Posts Tagged ‘Brandeis University’

Twitter Bigot Falsely Accuses Vox Political Writer of Anti-Semitism For Criticising Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 30, 2016

I suppose it had to happen. The grotesque abuse of allegations of anti-Semitism is now so widespread, and so promiscuously used, that even those seeking to defend those accused of it are now themselves being accused. And Mike over at Vox Political has now joined their numbers.

He reports that yesterday, somebody on Twitter calling themselves ‘Porky Scratchings’, using a picture of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter from the Alice in Wonderland film, accused him of anti-Semitism. Mike was anti-Semitic, according to this idiot, because he rejected the accusations of anti-Semitism against the various members of the Labour party. Porky Scratchings, then departing from most reasonable standards of logic, attempted to support this accusation by arguing that if Jews said someone or something was anti-Semitic, then it was. Mike refuted this by arguing that something was not anti-Semitic, if it was true. He also accused Porky Scratchings of racial supremacism in his turn, as he was trying to argue that Jews had a right to use double standards when it came to defining who was anti-Semitic. Mike also stated that he was ending the conversation.

At that point, Mike’s Twitter account went down, and Mike was then told that somebody had tried to hack in. It had therefore been frozen, and Mike was requested to change his passwords.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/29/wow-did-vox-politicals-writer-just-endure-an-anti-gentile-attack/

So it looks very much like Porky Scratchings, really he wasn’t going to get anywhere with Mike, threw a strop and tried a bit of cyberwarfare.

This is risible and grotesque, as are the accusations of anti-Semitism against the Labour party members. Mike has always been anti-racist, anti-Nazi and very definitely not any kind of anti-Semite. It was Mike, brought me back from a College trip to Berlin a book from a exhibition on the Gestapo, SS, and Reich Security Service Headquarters in the city, which documented their crimes against humanity when I was studying it at Uni.

Terror Topography

On his site, he has put up numerous pieces attacking the Right for racism. In one recent piece, he reminded everyone how the Tory MP, Gulzabeen Afsar, had said that she would not serve under ‘that Jew’, when Ed Miliband was campaign to be PM. Miliband’s Jewish, and Afsar’s comment is clearly anti-Semitic. Mike was outraged not just at the comment, but also at the leniency with Zabar was treated by the Tories. She simply issued an apology, and the Tories then claimed it was all over. Which is precisely what they aren’t doing with the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/26/remember-when-tories-practised-anti-semitism-rather-than-hypocritically-complaining-about-it/

Mike also recently reblogged a piece from Pride’s Purge, about how one of the Nazi grouplets tried to set up a stall in Leicester to persuade people to join the ‘Leave’ campaign on the EU. This group is Britain First, which most definitely is anti-Semitic. One of the drawings the group has produced, which Pride’s Purge did not reproduce, shows a stereotypical kneeling Jew being shot through the forehead from behind. The fact that Mike reblogged this story attacking those nutters should be enough to show that, whatever his views on the anti-Semitism allegations, he isn’t a Nazi or anti-Semite, as Porky Scratchings has alleged.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/26/nazi-sympathiser-working-for-vote-leave-campaign-prides-purge/

The post about Britain First, on which Tom Pride drew for his piece about them trying to attach themselves to Vote Leave, including their vile cartoon, is at the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism website, Hope Not Hate. See http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/insider/something-very-unpleasant-attaches-to-vote-leave-campaign-4891

None of this should really need to be said. There is ample evidence enough on Mike’s own website. But this isn’t about history or attacking real, genuine anti-Semitism. The character of the accused show this. Red Ken has been accused, yet Ken Livingstone’s administration when he was head of the GLC was reviled by the Tory press and media because of its firm stance against all forms of prejudice, including racism. I’ve put up pieces from his book, Livingstone’s Labour, in which Marxist-Leninist Newt Fancier clearly condemns racism, including anti-Semitism, and attacks the post-War US and British authorities for dropping charges and actively recruiting Nazi war criminals in the Cold War campaign against Communism. Jackie Walker, one of the others accused, is of mixed Black and Jewish heritage. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist thrown out of America for campaigning against the oppression of Black Americans. Her father was a Russian Jew, who would therefore have been well acquainted with real, brutal anti-Semitism. She herself actively campaigns against racism, and her partner is also Jewish. As for Naz Shah, she has the support of her local synagogue. The real crime of the above it isn’t anti-Semitism; it’s simply that they dared to criticise Israel for its barbarous oppression of the Palestinians.

