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Estelle and the freedom of association

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Henry Norr calls the decision of the Estelle, the boat that is now making its way to Gaza to challenge the Israeli siege, to disinvite Ann Wright, “sheer madness,” and “guilt by association.” This Language is both wrong and false. I am not on or associated with the Estelle, and regardless of what I see as right, I support the autonomy of the people on the Estelle, given the nature of what they are doing, to refuse individual sail companions without having to justify it. Within reason and respect, we can speculate on or criticize their decisions and I will, but Norr’s article goes well outside of both reason and respect. To begin, however, some analysis of the fault lines on which people fall on this matter bears examinations.

First, there are antisemites, a tiny minority. Second, there are those like Greta Berlin (and Henry Norr [1] and others), who consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices, demand their inclusion, defend their legitimacy, and challenge refusal to tolerate them misguidedly as “silencing.” This tolerant attitude towards bigotry is the most likely cause for Berlin’s mistaken tweet. Third, there are the majority of Palestine solidarity activists, who don’t care for the support of bigots, and consider their inclusion and especially, giving them any prominence, the kiss of death. The board of Free Gaza, to which Ann Wright belongs, appears to have firmly planted its feet in the second camp by the tenor of their response, which dismissed the controversy as a non-issue and rejected criticism, crucially criticism by some of the most respected and longstanding Palestinian activists, as illegitimate.

There are many reasons why a person would defend bigots. Of course, the most damning reason comes immediately to mind: he or she could indeed approve of their bigotry. This possibility cannot be dismissed, and inevitably it casts a shadow over people. But there are other less damning reasons as well. He or she could be genuinely unable to recognize the bigotry. Because bigotry does a great part of its harm by being normalized, not being able to see it is a form of de facto support and complicity, even when it is not purposeful. Thus, it is not an excuse, and people who cannot see bigotry must be challenged to learn to see it.

Finally, she or he may clearly see the problem, yet believe that this particular bigotry should be ignored in a particular case for reasons of a political urgency and expediency. “Utilitarian” debates of the last type are quite common. It must be noted that there are many cases where almost every leftist would consider that is it legitimate to work with people who hold political views that one abhors. To take the most extreme but well known example, the radical left-wing militias fought together  with the extreme right-wing ones in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. To take a more pedestrian example, imagine a group of workers striking for pay while expressing bigoted positions on other questions, such as immigration: most leftists would support the strike. A closer example was the support many on the Egyptian left gave to the Muslim Brotherhood in the recent elections in Egypt. Thus, this last reason is indeed one that cannot be dismissed in principle and require serious attention, by evaluating context, situation and form. A key difference is between ad-hoc  interactions, and sharing a single organization in which bigotry is normalized. The second is in principle never acceptable to leftists.

However, a prerequisite of debating how to respond to bigotry is the ability to see the difficulty and the costs, and to debate them rationally based on shared political assumptions. Those who cannot recognize antisemitism (or use a minimizing definition of it that is rejected by the vast majority of people on the left), and read rejection of bigotry, falsely, as an unacceptable challenge to “freedom of speech,” rather than a matter of a fundamental political difference, do not fit the last category. That means that they fit in one of the other two. And that is the problem.

With regards to the Estelle, the matter is complicated by the circumstances. On the one hand, Wright was denied participation. There is no reason to deny someone participation in an action for the offense of not being clear or holding a minority opinion, beyond the minimal requirements that the group defines as its points of unity. It would be a mistake to start making stringent conditions on participating in political actions.

On the other hand, the Estelle is a small boat going into a potentially life-threatening situation.  In this situation, trust is paramount, and those on the boat have a legitimate reason to carefully selecting whom they allow on board. Wright, as member of the FGM board, is responsible for the board’s handling of the scandal, which included responding to respectful criticism by close colleagues with challenging the legitimacy of raising concerns. According to the statement of the former board members:

Consultations and efforts made by some of the former members of the board with the current board members were either rejected or set aside, which has added to our disappointment.[2]

To this, the board responded by characterizing all those who took issue with them, including the approach of the former board members, longstanding and respected Palestinian and solidarity activists, “vicious attacks.”[3] In doing so, the board effectively described fellow activists and the Israeli media are one and the same and asked the broad movement to treat them in the same way. This is the Ann Coulter strategy and the word for this is bullying, which is compound in this case in that the context is the Palestinian liberation struggle and some of those bullied are Palestinians engaged in that struggle for decades. On this background, the decision of the Estelle is understandable. People who respond to criticism by bullying the critics are dangerous to their friends, and could be deadly in the kind of situations that the Estelle might meet.

