Sunday, March 19, 2006


(sElf-)Righteous Jews (sans frontieres)

There is a phrase in Jewish tradition known as “Righteous Gentiles”. Rather than really take notice of the distinctively racist sound of it, in the sleepy Western ear it carries a sort of aura of holiness. Here is a definition taken from Wikipedia, so I am assuming it is pretty standard:

Righteous gentiles or "Righteous Among the Nations" was a term originally used in Jewish tradition to deal with the concept of non-Jews who were good people. By Jewish tradition, the large set of laws and precepts contained in the Torah, as well as the Talmud and oral law, are only required of Jews, who are regarded as having inherited the obligation from their ancestors who volunteered for the duty. In contrast to the 613 commandments enjoined upon Jews, by Jewish tradition, non-Jews have to follow less detailed ethical principles contained in the Noahide Laws.”

So, using rational logic, we can safely deduce that this automatically assumes that Gentiles (non-Jews) are for some reason not “good people” anyway, and that there should be a sort of categorisation of those who were different from the others and were “good”, thus meriting a label of “righteous Gentiles”. Sounds pretty racist to me, but for the moment, I let the reader reflect upon any possible implications of this.

What this post is about is about those who I would consider the (Self-)Righteous Jews, with the standard definition I found of self-righteous being:
1. Piously sure of one's own righteousness; moralistic.
2. Exhibiting pious self-assurance.

It’s all about the certainty to be morally in the right, and comparing one’s rightness against the other who obviously couldn’t be right. It uses the terms and techniques of putting the other “in his place” and humiliation of the opponent in a public way, seeking to influence others that this person is bad, dangerous, a plague even, is a standard tool. It is usually very snotty, accusatory and rude. It omits discussion because it has determined a priori the limits, the terms and the subject of discourse, as well as the outcome and position of all the participants in it. I’d say that this category is pretty much the leitmotif of almost all bloggers who put their Jewish identity first, and of almost all of those activists who adopt the label “Anti-Zionist Jews”. I am sure there are exceptions to this category, but they usually don't do internet activism, so we hear little from them.

Back to our (Self-)Righteous Jews. They can be considered those who have decided to determine the who, what, how of pro-Palestinian activism, and they dictate who is allowed to speak not based on any reflections or information from Palestinian sources in activities to further the cause of redress and justice for an oppressed people fighting for their survival, but more often than not, based primarily on the criterion of what they determine is anti-Semitic. This is the major issue and no other issues will ever take priority. They can be identified especially by their irresistable urge to put the concept of being Jewish first, and other moral considerations are completely left to an arbitrary determination of how well the person who they are “considering” embraces the specialness of being Jewish. The issue is their percieved anti-Semitism metre, which, actually, they are unable to define. I would suggest they carefully read Tony Lerman’s interview, it might teach them a thing or two.

Up for special scrutiny, of course are those who are not Jews, or are no longer Jews or do not identify themselves as Jews because they reject the Nazi racial and racist implications of the Jews as an ethnic group or race that are “different” from others. In my experience with activism, especially that which is almost all written such as that we do on Internet, those who single the individuals out and attempt to smear them, going the time-tested route by labelling them as anti-Semites, without a stitch of evidence, by the way, often consider themselves to be atheists or agnostics. Some are Buddhists and others claim to be simply “secular”, so their Jewishness is not a religious identification, and therefore, where does that leave us in understanding who they believe themselves to be?

They define themselves as a racial and ethnic category, different from others, just in the way that our grandparents rejected Jewishness as a race during the Nazi era!! The fact that they may be parents, handicapped, gay, immigrants, vegetarians, ecologists, arms dealers, poets, Englishmen, opera buffs, doctors, all of this is totally insignificant before the self-categorisation as belonging to “The Jewish People”, even if one’s living situation is more clearly affected following a vegetarian regime than by lighting the candles on Hannukah, and therefore would affect one’s identity in a more indelible way, generally affecting the lives of those with whom they live and work. Obviously, in their minds, they themselves consider themselves part of a separate, special, particular group, that then has to have special, particular, separate treatment by everyone. In their minds, it also gives them a right to smear and defame, not feeling themselves in any way obligated to provide any evidence to support their destructive name-calling and attempts to defile, smear, ruin and obstruct the work one is doing. Being Jewish, in this case is also used as a plastic shield, where one can be spared the smear of being called an anti-Semite (self-hating is still kinda cute, heroic to a lot of them and brings about an idea that the poor person is suffering, has a conscience, rather than that he or she is a racist, montrous and irrational being. The self-hater can be helped, but the anti-Semite must be banned from discussion, and it is always the self-righteous Jew who is the first to label others in that way, regardless of it being true or false, like an old advert in Italy said, "basta la parola", The word is enough).

