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Debating antisemitism on the BBC

Media Analysis
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We were 38 minutes into a live 45 minute BBC radio debate on antisemitism when the UK’s leading pro-Israel polemicist and regular Times and Jewish Chronicle columnist, Melanie Phillips, gave me the endorsement quote which will now be appearing on all of my future publicity materials:

“Robert Cohen is genuinely motivated by good ideals.”

Such is the power of selective quotations! But since I want to be fair in my reporting, here’s the unedited quote which will not be appearing on any leaflets or posters:

“The problem with Robert Cohen, who I think is genuinely motivated by good ideals, but I think he is, to use his own word ‘muddled.’ He thinks Zionism, as it is expressed today, is about colonialism and he used a very interesting phrase ‘the indigenous Arab population,’ suppressed, oppressed and so on. They are not indigenous. The indigenous people of the State of Israel, of the Land of Israel, are the Jews. They’re the only extant indigenous people for whom this was ever their national kingdom.”

You’re probably wondering why Melanie Phillips was talking about me rather than to me since I was also taking part in the debate. I need to explain the format for the Moral Maze which has been on air since 1990, wrestling with topical ethical issues and hosted by the former TV news reader Michael Buerk.

Each week there are four regular panelists and four guests, described as “witnesses” who bring different perspectives to the debate. Each guest is then questioned by two of the regulars for no more than eight minutes. You’re brought into the studio when it’s your turn and hoicked out once you’re done. At the end of the program Michael Buerk and the panelists mull over the opinions they’ve heard but rarely reach a consensus and rarely have their minds changed by what they’ve heard.

Aside from Melanie, the regulars that evening were Matthew Taylor, Mona Siddiqui and Tim Stanley. My fellow witnesses were Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger, the Bishop of Worcester the Rt. Rev. Dr John Inge, and Adam Sutcliffe, professor of European History at King’s College London. Considering my own credentials are merely “blogger and speaker on Israel/Palestine,” I was in esteemed company.

So while Melanie was denying Palestinian history, I was stuck on the other side of the studio window, sitting with the radio engineer and the show’s producer, unable to respond. And there was so much that needing saying.

How long do you have to be around before you stop being an off-comer or interloper or stranger in the Land? Is the existence of ancient kingdoms the prerequisite for a modern national identity? And isn’t it likely that at least some DNA in today’s Palestinians is inherited from first century Judeans? As for blood and soil nationalism, I’m not sure it has such a great reputation. And if ancient kingdoms are to be our modern Jewish claim to sovereignty, shouldn’t their previous destruction give us pause for thought on whether this is really a sound project for long term Jewish security?

I was tempted to barge my way back into the studio. But the producer was already telling Michael Buerk to start winding things down to a conclusion.

So how well did I fare in my first encounter with one of the most-well-known, committed and compelling defenders of Israel and Zionism? Melanie Phillips has a reputation as a fearsome debater who takes no prisoners. She plies her craft on the global stage. I have a small blog, which earns me mostly angst.

Twenty minutes earlier I was just taking my seat as Michael Buerk asked me his warm-up question:

Michael Buerk: “Would it be fair to call you a Jewish anti-Zionist?”

I decided I didn’t quite like this reduction of my position to “anti-ness” and since time was not on my side it was best to land some thoughts at the first opportunity.

Robert Cohen: “I think I’d rather describe myself as a Jew who is deeply concerned about what Zionism has come to mean both for the Jewish people and the Palestinian people. And I’m also concerned about how Israel and Zionism has confused and muddled our understanding of what antisemitism means.”

And so it began.

Melanie Phillips: “So just to be clear, is your problem with Zionism or is your problem with the behavior of Israel’s government?”

It was time to land some big points.

Robert Cohen: “I know there’s an argument that says you can be critical of particular policies or particular governments of the State of Israel but you mustn’t criticize the fundamentals of the fact that there is Jewish state and it is founded on a Zionist ideology. But that doesn’t work for me anymore. I’ve grappled with this issue for more than 30 years now to get to the point where I am now and I think it’s a false distinction to say the problem is just Netanyahu or a particular policy. In my view, there is so much similarity, in terms of government policies and attitudes towards the Palestinian people that you’ve got to understand that whether it’s the left or the right it’s fundamentally driven by a Zionist ideology and that’s what becomes problematic for me.”

Melanie Phillips: And what do you think Zionism is?

