This Post originally appeared at Engage. I add the Comments from Engage as a comment to this post
An email from Tony Greenstein
Dear David Hirsch,
One of the fundamental principles of academic debate and argument is not to misattribute statements and beliefs to opponents which they do not hold. Normally one would assume that if your intention was to critique’s someone’s political ideas, as opposed to distorting what they have to say, then you would at least take care to ensure that you had understood what you were criticising. And if there is any doubt over the matter, then you would at least accord them a right of reply or, failing that, tell your readers why you have denied any right of reply.
You run a website by the name of ‘Engage’. It was set up in order to defeat the motion, passed by the AUT in summer 2005, in support of the Academic Boycott.
Despite having twice sent in responses to your original blog, which purported to represent what I have argued, nothing has appeared. I can’t imagine why!
Contrary to your assertions:
I do not believe that ‘Zionism is like Nazism’. This is crude, apolitical and since Zionism isn’t a fascist ideology, plain wrong.
Nor do I believe that the ‘Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust’. The Nazis needed no help. What I do believe, as have many Holocaust survivors, that sections of the Zionist movement collaborated with Nazism. An example of this is the evidence that came out in the trial of Rudolph Kastner, a representative of the Jewish Agency, which took place in Israel.
Nor is it true that I believe that ‘Israel, uniquely, is an essentially and unchangeably racist state.’ Israel was not unique, anymore than apartheid in South Africa or Rhodesia under Ian Smith was unique. What is unique is Israel's status as the sole surviving settler, colonial state.
Zionism is however indisputably racist. The mere fact that you and I can ‘return’ to a country and live in it as citizens, whereas Palestinians born and brought up there cannot is testimony to that fact.
That we have many disagreements on the above issues is one thing. But why do you feel the need to caricature your opponents’ views, to deny them a right of reply and to refuse even to let readers of your own blog know that there has been such a refusal? What do you have to gain by such dishonesty?
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Toby Esterhase posted on March 23, 2007 at 07:22:35 AM
Why doesn't Greenstein answer the central points made by Hirsh in the article he cites, and also here: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/archives/index.php?id=7?
also here: http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/david_hirsh/2006/11/a_new_menacing_current_is_appe.html
Greenstein prefers to dance on the head of a pin than to answer the serious charge. The serious charge is that what Greenstein has been doing in the Palestine solidarity movement for the last 30 years has made the emergence of the antisemites Atzmon and Eisen possible.
Bakunin posted on March 23, 2007 at 07:47:51 AM
Greenstein has been the perforiming bear of the antizionist movement for many years. He's been used by antisemites to "kosherise" the antizionist movement. Now they've found even more extreme Jews such as Atzmon who unbeleivably are prepared to go further than Greenstein and his services are no longer required by his "antizionist" colleagues.
Here's the type of abuse Greenstein comes out with.
From AWL "LABOURSTART A ZIONIST FRONT?
“Anti-Zionist” crusader Tony Greenstein has launched an attack on the trade union news website LabourStart and its founder Eric Lee — and works the AWL in there too. “Why don't you (AWL) and Labour Start just fuck off?” he says. “Nothing you write is of the slightest interest. LabourStart is just a Zionist front.” Moreover, Greenstein has posted to a variety of left-wing email lists claiming that Lee’s “coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian issue is avowedly [!] racist”.
The AWL has many disagreements with Eric Lee. However, LabourStart — which is in no way run by the AWL — is an extremely useful labour movement website which has greatly facilitated international working-class solidarity — including with Palestinian trade unionists harrassed by the Israeli army.
[By production mishap, a misedited version of this piece was printed, including this passage after "… with Eric Lee" - "not least concerning his softness on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. We have made these disagreements clear on many occasions, and will do so again in future". In fact, as far as we know, Eric Lee opposes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, as AWL does. As can be verified from the archives on this website, disputes we have in fact had with Eric have concerned Bolshevism vs Menshevism, and the run-up to the Iraq war. Apologies to Eric for this mistake"
Leonard posted on March 23, 2007 at 08:09:44 AM
Excellent piece by Dave Rich which captures Greenstein nicely. http://www.engageonline.org.uk/journal/index.php?journal_id=14&article_id=55
Linda Grant posted on March 23, 2007 at 09:09:31 AM
You say that Zionism is 'indisputably racist.' And yet so many do dispute this.
Slamming an opinion down on the table with a flourish doesn't make it a fact.
Mikey posted on March 23, 2007 at 10:00:19 AM
Tony Greenstein is up to his usual tricks with this email.
He states “I do not believe that ‘Zionism is like Nazism’. This is crude, apolitical and since Zionism isn’t a fascist ideology, plain wrong.”
The facts include –1. In 1983 Lenni Brenner came to the UK on a speaking tour. Tony Greenstein helped to organize that tour. The tour poster directly equated the Star of David with the Swastika. 2. Tony Greenstein was closely associated with an organization entitled BAZO – (British Anti Zionist Organisation). BAZO produced leaflets using Nazi imagery in relation to its discussions of Zionism. For example – One leaflet entitled “Israeli Expansion” was subtitled “The Zionist Policy of ‘Lebensraum’ in Occupied Palestine; Views of Zionist Leaders.” 3. In 1989-1990 Tony Greenstein was on the editorial collective of a magazine entitled RETURN and by December 1990 he was the named editor. If we look at for example issue 1 (March 1989) at a cartoon on Page 31 the cartoon had Palestinians dressed in stripy outfits (similar to what Jews were in the Holocaust) with a caption suggestion the Israeli soldiers in that cartoon were just like the Nazis. If we look at issue 2 (March 1990) of RETURN, an article by Israel Shahak on pages 20-21 was entitled “Nazification” and highlighted in a box in large font is the following sentence: “Israel itself should be compared to the ‘Weimar Republic’ of Germany in the last years of its existence, and the occupied territories should be compared to the first stage of Nazi Germany, 1933-39.”
Greenstein continues “Nor do I believe that the ‘Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust’.” Greensetin is ignoring the fact that in 1987 he wrote letters to the press supporting the play “Perdition.” The play carried for example the following accusation that was thrown at the Zionist character “First you placed a noose around the neck of every Jew in Hungary, then you tightened the knot and legged it to Palestine” portraying Zionists as not just helping the Nazis carry out the Holocaust but also as cowards. For further clarification the play stated clearly “The simple terrible truth is that the Jews of Hungary
were murdered not just by the force of German arms, but by the calculated treachery of their own Jewish leaders.” If that was not enough the author of that play (Jim Allen) which Tony Greenstein publicly supported in an interview with “Time Out” stated “Perdition” was "the most lethal attack on Zionism ever written, because it touches on the heart of the most abiding myth of modern history, the Holocaust. Because it says quite plainly that privileged Jewish leaders collaborated in the extermination of their own kind in order to bring about a Zionist state, Israel.”
Greenstein goes onto argue that Zionism collaborated with Nazism in the Holocaust. He provides an example of this of Rudolf Kastner. The facts of this case are well known. Greenstein ignores the ruling in the Supreme Court in Israel which concluded “one cannot find a moral fault in his [Kasztner’s] behaviour, one cannot discover a casual connection between it and the easing of the concentration and deportation, one cannot see it as becoming a collaboration with the Nazis.”
Greenstein states “Zionism is however indisputably racist.” This is an example of Greenstein’s own view that he makes as a broad statement suggesting no-one can dispute it. There are many people who dispute this assertion. I will not even bother to refer him to a Zionist source. Uri Davis is an anti-Zionist activist who is admired so much by Jews Against Zionism, a group that Greenstein is currently closely associated with that in a recent meeting (in a room above a pub in Euston) Jews Against Zionism put Uri Davis on a panel. It would seem that not even Uri Davis would claim that Israel is a racist state. Looking at my contemporaneous notes from a meeting that Davis spoke at in January 2006, he stated “Racism is defined in international law and I believe the Israeli position is sound. Racism may be rife in Israel but the position on racism in Israel is not that different from say Indonesia, the United States or the United Kingdom.” If not even anti-Zionists can agree that Zionism is racism, how can Greenstein argue that it is an indisputable fact?
Finally Tony Greenstein accuses David Hirsh of dishonesty. Looking through many of the documents and letters he has written over the years including this one, when I think about dishonesty, Tony Greenstein’s writings shine through as full of it.
Mark Gardner posted on March 23, 2007 at 10:39:03 AM
Thank you Engage for allowing Tony Greenstein the opportunity to present his case. Engage is challenging the antisemitism of the left, so in that context its important to occasionally hear 'from the horse's mouth': And Greesntein has been especially mouthy in leading the revolutionary left to its current perspectives on Zionism and Jews. (i.e. reflexive bias and an entire mythology of rank hatred, with a terminal overdose of obsessive Jewish power and 'never trust a Jew' motifs).
