Jesus! I’m turning into a Jew!

Jewish Chronicle

My name is Nick Cohen, and I think I’m turning into a Jew. Despite being called “Cohen”, I’ve never been Jewish before. It’s not simply that I am an atheist. My Jewish friends tell me that it is hard to find an educated London Jew who is not an atheist, but that I have no connection with Jewish culture.

The Jewish side of my family is my father’s (which is not a help, I gather). My great grandparents fled from the Tsarist Empire at the time of the pogroms, but their son, my grandfather, revolted. He became a Communist and married outside the faith. My father was brought up with no connection to Judaism and, inevitably, so was I.

My sole interest in Jewish concerns came from being a left-wing opponent of the far Right, and the blood-soaked antisemitic superstitions which turned Europe into a graveyard. When I was young, such attitudes seemed unproblematic. You did not have to be a Jew to oppose fascism; everyone I knew did that regardless of colour or creed.

Today the old certainties have gone because there are two far-right movements: the white neo-Nazi parties that the Left still opposes; and the clerical fascists of radical Islam which, extraordinarily, the modern Left succours and indulges. I am not only talking about Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and their gruesome accomplices in the intelligentsia. Wider liberal society is almost as complicit. It does not applaud the Islamist far Right, but it will not condemn it either. From the broadcasters, through the liberal press, the Civil Service, the Metropolitan Police, the bench of bishops and the judiciary, antisemitism is no longer an unthinkable mental deformation. As long as the conspiracy theories of the counter-enlightenment come from ideologues with dark rather than white skins, nominally liberal men and women will not speak out.

Fight back and you become a Jew, whether you are or not. Mark Lawson recently described an argument at the BBC over the corporation’s decision not to screen the charity appeal for Gaza. His furious colleague declared that the only reason Lawson supported the ban was because he was Jewish. Lawson had to tell him that he was, in fact, raised a Catholic.

A furious Labour MP was no different when he told a colleague of mine that I had gone off the rails when I married a “hard-right” Jewish woman from North London. My friend replied that this would be news to my wife, a liberal Catholic from Stoke-on-Trent.

It was kind of him to point that out, but I would no longer protest that I wasn’t Jewish, and I don’t think Lawson should either. It is cowardly to stammer that you are not a Jew because you concede the racist’s main point — that there is something suspect about being Jewish — as you do it.

In any case, my experience of left-wing antisemitism has changed the way I think and made me, if you like, more Jewish.

Although I want to see every Israeli settlement on the West Bank dismantled, it was clear to me that when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel it had declared war and had to accept the consequences. I would not have thought that five years ago.

You do not need me to add that mine is a minority point of view among liberals, and that British Jews are living through a very dangerous period. They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will excuse. If a mass murderer bombed a mosque or black Pentecostal church, no respectable person would say that the “root cause” of the crime was an understandable repulsion at the deeds of al-Qaeda or a legitimate opposition to mass immigration. Rightly, they would blame the criminal for the crime.

If a synagogue is attacked, I guarantee that within minutes the airwaves will be filled with insinuating voices insisting that the “root cause” of the crime was a rational anger at the behaviour of Israel or the Jewish diaspora.

Put like this, the position of British Jewry sounds grim. Remember, however, that the first aim of radical Islam is to subjugate Muslims. When brave feminists, gays, democrats and liberals in the Muslim world and in Britain’s Muslim communities make a stand, they, too, are accused of being the tools of Zionists.

As the struggle between theocracy and liberalism intensifies, I can see some being pushed into taking the same journey I have taken and finding their views towards Judaism and Israel softening as they realise that antisemitism helps drive the fascistic ideologies of the 21st century just as it drove the Nazism of the 20th.

I will tell them that the opponents of totalitarianism must never be frightened. If their enemies say they are Jews, they should shrug and say: “All right, I am.” As long as readers of the Jewish Chronicle don’t object, of course.

Nick Cohen is a columnist for The Observer. His latest collection of essays, ‘Waiting for the Etonians: Reports from the Sickbed of Liberal England’, is published this week

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54 Responses to “Jesus! I’m turning into a Jew!”

  1. Object? I’m thrilled you are becoming a Jew. Maybe you were one all along: those Russian Jewish genes will out. Either way, an excellent article and a brave, principled viewpoint.

