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  • Independent Jewish Voices


    by Sunny
    4th February, 2007 at 5:26 pm    

    A group of around a hundred writers, academics, lawyers, doctors and others are launching a new debate tomorrow on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, objecting to what they term the misconception that British Jews “speak with one voice and that this voice supports the Israeli government’s policies”.

    They call themselves Independent Jewish Voices and CIF is publishing their launch document - A time to speak out. Accompanying that is an editorial by the academic Dr Brian Klug titled ‘Who speaks for Jews in Britain?‘. He says:

    We are not setting ourselves up as an alternative to the Board of Deputies or any other body. But we challenge the standard concept of “the Jewish community” as a collective entity for which the board is the secular voice and the chief rabbi the religious voice. This system was developed in another era - though it is being used today as a template for other minorities. It pictures “the Jewish community” as a single bloc that, whatever its internal complexity, presents a common face to the outside world via its ambassadors.

    There is an affinity between our initiative and the New Generation Network, which was launched in the Guardian last November. A diverse group of Britons questioned the idea that the pie of British society (or that portion consisting of “minorities”) can be divided into neat ethnic or religious slices: discrete “communities” with authoritative “leaders”. For many of us, this model is suffocating and goes against the grain of our experience.

    I couldn’t have put it any better. CIF will be hosting a week long debate on the issue and I will be getting involved of course.

    Coverage: Guardian, Independent.


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    1. Leon — on 4th February, 2007 at 5:30 pm  

      Interesting, look forward to this. Hopefully this will show the wide range of views in the Jewish communities in a clearer light (as opposed to the skewered views we get from the MSM).

    2. Sahil — on 4th February, 2007 at 6:33 pm  

      Just read his article for the nation and it is really good. Looking forward to more.

    3. Sid — on 4th February, 2007 at 6:47 pm  

      Can you post the link Sahil, ta.

    4. Sahil — on 4th February, 2007 at 7:02 pm  

      here it is Sid:

      http://www.thenation.com/doc/20040202/klug

    5. Chairwoman — on 4th February, 2007 at 7:11 pm  

      I also recommend it.

    6. El Cid — on 4th February, 2007 at 7:42 pm  

      Very impressive reasoning, apart from the reference to physical attacks against Jews in France, which is clearly anti-semitic IMO.
      It certainly beats telling people to GFT! ;)

    7. Elusive — on 4th February, 2007 at 8:35 pm  

      Speaking of Jewish Voices..

      Ive heard Norman Finkelstein speak at Stanford University recently. Kudos to him for showing Israels true nature.

      His book The Holocaust Industry says it all. :)

    8. Elusive — on 4th February, 2007 at 8:41 pm  

      Im not sure where the smiley face came from. Apologies.

    9. Don — on 4th February, 2007 at 9:05 pm  

      Why is Elusive posting from Finkelstein’s web page?

    10. Sunny — on 4th February, 2007 at 9:11 pm  

      No idea Don. Either way, I won’t be looking very kindly on any anti-semites looking to use this to further their own agenda. Let’s see what Dr Klug’s article has to say tomorrow.

    11. douglas clark — on 4th February, 2007 at 11:43 pm  

      Sunny,

      What have you started? I hope they took the main ideas of the NGN on board. Look forward to reading it all tommorrow.

    12. Refresh — on 5th February, 2007 at 2:40 am  

      Good article Sahil. It should be a worthy debate, but no anti-semitism please.

    13. Nyrone — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:07 am  

      wow, I think this is truly, sincerely fantastic news.
      about time!

      good article in the independent today too.
      http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article2237707.ece

      luminaries like Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh and Geoffrey Bindman…very encouraging:)

    14. Nyrone — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:23 am  

      Sunny! You started a mini-revolution!!!
      everyone’s shaking their shackles off…

      Just finished reading it….
      The manifesto by Brian Klug is spectacular and empowering to read…a really timely, impressive and important step forward.

      I’m actually very happy to be reading this.
      for a split-second, the future looks bright…

    15. Elusive — on 5th February, 2007 at 5:46 am  

      The above link was posted because Finkelstein has similar thoughts and views as to the Independent Jewish Voices yet he is an American trying to make a change and facing the Zionist lobby with great opposition.

      Not that hard to see the similarity.

    16. Chairwoman — on 5th February, 2007 at 6:54 am  

      I think it’s very important that people remember that Jews who are at variance with policies of the government of the State of Israel are not opposed per se to a State of Israel.

      Please don’t assume that this means that groups of prominent Jews want to see Israel disappear.

    17. Sid — on 5th February, 2007 at 8:55 am  

      Absolutely brilliant. This is extremeley encouraging. Hopefully now Muslims ‘like us’ can come forward and do the same. Thank you Prof Klug.

    18. Sahil — on 5th February, 2007 at 9:17 am  

      “Please don’t assume that this means that groups of prominent Jews want to see Israel disappear.”

      Exactly, I could easily see people using this argument to try and discredit their efforts.

    19. Arif — on 5th February, 2007 at 10:31 am  

      Fantastic article link, Sahil. I felt a much better understanding of where condemnation of anti-Zionism comes from, and much more sympathy for the fears of anti-Semitism underlying it.

      I also found it made me reflect on the similarity of pro-Zionist discourse and the ummah-centric discourse which turns a fear of anti-semitism/islamophobia around into an excuse for threatening behaviour.

      IJV, also fantastic - a few simple and straightforward principles of a kind I would like NGN to emulate. A lot of people fear that self-criticism has a danger of creating destructive blowback, so I hope that their voices are largely constructive (like the article by Brian Klug)and reassures people by raising the tone of debate. Their signatories are really impressive thinkers(including one of my all-time favourite authors, yay!)

      While there is no “Jewish Community” any more than “Islamic Community” or whatever imagined community, Muslims have a little way to go before we can make space for an IMV. The groups I have found are often too interested in creating the right dynamics of dialogue to make any clear statements which I guess they feel will always be misunderstood until there is more goodwill. I am the same, so I can’t complain! Maybe it is a matter of self-confidence, but maybe they/we are right. I hope success by the IJV will inspire us.

    20. Chairwoman — on 5th February, 2007 at 10:41 am  

      *waves encouragingly to Sid*

    21. Leon — on 5th February, 2007 at 10:58 am  

      I think it’s very important that people remember that Jews who are at variance with policies of the government of the State of Israel are not opposed per se to a State of Israel.

      Well said.

    22. Anas — on 5th February, 2007 at 12:37 pm  

      Errrm, Norman Finkelstein has actually posted both the articles mentioned on his site with an approving comment. Like Elusive said, NF’s been at the forefront of criticizing supposedly representative Jewish groups in America for their uncritical support of Israel. Don’t believe the smears you hear about the guy.

    23. sonia — on 5th February, 2007 at 1:04 pm  

      Anything that is aimed at shaking us out of the mindset of ‘discrete communities’ in bloc like form is great news.

      which translates in my mind as thinking of ourselves as holistically as possible. instead of just through ethnic/minority tickbox-style prisms.

    24. Sunny — on 5th February, 2007 at 1:08 pm  

      I think it’s very important that people remember that Jews who are at variance with policies of the government of the State of Israel are not opposed per se to a State of Israel.

      Yup, and that is my position too.

    25. bananabrain — on 5th February, 2007 at 2:43 pm  

      i’ll tell you what my issue is with this, which is largely about what it may be and what it probably is.

      firstly, i know a number of the signatories personally and at least one of them is a close friend. we don’t agree on everything, but we have an excellent working relationship (seeing as we set up our own thinktank together). the problem is that this one heading of “independent jewish voices” covers a multitude of opinions, including:

      1. inveterate ex- and not-so-ex-marxists (e.g. the slovoes, eric hobsbawm)
      2. inveterate lefty israel-bashers (e.g. harold pinter)
      3. prickly left-wing academics who don’t want to be attacked on campus (take your pick)
      4. grandstanding “disgusted of hampstead” intellectuals and theatre types
      5. bona fide conscientious objectors
      6. the sort of people who write letters to the JC every bloody week pointing out that the israeli government is doing the wrong thing
      7. lesbian rabbis (some of my best friends, etc..)
      8. unreasonable fruit loops from the “jews for justice for palestinians” awkward squad (e.g. deborah maccoby and the hayeems, bless ‘em)
      9. “post-zionist” historians

      what it doesn’t have, really, it seems to me, is a mainstream sort of constituency. put it this way - i consider myself an “independent voice”. i work in interfaith dialogue a lot. i wouldn’t touch 85% of this lot with a bargepole, because they are a) totally predictable and b) already considerably over-represented in the media considering how representative their views are. the fact that they’re all banding together will only confirm to those that they say aren’t representing them that they are all the same. and that just isn’t right. some of them are sensible and some of them aren’t. furthermore, the moment norman finkelstein comes out in favour, all the usual people will say “aha, i told you so”. on the other hand i agree that everyone ought to be represented and they’re not at the moment.

      i think the basic problem is that the majority of people on this list are activists and campaigners. they’re very good on the challenging, not so hot on the solutions. the trouble is that the representative organisations such as the board of deps are not there for the purpose of campaigning - it’s simply not their job. they are there to look out for the interests of the jewish community (and there, actually, i would argue that there is actually such a beast, even if it is fragmented) not to express loud and controversial views on I/P, unlike the signatories, who in almost all cases speak for no actual organisations. nb: i’m not actually saying that that doesn’t entitle them to an opinion, but it doesn’t entitle them to state that they are representative of anyone other than themselves unless they have an actual membership - in which case, i would argue, they are actually entitled to places at the board!

      basically, i get their point and in some ways i kind of sympathise, because perhaps we ought to be less apathetic and more campaigning, but unfortunately representative organisations are far better at defensive campaigning (e.g. anti-semitism) than offensive campaigning. if they want to influence, they ought to as it were “buy” some seats at the table by having a proper organisation. as it is, this kind of reeks of the symbolic - “not in my name” mealymouthedness.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    26. bananabrain — on 5th February, 2007 at 2:45 pm  

      oh - and although some of these guys could probably be called “self-hating”, i think that’s a very unhelpful term, because it implies that this jewish “self” is linked to a particular set of opinions - which it isn’t and never has been. this group of people seeks to be seen as the “guardian” to the BoD’s “telegraph/times/FT” when in fact it’s far closer to the “socialist worker”.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    27. Sunny — on 5th February, 2007 at 2:58 pm  

      Um bananabrain you seem to be tying up yourself in a knot. The above comments are pretty much mostly what many Muslims ,who don’t like the MCB but prefer it to exist, say.

      Unless people pull themselves out of this ‘ghetto’ of being needed to be represented then we won’t get anywhere.

      If there are specific ‘issues’ these organisations are needed for, then they should stick to lobbying on them only instead of pretending they speak for large swathes of people.
      That is exactly what NGN said and what is what IJV are saying.

      There seems to be an even bigger culture of outward dissent within the Jewish community that with British Muslims. See this:
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/05/nveil05.xml

      All these people agree on the statement made, and that is what the focus should be on. When I published NGN I had the same reaction - people pointing fingers at the list without reading what was said in the manifesto. That sort of character assassination does no good to anyone.

    28. Zub — on 5th February, 2007 at 2:58 pm  

      Unrelated, but this news is the best thing in a while.

      I hope PP and its CIF writers will publicize this as widely as possible.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/05/nveil05.xml

    29. Sunny — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

      as it is, this kind of reeks of the symbolic - “not in my name” mealymouthedness.

      Sigh. And this is exactly what people say of Muslim groups who want to distance themselves from militants.

