Avi Shlaim St James's PiccadillyIt is the 27th June 2017. I have just returned from an event at St James’s Church, an Anglican church in Piccadilly, London. It has a history of anti-Israel activism. Tonight Avi Shlaim was speaking at the ‘Embrace Annual Lecture’.  The official subject was to ‘explore Britain’s historical and current relationship with Palestine’. The main drumbeat provided another anti-Israel festival. This one was delivered with the impeccable presentation and captivating tones of Avi Shlaim.

This event wouldn’t have gone ahead without an anti-Israel under-current. The main purpose of the evening was to raise funds for ‘Palestinian refugees’, wherever they may be. When it came to the fund raising speech, we were even told that some ‘Palestinians’ in Akko (Israel) are living in what is basically a refugee camp. With this level of distortion trying to send church goers reaching for their wallets, a little balance would have been a very distracting and self-destructive strategy. It was simply not going to happen.

Hidden dangers

But I find events like this far more dangerous, far more damaging, than a university hate-fest or Al Quds day march. At a university, the hate is in your face, out in the open. Everyone knows the score. Here in the church it is very different. The hate is hidden, insidious and dealt out with a smile. Avi Shlaim starts speaking, and with a CV like his, who would doubt his words. A packed crowd of about three hundred and fifty, are about to feed from the poison tree, believing it to be hand-picked, freshly squeezed, fruit juice. The type of fruit juice the people in this church would buy in Waitrose.

Avi Shlaim and the missing pages

Shlaim recounts a history that is entirely devoid of balance and actual context. It isn’t that Avi is factually wrong about the nuts and bolts of the conflict, nor is it that Avi Shlaim is deliberately deceptive.  Shlaim is simply building his understandings on assumptions that are fundamentally flawed. It doesn’t matter how much he reads, or what data is placed on the page, Avi Shlaim will not be able to order it properly. For as long as he fails to address the basic mistaken concepts driving his ideas, he will remain forever wrong.

The Avi Shlaim fairytale begins with Balfour, and runs parallel with the Arab narrative of the conflict. Up until about 1936 he blames the Europeans for everything. He believes the only thing that stopped mighty democracies flourishing throughout the Middle East was colonial interference. Interestingly, the only democracy actually flourishing in the Middle East, he chooses to attack.

As is typical of the anti-Israel narrative (read fairytale), there is no cause and effect, and at every juncture, Israel is blamed for whatever it was that went wrong. The examples given for the collapse of Oslo were all related to settlements.  Arab terrorism was not mentioned once. Avi Shlaim draws a deliberately sinister image of Israel today.

The foolish old man

At one point Avi Shlaim, talked up Ilan Pappe. That surprised me. Pappe is a historian who simply makes things up when it suits him. Shlaim even credited Pappe for helping on his own personal journey to ‘enlightenment’ (read mistaken understandings). He even mentioned the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as if it were a serious pro-Palestinian outfit, rather than an anti-Israel movement of hate, dripping in hard-core antisemitic ideology. It was at this point that it struck me. Avi Shlaim thinks the enemies of the Jews are basically non-existent. If you place antisemitism into a manageable box called ‘extreme right wingers’, and believe that the Arab States would all be functioning democracies were it not for British and French interference, then the world of Avi Shlaim begins to make sense.

Shlaim has led a cosy, well-to-do life in his Oxford circles. His distorted vision further skewed by his own radical student (Pappe). If he can promote the PSC without seeing the Holocaust denying, Jew hating, conspiratorial world, that infests so many of its supporters, then Avi Shlaim is taking everything at face value only.

Dripping poison

And this foolish old man is dripping poison into a crowd that are turning more anti-Israel with every point raised. Shlaim lives in a fantasy world, where the two-state solution is on the table, ready to be signed, if only Israel were accommodating enough, humane enough, to agree to the peace on offer. Yet he talks within an environment where that option does not exist to those who take the Palestinian side. The anti-Israel drumbeat is a one state drumbeat. ‘From the river to the sea’. When you empower it, whatever you may prefer, you empower those that seek the destruction of the State of Israel. The naive fairytale of Avi Shlaim becomes truly dangerous in an environment such as this.

A no win situation

Then the Q&A started. 95% of the undecided in the room had been sold a dummy version of the conflict. If they were not anti-Israel before the event, they probably are now. What do you do? You cannot challenge a mistaken perception with a single question. There is no magic bullet he has not heard before and every question you ask, will be ignored or batted away by an expert witness. The more aggressive and frustrated you become, the more effective the response. The louder you ask the question, the louder the applause he receives as he answers. So how do you undo the damage that has been done? If pro-Israelis attend these events, they should go to change minds. Which means we have to find a way of changing them. Sometimes our own actions wins the day even more for the anti-Israel crowd. Not every event is the same. We need to have more than one trick in our arsenal.

