how there always was a confluence of interests between Zionism and anti-Semitism. He quotes Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, who believed that gentile anti-Semitism contained the Divine will to good by forcing Jews to close ranks. He also quotes a piece from the Jewish paper, Davar, from the 1950s in which the writer stated he would like to select a group of ‘efficient young men’ who would be sent to countries in which the Jewish population are engaged in ‘sinful self-satisfaction’. These men would then paint anti-Semitic hate messages on walls disguised as non-Jews and demanding that they go to Palestine. He states that Zionism was never really concerned with fighting anti-Semitism. It was concerned with gathering the Jewish people together to establish a Jewish state. And so Zionists came to see their real enemies as the Jewish opponents of Zionism, who should themselves be the victims of anti-Semitism.

He states that, contra France’s President Macron, who declared that anti-Zionism was a new version of anti-Semitism, Jewish history shows that it is Zionism that actually has the closest similarity to gentile anti-Semitism. He illustrates this with a passage from Herzl’s The Jewish State, which lays the blame for anti-Semitism on the Jews themselves. For Herzl, Jews, who married gentiles were lost to the ‘Jewish tribe’ and he declared he had no quarrel with the ‘honest anti-Semites’ who would spur on Jewish emigration. He also recognised that people would accuse him of ‘giving a handle to anti-Semitism’ when he said that the Jews were one people. One of the very many Jews, who did consider Zionism anti-Semitic was Lucien Wolf, the head of Britain’s Conjoint Committee and British Jewry’s ‘unofficial foreign minister’, who is quoted as saying

‘I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. They constitute a capitulation to our enemies.’

Herzl also admired Edouard Droumont, a notorious anti-Semite and anti-Dreyfusard, who Herzl declared was ‘an artist’ and was delighted when Droumont gave The Jewish State a glowing review.

The Zionists also agreed with the anti-Semites that the Jews were an ‘asocial’ body that did not belong among gentiles. The Marxist Zionist left, which followed the doctrines of Ber Borochov, Hashomer Hatzair and later Mapam, believed that there were too many rich Jews at the top of diaspora Jewish society and not enough workers. The reality, however, was that the vast majority of Jews in the Russian Empire lived in grinding poverty. The Zionists also agreed with the anti-Semites that Jews were either rootless cosmopolitans behind Communist agitation or the excesses of capitalism. He once again quotes Herzl, who wrote

When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, the subordinate officers of all revolutionary parties; and at the same time, when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse.

This is exactly the sentiments of that terrible Tsarist anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which has inspired so much Nazism, Fascism and real Jew-hatred in the 20th century.

Other Zionist Anti-Semitism

Greenstein goes on to quote the Israeli novelist, A.B. Yehoshua, who said that Jews treated other people’s countries as hotels. And when Zionists described diaspora Jews, they sounded exactly like gentile anti-Semites. The first Israeli Minister of Justice, Pinhas Rosenbluth, described Palestine as an ‘institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’. Jacob Klatzkin, the co-editor of the Jewish newspaper, Die Welt, and co-founder of the Encylopaedia Judaica, wrote that Jews were

‘a people disfigured in both body and soul – in a word, of a horror… some sort of outlandish creature… in any case, not a pure national type… some sort of oddity among the peoples going by the name of Jew.’

Hashomer Hatzair’s Weltanschauung, first published in 1917, and then republished in 1936, also described Jews in hostile terms:

“a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligations, knows no order nor discipline.”

Greenstein concludes

Why is this relevant? Because even today Zionism considers the Jewish diaspora as essentially worthless. Whenever a choice has to be made between the Jews and the Jewish state then the interests of the latter always take priority.

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/04/why-when-zionists-abuse-their-jewish.html

The Identification of the Oppressed with their Oppressors

This is deeply shocking stuff, and it shows that Zionists have absolutely no business whatsoever accusing decent people, particularly self-respecting Torah-observant and secular Jews, of anti-Semitism. Greenstein has elsewhere argued that Zionism is a capitulation to anti-Semitism. It also reminds me of a comment the great journalist of the gogglebox, Clive James wrote way back in the 1970s. He observed in a piece about Roman Catholic children identifying with the British army in Northern Ireland, that oppressed peoples often supported and took on the views of their oppressors. I think James may have been wrong in the case of Ulster Catholics, as many of them initially supported the deployment of British troops, because they expected them to be far more impartial than the police. But it does seem to apply to many Zionists’ view of the degraded nature of diaspora Jewry following Herzl.

