Peter Beinart recently wrote an article of Jewish surrender that was published in Jewish Currents. Falling over itself, the New York Times rushed to publish an abbreviated version to ensure the piece was given a much wider audience.
The thrust of the Beinart argument is simple. Beinart used to believe in a Jewish state – he doesn’t any more, and as he lives in his comfortable home in the US, he believes Israel should dismantle itself and embark upon a utopian one state existence with the Palestinians. Thus ending 100 years of conflict.
There is nothing new inside the article. It is a silly proposition, a notion that the answer to the conflict between Israel and its neighbours is for the Jews to to put away their guns, remove the walls that protect them, surrender their right of self determination – have faith – and create what would eventually become another Muslim majority state in the Middle East.
Beinart and privilege
The article and Beinart’s position is historically and politically illiterate. Beinart pushes a solution with all the privilege of a person sitting under the umbrella of US citizenship, 1000s of miles away from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. Or as Benjamin Kerstein put in his response in the Tablet – “Peter Beinart thinks Jews don’t need Zionism. That’s because he’s never needed it himself.”
Beinart, like many of those who dabble in such utopian theory, pushes immature politics. The secular democratic one state solution is a privileged imperialist western answer to a problem they have with ignorant natives in a far-off land. Nobody on the ground wants it – not the Israelis and not the Palestinians.
The simple truth is that Israel looks the way it does – because it reflects the reality of the Middle East. The 1947 partition plan was not written into the British Mandate, but developed as reality took over. The civil war and regional conflict became inevitable. Israel is a natural product of its people, history and neighbourhood. And this simple fact – that Israel is a Middle Eastern nation, is what lies at the heart of the problem.
Beinart and the Israeli dream
For some western Jews, the Israel of reality is not the Israel of their dreams. These people tend to view Israel’s growing religious population with horror, they look down on the ‘arsim‘ of Bat Yam and they are quite derogatory about many aspects of Israeli culture. They don’t like the way many Israelis think or behave and clearly they have no respect for the way Israelis vote.
Perversely they show understanding for Israel’s enemies, including those like Hamas – but as is frequently pointed out – they never have any empathy for Israelis with different opinions to their own.
They openly display that they are fundamentally disappointed with Israeli people. Beinart’s position can be described thus: – Israelis don’t deserve their state because of the way they have developed and behaved.
So I was unsurprised by the article. Every few months we are presented with a similar article written by someone who says that they have supported Israel all their lives but because those pesky Israelis have just gone and ******* (fill in the blank with whatever has just occurred – with Beinart it is the ‘annexation’) they must now publicly state that Zionism is in tatters and doomsday is coming. Immature virtue signalling that sells out the millions of Jews who live in Israel.
But what interested me most about this episode was not another of the liberal Zionists falling off the ideological cliff. It was how our own Jewish fringe groups responded.
The British Zionist left responds to Beinart
The New York Times running the Beinart article should be of no surprise. Haaretz probably rubbed their hands in glee too. Editors at the Guardian and BBC bookmarked the page, Gideon Levy threw a house party – and journalists at the Independent probably use it as a screensaver. They all love Jews who don’t like Israelis.
On the Jewish Zionist left we have fringe groups that constantly say they support the ‘two state solution’. I don’t believe they really do at all – but that they are simply putting forward the most left wing position they can publicly take whilst still demanding a seat around the mainstream table.
The question I keep hearing them ask is this – “what makes someone a good Jew”. It is meaningless spiritual new-age bunkum – a perverted form of ‘tikkun olum‘. Invariably raised in discussion about Israel, it is the diaspora left’s way of saying that they are the enlightened future of Judaism and Israelis are ‘bad Jews’ who must be shown a more righteous path by those with a higher ethical understanding.
I have said it before, that these fringe groups can be classified as Zionists only in the sense that Israel already exists. If Israel hadn’t been created and Jews were still struggling for a homeland today, these people would not be supporters.
Things to remember
The key lesson Zionists needs to learn is that the fringe Jewish groups on the left – want to be far more critical than they are. We should take note – not of the way Beinart’s utopian Zionism imploded, but rather the way the fringe groups on the ‘Zionist left’ took cover under the Beinart article.
Beinart gave them an opportunity to let the mask slip. If two-states really is their ‘holy grail’, why would they share an article that suggests otherwise? Logically they should be as horrified by Beinart’s article as they would if it were pushing extreme-right ideology. Instead they hold it aloft.