    30. Jagdeep — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

      Zub, you are are right, that is absolutely brilliant and it should be sung from high heaven. All the people who complain about Muslims not debating with hardliners and then ignore or fail to promote things when people like that make a stance do a disservice not just to Muslims, but in the current climate, all of us.

    31. Jagdeep — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

      Stephen Fry and Harold Pinter are Jewish????

      Why do Jews produce the best people?

      I am jealous of Jews.

    32. Jagdeep — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:28 pm  

      Well I think beananabrain makes some good points Sunny. You shouldnt dismiss them out of hand. These are people who have issues with the Board of Deputy Jewish representatives regarding a highly politicised faultline in modern society which touches on a host of issues of identity for the Jewish community, with implications for the wider debates taking place in society, but bananbrain hits on some good points which you shouldnt dismiss out of hand. Not all people who criticise this, or your New Power Generation Network, are knee jerk reactionaries, and not all fears are unfounded.

      Just some advice — discard at will if you wish to.

    33. Chairwoman — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:45 pm  

      It’s a tricky one.

      I have a problem with Harold Pinter and Mike Leigh, both of whom are proud to disassociate themselves with Judaism in any sphere that isn’t critical of it, suddenly becoming spokespeople.

      And if it’s a group that you have to join, how can it be independent?

      But, all that apart, I agreed with much that Dr. Klug said and therefore I am broadly in agreement with its stance.

      I also agree that the Board of Deputies job is to represent the interests of its constituency, which is a far more parochial role than it seems to play much of the time.

    34. Jagdeep — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:50 pm  

      Sunny

      The point I was making was that if you stand on a platform of ‘Not all Jews who criticise aspects of Israeli policy are traitors’ you cannot simultaneously hold that anyone who criticises aspects of IJF are simultaneously reactionaries or blindly tribalistic. Chairwoman and bananabrain have made nuanced arguments. It’s the same with the New Electricity Power Network too — you have to have humility and respect for those who offer criticism rather than just posture and feel self righteous. When there are signatories like Harold Pinter who obviously are very polarising figures with British Jewish community you’re going to get this going on.

      But look on the bright side Chairwoman and b’brain. At least Gilad Atzmon didnt sign it!

    35. Jagdeep — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

      btw Harold Pinter, my admiration for him is because of his work not his politics! I have started to read his plays in preparation for a module on my Open University course.

    36. Chairwoman — on 5th February, 2007 at 3:57 pm  

      As he’s renounced Judaism (which he can’t, ask Adolf), he couldn’t!

      Actually it’s a bit of a dichotomy. I like the philosophy, but not the organisation. But then I have a bit of a problem with organisations generally. You start with some like-minded free thinkers banding together, and before you know it, you’ve got committees, an executive, and a treasurer. And then you’re just another earnest pressure group

    37. bananabrain — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:00 pm  

      the difference is that the BoD actually *is* representative of all the synagogual groups, large charities and other communal bodies. the mcb is not. everyone who is a member of a synagogue pays a board levy and has the right to vote for who the synagogue sends to the board to represent them. i am not aware how the mcb is funded but it seems to me that the number of bungalow-wallahs involved is rather larger than if it were professionally run. anyone has the right to stand for the board. but as an umbrella organisation, the nature of the BoD is that it has to be anodyne in order to keep everyone on board. it is the nature of communal diplomacy - strong representations are made privately and direct criticisms are rarely made in public.

      the BoD exists to provide an umbrella association, not to have an ideology in its own right. admittedly it is a creation of an earlier era (the C19th) and i for one object strongly to much of its historical baggage. moreover, the office of “chief rabbi” is strongly misleading. in actual fact he is the “chief” of maybe 60% of the synagogues in the country and religiously speaking he has very little real power, despite being a generally good bloke and a superb religious thinker.

      the NGN, like the IJV, is really a lobby group. and that’s all well and good. but the former does itself a massive disservice if it claims to be anything other than a sort of left-wing jewish version of MPAC, ironically enough with the same apparent paranoia about the zionist hegemony. by contrast, the NGN, as far as i can see, doesn’t purport to be something it isn’t, so i am happy to support it. i might even sign up at some point if i wasn’t the sort of person who doesn’t sign petitions (apart from the one to get ken livingstone removed: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Get-Ken-out/ which is doing predictably badly)

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    38. sonia — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:26 pm  

      25 - banabrain - why they sound like a fun lot!

      “hampstead theatre types” :-)

    39. Jagdeep — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:35 pm  

      I can so see you fitting in with them sonia luvvie.

    40. Sunny — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:44 pm  

      New Electricity Power Network too

      haha! love it!

      A few quick points as I have to head out

      is that the BoD actually *is* representative of all the synagogual groups, large charities and other communal bodies. the mcb is not.

      That’s not strictly true. The MCB is the largest body by far and covers a wider sense of opinion than any other Muslim body. I’d like you to define how someone becomes ‘representative’.

      nyone has the right to stand for the board. but as an umbrella organisation, the nature of the BoD is that it has to be anodyne in order to keep everyone on board

      same as the MCB. remember the JBD has had considerabl;y more time and less pressure over that time to modernise itself.

      hampstead theatre types

      a criticism made of NGN too.

      my point is that the criticisms of IJV are going to be broadly the same as made against us, because people generally hate their own “breaking out” of the consensus and saying the official bodies don’t represent their opinion.

      I’d like to you to boil down your problem with IJV in a line or two.

    41. bananabrain — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:45 pm  

      it’s kind of like the london equivalent of george clooney getting all self-righteous about the middle east. “famous actor shoots mouth off shock” - except the US variety is usually better looking.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    42. sonia — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

      chairwoman i empathasize with the point you are making in no. 36

    43. Chairwoman — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

      Are all representatives of the MCB elected by ballot, or are they appointed?

    44. Arif — on 5th February, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

      Bananabrain, out of interest, would the principles appeal to you (to sign up to) if the list of other signatories were anonymous?

    45. Jagdeep — on 5th February, 2007 at 5:03 pm  

      Sunny, the Hampstead luvvie caricature is rather crude. But it’s still pertinent.

      The thing is —- there is a gap here. The gap between ‘establishment’ (lets say the institutions or paradigms that NGN and IJF criticise) and the people for whom they do not speak or represent. Nobody can say that the principles and re-statements of the NGN and IJF are not needed if for no other reason than to generate debate and new ideas. It’s great that they exist.

      My problem comes from the deficit and gap on the side of the NGN/IJF people. Hampstead luvvie is a crude caricature but it encapsulates an attitude and feeling that is worth paying attention to if for no other reason that you give an account for yourself when people criticise you for being out of touch with the grassroots. It’s for your own good that I tell you this.

    46. Sid Love — on 5th February, 2007 at 5:07 pm  

      Also, bananabrain, would you sign up if the IJV did not propose to be an alternative to the BoD? Although from my reading of the IJV, they do not claim to be - just saying that the BoD doesn’t speak for them.

    47. bananabrain — on 5th February, 2007 at 5:38 pm  

      sorry sunny, the last comment was for sonia.

      ok, basically my point is i think the NGN is quite a good, challenging thing. i also think the IJV is a good, challenging thing. however, my problem with the latter, (but not the former), is this:

      whinging leftie malcontents are not automatically “alternative” by virtue of being left wing. nor are they automatically progressive, forward-looking or constructive by virtue of getting up the noses of almost everyone else.

      there are far too many of what i see as the “usual suspects” behind this. it looks like an attempt to rebrand with the few other people still willing to make common cause with them. i know at least two of the leading lights of J4J4P - they are *not* reasonable or sensible people. they are, however nice personally, political hysterics with a talent for media stunts. all they have succeeded in doing so far is making anyone who has a legitimate criticism look like a fellow traveller in their lunacy. one of the other articles on CiF makes some very good points about it here:

      http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/josh_freedman_berthoud/2007/01/dont_preach_to_the_choir.html

      the criticisms of IJV are going to be broadly the same as made against us

      you do yourself and the NGN no favours whatsoever by embracing these guys are fellow travellers. it’s like thinking the respect party is a legitimate protest vote rather than an umbrella brand for the professionally disgruntled and the trendily subversive. if you really want to make it alternative, get some religious people and right wingers in. make it really about the grass roots and build a constituency - any fule kno you can rite an artikal or put up a webbsite and get oiks wets weeds roters and tuoughs to complane about sigismund the mad maths master who is uterly bats and more crooked than the angle A.

      i don’t mean to impugn hampstead luvvies. some of my best friends, etc… but as someone who actually spends time doing interfaith work, these guys just don’t help. they make everyone concerned feel more polarised.

      I’d like you to define how someone becomes ‘representative’.

      you vote for them. they are able to point to a clearly defined constituency with clear procedures for showing how it is representative, which the BoD has.

      because people generally hate their own “breaking out” of the consensus and saying the official bodies don’t represent their opinion.

      well, i’ve done the same thing - in fact, i set up my own thinktank; but i’ve made an effort to get actual variety of opinion in it, not just the same tired old petition-motion-and-demo brigade. mine is a slow burn, partly because it’s very very part-time and i don’t have the PR appeal and partly because i think this is something which you build over time, not launch with a big bang.

      Also, bananabrain, would you sign up if the IJV did not propose to be an alternative to the BoD? Although from my reading of the IJV, they do not claim to be - just saying that the BoD doesn’t speak for them.

      official bodies don’t tend to represent my opinion either, but the BoD still fulfils an important function. it just isn’t a campaigning organisation. it’s grown-up politics, not the student union.

      Bananabrain, out of interest, would the principles appeal to you (to sign up to) if the list of other signatories were anonymous?

      more than it does at the moment, i think. the idea of being associated politically with some of this lot absolutely appals me considering some of the other stunts they’ve pulled or comments they’ve come out with in the past. i mean, a lot of people here would probably not support something george bush supported on principle, for example.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    48. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 5th February, 2007 at 5:45 pm  

      Sunny,

      Did you delete my post and if so why?

    49. Leslie Bunder — on 5th February, 2007 at 6:57 pm  

      BananaBrain said:

      “everyone who is a member of a synagogue pays a board levy and has the right to vote for who the synagogue sends to the board to represent them.”

      Let me clarify something here.

      While each shul (synagogue) member can vote who should represent them, when it comes to who is the president of the Board, vice-president etc, this vote is not of members of the Jewish community who pay their levy to the Board, rather it is a vote by those Board reps.

      A few years back I wrote a piece about this whole issue about how there is a need for the Board to be more modern and that means having a real and open vote on not just which members of the synagogue should go to the Board’s monthly meetings, but also vote on who becomes president of the Board, vice president and so on.

      Have a read here:

      http://www.somethingjewish.co.uk/articles/1399_follow_the_leader_.htm

      The Board does provide a valuable service to the Jewish community, but it just needs to open itself up a bit more and engage better.

      cheers

      Leslie

    50. Anas — on 5th February, 2007 at 7:07 pm  

      Just finished reading Brian Klug’s article in the Guardian, and I must say, Bravo! It’s time more Jewish people spoke out about what’s going on in Palestine, without feeling intimidated by the fear of being labelled as traitorous, or as self-hating Jews. There are a great number of Jewish figures that I admire, past and present, so I have felt a bit let down that so many Jews seem to be in denial about what’s happening in I/P, and have let the fundamentalist Zionists speak for them.

      Reading about Rabbi Sacks’ comments during last Summer’s massacres in Lebanon in Klug’s piece really disturbed me. Events like that show why the ijv movement is important, indeed necessary. If there’s one good thing that comes out of the whole NGN thing it’s probably this.