Robert Cohen: “Zionism, from a Jewish perspective, started off as a response to antisemitism in Europe and the idea was that it was national self-determination for the Jewish people. And I think that’s true. I also think it’s true that for the Palestinian people it has played out as a settler colonial project which has dispossessed them of their land and their rights. Both these things can be true and I think the difficulty we get into with antisemitism is that we are binary in how we talk about this…we seem to be incapable of holding both these ideas in our heads as being both true.”

Melanie Phillips: “Well’s that’s because I would suggest that one of them is not true. Zionism didn’t start as a response to antisemitism in Europe. Nor is it a colonial project. The Jews are the only people for whom the Land of Israel was ever their national kingdom. Zionism is simply the self determination of the Jewish people. What’s your problem with that?”

Robert Cohen: “What you’ve just done Melanie is exactly what confuses and muddles our understanding of antisemitism. Because you’ve turned Zionism into Judaism….as soon as you do that you merge what is a political ideology into a tradition of Jewish connection through scripture and festivals to the Land of Israel, I get all that. But as soon as you muddle all that up together you then create an environment in which advocacy for the Palestinian people becomes very difficult.”

Melanie Phillips: “You say it’s a muddle but how would you characterize that Jews pray for the return to Zion and have prayed for the return to Zion ever since they were exiled from Zion by colonialist oppressors many hundreds of years ago…”

Robert Cohen: “…I don’t deny any of these connections…”

Melanie Phillips: “…is that a muddle to you?”

I could have gone in several directions at this point. I could have reminded Melanie that the biggest names in pre-State Zionism, Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, had no inhibitions about using the language of colonialism to describe their project. I could also have asked Melanie why she thought nearly all rabbis from across the religious Jewish spectrum were so opposed to Zionism throughout the early decades of the movement. I could have asked if she understood that for rabbinical Judaism, exile was both a physical and spiritual concept. But in the moment I went with a simple human rights point.

Robert Cohen: “I have no problem in accepting the thousands of years’ connection between Jews and the Land of Israel. There is a big difference between having that connection…and establishing a nation state that then privileges Jewish people and discriminates against non-Jewish people.”

At this point Michael made Melanie hand the questioning over to Tim Stanley, an historian and leader writer for the Daily Telegraph. Tim’s questioning began with recognition that for some, Zionism was a socialist project as well. This enabled him to present Zionism as a left-wing “civil rights” project.

Tim Stanley: “Do you accept that there’s still that element of Zionism? That’s why some people find left wing criticism of Zionism confusing.”

This was helpful in allowing me to continue my critique of Melanie’s description of Zionism as Judaism.

Robert Cohen: “You’re absolutely right that early Zionist pioneers from the late 19th century through to the early 20th century were often socialist and very secular, they weren’t religious at all, so they weren’t coming at it in the way Melanie was just talking about. However, their version of socialism was a socialism for Jews. When they came to Palestine and set up kibbutzim and they had a very left wing understanding, they weren’t inviting the local Arab indigenous people to join them in the Kibbutz. So this was socialism for Jews…I think there is no doubt that if you look at how Zionism actually played itself out…ultimately Zionism was on a collision course with the indigenous Arab population. This was always going to happen whatever strain of Zionism you might have advocated.”

Tim then changed direction and decided to pursue the trope about singling out Israel in a way that other countries are not. The inference being that we should challenge those who criticize Israel because they are likely to be motivated by malicious antisemitic intent.

What doesn’t get challenged is the presentation of Israel as a normal western style democracy. What’s unfair is not the attention Israel receives but the free pass it gets. Normal western style democracies don’t annex, besiege and occupy land considered, under international law, to belong to others. Nor do normal western style democracies discriminate against their own citizens on the basis of religion/ethnicity. Israel is certainly an eccentric member of the family of democracies. I attempted to make these observations to Tim Stanley, ending with this question back to him: “Are you saying that we have to fix China and Saudi Arabia before we’re allowed to get round to Israel?”

My eight minutes in the ring were up. And I was still standing.

Despite the limitations of the show’s format and duration, it was a better discussion of a complex issue than you normally get to hear. I’d recommend listening to all of it, in particular the contribution from Adam Sutcliffe who was adept at putting antisemitism and the Holocaust into a longer historical context and recognizing the significance of Islamophobia across Europe.

It was good to hear a diversity of Jewish voices on a single radio show. But both before and after the broadcast, I suggested to the production team that the Moral Maze should invite a Palestinian to talk about Zionism. That’s the only way we’ll elevate the debate and avoid the constant focus of antisemitism skewing our understanding of what Palestinian solidarity is about. The Jewish and Palestinian experience is now so interwoven that both peoples have the right to comment, from multiple perspectives, on what Zionism and antisemitism has come to mean.