These people are all on the edge of an ideological unstable cliff and they silently celebrate when one of them takes the plunge. This isn’t imaginary. These people often publicly state they feel stifled in what they say and cannot say. There are openly telling us their words are self-censored. So when they say ‘two-states’ – it isn’t really what they mean. Two states is their ‘red line’ to the right – not an absolute position.
So it should be of no surprise that fringe groups like Yachad rushed to share the Beinart article.
The Weisfeld straw man attack
When criticising the Beinart article online I used the term ‘supremacist’ to describe it and this irked Hannah Weisfeld, the founder of the British fringe group Yachad. It bothered her so much that she used it in a tweet as a means of attacking me.
Notice the first thing Weisfeld does is create a flimsy straw man – the ever handy tool of hard-left propagandists. Instead of concentrating on my commentary about a specific opinion – Weisfeld takes the Corbynista route – she infers I am talking about *all* opinion.
This is an often used and transparent form of attack. As I have shown above, Beinart’s position clearly contains supremacist thought. I believe I am right to call it such – but at no point can it be said, that I am implying all opinion or criticism can be viewed through the same lens.
When attacking me, Yachadniks often resort to such straw men arguments, so this is as unsurprising as Beinart’s implosion.
Weisfeld’s attack also presents the opportunity to draw attention to who is following, retweeting and liking her posts. What is the make up her of her appreciative audience?
This does not for a minute suggest Weisfeld or Yachad are responsible for who follows them. But if Yachad is the face of Jewish youth – surely this will be reflected in those supporting them online? I often argue that Yachad is an astroturf group with little genuine support. It has a few arrogant people at the front – but behind it lies very little. Simply checking who it is supporting them online is a fair indicator of what type of support is really there.
There were just 5 retweets, 25 likes and 4 comments on Hannah’s tweet. Low numbers for a voice of British Jews. Let us look at what is underneath the hood.
There were a total of 29 accounts who ‘liked’, retweeted or commented on Weisfeld’s tweet. Three were private, which left 26 public accounts I could look at.
The list of those who aligned with Weisfeld’s attack on me makes for depressing reading.
Tom Wainwright retweeted Weisfeld. Wainwright is one of those few people (less than 10 on Twitter), that I currently have blocked. He continually defames me with vile smears. A nice way to treat a person who has spent the last 4 years doing little but fighting antisemitism. Wainwright tweets about me just like a Corbynista:
I have been told on several occasions to sue him. Because his profile references ‘depression’ and ‘self harm’ he is one of those who throws stones that you cannot freely respond to. I chose to block him and leave him alone.
There is Vera Lustig. Lustig talks ‘as a Jew’, supports the boycott of Israel and forgets Hanukkah.
Lustig recently liked a Jewish Voice for Labour tweet promoting Jackie Walker’s film ‘witch hunt’. No wonder she doesn’t like me.
These are some others:
- Gary Spedding also commented. Spedding is a twisted ex member of Palestine Live with a long history of hostility to Israel. Spedding was deported from Israel and banned from visiting.
- Jon Roiser was a key individual at the Kaddish for Hamas event.
- Sarit Michaeli – is the International Advocacy Officer for the NGO -B’tselem. B’tselem is mostly funded by foreign governments seeking to undermine Israel. They have recently stated the ICC *must* investigate Israel.
- Amos Schonfield was the Yachad activist who advertised the Kaddish for Hamas event.
- Brighton BDS – A toxic anti-Israel group that baits Jews and supports the destruction of Israel
- Palestina Online – Another toxic account that seeks the complete destruction of Israel
- Joseph Willits – who works for CAABU – the pro-Arab lobby group in Parliament
- Saba Alfuhaid – A Kuwaiti diplomat at the UN – who vote against Israel 70,000 times a year.
- Bruce Bassam – who’s profile states he is into ‘Extinction Rebellion’.
- Harry Weaver – a ‘full time Marx appreciator‘ with a link to ‘marxists.org’ in his profile.
- Miranda Pinch – A BDS supporting antisemitic film producer who shares hard-core antisemitic websites.
- Mainfesting the Unseen – an anonymous account run by a Pakistani Muslim.
- Tessa – a new account that is just 3 months old.
- Filiz – an account with 51 followers whose single tweet referencing ‘Israel’, ‘Corbyn’, ‘Jewish’ or ‘antisemitism’ mentions Israeli ‘Apartheid’.
