Waiting for the Thaw

Over these past few days I’ve had the rather good fortune of being snowed in with a plentiful supply of good coffee, a roaring fire and a newly-bought book I hadn’t yet got round to reading. The book is called ‘The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism; Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion’ and was written in 2006 by Professor Bernard Harrison.
What makes this particular book so fascinating is that Professor Harrison is the E. E. Erikson Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Utah and he therefore deals with the issue of new anti-Semitism from the point of view of moral philosophy. Whilst this sometimes makes demands of the reader, it adds an enlightening whole new dimension to the subject. The writer’s style is engaging, but Professor Harrison pulls no punches. He deals at length with the case of The New Statesman’s infamous issue of January 14th 2002 and concludes

“There is something almost impressive about the capacity on the part of some highly intelligent people, to which this kind of writing so expressively bears witness, to avoid confronting even the bare existence of anti-Semitism, let alone any serious inquiry into its nature and origins, even when their own thoughts are manifestly rotten with it.”

So it was with Professor Harrison’s ideas in my mind that I set to the task of looking at the comments from the article written by Duncan Campbell on January 2nd, 2010.
Obviously, I’m not the only one who has been doing some reading lately:

2 Jan 2010, 2:04PM
you wrote many interesting comments, but you might be wrong about one point. The Jews were probably never expelled by the Romans. This seems to be a myth. There is a book about this, The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand. The only people who were expelled from Palestine were the Palestinians after 1948.

2 Jan 2010, 2:16PM
SantaMoniker 2 Jan 2010, 2:11PM
you are lying about Pappe and about Sand. Historians take seriously what they write, and most of them agree with them. You know this because we have discussed this earlier and I have already posted a link about this. you are lying. You are asking why this has to do with Vanunu? Ask midvar why he keeps writing about antisemitism here even if it I told him that this has nothing to do with the theme, besides he falsifies things, and hasn’t answered to my challenges to him

There were the usual comments accusing Israel in a blanket fashion of a variety of evils, from racism to wanton violence.

2 Jan 2010, 1:34PM
And why don’t you speak of antisemitism in the Talmud?

2 Jan 2010, 2:12PM
midvarshekertirchok 2 Jan 2010, 2:07PM
Would the church fathers have changed anything if they realised what their actions would lead to? I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean that the source of antisemitism doesn’t lie there.
What’s then the source of Israeli violence against the Palestinians? Why don’t you want to say anything at all about that?
2 Jan 2010, 4:30PM
the Isreali government is running a repressive rouge apartied state.. the Israeli people deserve better…. Vanunu (whatever his motives) has done a huge service to the rest of the world for bringing attention to completely illegal and potentially fatal weaponry which should NOT exist…at huge cost to his individual liberty… its high time closer attention was paid to how Israel operates … thier shameful tactics since ’67 put thier people in a position of continual conflict .. and so far..no end in sight… one way of looking as to who is acting honourably is to look into the numbers of individuals killed and wounded in conflicts on both sides…inflicting the largest death and destruction count does NOT make one a winner…it simply ensures continual retaliation…. the international weapons buisness needs to be outlawed.. the sooner the better..

A bit of the old ‘Giyus’ trope for good measure:

2 Jan 2010, 1:32PM
Israel, on the other hand, has never threatened anyone with its (non-existent) nuclear weapons.
Marvellous. Absolutely marvellous. Hasbara or GIYUS will love this.

And an example of the growing tendency to try to equate Israel with the various theocratic dictatorships in the region:

2 Jan 2010, 4:19PM
Israels bomb is a prelude to an arms race in the middle east that is currently occurring of course Iran want a nuclear weapon as a deterrent to Israel, Israel is a dangerous state so long as it has the bomb mainly because it doesn’t poses second strike leaving it with the nuclear weapon as a tactical first strike instrument against other nuclear armed states luckily there aren’t any currently in the region if they’re ever are i can’t imagine them jumping straight to second strike which would leave an extremely dangerous situation.
Regardless of lack of second strike and traditional arguments for using first strike capabilities that may arise as a result nuclear proliferation relies on realist theories of states as rational actors putting survival above all else Israel remains a self confessed theocratic state it is thus not necessarily rational in its actions that Rabbis can go to the front line to spur on IDF troops as taking part in a holy war pretty much sums up where the Israeli military stand as regards the state religion leaving the middle east in a situation whereby a regional power can and may well act in an irrational manner whilst holding onto nuclear arms driven by a death cult and that the other states surrounding the area are driven by similar irrational death cults whilst trying to get hold of a nuclear weapon just makes the whole situation that little bit more terrifying.

By far the dominant theme seemed to be a rather strange preoccupation with none other than this site –  CiF Watch.