As for Melanie Phillips, I’d hoped to say hello to her after the broadcast was finished. But it became clear that the production team had no intention of allowing the witnesses to mingle with the regular panelists.

It was a shame, since I wanted to thank Melanie for her role in launching my original blog in 2011. I’d always read Melanie’s writing on Israel and promised myself that I should not write a single word for public consumption until I’d learnt how to address the muddle and confusion in a Melanie Phillips’ article.

The day I could was the day I hit the publish button. And now I have her endorsement quote too.

This post was originally published on Robert Cohen’s  blog on August 1, 2019. 

Robert Cohen

Cohen is a British writer. He blogs at Micah's Paradigm Shift.

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34 Responses

  1. gamal on August 5, 2019, 6:32 pm

    Dr. Gabor Mate gives his opinion at 1.25min but the first thing he says is worth hearing in our current given the way are, its rt so ytube helpfully warns you it’s funded in whole or in part by the Russian Government, so critical thinking to the fore..

    “We speak to Dr. Gabor Maté on the Tory leadership election and his opinion on favourite-to-win Boris Johnson, Anti-Semitism allegations against Jeremy Corbyn, crimes of Israel against Palestinians, capitalism and its creation of social problems, the Democratic Party and how it lost to Donald Trump and how it uses Russiagate to escape responsibility for their loss and how mainstream media limits debate”

    • bcg on August 6, 2019, 8:53 am

      Right on. I met Mate a few years ago – he was in town to attend a conference on trauma and therapy (I can’t remember the exact topic) and there was a dinner afterwards – I sat not far from him and somehow the topic of Palestine came up (this was a conference on trauma, of course) and Mate could see a frown pass on my face. He asked me was wrong and I tentatively made some remarks on the suffering of the Palestinians, and he jumped right in – he knew exactly what was going on. Mate is a righteous mensch.

      • Misterioso on August 6, 2019, 9:58 am


        “Mate is a righteous mensch.” Correct, and well known as such!!

  2. eljay on August 5, 2019, 6:39 pm

    “ … He thinks Zionism, as it is expressed today, is about colonialism …

    Zionism has always been about Jewish supremacism in/and as large as possible a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”. This is not some newly “expressed today”.

    … The indigenous people of the State of Israel … are the Jews. …

    Pure bullshit. The indigenous people of Partition-borders Israel are all non-Jews and Jews living in and up to n-generations removed from the region. To suggest that all Jews – or “the Jews” – are indigenous to Israel is a lie and a claim that is both supremacist and anti-Semitic.

    And it’s no surprise that, once again, a Zionist is responsible for lying and making a supremacist and anti-Semitic claim.

  3. JWalters on August 5, 2019, 9:48 pm

    “The indigenous people of the State of Israel, of the Land of Israel, are the Jews. They’re the only extant indigenous people for whom this was ever their national kingdom.” – Melanie Phillips

    Melanie Phillips is a psychopath living in a fantasy. She is kept afloat by war profiteers behind the scenes.

  4. Brewer on August 5, 2019, 11:24 pm

    Melanie Phillips: “Well’s that’s because I would suggest that one of them is not true.”

    She then issues three provably untrue statements in rebuttal:
    “The Jews are the only people for whom the Land of Israel was ever their national kingdom.”
    No Israeli archeologist would agree.
    “Zionism is simply the self determination of the Jewish people.”
    As Cohen points out, many Jews, Rabbis even, were opposed to Zionism.
    “they were exiled from Zion by colonialist oppressors many hundreds of years ago…”
    There was never a general exile. The Sanhedrin was established at Yavneh around 70AD ere it remained for 300 years (if I remember correctly).

    Phillips probably knows this but trots out silly talking points, relying on the ignorance of the general audience. Very deceitful.

  5. Jiusito on August 6, 2019, 5:02 am

    I find it genuinely mystifying that someone as intelligent as Phillips, who insists that it is racist to expect of Jews standards you don’t expect of everyone else, should base her arguments on ideas that (as far as I am aware) are no longer current anywhere in the Western world except among some Jews — and then are applied only to Jews.

