Posts Tagged Holocaust

Two things I learnt from Mark Latham today

Number one: being the son of Holocaust survivors makes you left wing.

Climate change denial and the suburbs.

Manne grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, having lost his grandparents to the Nazi horror. This linked him instinctively to the politics of the left. After the war, however, when other young left activists were blindly defending Stalin and Mao, Manne looked to the evidence and saw evil – thus commencing his pilgrimage to the anti-communist right. Fifteen years ago he broke from this neoconservative cadre on another matter of historical record, the tragedy of the stolen generations.

Number two: you can write a 2,000 word essay about “listening to science” without quoting a single scientist or giving a single piece of scientific information.

Confident in their professional training and achievements, middle-class citizens are prepared to challenge the academic elites. Successful people in the suburbs see themselves as in-tune with the real world, while scientists are absorbed by theoretical abstractions. In the Information Age, it seems, everyone is a master of every subject they hear something about.

This phenomenon reminds me of the Isaac Asimov novels I read as a teenager: a sci-fi vision whereby society is so well educated, with so much exposure to information, that science has lost its place in the pecking order of respect.

The irony, it’s killing me…

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That awkward moment when even your supporters think you’re all idiots (BDS)

A video (below) is being sent around of Norman Finkelstein aggressively criticising what he calls the “Solidarity Movement”, referring to the movement of people who claim “solidarity” with Palestinians. For those of you who aren’t aware, Finkelstein is a crackpot “academic” who is the son of Holocaust survivors, yet he has made a career out of downplaying the significance of the Holocaust by claiming that it was “just another genocide” and creating a conspiracy theory whereby it has been turned into some sort of “industry” to further the goals of a “Jewish elite”. Well I say “career”, he was denied academic tenure and has become pretty marginalised and discredited over the years. For more on this, see Harry’s Place HERE, Will Yakowicz HERE and Armin Rosen HERE.

As you may have guessed, Finkelstein has for a while been a poster-boy for the anti-Israel and antisemitic world. Amongst other things, he has the dubious honour of being named as one of the “good Jews” by John Mearsheimer, when Mearsheimer was distinguishing between the few righteous Jews out there and the rest. This is why his criticism of that very movement is so significant.

Note: contrary to what some have been saying, particularly in pro-Israel circles, Finkelstein was not criticising the BDS movement. In fact, Finkelstein is in favour of BDS and was quite clear about that – what he was criticising is the Solidarity movement in particular, which is the movement behind BDS but is not the same as the tactic of boycotting Israel. That said, I will use them interchangeably below, nuances aside.

Finkelstein’s flaws aside, he makes a very important point in the last five minutes, one that he is in a rare position to actually make first-hand, having been immersed in the BDS movement for years: the claim about BDS being supported by “Palestinian Civil Society” is complete rubbish. BDS is supported by a few hundred NGO’s and Unions based in Ramallah and under the direct control of the Palestinian Authority, most of which don’t seem to actually do anything except support BDS. The idea that this is “Palestinian Civil Society” is a complete propaganda exercise; these groups have no legitimacy at all in making that claim, they are all following the agenda of what amounts to a dictatorial regime.

The other important point that Finkelstein makes is that the Solidarity movement is a small, inward-looking cult whose members constantly reaffirm each other’s viewpoints and think they are duping the rest of the world, when in fact their goals are completely transparent.

For instance, he points out that while the Solidarity movement tries to maintain that it has no stance on whether they support a one or two state solution, it is quite clear that they actually support a one-state solution and Israel is not that state. This is well-documented, but it’s good to hear it from an insider – especially since, as he points out, the BDS architects “think they’re so clever” by arguing for “human rights” and “the return of refugees”.

Finally, he makes a good point about selective use of international law: despite the fact that Israel was recognised as a “Jewish state” under international law, they seek its destruction, and yet they use international law to criticise Israel’s presence in the West Bank etc. I would argue that the pro-settler Israelis demonstrate the same hypocrisy, but the status of the West Bank is far more ambiguous than the recognition of Israel.

