Monday, April 27, 2009

The blood libel that never was

We are all familiar with the moronic catchphrases Zionists have been using for the better part of the last half-century to justify what essentially boils down to the Israeli theft of Palestinian land, water and other natural resources. ”They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” “we’ll have peace when they love their children more than they hate us,” “we can forgive their killing our children, but not their forcing us to kill theirs”... It's amazing to see how many intelligent people, with PhD's and all, resort to these clichés for the mentally retarded when discussing Israel.

It is perhaps with those people in mind that British playwright Caryl Churchill has written a play called Seven Jewish Children, in which Jewish parents are depicted discussing what they'll tell their daughters as they bring them up, in seven different historical periods of the State of Israel. Here's an excerpt:

Don’t tell her they set off bombs in cafés
Tell her, tell her they set off bombs in cafés
Tell her to be careful
Don’t frighten her.
Tell her we need the wall to keep us safe
Tell her they want to drive us into the sea
Tell her they don’t
Tell her they want to drive us into the sea.
Tell her we kill far more of them
Don’t tell her that
Tell her that
Tell her we’re stronger
Tell her we’re entitled
Tell her they don’t understand anything except violence
Tell her we want peace
Tell her we’re going swimming.

Needless to say, the Ziosphere is up in arms against Churchill. She's been called an antisemite with a "pornographic interest in Jewish immorality" (here, endorsed here) and the "anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Prosecution" (here), and her play has been described as an "insidious little play [that is] around to spread its poison" (here) or as a "hate-fuelled little chamber-piece" (here), among other vituperations. There's clearly a lot of frustration on display over the publicity the play has achieved.

It’s very amusing to see how many of Caryl’s negative reviewers have written critiques imitating the “Tell her that–” model (see here, here or here). The play has hit home, not because of its literary merit, which it absolutely lacks, but because of how effectively it ridicules Zionist brainwashing. The crude, childish indoctrination depicted in the play is in fact what young –and adult– Jews are fed by their political and religious leadership.

In a recent exchange over at the British political blog Harry's Place, I had to confront several commenters plus David T, the main contributor to the blog, who insisted that the play was a blood libel. The "proof" for the assertion was the following passage in the piece:

Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her the names, why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldn’t she know? tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her (...) I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.

David T's comment was:

This play claims that Jewish parents encourage Jewish children to revel in the dead of a civil war. That is, quite frankly, untrue. It is also essentially a rehashing of the Blood Libel.

But that is not what the play says. There’s a world of difference between saying “I’m happy she’s covered in blood” and “I’m happy she’s not my daughter.” The play describes, correctly, how Zionists are totally indifferent to the suffering of their perceived enemies. (In this they're no different from other people. They are different, however, in their pretending that they somehow care for their victims.) The play never says that Zionists enjoy it when they see the civilian deaths caused by their regrettable mistakes.

But even if it said so, would it be a blood libel?

By no means: according to all available evidence, the Zionists did revel in the destruction of Gaza. See in the video below how a group of Jewish tourists came to Sderot (which overlooks Gaza) to watch the carnage live. The video is in Danish, but enough English is spoken to raise the viewer's hair:

Pay attention (at 0:48) to how a lovely young Jewish lady called Keren Levy says she went there to see it with her own eyes; she didn’t want to watch it on TV. She then adds, “They chose Hamas to rule them; it’s their fault. They got it to where it is now, not us” (the “they did it to themselves” in Churchill’s prophetic play). Then, at 0:57, she states: “I think they should just clear off all the city, just take it off the ground. Yes; I’m a little bit fascist.”

It’s no blood libel to denounce loud and clear that these very sick people exist within Zionism, and that they don’t face any form of social shunning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Durban myths

The Durban II conference on racism is currently on in Geneva. I would like to know what is being said, but unfortunately the only information available is about a venomous anti-Israeli speech by Iranian clown (officially President) Mahmud Ahmadinejad, from which Holocaust-denying passages were removed only at the last minute.

