ModernityBlog

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

Posts Tagged ‘White

Engage Guest Post

with 2 comments

I forgot, I have a small guest post at Engage.

Written by modernityblog

21/07/2009 at 15:10

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Ben White, Stop Digging.

with 12 comments

I feel a bit sorry for Ben White, not for his privileged upbringing or quality Oxbridge education, but rather for the fact that he is a bit of a political masochist and hasn’t learnt the expression, when in a hole stop digging.

White has an article on the Liberal Conspiracy blog, seemingly explaining his views and trying to put some distance between him and the Iranian President.

That is quite understandable and if Omar Khayyam could be persuaded otherwise I am sure that Ben White would like to erase his 2006 article on Ahmadinejad.

Readers will no doubt remember Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory speeches in 2006? And how it was fairly obvious that Ahmadinejad was indulging in populist racism.

Still, there were people who wished to see Ahmadinejad in a charitable light and explain away his views. Any number of quibbles were raised concerning his exact words and their translation into English, but what couldn’t be translated away was his sentiment.

Ahmadinejad’s excusers became less numerous as he invited the creme de la creme of holocaust deniers to Teheran for a denier’s get-together and hosted such notables as Faurisson, Duke and Renouf.

The excuse that Ahmadinejad was merely articulating “anti-Zionism” sounded pretty hollow when he received the applause of so many assorted and deranged neo-Nazis. Eventually, it became an untenable argument except for the most entrenched ideologue or bigot.

Now in 2009, belatedly, White admits Ahmadinejad’s racism, but plays a game with it. White accuses his critics of being “Israel’s apologists” and using “the cry of anti-semitism”. Many of these criticisms relate to White’s new book, and the pasting that it received at the end of Jonathan Hoffman’s pen.

White is clearly on the defensive and, conspicuously, does not acknowledge the numerous errors contained in the book, as highlighted by Jonathan Hoffman’s various critiques.

Nor does White admit, in the Liberal Conspiracy article his use of doctored quotes to bolster his arguments.

Instead White tries to play the victim, the honest author caught by the intrigues of the dastardly “Zionists”.

All in all, its a bit of a feeble ploy to distract attention from his faulty use of history, his propensity for political exaggeration and his lamentable research skills.

I do wish White would stop digging, as the hole he’s in is getting deeper and deeper.

Update: I had forgotten about White’s article in CounterPunch.

White explains how he understands antisemitism, which is not a promising start for someone who tried to explain away Ahmadinejad’s outbursts, then writes a book attacking Israel, containing doctored quotes which portray Israeli and Jewish leaders in the worst possible light.

Update 2: James Mendelsohn has a lovely post at Z-blog, I was struck by this:

“Of course, all of this begs the question: why does White treat all these sources as authoritative? After all, if you are aiming to write a ‘highly readable introduction’ for ‘beginners’, surely you owe it to them to use the most reliable sources possible; or, at the very very least, to give some sort of acknowledgement that the sources you do use have been (vigorously) contested.

White does neither, for which there can surely be only two possible explanations.

Either he knew that many of his sources are discredited but decided to cite them anyway – which would suggest a lack of integrity on his part.

Alternatively, it’s because he didn’t know that they were discredited, which would suggest he is not quite the specialist his own website suggests.

Either way, his use of these sources, without any qualifications or caveats, is a damning indictment of his work.”[my emphasis]

Update 3: Seismic covers White’s twists and turns in detail and shows where White gets his facts from, Roger Garaudy, a well known Holocaust denier.


Update 4:
Sourcing your material from a known Holocaust denier is not a sensible approach for someone claiming a degree of expertise in the Middle East, as Ben White does.

Still, less is it a shrewd idea after you’ve made a case about how it might be possible to “understand antisemitism”.

Certainly anyone with a modicum of knowledge would not touch Roger Garaudy with a bargepole, unless it was to explain what a thoroughly nasty piece of work he was.

