Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum

Whither The God of the Prayer Book

Posted by Admin on April 6, 2009

We are delighted to announce that Rabbi David Goldberg, Emeritus Rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue London, will address the Glasgow Jewish community on Sunday 26th April 2009. The meeting will be held at Calderwood Lodge Primary School at 8.00pm.

He will discuss his controversial thesis that “The God of the Prayer Book is Dead”. In a provocative article published in MANNA, the quarterly magazine of Progressive Judaism, Rabbi Goldberg challenged Judaism’s conception of God. He concluded “. . . it has become increasingly problematic for most of us, Rabbis included, to pay lip service, even twice a year, to the unchanged supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient just, judgmental God of our prayer books. Such a God is, literally, beyond belief in the modern scientific world. Yet apart from Mordechai Kaplan eighty years ago, I can think of no recent Jewish theologian, Orthodox or Progressive, who has attempted to redefine the nature of God, or tackled the barriers to faith caused by the arcane concepts we still use to describe the Deity’s attributes . . . Only a fool – or a fundamentalist – doesn’t have doubts”.

Rabbi Goldberg has served the Liberal Synagogue since 1975. The synagogue is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious Progressive congregations in the world. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School, Oxford University and Trinity College Dublin and he received his rabbinic ordination from Leo Baeck College in London in 1971. He is a regular contributor on religious and political topics to the BBC and leading newspapers such as The Times, Sunday Times, The Guardian and Independent. He is a long time advocate of Israel-Palestine peace. In 1999 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the International Council of Christians and Jews for his “outstanding contribution to interfaith harmony” and in 2004 he received an OBE for his services to interfaith work.

250 Responses to “Whither The God of the Prayer Book”

  1. Biblical Scholar (Modern Times) said

    Have GJEF been taken over by the Reform? Is it possible to be a Rabbi and believe that the God of the Prayer Book is Dead?
    Would someone like to inform us what a Liberal Rabbi stands for anyway?

  2. voice from the past said

    Of course there are some people who believe he is buried in Crown Heights, although you can still contact him by post, email or fax. Would someone like to explain what kind of Judaism that is?

  3. Voice of the Present said

    Those saddos who keep having a go at Lubavitch should get a life.
    Can they not understand that the discussion has moved on to Liberal Judaism and what that has to offer.
    Those clowns who keep having a go at the Lubavitch movement in Glasgow are kidding only themselves. Orthodox Judaism is defunct. It is dead.It has nothing to say anymore in today’s world. It has nothing left to offer. All those people who turn up in Shul on a Saturday morning, mouth prayers that they can’t understand and then pretend that they don’t really believe in what they are part of, but its just for social reasons that they bother going, are hypocrites.
    Let’s have a sensible discussion about Liberal Judaism if anyone in Glasgow has the knowladge and understanding to discuss something different from what they are used to.

  4. Youngster said

    Liberal Judaism. The dynamic, cutting edge of modern Judaism. Owned by Rabbi Danny Rich.

    Liberal Judaism will be bringing its annual roadshow to Glasgow on Saturday 11th April. Come down to Glasgow Green for a Liberal style kosher, shomer shabbat, kosher for pesach barbeque. (Secure Parking £3 for three hours.)

    Liberal Judaism

    A non-exclusive club.
    Pork optional.
    Vegetarianism preferable.
    Foreskin probable.

    Registered charity number 236590.

  5. A Voice of the Future said

    I think Liberal Judaism has got something – one only has to read Youngster to appreciate that if he’s against it then sane rational Jews will probably be for it.
    Why would I want to be in the same club as Youngster, and Glasgow Lubavitch?
    What have I got in common with them?
    I have more in common with Liberal Judaism. At least it has got something relevant to talk about in today’s modern world.
    Happy Pessach to one and all. Youngster, don’t get over excited or you will choke on your matzah!

  6. Youngster said

    Why do you assume I am a male? Pretty sexist behaviour coming from such a liberal

  7. A Voice of the Future said

    Well you are no genuine Orthodox Jew youngster are you? Posting on Yom Tov! If you are not male then you have even more reasons to forget about Orthodox Judaism because females are second class citizens – their responsibilities lie with producing children and being tied to the kitchen. No More.
    Now Youngster please tell us why you want to identify with that kind of life. I suspect you are probably just as close as me to Liberal Judaism – the main difference is I have the balls to admit it and you don’t ( or can’t depending on your sexuality)
    Are you brave enough to come out and think about something more liberally than how you have been brought up?

  8. Community Member said

    Rabbi Goldberg’s forthcoming visit to Glasgow on 26th April it would appear has already aroused considerable interest.
    We have heard before from those that go to Shul on Shabbat that they don’t really believe, but as others have posted yesterday, they go along for social reasons. There is nothing wrong with that – lots of people have hobbies they indulge – but those that do should not throw mud at other branches of Judaism which are as legitimate as their own.
    It may not be for you or even me, but that doesn’t make it any less authentic or sincere. It also doesn’t make it sensible. There are many who think that everyone is kidding themselves and religion is lot of nonsense.
    For me, it is about tradition and belonging to a club with a common culture, history etc. The God bit I can dismiss. It doesn’t do it for me at all. To those that respond how do you know? I can only ask where was your God when Italy was struck by an earthquake a few days ago killing and injuring so many innocent people.

  9. Believer said

    Community Member should realise that you either have faith or you do not. You either believe that we as humans do not always understand God’s ways but if you have faith you realise that ultimately God decides what is best for us.
    Youngster is right, Liberal Judaism is watered down so much you could buy it pre-packed in Ikea.

  10. Youngster said

    The beauty of the situation is I don’t describe myself as an Orthadox Jew. I am a member of the United Synagogue. I’m also traditional. The difference between US and Liberal is US would never condone me posting on Yom Tov. Liberal would probably facilitate it.

    I doubt you’ll find many people like myself who would define as a second class citizen, nor would they regard themselves as treated as such. Perhaps that’s just your own prejudices?

  11. A Voice of the Future said

    If Liberal Judaism facilitated you posting on this blog Youngster what would be wrong with that? At least they are aware that the world has moved on and don’t think that rules about Shabbat Observance that may have been, although probably not, relevant thousands of years ago should still govern how we live our lifes now.
    Tell us youngster, do you use electrical lights on Shabbat or tear toilet paper or perhaps boil a kettle? Maybe even drive a car? All these things Orthodoxy thinks is the correct way to observe the day of rest but you ignore it as nonsensical.
    Its time for you to ” come out “.
    You describe yourself as
    ” traditional ” but you don’t adhere to the traditions of your synagogue. As I have said before you are closer to Liberal Judaism than you realise.
    You are just too weak to admit it.
    Be brave Youngster.

  12. Guardian Reader said

    I would like to direct readers to an excellent article in the Guardian
    ” Comment is Free ” section this morning, written by Antony Lerman.
    The article discusses ” how serious a threat is antisemitism ” to Jewish communities today. Mr Lerman reveals that in a survey amongst Jewish leaders in 31 European countries antisemitism ranked nine out of twelve when leaders considered the most serious threat to their communities.
    So even though the CST, and locally Scojec and Chaplaincy would have us believe that the threat to our survival is much greater this is further evidence that these organisations have overstated the case. Lerman suggested that the CST should donate some of their ever increasing war chest to other communal causes. I trust therefore that chaplaincy will be applying to the CST in the very near future.

  13. Curious said

    I agree that it’s a good article. But why Guardian Reader would these organisations such as Scojec and Chaplaincy want to overstate the case for antisemitism? CST possibly would have reasons to do so but why the others?

  14. In the Know said

    The bigger the threat, the more urgent and potent are the please for funding.

  15. voice from the past said

    It isn’t necessarily anything to do with the number of any kind of incident – anti Semitic, anti Zionist, anti Israel, etc. One single incident can unsettle people and make them feel threatened.

    Scotland, is on the whole a tolerant place, where Jews have been made to feel welcome and safe therefore anything that goes against that disturbs people. How people react to any such incident will be wide and varied – and some may be said to over react because they are vulnerable, older people who lived through the Holocaust or younger people who are unsure of how to deal with the bombardment of information around them. But you can’t deny their reaction or their right to support to deal with it.

    Deriding them for feeling threatened is like telling someone who is mentally ill to pull themselves together.

  16. Guardian Reader said

    What exactly are you trying to say “Voice from the Past ? ”
    Are you trying to argue that our communal leaders here have “over reacted” in the way that they have because ” they are vulnerable, older or have lived through the Holocaust etc etc ?”
    Antony Lerman suggested that the CST have magnified the threat to our communities and I suggested that this has also happened here with Scojec and Chaplaincy joining in as well.
    I think the main point here is that we need responsible leadership that acts sensibly and are aware of the consequences of their actions when they tell our community that the threat is worse than available evidence suggests.
    I suppose it comes down to what kind of leadership our community requires.
    Is it a leadership that acts as cheerleaders or a leadership that is reflective, informed about the facts and able to see problems with a wider perspective. That would certainly be my preferred option.
    What would be yours?

  17. voice from the past said

    I was merely suggesting that ‘feeling threatened’ is subjective – there no objective scale for measuring it. One incident is one too many, so a notion of magnification is irrelevant.

    Similarly what is a ‘threat to our Community’ – is it physical, is it political, is it to individual members, is it to us collectively, is it to our buildings or institutions, or to our way of life? And again as it is not objective, who decides when it is worrying or serious – or if it can be dismissed as hype?

  18. Not a Philosoper said

    Don’t give up your day job ” Voice from the Past ” because a philosopher you certainly ain’t.
    You are not by chance related to one Ephraim Borosski MBE – past philosopher. Only he could write such drivel and use so many words but say nothing worthwhile at all.

  19. Are you at it GJEF? said

    AS a Labour Party Member I see that the Foreign Secretary is doing a Q&A
    in Glasgow tomorrow evening.
    I do recall GJEF telling everyone that Miliband would be appearing on their platform early in 2009. Have GJEF been flying a kite or has the Foreign Secretary got better things to do than talk to the Glasgow Jewish Community on a GJEF platform?
    I think we should be told, soon.

  20. The Truth said

    As I understand it, GJEF were offered Mr Miliband for Thursday evening- 16th April. This is still Yom Tov. Because of this GJEF explained that it was not possible to hold the event with the Foreign Secretary at that time.
    Mr Miliband has confirmed that he will address the Glasgow Jewish Community under the auspices of GJEF and hopefully a date will be made public very soon.

  21. Well Wisher said

    Did anyone else read the Community Page in today’s JC? What a wonderful honour for the Glasgow Jewish Community! Paul Edlin is standing again for Vice President of the Board of Deputies. Paul’s considerable achievements in communal life reflect so well on the Glasgow Jewish Community. Can I urge any delegates to the Board to put a cross next to the name Edlin and ensure that he is elected. Every vote counts – there are five candidates for three positions.
    Good luck Paul.

  22. Peace Now Supporter said

    Whilst we are on the subject of acknowledging the achievements of communal giants did anyone see the letter in this week’s Jewish Telegraph? Back in print is the infamous S Grossman. Commenting on the alleged removal from office of the Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Corporal Grossman thinks that is a reason to attack Glasgow Peace Now.
    Personally, I would have thought, that Corporal G would still be lying very low. He has obviously forgotten that he is well known for having been one of the chief culprits within that discredited, horrible organisation known as Scottish Friends of Israel. That organisation brought such shame to this Community.
    It was argued at the time that some within SFI should have known better. That didn’t apply to Corporal G – everyone knew that he didn’t even remotely understand why anyone with decent morals thought this was a nasty organisation that should be avoided.

  23. Edlin Eye said

    Well wisher has got his finger on the button. The Glasgow Community would not be what it is without the contribution of Dr Paul Edlin. The Board though are making a massive mistake. Dr Paul should not be vice-President he should be THE President.
    Could Anglo-Jewry be in finer hands?
    Why don’t we start a campaign to persuade Paul to go for the top job?
    Paul is a leader of men. A leader of principle and courage. A man born to lead others.
    And just think of the up side for Glasgow if he got the top post –
    He’d have to live in London and he would be out of here for good.
    Need I say more?

  24. Another PN Supporter said

    And while he’s at it, perhaps he could take Corporal G with him as his bodyguard. PE couldn’t be in more suitable hands. After all, it was good old Corporal G who used the Herald columns (among others), not to discuss the good things about Israel, but to defend those aspects that were indefensible. In so doing he managed to drag in every anti-Zionist in Scotland to give their tuppence worth. With friends like him, who needs enemies.

  25. Edlin Eye said

    What exactly are Dr E’s achievements in communal life?
    Everyone involved with the Rep Council is aware that he makes complete a–e of anything to do with PR.
    I recall his interference in an invitation issued to an Israeli Cabinet Minister – Rabbi Melchior – which ended up in the Minister refusing to come and the then President Dr Kenneth Collins being very angry.
    Others may know more than me about Dr E’s ability to go to New York regularly whilst sitting on a committee that allegedly was set up to look at Holocaust’Survivors reparations. What I do remember though is the fuss made about that committee’s huge expenses and the unhappiness that the amounts given out were not as large as was hoped.

    He was also very closely linked to SFI and the disgraces of that organisation.

    Not, a particularly impressive communal CV is it?
    I wonder what they see in him?

  26. Edlin Supporter said

    I think Dr Edlin is misunderstood in this community. He has given up much time and effort commuting to the USA whenever necessary to share with the reparations committee his lifelong work and understanding on the subject. Do you think for a moment that they would sanction the vast expenses on return flights from Glasgow to New York to be deducted from the final pittance doled out to survivors if he had little to bring to the table?

  27. Edlin Eye said

    I am sure that good old DR E will be on the side of the ZF complainant regarding the BBC and Jeremy Bowen. Dr E never hid his associations with Scottish Friends of Israel and one could argue that they deserved each other.
    For those that would like another take on Jeremy Bowen and the BBC and think that the Jewish Telegraph and
    the JC have both turned into right wing rags why don’t you look at this.

  28. CREEP said

    The Committee to Re-Elect Edlin-Paul deplores the avalanche of snide remarks and innuendo posted here the on this blog. Mr. Edlin is a towering figure in British Jewry and as an official British Board of Deputies delegate to the selfless and altruistic Holocaust Claims Committee in New York, he has waged a fearless campaign for adequate distributions to British Holocaust Victims.

    How many people in voluntary public service do we know who would fly back and forward rightfully at other’s expense to New York to confront the six-figure salaried beaureaucrats of the HCC over expense-account bagels and smoked salmon in the Manhattan skyscraper boardroom?

    His publicly documented interventions on behalf of $85 per month survivors and demands for meaningful reductions in administrators’ lottery-winning salaries have become the stuff of legend. Without selfless community watchdogs such as Dr. Edlin, where would we all be?

  29. A Beitz said

    Is it just me or do some think the disappearance of the Gode of the prayerbook has coincided with the emergence of the bible according to St Tony Lerman. His words, and they do seem to be many, appear on here with wide eyed breathless approval.
    Tony Lerman is a good guy. It is fair to say he is of the sceptical party towards Israel which is his right. However just because it is his right doesn’t mean he is always right or even worth listening to. On the whole he is rather predictable. If one of the mainstream Jewish or Zionist organisations comes out with something Tony’s counter appears and is often repeated here as part of the hero worshipping which comes from one or two.
    So what about a wee break from Tony however honest and decent he may be.

  30. Voice From the Dead said

    Thank God, Beitz is still alive. Posted missing for weeks but at last confirmation that he is alive and kicking. The God of the Prayer Book may be Dead, but Beitz is still here. So has Beitz been resurrected ( answers on this can be obtained from Rabbi C Jacobs, Lubavitch Foundation )
    I’m sure Dr Edlin will be doing cartwheels of joyous celebration to welcome the return of A Beitz to the blog.
    Good to see you back Beitzy and when you are back into the swing of things then I’m sure the content of your postings will improve. Let’s hope so.

  31. Voice From the Dead said

    I apologise unreservedly to anyone who thinks I might have understated the celebrations taking place about the return of Mr Beitz. I should have said Paul Edlin will be doing hand stands and cartwheels and jumping up and down with excitement.

  32. Armchair Analyst said

    Shurely shome mishtake Beitz? Everybody who is anybody on the hyphenated and alternative PC spelling front knows that the spelling is “Goad’, not ‘Gode’.

    As in ‘Oh ma Goad, St Tony’s gein’ it laldy again’.

  33. Community Member said

    The reason that Tony Lerman is worth quoting Mr Beitz is that he has something worthwhile to contribute.
    He is a rare figure in Anglo-Jewry. He does not seek to represent so many different communal organisations and accordingly he can speak freely without worrying which group he is speaking for.
    He is also a distinguished academic.

    As a commentator and journalist he has a very important role to play. Everyone can make up their own minds whether they agree or disagree with what he writes but the fact that his views can be made available to the wider public in Glasgow and beyond is certainly beneficial.

    Patronise and snipe if you will Mr Beitz.
    Its not hero-worshipping to post links to someone’s articles that have something to say about issues that are important to our community. Maybe you would like to think of someone else in the UK, involved in communal life, who regularly comments, and who can offer a different perspective and who challenges the status quo, rather than simply endorses it.
    There are not too many names that one can think of, are there?

  34. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    I, too, welcome your return to the blog, Beitz. Furthermore, I agree with your posting. It is fair comment and should be accepted as such. If you had criticised the Board of Deputies in the same manner and more often than not it would have been deserved, CM would have been congratulating you, not accusing you of sniping.
    Perhaps I am naive but much as I admire Tony Lerman, I think he has his moments of talking absolute nonsense. On the other hand, the B of D usually talks nonsense, but every now and then, they get it right.

  35. Ben Nachman said

    I was enticed here by the opportunity to take a pop at Antony Lerman’s latest predictable ramblings. Unfortunately, though no fan of Jeremy Bowen, I find Lerman’s judgement sensible (if not his fawning praise for Bowen). Come on, Tony! You’re more interesting when you’re explaining to the wider world that there’s no problem with rising antisemitism, and that it’s all the fault of the Board of Deputies anyway.

  36. Community Member said

    Nachman, you are talking nonsense. Rather than simply telling us you agree with Beitz please explain why readers of this blog should not have the opportunity to read what Tony Lerman is writing.
    I offer the same challenge to you. Tell us who else is commenting regularly about UK relevant communal issues and who is not part of the establishment. Maybe you will also tell us Nachman what Tony Lerman has said that you would consider to be
    ” absolute nonsense ?”
    You don’t have to agree with all that Lerman writes to realise that
    his contribution is important to genuine communal debate.
    At least Nachman junior seems to find him interesting and doesn’t have a problem with hearing views beyond G46 or G77 like Nachman Senior and Beitz.

  37. A Beitz said

    I can think of plenty of writers on the left and right who often a different perspective and challenge the status quo. Some, such as Melanie Phillips and Geoffrey Alderman generally talk mince. Others such as Thomas Friedmann, Jonathan Freeland and even Gideon Levy have their moments. Publishing the thoughts of one who writes from a particular perspective is tedious. Personally I think if you put any commentator under the microscope as has happened to Jeremy Bowen you can find bits to criticise, and I am sure those who see the only justice as being the Palestinan case could find likewise but must we hear yet again from Mr Lermann whose opinions are rather predictable?

  38. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    I’ll sort Nachman junior out in my own time. I have already posted my thoughts on Lerman’s over the top comments on antisemitism.

  39. Ben Nachman said

    Well, I suppose I could highlight Lerman’s argument regarding ZF and Camera “supporters'” agreement with historian Avi Shlaim’s comment. That they’re in agreement with a declared anti-Zionist does not “[reveal] the bankruptcy of their approach”; if anything, it would strengthen the case against Bowen, that even an anti-Zionist concedes that Bowen got his facts wrong.

