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?