Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Updating the Enemies List

It feels like only yesterday that I joked:

Now 'Jonathan Miller, Alexei Sayle, [and] Stephen Fry' have joined Nick Cohen's enemies list. Bloody hell.


But it wasn't yesterday, it was as long ago as Sunday. Which leaves, to misquote Robert Heinlein, time enough for hate. Yes, Mike Leigh joins the unpersons. I saw this post, and thought "business as usual, sigh" but Flying Rodent thought it was worthy of a tweet. The comments! ye gods!

Anyone "Jewish" who dissents at all from supporting Israel is now vilified. It's no longer about anti-Semitism, it's about policing norms of discourse. When will they move onto those really slippery Jews, the ones who live in Israel and yet dare to question their government? Haaretz: Israeli academic: Loyalty oath resembles racist laws of 1935.

Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals [all natural enemies of Harry's Place - DW] held on Sunday a demonstration against the cabinet's approval of a controversial amendment to the citizenship bill, requiring non-Jews seeking citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
...
Actress Hana Maron read from the Declaration of Independence: "I will read this again:' [the state of Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex'. This makes me want to cry. What has become of us?" said Maron.
...
Israeli educational psychologist Prof. Gavriel Solomon said that "the idea of Judenrein (Jew free zone), or Arab-rein is not new... Some might say 'how can you compare us to Nazis'. I am not talking about the death camps, but about the year 1935. There were no camps yet but there were racist laws. And we are heading forward towards these kinds of laws. The government is clearly declaring our incapacity for democracy."


Why did Emmanuel Goldstein, I mean Mike Leigh cancel his trip? That loyalty oath. Some people might go so far as to call his act one of solidarity with the democratic left.

Ah, no wonder Harry's Place hates him.

Update 20/10/10 12:15 Looking forward to Norm's take on this: Auschwitz survivor: ‘Israel acts like Nazis’. Oh, it gets better:

Dr Hajo Meyer, 86, who survived 10 months in the Nazi death camp, spoke out as his 10-day tour of the UK and Ireland – taking in three Scottish venues – got under way. His comments sparked a furious reaction from hardline Jewish lobby groups, with Dr Meyer branded an “anti-Semite” and accused of abusing his position as a Holocaust survivor.


My emphasis. Srsly.

Dr Meyer also insisted the definition of “anti-Semitic” had now changed, saying: “Formerly an anti-Semite was somebody who hated Jews because they were Jews and had a Jewish soul. But nowadays an anti-Semite is somebody who is hated by Jews.”


Works for me.

Update 2 20/10/10 12:30 That article was from January, but I only just came across it. He's still right. Via Graham Linehan.

20 Comments:

Blogger FlyingRodent said...

It's no longer about anti-Semitism, it's about policing norms of discourse.

With respect good sir, I suspect that it was never about anti-semitism, or anti-Americanism or pro-terrorism or any related issue, but that it was always about policing norms of discourse.

BTW, I believe that HP have now expelled the following artists and filmmakers from the Party on Israel-related grounds in the last few months: Mike Leigh, Gorillaz (esp. Damon Albarn), Primal Scream, Roger Waters, Carol Churchill, Ken Loach, Gil Scott Heron and the Pixies. I know there were others, but I forget who.

Positive mentions for Jethro Tull, Elton John, Howard Jacobson and Rod Stewart have made me conclude that the Devil probably does get all the best tunes.

10/20/2010 10:09:00 AM  
OpenID yorksranter said...

Gorillaz, Primal Scream, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Pixies.

That's one hell of a lineup. We need to organise an Indecent Fest.

10/20/2010 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

And on the subject of "policing the norms of discourse", see here the Engageniks issuing diktats...

http://tinyurl.com/2fl4bbp

I see that David Hirsh has responded to the horrific public beating he got from Martin Shaw on the boycotts issue... By pretending it didn't happen and continuing as before.

To rehash a tired old gag for the thousandth time, Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to carefully watch what you say in case you overstep the arbitrary and conveniently narrow invisible lines drawn by self-appointed blog commissars. Or something.