Israel’s Abandonment of Diaspora Jewry for Its Own Interests

And Zionists have shown themselves to be perfectly willing to sacrifice diaspora Jews to real anti-Semitism if it will benefit Israel. Greenstein has blogged about how one of the Zionist pioneers – I have a feeling it may have been David Ben Gurion – said that he would rather half of Europe’s Jews were wiped out by the Nazis, if half of them went to Israel, than all of them being saved by going to Britain. George Soros, the billionaire financier, who is cordially hated by Zionists and gentile anti-Semites, despises Zionism because of the deal Kasztner, the leader of Hungarian Zionism during the Nazi occupation, struck with the Nazis. This allowed for tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews to be sent to the death camps in return for a certain number escaping to Israel. And they’re still doing it today. David Rosenberg has written time and again on his blog, Rebel Notes, about the threat posed to eastern Europe’s remaining Jews by the extreme nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim regimes in Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine and the Baltic states. But these have received little criticism from Israel, because they support the Israeli states and buy its armaments. Stephen Pollard, the gentile editor of the Jewish Chronicle, notoriously declared that a far-right Polish MEP wasn’t an anti-Semite, but a true friend of Israel. This was a politician, who among other things, supported legislation banning any discussion of Polish collaboration with the Nazis in the Holocaust, contrary to historical fact and ordinary, common morality.

Anti-Semitism and the Idea of a Chosen People

As for that comment by the Lehava supporter stating that Hitler shouldn’t have attacked the Jews, because they were the Chosen People, this is deeply offensive and dangerous for a variety of reasons. One common anti-Semitic accusation is that the Jews believe themselves to be superior to everyone else because they believe themselves to be God’s elect. There have been many attempts by Jews to tackle this misconception. In the 1920s, I believe, some German synagogues removed a prayer from their services referring to them as the Chosen People, because they were afraid it would give their non-Jewish compatriots the wrong idea. Other Jewish authorities have pointed out, citing the Bible, that their status of the Jewish people does not confer on them any kind of superiority. Rather, God chose the Jews because they were the smallest, weakest people, who are called upon to be a servant people.

Many Jews are uncomfortable with the idea of being a Chosen People, and some reject it outright. My guess is that some of this discomfort may also be due to the apparent similarity of the doctrine to secular ideas of racial superiority. I knew a lad at college, who bitterly hated Christianity, though he definitely wasn’t an anti-Semite nor any kind of Nazi. Quite the opposite. He believed that the roots of Nazi racism lay in the Old Testament and the idea of a Chosen People. He was wrong. Nazism grew out of western biological racism, which was founded in the 19th century by the French count, Gobineau. This also inspired Nazism, although the Nazis also took over and exploited Christian anti-Semitism. The Lehava supporter’s statement about Hitler and the Jews as the Chosen People would support the prejudiced views of the opponents of Judaism and Christianity as the origins of racism.

Zionist Silence over their Anti-Semitism

The existence of the virulent anti-Semitism in Zionism, which Tony Greenstein describes, also raises another issue. Why won’t Zionist organisations like the Community Security Trust log anti-Semitic incidents and hate speech committed by Jews? It seems to be a prohibition that really only goes one way. As we’ve seen, very many of the decent people vilified and smeared as anti-Semites in the Labour party and elsewhere for their opposition to israel’s oppression of the Palestinians have been Jewish. Their Zionist opponents have shown themselves to have no qualms about accusing them of Jew-hatred. But it seems they do not want to record instances where decent Jewish critics of Israel have been so reviled.

Not only is this a disgusting double standard, it also makes you wonder what they’re hiding. Is there so much of this vilification, that if it was recorded, Zionists would find themselves exposed as some of the worst anti-Semites?

Just How Many Members of the JLM Are Really Jewish?