Anyway, I did see one response to this amongst the numerous (and pretty amusing) outraged members of the Solidarity movement, so allow me to rebut that quickly:

In Response to Norman Finkelstein Interview «.

Mr. Finkelstein criticized BDS movement of being picky about the law. He says that the law is clear. “It is also correct that Israel is a state,” he said. “If you want to use the law as a weapon to reach the public opinion you cannot be selective about the law.” UN Resolution 273 (III) admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations recalls “its resolutions of 29 November 1947 and 11 December 1948” as the basis of accepting Israel as a state. The membership of the State of Israel in the UN is dependent on their respect to resolution 194 and the right of return. UN Resolution 194 (III) article 11 states that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes…should be permitted to do so”.

This is one of the worst pseudo-legal arguments I’ve read. The funniest part is that it can be completely rebutted just by looking at the words that the author decided to omit between “return to their homes” and “should be permitted” – there was a huge qualifying “and live at peace with their neighbors” there. Kinda disqualified all of the refugees at the time, and it is now no longer “practicable” to let them all return, so there goes that argument.

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Anonymous’ final solution video

I have written before in praise of, or at least amusement at, hacker group Anonymous, but then I saw this Haaretz article on a video they just posted about Israel. Now, I am well aware that Anonymous is not one entity and this could easily be some rogue idiot with nothing to do with the group, but it is still quite frightening.

The video and a transcription are below, remind you of anything? I’ve bolded the important parts.

(Thanks to Daphne Anson for saving me from having to transcribe this myself).

“To the government of the state of Israel.

We are Anonymous.

For too long we have tolerated your crimes against humanity and allowed your sins to go unpunished. Through the use of media deception and political bribery, you have amassed the sympathies of many.

You claim to be democratic, yet in reality this is far from the truth.

In fact, your only goal is to better the lives of a select few while carelessly trampling the liberties of the masses. We see through the propaganda that you circulate through the mainstream media and lobby through the political establishment. Your Zionist bigotry has displaced and killed a great many.

As the world weeps you laugh while planning your next attack. All of this is done under the veil of peace but so long as your regime exists peace shall be hindered.

You label all who refuse to comply with your superstitious demands as anti-semitic. And have taken steps to ensure a nuclear holocaust.

You are unworthy to exist in your current form and will therefore face the wrath of Anonymous. Your empire lacks legitimacy and because of this you must govern behind a curtain of deceit.

We will not allow you to attack a sovereign country based upon a campaign of lies.

Your grip over humanity will weaken and man will be closer to freedom. 

But before this is accomplished the people of this world will rise against you and renounce you in all your worth. Our crusade against your reign of terror shall commence in three steps.

Step one will be initiated after the release of this video and will be comprised of systematically removing you from the internet.

Step two will be later disclosed and is already in initiation.

And as for step three, well think of this one as a present from Anonymous to you. We will not stop untill the police state becomes a free state.

We are Anonymous.

We are legion.

We do not forgive.

We do not forget.

Israeli government, expect us.”

In case you didn’t get it, I took the liberty of using the same words, but switching pronouns and making it a call to action:

We see through the propaganda that they circulate through the mainstream media and lobby through the political establishment.

They are unworthy to exist in their current form and will therefore face our wrath.

Their empire lacks legitimacy and because of this they must govern behind a curtain of deceit. We will weaken their grip over humanity and man will be closer to freedom.

The people of this world will rise up against them and renounce them.

Step one will be initiated after the release of this video and will be comprised of systematically removing them from the country.

Step two will be later disclosed and is already in initiation.

And as for step three, well think of this one as a present from Anonymous to you. We will not stop until we achieve the final solution and there are none of them left on this Earth.