Readers may remember Roger Garaudy, one time Marxist and PCF intellectual, who seemed to have flipped out years ago (I am grasping for a better explanation) and then became a leading Holocaust denier and fixture on the neo-Nazi circuit

Garaudy publishes his racist filth via IHR’s journal.

This is a selection of Garaudy’s revisionist view of history:

“Following are excerpts from an interview with French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, which was broadcast on Iranian TV Channel 1 on December 13, 2005.

Roger Garoudy: None of the well-known people who defeated Hitler and exposed his barbaric deeds said even a single word about gas chambers.

In Churchill’s Memoirs of the Second World War, in Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe, and in General de Gaulle’s memoirs there is no mention of this killing device.

[…]

The only film presented to the judges in the Nuremberg trials showed the Dachau gas chamber. The construction of the Dachau gas chamber was never completed, and it was never used. Since this gas chamber was never completed, yet the film presented at Nuremberg portrayed it as if it were completed, this film must have been a means of deception by American agencies stationed at Dachau.

This film is always shown to tourists, since the eye-witness testimony has already been accepted as fact, and the existence of gas chambers during the Third Reich is considered an indisputable fact. One must therefore conclude that no Jews or other prisoners were killed by poisonous gas – not in Dachau, Bergen, or Buchenwald.

[Archived at MEMRI, http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/965.htm requires registration.]

This is the type of source that Ben White would quote.

Update 5: There’s a bit of a silly slanging match going on at Liberal Conspiracy, none of which addresses the issue of White’s doctored quotes and decidedly questionable sourcing methodology .

Update 6: Garaudy got worse, if that’s possible, according to Amir Taheri, he’s now a 9/11 truther:

“Garaudy asserts that the 9/11 attacks against New York and Washington were organized by the Bu(sic) administration. He also reasserts his belief that the genocide of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War never happened and was “invented as a myth by Churchill, Eisenhower an De Gaulle” to justify the destruction and occupation of Germany.

Update 7: Liberal Conspiracy seems to be down for the moment, another link to White’s article is here.

Update 8:
There is still a debate going on at Mondoweiss, I rather liked this comment:

“Bennet · 3 days ago
Philip. there’s certainly a case of double standards by antizionists going on.

Firstly Mearsheimer and Walt refused to debate with anybody when they first published.

Ben White deleted a comment linking to Hoffman’s piece in White’s facebook page on his book and then threw the member out of the group.

War On Want refused to let Hoffman into the meeting.

The Jewish Socialist Group in the UK refused to circulate a discussion paper from a long-standing member because it was critical of Hizbolla.

The trade union Unison refused to let Trade Union Friends of Israel have a stall at conference even though they had previously always had a stall.

Mona Baker a UK boycott leader sacked the ex head of Amnesty Israel from the board of her translation journal because she was an israeli.

And the list goes on. So antizionists like to dish it out but as soon as people act in the same way or even just stand up for themselves then it’s an antizionist trait to claim they’re being silenced by the “zionist lobby.

So Philip – with the greatest of respect kindly stop wingeing and moaning like a spoilt brat who can’t stand other people having views. And if anti-zionists can’t take it then they shouldn’t be so hypocritical.

The claim of being silenced is an old antisemitic trait thatahas been used by far right opponents of Jewish communities for many years.”


Update 9:
JfJfP must be having a problem updating their web site, as they missed off the most recent critiques: More Damn Lies About Israeli “Apartheid” and More White Lies About Israeli “Apartheid”.

Update 10: I have a guest post on Engage relating to this topic.

Update 11: Petra Marquardt-Bigman’s contribution is worth reading in full, here’s a snippet:

“It is all too obvious that the term “apartheid” makes sense only if Israel, Gaza and the West Bank are assumed to be one legal unit, i.e. one state. Indeed, Ben White is an ardent advocate of the so-called “one-state solution” and he enthusiastically relies on writers who claim that this is an “ethical imperative.” As Ben White himself puts it: “To say that the ‘one-state solution’ is impractical or equals the ‘destruction’ of Israel is poorly concealed code for defending the indefensible and a recipe for continual conflict in a land it is impossible to partition.”