    Everyone is comfortable with the idea that, in some sense, you “belong” to the place where you were born and grew up and feel rooted, or (if you were born a refugee) the place where your parents and grandparents were born and grew up. On the other hand, the idea that an area that has been continuously inhabited for 10,000 years is somehow the exclusive and inalienable property of one self-identified group of people on the grounds that a people they believe they are distantly descended from had a self-governing state there for a few centuries nearly 3,000 years ago… well, it just seems ridiculous.

    • eljay on August 6, 2019, 9:18 am

      || Jiusito: I find it genuinely mystifying that someone as intelligent as Phillips, who insists that it is racist to expect of Jews standards you don’t expect of everyone else, should base her arguments on ideas that (as far as I am aware) are no longer current anywhere in the Western world except among some Jews — and then are applied only to Jews. … ||

      Hypocrisy comes standard with all flavours of Zionism.

    • Mooser on August 6, 2019, 2:04 pm

      “… well, it just seems ridiculous.”

      Gosh, I don’t know. You don’t think 3,000 years of strict endogamy, and unchanging beliefs and practices would be worth something.

    • MHughes976 on August 7, 2019, 9:20 am

      Phillips, if I understand her, believes that rational morality could not have come into existence and could not maintain its existence now without the aid of Judaeochristian religion. You do not have to believe in God – she is ‘agnostic’ – in order to see the overriding value of following the main precepts of this religious tradition, which are centred on monogamy, family, capitalism and – absolutely centrally – Jewish right to the Holy Land. I believe she speaks highly of science, though she has patronised some strange ideas from the scientific and medical realm. But the scientific validity of Biblical histories may not be crucial to her. It’s the inherited religious tradition, mistaken as it may be in many ways, which meets our supreme need and preserves civilisation. If you contradict her you are an anti-Semite, of cruel mind and a barbarian.
      She began as a brilliant, award winning progressive journalist. The word ‘charming’ is used.

      • RoHa on August 8, 2019, 3:06 am

        “Phillips, if I understand her, believes that rational morality could not have come into existence and could not maintain its existence now without the aid of Judaeochristian religion. ”

        Clearly she knows nothing of the Stoics, Confucians, or Buddhists.

      • MHughes976 on August 9, 2019, 4:40 pm

        I think she’s a very prejudiced person.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on August 8, 2019, 11:45 am

      “Intelligent” is never a word I’d use to describe Mad Mel, but even if it were, it would be irrelevant.

      We have now reached the stage in Britain where rationality, facts and logic are no longer required, provided one is a fanatical Zionist. And you can have all the rationality, facts and logic in the world on your side but they will be of no use if you are not a fanatical Zionist. No debate, in the normal sense of the word, is permitted on British media these days. Anti Zionism has, to all extents and purposes, been criminalised. Which of course was the aim all along.

  6. Ossinev on August 6, 2019, 7:14 am

    Not for nothing is she known as “Mad Mel Phillips”. Having said that a lot of “mad” people may actually be kind ,caring and moral . Phillips is simply a plain nasty piece of garbage who waxes lyrical about the “Return to Zion ” but never actually takes up the opportunity to return and live her “indigenuous” homeland. Likely because she knows that here in the UK she has some “status” as a political weirdo – back in Zioland she would be just be a minor freak amongst a host of major freaks.

    Loved this little snippet:
    “since they were exiled from Zion by colonialist oppressors many hundreds of years ago…”

    Of course the Jews according to this Ziological thinking didn`t themselves at any time or in any shape or form invade or colonise what she and they refer to as “Zion”. They simply sprung up out of the land as if by magic.

    Well worth watching:

    • seancbreathnach on August 6, 2019, 7:00 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree with the result, Anti-Zionism is not Antisemitism.
      Thanks for the link, enjoyed watching the debate.

      • Citizen on August 8, 2019, 7:26 pm

        I watched it a few weeks ago; yes, if memory serves about 15 people changed their original opinion after the debate and Melanie lost that debate. She’s quite the crisp, logic sounding bullshitter. She’s fast on delivery so you have to be quick to catch her false premises, eh?

  7. Misterioso on August 6, 2019, 10:15 am

    Melanie Phillips lives in a fantasy world. She has trotted out the utterly absurd and long since debunked racist assertion that “The indigenous people of the State of Israel, of the Land of Israel, are the Jews. They’re the only extant indigenous people for whom this was ever their national kingdom.”