April 20, 2019

As Jeremy Corbyn becomes more popular, so the vile right-wing establishment and media, and particularly the Sunset Times, are determined to smear him and the Labour party as anti-Semites. One of the leaders of this campaign within the Labour Party has been the JLM, or the Jewish Labour Movement. Who I believe should be more accurately called the Zionist Bowel Movement. They claim to represent the Labour Party’s Jewish members and have been active denouncing anyone they can on the Labour left as a Jew-hater.

In reality, what they consider to be anti-Semitism is very narrow: it’s opposition to Israel and Zionism, rather than anti-Semitism in the proper meaning of the word: hatred of Jews as Jews. It honestly isn’t surprising, as the Jewish Labour Movement is the successor to Paole Zion, or ‘Workers of Zion’, a Jewish Zionist organisation that became affiliated to the Labour Party in the 1920s, and which campaigned for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. But Paole Zion was more or less moribund when it was taken over in 2014 or so by embezzler Jeremy Newmark, of the Jewish Leadership Council, who told his friends in a Golders Green coffee shop that he wanted to work for Zionism from inside the Labour party, using the tactics Zionists had already used in the Universities and Colleges Union. The Zionist Bowel Movement has repeatedly claimed that anti-Semitism is rife in the Labour Party, and last week loudly held a meeting to discuss disaffiliation, because the party was allegedly no longer a place where Jews were comfortable.

In fact, this is news to many of the Party’s Jewish members, who acknowledge that there probably is anti-Semitism in Labour, but haven’t met it personally themselves in all their years of membership. Labour also have a number of other Jewish organisations, like the superb Jewish Voice for Labour, which has attacked the anti-Semitism witch-hunt and defended its innocent victims, like Jackie Walker. I’ve also no doubt that the Party has very many other Jewish members, who are not members of specifically Jewish organisations. Many people don’t want to be put in boxes or defined by religion or ethnicity. One of these was Dr. Jonathan Miller, the satirist, broadcaster and opera director. When he was introduced on one programme back in the 1960s as a Jew, he replied by stating that he was ‘Jewish’. ‘I’m a Jewish. I have no interest in being a minority’. Which I dare say is probably the attitude of many assimilated Jews comfortable with their British and Jewish identities.

From their public pronouncements, you could be forgiven for believing that the Zionist Bowel Movement had a mass membership. After all, they claim to speak for the Jewish members of a party, which now has a quarter of a million members. They claimed to have 2000 members, which is trivial compared to that of the Party in general. And it’s probably less than that. From the voting numbers recorded at their general meeting on the issue of disaffiliation, it appears that they may only have 150 members. And not all of those of are Jewish. The Jewish Labour Movement is open to gentiles, and you don’t have to be a member of the Labour Party. Tony Greenstein on his blog stated that as many of 2/3 of the Bowel Movement’s members were actually non-Jews. That’s a hundred out of 150. So you have the spectacle of a Jewish organisation, of which only a third are actually Jewish, trying to tell a party of a quarter of a million that anti-Semitism is rampant in their ranks, in the face of the majority of its members and proper Jewish organisations with an equivalent or higher membership, who assert that it isn’t. And some of these other Jewish organisations have members who are really Jewish.

The JLM is such a pompous organisation, and its claims to represent Labour’s Jews so grotesque, that I was tempted to send them a letter offering to become a member. I’m not Jewish, but have read books on Biblical Hebrew and have the piano music for Hava Nagila, which puts me on the same level as many of their other members. And no, I’m not sneering at Jews or promoting Jewish stereotypes with this comment. I am attacking and satirising a mendacious organisation that has done nothing but spread smears and destroy innocent people’s lives. And they have done this not for any good reason, but simply to defend Israel and its terrorist actions against the Palestinians from criticism. Far from representing the party’s Jewish members, they should be seen as a marginal organisation which grotesquely tries to reduce the rich variety of Jewish opinions on the question of Jewish identity to simply equating it with Zionism and support for Israel.

And in doing so they have smeared decent people, including genuine, Torah-observant and secular Jews. The JLM really only represents Zionism under the pretence of standing for the party’s Jews. And if they departed from the Party tomorrow, absolutely nothing would be lost. Indeed, as Mike and many of the other bloggers have shown from comments posted on Twitter, many people, Jewish and non-Jewish, would be delighted.