    Still, when attempting to discredit Zionist organisations, I expect far woolier logic from Lerman, and frankly, I’m disappointed that his argument is merely weak, rather than premised on the expected non sequiturs.

    The lesson to be learnt here, on both sides, is that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  40. Community Member said

    Come off it. Levy only writes about Israeli affairs – not surprising since he is an Israeli journalist living in Israel.
    Freedland writes once every four weeks in the JC – and weekly in the Guardian, sometimes about Israel and very occasionally about other Jewish issues.
    You don’t have to agree with everything or even anything Lerman writes to appreciate that his contribution is different from that currently offered elsewhere. His columns may be predictable to you Beitz ( your choice ) but to others they are interesting and informative.
    That’s called freedom of choice. The problem is that there are not many places in Anglo-Jewry that would print Tony Lerman’s opinions and that’s why its good that people like you and Nachman senior can be educated.

  41. Ben Nachman said

    I think the problem with Antony Lerman, and Gidon Levy in particular, is not so much that they’re predictable – they are – but that they are mostly very, very wrong.

    Here’s a recent article Levy wrote on ‘Waltz With Bashir’, a film he very much enjoyed on a first viewing, but second time round asked: “Why do we need propagandists, officers, commentators and spokespersons who will convey “information”? We have this waltz.”

    His main beef seems to be that director, Ari Folman, didn’t make a film about Gaza, and that by making a film critical of Israel’s Lebanon adventure, he gives the misleading impression that Israelis care. One might be tempted to argue that Levy himself is merely a tool of Zionist propagandists, falsely creating the impression that Israel is a democratic nation where dissent is tolerated in a free and sometimes liberal press.

    When he puts two and two together, Lerman can only come up with five, where Levy comes up with a banana. Tony Lerman has a lot of catching up to do.

  42. Ben Nachman said

    Sorry, link:

  43. Community Member said

    Can you make up your mind – you post originally to tell us that you “find Lerman’s judgement sensible” , and now you attack him because of what Gideon Levy has written and say he “is very very wrong.
    Well which is it Nachman junior?

    I read Gideon Levy’s article and I thought it was very thought provoking. My guess is that you don’t like it because it hurts. Levy never misses and his articles are often painful because he says what should be said and others are too afraid to say.
    Your simplistic analysis is that his disdain for the film is because the director didn’t make a film about Gaza. Read the article again and you will see that he doesn’t like it because in Levy’s opinion it makes out that Israeli soldiers are heroes.

    As this is your first day on the blog I’ll mark your report card with the following comments.

    ” Shows enthusiam but finds it hard to be decisive. Has the ability to do better “

  44. HP Saucepot said

    Report card should read for Ben Nachman –
    Reading comprehension leaves much to be desired.Students should read articles before commenting.

  45. Ben Nachman said

    Hello, Community Member!

    I think you’re confused. I made several points, each distinct.

    I didn’t post to say that I found Lerman’s judgement sensible. I came to “have a pop” at him, but conceded that his judgement in that particular article, was sensible, even if the logic that brought him there was predictably flawed. Hence the broken clock cliché.

    I didn’t attack him because of what Gidon Levy said. I’m not sure how you’ve drawn that conclusion. Also, I didn’t say that he was “very very wrong”: I said that he was “mostly very, very wrong”. There is a significant distinction between the two, in that the latter does not preclude his sometimes being right. It’s possible to hold that Lerman is wrong about some things and right about others, as I do. Once again, I refer you to our broken clock.

    Your “guess” – let’s call it a psychological diagnosis – that my taking exception to Levy’s writings is “because it hurts”, is also unsupported by anything I’ve written. I don’t think there’s any political writer of whom I’d say, “he never misses”, but given your own propensity to read what is not there, it’s unsurprising that you would offer such slavish devotion to any writer, or specifically to writers with such a facile line in argument.

    You say that others are afraid to say what he says. Who are these moral cowards? Do you have names of people who agree with him, but fear for speaking out? Rather than relying on pseudo-psychology to determine that people find Levy painful because they’re ashamed, and secretly know him to be right, you should start from a position of good faith, and take it on trust that they actually do believe him to be wrong. Whether or not he is, is by the by. At this point, intelligent discussion can begin about what, if anything, Levy has to say.

    Community Member: “Your simplistic analysis is that his disdain for the film is because the director didn’t make a film about Gaza.”

    Levy: “It was not by accident that when he won the Golden Globe, Folman didn’t even mention the war in Gaza, which was raging as he accepted the prestigious award.”

    ‘Waltz With Bashir’ is a documentary based on the director’s experience in Lebanon. Where does it follow that his silence on the war in Gaza at a particular awards ceremony is proof of complicity in official propaganda? Perhaps Folman simply considered it an inappropriate forum for a political diatribe. And if he had used the opportunity to denounce the war in Gaza, would that have made ‘Waltz With Bashir’ a better film in Levy’s eyes?

    Community Member: “Read the article again and you will see that he doesn’t like it because in Levy’s opinion it makes out that Israeli soldiers are heroes.”

    Well, you’re right (but please don’t infer from that that I think that you’re necessarily right on other matters). However, Levy says other things in that article, some of which I addressed. Commenting on said other things does not imply that Levy said nothing else in the article. I just chose not to address them as I didn’t see them as his main point. Seeing as you bring it up, though, I will say that Levy’s wrong again. I saw ‘Waltz With Bashir’, and the message I, and pretty much everyone else I know who’s seen it, took, was not one of Israeli heroism. Was that what you took from it when you first saw it, or did it take Levy to point out that what you thought you’d thought was not, in fact, what you’d actually thought, and that you had really come out of the cinema thinking, subconsciously at least, that Israeli soldiers are heroes?

    The problem with these kind of flimsy arguments is that they’re impossible to prove either way (unless we’re prepared to enrol an army of hypnotists). My “guess” is that’s why they’re so popular with some people.

  46. Ben Nachman said

    Good point, HP Saucepot! Your careful analysis and line by line demolishing of my post has demonstrated the necessity for such clear-headed thinking as opposed to mere lazy assertion.

    Let my education continue!

  47. A Beitz said

    Ben Nachman. No doubt your elderly relative will explain to you about the stopped clocks twice a day point. I do recall a post where I used exactly the same phrase only to have it explained how every so often this won’t happen.
    For example when clocks go forward an hour at 2am a clock stopped at 2.30 will only be right once that day. However we’ve clearly both needed to learn from our elders on this.
    Meantime however much they wriggle giving the floor to only one individual on a regular basis is unjustified.
    Meantime people can go on pontificating from their ivory towers. The fact that numerous Muslim kids put their hands up when they were asked if they hated Jews at Hutchie may not go into police stats but it is perhaps indicative that there are attitudes which are completely unacceptable out there. And thats the kids for whom Jews are a daily reality, who come from comfortably off homes and who are supposedly well educated. Tony Lerman may provide a reassuring view but unfortunately it doesn’t mean he’s right.

  48. Ben Nachman said

    Yes, Nachman Sr. has already explained the stopped clock thing to me, and so I should clarify that I meant that on average, the average broken clock is right twice a day. I hope that point is uncontroversial, and that the accuracy of the analogy was not undermined in my imprecise deployment of it.

  49. Armchair Analyst said

    ‘Waltz with Bashir’ is important because it has been seen in mainstream theatres by very well attended audiences throughout the West, and presumably further afield.

    It neither overly glamourises nor overly demonizes the ordinary IDF soldiers portrayed. It does however reinforce my long-held belief that Ariel Sharon should at the very minimum never have been able to hold political or military office again.

    As for Ari Folman not making a political statement about what was happening in Gaza at the time he received his award on stage, I remember Vanessa Redgrave waving her Oscar thirty odd years ago and making a politically charged statement. It didn’t win her many new admirers, but it set the stage for award recipients simply no longer being expected to make a political statement on these occasions. Vanessa and Ari are perfectly at liberty to say what they want whenever they want, but I don’t want to hear Shaun Penn et al’s manifesto during a precison-timed awards ceremony involving many diverse artist recipients.

  50. Community Member said

    So Beitz has replaced Lubavitch with Lerman as his bete-noire. Of course there are attitudes out there which are completely unacceptable but it is necessary to look at what is happening without hysteria and hyperbole.
    When Israel is in the news and most certainly when involved in war there is undoubtedly an increase in antisemitic incidents. This has been the case for several years. Not in Scotland though, where reported incidents are thankfully almost non-existent.
    When Israel is not on television screens this dies down. The incident you describe that occurred in Hutchie was in the middle of the war in Gaza when tensions were at their highest. The leader of that Assembly should not have asked such an inappropriate and clumsy and dangerous question and the school should ensure that he never leads any Assembly under their jurisdiction ever again.
    But I wonder if a similar question was asked in our own community about Muslims whether the response would be so different. I hope it would but I have my doubts. Two people I came across last week made very disparaging remarks about local Muslims.
    Rather than focussing just on what is happening to us we need to alter our perceptions and start educating our own community. Part of that education programme needs to examine whether it is in our community’s interests to never officially criticise what is happening with Israel. If we always support Israel – right or wrong – and never criticise what we feel is not right – then it is not that surprising when others do not recognise the difference between Jews living here from the actions of any Israeli Government.
    So Mr Beitz, Lerman is actually right and if you examined his arguments properly you may return quicker to your previous obsessions with Lubavitch.

  51. A Beitz said

    What a load of non sequiturs, ad hominems and irrelevancies from CM. Whatever my views on Lubavitch are does not mean that I can’t have a reasonable view on the proliferation of stuff published in apparent awe on this blog by Tony Lerman.

    Equally Islamaphobia by Jews does not somehow wipe out anti semitism as a problem. The question by the Imam may have been misconceived but the response was what bothered me.
    Where also have I suggested we shouldn’t have articles on this blog by critics of Israel? I just find the same critic’s comments predictable and boring. Articles on the blog do not necessarily have to conform with what certain GJEF members believe however and there is much to be learned from publications such as The Guardian and Haaretz who often publish critical articles but also provide the alternative viewpoint with a voice in their columns.

    Finally reported incidents are a very dangerous way of assessing matters. In many cases what is noted as having been reported are only those cases which satisfy the high evidential requirements of the criminal law. Many incidents are not recorded for a variety of reasons. However I am glad that you have admitted that the war in Gaza did lead to an upsurge in anti semitic activity. Could you draw my attention to where Tony Lerman did so?

  52. Ben Nachman said

    Community Member,

    I’m delighted that I’ve resolved your earlier confusion satisfactorily, and that you’ve now moved on to Lerman’s main thesis that I earlier described as “there’s no problem with rising antisemitism, and that it’s all the fault of the Board of Deputies anyway.” You’ve managed to get a lot of things wrong in just a few words, so my apologies if my correcting you is a little lengthier.

    No one denies that there is a correlation between what happens in Israel / Palestine and antisemitism back home, but you take a rather myopic view on what those causal links are. Let’s take it as a given that when Palestinians die, antisemitism in Britain rises. Should the Jewish community “officially criticise” Israel?

    You’ve framed this as a question of both morality and pragmatism. Should we “never criticise what we feel is not right”? The simple answer is no, we must criticise that with which we disagree, and I see no lack of such criticism. But it’s official criticism you’re after, and, at least for now, you’re not going to get it, because by and large, rightly or wrongly, the Jewish community is supportive of, or sympathetic towards, Israel. You have to win that argument within the community, rather than just imagining (again) that people think that Israel is wrong, but won’t – can’t! – speak out (“never criticise what we feel is not right”). That mainstream Jewish institutions don’t tend to criticise Israel is, broadly speaking, because this would not be popular within mainstream Jewry.

    Remember that to ‘not criticise’ is not the opposite of criticising. Not criticising is a position of neutrality, whereas the opposite of your proposal to ‘officially criticise’ Israeli policy would be to positively and publicly support this or that policy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not aware of this happening in any significant way, and so you seem to be arguing for the politicisation of Jewish communal institutions – with your politics, or course. Well, convince people of your politics first, and then make the case for politicising communal institutions.

    You framed the question of pragmatism as “whether it is in our community’s interests to never officially criticise what is happening with Israel”, and I’m going to take it as read that you believe you have the answer, and that, as far as antisemitism goes, it is against the Jewish community’s interest not to speak out. Why do you think this? Do you think that the perpetrators of antisemitic acts pay heed to the Chief Rabbi’s speeches or the Board of Deputies’ vapid pronouncements? Despite Antony Lerman’s valiant attempts to rectify this nation’s ignorance of and indifference to the minutiae of British Jewry’s communal machinations, the fact is that most people don’t care. Most of all, antisemites don’t care. Racists are motivated by racism, which is an irrational response that holds all members of a group responsible for the misdeeds – real or imagined – of all that group’s members. You wander perilously close to endorsing such racism when you argue “it is not that surprising when others do not recognise the difference between Jews living here from the actions of any Israeli Government”.

    I don’t see a great movement in the UK of Muslims condemning Hamas atrocities (and I imply no moral equivalence between Hamas and the Israeli government), but were I to argue that “it is not that surprising when others do not recognise the difference between Muslims living here from the actions of any Palestinian government”, you’d call me an apologist for racism. You’d be right. Like Lerman, you rationalise antisemitism, but rather than show such understanding for Jewish racism, you point the finger. This is one reason why you don’t have the Jewish community behind you, although you could certainly consider a sideline as one of CiF’s resident ‘good Jews’.

    You imagine that there may be as much anti-Muslim bigotry in the Jewish community as there is antisemitism in the Muslim community, but there are many social and religious reasons why that is highly unlikely; however, even if it were true, the fact is that there are a lot more of them than there are of us, and so all you show is an impulse to make false equivalences, rather than dealing with the world, and antisemitism, as they are.

    If this is a good example of the kind of “alter[ing of] our perceptions” that you implore the rest of us to do, then I’m sure I won’t be alone in rejecting that in favour of a more honest relationship with reality.

  53. Ben Nachman said

    A Beitz,

    When not explaining Jewish concerns about antisemitism in persecution complex terms, Lerman will acknowledge antisemitism if it affords him the opportunity to blame Jews.

    “Don’t conflate Jews and Israel, they say. But matters are far more complicated. Most Jews support Israel; they feel it’s part of their identity; official Jewish bodies defend Israel when it’s criticised.”

    You read that right. His response to “don’t conflate Jews with Israel” is that “matters are far more complicated”. Good guy Tony Lerman is a Jewish apologist for antisemitism.

  54. Community Member said

    It is your response A Beitz that is predictable and boring, not Tony Lerman’s. He commented within his article on Jews seeing themselves always as victims as follows

    ” the world’s response to Israel’s war on Gaza and the dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents in a number of countries since the war began,……..”

    If you haven’t read the article that’s your choice but it is rather ridiculous to pretend that one has when it is obvious you don’t even know what has been written.

    Whether you are bored is not really my concern.I think the latest article by Mr Lerman in today’s Guardian on the Dublin anti-racism review conference and Ahmadinejad’s speech will be of more interest to others. So here’s the link…

    I will respond to Nachman junior this evening but it would help if he would keep his essays a great deal shorter.
    At this stage it will merely be sufficient to note that anyone who can write that
    ” Tony Lerman is a Jewish apologist for antisemitism ” as Ben Nachman has done probably thinks that dissenters to the view within Jewish Communities that Israel is always right are no doubt traitors, self hating Jews or even Kappos. How very disturbing and sad.

  55. Ben Nachman said

    I’ve apologised for the length of my posts, but it’s prompted by my tendency to argue a case, rather than just assert it, or put words into other people’s mouths:

    “Ben Nachman… probably thinks that dissenters to the view within Jewish Communities that Israel is always right are no doubt traitors, self hating Jews or even Kappos.”

    Well, I hardly think that Israel is always right. I would never consider “dissenters” like yourself in those terms, and I was very specific in my accusation that Lerman is merely an apologist for antisemitism. He has no special duty as a Jew to apologise – or not – for antisemitism, and as such is no traitor. “Self-hating Jew” is of a kind with the cod-psychology that Lerman and yourself rely on to make your argument, but I avoid it. The Kapo slur is disgusting, and it demeans you to impute it to me.

    “Don’t conflate Muslims and Hamas, they say. But matters are far more complicated. Most Muslims support Sharia; they feel it’s part of their identity; official Muslim bodies support Hamas when it’s criticised.”

    “Don’t conflate blacks with crime, they say. But matters are far more complicated. Blacks are statistically over-represented in the crime statistics…”

    Like Tony Lerman’s comment, these are reactionary views, and apologies for racism, regardless of the ethnicity of those who espouse them. All I’ll say on the relevance of Lerman’s Jewishness is that if he’s going to apologise for antisemitism, he’d be a fool if he thought he’d carry the wider Jewish community with him. I expect this is why you’ll find him ranting at CiF to people who imagine that the CST is some kind of paramilitary organisation.

  56. Aaronovitch Watcher said

    Ben Nachman, it is one thing to argue that Tony Lerman’s words could be construed as rationalising antisemitism; it is quite another to assert that he is a “Jewish apologist for antisemitism.” The former is a debatable proposition, which is within the bounds of legitimate comment, whereas the latter is an imputation which is wholly unfounded and potentially defamatory. If you want to be taken seriously as a commentator, as I presume you do, then you ought to have the deceny to withdraw your unwarranted claims forthwith.

  57. voice from the past said

    I have seen a report from one of the NGO student delegation currently in Geneva for the Durban anti-racism conference. He states that when President Ahmadinejad began to speak there was no translation available from Farsi. Professor Alan Dershowitz stood up and pointed out that this was a disgrace because they were being denied the right to engage in the conference. Some people in the room started blaming the lack of translation on the Jews and heated arguments broke out.

    Given this is supposed to be a conference where informed and intelligent people talk seriously about tackling racism he feels that this is evidence of deep rooted anti-Semitism at the conference and that it’s time the UN took proper action – what ever that may be.


  58. A Beitz said

    Hmmm, CM. It is possible that I’m missing it in the verbiage but statements such as “In the wake of Israel’s attack on Gaza, eager voices are telling us that antisemitism has returned – yet again.” followed by ” In most Jewish circles, if you pause to question this narrative and suggest that it might be exaggerated, that it unrealistically implies a level of dreadfulness and victimhood unique to Jews, you’ll attract hostility and disbelief in equal measure, and precious little public sympathy” tends to give an idea as to how he sees things.

    Glad to see he has a nice little earner in today’s Guardian. Has he thought of becoming a lawyer? Brevity does not appear to be a commodity.

    You still haven’t answered why he seems to be the only columnist thought worthy of a regular spot on the GJEF website.

  59. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    CM, your last sentence in #54 is shameful and anyone who can make such assertions is in no position to criticise others.
    As for the Guardian article, it said very little. My take on it is that Lerman considers those countries that walked out should have stayed. There is some weak argument that by so doing they could have countered the irrational outbursts of Ahmadinejad. As they were all returning after the Iranian antisemite had spoken,(am I allowed to say that without the threat of potential defamation or maybe there been a study to show that there is no antisemitism in the higher echelons of Iran) they would surely have had ample opportunity to air their views. As to countering Ahmadinejad, to attempt to counter such outbursts would have been a fool’s game. Better they walked out and hit the front pages of most Western newspapers. There was discussion on radio four this morning and let me assure Mr Lerman that but for the boycott he would not have got his tuppence worth on the broadcast.