  2. OMG

    I agree with nearly every word you say. Though not quite

    Does this mean I’m becoming a wong’un or worse becoming a member of the decent left

    Actually I’m not 100% if you are on a minority on the left. Yes a few hair brained trots have got into bed with some wacko right wing elements but let’s be fair the SWP et al were never exactly capable of nuanced ideas.

  3. Excellent; you’ve said it all.

  4. Yes, mr. Cohen! You hit the nail.

    And you bring John Lennon’s words into my head: ‘But I’m not the only one ‘.

    Thank you. Read you twice.

    Wee Bear

  5. “In any case, my experience of left-wing antisemitism has changed the way I think…although I want to see every Israeli settlement on the West Bank dismantled, it was clear to me that when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel it had declared war and had to accept the consequences.”

    Nick, there is some validity to your general point. But you oversimplify in two key respects:

    (i) the juxtaposition above suggests that opposition to Israeli actions in Gaza can be equated with anti-semitism. I hope that was not what you intended.

    (ii) the situation in Gaza is much more complicated than you choose to portray it. Hamas certainly provoked Israel. But Israel certainly provoked Hamas too. It was essentially Israel, not Hamas, that broke the ceasefire on November 4th after two months where there had been a total of 5 mortars and rockets fired – none of them by Hamas. It was Israel too that, in response to a salvo of Hamas rockets on November 5th, imposed a near total blockade on Gaza and then did not respond to a Hamas offer to Israel to renew the lull. And, let us not forget, that from the Palestinian narrative you cannot make the easy separation between ongoing occupation and settlement in the West Bank and “resistance” from Gaza. The settlements expand, the crossings remain heavily restricted, the checkpoints continue to humiliate, the incursions continue to kill, the thousands of prisoners remain in detention without trial – the rockets fly. I do not personally buy that narrative. I think Hamas have, at every turn, harmed the Palestinian cause and a Hamas-controlled Palestine would be a joyless and radicalised dump. But making that argument is not helped by advancing a case, as you do, that does not appear to be fully cognisant of the facts (the same goes for those on the other side).

    And, of course, for many who opposed the war in Gaza it was not because they did not think Hamas had it coming to them (again, I admit many see the boys in green through rose-tinted glasses) but because they did not think Gazan women and children had it coming to them. And they did not think that the way the IDF conducted the land operation (i.e. artillery, naval fire, tank fire) was an appropriate way to achieve military objectives in an urban environment.

    If reports are true, Israel is about to agree a ceasefire for crossings deal with Hamas. If that is the case, then that was on offer in October. All that has happened since is Hamas has got stronger, moderate Arab opinion weaker and many hundreds of civilians have been killed.

  6. i ask john: what is the palestinian cause? is there such thing? is that the reason why so many kids and women blew themselves up killing hundreds of innocent people across the border? is that the cause that you are defending? is that the cause that lots of people (that watch too much tv) from the first world go out and support? it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. militants in palestine are not fighting to achieve democracy, women’s and gays rights and an equal fair society. they are just gun waving, macho, violent beings that are only interested in violence and power. and then we are supposed to feel sorry for them. democracy is priceless.

  7. “Fight back and you become a Jew, whether you are or not.”

    I have experienced the same. If you are not willing to condemn everything that has to do with Israel then surely you must be a Jew. The “Jew” said with a hint of accusation in their voice.
    Growing up in socialist Sweden such rhetoric was (is) not too rare. I remember actually suffering from a dilemma when I was younger and the Middle East came up in school. Being young I thought replying “No, I’m not Jewish” might come across as defensive, that I too minded the Jews.
    Later I learned that replying “No, I’m Kurdish” was not much better, because surely the Kurds were part of the Zionist plot (specially after the Iraq war).

    John,
    It is Israel’s existence that is the provocation for Hamas.
    There was no Hamas ceasefire, since 2005 there has been a steady increase of these rocket attacks on Israel.

  8. To borrow an old American football cheer, used when one’s side is playing defense:
    Hit ‘em again, hit ‘em again, harder, harder!

