Intruding on Private Grief
I must confess that intruding on a private spat within the Zionist Federation is like intruding on private grief of a family spat. But the temptation is too great!
In Israel exercising free speech can gain you indefinite administrative detention if you live in the Occupied Territories. In Israel ‘proper’ it can merely mean the loss of a job and being witch-hunted though if you are an Arab Israel like Azmi Bishari, an Arab Member of the Knesset who was forced into exile, ‘disloyalty’ to the Zionist state can be a perilous exercise. Haneen Zoabi, who has had her parliamentary privilege and immunity withdrawn, has also been subject to the same terroristic methods for being on board the Mavi Marmara when Israeli pirates attacked it..
So it is in Britain. The Zionist Federation, led by Witchfinder-General Jonathan Hoffman is casting one of its own patrons, Rabbi Danny Rich, into the fires of hell for saying the obvious. Rich has stated that supporting a one-state solution is not anti-Semitic. To most people who don’t live in a Zionist bubble or who don’t ingest half-baked definitions of ‘anti-Semitism’, the idea that a unitary, non-racial, secular and democratic Israel/Palestine is evidence of ‘anti-Semitism’ would seem to be evidence that someone is barking mad.
Using the same 'logic' denying the Afrikaaners the right to 'self-determination' was anti-White. It is reminiscent of Newspeak and Doublethink whereby Black = White and Racism = Anti-Racism. When you think of anti-Semitism you think BNP or EDL or pogroms or Nazi gas chambers. What you don't think of it a demand that Israel becomes a state of its own citizens! That is a misuse of the term 'anti-Semitism'.
But first let us remind ourselves of the record of this ‘expert’ on anti-Semitism. Jonathan Hoffman was happy to demonstrate alongside the English Defence League, a fascist group which targets Muslims in the same way as the British Union of Fascists once targeted the Jews.
And let us remind ourselves of the EDL's anti-Semitism and by that I mean the real variety not Jonathan Hoffman's pretend 'new anti-Semitism': Here is a description from the Zionist Engage site:
according to someone I know who was at a counter-demonstration against the EDL, a couple of the EDL members who were waving Israeli flags were also wearing poorly-concealed neo-Nazi insignia of various sorts at the same time. One man in particular was, while waving an Israeli flag, wearing a t-shirt with a picture of one of the crematoria at Auschwitz on it, with “Zyklon-B” emblazoned over it in large, gothic letters. http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/shunning-the-english-defence-league/Not surprisingly, when Hoffman was photographed dancing down Monmouth Street with Roberta Moore, leader of the EDL supporters who had turned up to the Ahava counter-demonstration as well as being head of its Jewish Division, he quickly cried out that it was ‘ photoshopped’ i.e. a forgery.
Problem is that the photo was completely genuine and the person who took it, a David Hoffman (no relation) threatened to sue our Jonathan. The result was a grovelling apology:
‘On my Jewish Chronicle blog I described a photograph taken on 14 August 2010 at the pro-Ahava demonstration as "fraudulent". I also wrote "That photo was 'Photoshopped' -- and it is bloody obvious that it was 'Photoshopped' I do not discuss but I do identify lies and fraudulent Photoshopped photos."And in a comment underneath the article, Jonathan H admitted he was a liar: ‘When I lie I apologise. For the Israel haters such as you and Fnik, lying, defamation and provocation are a way of life.’
These statements were entirely without foundation and I had made no attempt to check their accuracy. I accept that the photo was absolutely genuine and had not been tampered with in any way. The photographer, David Hoffman, is a well known and respected photojournalist and I apologise to him unreservedly for my hasty and unfounded comments and for the distress and embarrassment caused.’
And so it’s no surprise that he is up to his old lies again. The European Union Monitoring Committee’s Working Definition on anti-Semitism has been quietly abandoned. It is not an official definition (and god help us if we ever have official definitions of racism). It was foisted on the EUMC by the American Jewish Committee. It has been disowned by the Universities College Union last year and the National Union of Students, the only group to accept it, is divided down the middle.
