ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for July 10th, 2009

The Guardian, Moderation and Anti-Jewish Racism.

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I can see that when a final reckoning on the CiF project at the Guardian is conducted that it won’t be too pretty.

Certainly, the Guardian’s CiF has stimulated debate, but what safeguards have been put in place to avoid it being used to foster racism and bigotry.

Latterly the Guardian introduced some moderation but in the more contentious threads many racist remarks still slip through.

The racist remarks that slip through a notable for one particular reason, they are normally aimed at only one social and ethnic minority, Jews.

Other bigoted comments which attack gays, blacks, the Roma, or even Muslims, etc are picked up with great speed and deleted before you could say “worried liberal”.

But it would be a fairly easy task to implement a careful moderation scheme which also manages the outpouring of anti-Jewish racism. Sadly, the Guardian and its staff are seemingly incapable of doing that relatively simple task.

I can’t determine if it is a lack of will, an indifference, a deficit in training or just plain laziness which means the Guardian forums on anything remotely connected to Israel often become a hotbed of barely concealed anti-Jewish racism.

This is surely surprising, as the Guardian, being Britain’s only liberal daily newspaper should be in the forefront of the opposition to anti-Jewish racism, but as we saw when it pushed Churchill’s nasty racist play, Seven Jewish Children, it is clearly losing its moral compass, or at least playing to the lowest common denominator. I’m not sure which.

Either way it is not an edifying sight, still it reminds me of what Dave Rich wrote:

“It is often said, not least by CST, that criticism of Israel is perfectly legitimate, just as it is of any other state. Equally, though, people who want to criticise or campaign against Israel should exercise care that their activities do not invoke or allude to traditional antisemitic imagery or language.

Written by modernityblog

10/07/2009 at 18:53

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The Guardian Getting Touchy About Own Racism on Cif.

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Well, not really. My impression is that the Guardian doesn’t mind criticizing Israelis or Jews, but can’t stand it when their obvious prejudices are pointed out.

I have been following an article by Ben White on CiF, and had commented:

“I can only wonder, in say 10 or 20 years from now, when someone is writing a potted history of how anti-Jewish racism came to resurrect itself in England, how the Guardian, as a liberal newspaper, will fare?

Not too well I suspect.

Here’s Eric Lee’s account of that meeting.

http://www.ericlee.info/2009/07/an_east_london_horror_story.html

Then a few minutes later my remarks had been deleted:

“modernityblog

10 Jul 09, 2:18pm (about 1 hour ago)
This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.”

Which is somewhat strange, as my comment was fairly innocuous. I can only assume that they are a bit touchy about being reminded of the racism that they are pushing.

Update: Other poster at CiF had similar problems (from the comment above):

I had the following deleted. CIF moderation told me it was because i had made personal attacks on WHite.

1) Ben – Would you support Israel building the wall along the Green Line ?

Why have you banned a Jewish person from attending your book launch tonight ? Because he’s from a pro-Israeli organisation. Can you not take debate ? Or is it so there isn’t a repeat performance of the anti-semitic abuse (Hitler was right) dished out at the last meeting for your book launch.

You have already written that you can understand why some people are antisemitic which says it all.

2) Hi Syd. Hoffman is definitely banned from the meeting. It’s a War On Want meeting for his booklaunch. Either WOW have banned Hoffman or White has forced WOW to ban him. If it’s WOW then Ben should call fro Hoffman to be allowed entry to the meeting.

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/07/war-on-truth/

“At a recent meeting arranged by White, a woman was jeered when she said her Jewish-sounding name prior to asking a question. Another Jew present was told the Nazis should have finished the job.

Seems that Ben White in his new book has been using false quotes. Bearing in mind he’s a Cambridge graduate in English it’s strange that White has done this as he certainly has the capabilities to source and check his quotations correctly. Bit of a whiff !

http://blog.z-word.com/2009/07/lies-damn-lies-and-the-apartheid-analogy/

No wonder War On Want don’t want Hoffman at the book launch tonight.”

Update 2: Another poster comments:

“I have attempted to criticise Ben White’s neglect of any Israeli perspective on the fence (pro or con) in three varying forms, all non-aggressive or accusatory. I also tried to link to Harry’s Place which have an important response to Ben White’s arguments. All have been deleted. This sort of biased censorship in a mainstream newspaper strikes me as frightening more than anything else.”

Update 3: Seismic has two pieces on White and his attitudes.

Written by modernityblog

10/07/2009 at 15:49

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Eric on Ben

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Eric Lee on an encounter with some “Israeli” haters:

“I was one of the last speakers called from audience and to be honest, I was nervous. It probably came out in my voice.

I said that I had the greatest respect for War on Want and the work it does around the world — and I do. But then I added that I was troubled by what was said — and not said — this evening.