  9. Nick:

    I’m sorry that it took the almost knee-jerk acceptance of so many on the Left of the barbarity of Palestinian and other Islamic terrorists towards Israeli Jews to cause you to recognize your Jewish heritage. I’m also deeply appalled that those who claim to defend freedom and pluralism could so easily defend Islamist Fascists who would gladly murder gays, lesbians and all who either oppose their tyranny (such as Salmon Rushdie or Theo Van van Gogh) or refuse to submit to their version of Islam (such as the 2 million black Sudanese of South Sudan and the people of Darfur). I’m also appalled at the Left’s refusal to defend the victims of Islamist fascists and at the reasons for their refusal to defend those victims – John who claimed, “The situation in Gaza is much more complicated than you choose to portray it,” is a good example of this:

    The Straw Man about what those who support Israel and her actions are complaining about. Unlike most of the Arab Islamic world, Jews and those in Israel not only accept criticism from others, but readily criticize themselves and their own actions….

    The statement that No rockets were launched from the time the GOI forcibly dismantled the Jewish communities in Gaza (many of which had been in Gaza since before the Camp David Accords) in 8/2005 is patently false. As the GOI has stated, and Hamas has freely admitted, Hamas launched over 3,000 Rockets and Missiles at towns and villages in southern Israel from 9/2005 – 10/2008. That’s hardly a ceasefire, and nothing any Elected or Representative government could allow for the length of time Israel’s leaders did.

    And, The above paragraphs say nothing about the terror inflicted on Palestinians by Hamas and other terrorist organizations or the incitement and outright child abuse excused by those on the Left because those inflicting the Child Abuse are Palestinians and the ultimate Victims of the abuse are the Israeli Jews killed by Palestinian Homicide Bombs, trained from childhood to believe they are serving their people and glorifying Allah.

    Nothing, Nothing could be worse than to excuse that, because all this does is to justify the most vile form of violence and to force it to continue.

  10. I don’t suppose anyone is still reading this thread. But just in case…

    Ashna/Michael Sweeney: a ceasefire came into effect in June 2008. By September and October 2008 it was in full effect. The Israelis acknowledge that Hamas had not fired a single rocket for two months – they only resumed rocket fire after the killing of six Hamas militants on November 4th.

    Diego: the Palestinian cause is a state on ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just resolution of the refugee problem. That is the cause I support. It’s also the cause the the British government and plenty of Israelis support. I don’t support suicide bombing. I don’t support Hamas. I do not believe that Hamas’s actions have supported the Palestinian cause. The opposite is true.Conflating these different arguments as you (not I) do, is a mistake. Do you support a Palestinian state on ’67 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just resolution of the refugee problem?

  11. Nick – Thanks for the great essay. I’ve been wondering why there’s been such an upsurge in anti-Israel sentiment in London starting even before Gaza. The academic boycotts, etc of Israelis seem quite over-the-top. There is such viciousness towards Jews from the left. Where’s it coming from? Where is it going?

  12. I am not Jewish, I am a very lapsed Catholic. But I am appalled by the return of antisemitism.

    I wrote a book called Intolerance. A General Survey and I was surprised by some people’s reaction: one is seen as more “objective” if one defends a group to which one doesn’t belong.

    In that sense, I am happy not to be Jewish: it makes me more “effective”. I have written articles against antisemitism in the Quebec French press (Canada). And again I have noticed the same phenomenon; even Jews are “relieved” (their word) to be understood by a Gentile: it makes them feel less alone (so they say and it breaks my heart). Though I know for a fact that I am not the only Gentile who thinks the way I do.

    But were I to be asked whether I am Jewish, I would give the same answer that Charlie Chaplin gave to that question: “No, I don’t have this honour”. And I would mean it too!

    I would like to be a member of that extraordinary people that makes up only 0.0024% of the world population and wins 22% of the Noble Prizes.

    In order to understand where antisemitism comes from, one must add to 700 years of using Jews as scapegoats (starting with the Crusades), the jealousy that has grown steadily during the 200 years since the Emancipation: Jews have excelled in every field and made an incalculable contribution to the modern world and to Western culture.

    And that is one of the reasons why some people are antisemites. In each country, it is the same pattern. They all produce their lists of Jewish celebrities (in politics, in the economy, in the arts, in the media, in the cultural and the intellectual worlds) and they just can’t believe it (it is “prodigious”, one of them said on his website).

    And since it cannot be prodigious, since it is beyond (their) comprehension,
    beyond their imagination even, they conclude, without any proof whatsoever, that there must be some “massive trickery”, a “conspiracy”, a “plot” going on. Hence, the myth that Jews “control everything”.

    13 million Jews control 1.5 billion Christians and wish to control 1.3 billion Muslims, not to mention the rest of the world!

    At the end of “The Valley of fear”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writes: “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius”.