That’s plain enough: for Ben White, insisting on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is “defending the indefensible.”

It is interesting to note in this context that among Ben White’s first published articles there is a piece from 2002 that tackles the question if it is acceptable to “understand” why some people are antisemitic.

White’s stance involves some sophistry, because he pretends that there is no ambiguity to “understanding,” even though the term can obviously refer to a purely intellectual process that results in a rational explanation, or to an emotional process that results in sympathy.

In any case, White proceeds to list “a number of reasons” for antisemitism – which of course means that racism against other groups, like blacks or Muslims, could also be understood as having “reasons”… So would White accept the notion that the attacks of 9/11 provide a “reason” for anti-Muslim sentiments?

Would White accept the ultimately racist notion that the actions of some members of a group somehow provide “reasons” for prejudice and discrimination against the group as a whole?

What is sure is that when it comes to antisemitism, White thinks that “reason” number one is, unsurprisingly, “the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. It is because Zionists have always sought to equate their colonial project with Judaism that some misguidedly respond to what they see on their televisions with attacks on Jews or Jewish property.”

These few lines illustrate why White has been repeatedly suspected of antisemitism, and they also illustrate why he apparently doesn’t quite understand the reason for such accusations. To begin with, White seems to believe that if he says Israel has an “ideology of racial supremacy,” he is stating an obvious fact, and this of course implies that he believes that Jews define themselves as a “race”… Indeed, White also relies on this notion in order to justify his claim that Israel is guilty of practicing “apartheid.” “

Read more here.

Update 12: Seismic Shock again looks into Ben White and his theological underpinning in The Theology Behind the ‘Israeli Apartheid’ Gospel.

Update 13: Seismic points us to something White wrote previously and there is a curious usage of words:

“Popular struggle, like violent resistance, is not an end in and of itself; it is a method, a strategy. It is the end goal, decolonization and liberation from occupation and Zionist apartheid, that is ferociously opposed by the self-declared international guardians of the “peace process” and their friends in the Palestinian elite. The rest is just smoke and mirrors.”

“It is the end goal, decolonization and liberation from occupation and Zionist apartheid,”

If it were almost anyone else I might feel charitable, but is White talking about the “liberation” of existing Israel? Is that a euphemism, for something else?

If it were almost anyone else I might feel charitable, but is White talking about the “liberation” of existing Israel? Is that a euphemism, for something else?

And how does “decolonization” work an existing Israeli state, full of Israelis? Is he proposing to send them somewhere else?

I don’t know.

I suspect White doesn’t know either, my impression is that he writes half of this stuff without thinking it through. Perhaps I am being too charitable?

[Not sure that happened there with the funny characters, all fixed.]

Written by modernityblog

17/07/2009 at 23:07

Political Answers.

with 2 comments

Jfjfp have updated their material on Ben White’s faulty new book and I was struck by this passage:

“that questions White’s accuracy in the use of supporting material and to a response by Ben White that seeks to rebut Hoffman’s claims. As before, publication on the JfJfP website does not imply support for arguments made; they are published as a contribution to debate.”

“the JfJfP website does not imply support for arguments made;…”

It is hard to tell if they are apologizing for including in a critique of White’s work, or that they wish to, partly, distance themselves from White’s book, just in case, it blows up in their face.

Which seems to me to be a political answer.

By that I mean, it is the type of answer that you would get from a professional politician, a form of words which don’t really address the issue, but are often thrown out as a way of placating criticism and hedging one’s bets just in case it all goes wrong.

Astute readers will see that JfJfP leave out Jonathan Hoffman’s final reply to White’s rejoiner, which is posted at the top of Z blog.

Not very impressive either way, as they don’t deal with White’s use of doctored quotes, nor the substance of the criticism which has been leveled at White’s methodology.