Both speakers, Hilary and White, spoke passionately about the suffering of the Palestinians. I reminded the audience of the powerful images that stayed in our minds after hearing the accounts of Israeli soldiers shooting out the windows of a school, or of an ageing Palestinian man whose only dream was to spend one last night in his family home.

But there was not one word of sympathy or understanding for the Jewish victims of this tragedy which has gone on for far too long.

When one of the speakers from the floor pointed out that the separation fence had dramatically reduced the number of terrorist incidents inside Israel, White responded — I pointed out — with a kind of “yeah, whatever”.

I turned to face the two speakers and said to them, when you show empathy for one side, but none for the other, when you feel nothing at all for the Jews and their suffering, there is a word for that.

I began to sit down. White asked “What’s the word?”

But he knew the answer.”

Update: A smart poster at HP covers Ben White fake quotes:

“zkharya 10 July 2009, 8:19 pm

Thank you for demonstrating my point so eloquently, Curdle.
Jon (Hilary ,if ’tis thee),

I do not condone Nonni’s remark, which may very well be racist. However, I think a case can be made that Ben White’s discourse is, in part, discriminatory towards or against Jews, to their hurt and, to that extent, antisemitic.
As to the alleged quotation:

Ilan Pappé, and hence Ben White (I think), cites Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs, English ed., (New York, 1985), p.189:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=OjuKhNEmFvoC&pg=PA188&lpg=PA188&dq=ben+gurion+amos+5+october+1937&source=bl&ots=M0igKZhhiP&sig=pZNpXikFXuOARQ3tIINILWCr0wA&hl=en&ei=SItXSqK5G5CQjAeN7PTNDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4

However Efraim says that Teveth, who is Pappé’s source, said exactly the opposite of what Pappé and at first, but not subsequently, Morris claimed:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nvgat25ddU4C&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=shabtai+teveth+1985+expel&source=bl&ots=5J2QpJcCi5&sig=slCUJeSGv9mHJiPOWS_ncWw7vic&hl=en&ei=SYxXStCuLZ-SjAfss73NDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3

Here is the best quotation of the Hebrew I can find:

We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their place [ ‘ein anu rotsim ve’ein anu tsrihim legaresh aravim ve’lakahat mekomam’]. All our aspiration is built on the assumption – proven throughout all our activity in the Land [of Israel] – that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs. But if we have to use force – not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan; but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places – then we have force at our disposal. (p. 49-50, Fabricating Israeli History: the ‘New Historians’, by Efraim Karsh)

Here is the best online description of the Hebrew of the original document I can find, in this ebook, which, however, is only partially available. You need to read pp. 50-51:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nvgat25ddU4C&pg=PA47&lpg=PA47&dq=shabtai+teveth+1985+expel&source=bl&ots=5J2QpJcCi5&sig=slCUJeSGv9mHJiPOWS_ncWw7vic&hl=en&ei=SYxXStCuLZ-SjAfss73NDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3

On p. 51 you can read of Morris’ admitting his reading was erroneous.
Here is the quotation as it appears on the wiki entry for Ben Gurion:

“We do not wish, we do not need to expel the Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations are built upon the assumption — proven throughout all our activity in the Land — that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.

* Letter to his son Amos (5 October 1937), as quoted in Shabtai Teveth, Ben Gurion: The Burning Ground; and Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians (2000) by Efraim Karsh; this has been extensively misquoted as “[We] must expel Arabs and take their places” after appearing in this form in The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (1987) by Benny Morris, p. 25.”
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/David_Ben-Gurion”

[My emphasis.]

Written by modernityblog

10/07/2009 at 13:47

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Forbidden From Forming Independent Trade Unions.

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Reuters has more:

“BEIJING (Reuters) – Workers in China have become more aware of their rights and willing to go to court to fight for them, but are still hampered by an official ban on independent unions, a labour activist said on Thursday.

Publicity over the 2008 Labour Contract Law, which was opposed by some private business owners and foreign investors, is partly responsible for increased awareness, said Geoffrey Crothall, editor of China Labour Bulletin (CLB), which on Thursday released a survey of labour disputes in China.

Local governments are also becoming somewhat more accommodating of workers’ claims, although in some industries, particularly coal mining, they collude with bosses to stamp out worker action, he said..

“In general, the Chinese government is more conciliatory towards Chinese workers, but that’s not to say that everything in the garden is rosy,” Crothall told reporters.

“Workers are still harassed and detained, although they are less likely to receive long prison sentences.

Collectively, Chinese workers still lack a mechanism to resolve disputes stemming from unpaid wages and poor working conditions, particularly after an economic downturn last year and made economic growth China’s main priority, he said.

The state-backed All China Federation of Trade Unions is unlikely to fight for workers against owners, since its branches are often dominated by management and local party officials.

The union, which collects dues from members’ wages, last year made a strong push to expand into foreign multinationals’ operations in China.

Chinese workers are forbidden from forming independent trade unions.”

Update:
Read the report at China Labour Bulletin.

Written by modernityblog

10/07/2009 at 01:08