As we left, the crowd had been suitably stirred up. We were told to put our ‘jack boots on’. Those considered of identified as Zionist were insulted, heckled, threatened.  The event had done its job.

 

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64 thoughts on “Avi Shlaim, the foolish old man and the adoring church goers

  1. maybe the answer is not to go….for 2 reasons…1 as you say , anything you say or ask has the opposite effect and 2. why listen to his deluded talk……it’s not relevant and you say the 95% that were undecided before the meeting have been convinced……..i believe that 95% went because they were already decided…does anyone go with an open mind these days ?

    1. Anton

      It is a difficult discussion. I go, because I believe we need to shine a light on the hate. I report what is happening inside, to those outside. But all this time, I also witness what happens when others turn up. I see what happens and how it unfolds. It isn’t easy. You know I think it is about devising a strategy for each specific event. It is like our activity only has one setting. I get to see the results of our activities better than most because I almost always just sit and watch. I am not against people going, and I wish more did, but I also feel we could be much better at what we do. Sometimes we just reinforce the image they have of us. It isn’t they way I would choose to do it. But then my opinion is just that, an opinion.

      As for the second part. Yes, that is why an event like this is so damaging. The Uni events are 100% already decided. These folk are different. There are many minds swayed at an event like this.

  2. Like David, I go from time to time to Christian anti-Israel events, usually with Jewish friends. I write and publish reports on those events, and I share them with Anglican and Catholic bodies, or I write separate pieces on some American church events or Scotland’s Iona Community. I leave my own religious beliefs to one side (since I have none), and I try to engage with some priests and others. Like David, I think it is worth having a presence, asking questions or making corrections whenever possible, making contact, and challenging bias. I have to believe that, to however small a degree, being able to present evidence of inaccuracy and bias can be enlightening for some. One Jewis friend and I addressed a group of Quakers recently, after they had hosted a Kairos exhibit, and we felt we had been listened to. So I support David sytrongly in his attendance at thesae events, however frustrating it can be. If we stay away, the haters dominate everything.

      1. and that’s still far more than any real knowledge you have of Israel, zionism or Jews.

  3. In this world, there are thinkers and followers. The thinkers average 20% of the population and the followers 80%. Last night was a good example of how the followers just do not think..

    I am an amateur historian. In other words, history is a passion. There were so many errors and omissions in Schlaim’s delivery last night that I cringed at times. but, if you are a follower, you do not question what is said. That is down to the thinker of which there were a few of us. I did not get a chance to ask a question publicly but, a colleague did. Her question pertained to the interpretation of the word apartheid. He did not answer the question.

    At the end of the meeting, I introduced my self to Schlaim and reminded him that the BDS action caused the closure of Sodastream resulting in the loss of 250 jobs for the Palestinians. ‘Is that what you want?’ I asked him.

    He replied with…..nothing and went to the next person.

    These history revisionists are easy to handle.

    1. Oh yes sodastream. This will hurt the blacks more than it hurts us. Now where did I previously hear that argument…………lemme think

    2. I think Shlaim probably had you sussed, Mike – and you asked a standard rhetorical and unanswerable question that David would describe as coming from a ‘playbook’ – the Zionist one, that is. In any case, I think you’ll find the numbers vary depending on who’s reporting them. It’s probably 500, not 250, the last 74 of which have been re-hired (last month) since the company moved to the Negev. According to the Jerusalem Post, this involves those workers in a 12-hour shift (leaving their homes in the Jerusalem area around 5am) and arriving back at 9pm. They are forced to make that journey because at least Sodastream pays them a ‘regulated’ wage, unlike many companies nearer home where Palestinians were not paid what one grateful worker called ‘regulated salaries’. Is that what you want, Mike? Also, I think you should be aware that in 2014, Sodastream sacked 60 Palestinian night shift workers workers (as reported by Haaretz) because they complained they were prohibited from bringing food and drink from home during Ramadan, and were given insufficient due to Jewish dietary laws, making it unsafe for them to operate the machinery. Is that what you want, Mike? They were served termination notices the next day and forbidden to retrieve their personal belongings. That’s how ethical Sodastream is.

    3. It is from a playbook. It is the stupid question move. Any answer to a stupid question is likely to be a stupid one, as Anthony Loewenstein found out to his cost. Didn’t he Jonathan ?