Furthermore, the mission of the Estelle is to bring attention to the plight of Gaza under Israel’s siege. Since much of the impact depends on coverage, one assumes the tenor of the media coverage that the boat gets is of paramount strategic importance to participants. Having on board a person who would lead media attention on a tangent would be detrimental to the mission even if that person were impeccable. This is not, after all, about Wright, and she has no right to expect that the people on the Estelle jeopardize their mission in order to “prove” that they don’t consider Wright an antisemite.  Wright says that she was disinvited “due to allegations of anti-Semitism of the Swedish Boat to Gaza by pro-Israelis groups in Sweden.” Crucially, the Estelle did not publish their decision. Instead of recognizing the fact that her presence at this time would not be in the best interest of the mission, Wright effectively launched a public attack on the Estelle, paraphrasing what she was told in a way that suggest the organizers are subservient to Zionists. Again, this is the Ann Coulter strategy, and it should be condemned. Most likely, the boat organizers don’t want to spend their limited resources defending someone who made herself a liability by her own disregard of fellow activists. They are right to privilege their mission, and Wright’s subsequent behavior only justifies them further.

Norr’s intervention is another example of bullying, and one that is furthermore built on abusing language. “Guilt by association” is a logical fallacy that consists on drawing a conclusion about one person based on an a non-essential similarity or relation with another. For example: Stalin is a communist and a mass murderer. Therefore other communists are guilty of (or support) mass murder. Or:  The Occupy Movement was praised by a Neo-Nazi, therefore the Occupy Movement has a Neo-Nazi problem. These are fallacies. On the other hand, when people willfully associate with each other, in speech, writing, or through formal association, their association is indeed reflective of their politics. This is not “guilt by association.” It is common sense. If a party in the US issues a statement defending or denying Stalin’s crimes, the leadership is not victim of “guilt by association”. It is simply wretched. If a person repeats defining elements of Nazi arguments or rhetoric, it is not “guilt by association” to point this out. It’s a true indication of where they are on the political map. There is a rule of thumb most people master by the age of 16. You shouldn’t associate with people you don’t want to be associated with.

So far, nobody has accused Ann Wright of anything (except me, here, of trying to bully others to shut up). She is certainly not “guilty by association.” It is Norr who is guilty of loose, uncalled for language. Berlin (and others) are also not victims of “guilt by association.” They are however responsible for who they associate with, especially when those association lead to damage to others, and should not be surprised if those associations cast shadows over their credibility. They are also guilty of not understanding, or pretending not to understand, that political work is carried out in associative form, and therefore the freedom of association is its primary freedom, of which the freedom not to associate is an essential part. They seek to deny the rest of the movement the freedom of association by bullying others, with their language of “witch hunt”, “guilt by association”, and “sheer madness,” into association with bigotry that they reject.

 [1] http://mondoweiss.net/2012/02/adl-enlists-city-of-oakland-to-block-atzmon-event.html 

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33 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    October 17, 2012, 8:18 pm

    Defending Ann Wright from this attack means you “consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices”? I stopped reading there – try again.

  2. Annie Robbins
    October 17, 2012, 8:30 pm

    there are those like Greta Berlin (and Henry Norr [1] and others), who consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices

    i stopped reading there.

    • Henry Norr
      October 17, 2012, 8:36 pm

      Come on, Dan and Annie – you gotta read it all to understand what’s going on here.

    • Donald
      October 18, 2012, 2:45 pm

      “there are those like Greta Berlin (and Henry Norr [1] and others), who consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices”

      “i stopped reading there.”

