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    « Double sensation: BBC & Palestinians Don't Blame Israel for Chaos in Gaza | Main | Seriously sick Palestinian propaganda »


    Laban Tall

    Fisky's father may have been an unwitting tool of AJ Balfour and his secret Zionist Agenda, but I think his anti-US views are because Bill Clinton killed his mother.

    "But I also remember, at the service in the chancel of the little stone Kentish church, that I angrily suggested that if President Bill Clinton had spent as much money on research into Parkinson’s disease as he had just spent in firing cruise missiles into Afghanistan at Osama bin Laden (and it must have been the first time Bin Laden’s name was uttered in the precincts of the Church of England) then my mother would not have been in the wooden box beside me."


    Laban, what a wonderfully surreal quote, not only from the great man, but from his own web site. But I have to say I think his track record goes back further than the time of Clinton? He used to hang out in Egypt reading Qutbist propaganda, as far as I'm aware.

    You couldn't make this stuff up, could you? Thanks.


    And Mr. Winchester doesn't really believe that Israel should exist at all. Here's what he says:

    "It's the same extraordinary feeling you get crossing into Israel from the rest of the Middle East. Somehow there's this European enclave in the middle of what should be the Middle East."


    I have to say that I find that article by Fisk about his beating up in Pakistan hilarious - I cant stop laughing when I read it - such stupidity.

    Anyway, the 'fact' that a 'cabal' of nefarious Jews is pulling the strings in Washington is such a central plank of the worldview of some people on the Left that to question the veracity and momentum of this leads to nervous collapse - when you place it in persepctive the whole house of Zionism-is-Fascism-is-American-Western-Neo-Colonialism falls to the floor - the whole edifice from the MPACUK boys with their cartoons of Jews as baboons lusting over the American flag all the way to those righteous 'anti Zionists' of the soft left of whom you are so familiar with.

    How could they cope with this kind of dissonance, this kind of refutation, that Israel/Palestine is a local land dispute and is not the frontline of a Jewish-Crusader alliance to destroy Islam or reinistitute the global system of colonialism? The mental collapse, the destroying of all the shibboleths would be too much to bear, the perspective would leave too many people without a purpose or reason, without a focal point for their Manichean division of the world and struggle - it must be perpetuated at all times - those damn Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, they're part of it all.

    But seriously, Fisk is a fool, Bin Laden lickspittling and all - and his report on his beating in Pakistan is an eternal source of comedy. How I wish Andrew Marr had asked him about it and how he feels about the fact that his name has become a by-word for egregious idiocy on the blogosphere - now that would be worth hearing.


    Luke, I think it was Afghanistan he got beaten up in, but that's just a pedantic detail. What astounds me is the huge number of people who refer to "good old Fiskie" as if he were a real fount of wisdom....

    Joshua-- thanks for the Winchester quote. Entirely consonant with the way he spoke about the Jews of NY. Don't think he's too keen on them either....


    "I think it was Afghanistan he got beaten up in"

    He was beaten up by a group of Afghan refugees in Pakistan:


    Joshua and Luke-- I stand corrected. His analysis was just as idiotic which ever country he got beaten up in.


    "Joshua and Luke-- I stand corrected."

    I thought that your version was the correct one until I checked the story out via Google.


    The problem of Fisk, the BBC, et. al, has a silver lining for me. After a long time observing European journalism (mainly French and British), I've come to see a lot of European commentary as tendentious in the extreme, intellectually shallow, and often shrill in tone.

    A disappointment, but at least I'm now cured of the colonial's "cultural cringe." As an American, I grew up with the sense that Europeans were our natural intellectual superiors. Americans were good at business and technology, and we did produce great scholars in the social sciences and humanities. But the assumption has always been that, on the whole, Europeans were better educated, better informed, and were more intellectually and culturally sophisticated than we. Frankly, in the wake of Vietnam, the civil rights movement, Watergate, Reagan, and the reelection of George W. Bush, that wasn't too hard to believe. Some of our swagger and defensiveness comes from a sense of inferiority, especially among educated Americans.

