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.

51 responses to “An evening with Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

  1. Interesting post as always, Richard.

    “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.”

    Very good point. One could almost run away with the idea that the Palestinian ‘support’ movement in the UK doesn’t actually care about them, beyond using them as a stick to beat Israel with. And yes it would be interesting to learn more about them.

    • Yes Chas I agree. Are the Palestinians such a homogeneous group? My experience is that the majority are brainwashed-from-birth Jew hating Muslims. It is the minority that aren’t Islamofascists that interest me. Those who are thoroughly sick of religion, and its divisiveness, separatism and exclusivity. They want to connect with the modern secular world and enjoy the pleasures of its material benefits. They yearn for a universalism away from particularism, rather like many secular, socialist Jews. They want to connect with Jews and live with and collaborate with them in peace. Their situation is tragic and painful. They want to apostasize but are afraid to. It is these Palestinians, and Israeli Arabs, who would rather live in a Jewish state,partying and clubbing, than in what may turn out to be a Sharia ruled Islamonazi future Palestinian state under a Hamas/Fatah coalition.
      The PSC and the other dhimmis don’t give two hoots for the Palestinians. They patronise them with the soft bigotry of low expectations, a kind of ‘humanitarian’ racism.

      • Hmm Roger.

        “Are the Palestinians such a homogeneous group? My experience is that the majority are brainwashed-from-birth”

        So they are or are not a homogenous group?
        What was the sample of Palestinians you surveyed before making yoiur assertion?

      • I still believe lots of the stuff my school books have been telling me in my early years.

    • I don’t think those first two Zionist rabbis (if this is not a misapplication of the term Zionism) being religious means that Zionism itself is religious. That’s an individual thing. Plenty of the early Zionist leaders were completely uninterested in religion.

      As to secular Israelis “knowing how important the religious ones are for Israel”, that is not generally true. Some may think so (it’s a question of belief, not of verifiable data that you can ‘know’), but many hold the reactionary sway that religious Israelis hold over the private lives of the non-religious with profound and justified contempt. This is quite apart from the even more profound and justified contempt they have for the ultra-Orthodox: I was talking above about the kippa sruga sector.

  2. It seems to me there is an ever greater divide within Israel between the secular and the religious Jews. The secular community, which is the majority, justify Israel’s existence as a legal and historical right. And quite right too!! To cut a along story short, we’re talking Balfour, San Remo, Peel Commission and the UN resolution in 1948. Not to mention 3000 years of Jewish presence before all that. This is the only argument that will convince what remains of reasoning intelligent humans in the world today, and they are a dying species.
    The religious Jewish community is only interested in one argument, that Eretz Israel was given to the Jewish people by God, that they have a Divine Land Title Deed….and that’s that. This of course is not going to hold water for a world that contains other religions without the same narrative, and a rational western world that is largely secular and atheistic anyway.
    So Israel is disunited in its raison d’etre, so to speak. And the early Zionists and founders of Israel were not religious. And Israel is a secular state. Isn’t it?
    So what I’m trying to say is that Jewish religiosity is what is problematic, not Zionism, because it is not rooted in the rational and historic. The Torah is not history.
    Embedded in your report Richard, is the question..what is a Jew? Good luck with that.

    • The Torah is not history?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah

      What a mysterious thing to say.

      ———

      I am an enthusiastic listener to book-talks (thanks iTunes) and that guy wouldn’t have made it past the first 3 minutes with me. One can only hope that he is better prepared and focused less rambling and incoherent when he lectures students drawing his income from taxpayers’ money?

      • richardmillett

        And I think that Israel is more religious than you think. The secular Israelis know how important the religious ones are for Israel. It makes the secular ones feel less guilty for not keeping anything. They know how important tradition is. As Tevye says, without our tradition our lives would be as shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof. Also, Zionism wasn’t totally secular either. The first two main Zionists were Rabbis. They were Zionists before Herzl was even born.

      • The Bible is a mixture of history and folk tales, some of it very accurate and some not at all.