    51. Katy — on 5th February, 2007 at 7:16 pm  

      the difference is that the BoD actually *is* representative of all the synagogual groups, large charities and other communal bodies.

      I hate to point this out, but that means that they don’t represent me or a single one of my Jewish friends (apart from you, obv), as none of them are members of any synagogue.

      I agree with you that this group might have the potential to become the new MPACUK, but so far I find them interesting rather than scary. We’ll see.

    52. Sahil — on 5th February, 2007 at 7:20 pm  

      #51 That’s what I was wondering. What if you are a secular Jew, how can the BoD represent your views? Or even if you attend a synagogue once in a while for festivals or holidays, clearly you’re not going to be having much of a say, no?

    53. Katy — on 5th February, 2007 at 7:23 pm  

      No. But then I suppose they would say that it’s my choice to only go to shul for weddings and funerals, really.

    54. Sahil — on 5th February, 2007 at 7:35 pm  

      Yeah but then I guess it comes to an identity question really. If you are ethnically a Jew, but not religious, are you not as Jewish as someone who is devout. If the BoD represents ‘British Jews’ they need to also make sure there are places and mechanisms where secular Jews also have their say about what is being said in their name.

    55. Leslie Bunder — on 5th February, 2007 at 7:55 pm  

      Also, it should be noted that it is not only synagogue goers who can get on to the Board. A number of seats also go to other organisations such as the Union of Jewish Students.

      But it still needs to open up more.

      cheers

      Leslie

    56. El Cid — on 5th February, 2007 at 10:08 pm  

      FYI, this story features on Newsnight tonight

    57. Sunny — on 6th February, 2007 at 12:39 am  

      Bananabrain I’m sorry but your arguments are simply not convincing enough. Let me break them down.

      1) On representation. Yes the MCB do have a voting system. People vote for the Mosque committee, and then those people vote at MCB elections if affiliated. That doesn’t make them any more representative since, as with the JBD, it assumes anyone can vote at Mosques and that the system is totally transparent.

      I don’t know as much about the mosque / synagogue system as the Gurudwara election system and trust me its a fix. People try all sorts of tricks to keep their party in. Fights regularly break out over election issues, with mosques and gurudwaras. Call it Punjabi mentality. And on top of that they disregard the non-religious and the secular or those who have an alternative opinion.

      We made this same point during the NGN launch and you guys lapped it up, and now suddenly you’re getting cold feet just because the JBD is being attacked? Please try and remember the MCB model themselves on the JBD.

      2) Hampstead liberals slur. This really annoys me. Do liberals have less of a right to speak out? These people may not be ‘from the ghetto’, as I was told repeatedly during the NGN launch, but people are claiming to speak on their behalf. And it’s their right to point this out.

      3) Their policies. Seth Freedman has made this absurd point on his article. For fucks sake its a basic manifesto with some basic ideals laid out. On top of that you expand by saying: ‘this is what our ideals mean in practice’.

      4) there are far too many of what i see as the “usual suspects” behind this.

      Again, deja vu. Guess what all our critics said? Oh this is the usual band of renegades like Yasmin AB and Zia Sardar and Sunny Hundal creating mischief and trying to take over.

      Of course they’re gonna be usual suspects, these people have been involved in the discourse for a long time. what did you expect? Some brand new but still influential voice? I find this argument also absurd.

      That does not however take away their central argument of not being represented and the point that the JBD is uncritical of Israel while many other Jews may not be.

      Great, you’ve set up a think-tank too. But sorry mate you’ve missed the point. If a bunch of British Jews want to protest against the assumption that they’re supporting Israeli foreign policy, and want to say the JBD should stop taking their views for granted, how else do you expect them to say it?

      Would you prefer if all Muslims also kept silent about anti-semitism within them, and pretend they all love Al-Qaradawi? You don’t think that’ll make inter-faith dialogue difficult?

      Sorry but I find your arguments superfluous, more so because they were also used against NGN.

    58. Joanne Moston — on 6th February, 2007 at 9:22 am  

      Am I right in assuming that the Jews who have started this group are NOT against the State of Israel, but against the atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinians?? It’s good that they have the courage to stand up and say,’Not in my name!’ Joanne

    59. Chairwoman — on 6th February, 2007 at 10:13 am  

      Hi Joanne - That is how I understand it.

    60. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 10:17 am  

      leslie makes some really good points and i agree with them. in fact, i have said much the same things on many occasions. it isn’t especially transparent and it does need reform. however, it is still pretty effective in certain areas no matter how rubbish it is at interfaith work. this pretty much sums up how i feel:

      The Board does provide a valuable service to the Jewish community, but it just needs to open itself up a bit more and engage better.

      in other words, it needs reform, not wholesale replacement.

      I have felt a bit let down that so many Jews seem to be in denial about what’s happening in I/P

      i’m not in “denial” about it - i simply don’t agree with you. the same can be said of many people. i will concede that there are some that are in denial, but you must yourself admit it ought to be possible for people to legitimately and fundamentally differ from your analysis of the situation - in particular the motives and assumptions that are often imputed to zionists in particular and jews in general. there are many different forms of zionism.

      #51 That’s what I was wondering. What if you are a secular Jew, how can the BoD represent your views? Or even if you attend a synagogue once in a while for festivals or holidays, clearly you’re not going to be having much of a say, no?

      it could also be said that if you don’t lobby your board rep s/he is also unlikely to represent your views. there is part of me which is inclined, in the nicest possible way, to say, look; if you want to be counted as part of the community and have a say at some level in community dialogue you ought to affiliate with it in some way, shape or form. at some poitn perhaps there isn’t a synagogual organisation you can join - i would be in favour of the setting up of an organisation for the non-affiliated which could be represented on the board. unfortunately, without a clear constituency - which you must concede the synagogual bodies can demonstrate - there is nothing to stop any moishe, boishe or yoishe to set up their own front organisation and claim the privilege of representation. call it the “secular/cultural synagogues of great britain” - off you go, reuben’s your father’s brother.

      If the BoD represents ‘British Jews’ they need to also make sure there are places and mechanisms where secular Jews also have their say about what is being said in their name.

      i agree, so this, in a way, is my challenge to the IJVs and unaffiliated of the jewish UK - affiliate, for goodness’ sake, collect a list of your membership and have them contribute a small membership fee for the purpose of obtaining recognition from the board.

      now, to sunny:

      1) On representation.

      That doesn’t make them any more representative since, as with the JBD, it assumes anyone can vote at Mosques and that the system is totally transparent.

      for any synagogue i have ever belonged to - and that has included reform, masorti and orthodox (i can’t speak for the ultras) - board elections are generally done as part of the synagogue agm, which is formally carried out and minuted. all synagogue members are notified in advance and can attend the meeting. if you have an issue you want raised at the board, you approach your rep in person. if you don’t like the job they’re doing, you speak at the agm or you can stand yourself for the position. i don’t know what more transparency is required.

      trust me its a fix.
      i dare say some skullduggery occurs from time to time - the same thing happens in parliamentary elections. if there is a serious abuse, there is always trouble. in my experience, synagogue elections are so dull that this rarely occurs.

      And on top of that they disregard the non-religious and the secular or those who have an alternative opinion.

      sunny, you don’t get asked about your theology or opinions when you join a synagogue. anyone can join providing they are jewish as far as that synagogue is concerned. all synagogues have non-religious or secular members with the exception of the ultras.

      Please try and remember the MCB model themselves on the JBD.
      oh, really? i’ve never noticed the board courting publicity and bidding for power and influence the same way the mcb does. if anything the board keeps its head down far too much.

      2) Hampstead liberals slur. This really annoys me. Do liberals have less of a right to speak out?

      not at all, sunny, but the fact is most of these guys spend most of their time speaking out. they’re on the letters page of the jewish press all the time and they can always get media interest, partly because they work in it or they have a ready-made platform by virtue of being actors or directors. that actually annoys me. what the hell gives actors (or musicians for that matter) some kind of extra insight into politics? the real problem is that those who aren’t professional loudmouths aren’t nearly as well represented, let alone over-represented as most of these signatories are. for balance, i have similar problems with high-profile business people like stanley kalms for example, but there are plenty of business people who do loads of good work and don’t see the need to call a press conference every 5 minutes to show off their latest stunt. incidentally, you are the one saying the NGN is the same as the IJV - not me. i’ve never said anything uncomplimentary about the NGN as far as i remember.

      On top of that you expand by saying: ‘this is what our ideals mean in practice’.

      i’ve already seen what their ideals mean in practice - it involves boycotts, publicity stunts and gesture politics. i haven’t seen one thing changed for the better as the result of the activities of j4j4p: only hardening attitudes, because of the way they go about things. they are completely counterproductive.

      look, i take your point about the “usual suspects”, but my *personal* experience of these people has led me to find many of them deeply suspect. i am entitled to point that out. it is my opinion; i see nothing changing as the result of their activities. not all “alternative voices” are the same. not all “alternative voices” are “progressive” (i hate the word “progressive”; it’s really self-serving, all “you’re either with us or you’re regressive/reactionary” - feh).

      That does not however take away their central argument of not being represented and the point that the JBD is uncritical of Israel while many other Jews may not be.

      maybe you’ve missed the point here, but the job of the jbd is not to express political opinions about israel. it is a UK communal organisation, not a lobby group. if you want opinions about israel, go to bicom - or, rather, don’t, because they’re right-wing idiots.

      If a bunch of British Jews want to protest against the assumption that they’re supporting Israeli foreign policy, and want to say the JBD should stop taking their views for granted, how else do you expect them to say it?

      my point is that they’ve been saying this for a long time, very publicly. nobody is in any doubt what they think on these issues. the question is whether they should be trying to force the board to take political stances and as far as i know this is not it’s job.

      Would you prefer if all Muslims also kept silent about anti-semitism within them, and pretend they all love Al-Qaradawi?

      it’s not the same thing at all. i don’t think you really understand what israel (as opposed to the israeli government or its policies) is to jews. i’m clearly not expressing it properly.

      Sorry but I find your arguments superfluous, more so because they were also used against NGN.

      i’m sorry about that, but it seems to me that the same arguments could be made against the respect party or pizza HuT or MPAC. i don’t notice you lining up with them. it seems to me that your opinions are more personal than you choose to believe. i think a lot of this is about you and the IJV both detesting melanie phillips. and while i don’t have a lot of time for her particular brand of self-righteous defensiveness, the fact is that she would never excuse my death or the murder of my relatives. i don’t think the world fits neatly into “progressives” and whatever the opposite of progressives are - that smacks too much of “right” and “left” to me and i won’t have any truck with it. i may be extremely conservative, even hidebound in some respects but in others i am often considered to be almost suicidally radical.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    61. sonia — on 6th February, 2007 at 11:34 am  

      It sounds to me that the problems people are expressing are clear and simple and boil down to one main issue - that of ‘further representativeness’ - i.e. the fact that people who sign such manifestoes ( or come up with them) are equally non-representative as these so-called umbrella groups.

      Which is fair enough - if one is seeking to be a representative. Did anyone say they wanted to be ‘representative’ of a community?

      That’s never going to work obviously - people are always going to think - ah well those blokes over there - they ain’t like me.

      The question is then - is there a level of misunderstanding about this issue of ‘representation’? there seems to be an automatic assumption that if you challenge the idea of a monolithic group and thereby also people who set themselves up as ‘leaders’ or ‘official representatives’ - you yourself are trying to set up yourself as a representative instead.