We should not, for one moment, underestimate the antisemitic IMPACT that Greesntein's arguments have had for almost 30 years now. Antisemitic impact depends on how Greenstein's audience interpret his words. Okay, Greenstein tells Engage that he does not liken Zionism to Nazism, and does not say that Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust. I don't care what Greesntein thinks he says, I only care how his audience interpret his message.
Could we have had Atzmon without Greenstein laying the path?
In marketing terms its very simple. Greenstein's devoted a political lifetime to branding Zionism with antisemitism, culminating in Nazism. Its like Coca Cola adverts associating Coke with good times, culminating in the annual Christmas advert.
Here's an example from the Communist Party of Great Britain website, June 2006: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/631/zionism.htm
"Zionism and the holocaust
Tony Greenstein continues his examination of the unholy alliance between anti-semitism and Zionism. With the coming to power of the Nazis the collaboration reached new depths"
Philip Horowitz posted on March 23, 2007 at 11:30:59 AM
I also picked up on Linda Grant's point that Tony Greenstein claims that Zionism is 'indisputably racist'. My concern is that I find his - and many others' use - of the word 'racism' to be very ambiguous.
In one sense the claim is obviously false. Anyone can be a Zionist; take the Christian Zionists as an example. Further anyone can become Jewish (setting aside issues of who does the conversion) and then claim the benefits of, say, the Law of Return. The Law, itself, can, in my opinion only very debatably be classed as racist since it applies to the non-Jewish spouse and children of a Jew. Here I am thinking of some kind of fairly precise biologically-oriented definition of 'racism'.
But there is a secondary use of the word, which allows it to be used in the vaguest - and most dangerous - way. I sometimes get the impression that any kind of discrimination (however mild, and not necessarily of a pejorative form) against any group, defined by whatever type of criterion can be classed as racism. On this basis, it seems difficult to deny that Zionism is racist.
The problem with this second use is that, first of all, it is extremely vague. Further, the use is in fact selective: one only applies the 'racist' epithet to positions one already disapproves of. For an example, Tony Greenstein would presumably never accept that Saudi Arabia is racist in that it will not allow Jews to even set foot in it even though an anti-Jewish territorial restriction should, on his terms, be as racist as pro-Jewish legislation in Israel. His argumentation is, I think, dishonest. In any case, it is probably irrefutable.
Perhaps others more intelligent than myself may like to comment on the proper use of the word 'racism' when applied to groups other than those who, like the Nazis, were clearly racist.
Chris posted on March 23, 2007 at 12:39:42 PM
Israel and the Law of Return is "racist" in the same way that affirmative action is racist. When I meet people who claim that a.a. is racist, I know that they do not understand its purpose and probably do not have the best interests of people of color. Same for those who claim the Law of Return is racist. You do not understand its purpose and probably do not have the Jewish people's best interests at heart.
Igor posted on March 23, 2007 at 01:15:23 PM
"Nor do I believe that the Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust". What!!!??? Who are you? Identify yourself - are you Tony Greenstein, or David Irving??
I hereby demand a halt to all other postings on the philosophical nature of racism, Zionism, antisemitism etc until Tony Irving answers my question. This lunacy cannot be allowed to go unchecked. We cannot move beyond this lunacy. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200, (not even at Brighton dole office).
Blogmeister - Do not allow Greenving to post ever again on Engage until he retracts such nonsense.
Herr Irvingstein, please answer. (Preferably with reference to Perdition, Return, BAZO, Workers Weekly etc so I don't need to waste more time on you.)
Zkharya posted on March 23, 2007 at 01:38:53 PM
If Greenstein has never explicitly said Zionists are, or are as bad as, Nazis, then one should be very careful about saying he does say so.
As to that Zionism is racist, one may say it is no more intrinsically racist than any nationalist movement, inncluding the Palestinian, which certainly doesn't want too many Jews in it.
Greenstein raises the issue of right of return. The Jewish right of return is predicated on the belief that Jews are, historically, a nation dispossessed, just as Palestinian Arab Christians and Muslims define themselves.
Greenstein is entitled to dispute this, classify this as 'myth' etc. But he will have difficulty refuting that that is how Jews were regarded in most of the places Israeli Jews originated.
Greenstein assumes the situation of most Jews who became Israeli were like his own, liberal, British democracy. That is a curiously ego-, Euro- and Orientalist-centric view, which well illustrates the paradox of many Jews who regard themselves as, say, more British, non-Jewish or European, than Jews, in that they nevertheless betray an extraordinary ignorance of the historical views and attitudes of the non-Jewish, Christian or post-Christian culture they chiefly subscribe to.
Their insistance that, then, they know what they are talking about, takes on an increasingly uneducated, boorish appearance.
Greenstein's inferring of the situation of, say, non- or anti-Zionist Arab Jews, who had no where else to go but Israel, is like his own privileged western situation has more the appearance of Occidentalist prejudice and arrogance, especially his lecturing them on what, in his superior, learned opinion, is in their best interests.
It is extraordinary that Western, culturally Christian, not particularly Jewish Jewish anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti Zionism should have taken this turn, but is scarcely surprising given the many paradoxes that have associated themselves with modern Western and European Jewish history.
Greenstein is now exiled from the PSC, and has been defining himself chiefly in opposition to this or that for so long that it is probably an instinctual habit. His position becomes increasingly self-perpetuating, that has very little to do with his external situation. He claims his support for Perdition was not to equate Zionists with Nazis (when certainly Allen's original work had very much that theme), but 'indisputably' (to use his term) his position/goal was to show that Zionism/Zionists was/were so in sympathy with Nazis that they constituted de facto collaborators. One wonders what kind of madness must be churning around in his head, even as, isolated now even from PSC, he simply becomes more and more out of touch with reality.
Poor unfortunate, as my Cork mother would have said.
Yaniv posted on March 23, 2007 at 01:43:43 PM
I think this is a very amusing e-mail. The best part, in my opinion, is this:
"Nor is it true that I believe that ‘Israel, uniquely, is an essentially and unchangeably racist state.’ Israel was not unique, anymore than apartheid in South Africa or Rhodesia under Ian Smith was unique. "
To prove that Israel is not uniquely racist he brings two examples of racist states that do not exist anymore. Not unique but still unique, isn't it? Perhaps this is what he means when he says that Israel WAS not unique.
Mikey posted on March 23, 2007 at 02:06:28 PM
Zkharya states "If Greenstein has never explicitly said Zionists are, or are as bad as, Nazis, then one should be very careful about saying he does say so."
I suggest Zkhraya obtains a copy of RETURN issue 2 from March 1990 and reads the lengthy article by Tony Greenstein entitled "Holocaust Anologies, Repaying the Mortgage" on pages 14-19 which saeems to be devoted to Tony Greenstein trying to justify a Nazi Zionist comparison. Greenstein even discusses in that article "Judeo-Nazi views in the Halacha (oral law)" and wants to provide "final proof of how the Nazi analogy with repression in the West Bank is correct."
Home page Paul Bogdanor posted on March 23, 2007 at 02:11:11 PM
In his message, Greenstein pretends that he has never equated Zionism with Nazism and that he has never accused Zionists of helping to perpetrate the Holocaust. No-one familiar with his record would believe this for a second.
Greenstein has written that the ideological framework of Zionism "was no different from that of the anti-Semitic movements whose activities led directly to the Holocaust." He has argued that despite attempts "to divorce the Holocaust from Zionism and Israel's actions today, within Israel such comparisons are commonplace." He has announced that "the desire to make one's opponents suffer as Jews suffered under the Nazis seems to mediate virtually all conflict within the Jewish sector of Israel." He has referred to "the Nazi pronouncements of Jewish orthodoxy." He has affirmed that "the Nazi analogy with repression on the West Bank is correct."
Greenstein has admitted that "I deliberately described Israel’s actions as a blitzkrieg." He has declared that the perpetrators of these actions "are, in the words of the late Yehashayu Leibowitz, a distinguished religious philosopher and winner of the Israel Prize, Judaeo-Nazis." He has stated that "I want the state of Israel to be destroyed." Fantasising about "Zionist collaboration with the Nazis and assorted fascists," he has claimed that "Zionist emissaries swanned around Nazi-occupied Europe organising kibbutzim and facilitating the emigration of their own cadre and no one else." At the same time, he has excused the German Communist Party’s "appeasement of the Nazis" with the rationale that the Party was "part of the labour movement."
Greenstein contends that Israel is "the sole surviving settler, colonial state." He knows that there have been Jewish populations in the Middle East for thousands of years. He also knows that the Jewish presence pre-dated the Arab presence in Israel/Palestine and throughout the region. But distortions of this kind are only to be expected from someone who raves about imaginary Nazi collaboration by Zionists while justifying actual Nazi collaboration by communists.
Igor posted on March 23, 2007 at 02:20:01 PM
Amusing, Yaniv, but not as amusing or as contradictory as: "Nor do I believe that the ‘Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust’. The Nazis needed no help. What I do believe, as have many Holocaust survivors, [is] that sections of the Zionist movement collaborated with Nazism."
