Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mad Mel Phlips muddies the waters

In the latest column of one of Britain's leading Jewish Israel First Crusaders, Mad Mel Phlips (The Spectator - I'm not linking, sorry), makes a tactical mistake. Mrs Phlips' Paladins of the Clash of Civilisations (who comment night and day on Mad Mel's relentless bashing of any criticism of Israel as quasi-demonic) had previously been trained so well on shooting from the hip at anyone who dares to suggest that not everything might be Kosher in the Holy Land, have now been confused by a highly fuzzy piece from the clergy of Peckam (sorry, Putney). In it, the... ahem... 'Team Rector of Putham' cackles on about anti-Zionism, anti-religionism, anti-Semitism and an old and hopefully completely forgotten Marxist, in a piece that could have been better written by one of Giles Fraser's choir boys.

Mel's commenters, let's face it, aren't the sharpest tools in the box: it's a finnicky flock that's easily led astray. I've seen more honest attempts at truth finding on the forum of the Flat Earth Society. So, in an attempt at keeping them honest, Mel leaves me no choice but to do her pseudo-messianic work for her. Here goes:

Rule 1: Criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.
Rule 2: Criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.

Analyse why the following phrase is deeply anti-Semitic:

"Israel could treat the Palestinians a little better."

Firstly, it's criticism of Israel, so it's anti-Semitic (acc. both rules).

Secondly, it implies there is a such a thing as a "Palestinian": that is criticism of Israel, so it's anti-Semitic (acc. both rules).

Thirdly, it implies that said "Palestinian" may have rights: that is criticism of Israel, so it's anti-Semitic (acc. both rules).

So, in all we have three anti-Semitic statements crammed into one statement. That makes it a deeply anti-Semitic statement.

You see Mel, no clergy needed.

17 Comments:

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Richard said...

My message to Mad Mel - and her ilk is simple.

You are personally complicit in one of the greatest war crimes of the last century, ie: "The Final Solution to the Palestinian Problem."

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Hi Rich, long time, no hear...

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Richard:

I don't know who Mel Philipps is and I don't read her columns, so I don't know if I exactly qualify as being "her ilk". Since not only am I not an anti-Zionist, but actually a Zionist (of the moderate peacenik kind, but I have a feeling all Zionists are the same criminal bunch to you, Richard) I assume you blame me too for what you call "the Final Solution to the Palestinian Problem."

Well, it ain't a Holocaust, ain't a genocide and sure as hell there isn't anything final about it! Look how long the conflict has been dragging on. I guess we're the most inefficient genocidal maniacs the world has ever seen.

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

As you know I don't use terms like those when it comes to the I/P conflict but I can see why others do though. It's become very difficult to believe Zionism really ever had anything in mind other than complete control over Palestine. It's also a rather inescapable conclusion that the Palestinians are paying the price for someone else's crimes and in that context it's inevitable that some will use terms like 'the final solution for the Palestinians'.

You're a moderate, peace-loving Zionist: when then not stop playing with Plinky and write about what you believe needs to be done? You shirk away from that, further reinforcing the notion that there really isn't a peace bloc in Israel worth speaking of. W/o counterforce Israel and the US will create a situation of de jure Apartheid and as we know such regimes aren't blessed with longevity...

You prefer not to speak out, instead you merely criticise the critics. That's pretty lame, even for a peacenik...

As regards Melanie Phillips, no, you don't qualify as "her ilk". Mrs Phlips' supporters are mainly non-Jewish Israel-Firsters who believe YHWH gave the land to the Jews and that everything flows from there.

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

"It's become very difficult to believe Zionism really ever had anything in mind other than complete control over Palestine."

Considering the fact that the outgoing government supports the two-state solution, and the one before it withdrew from Gaza, I'd say this statement is false.

"It's also a rather inescapable conclusion that the Palestinians are paying the price for someone else's crimes and in that context it's inevitable that some will use terms like 'the final solution for the Palestinians'."