      Why? Without even going to the bottom and clicking on the link, I knew who Ash must have been talking about–Gilad Atzmon. I don’t know if Norr supports him (I haven’t clicked on the link), but some do.

      Which is what I find so useful about this article. You can agree or disagree with him about Wright and the rest of the article, but his division of the pro-Palestinian side into three categories is a good way to think about it. You’ve got a tiny number of real anti-semites (it’d be amazing if this cause didn’t attract a few), and then you people who aren’t anti-semites but seem not to see it in some obvious cases, and others who do. I’m in group three, though I think one can further subdivide things a bit. Some in group three tend to think anyone in group two is in group one, but that’s wrong. Call those people group 3B. I’m in group 3A.

      Anyway, this tension between two and three has been in Mondoweiss for as long as I’ve been here (whenever that was exactly). It flares out into the open from time to time.

      I’ll read the thread and Norr’s reply and that thread before I say anything else. (if then)

      • Dan Crowther
        October 18, 2012, 6:57 pm

        I read the guy’s essay. I thought phrasing it the way I did made my point clearer. He lost me right off the bat.

        This whole thing is absurd. And it reminds me, as a left winger, why I generally can’t stand other left wingers.

    • shachalnur
      October 18, 2012, 10:55 pm

      to annie,
      I’m starting to like you

  3. pianoteacher
    October 17, 2012, 9:07 pm

    I read a bit further – in fact, struggled to end – and am amazed at how much time is spent on sheer speculation. Only those on the Steering Committee and close associates know what is really going on behind the scenes. The author clearly has no clue.
    So now Henry Norr and Ann Wright are on the black list too! Three of the greatest activists for Palestine we have, and you criticize them all?
    Ann Wright a bully? One of the sweetest and most compassionate ladies around, and you call her a bully?
    Who’s next? Please sign me up! I want to be numbered with three people whom I greatly admire!

  4. NorthOfFortyNine
    October 17, 2012, 11:15 pm

    I want to know whom Ash considers an anti-semite / bigot. ?? Don’t pussy foot around — spit it out! -N49.

  5. W.Jones
    October 17, 2012, 11:34 pm

    Mr. Ash,

    You write: “there are those like Greta Berlin (and Henry Norr [1] and others), who consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices”.

    Imagine a person gives a talk on ethical food selection, and emphasizes that one should not eat meat. One day you visit the person and notice she is eating something that looks just like fish. Must this mean the person is a hypocrite who actually thinks it’s OK to eat meat?

    What about the other possibilities: Perhaps she is not aware that fish is a kind of meat? Perhaps fish really isn’t a kind of meat? Perhaps she isn’t even eating fish at all?

    Peace.

  6. W.Jones
    October 17, 2012, 11:51 pm

    I disagree that it is necessarily true that “when people willfully associate with each other, in speech, writing, or through formal association, their association is indeed reflective of their politics.”
    As you pointed out in the example of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, radical leftists and rightists could associate with eachother in speech, writing, and association without having the same politics. It means there is a common goal, but it doesn’t mean they see things the same way on every main issue.

    “If a party in the US issues a statement defending or denying Stalin’s crimes, the leadership… is simply wretched.”
    There is another possibility. If we are talking about the 1930’s before the USSR exposed Stalin, the US party could simply be uninformed and assume the stories of the crimes were just propaganda. The US party might in fact be dedicated to human rights all along, but mistaken in its awareness of the facts.

    Regards.

  7. Ali Abunimah
    October 18, 2012, 12:05 am

    Gabriel, This is an excellent, coherent and well-argued piece which lays out precisely what the issues are and exposes the sloppiness, laziness and arrogance of so many who have opined so much while knowing so little. I must say that one of the most dispiriting things about this sad episode is how people with much less at stake in this than Palestinians have been telling Palestinians they ought to just shut up. Please accept my congratulations for such clear thinking. I offer you much respect.

    • LeaNder
      October 18, 2012, 7:45 am

      I agree with you, Ali, Gabriel Ash is one of the most valuable voices out there for me. I readily admit, I admire his sharp wit for a long time now. He has the ability to deal with controversial issues completely unexcitedly, generally it feels, not only in this instance.