      If we can unpack this issue - I think that’s at the core of the problem. I must admit - I would be loath to set myself up as any kind of representative. I don’t think the NGN manifesto implied people who were signing it were becoming the new ‘reps’ - however clearly there was some element of people feeling that. I would have thought - in my anarchistic ideals ( or cynicism - can be looked at in that way as well!) - that what was clear is that it is all about individuals being heard for themselves and not about being ‘spokesman’ for some tick-box group. Of course the danger lies in institutionalization and the fact that groups have more power collectively than individuals and it is too easy to become ‘seen’ as the new ‘reps’ even though one clearly has said one is not the ‘new rep!’. Especially if you’re getting media space.

      But the danger of this happening is there - and it’s worth not brushing it under the carpet because - I feel - these are precisely the sorts of issues that end up complicating group dynamics.

    62. sonia — on 6th February, 2007 at 11:46 am  

      I think this is part of the bigger problem of voices of groups being privileged over voices of individuals.

      and unless every single individual has access and ability to be heard - as an individual - there is going to be resentment of groups such as NGN or IJV - as setting themselves up as some kind of representatives, in place of the institutions that come under criticism.

      of course there is a paradox in all this - which is why it isn’t so easy and straightforward. if you want to promote ‘independent’ voices - the pointing that the voice is muslim or jewish - or asian or whatever - the minute you’ve put that ‘description’ in - you’re going to come up against the ‘community’ aspect.

      i call myself the independent voice of sonia to get past this sort of problem. if i went around saying i was an ‘independent bangladeshi voice’ for example - i’d have to deal with what a bunch of bangladeshis say - and usually that would be - but you’re nothing like us! and i’d be like - so what - who said i had to be like you? im still bangladeshi though…

      does anyone get at what im pointing at? it seems to me that the root problem of all this is the idea ( still highly prevalent) that any ‘group’ must have some similarities with other members - i.e. that is the bind ing force. so if you mention the fact that you may be part of some group - the ‘group’ seems to feel it’s been dragged in- and somehow has some say or control over what you then say.

      Bit like if i wrote me blog and then wrote ‘Groundwork employee’ at the bottom - and then the organization i work for would probably feel it had some ‘connection’ to what I say - and would probably feel it had the right to stick its nose in.

      Rambling post - yes - but i think my point is there are significant wider social issues of the relationships between groups and individuals - within which the whole NGN and IJV manifesto has found itself in - and it should be hardly suprising that these things are coming up. I would say it’s these sorts of issues precisely that need unpacking and thinking about.

      so you see - to me - it’s not just about ‘race relations’ - it’s human relations.

    63. Anas — on 6th February, 2007 at 1:02 pm  

      BananaBrain, I’ve read through your posts and I still can’t get my mind round what your main source of contention with IJV seems to be.

      You wrote:
      The trouble is that the representative organisations such as the board of deps are not there for the purpose of campaigning - it’s simply not their job. they are there to look out for the interests of the jewish community (and there, actually, i would argue that there is actually such a beast, even if it is fragmented) not to express loud and controversial views on I/P,

      Actually Brian Klug pointed out that the partisanship of the BoD when it came to I/P was one of the reasons why he thought IJV was necessary:

      On its own account, the Board of Deputies of British Jews (which calls itself “the voice of British Jewry”) devotes much of the time and resources of its international division to “the defence of Israel”. When a “solidarity rally” was held in London last July in the midst of the conflict with Lebanon, it was the board that organised it.

      Basically, while Israel was bombarding and murdering hundreds of innocent civilians, the BoD took a clear stance of solidarity with Israel’s vile acts of terrorism in Lebanon. Jonathan Sacks — who you call a good bloke — at the height of Israeli actions, is quoted as saying “Israel, you make us proud.” Imagine if a prominent British Muslim leader had endorsed a similarly bloody act of terrorism by Muslims somewhere across the world.

      I think it is denial, bb. Given the extent of what’s happening and indeed the scale of the evidence (read BTSelem’s and other human rights organisations reports if you don’t believe me). I don’t think IJV need to be representative at all, they’re not claiming to be — maybe it’s good they’re not representative if the majority of British Jews are unwilling to be critical of Israel — all they’re doing is giving a vehicle for Jews with conscience to say “not in my name”.

      I still don’t get the animosity towards MPAC here. They’re trying to get more young people, more women, involved in mosques, and get rid of this culture of nepotism and communalism that infects mosques. As well as that they’re trying to get young Muslims more involved with the democratic process in this country.

    64. Chairwoman — on 6th February, 2007 at 1:16 pm  

      BB and Anas - When MPAC was set up, they had considerable help and advice from Board of Deputies on how to set up an umbrella institution.

      Anas - you might find that more people would engage with you if you stopped useing emotive phrases like ‘vile acts of terrorism’.

      BB - Anas has a point about the CR saying ‘Israel you make us proud’. The trouble with Dr. S is that he tries to be all things to all members of the Jewish community, and only HaShem can be that.

      Now will the two of you please adopt more temperate attitudes. This is Pickled Politics, not the UN.

    65. Chairwoman — on 6th February, 2007 at 1:19 pm  

      using dammit, using!

    66. Leon — on 6th February, 2007 at 1:32 pm  

      I still don’t get the animosity towards MPAC here.

      Seriously?

    67. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

      anas, i wasn’t at the rally at which chiefy said “israel you make us proud”, but i can totally get the context within which he said it. most of it was undoubtedly platitudes, but the context of it would have been his talking about israel’s many achievements and the good things about israel, in contrast to the way we are encouraged to view it by people such as yourself. that was the point of the rally, not to express support for specific military actions, but to express solidarity with our friends and relatives in israel who were under rocket fire from hizbollah and had to leave their homes. a million people were in shelters. you don’t think that deserves solidarity from their co-religionists? i was on the phone to my auntie while she was sitting on her porch hoping a rocket wouldn’t hit her. i wasn’t telling her “oh, isn’t it great loads of lebanese people are dying” and neither was she rejoicing in it. she’s hardly left-wing and she was telling me how the rockets were hitting the arab village next to her moshav.

      my problem with the ijv (and it is already causing me some extreme problems due to one of my colleagues being a signatory) is the track records of many of its other signatories. i simply cannot take it at face value given the people involved and my knowledge of their various agendas.

      cw - i’m not being intemperate, surely?

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    68. Chairwoman — on 6th February, 2007 at 1:52 pm  

      I just want everyone to calm down.

    69. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 1:59 pm  

      i was fine. i just got harrumphy (with good reason) at the ijv. and now everyone’s trying to turn me into melanie phillips.

      harrumph.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    70. Anas — on 6th February, 2007 at 2:00 pm  

      bb, the context of his statement, whatever way you try to frame it, was the illegal bombardment of Lebanon, which Israel all but admitted from the start was terrorism: the very obvious thinking being that by bombing the fuck out of Lebanon, they were hoping that the population would turn against Hezbollah. I mean, when you’re the default “head” of the religious (and secular?) Jewish community you have to be careful about the statements you’re making and their implications, I’m sure someone as learned as the Chief Rabbi should have realised that.

      What do you mean by people such as myself? It wasn’t just people like me or George Galloway, the usual suspects, who were “viewing” it in this way, it was Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, BTSelem, the UN. And yeah, sure you had every right to express solidarity with those who were suffering under Hezbollah’s acts of terrorism, but maybe it would have been better if a lot more people in the Jewish community had also expressed solidarity with the innocent civilians being murdered (over a thousand and counting), and the far, far greater suffering of those in Lebanon. Really, I think that’s what those behind the IJV want to emphasise, that they’re willing to extend their sympathy to others and not just their co-religionists.

    71. Refresh — on 6th February, 2007 at 2:05 pm  

      I’ve finally read ‘A time to speak out’.

      And I feel pretty good - wish I’d read it earlier.

      I am signing up.

    72. Refresh — on 6th February, 2007 at 2:10 pm  

      BananaBrain,

      “now everyone’s trying to turn me into melanie phillips.”

      I have to say I was tempted earlier (before IJV came along) where you called Blair and Bush statesmen.

    73. Refresh — on 6th February, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

      BananaBrain, I’ve worked out why that petition is not doing too well. Have a read:

      “Ken Livingstone is a disgrace to the London & British people. He is supposed to be the Major of London and with this should be helping the people in London regardless of religion or race and all he does is causes upset, friction and anarchy. He drains vital resouces in needless areas and spends our money on ridiculous things. It all is about power and greed with him and he does not care about what the people in London think.”

      Its the most cheerful thing I’ve read in quite few days - actually its quite quaint in a Father Ted sort of way.

    74. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 2:19 pm  

      oh, for goodness’ sake. mindless oppositionalism is not a reasonable stance to take. i don’t see why i’ve either got to sign up with mad mel or the ijv. i don’t see why i either have to idealise or demonise bush or blair. all i am saying is that it is very easy to criticise when you’ve never had to make decisions like these guys have had to. they’re not the bogeymen you think they are, but neither are they immune from mistakes and hubris. choosing to believe the worst of people is not an objective science. you can see there are people to whom i am fed up giving the benefit of the doubt. you have them too. but we are never going to agree on the entire list. so let’s just agree to disagree and i will agree you have valid criticisms, as long as you agree that my criticisms of the ijv, which are *not* based on kneejerk conservatism, but solid knowledge and experience, are reasonable.

      in any case, i think i’ve just about had enough of this.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    75. Anas — on 6th February, 2007 at 2:32 pm  

      I don’t think you’re the new MP, BB. Your interfaith efforts put the lie to that, immediately: MP is a rancorous Islamaphobe. I just don’t agree with your criticisms of the ijv.

    76. Refresh — on 6th February, 2007 at 2:49 pm  

      BananaBrain,

      I was trying to be lighthearted - don’t give up.

    77. Arif — on 6th February, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

      Picking up sonia’s point on human relations. Representation is going to remain an issue for NGN and IJV, not because they want to be representatives in some way, but because…

      1. Human psychology - Hard for me to think coherently about too many things at once. I have to simplify, generalise, abstract and then come to a tentative conclusion on complex issues, which I then express with unwarranted confidence in order to get heard at all.

      So I will take people as representative of a group without necessarily realising I’m doing it and without them wanting me to do so. I can stop myself when I am conscious of what I’m doing, but ….

      2. Mass society - I depend on a mass media to understand and take part in a wider discourse, I rely on representations to understand and I assume others are being given similar stories that can then be debated and discussed. To make a start in understanding global warming issues, the science is not enough - there is a story representing scientists, dissident scientists, political actors, oil company lobbyists and so on, all of whom the media present and put into a conceptual scheme which makes a meaningful narrative.

      NGN and IJV - if they are successful in making themselves part of media stories, will be represented as something - lobbies for change in their own communities or idealists putting a common identity over a particularist one etc. In reality they will be much more than that, with lots of individuals who all think very differently, but that can’t be represented easily, so won’t be represented.

      If it could be represented, it would be difficult to take in psychologically by bloggers on the move and newspaper readers looking for the sudoku, so it wan’t be.

      So we are left with representation which we can ironise so community groups become “community” groups, religious leaders become religious “leaders” and legitimate authorities become “legitimate” “authorities”.

      And we are left with our actual human relations where we have our mates and don’t have to mind how we talk so much, and people we don’t understand so well who we get to know without having to resort to stereotyping. And the people presented to us by the mass media who we don’t have much choice but to stereotype if we are to think about them at all. And this impacts back on some of our actual human relations too.