  4. Agreed, that the technique that might work is to not argue directly, but to put doubt into the minds of the audience that the narrative that are receiving is not balanced or true so that they think there might be another side. I think skilled legal practitioners do this all the time, by disproving the reliability of the witness no matter what their paper credentials.

  5. Just one of Shlaim’s Lies: “The JNF caters only for Jews”. Those Lies have to be called out at the time, as I did. Of course the haters shout you down but there are plenty who are led to question what they have been told. Some thank you at the time (2 did last night), others message you after, most stay silent. My blog to follow.

    1. Oh yes the hate preacher Douglas Murray. He of the Henry Jackson Society, fingured by Jo Cox’s favourite charity, Hope Not Hate as being responsible for dragging Muslim hating / baiting into the mainstream

      1. Two roughly similar responses in the same piece eh? Do you still get paid for duplication or only for original posts? The creation of the Jane Jackman persona was also quite a clever ruse for upping your output and your income stream.

        1. Ian – ‘the creation of the Jane Jackman persona’????!!!! My husband is rolling around laughing. And to Stephen Bellamy – my apologies for having introduced such idiocy into these comment threads. No doubt you’re rolling around laughing too.

  6. Ah, if only you could sit in on some of the lectures of some of these anti-Israel academics, David, to ascertain what anti-Israel propaganda they might be feeding to students in their classrooms.
    Keep up the brilliant work. – you, Jonathan, and Richard Millett.
    But above all keep safe.

  7. St. James, Picaddilly is an embarrassment for many other reasons. It has abandoned a recognisable Christian faith. This is not happening in every Christian church or even Anglican church. What is happening is that it goes unchallenged because the whole subject is ignored. The standard of basic biblical teaching is now very low. Short soothing sermons are what the people want. Thus, they are not equipped to spot any kind of lie.

  8. What lie would that be, Ian? Are you talking about ‘the lie’ that there is a military occupation in the West Bank? Or that Palestinians who fled the fighting in 1948 were barred from returning to their homes and villages afterwards? Perhaps the Israeli lie that they attacked the USS Liberty in 1967 – killing 34 crew and wounding 171 others – by accident? There are so many to choose from.

    1. Oh come on Mr B you’re overdoing it now. Surely you have some media response targets to meet over at NWFOI or JHRW?

          1. Seven responses on one thread. You may have to twist an arm or two in the accounts department to get paid for some of these as they barely meet the levels required to be approved as genuinely demeaning. Still you’ve got a nice two hander going with your alter ego Jenin Jane. Very innovative.

  9. A post AND a correction. I imagine you’ll be claiming that as a double. Be careful some of the more diligent paymasters actually audit their ‘activists’.

  10. Thing is, David, I’m no clearer about what Shlaim actually said. You’ve done a good job of slandering him and the other ‘haters’ – after all, that’s what you do – but you haven’t actually told us what he said that you take issue with, except perhaps where you say: “He even mentioned the Palestine Solidarity Campaign as if it were a serious pro-Palestinian outfit, rather than an anti-Israel movement of hate, dripping in hard-core antisemitic ideology”. I get it, really I do – you don’t much like the PSC. And again: “Shlaim has led a cosy, well-to-do life in his Oxford circles. His distorted vision further skewed by his own radical student (Pappe). If he can promote the PSC without seeing the Holocaust denying, Jew hating, conspiratorial world, that infests so many of its supporters, then Avi Shlaim is taking everything at face value only”. Good job David of inciting hatred against pro-Palestinian supporters and neutralising their message! But you’ve made your point (a-gain) and dragged one of your favourite targets in as well (Pappe a-gain). Now what did Shlaim actually say? Or doesn’t journalism require such facts ‘Beyond the Great Divide’?

      1. Oh come on Jonathan. First hand observations and factual assertions are of no interest whatsoever to Stevie B/Jenin Jane. He sees us living in freedom in our own state, safe and secure from the customary and historic role as spiteful persecutor. Our capacity to defend ourselves successfully and completely against those that want us dead and defeat our enemies time after time was never in his script and it drives him and all of those like him crazy.

        1. Yes ………………. Bellamy is obsessed with Jews and never answers substantive points,he just produces moronic photos and videos.

          1. And here Jonathan you repeat the error you have been making for years. You keep confusing Jonathan Hoffman with Jews.

      2. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the author of the piece linked to here is mentally ill.

        It has long been suspected. See here.

