13 September 2006

On the Same Page? On the Same Report?

Have you ever read a book or seen a film only later on to read a review of it?

And then to be mystified by the review as if it is talking about another book or film, certainly not the one that you read or saw.

So it is with the Parliamentary report on antisemitism, I have been mystified by people's comments, in particular George Galloway’s and Michael Rosen’s.

Now in some respects I can understand Galloway's point of view, he is allegedly in the pockets of various Middle Eastern dictators and cannot afford to annoy them, too much. Of course in his recent radio programme Galloway made melodramatic pronunciations and then proceeded to slam the report, much as you might expect from such a shallow demagogue and friend of dictators.

But Michael Rosen's views are entirely different, he is known as an activist, poet and man of principle. So Rosen’s article on the Parliamentary report, in the Socialist Worker, makes interesting, if confusing, reading.

Does Mr Rosen discuss attacks on Jews in broad daylight? NO

Does Mr Rosen highlight attacks on synagogues? NO

Does Mr Rosen talk about the increase in antisemitism? Yes, some two thirds of the way in

Does Mr Rosen bring up the desecration of Jewish graves? Eventually, on the second to last paragraph

Well, what does he do?

He spends most of the article concentrating on definitions and how the report is really a sly attempt at attacking anti-Zionists.

Mr Rosen bemoans definitions, his condemnation verges almost on the paranoid when he states:

“The message is clear - anti-Zionists beware. Criticism of Israeli government policies will be permitted, but if you attack the core creed of Zionism, then we’ll call in the law.”

However,if you actually read the report , it makes clear that criticism of Israel, is not automatically antisemitic.

In fact, the report belabours the distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, nor does it suggest that anti-Zionists should be jailed for their views.

Some examples from the report are below:

Page 7, “The committee unanimously recognised that criticism of Israel should not, in itself, be regarded as antisemitic…”

Page 23: “76. One of the most difficult and contentious issues about which we have received evidence is the dividing line between antisemitism and criticism of Israel or Zionism.”

Page 24: “79. However, most of those who gave evidence were at pains to explain that criticism of Israel is not to be regarded in itself as antisemitic. It is perfectly possible to be critical of the policies and actions of the government of Israel without being antisemitic. The Israeli government itself may, at times, have mistakenly perceived criticism of its policies and actions to be motivated by antisemitism, but we received no evidence of the accusation of antisemitism being misused by mainstream British Jewish community organisations and leaders.”

Page 24: “80. Some witnesses felt that it is misleading to characterise as antisemitic any contemporary attacks on Jews deriving from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Page 24: “82. Rather than explaining the distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government, we took the view that anti-Israel discourse can, at times, become polluted by antisemitism and it is more important in each case to identify whether or not this has occurred.”

Page 24: “83. For example, criticism of Zionism is not in itself antisemitic. However, in some quarters an antisemitic discourse has developed that is in effect antisemitic because it views Zionism itself as a global force of unlimited power and malevolence throughout history.”

And so on, I shall deal with other points later on.

Suffice to say only the most deluded, political illiterate or those who haven't read the report thoroughly, would concur with Michael Rosen’s summary of the report.

I confess that I tried to take up some of these issues with Michael Rosen at Harry's Place, but I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer on many outstanding questions.

It does make me wonder if we were reading the same report?


Anonymous said...

Poor old Mod, so full of his own importance and so incapable of getting straight answers to his important questions, let alone comments on his bloviations.

ModernityBlog said...

I'll bet that 99% of anti-zionists haven't even read the report, have you?