10/20/2010 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

"Ran, your own “asa Jew” and “not in my name” consciousness is important to you – fine. But you should not allow that kind of thinking to define the way big and important civil society organisations think. Because it is dangerous. This reason for singling out Israel – because you yourself are Jewish – is certainly not tenable."

I'd always thought that the fact that David Hirsh is Jewish had something to do with his focus on Israel and Zionism, but obviously it was just an irrelevant coincidence. To think otherwise would certainly not be tenable.

10/20/2010 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely got to add Annie Lennox to the "enemies" list. See Andrew Anthony's recent interview with her in the Observer :-

"Last year, for example, she came under fire when she spoke out against Israel. "I was critical of Israel's policy of bombing Gaza," she explains, "that was populated by mainly children in a space where they couldn't escape from. I said that it was not the way forward to peace." However some felt that, in attending the demonstration against Israel, she was effectively supporting the Palestinian Islamists, Hamas, a suggestion she flatly rejected. Even so, she was accused of naivety and even antisemitism."

and who are these "some people" who "felt" Annie Lennox is a Hamas loving anti semite ? You'd get the impression from clothes for chaps that these were substantial figures with a reasoned critique rather than frothing loonies on the internet

10/20/2010 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

From that Hirsh piece:

The situation in UCU is now so serious that there are no Jews left at its biggest decision making body who are willing or able to argue against the boycott because they have been pushed out, bullied or banned.

"No Jews left" links to a 2009 piece with an interminable comment thread in which Chris and I both tried, repeatedly, to make the point that "Zionists didn't turn up" is not logically equivalent to "Jews are barred" (to be as fair as humanly possible to him, Hirsh acknowledges this at one point but quickly rows back to almost exactly where he started). So "there are no Jews left" means "nobody spoke against an anti-Zionist resolution in 2009". And "banned" links to Hirsh being banned from the aut-activists mailing list for throwing the word 'anti-semitic' around; obviously this was wrong, because he was telling the truth, and extremism in the defence of, etc.

Not only is he still writing semi-logical self-pitying tendentious wibble, he's now citing his old semi-logical self-pitying tendentious wibble in support of himself.

Captcha: paingist. That's about it.

10/20/2010 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

That Place did cover Hajo Meyer in comments here, though you may have to hurry as they now appear to regularly delete their comment threads, presumably as a libel avoidance measure.

10/20/2010 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

First off - thank you.

Second off - is it only me who can't understand why anyone still uses the phrases 'pro-Israeli', 'pro-Palestinian', or 'supporter of Israel'? They're all massively unhelpful. If you're a serious adult, there's no way you should view the world like a fucking football tournament - you shouldn't 'support' countries like football teams. I'm not pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian - it's a stupid, partisan way of approaching a really important issue. That's why I can't stand all the 'Labour/Tory friends of X' approach to world affairs. It's symptomatic of a lobbiyst approach to diplomacy which I think is poisonous. But then again almsot all the rhetoric on these issues is poisonous - people (including Mike Leigh) are continually pressed to 'support Israel's right to exist', for instance, but it's quite hard to do that seeing as the Israeli govt refuses to admit its own national borders. It's hard to support the right to exist of an Israel that includes every single settlement in the West Bank; hell it's hard to accept the right to exist of an Israel whose border is the 'security barrier/fence/whatever'.

All the same, the Leigh piece is one of the most boneheaded articles I've yet seen on HP Sauce. Witness:

It’s a fair interpretation of this statement to assume Leigh is referring to specific acts by the Israeli government that he cites in the letter as having contributed to his decision to cancel his visit; acts for which he is determined his support should not be implied. But such an interpretation renders his comment above – not least his conviction that to proceed with the visit has an ‘unquestionable’ appearance – illogical.

Maybe - just maybe - if you squint really hard, you could interpret it as the author of the piece is trying to; but Leigh is, throughout the letter, very clear that it is the actions and the policies of the Israeli govt which he is reacting to. You have to ignore the whole thing and read a half-sentence in total isolation to think otherwise. plus ca change for our witch-hunting friends but still.

