09 February 2007

IJV - a new British super- strawman-builder

The rage of the day in the Jewish circles of Britain is IJV - a new Jewish think tank with its own agenda, its own distinctive voice and its own manifesto.


My apologies to the readers. The above is a crap sentence, absolutely imprecise and not worth the bits in the virtual space that it occupies. Jews all over their spotted history were known for their ability to split into a number of fractions that usually exceeds the body count. Any claim of any fraction to be distinctive or original, no matter what the criteria of its originality, is just so much self-serving crapola. Case closed. Well, almost closed.

Specifically about that IJV gang: the only real statement of position that could be glimpsed from their manifesto is:
These principles are contradicted when those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people.
To put it in simple words: dear Board of Deputies of British Jews, we the undersigned, think that you stifle our oh how creative voices, so we are declaring our own independent fraction to beat these bloodthirsty Israelis on the head at will.

So, dear IJV - welcome to a club of another fifty or sixty (or six hundred, who really cares?) ragtag fractions, each with its own agenda, its own manifesto and its own, more or less shrilly, voice. Just stop crying about being stifled. It is pathetic really, since, as Linda Grant astutely mentions here:
I know many of the signatories of Independent Jewish Voices, some of them are good friends. Like me, they are mainly secular, intellectual, only a telephone call away from getting an op-ed piece into the Guardian.
This is stifling? Spare me the drama, please...

This is really all I wanted to say about the IJV and its crapola of manifesto. Now to a little fisk of one of its members - Anne Karpf, a columnist in the Saturday Guardian's Family section. The article she added to the growing body of evidence re IJV is unsurprisingly titled Children of the Holocaust. I wish I had a reasonable explanation why a fellow Jew that prepares to say something critical about Israel has to start his/her article with a sentence like "I've just been talking on the phone to an aunt in Israel - a Holocaust survivor like my mother." I also wish I had a pound for every time I see a piece starting with a similar self-introduction.

"If you gonna shoot - shoot, don't talk!" would be my advice, borrowed from you know where. And if you don't know, it's fine with me, just don't claim (or hint about) some special rights or especially original vision that your closeness to a Holocaust victim or survivor miraculously grants you.

So let's start with the first strawman: "The more the Israeli government claims to act on behalf of all Jews, the more I feel obliged to make my dissenting voice heard." Anne may not have noticed but no Israeli official of any sense ever said such thing. I cannot give a warranty here, since we have our fair percentage of idiots here in Israel, but Anne is using a strawman that is older than Zionism itself. Quoting senseless soundbites from Olmert no one in Israel takes seriously, too (in her additional response on CiF). Let's agree that every Jew speaks for him/her own self, OK? Aside of Board of Deputies of British Jews and IJV, of course, but let them settle their beef on their own.

To continue with that fisk:
In fact, from what I've read and what my aunt described, I get the sense that the quality of debate is far more frank and uninhibited in Israel than it is here. This is why I signed the Independent Jewish Voices declaration.
The chain of logic in the above resembles a sketchy drawing of a perpetuum mobile: the debate quality is fine in Israel, crappy in UK - let's sign a IJV declaration. How this noble act will improve the quality of the debate, with other 50-500 gangs ranging between Neturei Karta and Gilad Atzmon fighting for their "originality" and their own agenda, is totally unclear.
Jews are under pressure, not least from many fellow Jews, to uncritically endorse everything that the Israeli government does, or else to lie low, almost disavowing their Jewishness for fear of being identified with an occupying power.
That was a loaded one. So "many fellow Jews" press poor Anne to endorse the endless chain of atrocities committed by the Zionists... Hereby I relieve Anne Karpf from any liability re any past and future atrocity perpetrated by the evil Zionists
(print and keep in a safe place). Now pay attention to that tricky "or else": is lying low and hiding one's Jewishness in UK another item for the Zionists to be guilty for? Interesting, to say the least...
The idea of a single Jewish orthodoxy is a sign of weakness, not strength; of fear rather than confidence.
I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. A "single Jewish orthodoxy" will definitely be a sight to behold. Never happened and is never going to happen - so why mention it at all? Who is out there to debate this shocking idea with?
I draw inspiration from the long Jewish tradition of fighting for human rights, other people's as well as one's own: Jews have been prominent in virtually every major modern movement for civil rights and social equality.
Any person who is willing to fight for human rights is welcome to come over here and fight - for the rights of all humans in this bloody neck of the woods. Fighting abstract images of a brutal occupier and a helpless oppressed victim from a safe distance does not cut the mustard.

Now to the most sinister statement in the whole opus:
It's been hard for me to speak out about the Middle East: most surviving members of my family live in Israel, and for a long time my family's experience made me anxious about the repercussions that could come from speaking one's mind.
Let me see: now our valiant Anne will speak out (in the framework of the newly founded warm and embracing IJV), which will be safer than before, cause had she tried this before, the bloody Shin Bet would have come in the night to drag her helpless relatives to their underground torture chambers. But now, with IJV around looking out for Anne's near and dear, she can speak out freely! What a bliss!
Lying low is no longer an option.
A small correction, Anne: lying low is always an option. For some people it is even the best of all possible options. Because the moment they stand up, they start talking, and the result is:

So much krapf