  11. Jonathan thank you for illuminating for us at least some of what Prof Shlaim said in your Times of Israel article. However, one or two points should be made. I can find no evidence to support your assertion that either Embrace the Middle East or Kairos Palestine deny Jewish historical connections to Israel. Rather, just the opposite! As Christians they are of course well familiar with biblical timeline, and that Jesus was Jewish. Their objective in endorsing the call to boycott Israel is (as they make clear) non-violent resistance against an oppressive military occupation (and what occupation is not oppressive to the people under occupation?) with the aim of alerting the world to the Palestinian plight.
    Also, you make a serious theological error in saying that supercessionists believe the (physical) promised land of Israel belongs to Christians. Nothing of the sort! People who hold that view simply believe the teaching of Jesus that ‘His kingdom is not of this world’, and that all (of whatever ethnic or religious background) may inherit that kingdom – spiritually – but only through trusting in the atonement that Christ made. Whereas Jews constituted ‘the Israel of God’, a ‘light unto the nations’, chosen to bring the light of monotheism to the world – the Law too – they rejected it (read your scriptures!) and ultimately Jesus too. As a consequence, supercessionists believe, the ecclesia (by which I don’t necessarily mean the institutionalised church that has wreaked havoc over centuries) was commissioned to carry the light to all corners etc. Now you can disagree with all of that (and I’m sure you do!) but the fact remains that supercessionism has nothing whatsoever to do with real estate. As regards the (physical) land, it was only after (ancient) Israel disobeyed God (again, you’ll have to read the scriptures to find out how) that they were exiled, leaving only a small remnant behind, as of course Jesus prophesied they would be. I just think you should get that straight.

    But then you go on to deny the blockade of Gaza. Seriously?! OK, let’s not quibble about that. For argument’s sake, it’s not a blockade – it’s de-development by design. But if you don’t accept the weight of evidence documented by a plethora of human rights organisations (what…they’re all lying?) then it wouldn’t matter what I said.

    Colonialism. If not that – or rather, settler-colonialism – then what is it?

    Apartheid. If more than 50 laws discriminating against Palestinians in Israel…if Jewish-only roads…if the totally unequal allocation of water between settlers and Palestinians…if the appropriation of Palestinian farmland for building a separation barrier with watchtowers and no-go zones…if the routine humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints (I’ve seen it)…if these aren’t a form of apartheid, then what are they? And if the wall was for security purposes, then how come more than 500,000 Jewish settlers are living on the other side of the wall? Unless of course they are there on the hilltops to reinforce the occupation…to set dogs on Palestinian farmers below, to uproot or burn their olive trees, to release excrement onto their land, to have all the water they want, and to do all this without censure from the Israeli authorities, and under the protection of the IDF. And you expect them not to resist? Seriously?! And for the Church to keep quiet about it?! I’ve been to the West Bank and I’ve seen it, Jonathan, so you can’t tell me it’s all lies.

    So you see, your slandering of people like Shlaim, Pappe, and the Christians who support boycotting Israel because they see a monumental injustice that needs to be addressed – (btw, you don’t think Israel believes in boycotts? Tell that to the Palestinians!) – simply doesn’t cut it. And as for quoting David Collier’s ridiculous assertion that the PSC is ‘an anti-Israel movement of hate, dripping in hard-core antisemitic ideology’… what is the matter with you? You don’t think that’s hate speech?

    1. Jane. If you are going to come and argue here ( and I wish you wouldn’t run away so quickly every time) then you will have to do a little better than throwing the Adalah 50 law nonsense my way. It would also help if you actually read my posts. I do not put Shlaim and Pappe together. Shlaim is still a two-stater. My basic principle is I do not waste much energy arguing points with two staters. Shlaim has built his premise on mistaken underlying assumptions. That’s all. He is naive. I thought I was quite clear.

      As for your latest comments. Israel is a democracy within a hostile environment. You many not like the reality, but reality it is. There is no Apartheid in Israel. None. As for the WB, well, decide what you believe, Apartheid or Occupation? Which is it? You used both. Are you saying people can be both occupied and living under Apartheid. Fascinating concept. If it is occupation, then surely the division is not based on race.

      As for the PSC. Please read this.
      http://david-collier.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/170222_palestine_solidarity_campaign_report.pdf
      When you are done, I’d be fascinated if you could tell me what is wrong with the study. I’ve been waiting months. The PSC didn’t respond – well, what could they say. Mondoweiss did, with a harrowing example of Jews protecting antisemites, they wrote a piece that entirely deflected from the work itself. So go on, tell me where I got it wrong. Or perhaps you can tell me why despite all this, you think the PSC are not dripping in antisemitism.