And yet, despite this, Hoffman gets it wrong, i.e. lies again. Hoffman says below in his Jewish Chronicle article that ‘The EUMC Definition says it is antisemitic to deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination.’ The problem is that it doesn’t say it is anti-Semitic to deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination. What the Working Definition does say is that:
‘Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: (my emphasis)
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’
I’ve highlighted the ‘could include’ bit because Jonathan H has difficulty reading these days, especially when something is slightly nuanced and requires more than an instant slogan or rebuttal. In other words’ ‘taking account of the overall context could include ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination’ means that it might not include denying the right of self-determination for Jews etc.
So even with the most favourable definition to work with, Hoffman has to lie through his teeth in order to conduct a McCarthyite witch-hunt against the quiet and thoughtful Rabbi Rich.
Of course the EUMC Definition is a nonsense regardless. The Working Definition on Anti-Semitism also states that anti-Semitism is ‘Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.’ I agree. Yet Zionists like Hoffman do it all the time. That's what they do everytime they call Israel a Jewish state. They associate all Jews, wherever they live, with Israel's crimes and thus hold them collectively responsible. I agree that it is anti-Semitic to hold Jews collectively respondent for the actions of Israel but that is what the Hoffmans of this world are constantly claiming. After all is it anti-British to hold British people responsible for the actions of the British state in Ireland or Iraq? Is it anti-American racism to hold Americans responsible for the actions if American troops in Afghanistan?
Yet if one accepts that there is one single entity called Jews, despite the fact that they speak different languages and are citizens of different countries, then one is positing Jews as a racial/national entity. Self-determination is based on there being one Jewish collective, which is what anti-Semites like Gilad Atzmon argue. Hence the talk of Jewish characteristics and a Jewish collective which is the basis of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism. So, ironically the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism is itself anti-Semitic!
And the logic of the Zionist position, although they don’t openly state it, is that Jews don’t belong in other countries and among other nations. They should live in the ‘Jewish’ State.
Jonathan implores us to accept the Jerusalem programme definition ‘The Jerusalem Programme declares says that one of the foundations of Zionism is the bond of the Jewish people to its historic homeland in the State of Israel and the centrality of that State and Jerusalem in the life of the nation. Another foundation is strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.
Denying that Israel is at heart a Jewish State not only violates the Jerusalem Programme, it is also – by definition – antisemitic.’
So if you don’t agree with Jerusalem programme and you want to see Israel as a state of its own people as opposed to just its Jewish citizens, then you are anti-Semitic! Most people would say that a state which didn’t represent all its people was racist, but logic has never been Hoffies strongest suit.
Hoffies sidekick and co-President, the appalling Joy Wolfe, wrote that “Calling for a single state denies Jews the right to their homeland which comes within the terms of reference of what constitutes antisemitism;’ Except that Jews outside Israel already have a homeland. It’s where they live. And what is the main complaint? That Rabbi Rich allowed Jeff Halper, of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, to speak in a Jewish synagogue hall! In other words the EUMC is being used to close down and suppress debate, even of Israelis who call for an end to racism and oppression of their fellow Arabs. People like Halper, who oppose the demolition of Palestinian homes in order to make way for Jewish settlers, i.e. Judaification, are racist. This is the world turned upside down. Anyone with an ounce of morality and judgement would understand that demolishing peoples’ homes because they are of the wrong race/religion is racist, not the other way around.
Another Hoffman lie, beloved of Zionists the world over, is the fiction that Israel is a ‘Jewish, Zionist and democratic state: ‘Another foundation [of the Jerusalem Program] is strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.'
But as the above example shows, a Jewish state places more importance on its Jewish inhabitants than anyone else. That is why there is no Israeli nationality but hundreds of nationalities, all the better to divide and demoralise. If you are Jewish you have certain privilege, access to land to rent for example that if you are not Jewish you don’t have. If you are non-Jewish you have a Prime Minister (Tsipi Livni) holding peace talks in order to ‘swap’ i.e. get rid of thousands of Arab citizens of Israel into a mini-bantustan.
