Debate with Bernadette Devlin by Jay Knott (08/29/09) ⇌ (The Mass Psychology Pamphlet)
Well OK, http://devlin-mcaliskey.blogspot.com isn't really written by Bernadette McAliskey (née Devlin), one-time firebrand of the Bogside and bane of the Brits. Well I remember her feisty interventions on behalf of the oppressed Catholic people of Northern Ireland, physically attacking complacent politicians inside Britain's parliament.
The author of this blog, Tom, isn't physically attacking anyone, or even advocating it, unlike some of the lefties in Oregon, who are trying to suppress freedom of speech, on behalf of the Israel Lobby http://palestinethinktank.com/2009/08/12/trial-by-indymedia
He makes savage criticisms of Pacifica Forum, but that's fine. I intend to continue discussing the issue of Israel and anti-semitism with him as long as he is prepared to do so. Watch this space. And this one: http://devlin-mcaliskey.blogspot.com/2009/05/more-on-israel-and-anti-semitism.html
Tom gets off to a bad start. He cites the Southern Poverty Law Center as if it were a reliable source of information. In fact, it is a campaign to undermine freedom by exaggerating hate crimes, as an article Harper's Magazine made clear. Harper's readers were among the SPLC's biggest contributors before this explosive exposée: http://www.americanpatrol.com/SPLC/ChurchofMorrisDees001100.html
Even the FBI has warned its branches not to believe what the SPLC says. In any case, the police cannot use it, because there is no law against 'hate' in America. The SPLC, and its Jewish counterpart, the ADL, try to recruit university staff to support attacks on freedom - and sometimes succeed. Their local supporters tried to get Pacifica Forum, a discussion group, expelled from the University of Oregon on the grounds that its 'hate speech' contributes to 'hate crimes'. They try to suppress criticism of Israel using the right against the left, and the left against the right. They recruited the Jewish Society against sociology professor William Robinson at UC Santa Cruz, and the Women's Studies Department against right-winger Kevin MacDonald at Cal State Long Beach. Even genuine academic departments joined the witch-hunt.
The above page on Indymedia contains links to articles about a broad range of people victimized by the ADL and the SPLC, including black separatists. But Indymedia has helped the SPLC vicimize white separatists, and even people who listen to them. This is short-sighted.
Tom answers my arguments in a touchy-feely way. Like many on the left, he confuses descriptive (what is) with prescriptive (what ought to be). When I say something, I expect it to be evaluated on the basis of whether it is true or false, not how it makes you feel, or what effect it is supposed to have. I try to put forward tests for my ideas, and ask people to attempt to falsify them.
When I state the inconvenient truth that a rise in anti-Jewish prejudice might turn some people against support for Israel (on the grounds that they identify Israel with Jews), I mean just that. Unlike Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, my inconvenient truth is a) inconvenient, and b) true. It is not a 'tactic' for recruiting 'fascists'. It is not 'aimed at getting supporters of the Palestinians to be anti-semitic'. You couldn't persuade someone to be racially prejudiced on the grounds that it's effective, even if you wanted to! Only a leftist could suspect me of this. If I were thinking about 'tactics' for 'winning people over', I would not publish such uncomfortable ideas. Tom is however correct in noting that my writing 'could easily be interpreted as hoping for an upsurge in incidents' - indeed it has been interpreted in just this way by dishonest readers.
The latest comment from Tom quotes a contributor to this site, S Smith, referring to the ideas of Gilad Atzmon, http://pacificaforum.org/posts/23: 'I suppose the main point he's making is that if you want to oppose Zionism then you have to oppose Jewish identity'. Tom's response to this summary of one of Atzmon's views is that S Smith is a 'bigot who is trying to accomplish something else in addition to genocide'. It's only a report of someone else's opinion, Tom! We don't go around telling people to stop identifying with their identity. Atzmon is more audacious. He knows Israel and the worldwide Jewish community well, and he is a savage critic of both. We don't claim that everything he says is right.
A key indicator of Tom's paranoia is his allegation that I 'attack' Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein because they are all Jewish. In fact, I criticize Chomsky because I believe that his analysis of the relationship between America and Israel is false and unhelpful to the campaign for boycotts, sanctions and divestment from the apartheid state. The most important critic of Chomsky I cite is Jeffrey Blankfort: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/nc-blankfort.html. I also quote Michael Neumann against the idea that the USA supports Israel because it is in its interests. And Gilad Atzmon. All three are Jewish. I also laud Jewish journalist Elinor Langer. It is Tom's paranoia about anti-semitism that leads him to miss these facts.