  60. Community Member said

    There is nothing shameful about what I wrote. Stick up for junior if you must but consider again what he wrote

    ” Good guy Tony Lerman is a Jewish apologist for antisemitism ”

    That is shameful and rather than rebuke others you should examine what that means. You ought to know better when the charges are made against those that depart from the establishment line. I have heard this line of argument so many times before. Read what some prominent dissenters said when they attended the alternative rally in London during the war in Gaza. This is what they were called and they were spat upon. I have been called these kind of things when supporting the Israeli Peace Movement so your moral indignation that protests when I claim it is utterly unacceptable to describe someone who is respected as an expert on antisemitism as a Jewish apologist is quite simply rubbish.
    Beitz’s claim that Tony Lerman has a regular spot on this website is just absurd. Beitz might want to remain in a comfort zone of only reading views that don’t stimulate debate or challenge consensus but thankfully there are others who see life differently.
    I told him where Mr Lerman had pointed out that antisemitic attacks had increased during Israel’s recent war in Gaza and he can’t even admit he got it wrong. He obviously hadn’t read the article. Cheap shots about having ” a nice little earner in today’s Guardian ” say a lot about his current rationale. Anyway lets move on from being sidetracked by irritants.

  61. Ben Nachman said

    I’m sure that on some conceptual level, Lerman is actually against antisemitism, but he seems to be making a career of rationalising it. He only concerns himself with blaming Jews (who disagree with him) for it, and looks for explanations that exculpate perpetrators of antisemitism. Rationalising the irrational is a contemptible endeavour that blurs any meaningful distinction between explanation and excuse-making, and so I’m not prepared to withdraw the claim that he’s an apologist for antisemitism.

    I don’t think UK libel law is a good gauge as to the aptness of criticism. Regardless, I’m sure that Tony Lerman is only too happy that Jews are engaging in a debate he started, and in much politer terms than ‘self-hating Jew’, ‘traitor’ and ‘Kapo’, which is obviously what they’re really thinking. I’m still, obviously, exactly the sort of person he wishes to influence, even if he does take the curious route of doing so at CiF.

  62. Ben Nachman said

    So, some other people used disgusting language towards some other “dissenters”, and that means that I was calling Antony Lerman a “self-hating Jew”, a “traitor” and a “Kapo”. And then you warn others to read more carefully what I wrote!

    Anyway, as for being “sidetracked by irritants”, am I to take it that you are no longer proposing to demolish my arguments, as previously suggested?

  63. Voice Down South said

    I can’t remain silent on this. Antony Lerman has never exculpated the perpetrators of antisemitism. No one can reasonably infer that he has.
    Rather, he has pointed out that those in the diaspora who conflate the interests of Jewish communities with those of the Israeli Government
    exacerbate the problem of antisemitism as it effectively mirrors antisemitic discourse which holds Jews collectively responsible for the actions of Israel.

  64. Community Member said

    Since you are open to persuasion perhaps you would learn something from reading Tony Lerman’s article on Jewish self-hatred published last year in the Jewish Quarterly.
    To call a Jew “an apologist for antisemitism” is not that different from those that describe others as ” self-hating Jews or traitors “.
    I’m sure if you reflect carefully about this you will take it on board even if your relatives are morally confused. So tell me what’s the difference?

  65. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Instead of complaining about the slings and arrows suffered by outsiders and being the poor old perpetual fall guy, tell us why the Guardian article should have been brought to the bloggers attention. Tell us what he said that was so earth shattering.
    Towards the end of the article, Lerman pillories Israel for playing the victim. This was unnecessary and untrue. Israel wasn’t playing the victim. Whether you consider it was deserved or undeserved, Israel was the victim.

  66. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    VDS, that may well be so. However, it is only conjecture that were those that conflate the interests of Jewish communities with those of the Israeli Government to cease, then there would be a lessening of antisemitism. If you believe that to be the case, then you are accusing the victims of being responsible for antisemitism.

  67. Ben Nachman said

    “Don’t conflate Jews and Israel, they say. But matters are far more complicated. Most Jews support Israel; they feel it’s part of their identity…”

    This goes well beyond critiquing “those in the diaspora who conflate the interests of Jewish communities with those of the Israeli Government”. He’s using individual Jewish identification with Israel as part of his “explanation” of the causes of antisemitism. I mean, that’s all of us bar the anti-Zionists (hello Saucepot!)

    I could waste a lot of energy on theorising as to the psychological malaise that informs Antony Lerman’s views. I could tell you that it’s Jews like him who never miss an opportunity to blame other Jews for antisemitism, that really cause antisemitism. That’s the Lerman approach, it lame, and the only thing I know for sure is that it’s first and foremost antisemites who cause antisemitism. Instead, I choose to engage with the arguments, which by and large, are rubbish, and on this thread, have not even been presented. All I hear is a lot of boo-hooing about brave “dissenters” and the imaginary slurs they are enduring.

    I’ll certainly read Lerman’s article at a later date, if you post the link (sorry A Beitz).

    As to the difference between a self-hating Jew and an apologist for antisemitism, the important distinction here is that the former is a psychological diagnosis that lacks the necessary requirement of being disprovable, and thus should be dismissed as an insult, and no serious contribution to any argument.

    Over to you, Demolition Man!

  68. Community Member said

    Commentary on the conference by a UK Jewish journalist is worth looking at when it is currently a big news story.
    Any problem with that?

  69. A Beitz said

    CM if you can’t see that you and GJEF look like groupies for Tony Lerman then that’s your problem. The man is the main topic on two out of the five topics in the misleadingly entitled “Recent Posts” on the left hand side of this blog. On the topic of Rabbi David Goldberg which is presently what we are posting under there are 3 links to articles and 1 non link to the Jewish Quarterly all by the Blessed Tony.
    And the truth is he doesn’t say anything very interesting but basically indicates that anti semitism is the fault of the victim for making the mistake of supporting Israel.
    And since you really don’t seem to get it I am happy to read views with which I agree and with which I disagree and with which frankly sometimes I don’t have a scooby what the author’s saying. However that doesn’t mean I require a diet of Tony Lerman exclusively. Do you finally get it?

  70. Community Member said

    Your style Nachman junior may look impressive but where’s the substance to your argument? You claim you could theorise about ” the psychological malaise that informs Antony Lerman’s views. ” and that the Lerman approach is “never to miss an opportunity to blame other Jews for antisemitism.”
    This is not engaging with the arguments. Your attempt to describe the difference between a self-hating Jew and a Jewish apologist wasn’t clear enough. Tell me again please what you consider to be the difference.

  71. Ben Nachman said

    This isn’t a Tony Lerman fansite, is it? I’m sure the at least some of the approving links come with critical qualification, right?

  72. Community Member said

    Oh yes I get it Beitz. I get it that you think it is acceptable to attack someone for ” having a nice little earner in today’s Guardian ”
    I think that is cheap. Quite simply I couldn’t care less whether you think that I or GJEF perhaps are groupies for Tony Lerman. Tony Lerman, in my opinion, is a respected academic and journalist, who I think has much more to contribute to communal Jewish life in the UK. You don’t like that he has a strong relationship with GJEF and has been invited to address important meetings with the Scottish Government. You don’t like his views.
    Well so what? You don’t find his views very interesting – not surprising since you think you know what he has said but haven’t even bothered to read the article concerned.
    You haven’t got a diet on here of Tony Lerman exclusively. Post whatever link to whatever article you think is worth looking at.
    What’s your real issue? – this is just a ruse. What’s really bothering you? Tell us what is really bugging you Beitz?

  73. Community Member said

    Here’s another article worth looking at – not by Tony Lerman, but by Seth Freedman.
    Good night.

  74. Ben Nachman said

    I normally assume that if someone doesn’t understand what I’ve read, it’s because I haven’t expressed myself clearly. Rereading my comment, I don’t think that’s the case here, but I’ll try again.

    When you call someone a self-hating Jew, you’re making a statement on their state of mind, and it would be highly unusual for someone to have both the professional competence and familiarity with the particular subject to make such an assertion. It can only be interpreted as an insult.

    To call someone an apologist for any cause can be defended or refuted on the strength of the arguments to back it up. I’ve stated my case for why Lerman is an apologist for antisemitism. It’s up to you whether to refute the case, or to whinge about the cosmic damage I might be causing award-winning Guardian Journalist Tony “Far More Complicated” Lerman.

    You are right that my comments that you’ve quoted are not arguments, but assertions, but they can be be considered critically by following some of the links that you helpfully provide. My actual arguments are scattered across this thread. As you’ve missed each opportunity to “educate” me, perhaps I could assist you by summing them up in bullet points.

  75. A Beitz said

    So once again CM you camouflage the point. Whether you think I’m wonderful or shameful isn’t the issue. It is only now after numerous uncritical posts about Tony Lerman from you and the moderator of this blog you finally post a link to someone else. Lerman has something to say. He now appears to be saying much the same thing regularly. Basically he suggests that where there has b een an increase in anti semitism Jews must accept the blame for supporting Israel. It’s a view. It doesn’t justify your hero worship of him. It doesn’t justify each and every utterance that appears in the Guardian or elsewhere from him turning up here.
    I’m sure he’ll do well as the Guardian’s regular non Zionist but Jewish columnist. I don’t have any personal problem with him despite your efforts to impute a motive. And contrary to what you say I had read everything posted on here by him but it is sometimes difficult to recall everything said. My mistake.
    Now I’ll leave it to the Nachmans for a while. I find their postings more interesting and thought provoking.

  76. Community Member said

    You really are shameless Beitz.
    Notwithstanding your comments yesterday that impugns Tony Lerman for
    ” having a nice little earner in the Guardian ” and your previous declaration that you had not seen evidence whereby Mr Lerman had written that there had been an increase in antisemitic attacks during the war in Gaza, even when it was clearly there in the article you were complaining about, you now follow this up this morning with another piece of ridiculous argument. You state that Lerman’s position can be summarised, “where there has been an increase in antisemitism Jews must accept the blame for supporting Israel. ”
    This is a ludicrous over simplification of the argument and you know it. There is no hero worship of anyone.
    I don’t think you are up to discussing and understanding the arguments properly.
    As for the Nachmans justification that it is acceptable to call Tony Lerman “an apologist for antisemitism”,
    this is more indicative of their mindset than Mr Lerman’s. He has spent almost 20 years researching, analysing and alerting people to the dangers of antisemitism when others wanted to brush things under the carpet. Where were they and where were you Beitz when he was doing this?
    Those that put forward alternative views on matters that challenge the established viewpoint and stimulate debate should always be welcomed on this blog. Those that think it is acceptable to attack these people personally for their views should not be allowed to get away with this.

  77. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    CM, the Nachmans didn’t call Lerman an ” apologist for antisemitism” One of the Nachmans did. This is typical of your loose thought and language throughout this discussion. In #52 Ben Nachman dealt with the subject at length. Despite your complaining at the length of the posting, though brief compared to some of the links we are expected to read, you said you would answer the arguments raised later. Later has come and gone and it appears you would prefer to chase people off the blog rather than deal with the issues that you thrust before us.

  78. Community Member said

    Its a bit rich questionning others loose thought and language when you obviously have no problem with what Nachman junior said about Tony Lerman, and Beitz’s remarks about nice little earners in the Guardian. Not a peep from you about that was there? No one expects you to read anything you don’t want to Nachman. Some do. Others don’t.
    As I said before there is more being said in the Jewish world than revolves around G46 or G77.
    As for the reflections put forward by your junior, I think I have answered what needed to be answered before being deflected by unworthy comments. If there is anything specific that has not been answered remind me and I will come back.
    As Junior suggests maybe some bullet points would help given the length of his postings.

  79. Ben Nachman said

    Community Member,

    I was being facetious when I volunteered bullet points, and did so in order to highlight your refusal or inability to grapple with anything substantive I’ve said. My employment of the phrase ‘apologist of antisemitism’ is secondary to the arguments that have drawn me to the conclusion that that’s what Lerman is, and if you want to defend Lerman, you’d be better advised to do it without being so self-righteously and hypocritically indignant.


    1. Your claim that I attacked Lerman because of what Gidon Levy wrote is a bizarre misrepresentation of what I wrote. (#45)

    2. Your “guess” – let’s call it a psychological diagnosis – that my taking exception to Levy’s writings is “because it hurts”, is unsupported by anything I’ve written. (#45)

    3. Your claim that others are afraid to say what Gidon Levy says, is more pseudo-psychological speculation, and implies that people find Levy painful because they’re ashamed, and secretly know him to be right. It also implies that people who disagree with Levy do so in bad faith. (#45)

    4. You find Gidon “never misses” Levy’s review of Waltz With Bashir “thought-provoking”, but don’t venture an opinion on whether his criticisms were reasonable. Do you think Waltz represented Israeli soldiers, in general, as heroes?; do you think that’s the conclusion most people drew?; and do you concur with Levy? If you do concur with Levy, did you reach that judgement after you saw the film, or after you read the Levy’s review? (#45)

    5. Should we “never criticise what we feel is not right”? Like in point 3, when Jews and Jewish institutions fail to condemn Israel where you would, you believe it is despite knowing that they should. This imputes more bad faith to your adversaries, is unsupported by evidence, and is typically unfalsifiable. (#52)

    6. Your desire for more ‘official’ condemnation of Israel amounts to a desire to politicise Jewish communalist institutions, with your politics (of course!) The reason this isn’t happening is because Jewish opinion is divided on this or that Israeli action, and because your opinions tend to be very much minority ones. (#52)

    7. You argue that it is against the Jewish community’s interest not to speak out on Israel, though you don’t deem to make the case. I argue that it’s largely irrelevant, as most people, particularly those who commit antisemitic attacks, do not follow the pronouncements of ‘official’ Jewish spokespeople. (#52)

    8. You wander perilously close to endorsing racism when you argue “it is not that surprising when others do not recognise the difference between Jews living here from the actions of any Israeli Government”. (#52)

    9. I have invented three variations on quotations by you and Lerman, but have aimed them at Muslims and blacks, rather than Jews. I argue that these are apologies for racism, thereby implying that you and Lerman are apologising for antisemitism. Either you would not characterise these hypothetical remarks as apologies for racism, you accept that you and Lerman are apologists for antisemitism, or you reject the analogies: which and why? (#52 & #55)

    10. Your equating Muslim antisemitism with Jewish anti-Muslim bigotry is unsupported and unlikely, but even if true, is a diversion, given how many more Muslims there are in the UK than Jews. (#53)

    11. You say: “Ben Nachman… probably thinks that dissenters to the view within Jewish Communities that Israel is always right are no doubt traitors, self hating Jews or even Kappos.” This is untrue. I don’t think this. You are not a mindreader. It demeans you to impute these thoughts to me. Your justification for this false claim – that in another context, some other people have employed these insults against yet other people – is utterly bizarre, but consistent with your style. (#55 & #62)

    12. I have explained twice, the difference between “apologist for antisemitism” and “self-hating Jew”: do you accept that distinction, and retract your original imputation, and the Kappo one too? (#67 & #74)

    This is a summary, and had you really wanted a debate, you should have referred to my original posts which contain my reasoning.

    Community Member: “As for the reflections put forward by [Ben Nachman], I think I have answered what needed to be answered…”

    I have no serious expectation that you’ll engage with these points, and this post is merely to demonstrate that – contrary to what you claim – you’ve actually answered nothing.

  80. Voice Down South said

    Another good article on antisemitism if anyone’s interested. If A Beitz isn’t he doesn’t need to click on the link. I won’t be upset.

  81. Ben Nachman said

    Voice Down South,

    I’m sure A Beitz would be happy to read the Brian Klug article, particularly as it’s an obvious riposte to Lerman’s piece on Durban II. You wouldn’t know that, because Klug doesn’t link to Lerman’s article, presumably because they’re pals.

    They’re disagreeing. Klug is gently remonstrating with Lerman for using Ahmadinejad’s antisemitic speech as just another opportunity to bash some Jews he doesn’t like. Klug is taking Ahmadinejad’s antisemitism seriously.

  82. A Beitz said

    Good article by Tony Klug. Another person of independent thought who is worth reading.
    A real laugh when CM states “Those that think it is acceptable to attack these people personally for their views should not be allowed to get away with this.”
    Heard of pots, kettles, glasshouses, stones, CM?

  83. Aaronovitch Watcher said

    Community Member can, no doubt, answer for himself, but I would like to address some of the points raised by Ben Nachman. Regrettably, my time is limited so my comments will, of necessity, have to be brief.

    (i) Jewish self-hatred:

    You are right to assert that the charge of Jewish self-hatred should be rejected on the grounds that psychological explanations are unfalsifiable. However, you collapse any meaningful distinction between psychological diagnosis and rational argument, a distinction which you rightly insist upon, when you invoke the notion of “psychological malaise” as an explanation of Tony Lerman’s beliefs about Jews. Evidently, you see no logical contradiction between affirming a proposition and its opposite.

    (ii) “a Jewish apologist for antisemitism”:

    Your “case” against Tony Lerman is predicated on a wilful misrepresentation of his views. No reasonable person would infer, on the basis of the quote you cite, that he sought to exculpate the perpetrators of antisemitism, or that he attributed responsiblity to Jews for the hostility that is provoked by Israel’s actions.

    Notwithstanding your claims to the contrary, your indictment of Tony Lerman as “a Jewish apologist for antisemtism” is an unwarranted charge which has no basis in either fact or logic. Rather, it is, in effect if not intent, an attempt to excommunicate him from the Jewish body politic, to characterise him as a pariah and an enemy of his own people. In short, it is utterly contemptible.

  84. Ben Nachman said

    Aaronovitch Watcher,

    You’ve misunderstood and there was no contradiction. I wasn’t saying, nor do I think, that Lerman suffers from a “psychological malaise”; it was an example of what I don’t say, but what I might say if I took Lerman’s aproach – an approach, which you rightly point out, I reject. I’m sure if you reread it you’ll agree.

    I’ve taken on board your charge that to accuse him of being an apologist for antisemitism is “in effect if not intent” excommunicating him (though obviously, if there’s no intent, you can’t really mean that I was attempting to excommunicate him).

    So, my apologies to Antony Lerman. I should have said that he is in effect, if not intent, an apologist for antisemitism. He doesn’t literally defend antisemites, but when Ahmadinejad is invoking the Protocols in Durban, Lerman’s main target is Alan Dershowitz and the UK Jewish Human Rights Coalition.

    His response to a “dramatic rise in anti-Semitic incidents in a number of countries” and the conflation of Jews with Israel is to say that “matters are far more complicated”. In the same article, in a disgraceful phrase, he says that Israel has “throw[n] the mantle of victimhood over the residents of southern Israel.” A more accurate description would have been that Hamas was bombarding the residents with missiles. This insinuation of Israeli cynicism is literary way of exculpating Hamas. This is apologising for genocidal antisemites. In effect, if not in intent.

    Or what about his thoughts on the Interparliamentary Coalition of Parliamentarians Against Antisemitism? More important to Lerman than fighting antisemitism is giving the message to his Guardian readers that people fighting antisemitism are to be dismissed as paranoid self-promoters and killers of free speech. He’s entitled to this view, but it was a disruptive effort at an event of major importance to the UK Jewish community, and to communities in a far more precarious position, such as Venezuela’s.

    The best way of judging whether Lerman is an apologist for antisemitism – in effect, if not intent – is to ask what message his audience takes. The message is that: antisemitism isn’t that important; what little antisemitism there is, is hyped by the Jewish establishment; the Jewish establishment is not to be trusted on Jewish issues; and that there would be less antisemitism if Jews stopped associating with Israel (the unspoken assumption being that antisemitism is either part deserved or a somehow natural consequence of Israel’s actions).

    Tony Lerman is, in effect, if not intent, an apologist for antisemitism.

  85. Ben Nachman said

    Sorry, here‘s the link to Antony Lerman’s open letter in the Guardian to Lord Malloch Brown, that I referenced above.

  86. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Thanks for the link, Voice Down South. It’s reassuring to note that being a commentator of independent thought as Brian Klug is, doesn’t necessitate losing all sense of reality.

