The ‘Elders of Zion’ reborn at the University of Kent

kent universityYesterday, 28/01/2016, I was at the University of Kent to hear a talk by Amira Hass titled ‘Israel and the Palestinians: Colonialism and Prospects for Justice. The event itself was a collaboration between The Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Kent University and the Palestine Centre at SOAS, University of London. One of these universities, SOAS, is already a notorious hotbed for extremism, the other, Kent, seems to be desperately trying to catch-up.

Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh is the head of the centre for Postcolonial studies at Kent, like other academics of his type, it can be seen from his own activity that he has long lost sight of what academia and critical thinking is about. This event, following one just the evening before attempting to create BDS activists on campus, is simply a sign of a deteriorating environment.

Amira Hass is an Israeli columnist at the Haaretz newspaper. For the last 20 years she has lived in the Palestinian areas, originally in Gaza, but more recently moving to Ramallah in the West Bank. Amira is an example of one of those Israelis nobody should have heard of. Standing for politics that receive no support in Israel, Amira’s opinions reflect none but a handful of oddballs. Every nation has people like Hass hidden in the shadows. What makes her ‘special’, what makes her a marketable commodity, are hundreds of millions of people outside of Israel that simply want Israel gone. The audience of Amira Hass are not peacemakers, but warmongers.

There were around 200 people in the hall to hear her talk. Perhaps 60 of them students from the university. The rest, activists from the local Palestinian support groups. The talk itself was relatively predictable and in 45 minutes, she did not mention Arab violence once. The intifada’s, both of which apparently were ‘benign’, were mentioned in name twice but never detailed. Rather, the violence, all of it, was Jewish.

In usual fashion, events in Israel were taken out of context, exaggerated, misrepresented, and as one would expect from an activist who long ago forgot how to actually ‘report’ a news item, important details were either deliberately sidestepped or completely forgotten. Sleight of hand in her description of events with the Bedouin of the Negev, allowed Hass to suggest that it didn’t matter which side of the 1967 border was being discussed, the end result for an Arab is always the same. Gross distortion of a deliberately sinister kind, and an unforgiveable misrepresentation of the simple fact that Arab Israelis are *factually* living as equal citizens in a liberal democracy.

At events like this I always feel sorry for the uninformed in the audience. They are vulnerable to a propaganda exercise that is designed to spread lies and hatred. Although that, I suppose, is the sole purpose of the talk in the first place. I also resent the idea that a university in the UK can give a platform to such distortion without feeling the need to provide an alternative voice.

The argument that a university is there to hear all voices is an acceptable theory, but is simply not one that holds up to inspection. As we have seen recently elsewhere, these anti-Israeli activists disrupt and silence pro-Israeli speakers wherever they are due to speak, and one campus event in the past few weeks, even saw violence.

Free speech only works when it works for everyone. If you hide behind free speech when it suits you, but employ the heckler’s veto when it doesn’t, you simply engage in a form of ‘red fascism’, which is precisely the tactic currently being used by anti-Israeli activists. The university, any university, should make permission for these one-sided events conditional on a free speech for all platform. If they do not respect free speech for others, they shouldn’t have any themselves.

So the evening went on, and Amira Hass had been discussing Israeli ‘war crimes’ for 40 minutes, and the majority of the audience were hanging on her every faltering word. When suddenly, without warning, I heard mention of the ‘Elders of Zion’. As had occurred with me at a different event when Gerald Kaufman had mentioned ‘Jewish money’, I got lost between the sentences as I tried to make sense of what I was hearing. Hass was discussing a hidden agenda, a secret group of Jews, plotting and planning beyond the reach of Israeli democracy – by extension, this secret group were to blame for the ‘war crimes’, for the death of innocent Palestinian children. Hass was spinning tales of a Jewish cabal, of shady secretive control, of unworldly plots and sinister deeds. A road that leads to dead children. Hass was resurrecting a classic historic antisemitic blood libel in a British university.

Hass had stepped back in time to explain the perpetual occupation, to present a reason why after 49 years, no movement had been made towards peace. Without Palestinian violence, Israeli actions become irrational, with Israeli democracy, they become inexplicable, and someway, somehow, this illogical unreasonable position needed to be explained away. All that is left is conspiracy. This is what she said:

“And I ask myself did the Elders of Zion really sit together at the beginning of the Seventies and then during the nineties, and plan, and have all these military orders, all these changes? I believe that they knew for sure that they don’t want to give back the land and in the Nineties, my conclusion is that they wanted to do everything possible to stop(?) the two state solution.”

Beyond Israeli democracy, beyond the will of the voters, beyond the desires of peacemakers like Rabin and Peres, there are invisible Jewish decision makers. They planned from the early 1970’s, never to let the territories go, they manipulated, they connived, they controlled as puppet masters do. A conspiracy of a Jewish cabal that places the profit to be won from the occupation above the will of the electorate and the lives of innocent children. And it is called the ‘Elders of Zion’.

I missed many of the following comments as I tried to come to terms with what I had just heard, as a Jew in the UK in 2016. In a university. Hass continued about freedom of the press, about how she came to live in Gaza and then I began to find my bearings again as she turned to a question on BDS.

