The ‘Jew Goal’

October 31st, 2011 by Dave Rich

The question of how deeply embedded antisemitic stereotypes and slurs are in society is one of the less tangible areas of antisemitism research. Often, examples emerge in the most banal settings: less serious in many ways than actual antisemitic hate crimes or statements by high profile people, but somehow more troubling for their casual, unthinking, ‘commonsense’ nature.

My viewing of Match of the Day on Saturday night was disturbed while watching the highlights of the game between Chelsea and Arsenal; not by the poor standard of Premiership defending on display, but by the reaction on Twitter to Arsenal’s first goal:

What, I asked myself, is this ‘Jew Goal’?

According to the Urban Dictionary, A Jew Goal is:

a term used to describe a type of footballing goal in which a player squares the ball when in a 2 on 1 with the goalkeeper. it originates from the game fifa and is still largely used within this game but can also be used in real life. a jew goal is frowned upon within the fifa community and often results with the scoring player being called a jew.

1- what a goal
2- no that was a jew goal you jew

A second entry, for ‘Fifa JEW Goal‘ (sic), adds:

This has come to be known as the JEW goal as it is common amongst Zionists. No Jews were harmed in the making of this article.

This term, then, has developed amongst people who play FIFA football games online, and appears to be quite widespread within that world. It even has a Facebook group – ‘The Jew Goal‘ – with over 8,500 members. Presumably the term is meant to indicate that the goal is considered a bit underhand and unfair – not breaking any actual rules, but against an unwritten code of ‘fair play’. Or maybe it is because the goalscorer gets a ‘free’ goal, profiting off the hard work of his team mates.

Here is an example from YouTube of someone scoring a ‘Jew Goal':

One of the viewers of this video on YouTube has written a comment to explain the term’s provenance:

It originates from the game fifa and is still largely used within this game but can also be used in real life. a jew goal is frowned upon within the fifa community.This fits excatly (sic) what the Palistians (sic) are facing under occupation and torture of Israel whilst Isreal (sic) gains sympathy from the world.

It’s tempting to dismiss this as harmless banter between FIFA-playing friends which has little impact on anyone else. And yet, the comment above suggests that at least some of the people who use this term may not limit it to their virtual football games, but that it may actually reflect their understanding of what Jews are actually like, and of real-life situations such as the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The sheer fact that so many Twitter and Facebook users think nothing of using the phrase ‘Jew Goal’, as if none of their followers could or would be offended by it, should itself guard against complacency. At at time when racism in football is headline news, it is worth remembering that the isolated examples of alleged racism that emerge from the highest levels of football, often come from unthinking prejudices and stereotypes that are still widely believed and expressed across society.

Tunisia’s Spring: what precedent for Jews?

October 28th, 2011 by Mark Gardner

Tunisia is where ‘the Arab Spring’ first bloomed. Now, it is the first such country to have held a democratic election. The election has been won by a political Islamist group, the Ennahda  Party, which took 90 of the 217 seats.

Ennahda and its leader Sheikh Rached Al-Ghannouchi are widely regarded as pro-democracy and relatively moderate within Islamist circles. A Guardian editorial (22 October) summarised Ennahda’s positioning and stressed the strategic importance of what it does next:

It [Tunisia] will also roadtest the claim that political pluralism can be navigated with an Islamist party at the helm. The Islamist movement is a broad church ranging from global jihadis, Salafis, Hamas and Hizbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Recep Erdogan’s AKP in Turkey. Mr Ghannouchi’s Ennahda lies at the liberal end of this spectrum. If it succeeds, it would provide the most authentic, endogenous political model that the Arab world has seen in generations. We are not at the end of the Arab spring but at the very start.

Nevertheless, when it comes to Jews, Zionism and Israel, this season’s Tunisian Spring is neither fresh, nor fragrant, with Ghannouchi in particular regarding the fight against Zionism as by far the most important matter facing not only Muslims, but the entire world. The position is clearly laid out in his relatively well-known 1994 paper, “Palestine as a Global Agenda”.

Less well-known is an extensive in–depth interview with Ghannouchi, archived from Muslim Student Association News website (dated 10 Feb ‘98), in particular the successive chapters on “Islam and American foreign policy”, “Islam and antisemitism”, and “A pluralist, multi-religious, democratic state for Palestine, Israel and Jordan as solution…via resistance”.

Both of the above are excerpted in some depth at the conclusion of this article, but Ennhada’s attitudes to Tunisian Jewry, Israel and Diaspora Jewry should not only concern Jews. One persistent, yet often overlooked, feature of attitudes to Jews is that these attitudes provide an early warning system regarding the health and mentality of a movement, society or nation as a whole. Jews are often the first targets, but never the last.

In the context of an ‘Arab Spring’ in which ascendant Islamists may promote antisemitism, this would likely be followed by persecution of non-observant Muslims, Christians, liberals, trade unionists, communists, homosexuals, women, democrats, journalists etc. (The list is in no particular order, but Saudi Arabia, Iran and Gaza provide useful templates.)

To be very clear, none of this is to say that Ennahda will necessarily promote antisemitic incitement or actions: it is, rather, to state that Ennahda’s short and long-term behaviour can go a very long way indeed to either placating, or realising, global Jewish fears about potential antisemitic and anti-Israel consequences of the ‘Arab Spring’.