Greenving said Zionists never "helped" Nazis, then 16 words later says that Zionist sections "collaborated". This, Herr Irvingstein, is called "having your chicken soup and eating it." Its also about six million times more subtle that the filthy catch all libels you've peddled so successfuly from your "Look, I'm a Jew" handcart in BAZO, Return, Perdition, PSC and Weekly Worker.
If you persist in this "I never said Zionists helped Nazis" lunacy, then I see no reason for you tarnish Engage's pages ever again.
Bakunin posted on March 23, 2007 at 03:09:54 PM
Greenstein once commented on Mark Elf's website "And therein lies a salutory tale. Because in its own small way we see how 'left' and liberal Zionists begin their move rightwards. If you support the Israeli State you also end up supporting all those states that support Israel, including your own. Which is why, you can't be a socialist and a Zionist, and if you think you are then, as Yitzhak Ben Zvi wrote a long time ago, the former has to give way to the latter"
Mikey posted on March 23, 2007 at 03:55:48 PM
That particular theme has been a long running theme of Greenstein. He wrote a 26 page document numerous years ago entitled "Socialist Zionim: The Impossible Contradiction." That document was published by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Greenstein's politics are a complete farce as he has admitted that he left the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at the time of the Oslo accords - because he did not agree with them. This gets to the heart of the matter with Greensetin. He has little interest in showing solidarity with Palestinians if the Palestinians choose to follow a different political path to his own. All Greenstein really cares about is attacking Zionism.
In fact Roland Rance, who along with Tony Greenstein is another leading member of Jews Against Zionism implied this with a recent comment he made to the Just Peace list:
"Tony [Greenstein] may well have a different position than me.... But what unites us is not the slogan or formula; it is the recognition... that no solution -- one state, two states, a binational state, no states at all, or any of the many other formulas advanced -- is acceptable if it leaves unaltered the discriminatory Zionist structure of the state of Israel. That, after all, is why we are 'Jews Against Zionism', and not 'Jews for a One-State Solution', or 'Jews for a Unitary, Democratic and Secular Palestine'."
Zkharya posted on March 23, 2007 at 04:25:56 PM
Dear Mikey, thanks for the tip ('Judeo-Nazi' says it all), though it would be nice if you addressed me in the second person, rather than the depersonalizing third.
Malachi posted on March 23, 2007 at 04:29:16 PM
Who is David Hirsch and why do so many of his critics add the 'c' to his name? I just haven't a clue - can someone help me?
Mikey posted on March 23, 2007 at 06:25:29 PM
To further comment on Tony Greenstein’s denial of his comparison between Zionism and Nazism, I quote directly from the Editorial of RETURN issue 2, March 1990. It can be noted that Tony Greenstein was on the editorial collective of this issue and was also a contributor. It would therefore be hard for him to try and deny that these were not his opinions.
“Middle East Report no 157 (March-April 1989) claims that comparisons of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians with that of Nazi Germany before 1938 towards the Jews are ‘of dubious accuracy, even when they are made by Israeli Jews’. The contributors to this issue of RETURN Magazine disagree with this claim; many of them would argue that it is dangerously mistaken.
“In the articles in this issue, such a comparison frequently appears…. The reality of Israeli practice in the occupied territories… is in no way less brutal than the pogroms suffered by Jews in Tsarist Russia, or than the events of Kritallnacht…..
“Tony Greenstein considers true and false Holocaust analogies. He cites Israelis who fear the Nazification of Israeli society, and others who welcome it…..
“One comparison between Zionism and Nazism is the policy of ‘transfer’ of unwanted people.”
I think that should settle the matter.
Tony Greenstein posted on March 25, 2007 at 02:52:45 AM
I have neither the time nor the inclination to respond to most of these comments, especially given the ad hominem nature of the comments. I will however respond to a couple of points and make some general observations, which I trust the editor(s) will post, since the whole thread, without exception, is devoted to attacking me. I will then leave it at that.
Bogdanor believes that there is some political incompatibility between Israel being the sole surviving settler, colonial state and the presence of Jewish populations in the Middle East for thousands of years. Why? The existing Jewish community in Palestine, the Old Yishuv, was as Chaim Weizmann and others described it, hostile to the Zionist settlement from 1882 onwards. Their presence had no political significance. It wasn't a form of Jewish nationalism. There were indeed large Jewish communities in the Middle East but they didn't seek to colonise or settle other peoples' lands.
I also realise that subtlety is not the forte of this list. I have never said that Zionism is 'like' Nazism. Hence I consider the equation of the Star of David and the Swastika crude, though NOT anti-Semitic. Indeed it is extremely understandable for those whose homes have been destroyed by those who claim their deeds are done in the name of the Jewish people.
Likewise I have and will continue to use the term Judaeo Nazi to refer to those whose actions and beliefs are indeed Nazi like. Those who claim, in the Yesha Rabbinical Council for example, that non-Jewish lives are not worth the same as Jewish lives, who use talmudic sanction to prevent the saving of non-Jewish lives on the sabbath, who equate the Palestinians with Amalek, who Jews were commanded to destroy, who terrorise Palestinian civilians and stage pogroms against them in their homes and villages, all these are worthy of such an appellation.
The fact that Zionism is not 'like' Nazism does not mean that it has not been affected by it. I don't need to quote those like Joachim Prinz who indeed justified the tenets of Nazi racial separation. I can point to the obsession with demographic numbers inside Israel itself, the support for transfer among a majority of the Israeli Jewish population, the opinion poll which cited 2 out of 3 Israeli Jews not wishing to live next to an Arab.
And that is also my response to Linda Grant, who almost alone among posters didn't engage in personal abuse. You dispute that Zionism is racist. But Zionism, the movement and ideology, wanted to create a Jewish state in a land where the vast majority of inhabitants were non-Jewish. It created pre-State organisations which sought to exclude Arab labour from factories, Arab peasants from the land and to boycott Arab produce - Jewish land, labour and produce policies. That was carried on into the Israeli state itself via such things as the Jewish Agency status law, the barring of Palestinians from renting or buying state land (93%), the use of various subterfuges in order to pay Palestinians lower welfare benefits in order to discourage them to have children etc. Every aspect of life in Israel is racist in respect of Israeli Palestinians. And it is not incidental. It is a fundamental feature of a state that terms itself Jewish. Now if Engage wishes to whitewash this, or pretend it isn't happening, or it is accidental, then fine. But I would say that this kind of state takes much of its colour from states which did the same and practised the same policies towards the Jews of Europe, Nazi Germany included. As the introduction to the Nuremburg Laws themselves stated, the Zionists of all people will object least to these laws. (Francis Nicosia, Palestine & the 3rd Reich) - from memory. Zionism argues for racial separation, hence the new laws forbidding Israeli Arabs living with their Palestinian spouse and remaining in Israel. That is also why the concept of 'transfer' is supported across the political spectrum in Israel.
And I also believe that Zionism was racist towards diasporah Jewry. If anyone is in any doubt then read Arthur Hertzberg's Zionist Idea and the passages from e.g. Jacob Klatzkin who talks about a 'hideous' Galut. If you didn't know who the writers were you would imagine them to be anti-Semites. Being kind I will say that they merely took their abuse of the Diasporah, a 'cancer' in the words of AB Yehoshua incidentally, from the anti-Semites, i.e. it is reflected racism.
The suggestion, incidentally, that Uri Davies, does not believe Zionism to be racist is absurd. Uri has written a whole book about Zionism being a form of Apartheid. And even posters to this list would, I assume, conceded that Apartheid is a form of racism.
I said I would pay no attention to ad hominem attacks, but one particular one I will respond to. It is Bogdanor's suggestion that I support or justify collaboration by the German Communist Party, the KPD, with the Nazis. I certainly don't justify or support this. I hold the KPD responsible, more than any other group, for the coming to power of the Nazis because of their ludicrously sectarian position that the SPD were 'social fascist'. Close behind them is the leadership of the SPD itself which refused to mobilise its supporters to tackle the Nazis on the streets whilst there was time. The co-operation between the KPD and the Nazis during the Berlin transport strike of 1932, the fact that there were no Jews among the KPD Reichstag deputies after 1930, the equation of capitalism with 'Jewish' capitalism, which was a forte of the Nazis were all reprehensible.
But I also recognise that the KPD was a part of the labour movement in Germany, that it was a force that could have prevented the Nazis taking power and that it contained within its ranks and supporters millions of workers who did indeed reject the racial doctrines of Nazism. I make a sharp distinction between the Stalinist misleadership, who paid with their lives, Stalin himself and his pact with the Nazis, and the working class of Germany, who to the very end rejected Nazism.
In short Communism, even in its Stalinised version, was a very different kettle of fish from Nazism and there was no ideological congruity.