Many Western countries have boycotted the conference, and many more walked out of the conference room while Ahmadinejad was delivering his speech. Were/are they right? A bit of propaganda, combined with the willingness to swallow it on the part of deeply paranoid souls, have helped extend a few myths about Durban I and Durban II, which have convinced quite a few that boycotting the latter was the right thing to do. Time for dispelling:

1. Durban I produced an antisemitic document that only sought to bash Israel

While there's no denying that a lot of antisemitim was on display at Durban I, and strenuous efforts were made to inject it into the document, it was effectively counterbalanced by the non-antisemitic world (i.e. the overwhelming majority of countries), and the final declaration contained not a single, repeat, not a single antisemitic, anti-Zionist or anti-Israel passage. Don't trust my word, go and read it.

2. It's outrageous that of all world leaders, none other than Ahmadinejad was invited to deliver the inaugural speech

All heads of State were invited to speak! But only Ahmadinejad took the opportunity. If Western leaders had wanted to convey a message that they care about racism, they could have coordinated for one of their presidents, prime ministers, kings or queens to be present in Geneva. But the UN can't disinvite a president who has the protocolar right to speak only because he's known to be deranged. That would be the beginning of a very dangerous slippery slope.

3. The UN are a bunch of incurable antisemites anyway, so it's no use attending their conferences because it will change nothing

This myth is based on the view that the UN is OK when it recommends the creation of Israel or orders Iran to suspend its nuclear program, but wrong when it hosts a conference in which Israel may be called what it is, i.e. racist. But the UN is representative of the whole world, and whenever nefarious regimes attend a meeting, it is fundamental that rule-of-law countries also be there just to convey the message that the world, on the whole, ain't that bad.

For instance, Haaretz reports:

Western countries were fiercely opposed to parts of early drafts for a Durban II declaration that suggested Israel was driven by racism in its treatment of Palestinians, and included proposals to bar "defamation of religion".

But the latest version of the draft issued yesterday as negotiations moved to a close showed all references to Israel had been dropped as has the "defamation" bid, also by Islamic states.

"This is the positive outcome of insistence by Western countries that the wording some people wanted was just not acceptable to democracies," said the representative of one rights activist group who asked not to be named.

I don't agree that Israel is not driven by racism, but if it was the only country that would have been so characterized, I'm fine that the reference was removed. And it's a great thing that defamation of religion (another slippery slope) was not included in the document.

This example, together with the non-antisemitic declaration from Durban I, are proof that, when it comes to the UN, involvement is better than boycott. But go tell that to those who publicly feign outrage at Ahmadinejad's tirade, but intimately are very happy that he displayed a degree of lunacy which can be presented to the Western public as characteristic of all Muslims.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yet another road to hell

It's not true that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Some ill-intention-paved roads also lead there.

Case in point, the one being built in the West Bank between the legal Jewish settlement of Eli and the illegal Jewish outpost of Yuval. The road will run through privately-owned Palestinian land, in a fresh instance of thievery of Arab real estate.

Before we continue we must clarify that the terms "legal" and "illegal" refer to Israel's own description of both population centers. Under international commitments it has signed, Israel can't build any more settlements. At the same time, it wants to. The solution to this dilemma has been to disguise new settlements as extensions of existing ones "to accommodate natural population growth." If anyone wants to build hundreds of new homes (for Jews, that is) in the West Bank, all they must do is propose a project that is contiguous to existing structures.

The fellows now building the road, however, didn't have enough patience to wait until an extension from Eli reached Yuval, and directly went there and established their outpost. Much to its regret, the Israeli government had to tell them, "sorry, guys, we'll have to classify you as illegal; there's nothing we can do about it."

The private Palestinian owners whose land has been stolen to build the road have protested to the Israeli authorities. As Haaretz reports:

In fact, the Civil Administration, a government body that governs civilian aspects of daily life in the West Bank, has itself already issued an order to stop the work

So that the rights of Arabs living under Israeli occupation are respected after all? Wait; notice there's no period at the end of the quoted passage; let's see how the sentence ends:

but it has not been enforced.

Why am I not surprised?


Under a Hasbara argument highly popular among Israel's apologists, the country has already withdrawn from Gaza and Lebanon and has been attacked with rockets from both places. That's why it can't consider further withdrawals, for instance from the West Bank. The Israeli population is firmly committed to a 2-state solution and wants to evacuate most of the settlements, and it's only Arab intransigence that prevents an agreement. But the day a Palestinian leader arises who is prepared to talk peace, the Israeli side will be there, prepared to make all sorts of painful concessions.

