Wednesday, August 11, 2010
An Anti-Semite named Tony Judy
1. An Anti-Semite named Tony Judy
There is one less Jewish anti-Semite roaming about. Tony Judt, a malicious Jewish anti-Semite, best known for his calls for Israel to be annihilated, was recalled by his Creator last Friday. Since the mainstream press is trying to make Judt out as some sort of heroic moral hero and deep intellectual, we though the time was proper to re-post this:
- Historian and professor at New York University
- Has called for Israel's dissolution
Born to a Jewish family in London in 1948, Tony Judt is a professor of history at New York University. His parents were refugees from anti-Semitic persecution in Eastern Europe. Raised in London, Judt lived briefly on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1960s. At that point in his life, he was quite fond of the Jewish state. But he later made a political U-turn; he is currently known for his belief that Israel has no legitimate right to exist.
Judt has done some notable academic work during his professional career. He considers himself an expert in French history and has published widely on this subject to general acclaim, although some French thinkers have challenged his credentials.
But in recent years Judt has made a transition away from intellectual history, to an overriding concern with the Middle East conflict. A devotee of Edward Said, the late professor of English Literature at Columbia University, Judt wrote the introduction to a collection of Said's essays. The following lengthy sentence summarizes the tone and viewpoint of Judt's approach to Israel and its quest for survival:
"Today [Israel] presents a ghastly image: a place where sneering 18-year-olds with M-16s taunt helpless old men ('security measures'); where bulldozers regularly flatten whole apartment blocks ('rooting out terrorists'); where helicopters fire rockets into residential streets ('targeted killings'); where subsidized settlers frolic in grass-fringed swimming pools, oblivious of Arab children a few meters away who fester and rot in the worst slums on the planet."
As regards the Mideast conflict, Judt's writing consists primarily in condemning Israel for allegedly conducting an "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians in 1948. He also believes that the current strife could best be resolved through the abandonment of Israel by the United States, a nation which he holds guilty of having suppressed its own liberals and leftists.
Judt was one of those who rallied in support of holocaust denier Norman Finkelstein, when the latter was dismissed from DePaul University due to his lack of any serious scholarly work. Judt insisted that Finkelstein was a martyr who had been victimized by an allegedly omnipotent Jewish-Israel Lobby.
In a superb expose of Judt, Benjamin Balint, a Fellow at Hudson Institute, argues that the professor's hatred of Israel, however freighted with postmodern attitudinizing, often resembles and imitates traditional anti-Semitism.
Judt's insistence on the Jewish state's "anachronism" edges toward a secular version of Christian supersessionism. Where once Christians wanted Jews to acknowledge the obsolescence of Judaism, Judt wants them to recognize the obsolescence of the Jewish state ("an oddity among modern nations"). Where Christianity considered the Jewish faith refuted by theological history, Judt deems the Jewish state revoked by political history. Where once Christians accused Jews of stubbornly refusing the inexorable advance of religion toward messianic fulfillment, Judt charges Israel with declining to yield to the inexorable progress of History toward enlightened universalism.
Judt contends that he hates Israel because it is founded on nationalism, an impulse he deems both dangerous and outdated. Even though every other state on the planet is also founded on nationalism, Judt believes that only Israel should cease to exist.
One of Judt's most notorious writings against Israel appeared in the New York Review of Books, a publication to which he frequently contributes, on October 23, 2003. There he basically insisted that Israel alone was responsible for all continuing tensions in the Middle East and for the failure to achieve peace with its Arab neighbors. The entire article was a call for Israel's dismemberment and replacement by a single state with an Arab majority, commonly known as the "One-State Solution." The article, which David Frum called "genocidal liberalism," triggered more than a thousand letters, most attacking Judt. As a result of the piece, The New Republic, on whose board Judt had previously sat, expelled him from the magazine.
In that same article, Judt characterized Israel as a country of fascists:
"When one hears Israel's deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, proudly insist that his country has not excluded the option of assassinating the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, it is clear that the label fits better than ever. Political murder is what fascists do."