Linda Grant posted on March 25, 2007 at 11:59:27 AM
Out of an idle interest in why I have should have dark hair and pale freckled skin, rather than the olive skin of the Middle East, I am having my DNA tested. This has led me to consider what we are talking about when we say that Zionism is racism because it privileges Jews as a race.
Israel has permitted the immigration of Ethiopian Jess who were almost certainly converts, though apperently they share some genetic ancestry with Yemenite Jews, and may be the descendants of Yemenite Jews who somehow found themselves in Ethiopia and intermarried. So it is a weird form of racism that priveleges the some of the most oppressed and exploited Africans on earth above, say, professors at Columbia University.
Sephardi Jews, like Arab Muslims or Christians are Arabs, I suppose, in that, like Europeans, they came from Arab lands, spoke Arabic and held Arabic culture, insofar as it was not religious. We can also assume that there must have been a certain degree of intermarriage, and DNA investigations of Jewish ancestry indicate that while Jews worldwide share genetic ancestry, despite obvious intermarriage (or commonly, in Europe, rape) they also share it Palestinians, some of whom have to be descendants of the original Jewish population.
So to consider Israeli's immigration policies as racist seems to me to be a wild misnomer. It certainly discriminates in favour of one group against others, but then so do the member states of European Union.
bakunin posted on March 25, 2007 at 12:32:08 PM
Tony Greenstein "I will however respond to a couple of points and make some general observations, which I trust the editor(s) will post, since the whole thread, without exception, is devoted to attacking me. I will then leave it at that."
Tony you've been one of the nastiest hardcore antizionists for many years. I think it's rather funny that you accuse people of attacking you when you've been such a nasty piece of work for so long.
Greenstein in the comments on MPAC
"I haven't seen the original post but I do know Engage. They see 'anti-Semitism' where there is none, and are blind when it's obvious. Their role, their sole role, is to support the State of Israel and Zionism, come what may."
I haven't seen the original post but I do know Engage. They see 'anti-Semitism' where there is none, and are blind when it's obvious. Their role, their sole role, is to support the State of Israel and Zionism, come what may.
A comparison between the Warsaw Ghetto walls and Israel's Apartheid Wall is almost a trite comparison. It is one of life's little ironies that Zionism claimed to take the Jews out of the ghetto and in fact they just gone and constructed their very own ghetto walls - this time to keep out the Palestinians.
Of course the Nazis and Zionists aren't identical, despite the abundant evidence that the latter collaborated with the former (for those who doubt this just read about Israel's own Kastner trial, or Hannah Arendt's Eichman in Jerusalem or Ben Hecht's Perfidy, to start with). The Nazis sought to first transfer then exterminate the Jews. The Zionists merely seek to transfer the Palestinians from their homeland, as the joining of the Israeli cabinet by Avigdor Libermann this week demonstrated. Are we to congratulate the Zionists for the fact that they 'only' wish to expel rather than exterminate the Palestinians (though many wish to do that too but politically it is not feasible).
Zionism arose from a political opposition to the consequences of Emancipation, including the tearing down of the ghetto walls. It feared that Jews would 'assimilate' and in that sense it saw a force for good in anti-Semitism as ALL early Zionist politicians agreed, not least Herzl. Without anti-Semitism there was no Zionism. Anti-Semitism provided the 'push' necessary to persuade Jews to settle in Palestine.
When Engage attacks others as 'anti-Semitic' you should know that this is a case of the kettle calling the pot black.
Toby Esterhase posted on March 25, 2007 at 12:36:27 PM
Tony Greenstein, you are a grotesque figure. You maliciously accuse David Hirsh of dishonesty - and you then whine about "ad hominmen" attacks.
It is absolutely clear from what you say and from the evidence that has been provided in this comments box that what David Hirsh said about you is true:
1 You think that Zionism is like Nazism - Mikey, amongst others has provided the evidence for this.
2 You think that Israel is a uniquely and unchangeably racist state - you admit this in your own reply.
3 It is also clear that you do believe, and you think it is a politically important fact, that Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust.
What you haven't even addressed is the key charge against you and your antiracist anti-Zionist comrades: you have fought for a number of ways of looking at the world which make the antisemitism of Atzmon and Eisen possible. You have created these antisemites who are now spearheading the antisemitic attack against you.
Still I hope you defeat the antisemites - I would support you against them, no matter what a grotesque and absurd figure you are - and no matter how offensive and stupid your politics are.
Mikey posted on March 25, 2007 at 01:13:59 PM
Tony Greenstein cannot remember what he says one week to the next.
Tony Greenstein March 25 2007 - see above
" I have never said that Zionism is 'like' Nazism. "
Tony Greenstein March 16 2007 - comment to Alef list
http://list.haifa.ac.il/mailman/private/alef/2007-March/010465.html (via subscription)
Fri Mar 16 20:13:44 IST 2007
....Zionism shares many facets with Nazism - see the tribute to Ilan Papper from some illiterate jerk who exclaims that Haifa will smell nicer after he is gone. A good example of the Judaeo-Nazi mind that seeks to cast out any intellectual who goes against the national myth. You simply wouldn't get such a reaction to a radical professor in Britain but maybe that's because the mores of civilisation has yet to percolate throughout most of Israeli academia.
Zionism's state worship is another similarity with Naziis - e.g. the obsession with recognising the right of the Israeli state to exist etc.
diasporist posted on March 25, 2007 at 04:17:09 PM
Linda, you say:
"Israel has permitted the immigration of Ethiopian Jews who were almost certainly converts... So it is a weird form of racism that priveleges the some of the most oppressed and exploited Africans on earth above, say, professors at Columbia University...to consider Israeli's immigration policies as racist seems to me to be a wild misnomer."
And do you remember how the Ethiopians were treated? The humiliation of Ethiopian males having to undergo a second circumcision before they were considered kosher enough? Makes quite a contrast with how they treated the Russians, many of whom were not circumcised in the first place.
Now we can try and find some nicer words for this discrepancy in attitudes but racism seems pretty accurate.
Or lets go further back to the Iraqi Jews who came in the 50s, from a very well established highly educated community - their welcome to non-racist israel? They were sprayed with disinfectant.
Regarding the the bizarre example you gave - I will be convinced if you can tell me this applies to all Columbia Uni professors, regardless of ethnic origin and any exploited and oppressed African, regardless of ethnic origin. Can you do that?
Of course if you operate with very crude definitions of racism you may think it an inappropriate term for describing how one group discriminates against another that doesn't really look very different, but I think you know better than that, and recognise more sophisticated definitions of racism ie where one group detemines another group as "other" in an essentialist way and seeks variously to remove them from their society, bar them from particpating equally, keep them away etc.
The way I see it is: Palestinians are treated as less than equal in israeli society; how unequal depends on the institution; they are fundamentally discriminated against by the land laws and the law of return; Arab villages and instiututions within Israel are directly discriminated against in terms of allocations for education, health, housing, services etc...and there is informal dscrimination and shabby treatment in "civil" society. I think you'll find that footie fans of Betar Jerusalem don't chant "We want Israel to discriminate in favour of one group against others, like the way member states of European Union do", they chant instead "Death to the Arabs".
Wherever people are on the Zionist to anti-zionist spectrum and whatever their programme for peace and progress I don't think anyone can really deny that there are racist laws and practices in israeli society and racist attitudes among significant elements at grassroots level. Comparisons with EU states, apartheid South Africa or nazi Grmany are neither here nor there - instead of us playing the game of itis not as bad as.., or it is bettr than...just analyse Israel in its own terms and be honest about it.
Yaniv posted on March 25, 2007 at 04:28:55 PM
The amounts of falsehoods in the above post of Tony Greenstein is unbelievable. I'll once again reply to an anecdote: The claim that Yesha jews sanction prevention the saving of non-Jewish lives on sabbath is probably based on the late Israel Shahak's book. Richard Schultz, a Chemistry Professor at Bar-Ilan University has published many years ago a long refutation of this ludicrous claim. I don't think that Greenstein would be able to quote any written rabbinic sanction. However, to the contrary, there are at least two sanctions stating tha the rescue of non-Jewish lives is superior to Sabath keeping, one by a UK chief rabbi and one by an Israeli chief Rabbi, both from the 60s.
Another outright lie is that Arabs cannot rent state land (93% indeed) in Israel. They cannot buy it but neither can jews. I have a lease contract with the goverment for 49 years, for the lot where my houme stands. It is renewable, of course. Arabs lease land from the goverment for both agricultural purposes (in the Negev mostly) and for housing. Those who read Hebrew can visit
Leonard posted on March 25, 2007 at 05:51:48 PM
Tony Greenstein has always been a one track campaigner and a fraudulent one at that. His mission in life was to repeat the old canard conjured up by the Soviet Secret police in the 1970s that the zionists collaborated with the nazi's. This was part of the old totalitarians battle designed to discredit the refusenik movement. Well the Soviet Union collapsed but not Greenstein's mindset some 25 years later. He had no credibility then and has even less now.