      Concerning American below:

      And I am more convinced every time I see your kind of stuff that character assassinating slurers and Jewish tribalist like you should not be allowed with a thousand miles of Palestine activism.

      Ready made preconceptions, without any patience to listen. If someone has the ability to play my emotions like an electric organ, he must be correct. Since, don’t my emotions tell me he is correct? After all I feel it: Isn’t it a witch hunt, isn’t it “guilt by association”? I have to admit I somehow surrendered myself to the meme–with all due respect to Henry’s respect for Anne Wright–as I realized too late, emotionally. I only started to reflect once, I had pushed the “post comment” button .

      Thanks a lot, Gabriel, for this response.

      • Bruce
        October 18, 2012, 12:02 pm

        @LeaNder

        Maybe you can MW to approve my last response to Danaa. It’s been held up for 2 days. You see what else gets through.

      • Danaa
        October 18, 2012, 1:31 pm

        Bruce, and my reply to you has also been held up for 2 days. And it was one of my mildest- and shortest – ever! (something about Sweden, Assange etc. What could be less controversial?). So at least we know the policy is even handed (and I agree you should have every right to respond and had every expectation you would).

      • Bruce
        October 18, 2012, 6:29 pm

        @ Danaa

        I understand now there was a good reason that all the comments were held up, so I want to retract my concerns. My comment appeared in full.

        The two-day time delay in some of the comments appearing was unavoidable, so I hope everyone keeps in mind that events and postings have evolved since the time some of the comments were written.

      • American
        October 18, 2012, 1:26 pm

        @ ndar

        I dont have any ready made ‘preconceptions’ …..I do have a memory of the past and similar patterns and tactics that this Berlin spectacle represents.
        And my dear you might notice that “I” have not declared Berlin either guilty or not guilty. I have said there isn’t ‘enough evidence’ to take the ultimate step her accusers took in ‘declaring’ her a anti semite.
        You really aren’t a good one to look at this objectively because you yourself know and have admitted, you are too emotional and involved in German guilt issues re the Jews and Israel to be objective.

        Instead of this kangaroo court of the concerned, let’s make a legal case out of it.
        I’d actually like to see all involved be brought before a real court of a Judge and jury of their peers who do actually have to go by evidence and not emotions.

      • LeaNder
        October 18, 2012, 8:08 pm

        You really aren’t a good one to look at this objectively because you yourself know and have admitted, you are too emotional and involved in German guilt issues re the Jews and Israel to be objective.

        Well, I guess I accept that, since you called me “dear” ;)
        I don’t think it’s about guilt, since I wasn’t born, it’s slightly more complex. It’s more an ethical responsibility, maybe.

        I would warn people not to take the route of neoconservative journalism, most strikingly expressed as: “We are feeding the rage”. Feeding matters like the Eustace Mullins video into the larger already heated and justifiably angry activist context is pretty much the same for me.

        What I definitively don’t like is labeling Gabriel Ash or any other contributor who happens to be Jewish or Israeli a “Jewish tribalist”; I would react exactly the same way if a Palestinian would be called terrorist.

        And my dear you might noticed that “I” have not declared Berlin either guilty or not guilty.

        Neither have I. I don’t know Greta, and I doubt I know the whole story. Although yes, I have demanded that she deals openly with it, and steps back to not harm the cause. But by now I have the impression the stuff she tries to handle or to “digest” is way over her head. …

        I have the highest respect for free speech. Better to allow it into the open than push ideas underground. But it is easy to see that the salesman with their lores or “hidden truth” often manage to pull the discussion into channels that satisfy their own desires. And from my perspective a Martillo was worse than a Witty to struggle with. Witty tried to fend people off with abstractions, balance and a religion he has never tried to understand, since for most of life he searched enlightenment in India; Martillo lures with hot semi-self knitted tales. One can be considered a nuisance the other it feels is dangerous.

        To return to the above, yes I am allergic to the type of “Judaism discovered” Joachim Martillo represents just as in his own way Eustace Mullins.

    • iamuglow
      October 18, 2012, 9:08 am

      “people with much less at stake in this than Palestinians have been telling Palestinians they ought to just shut up.”