Judt excused suicide-bombing mass murders against Jews because "the Palestinians have no other weapons." He likened Israel's security fence, designed to keep Palestinian suicide bombers away from Jewish school buses and shopping malls, to the Berlin Wall. And he challenged the foundational legitimacy of Israel:
"The very idea of a Jewish state—a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded—is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism."
Judt then asserted that the supposedly powerful Israel Lobby prevents the expression of legitimate criticism of Israel:
"It has also corroded American domestic debate. Rather than think straight about the Middle East, American politicians and pundits slander our European allies when they dissent, speak glibly and irresponsibly of resurgent anti-Semitism when Israel is criticized, and censoriously rebuke any public figure at home who tries to break from the consensus."
Judt returned to this theme in the July 14, 2005 edition of the New York Review of Books, where he wrote that "Israel and its lobbyists have an excessive and disastrous influence on the policies of the world's superpower."
"It is the policies of Israeli governments, especially in the past two decades, that have provoked widespread anti-Jewish feelings in Europe and elsewhere ... They can hardly be surprised when their own behavior provokes a backlash against ... Jews."
Judt also maintains that all of Europe's problems with Muslim immigrants are due to Israel's misbehavior. As Manhattan Institute scholar Sol Stern observes, "Judt's free pass for Islam is the other side of the coin of his recent obsession with the sins of Israel and Zionism, areas which make the personal oh so political for Judt."
Judt endorses Fatah ideologue and Palestinian Authority official Othman Abu Gharbiya's November 1999 assertion that:
"Every Palestinian must clearly understand that the independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, is not the end of the process but rather a stage on the road to a democratic state in the whole of Palestine. This will be followed by a third phase, namely Palestine's complete amalgamation in the Arab and Islamic cultural, national, historic, and geographic environment. This is the permanent-status solution."
Judt understands that achieving such a result will require some extreme measures. Paul Berman, writing in Forward, observes:
"[Judt] ends up commenting, 'terror against civilians is the weapon of choice of the weak.' Presumably he means that the Palestinian bombers are [politically] weak and have had no alternative way to claim their national rights — though he doesn't explain why the 'weak' would have turned to their 'weapon of choice' precisely in the aftermath of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer to create the Palestinian state in Gaza and on almost all of the West Bank."
Among those who have rebuked Judt for his bias against Israel and Jews was The New Republic. Writing there on October 27, 2003, Leon Wieseltier mocks Judt and his bitter chagrin at the way his own Jewish heritage makes him (in Judt's view) necessarily complicit in what he regards as immoral acts:
"Consider his [Judt's] predicament again. He finds himself 'implicitly identified' with Israel's actions in, say, Jenin. But he was nowhere near Jenin. He killed nobody. Indeed, he is ferociously opposed to the killings, and to the policies of the Sharon government in the territories generally. All he has to do, then, is to say so, and then to express his anger at the suggestion that he is in any way responsible for what he, too, deplores. For the notion that all Jews are responsible for whatever any Jews do, that every deed that a Jew does is a Jewish deed, is not a Zionist notion. It is an anti-Semitic notion."
Since 2006, Judt has spent much of his time peddling and marketing the anti-Israel book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt entitled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Its demonization of a Jewish cabal that purportedly controls American foreign policy and stifles freedom of speech has brought a cascade of criticism, causing Judt to fret that his heroic stand against Israel has made him, too, a victim of Zionist "censorship" and suppression. His basis for this perception is that in 2006 the Polish Consulate in New York had been planning to invite him to give a talk, but when it learned about how hostile Judt was to Jews and Israel—partly as a result of some petitions signed by academics and others—the invitation was cancelled.
In response to that cancellation, Judt declared:
"This is serious and frightening, and only in America—not in Israel—is this a problem. These are Jewish organizations that believe they should keep people who disagree with them on the Middle East away from anyone else who might listen."
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
and Asher Fredman
Published August 6, 2010
In Russia, Venezuela, Egypt and other repressive societies, the activities of foreign-funded, non-governmental organizations promoting democracy are subject to police harassment and legal restraints. The Israeli environment for NGOs is the polar opposite, with thousands of these organizations, from across the political spectrum, operating freely.