    Bismarck, who was the thoughest of Prussians, once said that Jews were like sparkling Champagne in Germany. He was thinking of Jewish creativity and vitality, of Jewish talent and dynamism.

    So yes, definitely, I would like to have the honour of being Jewish!

  13. I’m equally between a rock and hard space. My mother was ethically Jewish (though a baptized Episcoplian); my father, a Roman naysayer. My mother’s mother was RC; her dad, Jewish. Am I a Jew? Sure.

  14. I read Elie Wieser proclaiming the attempt to exterminate a race a worse crime than what the killing of just humans would be, and every part of me protested. I do very well understand the point, intellectually and emotionally we all have to a degree an identity of membership, and can imagine ourselves to a degree living on past our death in common genes, but that sort of identity really is the prime demand war has for its appearance. The ability of anyone to be an anti-Semite for example depends on him being able to contrast his identity with that of a Semite, and here being a sceptic, or a family father, or a collector of first editions will not do.

    I find it ennerving that Nick’s genes should be seen as showing through, or that he should take pride in a high percentage of Nobel Prize winners being of the same gene stock, as were I him I would certainly want to be seen as being alone responsible for my own work. (Whatever those Nobel Prizes were won for, it certainly was nothing you could call inherently Jewish.)

    The dilemma is of course that if you have Jewish ancestry and refuse to call yourself a Jew when there is danger in being Jewish/Israeli you are seen as not showing solidarity and the for this required bravery, while siding with one part in a conflict solely on the basis of ancestry refuses you your argumentation’s acceptance as being possibly objective.
    As far as I am concerned Nick can be Jewish (or any contrasting alternative) if he wants to, but I will have to do my best to avoid searching for indications he have succeeded in that, or else I would feel like a racist.

    (Just finished “Etonians” – good writing, good arguments.)

  15. Yes Nick. Having fought the ‘dark side’ in CI(F) and reading your various article, the expression ‘We are all Jews now’ comes to mind.

    By the way. seeing your picture in the Guardian, even without you last name, (Cohen), I would have recognised the ‘marker genes’ anyway.

  16. I am a citizen of the Italian republic, whose descent goes back on both my father’s and my mother’s side into century upon century of Italian Catholic heritage – including one great painter and a saint of the Church – well into the Middle Ages. I have a share in a nation that can claim as much talent as the Jews and more influence on the history of the world, the land of Leonardo and Galileo, of Verdi and Dante, of Thomas Aquinas and Cesare Beccaria, of Cesare Baronio (look him up) and St.Francis of Assisi, of the discoverers of America, of those who codified western music and invented the violin and the pianoforte. So the stuff that has been spoken for and against belonging to the people who produce however many Nobel Prizes per head does not apply to me. I have nothing to prove; my people were teaching the world long before Alfred Nobel was born. And I say as firmly as I can that Nick Cohen is 100% right. Incredibly, I have had the same experience; on a Catholic blog, now defunct, someone charged me with not being a real Catholic, but a Jew in disguise. This is the kind of mentality the left has allowed to breed in its own ranks; because ultimately they know that they are arguing for the destruction of the only Jewish state in the world. There is an ugly but recognizable human habit where, once you have for whatever reason decided to do someone harm, you THEN start inventing all sorts of reasons to hate that person or group. Because you hurt them, you have to hate them. This is what is happening to what used to be the left. It is no less obvious in people like John, making excuses for mass murderers and loathsome clerical fascists. Incidentally, we in Italy know a thing or two about Fascism, too. We strung up the original fascist by his feet after pumping him full of bullets, if you remember. And I am proud to say that Italy is by far the most pro-Israel country in Europe. That is because we can see from close by what Israel is, and what her enemies are.

  17. Ringo Starr once had his life threatened by the KKK for being “Jewish”. Their intelligence must have been something like that portrayed in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles”, because they were almost certainly thinking of Beatle manager Brian Epstein.

    The funny thing is, Ringo only bothered to explain –in an amused way–that he isn’t Jewish, years later while being interviewed for a Beatles documentary. I haven’t seen any evidence that he tried to straighten the KKK’s confusion up at the time. I don’t think he considered them or their threats worth his effort.

    Not that it mattered, the KKK went after the lot of them after the “Bigger than Jesus” thing; but Ringo’s attitude makes him a star (pardon the pun), in my opinion. Nice one, Ringo!