The old "Palestinians are paying the price for the Holocaust and pogroms" is false. We'd have a right to be here even if Jews were never persecuted elsewhere. It is true that the Holocaust boosted support for a Jewish state in the international community, but that doesn't make the Palestinians "second-hand victims" of the Holocaust. I know you don't use the terminology, but Richard shouldn't either, because it implies a genocide is taking place and that is absolutely false.

"You prefer not to speak out, instead you merely criticise the critics. That's pretty lame, even for a peacenik..."

I speak out plenty. My blog is full of posts criticizing Israeli actions. I criticize people both to my right (Netanyahu is just one example) and to my left (Richard here). The world, and the Middle East in particular, is a far more complex place than the way either the far-right Zionists or the far left anti-Zionists see it, so I criticize both sides.

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

"Considering the fact that the outgoing government supports the two-state solution, and the one before it withdrew from Gaza, I'd say this statement is false."

A recent poll showed support for the Two State solution now to be a minority position among Jewish Israelis.

The incoming government (assuming Likud - Beiteinu) will not be in favour of it. Past governments have paid lip service to it, yet haven't halted the settlements.

"The old "Palestinians are paying the price for the Holocaust and pogroms" is false. We'd have a right to be here even if Jews were never persecuted elsewhere. It is true that the Holocaust boosted support for a Jewish state in the international community, but that doesn't make the Palestinians "second-hand victims" of the Holocaust."

It may be de facto false, Emm, but many see it that way and perception may not be reality but perception matters. If I were Palestinian I'd see it that way, you can't just brush under the carpet how others experience the world because their experience doesn't coincide with yours.

You'd have the right to be there? How, pray, tell??? To me Israel is a reality and I'm not a reality denier. I know Israelis aren't going to pack their bags and leave and that's fine by me.

But Israel was allowed to pop into existence only because the powers that be so decided that, against Arab wishes.

Israel's right to exist depends simply on 'Might makes Right', not 'Right makes Might'.

Nobody is obliged to share his home with a burglar, no matter how lovely the burglar's intentions may be. In the case of the Zionist burglars it's abundantly clear their intentions were not and are not lovely at all.

"I speak out plenty. My blog is full of posts criticizing Israeli actions [...]"

Perhaps in the past, yes. Why not now, when perhaps it's most needed?

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

"We'd have a right to be here even if Jews were never persecuted elsewhere."

Except that you [Zionists] claim to have more right to be there than those indigenous to the area: RoR for you, not them. In extremis that then results in a Kafkaesque situation where a bouncer from Moldova landed in Tel Aviv some 20 years ago and is now a lawmaker eligible to make laws that could expel Palestinians or render them w/o vote because they're "not loyal".

That's why anti-Zionists consider Zionism to be intrinsically racist.

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

"A recent poll showed support for the Two State solution now to be a minority position among Jewish Israelis."

Polls showed for quite some time that most Israelis supported the two-state solution. I hope the poll that showed otherwise was wrong.

"The incoming government (assuming Likud - Beiteinu) will not be in favour of it. Past governments have paid lip service to it, yet haven't halted the settlements."

Yes, you can forget about peace under Bibi. Previous governments have not done enough to seriously promote peace and all continued settlement activity. We've got plenty of wrongdoing to our name.

"Perhaps in the past, yes. Why not now, when perhaps it's most needed?

I don't know why you think I've stopped speaking out. I still do it all the time. It isn't on a daily basis like you, but whenever there's something specific I have to say, I say it.

"Except that you [Zionists] claim to have more right to be there than those indigenous to the area: RoR for you, not them."

The right of return is not a natural right for either Jews or Palestinians. It wasn't created by God or Justice or Mother Earth. It's a political right created by the state. Each country can choose its own immigration policy.

As for the Moldovan bouncer, he's got quite a few hurdles in the way of getting rid of the Arabs. First, he has to get the Knesset to pass the legislation, which not all members of the narrow coalition will vote for. Even if he does succeed (which I doubt), I imagine the Supreme Court would strike down the law.

He's a fascist and a racist. He's a threat to, and the shame of, Israeli democracy. But his anti-Arab agenda isn't going to come to fruition soon (and Israelis like me have to make sure of that).