  87. Community Member said

    Your latest contribution Ben Nachman is quite horrifying. You have dug a very big hole for yourself and rather than get yourself out of it, you are digging deeper and deeper.

    I am not sure whether it is very wise to engage you further in this debate because I don’t think you want to listen. You have accused Tony Lerman of helping to foster antisemitism and as I posted this morning he has spent almost 20 years analysing and researching this subject on behalf of a very respected academic thinktank. Only recently he was invited to address a meeting of ACPOS and his presentation to senior Scottish police officers was very well received.

    In your distorted eyes, he is in effect, if not now in intent, an apologist for antisemitism. I trust therefore that you no longer require to use the word Jewish before apologist – because that would be unnecessary as his religion is irrelevant to your charge. Or is it? Isn’t using the word Jewish in this context tantamount to racism. Because you charged him with being a Jewish apologist, not just any apologist didn’t you. I wonder why.

    If your latest assertion about Hamas is to be taken seriously then anyone who thinks Israel should attempt to engage this organisation in talks to end bloodshed and killings are in effect, if not in intent, also apologists for genocidal antisemites.

    I was going to answer your previous points in detail but I now think this is mainly unnecessary because your last post tells me everything I suspected but would have hoped wasn’t true.

    Thankfully no one has endorsed what you have said other than your father and Beitz. One can be dismissed because he is related and the other because he is a cynical opportunist.

    I am not prepared to respond in a manner which allows you to dictate the terms of the debate.

    The following is a sufficient response to your silly arguments. –

    It was you who invoked the comparison between Lerman and Gidon Levy. It was you that claimed that when Lerman adds up two and two he can only come up with five, when Levy comes up with a banana. Not exactly an incisive analysis is it Ben Nachman?
    I think that to describe Levy as you have done indicates an emotion stronger than just disagreement. I admire Levy’s journalism because he writes from the heart and tells it honestly. Not too many journalists are prepared to do this. What Levy writes should hurt anyone who has the remotest concern or even connection with Israel, not just you.
    I know people who are troubled by what he writes and what he has exposed over the years. Some fear for the damage this causes to Israel’s image, others believe he is an outstanding journalist. I believe that Israel is best served if people tell the truth.
    As regards the film Waltz with Bashir, Levy believes that Folman had a responsibility to say something about the war in Gaza whilst accepting his award. Folman stayed silent which was his right. On balance, I understand where Levy is coming from. If Folman had said nothing at the actual ceremony but made a statement afterwards that would have been one thing but to remain silent when Israeli soldiers were again at war I think is wrong and I understand Levy’s annoyance.

    Finally, I have no desire to politicise Jewish communalist organisations with my politics. Your charge is again nonsense. Many years have passed since I had any faith whatsoever in Jewish communal organisations to do what I believe is right. I happen to believe that Israel’s interests and the interests of Jews living here are not always the same. Sometimes Israel does things which are against the best interests of Jews living here. I fully appreciate that Israel acts as an independent state but that does not mean that it is in our interests in the diaspora. If Israel does something which harms our interests I think we should say so. I’m not trying to influence anyone – I just think it is common sense.

    Our communal organisations – Board of Deputies, Chief Rabbi’s Office, Chaplaincy, Scojec, engage in political advocacy in defence of Israel’s policies and actions. They never point out that they only speak for some Jews – and not all Jews. They claim to speak for all of us when it is evident that they don’t. If we as a community don’t make any distinction between us and Israel why should we be surprised when our opponents don’t either. Remember, the statements used recently – we all stand 100% behind Israel.

    I think I have indulged you sufficiently in answering these points.

    As I said earlier, I think your last post says everything.

  88. A Beitz said

    This comment has been removed on the grounds that it is potentially defamatory. Please see the explanatory note below.

  89. Community Member said

    You really are more of a cynical opportunist than I even thought you were.
    Lets not allow facts to get in the way of your story – you make it up as you go along.
    1. You have no idea why Tony Lerman was invited. He has never been put forward as a community leader by himself or others.
    2. You don’t know what he said there – so you make it up and spin the line that he must have told them that antisemitism was merely a reaction to Israel’s war in Gaza.
    3. And of course you conclude by implying that Lerman would have told the police that it was all the fault of the Jews anyway.

    Wrong, wrong and wrong.
    Peddle this rubbish elsewhere.
    Interesting though that you now want to have a go at the police. What have they done to upset you or whatever communal organisation you are purporting to represent nowadays?

  90. A Beitz said

    Even more unreasonable than usual CM. I suppose you think Tony Lerman was speaking about flowers and fauna of the Australian Outback. You do find it difficult to debate in any sort of reasoned way. I don’t want to be dragged down to your level in throwing personal insults but even by your standards phrases and sentences such as “You really are more of a cynical opportunist than I even thought you were.” and “whatever communal organisation you are purporting to represent nowadays” are fairly vitriolic. The responses to people such as Nachman, Ben Nachman and myself of ignore many points , throw a few insults and try to hector really won’t do.
    Would you not be better reminding people of the meeting on Sunday night rather than hurling abuse?

  91. Ben Nachman said

    This hole I’m digging – the ‘horrifying’ “last post [that] says everything”: I note with amusement that you’ve spared me the humiliation of a withering riposte.

    “You have accused Tony Lerman of helping to foster antisemitism”

    No, you’ve made that up. As I’ve said more than once, unlike Lerman, I hold antisemites responsible for antisemitism. I’m not sure what the relevance is of his past record on antisemitism when it comes to challenging the views he now espouses, but it sound like a request for clemency. Out of interest, you mention that he was doing this while other people were “brush[ing] things under the carpet”: to whom are you referring? Also, given his illustrious record, why did he resign from JPR just before he was due to retire? Was it to spend more time with his family?

    “In your distorted eyes, he is in effect, if not now in intent, an apologist for antisemitism.”

    No, I have never said his intent was to apologise for antisemitism. You’ve made that up too.

    “I trust therefore that you no longer require to use the word Jewish before apologist – because that would be unnecessary as his religion is irrelevant to your charge. Or is it?”

    His Jewishness is relevant to the debate insofar as he presents himself as an ‘independent Jewish voice’, and is not shy to brandish his former status in the community. But, yes, the charge of being an (unwitting) apologist for antisemitism stands or falls regardless of his ethnicity, and I stand by my judgement.

    “If your latest assertion about Hamas is to be taken seriously then anyone who thinks Israel should attempt to engage this organisation in talks to end bloodshed and killings are in effect, if not in intent, also apologists for genocidal antisemites.”

    Nope. Didn’t say it. Don’t believe it. Non sequitur. Clarify.

    “I was going to answer your previous points in detail but…”

    But! Indeed.

    “Thankfully no one has endorsed what you have said other than your father and Beitz. One can be dismissed because he is related and the other because he is a cynical opportunist.”

    I can’t speak for A Beitz, but I can tell you that my father has been under instruction to disagree openly with me where he does disagree. I note once more that you impute speculative motivation for others’ views, rather than, you know, just taking their word for it. And, if we’re doing a count, I would say that of just seven other contributors to this debate, four could be said to be either somewhere between broadly supportive or neutral. If a formal show of hands is a reliable indicator, I think I win.

    “I am not prepared to respond in a manner which allows you to dictate the terms of the debate.”

    I’m not dictating the terms. You requested a debate – I obliged, but you didn’t deliver. You requested bullet points – I obliged, but you brought excuses. Here are my terms for taking you seriously, though: make the case for what it is that you purport to defend; stop putting words in people’s mouths; stop imputing psychological motives as a substitute for an argument; and please, please, stop the whingeing.

    “It was you who invoked the comparison between Lerman and Gidon Levy.”

    Yes, I don’t deny it. In what sense is that a defence of your odd claim that I “attack[ed] Lerman because of what Gideon Levy has written”?

    “It was you that claimed that when Lerman adds up two and two he can only come up with five, when Levy comes up with a banana. Not exactly an incisive analysis is it Ben Nachman?”

    No, it was an opinion ventured in the form of a wee joke! It’s clear that I’ve attempted to argue particular cases against them, so I’m bemused that you would choose this throwaway remark for your devastating demolition job, rather than any of the more substantive points I’ve made.

    “I think that to describe Levy as you have done indicates an emotion stronger than just disagreement.”

    I couldn’t really say. You’ll need to ask my shrink.

    “I admire Levy’s journalism because he writes from the heart and tells it honestly. Not too many journalists are prepared to do this.”

    I don’t give a stuff about how heartfelt journalism is, if it’s wrong. And you seem to be implying that most journalists are liars. More bad faith. I will add that when I read Levy’s half-truths, the halves that are true are often very hurtful.

    Now, we can get down to the mere three points that you’ve arbitrarily deemed worthy of a response.

    You think that director, Ari Folman, had a moral duty to speak out against the war in Gaza. This is pompous nonsense. He is a private citizen who has a moral duty to speak out, or not, according to his conscience.

    To the challenge of why you believe Israel is acting against Diaspora Jewry’s interests, you merely reassert the point and claim it’s “common sense”.

    You assert that you have no desire to politicise Jewish communalist bodies, but you don’t bother to refute my argument as to why that’s what you’re effectively doing. Then you go on to suggest that this lack of desire is a result of having failed to do exactly that: “Many years have passed since I had any faith whatsoever in Jewish communal organisations to do what I believe is right.”

    “If we as a community don’t make any distinction between us and Israel why should we be surprised when our opponents don’t either.”


    “If Muslims don’t make any distinction between themselves and Hamas, why should they be surprised when their others don’t either.”


  92. Community Member said

    Your deliberate attempts to mislead and misinform what Tony Lerman told ACPOS necessitated an immediate response. Some have suggested that if you are ignored you might go away,
    you did for several months, but others have the view that it is essential your unwarranted accusations don’t go unanswered.
    Once again, you complain about personal abuses – they are all fair comment – but they have never stooped to your lowest level of deliberately putting forward an account of Tony Lerman’s talk to ACPOS which was entirely untrue and without any foundation.

  93. Ben Nachman said

    Oh, A Beitz, I have it on authority from a friend of Lerman’s, that he was disputing the CST’s figures in the meeting to which you refer. I’m happy to confirm that offline to Community Member.

  94. Community Member said

    A summary of Tony Lerman’s talk to ACPOS appeared on this website. It is still there. That is a factual summary of his presentation. So sorry once again Ben Nachman to tell you that you are wrong and that is the problem when people such as Beitz deliberately misconstrue what was said. People like you who want to believe something different then believe they have read facts when they haven’t.

  95. Ben Nachman said

    Does the summary comprise everything that was discussed in the meeting? I heard different, and I’m sure I can convince you my contact is reliable. Contact me offline and I’ll give you more detail.

  96. A Beitz said

    Thank you , CM. I now note you have managed to redefine the term “Fair Comment” to cover terms such as “shameless”, ” “[not]up to discussing and understanding the arguments properly” (which even if true is having a go at someone based upon that person’s ability or disability),”probably thinks that dissenters to the view within Jewish Communities that Israel is always right are no doubt traitors, self hating Jews or even Kappos.”, “a problem with hearing views beyond G46 or G77 like Nachman Senior and Beitz.” That’s just a small sample.

    Maybe I was wrong in inferring that Tony Lerman spoke about the issue he has been banging on about for several months ie the exaggeration of anti semitism.So do tell me what did your hero speak to ACPOS about if it wasn’t that? You presumably know since you’ve told us he was “well received”. I take it wasn’t about crowd control at G20 protests. Nachmann seems to be suggesting I wasn’t as far off as you have indicated.

  97. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    A Beitz,last line, do you mean Nachman or Ben Nachman?

  98. A Beitz said

    Looking at the sumary of the meeting on this site I can’t see where I was wrong. According to him “these incidents are directly linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict shows also that antisemitism today is a complex phenomenon.”
    Then “the current rise in antisemitic incidents as a result of the fallout from the Gaza conflict does not necessarily mean that there has been a rise in underlying hostility to Jews.”

    He goes on to state “In the Jewish community, the Community Security Trust plays a very important role in monitoring antisemitism and providing security for Jewish premises and events. However, as a private organization it is not always clear whether it can strike a balance between intelligence-driven action and community accountability, between the need to ensure heightened awareness of its assessment of the threat posed by antisemitism and the need to ensure that community life can carry on as normal.”

    He goes on “it does not help to combat the very real antisemitism that exists by exaggerating the threat it poses.”

    So he indicates that anti semitism is linked to Israel’s actions. Fair enough but it is indicating mitigating factors to the anti semitism. His criticism of the CST together with his warning about exaggerating the amount of anti semitism both point to a strong direction to treat claims of anti semitism sceptically.

    His is one view. It is no more than that. Maybe some of the points made about Tony Lerman’s on this blog are upsetting you CM in case thosewho read the blog realise that whilst the emperor is not naked he’s a bit scantilly clad.

    The abuse is very sad since it changes you from a person who has strong but honestly held views to a demagogue who attempts to bully those who post views with which he disagrees.

    And sorry Nachman I meant your junior who should be a source of pride with his incisive logical postings.

  99. Ben Nachman said

    Thank you, A Beitz. And – Ouch! – CM.

  100. Not Another Macher said

    CM, Do you think that if you keep repeating an untruth it magically becomes true?

    A number of people have pointed out on this blog that Chaplaincy does not advocate support for Israel ‘right or wrong’, but that their job is to support students of all Jewish and political backgrounds to access material from varied sources and become skilled at putting forward coherent arguments at meetings, debates and in writing.

    Chaplaincy has been providing support to students from all political standpoints since the 1970s including those who put forward a 2 state solution at a time when that was a minority view.

  101. Emet said

    Lets declare this blog a Lerman free zone-I find much of what he says unintelligible and very dull ; He’d never get a job at Talksport ;I’m with Bietzy and the Nachmans on this one-for all the exposure he gets here , and for all his good intentions , his views are held only by a small minority of UK jewry-that of course doesn’t have any bearing on whether he is right or wrong but it puts the onus on the blogmasters to give equal exposure to a contrary viewpoint and one which appears to be held by a majority (which again wouldn’t necessarily make such views right or wrong ) ; I’d suggest a few links to Melanie Philips or are the blogmasters infact not impartial ? Could it be that they using the blog to peddle their own agenda…surely not ?

  102. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Actually Emet, I no longer have a problem with the incessant links to Lerman, not because I am sympathetic to many of his assertions, but because it has stimulated community debate on a topical subject at length. I consider CM’s postings to be intolerant, unfair, in many cases personal and mostly illogical and irrelevant but infinitely preferable to the silent majority who only reveal their views (if at all) when they are sure of being on the majority side.
    You want Melanie Phillips? Who’s stopping you? At an opportune time, give us your views or post a link and anyone interested will pick it up.

  103. Community Member said

    Beitz, if you are actually reading the summary of Lerman’s address to ACPOS, and are not as you did the last time conveniently forgetting or misinterpretating his comments, you will realise that your comments posted ( no 88) were totally misleading.
    You won’t admit it because as I have said before you are a cynical opportunist who deliberately has misconstrued what Lerman has said on several occasions. Lets remind you of some recent examples –
    1. You made out that Tony Lerman had never claimed that antisemitic attacks had increased during the war in Gaza when he had.
    2. You claimed that Lerman told the police that anti semitism in the UK
    ” is merely a reaction to Israel’s war in Gaza.
    3. You inferred that he would have told the police ” that its all the fault of the Jews for supporting Israel anyway ”

    Each of these statements was incorrect, deliberately placed by you to mislead and misinform. If you re read these statements you ought to withdraw every one of them because they are all untrue. I think you should very carefully consider the implication of what I am saying because continually peddling half-truths and distortion is going to get you into serious trouble.

    Now A Beitz, stop attempting to camouflage your errors and withdraw everyone of them. I’m sure if required the police will have a full transcript of the Lerman presentation.
    You have attacked them as well and I think they may also wish to defend their good name. Given their sincere efforts to take the issue of antisemitism seriously I think they may also wish to set the record straight.

    I’m waiting Mr Beitz, but I promise you that my patience will not go for ever.

  104. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Sorry Emet #101. You were right. Let’s have a rest while CM chucks his toys out the pram.

  105. A Beitz said

    Oh dear I’m getting very worried, CM. If you want to make threats to me make them to my face. You appear as usual to ascribe motives to those with whom you disagree. Lermann’s style is to admit there is anti semitism and then minimise the causes, state it is often exaggerated and by the time he has finished his audience or reader is given the impression that there is little of a problem and what there is would be a lot less if Jews didn’t support Israel. In my opinion that’s the impression even from the summary of his talk to the police.

    Were you bullied at some point? You certainly seem to be trying to bully me and others on this blog.

    Now stop being a cyber hardman and do something if you’re going to do it.

    If the police want to post on here that’s up to them.

  106. Ben Nachman said

    I retract comment #93. At Community Member’s behest, I spoke to my source, and it was confirmed that the meeting with public officials at which my source claimed that Lerman had been disputing the CST’s figures was a different one. A friend and supporter of Lerman, my source has gone reticent regarding details of the meeting at which Lerman was undermining the CST. Perhaps it was when he was “invited to address important meetings with the Scottish Government” (#72).

    However, as A Beitz points out, from reading the report, he did precisely that at the ACPOS meeting too. I’m not sure why Community Member would deny this, seeing as “dissenting” from the “official” line is Lerman’s raison d’être, and I’m not sure what else it is he does other than downplay antisemitism and blame it on other Jews or Israel.

    So, perhaps one of Lerman’s minions could enlighten us as to what the other meeting was, to which I referred earlier. Perhaps Lerman is here himself – he has at least two vocal advocates on this thread, so there’s every reason to suppose that he is.

    If Lerman is reading, I’d like to ask him under whose aegis he briefed ACPOS and was invited to address the Scottish government. As the former Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, surely he has even less claim to representative legitimacy than the communalist bodies that he constantly maligns.

    Also, as the main credential he claims is as former Executive Director of JPR, he might wish to clarify why he left so soon before his retirement.

    At the risk of sounding antisemitic, I can’t help noticing that Mr. Lerman’s Jewishness appears to be his only qualification for addressing government and civic bodies. It is this Jewishness that makes him such an effective apologist for antisemitism – in effect, if not intent.

    As the monkeys aren’t up to the job, perhaps it’s time to ask Tony Lerman grind his own organ.

    [Comment edited by Admin]

  107. Aaronovitch Watcher said

    I was present at the meeting held on the 27th October 2008, at which Tony Lerman briefed senior officials in the Scottish Government, and I would like to state for the record that claims made by Ben Nachman are malicious, false and wholly without foundation.

    Contrary to what has been alleged, Tony Lerman did not in any way question the validity or reliability of CST’s statistics. Moreover, he did not at any time seek to “undermin[e] the CST”.

    As to Mr Lerman’s credentials, he was invited to brief the Scottish Government in his capacity as Executive Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, the pre-eminent academic policy institute within Anglo-Jewry.

    I trust that Ben Nachman will now withdraw his unfounded claims forthwith, and issue an unreserved apology to Mr Lerman.

  108. Admin said

    We have been advised by our lawyers that the claims made in comment No.88, regarding the substance of Tony Lerman’s briefing to ACPOS, are potentially defamatory. In light of this, we have removed the comment in question.

  109. Voice of reason said

    So we have now had 105 posts under the subheading relating to the prayer book

    However, these posts relate in the main to what Tony Lerman did or did not say. Nachman, Beitz, Community member, Nachman watcher and Ben Nachman have been trading insults, issuing apologies and demanding retractions for approximately 100 of them now.