      1. David you do not have an inalienable right to be responded to. I am not a fan of PSC I think they are weak and not fit for purpose. But I imagine their response to your ” investigation” was to roll their eyes and think” whatever”.

        1. It actually wasn’t their response at all Stephen (I am aware of private responses, just not public), but yes, there is no ‘right’ involved. So too with Jane. She clearly objects to my description, so I just wondered whether she’d want to be a little more specific about where I am going wrong. Always fascinated to learn new things.

  12. You refer to Avi Shlaim’s adulation of Ilan Pappe. Pappe is a liar of grotesque proportions, but he continues to enjoy respectability largely thanks to his “cred” as a Jewish Israeli…and the failure of Israel supporters to adequately expose him.

    Those who would insist instead that Pappe is some kind of “brave defender of truth” (a few commenters here) need to answer for the points raised in the video below.

    Pappe will be a featured speaker at some big London pro-Palestinian extravaganza occurring in a couple of weeks. The time is *LONG* past due to make very clear what Pappe is…and what he is not.

  13. Steve/Jane, I’ve just re-read all your posts here (Does this get you double commissions from your gaffers?) I had a moment whilst the beans were boiling. It confirmed what I had suspected; You don’t actually say anything. If someone says Sodastream it’s just “Yeah they’re bastards” or “Douglas Murray, he’s a fascist” or “Jonathan, yeah, he’s mad”. It’s all a bit weedy really isn’t it. Everyone else is happy developing arguments but you seem quite content to push a sneering put-down that just makes you look a bit lightweight. You’re like Richard Hammond standing behind Clarkson and going “..yeah Gypsies, wankers” Stewart Lee does it better but I’m sure you take the point. I know you must be very busy with all your media response chores and post targets supersede proper opinions but seriously, just bashing out “yeah Ian, what a cock” or something equally pithy is not the match winner it used to be is it?

    1. Ian I don’t do arguments about Israel. Israel is not for arguing about, it is for doing something about.

      So not looking to win any match, I really don’t care what is a match winner and what is not.

      However, do make up your mind. My Jane persona seems to be saying rather a lot.

      #idiot Now go away.

    2. Once someone has been defined as the oppressed underdog, the requirement for logical, substantive argument becomes optional. All that’s required is strong emotion. Think of the infant vs. the adult. Powerless and pre-reasoning, the infant need only make its hurts known to be sympathetic. Only the adult has the burden of explaining his actions. Small wonder infantilizing the Palestinians is integral to the dynamic.

      Unrelated point: The article states, “Avi Shlaim starts speaking, and with a CV like his, who would doubt his words.” People who know about the age-old, perverse, and terrifying existence of anti-Jewish agitators who are themselves Jews or ex-Jews might doubt them. This unfathomably sick but long-standing aspect of the Jewish people unfortunately should be more widely known.

  14. I can’t make up my mind. You’re too skilled with your media response styles for me. I didn’t understand your sign off either but assume it was one of your customary attempted put downs. Nice try.

  15. @Jane – Your whitewashing of supercessionism is risible. It has been at the heart of antisemitism for centuries. See eg Hucklesby, S. et al, Justice for Palestine and Israel, 2010, 3.4.

  16. Jonathan: I didn’t say it wasn’t! And it doesn’t alter the fact that it isn’t about the physical land – you were in error on that and misleading readers. Just admit it and move on! Neither does it alter the fact of the occupation etc etc. Of course there are antisemites amongst campaigners for Palestinian rights (duh) but that doesn’t mean the cause isn’t a just one.
    David: I don’t understand why you accuse me of running away. That’s just bizarre. Also, in your reply (to my response to Jonathan) you insist that you ‘don’t put Shlaim and Pappe together’ – the thing is, David, Jonathan did just that in his ToI article, and I was responding to him, not you.
    Apartheid and settler colonialism? Sadly, both. And as you know, there are growing numbers of Jewish people (on both sides of the Atlantic, religious and secular ) who are deeply concerned about Israel’s behaviour, some of which is frankly terroristic. No need to remind me about Palestinian terrorism. I know. It seems to me that you’re so obsessed with rooting out anti-Semitism in the church and academia here that you’re incapable of acknowledging the injustices done to human beings living on the same piece of land there…or indeed Israels part in perpetuating the conflict. A six year old child could see that settlement expansion is doing just that!
    Look, it’s Saturday. I’m done. Shalom Shabbat!

