The Left

CiF Runs Article on Israel

There are some articles on CiF about Israel. Who would have thought it, eh?

This time, the articles revolve around a new group called “Independent Jewish Voices“. A list of the signatories to this campaign is here.

They have a Declaration. I agree with almost all of it. Some bits, I don’t:

We further believe that individuals and groups within all communities should feel free to express their views on any issue of public concern without incurring accusations of disloyalty.

I understand why being described as “disloyal” is irksome. It is a particularly rude and stupid thing to say to somebody. However, that’s the nature of debate on contentious subjects. If somebody calls you a rude name, so what. As long as they’re not attacking you physically, respond in kind. Or not. Don’t be a boohoo about it. Or claim that your freedom has been infringed.

5. The battle against anti-Semitism is vital and is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic.

Automatically branded as anti-Semitic? I suppose that means “unreflexive”.

Yes, it is facile to call any opposition to any Israeli government policy as “anti-Semitic”. That’s not what I think. I don’t even think that opposition to the existence of the State of Israel is necessarily anti-semitic.

It is equally stupid to argue that making the case that some instances of “anti-Zionism” are motivated by racism amounts to “branding a person an anti-semite”.There are evidently Israel-fixated obsessives who are motivated by racism. Lots of them post in CiF. Some get deleted. Certainly, it would be good to have a discussion about where that line is crossed. However, that debate is chilled by the false accusation that a false accusation of anti-semitism is being made. If you see what I mean.

It is imperative and urgent that independent Jewish voices find a coherent and consistent way of asserting themselves on these and other issues of concern.

If past form is anything to go by, “coherence” and “consistence” will prove an elusive goal.

We hereby reclaim the tradition of Jewish support for universal freedoms, human rights and social justice. The lessons we have learned from our own history compel us to speak out. We therefore commit ourselves to make public our views on a continuing basis and invite other concerned Jews to join and support us.

Oh, you pompous arses.

But, as I said, the rest of the declaration seems sound enough and basically reflects where I stand. Although I’m not sure what the point of it all is. And I do loathe this whole business of people going round declaring their views. as jews, as if that gave them some special moral authority.

Basically, it can be parsed in following manner:

“”We, being Englishmen (and women) of a hebraic persuasion who live in Her Majesty’s Borough of Hampstead, do humbly beseech and crave protection from the ill thoughts of others, by declaring, hereby, and with full solemnity, our unequivocal and unwavering support for good things, and our stalwart opposition to all things that may be said that are bad. Particularly if it is said by the Chief Rabbi, who we didn’t vote for, and who is a bit crap on gay rights anyhow.””

(I made that last bit up. But it is true.)

The notion of speaking out as a member of a particular cultural group is all well and good if ethnicity (or sexually, or what have you) is one of the central ways in which you think about your identity. But if you don’t, there’s something a little bit grating about the whole “nothing to do with me, guv” pose. It has overtones of undignified pleading.

I feel pretty much the same way about the constant calls for muslims to “speak out against terrorism”. I much prefer the New Generation Network approach. Sunny Hundal doesn’t preface his articles with the words “Speaking as a sikh”. Rather, we get this sort of thing:

We need an approach that discards the older politics of representation through government sanctioned gate-keepers. One that rejects prejudice from both majority and minority communities, especially religious intolerance, and finds a common cause in equality and social justice with all Britons.

Still, that is essentially where these people do stand:

“We are not setting ourselves up as an alternative to the Board of Deputies or any other body. But we challenge the standard concept of “the Jewish community” as a collective entity for which the board is the secular voice and the chief rabbi the religious voice. This system was developed in another era – though it is being used today as a template for other minorities. It pictures “the Jewish community” as a single bloc that, whatever its internal complexity, presents a common face to the outside world via its ambassadors.

That has to be right. And this is why it is a pity that they’ve chosen the lazy option of branding themselves as a jewish coalition.

I can see why they’ve done it, though. Especially when the first “response” piece is by an otherwise sensible fellow – Seth Freedman – who says:

“Don’t like the Board of Deputies? Fine. Then I’d suggest it’s time for IJV to infiltrate the board, rather than set themselves up in opposition and start an internecine war. I have no problem with this fight being taken out of the confines of Jewish publications and forums (as I argued in my earlier article, Spare the Rod …), but I do have a problem with the sub-dividing of Britain’s Jews into yet another fly-by-night, ineffectual group of intellectual snobs. “

I couldn’t disagree more.