    Thing is, I think many Americans are indeed quite ignorant of foreign affairs. But I no longer assume that Europeans are so brilliant, either. Maybe the average European knows more than the average American. But I am floored at the idiocies that educated Europeans are apparently ready to believe, especially if these idiotic ideas come from the left.

    Hey! You guys aren't so much better, after all! Yahoooo!


    And another thing. I live in New York, and I'm wondering what in damnation are these people talking about, anyway. Most identifying Jews I know are not religious (or even believe in God), and they are pro-Israel but very anti-Sharon and anti-occupation.

    And as far as some Jews in the government, they're part of an enterprise that would've happily gone on without them, anyway. Bush is far more beholden to big business (hello! oil!) than to any Jewish lobby.

    Many American Jews do question Israel's policies, but this isn't new!! It started in the wake of the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Some of them read Tikkun, most of them never heard of the magazine. And the Jews that are anti-Sharon are the vast majority, from what I've observed. Most pay no attention whatsoever to AIPAC, the UJA, or whatever.

    These British journalists seem to absorb very little of the texture and the reality of our lives here. They bandy about a few facts that make them sound well-informed, but they're really clueless. And what you end up with is a caricature.


    "And the Jews that are anti-Sharon are the vast majority, from what I've observed. Most pay no attention whatsoever to AIPAC, the UJA, or whatever."

    The fact that the great majority of American Jews still make common cause with a left which has become increasingly anti-Israel and not a little anti-Semitic over the last decade or so is a tragedy in itself. And from what you have written it seems as if the Jews of America have actually internalised much of that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.



    Understand that one can be pro-Israel, but from a liberal or left-wing Peace Now perspective. The most passionate pro-Israel person I know is a teacher who is very much on the left. He is very aware of the anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic strain on the left, and he rejects it outright, without rejecting his other left-wing sympathies.

    My sense is that most American Jews are centrist, not leftist, when it comes to Israel. That means sympathizing deeply with Israel. But it certainly doesn't mean supporting a Likud hard line on the occupation. Far from it.


    "It's the same extraordinary feeling you get crossing into Israel from the rest of the Middle East. Somehow there's this European enclave in the middle of what should be the Middle East."
    Indeed Mr Winchester - an oasis of wealth, law and order in a desert of anarchy, hate and despair.

    Herschel Zimonas

    We all make mistakes, but some turn out to be not just about 'pedantics'; elsewhere Judy called Khaled Abu Toameh a 'Palestinian reporter'. Mr Abu Toameh is in fact an Israeli Arab who writes for Jerusalem Post. Until recently one couldn't be Israeli and Palestinian at the same time; now, increasingly, Arab Israelis are called (and identify themselves as) Palestinians. How long before an Israeli 'Kosovo' in the Galil?


    "My sense is that most American Jews are centrist, not leftist, when it comes to Israel. That means sympathizing deeply with Israel. But it certainly doesn't mean supporting a Likud hard line on the occupation. Far from it."

    The same Likud which just took Israel out of Gaza? The same Ariel Sharon who for decades was defending Israel from terrorism and destruction while the vast majority of American Jews were hiding under their covers? These, for the most part, are views born of an almost total ignorance of historical and current realities together with a most unedifying super-shtetl mentality. This ideology of which you speak so fondly has been rejected by all but a fringe of Israeli society for one very good reason: if implemented in any practical way it would lead to the destruction of the Jewish state.

    A defence of the Jewish state which depends on some earnest declaration to the effect that "Please don't blame us; we believe Ariel Sharon is a mass-murderer too" is one that is deeply flawed, utterly sickening, and, most importantly, extremely dangerous in that it provides both succour and justification for Israel's most bitter enemies. Indeed, it puts me in mind of those assimilated German Jews who for the life of them couldn't understand why they were being persecuted for the simple reason that they too despised "the Jews" every bit as much as the most ardent Nazi.