  18. I know this is a tad bit late and you’ll probably not read this but: Thank you!

    I’m an American living in London, and consequently I’ve gotten more and more liberal over the years. I’ve been thinking that I’m the only liberal person out there that has an understanding of Israel, and how leftist media is just playing into the extremist’s hands. It’s quite terrifying.

    Please get this heard. People need to hear it.

    There is no problem with being Jewish. I think at this point, it’s a compliment. At least if you’re Jewish you can see what is really going on.

    (FYI, I am not Jewish. Yet.)

  19. John, I completely agree with your well-reasoned assessment of the situation in Gaza.

    I highly recommend that everybody should read Ilan Pappe’s book ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ in order to get a broader, better-balanced insight into the Middle East conflict, instead of merely floating in the stream of politically-slanted mainstream media coverage on this deeply misunderstood war.

    I don’t think that educated, well-informed liberals or leftists oppose Judaism, Jews, or Jewish cultural and societal achievements, but rather oppose the extremist Zionist leadership which is at the core of modern Israel, using its IDF goons as battering rams against a majoritarily innocent population.

    The fact that Tony Blair and Michael Levy are best buddies doesn’t exactly make it a big mistery why Britain’s ‘New’ Labour has been so lenient in condemning Israel’s war crimes, as it has done with its own. The fact that Rupert Murdoch holds secret meetings with Tony Blair also helps explain our media’s political stance.

  20. I was astonished by the attack launched on Nick Cohen in the recent This Week broadcast in which Andrew Neil revealed himself to be surprisingly ignorant of climate change. Despite being a supposedly neutral chairaman, he trotted out a host of non facts about the topic, interspersed with the usual sneers. As this programme coincided with the opening of th Copenhagen conference where decent men are trying to get agreement, I consider this outburst grossly irresponsible

  21. Hi Nick

    Just wanted to say thanks for your article in Sunday’s Observer on Lumley’s silence over the Gurkha shame whereby a firm has been charging them £500 for resettlement advice. What a scandal that no questions should be asked because of the celeb halo. I have sent the link to all my friends who were all inspired by it. Please keep raising this issue and press the Times and Telegraph on why they suppressed their own journalism. The hypocrisy reeks.

    best wishes
    Grant

  22. My wife is Jewish, more or less completely secular.

    I’m not (Catholic baptism, evangelical agnostic from the age of 14)

    People I know, formerly amicable acquaintances, now routinely bring Israel to my attention as if I have something personally to answer for.

    I feel more and more Jewish myself.

  23. John,

    How is it you somehow manage not to mention why the Israelis killed those Hamas men on Novemebr 4th: they were preparing an attack on Israeli troops on the Israeli side of the border. Sort of relevant, don’t you think?

  24. this is the world’s weirdest thread, so glad I get the occasional update on the people the ‘secular Jewish wives’ feeling ‘more and more Jewish every day’ and the ‘very lapsed catholics’ ‘wishing for the honour’. there’s a interesting confusion over what it means to be Jewish amongst the groupies contributing here. interesting, but hardly surprising given the fact that Jews themselves haven’t been able to reach agreement on the subject.

    An example. My paternal grandmother was ‘born’ Jewish. Both sides of her family were eastern European Jews who arrived in this country in the 1880s. She didn’t practice and never talked about it. In fact I’d go as far as to say she didn’t give a damn about it. She eloped with my ‘gentile’ grandfather, was disowned and never really looked back. In a sense (to mind mind the only one that counts) she stopped being a Jew.
    Not that the state of Israel would have seen it that way.

    In 1970 the Law of Return was amended to define a Jew thus: “A Jew is one who is born of a Jewish mother, or converted to Judaism and does not belong to another religion.” There’s hope for you yet groupies. Or you would be if it weren’t for the fact that you labour under the delusion, first invented by anti-Semites (never was a brand of racism so ill named) in the 19th century that Jewishness was an ethnicity.

    The Law of Return was later further amended by the ‘grandchild clause’ (4a), brought in to combat the declining number of actual Jews created by the 1970 (declining due to intermarriage and prevailing secularism). Because of this I can make the ‘aliyah’ back to ‘my’ promised land whenever I choose. (I hardly need to mention the millions whose Parents were born in, then forced out of, Palestine who aren’t afforded this luxury).