      • As to secular Israelis “knowing how important the religious ones are for Israel”, that is not generally true. Some may think so (it’s a question of belief, not of verifiable data that you can ‘know’), but many hold the reactionary sway that religious Israelis hold over the private lives of the non-religious with profound and justified contempt. This is quite apart from the even more profound and justified contempt they have for the ultra-Orthodox: I was talking above about the kippa sruga sector.

      • As to Israel and safe haven – as it happens I just read this:

        A constant thorn in the side of both regional and national authorities, he was swept from power for a second time this past November. Already holding an Israeli passport, he absconded to the land of milk and honey immediately after the elections. Safely out of the reach of the authorities, he finances the city’s only legitimate anti-government, dissident television station.

        http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/books/81568/odessa-story/?all=1

    • “This of course is not going to hold water for a world that contains other religions without the same narrative, and a rational western world that is largely secular and atheistic anyway.”

      It doesn’t even hold water for me, and I am a Zionist Jew.
      Well argued post as usual, Roger.

      • For me, as a Zionist and atheist Gentile🙂, the religious Jews living in Judea and Samaria, aka the ‘west bank’ settlers, have every right to be there for historical and legal reasons, as it was the land partitioned to the Israelis by the UN plan and British mandate in 1948. Unfortunately, they don’t use this information to explain why they are there, and undermine their case with the religious God-given mandate.
        History is solid ground. Religion isn’t.
        I would argue that the foundation of Israel had nothing to do with religion.It was to return the Jews to their historical homeland after 2000 years of expulsions and persecution. Herzl, after the Dreyfus case, saw this as an urgent need, and even considered another location. I don’t recall where he had in mind. Madagascar or somewhere like that. A safe haven for the Jews was his priority, not a return to a homeland. He changed his mind later.
        Ironically, Israel has turned out to be anything but a safe haven. The insecurity and danger remains and will get worse.
        But can you imagine a Jewish state in Madagascar, Uganda or anywhere else? Without Jerusalem. Maybe a new Jerusalem would have been created? A third temple in a new location without the constant threat of genocidal Arabs.

  3. A philosophical walk through the tulips . People who enjoy the sound of their own voices going round in ever decreasing pseudo intellectual clap trap. My question was batted away by the bouffant headed kuper who dismissed it with “we are here to discuss a book launch not that . ”
    Anything which does not comply with their hate filled agenda or causes them embarrassment is simply not to be tolerated . These useful idiots are leftist reactionaries . However their numbers are minuscule and their contribution and effect on the I/P question even less . Apart from a few full on extremists , the vast majority of JfJfP are held in contempt by the psc brigade because they refuse to adopt full bds and also subscribe to a two state solution .
    Basically they are all sound and fury but signify nothing .

  4. I am an atheist, and I am Jewish. Some among my parents and grandparents have also been atheist or agostic, and no less Jewish for that. Deciding that without religion there is no Jewish culture seems somewhat prescriptive and indeed dictatorial (in the sense of dictating someone else’s culture, or issuing dictats in this matter).

    Then again the Palestinians have defined themselves, or have been defined, solely by their opposition to Israel.

    Well, of course. The whole raison d’etre of this fiction called ‘Palestinians’ is to destroy Israel.

  5. Agnostic, even.

  6. The Bible is a mixture of history and folk tales, some of it very accurate and some not at all.

    And what would “our” history be if the Bible hadn’t been there.

    A book isn’t only what it is written in it, it is also what it effects in human history.

    • I am not disputing that it has affected history. I am saying that in itself it has no bearing on the right of Jews to live in J&S: they are entitled to live there for historical and legal reasons.

      • I always admire people who are eminently capable of making neat divisions when it comes to history aka things that happened in the past.
        This is especially so since I already don’t recognize the 50s in much of what I am getting told about them today.

        But maybe solid and reliable knowledge increases the more things are in the past.

        Honest Question: When the Greeks went into liberation mode, did they and their supporters refer to Homer or said that he had no bearing?

      • Frankly, I have no idea what you are on about. I don’t know what Greeks did or did not say when they ‘went into liberation mode’. I wasn’t there. I suspect, however, that foremost in their minds was the desire to kick out an unusually vicious, backward and barbaric foreign power, and not necessarily tales about sulking soldiers, perfidious princes and rather silly gods and godesses thousands of years earlier, who may or may not have existed but on the balance of probabilities are unlikely to have existed. References to Homer are good for morale, no doubt, and for recruiting foreign poets with more money than sense. It’s called PR. Same in the case under discussion.