    Even if her statement was valid, which it most certainly is not, foreign Zionist Jews had no right whatsoever to emigrate en masse to Palestine (primarily during the 20th century) with the stated intention of eventually violently dispossessing and expelling the indigenous Arab inhabitants who are in fact the “extant indigenous people.”**

    Some basic history for the edification of Ms. Phillips:
    The Jebusite/Canaanites were ancestors of today’s Palestinians and it was they who founded Jerusalem circa 3000 BCE. Originally known as Jebus, the first recorded reference to it as “Rushalimum” or “Urussalim,” site of the sacred Foundation Rock, appears in Egyptian Execration Texts of the nineteenth century BCE, nearly 800 years before it is alleged King David was born. Its name “seems to have incorporated the name of the Syrian god Shalem [the Canaanite God of Dusk], who was identified with the setting sun or the evening star…and] can probably be translated as ‘Shalem has founded’.” (Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem, One City, Three Faiths; Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1996, pp. 6-7)

    It is estimated that the Hebrews did not invade until circa 1184 BCE and their resulting United Kingdom of Israel, which never controlled the coast from Jaffa to Gaza, lasted only about 75–80 years, i.e., less than a blip in the history of Canaan and Palestine. Even the Hasmonean Dynasty under the Maccabees lasted only about 70 years (circa 140 – 70 BCE) and it was under Roman tutelage.

    BTW, no credible archaeological evidence, or more importantly, writings of contemporaneous civilizations, have been found that prove Solomon or David actually existed. (Nor has any evidence been discovered to confirm that the Jewish exodus from Egypt ever occurred. )

    The region between the Jordan River and the Med. Sea was referred to as “Palestine” by the Greek historian Herodotus (“the father of history”) during the 5th century BCE.

    100 years later, in the mid-4th Century BCE, Aristotle referred to Palestine while discussing the Dead Sea in his Meteorology. “Again if, as is fabled, there is a lake in Palestine….”

    Jewish historian Josephus’s (c.37-100 CE) The Jewish War, Antiquities of the Jews contains many references to both “Palestine” and “Palestinians.”

    Contemporaries of Jesus also routinely referred to Palestine as “Palestine.” In the first decade of the 1st Century, the Roman poet Ovid mentioned Palestine in both his famed mythological poem “Metamorphoses” and his erotic elegy “The Art of Love.” He also wrote of “the waters of Palestine” in his calendrical poem “Fasti.” Around the same time, Tibullus, another Latin poet, wrote of “the crowded cities of Palestine” in the section “Messalla’s Triumph” in his poem “Delia.”

    The Zionist claim that the Roman emperor Hadrian officially changed the name of the region to “Syria Palaestina” or simply “Palestine,” in 135 CE is contradicted by the fact that by then, the terms “Syrian Palestine” and “Palestine” had already been in use for over 600 years.

    To quote the opening sentence of the section entitled “Filastin” that appears in the book “Dictionary of the Lands,” written by geographer Yaqut ibn Abdullah al-Hamawi in 1225: “Filastin: It is the last one of the regions of Syria in the direction of Egypt. Its most famous cities are Ashkelon, Ramle, Gaza, Arsuf, Caesaria, Nablus, Jericho, Jaffa and Beit Guvrin.”

    By about 1300 CE there were virtually no Jews in Palestine, which was a recognized geographical concept using coinage with “Filistin” written on them. There were diaries of Palestinian travelers who said they missed “Palestine” and a distinctive Palestinian dialect of Arabic had evolved. From 1300 on, the vast majority of people who lived in Palestine were Christians and Muslims.

    In 1603, Shakespeare wrote in his play Othello: “Emilia: I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip.” (Act IV, Scene iii.)

    In 1863, The Religious Tract Society of London published its “Pictorial Journey Through the Holy Land; or Scenes of Palestine.” In this work Beersheba is described as the southern limit of Palestine. “Beersheba lies south-east of Gaza on the northern edge of the Negev desert.’ Palestine is described as “south of Lebanon.”

    European tourist books of the nineteenth century refer to “Palestine,” as did Theodor Herzl in his correspondence and the 1917 Balfour Declaration as well as the 1922 Class A League of Nations British Mandate.

