Tag Archives: anne karpf

Is a book about Jews of “Jewish Interest”?

Waterstone’s in Hampstead has a “Jewish interest” section containing The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand.

The main thesis of the book is that there is no “Jewish people”, just Jews.

Sand claims that Jews have no connection to what is now Israel and so no right to return there.

He states there was no expulsion of Jews by the Romans so the only true descendants of the original Jews are the Palestinians after all those Jews eventually adopted Islam.

So how could there at one stage have been 19 million Jews worldwide (13 million now)?

Easily, according to Sand, as all Jews are converts.

Sand says that eastern European Jews do not originate with the Jews who came from the Middle East via Ashkenaz (Germany) to Poland but with the Khazars, nomadic tribes that built an empire between the Black and Caspian Seas, converted to Judaism in the eighth century, and were scattered when their state was eventually destroyed.

Anita Shapira
does a solid deconstruction of this sorry book and notes how most websites that contain discussions of this subject are either those of White Power members or Islamic extremists:

“White Power members denounce Jews in U.S. government along the lines of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and explain that they are not really Jews but the descendants of the Khazars; they are therefore unworthy of American aid to restore them to the land of Israel.”

Some Jews of the time migrated to other areas in the Roman Empire but whether there was a violent expulsion or not there was a loss of Jewish sovereignty which was catastrophic enough to have been retained in Jewish memory. This loss is what has been passed down through the years by Jewish writers and historians. It was not a recent “Zionist creation”, as Sand implies.

A recent study has shown that Jews from the different regions of the world were found to share many genetic traits that are distinct from other groups and that date back to ancient times.

So The Invention of the Jewish People is just another anti-Zionist tome. The final chapter gives Sand’s real intentions away. In it he accuses Israel of racism and apartheid, he talks of worldwide Jewish power and calls for a bi-national state; all the default positions of your average anti-Zionist/Israel-hater.

That all said my argument is not with Sand. He can write what he likes. My argument is with respectable outlets that actively seek to promote this sort of anti-Jewish diatribe, Waterstone’s being a main culprit.

It is likely that The Satanic Verses would be considered too offensive for a “Muslim interest” section.

I was told that many Jewish customers have bought Sand’s book. Of course they have, just like they buy other books too.

Sand’s book is an attack on long-held Jewish beliefs and traditions. Being offensive to most Jews does not make it of general “Jewish interest” (by that reasoning Waterstone’s could place Mein Kampf there also, as was suggested to me by a Waterstone’s employee).

But Waterstone’s is emboldened by the Jewish Quarterly having nominated Sand’s book for its literary prize, among three other books.

The result of who wins the £4000 is soon to be announced and with anti-Zionist Anne Karpf being a judge Sand stands a decent chance.

The Independent recently published this letter:

No evidence of expulsion of Jews
C Cameron (letters, 27 March) is right to debunk the enduring myth of the “Jewish People”, a tale perpetuated by anti-Semites as well as Zionists. The “Wandering Jew”, expelled from his land, left stateless for centuries and waiting for his return to the promised land of his ancestors, is purely imaginary. There is no historical evidence of forced expulsion of the Judeans, and the overwhelming majority of Jews are descendants of converts.
Israel is a legitimate state because it was sanctioned by the UN in 1947. It should always remain a safe haven for persecuted Jews, but I don’t see why an assimilated European or American Jew should have any right to settle in Israel while denying that right to a poor Palestinian refugee whose grandparents were expelled from their own house 50 years ago.
Philippe Bareille
Stevenage, Hertfordshire

I went to hear Sand speak once and noticed a black woman clutching a signed copy of the book. I asked why she wanted to read it and she said that it is “finally proof of all she has ever been thinking”.

I would never usually mention skin colour but I feel it is relevant here. During the campaign for civil rights American Jewry was at the forefront fighting for all those deprived of such rights.

How short a person’s memory can be.

Whiskey, dips and human rights.

Soon after Live8 was announced in 2005 I received an email which advertised a very expensive package for the concert including champagne breakfast and VIP access at the concert.