There are local, regional and global aspects regarding Ennahda’s attitude to Jews, by which it will be judged. Locally, there is its behaviour towards Tunisian Jewry (which once numbered approximately 100,000, but is now under 2,000 people); regionally, its behaviour towards Israel; and globally, its attitudes to mainstream Diaspora Jewish communities and also “Zionists” worldwide.

Israeli media has quoted Tunisian Jews expressing concern as to whether or not Ennahda will stick to its expressed democratic principles, but it is noteworthy that Ennahda’s attitude to Tunisian Jewry seems deliberately and demonstrably positive. Rabbi Benjamin Hatab, head of the main Tunis synagogue told YNet news:

…as long as there’s a democracy like everyone keeps promising. We have no problem with Islamic leaders…[Ghannouchi] even sent a delegation to Djerba to reassure the Jews there that everything would be ok and that they have nothing to worry about. His representatives even brought gifts to Tunis’ Jewish nursing home.

Djerba is a Tunisian island that is home to one of North Africa’s oldest and best known synagogues. In 2002, it was targeted by an Al Qaeda bombing in which 21 people, mainly European tourists, were murdered. In 1985, a police guard shot and killed three of its worshippers. In January 2011, it was attacked by arsonists. Tunisia’s transitional government condemned the attack.

So, this is a small and potentially vulnerable Jewish community; and it is important that Ghannouchi continues to publicly demonstrate that it is a part of Tunisia’s future, as well as its past. 

The other part of the equation concerns Ennahda’s attitude to Jews beyond Tunisia. It remains to be seen if the country contents itself with standing by; engages in Turkish-style anti-Israel meddling; or, far less likely, goes the full distance with Iranian-style state-sponsored terrorism against Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities.

In deciding these matters, Ghannouchi and his party now face the reality of being in power. Will power bring harsh realities of how one must behave in decent global society? Or, will prior anti-Zionist rhetoric somehow be actioned? The question is one of urgent importance. For over twenty years Ghannouchi lived in Britain in exile. During this time he, and his colleagues, became leading lights in Britain’s extensive network of local and overseas Islamists: helping their drive for ideological and political supremacy over Britain’s diverse Muslim communities, and striving to bring Britain ‘closer’ to Islam.

Ghannouchi’s past pronouncements on Zionism, Israel and the supposed complicity of Diaspora Jewish organisations have been ferocious. If Ghannouchi seeks to actually implement these beliefs, then he has the British and European contacts with which to do so. (For example, playing a senior role in Sheikh Qaradawi’s European Council for Fatwa and Research.)

What then, of the rhetoric?

Ghannouchi’s 1994 paper “Palestine as a Global Agenda”, begins by stressing that Zionism comes out of European, not Jewish values; and that its “broader context” is that of the West attacking the Islamic world:

Zionism is both alien and illegitimate in origin: it is a hegemonist and nationalist project rooted and nourished on the traditional European impulse towards expansion and domination. The founding fathers of the Zionist adventure were not in any way believers in Judaism, not even in its distorted, rabbinical form: they were in essence pragmatists who exploited the Jewish heritage as a means to achieve their nationalistic goals. All this, moreover, was done within the broader context of Western strategic hopes for the destabilizing and enfeebling of the Islamic world.

Next, he draws in the Zionists’ “Diaspora” (a clear nod to Jewish communities per se) and intensifies the claims of European and Western imperial ambitions:

Because Zionism’s progenitors were European in their training and mental orientation, they did not find it difficult to reach an understanding with Western politicians, exploiting their own financial power through their extensive and committed Diaspora, until the Zionist agenda became subsumed under the more general objectives of nineteenth-century European imperialism. The idea of inserting an alien polity into the very heart of the Islamic world, which would exhaust its resources and obstruct any attempt at reforging Muslim unity, proved immediately appealing to European policy-makers and served well the new Western orientation which was materialistic, secular, and obsessed with the idea of territorial expansion.

He spells out the guilt of “Jewish organisations” in all of this, and the responsibility of Muslims everywhere to oppose them:

[Palestinians] are entitled to expect instant and automatic assistance from those who are working on other fronts, however seemingly remote. For Israeli Zionism, itself draws eighty percent of its income and prosperity from Jewish organizations abroad. To keep this central front open and operational in the heart of the enemy is a responsibility and a trust falling on the shoulders of all Muslims and other free people around the world.

He concludes by calling for nothing less than a global Muslim mobilisation to lead revolt “everywhere on earth”:

[Zionist] power can only be drained by mobilizing the resources of the entire Muslim nation… demanding a return to the principles of renunciation, repentance, piety, reliance on God, yearning for the ultimate meeting with Him, the spirit of Islamic fraternity, selflessness, and the certainty that the final victory shall go to God and the believers. No project undertaken on this tremendous scale can be ‘regional,’ or ‘Palestinian,’ or Arab.’ It is far broader. It represents nothing less than a struggle which is at once cultural, Islamic, and humanitarian, We must, therefore, light the fires of longing, resistance, and sacrifice everywhere on earth. For Palestine will not be retrieved until there is war against oppression in all its forms throughout the world.

The extensive in–depth interview with Ghannouchi, archived from Muslim Student Association News website includes denunciations of hating Jews for being Jews, or for following Judaism, and warns explicitly against hating Jews. Nevertheless, when asked about a former colleague’s publication of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, his evasive answer to its “genuineness” is like that given by modern day Nazis who say its content is more pertinent than its authenticity. This is the exchange:

Q. What about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?… Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou, before he severed his ties with your [Ennahda] movement introduced a modern, abridged and accessible edition? Was this an endorsement, at least intellectually, of its message, by your movement?