This is a bad-faith argument for more than one reason. In the first place, the withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza were not part of an agreement; the only retreat carried out by Israel under an agreement was that from the Sinai, and not a single missile has been fired on Israel from there. It's not like the Gazans promised something and then didn't deliver.

In the second place, the argument explains why Israel can't withdraw from its existing settlements, but it doesn't explain why it is tolerating and, in fact, encouraging (through the provision of State services) the construction of ever more new outposts and roads.

In the third place, what does "most" mean? 51% of the settlements is most of the settlements. The argument doesn't clarify that the settlements Israelis are not prepared to painfully concede are the ones currently driving two long wedges into the West Bank and making territorial contiguity of a Palestinian state all but impossible.

Finally, asserting that Israel can evacuate the West Bank because it already evacuated Gaza is like someone claiming that he can quit cocaine anytime because last year he quit smoking. The situations in both territories are radically different. The settler population in Gaza was small and concentrated. They hadn't built roads that criscrossed the territory, nor did they roam it at will harassing the local population.

In the West Bank, on the other hand, the militarized settlers have created a state within the state. They have resources to carry out public works, they issue internal building permits and they have patrols dedicated to the repression of the native population. The State is absolutely powerless to stop them from stealing land, uprooting trees, burning fields or harrassing the Palestinians.

The balance of power between Israel and the settlers is very much like that between the Sicilian government and the Mafia, or between the Brazilian government and the São Paulo narcos. The State can take a few symbolic measures, but never seriously crack down on them. That's why the State can issue orders against the construction of a road, but it can't actually stop the work. To use a rude but fitting popular metaphor, while a majority of Israelis hate the settlers, the settlers have Israel grabbed by the testicles. There's nothing the State can do to them. So we need not speculate that when the time comes the State will deal with them appropriately; the settlers just won't allow that time to come.

The prospect of a binational state, in which they'll have to share their country with the Palestinians, is hell to Israeli Jews. Too bad they didn't stop their fanatics in time, because now, with all the frantic settlement building taking place, and with Jewish outposts scattered all over the West Bank, a situation has been created in which it's impossible to unscramble an egg, and the country is firmly on the road to that perceived hell.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On the true scope of "never again"

Fifteen years ago this week, the Hutu majority in Rwanda started a genocide that killed over 500,000 Tutsis, along with 300,000 fellow Hutus who refused to take part in the massacres. In this truly unique extermination it was the people, rather than an army, that took mass murder literally into their hands -- facing themselves death if they didn't.

As usual, the world did nothing. The UN fled according to its time-honored tradition, and the same countries that in 2003 rushed to save the Iraqis no one knows well from what didn't lift a finger for oil-poor Rwanda.

Regrettably, neither did the Jewish community, or the self-described Jewish state. No condemnation was issued by either Israeli Chief Rabbi. No letters were mass-mailed by members of the Jewish organizations to any lawmaker calling on the US or any other country to intervene and stop the killings. No grass-roots movement arose within organized Jewry, during the three months the genocide lasted, to try and do something to stop it. Was there any reason to expect them to do so? Yes, there was -- or what else is the phrase "never again," ritually chorused by Jewish organizations, supposed to mean? (I know, I know: it means "never again to the Jews." But the people at the Holocaust museums won't acknowledge it.)

Israel didn't send in troops to stop the genocide. Just 5,000 soldiers, at a time when the country didn't face any external threat, would have sufficed to save at least 500,000 lives, but not a single Israeli politician or Jewish leader from the Diaspora suggested that the State should take such a step. Israel didn't even use its advanced technology to jam the radio broadcasts that were a key factor in the incitement to genocide.

Where was the world when the Nazis were killing the Jews? In about the same place the Jews were when the Hutus were murdering the Tutsis.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Give us this day our daily bread -- unleavened

I observe a strict dietary rule. I only eat ATG foodstuffs -- All That Grows. Grilled chinchulines (cow bowels), a key ingredient of Argentina's national dish, is one of my favorites, but I democratically give a chance to all national and non-national cuisines. My philosophy is that everything must be given a try -- snails, snakes, carpinchos, beetles, whatever. I have rarely been let down.

Others, equally respectably, choose to restrict the scope of what they eat.