Good Friday Greetings

April 19, 2019

Today is Good Friday, the day when Christians across the world remember Christ’s trial by Pontius Pilate, His crucifixion and death, and look forward to His glorious resurrection three days later on Easter Sunday. St. Paul calls Christ ‘the Firstborn of the dead’, as Christians since the earliest days of the church have seen His resurrection as the precursor of what will happen to everyone at the end of time. And this belief in a general resurrection came to Christianity from Judaism, where, I believe, it is called the Olam Ha-Ba, or the World To Come. And as another Abrahamic faith, this belief in the ultimate resurrection of all humanity by the Almighty is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam.

I also feel at this time we should remember prisoners of conscience across the world, regardless of the political or religious views we hold. Like the crackdown on various dissenting religious groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Putin’s Russia, and atheists and the other non-Wahhabi religions and philosophies in Saudi Arabia. It’s grotesque that people belonging to either of these groups should be called ‘terrorists’ simply for holding the views they do, without harming anyone.

On a more positive note, I just wish all the readers of this blog a great and happy Easter weekend, whether they are religious or otherwise.

Best wishes to you all.

Ilan Pappe’s Demolition of the Myths of Modern Israel and Its Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians

March 28, 2019

 

Ilan Pappe, Ten Myths About Israel (London: Verso 2017)

Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and activist, who has extensively researched and documented Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from its foundation in 1948 till today. Because of this, he was subjected to abuse and academic censure by the authorities and his university. He now teaches, I believe, at Exeter University. He has been a signatory of several of the letters from academics and leading members of the Jewish community defending Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters from the charges of anti-Semitism.

This book tackles the ten myths Pappe identifies as central to the history of modern Israel and its continuing dispossession of its indigenous people. The blurb for the book states

In this groundbreaking book, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel.

The “ten myths” that Pappe explores – repeated endlessly in the media, enforced by the military, accepted without question by the world’s governments – reinforce the region status quo. He explores the claims that Palestine was an empty land at the time of the Balfour Declaration, as well as the formation of Zionism and its role in the early decades of nation building. He asks whether the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948, and whether June 1967 was a war of “no choice”. Turning to the myths surrounding the failure of the Camp David Accords and the official reasons for the attacks on Gaza, Pappe explains why the two-state solution is no longer viable. 

The book is divided into three parts. Part 11, ‘Fallacies of the Past’, contains the following chapters attacking these particular myths.

  1. Palestine was an empty land.
  2. The Jews were a people without a land.
  3. Zionism is Judaism.
  4. Zionism is not colonialism.
  5. The Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948.
  6. The June 1967 War was a war of no choice.

Part II, ‘Fallacies of the Present’, has the following

7. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.

8. The Oslo mythologies.

9. The Gaza mythologies.

Part III ‘Looking Ahead’

10. The two-states solution is the only way forward.

Conclusion: The Settler Colonial state of Israel in the 21st First century.

There’s also a timeline of Israeli/Zionist history from the 1881 pogroms in the Russian Empire to 2015 and the fourth Netanyahu government.

This is a short book, the actual text taking up 153 pages. Although it is properly documented with notes and index, it’s clearly written and seems to be aimed the general reader, rather than an exclusively academic audience. Much of it will be familiar to readers of the blogs of the great Jewish critics and activists against Zionist racism, like Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and David Rosenberg. He points out, for example, that Zionism was a minority movement amongst Jews before 1948, and that it was preceded by Christian Zionism, which wished to see the Jews return to Israel in order to hasten Christ’s return to Earth and the End Times, as well as more immediate religious and geopolitical goals. Some hoped that the Jews would convert to Christianity, while others, like Palmerston, believed that a western Jewish presence in the Holy Land would help shore up the decaying Ottoman Empire. Others associated it with restoring the glory of the Crusades. Most Jews at the time, however, were much more eager to remain in the countries of their birth. For Reform Jews and the Socialists of the Bund, this meant fighting for equality as fellow citizens and adopting wider European secular culture to a greater or lesser extent so that they could fully participate in the new societies from the Enlightenment onwards. So determined were they to do so, that Reform Judaism removed altogether references from their services to the return to Israel. They also rejected the idea of a Jewish state because they felt its establishment would cast doubt on their loyalties to their mother countries as proper English or Germans. Orthodox Judaism remained far more conservative, rejecting the Enlightenment, but still determined to remain in their traditional homelands because Israel could only be restored through divine will by the Messiah. Until he came, it was their religious duty to wait out their exile.