      • Moreover, archaeology is getting better and better, and does tell us about things in the past. Your snide dismissal of such knowledge doesn’t change this situation one whit.

      • I am far from dismissing archeology I just can’t see why a piece of broken pottery is supposed to tell us MORE about the past than stories.

      • Your dismissal of archaeology as ‘a piece of broken pottery’ speaks volumes.

      • Leah
        broken pottery is extremely important in dating finds

        not least because it doesn’t rot and quite often it has stuff written on it

        Since you seem to have never heard of clay tablets I forgive you for misinterpretating me?

      • “Since you seem to have never heard of clay tablets”

        What unmitigated rot.

  7. Completely off topic guys , but I would recommend taking a look over at Harrys Place for a series of articles on Salah who has lost his case against deportation . Lucy Lips provides a magisterial deconstruct of Salahs defence and how it unravelled to show him to be the liar and racist that he is . No less important , LL then turns the spotlight on his friends and supporters and asks whether they will now accept that they had been had by this delightful creature and whether or not they will now dissociate themselves from him . I’m not holding my breath waiting for an answer to that one .

  8. Hi Roger,

    You write:

    “The secular community, which is the majority,….. ”

    And this comment seems to represent a commonly held misconception about the demographics of Israel. I even hear educated Israelis making similar statements. In short, the secular population of Israel constitutes a significant minority of the Jewish population of Israel, as does the religious population. However, while the former is shrinking the latter is growing. Furthermore, currently predictions are that by 2030 a majority of Jewish Israeli citizens will be people who define themselves as religious.

    If all this sounds a little complicated, it is because there are several other groups besides religious and secular.

    Today about 20% see themselves as fully orthodox (Haredi or Modern Orthodox) some 13% as orthodox/traditional and 25% as traditional/not-orthodox and about 42% see themselves as secular Jews.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Israel

    Furthermore, according to secular academic sources, within less than two decades, those who define themselves as wholly religious – modern-orthodox and haredi will constitute a majority.

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/228/550.html

    It is likely that a majority of these religious Jews will be Haredim.

  9. And that would be the end of Israel as a liberal and democratic country.

    • Yup, that’s the same kind of boorish prediction that was made in 1977 when Menachem Begin emerged victorious from the national elections, and looked likely to form a government.

      I was a 16-year-old still living in London and I remember letters to the editor of the Jewish Chronicle and life-long members of Habonim threatening that in the event of the formation of a Likud lead coalition, they would delay their plans to immigrate to Israel – plans that, incidentally, had already been postponed many times for varying reasons. . I recall prophesies of Israel becoming a Fascist state and comparison being made to regimes that I’m ashamed to even mention.

      This amazed me as I was a religious Revisionist youth, who had been planning to move to a State of Israel, with a government far more Left-wing and far more secular than I. Israel is a Western Democracy and will remain so until the coming of the Messiah. It transpires that our democratic character is far stronger and more resilient than those who would slander us, be they “friends” or foe.

      The People of Israel have a right to choose their own leadership and determine the nature of the State of Israel as do the citizens of any other democracy. If anyone wishes to influence this determination, he is quite welcome to return to Israel and have his say.

      • “Yup, that’s the same kind of boorish prediction”

        A filthy mouth and filthier mind are no substitute for rational argument.

    • Leah,
      I don’t know what you mean by “liberal”, but once again you show a total lack of understanding concerning the different populations living in Israel.
      What possible proof do you have that a religious majority would cancel democracy?
      It’s all too easy to run away and the complain that you don’t like the way thing are run here.

      • That’s all in your speed-fuelled imagination. I am very familiar with the different populations living in Israel.
        Even with the Mafdal running the Min. of the Interior, marriages were controlled by the Orthodox, and everyone else had to take a flying jump. For example, a cohen could not marry a divorced woman in Israel, and had to go to Cyprus. You have heard of this, right? That is just one example of Medieval repression, i.e. being anti-liberal. After a period of relative (!) liberalism, the vile Neanderthal Shas has been coming to the fore in recent years, and the situation can only get worse if the Orthodox get more and more power.
        As to ‘running away’, do see someone about your hallucinations.