Written by modernityblog

16/07/2009 at 00:41

White And The Big Lie Technique.

with 2 comments

Jonathan Hoffman has replied to Ben White’s rejoiner.

There is quite a lot to take in, but one thing is clear White does employ, as Hoffman argues, the Big Lie technique.

White seemingly buttresses his position using doctored quotes and plenty of dog whistles.

What is all the more surprising is that White claims to be a journalist and one of the key attributes of quality journalism is fact checking.

It should have been elementary to check and check again these quotes.

White should have known that the Internet and other places is littered with false quotes which are attributed to Jews, and/or Israeli leaders. Still worse was the role of War on Want and Pluto Press, who should have independently proof read and verified this contentious material.

White has no excuse for his perverse behaviour, but then again neither do those organisations which push his lies.

The Guardian, War on Want and Pluto Press are equally to blame for the dissemination of this pernicious material.

Written by modernityblog

14/07/2009 at 17:45

White Replies.

with 3 comments

Unlike many “anti-Zionists” who appear very touchy concerning criticism of their views, I won’t delete a comment unless it is from a neo-Nazi, white power freak or one of their mates, so I was more than happy to allow Ben White’s comment through moderation.

Ben White posted a link in a comment box below as a rejoiner to Jonathan Hoffman’s criticism of White’s new book.

I haven’t read White’s book, but am sure that when it deservedly finds its way into the bin-ends of a cheap bookshop that I will pay it the attention it merits.

Books demonising Israel are two a penny, attacking Israelis is a pet hobby of many ex-public school boys and the British intelligentsia. It is a very contemptible practice but as many historians have argued the middle classes are more susceptible to Judenhass.

Sadly, the 21st century is turning out to be so similar to the 20th.

Update: White argues ” He [Hoffman] had been banned by the charity from attending due to his past disruptive behaviour.” which seems a bit surprising as TotallyJewish.com relates “He told the Jewish News that he was contacted again this week and informed he would not be allowed to attend as an observer of the discussion, which War on Want claims is open to the public.”

I would have thought that the Charity Commission might want to know that War on Want organises a public meeting then selectively bans members of the public that it does not like.

Written by modernityblog

13/07/2009 at 19:39

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One Final One.

with 12 comments

OK, maybe too much coverage of Ben White’s views, but I think shrewd readers will see the point, which is to show White’s political development, from apologising for Ahmadinejad’s racism to writing a comparatively shoddy book about Israelis.

I feel that Ben’s earlier views are not fully covered (Seismic Shock does a fine job of analysing his twists and turns) and liable to disappear.

Below is a copy of Ben White’s 2006 article for Palestine Chronicle (http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story.php?sid=01100603801), which seems vanished from view. It is taken from the google cache.

“History, Myths, and All the News That’s Fit to Print – January 11, 2006 – 11:52
iran_219.JPG

Ever since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, relations between Iran and the West have grown increasingly strained. There is no one simple reason for this, and responsibility lies with the Americans, the British, the Israelis, and the Iranians themselves.

There are big issues at play, and a lot at stake, from Iran’s nuclear program to the miserable occupation of Iraq, from Israel’s desire for regional hegemony to Iranian domestic politics.

Out of these complex factors, the theme that has often dominated in the media has been the various comments made by President Ahmadinejad regarding Israel. Spread over several months, there have been three particularly high-profile remarks made by the Iranian head of state that have drawn strong condemnation from statesmen and commentators alike, and contributed to the deterioration of EU-Iranian relations.

At the end of last October, Ahmadinejad was addressing an anti-Zionist conference, during which he reiterated his support for Ayatollah Khomeini’s position that Israel “must be wiped off the map.”

Despite the fact that anti-Zionism has been a core element of Iranian policy since the 1979 revolution, these reported remarks touched off a media frenzy and diplomatic firestorm.