If you are non-Jewish you have the Jewish National Fund trying to Judaise (the Nazis believed in deJewification – its opposite but the same in principle) the Galilee, Negev and Jerusalem. There is no democracy in racism and yet you have plenty of the latter. Israeli ‘democracy’ rests on a permanent Jewish majority and if that means a repeat of the Nakba, the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arabs in order to perpetuate the Jewish demographic majority then so be it.
And the price of all this is silencing dissent in the diaspora. Jews outside Israel have but one function. To keep quiet and raise the money to continue the process of settlement.
That is another reason why Zionism is inimical to Jews too. Their nationalism stands opposed to any form of democratic debate. As Hoffman says, ‘Dialogue is only possible where we have the courage to require the respect of red lines of accepting Israel’s right to exist as a State grounded in Judaism.’ Leaving aside the formulation that Israel is a state based on Judaism (i.e. a theocratic state). One can only assume that Hoffman prays for a state where the segregation of women on buses will be part of the law or that it will be permitted to kill any Arab who might, now or in the future, be a danger to Jews will be legally acceptable. What Hoffie is saying is that dialogue is only possible if you agree with me!
However it is a matter of regret that Hoffman’s motion seeking to terminate Danny Rich’s position as patron of the Zionist Federation was rejected. If Rich had been booted out of the racist collective otherwise known as the Zionist Federation, then Danny Rich would have had the opportunity to dwell on the fact that at least his home wasn’t demolished and maybe also on the fact that an undemocratic ZF is a good reflection of the state that it supports.
From the Relevant Part of the EUMC Definition of anti-Semitism
Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
By Jonathan Hoffman, February 12, 2012
An article on the JC website describes a discussion at the last ZF National Council regarding Liberal Rabbi Danny Rich’s suitability to be a ZF Patron. It is extremely regrettable that someone leaked what was a confidential discussion. Rabbi Rich was interviewed for the article and referred to “Jonathan Hoffman’s petty campaign against me”. Such personal vilification regrettably gives me no alternative but to respond. Far from this being a “petty campaign” there are very important issues here – issues which indeed have raised the eyebrows of many Israel supporters in Danny Rich’s own Liberal Community.
The fundamental expression of Zionism is the Jerusalem Programme. All Officers and Patrons of the ZF must declare adherence to it. The Jerusalem Programme declares says that one of the foundations of Zionism is the bond of the Jewish people to its historic homeland in the State of Israel and the centrality of that State and Jerusalem in the life of the nation. Another foundation is strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.
Denying that Israel is at heart a Jewish State not only violates the Jerusalem Programme, it is also – by definition – antisemitic. The most widely accepted definition of antisemitism is that drawn up by the European Union Monitoring Committee (now the Fundamental Rights Agency). Among others, this is accepted by the US Department of State and by the UK government. The EUMC Definition says it is antisemitic to deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination.
“One State” would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. To advocate “One State” is therefore to advocate for something that violates the Jerusalem Programme and for something which is – by definition – antisemitic. Liberal Rabbi Rich refuses to accept that advocating “One State” is antisemitic.
On March 21 2010 Liberal Rabbi Rich allowed Jeff Halper (of “Israel Committee Against House Demolitions ”) to have a platform at the Montagu Centre (Liberal Judaism’s main building). The meeting was organised by “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” but Rabbi Rich let the hall to them and was at the meeting.
