Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Playing the Antisemitic Card...

I found this blog calling itself "Hitchens Watch" which purports to counter the Hitchens-worshipping bloggers of "Drunk Trotskyites" (no longer operational, I believe. Something happened to it during the heat of August).

As the blog is a "Watch", I thougt it was a serious and thoughtful attempt to provide indeed an antithesis to Hitchens' assertive, eloquent and often persuasive positions. Those who embark on rebutting Hitchens should at the very least exhibit some of the characteristics which make him so readable and controversial, such as brilliance, intelligence, awesome literary and historical knowledge, pithy language, etc. So I was tempted to leave a comment on one of their posts in which it is claimed, with supreme confidence, that pro-Israel advocates routinely use the antisemitic card in order to silence "legitimate criticism of Israel". They even provide a youtube of an interview with Shulamit Aloni, repeating the mantra.

I've written often and much about these false accusations, which in themselves constitute a variety of anti-semitic intimidation. But I made the effort to respond to the post on Hitchens Watch with this comment:

Certainly, to criticize certain policies Israel undertakes is not necessarily antisemitic. It is absolutely correct and even desirable that Israel should be viewed as any other normal country, with its interests and its self-serving policies. Any government that does not take its own citizens' security and well-being as a priority betrays the people who elected it. This does not mean that these interests cannot be discussed or criticized.

The problem arises when Israel is treated as if it were different from any other country. When the expectation is that it should care more about its enemies' comfort levels than it does about the life of its own children. This is when the alarm goes on: what does it mean, when Israel is perceived as a criminal entity, not deserving to enjoy the same human rights that are freely and generously allowed to Palestinians? What do you call this singling out of Israel from any other country on earth? If it is not rooted in antisemitism, what is it rooted in?

People who call for Israel to put aside the security of its own men women and children, what do they mean? What is their ultimate goal? What is their final vision for Israel? Does anyone care to enlighten me?

You can see from the development of the "conversation" that it was extremely difficult to get any coherent or even relevant answers to my questions. Mostly it is some sort of pretend-autism from some of the blog's participants. However, finally, one poster managed to come up with an answer to the main query:

"People who call for Israel to put aside the security of its own men women and children, what do they mean? What is their ultimate goal? What is their final vision for Israel?"

Here it is:

"Just thought I'd chime in... Israel would not have a security issue if it had not appropriated the land ( through terror) that had a majority Palestinian Arab population on it. Furthermore it continues to supress the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people and this is why it's security is still "threatened."Also , mentioning the Holocaust in the context of Palestine is misleading. The Palestinian people had nothing to do with those horrific crimes. Based on what I've read, most Jewish survivors of the Holocaust opted to move to the U.S. and not Israel at the conclusion of WW2(as most indeed did). As for the vision of what should exist: a shared homeland for both people with a majority Palestinian govt reflecting the real demographic make-up of the area's population and a return of property to those Palestinian families who lost theirs during the creation of Israel." (Omar)

In other words, the destruction of the Jewish state, the subjection of its Jewish population to Palestinian (Arab-Muslim) rule and whim, the expulsion of Jewish from their homes, etc etc. The author of this solution does not specify where the expelled Jews are to go. If it sounds familar, it should. A mythic tale of Jewish perfidy, repeated and indoctrinated until it becomes an instinctive, irrefutable truth, and the proposed (natural and normalized) solution for its ending.

And this, gentle reader, is not antisemitism but a "legitimate criticism of Israeli policies".

But there should be no surprise that these are the kinds of ideas promoted by this self-righteous blog, if you understand how the Holocaust is defined by one of its founders:

"I've heard the name, and I expect you are referring to the genocides that took place in Europe during WW2, but I'm not very familiar with the plot. There have been so many holocausts in history, not to mention in fiction, and so many versions of different holocaust tales, that unless you're an enthusiast it's hard to keep up with it all. And being an old fart who got his formative education in the UK in the sixties, the subject never came up in school.

What I do know about the holocaust with a capital "H" is that in many countries you can be put in prison for denying it happened. " (greywolf)

If you are shocked by the callousness of this dismissive "definition" (coming, as it does, from one who pretends to speak for international law and universal human rights) , you might find it less shocking if you notice that greywolf's next comment relies on a quote from the antisemitic blog "Rense".

What is "rense"?

radio program and website, Rense.com,[2] cover subjects such as 9/11 conspiracy theories,[3] UFO reporting, paranormal phenomena, Holocaust denial,[4] Zionism, tracking of new diseases and possible resultant pandemics, environmental concerns (see chemtrails), animal rights, possible evidence of advanced ancient technology, geopolitical developments and emergent energy technologies, complementary and alternative medicine among other subjects." (Wiki)

Well then, so much for "
"legitimate criticism of Israel" ..


At 3:22 PM EDT, Anonymous Louis said...

Very well put. I've been pointing out their antisemitism (and it is, and has been, a lot worse than these comments) for quite some time.