Who are the “Board of Deputies” anyhow? Who wants a “pillarised” approach to a state’s relations with religious groups. That might be OK for Holland, or Lebanon, or Britain in the 19th century, but what does it have to do with today’s diverse society? The notion of a “Board” is as facile as that of a “Muslim Council”.

Put simply, unless you’re running a confessional system of government, there’s no place for a “Board”: except as another membership organisation, representing the interests and preoccupations of its members. Like the Ramblers Association. Which is essentially what the Board is.

And what is this about “sub-dividing” Britain’s jews? Britain’s jews are subdivided, in any case, and encompas the broadest range of political and cultural values.

Other responses to this declaration have been similarly depressing. Here are a few of them:

I applaud your bravery in stating what you believe

Klug and his supporters are brave and their action is to be admired.

You make a brave stance with your colleagues at the ijv Mr. Klug and it has perhaps taken too long for this to happen – but I applaud you none the less and I’m sure most decent well-intentioned people will support you too.

It’s refreshing to hear honest critique from within the cabal…Long live your brave and enlightened initiative may it function as a clarion call for many other like-minded souls.

You are a brave man Dr Klug….I hope you don’t get your windows put in…

As to any Jew speaking against Israeli foreign policy being a coward (opposite of brave), I suggest you research the fate of others who have taken this course. They tend to have foreshortened careers and lifespans….Mr Klug is incredibly brave and should be congratulated and supported

The fact remains that jews take great delight in fooling and thereby corrupting others”

I find these responses instructive. A large number of posters have reacted to the formation of this group as if it were the first time that left wing British jews had ever voiced support for a two state solution, or expressed reservations about the policies of Israeli governments. Where have these people been?

Taking issue with people with whom you disagree, on subjects over which passions run high, is not “brave”. Well, not unless the “bravery” merely involves putting up with a bit of a slagging off: as opposed to, say, being imprisoned or murdered. You do it because you want to have an argument. And why not? Arguments are good.

I’m happy for people to tell me I’m reading too much into it: but what I think underpins the various “brave” plaudits, and the failure to notice that criticism of Israeli governmental policies is commonplace, is the notion that the Independent Jewish Voices are courageously standing up to a shadowy powerful organisation which seeks to silence voices critical of Israeli policies.

But, of course, to make a suggestion like that, is to allege anti-semitism. Which is tantamount to silencing criticism of Israel.

And so on.

UPDATE

A commentator called “RayCohen” has rumbled the secret agenda of Independent Jewish Voices:

RayCohen
GBR Don’t be fooled by this organization. They are also staunch supporters of Israel. The only difference is that they will have a more savvy PR approach to the Zionist ideology. I watched Newsnight last night and saw how useful these guy were in helping Melanie Phillips to present a valid argument for Israel. I know Rabbi David Goldberg and I can tell you he is not as dumb as he was pretending to be in that debate. I think it is a well coordinated act that is designed to protect members of our Jewish Community when Israel bombs Iran with a nuclear bomb.

Lacanian

Very, very interesting perspective.

Berchmans

(( I think it is a well coordinated act that is designed to protect members of our Jewish Community when Israel bombs Iran with a nuclear bomb.))

## Please don’t delete Ray Cohen!! ##

This idea has been stated a hundred times on CIF .

I dont understand your wetting someone elses pants because it is stated in relationship to this group.

I disagree with Cohen.. more in hope than in intellect.. but why would it be deleted?

B

Bornblack

Ray Cohen says “I think it is a well coordinated act that is designed to protect members of our Jewish Community when Israel bombs Iran with a nuclear bomb”

I could not agree more. They are masters at pretending to show a compassionate face at the exact time when they are planning more warfare.

This juxtapositioning of events or parallel lines is an extremely effective way to trick the subconscious mind i.e. to fool the general public.

This is why they keep the war simmering with Palestine to create an easier entree to the rest of the ME

I think Courtlylove said it all when he said “the greater fool theory is the gospel of the jews”

Yes, it is an interesting perspective, isn’t it?

I do hope that nobody tries to vilify these brave truth-tellers as racists, thereby shutting down debate.

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