Living with this situation, the self-proclaimed Anti-Zionist Left Secular Jews feel they have a special right to express themselves on Jewish issues, and that others should be silenced. No, not expressing on necessarily religious issues, in fact, they rarely will go there, because as they themselves admit, besides the Neturei Karta, which they see as nutbars for some reason (even though the NK refuses the idea that Jews must “return” to Palestine, and for reasons that are really Jewish, in that they are based in a religious interpretation of the religious texts of the Jewish faith), their primary task is to be ready to defend all Jews of the world against people who they claim peddle anti-Semitism, a political issue, not a religious one, while at the same time, they decide who is allowed to express themselves on almost any issue having to do with Israel-Palestine, the Jewish Lobby, WWII, Zionism and Pan-Arabism and even the Jewish religion. The standard procedure we have seen with Ken Livingstone (get someone to declare he is anti-Semitic and then threaten and punish him, so that he serves as an example for all).

We see it in the Zionist sites and blogs, where you cannot post commentaries that challenge certain racist precepts and statements such as the West Bank Colonist Treppenwitz’s who (self-righteously) teaches his children that Palestinians are dangerous people, even though it breaks his (self-declared and certainly self-righteous) liberal heart. He decided to spam my mailbox with wishes for my violent death under the wheels of the IDF, which I passed on to others to witness. You can read them on Umkahlil’s blog. Judy, the London-based Israel cheerleader deletes the comments that challenge her neanderthal political analysis (“Palestinians are shameless in accepting Welfare from the West, they should get up off their duffs and start working like the rest of us” – failing to notice that it’s Israel that gets the lion’s share of the world’s Welfare.) Lisa Goldberg deletes my comments expressing that she should have reported to the Palestinian police the (alleged) film she (allegedly) saw of an (alleged) Palestinian assassination of an (alleged) collaborator. She gets feisty and calls me a troll for daring to challenge her to treat her own story as something serious. Nevermind that all the Palestinians I know who read it said that what she had quoted was almost impossible (that the man with the gun to his head would shout, “I want to make a last phone call,” and “Mom, I love you!”) When I tell her that it is indeed possible and auspicable to participate in the process of legal justice rather than telling second hand stories that then get embroidered and become urban legends, she sicks her squad on me to insult me as if I was committing some serious crime in calling upon her to act like a civil individual and assume responsiblility for the material she claims to be privvy to. I hate to tell her this, but I wasn’t born yesterday, and I know a thing or two about Hasbara, and planted stories are extremely common and seem to convince the pro-Israeli and moderate people without any kind of reflection. Often, they are subsequently demonstrated as manufactured.

Latest in the long series of (Self-)Righteous Jews is Mark Elf. His blog, obviously, only deals with Jewish issues, and that might be why it’s called Jews Sans Frontieres. He is really only interested in Jews, and that is his prerogative. My blog is interested in issues of peace, war and Palestine, it’s called Peacepalestine. I don’t have any problem with him being focussed on Jews, it’s where his interests and affiliations lie and at least he’s open about it. On the Just Peace UK list (famous, among other things, for promoting a picket of Gilad Atzmon and trying to get his act pulled from the SWP summer festival, both efforts dismal failures…. Somehow, most of the promoters just weren’t in town. I think Mark Elf had to leave early to pick up his kid, someone else who promoted it vocally was in Leeds, and others had excuses…. Never before in my life had I heard of leaving a picket before the object of contention was finished,and this event lasted an hour, nor of those who support a picket but do not participate, since a picket demands physical presence, but this doesn’t seem to phase them. I leave the reader to peruse the issue which was vastly covered both in this blog and in Elf’s as well as on the JPUK list.) But, what did someone (Roland Rance) try to do in JPUK for my “offensive” rejection of the protests? Tried to ban me from JPUK by creating a disgusting little poll, failing also in this dismally, because evidence of his accusations of me were obviously not forthcoming. I am generically “bad” and had opinions against the picket that were contrary to the other vocal seven, that should be enough! Off with her head!