    1. Jane, I won’t be taken down a rabbit hole, nor will I engage in straw men.
      This “you’re incapable of acknowledging the injustices done to human beings living on the same piece of land there” is a straw man. I have, without doubt, spent far more time in the PA areas, assisting Palestinians that you have. I resent your assumption and reject the inference. I simply believe that the anti-Israel movement in the UK (and globally) does nothing but make it all worse. Too many people conflate their Jew hate with sympathy for Palestinians.

      Secondly, you mentioned in your post both Occupation and Apartheid. As I do not believe they can exist within the same environment, I asked you which one (if any) you believe is applicable, you either didn’t read the question or avoided it, because you responded to a question I didn’t ask about “Apartheid and settler colonialism”. I will try again. If you are occupied, how is it Apartheid? How can it be both?

      A couple of additional questions out of interest. Do you support BDS? Do you believe Zionists are wrong to (if they) conflate anti-Israeli activity like BDS with antisemitism? If you believe them to be completely separate issues, do you believe they think it is antisemitism and are wrong, or do you think they pretend it is antisemitism)?

      1. Good morning David –
        – your question: “You mentioned in your post both Occupation and Apartheid. I asked you which one, you either didn’t read the question or avoided it, because you responded to a question I didn’t ask about “Apartheid and settler colonialism”. I will try again. If you are occupied, how is it Apartheid? How can it be both?”
        Actually, I did answer the question first time around but since you ask again…of course it can be both! Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University puts it like this: “Considering that between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea there is only one real sovereign, and that within this territory two legal systems operate simultaneously – one for Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the other for Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories – this entity should legally be characterised as an apartheid regime. It is undoubtedly different from South Africa’s apartheid, but then Italy and the United States are also different from each other, even though they are both considered liberal democracies. Apartheid operates differently in diverse historical, demographic, and geographical settings, yet it still retains its fundamental characteristic: a legal system of racial segregation, oppression, and dispossession”. As you know, apartheid is a crime. Further, in case anyone is in any doubt, and in the words of David Lloyd (Dublin Review of Books earlier this year), that system means that “daily life for Palestinians is a tedious labyrinth of legal and physical obstacles, from the hundreds of checkpoints and road closures that ten-minute journeys into hours-long treks to the permit regime that makes every single project, from harvesting to medical rave, into a nightmare of arbitrary denials […] What is astonishing is not the occasional reactive outburst of violence on the part of those systematically oppressed but the pervasive exercise of patience and persistence that Palestinians display under unimaginably humiliating and frustrating conditions of life”. My question to you, David, is why don’t you report on what’s actually happening on the ground… considering you’re so familiar with the country, I mean?

        1. Jane, no you are simply side-stepping by providing quotes from people who agree with you. I could do the same and we can engage in an endless and pointless tennis match. I’d rather not get lost in these rabbit holes. I did not ask you why you mistakenly (and outrageously) apply the Apartheid label to a conflict zone. I asked you how occupation and Apartheid can live together. If a people are occupied, then surely they are inside that environment because of territorial or national claims. One people should be there, the other should not. Do you consider the West Bank occupied territory? If so, then the divide is not based on racial segregation at all, but on national, geographic lines. Only if you remove the claim of occupation, can you even begin to (again mistakenly) to try to apply the Apartheid label. You cannot have it both ways. Of course the anti-Israel crowd do try to do this, because they know that whilst the language of occupation is one that has sympathetic ears in diplomatic circles, the Apartheid one does not. So they play one tune for the diplomats (occupation – two states) and one for the activists (Apartheid – one state). I just wondered whether you were able to self-analyse the narrative you use?

          What is happening on the ground is a *result* or *outcome* of a situation. It is like placing anything under a microscope. At a certain point everything else in the room loses focus, you no longer can place what you are seeing in context, and it seems larger than everything else. The situation is also like a wound that has remain untreated for decades. You can look at the infection as much as you like, but you will never truly identify the cause through such a strategy. All that happens (and all that is happening) is people identify real suffering (no argument from me) and conflate it with causality. Because Palestinian children are not free, therefore Israel is the bad guy. Israel is the bad guy, therefore it must be punished. It is a false logic. Focusing on the suffering of Palestinian children in such a way simply re-enforces a propaganda narrative and has no actual benefit to the Palestinians at all. Inevitably strategies built on such a mistaken lens end up hurting the very people that they intended to help. If you wanted to truly assist the Palestinians, you would be focusing on the swiftest strategy to bring an end to the conflict.