I am not generally one to invoke the Holocaust or to throw the “antisemitism” card around lightly, but seriously, it sounds like Anonymous have been taking tips from Joseph Goebbels. “The Jews rule through deceit and cunning, they have a secret grip over our society and the only way to end it is to be rid of them” – that is exactly the kind of thing that was being said in 1930s Berlin.

For shame Anonymous.

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What is wrong with Israel #123413492345789342789

I know I’ve been doing a lot of these recently, but not a day goes by that I don’t read another article that makes me bang my head against the wall and just concede that we failed the whole “Israel” experiment because of ineptitude. Today, there were three:

1. Incentivising settlements

The government is planning to give new incentives to help grow 70 settlements over the Green Line. Sure, it is part of a broader plan to resolve housing issues and yes, it has not yet been given final approval and could still be revoked, but this is still a horrible policy. It is completely the opposite of what the government should be doing (i.e. introducing disincentives for moving to settlements). It is an unnecessary provocation and achieves no positive result at all aside from pandering to a minority of voters who do reliably vote for parties in the government. (Emphasis added).

70 W. Bank settlements on nationa… JPost – Diplomacy & Politics.

Around 70 West Bank settlements were on the list of communities eligible for housing and development grants that the cabinet approved on Sunday.

… It was difficult to change the list for political reasons, the official said. “But it is clear that we are aware of the sensitivities when discussing communities over the Green Line,” the official added … Still, in its notice to the press, the Prime Minister’s Office did not mention limitations to the housing incentives, which include money for development costs of up to NIS 150,000 for agricultural communities and NIS 107,000 for cities. Supplementary housing loans of NIS 100,000 are also available.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, “The decision is designed to encourage positive migration to the communities and to assist in finding solutions to ease the housing situation. The decision will also contribute to economically strengthening these communities.”

2. Fighting a cultural war between ministries

As Jeremy Ruden has identified, the Interior Ministry and the Housing Ministry are controlled by the ultra-orthodox Shas party and are giving benefits to the Haredi community. The Communication ministry is controlled by secular Likkud and is making life more difficult for Haredim. The result? A horribly run country.

Falsely-based economics – JPost – Opinion – Op-Eds.

The first was the controversial proposal put forth by Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Atias from the Orthodox Shas party. The government has authorized the construction of about 5,000 housing units across the country which will be made available at a discount of NIS 200,000 for those who meet certain criteria.

… The benefit is awarded based on a point system which assigns weight to various qualifications. While IDF service is a factor, the number of years a person has been married is more decisive. For example, a 33-year-old religious person who never served in the army and does not work but has been married for 10 years would get considerably more points than a secular person of the same age who served, holds a job but has only been married for four years.

… But there is a flip-side to that coin. The Communication Ministry, under Moshe Kahlon from the Likud, is pushing for a directive which would have a negative impact on Internet Service Providers (ISP) which target or are owned by members of the religious community.

The Communication Ministry is proposing that in order for a company to be granted a license to be an ISP, it must provide manned technical support 24 hours a day, every day of the year, with the exception of Yom Kippur. ISPs serving the Orthodox communities are calling foul, and rightfully so. These companies argue that if they are forced to comply with such a regulation, they will lose their Shabbat-observant customers.

3. Our national identity is: the Holocaust

Merav Michaeli this time, on a recent poll which found that there is more or less a consensus amongst Israelis that remembering the Holocaust is important, whereas they disagree on things like belonging to the Jewish People, remembering Shabbat and living in Israel. In other words, the Shoah stands head and shoulders above Zionism, religion and culture as the thing that keeps the nation together. This is not to say that remembering the Shoah is unimportant, but it is very negative for it to form the basis of the identity of the entire nation.

I don’t agree with all of Michaeli’s pseudo-psychological analysis of Israeli identity, but she makes some very good points (emphasis added):

Our never-ending Holocaust – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

The survivors themselves have never been treated right. Just yesterday it was reported, once again, that half of Israel’s Holocaust survivors are dependent on welfare stipends and that the government has once again reduced its support of them.