Even though these views were nothing ‘new’, there were other incongruities about the incident. Ahmadinejad had not necessarily, as many assumed, called for an apocalyptic battle to wipe out the Jews. Moreover, Israel’s presence on the map has a corollary in Palestine’s cartographic absence, and an anti-Zionist position might well be expressed by the desire to see the Israeli ethnocratic, apartheid infrastructures dismantled – and in that sense remove Israel from the map.

But in what becomes a consistent theme, whatever the actual meaning of Ahmadinejad’s comments – and there is at least more ambiguity than most allowed – a head of state was being threatened with diplomatic sanction at the highest level, not for his nation’s behavior, but for his beliefs. Meanwhile, Israel, highly successful until now in keeping Palestine very much off the map, points the finger and says, ‘We told you so’.

The second, highly publicized, remarks came in mid-December, when Ahmadinejad was reported as denying the Holocaust. The President’s remarks, as detailed on the official Iranian news agency website, did not actually denote a disbelief in the genocide perpetrated against the Jews during World War II. Rather, they sought to highlight the hypocrisy of European guilt over the Holocaust contrasted with their support for the colonization of Palestine:

“If the Europeans are telling the truth in their claim that they have killed six million Jews in the Holocaust during the World War II – which seems they are right in their claim because they insist on it and arrest and imprison those who oppose it, why the Palestinian nation should pay for the crime. Why have they come to the very heart of the Islamic world and are committing crimes against the dear Palestine using their bombs, rockets, missiles and sanctions.”

This is not a particularly controversial argument – the Jews were persecuted in Europe, but the guilt of the Western powers was salved at the expense of the Palestinians. The news agency goes on though to report that the President described how “some have created a myth on holocaust and hold it even higher than the very belief in religion and prophets because when a person expresses disbelief in God, religion and prophets they do not object to him but they will protest to anyone who would reject the Holocaust”. Again, Ahmadinejad is drawing attention to the extent to which European nations prosecute Holocaust deniers, yet are by and large post-Christian societies with little regard for religion. For a devout believer like the Iranian President, this must seem like a strange situation.

Note also that the President said, “some have created a myth on holocaust”. While most people immediately equate a ‘myth’ with a fabricated fairy-tale, this is not necessarily the case. A quick consultation of dictionary definitions confirms that “many historians consider that myths can also be accounts of actual events that have become highly imbued with symbolic meaning.” (Wikipedia). The entry continues, “This process occurs in part because the events described become detached from their original context and new context is substituted, often through analogy with current or recent events”.

Even more relevantly, given the use of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism as a propaganda tool of Zionist apologists, historian Richard Slotkin has described the process whereby historical events become ‘myth’ thus:

Stories drawn from a society’s history that have acquired through persistent usage the power of symbolizing that society’s ideology and of dramatizing its moral consciousness- with all the complexities and contradictions that consciousness may contain.

This is extremely pertinent to the use of the Holocaust, not only in terms of the Western consciousness and relations with Israel, but also in relation to Israel’s national identity. The Holocaust comes to symbolize the intrinsic anti-Jewish racism of ‘Gentile’ societies, and therefore proving the need for a Jewish state. More disturbingly perhaps, the Holocaust acts as a standard for human depravity set so high, that any treatment of the Palestinians is justifiable, as long as it falls short of what was experienced by the Jews in Nazi Europe.

The third of Ahmadinejad’s reported comments made early in the New Year, created far fewer headlines, which when the content is examined, proves instructive. Associated Press carried the comments, but the BBC, keen to cover the previous remarks in detail, deemed the story not newsworthy. On the official Iranian news agency, Ahmadinejad again asked why Europe didn’t pay the cost of a Jewish state itself, but then went further. Affirming that “Iran makes a distinction between Judaism and Zionism”, Ahmadinejad suggested that the original European support for Zionism was itself anti-Semitic in motivation, by ensuring that the Jews were “expelled” from Europe.