[Answer] Our movement does not usually publish books…Our movement published numerous communiqués and analyses denouncing the Zionist attack on Palestine, the Muslim Ummah and on international law.

…Our stand as ‘enemies of Zionists’ does not emanate from their being Jews, for we have no problem with Judaism as a religion or Jews as a religious group, and does not have its origin in the document entitled “Protocols of the elders of Zion”, regardless of its genuineness, but springs from principles and unchanging religious and human values rejecting hostility and oppression, recognising the sacred right of peoples whose lands are occupied to fight against that oppression using any possible means…

…Muslims, Christians or secularists, it is our national, human and religious right and duty to resist foreign occupation regardless of the nature of its raised banners…our generations will continue resisting the Zionist occupation and eliminating this cancerous protrusion that the West had implanted at the heart of our world, dispossessing millions of our children, elderly people and women…their sacred symbols violated by a group of people driven from the extremities of the world by a western plot…[trample] our dignity and destroy the holy place of our Prophet’s Night Journey and construct on its ruins a temple springing from Talmudic myths as a cover for the original colonial intentions in demolishing our Ummah’s aspirations for unity and renaissance…

When asked about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ghannouchi replies that after the Zionist state is defeated, Israeli Jews will be respected. Indeed, he rebukes the notion that Israeli Jews should be thrown “in the sea”, because: 

Wars of our nation were not characterised by such Nazi Talmudic savagery.

When asked, “Do you still think that the US is hapless victim of a Jewish conspiracy to use it/push it to fight Islam?”, Ghannouchi’s lengthy reply has no apparent rejection of the question’s phrasing. He says that where once Europe opposed Islam, now America does; and uses the word Zionist to describe the various financial and media components of the conspiracy that bends America to its will, but the word “Jewish” is occasionally used within this context, for example:

the weight of the Jewish element that can no longer be ignored in the election process

the Jewish element intervened to invoke Islam as a candidate [for a new Cold War], satanised by the Jewish media…the Zionist media succeeded, together with arms lobbies and other parties with various interests, in inflating this void to create a terrifying enemy…Hostility towards Islam had never extinguished in the West, but Zionists have succeeded in kindling it further.

Ghannouchi then cites the hoary old American Nazi forgery, the Franklin Prophecy (as did his former British running mates – see previous CST blog, here):

…when Americans did not follow their wise leader Franklin’s advice when he warned them of what Jews could do in America if they were left to their wishes…They continue injuring the victim, provoking it, degrading it, attacking its dignity, until the victim one day revolts and destroys all their satanic dreams and Talmudic illusions. Would not the wise among the Jews who are a people of knowledge/science, philosophy and culture, realise the destructive fate of what the actions of Jewish Masonic Zionist atheistic gangs would lead to…and save the fate of their people from the dangerous destruction that awaits them…

To conclude, when gauging the threat posed by a real or potential enemy, it is paramount to assess their actual intentions and capabilities; and these often change according to circumstance. The circumstances of Sheikh Ghannouhci, and Ennhada, have changed dramatically.

Tunisia’s small Jewish community seems to have been well treated thus far and their well-being is the most vital thing in all of this; but it is sincerely hoped that Tunisia’s Spring does not turn into a storm for Jewish communities in the Middle East, Europe and beyond.

Here in Britain, the Jewish community already faces considerable overlapping political and physical threats from British and British-based outlets of the global Islamist movement, (other West European Jewish communities face similar issues); and now, some of these Islamists are assuming power back in their countries of origin. We have seen their rhetoric. Only time will tell if, or how, they intend to put it into practise.

Raed Salah loses appeal against deportation

October 27th, 2011 by CST

Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, has lost his appeal against deportation from the United Kingdom. Salah now has until the end of October to lodge a further appeal before deportation.

CST welcomed the Home Secretary’s efforts to exclude Salah from the UK and this position has now been vindicated by the immigration tribunal. As has been widely reported, CST provided evidence of Salah’s inflammatory and antisemitic statements to the Home Office and we are pleased that this evidence was accepted by the court.

The tribunal considered five pieces of evidence against Salah: a poem he had authored which we argued could incite hatred of Jews, but which Salah argued was not antisemitic; a speech in which he made a ‘blood libel’ slur against Jews, but which Salah claimed was not about Jews; Salah’s inflammatory claims that Israel intends to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque; the outstanding charges he currently faces in Israel for incitement to violence and to antisemitism; and Salah’s conviction for funding organisations linked to Hamas.

When these allegations were first aired, Salah denied having written the poem; denied making the blood libel comment; denied facing any charges in Israel; and denied any links to Hamas. Only after CST provided evidence to the contrary, did Salah admit to having written the poem and making the blood libel comment, and argued instead that CST’s interpretation of those texts was wrong. He also admitted his conviction for funding organisations linked to Hamas, but claimed this was for “charitable and humanitarian purposes.”

Today’s ruling (pdf) outlines the arguments presented on behalf of the Home Secretary and Salah on each of the five points of evidence, and then concludes that the evidence justifies his exclusion from the UK:

We conclude from all this evidence, viewed in the round, that the Secretary of State was right to conclude that the words and actions of the Appellant relied upon by the Respondent do come within the Prevent Strategy and therefore in accordance with the Secretary of State’s policy do justify a conclusion that the Appellant’s removal would be conducive to the public good.