Nor was Palestine remotely empty, despite the Zionists maintaining that it was – ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’, as the Zionist maxim ran. 18th and 19th century European travelers noted that Palestine was very definitely occupied, and that ten per cent of its population was Jewish. Zionist settlers there found to their shock and discomfort that there were Arabs there, with whom they were going to have to live. And that these Arabs weren’t like them. Which shouldn’t really be surprising. However marginalised eastern European Jews were, they were still part of European society and so were bound to have certain aspects of their culture in common with other Europeans. As for the Palestinians themselves, they were perfectly willing to provide shelter and help to the early Jewish settlers when it seemed that they were simply migrants, who were not intending to colonise and displace them. They only became hostile, ultimately turning to violence, when it became clear just what the Zionists’ intentions towards them were. Pappe also points out that at the time the first Zionist communities were being founded, Palestinian society was undergoing its second wave of nationalism. The first was the general wave of Arab nationalism from the 19th century onwards, as the Arabs became conscious of themselves as a distinct people with the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire. The second was when the individual Arab nations, such as Syria and Egypt, became conscious of themselves and began demanding their separate independence. And these new, emerging Arab nations included Palestine.

The book also shows how Zionism is colonialism through comparing Israel with other White nations, like those of  North and South America, New Zealand and so on, where the indigenous people were massacred and their land seized for White colonisation. He  then shows how Zionist leaders such as David Ben-Gurion had planned in 1948 to cleanse what they could of the Israel state they were creating of its Arab population in order to ensure that Jews were in the majority. Thus Palestinian towns and villages were razed and their people massacred. At the same time, the Israelis spread propaganda that the Palestinians had somehow voluntarily left their homes, rather than fled. He also argues that the Israeli government was determined to exploit diplomatic and military tensions with Nasser’s Egypt and Syria in 1967 in order to manufacture a war that would allow them to seize the West Bank and the holy places of west Jerusalem, with their rich archaeological sites. Pappe shows that, whatever their composion, whether Labour, Likud, or, as in 1967, a coalition of parties across the Israeli political spectrum, successive Israeli government have pursued a policy of securing the greatest amount of land for Israel with the least amount of Palestinians. This has meant redrawing and redefining the boundaries of what is Jewish territory, with the intention of forcing the Palestinians into minuscule cantons or bantustans, to use the word applied to similar settlements in apartheid South Africa. The Palestinians were to have some autonomy within them, but only if the acted as Israel’s peacekeeper within those territories. This was the real intention of the Oslo Peace Process, which was unacceptable to Yasser Arafat and the Arab leadership because far from improving conditions for the Palestinians, it actually made them much worse. It was a deal that the Palestinians could not accept, hence the breakdown of the talks and the eruption of the Second Intifada.

Pappe describes the Israeli attacks on Gaza as an ‘incremental genocide’. He states that he has been reluctant to call it thus, because it’s a very loaded term, but can find no other way to reasonably describe it. Each stage begins with a Palestinian rocket attack, which kills very few Israelis, if any. The Israelis then launch massive counterattacks, killing hundreds, with names like ‘Summer Rains’, ‘Autumn Rains’, and then ‘Operation Cast lead’, which the Israelis claim are just reprisals against Palestinian terrorism. The goal is supposed to be the removal of the Hamas government in Gaza. While Hamas are an Islamic organisation, they were democratically elected and their rise was initially aided by Israel, who believed that the real threat to their security was the secular, nationalist Fatah.

The chapter arguing against Israel as a democracy shows that it cannot justly be considered such given the apartheid system that dispossesses and marginalises the Palestinians. Part of this apartheid is based on willingness or suitability for military service. Rather like the future Earth of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, civil rights are connected with national service. The Israelis disbar the Palestinians from serving in the armed forces on the grounds that the Palestinians would be unwilling to join them. But even here the Palestinians do the unexpected: a majority of them have shown themselves willing in a poll to join the Israeli army.