This is about the Israel lobby trying to deflect criticism and international outrage against its occupation of the West Bank, its bombardment of Gaza and its seventy year long project of expelling the indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes. And those who criticise this policy in America have also been accused of anti-Semitism, even when they manifestly are not. Like former President Jimmy Carter, and the head of Obama’s Jewish Outreach Campaign. This lady was not only Jewish, but she was also a very active part of her community. It didn’t matter. She was still dismissed on a trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism.

Norman Finkelstein, who has done so much to document and raise awareness of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian and other Arab nations, has stated that these accusations are wearing very thin. The accusations of Holocaust denial, or moral complicity in the Holocaust, have been overused to such an extent that he says, ‘We’re all Holocausted out’. And the same is true of the allegations of anti-Semitism. Just how seriously the majority of young American Jews took it can be shown by the fact that when Carter came to debate Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis University, the largest secular Jewish uni in the US of A, Carter got 3 or 4 standing ovations from the students before he even spoke. And when it was Dershowitz’s time to speak, 2/3 of them walked out before he had opened his Neo-Con gob.

So those making the accusations are becoming increasingly isolated and impotent. Hence the shrill accusations and petulant foot-stamping.

Now let’s go through some of the issues raised in Mike’s argument with Porky Scratchings. Firstly, Mike is entirely right that it is not anti-Semitic, or indeed prejudiced generally, to use facts and historical truth. For example, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious forgery produced by the Tsar’s secret police, are anti-Semitic because it’s an enormous lie, produced with the object of provoking hatred. The Protocols purports to be the notes of a secret meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their plans for world domination and the enslavement of Gentiles. No such meeting took place, or has ever taken place. The Protocols were written by the Tsarist Okhrana to drum up support for their persecution of the Jews in Russia.

It was not anti-Semitic to point out that in 1995, the Republican Party in America and Israel’s Likud party jointly produced a plan for the invasion of Iraq, an illegal invasion that was eventually carried out by George Dubya, and which 70 per cent of Jewish Americans under 35 oppose.

It is similarly not anti-Semitic to compare the enslavement of Black Africans, the Holocaust and the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, as Jackie Walker did. These were all terrible crimes against humanity, which were and are all too real.

Now there’s the matter of the subjective nature of Porky Scratching’s argument about what constitutes anti-Semitism. Porky Scratchings states that it’s only prejudice, if the offended person believes it is. He cites the example of a female victim of sexual harassment. If the woman was offended, then it’s sexual harassment. But this flies in the face of accepted standards of truth and justice. These are notions which depend on objectivity. Just because someone is offended by something, doesn’t mean that it’s a case of prejudice or injustice to mention it.

To give another example, much of the bitter hostility towards Britain in Iran is due to our maltreatment of the country during imperialism, our domination of their oil industry – it was completely owned by us as British-Persian Oil, and our toppling of Mossadeq, the Iranian Prime Minister, in 1957 when he nationalised it. Now the chants of ‘Death to Britain’ by the Mullah’s legions is clearly anti-British. However, it would not be anti-British for a delegate from the Islamic Republic to discuss Britain’s exploitation and abuse of his country and its people if this once again became an issue, such as perhaps an unfair trade deal. Or if he were trying to explain to a Western audience just why the Islamic Republic will not allow westerners to own its industries.

Under Tony Blair, New Labour passed a number of laws further defining and outlawing hate speech. This was criticised by the Conservatives in this country, just as the Republicans attack similar legislation in America, partly on the grounds that it left too much to the perception of the offended party. If somebody believed they had been the victim of a racial slur, they were, even when they weren’t.

One of the victims of such an attitude was a Black White House aid under Obama. He worked for the US Treasury, and was accused of racist abuse by another Black government official because of a remark during a discussion about funding. The budget for some aspect of US state spending was considered too parsimonious by the man’s accuser. The man responded by saying, ‘No, I’m not being too niggardly.’ He was then prosecuted for using a racial slur. But he hadn’t. ‘Niggard’ comes from the Middle English term, nig, which simply means a miser. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘N’ word.