[...]

We are satisfied that the Appellant has engaged in the unacceptable behaviour of fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK. We are satisfied that the Appellant’s words and actions tend to be inflammatory, divisive, insulting, and likely to foment tension and radicalism.

[...]

[The Appellant] has admitted in criminal proceedings being involved with organisations used to fund Hamas, a group part of which is proscribed as being a terrorist organisation.

The ruling notes that Salah claims he is not antisemitic, and that his defence presented expert evidence that the poem is not directed at Jews in general but only at “those among them who aim at Israeli territorial expansion.” However, the judges rejected Salah’s claim that “what he has said can only be interpreted as expressing his opposition to oppression and injustice in general”, because “our concern is with the impact of the poem and other sayings of the Appellant.” The ruling goes on to point out that for the purposes of “unacceptable behaviour” under the Prevent strategy, the most important criterion is the impact of a person’s words in fostering “hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK”, rather than whether they are intended to be racist. This follows existing legislation against incitement to racial hatred, where the impact that a person’s words have on their audience is given the greatest weight.

While the ruling did not rule specifically on whether Salah’s poem and blood libel comment were antisemitic, it clearly accepts that they have the potential to incite antisemitism in the UK. CST has repeatedly warned of the potential antisemitic impact that extremist preachers and activists from overseas can have on attitudes towards Jews amongst some British Muslims, and the damaging effect this has on wider social cohesion. Today’s ruling supports this concern, which we welcome.

Salah’s defence called two witnesses, Professor David Miller of the Spinwatch campaign group and former police officer Bob Lambert, both of whom contested CST’s expertise in this area. The judgement notes their claim that CST “failed to distinguish between anti-Semitism and criticism of the actions of the Israeli State and therefore gives an unbalanced perspective”, but that both Miller and Lambert accepted it was not “improper for the Secretary of State to seek the views of the CST in this matter”. Needless to say, CST totally rejects the claims of Miller and Lambert that we fail to distinguish between antisemitism and criticism of Israel. Our Antisemitic Incident Reports and Antisemitic Discourse Reports (both available here) lay out this distinction in great detail. However, we were not afforded an opportunity to defend CST’s position during the hearing and no witnesses were called by the Home Secretary’s lawyers to counter their claims. Consequently, CST’s rejection of Miller and Lambert’s ‘expertise’ was not heard in court and is not in the ruling.

In addition, it was alleged before the hearing by Salah’s lawyers that CST had provided “doctored” material to the Home Office regarding Salah. CST completely rejects this wholly untrue claim, which is not mentioned in today’s ruling. It appears to be something given to journalists writing about the case rather than a meaningful claim relied on in court by Salah.

After coming to government last year, the Home Secretary widened the “unacceptable behaviour” guidelines under which foreign nationals could be excluded from the UK, so that they include the fostering of hatred between communities as well as directly inciting violence. This has nothing to do with silencing Palestinian voices, as some have bizarrely claimed; the new guidelines will hopefully prove effective in keeping far right anti-Muslim agitators out of the UK, just as much as Islamist anti-Jewish ones. This was an important test case for the new guidelines, and we are pleased that the immigration tribunal has endorsed them.

UPDATE: The full ruling is now available for download here (pdf), and linked to in the post above.

“Doctored quotes” and CST

October 7th, 2011 by CST

As has been widely reported, CST provided information to the government to assist their efforts to exclude, and now deport, the radical Arab-Israeli preacher Sheikh Raed Salah from the United Kingdom. We did this because we believe Salah to have made antisemitic and extremist statements in the past; and because Salah has a criminal conviction for funding Hamas-linked charities which are proscribed in Israel.

Salah’s lawyers have claimed that some of the statements made by Salah included quotes which had been “doctored” to falsely show him to be antisemitic, by inserting the words “Jew” or “Jewish” when Salah did not say those words. This claim has been repeated by the Guardian, and now by the pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada.

We are concerned by any implication that CST may have doctored the relevant quotes, or passed on false quotes by Salah in order to mislead the government.

CST completely rejects the claim that any of the  quotes by Salah which we provided to government were “doctored”, by CST or anyone else. After our intervention, the Guardian altered their story to clarify that their article was only relaying claims by Salah’s lawyers, and not reporting them as fact. They also inserted a line stating that “There is no suggestion that CST doctored the quotes”, and removed a line suggesting we had not checked the quotes for accuracy.

For the record, and because Salah’s supporters appear to be spreading false and misleading information about CST, we feel it is important to clarify what these quotes were, and how CST used them.

The ‘blood libel’ speech

The first relates to a speech made by Salah in Jerusalem in February 2007, known as the ‘blood libel’ speech, in which he said:

We have never allowed ourselves, and listen well, we have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread for the breaking of the fast during the blessed month of Ramadan with the blood of the children. And if someone wants a wider explanation, you should ask what used to happen to some of the children of Europe, whose blood would be mixed in the dough of the holy bread.

This section of the speech was reported as follows in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2008:

“We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood,” he said. “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.”

CST included this newspaper article in the material we sent to the government about Salah. The medieval antisemitic trope of a ‘blood libel’, where Jews were accused of killing Christian children and using their blood for religious rituals (including making Matzot), is well known and we considered, and still consider, Salah’s speech to be a contemporary example of an antisemitic blood libel.