Inna posted on March 25, 2007 at 08:44:23 PM
Some of Tony Greenstein's quotes that any cursory google search will unearth:
"Zionism and anti-Semitism are two sides of the same coin."
Israel is not only a financial but a political parasite. It uses these communities as political pawns and as a cover for imperialist interests. This is especially true in the United States where the so-called Jewish vote is used incorrectly to explain the strategic alliance with Israel.
As others have pointed out there's much more of this sort of thing--and I only did a very cursory google search.
Linda Grant posted on March 25, 2007 at 09:21:05 PM
Israeli society is quite exceptionally compicated, perhaps more so than any other in the world, for it was formed, over the course of a few years, out of immigrants from other countries and societies, most of whom had experienced mild to extreme forms of persecution. Contrary to what Pollyanas might wish for, the experience of suffering is not notable for turning individuals from any society into sweet-natured saints. Added to this was 20 per cent of the existing population who had been defeated and found themselves moving almost overnight from being part of what was essentially a colony distant from its ruling country, Britain, to a minority in a newly-formed state in which they were dispossessed of their own hopes of nationalism and self-determination.
The diaspora re-meets itself for the first time in 2000 years. It barely knows what to make of itself. Does it establish utopia overnight as America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand surely must have done? How crass of the Israelis not to do so!
Mikey posted on March 25, 2007 at 11:21:52 PM
I notice the link that you have provided for Tony Greenstein's writings is http://codoh.com/index.shtml .
As can be seen from a quick glance at that site - It is a Holocaust denial site. And that is just it - the people that like Greenstein's writings the most - to the extent they reproduce them are Holocaust deniers. Tony Greenstein may well disassociate himself from such people, but it says an awful lot that the people who wish peope to read his writings are those people he would claim to be against.
Nick Cohen amongst others have discussed the far left being upside down and in many ways show similarities to the far right - One only needs to look at the writings of Tony Greenstein to see how clear that is.
Malachi posted on March 25, 2007 at 11:34:38 PM
I am all for looking at Israel in its own terms. However you generalise to the point of absolute distortion about the history and experiences of the Ethiopian and Iraqi aliyot. Your whole perspective is driven by you desire to denigrate Israel - there is nothing objective in what you have to say. One question for you however; absent Operation Moses and absent Operation Babylon how well would all of those Ethiopian and Iraqi Jews subsequently faired respectively in Ethiopia and Iraq?
diasporist posted on March 25, 2007 at 11:41:01 PM
Er, Linda, so it is racist then, but they just can't help it?
Workers Fight posted on March 26, 2007 at 01:20:05 AM
"I have neither the time nor the inclination to respond to most of these comments..."
You don't have the time, Tony Greenstein? Why not? What important thing takes up your time nowadays? This cesspool of Israel-hatred, Nazis, Kastner, the KDP, "racist state", settler-colonialism, "socialist imperialists" - this is the place you choose to live your life. This archaic vocabulary is central to your identity. This is how you perform your Jewish identity.
But time has caught up with you Tony Greenstein. The old rhetoric that you learnt in the 70s and 80s Trotskyist movement doesn't work for you any longer. It's out of date. It has lost its power to shock and it has lot its power to make people to listen to you when you speak "as a Jew". There are new shocks for antiracists - like Atzmon and Eisen. There are new Jews, too, prepared to dance for the antisemites. And these young guys do a saucier dance than a 70s kitch-Trotskyist. No-one wants to watch you dance anymore Tony. They want to watch people prepared to debase themselves to a greater extent even, than you are ready to do. Hard to imagine, isn't it?
Atzmon has usurped your position as the kosherizing Jew and you have been disguarded. A founder-member perhaps, of the PSC - but also a former member. The PSC doesn't listen, any longer, to a person with the name of Greenstein.
Truth is you have loads of time. You're on the scrap heap. Lots and lots of time. But it is not possible for anyone, with any amount of time, to transform lies into truth.
That is why you don't use this opportunity to answer your critics. You have nothing to say to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who prefer to listen to the Sax-blowing Jew-hater than to you - and you have nothing to say to the antiracists. You, Sue Blackwell and Roland Rance will spend the rest of your political lives talking to nobody but each other.
Home page Dr Brian Robinson posted on March 26, 2007 at 02:06:26 AM
I always think comments lose much of their force when made on blogs &c anonymously / pseudonymously. But there's something very unpleasant, and cowardly, around when people make personal attacks while hiding behind silly false names. Say what you like about Tony G. at least he has the courage to be who he is. Oh, and I do think that there's quite a bit of denial and reaction formation around.
Home page Jim Denham posted on March 26, 2007 at 02:26:09 AM
Greenstein is a liar; he *does* single out Israel as a uniquely racist stae, that has no right to exist: I've heard him say that on numerous occassions - why the hell he denies it now I do not know.
Greenstein also frequently (verbally and in writing: see, for intance his recent contributions to the CPGB's "Weekly Worker")refers to Zionists as being "collaborators" with the Nazis. Once again, this dishonest character backs away and attempts to disown his own previous words.
The one and only good thing you can say about greenstein, is hat he opposed the open anti-semites within the Palestine Solidarity Committee: apart from that, he's a dishonest and very strange and disturbed man.
Inna posted on March 26, 2007 at 03:38:47 AM
Mikey and others, I am sorry. I did not really look carefully (or at all really) at the sites I was linking to. And I had no idea I had linked to a Holocaust-denial site! As I had said in my original post, I did the most cursory of google searches (basically I copied and pasted the first two of greenstein's actual quotes) and I apologize for any offense I may have caused by linking to painful sites.
Tony Greenstein posted on March 26, 2007 at 06:01:26 AM
The reason I have neither the time nor inclination to rebut obsessives like Mikey, who can't or won't reveal his identity (on Mary Rizzo/Atzmon's blog he offered to find someone else who would give their name!) is because personal attacks are the staple diet of most of the contributions. E.g. in the name of opposing anti-Semitism, I presume, Workers Fight (Jim Denham?) speaks about the 'kosheriszing Jew'. A good example of anti-Semitism if any.
Linda Grant seems to be under the quaint impression that DNA defines race. By this definition the Nazis too weren't racist as their anti-Semitism certainly wasn't based on genetic differences. Race is an artificial construct and can easily take the form of religion or colour or language. Or indeed any arbitrary factor. I once had a conversation with one of the leaders of the NF, Stephen Brady, who was also a member of the UVF. I asked him, why he was so bitterly opposed to Irish Catholics (although he was a Catholic himself) when they are white. And he explained that in Northern Irish terms, Catholics are the Blacks. Now see if you can work that out Linda. Race doesn't exist, but racism does.
And then we have the quote merchants. I have never said there aren't similarities between Zionism and Nazism - clearly there are. In particular over the question of racism. But they are different political animals. Although Zionism had a semi-fascist wing (& except for a section of the Revisionists, I don't believe 'fascist' is even a correct designation of them - lack of social demagogy for one) it is not a fascist movement. It seeks to co-opt the labour movement, it privileges its own workers vs the natives, but it doesn't seek to atomise and destroy workers' organisations. Really this is ABC stuff but the crude 'exposers' of this blog really aren't capable of rising above the 'TG said this and then that' stuff. Clearly racial separation, as expressed in the 'demographic problem' in Israel, i.e. too many Arabs, is borrowed straight from the same concerns of Nazi and other racists.
Whoever quoted chief rabbis in the 1960's saying it was a mitzvah to save non-Jewish lives ignores the question of PR and also who they were speaking to and why. On the West Bank, where there is no danger to Jewish lives from not saving say non-Jews, then yes it is impermissible to save non-Jewish lives. And yes, the late Israel Shahak came into politics after just such an experience when Israeli's Rabbinate, not Yesha or the settlers, decreed that non-Jewish lives should not be saved on a sabbath. From memory, that was the subject of Shahak's first public intervention, I think in Ha'aretz. Rebuttals from the racist university of Bar Ilan, home to purveyors of the blood libel, are not convincing! Oh yes, guilt by association, but those who imply that because revisionist sites might host what I write that I am somehow linked to them cannot complain!!
As to Yaniv and Israeli state land, it is strange that in order to excercise the right that he says is already self-evident, there is one case that has taken nearly 10 years before the ILA has conceded the right to rent an apartment to an Arab. Now if all Arabs had such a right, why go to law? And we also know that in the Negev, the Bedouin have their houses demolished because they are 'unrecognised'. There's no 'terrorism' etc. but they are still subject to these barbaric practices and driven from the land. Why? Because they are non-Jewish.
diasporist posted on March 26, 2007 at 07:59:52 AM
Malachi, you say that my
"whole perspective is driven by your desire to denigrate Israel - there is nothing objective in what you have to say."
Some people miss the point a little bit in debates, but you seem to have missed it by a mile. My point was about getting away from politics by analogy (Nazi germany, Apartheid South Africa, EU states with discriminatory policies), and about moves toward peace and progress.
