Ahmadinejad, Boycott, the Jewish News

Iran’s ignorant bigot in chief

Actually, calling Ahmadinejad the bigot in chief is inaccurate, because he has a boss who holds all the real power in the country. It was kind of comical that after the suppression of the mass protests, you could read Zionist propagandists saying that Ahmadinejad had now concentrated all power in his hands. Knowledgeable observers, such as Akbar Ganji, warned that power was being concentrated in the hands of Khamenei, but of course, Khamenei doesn’t use the same rhetoric, so it was not ideologically serviceable to recognise this. Anyway, Ahmadinejad usually uses euphemisms to avoid directly saying the Holocaust didn’t happen (We just need more research, why won’t you let us investigate it rationally?). He may have openly denied the Holocaust just now, though there’s differences in the reported remarks, and there’s a history of his remarks being mistranslated.

According to Ynet, he said “If the Holocaust was planned by the West, why won’t you allow any research on the Holocaust? The Holocaust has turned into a black box and they won’t let anyone open it and examine it… If this is such an important event, why won’t you let us reveal the reality to the entire world?”  According to Haaretz, “The pretext [Holocaust] for the creation of the Zionist regime [Israel] is false … It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim,” he told the worshippers. “Confronting the Zionist regime is a national and religious duty.” Press TV says “The president then went on to question the story behind the Holocaust and urged a probe into it.

“If the Holocaust, as you claim, is true, why don’t you allow a probe into the issue?””

Anyway, he’s been condemned as a digrace by Germany, the US and so on. Looking further, the translation of the “lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim” appears to come from MEMRI. “

“The pretext for establishing the Zionist regime is a lie – a lie which relies on an unreliable claim, a mythical claim, and the occupation of Palestine has nothing to do with the Holocaust.”

It’s possible that he did say this, but really, no one should believe anything from MEMRI. We’ll wait to see what (say) Juan Cole has to say about it. That’s not to say he didn’t say anything stupid – the YNet version is bad enough.

Oh wait. There is a reputable source.

“Our call over the past four years has been if the Holocaust claimed by the Zionist regime and its allies is true, why they (Zionists and westerners) do not allow any research on it?”

President Ahmadinejad said research on everything is free but Holocaust is the key to a sealed fact and black box.

“When the event is so much important for which a land is occupied, such a war is waged, millions of people are killed, injured and made homeless, thousands of families are ruined and the Middle East is kept under the shadow of insecurity, why the black box should not be decoded so that facts and realities are revealed to all?”

He said Palestine is still the most important issue of the world of Islam. “We do believe that if war is waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is because of Zionists’ provocation. If Sudan is suppressed it is because of Zionists’ temptations. Zionists are behind all the conspiracies of the arrogance and colonialism. They do not allow the main factor of excuses for Palestine occupation be examined and surveyed.”

“The pretext for establishing the Zionist regime is a lie; a lie which relies on an unreliable claim, a mythical claim, and the occupation of Palestine has nothing to do with the Holocaust.”

It should be noted that “Zionists” is his racist euphemism for Jews. Anyway, this is from the IRIB website. IRIB is for official state propaganda. This should settle it. Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a lie and a mythical claim.  You can see it here too.

Of course, I condemn all Holocaust denial as outrageous and disgraceful. On this, I am different from, say, AIJAC. Take Colin Rubenstein. He indignantly denied that Khatami should be considered a moderate. For Rubenstein, the moderate Arab governments are “Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and even the Palestinian Authority”. Obviously untroubled by what As’ad AbuKhalil charges is institutionalised anti-Semitism in Saudi Arabia and their grotesque media, Israel’s favourite “moderate”, and the head of the “moderate” Palestinian authority is Mahmoud Abbas, who is a Holocaust denier, and wrote his doctoral thesis on the subject. Of course, AIJAC used to write about this and complain about it, but apparently defending a Holocaust denier doesn’t seem problematic for them anymore. And again, it should be stressed: Rubenstein has specifically written a column saying that “moderate” is a term which should be carefully used, and denied to Khatami. Denying it to a Holocaust denier apparently doesn’t occur to Rubenstein. For those who actually take the issue seriously, you can learn a lot about AIJAC from this.

