Playing with Fire

Seth Freedman’s CiF article of December 14th elicited a particularly virulent barrage of comments from readers which, given both the subject and the content of the article, should hardly have come as a surprise. However, it seems that even Seth himself was shocked by some of the responses – let’s take a look at them and see why.
First, a glimpse of the real face of CiF:

14 Dec 2009, 11:34AM
I talked about the subject.
Though i do agree, CIF isnt have as fun if youre not atagonising/atagonised.

There was the inevitable advocate of the BDS movement:

14 Dec 2009, 11:02AM
Respecting the all the individuals and organisations that document the numerous human rights abuses carried out against Palestinians, the question for us in the UK is what can we do. One small thing we can do is to support the growing movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Supporters of a one-state ‘solution’:

14 Dec 2009, 11:24AM
If only the Palestinian leadership had the courage, or ability, to immediately abandon the silly two-decade long “peace process” and declare their intention to pursue one democratic, secular Palestinian-Israeli state. I bet Israel would take notice then.

14 Dec 2009, 6:32PM
Seth, you have been on issues about occupied Palestine for sometime, I appreciate your practical experiences of everyday life of no dignity. They have lived 62-year nightmare through illegal occupation of militant nation.
After decades of wars, bloodshed and failed negotiations what should we do? Most Western governments, the dictators in the Muslim world and political feuds among Hamas and PA believe in a two state solution. However, a two state solution would be suicidal for the Palestinian Muslims.
Islam prohibits giving up hand-span of land to a foreign occupier. It will only appease Israel’s aggression and ethnic cleansing. Agreeing to two-state solution, gives last chance to protect its illegal gains. Israeli Prime Minister is on record saying, “If the day comes when the two state solution collapses and we face a South African style struggle for equal voting rights, then as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.”
Muslim governments who while attacking Israel in their speeches are in reality protecting it.
When will it end?

The claim that Israel –all of it – is an ‘illegal’ state:

14 Dec 2009, 12:00PM
The hate that these Settlers exhibit will in time become a cancer for the illegal state of Israel

And even a link to NK, so presumably this poster thinks there should not be an Israeli state at all!

14 Dec 2009, 12:07PM
This article reports just a small fraction of the true horror and misery in the Israeli occupied territories.
Though the author gives plenty of food for thought he does not give a clue as to what the readers could do to improve the situation for the Palestinians, nor what ought to be expected from politicians around the world.
Here is a start:

Next, the inevitable Nazi analogy:

14 Dec 2009, 11:41AM
I don’t see the problem with calling Gaza a concentration camp. It’s certainly an open air prison with no supplies being allowed in and very few people allowed out. The people inside are near starvation. Just because it doesn’t precisely resemble concentration camps of the past does not mean it is not one of the present.

Unsurprisingly, the same commentator saw fit to downplay Palestinian terror whilst equating Israeli self defence with terrorist action:

14 Dec 2009, 10:41AM

Just remind me….who are the terrorists again?

Erm – Israel.
‘If a elephant is stood on a mouse’s tail, the mouse will not appreciate it if you treat them both equally.’
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
In this instance, supporters of Israel consistently argue equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian terror. Isolated from their context, both should obviously be condemned. However with context, it is clear that the terror that Israel, with the world’s fourth largest army, is able to bestow, is somewhat more than a decimated people with no infrastructure and most of their democratically elected leaders in prison.

A smattering of ‘Jewish Lobby’ conspiracy:

14 Dec 2009, 12:13PM
14 Dec 2009
Israel knows they can blackmail the U.S government into keeping the cheque book open. AIPAC and some few votes to be had in California makes sure of that.
As long as Israel cannot see any country in the M.E that can match it in the battle front, Israel will simply prefer the current situation and annex as much land it can because it can.
All Israel can see as response to its man inhumanity to man in Palestine is an “emotional” response. Until there is a price to pay for its sins, Israel will simply continue in its current bad ways.

Demonisation and dehumanisation of both settlers and Israelis in general:

14 Dec 2009, 2:09PM
Great article, Seth, thank you. It’s business as usual for the settler thieves and their armed thugs.
“Settlement freeze for 10 months” – what a fucking joke!
I wonder how many people in Tel Aviv would like to have Zionist settlers of the West Bank variety for neighbours? Or perhaps, sadly, the majority of them might not really notice the difference?

14 Dec 2009, 10:59AM
Another depressing report about conditions on the ground. But who is listening? Who cares?
Israel lost its moral compass a long time ago. It has no shame, no compassion and does not care what the outside world thinks about it. Israel will continue treating the Palestinian people as less than human for as long as the USA/UK allow it to.