      If you didn’t want people opining your actions you shouldn’t have posted the accusations to your website – you could have sent around a private memo or said it with hand signals. Instead you posted your theory about planes, trains and anti-Semitism on the internet. You should be able defend those charges with something better than ‘I’m Palestinian’.

    • Cliff
      October 18, 2012, 9:35 am

      Ali Abunimah,

      What people are telling what Palestinians to ‘shut up’? Do you think Palestinians DON’T harbor antisemitic views?

      What microcosm of Palestinians (not you and other Palestinian Americans; since you don’t live there and don’t really qualify as an ‘average Palestinian’) agree with your views on this subject?

      In fact, antisemitism is a real problem in Palestinian society (but not of the same context as European antisemitism of olde).

      You sound so pretentious and it’s actually you who keeps speaking for ‘everyone’ (I’m guessing all Palestinians? LOL)

  8. American
    October 18, 2012, 1:12 am

    “”They are however responsible for who they associate with, especially when those association lead to damage to others, and should not be surprised if those associations cast shadows over their credibility”…..

    rotflmao……very true, I’ve been looking at some who you associate with.
    And I am more convinced every time I see your kind of stuff that character assassinating slurers and Jewish tribalist like you should not be allowed with a thousand miles of Palestine activism. The phony concern about hordes of anti semites polluting the Palestine cause is just that, phony…your actual purpose appears to be invade, disrupt, cause contention by turning the Palestine activism into a crusade for fighting anti semitism and promoting the innocence of ‘the tribe.’
    Mabe you should work for the ADL instead.

  9. mig
    October 18, 2012, 1:44 am

    Just a few words about Estelle. Built 1922 in Emden Germany. Main engine B&W Alpha two stroke diesel, assisting engines 25kW + 7kW + 25kW main shaft generator. Owner of ship in Sweden, sailing under Finnish flag. Previous names for ship, Vesta and Monica.

  10. elisehendrick
    October 18, 2012, 7:26 am

    I second Ali Abunimah’s comment.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many different excuses some people are able to come up with in order to avoid discussing the issue of white supremacism in what is meant to be a Palestinian solidarity movement. Either we’re “divisive” for bringing it up, or we’re “censoring” people who post racist material for pointing out that it’s racist, or we’re “gatekeeping the discussion”, a particularly amusing bit of projection, coming, as it does, from people who seek to prevent a discussion of racism at all costs.

    The Greta Berlin debacle, complete with her racial slurs directed at Ali, should be a wakeup call for all of us, because what is at stake is not only the reputation (as if that were a trivial matter in a movement that seeks to reach a broader public), but the entire heart and soul of the movement: The white supremacists amongst us don’t see this as a movement to liberate Palestinians from racist oppression; to them, Palestine is just a beachhead in a struggle against the “world Jewish domination” that runs rampant in their imaginations, and so they don’t hesitate to throw even the most respected, credible, and dedicated Palestinian activists under the bus when their racism is challenged. Is that the kind of movement we want to be?

  11. karen
    October 18, 2012, 8:16 am

    Gabriel

    As always you say it so well. Thank you for a excellent analysis of the debacle. The people offering up the massive apologia for Greta’s disaster and defenders hopefully will re-evaluate their role in this solidarity movement and stop sweeping the racism and bigotry under the carpet. However, judging by some of the more disgusting comments posted here on “Jewish tribalism” slur slur, prove the white supremacism that so badly needs to be exposed. Admit it! ” I stopped reading here” Why would you do that? “Name anti semites” “Work for the ADL” Why have you no interest in anything that challenges your own obvious prejudices? And when the racism and the bigotry is challenged, what happens as consistently as the sun rises? One is shut down, told it’s too divisive, too controversial.” Zionists do this. Congratulations to all. The Palestinians need more than this. When will you care? When? If ever?

    Karen MacRae

    • American
      October 18, 2012, 12:42 pm

      @ karen

      Congratulations, you’ve just labeled anyone who questions the evidence of the Berlin case, any of those who have said they have never seen evidence of it before and questions the motives in outing her all white supremacist and bigots.