This too was informative. Amira Hass began to promote BDS but with a clear failure to understand its central ideas. She told the crowd that BDS makes Israelis nervous, but suggested identifying strategic targets rather than a strategy of ‘random fire in all directions’. Hass suggested petitioning European governments to remove the visa waiver for Israelis, so they would need to apply to travel. She reinforced this by mentioning this is what she already tells foreign diplomats when she gets the chance. And then another stroke of strategic brilliance. She put forward that attacks against Israel as a whole can be seen as antisemitic, so it is far more productive just to target settlements.

This instruction tells you everything you need to know about BDS. As a movement BDS is not about the 1967 occupation, but what they see as the occupation of 1948. The enemy of BDS is the entire state of Israel. But to state this out loud is to invite criticism, to expose the antisemitic underbelly of the entire boycott movement, so it is best to try to hide this goal. Here was Amira Hass in public admitting she is actively promoting BDS, actively petitioning foreign governments and winking and nodding at other activists, showing them the way to avoid the antisemitic label.

I didn’t stay for the reception. I didn’t like the company. And the University of Kent? Are they sliding down the slippery slope to ethical and academic oblivion? One thing is for sure, some of the people at the event on their campus yesterday took a solid step towards extremism, the rest, well they are all just a little bit less intelligent than they were the day before.


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10 thoughts on “The ‘Elders of Zion’ reborn at the University of Kent

  1. For the REAL “elders” try the secret kabal of antisemitic politicians and other people of influence started by Richard Branson, who clearly has no love for Jews, and that includes Jimmy Carter. They constitute yet another pressure group working for the destruction of Israel. And I wonder why Hass left the Gaza Strip? After all, for Hamas, one Jew is much the same as another Jew, regardless of their politics.

  2. Did she really call a random group of unknown rich jews the Elders of Zion as in that was the actual title of thier group? Its like naming a bank “Peice of Realestate Where Cash and Valubles are Kept Safe…in Safes, LLC” Christ, thats so unimaginative. I mean Im terrified of what is happening in and out of academia in general but to actualy call the group EoZ……wow. And no one stood up and said “ok we’re done here?”

    We have this multi level marketing company in America called Amway. it has a pretty bad name here because it is A. a load of horse crap like all multi level marketing “companies” B. Its pushed on unsuspecting friends and family members who think they are over for a dinner party. What generaly happenes is they start off vaguely talking about how they have this great opportunity blah blah blah and the second they say oh, its Amway, but not THE Amway you remeber its new and better…..At this point most people say they need to get home bec the babysitter “needs” leave. What I mean to say is there are trigger words that even morons get and know its time to bail.

    I cant wrap my head around someone who writes for a living actualy calling the group “Elders of Zion” as if they handed out buisness cards with that embossed on them. And then when this is actualy said, out loud, to human people, no one is getting up and saying. “Ok, this is all little too much, you should of stopped at God damn Zionist Colonial Pig Dogs(admitedly this sounds better when yelled in German). You had me untill after you said the only good jew is a dead one.”

  3. I’m glad you were there to report on this and I’m sorry you had to be there to experience it. The hate gets under your skin and crawls there horribly.

  4. I have long maintained that antisemitism, generally, and this current virulent form, has all the hallmarks of an addiction pathology. It is remarkable how much of the Palestinianist discourse resembles the denial mechanisms of the addict and their enabler/co-dependents [] Projection and Blaming in this particular instance

  5. You would think that a Department of Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies in the UK would have its hands full simply trying to disentangle the history and consequences of the British Empire or the French one and even, perhaps, the Ottoman one. Instead, it seems to be all Israel all the time. It would be funny were it not so pathetic that the descendants of these one-time aggressors have nothing better to do than once again pile on to their favorite target, the Jews.
    As for her “Elders of Zion” routine, Haas needs to be confronted. She needs to be made to explain herself, which is the easiest way to expose her unthinking prejudice and self-hatred. She could first be asked to identify specifically who she has in mind as an “Elder” and whether that is what they call their group or that’s her name for them. The follow up question is whether she believes they are the successors to those who wrote the Protocols, whether she believes that the Protocols are true or, as has been repeatedly shown, crude forgeries from pamphlets initially denouncing Napoleon III, the Freemasons and then the Jesuits before, thanks to the Tzarist secret police, being rewritten to star the Jews. Ridicule is what she and her fellow travelers deserve. Where’s the Groucho for the 21st century when you need him?

  6. So they did not want to give back any of the land- Gaza, Gaza, Gaza!

    And how she , like everyone one else ignores JORDAN- 80% of that land.
    How much more should the Hebrews have to surrender?

  7. Is there a transcript of this somewhere? This could be a news item in Israel if so. Amira Hess has been out of control for some time now.

  8. David
    You were going to write up your take on the PSC AGM . That would make for an interesting read . All I have is Greenstein’s version and while it indicates some dissension within the rank and file , I take most of what he writes with a pinch of salt ( make that a mountain ) . Is the AGM on the to do list ?

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