Some have clearly been influenced by the Sand/Koestler theories, in specific cases mixed with the ‘chosen people’ trope:

14 Dec 2009, 11:19AM
Let us be thankful that the people of Israel are God’s chosen people. Imagine the suffering that the Palestinians would have to endure if they were not. What saddens me is that if you criticize Israeli policies towards the people that they took the land from, you are an anti-semite. The Palestinians are referred to as terrosist by all Isreali Officials, which seems to me like a calling the victim of a gang rape a whore.
I would also like for someone from Egypt to explain to me why the Egyptains are helping the Isrealis inflict such much suffering on their Arab and Muslim brothers? Secondly, when in Egyptain history did Egyptains ever hold Caucasians/Europeans in bondage? It appears to me that all of the Jews that coming to Israel are non-semitantic people. I admit I don’t know and that’s why I’m asking, and readingf Arthur Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe, I’m even more confused.

14 Dec 2009, 2:03PM
Any chance of any elaboration on the expression – ‘ancestral land’.
Does that apply to Jews?
The real tragedy of this situation is that the Palestinian ‘Arabs’ are (mainly) the descendants of those Jews who stayed on their ancestral lands and recognised Mohammed as a prophet, while the Israelis are (mainly) the descendants of those Jews who emigrated – mostly voluntarily and as economic migrants, some forcibly – during the Roman Imperium two thousand years ago, and didn’t.
It’s a fact that the ‘Palestinian Arabs’ are genetically closer to the pre-Roman inhabitants of Palestine than the modern ‘Israelis’ are. This isn’t an ethnic war between different races – it’s a fratricidal war between close relations.

14 Dec 2009, 11:47AM
So like what’s your point? Fact, fiction, half truths, who really knows. the book is controversial, but could there be some truth in it however small? I can just imagine who the critics are and why they would be such critics.
None the less, my beef is at how mean spirited God’s chosen people are conducting themselves. To me if you are going to carry that mantle, then it places an enormous amount of responsibility on your shoulders. If you are God’s chosen people, then show me why God choose you. For me you should be showing the world compassion, peace and rightousness. Getting the world to do away with weapons of mass destruction, and bringing a message of peace and love, etc.
Yea I know, what color is the sky in my world.


Then there are those who just plain distort the facts to fit their world view:

14 Dec 2009, 12:14PM
There is one thing that does puzzle me: How come the Gazans are supposedly starving but never seem to starve to death?
because the Gazans receive food aid. They’re supposed to get around 100+ trucks a day, but often the Israeli government allows far fewer. In some periods the number of trucks allowed dropped to 37.
So no, they don’t starve to death, but the conditions are very poor. You’ll note that the person you’re attacking never actually claimed starvation – he said the Gazans are close to it. Had you but looked, you would have seen the difference.
Did you also know that children’s toys are forbidden by the Israeli government as well? I wonder what particular act of idle malice is responsible for that decree.

14 Dec 2009, 3:35PM
Marwan was subjected to three weeks of torture, according to Amnesty International. It included shabbah- position torture.
All Palestinian detainees- whatever their age- are maltreated and Sydk must be aware of the numerous surveys that detail the behaviour of “security” personnel towards them. Even towards minors. Civilised countries don’t put twelve year olds in leg-irons and blindfolds.
The fact that they are transferred to a foreign country is, in itself , a breach of the Geneva Conventions.

14 Dec 2009, 5:39PM
In Middle East, Gaza was already a blood bath as Obama took over. Some thought that the ‘man of change’ would intervene and at least pursue Israel to put an end to the economic blockade of Gaza and stop expanding settlements on Palestinian land. On the contrary, Israel is expanding settlements faster than ever before. The economic blockade of Gaza enforced by adopting the Bush administration’s policy of staged withdrawal effectively meaning they are there to stay.
True to the words – A Palestinian state created out of the remnants of pre 1967 is not a viable state, it will have no real resources, no real sovereignty and would be reliant on Israel for its survival.
However, what people forget in this propaganda about the ‘road-map’ is that this so-called Palestinian state will be little glorified prison camp, where guards are Palestinian instead of Israeli.

Now, if there are any teachers or lecturers of history reading this, I suggest that they sit very firmly down before progressing to the next four comments.

14 Dec 2009, 5:27PM

14 Dec 2009, 12:18PM

It is “ancestral” land to the Jews because the Jews claim that “God” gave it to them. It is ancestral land to the Palestinians because their ancestors actually lived on it.