It is their usual policy to ban users, and to delete their comments, when they point this out, so it is quite nice to see it highlighted externally.

They are melange of paranoid bigots, truthers, anarchists, and, indeed, self-aggrandising autists, and most of us stopped taking their cant seriously a long time ago.

They are not serious people. They are cranks.

At 3:37 PM EDT, Anonymous Louis said...

"As for what is anti-Semitism, as we know the meaning of the term today, it refers to thoughts and actions disapproved of by the Zionists and nothing more or less."


There's oodles more of that kind of drivel. The antisemitic bigotry that gets a free pass on that site, and, indeed, is positively promulgated by it, is quite appalling and shocking.

At 8:00 PM EDT, Anonymous FGFM said...

You seem like a pretty lonely fellow, but you're welcome to our house troll!

At 8:54 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Excitable, aren't you, fgmf?

At 8:57 PM EDT, Anonymous Louis said...

Don't mind FGFM. He's just a bitter and nasty bigot with a string of failed blogs.

Here's the most recent:


He's neither well-adjusted nor articulate. I'm afraid he is not a "pretend-autist" as you put it; it's sadly somewhat more real and debilitating.

At 9:32 PM EDT, Anonymous FGFM said...

Excitable, aren't you, fgmf? [sic]


At 10:20 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...



At 10:29 PM EDT, Anonymous FGFM said...

Noga, can I get a Decent Denunciation of Avigdor Lieberman from you?

At 10:35 PM EDT, Anonymous Louis said...

I must point out that, as well as being a casual antisemite, FGFM is also something of a typically rabid Internet fanatic with no interest in debate (it is all hack one-liners, inaccurate sneers, pointless catchphrases and the like) and generally just attempts to irritate people. He is not bright, not clever, and has no concept of irony whatsoever. He has no idea what irony is. He is immune to it.

He is not a normal person.

At 10:47 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Likewise, Alternet is antiSemitic for posting Taibbi's defense and HitchensWatch is antiSemitic for linking to Alternet. Concerned individuals are advised to wash your hands and empty your browser cache, because this bug spreads like Swine Flu on steroids."


Hitchens Watch is antisemitic because it preaches antisemitism, defends antisemitic comments, and gives antisemitism a complete free pass.

A typical and direct quote from the webmaster:

"The phenomenon of anti-Semitism is on the rise and so is violence against Jews. So what?"

He is a crank and a lunatic and a hearty believer in conspiract theories (9/11, JFK, Moon-landing, Illuminati, secretive Jewish cabals, yadda yadda yadda).

Hitchens Watch is a titivated and dolled-up hate site. And their various acolytes are necessarily as disturbed as that impliers.

They are beyond reason and debate. Believe me. Many, many have tried.

At 10:49 PM EDT, Anonymous FGFM said...

I hope you don't mind Louis hijacking your blog as part of his fanatical crusade against me and the Hitchwatch crew. He's a scientist!

At 11:10 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

fmgf, you are in no position to ask any questions or expect any response. You chose to greet my comments at your blog with snarls, sneers, and non-verbal gestures with the intention to insult and offend.

I have no interest in you.

You are not welcome on my blog and any more trolling from you will be deleted. So don't waste your time posting here. Go play with your own friends.

At 11:34 PM EDT, Anonymous FGFM said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:11 AM EDT, Anonymous Migreli said...

The fact that an anti-Hitchens blog is anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish does not mean that Hitchens deserves support. His own credentials as a member of the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish camp are too well established.

Hitchens is a man for whom the word Pharisaic is an insult - a hallmark of bigots through the ages. His ignorance of the humanity and spiritual values of Judaism is abject. His refusal to acknowledge the accuracy of Theodore Herzl's premonition of the disaster threatening Europe's Jews is obtuse. His unwillingness to admit that Jews need a state - more than any other people in human history - is a moral stain. His refusal to acknowledge that Jews are entitled to a state, and to self determination, is a pandering to injustice. His apathy towards those who sought practical, effective, all-encompassing action to save Europe's Jews from destruction are a mark of callousness. His abuse of Israelis when they fight for their lives today is an insult to right, truth and justice. His approval of the idea that the Zionists ruthlessly exploit the Holocaust is a vile inversion of the truth.

A person's attitude towards Israel and the Jews is a touchstone of decency. However brilliant and knowledgeable Hitchens may be, there is a fundamental flaw in his moral compass, and Jews should not delude themselves that he is any sort of friend.

At 7:42 AM EDT, Anonymous FGFM said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:45 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Hitchens has come a long way since he collaborated with Edward Said. His views on Israel and Judaism are not what they used to be.

But I think we already had this conversation:


At 7:48 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Trolls are not tolerated on this blog.

The troll calling himself "FGFM" is not welcome here, for the reasons I specified earlier. Any posting by him on the comments will be deleted as soon as it is detected.

At 10:48 AM EDT, Anonymous Leo said...