      It’s downright amazing….you just made the case against yourself and the mentality and motives of the accusers better than anything anyone else has said.

  12. marc b.
    October 18, 2012, 9:36 am

    terribly illogical stuff:

    I am not on or associated with the Estelle, and regardless of what I see as right, I support the autonomy of the people on the Estelle, given the nature of what they are doing, to refuse individual sail companions without having to justify it.

    wrong. ‘what they are doing’ is a public act, associated with a public movement, so, yes, they should have to justify what they are doing, particularly when their decision has been broadcast so loudly and thoroughly throughout the collective of palestinian activists and movements. if there were a legitimate safety or security issue that had arisen on account of berlin’s involvement, then it seems to me that should have been dealt with privately, for a variety of reasons, and not through the drum beat of public chest pounding on display over the past few days.

    First, there are antisemites, a tiny minority. Second, there are those like Greta Berlin (and Henry Norr [1] and others), who consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices, demand their inclusion, defend their legitimacy, and challenge refusal to tolerate them misguidedly as “silencing.”

    did i miss something? the mondoweiss article written by henry that ash links to does not include an endorsement of atzmon’s views. it seems limited to a defense of his right to attend a speaking engagement and criticism of the hypocrisy of the likes of the adl who rush about screaming ‘racist’ at atzmon, particularly given that its agents informed on critics of the SA apartheid regime.

    This tolerant attitude towards bigotry is the most likely cause for Berlin’s mistaken tweet.

    really, and what evidence does ash have to support this hypothetical. i’ll presume none, since he chose not to publish it.

    . . . to which Ann Wright belongs, appears to have firmly planted its feet in the second camp by the tenor of their response, which dismissed the controversy as a non-issue and rejected criticism, crucially criticism by some of the most respected and longstanding Palestinian activists, as illegitimate.

    this is a non-sequitor. ‘respected’ and ‘longstanding’ is not a standard for legitimacy of argumentation in this case, and if those qualities were the standard, then why are wright and berlin’s reputations for being ‘respected’ ‘longstanding’ activitsts for the palestininan cause apparently then irrelevant?

    There are many reasons why a person would defend bigots. Of course, the most damning reason comes immediately to mind: he or she could indeed approve of their bigotry. This possibility cannot be dismissed, and inevitably it casts a shadow over people. But there are other less damning reasons as well. He or she could be genuinely unable to recognize the bigotry. Because bigotry does a great part of its harm by being normalized, not being able to see it is a form of de facto support and complicity, even when it is not purposeful. Thus, it is not an excuse, and people who cannot see bigotry must be challenged to learn to see it.

    ‘of course, the most damning …’? this is evidence of ash’s state of mind, not of berlin or wright’s motivation. i defend atzmon’s right to speak, and i defend berlin’s right to listen to or read atzmon, but i certianly don’t agree with his idiotic commentary. that is what is being defended, not every bigoted comment out of atzmon’s mouth. so, no, in the first instance there is no ‘defense of bigots’ that i have seen, and there are other reasons why a person would come to someone’s defense in this case. i have, and have seen many others here, for example, advocate for the right of even the most offensive of zionists to post comments on this site, and our defense of that right certainly has nothing to do with our ‘approval’ of their commentary.

    the rest of it is equally noxious, especially ash’s feigned concern over the media’s potential reaction to the event if such a ‘divisive’, ‘controversial’ figure as berlin was associated with it. the israelis executed activists on board the mavi marmara including an american, and the MSM alternately yawned and portrayed the israeli commandos as ‘victims’ of the activists’ attacks, and he’s calculating concerns about the media’s sensibilities?

  13. American
    October 18, 2012, 12:03 pm

    QUESTION …

    Has it been PROVEN Berlin is a anti semite…someone who hates Jews?
    What I see is she sent a video of loony who is said to be a anti semite to what she later said was a ‘secret group”.
    And that she has said nice things about Aztom in the past.

    The Aztom thing doesn’t bother me. Bringing him into the accusation of anti semite is just the tribalist attacking a self hating Jew who thinks the tribe is’ too into’ their Jewishness and says very negative things about that mentality.