Or consider the case of the exasperated Jewish student, who was sued for racial harassment by a group of Black sorority girls at his university. This poor fellow had been revising ready for an exam the following day. Unfortunately, the sorority girls were just outside his window. They were loudly celebrating something, and he couldn’t concentrate. So he lost his patience with them, and shouted out, ‘Shut up, you water buffalo!’ So they sued him for racial abuse. Members of the academic staff solemnly stood up at what was basically his trial, to testify that the water buffalo was an African animal, and so the Jewish guy must have been prejudiced. Water buffalo ain’t. They come from Indonesia. At the time this case was reported in the Financial Times, the maligned student was trying to defend himself by saying that ‘water buffalo’ was his translation of the Hebrew behema, ‘beast’, which has no racial connotation.

So you see how dangerous it is to use definitions of abuse and prejudice, based simply on perception and feeling, rather than actual fact.

Finally, Mike states that Porky Scratching’s double standards on the issue of anti-Semitism – it’s anti-Semitic only if Jews say it is, whatever gentiles believe – shows that Porky Scratchings is himself bigoted against gentiles. In this case, Porky Scratchings has by his behaviour tried undermine something Jews have been trying to dispel as part of their campaign for emancipation and freedom to participate in their country’s national life as fellow citizens. In the 1920s at least some synagogues in Germany dropped one of the lines in the service, as it was feared this gave the impression that Jews believed they were superior to them. They did not wish to give any support whatsoever to anti-Semitic impressions and misperceptions.

Mike isn’t an anti-Semite by any measure. But I think he’s right about Porky Scratchings’ own bigoted views. And it’s a disgrace that Porky Scratchings holds them, after so many people, Jews and Gentiles, have struggled for so long against bigotry and prejudice.

The Break-Up of American Zionism and the Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 28, 2016

I’m aware that I’m in serious risk of doing this subject to death, but this needs to be said. I’ve put up several blogs featuring the videos of talks and interviews given by Israeli and American Jewish activists and historians – Ilan Pappe, Elizabeth Baltzer and Norman Finkelstein, laying bare the terrible history of Israel’s persecution and systematic ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population. As I’ve repeatedly said, this is because of the smears against leading figures in the Labour party that they are anti-Semites, when they are nothing of the sort, and demonstrably nothing of the sort. Ken Leninspart, when he was leader of the GLC, was notorious and reviled for his anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia stance. And if you want to read what he has to say about anti-Semitism, it’s written down in his book, Livingstone’s Labour. He decries it as one of the worst forms of reaction, along with all other forms of racism, whether it be against Blacks, Jews and Irish. Naz Shah has the backing of her local synagogue. And Jackie Walker is the daughter of a Russian Jew and Black civil rights activist, deported from America as one of the ‘Reds under the Bed’ McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover were so scared of. Her other half is also Jewish. It’s truly grotesque that she should be slandered as an anti-Semite when it is clearly not the case.

Jimmy Carter

These slanders have not been confined to Britain. They were made against the Jewish Outreach Officer of one of the Democratic presidential candidates. The lady was forced to resign, despite the fact that she was not only Jewish, but a very active member of her community dedicated to their welfare. They even tried it on with Jimmy Carter, who was just about called everything bar a card-carrying member of the American Nazi party and supporter of Stormfront. Again, dead wrong. I can remember way back in the 1970s when old peanut teeth hosted the Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt. In his own state, he was instrumental in removing the colour bar and segregation laws against people of colour. He is not, and never has been an anti-Semite or a Nazi, whatever his failings as president were. And he certainly doesn’t have the sheer amount of blood on his hands that his successor, Reagan, had through his sponsorship of real Fascists in South and Central America.

And Carter showed that he wasn’t afraid to prove he was innocent of all charges, guv. He went in front of the students at Brandeis University, the biggest secular Jewish university in the US to debate one of the author of the smears, Alan Dershowitz. He got three or four standing ovations simply for appearing on stage. And when it came to Dershowitz’s time to speak, 2/3 of the audience walked out even before the old Neo-Con warmonger had opened his mouth.

Jewish Americans Liberal

American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal. Most of them want a two-state solution – for the Palestinians to have their own state. By and large they despise George Dubya Bush and 70 per cent of them are opposed to the war in Iraq. And despite the move of the majority of Israeli voters to the right, Ilan Pappe stated in his video that Israelis were decent people. He stated that going around, talking to people, especially small businessmen and farmers, who knew what it was like to have to struggle to make something for yourself, won people over to the Palestinian cause.