Hirsh:

“Not in my name” thinking has a tendency to make ourselves the centre of the world and to focus our political consciousness inwards rather than outwards.

is it only me who can't work out what on earth he's talking about here? I find his whole schtick about 'UCU is 'Jew-free' really problematic - not only is it factually inaccurate, it's yet another smear attempt. The whole UCU issue I find pretty weird. notwithstanding the hardline anti-zionism of a lot of activists, I don't get Hirsh's problem. It's a democratic union - it has zionist and anti-zionist members. If he doesn't like the makeup of its exec, he needs to stand and run for things, maybe campaigning in the process. instead he jsut seems to run a self-serving blog. reminds me of that bloke - i forget the name - who was running to be part of the Amnesty board on the ticket of, er, turning a blind eye to Israeli human rights violations.

I'm really uncomfortable with the way an insult ('asajew') that seemed to start in HP Sauce comments threads is now being used by fairly sensible people like Hirsh and Linda Grant.

10/21/2010 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Posted a long, boring entry on this yesterday which disappeared...

anyway. If you look over at the kerching place, you'll see they're not promoting a campaign entitled 'not in our name'...

anyway. the post on Leigh is so boneheaded as to be exceptional even for HP Sauce ctandards, reading one half-sentence against an entire letter. The 'loyalty oath' would be the subject of constant 'why-oh-why' HP Sauce postings if it were proposed by, say, the Palestinian Authority.

"there are no Jews left" means "nobody spoke against an anti-Zionist resolution in 2009".

even worse, it turned out that Hirsh was actually there, but his shameful silence was based on the fact that he 'didn't have the right to speak'. Surely his problem is with the fact that union members didn't vote for Zionists - thus his problem is with the union being, er, democratic. As with David Toube's former pieces on the UCU, this all feels borne out of personal gridges as opposed to any honest political debate.

10/22/2010 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Also i wanted to whinge about something else:

Anyone "Jewish" who dissents at all from supporting Israel is now vilified.

I think that this idea of 'support' and being 'pro' a particular side in international affairs is a really big problem. i still don't understand how anyone can 'support' a country in anything other than sport. Labelling yourself, or your enemies, 'supporters' of a particular state is a really toxic way of looking at international affairs. for example, Leigh is guilty of this, and invites the HP Sauce boneheaded readings, when he talks of 'support for Israel' - a central problem with the debate is that nowhere else in the world, pretty much, are people asked to 'support the existence of a state' before entering into debate. And the problem with this is that a government (and in Israel, the odd proportional system means that the government usually isn't elected by a majority) is conflated into the country itself. to use the flipside, a 'Labour friend of Iraq' in 2000 would be expected to support Saddam Hussein (and even, potentially, to view Kuwait as Iraqi soil). er...

10/22/2010 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did it? I'm sure I read it via gmail. Will copy and paste it back into here when I get home. Liked it. DW

10/22/2010 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

by the way - thanks - for an earlier gmail related thing.

10/22/2010 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the long and rambling comments thread from 2009...
http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/michael-cushman-and-the-jew-free-ucu-congress/
About the only point of light in it is Jon Pike turning up halfway through to stick his neck out to defend me, in the spirit of NBACAI. This actually made me cry a little bit, I was so unexpectedly happy. Luckily I was sitting in the British Library so nobody noticed.

By the way - had I known then what I know now, something that I would have acknowledged in that particular thread is that active anti-semitic harrassment against people in the UK who are visibly Jewish appears to be pervasive and to often involve references to the state of Israel. But it's not being driven by people who are visibly Muslim. The CST is if anything _under_-reporting this.

That caveat doesn't actually change what is true or right in the MI, or course, but it does put the heat/light ratio of some of the debates on this issue into a better perspective

Chris Williams

10/22/2010 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Screw them all. Mike Leigh makes films that make me laugh and cry. Harry's Place, Nick Cohen, well, they cannot trump that.

Of course, Roger Waters was in Decent good books for visiting Israel (Waters defended his decision to do so), but now the guy's been condemned by the ADL, well, he must be an antisemite!