But I couldn’t understand how anyone would want to sip champagne while they were supposed to be thinking about the starving of Africa.

On Monday night it was a similar experience at the launch of JNews (not to be confused with the Jewish News).

JNews was launched by Brian Klug, who set up both Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV).

JFJFP, IJV and JNews are big on human rights and see themselves in opposition to other Jews, like me, who they think aren’t big on human rights because we condone Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

At the JNews launch Anthony Lerman told us that JNews will approach “the Israel-Palestine conflict from a concerned Jewish perspective” and that “we are living at a time when the situation in Israel-Palestine is becoming increasingly desperate”.

When hasn’t it been desperate, Anthony!

Next Klug sat before us preaching about human rights and social justice and quoting heavily from the Talmud.

Then it was quiz time: “What do you think the “J” in “JNews” stands for?”, he asked us.

Some, he said, would think it stood for “Jews for Genocide” or “Traitors to the Jewish people” or “Self Hating Jews”.

Finally, he ended our suspense: “The ‘J’ stands for Jews and Justice and, as it says in the Talmud, these two should be as one”

He wants JNews to be non-partisan but being the committed anti-Zionist activist that he is I doubt very much JNews will succeed in that.

Baroness Helena Kennedy

Then we heard from Baroness Helena Kennedy who said she was proud to be a patron of JNews. She actually spoke with true concern for what was happening in Israel/Palestine.

And she quoted Amos Oz’s short work Please help us to Divorce which really is a must read for people who wish to understand the psychological complexities that both Israelis and Palestinians must overcome before there can be a two-state solution.

Unlike the myopic JFJFP, IJV and JNews Oz doesn’t blame everything on Israel.

Then there was a big faux pas when Baroness Kennedy said “I’m an honorary Jew” due to her experience of growing up in Glasgow “where both the Catholics and the Jews got it in the neck at the same time”.

So Helena loves Jews but she obviously hasn’t been reading Anne Karpf lately. Didn’t Helena realise that philo-Semitism is the new anti-Semitism?

According to Karpf, who co-edited IJV’s A Time to Speak Out:

“We live in postmodern times where some of what looks like anti-Semitism isn’t, but, conversely, some of what doesn’t look like anti-Semitism in fact is. Consider the “philo-Semitism”, for instance, of Michael Gove and Julie Burchill (“the Jews are my favourites”; “Jews do things so well”). Burchill’s philo-Semitism is a form of anti-Semitism, I’d suggest, because it bunches all Jews together as though we were a single, uniform entity. The idea that all Jews are wonderful is little different from all Jews being hateful: in both cases Jews are stripped of individual characteristics, and are nothing except Jewish – a view to which most racists happily subscribe.”

So if Burchill and Gove are “anti-Semites” what does that make Baroness Helena Kennedy who thinks of herself as an “honorary Jew”? Would the 90 members of this Karpf-loving audience shout “anti-Semite” at Kennedy, I wondered? Of course not.

Miri Weingarten (Guardian)

Then it was time for Miri Weingarten who said that “as Jews we can offer the public a unique voice out of genuine concern for Israelis and Palestinians”.

Finally, it was short film time. The film (see end) showed us the real perspective that JNews is coming from which is of the Palestinian refugees returning to Israel. The film makes the Israeli public out to be dishonest.

It is called On the Day Yafa’s Refugees Return.

Then it was time for wine, whisky, potato wedges and dips served by waitresses and all of which reminded me of that Live8 email of five years ago.

Would it not have been better if the money put into this expensive catering had gone to promote the human rights that JNews cares so much about?

So what is JNews?

It seems to be just another version of JFJFP and IJV; same patrons, same audience.

It has expensive office space in the heart of Farringdon.

It sees itself as Britain’s answer to J Street which is trying to challenge AIPAC’s influence in Washington. AIPAC is America’s pro-Israel lobby.

It claims it will take articles from any perspective, even a Zionist one, as long as it comes from a human rights perspective.

It likes to serve delicious food and alcohol.

Duck pancakes, anyone?