      • The last “Mafdal” Minister of the Interior ended office in 1984. Welcome to the 21st Century!

        Since then there have been many secular ministers including Uzi Baram, Ehud Barak, Yitzhak Rabin, David Libai, Avraham Poraz, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, etc. Nobody has ever dreamt of changing Jewish marital laws. It’s nothing to do with the “Mafdal” or Shas. It is a question as to what the majority of Israeli citizens want. They express this wish through their representatives in the Knesset. There are those who disagree with the status quo. They have every right to explain why, and to try and alter this. That is called a Western Democracy.

        Yoni, you understand nothing about Jewish law, little about Israeli politics and I’m not even sure that you know who you are. Why do you insist on calling yourself Leah?

      • just as an example how not black and white it all becomes once somebody tries to give a bit of a wider view:

        Rav Yosef has been a revolutionary force for modernizing halachic thought and integrating it into modernity. Again and again he has courageously formulated rulings that contradicted those of all his peers. He found a way to permit and encourage organ transplants; he permitted artificial inseminations; in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War he swiftly freed almost a thousand women from Aginut, and the list goes on. Most famously, in the late 1980s he was the first important orthodox rabbi to announce that peace with the Palestinians is preferable to continued control of the West Bank.

        http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/2010/09/rabbi-speaks-like-rabbi.html

        As best I remember Rav Yosef is somehow connected with Shas.

      • ”in the late 1980s he was the first important orthodox rabbi to announce that peace with the Palestinians is preferable to continued control of the West Bank.”….obviously quite clueless then. He has no idea that peace in Islam means dominion over subjected infidels. Peace, as we understand the term in Judeo-Christian civilisation, with the ‘palestinians’, is an impossibility, a chimera. Nothing will be done without the bloodiest blows.

      • Black or white again!

        Am I right assuming that you don’t know more of the context in which he voiced that opinion than I do? I happen to have left it out of the quote because it is worded so ambiguously that I’d want to know the context before I’d even start guessing whether it is “black” or “white”.

      • Daniel, you really really really are clinically, certifiably insane. I am not ‘Yoni’.

        Yes, it’s not Mafdal any longer. Had you managed to get your 3 brain cells to cooperate, you would have understood that this is precisely what I wrote: I said “since then” (for you specially: it means ‘after that was no longer the case’). There has been some liberalisation. With Shas holding tight to the reins of power in their private governmental fiefdom, a few years down the line it’ll be back to the 16th century. And that’s precisely because of parliamentary democracy: Shas voters will increase in numbers, and will ensure that 16th century marital laws are in place. Your failure to follow this simple argument is evidence of your monumental thickness.

        Your nonstop caterwauling that anyone who disagrees with your 16th century views is ignorant about everything, proves nothing other than that you are a very stupid, very ignorant person.

  10. So today their heroes are firing 40 rockets and mortars into Israel. Killing one and injuring several. I for one would demand these fools immediately relocate to Gaza to perform their dutiful role as human shields.

  11. Arabs killing killing Arabs continuously and mercilessly and the rest of the world looks the other way. But when Israel needs to defend hersef against these Arabs from ongoing rocket attacks and homicide bombing attacks, the world moves quickly to blame and condemn Israel. HYPOCRITS!

  12. Over 100 Jewish Children Murdered by Palestinian Terrorists
    This is a must see for liars like Richard Kuper and David Landy.

  13. Over 100 Jewish Children Murdered by Palestinian Terrorists

  14. The Sbarro Terror Attack – Jerusalem, Israel

    How long can Ilan Pappe, David Landy, Richard Kuper and Cushman support the Palestinians ethnic cleansing massacres.


  15. These are the Islamo Nazis Ilan Pappe, Deb Fink and Gerald Kaufman support

  16. Hi Roger,

    “..To cut a along story short, we’re talking Balfour, San Remo, Peel Commission and the UN resolution in 1948. Not to mention 3000 years of Jewish presence before all that. This is the only argument that will convince what remains of reasoning intelligent humans in the world today, and they are a dying species.”