Taking advantage of this situation, a number of political-advocacy NGOs are leading campaigns that use the rhetoric of human rights, international law and humanitarian aid to delegitimize Israel and label its leaders as "war criminals." This has led to growing criticism of these organizations and of their main funders - primarily European governments and the New Israel Fund.
In response, these groups have launched a campaign, claiming that the criticism constitutes an assault on democracy. A flood of opinion articles have portrayed criticism of NGOs as a right-wing, McCarthyite assault. Their aim is to delegitimize debate on these organizations.
The NIF released a statement darkly warning that "right-wing members of the Knesset have pushed legislation that would limit the rights of many progressive NGOs in Israel, categorizing them as 'political' in the manner of Russia, China and Iran."
A recent opinion piece by Ishai Menuchin in Haaretz English Edition ("An assault on democracy," July 16 ) is a prime example of this campaign. He claims "the Knesset now has a disturbingly small minority of representatives (about 10 percent ) commonly identified with human rights and social justice." He provided no details, but was presumably referring to the 4 percent from the ex-communist Hadash party, for which he has been a candidate, and a few sympathizers.
To Menuchin's way of thinking, 90 percent of Israel's elected representatives are opponents of human rights. Menuchin, who heads the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, thus attempts to place anyone who disagrees with his extreme positions beyond the pale. Ironically, his purported "defense of Israeli democracy" delegitimizes the very system it claims to defend.
Menuchin also insists that "every supporter of human rights, every believer in democratic values" should support a "call for appropriate international action" if those suspected of war crimes are not brought to justice in Israel. Through this "lawfare" tactic, NGOs such as the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Al-Haq - with the help of Israeli NGOs such as Adalah and Yesh Gvul - seek to have Israeli officials tried in foreign courts for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." Anyone who disagrees, argues Menuchin, cannot be a true supporter of human rights or democratic values.
The lawfare campaign is based on the claim that the Israeli judicial system has failed to apply international legal requirements in response to alleged Israel Defense Forces violations. In this effort, NGO officials have joined the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority in pressing the International Criminal Court to open cases against Israelis. But there are no criteria to substantiate their claims, and no comparisons with countries fighting with similar tactics in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Instead, the NGOs simply quote UN reports - such as the one prepared by Judge Goldstone regarding last year's Gaza campaign - which, in turn, quote the NGOs. This is a circular argument based on political, not legal, criteria.
Another element of the "democracy under attack" argument focuses on Knesset draft bills that would allegedly "damage in an extremely severe manner the basic principles" of democracy and human rights, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Similarly, Menuchin and NIF chair Naomi Chazan attack the December 2009 Knesset conference that examined foreign government funding for Israeli political NGOs. In their version, the conference, and proposed legislation on transparency that followed, reflect a dangerous right-wing conspiracy.
This multi-front counter-attack reflects anti-democratic tendencies among these NGOs. Regarding the Knesset conference in December, the leaders of five powerful Israeli NGOs - the NIF, Adalah, B'Tselem, Gisha and ACRI - were invited by legislators to present their views. All refused to participate in this democratic exchange.
NGO condemnation focuses proposed legislation modeled on the American Foreign Agents Registration Act, calling for transparency on funding from the European Union and other governments. The current text, agreed upon by Labor and Likud MKs, would close loopholes in existing laws that are exploited by NGOs.
The NGO campaign to block transparency extends beyond Israel's borders. Eleven groups signed a letter to the European Parliament, urging it to "oppose the bill and other attempts to limit European governmental funding of Israeli and Palestinian HR defenders, using all means at its disposal." As in the case of lawfare, Israeli NGOs want outsiders, with no accountability to the Israeli electorate, to help them impose their preferred policies.
Similarly, NGO lobbying led to the June 23 session in the European Parliament Subcommittee for Human Rights on "the situation of NGOs in Israel." Three EU-funded NGOs - Menuchin's PCATI, Mossawa and a French NGO - as well as NGO Monitor, were invited to participate. The other NGOs strongly objected to the presentation of NGO Monitor's research. Apparently free speech extends only to those with the "correct ideology."
Democratic values are threatened most when they are invoked to stifle the very debate that embodies the essence of these values. And this is the real danger to Israeli civic society.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. Asher Fredman is a research fellow at NGO Monitor.