 
At 8:55 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

"The right of return is not a natural right for either Jews or Palestinians. It wasn't created by God or Justice or Mother Earth. It's a political right created by the state. Each country can choose its own immigration policy.

Imagine Britain to start an immigration policy that favour one ethnic or religious group, to the detriment of all others. It would be widely condemned for that, even though 'it can choose its own immigration policy'. It could by its sovereign right do much worse than that but having that 'right' wouldn't make those policies defensible.

Whether countries have the right to do this or not takes nothing away from the fact that such a policy would be considered deeply racist. Essentially you're saying states have the right to be racist.

And it goes much deeper than mere immigration policies. Mustafa Bargouthi, born in J'sem, can no longer return to it, simply and only because he's born Arab.

Imagine in Britain someone born in London no longer allowed to return to his birth place because, I dunno..., he was born to French parents?

This Jewish Exceptionalism creates a whole ritz of absurdities and injustices but we're supposed to turn a blind eye because Israel is a Jewish state?

You've gotta admit that 'Yehudi from Brooklyn makes Alya', no questions asked, is in stark and really unjustifiable contrast with Mustafa's fate.

For years, I used to accept these iniquities (but not comfortably). I wonder why...

Israelis don't like their state to be called racist because the term conjures up white mobs pulping non-whites, the KKK and such like but racism exists on many levels.

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Many countries give preferential treatment to members of their own national group. For example, descendants of ethnic Germans are given automatic German citizenship. Israel's major national group, the Jews, is doing the same thing.

"And it goes much deeper than mere immigration policies. Mustafa Bargouthi, born in J'sem, can no longer return to it, simply and only because he's born Arab."

We're no longer talking about the right to return into the green line borders of Israel here. East Jerusalem is like the West Bank and Gaza - so it is a whole different story.

I know that Palestinians from East Jerusalem who leave it for a time are not allowed to return, and can only live in the West Bank. That's wrong.

 
At 4:09 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

On the ethnic Germans you're trying to create equivalence where there really is none. What Germany does with ethnic Germans is preferential treatment vis-à-vis those who once lived on German territory but through Germany's loss of territory found themselves living in another country. These ethnic Germans aren't defined by race or religion.

More importantly, Germany does not exclude immigrants that have nothing to do with 'Germany': I, as a non-German citizen of the Green Zone could go and live there legally, without additional paper work, work permits or anything like that. I would not have German citizenship of course but I could apply for it if I so wished.

I live in Britain on the same basis.

If I wasn't from the Green Zone, I could apply to live there legally with a high chance of success. What would determine my chances of success is not racially, ethnically or religiously related.

The same is true for all European countries.

The example of ethnic Germans you chose is interesting because if anything it underlines the differences in immigration policies between an ethnocentric country like Israel and others. Ahmed, born in say,1920, in what is now, say, Sderot, would not only be denied access to his birthplace, he would also be denied citizenship. Yehudi from Brooklyn, who has no real ties to the land (except for a spurious 3,000 year old 'biblical connection') is granted citizenship immediately and automatically and could go and live in... Sderot, of all places!

If Israel gave preferential treatment to those indigenous to the area, as Germany does with its ethnic Germans, Ahmed would be first in line, before Yehudi, the latter could apply but would be subject to conditions.

There really is no way around this: you either accept Jewish exceptionalism with its iniquities and injustices in the name of the Jewish state or you don't. Seeking equivalence on the grounds that 'other countries do it too' doesn't work: they don't.

 
At 4:23 PM, Blogger Gert said...

No, I have a much better but harsher analogy.

Israel is like a white country (Whiteland) that refuses to let in any black people, simply because they're black and Whiteland wants to be a White state. To make matter even more surreal, turns out that these black people that are refused entry are the linear (1st, 2nd or 3rd at most - generation) descendants of black people that once also lived in that country, before it was mostly ethnically cleansed of indigenous black people.

Not a pretty sight but very true to what happens in Israel...

 
At 9:07 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

You seem to think that the Law of Return is the only way to gain Israeli citizenship. Non-Jews can also apply for citizenship and even get it, though the process is much longer and harder.