          Again. do you support BDS? And the antisemitism question. In your opinion, do you think accusations of antisemitism are made up or actually believed?

          1. “If you wanted to truly assist the Palestinians, you would be focusing on the swiftest strategy to bring an end to the conflict”.

            What would that be, David?

          2. Do I take it you are ignoring the occupation / apartheid issue and the BDS antisemitism questions? Is your method simply to find a sentence inside someone’s response so you can continue to control the direction of the discussion?

            But even when my own questions are ignored, I always try to answer the questions of others. So.

            Whichever strategy best fits your own particular leanings and bias. A strategy put forward that is dependent on the initial ‘surrender’ of Israel (as a starting point) is a pretty obvious way of perpetuating the conflict. Find a better one if you really seek to ensure the next generation of Palestinian children are born into their own free society.

            The idea that Israel is (solely) at fault here entirely ignores the several occasions the Arabs have had it within their power to end the conflict. Therefore simply making demands of one side isn’t a reflection of the conflict itself. Finding a solution to solve an ‘intractable’ conflict doesn’t start with wishing for a regional super-power to simply disappear. It is just vile the way external forces always use the Palestinians as proxy. It was that way in the 1920’s. It brought disaster on them in the 1948 conflict, it left them in a swamp between 1949 & 1967, helped to derail Oslo in the 1990’s, provided support for self destruction in 2000 and has placed them into a no win situation through BDS since 2005. Damn, it has even left generations of human beings to rot inside refugee camps in Lebanon since 1949.

  17. It’s always refreshing to observe the mental agility of correspondents when encountering inconvenient obstacles to their original positions. Flexible definitions can be a thing of beauty when introduced to ensure that the original construct of their point is not lost in a robust challenge. I have no doubt that even the presentation of compelling evidence of the counterpoint would be met with some ingenious rebuttal. It will not matter a jot to those that use the emotive language of apartheid as a tactic to demonize us that we have Arabs presiding on the benches of our supreme courts, nor that they hold senior positions in our police and security services, our elected chambers, in academia and in our boardrooms. Neither will it matter that every day Jews and Arabs work alongside each other as equals in our schools, hospitals, care centres and tech hubs. This will all be an irrelevance to the default narrative. As we have seen in this thread, once it becomes acceptable to move the cursor along the long sliding scale of interpretation, the central accusation remains sustainable. It is a very imaginative approach.

  18. David – you write, “Do I take it you are ignoring the occupation /apartheid issue and the BDS antisemitism questions? Is your method simply to find a sentence inside someone’s response so you can continue to control the direction of the discussion?”

    No. No method in it. It was a simple question as to what your ‘swiftest strategy’ might involve, that’s all. I still don’t understand your reply. Of course you’re quite right that we could quote other people ad infinitum and get nowhere. But the quotes I used did explain succinctly how apartheid and (settler) colonialism co-exist in Israel. Btw, thank you for engaging with me on this. A lesser correspondent might have told me to shut up and go away (that almost sounds like a compliment)! It’s helping to clarify my thinking.

    And you’re right that the Palestinians have been badly served by their own leaders over decades, perhaps no more so than at the present time. Israel is adept at using that. Oslo is a case in point. But I don’t find the pro-Israel lobby furnishing details of the pre-conditions attached to their ‘peace offers’ – do you? They use it, without further context, to construe the refusals as so-called evidence of Arab obduracy, or lack of desire for peace, or a pathological hatred of Jews for no other reason than they are Jews (and before you say it, yes of course I know there are antisemitic Arabs, lots of them). You think settling land they’d worked for generations, and all that went with that act both then and now, has nothing to do with it…? Yeah, right. Let’s face it, it serves Israel’s interests to maintain this rotten status quo while settlements expand, altering facts on the ground and entrenching segregationist policies. Tell me it isn’t so.

    Re your questions to me, asking whether I support BDS, and whether I think BDS activity shouldn’t be conflated with antisemitism (if I understand the questions correctly): my answer to the former is that I don’t yet know. I’m currently looking at all the arguments (including yours). To the latter question – as things stand, no I don’t think BDS should be conflated with antisemitism (whatever Theresa May says). If there was no conflict, occupation or dispossession, and it was simply a matter of ‘punishing’ Israel (your word, not mine) because it’s Jewish, then that would be different. But as far as I can see, the aim of BDS is not to punish Israel but to compel the international community to non-violently bring pressure to bear on the Israeli government to comply with its obligations under international law. It would appear that Israel considers itself above those codes of behaviour – hence its frequent admonishment at the UN that you would no doubt call ‘singling out’ and ‘double standards’. It can do this because of US support and the lack of political will amongst western governments to do anything substantive about it, except pay lip service – even as in Res 2334. No doubt the arms trade has something to do with that.