Salah’s supporters have focused on the fact that Haaretz put the word “Jewish” in square brackets immediately before the words “holy bread”. This is their basis for claiming that this quote is “doctored”. The use of square brackets to indicate a speaker’s meaning, in order to clarify or explain the actual words they used, is a universal journalistic convention. We took the Haaretz article to mean exactly this: that Salah did not actually say the word “Jewish”, but that he was talking about Jews. Putting a word in square brackets into a quote does not mean that the quote has been “doctored”, because the square brackets are there precisely to indicate that the speaker did not actually use the word they contain.

However, because the accuracy and reliability of our information is so important to CST, we continued to search for a primary source for Salah’s speech rather than relying on a newspaper article. We eventually found just such a source: an Israeli court indictment, in which Salah was charged with inciting antisemitism for making this speech (he still faces this charge in Israel). This included an extended transcript of Salah’s speech, which confirmed that Salah did not use the word “Jewish”. We translated it into English and published it on the CST Blog, with the full Hebrew indictment available to download.  We were the first people to obtain, translate and publish this indictment and transcript, which can be read in full here. We sent the transcript and translation to the government, and specifically pointed out that the word “Jewish”, in square brackets in the Haaretz article, did not appear in the transcript.

It is clearly absurd to claim that CST “doctored” this quote by inserting the word “Jewish”, or tried to pass off someone else’s “doctored quote”, when we were the first people to publish definitive proof that Salah did not use the word “Jewish”.

In contrast, Salah initially denied having made these comments at all, but now admits making the comments while offering an alternative meaning for them. He also initially denied having been charged in Israel for making the comments, but then admitted that he had been charged but claimed that the charges failed due to lack of evidence. This is still not true: he still faces charges in Israel relating to this speech.

Salah claims that his reference to the use of children’s blood in holy bread was in fact a reference to Christian persecution of Muslims and Jews during the Spanish Inquisition. We completely reject this explanation, which makes no sense. Firstly, there is no such ‘blood libel’ accusation against Christians, whereas it is a common antisemitic accusation against Jews, initially in Europe and in more recent times in the Middle East. Secondly, immediately before the ‘blood libel’ section of the speech,  Salah identifies Christians and Muslims together as victims of Israeli/Jewish persecution, and immediately after it he says “G-d all mighty, is this religion? Is this what G-d wants? G-d will confront you for what you are doing…”. This line makes perfect sense if “religion” refers to Judaism, and very little sense for it to mean Christianity.

Looking back at what was happening in Israel in February 2007, a major public controversy was raging in the Israeli media at the time over a book by Israeli Professor Ariel Toaff, Pasque di Sangue, which claimed that some medieval blood libel allegations were based on credible evidence (a claim Toaff later withdrew). The subject was already circulating in public debate when Salah made his speech. For all these reasons, it remains our assessment that Salah’s claim that children’s blood was used for holy bread was about Jews, and that it was an antisemitic reference; and that this is how it would have been received by its audience.

The poem

The second claim of “doctored quotes” relates to a poem written by Salah in the Islamic Movement publication Sawt al-Haqq wa-al-Huriyya, dated 4th January 2002. CST initially came across parts of this poem in an article by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which erroneously claimed that they were from a speech. We passed this to government as follows, with the Cooper article referenced in a footnote:

At an undated event, Salah made several anti-Jewish assertions. He firstly claimed that the Jews are “butchers of pregnant women and babies,” and followed this up by maintaining that the Jews are “thieves, you [Jews] are the bacteria of all times… The Creator meant for you to be monkeys and losers… Victory is with the Muslims, from the Nile to the Euphrates.”

Again, we used the word “Jews” in square brackets in the quote to indicate meaning, not to claim that Salah actually used the word, according to the universal convention. And once again, because we did not want to rely solely on media reporting, we searched for the primary source for these quotes. These eventually were found in the form of the poem, and we passed this Arabic poem, with a full English translation and some textual analysis, to the government. We pointed out in this analysis that the poem does not use the word “Jews”. The claim by the Guardian that this involved an “admission that a reference to Jews was inserted” in our initial report is completely wrong, because we never claimed that Salah had used the word “Jews”. The Guardian itself often uses square brackets around a word or words in a quote to indicate meaning, not usage, as do all other newspapers.

Again, had we wanted to fool the government or anyone else into thinking that the poem contained the word “Jews”, we would hardly have tried to find evidence to the contrary and then pointed it out to government.

Salah claims that this poem (which he initially denied having written) is about the Israeli state, but not about Jews. It is our opinion that through lines such as “The sly apostates”; “you are the germs of all times”; “The Creator had deemed you to be monkeys (and) losers”; and “The victory is the ‘crown’ of all good tidings to the faithful Muslims”; the poem uses religious terminology and theological references to blur any distinction between the Israeli state and Jews in general, and between a political conflict and a religious one. Given this, it is our opinion that this poem demonstrates the potential to radicalise attitudes amongst British Muslims towards British Jews.

CST, antisemitism and Israel

Some of Salah’s supporters appear to misconstrue, perhaps deliberately, CST’s mission and purpose. We work to combat antisemitism, terrorism and extremism in the UK. We provided the UK government with information about Salah because we consider him to have a record of propagating antisemitic and extremist views, and because he was due to visit this country. We take all forms of antisemitism seriously and we expressed our concerns to government on this basis. We did not do this on behalf of Israel or in pursuit of Israel’s policy objectives, but to combat antisemitism and extremism in Britain. There is a difference between combating antisemitism and Israel advocacy; a distinction that Salah’s supporters appear incapable of recognising.