Migreli, I am afraid I am going to have to respectfully disagree with a selection of your points. Hitchens is a complex and nuanced critic, as well as being highly controversial one. It is worth taking the time and care to listen to what he says. I don’t expect you to be in total agreement with him – I don’t think such a person even exists – but he does have some very astute points, and he is a wonderful writer and tremendously witty.
He is married to a Jewish woman and celebrates Jewish holidays with his daughters. I don’t really see how you could call him anti-Jewish. Hitchens is severely critical of all religions, not just specifically Judaism, and there is a such long tradition of Jewish atheism and agnosticism and secularism such that characterising him as anti-Jewish for that reason seems something of a stretch– where exactly would that leave Einstein and Spinoza and thousand others?

His views on Israel are complex, and he characterises himself as a non-Zionist (rather than an Zionist/anti-Zionist), so I think you are mistaken in stating that he doesn’t support a Jewish state – he supports the two-state solution after all, not a single state demographically dominated by Palestinians; he also supports the right of the Kurds to their own nation and self-determination on very similar grounds to those put forward for the Jews.

Regarding his callousness with respect to European Jewry, that remark is deeply mistaken, He has always been highly rigourous with regard to the historicity of the Holocaust and has constantly objected to its repeated abuse as rhetorical device and symbol – even to the point of inflaming some Jewish sensibilities. However, I feel this should be welcomed; if one reads him carefully, one will see he is never more than forthright with his assertions and sources, and never insinuating. He has never shown apathy. He is acutely sensitive to the horrors and the reality of the Holocaust. This is a simple truth.

Hitchens has written warmly and knowledgably about the Jewish people and their culture and history, and, while he is often combative and controversial, that is style, it is worth perhaps tamping down one’s initial reaction and attending to the nuance – I think you’ll find that he is not quite the anti-Israel/anti-Jewish figure you think him to be (his views in the last fifteen years have been undergoing a gentle and welcome transformation) – which is more than half the reason why the conspiratorial anti-Semitic individuals at Hitchens Watch dislike him so vehemently.

At 8:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Linus said...

Have you figured out that Louis and Leo are the same person yet?

At 11:04 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitchens is a big fan of
Israel Shahak

At 11:14 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Well, Shahak was a very good and trusted friend of Edward Said as was Hitchens, until they parted ways after September 11.

It might be worthwhile to listen to what Hitchens is saying these days.

At 11:25 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitchens and Shahak parted ways in July 2001 when the latter died.

Here he is in which he talks about Shahak as a great moral man.


Israel Shahak is also mentioned in the acknowledgements to his book god is not Great so I think it is fair to say that Hitchens has not parted ways from Shahak's ideas.

At 12:05 AM EDT, Blogger ModernityBlog said...

ahh you found that site too?

Yep GreyWolf is a "live one", his other bloggers (a few anti-imperialists) don't seem to mind his nonsense or racism.

PS: No one in their right mind should have gone 50 feet near Israel Shahak, his stuff is littered across so many neo-Nazi sites it is hard to keep track.

At 12:07 AM EDT, Blogger ModernityBlog said...

oh, here's Hitchen's praise of him:



At 7:50 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Mod: Thanks for the link.

And in Hitchens' defence I might suggest that at the time he wrote this eulogy he was still Said's greatest buddy, before 9/11. It's exactly how he used to express himself about Israel and Jews. But he has changed since. And changed even more perceptibly in the last few recent years.

He is writing his memoirs now. It will be terribly interesting to read what he has to say about that older self of his.

At 10:03 AM EDT, Blogger ModernityBlog said...

Fair enough,

But Hitchen's judgements have been decidedly iffy in these matters, look at him and David Irving, then Israel Shahak

Shahak is like an older, professorial version of Atzmon

see http://www.wernercohn.com/Shahak.html

At 8:51 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And in Hitchens' defence I might suggest that at the time he wrote this eulogy he was still Said's greatest buddy, before 9/11"

He's still talking up Israel Shahak - at least as recently as his book tour of God is Not Great. "Israel Shahak introduced me to Spinoza!" he says affectionately. He said on that video I posted that he wanted Israel Shahak to be included in his Atheist anthology which is even more recent so unless he has performed a volte-face in the last year or so then I think we can assume he still admires Shahak because 9/11 clearly didn't do it.

At 9:48 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the impression that a year or two ago the Hitchenswatch site was much better than it is now, with some intelligent and witty people doing the posts. Now it seems to be run by that bloke in the Silence of the Lambs who had a cell next to Hannibal Lector's - fetid wanking and splatter.

At 10:27 PM EDT, Anonymous Daniel Stark said...

I actually frequent that blog a lot, yet for the opposite reason the blog exists, I go there to find up to date Hitchens articles and appearances. It is a lot easier than a google search.

At 9:51 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always thought that LaRouchies were behind Hitchens Watch. They've hated Hitchens for a long long time.


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