    Finally – and I think I’ve said all I want to now – it’s certainly sad but inevitable that Jews in this country and elsewhere are caught up in this but perhaps only they can do something about it.

    1. Jane

      I am somewhat bemused by your avoidance to use the word ‘occupation’ when responding to my question on ‘occupation’ and ‘Apartheid’. I tried three times to gauge your position and twice you responded with a different academic paradigm – ‘settler colonialism’. I won’t try again.

      No need to thank me for engaging. You say it helps ‘clarify your thinking’, and it is exactly why I engage. There are no demons here. Generally speaking there is a logic to most people’s argument, even if it is flawed. Sometimes, the logic is flawless but the underlying premise is wrong. Either way, engaging people can clarify positions. Most of my arguments have been delveloped over time through engaging staunch anti-Zionists. I will talk to anyone. It is how I both learnt and tested myself.

      No, the collpase of Oslo wasn’t just the fault of the Arabs. I was there, I lived through it. There were elements within Israeli society that also wanted Oslo to fail. But nothing shakes peace talks more than bombs. Hamas sought to explicitly derail Oslo. In the end they succeeded. Not only because of the attacks, but because through their actions they weakened the moderate forces inside Israel and strengthened the extremists. Peres didn’t lose in 96 because Rabin was shot. He lost because Rabin would probably have lost too. It isn’t easy to win an election promoting peace as your cities experience an unprecedented wave of attacks.

      I am not sure what you mean by pre-conditions attached to the ‘peace offers’. However you wish to dress up the eventual peace deal, it will be one sided. The question becomes whether avoiding a one-sided nature of such a deal is worth a perpetual conflict. Israel has moved on since 1993, the Arabs have moved backwards. There is no moral purity in asking somebody else to pay a continual price for something you believe they must have. The deal won’t ever be even, equal, just or fair in the eyes of the Palestinians. Some offers will be better, some worse, but the underlying (assumed) inequality will remain. At some point, that is a deal that will be imposed or they will sign on. How many dead before then? No idea. Every one a wasted life.

      Okay, with your comments about BDS. Half the question dealt with. There is another large report on antisemitism in the UK anti-Israel movement on its way to being published. Quite horrific results really. Do you think Zionist Jews really view BDS as antisemitic? Do you believe that Israel sees those behind BDS as a real antisemitic force or do you think Zionist Jews & Israel see it as a legitimate tool, with moral credibility but create an argument of antisemitism as a deflection?

      1. The reason I don’t do arguing about Israel is that these arguments will not decide the issue. Israel , like apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union. will be destroyed ( will destroy itself ) by the weight of its internal contradictions.

        No harm in giving a little nudge along the way I guess.

        David I don’t think anyone outside of your rabid Zionist bubble is taking any notice of your pre written partisan ” reports”.

        1. ‘Partisan’. Interesting description Stephen. The report only focused on conspiracy theory involving Jews, ideas about global Jewish domination and Holocaust denial. I see nothing in there that shouldn’t be outed for what it is. The new report highlights some truly awful groups conflating their hatred of Jews with sympathy for Palestinians. A teaser will be released in a day or so. I also fail to see how any this Jew hate will ever help the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza. If anything, they are instrumental in perpetuating the conflict.

        2. Those less familiar with the function of paid media response may ask, if he’s not here to contribute to discussions about Israel, the principle subject matter at hand, then why is the cretinous little prick bothering? I can’t comment on the accuracy of the critique but I can confirm to them that for every post $2 is $2 ,right?

          1. Well, Ian, I didn’t think your comments could get any more puerile…until now.

  19. We all have our roles to fill here. David puts a shift in to report on his area of interest and does so in a manner that most reasonable readers would regard as bona fide, diligent, open and measured and the content often includes evidence in an attributable format to ensure defensibility. Mr B is a media response professional who gets money for posting pre-prepared remarks that are mostly designed to demean previous contributors or demoralise and undermine the author. As you have seen he has admitted that he is not here to advance discourse about Israel. Your contributions are the worst sort. You appear to be engaging in a reasonable tone but as we have seen you side step every question that threatens to challenge your own well established narrative and choose to disengage as soon as the need arises to construct a positive opinion rather simply re-hash the nature of the problem and who is to blame. You are disingenuous and have little interest in legitimate engagement. I’m sure we will live with each other’s disappointment.

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