A Jew from Brooklyn has more in common with the Israeli majority than Ahmed, who was born in what is now Israel and left/was tossed out of it in 1948. He can't return because he's part of a group that has been Israel's enemy and he has absolutely no connection to most of the population.

This is a case in which there is no way for there to be justice for both sides. For Ahmed, is it just not to allow him into Israel? No. For Israelis would it be just to let in hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and destroy their country as they know it? The answer to that is also no.

 
At 10:06 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

"Non-Jews can also apply for citizenship and even get it, though the process is much longer and harder."

Even more racist then. Because it's even more exclusivist. I could apply for citizenship in Israel but poor old Ahmed can't. This is getting richer by the syllable.

"A Jew from Brooklyn has more in common with the Israeli majority than Ahmed, who was born in what is now Israel and left/was tossed out of it in 1948. He can't return because he's part of a group that has been Israel's enemy and he has absolutely no connection to most of the population."

Sorry, but I'm having to suppress some good old belly laughs here. This clasping at straws is getting seriously risible.

So if Ahmed was expelled for his birth hamlet before the Nation State of Israel came into being (and thus before a de jure state of war existed) he can return, yes? No, because essentially Ahmed's crime is to have been born Palestinian, and thus by definition guilty by association...

Why does a Jew from Brooklyn have more in common with the Israeli majority than Ahmed? Because Yehudi from Brooklyn and the majority of Israelis are both Jewish? By Jewish telepathy (don't knock it, there's a Jewish anti-Zionist on Mondoweiss who believes in it)? That must explain why Israel is by all accounts such a stratified society (no more than any other, I hasten to add). Both Eitan (Continued in Chicago) and Alex Stein (Falsedi) have reported on that. Eitan, an Ultranationalist Zionist returned from Israel after Alya to Chicago, having suffered severe discrimination as a Russian/American Jew and non-Hebrew speaker. He was seriously disillusioned and left behind a Russian wife (they're now divorced). Simply put, he couldn't hack it.

Alex complained about the 'not-born-here' phenomenon: new Alyas are often considered 'immigrants' (much as new immigrants are in most countries, of course).

An American Jew could make Alya and not meet a single direct relative during his entire Israeli lifetime. By contrast, Ahmed from what's now Sderot, would be likely to have not too distant family in some town or village not too far away.

Methinks you're making a bit much of Jewish kinship: of course, in the end we're all family, you and I are probably cousins, at least 5,000 times removed though.

Citizens don't have to have ties to other citizens: the law doesn't require that. It's irrelevant for both Yehudi and Ahmed. Nice if they can get it but not necessary.

"For Israelis would it be just to let in hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and destroy their country as they know it? The answer to that is also no."

Unfortunately whether or not that would be the case may be put to the test sooner rather than later. Continue building diligently, dear Zionists, continue building, 'make all of the desert bloom'. At this phenomenal rate, all of Palestine will soon be yours. Then, assuming the West Bank and Gazan Palestinians hang in there (in their diminishing Bantustans), all they may have to do is march peacefully and united onto Tel Aviv and demand to be made citizens. Not second class citizens, not first class citizens, just citizens. And you know what right citizens have, don't you? The right to vote...

 
At 12:07 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

"Even more racist then. Because it's even more exclusivist. I could apply for citizenship in Israel but poor old Ahmed can't. This is getting richer by the syllable."

You're so convinced Israeli immigration policy is super-racist that you totally misread what I wrote. You and Ahmed have exactly the same rights when it comes to obtaining Israeli citizenship.

"So if Ahmed was expelled for his birth hamlet before the Nation State of Israel came into being (and thus before a de jure state of war existed) he can return, yes? No, because essentially Ahmed's crime is to have been born Palestinian, and thus by definition guilty by association..."

Good old Ahmed didn't commit a crime. He and his people just lost the 1948 war. It isn't his country anymore. It's reality. Tough. Go rebuild your life somewhere else.

"Why does a Jew from Brooklyn have more in common with the Israeli majority than Ahmed? Because Yehudi from Brooklyn and the majority of Israelis are both Jewish? By Jewish telepathy (don't knock it, there's a Jewish anti-Zionist on Mondoweiss who believes in it)?"