    The posts are getting more vitriolic and personal as time goes on so I am sure that they make a fine spectactle for all other people like myself who have been tuning in to see who has just launched the latest nuclear salvo or low blow. Maybe we should launch our own campaign to dissarm the five of their keyboards before someone really gets hurt.

    And before any of the five threaten me a good kicking too…. I will issue an immediate retraction with an unreserved apology to you and your families. Whilst I am at it…. I would like to apologise to Mr Lerman for any offence caused in future that I may be unwittingly about to cause.

    If any publicity is good publicity then Tony Lerman must be up there with Susan Boyle this week as the most talked about individual in our midst. Congratulations to both!

    I feel however that there must be more important things to discuss so I will issue my verdict on there performances with marks out of 10 and blow the whistle on this one

    Community Member 7 /10

    Impressed by the passion and frequency of the involvement. Started very brightly but tired a bit in the second half with the odd very rash challenge. Fortunate to escape with only a yellow card. Did well to stick to his original brief as chief Lerman supporter

    Nachman 5/ 10

    Doesnt really know which way he is facing. Started off shooting towards community member and then suddenly changed sides when he thought it would be better off supporting the underdog. Needs to sharpen up his skills as he is prone to complete errors of judgment with the final balls. Looks to be getting past his sell by date and probably ready to be put out to grass in a lower league unless his fitness improves

    Ben Nachmann 8/ 10

    Excellent first half and the opposition found him very difficult to handle. Unfortunately started making it up a bit as he went late on in the game so lost some credibility. Overall a very bright performance for his debut.

    Beitz 7 / 10

    A welcome return to the fold after being out injured (with hurt feelings) for so long. In common with many his first half performance was excellent. Tired a bit towards the end and needed to resorted to some unecessary moaning at the ref. If he can maintain his discipline and not let his feelings get the better of him he will continue to be a strong asset for the rest of the season

    Nachmann Watcher 4/10

    Seems to be a bit in the shadows of community member. Needs to assert his own ideas more

    Match result: 4 – 4

  110. Voice from the Past said

    and woe betide anyone else who tries to get a word in edgeways – they just get shot down in the cross fire.

  111. A Beitz said

    Very strange. Post anything you like about individuals such as Kenneth Collins, Ephraim Borowski, Philip Mendelsson, various rabbonim etc and however inaccurate or unpleasant it is admin seem to have no difficulties.
    Post something admin doesn’t like and they somehow find a lawyer who tells them it is “false” despite the fact that is not the role of any lawyer. Presumably then someone points out to admin that a lawyer would never say something was “false” about which he had no personal knowledge. Quickly the statement changes to “potentially defamatory”.
    And what could have been potentially defamatory? It might be admin didn’t like it but it is difficult to see how a posting which summarised what many see as Tony Lerman’s views could be “potentially defamatory”.
    Presumably Mr Lerman had no difficulty with the posting. I personally discussed the blog with him some time ago and he told me what a good thing it was. This was around the time the great and good and not so great and good were condemning it from all sides. He has always struck me as a straight and decent guy and wouldn’t complain about being the victim of a few less than robust analyses of his views.
    Or is it more part of criticism of Mr Lerman being seen by admin as akin to blasphemy?

  112. Putting the Record Straight said

    I think it is necessary to put the record straight. The decision taken to remove A Beitz’s post ( no 88 ) was a unanimous decision taken by all members of GJEF.
    GJEF were represented at the meeting with ACPOS when Antony Lerman gave his presentation.
    It was confirmed to GJEF that the statements made by A Beitz as to the content of Mr Lerman’s presentation were incorrect and were not true. The posting by A Beitz was not a true summary of what Mr Lerman said to ACPOS and therefore the collective decision was taken to remove this post. All members of GJEF, without exception, thought that it should be removed.
    A Beitz may wish to portray himself as the victim of an arbitrary whim to remove his comments because some people within GJEF are not in agreement. The reality is that, despite being asked on several occasions to withdraw his remarks he chose not to do so.
    GJEF, therefore removed the post.

  113. Ben Nachman said

    My post has been censored, too! Was this lawyer involved, or did you just disagree with me?

  114. Ben Nachman II said

    Have I been banned?

  115. Ben Nachman said

    Oh, I’m being moderated. Care to explain why?

  116. Ben Nachman said

    So, I’m being moderated, and my posts are being censored, without explanation.

    “We have been advised by our lawyers that the claims… are potentially defamatory.”


    “The decision taken to remove A Beitz’s post… was a unanimous decision taken by all members of GJEF.”

    Did you reach a unanimous decision to follow your lawyers’ advice; or did you reach the unanimous decision, and then ask your lawyers for advice? Somebody’s very confused!

    The purpose of this blog is to encourage people within the Glasgow Jewish Community to contribute to discussion and debate about topics that are concerned with the community’s future.

    We welcome contributions from everyone.

    So long as we agree with them! And I thought it was the Jewish Establishment that was intent on stifling dissent.

    I’ll respond to Aaronovitch Watcher’s reply once I’m allowed to post again unmoderated, and have received an explanation as to why my post was censored.

  117. Ben Nachman said

    Should I say something defamatory about Chaim Jacobs? Would that help? He won’t sue.

  118. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Forget it Ben Nachman. It is easier to censor than to deal in substance. I am not in the least surprised at those doing the censoring but am amazed that Tony Lerman would permit this in his name. Like you I am sure he is here or hereabouts so must be giving his approval for the actions whether by commission or omission. Also, while I am on, I suggest someone is confusing ‘potentially defamatory’ with ‘fair comment’
    It is so sad that Lerman uses the tool of the loaded question but when you use the classic logic example of a loaded question to demonstrate his technique, it is censored. It is not just sad, it is shameful.

  119. Another Reasonable Voice said

    You were given 8 out of 10 earlier today for your first performance on the blog. I thought that was much too generous. However,
    five consecutive posts have now got you substituted and it is likely you will soon be on the transfer list. Play by the rules or play elsewhere.

  120. Nachman Aaronovitch 2 said

    I’m being moderated as well or maybe banned. I don’t know whether o laugh or cry at some rather sad people.

  121. Another Reasonable Voice said

    Get lost Nachman Aaronavitch. Your contributions are not worth moderating. You are a 2nd division player and as A Voice of Reason told you earlier you are past your sell by date and ready to be put out to grass.
    Why would anyone want to ban you?

  122. Phil Space said

    Earlier this evening I received an email from GJEF advising me that:

    “GJEF has been asked by the Scottish Government to circulate an open invitation to members of the Scottish Jewish community, in which they are invited to attend a public seminar by The Scottish Government’s Scottish Preventing Violent Extremism Unit on 22 May 2009, highlighting the work it is doing.”

    I am totally confused regarding the status of GJEF who are as I understand it a group of individuals who in their own words:

    would like to engage the community in worthwhile discussion so that proper dialogue and consultation can be embarked upon.

    According to their website the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council “was founded in 1914 to speak on behalf of the Jewish community of Glasgow and West of Scotland. It is extensively involved in the public domain in furtherance of the interests of the community.”

    Perhaps Admin could advise me why the Scottish Government felt it appropriate to issue this invitation via GJEF and not via GJRC

  123. Armchair Analyst said

    Just because an organisation “was founded in 1914 to speak on behalf of the Jewish community of Glasgow and West of Scotland. It is extensively involved in the public domain in furtherance of the interests of the community.” does not make that organisation necessarily representative of the community or necessarily fit to presently speak on the community’s behalf.

    Arrogance and hubris have brought down many an august institution of faded past glory. It’s therefore a worrying sign that the young GJEF should be running and ‘consulting’ their ‘lawyers’ on matters of blog content control so early in their career as the new kid on the block

  124. A Beitz said

    1112 is interesting. We’ve now had 3 explanations.
    1 The post was removed on the advice of GJEF’s lawyers because it was false
    2 The post was removed on the advice of GJEF’s lawyers because it was potentially defamatory
    3 The post was removed because the 5 people who run GJEF considered it was untrue

    Now of course it’s not impossible that 2 and 3 could overlap but that’s not the way it’s been put in a post entitled “Putting The Record Straight” and the various explanations do not seem to have the ring of truth about them with the story changing 3 times over about 12 hours.

    I would also point out that at no time was I asked to retract by admin. From recollection the only request/demand came from CM on this messageboard. No communications took place off this blog asking me to withdraw it.

    So if one poster demands I withdraw something should I take the view that that is admin’s position? Or only if that demand comes from CM?

  125. A Beitz said

    Sorry that should read 112.

  126. Voice of reason said

    Looks like I was wrong after all. The rules have changed, extra time is being played and Beitz is looking for an early advantage. Ben Nachman has tired and is beginning to suffer the same fitness issues as the older Nachmann. The 4th official is now on the pitch trying to keep the teams in check.

    We may well be heading for penalties on this one….

    Current score remains at 4-4

    More excitement was caused when Phil Space came running onto the park during play like a lost dog before being shepherded away by stewards disguised as armchair analysts.

    They thought it was all over…….. it isn’t now!!

  127. Phil Space said

    I’m very upset with V of R. I’d much prefer if he had compared me to Barry Ferguson sitting in the subs bench waving in his inimitable way to the GJEF 5-aside team.

  128. Voice from the Past said

    “The distinctive feature of a racist attack or insult is that a person is attacked not as an individual, as in most other offences, but as the representative of a family, community or group.
    “Other members of the same group, family or community are in consequence made to feel threatened and intimidated as well.”
    …… a single incident of racist bullying must be treated very seriously, even if it appears to be an isolated case.
    “A single one-off incident may have precisely the same impact as a series of incidents over time,”

    This is government advice to teachers and comes from a report about racist bullying in schools.

    I’ve had a look, but can’t find the full guidance document, maybe there’s a teacher out there who has access to it.

    Anti-Semitism is racism, it therefore follows; one anti-Semitic incident is one too many and if other people feel threatened or intimidated because of it, it is wrong to suggest that the situations is being hyped and blame them for feeling that way – isn’t it?

  129. Observer said

    It is not too difficult to work out Mr Space (122). We have been told by GJEF that the Scottish Government look beyond communicating with supposedly Representative Organisations like the Rep Council and Scojec. They do so I suspect because they are aware that these representative organisations are not that representative of the community they purport to represent.
    It is pretty obvious that GJEF have direct communication with the Scottish Government – look at the events that have been organised with the help or participation of the Scottish Government, and they have been asked to circulate information on this seminar.
    GJEF have passed this on I would guess – as you got it and me too – to their email database.
    Changed days from the Rep Council and Scojec only inviting who they want to and ensuring only those they rate as suitable can turn up to anything. So I raise my hat on this one to GJEF. Maybe they are changing things, little by little and opening up discussion for everyone.
    ( and no that was not giving my opinion on the recent debate on this blog.

  130. Community Member said

    The decision by the Scottish Trades Union to endorse boycott disinvestments and sanctions against Israel was reported in this week’s Jewish Telegraph.
    They also voted to review STUC’s relationship with Histradut.

    I would like to draw to your attention the following quotation within the article:

    Avital Shapira-Shabirow (Histradut)
    ” After obtaining substantial improvements for Palestinian workers- in terms of millions of pounds – and designing and implementing joint ventures, it is highly ironic ..this action will cost Palestinian and Israeli jobs if successful. We believe that trade unions can be involved in positive constructive dialogue ..which will no doubt promote the Palestinian workers’ rights – sometjhing that is a priority for Histradut.”

    STUC is encouraging trade unionists to boycott goods, especially agricultural products, that have been produced in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

    Now look at the following quotation from Epharaim Borowski, Director of Scojec –

    ” Antisemitism is discrimination against Jews, whether individually or collectively. That includes singling Jews out for collective criticism and includes Jewish individuals, Jewish organisations, or for that matter the Jewish State.”

    There is a huge difference between these quotations. Whilst it can be argued that the STUC should have more pressing things to do with their time in the midst of a recession and growing unemployment in this country, together with the possible costs to Palestinian workers, I do recall similar arguments that were used by the white regime in South Africa when anti-apartheid campaigners called for sanctions there. I think this is gesture politics and will in effect do nothing to help Palestinians but because of my own political sympathies I can’t really object to a call to stop buying goods from Israeli Settlements. I wouldn’t do so willingly. Of course I know that many will argue that Israeli is being singled out and this is not right when so many other parts of the world have repressive, tyrranical regimes and no one does anything about them.
    Notwithstanding the arguments for and against I think the words of Mr Borowski are completely inept. He obviously thinks this act by the STUC is antisemitic. Note the Histradut doesn’t go down that route at all. But when Mr Borowski claims that actions against Israel are by definition antisemitic if Israel is singled out this is a very dangerous road to travel. Because what he is saying it would appear is that criticism of Israel is unacceptable and if anyone singles out Israel for criticism then they are guilty of antisemitism.

    That is a very stupid position to take.

  131. Another Reasonable Voice said

    I have now read the article and Ephraim Borowski’s quote. This is not only stupid Community Member, accusing the STUC of antisemitism is dangerous.
    Voice From the Past and Mr Borowski are singing from the same song sheet. I wonder if Voice From the Past is a member of Scojec or presumably they have attended the same training course.
    This course is entitled – ” How to use the Race Relations Act so that we can turn completely paranoid believing that the whole world hates us and is out to get us”
    If we take Borowski’s quote seriously he is saying that anyone who criticizes Israel selectively is an antisemite. I presume he would include all those Jews who have criticised Israeli actions over the years, including Shalom Achshav?

  132. Hamish MacShmekelstein said

    The Executive Committee of the Stornoway branch of Scoject expresses our steadfast solidarity with our esteemed ceannard Ephraim Borowski.

    One patently stupid statement should not be allowed to negate a lifetime of illustrious sharp observations.

  133. Impressed said

    Just back from hearing Rabbi Goldberg at tonight’s GJEF meeting. Superb.
    This was a classic and those that weren’t there missed something really special. This meeting will be remembered for a long long time. Over 50 were there and I doubt if there would have been one person who didn’t enjoy this evening.

  134. Tim Allon said

    “Of course I know that many will argue that Israeli is being singled out and this is not right when so many other parts of the world have repressive, tyrranical [sic] regimes and no one does anything about them.”

    And your response is…

    “I do recall similar arguments that were used by the white regime in South Africa when anti-apartheid campaigners called for sanctions there.”

    If you are arguing that Israel is akin to an apartheid state, could you do so explicitly, so we know what we’re dealing with.

    “Because what he is saying it would appear is that criticism of Israel is unacceptable and if anyone singles out Israel for criticism then they are guilty of antisemitism.”

    This is an odd, if popular, conflation of “criticism” and “boycott”. It is quite possible and legitimate to criticise Israel, without resorting to demonisation, or advocating a boycott. Do you think that boycotting and divesting from Israel – and Israel alone – amounts to no more than mere “criticism”?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I’m aware, the STUC is not proposing a boycott of any other country. If the STUC discriminates against the Jewish state alone, it is imperative for it to clarify the universal principles that underlie that action, particularly given the long and ignominious history of discrimination and boycotts against Jews.

    When such universal principles are lacking, and popular support for boycotts can only be galvanised against the Jewish state, it is perfectly natural for thinking people to wonder whether there is antisemitism involved, whether in effect or intent.

  135. Armchair Analyst said

    Tim Allon makes a very good that went over my head first time around.

    Criticism of Israel is fully justifable in many contexts. However a decision to boycott Israeli goods, and Israeli goods alone, by a gentile dominated organisation does require a clear qualifying explanation by that organisation, or it can also justifiably be accused of at least partly anti-Semitic motives.

    However if the boycott is limited to goods produced in the West Bank and West Bank alone, this is to my way of thinking a more persuasive statement. But then again, any organisation advocating a boycott of anything West Bank but not Sudanese or Russian(think Chechnya)or any one of more than a dozen other countries who violate human rights on a far grander scale than Israel, also requires to clearly state why Israel alone is being singled out, or its motives will be deeply suspect for me at least.

  136. Tim Allon said

    Although it’s not relevant to my point, the STUC supports the boycott of and divestment from all Israel, not just the West Bank. I’m not sure why Community Member is implying that the boycott relates to just the occupied territories.

  137. Community Member said

    The article in the Jewish Telegraph states
    ” STUC is encouraging trade unionists to boycott goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”
    Armchair Analyst – the language you use to describe a non Jewish organisation – namely ” gentile dominated organisation ” belongs in my opinion to another era. I don’t look at organisations and think how many Jews are involved, and how many Jews are not involved. We have hopefully moved on from that.
    I think your argument is wrong. You cannot assume antisemitic motives because an organisation criticises Israel.
    I don’t assume antisemitic motives when someone attacks Israeli policies. I take the argument on its merit and deal with it. I don’t think there are antisemites lurking behind every corner, having a go at Israel because they don’t like Jews. I think sometimes their criticism of Israel is valid, sometimes it is not and it is unfair, but I certainly do not want anyone who wishes to discuss Israeli politics to have to declare themselves not guilty before the Tim Allon chargesheet even before they have commented. That would be very regressive.

    Tim, when did the charge of demonisation enter this discussion? Is this not exaggeration? I hope you are not suggesting that by calling for a boycott this is demonising Jews? Are you?
    I do not think that boycotts by the STUC are a good thing. I do not think that the STUC will achieve much by their actions. But maybe Tim we should turn this argument upside down. If there are organisations that do not agree with Israeli policies and the military occupation how would you advise them to make that clear both to their members, Israel, and the world at large?
    What methods of criticism would you deem to be acceptable and why?
    Let’s move this on from organisations like the STUC. How would you advise countries that may be appalled at Israel’s policy of occupation, settlement building etc to make their disdain clear to Israel? Do they, in your eyes, have to make it clear that they have no antisemitic motives or can they be allowed to comment without having to qualify thie views on Jews?
    I think that we play the antisemitism issue much too often for our own good. I think a charge made too often is increasingly seen as irrelevant and actually causes us harm.
    Borowski claimed that singling out Israel for criticism is antisemitism. I repeat, it is stupid and dangerous.

  138. Tim Allon said

    Community Member,

    “You cannot assume antisemitic motives because an organisation criticises Israel.”

    You don’t appear to have understood what I wrote. I’ve already distinguished between antisemitism “in effect or intent”, and I don’t imagine that the STUC comprises a band of Jew-haters. That doesn’t mean that the act of boycotting Israel, and only Israel, is not antisemitic. And again, you imply that the STUC is only ‘criticising’ Israel. It’s not. It’s implemented a boycott.

    “Tim, when did the charge of demonisation enter this discussion? Is this not exaggeration? I hope you are not suggesting that by calling for a boycott this is demonising Jews? Are you?”

    It’s not an exaggeration. To boycott is a huge moral condemnation of that you are boycotting, I’m sure you agree. When such boycotts are applied in relation to only one group, organisation or country, this sends the clear message that they are the worst of the worst, which clearly, Israel is not. This is demonisation by any other name, but if you can’t distinguish between ‘criticism’ and ‘boycott’, I’m unsurprised you can’t see how a boycott of Israel alone is effectively demonisation.

    “But maybe Tim we should turn this argument upside down. If there are organisations that do not agree with Israeli policies and the military occupation how would you advise them to make that clear both to their members, Israel, and the world at large?
    What methods of criticism would you deem to be acceptable and why?”

    To answer that would take an essay, and it depends, of course, upon the organisation in question. First of all, I’m not against a boycott of Israel in principle. If, as a matter of official policy an organisation boycotts Israel, whatever the grievance, and however wrong-footed we both apparently consider it, I think it’s up to them. But given the preponderence of campaigns to boycott Israel – and only Israel – and the history of antisemitic boycotts, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask them whom else they’re boycotting. If the answer is no one, then this is an antisemitic boycott, whether or not this is what the boycotters believe or intend. One group is singled out for special punishment on the basis of no universal moral principle. That group is Jewish, so the boycott is antisemitic. There’s no “Tim Allon chargesheet”: if some criminal law were applied in such a way that only black people were convicted, despite not being the principal offenders, I’d call that anti-black racism.