    For Melanie Phillips's exceedingly wise thoughts on this very matter, please follow this link:

    Herschel Zimonas

    I am sure that Joanne's description of how Jews in her social circle relate to Israel is honest, but I doubt this can be interpolated into US Jewry at large. In any case, she didn't produce any evidence for this, and Peace Now is as marginal in America as it is in Israel. Perhaps most Jews are 'centrist', but it is a rather fuzzy term, and includes many Likud supporters. In any case, AIPAC has most influence and is generally supportive of whichever Israeli administration.

    US (and other) Jewish criticism of Israel and Zionism didn't start in 1982, or even in 1967; post-Zionism, and figures like Hannah Arendt in the US, can be traced to the pre-war German Jewish community and Lithuanian/Polish socialists of the Bund. 'Occupation' and the Lebanon war have little to do with it.

    Joanne's pro-Israel friend is a typical fantasist, someone 'not (yet) mugged by reality'. A couple of years ago Channel 4 ran a documentary about an Israeli mother and her two little boys who were shot dead by a terrorist on a left-wing kibbutz. After the murders the kibbutzniks not only stopped campaigning against the 'wall' but sped up its construction, to the dismay of a neighbouring Palestinian village. So much for left-wing posturing: nothing focuses the mind more than getting on a bus without knowing whether you’ll get off it in one piece.

    As for the 'Likud hard line on the occupation', it was Labour that started the occupation and it was Likud—Begin in the Sinai and now Sharon in Gaza—that reversed much of it. As long as the Temple Mount and the Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron are, for Meretz and Hadash, 'occupied territory', they will remain nothing but a nuisance in Israeli political life.


    Joshua, it is possible to be left wing without being either delusional, a dupe etc. It is possible likewise to be against Sharon without taking on the sort of demonizing criticisms you produce. Please cool it.

    I do not welcome a situation where people who put their point of view here get subjected to vile sarcasm and questioning of their intellect, honesty or morality from others who feel very certain of their own.

    That goes for everyone who comments here.


    Thank you, Judy. I feel that I've been whipped here.

    Here are my responses to some of the points:

    1. I think that people are capable of any combination of views. For instance, one can be conservative and unenthusiastic about Zionism (admittedly, less evident today) or liberal and pro-Zionist.

    2. I didn't produce any proof because I was speaking of my personal experience and impressions.

    3. When I said that a critique of Israel became widespread among Jewish Americans after the 1982 war, I didn't mean anti-Zionism among Jews. I was talking about a large number of mainstream pro-Zionist American Jews who, for the first time, totally disapproved of an Israeli policy. The respondent above was conflating out-and-out anti-Zionism with criticism of Israeli policies by those who love and support the country.

    4. As for being mugged by reality or not, people can draw different lessons from experience. My friend is terribly pained by anti-Semitism on the left (as am I), and by anti-Zionism anywhere on the political spectrum, and by bad policies by the Israeli government, and by cynicical and murderous policies by the Palestinian leadership. As am I. Is this friend of mine a person without a sense of reality? I think his sense of reality is very astute, indeed.

    5. I didn't see any proof being offered from these other writers, either. Only anecdotes and interpretations. Which are fine, given the necessary limitations of this medium.

    6. Yes, Begin withdrew from Sinai, and yes, Sharon withdrew from Gaza. I know that the Labour Party (to my regret) supported the settlements. But the Likud has always been associated with a more aggressive policy on the Palestinians and on settlements. Now, maybe they're right. I don't know. But Gaza was frankly a surprise, and I still wonder if it was a move more based on strategy than conviction.

    7. "Centrist" may be a vague term, but all these ideological terms are vague to an extent. I think most people knew what I meant, as I explained it briefly but clearly: sympathizing with Israel, but not with Likud's policies.

    As for Jews in my social circle, I have to confess that there aren't many Jews in my social circle. Very few, in fact. That's not by choice, just circumstance. I was giving my impression of Jews as a whole in this country, based on my own experience over the years, and what I've read about polling data.