      Bananabrain has a point to be worried how this group will represent Jewish people like him, as even though I don’t know him, his interest in inter-faith dialogue, his critical and nuanced views on the Middle East, his apparent lack of anger would make it easy for an outsider like me to assume he would be supportive of IJV. And if I come to discuss things with him he’ll spend energy having to explain how he isn’t in the IJV box I have in my head, and go through explaining lots of nuances before it dawns on my dim subconscious that I’ve made lots of stupid assumptions. If my stereotyping is negative, then I’d understand it would be really frustrating. If people share them enough to stigmatise groups and cause discrimination, even worse.

      I can’t pinpoint these dynamics as anyone’s fault, but they probably only exist in my head, innit?

    78. Sunny — on 6th February, 2007 at 3:17 pm  

      there is part of me which is inclined, in the nicest possible way, to say, look; if you want to be counted as part of the community and have a say at some level in community dialogue

      Bananabrain, I think this is part of the problem. Why do people have to be counted as ‘part of a community’, especially religious, and then have to get involved with their “community” organisations? I don’t have a problem with being born into a Sikh family, but why should that mean I’m treated only as a Sikh and if I want to make myself heard I have to go through Sikh organisations? Why can I not express solidarity within other groups?

      i’ve never noticed the board courting publicity and bidding for power and influence the same way the mcb does

      That’s because they’re still insecure and new Muslim organsations challenging the MCB come up all the time.

      i am entitled to point that out. it is my opinion; i see nothing changing as the result of their activities.

      Well, it depends on whether you want something to change or not. People have said the same to us. And already we’re (NGN) having an impact.

      maybe you’ve missed the point here, but the job of the jbd is not to express political opinions about israel.

      Except, it does that, as Dr Klug points out.

      i don’t think you really understand what israel (as opposed to the israeli government or its policies) is to jews.

      I do, but I don’t think you understand the extent to which Muslims feel disempowered and that they’re constantly made to be puppets, and threatened by other states. And I don’t think you understand the extent to which this disempowerment is constantly highlighted by the continuing atrocities in Palestine that they cannot do anything about. The people’s lives there aren’t that important to them- but it is a symbol for how the Muslim world in the Middle East has no power and no one cares for their dead.

      and while i don’t have a lot of time for her particular brand of self-righteous defensiveness, the fact is that she would never excuse my death or the murder of my relatives.

      Completely disagree. MP did exactly that last night, saying the dead people were simply a result of Israel defending themselves. She has no sympathy for them, please don’t try and give me that. She only cares for her own tribe and frankly should have no part in any peace process.

    79. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

      i just wish the ijv was actually able to do what it says it wants to do. unfortunately, its prime movers’ names are mud in the jewish community, so i fear this is likely to fall on deaf ears. then again, maybe that’s what they want, so they can carry on moaning how everyone in the community hates them and is in denial. i just don’t know, but it makes me quite sad; if only their ranks included people apart from mee-jar types and academics on the make. as it is, i expect this will just cause further polarisation of debate rather than opening things up.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    80. Chairwoman — on 6th February, 2007 at 3:50 pm  

      Sunny, Bb said ‘if you want to be counted as part of the community and have a say at some level in community dialogue’. I think ‘if’ was the operative word.

    81. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 4:01 pm  

      sunny,

      Bananabrain, I think this is part of the problem. Why do people have to be counted as ‘part of a community’, especially religious, and then have to get involved with their “community” organisations?

      partly because of what sonia said above at #61-62. now, i know for a fact that some of the ijv are involved in various ways in the community, but a significant proportion of them want to be identified as jewish, but against everything to do with the community, indeed completely critical of almost everything to do with it and have spent a lot of time alienating everyone in it by crass generalisations and abrasive rhetoric and activities, then they’re surprised that people give them the cold shoulder. they seek a voice as part of the community while avoiding demonstration of a level of support. people draw conclusions from that. on the other hand, an extremely right-on and progressive organisation like the new israel fund just gets on with it, can demonstrate donors, funders and a membership constituency, to say nothing of the people that attend its events.

      Well, it depends on whether you want something to change or not. People have said the same to us. And already we’re (NGN) having an impact.

      but like i’ve said, i think the NGN is different. for one thing, i think you’re actually quite diverse. the IJV, for all its protestations, is overwhelmingly left-wing, secular, anti-zionist and theoretical. i’ve suggested at least one way in which these guys could actually engage with the mainstream but, no, they prefer to take out “ooh, sir, it wasn’t me, sir, it was him, sir” adverts in the mainstream media. and you know what?

      NOT ONE PALESTINIAN IS HELPED BY ADVERTS AND MANIFESTOES. NOT ONE IS FED, CLOTHED OR FREED FROM TERROR AND POVERTY.

      that’s what really disgusts and outrages me.

      Except, [the board] does [express political opinions about israel], as Dr Klug points out.
      umph. i don’t concede that what chiefy said was a political opinion. nor is he a representative of the board, but of a specific synagogual organisation, contrary to popular belief. you can identify with a country and its people without approving or disapproving its government and policies and i know for a fact that chiefy goes out of his way to avoid being caught out doing so, although he often is and has been in the past. to put it simply:

      *i* am proud of israel. israel makes me proud. that does not mean it doesn’t also annoy me intensely and get right up my nose. there are many israeli attitudes that outrage me. there are certainly many israeli politicians and policies that send me into apoplectic fits. they’re still family, though - and that is a hard thing to deconstruct. and family is partly about somewhere where, when you go, they have to let you in.

      I don’t think you understand the extent to which Muslims feel disempowered and that they’re constantly made to be puppets, and threatened by other states.

      i hope that’s not true. the fact is that there is no such thing as an existential threat to any state of muslims or any community of muslims and that is very different to our experience.

      And I don’t think you understand the extent to which this disempowerment is constantly highlighted by the continuing atrocities in Palestine that they cannot do anything about.

      i know that isn’t true. what i do know is that the palestinian tragedy has been so exploited and symbolised and mythologised by the muslim world (that same muslim world which in many cases keeps its palestinians in refugee camps) that the actual reality has been forgotten - except by the palestinians, who are sick and tired of being defined by other people. that’s what the intifada was originally about: sod you - we’re going to take our destiny into our own hands; except of course this was suborned by the likes of saddam’s $250K “shaheed bounties”. and i think that phrases like “continuing atrocities” do nothing to help, especially when the israelis look around the world at what muslims do to each other and go “what the hell are they angry with us for?”

      have you heard the phrase “oom, schmoom”, sunny? it can be roughly translated as: “well, they hate and condemn us whatever we do, even when we try to do the right thing, so we might as well just go ahead and do what suits us and ignore them, after all if someone’s going to hate you, you might as well deserve it”. “oom” is the hebrew acronym for the UN, the official international forum for israel-hatred.

      MP did exactly that last night, saying the dead people were simply a result of Israel defending themselves. She has no sympathy for them, please don’t try and give me that. She only cares for her own tribe and frankly should have no part in any peace process.

      i didn’t mean i thought she had sympathy for everyone, i meant that she wouldn’t excuse *my* murder - as opposed to the [insert names here] of this world, who would stand by their principles even if he was standing by them up to his knees in my family’s blood. i hope it will never come to that - again. but yes, MP is simply not pragmatic enough, as far as i know, to have what it takes to make peace.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    82. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 4:03 pm  

      oh, by the way, thank you arif; that was a lovely post.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    83. Sunny — on 6th February, 2007 at 4:21 pm  

      bananabrain, I think you underestimate the extent to which symbolic statements have an impact, and the difference they can make in kickstarting dialogue.

      Have progressive British Muslims been intensely frustrated by the unwillingness of British Jews to speak out against Israeli foreign policy? Hell yeah! See this:
      http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/fareena_alam/2006/08/isnt_it_time_british_jews_spok.html

      In the same way since we launched PP and later NGN, and people have said its great to see progressive Sikhs/Muslims/Hindus come out and be self-critical, the same applies to discussions over Israeli policy.

      You’re saying it will have no impact because its the usual suspects. Well I think it will say a lot to the non-Jews who don’t know the internal politics and are just glad Jews are also speaking up about this openly. I think too much of the self-criticism is internal.

      If it involves the usual suspects then why don’t the other critics organise themselves and take their own stand and say: “Well, we’re not like the IJV, but we’re also not uncritical supporters of Israeli foreign policy”. That would help.

      but like i’ve said, i think the NGN is different. for one thing, i think you’re actually quite diverse.

      Well, admittedly our agenda is broader too. It’s not just about FP but also British progressive politics in general. But the criticisms were the same.

      i hope that’s not true. the fact is that there is no such thing as an existential threat to any state of muslims or any community of muslims and that is very different to our experience.

      BB - this is what frustrates me. People don’t seem to read comments by people on the other side carefully. If you haven’t quite noticed yet, many Muslims do say that they’re being demonised like Jews were just before the holocaust. I don’t think there’s a danger but many others do. And who would protect them (from their perpective)? There’s not a single strong enough Muslim state. They’ll all tinpot economies smaller than even the Spanish GDP. Even India’s stopped worrying about existential threats from Pakistan.

      have you heard the phrase “oom, schmoom”, sunny? it can be roughly translated as: “well, they hate and condemn us whatever we do, even when we try to do the right thing, so we might as well just go ahead and do what suits us and ignore them, after all if someone’s going to hate you, you might as well deserve it”. “oom” is the hebrew acronym for the UN, the official international forum for israel-hatred.

      Yup, and I know where else I’ve seen that attitude - by Palestinians. whatever they do, they won’t get any peace or independently adminstered land so they might as well blow themselves up.

      The extent to which these narrative overlap is so ironic. Except most Muslims or Jews are blind to it.

    84. Arif — on 6th February, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

      I’m afraid I agree with Sunny, Bananabrain. The reason I feel I can empathise with you is precisely because I see the such similar perspectives among Muslims.

      Oom shmoom. Some Muslims will accuse me of selling out and joining the people who want to liquidate the lot of us, because I don’t want to paint “western” oppressors of Muslims as all bad or any different from Muslim oppressors of Muslims or non-Muslims.

      Oom shmoom. The plaudits I might get from people who probably wouldn’t mind liquidating the rest of us would confirm their idea that I’m on Melanie Phillips’ side. For them I am clearly not a Muslim at all, and nothing I say or would compensate for this utter betrayal.

      Oom shmoom. The effort I make to empathise with Muslim oppressors is taken for granted by many fllow Muslims, stigmatised by non-Muslims and vice versa for my effort to empathise with non-Muslim oppressors.

      Most of the Muslims in the media who criticise the same currents in Islam that I criticise do it so disrespectfully, I’d rather not make a stand than be lumped in with them.

      But Oom Shmoom.

    85. Sahil — on 6th February, 2007 at 5:08 pm  

      #83 & 84 I totally agree. Many of my family are frowned upon because we’re ‘liberal’ and too ‘western’. If we talk to people and adopt other traditions and values, values shared by many diverse people, we’re mongrels who’re selling out. This mattered to us for a while, and now I myself don’t really give a damn. But it is good to know that there are many other people who are willing to talk, and learn from each other.

      Moreover to the points, it good for gentiles to see this internal dynamic as it adds context and shows a more ‘human’ and complex throught process, rather than the obvious positions on this topic. Indeed its one of the reasons why I’ve taken a liking to Seth Freedman’s articles in the GU. I don’t agree with him all the time, but I appreciate what’s going on in his mind.

      On a side note, I decided to read some other papers which I usually don’t read to look at as wide reaction, especially on the more right-wing sites. Frankly the way the IJVs are being treated is shocking. Not necessarily by the actual story, but some of the comments are pretty dire and scary.