Arguments based on the politics of analogy are usually pretty sterile and while there is no doubt that similar forces come into play in many situations of oppression - extreme nationalism, dehumanising of the "other", sense of victimhood among the oppressors as well as the oppressed... in the end it is better to analyse such forces as they apply specifically to the case you are analysing.
Politics by analogy also lets off the hook the defenders of the indefensible, as they will hide behind "it's not as bad as that..." in denying objective realities which may not be "as bad as that..." but are nevertheless pretty bad from an objective standpoint.
With that in mind I pointed to objective features of israel's past and present that indicate racist laws, racist practices and racist attitudes - all of which have to be confronted in any efforts towards peace and progress.
I am not sure which of these points, made in my earlier statement, Malachi beleives are not objectively true. If such racist laws and practices have in fact been overturned, if the distribution of resources to Arab villages is on a par with those given to Israeli Jewish developments, and if the attitudes expressed by the likes of Betar Jerusalem footie fans (and given an official stamp of authority in statements of people like the Cabinet minister Avigdor Leiberman) are in fact discarded relics of history, I would be very happy and say that a lot of progress has already been made. So what is the objective situation?
Toby Esterhase posted on March 26, 2007 at 08:45:08 AM
Greenstein has blustered and threatened - and demanded a "right of reply" on Engage - which he has been given (I don't know why).
And he has been entirely unable to reply to the important points made against him.
Firstly, his "big three" points, that "prove" the dishonesty of David Hirsh all collapsed immediately.
Secondly, he seems entirely unable to understand the criticism made against his politics here on Engage - and is certainly unable to respond to any of the criticism.
All he does is make ad hominem attacks, mainly in the form of accusing others of making ad hominem attacks.
Toby Esterhase posted on March 26, 2007 at 08:52:52 AM
Greenstein writes: "I will however respond to a couple of points and make some general observations, which I trust the editor(s) will post, since the whole thread, without exception, is devoted to attacking me. I will then leave it at that."
Not true, is it Greenstein? This thread is not devoted to attacking you. This post consists of an email in which you attack David Hirsh for dishonesty. When people come to his defence, you squeal that they are attacking you.
Why is it that when someone writes "I will then leave it at that" they never mean it?
Linda Grant posted on March 26, 2007 at 09:52:44 AM
Racism is born out many things, distrust, fear, anxiety, survival as well as hate and political ideology. The legacy of the evicted tenant farmers of the Highland Clearances was their arrival in Western Canada where they proceeded to wipe out the Native peoples they found there. Similarly the victims of the Irish Potato Famine who became slave owners in the American South. There's nothing unique to Israel, or to Zionism, about any of this. Making crude, infantile statements, like Zionism is Racism is ahistorical.
Malachi posted on March 26, 2007 at 10:56:50 AM
Great obfuscation on your part - but its pretty desperate isn't it. I was clearly addressing two generalised comments you made to support your contention that you look at Israel as it is. Now have the courage to deal with my challenge on those two points.
Mikey posted on March 26, 2007 at 11:08:36 AM
Tony Greenstein claims he does not say Zionism is like Nazism - he just says that it is similar to Nazism and raves about Israel Shahak who said "I think the comparison with Germany is a very apt historical one... I use the word Nazi very frequently about Israeli policies."
On Israel Shahak and his claim that he reported an incident to Haaretz that he had "personally witnessed" that rabinnical authorities had told an orthodox Jew that "a Jew should not violate the Sabbath in order to save the life of a Gentile." I note Greenstein conveniently forgets to mention that Shahak subsequently admitted that his claim was false and that the Orthodox Jew he claimed to have witnessed did not exist! Furthermore, as Paul Bogdanor has pointed out, rabbinical authorities confirmed that not only was Shahak wrong but indeed the opposite was the case - it is mandatory for a Jew to violate the Sabbath to save a human life irrespective of whether that life is Jewish or Gentile. Immanuel Jakobovits himself (Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth from 1967-1991) called Shahak's claim "A Modern Blood Libel," compared Shahak's claim to the Nazi propagandist Streicher's "Der Stuermer" and argued that Shahak was involved in "scurrilous Jew baiting."
Greenstein supports those like Sue Blackwell who want to boycott Israeli universities - notably and specifically Haifa University but then he spends his time writing posts to a discussion blog hosted by Haifa University. He claims he is anti-racist but his writings are reproduced by racists. The hypocricy that Greenstein shows has no bounds.
Paul Bogdanor "Chomsky's Ayatollahs" in Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor eds "The Jewish Divide Over Israel" (Transaction Publishers, 2006)
Immanuel Jacobovits "A modern Blood Libel - L'Affaire Shahak," "Tradition" Summer 1996 pp. 58-65 available at
Goldsmiths lecturer posted on March 26, 2007 at 11:48:06 AM
I would like to take issue with Brian Robinson and Tony Greenstein. It seems that "Mikey" - whoever he may be - is right to protect his identity when he is dealing with the likes of Tony Greenstein.
Tony Greenstein - a name that I hadn't heard before this week - has sent an email accusing my colleague David Hirsh of dishonesty and other kinds of professional misconduct to many of the people he works with here at Goldsmiths.
Obviously nobody has taken it remotely seriously - but - goodness me! What a profoundly unpleasant and childish way to behave.
Many of David's colleagues support his work on Engage 100%. Those who don't support all of what he says about the boycott and about antisemitism have every respect for his integrity. And everybody likes him too. Keep up the good work David - and don't be intimidated by anybody - as if you were likely to be!
Joshua posted on March 26, 2007 at 02:33:18 PM
'Tony Greenstein - a name that I hadn't heard before this week - has sent an email accusing my colleague David Hirsh of dishonesty and other kinds of professional misconduct to many of the people he works with here at Goldsmiths.'
I am probably almost as far removed politically from David Hirsh as he is from Greenstein. However, I do greatly respect the man and the courageous work he has been doing. Consequently, if Dr. Hirsh does decide to take legal action in this matter, I will be more than delighted to put up a £1000 towards his costs.
Yaniv posted on March 26, 2007 at 03:56:57 PM
Thanks to Mickey for mentioning Shahak's lie. Here is by the way a link to Richard Schultz's refutation of that specific claim in Shahak's book "Jewish History ; Jewish Religion"
Shahak's book, by the way, is profoundly antisemite. It purports to show that judaism is a racist religion. The "example" brought by Shahak has nothing to do with YESHA. It has everything to do with judaism as a whole. The fact that TG relies on that book speaks volumes about his illiberal world view.
Shahak was an interesting character. In 1996 he voted for Netanyahu. At least so he said in a letter to Haaretz. He accused the peace movement in Israel that time for being racist and inhuman to the Palestinians by inviting Arafat to rule them in the west bank and Gaza.
The web sites links in my previous posts are ILA (Israel land authority) advertisements offering lots for long term lease to Arabs. To counter the indisputable TG recalls (but vaguely remembers) the Kaedan family high court petition. Kaedan application to become a member in the cooporative society of Katzir was indeed rejected. Here is the link to the high court verdict (again I regeret to have it only in Hebrew)
Needless to say that it is not the ILA who refused to admit the Kaedans into the cooporative society. The details are far to complicated to deal with in a short post, but the story has nothing to do with the wild accusation of TG that Arabs cannot buy or rent 93% of the land in israel.
As for the bedouines, their houses are indeed often demolished, and it is true that many of their sesttlements are not recognized. This has nothing to do with racism. It is a result of urban planing policy. Obviously you cannot build your house in the middle of the desert and expect the goverment to pave a road to your house, connect you the electricity, etc.
The state of the bedouines in the Negev is a real tragedy. It is a story of incompotence and not of racism. It is indeed a fertile ground for bigots like TG to launch their wild accusations from.
Yehuda Erdman posted on March 26, 2007 at 11:51:12 PM
May I suggest that you do not try to defend the indefensible. The poliy of the Israeli Government towards the Bedouins is indeed racist, and they would not dare to treat any Jewish settlements within Israel in such a way.
Inna posted on March 27, 2007 at 03:08:08 AM
Tony wrotes: "it is strange that in order to excercise the right that he says is already self-evident, there is one case that has taken nearly 10 years before the ILA has conceded the right to rent an apartment to an Arab."
In my state (in the USA) we have had several cases dealing with whether low-income families could make use of their right to rent subsidies. Their cases have just recently been resolved (it only took 15 years) and this despite the fact that the laws mandating that a certain percentage of all houses be set aside for low-income and/or homeless have been on the books since the 1960s.
Furthermore, the contractors for those low-income houses have been hired only last year and have begun building (I can vouch for this as I can actully see some of the construction) only a few months ago.
Given all this, would you say that the American system is racist? If so, why?