This phenomenon, of anti-Semitic support for Zionism, was acknowledged and taken advantage of by early Zionist proponents. There was overlap in the rhetoric of Zionism’s advocates and that of the anti-Semites, since both gained from the idea that the Jew would never ‘belong’ in a ‘Gentile’ society. Theodor Herzl recognized that the anti-Semites would be their “best friends” in galvanizing support for a Zionist state. Ahmadinejad was simply drawing attention to how anti-Semites in Britain and the US supported the Zionist project since it would mean less Jews in their own societies.

It could be argued, therefore, that the comments made by Ahmadinejad in recent months are not anti-Semitic, and instead, throw rhetorical barbs at a subject that is taboo in Western nations, namely, the complex relationship between the Holocaust, anti-Semitism in Europe, Zionism’s beginnings, and continued support for Israel. The reaction to the Iranian President’s thoughts on Israel is even stranger considering the genuine grounds for criticism that exist. The Iranian regime has closed numerous newspapers, and severe restrictions remain on freedom of expression. Internet use is monitored and limited, and homosexuals are executed. Most in the West would want to oppose the very ‘theocratic’ nature of the government itself.

Despite all that, what casts doubt over negotiations with Iran over its nuclear policy, is not its human rights abuses, but the President’s views on Zionism. A country was threatened with censorship and sanction, not because of its actions but on account of the political opinions of its leader (even assuming they were not misinterpreted). In exactly the same week as the furor over Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust remarks, a UK inquest delivered its unanimous verdict that British UN worker Iain Hook had been killed by the Israeli army in Jenin in a “deliberate” act. Another crime in a long list, yet that week, it was Iran being condemned by the international community – on account of a speech.

This very week, there was a small story in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz about a conference taking place in Acre about “finding ways to achieve a permanent Jewish majority” in the city. One of the organizers for the conference is described as believing that “Acre has the right to exist as a mixed city only if it has a permanent Jewish majority”. For Arabs to be labeled a ‘demographic threat’ is par for the course in the Israeli political establishment. But don’t expect Israel’s open support for, and implementation of, occupation, colonization, and racial discrimination, to come under the same scrutiny as Ahmadinejad’s remarks on European history. Because that would be anti-Semitic, right?

Original source: http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story.php?sid=01100603801 [WM] “

Make of it what you will.

Written by modernityblog

12/07/2009 at 00:20

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Amazon Vs. CiF.

with 6 comments

I simply couldn’t resist this, as Seismic said, “Mercifully, the moderators at amazon are less “hands-on”: http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/0745328873

From an Amazon review of Ben White’s book:

” 1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, unbalanced, and ultimately unhelpful, 10 Jul 2009

By Entrepreneur (London) – See all my reviews

Ben White is known to be a very biased writer. He approaches the situation in Israel from a highly prejudice point of view, and makes no effort to be balanced or even handed. So if you’re an unthinking Israel hater, you might like this book, as it’ll add fuel to your fire of hatred. But if you are looking for an intelligent assessment of the complex and terrible situation in the Middle East, and it’s causes, look elsewhere. While White claims to be dealing with the origins of the situation, he does everything but. He prefers not to mention terrorism, and successful measures to stop it.

This author prefers everything to be black and white, good or bad, right or wrong. And for him, Israel can only do wrong. Having gone on the record as ‘understanding why’ people are antisemitic, one might question his reasons for this. No serious author on this topic should be this blinkered, limited, and prejudice. Such an approach is part of the problem, not the solution.

White neglects to mention vital events, such as Israel disengaging completely from Gaza in 2005. He ends many of his quotations just a bit too early, thus bending their meaning to his needs, but totally misrepresenting the original sense of the original source. And his sources all turn out to be form totally anti Israel writers. No serious author limits themselves in this way, and thus this reader can only conclude that White wasn’t aiming for balance, but for dogma and and bile. On that score, he succeeds (hence the 1 star I have awarded him), but as a wannabe author and peace activist, he needs to try much harder.

A dreadful little book. “

Written by modernityblog

11/07/2009 at 19:15