Livingstone, Shah and Walker Historically Correct

Nothing Leninspart, Shah or Walker said should be remotely interpreted as racist. Red Ken was factually correct: Hitler did briefly support Zionism and the emigration or deportation of the Jews to Israel. Walker was smeared because she compared the treatment of Black Africans under slavery to the Holocaust, and the persecution of the Palestinians in Israel. Now, I can understand historians picking at this to see if they really are equivalent. Africans were captured and worked to death simply as instruments of labour, rather than because there was a conscious desire to exterminate Black Africans, as in the Holocaust. Though against that was the gradual erection of the whole intellectual edifice trying to justify their enslavement as racially inferior, just as the Nazis used twisted biological theory to justify their extermination of the Jews. It’s reasonable for historians and political scholars to debate the similarities and dissimilarities between them. But I don’t think many genuine scholars, certainly not of the slave trade or the Holocaust, would dispute that these are terrible crimes against humanity. And the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians should be no different. There is a real debate on the legal definitions of genocide, because there are so many of them. So many, in fact, that I’ve heard an academic of the subject state that these definitions should be dropped simply in favour of ordinary, common sense. When states, or their majority populations start persecuting an ethnic group or trying to suppress their identity through force, then it’s genocide.

What also comes out is that the views of Livingstone et al by and large are supported by historical scholarship, including those of mainstream historians. Finkelstein states that there’s little difference between Israeli school textbooks and dissident, left-wing scholars on the origins of Israel. It is known that Israel had a programme of ethnic cleansing from the very first. It is incontrovertible that Israel is engaged in mass torture and human rights violations. And Finkelstein himself states that it is the Israelis, not the Palestinians, who consistently failed to ‘give piece a chance’ in the words of Lennon and Ono.

Denial of Palestinian’s History ‘Historicide’

As for the view produced by the historian, Peters, that there were no Arabs until the Jews settled in Israel, bringing development and jobs, this has been comprehensively disproven. Finkelstein or Pappe, I can’t remember which, describe it as ‘historicide’, the deliberate destruction of a people’s historical reality.

Jewish and Israeli Opposition to Persecution of Palestinians

There is absolutely no question that the facts are on the side of the accused. And I honestly believe that if Leninspart, Shah and certainly Walker were given the chance to rebut their enemies in debate at a university, they would do so in the same way Carter and his supporters vociferously routed Dershowitz. 72 per cent of British Jews say that Israel is important to them, compared to only 50 per cent of American Jews under 35. But that does not mean that British Jews do not want to see an end to their country’s persecution of the Palestinians. There are Jewish organisations in Israel helping the Palestinians defend their homes, families and livelihoods. You can find pictures of Orthodox rabbis in the long, black coats and broad-brimmed hats, forming cordons and lying down in front of bulldozers. University anti-racism and Palestinian solidarity groups have invited members of these organisations to speak. It would surprise me not one whit if many of those Brits reaching out to Palestine were Jews, and active members of their universities’ Jewsocs.

Political Motives behind Accusations

This isn’t about historical truth, however. This is about the Israel lobby trying to derail any criticism of the state and its persecution of the indigenous Arabs with accusations of anti-Semitism. It’s about the Blairites trying to hang on to power in Labour party by playing the race card against Jeremy Corbyn. But those accused have no real case against them. In any just court of law, they would be declared innocent, with damages found against their accusers.

Libel and Establishment Lies and Smears

Unfortunately, when it comes to libel, there is no justice in Britain. You are guilty until proven rich. And the accusations suit the British establishment very well. The Tories love it, because it harms Labour. And the Beeb’s Newsnight programme with Evan Davis uncritically swallowed all the guff from the guests that Labour had an ‘anti-Semitism problem’. One of the guests on RT’s Going Underground, with Afshid Rattansi, stated that the smears looked like the establishment coup against a leftwing British prime minister, as described in the novel and Channel 4 TV series, A Very British Coup. Listening to Finkelstein, I think that’s entirely plausible. There were smears by the establishment against Harold Wilson, which accused him of being a Communist spy. Many of them seemed to come from MI5. Finkelstein states that American funds Israel far and beyond the amount it gives to other nations, because it sees it as defending its interests in the Middle East.