    Anyway, experience can be so multifaceted——for instance, the wake-up call of kibbutzniks being killed by a Palestinian, or the wake-up call of a Palestinian being humiliated at a checkpoint, or the frustration of an Israeli soldier forced to face a horrible choice between being harsh or getting killed. All these are equally compelling aspects of reality. The truth of one experience doesn't gainsay the truth of another.


    Joanne, your comments are both perceptive and interesting. You don't have to prove anything. This isn't some sort of bar room contest.

    Most of us have quite complex opinions. It has been very interesting to me following a range of Israeli blogs over the disengagement, and seeing how much the opinions of most of the writers varied, depending on what were the dominant news stories of the period. And I think the mood in Israel now (from 2500 miles away) seems to be a combination of exhaustion, some acknowledgement of disappointment re Abbas, but also some wary edging towards trying to take things forward very slowly and cautiously. That's why I think Netanyahu's challenge to Sharon very quickly petered out.

    As for US Jews-- well, you're nearer them than me. My feeling is that because of the current US administration's view of Middle East and world politics, they're actually marginal. In other words, instead of the supposed neo-con Jews controlling US policy, US politicians are controlling US policy and it happens to align with support for Israel, the same way it aligns with support for Iraq and Poland, because those are democracies which are or were under attack from the enemies of democracy.

    But of course Fisk, Winchester and the assembled ranks of the old left would hold up their hands in horror at such an idealist analysis. Because they know it's really all about oil. And of course the neo cons' somehow magical control of the whole show....


    Thanks very much for your kind thoughts, Judy.

    Interesting what you say about politicians controlling US policy. Actually, I remember reading that the real determinent of US policy toward Israel is the US president, even more than Congress [I'm sorry, but I don't remember the source ]. That rings true for me.

    In any case, Israel's success in influencing US policy has not been an unqualified success; there have been wins and losses (i.e., the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia). I'm sure that the US lobby is very vocal and aggressive. I can believe that it makes contributions to the campaigns of politicians perceived to be friendly (what lobby doesn't?). But controlling the US government? That's the stuff that delusions are made of.

    Juan Golblado

    BBC Complaints unit, yes!!

    But what is the BBC doing investigating itself? This extremely powerful organization sets the news agenda with public money, produces advocacy journalism and generally acts like a political party, and is answerable to... the BBC Complaints Unit? Come on!

    Off the Beeb!

    And I don't say that out of any hostility for publicly financed public service broadcasting. Quite the contrary. But the BBC is rancid, rotten, I can't say to the core, because I don't know but nearly everywhere I look, nearly every public face of the BBC today -- certainly the ones we see most -- are more like politicians than journalists.

    The only solution I see is to empty the damn thing, and staff it with journalists who care about accuracy, objectivity and balance.

    And set up some publicly accessible monitoring board with teeth that the BBC management has to answer to.


    I found the link to this at Steyn Online. I agree this is horrible. What this amounts to is the BBC's tacitly billing Fisk as a man worthy of the greatest respect. That would be contemptible, if it weren't so ridiculous. Winchester sounds scarcely better - he seems to be teetering on the verge of conspiracy theory. And I think any fair-minded person would be disgusted by his implication that Israel ought not to exist. I'm English not Israeli, but one doesn't need to be personally affected to see this - to say that one particular people ought to have nowhere to lay its head! It beggars belief.

    But I'm not surprised. It's possibly not even conscious bias - the corporation's mindset is so invincibly set in a certain mould that it ceases to perceive its own prejudices. It's a purely cultural phenomenon: the world seen through a particular narrow-minded metropolitan middle class left-liberalism.

    The BBC is, of course, required to to be fair, but it cares not a jot for the requirements of its charter. It also alternates between vain boasting about itself and demands for yet more money:

    This at a time when _any_ licence fee is hard to justify, since there are so many other content-providers springing up that it's no longer justifiable that one among these many should be able to levy what amounts to private taxation on people who must pay merely to own a TV set but who might never watch the BBC. Being in the UK, I'd have to pay the BBC its tax if I only ever wanted to use the set to play my own DVDs and never accessed its programmes.

