Daily Archives: October 28, 2011

An evening with Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

David Landy, Richard Kuper and Naomi Wayne (Chair).

David Landy, Richard Kuper and Naomi Wayne (Chair).

Last Tuesday I went to SOAS for a launch of a book by David Landy called Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights – Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel. Anti-Zionist celebrities Tony Greenstein and Deborah Fink were in the audience.

Landy sees his book as “academic” even though, when it comes down to it, he is just another anti-Zionist propagandist and boycotter of Israel.

I haven’t read the book but I imagine, based on Landy’s talk, that in it he provides justification for direct action against Israel based on two lies; Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians in 1948 and Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians now.

Landy is described as “an Irish-Jewish academic, active in the Palestine solidarity movement. Formerly chair of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, he is currently based in Trinity College Dublin where he teaches contemporary social and cultural theory, and race and migration.”

In the book he critiques the “Jewish opposition to Israel” movement. For instance, he asks whether pro-Palestinian activism is really more about the activists, who tend to drown the Palestinians in victimhood, than the Palestinians.

It is a fair point because at “pro-Palestinian” meetings it is rare to actually discuss the Palestinians, except in the context of Israel’s supposed oppression of them. You learn nothing about the Palestinians themselves, although that would be interesting.

Then again the Palestinians have defined themselves, or have been defined, solely by their opposition to Israel. And jfjfp are also defined solely by their opposition to Israel. Landy explained that the use of “Jews” in the name of the organisation is sensible because Israel, he thinks wrongly, wants to speak for all the world’s Jews.

Landy started by explaining his reason for writing the book. He said that the pieces written about “Jewish opposition to Israel” were mainly “unsympathetic” and written by the likes of Anthony Julius and Geoffrey Alderman, which he described as being:

“Equivalent to the KKK giving their opinions on what the white civil rights movement in the United States was up to. It’s the same kind of level. It’s done to discredit the movement.”

Here is Landy at SOAS in his own words:

But what intrigued me more than anything were Richard Kuper’s speeches.

Kuper is a jfjfp and stalwart anti-Zionist activist. The Neturei Karta provide the main extremist religious Jewish opposition to Israel’s existence and the jfjfp provides the main extremist secular opposition to Israel’s existence. Both NK and jfjfp promote BDS.

So it would be interesting to understand how jfjfp define their Judaism. jfjfp seems to reject both Jewish religiosity and any type of Jewish peoplehood (Zionism), so what is left?

Jewish culture? But doesn’t the culture stem from the religion? Without the religion there would be no culture.

Human rights? But then all religions are concerned with that.

Kuper says he hasn’t been to synagogue since his barmitzvah. He also praised Jewdas (which has all of 5 members) for “sticking two fingers up to the institutions of the Jewish community”.

He condemns the “narrowness” and “religiosity” of the traditional Jewish community and talks of “new, younger Jews whose Judaism is much weaker, but very deeply felt, than the kind of orthodox Judaism with which I was brought up”:

How can one’s Judaism be “weaker, but very deeply felt” and what does this Judaism consist of?

Is this Judaism solely about condemnation of Israel and its existence?

Can it be that simple?

One commentator thinks that many anti-Zionist Jews have either no children or no Jewish children. They are, in effect, “the end of the Jewish line” and, therefore, their thinking is that if they cannot have a family themselves they wish to deny that family to the Jewish people as a whole.

Meanwhile, here is Landy on the strength of diaspora Jewish opposition to Israel, which, he admits, is a “minority movement”. “Minority” is an understatement to say the least:

After all this heavy philosophising and intellectualising jfjfp broke for red wine in the good old Hampstead intelligentsia tradition.