Jeff Halper openly advocates ‘One State’. Rabbi Rich was widely criticised for giving him a platform. I have copies of emails to him from Senior Communal Leader A (“It is remarkable that you hosted such a person”) and Senior Communal Leader B:
I just cannot imagine why any Jew, particularly a Zionist Jew, would invite Jeff Halper to speak in public to a predominantly Jewish audience in this country. Halper believes in a one state solution - the end of a Jewish State - and believes Israel to be an apartheid regime. He continually criticises and demonises Israel and is a perfect tool for all those who want to delegitimise and destroy our State of Israel. Whereas I truly believe in freedom of speech and democracy, and Israel also believes the same, I find it incredible that you should give a platform to this man who has sufficient opportunities to speak with our enemies and who supports our enemies.
Halper has also used Nazi analogies to describe Israeli policy (also antisemitic under the EUMC Definition)
After the meeting Danny Rich wrote the following on my JC blog: (his post was on 22 March, the blog was dated 20 March): “Liberal Judaism rejects the allegation that the advocacy of a one state solution is by definition anti Semitic”
In an email to Jonathan Hoffman (17/3/10) Rabbi Rich wrote “advocates of a one state solution are not, in my view, by definition anti-Semitic”
On 22/3/10 Joy Wolfe (ZF co-President) wrote to Liberal Rabbi Rich as follows: “Calling for a single state denies Jews the right to their homeland which comes within the terms of reference of what constitutes antisemitism, and the proposal to virtually dismantle Israel for our people is clearly antisemitism, which you seem unable to recognise.”
Whereas I truly believe in freedom of speech and democracy, and Israel also believes the same, I find it incredible that you should give a platform to this man who has sufficient opportunities to speak with our enemies and who supports our enemies.
A Board of Deputies spokesman said: "At a time when Israel is under assault from those intent on delegitimising her, it is baffling and unacceptable that a meeting of a body with an explicit agenda of boycott, divestment and sanctions would be welcome in the home of a synagogue movement."
On 23/7/10 Rabbi Rich wrote in an email to me “I do not accept your definition of anti-Semitism, and will continue to believe and state that ‘calling for a one state solution is not necessarily antisemitic’. Of course the definition is not MINE – it is the widely accepted EUMC Definition.
Ronnie Fraser (a ZF National Council Member) is going to Court to challenge the rejection by his trade union (the University and College Union) of the EUMC Definition of Antisemitism. The ZF is supporting his case. It is glaringly inconsistent to - on the one hand - support Fraser’s legal action to defend the EUMC Definition and - on the other – to have a Patron who openly refuses to accept the EUMC Definition.
At a meeting at Kingston Synagogue in October 2010 Rabbi Rich was on the same platform as me. He made a comment – heard by all in the audience – that the ZF was allied with the EDL. Such a comment from a ZF Patron at a public meeting is completely unacceptable. A Patron is supposed to help the organisation which appoints him, not defame it!
In his JC Column on 13 January 2012, Professor Geoffrey Alderman wrote of Rich:
'He is, for example, on record as denying that the so-called "one-state" solution is "by definition" antisemitic, whereas I would have thought it obvious that any denial of the right of Jewish self-determination must, by definition, be so.'
Danny Rich is a Patron of J News. J News carried an article attempting to block Israel’s entry into the OECD .
Most recently Liberal Rabbi Rich has spoken alongside Peter Kosminsky, the Director of “The Promise” . (The ZF issued a Press Notice protesting at the lies and distortions in “The Promise”). He also spoke alongside Deborah Fink, a founder of “Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods”. The meeting was organised by the profoundly anti-Israel group “Friends of Sabeel” as well as “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”.
Liberal Rabbi Rich’s demonstrative rejection of key elements of the Jerusalem Programme and the EUMC Definition of Antisemitism is completely at odds with what should be expected from a Patron of the Zionist Federation. As regards those whose company he keeps, interfaith dialogue is important and valuable, as is engaging in political debate with those who disagree with our position. But it is also important that we retain a boundary. We must recognise that there are some views which are so antithetical to Zionism that those who are prepared to sit down with people who espouse them have no place in the Zionist Federation – let alone as a Patron. Dialogue is only possible where we have the courage to require the respect of red lines of accepting Israel’s right to exist as a State grounded in Judaism.