So, where does that tie in to Mark Elf? Let’s be specific. Elf states that Engage, a Pro-Israel, anti-Boycott activist group, which he allows to comment on his blog, have moderated his own comments on theirs, (boo hoo and he must mention this in JPUK as a sign of ???what???). I had remarked that I myself was banned by Elf on his blog. Certainly, I can’t be considered pro-Israel. I have promoted Boycotts against Israel and also the Academic one together with Palestinian activists back before the AUT did (see this blog for interventions by Omar Barghouti) by translating the material in Italian and diffusing it, creating awareness and petitions and seeking the intervention of the Europarliamentarians of Italy, two of them committing themselves to spreading the material to their colleagues. I have organised boycotts of Jaffa fruits in my regional supermarkets and other concrete activities that I imagine are at the antipodes of those people of Engage who Elf hosts on his comments without any difficulties. (Why? You ask yourself! It is weird and almost incomprehensible without a leap of rational thought. It might be because I will not bother to discuss my own distancing from all ethnic criteria, -nobody’s business but my own- and my criticism of activists who use their ethnic, religious or national identity as the determining factor of their activism. I have learned that this is something that most of the Anti-Zionist Jews can’t abide, they stress again and again that they act as Jews and that their voice as Jews is what makes them more righteous, a better voice that people should take seriously, they tend to constantly consider the ethnic criteria and part of their activity is to “out” people as not really Jewish or to keep calling people Jewish who themselves say they are not. Defining others on the Jewish plotline is a very important activity, and evidently, there is a method to the madness). How did our Elf respond?

“I banned you for promoting anti-semitism and this list should do so as well but then perhaps they feel you act as a balancer to the likes of Eric Lee and Linda Grant. And since I have banned you I don't post comments to your blog. My point was that Engage people do still comment on my blog in spite of them banning me from theirs …. I'm not aware of using any info from you., in fact I avoid you like the plague because I think you (with Atzmon, Eisen and Shamir) are the plague.
Hope this clarifies things.”

Well well! “The Plague’s” response was not late in coming:

“Anti Semitism???? Where was I ever anti Semitic or promoting it, and you must be extremely specific since you go around raising such a slur against me.”

Of course, he seems to forget I cued him and Sue Blackwell that the blogger they were praising to the high heavens posted lengthy pieces supporting Shamir and Eisen. I mentioned to him that Eurabia was coined by Oriana Fallaci, I demonstrated that Martin Smith had forwarded me a letter from Moshe Machover declaring the opposite of what was quoted in a comment on Elf's blog… these comments were deleted, but the information of course was utilised in one way or another. In fact, Blackwell hightailed it to the blog in question to give the blogger a lecture in who is righteous and who is not. Yet, this is an unimportant side issue. Elf has to be consistent and honest with himself, not with me.

I’d like to see how Engage is not racist, how I am anti-Semitic, (of course, he has made further comments on the JPUK board about other arguments, but ignored my post, but I will continue to insist that he provide concrete evidence for his defamatory slur against me, he only has over 6000 posts on JPUK and the other Yahoo groups, 418 blog entries here and the comments on his blog to sort through), and how a group that supports Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish (exclusivist) State” is fine and dandy with him. He has no problem, evidently, with a group that insists that any activities that are designed to weaken Israel’s stranglehold on Palestinians and their power through peaceful economic means are anathema to them and must be contrasted. They are not the plague, even though their activities enable Israel and they are unabashedly Zionist.

Seems like our self-righteous little Elf has some explaining to do.


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