Yaniv posted on March 27, 2007 at 01:15:12 PM
Yehuda. Demolishing a house that had been illegaly built has nothing to do with racism. Racism should not be judged by final results only but also by intentions. Many of the bedouines serve in the IDF, quite a few of them died. Ifail to see any racist motivation to discriminate them with respect to, say, christian Arabs. Unless you think like TG that Israel is a racist state that discriminate all her Arab citizens, I do not see how you could support this outrageous claim.
Linda Grant posted on March 27, 2007 at 04:06:43 PM
How many houses that have been illegally built by settlers have been demolished?
Yaniv posted on March 27, 2007 at 05:13:48 PM
Believe or not Linda: quite a few of them. Amona is just one examples. And not all illegal buildings of bedouines in the Negev have been demolished.
Yehuda Erdman posted on March 28, 2007 at 03:12:03 PM
In a non-racist state, I would expect Citizens to have equal treatment before the law. Patently this is not happening in Israel with regard to all its Arab minorities, but in the case of the Bedouin their rights have not just been ignored but trampled upon. This applies not just to loss of their traditional grazing rights, the demolitions which Linda Grant has reminded you of, lack of educational opportunities, lack of any meaningful response to an unemployment rate of around 50%. What more do you want to read?!
Yaniv posted on March 28, 2007 at 06:04:02 PM
Yehuda, you are mixing racism and incompotence. Not every failed goverment policy is a result of racial hatred. Here is an example: in 1998 there were 36 pre-schools for bedouines in the Negev. Today there are 450. If we are racist, then why do we invest all that money in bedoine sector?
Tony Greenstein posted on March 29, 2007 at 01:07:45 AM
I find it interesting that Yaniv, and many others, refer to ‘Shahk’s lie’ Shahak as a liar etc. Now you may disagree with someone but why call them a liar? Do you feel better for it to get some venom out? I rarely call Zionists liars because I’m happy to accept that they believe what they say. Why this pathological demonisation of someone who is dead.
Shahak was a liberal. I’m a Marxist. So I disagree with his conclusions about the Jewish religion, viz. that the many chauvinist statements in the Talmud and Old Testament therefore mean that the Jewish religion is racist. For a start, before the advent of capitalism and the bourgeois revolution and the formation of nation states, racism was an alien concept in terms of a comprehensive system of discrimination against the other.
But when religion is intertwined with the state then that chauvinism comes to the fore, often in the form of racism and the Jewish religion is no exception. So I disagree with Shahak that the chauvinism or racism of the Talmud is responsible for what is happening in Israel today vs the Palestinians and Arabs. On the contrary, it is the politics of Zionism and the Israeli State that have resulted in the religion moving towards the chauvinist right.
But you see us anti-Zionists are far more capable of disagreeing with each other without abuse but on this list and others we seen the name calling, the vituperation etc. And it is no surprise. I watched The Iron Wall tonight, a film about the Apartheid Wall in the Occupied Territories. It showed settlers in Hebron attacking with stones, bricks, firebombs etc Palestinian homes whilst the police and soldiers stood idly by and my first reaction was to recall what it must have been like in the pogroms in Russia in the early part of the 19th Century, because the hate filled faces of these settlers, attacking civilian homes, were all too reminiscent of anti-Semitism in a bygone age.
And despite the accusation of lies by Shahak, it is clear that there is nothing in the link which disproves what Shahak wrote in Jewish History Jewish Religion. And I also note that the ‘explanation’ for the treatment of the Bedouins, incompetence, is absurd. Why no such incompetence towards the Jewish towns of the Negev? Why aren’t Arabs giving the building permits that Jews receive? It is a fact that it is almost impossible to obtain building permits for Arabs in the Jordan Valley, the Negev or indeed most other parts of the West Bank, including East Jerualem of course. Racism operates, as it often does, through bureaucratic means, including the use of zoning, planning laws etc. This used to happen in other countries too, so it is not unique either.
Schultz doesn’t deny that the incident over saving a non-Jewish life occurred, he merely nitpicks. If there is one authority that contradicts what Shahak says then the case is proved.
‘So the question is quite simply is there a rabbinical authority who rules that a Jew should violate the Sabbath to save the life of a non-Jew? If the answer is yes, then Shahak is wrong; if the answer is yes, and Shahak knew it, then he is a liar.’
I disagree. On the contrary, if there is one rabbinical authority which upholds what Shahak says then that is a disgrace. Rabbinical authorities in the past, eg Hillel and Shamai were often at odds. I’m perfectly prepared to believe that Jakobovitz was opposed to the ruling in question. He was, relatively, a liberal on matters to do with the Palestinians, and was excoriated by the Israeli Rabbinate for it. I can remember Israel’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren questioning his fitness to be a rabbi on one occasion.
Schultz cites Rabbi Unterman the chief rabbi of Israel at the time. But the question is whether or not Shahak did indeed ask for a meeting with the Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem and whether they did indeed uphold the actions of the individual in question in not helping save a non-Jewish life. The Rabbinical Court and the Chief Rabbi are not one and the same thing.
Schultz though cites Jakobovits thus:
‘Jakobovits then goes on to point out that the "objective, to secure harmonius human relations, motivates several ordinances enacted by the rabbis 'on account of enmity,' that is, to prevent jealousy and disharmony (p. 61)."
Which is the point that Shahak makes, that saving of non-Jewish life is allowed if it might cause danger and enmity to Jews.
Schultz goes on to cite Jakobovits thus:
But what about a non-Jew, for whom this line of reasoning does not apply? In this case, "even Biblical violations of the Sabbath [as opposed to violations of rabbinic enactments, for which there is in general considerably more leniency] are warrented for non-Jews 'on account of enmity.' i.e., if the refusal to render such aid may imperil Jews (p. 62)." Thus, despite Shahak's characterization of the reasoning as "twaddle", the net result is exactly what he said it wasn't:
Jews are required to violate the Sabbath to help non-Jews.’
Again this supports Shahak’s argument and this from a (relatively) liberal rabbi.
And Schultz continues: ‘Jakobovits goes on to say
Quite obviously, any discrimination between Jews and non-Jews in this matter would inevitably lead to such 'enmity' today, and it cannot therefore be sustained in Jewish law. . . .’
Again it is quite clear that if anyone is ‘lying’ it isn’t Shahak.
And still Schultz continues that:
‘Interstingly, Jakobovits also says that there "is _nothing new_ in Rabbi Unterman's conclusion that in practice the Sabbath must be set aside even for the saving of a non-Jewish life (p. 62, emphasis mine)."
Note the ‘even’ – imagine someone saying that ‘even’ a Jewish life must be saved!
Whether or not Shahak was right to say that ‘Neither the Israeli, nor the diaspora, rabbinical authorities ever reversed their ruling that a Jew should not violate the Sabbath in order to save the life of a Gentile.’ is open to debate. To reverse a ruling one has to do so categorically, i.e. to say that the ruling of the Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem was wrong. Did Unterman or Jakobovits do that or did they try to have their cake and eat it? Either way it is accepted that the rabbinical court did make such a ruling and that is the key point – that any religious authority, be it Yesha or Jerusalem can rule that non-Jewish life is not worth saving on a sabbath or that killing a non-Jew is not murder because they have an animal soul etc. Pedantry and nitpicking is besides the point when you try to justify such religious and racial bigotry.
As for Goldsmith lecturer, I'm afraid a rather large number of your colleagues seem to disagree judging by my inbox!
And as for Joshua, I can think of a number of charities who could put your £1,000 to better use. There is nothing that I retract if David Hirsh was foolish enough to go down the legal road!
Yehuda Erdman posted on March 29, 2007 at 04:56:15 AM
So there is some improvement after decades of neglect, and sorry a State like Israel which is 58 years old, has a sophisticated economy, is a regional military power, many Universities etc. can not be excused incompetence of the scale I was describing. If anything, once people wake up to the problem there should be an overcompensation of the Bedouins to make up for the first long period of (by your own admission) 50 years when they had only 36 pre-schools.
What I am saying to you is that you can not have your cake and eat it.
Joshua posted on March 29, 2007 at 10:04:07 AM
'And as for Joshua, I can think of a number of charities who could put your £1,000 to better use.'
I need no lessons from you in how I should spend my money. In any event, I can just imagine what your idea of a "charity" is.
'There is nothing that I retract if David Hirsh was foolish enough to go down the legal road!'
It is quite obvious that you are not just a very bad and hateful man but also a dangererous one. At some point someone has to put a stop to your antics before you spin totally out of control. I really don't know whether that someone turns out to be Dr. Hirsh. I can assure you that if it does, he will receive enormous support from the Jewish community. I really don't think you fully comprehend how much you are hated and how much he is respected.
There is little doubt in my mind that at some point, like David Irving, you will have your day in court.
Mikey posted on March 29, 2007 at 10:07:38 AM
I can hardly believe my eyes –Tony Greenstein continues to defend Israel Shahak!
Let us look at some of things Israel Shahak has said
1. “The majority of the Jewish public in Israel (and also out of it) believes that only Jews are human beings, and therefore deserve to be trusted, while the Gentiles usually lie.”