So, for example, for Electronic Intifada to describe CST as an “anti-Palestinian group” is not only grossly insulting but is also nonsensical. It suggests that our work combating antisemitism in the UK is intrinsically anti-Palestinian, which in turn suggests that Palestinians are intrinsically antisemitic. This is a disgraceful slur on both Jews and Palestinians. In fact we work with British Muslims and other minorities to combat Islamophobia and other forms of racism and extremism in Britain.

We say repeatedly in CST publications and on this blog that we do not deny anybody the right to criticise Israel or to campaign against it. All we ask is that when doing so, people take care not to use antisemitic language or to make common cause with antisemites. These requests – which on the surface should not be too demanding for any anti-racist – repeatedly fall on deaf ears, or even worse are mocked by those who should know better. It has now reached the stage that, when we point out that Raed Salah has made antisemitic statements, his supporters accuse us of lying. This does not just excuse antisemitism; it encourages its growth.

Middle East Monitor: faking a Jewish conspiracy

October 5th, 2011 by Dave Rich

Middle East Monitor (MEMO) is a pro-Palestinian lobbying group which generally supports Islamist positions within Palestinian politics. We have had cause to write about MEMO on this blog before, because they commonly promote conspiracy theories about politicians in Western nations being beholden to Jewish or Zionist political manipulation and financial inducements, along with other classical antisemitic canards and tropes.

Now MEMO’s Senior Editor, Ibrahim Hewitt, has gone right to the top, and accused U.S. President Barack Obama’s government of being “led by the nose by a pro-Israel Lobby” because of Obama’s dependency on “Zionist votes and Zionist money.” It is not MEMO’s peddling of this kind of familiar conspiracy theory that caught my eye, however. Instead, I was drawn to this concluding passage:

There are a number of quotations alleged to have been made by prominent politicians suggesting that US foreign policy is dictated by the Israelis, including one by ex-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “yelling” at Shimon Peres, “Don’t worry about American pressure, we the Jewish people control America”.

If that is true, then perhaps it’s time for a rethink. We shouldn’t talk about Israel being the 51st State of the USA; we should think of the USA as the 2nd State of Israel.

This alleged quote by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a fake. It has been thoroughly debunked since it first appeared in 2001 in a press release from the pro-Hamas Islamic Association for Palestine. IAP’s claimed source for the quote, the Israeli radio station Kol Yisrael, had never broadcast it, and their political correspondent confirmed that Sharon never said it. No other source has ever emerged to confirm IAP’s claim. There is a long history (pdf) of fake quotes in the canon of anti-Israel propaganda, and this is one of them.

Hewitt appears to suspect that this may be the case, because he frames his use of the quote with an acknowledgement that it is only “alleged”, and asks “If that is true…”. If anything that makes his use of it even worse than if he unwittingly believed it to be accurate. The allegation that “the Jewish people control America” has a very clear and deep antisemitic provenance. These are not words to use frivolously or without 100% certainty.

MEMO, in the first line of its Mission Statement, claims to “Provide our clients with up-to-date reporting and carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence.” (my emphasis). MEMO is proud of its work with Members of Parliament and journalists from a range of newspapers and claims to be “recognised as a legitimate and credible source of information on the Middle East.” If MEMO wishes this to remain the case, its senior staff should be more careful about peddling fake quotes in order to spread antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The Spirit of Cable Street

October 4th, 2011 by Dave Rich

Today is the 75th anniversary of the ‘Battle of Cable Street’, when an attempted march by Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF), through largely-Jewish areas of the East End of London in October 1936, was prevented by huge numbers of anti-fascist protestors, who engaged in violent clashes with the BUF and the police.

The event has a mythical place in anti-fascist folklore, representing popular opposition to fascism in the face of official complacency and/or complicity, of a sort that required admirable physical courage. It has also come to assume a foundational role in the history of Jewish self-defence in this country, as Mosley’s target was the large Jewish community in East London, and many of the protestors who opposed him were themselves Jewish.

Much has been written elsewhere about the events on the day and the surrounding history. I will not duplicate them here, but Hope Not Hate has an excellent selection of articles, contemporary media reports and some fascinating first-person accounts from some of those who where there.

The role of the Jewish community establishment on the day is often criticised, as the Board of Deputies of British Jews called on Jews not to attend the anti-fascist mobilisation. For various reasons, the Board was slow to accept the connection between antisemitism and fascism in the early 1930s (viewing German Nazism as not representative of fascism elsewhere); and were hestitant to openly confront the BUF’s antisemitism once it became an increasing part of their programme after 1934. However, the widely-held belief that the Board of Deputies was out of touch and unsympathetic to ordinary Jews, while more militant, working class organisations like the Jewish People’s Council Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism (JPC) led the ant-fascist struggle against the wishes of the Jewish establishment, is itself simplistic and one-dimensional. In fact the Board’s appreciation of the dangers posed by the BUF, and their commitment to combat its growth, changed enormously during the course of the 1930s, and by the late 1930s the Board and the JPC developed a working cooperation, in recognition that anti-fascist campaigning requires different and complementary activities.