    Post script. in 1972 one Rafael Tamarin a ‘secular Yugoslav Jew’ who’d emigrated to Israel in ’49 petitioned the High Court to change the nationality listed on his ID card from ‘Jew’ to ‘Israeli’ (Tamarin versus the State of Israel 630/70 Jan 20 ’72). His petition was rejected. In effect the Israeli High Court determined that an Israeli Nationality didn’t exist (which was of course logically necessary for the preservation of the an ‘ethnic’ ‘Jewish State’).

  25. Laurie
    For your information , the “grandchild clause” of one Jewish grandparent was there from the beginning [and still is] because this was the Nazi definition of a Jew.

  26. Daar, you are in fact not correct.

    I draw your attention to the legislation, as published on the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs website:

    Sections 4a and b:

    Law of Return (Amendment No. 2) 5730-1970*

    Addition of sections 4A
    and 4B 1. In the Law of Return, 5710-1950**, the following sections shall be inserted after section 4:

    “Rights of members of family

    4A. (a) The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law, 5712-1952***, as well as the rights of an oleh under any other enactment, are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and has voluntarily changed his religion.

    (b) It shall be immaterial whether or not a Jew by whose right a right under subsection (a) is claimed is still alive and whether or not he has immigrated to Israel.

    (c) The restrictions and conditions prescribed in respect of a Jew or an oleh by or under this Law or by the enactments referred to in subsection (a) shall also apply to a person who claims a right under subsection (a).

    Definition

    4B. For the purposes of this Law, “Jew” means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.”

    http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/1950_1959/Law%20of%20Return%205710-1950

    P.S. It is interesting that you suggest a congruence between this definition and that of the Nazis, in fact the Nazis’ definition was a little narrower that this. The nurenberg laws defined a Jew as:
    – anyone who was descended from three or four Jewish grandparents;
    – also anyone with two Jewish grandparents and who belonged to the Jewish religion, or were married to a Jew as of the date of the adoption of the Laws;

    I have no idea whether that was the benchmark against which this amendment to the Law of Return was measured.

  27. I correct myself: as the pedants amongst you will notice, while clause 4a allows the right of aliyah to ‘the child or grandchild of a Jew’, the definition of who is actually a Jew is restricted in article 4a to (1) individuals whose mothers are Jewish, (2) converts.

  28. Laurie

    You don’t sound Jewish.

  29. depends on your definition lady chairwoman. reading article 4b (above) I’d say not but then according to 4a I’m Jewish enough to colonise Palestine.

    p.s. What would be the ‘sound’ one Jew typing anyway?

  30. To John: There was never a ceasefire in place. Hamas agreed to a ceasefire with Israel, and although they themselves may not have fired rockets at Israel, other militants in the Gaza Strip did. Hamas as the “Government” in Gaza was responsible for the rocket fire, whether they themselves performed the acts or not.

    As to your comment that Israel attacked and killed 4 Gazans on Nov 4. As mentioned by someone else, Israel was attacking a group that was in the process of planting bombs along the border.

    Further, you might not be aware of this if you only read MSM publications from the time, but since the day the ceasefire went into place until Nov when it completely unraveled, a total of 116 rockets or mortars were fired at Israel. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, FOX, BBC, Guardian, etc… did not report these attacks because they never report an attack on Israel unless someone on the Israeli side dies, or Israel retaliates, killing someone in return.

    As to your support for the establishment of a Palestinian State on the 67 borders, that is all fine and good, but if that is all the Arabs are really asking for, then why did they attack Israel in 1967, before Israel occupied even a single inch of the area the Palestinians are now demanding?

  31. Tom, you should understand that Ilan Pappe is a joke. His version of history is highly skewed and dishonest. Benny Morris is much more scholarly and objective. Don’t waste your time on Pappe.

  32. Jason, you wrote: “but if that is all the Arabs are really asking for, then why did they attack Israel in 1967, before Israel occupied even a single inch of the area the Palestinians are now demanding?”

    Surely there’s a factual error in here somewhere? Even if you buy into the argument of ‘pre-emptive self defence’ you have to agree that the first military strike in ’67 was Israel’s, no?

  33. Laurie. I was willing to believe you were typing in good-faith until your last howler. Even an armchair reader would understand what was happening in 1967 — and what Nasser was doing in kicking out the UN peacekeepers, closing the straights, agreements with Syria etc. To hinot or imply that it was really Israel that started the 1967 war, or that Israel was not acting in self-defense (which is the only reason you posed your question) is a conclusive indicator that you are of the “Israel is evil and is entirely to blame” school of (non)thought. I would debate you, but as the saying goes, “you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into,” so I will not waste my time.