    86. soru — on 6th February, 2007 at 5:10 pm  

      ‘root problem of all this is the idea ( still highly prevalent) that any ‘group’ must have some similarities with other members ‘

      I think the trick is to indentify the way in which group members are similar to each other, and to limit the scope of their ‘representiveness’ to those things.

      For example, almost all doctors know more about medicine than almost all non-doctors, and british doctors know more about the workings of the UK health system than doctors in other countries. As a source of knowledge of how those two things interact, the British Medical Association is definitely the kind of thing the government and media should be listening to. If 95% of doctors have the same opinion about the MMR vaccine, that’s a valid thing for that organisation to push as a viewpoint.

      If the BMA happened to be badly organised, or taken over by a self-interested clique, then reforming it would be worthwhile. Changing it so it could also claim to represent nurses, hospital porters, academic medical scientist and patients probably wouldn’t be.

      Similarly, 99% of any ethnic group will think racism against that ethnic group is a bad thing, so on that specific issue an ethnically-organised lobby should be listened to.

      But on areas where there isn’t that degree of concensus within the group, then the fact that there happens to be a 51% or 61% majority in favour of a particular position or policy isn’t justification for making that something the group can collectively be said to have an opinion on.

    87. bananabrain — on 6th February, 2007 at 5:38 pm  

      I think you underestimate the extent to which symbolic statements have an impact, and the difference they can make in kickstarting dialogue.

      maybe. i just think that the I/P conflict is up to its neck in symbolic statements and very short of concrete solutions. i read fareena alam’s piece and, i’m afraid, it contained this:

      All this surely means that Britain’s Jewish community must have some influence, some moral sway in Israeli policy circles, just as Muslim “leaders” are assumed to have some sway over “extremists” locally and Muslim opinion abroad?

      i’m afraid this is not the case. when was the last time you saw an israeli politician with an english accent? there aren’t any - and for the reason that israel pays attention to what they say in america, but nearly nothing to what they say over here, even if we did say anything - which, generally, we don’t; in either direction. the british jewish community is famous for its “softly, softly” approach.

      Well I think it will say a lot to the non-Jews who don’t know the internal politics and are just glad Jews are also speaking up about this openly. I think too much of the self-criticism is internal.

      i would agree with this were it not for the fact that the *sensible* self-critical people actually can’t get the media interested - it’s far better press or TV to have the foaming extremists on their soapboxes.

      why don’t the other critics organise themselves and take their own stand and say: “Well, we’re not like the IJV, but we’re also not uncritical supporters of Israeli foreign policy”. That would help.

      well, i’d like to think i’m kind of doing that in a public forum. i am trying to organise something, but it will take more time than i’ve got at present. and unfortunately there are too many people who are just keeping their heads down because they don’t recognise that they can speak up and make a difference.

      If you haven’t quite noticed yet, many Muslims do say that they’re being demonised like Jews were just before the holocaust.

      i know they *say* that, but precisely how many attacks on muslims were there after 7/7? 43, i believe. i don’t think you understand precisely the sort of
      comparison you’re making. there are no nuremberg laws for muslims. muslim shops are not being vandalised and smashed up. muslims are not being beaten up in the street and their property confiscated by the state. muslims are protected by discrimination law, employment law, various codes of conduct and a raft of other safeguards. nobody has made a film starring muslims as rats. when people say this sort of thing i realise that they haven’t actually understood what the shoah actually involved. i’d like to see someone try rounding up members of the uk muslim community and sending them to a camp - we could have taken a leaf out of their book in germany in the 30s.

      Yup, and I know where else I’ve seen that attitude - by Palestinians. whatever they do, they won’t get any peace or independently adminstered land so they might as well blow themselves up.

      i know what you mean, but the fact is that they’re not even close to “whatever they do”. the israelis pulled out of gaza and what happened? more kassams in ashkelon and sderot. how exactly is that “we might as well”?

      arif:

      Oom shmoom. The plaudits I might get from people who probably wouldn’t mind liquidating the rest of us would confirm their idea that I’m on Melanie Phillips’ side. For them I am clearly not a Muslim at all, and nothing I say or would compensate for this utter betrayal.

      this is presumably why everyone gives irshad manji a hard time, rather than trying to engage with her arguments. i wouldn’t recommend her to someone who would use her arguments wrongly, but she asks some valid questions.

      my brain is now melting and i don’t think i’m making much sense.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    88. sonia — on 6th February, 2007 at 6:32 pm  

      thing is soru the ‘group’ isn’t necessarily one that actually has physical links with ‘each other’ - that’s why i was pointing at the significance of the ‘imagined community’.

    89. Anas — on 6th February, 2007 at 7:07 pm  

      BananaBrain, I know you feel a close attachment to Israel, but the BoD organising a solidarity rally with Israel during the Lebanese bombings would be like a serial killer’s parents expressing their pride in their son in the midst of his killing spree.

      it’s not the same thing at all. i don’t think you really understand what israel (as opposed to the israeli government or its policies) is to jews. i’m clearly not expressing it properly.

      It’s that attitude — which I’m glimpsing through your words and which I’ve seen other pro-Israeli Jews articulate — of, yeah Israel might basically be doing some really bad things but it’s basically the sanctuary of the Jews, so let’s reign in our criticism, and let’s not speak out publicly to the gentiles, that’s actually, I think extremely damaging to Israel in the long run; and even if it isn’t, then morally it’s despciable, given what that silence is covering, which is ethnic cleansing, repression and impoverishment on a large scale, and may even be genocide. That attitude is pure tribalism, and I’m so glad that Jews are speaking out, because if we all thought like that, this world would have no hope.

      i hope that’s not true. the fact is that there is no such thing as an existential threat to any state of muslims or any community of muslims and that is very different to our experience.

      The Palestinians? The Kurds?

      think a lot of this is about you and the IJV both detesting melanie phillips. and while i don’t have a lot of time for her particular brand of self-righteous defensiveness, the fact is that she would never excuse my death or the murder of my relatives

      Last year I wrote on my blog a piece about how MP was excusing the murder of hundreds of people in Lebanon (the blood of other families), in defence of her beloved Israel. (But, yeah she’s really OK because she defends her fellow Jews). I also wrote about how rather scarily her freaky views seemed to be held by a number of prominent ‘mainstream’ Jewish figures too. Thankfully, this ijv thing is a positive sign regardless of your low opinion of the signatories.

    90. Mia Rose — on 6th February, 2007 at 7:13 pm  

      U RULE MUM, UR WEBSITE IS DA BEST!!!!!!!!!!

    91. ZinZin — on 6th February, 2007 at 7:30 pm  

      Anas that is a good post #89 but tone it down. Israel is creating Bantustans it is not aiming for a final solution.

      As for tribalism well that accusation could be aimed at yourself.

    92. El Cid — on 6th February, 2007 at 9:33 pm  

      I think the IJV are very brave and correct to take their stand. Just hearing Melanie Philips’ Marcathyist belligerence convinced me of that. I salute them.

    93. bananabrain — on 7th February, 2007 at 12:02 pm  

      the BoD organising a solidarity rally with Israel during the Lebanese bombings would be like a serial killer’s parents expressing their pride in their son in the midst of his killing spree.

      you see, this is precisely what gets up my nose, your assumption that you know what motivates israelis and jews. you don’t. you are utterly crazy if you think any of us, israelis or non-israelis, think death is anything other than a tragedy. the only justification any of us (apart from the real nutters, who do not control government policy) would ever give for casualties is deterrence or self-defence. now i am the first to admit that israeli strategy and tactics in this department, to say nothing of execution, has been often ill-considered and frequently bungled. what i object to is your continual suggestions that they want to kill people and that they somehow glory in death and destruction. nothing could be further from the truth. the israelis and all of us want peace. of course there are many who are callous about palestinian casualties (as they are of jewish ones) but the fact is israel simply does not see killing as an end. and for all your constant harping on rape and holocaust metaphors, at no point has israel ever sought to maximise casualties. they are quite simply not that stupid or murderous. and even if there were, there is a list of israeli organisations, to say nothing of israeli media, as long as your arm who scrutinise everything that goes on, which results in public criticism, investigations and as often as not, punishment. try reading http://www.haaretz.com for a start and you’ll soon see some pretty trenchant criticism coming from within israel itself. it is not the exclusive preserve of the left-wing diaspora. that’s what does my head in, this idea that there isn’t any criticism, so the IJV are somehow being “brave” and “speaking out”. by comparison, there is virtually nothing on the palestinian side, which sees journalists as “footsoldiers of the revolution” and time and again, overtly revels joyously in casualties inflicted on civilians, whilst refusing to regret (with very few exceptions other than at presidential level) any consequences. i don’t see any calls other than from diplomats (and some sensible arab commentators in asharq al-awsat, which is published in london, presumably so its offices can’t be bombed by the outraged) for the palestinian factions to get a grip on their addiction to violence.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    94. Chairwoman — on 7th February, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

      “you see, this is precisely what gets up my nose, your assumption that you know what motivates israelis and jews. you don’t. you are utterly crazy if you think any of us, israelis or non-israelis, think death is anything other than a tragedy. the only justification any of us (apart from the real nutters, who do not control government policy) would ever give for casualties is deterrence or self-defence. now i am the first to admit that israeli strategy and tactics in this department, to say nothing of execution, has been often ill-considered and frequently bungled. what i object to is your continual suggestions that they want to kill people and that they somehow glory in death and destruction. nothing could be further from the truth. the israelis and all of us want peace.”

      Yup. Sums it up for me too.

      Unfortunately there aren’t enough Anases, Nyrones, Refreshes and Sids out there promoting a 2 state solution. You may say that there aren’t enough Chairwomen, Katies and bananabrains.

      Perhaps this is the case. Perhaps we all truly represent that old ‘silent majority’. Assuming that is the case, a more successful campaign would be for us to start something in our communities that would be truly representative of what ‘real’ people think.

      To Jews, Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh and Miriam Margolis are our same old, same olds. I know you have a few of your own. What we need are some new, young, vibrant faces (which rules me out, but I can help behind the scenes). I’ve got Katy and bb. Who’s on your team.

      Let’s stop all this bickering, finger pointing and name calling, and try and actually DO something. We’d all like to see peace in the Middle East, but you’ve all (statistically) got more time to see it than I have.

      Come on chaps, give me a break.

    95. bananabrain — on 7th February, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

      i’d like to do something, but i fear i’m already doing it. and i’m over-committed. i thought this article was quite interesting though: some criticisms of the ijv that i hadn’t come up with.

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/822761.html

      admittedly anyone who works for the interdisciplinary center in herzliya is probably right wing, but i dare say his points are worth making.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    96. Sunny — on 7th February, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

      What we need are some new, young, vibrant faces (which rules me out, but I can help behind the scenes). I’ve got Katy and bb. Who’s on your team.

      CW, this is why I started and launched NGN. Behind the big names like Zia Sardar and Yasmin… there are plenty of fresh, progressive faces. And we’re getting organised. There is little doubt about that. But you have to understand that in order for people to think this is all going somewhere, there has to be progress from ‘the other side’ (and I mean that only in the I/P context, not generally) too.

      Just to point something out. I had a huge amount of support from Muslim groups and Muslim thinkers when launching NGN. But they didn’t want to put their names to the document for many of the reasons why BB has criticised IJV. This is why I become so defensive. I know the positive sentiments are there on either side. I just wish people stopped becoming so defensive.