    One thinks of BBC leftism as a recent development, but I'm not so sure. Peter Simple (Michael Wharton) of the Daily Telegraph tells of coming across a group of BBC journalists wearing long faces in the pub. He asked what the matter was. "Haven't you heard?" one replied, "Stalin has just died." "Better he'd never been born," said Wharton. They never spoke to him again.


    The proportion of the Jewish vote for Bush rose from 18.5% in 2000 to 25% in 2004 (see here

    Maybe the anti-semitic/zionist factions in the Democrat umbrella is taking its toll.


    I have to comment on this: I clicked on the reference on "fisking," just out of curiosity, to see where it would lead. There is an article from what struck me as a neutral source: Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia.

    Even here, they feel the need to avoid being on the "wrong" side of an issue. After a brief description of the reports by Fisk that engendered the practice of fisking, they write:

    "While the term seems to imply that Fisk is a habitually bad reporter, Fisk has received several journalism awards, including the British International Journalist of the Year award seven times."

    Is this to avoid a suit, or just to insert some "balance"?


    "I've been to New York, and it's full of religious Jews trying to get other Jews to go to shul."

    "What the Jews are up to in New York, is 'bad for all of us.'"

    I have to comment on this in more detail (what an interesting post, overall! so much in it). Anyway, this Winchester must be very stupid or very cynical.

    I live in New York, and it is not "full" of religious Jews trying to get other Jews to go to shul. That's rank nonsense. What he might've seen is the occasional "mitzvah mobile" run by the Lubavitcher Hasidim. A few times I've seen these large white vans going through the streets of Manhattan blaring loud Hasidic music.

    Or occasionally you'll see some Hasid guy on a street corner asking passersby "Are you Jewish?" There is one such fellow in my own Brooklyn neighborhood, a chi-chi brownstone area, more sloane ranger than anything else. He asks people "are you Jewish." I've seen him a few times. He is a strange specimen, kind of small and sickly looking, with a permanent blinking of one eye. His black hat looks too big for his thin head, and his long black coat just hangs on his spindly frame. When he asks the question, people politely say no and move on. A harmless fellow, not charismatic or forceful, and unlikely to attract anyone's interest.

    I have heard of an orthodox (maybe Hasidic) rabbi connected to New York University who holds seders at Passover for anyone who wants to come. The only person I know who did is my secular Hindu Indian friend. He quite enjoyed them.

    Beyond that, I have absolutely no experience of religious Jews trying to get other Jews to shul. The Hasidim are very marginal in the minds of mainstream Jews. I grew up in NYC, and never saw a Hasid until I was in college, when I worked at summer jobs in Manhattan.

    Their numbers are increasing, but because of a high birth rate. That's all.

    To say that their activities bode ill for the world is not only wrong, it's raving (or as the English would say, barking) mad. And this idiot is getting a respectful hearing!

    Juan Golblado

    The Wikipedia entry for "fisking" didn't used to have that extra paragraph about Fisk. I'll go see if I can get rid of it and/or add another one :)


    Go Juan! :-)

    Dr David Barrett

    The above just about puts Fisk where he belongs


    By the way, I didn't want to paint a stereotyped image of that Hasid fellow who occasionally is seen in our neighborhood. When I read my post I realized I might have done that. But my purpose was to demonstrate how ineffectual these people are in relating to or appealing to the average American Jew. The idea that they're creating a force that will influence international affairs is silly.

    Warwick Wakefield

    Regarding the anti-Isreali and ant-Semitic aspects of the BBC's left wing bias:
    Here in Australia we have the equivalent, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is obliged, by its charter, to adopt a neutral stance. But it regularly disregards this charter obligation and provides an editorial slant in its news presentation as well as in its commentary. Fisk is regularly presented as a knowledgable and incisive commentator and "Palestinians" are always presented as the "brave" and "oppressed" people.

    Whether the ABC holds this view I don't know, but the view that the "powerful Jewish lobby controls Washington" is very widely held.

    This is a great website,

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