  34. Laurie, Israel attacked Egypt after it violated two key parts of the 1956 ceasefire agreement by closing the Straits of Tiran and moving tens of thousands of troops into the demilitarised Sinai. Lets assume for a minute though that Israel just woke up one day and decided to attack Egypt for no reason. In 1981, Israel signed a treaty returning all the territory demanded by Egypt – Egypt being smart refused to accept Gaza.

    The situation with East Jerusalem and the West Bank is absolutely clear cut. Israel told Jordan to sit out the war and in fact reiterated it request when Jordan shelled Israel. Jordan continued this unprovoked attack because – and the conversation is a matter of public record – Nasser told Hussein that Egypt was defeating Israel and Hussein wanted his slice. As we now know it didn’t end that way. But as we all know, Israel is always the “aggressor” no matter what. According to John, it was the aggressor when it killed terrorists planting a bomb – and no doubt would have been an aggressor when reacting to that bomb going off and people still manage to claim Israel was the aggressor in 2006 when Hizbollah made a completely unprovoked attack on undisputed sovereign Israel territory.

    I wish Israel could use the same arguments Hamas somehow manages to use – Israel didn’t bomb Gaza, the IAF did so thats ok.

  35. Well that elicited an excitable and emotional response.

    Mr Yo-Yo, I am intrigued by your deployment of the phrase “good-faith” (also “armchair reader” but that’s just funny, and “howler”, which we’ll come to that later). I can’t prove my motives to you, and wouldn’t try to anyway. But there’s an unspoken accusation in the air (or coming down the wires, whichever) isn’t there? Let’s leave it unspoken for now.

    I stand by my original point sans the inferences of others. I am however happy to concede what may have been a tactical error in bothering to attempt any sort of factual correction.

    To clarify: I accept that Nasser appeared, very much, to be threatening war prior to June 5. I agree that Israel had informed him that a blockade of the Straits of Tirana would be considered an act of war by Israel. And I stand by what I actually wrote re. Jason’s assertion (as opposed to your expansion and reinterpretation of it).

    That said, the question of who started the 6 Days War is of little relevance to the topic of this thread. It certainly has no bearing on the marginally more important subject of the continued military occupation and civilian colonisation of Palestine (’67 borders for Mr Yo-Yo’s information) which goes on apace even after the Israeli government entered into ‘peace negotiations’ in what (in the light of recently leaked PA documents) can be understood to be bad-faith (correct usage, but I’m sure that’ll still be controversial), as the very least in the last several years with the PLO in 1991.

  36. Wasn’t aware it was an “emotional” response, just that what you were saying was simply factually incorrect and incorrect on many levels. Nasser couldn’t threaten war because Israel and Egypt were already at war from 1948 when Egypt made an unprovoked attack on a neighbour. What they did have was a ceasefire agreement which in May 1967, Egypt violated. As you say it is not relevent because the land conquered from Egypt was returned with the sole exception of the bit they refused to take back. What is relevent is Golan, West Bank and East Jerusalem where it is simply indisputable – or at least to people even vaguely honest – that Jordan and Syria started that fighting and at least in the case of Jordan started the fighting despite Israel making every effort to get them to stay out.

    As for the Palestine papers, you should actually read them rather than rely on the Guardian lying about what is in them. See for yourself the “good-faith” that Palestinians demonstrated. If you are too lazy to do that, then you can see the Palestinian side’s reaction to the exposure of these negotiations – sound like they were sincere? Sounds like they’d have sold it effectively to the Palestinian “Street”? Compare and contrast with the Israeli side who voted in a party in 2006 whose sole common platform was pulling out of the majority of the West Bank and removing over 100,000 of the 250,000 settlers there.

    I have to say I think Israel should always consider a compliment when they read the screed anti-Israelis come up with. It must be one of the only countries so utterly blameless that people feel compelled to lie to attack it.

  37. You mention two far-right groups – white neo-Nazi parties & radical Islam. The first group hardly exists, and where it does it has aligned itself with another hard right group – ultra-nationalist Zionists.
    The first two groups may drive to ignore that the third exists. However, familial connection should not be a determinant in ideology. Otherwise, you are doing the same thing as Pakistani families who defend, or do not cooperate with police, after an honour killing.

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