    97. sonia — on 7th February, 2007 at 2:56 pm  

      “Communities secretary Ruth Kelly will today outline plans to give more government money to community projects rather than national Muslim groups. “We can’t win the battle of hearts and minds from Whitehall, it can only be won in local communities,” she will say. “But we can provide more support and strategic leadership.”

      -
      interesting. it will certainly be sensible to give support to local networks and links, rather than the usual national ‘reps’.

    98. Chairwoman — on 7th February, 2007 at 4:07 pm  

      bb - I don’t think that the IJV are for dismantling the state of Israel at all, I made this point a lot earlier on this thread, I agreed with virtually everything you said #93. I also agree that non-Jews don’t get how we feel about Israel.

      The Board of Deputies, as I understand it, are appointed to represent us politically and communally here in the UK. Admittedly, whenever the election forms came round from the US, the nominees were invariably people I had gone to junior school with who I had loathed and for whom I wouldn’t vote. But I see them as a body to stand for our views on shechita, circumcision, education, provision of burial grounds etc., rather than to flag-wave for Israel. There are other organisations better equipped for that.

      So under those circumstances, I support the IJV’s stance on the BoD. I also think there are more than a few Jewish people here who would like to see more restraint by Israel’s government, but lack the right representation. Unfortunately, I don’t think, for reasons that I gave earlier, that these are the right people for the job.

    99. Katy — on 7th February, 2007 at 4:56 pm  

      US = United Synagogue.

      (Bit of cultural translation for the non-Red Sea Pedestrians out there.)

    100. bananabrain — on 7th February, 2007 at 6:14 pm  

      i think chairwoman’s right about the correct role for the board - whether they are fulfilling it or not is a different matter. there are organisations like bicom and british friends of peace now etc for lobbying - if anything the ijv should be concerned with these, not the actual board. there is also heavy british representation in “rabbis for human rights” and many of the direct action groups.

      But you have to understand that in order for people to think this is all going somewhere, there has to be progress from ‘the other side’ (and I mean that only in the I/P context, not generally) too.

      well, sunny, i’ll happily sign up to the ngn declaration for what it’s worth, but if you get many of the people from the ijv signed up, you’ll regret it, because all they do is yell, yell and yell some more. they don’t actually discuss things. maybe my own people would be better placed to become your “token jews”? i can get you any number of young and happening community activists and rabbis as well.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    101. Sunny — on 8th February, 2007 at 12:36 am  

      bb - let’s do it. Actually i had a chat with someone today about taking ngn forward and one of the things i need to do is get people together from ‘various constituences’ (i hate that phrase) and see if we can agree on some common platforms and how to move forward. i’ll get in touch with you over it soon. Just need to figure out a few things first.

      Agree with CW on #98.

    102. bananabrain — on 8th February, 2007 at 9:23 am  

      coolio. well, you can either get me at the bananabrain email address or katy can let you have my non-bananabrain one if you haven’t already got it.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    103. Refresh — on 8th February, 2007 at 10:14 am  

      Come on why the fudge?

      Either IJV has a view that is worth supporting or it doesn’t.

      BananaBrain and his friends to only sign up to NGN but be very critical of IJV is stupid. In any case playing the numbers game is only going to backfire.

      I am also very confused as to how and what work you do within the inter-faith structures, when your quite disparaging about Bungalow-wallah on a personal level.

      As it happens I believe the IJV manifesto is much more of one and with a future for the simple reason it is not divisive. What is divisive is the attacks on it.

      If the NGN had been worded in the way IJV had been - I too would have been signing up.

      On the whole if you are suspicious of an organisation because of the people that sign-up to it then all it says is that you should measure it by its actions. And that means you need to give it time. Not attack it the moment it emerges.

      Give it time.

      As for NGN, I am giving it a lot of time because of the statement itself and the people behind it.

    104. bananabrain — on 8th February, 2007 at 12:12 pm  

      sunny,

      i’ll happily sign the ngn manifesto with the following caveats:

      a discussion which has been manipulated by recent governments to demonise minority groups

      i’m not really happy with this as a statement, because i’m not convinced any groups apart from asylum seekers and islamists (as opposed to muslims in general) have been *intentionally* demonised. i do think that muslims in general have been demonised, but i don’t believe this was either the intent or in the interest of any government, tory or labour. i think the fact that they have been is largely due to the media and the antics of the islamist peanut gallery - the same way that omid djalili points out:

      “and now, for a view from the muslim community, over to their representative, sheikh crazy-arab-with-a-hook:”

      CAWAH: “ALLAHU AKBAR, JIHADJIHADJIHADKAFIRSJIHADZIONISTSPALESTINE etc…”‘ (jumps up and down, frothing through beard)

      Contrary to scare-stories of “sleepwalking into segregation” or riots on the streets, many studies show that segregation is decreasing. We do not accept such broad generalisations.

      unfortunately, it is certainly true in the jewish community, the more religiously right you go.

      other than this, it’s all great.

      refresh:

      unlike the ngn manifesto, the ijv manifesto is reductive and simplistic and has a clear political bias. that, along with the history of tactics used by many of its prime movers, leads me to be not only sceptical, but suspicious.

      i am engaged informally and formally in many different interfaith conversations. i do not work professionally in the field but am in the loop with many of the people that do. i am trying to get an organisation off the ground to provide a forum for many of these discussions within the jewish community and it is proving to be extremely hard work.

      i am entitled to be rude about bungalow-wallah in this forum if i like; i think the guy’s a weasel. i think sacranie is also a weasel. i think a lot of the people in this debate are weasels and a lot of them are disingenuous. obviously these are my private opinions, i am entitled to hold them. that’s one of the reasons that i write under a pseudonym, as do many of the posters here including yourself.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    105. Anas — on 8th February, 2007 at 1:18 pm  

      now i am the first to admit that israeli strategy and tactics in this department, to say nothing of execution, has been often ill-considered and frequently bungled. what i object to is your continual suggestions that they want to kill people and that they somehow glory in death and destruction.

      Actually, Israeli terrorism, like all kinds of terrorism is simply a tactic, a means of achieving a political or military aim through the terrorisation of and inculcation of fear amongst a group of people: in this case it was fairly obvious the aim was to get the Lebanese population to turn against Hezbollah (Remember Israel’s CoS’s boast that he would “turn Lebanon’s clock back twenty years”?). Both HRW and Amnesty made it clear that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians — or at the very least completely and blithely indescriminate in its campaign of bombing-, and to quote Kate Gilmore of Amnesty:

      . The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of power and water plants, as well as the transport infrastructure vital for food and other humanitarian relief, was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy.

      There’s ample other evidence to suggest that Israel was repeating the same tactics it used to remove the PLO from Lebanon in the early 80s: huge indescriminate attacks on civilian populations that would inevitably exact massive tolls, and that would force the host population to agigate for the removal of the offending group. (check out my WHO IS SHE? blog piece for the links for the quotes)

      Does Israel want to kill people and does it glorify death and destruction? No but it does it because it works and because it can get away with it, what with being under the protectorate of the USA- so there’s nothing stupid about it whatsoever. Therefore I agree, to an extent, with “the fact is israel simply does not see killing as an end”, the end in the case of the Palestinians is of course ethnic cleansing.

      there is a list of israeli organisations, to say nothing of israeli media, as long as your arm who scrutinise everything that goes on, which results in public criticism, investigations and as often as not, punishment. try reading http://www.haaretz.com for a start and you’ll soon see some pretty trenchant criticism coming from within israel itself.

      Yes, I agree completely. The work of courageous Israeli writers (and they are brave given the general indifference, if not hostility, of the Israeli population towards Palestinian rights) like Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, and Tanya Reinhardt, and groups like BTSelem is invaluable; and the irony in your mentioning them is that these individuals/groups always have a *LOT* to write about. The problem is that the extent to which the efforts of such individuals/groups work to curb Israeli brutality and repression in the occupied territories is highly questionable (for example see this report, and there are plenty of other examples, Stephen Lendman gives a good summaryhere).

      That’s the thing. To quote George Galloway, if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s highly likely that it is a duck. And it seems to me that this is true of so many in the Jewish community — and sadly I’m afraid to say, of you and Chairwoman, and other assorted Israel supporters — that when it comes to Israel you’re unwilling to call a duck a duck, to call terrorism and repression, terrorism and repression, to see the systematic program of ethnic cleansing and brutality that the Israeli occupation has entailed, regardless of who has been in charge, Labour or Likud — rather you like to concede a few mistakes and instances of brutality here and there, the need for more “restraint”. And your excuse of last resort always seems to be “well you don’t know what Israel means to us Jews”, I’m sorry but nothing justifies what’s happening to the Palestinians right now, not all the past injustices that have been visited upon the Jews, nothing.

      Now, I hope you understand why I feel that the ijv is so important.

    106. Anas — on 8th February, 2007 at 1:21 pm  

      assorted PP Israel supporters, I mean

    107. Chairwoman — on 8th February, 2007 at 1:43 pm  

      Anas - I will agree that there has been repression, but terrorism? Only if every occupying force everywhere is terrorist.

      If it were ethnic cleansing, there wouldn’t be a Palestinian left in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza.

      And as for calling me blinkered. Do I hear the voice of the pot addressing the kettle.

    108. Katy Newton — on 8th February, 2007 at 1:49 pm  

      I don’t “support” Israel. I just don’t demonise it like you do. That’s the point that bb was making - I find the constant smearing of Israelis and Jews who “support” Israel as people that glory in the deaths of Palestinians pretty offensive.

    109. Katy Newton — on 8th February, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

      I don’t “support” Israel. I just don’t demonise it like you do. That’s the point that bb was making - I find the constant smearing of Israelis and Jews who “support” Israel as people that glory in the deaths of Palestinians pretty offensive.

    110. Katy Newton — on 8th February, 2007 at 1:51 pm  

      Oh pants, that wasn’t meant to be posted twice. But I am really tired of being called an Israeli “supporter” because I don’t agree that Israelis are trying to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. I support peace. You might not agree with everything I say but you’re the one who puts people in opposing camps, Anas. And I say that as someone who has grown strangely fond of you.

    111. Refresh — on 8th February, 2007 at 3:27 pm  

      Chairwoman,

      I don’t actually feel a 2-state solution is the answer. We’ve all been bounced into it, but its a step forward.

      For me a 2-state solution is a mechanism to break down the barriers and snuff out the rage and remove the cynical regimes in Israel and the other countries of the region.

      Beyond that I would want a free movement of all peoples.

    112. Anas — on 8th February, 2007 at 10:36 pm  

      Ooops, here it is again with less red.

      I will agree that there has been repression, but terrorism? Only if every occupying force everywhere is terrorist.

      Come on CW, don’t be naive. How else can you maintain an almost 40 year long occupation of an already populated area which you want to colonize with members of your own population and integrate within your country — without integrating the captive population — and whose resources you want to command for your own, without terrorising the population whenever they start to show signs of getting uppity? I think Moshe Dayan, someone who is renowned as one of the most pro-Arab and conciliatory of prominent Israeli military leaders and politicians, put the official rejectionist Israeli position well:

      We have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.

      I find the constant smearing of Israelis and Jews who “support” Israel as people that glory in the deaths of Palestinians pretty offensive.

      That’s actually not what I’m saying at all. My point is that the problem is that good, reasonable and sane people(e.g., you, CW, and bb) are turning a blind eye to what’s going on, not glorifying it, but neither are are you raising your voices when you really should be: Which is in effect read by many as tacit support of those particular policies. Not that silence in always tacit support, but in some instances it is important to speak out when actions are supposedly committed in your name. For example, many would argue that it was extremely important for the Muslim community to denounce those terrorists who had committed the London bombings, or 9/11 in the name of Islam, in their aftermath.