The problem arises when you decide that what you don't want to eat shouldn't be eaten by others (who may or may not share your rejection) either. In totalitarian countries they do this by law, officially banning the open sale of the forbidden foodstuffs.

In at least one democratic country they do exactly the same. These days Jews celebrate the festival of Pesach, which commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt, which was so hasty that they didn't have time to leave their bread to leaven. That's why observant Jews don't eat leavened products (hametz, in Hebrew) on Pesach; instead they consume a kind of unleavened cracker called matzah.

So far, so good. But in 1986 a law was enacted in Israel forbidding the public display of hametz during Pesach for sale purposes in Jewish-majority areas. And as the Jerusalem Post reports,

[S]elf-appointed informers will wander the cities of Israel this holiday searching for wayward restaurateurs, bakers and other food purveyors illegally displaying leavened bread during the seven days of Pessah.

Armed with a cellphone camera and an eye - and a nose - for fresh-baked bread, each informant will relay concrete evidence of the illicit culinary activity to a group of legal activists. Police, municipal officials and the Interior Ministry will be notified of the transgression.

"The Jewish character of the State of Israel is at stake," said Nachi Eyal, chairman of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, whose organization is spearheading a campaign to encourage Israelis to help enforce the Hametz Law.

The article goes on to clarify that since mostly-secular Israeli Jews are hametz-lovers after all, it's very difficult to enforce this law. This may well be so, but that's not the point. The point is that being fined or not for displaying hametz during Pesach depends on the authorities' goodwill. And if you're not fined, it's not because you have a right; it's because you're tolerated.

One wonders if the State of Israel has a law forbidding the public display of food at daytime during the Islamic month of Ramadan, in which Mulsims are required to fast from dawn to sunset, in attention to the large Muslim minority that lives in the country.

Well, one doesn't actually wonder.

"Exactly the same rights as Jews," my foot.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Please give us the chance to stop being antisemitic

When and how can a formerly antisemitic country become non-antisemitic? Never and no way, according to a recent Jerusalem Post article. The piece deals with Argentina's decision, a few weeks ago, to expel a Holocaust-denying British Catholic bishop who was illegally preaching his hateful message in a parish near Buenos Aires.

This should come as good news to anyone interested in the eradication of Holocaust denial. Not to the JPost, however, as the daily manages to turn this interesting development into a story of how Argentina is a land of endless antisemitism. The very first paragraph sets the bellicose tone:

Argentina's expulsion last month of Bishop Richard Williamson because his Holocaust denial "profoundly insults Argentine society, the Jewish community and all of humanity by denying a historic truth" smacks of a certain cynicism given its long history of denial concerning it own shameful role with regard to the Nazis. For 60 years it conducted a campaign to conceal its enthusiastic pursuit of an anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi policy before, during and after World War II. Only the tenacity of a handful of historical researchers, most notably the journalist Uki Goñi, finally forced Buenos Aires to begin admitting the truth.

Congratulations to Uki Goñi, who has told truths that are very uncomfortable to us Argentinians. The good news is that he can do it and be respected; he's never been called, er, a self-hating Argentinian.

The article goes on to describe Uki's findings:

The story of Directive 11 is a case in point. Secretly issued by the Foreign Ministry in July 1938 as Argentina sat at the Evian Conference table pledging to aid refugees, it instructed Argentine embassies to "refuse visas, even tourist and transit visas, to all persons that could be considered to be abandoning or to have abandoned their country of origin as undesirables or expulsees, whatever the motive for their expulsion" - in other words, Jews.

Good. Argentina refused to admit Jewish refugees while ostensibly committing itself to helping them. This helps the neutral observer to begin to understand why the country is a piece of crap.

But there's more still:

Of course, Argentina was not alone in officially refusing sanctuary to Europe's Jews. But it was the only country that refused to assist even its own Jewish nationals stranded in Nazi-occupied territory. And astonishingly, this refusal was, as Haim Avni documented in his 1991 study, Argentina and the Jews, effected in the face of repeated German requests that they be repatriated.