Britain and America Supporting Israel to Retain Power in Region

I believe that this, or something like it, explains the British establishment’s attitude to the allegations. I can remember reading years ago a discussion on a right-wing American website about Israel, the Arabs and Britain under the Mandate. The site took the bog-standard right-wing American view that Brits must be anti-Semites, ’cause all Europeans hate Jews, as shown by the Holocaust and the increasingly secular nature of European society. The participants in the debate argued that the British deliberately set the Jews and Arabs at each other’s throats in order to maintain their control over the region. They quote the correspondence between one of the British officers involved in the Mandate, on this point. The quote was merely his own conclusion after studying the situation, and did not conclusively prove that it was so. They also quoted other correspondence, in which one British politician accused another wishing to establish a Jewish presence in the region as a kind of outpost of British influence, similar to Protestant Belfast amidst Roman Catholic Ireland.

It would not surprise me if something like that were the case. It may simply be that Britain gives unconditional support to Israel, because the Americans also give Israel their unconditional, or nearly unconditional support, in order to retain influence in the region. And since we declined as a world power, we’ve been acting as the American Empire’s junior partner and lickspittle. One former British ambassador to the US even went on Radio 4 and said that he was told by the Mandarins in London that his job was to go to Washington and ‘get up the American’s arse and stay there’.

The Beeb is the voice of the British establishment. It’s news programmes consistently support the Conservatives and industry, especially finance industry, against Labour and the trade unions. The establishment undoubtedly identifies British interests with those of Israel, though Robin Ramsey, the editor of Lobster, has said that the Beeb ties itself in knots trying to deny that it is pro-Zionist. So it is, unfortunately, a foregone conclusion that the Beeb and the establishment won’t give the accused a fair hearing. Not if there’s even more millions to be made from another bloody war.

Fighting Back against the Lies

Which doesn’t mean that the accused can’t win. The mainstream American media is also very staunchly pro-Israel and rabidly demonises the Arabs and the Muslim world. Despite this, in the polls Israel is just one point more popular amongst Americans than Iran. And you consider the massive negative campaign and image of that country in American media. The Israel Lobby – AIPAC and the leadership of J Street in America, the Labour Friends of Israel and BICOM over here, know that they’re losing the public’s hearts and minds. Hence the smears. I think the best course would be for Livingstone, Shah and Walker to stand up to them, call them out on their lies. Don’t expect any honesty from the press, ’cause that went long ago. But do it in the court of popular opinion – at public meetings, university seminars and talks, at literary events. Adam Shatz, of the London Review of Books, introduced Finkelstein and Baltzer when they spoke in New York. Perhaps the LRB can be relied on to give an unbiased platform. They should, at least regarding Jackie Walker. I can remember way back in the 1990s they published a piece on slavery at the time it was once again coming back into national consciousness. The treatment of Black people, and their abuse and discrimination, is of obvious acute interest to Jackie Walker, and so I think that more than some of the other media, they could be more inclined to give a sympathetic hearing.

This ain’t just about defending a group of accused Labour MPs. This is also about defending free speech and historical scholarship against the personal smears and gross historical distortions of a mendacious and deceitful establishment. An establishment that is prepared to grind down and destroy Jews, as well as Muslims, Christians, and those with no religion, in its campaign to preserve a monstrously racist order.

Norman Finkelstein on the Coming Break-Up of American Zionism: Part 1

May 28, 2016

I’ve put up several videos recently criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and examining the growing disconnection – ‘distancing’, in the jargon of the sociologists who’ve studied it – of young American Jews with Israel. The speakers in these videos have included the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, and the American historians and activists Norman Finkelstein and Elizabeth Baltzer, both of whom are descended from Holocaust survivors. As I’ve made clear in previous posts, I’ve been prompted to do this because of the smears against leading members of the Labour party – Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walker, amongst others, of anti-Semitism. Those accused are not to my knowledge anti-Semites. The above three certainly aren’t. Leninspart in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour, states quite clearly that all forms of racism, whether against Blacks, Jews or the Irish, is the worst form of reaction, and needs to be opposed. Naz Shah has the support of her local synagogue, which would be highly unusual if she were a Nazi. And the accusation is both risible and disgusting in the case of Jackie Walker. Walker’s mother was a Black woman, who was thrown out of America because of her participation in the civil rights movement. Her father was a Russian Jew, and her partner is also Jewish. These people haven’t been accused of anti-Semitism because they are Jew-haters. They’ve been accused of anti-Semitism simply because they’ve criticised Israel for its persecution of the Palestinians. Walker was accused because she compared Black slavery to the Holocaust in a conversation with two friends, one of whom was also Jewish, on Facebook. This comment was lifted and turned against her by a pro-Israel group.