      And no, I don’t make expect anyone to make comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany.

    113. ZinZin — on 9th February, 2007 at 12:23 am  

      Anas
      Do you actually think the Palestinians do themselves any favours adopting terror tavtics themselves? Its all very well focusing on Israeli crimes but how about a bit of balance.

      “For example, many would argue that it was extremely important for the Muslim community to denounce those terrorists who had committed the London bombings, or 9/11 in the name of Islam, in their aftermath.”

      Its all very well calling on CW,BB and Katy to be more critical of Israel but your a hezbollah supporter. Drop the anti-imperialism of fools Anas it does you no favours.

    114. Anas — on 9th February, 2007 at 12:34 am  

      ZZ, see post 70, notice how I describe Hezbollah as committing acts of terrorism. And I’m against terror tactics on principle, rather than because they don’t work .

      Anyway, the general point is that Israel’s supporters seem to get away with it — whereas my even asking the question of whether or not solidarity with Hezbollah was wrong in itself on another thread immediately drew a chorus of extreme disaproval.

    115. El Cid — on 9th February, 2007 at 12:37 am  

      Anas,
      Apart from I/P what is u about?

    116. Sunny — on 9th February, 2007 at 12:39 am  

      Anas - you are hypocritical, like all the others on this issue. Everyone sees themselves as the victims, so just continuously copying and pasting comments and writing stuff like “oh but can’t you see you’re turning a blind eye to all these atrocities” ad infinitum gets you nowhere. Because they can turn around and accuse you of being blind to the Hizbullah rockets into Israel and Hamas suicide bombers.

      You think it’s in defence, they think their actions are in defence. Surely you’re not too thick to understand that…. whether you agree with it or not. It’s bizarre how difficult it is for people to see the other side’s viewpoint.

      the reason why people are resisting the IJV manifesto is the same reason you resisted the NGN manifesto - no one really wants to admit they might be at fault. they would much rather pretend it was the other’s fault first.

      This conversation is boring now, give it a rest.

    117. Anas — on 9th February, 2007 at 12:47 am  

      Because they can turn around and accuse you of being blind to the Hizbullah rockets into Israel and Hamas suicide bombers.

      I just said I’m not blind to the terrorist actions of Hezbollah. They can accuse me of what they like in retaliation for my bringing up Israel’s human rights record — regardless of whether they’re doing so accurately or not — it’s still a logical fallacy, ad hominem te quoque. There’s a nice bit of latin to counter the ad infinitum.

    118. Anas — on 9th February, 2007 at 12:48 am  

      OOps tu quoque

    119. Sunny — on 9th February, 2007 at 1:51 am  

      I just said I’m not blind to the terrorist actions of Hezbollah.

      So you’re a willing supporter of a terrorist organisation? I haven’t actually said Israel’s human rights record is good; I think its terrible. But that doesn’t mean I want to see is destroyed and I think other countries such as India/Pak have an even worse human rights record. So where’s the logical fallacy here?

    120. douglas clark — on 9th February, 2007 at 3:12 am  

      Anas,

      You seem to know a lot more about this, the Middle East, than I do.

      That is frankly a dangerous thing.

      You live in Glasgow. So you’ll be aware that people are killed over the Battle of the Boyne, and shit like that? In your own town.

      The people that murder others are, let me put this in a touchy feely liberal sort of way, ignorant bastards.

      That’s the town you live in. They don’t give a fuck about Israel or Palestine. You do. But they kill each other over a subject neither you nor I care about.

      And what can you and I say about them, then? That they are ignorant fools, trapped in a lurid history? That they ought to stop it?

      Of course.

      Read and contrast to the ME, right now.

      Tell me what the difference is.

      I think, there is none.

      Your view?

    121. Chairwoman — on 9th February, 2007 at 7:36 am  

      Refresh - I too am in favour of open borders. Ideally I’d like universal open borders and a worldwide single currency.

      Ho hum.

      In defence of Anas - he feels so strongly about I/P that I imagine it’s almost physically painful, but at no time has he said that he supports terrorism or wishes any harm to befall Jews generally and Israelis in particular.

      It’s just that his solution for Palestinians is about as likely to occur as my desire for open borders and single currency.

    122. brachyury — on 9th February, 2007 at 9:37 am  

      Sorry to be pedantic but an ad hominem attack is not a logical fallacy though it is often considered bad form. Plus strictly speaking that is not an ad hominem attack (an atack on your personality unrelated to the matter at hand) but an accusation of hypocrisy (an attack on your personal views related to the matter at hand).

    123. Chairwoman — on 9th February, 2007 at 9:50 am  

      Jewish Chronicle got lots of IJV stuff today, including the advertisement.

      The general concensus is that (a) there are plenty of Jewish organisations for example ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’ with similar views and (b) it’s the same old faces.

      The very appearance of Harold Pinter’s name is what sets most peoples teeth on edge, because he is so vocal about his general disenfranchment from Judaism.

    124. brachyury — on 9th February, 2007 at 10:04 am  

      There used to be a rather boring consensus view amongst liberals who knew a bit about the middle east. It was a tediously obvious truism and ran something like-”it’s a tragedy how they (Israelis and Palestinians) have both become stuck in a self defeating self-abasing circle, they need to break out of it.”
      It used to make me grind my teeth but I pretty much agreed with it.

      Recently liberal views seem to have become ‘Pinterised’ to something like-
      “Its a tragedy how the Israelis/Zionist/Jews (delate as applicable) are allowed to get away with murder”

      Oh how I long for the fair, boring, dull, middle of the road, common sense view. Bring it back.

    125. Chairwoman — on 9th February, 2007 at 10:06 am  

      Amen to that.

    126. bananabrain — on 9th February, 2007 at 10:33 am  

      and from me. pinterisation is simply the flip side of phillipisation, or bunglawallization. i want to copyright the latter two, though!

      incidentally, my colleague who was named as a signatory of the advert was neither advised of where it was going to be put, what was going to be in it or when it was going to be put in and he’s quite annoyed about that when what he actually did was sign up to the manifesto several months ago. he considers the timing to be both provocative and execrable.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    127. Sunny — on 9th February, 2007 at 1:18 pm  

      I don’t think most Muslims like the idea that every other day a headline in the Evening Standard or Daily Mail or Express claimw that ‘Islam is a death cult’ or ‘Muslims pose a threat to our way of life’ or putting every little Muslim controversy on the front page either.

      But hey, you can’t have life how you want it.

    128. Anas — on 9th February, 2007 at 1:22 pm  

      hi brach, technically speaking it’s an informal fallacy (i.e., the structure of the argument is OK, but the content isn’t), and it’s ad hominem tu quoque — the tu quoque bit (you too) is important.

    129. Anas — on 9th February, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

      So you’re a willing supporter of a terrorist organisation?

      I’m a supporter of Hezbollah, but I don’t agree with its terrorist actions. Similarly you wouldn’t have dismissed the ANC during aparthied on the basis of its terrorist actions if you’d supported its overall aims.
      In the same vein, I think a lot of actions that Israel commits qualify as terrorist actions, but I wouldn’t automatically call a supporter of Israel a terrorist sympathiser because they could support the state without supporting some of the tactics that state uses.

      I haven’t actually said Israel’s human rights record is good; I think its terrible. But that doesn’t mean I want to see is destroyed and I think other countries such as India/Pak have an even worse human rights record. So where’s the logical fallacy here?

      I wasn’t accusing you of a logical fallacy or of denying Israel’s human rights record (in fact I never said anything about you at all). And I’ve never said I want to see Israel destroyed!

      But you’re right this topic is getting boring, so as I said, rather prematurely in another post, I am going to cut down on my posting here — and I won’t be tempted even if Sunny opens another topic on Israel. I do want to say, however, that contrary to appearances, I have learned a lot from bananabrain, Katy, and especially Chairwoman. And I do appreciate their viewpoints and the chance to discuss these topics in a civil and dare I say, friendly, manner. I hope that means I’m not as thick as it seems to appear.

    130. Katy Newton — on 9th February, 2007 at 2:53 pm  

      Oh Anas, don’t cut down. Really. If people don’t talk about these things then nothing will ever get sorted out.

    131. El Cid — on 9th February, 2007 at 3:47 pm  

      Has Anas finally been ground down by a Zionist three-line whipe?
      Just kidding. It’s been very civil. A lesson for crude urbanistas everywhere.
      However, Im sure that I’m not the only one wondering what Anas’ view might be on other key PP topics aside from I/P. Like…. the merits of Partick Thistle or Jehohav Witnesses?

    132. Refresh — on 10th February, 2007 at 1:32 am  

      Chairwoman, definitely open borders. Free movement of people. Single currency yes a people’s currency. Rules out the US Dollar.

      Hizbullah - did and have done a fantastic job. Otherwise we’d already have Israeli ‘advisors’, US and British forces in Iran.

      Get some sense. Break out of whatever it is that you fear. Realise that each people have a right to self-determination and not some imperialism, cultural, military or otherwise.

    133. Refresh — on 10th February, 2007 at 2:17 pm  

      Chairwoman, only the first para was for you.

    134. Chairwoman — on 10th February, 2007 at 2:28 pm  

      I guessed.

    135. Katy — on 10th February, 2007 at 3:37 pm  

      I’ve just looked at the signatories and I can’t help noticing that there’s an awful lot of doctors on there :D

    136. Chairwoman — on 10th February, 2007 at 4:06 pm  

      They must be the real, good, doctors :-)

    137. Anas — on 15th February, 2007 at 1:58 pm  

      Hey Chairwoman, I thought you might find this article interesting:

      http://www.counterpunch.org/kolko02102007.html

    138. Chairwoman — on 15th February, 2007 at 3:56 pm  

      Thanks Anas, I agree with a lot of what’s said there. If you remember, some months ago when I first started posting here, I said that the US and USSR had used Israel and the Palestinians as proxies to fight their battles for them, and the best thing for the region would be for everybody to clear out, and leave it to sort itself out.

      What’s really needed is for all parties in the ME to elect pragmatic leaders to say to the western powers ‘Thank you very much, but we’re big boys now’. Then we might get some good news.

    139. sonia — on 15th February, 2007 at 4:06 pm  

      “and the best thing for the region would be for everybody to clear out, and leave it to sort itself out.”

      well put chairwoman..

    140. Leon — on 15th February, 2007 at 4:13 pm  

      and the best thing for the region would be for everybody to clear out, and leave it to sort itself out.

      Agreed both sides should cut funding to both sides.

    141. Anas — on 15th February, 2007 at 4:43 pm  

      Yep, it’s a very good article, CW. I think this excerpt is extremely important and very pertinent to where we’re at now:

      Serious Israeli strategists overwhelmingly believe, to cite Reuven Pedatzur in Ha’aretz last November, that “mutual assured deterrence, can be forged, with high degree of success, between Israel and Iran.” Israeli strategic thinking is highly realistic. Early this February a study released at a conference by the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University predicted that Iran would behave rationally with nuclear weapons and “that the elimination of Israel is not considered to be an essential national interest” for it. Iran “will act logically, evaluating the price and risks involved.” A preemptive attack on Iran nuclear research sites would “be a strategic mistake,” Pedatzur warned the conference, and the use of tactical nuclear weapons against them sheer folly. “Our best option is open nuclear deterrence.”

    142. Chairwoman — on 15th February, 2007 at 5:18 pm  

      Yes I agree. Iran does a lot of posturing, but I think it’s highly unlikely that anyone will attack anyone.

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