At the same time, the “Hitlers” are always there: Just a week ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said for the nth time that there is no shortage of those who want to exterminate us completely. In other words, there is no lack of reasons to continue to reinforce the fear of the Holocaust – which, according to his father, historian Benzion Netanyahu, has never ended.

So it is that we don’t have any rivals, adversaries or even enemies. Only Hitlers. This is how the Holocaust is taught in school, this how it is that Israeli students are taken to visit death camps – and how it came to be that, as Haaretz reported on Friday, just 2 percent of Israeli youth feel committed to democratic principles after studying the Holocaust and 2.5 percent identify with the suffering of other persecuted nations, but 12 percent feel committed to “significant” service in the Israel Defense Forces.

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Hamas trying to prevent Holocaust in Gaza

Or at least the teaching of it. With all the other stuff going on at the moment, it’s easy for things like this to slip under the radar.

The UNRWA, the UN agency dedicated to working with Palestinian refugees (and apparently maintaining their refugee status without allowing them to be settled), also the only UN agency in the world that exists solely to deal with one people, has been teaching the Holocaust in its schools since 2002. Hamas, apparently, is a little nonplussed:


Hamas fights UN’s ‘poisonous’ Holocaust lessons in Gazan schools | World news | The Guardian

“We cannot agree to a programme that is intended to poison the minds of our children,” said a statement from the ministry for refugee affairs.

“Holocaust studies in refugee camps is a contemptible plot and serves the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories in order to justify acts of slaughter against the Palestinian people.”

It said UNRWA should focus on the human rights of Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA makes the valid point that the Palestinian refugees are only afforded refugee status, and therefore afforded an entire international organisation, funded by the international community and dedicated to maintaining their poor standard of living, because of the International Convention on Human Rights and that this Convention only exists because of the Holocaust.

No Holocaust, no UNRWA; no UNRWA, no schools, ergo, UNRWA is kinda obligated to teach about the Holocaust to its students.

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Winston Churchill, appeasement, BDS and Ariel U

The making of Winston Churchill : The New Yorker

This profile of Churchill’s legacy by Adam Gopnik raises some great arguments. As always, it’s best to read the whole thing, but here are the parts I particularly liked.

Of course, Churchill and Hitler were, in the most vital respects, opposites. Churchill was, as Lukacs insists, a patriot, imbued with a love of place and people, while Hitler was a nationalist, infuriated by a hatred of aliens and imaginary enemies. But Churchill knew where Hitler was insecure and where he was strong, and knew how to goad him, too…

There was a fine difference between Stalin and Satan, and Churchill grasped it. In Antony Beevor’s history of the Battle of Stalingrad, the brutality and waste of the Stalinist regime—prisoners left to die in the snow, political commissars ordering the execution of innocents, the dead of the great purges haunting the whole—is sickening. But the murderousness of the Nazi invaders—children killed en masse and buried in common graves—is satanic. It is the tragedy of modern existence that we have to make such distinctions. Yet that does not mean that such distinctions cannot be made, or that Churchill did not make them. His moral instincts were uncanny. In 1944, after the deportation of the Jews from Hungary, when the specifics of the extermination camps were still largely unknown, he wrote that the Nazis’ war on the Jews would turn out to be “probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world.”

I really like the distinction here between patriotism and fascism (I don’t agree with using the word “Nationalist” for Hitler there). Patriotism is a positive ideology – love of your country and culture – where fascism is negative – hatred of “aliens”, as Gopnik puts it.

The second paragraph there is very important, because it isn’t uncommon for people to try to equate things to the Holocaust that really were not on the same level, but it’s hard to criticise them because the things they describe were terrible. So remember, there is a difference between Stalin and Satan.