    Paradoxically, the “Balfour, San Remo, Peel Commission and the UN resolution in 1948. Not to mention 3000 years of Jewish presence before all that….” may be the weakest claim we have when talking with the undecided.

    It may be that had I to appear in a court of law with wholly rational judges, I might use these. However, we live in a world in which most of us decide who to vote for, at best, because of a general identification with the values of a given party. Nobody reads all the manifestos and chooses the most rational one, we are more influenced by images and the feelings they produce.

    Talk to a left-wing Liberal about the Balfour Declaration or San Remo and you conjure up the picture of a colonial world with Western vanquishers confiscating the long-held inheritance of some unfortunate indigenous population and then settling it with Europeans. They’ll think of Rhodesia and South Africa, Algeria and India and they’ll ask you why the Jews in Palestine are the last remaining colonial state. Suddenly, you have to explain the difference between Zionism and Apartheid, and they’ve got you exactly where they want you.

    So you throw in the “…Not to mention 3000 years of Jewish presence before all that..” as a kind of embarrassing afterthought, but it’s already too late.

    “What do I care about what happened 3,000 years ago? You have been throwing Palestinian families out of their homes and their homeland for more than 100 years now, because of Abraham and Moses! Is that reasonable?”

    So then you go back to the old “Two-State Solution” crap. You basically admit that you’re trespassing in somebody else’s house, “But since I’m here, and I’ve already unpacked my suitcases, can’t you just let me have one room?” Or you use the security argument, which basically boils down to, “Just because I’m squatting, you don’t have to kill me.” And you produce pictures of Jewish families killed by terrorists, but they’ve got more pictures with more blood, and someone says, “If you don’t like it here, you’re obviously not cut out for the dangers of the Middle East. Why didn’t you stay somewhere less dangerous, like Hendon?”

    What then, Roger? Any takers?

    • The “Israel is Apartheid” promoters may have suffered a draw-back today by Goldstone, yes that Goldstone, debunking it.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/israel-and-the-apartheid-slander.html?_r=1&ref=global

      Other than that I agree and as nice as the above is it still holds what hasn’t been rationally argued in can’t be rationally argued out.

    • I know Daniel, I know. It’s tough for you guys down there. I’m on your side. In the meantime here’s a great joke I think you’ll enjoy:

      The Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Pope are in a meeting in Rome. The Rabbi notices an unusally fancy phone on a side table in the Pope’s private chambers. “What is that phone for?” he asks the pontiff.

      “It’s my direct line to the Lord.” says the Pope.

      The Rabbi is skeptical and the Pope notices that. Consequently, the Holy Father insists that the Rabbi will try it out, and, indeed, the Rabbi is connected to the Lord and holds a lengthy discussion with Him.

      After hanging up the Rabbi says, “Thank you very much. This is great! But listen, I want to pay for my phone charges.”

      The Pope, of course, refuses, but the Rabbi insists and finally, the pontiff gives in.

      The Pope checks the counter on the phone and says, “All right! The charges were 100,000 Lira” ($56). The Chief Rabbi gladly hands over the payment.

      A few months later, the Pope is in Jerusalem on an official visit. In the Chief Rabbi’s chambers, he sees a phone identical to his and learns it is also is a direct line to the Lord. The Pope remembers he has an urgent matter that requires divine consultation and asks if he can use the Rabbi’s phone. The Rabbi gladly agrees, hands him the phone, and the Pope chats away.

      After hanging up, the Pope offers to pay for the phone charges. Of course, the Chief Rabbi refuses to accept payment. After the Pope insists, the Rabbi relents and looks on the phone counter and says “Shekel 50” ($0.42).

      The Pope looks surprised, “Why so cheap?”

      The Rabbi smiles, “Local call.”

  17. The real Apartheid comes from the Arabs, since they want no Jews in ‘their state”, discrimination against all non-Muslims and women.
    The Arabs are the biggest players for Apartheid! Just ask the Kurds, Coptics, Black Christians of Sudan, Berbers, Western Sahara and the Chaldeans.