Boycotting Israel

Philip Mendes is up to his usual tricks, claiming everyone who disagrees with him is anti-Semitic if he disagrees with them. Today, he is in the Australian with someone called Nick Dryenfurth, complaining about those who would boycott Israel. He claims “Taken to its logical conclusion, the proposed cultural and academic boycott of Israel would mean that institutions such as AICE and perhaps scholarly hubs, including the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, would close, preventing a large number of students, Jewish and non-Jewish, from learning about the rich history of the Jewish people.”

Notice how someone proposes boycotting Israel, and Mendes (and his co-writer) pretend this means that Jews will be boycotted. Why would boycotting Israel mean anyone couldn’t study Jewish history? It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Mendes without any evidence to support it labels people as anti-Semitic on the most frivolous basis.

They go on:

“According to the BDS movement, Israel is one of the world’s worst human rights abusers and is committing genocide against the Palestinians.”

Well, no, the BDS campaign doesn’t mean Israel is engaged in genocide, but facts obviously don’t trouble these writers.

“This supposedly justifies the discriminatory singling out of Israeli academics and culture producers on national and ethnic grounds.” Well, no, this does not mean discriminatory singling out of Israeli academics on ethnic grounds. As the authors should know – but perhaps knowingly conceal – Israel does not just have Jews within its green line (not to mention the occupied territory). The boycott would obviously also affect Palestinians. The authors might also wonder what the Palestinians think about the boycott, but plainly only what Jews think, or how they might suffer, occurs to them.

It is also amazing that they can speak of a discriminatory boycott. At a time when Hamas and Gaza are being boycotted and under siege, when Israel is pressing for international sanctions against Iran, when there actually are lots of other countries under sanctions, boycotts, calls for divestment and so on (anyone who attended a rally for Burma – and it’s likely they haven’t – should know that such calls are perfectly standard for activists).

But then, watch their sophisticated arguments against the boycott: “Moderates and extremists exist on both sides of what is an immensely complex conflict and there is simply no proof that Israel is acting more severely than other countries engaged in national and ethnic conflicts.”

This is the sole proof of their assertion. They then go on to complain of Indonesia in East Timor, and the US in Vietnam. They note that the boycott campaign in the West started in 2002, yet they apparently still think it is a serious argument against the boycott that war crimes committed years (and decades) earlier were worse. They even make the obscene assertion: “Nor is there any plan to boycott Palestinian or Arab academics who endorse suicide bombings and other violent attacks on Israeli civilians.” Yes, there is, but Mendes and Dryenfurth are such fanatical Zionists that they have not noticed the siege and boycott on Gaza and its elected government.

“Second, it is simply arrant nonsense to call Israel an apartheid state. While the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has some superficial similarities with apartheid in South Africa, the analogy cannot reasonably be applied to Green Line Israel given the civil and political rights enjoyed by its Arab citizens.”

Superficial similarities. This is again a demonstration of their intellectual sophistication. Mendes always refuses to discuss any of the issues, and this is characteristic of the intellectual substance of everything he writes, where he notes that he disagrees with whoever, and then proceeds to his typical name-calling. Note also they don’t discuss any of the “superficial similarities”, because that might display some sympathy for the Palestinians and their suffering (assuming Mendes and his co-author actually are capable of such emotion). They go on to say how wonderful the Israeli academia is. They say:

“Third, there is no evidence that most Israeli academics actively endorse via their teaching and research practices serious human rights abuses. On the contrary, many Israeli academics are active in the political Left and vigorous critics of the occupation. About 400 Israeli academics – about 5 per cent of all academics – signed a petition supporting conscientious draft objectors who refused to serve in the occupied territories.” I would like to see where they found this petition. It seems to me unlikely, given how little political support the refuseniks get. Even if what they said were true, 5% of Israeli academics seriously supporting activism against the occupation hardly demonstrates that Israeli academics don’t support (or silently collude) with Israel’s crimes agains the Palestinians. Take a (much) more mild and uncontroversial issue. The proposed law that would ban Nakba commemoration. 230 academics signed a petiiton saying they’d defy such a law. Well, that’s good, though it was rather belated. But the issue is so extremely mild, and that so few academics signed something that is breathtakingly racist and callous to Palestinian suffering, really speaks for itself.

This is not to say the academy in Israel is worse than anywhere else (such as Australia). It’s that to pretend they’re progressive is a joke. There is no peace camp in Israel, there are simply small handfuls of brave activists.

“It is incongruous that many of the boycott proponents are of Jewish extraction. None of these figures seems to have considered that a boycott together with their inflammatory rhetoric (and fundamentalist anti-Zionism more generally) might provoke racist discrimination against Jews.”

It might. Yet note how they again seek to raise the smear of anti-Semitism. Boycotting Israel doesn’t just mean boycotting Jews, but they’re such fanatical propagandists that they conveniently forget again that there are Palestinians within Israel (they only mention this when they’re pretending Israel is a liberal democracy, as proven by allowing Palestinians to vote in elections, perhaps soon only for parties that Israel considers acceptable). Of course, I oppose the blanket boycott, favouring a targetted boycott campaign of the occupied territories. Oddly, Mendes commented on this post favourably (and he apparently confused me with someone who commented on the post), raising the obvious question: does he favour a targetted boycott? Or should I soon expect to be labelled an anti-Semite? He’s raised this before, as when on Galus Australis, he queried whether a talk I gave was connected to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But then, this reflects his general intellectual seriousness in discussing Israel and Palestine.

The Jewish News

Typically, there’s messages from Turnbull, Rudd, Yuval Rotem (thankfully, the Israeli ambassador didn’t say how wonderful it is that we’re a white oasis in Asia or whatever the last guy said), the Premiers of Victoria and NSW and the opposition.

The AJN editorial is actually really incredible.

They say that “The biolerplate argument that the report should not be taken seriously because the UN has a historic bias against Israel – charge that is not unfounded – will not be enough to counter this particular report, for a number of reasons.

 Firstly, Justice Richard Goldstone, in accepting the UN’s request to lead the inquest, lent credibility to the process that it would not otherwise have had. A highly regarded figure on the international human rights scene with experience in the prosecution of war crimes, Goldstone commands respect. Goldstone’s presence also deflects criticism for the report by the fact that he is Jewish and has had a good relationship with Israel in the past.”

The other thing is the US has joined the HRC. Taking it seriously because the US is in it is indicative of how shocking the AJN is. But anyway. However, the AJN says it would be a “mistake” to simply dismiss the report. “The Israeli government must keep its emotions in check and take this report very seriously – refute what it can refute, and continue to work towards vigorously prosecuting the rest. The consequences of misplaying its hand on this would be grave.”

Larry Stillman wrote a letter complaining about Danby’s attack on NM and Crikey. I have no idea why he calls Danby a “strong defender of human rights, refugees and freedom of expression”. Though to be fair to Danby, the AJN says he defends the rights of Jews in Melbourne Ports.

Another letter by Ian Katz compares Jake Lynch’s advocacy of a boycott of Israel as reminiscent of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses. Also, what about Sudan and Zimbabwe (etc)?

There’s a column by Michael Visontay. Where does the AJN get these people? He writes “It is legitimate to argue that Israel did not “invade” Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, but rather, re-occupied territories to which is had a historical right of ownership.”

That’s right. He puts “invade” in quotation marks. These sorts of views are almost pathological.

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