    If they chucked on a few of the many greater human rights abusers on a boycott list, I wouldn’t argue that a similar boycott of Israel was antisemitic. I mean, even if you could persuade me that Palestinian human rights were of more value than anyone else’s, I could still show you half a dozen countries more worthy of a boycott than Israel.

    I have no desire to speak on behalf of Ephraim Borowski (although if I’d had the chance, I would have given myself an extension for my dissertation when I had tonsilitis), but the key point from what you’ve quoted is this ‘singling out’. When we single out Jews for criticism – that is, we criticise Jews, and no one else who is guilty of similar or greater offences – then yes, this is antisemitism.

    One final point: you say you wouldn’t willingly buy West Bank produce. Israel is a democracy, and the 40 year old occupation is enforced by, and has a democratic mandate from, all Israel. It would be bizarre to advocate boycotting Tibet and not China, or Chechnya and not Russia (if you can suspend your disbelief for one moment and imagine that anyone would propose a boycott of anywhere but Israel).

    For the sake of moral consistency, I suggest that you consider boycotting all Israel.

  139. Community Member said

    Your entire argument is based on a fallacy because you deliberately make no distinction between the interests of Jews and the interests of Israel as a nation-state.
    Unless and until you see that this distinction is necessary then I’m afraid you will remain a pupil of Borowski.
    I believe your analysis on antisemitism is therefore flawed.
    Similarily I don’t go along with your argument that because no Israeli Government in over 40 years has had the sense to end its military rule over another people that does not mean that I have to accept your argument that settlements are part of Israel and that it is bizarre to make a distinction. With this logic any opposition within Israel to continued occupation would evaporate and any peace camp would disappear. Thankfully there are voices within Israel that will not accept what you are advocating and they will always protest that the occupation of another people is wrong and that their belief in democracy allows them to say so.
    It might be convenient for you to declare that critics of Israeli policy need to pass an antisemitic test but unfortunately for you and Borowski I don’t believe that many will be persuaded. My advice is that you should deal with the issues and not fly kites as diversions.

  140. Armchair Analyst said

    Re #138, I’m with you all the way Tim, except for that last line.

    The West Bank is ‘Disputed Territory’ according to some official Israeli and other definitions. Therefore opacity reigns.

  141. Another Reasonable Voice said

    Could Armchair Analyst and Tim Allon please answer the following question that I originally asked in 131.
    Are Jews who have criticised Israel selectively, including Shalom Achshav,
    guilty of antisemitism?
    Please indulge me by answering this.

  142. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    I don’t think Another Reasonable Voice is really following the argument. Armchair Analyst and Tim Allon both quite clearly differentiated between criticism of Israel and boycott.

    And as for CM, there may well be a distinction between the interests of Israel and that of Jews but so what. Does that mean that their interests never coincide? Does that mean that they can never have the same enemies?

    As one who has long protested over the Settlements I find your argument flawed. You have avoided answering the basis of the STUC selective boycott and the morality of the decision. I, too, Don’t regard the West bank as part of Israel, nor Chechnya as part of Russia and all the other examples that are not subject to boycott. So explain your position logically. It would be helpful in persuading me of your case if you cut out the childish snide remarks once again.

  143. Ben Beitz said

    Hey guys this is my first contribution to the blog, but as tonight is Yom Ha’atzmaout I thought I would share an article shares my sentiments about why I am proud to be a Zionist.

    Independence Day / I am a Zionist and I am proud
    By Sara Miller
    Tags: Israel Independence Day

    “I’ll give you six months,” said a close relative the day before I packed my life into two rucksacks and schlepped them 2,000 miles from Britain. A decade on, I’m still here, and proud to be an olah vatika (veteran immigrant).

    Even within Israel the concept of Aliyah for Zionism’s sake is often an alien one. Young Israelis in particular cannot understand why someone from an evidently prosperous country, with a culture-rich and progressive society and which is relatively terrorism free, would choose to throw it all over, leave their family and friends and move to a country so riddled with internal problems and violence.

    My motivation can be summed up in one word. Zionism. In recent decades Zionism has become a dirty word in the world. It has been used as an insulting and disrespectful collective noun for the Jewish people, shorthand for the State of Israel within the context of its conflict with the Palestinians and even a synonym for the settlement movement.
    It is time to reclaim the word as an expression of pride. Zionism is what has driven and will drive past, present and future Jews around the world to move to a miniscule spot of land in a war-torn region.

    Their need to belong to Israel is not always appreciated by the existing populace. On a crowded Tel Aviv bus when I objected to an armpit in my face, I was told to go back to America. Native Israelis laugh at my British accent, reply to my fluent Hebrew in appalling English but would nonetheless kill for my EU passport.

    Ironically, I found it is the Israeli working class, beset as it is by economic hardship, which seems the most accepting and understanding of my decision. Their pride in the homeland is real, joyous and unrelenting.

    Israel is where I belong. This is where Jews belong, whether they live here, visit or simply feel a spiritual connection to the place. It is the embodiment of thousands of years of aspiration, through pogroms, persecution and genocide.

    Not that I was the victim of any real anti-Semitism in my life in Britain, but there are always ominous undertones. My local synagogue in Manchester, like many, has a private security company on patrol for the High Holidays, and my Jewish primary school has a barbed wire fence. Yet there is nothing akin to what forced my great grandparents from Eastern Europe or what led my Austrian relatives to their deaths in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

    I may well be a product of my environment in Britain – Jewish youth movement, Jewish education, Jewish home – and there are many things that disturb, scare and sadden me about Israel, such as its inability to reconcile to the reality of our Palestinian neighbors, its capricious attitude to war and the religious intolerance from secular and religious Jews alike. But here I am.

    This is my tenth Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut as an Israeli. It’s been frequently tough, sometimes lonely, occasionally frightening, but never a cause for regret.

    I am always in Rabin Square for the siren for the dead, and for the dancing for the living. I am a Zionist, and I am proud. This is my country and I love it. Here I will remain.

    Sara Miller is the editor of

  144. Armchair Analyst said

    CM, given General Election results in France, Belgium and Germany over the past decade or so, it’s reasonable to impute that 15-25% of the voters are anti-Jewish.Therefore it’s reasonable to impute that a fair but widely variable minority of Gentile dominated organisations in European countries including the UK are governed by people who are antagonistic towards Jews.

    It’s not PC to attack Jews at the moment, but Israel makes a tempting target for these people under the guise of anti-Zionism. Therefore my comment does not belong ‘in another era’ in my opinion. We have indeed evolved from counting the number of Jews involved in organisations, but do I think (rightly or wrongly)that the STUC has Jews involved at the decision making level? – No!

    I’ve publicly criticised Israeli policies on many occasions, so having done that, I don’t ‘assume ant-Semitic motives any time someone criticises Israel’. I also don’t assume altruistic motives.

    Trust, but verify.

  145. Community Member said

    I think your assumption Armchair Analyst is wrong – I don’t think your assumption is reasonable.
    I think you need to prove that so many organisations are governed by people who are antagonistic towards Jews.
    I have very close friends who are not Jewish who think that how Israel treats Palestinians is awful. Am I to assume that deep down they don’t like Jews and getting at Israel is just a cover? Am I to be suspicious that their motives are not sincere?
    I think not.
    Nachman Aaronovitch states that there may well be a distinction between the interests of Israel and those of Jews and asks whether their interests cannot coincide and that both cannot have the same enemies. He also says..” but so what. ”
    This is the point at issue. The ” so what ” part is fundamental. If their interests don’t always coincide and if they don’t always have the same enemies then the argument put forward by Tim Allon is flawed. It is unreasonable and dangerous to imput antisemitic motives to organisations because they don’t like Israeli policies.
    It is not “childish snide” remarks to point out that those that agree with Borowski are in my view mistaken. I have already told you that I think that the STUC boycott will not achieve anything and that it is not a good thing.
    Borowski’s argument was that if anyone singles out Israel for criticism that is antisemitism. Others have asked what I think is a fair point – would that include groups like Peace Now and other Jewish groups? That question it would appear to me is quite valid. Borowski, made his point. Maybe some of those that have defended his argument that selective criticism of Israel is antisemitism, will answer this question.

  146. A Beitz said

    It seems to me that CM is missing certain points. He may have friends who think that Israel’s acttions are awful. I suspect however they are not into boycotting Israeli produce but no other.
    The situation of Peace Now and other such groups is not analogous. These are groups comprising people who as Jews see themselves as having a stake in what happens in Israel or at least a special interest in what bears to be state for Jews. I may criticise what goes on in the UK disproportionately. That’s because I have a stake in it.
    The STUC have no stake or special interest in Israel. They just seem to have selected it as the only country in the world to boycott. Is it the worst?

  147. Armchair Analyst said

    Beitz, your response to CM is spot on.

    To CM, I have no need to prove that ‘so many organisations are antagonistic towards Jews’.

    My point again is – There are thousands of organisations out there. Given that a strain of anti-Semitism runs through the various European populations including the UK to a greater or lesser degree, therefore it is reasonable to deduce that at least some of these organisations are controlled by people who are antagonistic towards Jews. Even this does not imply that the rank and file members of those particular organisations are necessarily antagonistic towards Jews.

    I accept that the vast majority of European organisations are controlled by people who are not antagonistic to, or are at least neutral towards, Jews.

    Let the STUC explain publicly why they have singled out Israel in isolation to other far greater human rights abuser countries. If they don’t have a hidden agenda, what’s the problem?

  148. Voice Down There said

    Sorry to intrude on this love in but Armchair Analyst you must be completely potty if you think Beitz is spot on. Beitz is certainly potty if he really believes what he has written.

    Maybe Beitz could tell us whether a non-black has any right to comment on what is going on in Zimbabwe. Beitz’s logic would imply that whites have no right to comment as they are not stakeholders.
    Perhaps also I should shut up about Darfur and Rwanda. I don’t live there, have no stake in what’s happening so I should shut up.
    Beitz will appreciate that his reasoning has been used for years to stifle dissent.
    Groups like the STUC politically agitate. This could be new to Beitz and Armchair Analyst but it has been happening for years. That doesn’t mean they are antisemitic.
    Some people on this blog are drowning in paranoia.

  149. A Beitz said

    VDT seems to misunderstand. The point I was making was that anyone is entitled to criticise. Where however the level of criticism becomes disproportionate eg no one else is criticised to the same extent nor is there any suggestion of a boycott of anyone else there can be various explanations:
    1 The “stakeholder” or “special interest” individual or body to whom the country is one which therefore has special meaning and will therefore spend more time on it. Fair enough.

    2 The country is the worst transgressor in the world or is very much up there. Again fair enough.

    3 Neither 1 or 2 apply in which case you are entitled to question both the motives and the effect.

    Suppose I am a teacher. Various kids under my jurisdiction misbehave and some are considerably worse than others. If I pick out one kid the whole time whose misdemeanours are average for punishment whilst taking no action against the others some of whom are much worse my motives and my judgement must be called into question. If that kid is the only Jewish child I have it would not be surprising if someone was shouting about anti semitism in the face of such irrationality. Those shouting might be right although there could be some other explanation. If I, that same teacher, ignore the kids who are misbehaving and who are my responsibility but instead constantly punish Jewish kids, not on my watch, whose behaviour is again certainly not the worst then I think inferences can be drawn. That is I think what the STUC are doing.

    We have the worst recession for decades. Workers are losing their jobs and having their hours cut. Employers are using the present recession to get rid of people they see as troublemakers. People are being made homeless. Empoyers are disappearing. So what to do? Ah yes, boycott the Jewish country.

  150. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    So, the answer to debate is to begin by accusing the opposition of pottiness and to finish with an accusation of paranoia . How incredibly sad, Voice Down Under. Maybe I’m also paranoid but along with Beitz and AA we’ll let our psychiatrists make the diagnosis and suggest you stick to facts. Meantime, how about telling us the results of the STUC’s agitations. Other than Israel, exactly who are they boycotting? Who did they miss out because they were stifled? If not the STUC, who was stifled from honest comment. You? Have you been stifled? Tell us about it.

  151. Voice Down There said

    Your psychiatrists will make a living out of the three of you alone, and a bloody good living to boot.
    I have scrolled back to the beginning of this thread and read the quote in the Jewish Telegraph from the Histradut – 130(Community Member)
    They don’t use antisemitism like you do. They have more sense. They don’t see antisemites when the STUC criticises Israel. Your response is the oldest trick in the book.
    However, it is a crazy paranoid argument and it does us no good at all.
    You remind me of the Afrikaners in South Africa during the protests against apartheid in South Africa. You can’t tell me one person who has posted on this blog supporting the STUC action? No one has.

  152. Armchair Analyst said

    Too many nippy sweeties, Voice Down Under!

  153. Laugh a minute said

    So now Beitz considers himself to be a teacher.
    What next?
    A Rocket Scientist?

  154. Community Member said

    Another interesting article from today’s Guardian to further the education of wannabee teachers like
    A Beitz. No apologies whatsoever that this was written by T Lerman.

  155. Tim Allon said

    “Antony Lerman… is in two minds but in the confused rather than the deliberative sense.”

    Riposte to the above Tony Lerman article, demonstrating that he’s just as incapable of formulating a coherent argument as his lickspittles. No apologies.

  156. Tim Allon said

    Community Member,

    Your entire argument is based on a fallacy because you deliberately make no distinction between the interests of Jews and the interests of Israel as a nation-state.

    First, you don’t understand what a fallacy is. It is not the same as a falsehood, but I’ll refer you to the dictionary for further elucidation. Perhaps Ephraim Borowski can recommend you a good one.

    Second, I have made no distinction between the interest of UK Jews and Israel because it simply isn’t relevant. Had they no common interest, it wouldn’t logically follow that discrimination against Israel was not antisemitic. You can’t seriously believe that discrimination directed against Iranian Jews, for example, can’t be antisemitic, because Iranian Jewry’s interests differ from those of British Jewry. Discrimination against Israel may or may not be antisemitic, but the interests of British Jewry do not bear upon it.

    Funnily enough, this is a good example of the fallacy called ‘irrelevant thesis’ (ignoratio elenchi), known more colloquially as a red herring.

    I don’t go along with your argument that because no Israeli Government in over 40 years has had the sense to end its military rule over another people that does not mean that I have to accept your argument that settlements are part of Israel and that it is bizarre to make a distinction.

    More comprehension issues on your part. Of course there is a distinction between Israel and what I’ve already called “occupied territories”, but the germane point is that the settlements remain with the democratic mandate of the state as a whole. Now that you can see that your desire to boycott only the territories is irrational, rejoice that you can “willingly” boycott all Israel, without fear of hypocrisy.

    It might be convenient for you to declare that critics of Israeli policy need to pass an antisemitic test blahblahblah…

    ‘Critics’… ‘Antisemitic test’… I’ve already dealt with this nonsense. Do you really think that anyone but you is going to mistake a restatement for a counter-argument? This is hopeless.

    My advice is that you should deal with the issues and not fly kites as diversions.

    I think I’d classify it as deviation, but if you want to assume bad faith from me and everyone else who disagrees with you, that’s your right. So, what were the ‘issues’, again?

    My main point is that we need to be able to account for why STUC is one of many organisations, with no particular stake in Middle Eastern politics, which singles out Israel for punishment – sorry, criticism – without any allusion to some sort of universal principle that it, you, or I, are able to articulate. Israel is Jewish, and this sort of discrimination is usually called antisemitic (in effect, etc.). I think of it as something akin to institutional racism, something that most anti-racists grant exists. For some reason, when there are Jews involved, many supposed anti-racists suddenly find themselves equivocating and contextualising.

    I don’t know why you can’t conceive that there can be such a thing as antisemitism unless it comes resplendent in jackboots and a swastika.

    Your main point seems to be that “it is unreasonable and dangerous to imput [sic] antisemitic motives to organisations because they don’t like Israeli policies”, and it has, in fact, been dealt with several times; but I’ll restate that I haven’t imputed antisemitic motives. A misunderstanding is forgiveable, but this incessant repetition is just dishonest.

  157. Tim Allon said

    Could Armchair Analyst and Tim Allon please answer the following question that I originally asked in 131.
    Are Jews who have criticised Israel selectively, including Shalom Achshav,
    guilty of antisemitism?


    Please indulge me by answering this.

    Happy to oblige.

  158. Tim Allon said

    From Voice Down There we get the usual drivel conflating not just ‘criticism’, but mere ‘comment’ with boycotts and divestment. Not worth a response, but this is more interesting:

    “Beitz will appreciate that his reasoning has been used for years to stifle dissent.”

    That’s called a conspiracy theory, and it happens to be about Jews. And it’s not a million miles away from the idea that the Jews control the media. Being generous, I’d say that this shows that you don’t have to be an active Jew-hater to start regurgitating familiar antisemitic tropes.

  159. Armchair Analyst said

    I just read Tony Lerman’s article in CM’s latest link to the Guardian.

    Tony does an excellent job of describing the present realpolitik of the area. But as for his venturing an opinion on a potential solution, this is way beyond his purview.

  160. voice of reason said

    I agree Armchair Analyst. To infer that the status quo becomes the defacto solution is frankly ludicrous. On that basis there would be no anglo irish agreement and apartheid would reign in South Africa to this day.

    What Mr Lerman doesn’t factor is the influence of external forces. The US being the primary driver in drivers Israel direction as whilst you may disagree with Nethanyahu or Lieberman they have proven to be pragramitc in their approach to policy advocated versus that implemented.

    Another misguided view is that whilst considering Israel’s situation there is no mention of the factional nature of the Palestinians with the lack of unity and agreement on principle amongst Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah and the many others. The root cause problem here is the support and funding from Iran and the rise of radical Islam. This is a world issue and not a local issue.

    It appears that most commentators and politicians get this. Mr Lerman seems to have chosen to be more simplistic and assuming that times and circumstances do not change. Whilst he may be correct about the short to medium term view. His long term view makes absolutely no sense. The only valid question is how long is long term.

    For once will community member agree that his mentor got it wrong. I doubt it. No doubt he will resort to the usual tactic of issuing a complete endorsement of Mr Lerman’s view whilst condemning me for my lack of general intelligence and poor comprehension skills.

    Should that not work I fully expect a follow up lambasting with accusations that I have been tainted by either Rep council associations, Borowski leanings or swine flu.

    So the challenge is laid down community member, can you stick to the argument on this one without resorting to the cheap shots… your response will say much about your ability to critically analyse Tony Lerman’s articles. You don’t always have to accept Tony’s view as your gospel. You are allowed to express a different opinion with impunity…. here’s your opportunity to set the record straight.

  161. Community Member said

    Its good that you have decided at last to engage in debate VOR.
    I don’t think you have understood what Tony Lerman has said. Can I suggest you re-read it.
    I don’t believe the status quo is the defacto solution because I don’t think the current situation is a solution. The certainty is that it will get worse.
    I don’t believe that the Israelis or the Palestinians really want peace sufficiently to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve it. I am not only not optimistic about the prospects for peace, I am actually very pessimistic, because I see no real desire. There was a chance under Rabin and Arafat but chances such as that only crop up very rarely.
    I also think the occupation of another people – 42 years now – has corrupted Israeli society.

  162. Community Member said

    This article is worth reading as well. From Haaretz – Meron Benvenisti

  163. voice of reason said

    Why am I not surprised Community Member? You couldn’t help yourself could you? My comprehension skills are the issue. Perhaps you should read both what Tony Lerman said and I said. Then you can answer the question posed… Can you admit that he got it wrong this time? Frankly I don’t really care what you think on this one. I just want you to confirm that the analysis from Tony Lerman view is flawed and you have a mind of your own. I don’t know if you have that capacity but I am interested in letting you refute that charge.