One fascinating, but little-known, part of this story is the Board’s infiltration of the BUF and other fascist organistions, which not only played a role in undermining the BUF but also directly aided the British war effort. In an appropriately-titled paper, Some Lesser Known Aspects: The Anti-Fascist Campaign of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1936-1940, Daniel Tilles describes this work in some detail:

These efforts began in 1936, when a senior BUF officer, having grown disillusioned with Mosley’s turn to anti-Semitism, decided to pass intelligence to the Board. “Capt. A,” as he was known, worked within Blackshirt headquarters, and as such was able to supply extremely sensitive information. Details of where future BUF events were to be held, for example, allowed the LAC [London Area Council] to arrange countermeetings at the same locations, while his reports on the BUF’s planned activity were passed on to the police and home office. Most significantly, he provided lists of BUF members, and in September 1939 these were handed over to the authorities, aiding the wartime observation of fascists and helping identify those who were interned in 1940, bringing about the BUF’s demise.

Inspired by this success, in 1937 [Board President Neville] Laski managed to plant an agent in the IFL [Imperial Fascist League] too, with his reports revealing much about its  internal workings and extreme brand of racial anti-Semitism. More problematic was the penetration of two extremist groups that developed in the build up to war, the Militant Christian Patriots (MCP) and the Nordic League (NL), which, unlike the BUF, operated largely underground. Through his contacts with the police, Laski secured the services of a former Special Branch inspector, who, under an assumed identity, secured membership of the two organisations. His investigations revealed the degree to which the NL sympathised with and had connections to the Nazi regime, as well as the extreme nature of its anti-Semitism, extending to advocacy of genocide. Such was the extent of his integration that he was invited to an NL summer school in Germany, where links between the movement and senior Nazi figures became further apparent. As well as providing reports on the potentially treasonous position of the NL and its subterranean activity, which the Home Office found ‘astonishing,’ he was able to supply the authorities with the names of Nazi agents in Britain.

Another myth about Cable Street is that it marked a blow from which the BUF never recovered. In fact, in the weeks and months following Cable Street the BUF’s membership and activity increased, as did their attacks on Jews; but more important was the impact that Cable Street had on Mosley’s opponents. It proved to Jewish and non-Jewish anti-fascists across the East End and beyond, that they had the numbers, the organisation and the spirit to stop Mosley. The slogan “They Shall Not Pass!” was not just for the day, but represented a mentality which British pre-war fascism never managed to overcome.

This spirit lived on after the war in the Jewish community. It could be found in the 43 Group, formed by Jewish ex-servicemen who returned from defeating Nazism in WW2 only to find Mosley’s fascists back on the streets of Britain; their ranks famously included a young Vidal Sassoon. It was revived in the 62 Group (actually the ‘1962 Committee’), formed to oppose Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement and other neo-Nazis in the 1960s. And it is no coincidence that veterans of the 62 Group were involved in the creation of CST, and are still involved with CST to this day.

The nature of antisemitism and the physical threats faced by British Jews have changed considerably since 1936. The legacy of WW2 and the Holocaust mean that Mosleyite fascism has lost any mainstream respectability it once had, while the growth of international terrorism (pdf) since the late 1960s means that the physical defence of Jewish communities has shifted from street battles to security measures at Jewish buildings. CST only employs legal measures to oppose antisemitism, unlike our forebears in the 62 Group and beyond. But some things remain constant, despite these changing circumstances. Firstly, the cross-communal nature of the opposition to Mosley at Cable Street is reflected in CST’s consistent, active opposition to the British National Party and the English Defence League, despite the fact that neither group predominantly targets Jews. And secondly, that antisemitism can never be tolerated or ignored, whoever it comes from, and whatever the context.

From The Wandering Jew to The (new) Jewish Question

October 3rd, 2011 by Mark Gardner

Gilad Atzmon is an ex-Israeli Jew. His latest book, “The Wandering Who?”, is potentially a key moment in the battle against contemporary antisemitism: forcing parts of the anti-Zionist left to finally confront the antisemitic dead-end that their over-heated fervour can lead to.

The book is both old and new. Its content is mainly edited and compiled from Atzmon’s blog polemics over the years. Its theory takes the French Revolution’s maxim “To the Jew as an individual, everything! To the Jews as a people, nothing!” and fuses it with utterly contemporary cultural racism. It is an anti-Jewish variant of the ascendant trend to trash other peoples’ cultures and supposed / alleged group mentalities. If anti-racists support this book, then Jews are facing (even) more exceptional hostilities than previously imagined.

Usually, this cultural racism comes from new far right and nationalist groups, who disavow actual Nazism and genetic race theory. Atzmon sits on the left not the right, yet he and Hitler still share the same favourite Jew: Otto Weininger, who philosophised on “the notion of genius”, but hated Jews and his Jewishness so much that he killed himself. Atzmon’s book admits Weininger “was an antisemite” and is not uncritical of some of his writing, but he also states

There is a personal side to my admiration: Weininger helped me grasp who I am, or rather who I may be, what I do, what I try to achieve and why my detractors invest so much effort trying to stop me

This is pure Atzmon. He ought to have simply written on the cover, ‘look at me, I’m a naughty genius: a truth-teller the likes of which you have never seen. I will drive you to distraction and destruction.’

There is no brilliance in Atzmon’s book (or perhaps more accurately, in his blog writings). His construct of “Jewish Identity Politics” is staggeringly partial and therefore plain wrong. Neither is it entirely new ground, evoking any number of Jewish history and identity twisters, including American far right theoretician, Kevin MacDonald, author of A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (1994); Separation and its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism (1998); and The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements (1998).