In January 1943, for example, the Argentine ambassador to Vichy ignored the authorities' request to evacuate 15 Argentine Jews from France, while in Berlin, the first secretary at the Argentine embassy, Luis H. Irigoyen, refused to issue visas despite being informed that Ribbentrop "would consider it an act of special courtesy if the Argentine embassy would cause all Argentine Jews to return to their homeland." Ribbentrop's officials even drew up lists of Argentine Jews living in Poland, Greece and Holland to expedite their repatriation, but Irigoyen still refused to comply. When, under intense Allied pressure, Buenos Aires finally broke with Berlin in January 1944, about 100 of these Jews, now stripped of diplomatic protection, were immediately transported to Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, where most are believed to have perished.

Enough to be tempted to throw one's passport in the trash can. Are there any redeeming factors? Possibly:

Buenos Aires continues to insist that its embassies did all they could to save Jewish lives, arguing that more Jews (about 40,000) entered Argentina during the Nazi period than any other Latin American country.

40,000 Jews admitted looks like an interesting figure; of course it does not offset the 100 Argentinian Jews who were shamefully allowed to be killed in the gas chambers when they could have been saved, but it's something. Only that:

What it carefully omits to mention, however, is that half of these were smuggled in illegally, while the others gained admission only by posing as Catholics or paying hefty bribes.

And, to top it all:

Bishop Williamson's expulsion order stated that "anti-Semitism is an ideological aberration which has cost millions of lives throughout history." But this rings hollow coming from a country that, amid accusations of studied incompetence and cover-ups, has yet to bring to justice any of those responsible for what The New York Times called "the deadliest single act of anti-Semitic terrorism since World War II" - the bombing of Buenos Aires's Jewish cultural center in 1994. Not to mention the fact that as recently as February 19, Argentina's Jewish community demonstrated against what it described as the government's silence and inaction regarding a resurgence in anti-Semitic agitation and attacks.

Which leads to the final indictment:

Indeed Williamson's expulsion, ordered the same day, looks very much like an attempt to counter this charge.

While Buenos Aires continues in its refusal to fully acknowledge it own anti-Semitic sins during the Holocaust and after, it lacks the moral authority to punish Richard Williamson for his. Until it puts its own (glass) house in order, it should stop throwing stones.


I like having a piece of shit of a nationality. It pushes you to do various things to give meaning to your life. If I were, say, Jewish, or American, I could brag about the Nobel prizes and the cultural influence, and would have less motivation to seek achievements of my own. I probably would have never wound up writing music for the piano or poetry for kids if I had a more prestigious nationality than Argentinian.

Also, when you have a piece of shit of a nationality and you still love your country, you know it's love, not pride. They're not the same. And I love Argentina.

That said, and precisely becouse I love the country, I'm prepared to take criticism of it, so long as it's reasonable. The JPost piece quoted above, however, goes far beyond the boundaries of reasonability.

Argentina has no moral authority to kick out a Holocaust denier. What the hell are we supposed to do, then? Not to expell him? In that case we would be decried as the country that allows a Holocaust denier to live within its borders. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Also, every step the country has taken, however positive, seems to be part of a conspiracy against the Jews, historical truth, decency or a combination thereof. The entry of 40,000 Jewish refugees only serves to highlight the country's corruption and sloppy policing of its borders. No mention whatsoever that a truly antisemitic regime would have quickly spotted the illegal Jewish immigrants and deported them. The expulsion of a Holocaust denier only shows how deceitful we are; we only kick him in the ass so that people won't realize we ourselves are antisemites with a horrible record back in the forties.

That was then and this is now. We have come a long way since the forties; we have acknowledged the existence of a shameful secret law, something few countries in the world have done (not because they don't have secrets, mind you). We have come a shorter, but no less significant, way from the year of the Jewish Community Center bombing in Buenos Aires; an Iranian ex-president has been indicted, even if it harms our relations with a key importer of our grain; no mention of this is made in the article.

The bottom line is, as always, that no matter what the world does, they're all a bunch of antisemites. If a country is not antisemitic now, the focus is on its antisemitic past. If a country is not antisemitic now and has never been so, then we focus on how it will hate the Jews in the future.

But they're all antisemites: that's the scare tactic Zionism uses to try and draw more Jewish immigration at a moment when no objective antisemitism exists in the major Jewish centers. But fewer and fewer people are buying into it. This includes the very Jewish community of Argentina, which, while toeing the official line that the country is a hotbed of antisemitism, votes with their feet -- or their failure to use them to emigrate to Israel.