2 Jan 2010, 10:55AM
True, but the chances of the Murdoch Times making a stand for Vanunu are now slim to nill. These days, the paper is much much less interested in monitoring Israel’s actual nuclear weapons, than it is in shilling for a war on Iran based on its non-existent nuclear weapons. And they’ve got the ‘high ranking sources who cannot be named’ to prove it.
Don’t worry if Murdoch wouldn’t touch it a story like that today, that’s okay
we can go to the former Conrad Black group of papers say the Daily Telegraph…Okay so forget them, we can go to the Rothermere’s Daily Mail Group. Alright scratch that we’ll go to Richard Desmond’s Daily Express group..That’s right. We’ll try the BBC … but they wouldn’t run the DEC Gaza campaign….
Where do you go when no-one will print a story of geo-political significance because it doesn’t fit in with the owners’ world view?
Yes the Guardian. Which is why so many Israel-regardless-of-right-wrong posters try to block these posts and lobby to have this last bastion of free speech castrated. Run a hate-watch site here – threaten the editor there…
Keep the good work up Messrs Campbell and Rusbridger.

2 Jan 2010, 2:41PM
Bullshit and double-speak reign supreme it would seem in the world of Israeli supporters.
Can we clarify this a little?
These posters don’t just support Israel.
They support Israel-regardless-of-right-or-wrong.
They have a hate-watch site to distort and discredit posts made here and – they cry-wolf at any criticism of Israel – as being hideously Anti-Semitic.
Vanunu having served the time for his “crime” is now in double jeopardy. With loose threats made about his personal safety – on this site -of all places.
I do hope the hate-watch site I’m talking about is paying – very close – attention.

2 Jan 2010, 3:36PM
SantaMoniker –
“By the way…did I forget to mention Iran and it’s centrifuges, the IAEA and its concerns, and the illegal purchase of yellowcake from Kazakhstanwhich is being denied by the Kazakh government…?”
Reminds me of the illegal sale of 20 tons of heavy water by Britain in 1959/60, via the Norwegian company Noraton, to Israel. Without which Israel wouldn’t have been able to have a nuclear programme.
raymonddelauney –
“They have a hate-watch site to distort and discredit posts made here and – they cry-wolf at any criticism of Israel – as being hideously Anti-Semitic”
I presume you mean that American bastion of truth and free speech called CifWatch, I had a look at it the other day and was perplexed to see that a number of my posts on CiF had been reproduced as examples of anti-semitism. I would call them paranoid but that wouldn’t be strictly true, as I would imagine that most people are opposed to what Israel is doing in Palestine. But then their definition of anti-semitism is pretty wide rangeing. As you say raymonddelauney, “any criticism of Israel.”
2 Jan 2010, 5:15PM
I’ve been sitting here wondering why it is that whenever Israel is mentioned on cif, ranting pro-Israeli’s come flooding out of the woodwork in droves showing an amazing lack of tolerance for the very slightest criticism of anything Israel has ever done.
Then in one the posts, cif watch was mentioned, I googled it and found the following site http://cifwatch.com/the-indictment-of-the-guardian/
I’m frankly appalled. I now know where they come from. For even mentioning them I’ll probably end up cast as a wannabee terrorist like Steve Hill.
I’m not anti Semitic and I don’t hate Israel or the Americans. However it seems that cifwatch seems to think that Israel is beyond any criticism.
No country / politician / government / organisation / person should be beyond criticism in my book, let alone Israel.
Cifwatch claims to be about anti Semitism but a quick glance seems to show it is any criticism of Israel that counts.
Most people on cif seem to be like me, people who would like to see a better world for all it’s inhabitants and that include both Israeli’s and Palestinians.
Have any of you cifwatchers ever conceded a mistake by the state of Israel apart from failing to shoot Vanunu?
2 Jan 2010, 5:27PM
Tom Wonacott
.##Six million Jews face 500,000,000 Arabs. ##
. But its even worse… half of the 6 M have full time employment writing to CIF ! 🙂
” Proportionate ” ..” They hate us” .. ” what about Darfur ” etc etc 🙂

So why should certain posters be so overly-concerned about CiF Watch, where a few like-minded people spend some of their spare time pointing out some of the fantasies and myths being propagated about Israel or shining a light on antisemitic comments in a mainstream media outlet? Well, you’ll have to read Professor Harrison’s excellent book in order to properly understand the workings behind it, but I’ll conclude with the following short passage.

“What they [ Mearsheimer and Walt ] are saying, in effect, is that, in current public debate with non-Jews, Jews supportive of Israel invariably, and dishonestly, attempt to represent any criticism of Israel whatsoever as anti-Semitic, and that this is particularly true of all those who have contributed to the current debate on ‘the new anti-Semitism’, a nonexistent phenomenon invented by Jews in pursuit of precisely this, disreputable, political strategy. On the one hand, this charge is massively, and demonstrably, false; on the other hand, it revives, in a new form, a very old type of anti-Semitic calumny, namely, the calumny that Jews are always ready to use, in dishonest ways, their real or pretended sufferings to gain advantage over non-Jews.”

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