Atzmon does not indulge in yesterday’s conspiracy theories. (p 169 “there is no such thing as ‘Jewish conspiracy’. Everything is in the open”.) Instead, he has something far more insidious up his sleeve: a conspiracy without a head, a conspiracy that just is. He calls it an “organismus”: German for organism. Unlike most of the book, “organismus” does not seem to have previously appeared on Atzmon’s blog. Why is he resorting to German at this precise moment? To make it sound more scientific? To make it sound more sinister?

(p.21)…It is more than likely that ‘Jews’ do not have a centre or headquarters. It is more than likely that they aren’t aware of their particular role within the entire system, the way an organ is not aware of its role within the complexity of an organism…

…Looking at Zionism as an organismus [Atzmon’s emphasis] would lead to a major shift in our perception of world affairs…

(p.88)…Zionism is a global network with no head, it is a spirit – spirit, unfortunately, cannot be defeated. Yet, it must be exposed for what it is.

There are those within anti-Zionist circles (importantly including some leading Jewish anti-Zionists and, belatedly, the Socialist Workers Party) who warn that Atzmon is a thoroughly dangerous driver; and they have tried distancing themselves and their movement from him. Such opposition is sincere, but demands self-reflection upon their own fervid demonising of mainstream Jewish sensibilities; and the foundational role that has played in helping to legitimise this dreadful book within parts of their own movement.

Atzmon bastardises the meaning of Zionism, subordinating it to his “Jewish Identity Politics” leitmotif; and thereby captures (indeed, often prioritises) Jewish anti-Zionists within his contempt, writing

(p.19) Zionism is not a colonial movement with an interest in Palestine…Zionism is actually a global movement…To be a Zionist means to accept that, more than anything else, one is primarily a Jew.

This being “primarily a Jew” is what Atzmon terms as “3rd category Jews”. These are the Bad Jews

(p.16) those who call themselves Jews could be divided into three main categories:

1. Those who follow Judaism.

2. Those who regard themselves as human beings that happen to be of Jewish origin.

3. Those who put their Jewish-ness over and above all other traits.

The first two categories may denote a harmless and innocent group of people.

Atzmon’s blog features much of this, dated 2009, when he said “obviously the first two categories specify an harmless group of people”. We cannot be sure why he has had second thoughts about the innocence of such Jews, changing “obviously…harmless” to the more circumspect “may denote a harmless and innocent group”.

The book ends with snide and deeply revealing thanks to those Jewish anti-Zionists who helped Atzmon to realise the true extent of his (supposed) rationale

I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking from the bottom of my heart my half the dozen [sic] Jewish Marxist detractors who have been stalking me and my music career day and night for year, without whom I would never have grasped the real depth of tribal ferocity. It is these so called ‘anti Zionist’ Jewish ethnic activists who taught me more than any rabid Zionist about the true devastating practical meaning of Jewish identity politics.

These (other than the endnote references) are the last words of Atzmon’s book. They summarise it all. Yes, he hates Israel. Yes, he hates Zionism. Yes, he proudly hates himself: but its all about “Jewish identity politics”, by which he means primarily self-defining as a Jew. Indeed, the book’s sub-title tells us this, “A Study of Jewish Identity Politics”.

The notion that a book that explicitly and consistently attacks (what it invents and then defines as) “Jewish Identity Politics” is not antisemitic beggars the question as to what, other than Nazi race theory and gas chambers, does actually qualify as being antisemitic. It is like Carol Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children play all over again: when I say Jewish, I do not mean Jews and anyone who says otherwise exposes themselves as a pro-Israel smear merchant.

As with “Seven Jewish Children”, the tell-tale clue lies in the title, stupid. Here, its “The Wandering Who?”, a pointed take on The Wandering Jew; a medieval antisemitic fantasy figure (sometimes called The Eternal Jew) whose outcast status matched the condition of Jews until modern times. (The myth relates how the Jew supposedly mocked Jesus prior to his crucifixion, and so was condemned to wander the earth until Jesus returned.)  

As a perverse witticism, “The Wandering Who?” does not match David Irving’s take on the Holocaust denying Leuchter Report: showing the tracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau with the caption, “Auschwitz: the end of the line”. Nevertheless, it resides within the same cold joke category and opponents of antisemitism should reject it before they even open the cod-psychology garbage that lies within.

Those who stick it out as far as page 120 will reach Chapter 15, entitled “Swindler’s List”, another cold joke (and one separately employed by Holocaust denier, Ernst Zundel): but Atzmon’s callous sneer at the Jewish Holocaust experience really manifests from pages 148-165, in what is primarily a repeat of his March 2007 article for Counterpunch, “From Esther to AIPAC”. This sums it up

(p.153) From this point onward, I shall maintain that the Holocaust religion was well established a long time before the Final Solution (1942), well before Kristallnacht (1938), the Nuremberg Laws (1936) and even before Hitler was born (1889). The Holocaust religion is probably as old as the Jews themselves.

CST has consistently warned about the antisemitic route down which some anti-Zionists have careered these last few years. This book shows exactly where they have ended up. Support for this book, while perhaps in a minority amongst anti-Zionists, reveals the shocking extent to which, for some anti-Zionists, their struggle has gone from focusing upon Palestinian rights to focusing upon Jews.

Why do Jews behave as they (allegedly) do? What is it about these Jews? What is Jewishness all about? And…how do we fight this poisonous presence? In summary, they are formulating what risks becoming the new Jewish Question.

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