More importantly, I read Liam Getreu on a new Israeli academic boycott of Ariel University just after reading the following on Churchill:

“The word ‘appeasement’ is not popular, but appeasement has its place in all policy,” he said in 1950. “Make sure you put it in the right place. Appease the weak, defy the strong.” He argued that “appeasement from strength is magnanimous and noble and might be the surest and perhaps the only path to world peace.” And he remarked on the painful irony: “When nations or individuals get strong they are often truculent and bullying, but when they are weak they become better-mannered. But this is the reverse of what is healthy and wise.”

This explains my problem with the Israeli initiative pretty well. Israelis are allowed to have a political problem with Ariel University, whether you agree with them or not. I’m not convinced at all that it was established solely to prevent Palestinians from ever controlling the West Bank, but its presence definitely has an impact on the whole settlement issue and if they don’t want to work with it on that basis, fair enough.

The problem is the lack of perspective on the wider issue of the BDS movement. The Israeli academics are making a noble gesture, but they aren’t understanding their opponents. The BDS movement’s goal is not to counteract the settlement intelligentsia and make a two-state-solution more viable, it is a one-state-solution movement. They want to make it less realistic to reach a peace deal between Israel and Palestine and rather focus on making it more and more difficult for Israel to exist as a state, with the goal of eventually overthrowing Israel and creating a Palestinian-majority state, with some kind of naive view that it would end-up like South Africa (which, by the way, is getting worse and worse as time goes on) and not like Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan etc.

That’s why the Churchill quote applies. The Israeli academics are appeasing a movement that is gaining strength and acting “truculent and bullying”. The movement is not one that is happy to negotiate and find halfway ground – its rhetoric is all-or-nothing. When Israelis partially support anything in the BDS ideology, the BDS leaders tend to use it to justify themselves by saying “I’m agreeing with this Israeli, only extending it a little further” rather than moderating their views. However well-intentioned that Ariel U movement was, it was a bad move in my opinion.

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Hamas: the Holocaust was a lie, there’s going to be a war and other light reading

The lie according to which they were a victim of a holocaust and the (Jewish) people are a victim — this lie has crumbled with the holocaust of Beit Hanun, the holocaust of Al-Fakhura and the other countless holocausts … committed by the Zionist enemy

This from Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar at a commemoration for one of the attacks during Operation Cast-Lead. The event in question was where the IDF dropped a bomb outside a UN school in response to a mortar being fired from the schoolyard and unfortunately killing innocent people who were seeking shelter in the school as well as the mortar crew.

This was a tragedy and Hamas are well within their rights to hold a ceremony commemorating it, but it most definitely was not an act of genocide. The whole of Cast-Lead killed about 0.1% of the population within Gaza – this being a population that is rapidly expanding. Not to take away from the deaths of innocents, but to suggest that Israel was trying to wipe-out the Palestinians there is ludicrous – if that were the case, Israel could easily have just carpet-bombed the Strip. Plus adding Holocaust denial to his statement just makes a mockery of anyone who thinks that Hamas’ leadership is anything less than anti-Semitic and hateful.

These statements come as tensions around Gaza are ramping up – Jeffrey white from the Washington Institute:

In December 2010, violence increased significantly along Israel’s border with Gaza, manifest by high-trajectory fire (rockets and mortars) on southern Israel, counterstrikes by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and clashes along the border security fence. The Gaza situation since the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in January 2009 has been characterized by similar periods of increased violence and tension. Although these episodes have not produced major hostilities, the deterrence established by Cast Lead is decaying over time. Neither Hamas nor Israel may be seeking another round of serious fighting, but the potential for such fighting has nonetheless grown.

In a meeting with Netanyahu yesterday, Egypt’s president warned that threatening Hamas reduces the stability of the region. There’s no doubt that Cast-Lead had a very negative impact on Israel in terms of its relationship with its neighbours, particularly Turkey, but it was necessary at the time to stop the rocket attacks from Gaza. Let’s just hope that the current escalation doesn’t go too far.

Also watch this video from CNN, on a related note:

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