Pappe considers that the two-state solution, as a realistic solution to the Palestinian crisis, is near its end. Its only real purpose was to give the Israelis a justification for seizing the most land while dispossessing the indigenous people, who lived there. It will eventually fall, one way or another, because the Israelis are determined to colonise the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. He also makes the point that no discussion of the issue of human rights in the Middle East, in nations like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, for example, can be complete without including the 100 year long persecution of the Palestinians. At the same time, the West allowed Israel to emerge as a settler colonial state, at a time when settler-colonialism was being abandoned, partly out of guilt over the Holocaust. Germany in particular contributed a large amount of funding to the new state. But the foundation of Israel hasn’t solved the problem of anti-Semitism, only increased it. The discrediting of the ten major myths about Israel should ensure better justice for the Palestinians, and a fitting, proper end to the legacy of the Holocaust.

It’s a very effective demolition of the myths Israel uses and exploits to support its own existence and its policies towards the Palestinians. For example, Israel claims that its occupation of the West Bank is only temporary, while the facts on the ground amply demonstrate that it intends to be there permanently. Pappe is also extremely critical about the use of the Bible and archaeology to justify Israel’s occupation of Palestine. He seems to support the Biblical minimalists assessment that the Bible isn’t a reliable source of historical information. I don’t think this can be reasonably maintained, as while archaeology can’t be used to establish whether some episodes in the Bible are historically true, it does seem clear that ancient Israel undoubtedly existed, at least after the Exile and probably before then. But he certainly raises proper moral questions about the use of archaeology to justify the removal of Palestinian communities and their transformation into Israeli settlements on the grounds that they are really ancient Israelite towns and villages.

Pappe has always maintained that his countrymen are decent people, who just need the situation properly explained to them. He attempted to do this himself by holding open evenings at his home every Thursday night, in the Israeli village in which he lived. During these evenings anyone could come to his home and ask him what was really going on. These evenings eventually grew to such an extent that, despite the real anger and hostility against him by the academic and political establishment, he had 30-40 people in his front room. In the book he also properly pays tribute to the courage and determination of those Israelis, who are determined to challenge their country’s attacks on the Palestinians. If there is to be hope for the Palestinians, then they should surely play a part on the Israeli side.

I don’t know if there will ever be proper justice for the Palestinians. The Israel lobby has shown itself to be determined and expert at the demonisation of its opponents here in the West. That’s been shown in the recent expulsions of prinicipled anti-Zionists and anti-racists like Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Mike and now Jackie Walker on trumped up charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ from the Labour Party. But there are signs that the Israel lobby is losing its grip. They’re turning from Jews to Christian Evangelicals in America for support, while Ireland has recently passed legislation supporting the BDS movement. These are signs for hope. But the process will be long and difficult. This book, however, helps provide the means by which more people can fight back against Israeli and establishment propaganda to support a proper peace with justice, dignity and proper autonomy for Jews and Palestinians in a single state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewish Labour Supporters Attack the Anti-Semitism Witch-Hunters

March 18, 2019

Oh ho! Mike today posted a very interesting article about two letters written by Jewish supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, which the anti-Semitism witch-hunters will definitely not like.

One was written to the Groaniad by 200 Jewish ladies, who were angered by the formerly left-wing newspaper’s unqualified support of Margaret Hodge. Hodge was disappointed that so few people have been charged with anti-Semitism, as she personally had denounced 200 people. They pointed out that of 111 people she had accused, only 20 were actually members of the Labour party. The other 91 were nothing to do with the party’s disciplinary procedure and her complaints against them were a waste of the party’s time.

They also said that her other claims – that the party should shut down those branches which had expressed loyalty to Chris Williamson, or refused to adopt the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism should be similarly treated as suspect. They supported Williamson’s statement that the party had been too apologetic in its treatment of the anti-Semitism accusations, and stated that the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism had been shredded by two QCS and the Jewish human rights specialist, Sir Geoffrey Bindman, and the Jewish retired appealed court judge, Stephen Sedley. Their letter concludes

All signatories to this letter grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. We know we must maintain eternal vigilance against antisemitic resurgence. But we also celebrate our Jewishness, especially the disputatiousness (pace our aphorism: two Jews three opinions) central to Jewish identity. We are terrified by Margaret Hodge’s attempt to hijack our history and rewrite our identity and by unwillingness to investigate, fact check and challenge her allegations.