One of the things than comes out very clearly from this talk by Prof Finkelstein is that in America such accusations are wearing very thin. They don’t impress large numbers of American Jews, who can see through all the BS when it’s applied to genuinely liberal, decent politicians. An example of this is Jimmy Carter. Carter was accused of being an anti-Semite because he wrote a book about Israel with ‘Apartheid’ in the title. So the leading members of the Israel lobby, like Alan Dershowitz, began to smear him in the vilest terms imaginable. He was an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, and a supporter of terrorism. It was the kind of invective Stalin’s prosecutor, Vyshinsky, used against the victims of the purges during the show trials. Carter, who organised the Camp David peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt in the 1970s, then decided to take the battle to the Neo-Cons. He arranged a debate with Dershowitz at Brandeis University, the largest secular Jewish university in the US. Carter described it as ‘going into the lion’s den’. Even before he opened his mouth to speak, he received 3 or 4 standing ovations from the students. When it came to Dershowitz to talk, 2/3 of the students left the lecture hall before Israel’s most vocal defender in the US had even uttered a word.

And there’s more, much more. American Jews are, by and large, very liberal. American liberalism – the rule of law, the separation between church and state and so on, has allowed American Jews to prosper. As a result, the political affiliation of American Jews is almost the complete mirror image of that of Israelis. The majority of Israelis are now right-wing in the political leanings. American Jews are largely left. They also want a two-state solution to the problem of Palestine. And they are also largely opposed to the Iraq invasion. Finkelstein makes the point that American Jews were largely uninterested or opposed to the foundation of Israel, because they were afraid that it would lead to the accusation that they were more loyal to the new Jewish state than they were to their homeland of America. They seem fear of being seen as somehow treacherous, as less than patriotic, as well as other, liberal feelings and attitudes, has led them to reject both George Bush and the war in Iraq. The Israelis by and large love George Dubya. American Jews generally despise the Smirking Chimp. And 70 per cent of American Jews are opposed to the war in Iraq. This is partly out of a desire not to be seen as its authors, as the war was planned by the Republicans in America, and Israel’s Likud party.

Finkelstein also states that Americans, including American Jews, are becoming increasingly less impressed with evocations of the Holocaust. It’s been overused so much that it’s actually lost its proper emotional impact. Finkelstein discussed how rhetoric about the Holocaust was used by Netanyahu and the Israeli government to drum up support for a war with Iran over the country’s nuclear weapon’s development programme. Netanyahu repeatedly described Ahmedinijad as Hitler, and said that if the Iranians developed these weapons, it would lead to a new Holocaust in the Middle East with the destruction of Israel. Those trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Iranians were denounced as appeasers, and compared to Neville Chamberlain at Munich. And the attitude of American Jews to this was marked indifference. In a survey of Jewish Americans under 35, it was found that fifty per cent said it would not affect them if Israel was destroyed. Finkelstein himself says he is somewhat dismayed by this figure, as the destruction of any country or culture saddens him. And American Jews tend to share the rest of the world’s fears, as expressed in opinion polls, that Israel is the real threat to world peace.

Finkelstein begins his talk by discussing how American Jews were extremely uninterested in Israel in the period from 1948 – it’s foundation – to the 1967 War. He states that this was a period in which the barriers to Jewish advancement in America suddenly came down. Many institutions before 1948 would not employ Jewish scholars. He quotes Noam Chomsky as saying that the reason why MIT became such a centre of scientific excellence over Harvard, was because Harvard would not take Jewish scientists and mathematicians. So they all trooped down the road to take up positions there. As the barrier fells, Jews became far more involved in making successful lives, and living the America dream.

As a result of this, they had extremely little interest in Israel. Finkelstein quotes the great American sociologist, Glazer, whose 1957 study of the attitude of American Jews and Jewish life found that the impact of Israel on American Jewry was remarkable slight. He also discusses a survey of 30 leading American Jewish intellectuals at an academic symposium, who were asked about the situation of American Jews. Only three of them even mentioned Israel, and of those three, two only did so in order to dismiss it as of any importance. He also quotes an interview in Israel with the celebrated author, Elie Wiesel. At the time there was a fear that Jews were becoming too assimilated, and Wiesel was asked how Jews could be made to reconnect with their Jewishness. Wiesel talked about the Holocaust and the situation of the Jews in Russia. But he did not see Israel as having any use in this process.