  164. Armchair Analyst said

    I’ve just read Meron Benvenisti’s Haaretz article (post #162) on a Binational State.

    Will CM and interested others please venture a guess here at the current percentage of Israeli Jewish voters who would be in favour of such a state?

  165. Community Member said

    No, I won’t admit he got it wrong. Much of what he has written I agree with.
    When I read comments from you that “Lieberman is pragmatic ” I am aware that your argument is not serious, so your attempt at a wind up this time has failed.
    Is it beyond you to read an article and broaden your knowledge. Agree with some parts, disagree with others, but relax.
    To use your own analogy – you have had better days. A spell in the reserves would do you good. If a reasonable bid comes in I think you will be transferred.
    On to more serious matters – My guess armchair analyst is that its not that so many Israelis positively desire a binational state, or no Palestinian State, its that they won’t take the necessary steps to help create an independent Palestinian State, so the
    binational state becomes a reality.
    That in my view is the problem. Neither side currently want peace enough to do anything about it.

  166. voice of reason said

    So can you tell us what you don’t agree with?

    Not surprisingly you chose to resort to committing professional fouls when you can keep up with the play. If you ever want to play in the top league you need to raise your game. Get your agent to find you a club in a lower division. It seems a certainty that you will be placed on the transfer list given your recent performances. I am seriously concerned that you are in danger of relegation to the Beezer homes league.

  167. Voice from the Past said

    some Shabbos reading…..

  168. Haaretz Reader said

    Ben Beitz posted an article here on Yom Haatzmaut.
    I would urge him, his dad, and all others to read the following from today’s edition of Haaretz. It is written by everyone’s favourite Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy.
    It reflects on Yom Haatzmaut and the article headline is ” 10 Tribes ”

  169. Armchair Analyst said

    Gideon Levy describes a society where integration doesn’t seem to be working in many sectors.

    However, do more than a tiny minority of the readers of this blog have much interaction with people from Castlemilk or Albert Drive?

    The other question is though, will there ever be an American style full integration (after a few obligatory generations) of (most) peoples of different backgrounds in Israel?

    The Arabs of Israel are in my view analagous to the Native American Indians – separate, isolated, lands stolen, ghettoised. Oh, but they both have the vote, so that’s alright then.

  170. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Thank you, Voice from the Past. I nearly missed a very thought provoking Guardian article. My fault really, I depend on Community Member to alert me to interesting Guardian material. Can’t imagine how he missed it. Now that I think about it, maybe he is under the weather. He’s missed Gideon Levy’s latest little gem as well. Thank goodness for the emergence of Haaretz Reader just in the nick of time.

  171. Community Member said

    Would it be fair to deduce that Voice From the Past posted a link to Mark Gardner and Dave Rich’s article in today’s Guardian because he or she has sympathy with the conclusions of the article.

    As no explanation was given I will put it into context. Gardner and Rich wrote in their capacity as employees of the CST, denouncing Caryl Churchill’s play –
    ” Seven Jewish Children ” as antisemitic.

    Unlike Gardner and Rich, I actually thought the play was a troubled dialogue of how adults describe their history to their children. It was written in response to the situation in Gaza in January.

    I don’t think the play is antisemitic.

    Watch it for yourself. It only lasts 10 minutes.

  172. Armchair Analyst said

    Very uncomfortable for most Jews, yes. Antisemitic, no.

    What is Rich rabbiting on about with the ‘Bllod Libel’ nonsense?

  173. Another Reasonable Voice said

    I have watched the play and I don’t think it is antisemitic either. I think Gardner and Rich do our community huge harm by this article.
    How interesting that Nachman Aaronovitch finds it thought provoking. Is that it Nachman?
    Why don’t you tell us whether in your opinion you think the play is antisemitic? I watch this blog a lot and I don’t see you introducing any new threads to the discussion – so stop complaining about articles being posted and contribute something positive. Oh that’s the line you use isn’t it. Hypocrite with a capital H.

  174. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Actually, other than agreeing with yourself and criticising others in a personal manner,you add nothing to the blog. Is your life so sad that this is how you get your vicarious thrills?
    So you first. For the first time, contribute. Why dont you think it’s anti-Semitic. Just like Community member you tell us how you feel but give no evidence to support your views. (CM managed to put the article into context by telling us the authors were employees of CST! Pity CM didn’t read the article because the Guardian made this quite clear at the end) You disagree with Rich and Gardner but fail to undermine any of their arguments.
    The first two scenes in the play are typical imagery worthy of the Nazi era and youLater in the monologue, even the author accepts that Antisemitism exists but you, CM and AL all have traveled so far down the ‘anti-Semitism is a Jewish fallacy road’ that for you there is no return.
    It is quite possible to be Jewish, to find cause to criticise Israel openly and honestly without the need to bend over backwards to show how reasonable and what a man of the pluralistic world you are.

  175. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Sorry, seventh last line, final word is ‘later’.

  176. Voice from the Past said

    Comment removed by Admin.

  177. Another Reasonable Voice said

    Ok Nachman, I will tell you further why I don’t think the play is antisemitic despite your desire to jump on the CST bandwagon. I actually think that the play shows the journey from the Holocaust to Gaza and looks at how a people who can probably claim to be the most persecuted people in history can become oppressors of another people. The play criticises Israeli policies like home demolitions, checkpoints and destruction of olive trees. That might be anti Israel but it is not anti Jewish. You accuse me, Community Member and others of not acknowledging that antisemitism exists.
    That is probably the most contemptible imputation made on the blog for quite some time, and you should be ashamed at having made this statement. Either withdraw it or produce some credible documented evidence to support your claim.

  178. Voice from the Past said

    I am disappointed at admins decision to remove post 176 – it contained a link to a virulently anti Semitic site, blaming the Jews/Zionists for the current out break of swine ‘flu. The narrative that went with it made it quite clear what the site was. My point was to draw attention to the easy interposing of ‘Jew’ & ‘Zionist’ and to discuss how these vile anti Semites will use whatever excuse is available to peddle their views – be it events in Gaza or an outbreak of swine ‘flu.

    Surely the readership of this blog can be trusted to understand the context of the post? Or is admin scared of posts showing that events in Gaza are merely an excuse for anti Semitism, a supposed to being a cause?

  179. Tim Allon said

    Community Member, and the variously and pompously self-proclaimed “reasonable voices” and “analysts”.

    It is perfectly fair and not “contemptible” to accuse you “of not acknowledging that antisemitism exists”.

    In response to Mark and Dave’s considered response to the Guardian’s hosting ‘Seven Jewish Children, you don’t offer a single counter-argument, except to suggest that by being part of the Jewish establishment, their analysis is necessarily corrupted. Your knee-jerk accusations of dishonesty and fingers-in-the-ear ignoring of any substantive arguments from anyone who makes an antisemitism call, is disturbing in itself; but what is far more troubling is that you think that it’s enough to point out that Rich and Gardener are “Jewish Establishment” to destroy their credibility.

    It’s ironic to think that you’re the ones who whinge about your free speech being stifled whenever someone has the temerity to disagree with you; in fact, it’s you who take the totalitarian approach by condemning your opponents guilty of cynicism, bias, dishonesty, and effectively encouraging antisemitism, without even apparently listening to what they have to say.

    Why? Is it because that whatever mandate they have is many orders of magnitude greater than any representative legitimacy you could ever hope to achieve?

    Look at the above thread. You have nothing to add to the question of antisemitism but visceral damnation of anyone who tries to make the case that it exists; and a ‘hurrah!’ for any Jew who is prepared to bash Israel. Your only role in any debate is to undermine the credibility of any voice that is – let’s face it – basically representative of mainstream Jewish opinion, and it’s enough that their views represent mainstream Jewish opinion for you to rule them not worth listening to.

    There are many questions above whose answers must inform a meaningful answer to what contemporary antisemitism is, but on those issues your are both deaf and dumb. It’s quite fair to conclude that you don’t acknowledge antisemitism exists, unless it’s utility is to blame other Jews.

    Perhaps Gardener and Rich have got it all wrong, but you’re congenitally incapable of making the case. Denounce and ignore is all you have to contribute.

  180. Tim Allon said

    “Surely the readership of this blog can be trusted to understand the context of the post?”

    No, the administration assume that the readership is as ignorant as they are. In response to one commentator’s loaded question, I asked if he had stopped beating his wife.

    The comment was removed despite their having established that this is the standard example of the loaded question. They were worried that someone might mistake this for a genuine accusation of wife-beating.

    If you want to be on safe ground, restrict yourself to approving links Gidon Levy and Tony “Far More Complicated” Lerman, and be sure only to libel members of the rep. council.

  181. Tim Allon said

    Tell her they’re terrorists… Tell her they’re filth… Tell her we killed the babies by mistake… Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them… [T]ell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing… [T]ell her we’re chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.

    From Caryl Churchill’s Seven Israeli Jewish Children.

  182. Armchair Analyst said

    Thanks Tim, while your purpose was to discredit for sure,for excerpting a few lines that fairly describe the attitude of some segments of Israeli society. It’s probably true though that the majority of Jews hew to the subtler ambiguities when vainly attempting to describe what’s been going on to their children. Allah only knows what some segments of Palestinian society are telling their kids too, although they have a case.

  183. Tim Allon said

    My purpose is not to discredit, but to demonstrate the point. There’s a distinction.

    “[A] few lines that fairly describe the attitude of some segments of Israeli society.”

    Yes, there are some genocidally racist Jews, and I’m sure your loathing for them is no greater than mine. It matters not if I was quoting selectively or picked the climax and conclusion of the play (as I was): the audience is invited to take these attitudes as representative of Jews as a whole. In case you missed it, the play is not called Seven Jewish Extremists.

    “It’s probably true though that the majority of Jews hew to the subtler ambiguities when vainly attempting to describe what’s been going on to their children.”

    What? You mean the majority of Jewish parents teach their children genocidal hatred in more ambiguous and subtle language that that of this play? This sounds like a disgusting and hateful blood libel to me, but perhaps you could use less ambiguous language yourself, to clarify your weasel words.

    “Allah only knows what some segments of Palestinian society are telling their kids too, although they have a case.”

    Churchill can only see the Palestinians as wholly innocent victims of Jewish blood lust. You go one step further and transpose this genocidal mindset on Palestinians and argue that it’s justified. You are a straightforward apologist for genocidal antisemitism.

  184. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Just back from a pleasant night out and I see I must have inadvertently pressed some of ARV’s buttons.

    But let me quote ARV “Get lost Nachman Aaronavitch. Your contributions are not worth moderating. You are a 2nd division player and as A Voice of Reason told you earlier you are past your sell by date and ready to be put out to grass.” (#121)

    I’m not going to ask which charm school you attended but what has happened in the interim that you are now looking for my opinion and thoughts?

    Fortunately Tim Allon in my absence has more than dealt with your pigeon holing of contrary opinion into the ‘enemy camp’ and your absurd demand for withdrawal of all opposing views.

    I eagerly anticipate your next charming contribution.

  185. Armchair Analyst said

    Well Tim you and I will have to disagree on interpretation. There are few truly genocidally racist Jews I’m sure, although I’d propose that there are many more who will privately ‘talk the talk’ but not go as far as to ‘walk the walk’. You could probably put a fair percentage of wartime Germans and many of their European sympathisers in this second category.

    Now come come Tim, I didn’t say anything about ‘teaching them genocidal hatred’, you did.

    I certainly did not mean to infer that just because Palestinians have a case, and they certainly do, they are justified either in having themselves or teaching their children to have a ‘genocidal mindset’. They could have a case that for justice to be done requires a ten pound fine, all the way up to capital punishment. And I’ll not be the judge of that one thanks.

  186. Armchair Analyst said

    I was reading the Guardian blogs concerning Caryl Churchill’s play. It’s fair to point out as a sidebar that Caryl Churchill will not have to go into hiding for expressing her views, while authors like Salman Rushdie had to do so, and controversial film makers like Geert Wilders get refused entry to the UK, and now move around with armed bodyguards.

    Frankly this craven pandering to the extremists of only one ‘religion’ by the present UK political powers that be, gets right up my nose.

  187. Voice Down South said

    If Voice From the Past is too stupid to realise why the removal of a link to a virulently antisemitic website was the correct thing to do by Admin, then that is VFP’s problem, not theirs.

  188. Erev Tov from Jerusalem said

    As an ex Glaswegian living in Jerusalem I was directed to your blog by a friend still living in Glasgow. Out of sentimentality I thought I would read what you have been writing in your blog.
    Many of the people who have written comments seem totally preoccupied with hatred of Jews. I know there are some who hate Israelis but at least we don’t have to worry about who doesn’t like us, we know who they are are.
    I can’t understand why there are some of you determined to find antisemites in every corner and under every stone. Antisemitism has existed for a long time and unfortunately it will be around for a long time to come. Yeh sure there are people out there that don’t like us, probably detest us, but come on guys get on with your lives. Move on a little.
    Loosen up and become obsessed about something else.
    One of my friends in Glasgow sent me an email last night that was doing the rounds in your community. It was another email about the Holocaust. Very moving but do you not have anything else to talk about. One of our ex politicians wrote a book recently – I’m not sure if it has been translated yet into English, but the title you should be aware of – written by Avraham Burg, it is called,
    ” The Holocaust is Over, We must Rise from its Ashes “. Now I know that seems a bit contoversial but you know what he’s right.
    Can you not fill your lives with some other experience than reminding yourselves about the worst experience Jews have ever had.? Can you not think of something positive to share with each other rather than thinking about what happened to us in the Holocaust? Is your Jewish experience so negative that you have to focus on articles in your Daily Telegraph about Holocaust survivors?
    I urge you to move on. Most Israelis don’t think like many of you do. We have our own problems and our own lives. We have proof that some people hate us – you seem to imagine your enemies.
    So come and join us.

  189. Erev Tov From Glasgow said

    Trouble is ETFJ, you don’t speak like an ex-Glaswegian. NO ex-Glaswegian would use a phrase like “your community” when referring to Glasgow. I know many in Israel and I have recently returned; to a man/woman they are completely obsessed with European anti-Zionism and anti-Antisemitism. They compare it with US sentiments and cannot understand what is happening. As for Burg’s book, they treat it with contempt. Most havn’t read it except you who I suspect read it in English. On the minimal off chance that you are genuine I recommend you look to your own (Israeli?) community. You obviously are oblivious to contemporary Israeli thought.

  190. Erev Tov From Glasgow said

    Trouble is ETFJ, you don’t speak like an ex-Glaswegian. NO ex-Glaswegian would use a phrase like “your community” when referring to Glasgow. I know many in Israel and I have recently returned; to a man/woman they are completely obsessed with European anti-Zionism and anti-Antisemitism. They compare it with US sentiments and cannot understand what is happening. As for Burg’s book, they treat it with contempt. Most havn’t read it except you who I suspect read it in English. On the minimal off chance that you are genuine I recommend you look to your own (Israeli?) community. You obviously are oblivious to contemporary Israeli thought.

  191. Erev Tov from Jerusalem said

    I have lived here for over 20 years so I hope you are right and I don’t speak like an ex Glaswegian.
    I don’t know who you mix with but not all Israelis are obsessed like your friends. Some of us have mortgages to worry about, our children going to the army – we don’t spend our time worrying about who hates the Jews. Ask the young people, the Holocaust is something which happened a long time ago. They are not interested. Some things move on. I hope you can too. Regarding Burg’s book – I did not say it was popular, I just said it was right. I won’t be back on the blog – I have made my points. Erev Tov.

  192. Terry Wogan said

    This is like the Eurovision Song Contest.

  193. A Beitz said

    Meantime once again the blog has been censored. I suspect that Voice Down South is not too far removed from Admin. Otherwise why was VFTP referred to as “she” before a hasty change took place. Only admin have the knowledge of posters and the capability to change posts.

    And personally I don’t believe in censorship. It is better that those who read the blog know what is being said particularly in the context of a discussion on anti semitism and the link between it and Israel’s actions.

    However even if Admin is correct in the removal the use once again of terms such as “stupid” in relation to what is simply a disagreement about what should and should not be seen demeans the person who used the term far more than the person the term was used about.

  194. Voice from the Past said

    Erev Tov from Jerusalem – the problem is I suspect you have forgotten what it is like to live as a minority.

    Whilst the people of Glasgow and Scotland are – on the whole – welcoming and reasonably non judgemental, there has been a stream of misconceptions and down-right untruths in the media here which people are beginning to accept as true purely because they hear them so often. Our children and young people face a constant battle trying to convince their peers that there just might be another way to look at things.

  195. Another Reasonable Voice said

    This claim from Voice From the Past is just nonsense. Let’s look at what has been said –
    ” A Stream of misconceptions and down right untruths in the media here.”
    I don’t think so. This is exaggeration at its worst.
    With apologies to Community Member, I would like to post an article from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that I would imagine Voice From the Past would condemn as a misconception or a down right untruth if it was printed here.
    The only problem is that it was written by a former Israeli Cabinet Minister and someone who did more for human rights and the equality of women in Israel than probably anyone else in the history of Israel – Shulamit Aloni.
    Please be careful Voice From the Past –
    Don’t let our children and young people read this or their battle will be even harder. Be careful Voice From the Past, some people might even accept this is true.
    The article is headlined – ” Sadly Israel is no longer democratic ”

  196. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    I was fortunate to be given a copy of ‘The Holocaust Is Over’ by Avram Burg by a very close friend. I am grateful for the opportunity to share Burg’s thoughts on the influences that he considers defines third millennium Israel. The main thrust of the book is that the Holocaust is still so strong an influence on the Israeli psyche that it is distorting and destroying Israeli society, preventing normal development.
    Erev Tov from Jerusalem, I hope that you make an attempt to integrate into contemporary Israeli society by actually reading the book you recommend. ETFJ will find that as a result of the all pervading shadow of the Holocaust Burg maintains that Israeli society is trapped in its past.

  197. Marc Livingston said

    Something happened to me yesterday that I thought would be worth sharing with the good people on this blog.

    On the social networking site Facebook (ask your kids), something came up on my newsfeed (stories about what all your friends are up to). It was a conversation between two people who were on my year at school. I have had no contact or interaction with these two for about 5 years – literally haven’t seen or spoken to them at all.

    The conversation went like this (I have blanked out their names to protect their identities although they probably don’t deserve anonymity):

    Axxx Vxxx: How u doing Zxx? Na won’t be able to come, got exams next week. That marc Livingston is a fucking son of a bitch. Zionist prick

    Zxx Mxxxx no bad Axxx jus workin away man. Was up 4 goin out cos iam off 2mo. seen ussy he sed he might b up 4 it. lol aye jus Marc bein Marc.. there’s a difference between Zionists and proper Jews, i won’t go in2 it tho.

    Now let me repeat what I have said above. I have had no contact with either of these individuals in 5 years. I havent discussed Israel/Zionism/Judaism with them at all.

    So the question that remains to be asked is where have they formed this opinion of me from. Is it because they know I’m Jewish? Is it because I maybe posted a link to a blog I’d written ? Either way I have nothing to be ashamed of with anything I have written or posted.

    Does this constitute anti-semitism?

  198. Community Member said

    The debate continues on antisemitism
    Reply to Mark Gardner by Tony Lerman from today’s Guardian

  199. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Lerman in the Guardian attempts to counter Gardner and Rich’s claim that the play was anti-Semitic. Some of Lerman’s criticisms of Gardner’s presentation, such as use of the blood libel, have merit.
    However Lerman says,

    1 “the offensive against Gaza was launched in the name of the Israeli state”

    2 Israel declares itself to be the “Jewish State”
    the offensive was carried out by Jews

    3 (to)make a distinction between the Israeli state and Jews is unsustainable.