Then there are the ‘moderates’ – such as Daniel Randall – who supported sanctions against Israel before the issue of the ‘annexation’ or Natalie Sedacca who came out in support of the toxic Human Rights Watch and Omar Shakir.
These people form the majority of Hannah’s active audience. Let us be honest – it is hardly a collection of Jewish youth’s ‘finest’.
The ideologically lost
There is an ideological cliff and the Jewish Zionist left are on the edge of it. The face they show us is the one they know we can tolerate. What we cannot tolerate, they keep hidden.
Take Yachad’s militant arm – ‘Naamod’. The new Jewish ‘anti-occupation’ group that was formed following Yachad’s inability to publicly stand by its own activists following the Kaddish for Hamas event.
Who was a co-founder? Rob Abrams – the person who read out the names of the Hamas terrorists at the Kaddish for Hamas event in Parliament Square.
Abrams is an anti-Zionist who supported anti-Zionist Eran Cohen for UJS president.
Abrams was publicly supporting Jeremy Corbyn in propaganda videos. When you look under the hood you see that Abrams is standing alongside those from Yachad’s core support at every juncture. In this link, aligning with Abrams, you see names such as Em Hilton, Amos Schonfield and Gabriel Kanter-Webber.
- Amos Schonfield – Yachad Deputy at the Board of Deputies
- Emily Hilton – Ex Yachad Board member
- Gabriel Kanter-Webber – ex Yachad activist
There are not enough people in this fringe for them to be anything more than the same faces. Just as JVL, Free Speech on Israel and Jews for Boycotting Israeli goods are just the same people – so are these ‘anti-occupation’ groups like ‘Jews against Boris’, ‘Na’amod’, ‘Yachad’,’Jewish Solidarity Action’, ‘Vashti Media’.
As an anti-Zionist, Rob Abrams was branded into insignificance. Hence the rebrand – ‘anti-occupation activist’. So when Na’amod say they are against ‘the occupation’ – which ‘occupation’ is the anti-Zionist Rob Abrams referring to? Is it Ramallah or Haifa?
Na’amod recently targeted the Jewish National Fund. The image on the left is an anti-Israel protest, the image on the right is from the recent Na’amod action.
Or this comparison. On the right is the radical Islamist group Inminds, with their hard-core antisemitic spokesperson Sandra Watfa. On the left, Na’amod. Same tactics, same messaging. ‘Freedom and equality for Palestinians’ is the key message of the BDS movement. Full BDS – seeking the destruction of Israel. What else would an anti-Zionist want to do?
It becomes even clearer that some of those at the Na’amod demos are in reality anti-Zionists – toning down their message to appear more reasonable. We let these hard-left extremists near our children at our peril.
I spent five years fighting against Corbyn and antisemitism. Weisfeld didn’t. I did a simple search for ‘Corbyn’ on Hannah’s Twitter feed. I found just one mention. In 2016 Hannah tweeted a response to Marcus Dysch (then of the Jewish Chronicle) and Jon Sacker that suggested they were being ‘unfair’ in a critical analysis of a Corbyn speech. That’s it. Over 4 years of British Jewry’s darkest fight in decades – and the Yachad leader wasn’t really present.
So Yachad and Weisfeld can take their Caabu affiliated, BDS supporting, anti-Zionist followers and next time – leave me out of it. I have a hard enough time when the antisemites bring flies to swarm over me with insults. I do not need fringe Jewish astroturf groups doing it as well.
One more example
Yesterday, news broke that myself and Rachel Riley won the opening round of a High Court legal battle against Daniel Bennett. The case is related to a highly abusive Twitter troll that used the account name ‘Harry Tuttle’.
This is the response of the former Yachad poster-boy Gabriel Kanter-Webber to the good news that fighters against antisemitism had won against their abuser:
That tweet could have been written by any of the vile Corbynista trolls I have been fighting for years. I am neither ‘far-right’, nor am I of the opinion that ‘Palestinians don’t exist’. He is just lying to smear my name.
This man, Gabriel Kanter-Webber is actually training to be a Rabbi! What future is there for British Jewry if future Rabbis will look from the Jew who has been abused – to his toxic abuser – and remain unsure of where his sympathies should lie.
As I have been saying for years. If these ideologically twisted people on the left are permitted to edge even further into our mainstream – there won’t be a future for British Jews at all. Mark my words.
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