Jews are very diverse, but they have something basic in common - Jewish history and Jewish texts (not only scripture). You could say they are an "imagined community", but so are all nations.

How Jewish immigrants are treated and whether or not they have relatives in Israel is irrelevant to the debate over whether it's alright to allow them to come while denying the same right to Palestinians. If all Jewish newcomers were integrated into Israeli society without a hitch and all had relatives here, you'd still be opposed to the idea.

 
At 3:57 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Emm:

If I misread then it was in all honesty (you're the one that's getting highly defensive here): you're now telling me that in certain exceptional cases even Ahmed can be admitted and not just me but that's in stark contrast to the premise we started off from: no RoR for Arabs not currently living inside the Green Zone.

I'm not trying to paint Israel as a 'super-racist' state but it's impossible to consider a situation in which one group is given RoR as a matter of birthright and another group NOT, as a matter of birthright, as anything other than racist. The ethnic cleansing that took part during the creation of Israel was of course deeply racist: all ethnic cleansing is.

To try and say: 'it's because we won a war' changes nothing.

One must quite reasonably ask the following question: (forget about my one state spiel for a minute) say that in x decennia from now Arabs living legally within the green line have outbred Jewish Israelis (this is a possible scenario - how 'realistic' or 'unrealistic' it is matters not for this thought experiment) then that will effectively (Knesset, basically) undermine the Jewish character of the state. Israel will then have no choice to resort to extreme measures to safeguard the Jewish character. Abolishing voting rights for non-Jews would seem the most 'benign' of options there.

This is why non-ethnocentric states are based on loyal citizenship and nothing else: American WASPs might not savour the idea of becoming a minority but there's little they can do about it and assimilation means new Americans will be as loyal to the state as the group that founded it.

Good old Ahmed didn't commit a crime. He and his people just lost the 1948 war. It isn't his country anymore. It's reality. Tough. Go rebuild your life somewhere else.

The RoR remains something that will have to be dealt with somehow. If physical return to birthplaces is refused, then some 'honorary form' of RoR will have to be come up with: return to a Palestinian state, financial compensation, full rights asylum in other countries, a combination of the above, you name it. Not doing so means having a festering problem on our hands for possibly centuries to come. Jews remembered their their ancestral homelands for millennia, why would Arabs be any different?

It's not just a matter of principle: the refugee problem is very real and growing. We can't just shrug it off with 'bad shit happens, bugger off now'.

And shifting geopolitical situations in the ME would mean Israel would sit on a time bomb, ticking away forever.

Honouring the RoR in some way or another is akin to compensation many Jews, rightly so IMHO, are seeking for property (and more besides that: business revenue e.g.) lost during WW II. That too isn't a simple question: many who hold these properties now acquired them in bona fide (but not all), so you can't just repossess. But compensation is possible and the process is ongoing (in particular in Poland).

How Jewish immigrants are treated and whether or not they have relatives in Israel is irrelevant to the debate over whether it's alright to allow them to come while denying the same right to Palestinians. If all Jewish newcomers were integrated into Israeli society without a hitch and all had relatives here, you'd still be opposed to the idea.

Completely true but I wasn't the one who brought up who felt 'closer' and who not, that was you. Now you're telling me it isn't relevant (true), so why bring it up in the first place?

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

When Arabs grow enough in numbers to change the law of return that will be their right. Majority rule.

"The RoR remains something that will have to be dealt with somehow. If physical return to birthplaces is refused, then some 'honorary form' of RoR will have to be come up with: return to a Palestinian state, financial compensation, full rights asylum in other countries, a combination of the above, you name it. Not doing so means having a festering problem on our hands for possibly centuries to come. Jews remembered their their ancestral homelands for millennia, why would Arabs be any different?"

I totally agree with you here. I only oppose a right to return to Israel proper, but the issue has to be addressed some other way.

"Completely true but I wasn't the one who brought up who felt 'closer' and who not, that was you. Now you're telling me it isn't relevant (true), so why bring it up in the first place?"

What I was trying to say is that most Jews have more in common with Israel's majority than most Palestinians do. Problematic absorption policies and how some newcomers feel doesn't change that.

 

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