10/22/2010 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

You guys are beyond tedious, but hell I've got nothing better to do.

I guess you missed this:

http://hurryupharry.org/2010/10/11/israeli-politicians-denounce-pledge-amendment/

You're obviously avid readers of HP, but somehow you missed the post against the loyalty oath? Blimey!

And OG, I'm afriad you've erred. When I wrote:

It’s a fair interpretation of this statement to assume Leigh is referring to specific acts by the Israeli government that he cites in the letter as having contributed to his decision to cancel his visit; acts for which he is determined his support should not be implied. But such an interpretation renders his comment above – not least his conviction that to proceed with the visit has an ‘unquestionable’ appearance – illogical.

the 'this statement' I'm referring to is Leigh's revelation that the planned trip is making him:

ever-increasingly uncomfortable about what would unquestionably appear as my implicit support for Israel…

Contrary to your suggestion, I don't need convincing that Leigh's discomfort is as a result of the Israeli govt. actions. Of course it is. This doesn't make his insistence that a visit to a (famously liberal) film school in Jerusalem would be interpreted as support for the Israeli government any less illogical, not to mention less-boneheaded.

If Leigh were to say that his cancellation was intended to send a message to the Israeli government, that would be one thing. But to say that to proceed with the visit necessarily signals support for the same government is quite a different matter. It's a nonsense, a cop out and the desprate stretch of someone looking to justify an action any which way he can. Far from any visit being interpretd as support for Netanyahu's administration, had Leigh gone to Sam Spiegel about the only people who would have noticed would have been his wife and the students at the school.

This AW post and the comments accompanying it claim we support a specific Israeli government policy (the loyalty oath) when we don't, and that we condemn Leigh because he opposes the oath, when in fact all I did in my post is point out that the reasons Leigh provides for cancelling, however sincere, don't actually make sense.

HP is so bad that it doesn't matter if you make stuff up? Is that how it works?

11/04/2010 02:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

You guys are beyond tedious, but hell I've got nothing better to do.

I guess you missed this:

http://hurryupharry.org/2010/10/11/israeli-politicians-denounce-pledge-amendment/

You're obviously avid readers of HP, but somehow you missed the post against the loyalty oath? Blimey!

And OG, I'm afriad you've erred. When I wrote:

It’s a fair interpretation of this statement...

the 'this statement' I'm referring to is Leigh's revelation that the planned trip is making him:

ever-increasingly uncomfortable about what would unquestionably appear as my implicit support for Israel…

Contrary to your suggestion, I don't need convincing that Leigh's discomfort is as a result of the Israeli govt. actions. Of course it is. This doesn't make his insistence that a visit to a (famously liberal) film school in Jerusalem would be interpreted as support for the Israeli government any less illogical, not to mention less-boneheaded.

If Leigh were to say that his cancellation was intended to send a message to the Israeli government, that would be one thing. But to say that to proceed with the visit necessarily signals support for the same government is quite a different matter. It's a nonsense, a cop out and the desprate stretch of someone looking to justify an action any which way he can. Far from any visit being interpretd as support for Netanyahu's administration, had Leigh gone to Sam Spiegel about the only people who would have noticed would have been his wife and the students at the school.

This AW post and the comments accompanying it claim we support a specific Israeli government policy (the loyalty oath) when we don't, and that we condemn Leigh because he opposes the oath, when in fact all I did in my post is point out that the reasons Leigh provides for cancelling, however sincere, don't actually make sense.

HP is so bad that it doesn't matter if you make stuff up? Is that how it works?

11/04/2010 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Brownie, I'm really not clear as to what you're saying I said. For the record, I don't read Harry's Place avidly, or even frequently. I would have read Gene's post if I'd realised he was still writing for you.

Unlike you, I find Leigh's logic perfectly sensible. Visiting Israel could be seen as implicitly supporting its government. (I'm quite happy to criticise people who 'apolitically' visit Dubai, for comparison.)

My point is much more that your post provided a platform for the comments, which were almost sublimely ridiculous. It's a good job they've disappeared.