    4 It’s therefore perfectly justified for this play to be exclusively about Jews.

    If Lerman’s reasoning is correct, then rather than demonstrate that the play is not antisemitic, he has done just the opposite by removing any distinction between Jewry and Zionism when it suits him.

  200. W. Churchill said

    N Aaronovitch has failed to grasp the crucial point. Lerman’s response was to Gardner’s article and that is why he wrote it is perfectly justified
    ” for this play ” to be exclusively about Jews. That is the context of Lerman’s remarks which Aaronovitch sadly hasn’t understood.

  201. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    There are a lot of points i don’t understand. I thought Lerman wrote what he believes to be the truth. You now tell me that as he was responding to Gardner’s article, that affected the case “for this play” to be exclusively about Jews. In other words there are two truths, the Lerman equivalent of Schrodinger’s cat. My impression has always been that Lerman was opposed to the conflation of Jews and Zionists. It would appear only sometimes. I bow to your grasping of this crucial point.

  202. W. Churchill said

    Taking something out of context will enable you to believe whatever you want to believe. In your case I think a more appropriate experiment would be Pavlov conditioning, rather than a quantum theory of superposition.

  203. Winston C. said

    To paraphrase:

    ‘Nachman, when I wake up in the morning I’ll be clear-headed as usual, but you’ll still be a cross between a prostitute and a computer’

  204. A Beitz said

    Just wondered if I’m completely banned or only when I show up Admin for what it is?

  205. Itzhak said

    Why would anyone ban you Beitz? Why do you consider yourself to be important enough to be banned?

  206. Itzhak said

    You are not important enough to be banned Beitz.

  207. Marc Livingston said

    Please do tell Beitz. I’m also wondering if I’m on ignore…I posted a story a few hours ago and asked a simple question; is that anti-semitism. So far no responses.

  208. Jayess said

    WC, when you wake up in the morning you’ll still smell like WC.

  209. Not Another Macher said

    There doesn’t seem much point in GJEF inviting any more speakers to address the Community – good, bad or indifferent.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the meeting addressed by Rabbi David Goldberg, which is supposed to be the subject of this thread but I would have liked to see some discussion about what he said and what people thought. There was one single post (113), directly after the meeting, but nobody has made any comment – maybe the meeting wasn’t as interesting as suggested?

  210. A Beitz said

    Today is May 5th and my critical post re admin has finally made it to the blog. For anyone who has been keeping up with the blog and thinks he/she is up to date it is in the posts at May 3rd having been inserted at #192.

    Also why admin is it acceptable to use the term “prostitute” about a poster? I think you should ban the individual concerned forthwith and remove the comment, or maybe the other way round since I’m not sure if the former is technically feasible

  211. Blog supporter said

    Beitzy, not you again. Always moaning at the ref. Let’s get on with the game.

  212. A Beitz said

    Maybe because the ref is a player.

  213. Armchair Analyst said

    Here’s another individual being extremely controversial about Gaza. He’s making the mainstream press because he’s a ‘professor’ and ‘Jewish’:,0,7753995.story

    My question: Is he anti-Semitic?

  214. Blog supporter said

    Rather than going on this blog can I suggest your talents would be more suited elsewhere.
    Every two days you dream up some new unsubstantiated charge and no one is interested. I for one am not the least bit interested in what you have to say.

  215. Derech Eretz said

    Wrong, Blog Supporter – people ARE interested in what Mr Beitz has to say.

    Perhaps the main criticism of this blog in our community is the tone (a pun?) of the blog, rather than the actual arguments. Reminds me very much of the Herald letters comments blog, which used to (and perhaps may still be) an ordeal to participate in becaue of the horrendous personal abuse dished out by the pro-Palestinians.

    What excuse is there for a word like prostitute to be used to trash someone’s views? – it’s a bit like being told to ‘F off’ for criticising Lubavitch – all of this seems to be acceptable.

    Why would people want to put themselves through this? for what gain?

  216. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    Actually Derech Eretz, it didn’t trash my views. It highlighted WC’s inability to to argue logically and reasonably, most of all, to recognise the worth of opposing views. Thanks for the support but I’d rather it stood because out there, there is some sad person who has to live with him/herself.

  217. Blog Supporter said

    As you raised it Derech Eretz you are probably the same person that was told to F Off for your comments on Lubavitch. I remember that. I think you and Beitz were launching a vendetta against that organisation and in particular the restaurant. I would scroll back if I could be bothered and find out exactly who said what to whom but you are not that important. Someone told you to F Off because you were going well over the top.
    Other than Beitz and his 2.5 companions trying to criticise every decision of those that run this blog no one else could care less what you think.
    Poor Beitzy had to try and rally the troops and could only find you.
    So here’s a bit of advice – either accept the decisions of the referee or find another blog. No one forces you to come on here. So let’s debate the issues and get on with the discussion. If you don’t like it, tough.

  218. Derech Eretz said

    And that’s EXACTLY how people speak to each other on the Herald blog.

    Over the top about Lubavitch? I don’t think so!

    Did I use words like F Off or prostitute or stupid etc? Did I try to rubbish anyone of a different opinion just for having that opinion?

    Seems a strange way to encourage discussion.

  219. WC said

    I made an attempt, obviously a failed one, at HUMOUR.

    As the (old) joke goes, ‘What’s a cross between a prostitute and a computer?’ Answer – ‘An effing know-all’.

    Actually I quite enjoy Nachaman’s intelligent contributions most of the time, so this was nothing personal, simply a misguided tongue-in-cheek reponse to a third party blogger, one W. Churchill.

    To those who either didn’t get it, or who got it and were still upset poor dears, I apologise unreservedly.

  220. Voice from the Past said

    Blog Supporter – thanks for focusing my attention

    I was already thinking that the interaction on this blog isn’t any fun, isn’t very interesting and isn’t going anywhere


  221. Nachman Aaronovitch said


  222. A Beitz said

    I’m not going to waste much time on Blog Supporter.He/she produces a lesson on how to to be arrogant and inaccurate and exagerate all in one sentence.

    “Every two days you dream up some new unsubstantiated charge and no one is interested”.

    So Blog Supporter knows what everyone who read this blog thinks. And what bit is unsubstantiated? Does he/she dispute there has been censoring of posts? Or is it disputed that there was an amendement to remove the sex of Voice From The Past? Or that only Admin can do that?

    This blog can be really good at times. Unfortunately at others it deteriorates due to insults being thrown and name calling taking place. A pity. A mssed opportunity to have something really worthwhile and a bit different.

    And usually when there’s bad tackles and foul play the referee is not an active participant.

  223. Derech Eretz said

    WC – if you’re trying to be a comedian, I wouldn’t give up your day job.

    Anyway, the vicious streak on this blog didn’t start with you, it’s been there almost from the very start. Why would anyone want to participate in a blog where opinions are not respected? (eg Blog Supporter: ‘You’re not that important’)

  224. Blog Supporter said

    Is Beitz trying to bore every one senseless. I don’t care what he thinks about the Blog. He thinks what he says is of interest to anyone looking in on this blog. It isn’t.

  225. Borowski's beard said

    Is the point of a blog not to share your opinions? I for one find Beitz’s postings quite interesting and informed, even if some of his political opinions are somewhat questionable. It seems to me that we aren’t allowed to different views on this blog without it descending into a slagging match. As someone who users of this blog have been trying to get involved, I find it very off putting.

  226. Community Member said

    Some recent posters on the blog were discussing the use or misuse of the Holocaust in imagery or discussions about antisemitism.
    Is it justifiable today that any foreign leader visiting Israel, is still taken to the Yad Vashem before entering into any political discussions with Israeli political leaders?

  227. Joe Soap said

    Taking foreign leaders to the Yad Vashem is emotional blackmail.
    Jews complain when non Jews invoke the Holocaust – eg Jews should know better than to persecute others – but Israel has no problem using it every time someone turns up to talk about the Palestinians.

  228. Armchair Analyst said

    Invoking Yad Vashem to foreign leaders may well be justified in certain contexts, depending on the visitor (a Pope for instance) and the subject at hand. Does anybody doubt that Ahmadinejad is a both a holocaust denier and an elected nation leader/frontman who would remove Israel from the map if he thought he acquire the means and could then use them to get away with it?

    That being said, everything in moderation – including foreign dignitory visits to Yad Vashem.

  229. Community Member said

    I would like to share with you the words of Avraham Burg taken from his new book
    ” The Holocaust is Over, We must Rise from its Ashes”
    Chapter 3 – The Shoah Epidemic

    “Mandatory for official guests to Israel is the visit to Yad Vashem, our state’sost important Shoah museum and memorial. Every nation has a monument commemorating the Unknown Soldier, usually portrayed as an individual. We have a memorial to all the victims, for all of us, and all our visitors must come and mourn with us. It is a ritual of the new Israeli religion. If you are an official guest, you land at Ben Gurion airport, stop briefly in your hotel to refresh yourself, then you don a black suit and tie, and perhaps a large velvet skullcap like that of a Rabbi or a cardinal, and you are whisked to Jerusalem to Yad Vashem. A Solemn face, a bouquet of flowers in hand, head lowered. Then a cantor chants the awe-filled God Full of Mercy prayer for the dead. Three steps backwards and everyone gets back in the limos, off to the real business of politics and diplomacy……..
    The Shoah is woven to varrying degrees into almost all of Israel’s political arguments. Unlike other events of the past, the Shoah does not recede, but is coming closer to us all the time…..
    The Shoah pervades the media and the public life, literature, music, art, education. These overt manifestations hide the Shoah’s deepest influence. Israel’s security policy, the fears and paranoia, feelings of guilt and belonging are products of the Shoah….Because of the Shoah, Israel has become the voice of the dead, speaking in the name of those who are no longer, more than in the name of those who are alive. …A State that lives by the sword and worships its dead is bound to live in a constant state of emergency, because everyone is a Nazi, everyone is an Arab, everyone hates us, the entire world is against us.”

    During the recent debate on antisemitism on this blog I was reminded of Burg’s sentiments and the fact that here in Glasgow some people can’t let go either and have to conjure up new enemies and exaggerate the amount of people that hate Jews. Antisemitism does exist and unfortunately it will continue to exist but it is vital we keep it in perspective.
    Burg’s words are relevant here in our own community as well.

  230. Brian said

    I have also read Burg’s book. Perhaps we should consider another statement made in Chapter 2 :
    ” The State of Israel was built as a safe haven for the Jewish people, yet it is today the least safe place for Jews to live. ”

    Burg is right, isn’t he?

  231. Armchair Analyst said

    I agree with the premise that the Holocaust/Yad Vashem is trundled out ad nauseum at every opportunity by Israel’s political powers.

    However, the statement that ” The State of Israel was built as a safe haven for the Jewish people, yet it is today the least safe place for Jews to live. ” is probably true only in so far as it refers to the global situation today. However, things can change dramatically as we know. Since 1945, think Iraq, Libya, Syria, Russia, Argentina, Iran. The (Jewish) people who’ve got out from those countries are overwhelmingly glad that they did. With no Israel, they would have remained where they were in all probability. Enough said.

    My question is: With hindsight, what was the more realistic or practical alternative during the tumultuous DP period from late 1945 – June 1948?

  232. Brian said

    But Armchair A notwithstanding the persecution of Jews in the countries you mention it is still a fact is it not that Jewish lives are more at risk in Israel than anywhere else in today’s world?
    If you accept this I wonder why you think that is the case?

  233. Armchair Analyst said

    I do accept this. I’m saying that Israel may well be the least safe place in May 2009, but that can change, as it has at various times just prior to the creation of the State, and at various times afterwards too.

    It’s also true that Israel is a very dangerous place for Jew haters to be messing with too.

    Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me…

  234. Armchair Analyst said

    Brian, to answer your question more directly about why Jewish lives are more at risk in Israel than elsewhere presently, I’ll give it a try:

    Part of the reason is demographics. Israel exists in sea of Dar-El Islam. The Muslim world considers Israel a slap in the face to their hegemony over this part of the world. Radical fundamentalist strains recently emerged in the Muslim world have exascerbated this hostility significantly.

    Part of the reason is Israel’s attitude to the former majority inhabitants of Palestine. The ethnic cleansing of 1948 is a continuing open wound. Israel is now perceived by large numbers who were apolitical or previously philo-Israeli as being expansionist, arrogant and intransigent in their dealings with the Palestinians, notwithstanding the Palestinians’ lack of enlightened leadership of the Mandela genre.

    Part of the reason is that Israel is a convenient barely disguised focal point for anti-Semites around the globe.

    It’s my opinion though that Muslim demographics are the elephant in the room here.

  235. Emet said

    For a long time I have thought that the best place to be Jewish is New York -it is also the safest place to be Jewish; I’d miss Talksport though.

  236. Community Member said

    I applaud your wisdom Emet. I may have misjudged you – what common sense.
    Keep it up.

  237. Nachman Aaronovitch said

    The problem, Brian, is that you are too trusting. You assume that if a statement has the name Burg behind it, it is of importance. First of all, my understanding is that there are only two English versions of Burg’s masterpiece around and I have one of them. So you and Community Member must have shared a copy. AA quite rightly pointed out that Israel is so dangerous for Jews because they have been ingathered from most of the countries where they previously lived under threat. You not so neatly sidestep this with the inane suggestion that Israel is now the most dangerous place for Jews. Iraq is the most dangerous place for Iraqis to live. Infinitely more Americans are murdered in America than outside the US including Afghanistan and Iraq. I could go on like this for a long time but it proves nothing except that your original statement was meaningless. Furthermore, if it had had meaning, guess what, it would have been wrong. Mumbai is far more dangerous. The percentage of Jewish residents of Mumbai slaughtered in the past six months vastly outnumbers the percentage of Israeli Jews ever killed in a similar period since the foundation of the State.

  238. Community Member said

    Why do you assume that there are only two copies of the book going around. I know of several people who have a copy.
    Can I suggest Nachman that you don’t assume that others can’t locate books that they find interesting, and that only you are privileged to be able to read a different perspective.
    Israel is not only the most dangerous place for Jews to live because so many Jews live there. As Emet pointed out it is safer for Jews to live in New York, and a huge number of Jews live there.
    Israel was meant to be a safe haven for Jews -unfortunately it hasn’t turned out like that.
    Finally, can I suggest that you don’t assume that because the book is written by Burg – that doesn’t mean he is wrong in everything he says. He could actually be right and the fact that he offers a different perspective – and the fact that his perspective breaks away from what one would expect from someone who was very much part of the Israeli establishment – makes it all the more interesting to examine.

  239. Community Member said

    Can I suggest Nachman that you read this article from yesterday’s Guardian.
    I think it may help you understand why Jews won’t live safely in Israel until the settlements go and the occupation ends.
    Seth Friedman describes vividly what is currently going on and the psyche of the Israelis. Armchair Analyst, I hope you read it too. Its not always fanatical fundamentalists who are the problem.

  240. Armchair Analyst said

    CM, you won’t get me arguing against Seth Friedman’s article in the Guardian. This surely comes under the umbrella of ‘expansionist, arrogant and intransigent in their dealings with the Palestinians’ that I specifically mentioned in my previous email.

    But let me ask you CM, suppose the West Bank territories were completely evacuated by Israel tomorrow morning, would the elephant in the room not still be Muslim demographics?

  241. Community Member said

    No, why should it be?

  242. Armchair Analyst said

    Because there will always be rejectionists in the world of Islam, which is a huge multinational world of 1.3 billion people. Stating the obvious, Arab Islam is not the same as Indonesian Islam. Israel bashing can break out at any time in any Islamic nation, as we witness with Iran at them moment.

    That is not to say that I don’t consider a Palestinian and wider Arab/Israeli ‘peace’ to be a worthwhile goal. But Muslim demographics will always be a key player when it comes to the survival of Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state.

  243. Community Member said

    I can tell AA that you think Islamic fudamentalism is the main problem.
    It certainly doesn’t help and the world would be a safer place without it.
    But we can only look at what we do and how Israel behaves. There is too much pointing the blame at others and not enough self evaluation of what we do to exacerbate problems.
    Have a look at the latest Gideon Levy article from today’s Haaretz which comments on the IDF returning from Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and denying everything and how anyone who dared investigate and report was branded antisemitic. He mentions how the UN’s Ban Ki- moon was told by the Israeli President to visit Auschwitz and the absurdity of trying to deny what the Israeli army did in Gaza..because it is “the most moral army in the world.”
    Isn’t there a similar thread to some of the recent comments on this blog?
    I do recall comments that imply that the media is to blame for harming Israel’s image and I do recall those that concentrate on exaggerating the threat of antisemitism and we are somehow the victims of this recent war.
    Those that spin this line do us great harm. Its quite sad really because they don’t even realise they are doing it.
    I know you do not think like this Armchair but lets focus on what we can do to improve things, what our moral standards should be so we at least win the battle for hearts and minds within our own community against those that have either got it wrong or don’t understand what its all about.

  244. Armchair Analyst said

    CM, have I or have I not blasted Israel’s actions many times in the past? I’ve stated over and over that the IDF kills civilains with impunity, and this is just as true for the recent Gaza operation. I’ve stated that the occupation is immoral, period.

    I also happen to believe that the democratically elected government of Hamas in Gaza will never yield their rule democratically and that their charter will remain unchanged. That Israel helped engineer the rise and subsequent election of Hamas is of course the other side of the story. Bibi and Hamas need each other.

    I don’t conflate Muslim demographics with global anti-Semitism either. I’m not saying categorically that Israel will be threatened to be wiped off the map even if there was a Palestinian/Israeli peace treaty. I’m saying that Israel will be fighting at times either a high or low level war with various Islamic fundamentalist rejectionists for a very long time.

  245. What's happened to Stephen Smith said

    I don’t think GJEF visitor, Stephen Smith is right about this at all. In fact I think he’s got is completely wrong for the following reasons:

    1. He claims that genocide is a real possibility against Jews living in the State of Israel. It may be the wish of some but it is certainly NOT a possibility at all. What nonsense.

    2. He wants the Pope to remind Catholics that Israel is democratically governed. It is not the Pope’s responsibility to be the PR arm of the State of Israel. Would Mr Smith like to ask the Pope to remain silent about settlements and the 42 year occupation of Palestinians?

    3. Is it not hypocracy Mr Smith to advocate that the Pope should be ultra sensitive to the threat of antisemitism whilst encouraging suspicion of Muslims?

    I’m disappointed in you Mr Smith. I heard you at the GJEF event in Glasgow last year. You were good that night.

    What has happened to Stephen Smith?
    See Comment is Free in the Guardian

  246. NM Shul Member said

    Stephen Smith is an expert on the Holocaust. That doesn’t mean that he is an expert on Israel or the threat facing Israel. It would seem that he isn’t.

  247. Curious said

    Israel is democraticaly governed. Why is anyone quibling with Mr Smith over that?

  248. Armchair Analyst said

    I’m just curious, curious, why you think that Israel is democratically governed when two million Arabs in the Israeli governed West Bank don’t have the right to vote in Israeli elections, but 400,000 Jews in the West Bank do have that right?

  249. Likudnik. said

    But Armchair Analyst do you not realise that the West Bank is not part of Israel? Maybe soon but not yet. East Jerusalem Arabs can vote because Jerusalem was annexed. Why is Israel not democratic because West Bank Arabs don’t have a vote in our elections.
    Israel, it could be argued, is holding the territories in custody, until there is a responsible partner on the other side that wants to live in peace and behave properly.
    400,000 Jews have the right to vote because they are citizens of Israel, the Palestinians are not.

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