Tom accuses me of 'making all sorts of excuses' for the death of an Ethiopian at the hands of skinheads in 1988, in 'The Mass Psychology of Anti-Fascism' http://pacificaforum.org/mass/4. If he'd looked at my references, he would see that all my information about this tragedy comes from a book by Nation journalist Elinor Langer, who lived in Portland at the time. It is she who told me that it wasn't a planned lynching, and that the SPLC coached people to allege right-wing nut Tom Metzger sent them to Oregon with instructions to commit racist violence. It was a civil prosecution - it would have stood no chance in a proper criminal court. Unlike most left-wing hacks, she rises above her feelings to tell the truth.
During the campaign against South African apartheid, did anyone worry for a moment that they might be anti-white, or anti-Afrikaaner? There was a small party which wanted to ethnically cleanse South Africa of white people. Its representatives were welcome in Western anti-apartheid circles. It was not an issue. When I met one of these people, I didn't call him 'racist', though that would have been technically true. This party was no danger to me, nor to anyone in South Africa. It's the same today with people who rant about 'the Jews'.
As a leftist, Tom is surely aware of the concept of 'privilege'. I don't mean this in a hand-wringing pc way - I just mean that sometimes you can get the better of someone else because of your race, sex, etc.. Back in the day, a white man working on a construction site in Britain could move to South Africa and instead of working, have twenty black men working for him. That's privilege. Some people took advantage of it. But even those who didn't, had the privilege anyway. It's the same with Jews and Israel. So it's not surprising that many Jews support Israel. Like most leftists, you make a point of remarking how many Jews you know who are 'critical' of Israel. Why the knee-jerk reaction - Palestinians get bombed, and our first concern is to defend Jews?!!?!! Gilad Atzmon explains this better than I can: http://palestinethinktank.com/author/gilad-atzmon/. He is a merciless critic of Jews Against Zionism, who pat themselves on the back, sit on the fence, and try to have it both ways. Their vicious reaction - slandering him, trying to get him barred from meetings and Indymedia - shows he has a point. I should know.
Tom is adamant that anti-semitism doesn't help the Palestinian cause. One of the reasons is that it makes it more difficult to win people to that cause. But this is a circular argument. If people didn't give two hoots about anti-semitism, it wouldn't make it more difficult at all. And people who are worried about anti-semitism when Palestinian kids are dying are useless anyway. It is true that the allegation of 'anti-semitism' has paralyzed the so-called Palestinian solidarity movement. But this allegation has been completely effective, despite being a pack of lies. How on earth could the allegations be more effective if they were true?
For an opponent of Zionism to be concerned about anti-semitism is ridiculous. Jews are the most powerful ethnic group in the world. No other minority has anywhere near this influence - the power to make the world's richest countries donate vast quantities of treasure, and small amounts of blood, to support its interests.
The reaction to me and my comrades' fair, balanced arguments have been censorship, abuse, attempts to get people fired, and threats of violence. We listen to a couple of right-wing speakers, and suddenly we're the new SS. If it wasn't for the involvement of the Zionist Jewish Federation on top of persecution by the left-wing thought police, it would be funny.
Any concern about the bogeyman of anti-semitism can only weaken the struggle to save the Palestinians from genocide. It is easy to show that the Western countries do not support Israel for right-wing reasons: oil, geo-strategic hegemony, whatever. What is harder to demonstrate is that they support it for a left-wing reason: white guilt. It is easy to see this in the case of Germany - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6263103.stm - what is bizarre is that it is also true of other Western countries. That's what I and others are trying to work out, and I thank Tom for clearly illustrating the problem.
If I get run out of Oregon by the anarcho-zionists, I think I'll move to Colorado. They aren't quite so dictatorial in this freedom-loving cowboy state. When I posted on Colorado Indymedia about harrassment in Oregon, they didn't delete it! The lady who responded to me did say I am 'either a liar or a fool' but compared with calling me 'Nazi-enabling scum' who should be beaten until I give up 'racism sexism homophobia able-ism class-ism patriarchy heterosexism and male violence', that's quite a welcome: http://colorado.indymedia.org/node/1857
True, Tom Devlin-McAliskey (no relation) does address me 'LISTEN, FUCK-FACE', but that's probably just his way of saying 'Hello'. Here is Tom's response to my reply to his retort to my rant - he has convinced me I need to explain my views more carefully and less sarcastically: http://devlin-mcaliskey.blogspot.com/2009/08/even-more- on-israel-and-anti-semitism.html
And of course, I could be wrong. One of the reasons for having civilized discussion rather than threatening behavior is it is less likely to drive your opponent into a corner. When people are subject to intimidation, they are less able to admit it if discover they are in error, because it seems like a capitulation to violence, which encourages it, which is worse than continuing to defend one's original views, even if they are wrong!
One example where I could be mistaken is when I argued above that anti-white racism in South Africa is not an issue, but a white South African has successfully applied for refuge in Canada from racism in South Africa: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6818096.ece