The Groaniad refused to print the letter, on the grounds that it didn’t say anything new. So two Jewish Labour ladies, Naomi Wayner and Leah Levane, one of whom was a signatory to the letter, published an article about it and the text  of the letter in the Prole Star.

See: https://www.prole-star.co.uk/single-post/2019/03/15/Jewish-Labour-Women-The-Voices-The-Guardian-Wants-To-Silence

Mike comments that this means that probably more people will see it and read it than if it had been published by the paper.

The Sunday Times, when of the offenders in the media smears of decent people as anti-Semites, also printed a letter by 12 Holocaust survivors. They state that they don’t believe the party is perpetrating any hostility or prejudice towards Jews, and if it is, it is minimal, and no more prevalent than in any other party. And rather than considering Jeremy Corbyn a threat, they say he has been over backwards for Jews.

They also state

Media attention on the Labour Party in general, and on Corbyn in particular, is being generated by anti-Labour and anti-Corbyn mischief makers, who unfortunately are over-represented within the so-called Anglo-Jewish leadership — a leadership whose legitimacy is not recognised by the mainstream Haredi (strictly Orthodox) Jews.

The Jewish Chronicle, a paper with a proud future behind it, has criticised the letter, and in particularly claimed that the authors or somehow connected to Shraga Stern, the Orthodox Jew, who appeared in a photo with Corbyn during his visit to Finsbury Park mosque. The paper also claimed that the rabbis who signed an earlier letter of support for Corbyn didn’t know what they were signing. According to the Skwawkbox, both claims have been thoroughly refuted. See:

https://skwawkbox.org/2019/03/17/jewish-chronicle-pushes-fake-news-to-discredit-pro-corbyn-letter/

Mike also notes that the film Witchhunt, about the persecution of anti-Zionists and Corbyn supporters within the Labour party, has just been released. He hasn’t seen it yet, but encourages everyone to do so. He ends his article

The mainstream – the ‘establishment’ – will try hard to regain the initiative; we have seen one attempt already in the response of the Jewish Chronicle. The best advice you can take is to use your own intelligence and make up your own mind, based on the evidence available and the reliability of those providing it.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/18/at-long-last-the-voices-of-opponents-of-the-anti-semitism-witch-hunt-are-being-heard/#comments

I’m surprised that the Sunset Times published the article by Holocaust survivors, but perhaps they were afraid of the bad press they’d get if they didn’t. As Jewish bloggers like Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and David Rosenberg have pointed out, Orthodox Jews are not represented by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and don’t recognise the Chief Rabbi. And I suspect that Haredi Judaism of some of the signatories may well also be embarrassing to some of the witchhunters. According to a recent article by Shaun Lawson, a liberal Zionist, witchhunter Jonathan Hoffman tried to shut down Jewish supporters of Corbyn with a questionnaire asking them about how Jewish they were in terms of synagogue attendance, activity within the Jewish community, adherence to the Jewish purity laws and Torah, and so on. He had to abandon this approach. From what I gather, the Haredi are a Jewish revival movement, who call Orthodox Jews into a full observance of the Mosaic Law. Which means that there can be absolutely no question about their Jewishness, not that Hoffman’s wretched questionnaire could ever quantify that and the merest suggestion that it could is ridiculous. The Jewish community is divided in its adherence to the Law, from the very strict – the Orthodox and the Haredi, to the less so, like Reform Jews. But all of them view themselves as devout Jews, just as I’ve no doubt the third of the community that is secular also do not deny or are ashamed of their heritage.

As for Shraga Stern, who the Jewish Chronicle seems to believe was somehow involved in persuading the Holocaust survivors to write their letter, he has also received a threatening message because of his appearance with Corbyn, just like Mrs Manson. Is the Jewish Chronicle trying to stir up more hatred against him through its article?

I’m sure Mike’s right that further attacks will come, especially as Survation has put Labour five points ahead of the Tories. But with claims like anti-Semitism, you do have to exercise proper scepticism and critical thinking. You have to ask what the issues really are behind the article, who is writing it, and what they are not telling you.