I stand by this:

Some people might go so far as to call his act one of solidarity with the democratic left.

Ah, no wonder Harry's Place hates him.


Wasn't Leigh's act "one of solidarity with the democratic left"? And wasn't he denounced for it?

11/04/2010 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

I would have read Gene's post if I'd realised he was still writing for you.

Well now you know it exists and have read it, I assume you accept that there is no pro-loyalty oath line at HP? DT's against it, Gene is, I am and I'd wager the majority, if not all, of the other posters are similarly opposed.

Unlike you, I find Leigh's logic perfectly sensible. Visiting Israel could be seen as implicitly supporting its government.

Firstly, insofar as his visit could have been so interpreted, anyone interpreting in this manner would be over-reaching a tad, would they not? I mean, there's nowt as queer as folk, but inferring support for the government of a democractic state by dint of being perpared to visit it requires a MA in illogic

Secondly, Leigh didn't claim that: "Visiting Israel could be seen as implicitly supporting its government." As I say above, it *could* be seen this way because there are people out there prepared to see things any way that suits them. But he didn't say that anyway. His fears about the prospective visit made him uncomfortable about what "would unquestionably appear as my implicit support for Israel…".

"Unquesitonably"? Really? Leigh is not fearful that his visit *could* be seen to lend support to the Israeli government; he's saying that it would not be posisble to interpret it any other way.

It's this reasoning that I have a problem with.

Did you read Schorr's response to Leigh? Leigh was actively encouraged (not that he didn't know this was an option available to him before cancelling) to use his visit to voice his protest against the Israeli govt. generally and the loyalty oath specifically. People who know more about the Sam Spiegel School than I do tell me his views would have found much favour with the student community.

So to summarise, he cancelled a trip to a film school in a foreign democracy because such a trip "unquesitonably" implies support for that country's government, even though he could have used such a trip to denounce said government.

I said in the post that I've no doubt he is sincere in his beliefs and I see no reason to change that opinion. That doesn't change the fact that his expressed motivation for cancelling reads like a bunch of arse. I get a sense of someone doing something they suspect may not be correct, but rather than reflect on this he goes the other way, creating a narrative to justify his decision which excludes any possibility that a different decison could be similarly justified (see "unquestionably" above).

Wasn't Leigh's act "one of solidarity with the democratic left"

Not with the democratic left in Israel, it wasn't.

But, sadly, you were right about a lot of the comments to my post. On that point, at least, it's a fair cop.

11/04/2010 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Brownie, sorry for being late replying. Since you're being nice, and have made the big concession that many of the comments were ugly (and that's really what caused me to post), I'm tempted to agree with you about Leigh's *possible* bad faith.

However, I really don't get why you're so sure it wasn't an act of solidarity with the democratic left in Israel. (I take it you agree that one exists.) I don't know what Leigh's motives were or why he chose not to visit Israel to make his point, but I assume that he had reasons. Maybe he was asked to stay away, maybe he thought that cancelling a trip would ensure the best publicity for/dissemination of his views. There is a democratic Israeli left who share Leigh's concern. See Haaretz article linked from the post.

Your attack on him relies too much on one word (and I know Leigh is a well-known writer with a Cambridge degree; I'm not pleading inarticulacy on his behalf). I mean, Jesus. It's like the multi-author post about Jon Stewart's "Rally for Sanity" where Cat Stevens played. I can't bear Cat Stevens or his views myself, but I think (as I've said in another thread) that 'habibi' had it right. He and his views really aren't known in the US beyond 'Peace Train'. You (pl) look for nits to pick, and then you obsess over them.

Just for comparison, what do you think of Steven Weinberg? Do you think his one-man boycott of the UK is a principled stand or just a bit tosserish?

11/05/2010 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

The cultural boycott of Israel is a fact. It's happening. Weinberg's (re)actions have to be seen in that context. He's hardly an advocate for cultural boycotts per se; it's nothing more than a professorial equivalent of, "Have some of that!"

But I won't move the goalposts; as a general principle, I remain convicned that cultural boycotts of democracies mark you out as a tosser.

11/09/2010 04:49:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home