2. “[B]oth before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his hands, uttering a special blessing. On one of these two occasions he is worshipping God … but on the other he is worshipping Satan.”
3. “[A]cording to Jewish Talmudic law, legally valid in Israel today, any gentile woman is considered as impure, a slave, a Gentile and a whore.”
4. “[T]here are Nazi-like tendencies in Judaism.”
5. Shahak called the highly respected Lubavitcher Rebbe the “hereditary Fuehrer of Habbad.”
6. He argued that both Israelis and Diaspora Jews exhibit “a strong sense of totalitarianism in their character.”
The list of blatant antisemitic comments from Shahak goes on and on. All the above quotes and many more can be found in Paul Bogdanor’s chapter “Chomsky’s Ayatollah’s” referred to in my earlier message. This excludes his continual discussions of the Israeli state being Nazi like.
On the business of the quote about that Shahak gave about Rabbinical law saying Jews should not violate the Sabbath to save the life of a Gentile, Greenstein denies that Shahak was lying “Again it is quite clear that if anyone is ‘lying’ it isn’t Shahak” and this is despite the fact that as I have said in my earlier message Shahak admitted that the Orthodox Jew he was referring to in his incident did not exist!
This is the man that Greenstein supported in 1990 when he was on the editorial collective of RETURN as they published his writings and continues to support today – Despite all of Shahak’s comments, Greenstein refers to him above as “a liberal.” This is simply astonishing. Greenstein then goes on to insult the late highly respected Chief Rabbi Lord Jakobovitz by suggesting in some way that his comments on the Talmud may be influenced by his opinion on the Palestinian question.
Tony Greenstein’s post above is a disgrace and he should apologize for his comments.
Joshua posted on March 29, 2007 at 01:01:15 PM
'On the business of the quote about that Shahak gave about Rabbinical law saying Jews should not violate the Sabbath to save the life of a Gentile'
The most objectionable thing is that these moral midgets are spitting in the faces of countless courageous and righteous Jews: all those religious Jewish doctors who have worked and still work on holy days to tend to the sick (I include my late father and a very large number of the 70% of doctors in Warsaw who were Jewish and were murdered in the Holocaust); the thousands of Zionists who fought and organised resistance in occupied Europe against the Nazis and the many millions of willing collaborators in the face of the indifference and hatred of their neighbours and the insouciance of the Allies.
Inna posted on March 30, 2007 at 06:00:16 AM
Tony, May I ask a fairly simple question of you? Do you feel that the Jewish people have as much right to their own state as any other people in the world?
Please note: I am not asking whether you feel that nation-states are a good or a bad thing in and of themselves; I am asking you whether you feel the Jewish people are as entitled to such a nation-state as are the English, the French, the Palestinians, the Germans, the Swedes, the Japanese, the Indians, etc.
Linda Grant posted on March 30, 2007 at 12:14:14 PM
I hesitate to put words in Tony Greenstein's mouth, but I think he would argue as a Marxist that no-one has a right to a nation state, which is a product of nineteenth-century bourgeois capitalism, but particularly not the Jews since it can only be achieved at the expense of another people.
Joshua posted on March 30, 2007 at 02:56:55 PM
'but particularly not the Jews since it can only be achieved at the expense of another people'
Or the Canadians, or the Americans, or the Australians, or the New Zealanders. And why should we spare the Poles who collaborated in their millions to murder the Jews of Poland and elsewhere and to steal all their property (virtually none of which has been returned)? This is leaving aside Poland's role in ethnically cleansing millions of totally innocent Germans and killing many thousands of others. And along similar lines we could also include, inter alia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Holland and Belgium. Indeed, Europe is for the most part built on mass-murder and dispossession.
History has shown the Jewish people over and over again what will happen to them without a nation state. These words of Jabotinsky from 1938 still ring true: 'Liquidate the Diaspora or the Diaspora will surely liquidate you'. To agree with Greenstein would be to consent to the death of the Jewish people.
Linda Grant posted on March 30, 2007 at 04:03:41 PM
I didn't say I agreed with it, I was just giving Inna an answer without her having to wait. I am not a Marxist, I just happen to know what Marxists think. Fortunately Marxists, while making a huge hue and cry in debate, armed as they are with what they call 'correct ideas' are few and far between in real life and unlikely to be in attendance in the event of any final status negotiations, which is why we don't need to worry too much about them. I doubt if any Marxists had any hand in drawing up the Saudi plan which is exercising so much interest in the media this week.
Frank Adam posted on July 15, 2007 at 06:24:12 PM
On reading the opening of this debate I noted - again - the blind comment that Israel is the only settler state left, but thought it better to read the debate before repeating myself. As it was only Joshua who made the point that all the states of the Americas and Australasia are settler creations and that a lot of ethnic cleansing has happened in Europe as a result of the rise and fall of the Fascists and Nazis, I am not sorry to second Joshua's criticism especially as the entire current map of Africa was laid out in the European period.
Then there is the blinkered comment that "racism was an alien concept of discrimination before capitalism and the bourgeois nation state" to which: why has the word 'Slav' become our word 'slave' and replaced; thrall and bond(wo)man if not because of the Turkish slaving the harvest of the steppes? Even now Arabic - according to Eban who knew the language- uses the same word for a slave and a black African. If being a Marxist has any claim whatsoever to be scientific then its believers have to also handle the knowledge that comes from other sources than The Master's interpretation of British blue books on public health and the 19th century economy.
Much of the argument above has the medieval flavour of a solely textual exercise - intellectual exhibition dancing - without reference to the real problem/s in the real world. Somebody commented that the founding fathers of Zionism were all disillusioned assimilationists. All of them had taken up the promise of the Enlightenment and the French and US revolutions and got themselves a modern education and part in the modern nation only to be bitterly hurt by rejection of some sort. That is why on discovering that nations still define themselves by traditional religious experience even when being as anti-clerical as France the Zionists decided to take off on their own; and the Holocaust turned into the biggest "Told you so in history." Nor was the Zionist epic even half as nasty as the colonialism of the Europeans in America, Africa and Asia (where the Russians also settled, and kept, despite going Communist for a lifetime). Zionists undeniably bought their lands. If eventually they conquered them it was because the Palestine and other Arabs set a dreadful precedent of junking a UN resolution.
To sum up the point Marx wrote there has always been social discrimination and class war; but for us it has not always been based on mere skin colour, and has not always been based on religion - a matter over which the Moslem World does not have clean hands nor egalitarian law. Whatever their faults given this is the bi-centenary of the abolition of the slave trade in British territory and whatever international areas it could impose on, slavery was abolished by the European culture zone taking its religion and politics seriously. The Arab World was still slaving and trading officially till 1960 [when the US? persuaded?] the Saudis to stop it.
The Kastner/ Perdition argument smacks of rank inhumane hypocrisies. To hang a whole movement on the desperate attempts of a few to escape a fatal situation not of their making is poor judgement even if the logic is perfect. Is Tony Greenstein really asking us to believe that if he had been in Nazi occupied Hungary with one of the 1600 tickets on the "Kastner" train to Switzerland he would have torn it up prefering to be in the Auschwitz Sonderkommando rebellion - assuming he would have known and gotten as far as being in that invidiously elect group?
The variant "racism" superseded "racialism/ist" about the seventies probably as a result of somebody trying for a shortening to rhyme with "Fascist/m". In historical context it is a manner of saying "colour" without saying colour even as Marr's invention of 'Antisemitism' was a way of dropping the guttersnipe"Judenhass" for something academically Graeco- Latin. Either way racism is to do with discriminatiing on biological quirks first; and throwing mud:- pre 1945 that the Jews were biologically different; and since to slate Jews as on a par with their enemies so that their enemies can equalise themselves out of obloquy. That Israel has discrimination problems is patent - not in the least that the Arab World has inveigled the World to discriminate against Israel over its self- deterrmination and its choice of capital. However Israeli social problems can only be dealt with by sectioning them and dealing with each aspect in turn. Crass and gross insults do not achieve anything positive. To sum up: the religious discriminations in the frictions of the Arab vendetta on Israel is not racism because no colour or other biology is involved and anybody with a little study and will can convert between religions. If people really wish to improve Israel rather than fall in wiith an Arab aim to destroy it then talk clarity rather than spit tobacco quids.
On this last point what do Tony Greenstein and his ilk really want? A better Israel? Then Bravo! but asking it to dissolve itself is an odd medicine. The Arabs have never wanted & not yet succeeded in creating a state after the pattern of the Enlightenment of which France - la Republique, and the US - the Great Republic , still remain the shining lights despite their warts and all. What is a Marxist doing? settling on a peripheral sideshow as if it will cure the World's ills? and siding with a bunch of clerical fascists pickled in medieval mindsets whose civil administration would be so deeply into preindustrial modes of production it would collapse in violence in three months as we see in Iraq?
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