    As for the video, Berlin says the purpose of video was for discussion. I question the logic of using a video of a certified nutcase. The only other thing that bothers me is the ‘secret’ group she sent it to as she referred to it.
    Why have a secret group? I could stretch my imagination I guess and picture the secret group as some kind of equivalent of the zionist hasbara groups or the anti zionist equivalent of zionist think tank group. But secret implies hiding so it’s disturbing. On the other hand the secret group could be just some curious and inquiring minds that want to discuss topics verboten by the tribalist like zionst and the nazis and etc.. I remember the showdown we had here over Blankfort getting into that.
    To my mind discussing any links of zionist cooperation with the nazis is a waste of time —-but it’s not the definition of anti semitism. Maybe they made some deals with the Nazis for the good of the Jews and then made other deals for the good of Zionism and let some Jews slide. What zionism is doing now is bad enough so it’s pointless to go back into the past.

    Then we had the list of people who have known Berlin swearing she isn’t a anti semite and then the list of the “old board” who doesn’t actually say she is a anti semite but condemns her doing what she did.

    Bottom line nothing has been PROVEN conclusively. All we have out of her entire life is this one incident. Surely if she was a anti semite something whiff of it would have surfaced before in her life and activities.
    And the accusers who jumped on this are looking worse than Berlin…so much worse that now they are now having to spend the same amount of time justifying the gang bang of Berlin …AND…. calling everyone who either stood up for her or expressed doubts about their evidence of her anti semitism anti semites also.
    If that isn’t a clue to what they’re about I don’t know what is.

    So now we still don’t have anything actually PROVEN about Berlin..all there is is a suspicion of anti semitic motives in doing what she did.
    But we sure as hell now know what her accusers are.

  14. lareineblanche
    October 18, 2012, 12:44 pm

    Excellent analysis. Also correct on the misuse of the “guilt by association” fallacy, as that’s not really the issue.

    This is not, after all, about Wright, and she has no right to expect that the people on the Estelle jeopardize their mission in order to “prove” that they don’t consider Wright an antisemite.

    What Wright should have done was to quietly bow out instead of making a story of it – but I suppose she wanted to clear her name and reputation, which is understandable.

    The only people who have the right to decide who goes on that boat are the participants themselves, and it is unfair to criticize them for excluding her without being familiar with all of the discussions engendered, and the circumstances and pressures to which the group was subjected. The ego of any one member is far less important than the overall guiding concept – when one’s participation might be a detriment to the overall effort, even through no particular fault of one’s own, the correct course of action is to remove oneself, if that’s what the consensus has decided.

  15. seanmcbride
    October 18, 2012, 2:27 pm

    This is the most intellectually mushy and ethically bankrupt essay I’ve ever read on Mondoweiss.

    I am bit unclear on this: is Gabriel Ash a Palestinian? Jewish? Christian? Muslim? Something else?

    Where is he coming from on Mideast politics?

    1. nation(s) of citizenship?
    2. current nation of residence?
    3. ethnicity?
    4. religion of upbringing?
    5. current religion?
    6. political orientation and affiliations?

    I am trying to get a handle on the agenda behind this peculiar article, which adopts a morally indignant and self-satisfied posture without providing a shred of substance.

    The questions I earlier asked ToivoS and Alex Kane are still on the table — perhaps Gabriel Ash would care to respond:

    1. Can you produce any verified antisemitic quotes by Greta Berlin or Ann Wright?

    2. Can you produce any verified statements from acquaintances of Berlin and Wright that accuse them of antisemitism?

    Are you (Gabriel Ash) familiar with the term McCarthyism? Do you understand that you appear to be indulging in it?

    Someone else here suggested that you harbor strong feelings of animosity towards Gilad Atzmon — is that true? Have you been trying to police thought and discourse about Atzmon?

    Ali Abunimah praised and endorsed Ash’s article. Wow. I think there is not much chance that I will be lending a hand to this particular school of Palestinian activism.