It doesn’t apply to Jews.
Just to Arabs.
Thank you for clearing that up.
…er…this is the West Bank we are talking about – not Israel. I think the Jewish people were catered for generously enough in 1948 when 740,000 Palestinians were violently removed from their houses to make way for the new Israel. What makes them believe that they should be shoved off their land again? ….oh yeah….of course…..God gave them the land.
(The rabid Israel propagandists will be on to the moderator to have this post removed, but every word of this message can be backed up with hard evidence)

14 Dec 2009, 3:55PM
What happens if a Native American in the US tries to throw a jew out of their house? Do they accept that the Native Americans have had a presence in North America for centuries before any jews showed up?
Would Israel support the eviction of American jews from their homes by Native Americans?

14 Dec 2009, 6:14PM
JamesSmith993 ,
Israel won its pre-1967 borders in an aggresive, offensive war carried out by European jews on the native population.

14 Dec 2009, 11:45AM
with no respect whatsoever, you should seriously reconsider owning a keyboard/being connected to the internet/not having someone over the age of three reading your comments before you post them
And you sir should think about what you are writing before you put it to paper.
You claim the land as a gift of your god but they have the right to it through the land which they have tend since before the Israelites first invaded Canaan four thousand years ago. Religion, like conquerors come and go and in their time the people have followed a multitude of gods and been subject to many different rulers. So you sir had better decide whether you are a conqueror, stealing another people’s land based on ancient and unprovable myths or whether you wish to live in peace with the Palestinians. You cannot have it both ways, because eventually you will be called to task over your stewardship of the land and the people whom yoiu have chosen to oppress.

All this was too much for Seth Freedman who began his own campaign to try to combat some of the antisemitism and just plain offensive comments on the thread, but achieved the distinction of even having a reply deleted by a moderator.

14 Dec 2009, 11:22AM
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.

14 Dec 2009, 11:53AM
adnanchrisj – “I don’t see the problem with calling Gaza a concentration camp”
yeah, well, you probably don’t see the problem with the protocols either, but so what? you not seeing the problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one – as countless people from both sides of the i/p debate will tell you. ps, bailliegillies wasn’t talking about gaza, he/she was referring to the south hebron hills,since that area is the subject of my piece – but well done for hijacking the argument and redirecting it to the place you so desperately wanted it to end up.
14 Dec 2009, 12:58PM
adnanchrisj – “Btw, Seth, it is a little extreme to think me a fanatical anti-semite because I have noticed the desperate situation in Gaza”
we’ve all noticed the desperate situation in gaza. it’s just that you had to go ten steps further and call it a concentration camp – hence you’ve been hammered by most of the commenters on this thread, myself included. whether you’re a fanatical anti-semite or not is, of course, not the issue at – i apologise if i gave the impression that i wanted to discuss your political leanings and prejudices rather than your specious and hyperbolic fabrications about the true state of play in gaza.

14 Dec 2009, 1:42PM
adnanchrisj – ” the persistent efforts to describe anyone who has differences in opinion on Gaza to you as an anti-semite seriously damages the fight against racism”
don’t put words in my mouth – i didn’t call you an anti-semite for your views on gaza, i just called your statement deluded and dishonest, and the protocols comment was a fair way of expressing my disbelief that you are seemingly entirely willing to swallow whole specious and fabricated propaganda. that you think describing gaza as a concentration camp is helpful for driving forward the debate speaks volumes about your inability to rationally and respectfully engage with your opponents – so for you now to turn all meek and hurt just cos i (and plenty of others) responded in kind to your ranting is a bit see-through, and definitely doesn’t wash.

14 Dec 2009, 1:33PM
harvey21 – “Sorry Seth ,but if you lie down with dogs dont be surprised when you get fleas”
1. i didn’t express any surprise, and 2) i don’t see why you think me supporting an end to the israeli authorities’ mistreatment of the palestinians means i’m lying down with the hysterical and misinformed likes of adnanchrisj any more than i am with the (far more amenable) likes of rabbis for human rights, for example. it’s you that connects the dots with your fevered ‘they’re either with us or against us’ mindset, not me. as far as i’m concerned, i’m not in bed with any particular group or set of supporters – i just say my piece as a citizen of this country with an interest in seeing the situation change for the better for all involved.

Now I don’t know about you, but I would really like to be able to feel sorry for Seth after all this. Unfortunately I can’t, because to most of us it is perfectly obvious that if you repeatedly throw paraffin on a bonfire, there’s a good chance you’re going to get burned. Freedman has constantly fanned the flames of antisemitic and anti-Israeli hatred at CiF; he should not, therefore, be surprised when they leap out at him too. Antisemitism is a very crude tool which does not distinguish between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews, no matter how much Seth and others like him would like to believe otherwise.

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