  16. pipistro
    October 18, 2012, 5:50 pm

    It seems someone launched the “anti-semite” weapon. It’s a cluster bomb, there’s a lot of wounded everywhere, in every blog. Hope that’s not able to sink a boat.

  17. DICKERSON3870
    October 18, 2012, 10:41 pm

    RE: “there are those . . . who consider antisemites who support Palestinian liberation to be valuable voices” ~ Gabriel Ash

    MY COMMENT: In the long run, not only are “antisemites who support Palestinian liberation” of very little or no value, they are likely to be extremely detrimental to the cause of “Palestinian liberation”! ! !

    • DICKERSON3870
      October 19, 2012, 12:02 am

      RE: “In the long run, not only are ‘antisemites who support Palestinian liberation” of very little or no value, they are likely to be extremely detrimental to the cause of “Palestinian liberation’! ! ! – me (above)

      ELABORATION: As to who constitutes such “antisemites”, I pretty much agree with Henry Norr that:

      “. . . no one becomes an antisemite simply because she or he is so labeled by self-appointed tribal watchdogs – or their non-Jewish allies, even Palestinians. Nor does one become an antisemite just by criticizing aspects of Jewish culture, tradition, and even theology, or by exploring how they relate to the vicious crimes perpetrated by the Zionists and the ‘Jewish state’.” – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/norr-responds-to-ash-who-is-trying-to-trying-to-get-the-solidarity-movement-back-on-track-and-who-is-merely-fanning-the-flames-of-division.html

      I feel compelled to add that I believe “criticizing aspects of Jewish culture, tradition, and even theology” and/or “exploring how they relate to the vicious crimes perpetrated by the Zionists and the ‘Jewish state'” is generally counterproductive in regard to advancing the cause of “Palestinian liberation”.

  18. DICKERSON3870
    October 18, 2012, 11:14 pm

    P.S. RE: “In the long run, not only are ‘antisemites who support Palestinian liberation’ of very little or no value, they are likely to be extremely detrimental to the cause of ‘Palestinian liberation’! ! !

    MY COMMENT: This type of thinking is is every bit as misguided as the thinking of many Zionists who apparently consider Christian fundamentalist zealots (some of whom are anti-Semites) who “support Israel” to be “valuable voices”!

    • SEE: “Why McCain Should Have Stood by Hagee”, By Ed Koch, Politico, 6/03/08

    [EXCERPTS] Senator John McCain was wrong to reject the endorsement of Texas evangelist Rev. John Hagee.
    Several years ago Rev. Hagee delivered a sermon that was caught on tape in which he preached, “Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen.
    Why did it happen? Because God said, ‘My top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.” Anyone hearing the tape would conclude that Hagee is hostile to the Jews, but nothing could be further from the truth. He and his congregants are among Israel’s strongest supporters. For religious reasons, they want Israel to rule supreme over all of the lands that made up the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea.
    Evangelicals believe that the Messiah – Jesus Christ – cannot return to the earth until the Jews return to the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), they having been expelled by the Romans in 70 AD after the Second Temple — the one built by Herod — was destroyed.
    Christian fundamentalists believe that every word of the Old and New Testaments represents the will of God. . .
    . . . Rev. Hagee, being a fundamentalist, believes that each word is the word of God, and that everything that occurs on Earth happens as a result of God’s direction. Events caused by people like Hitler, for some fundamentalists, are explained as a punishment visited by God on Jews who had fallen away from the faith and did not follow all of God’s mandates. . .
    . . . Rev. Hagee apparently believes that Hitler was used by God to bring the Jews back to the promised land. . .
    . . . Hagee was not praising Hitler the monster, he was simply offering the fundamentalist opinion that Hitler was used by God to cause the creation of a Jewish state to which the Jews of the world would return.
    Hagee’s followers have supported the State of Israel in many tangible ways. Evangelicals continue to visit Israel as tourists even during the most dangerous times, which is more than can be said for some Diaspora Jews.
    It has become fashionable among liberals, including Jews, to ridicule and denounce Hagee and other fundamentalists. I do not. I appreciate their support of the State of Israel and thank them for their enormous contributions to the Jewish state. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/06/why_mccain_should_have_stood_b.html

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