    Renowned historian/anthropologist and “Holy Land” specialist, Professor Ilene Beatty: “When we speak of ‘Palestinians’ or of the ‘Arab population [of Palestine]‘, we must bear in mind their Canaanite origin. This is important because their legal right to the country stems… from the fact that the Canaanites were first, which gives them priority; their descendants have continued to live there, which gives them continuity; and (except for the 800,000 dispossessed refugees [of 1948 along with the further hundreds of thousands expelled before and after the war Israel launched on 5 June 1967]) they are still living there, which gives them present possession. Thus we see that on purely statistical grounds they have a proven legal right to their own land.” (“Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan,” 1957)

    To quote Polish born David Ben-Gurion (real name, David Gruen): “‘race’ does not unite Jewry since the ancient people dissipated after so much dispersion.” (Philippe de Saint Robert, Le Jeu de la France en Mediteranee, 1970, p.182)

    For the record: “The Racist Gene” Haaretz, June 21, 2017: EXCERPT: “In 2013, the results were published of a study by the prominent British geneticist Martin Richards, who specializes in researching the maternal genome, which passes from the mother to all of her descendants. Richards researched the maternal genetic ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews. And lo and behold, he discovered that 80 percent or more (!) of the maternal genetic makeup of Ashkenazi Jews derives from European women – goys, heaven forbid. Gevalt! Devoid of any gene originating in the Land of Israel.”

    Front. Genet., 21 June 2017 |

    “The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazic Jews, and Yiddish”

    “Recent genetic samples from bones found in Palestine dating to the Epipaleolithic (20000-10500 BCE) showed remarkable resemblance to modern day Palestinians.”


    “The non-Levantine origin of AJs [Ashkenazi Jews] is further supported by an ancient DNA analysis of six Natufians and a Levantine Neolithic (Lazaridis et al., 2016), some of the most likely Judaean progenitors (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2002; Frendo, 2004). In a principle component analysis (PCA), the ancient Levantines clustered predominantly with modern-day Palestinians and Bedouins and marginally overlapped with Arabian Jews, whereas AJs clustered away from Levantine individuals and adjacent to Neolithic Anatolians and Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Europeans.”

    “Overall, the combined results are in a strong agreement with the predictions of the Irano-Turko-Slavic hypothesis (Table 1) and rule out an ancient Levantine origin for AJs, which is predominant among modern-day Levantine populations (e.g., Bedouins and Palestinians). This is not surprising since Jews differed in cultural practices and norms (Sand, 2011) and tended to adopt local customs (Falk, 2006). Very little Palestinian Jewish culture survived outside of Palestine (Sand, 2009). For example, the folklore and folkways of the Jews in northern Europe is distinctly pre-Christian German (Patai, 1983) and Slavic in origin, which disappeared among the latter (Wexler, 1993, 2012).”

  8. Rosetta on August 6, 2019, 8:17 pm

    So, why then did orthodox Jews oppose the creation of a State of Israel saying it was only ever meant as metaphor?

    More to the point, the first Jews invented their religion in what is modern-day Iraq and were colonists in Palestine having set up camp there a few thousand years ago, along with many other tribes. It was not their country then and it is not now.

    If indeed religions have homelands which they do not. If they did Jews would have rights to a bit of Iraq and the Christians would have first call on Palestine.

    A religion is not indigenous. And Jews today, like all religions, comprise all races and hundreds of nationalities. Many Jews, perhaps most, have no Semitic ancestry either so their links even to Iraq genetically, let alone Palestine, are flimsy. Although quite how a religion becomes genetic is the real question. It sounds very unscientific and racist.

    • Nathan on August 6, 2019, 10:18 pm

      Rosetta – It might come as a surprise to you to find out that the Jews are NOT a religion. The Jews are human beings, whereas a religion is an abstract idea. Nobody on this planet is wondering “how a religion becomes genetic”.

      You claim that the links of Jews to Iraq (or Palestine) “genetically” are flimsy. I don’t know what you mean. In political science, there is a concept known as “citizenship”. The Israelis, for example, are citizens of Israel. If you believe that there has to be some sort of genetic criteria in politics, I would humbly suggest that you retake the freshman course “Political Science 101”.

      Moreover, it should be noted that the Israelis are citizens of the State of Israel even if Orthodox Jews opposed the founding of the state. The guild of hatmakers in Brooklyn supported the founding of Israel, if that makes things easier to swallow.

      • Keith on August 6, 2019, 11:41 pm

        NATHAN- “Rosetta – It might come as a surprise to you to find out that the Jews are NOT a religion.”

        For the entire 1000 year period of Classical Judaism, Jews were identified as followers of the Judaic religion. No exceptions. It has only been within the last 200 years that the concept of “Jewishness” has been racialized by anti-Semites such as the Nazis and by others with an agenda to do so, such as Zionists who have (successfully, it appears) reconstructed Jewish peoplehood based upon birth (usually Ashkenazi) criteria instead of religion. Bolstered, I might add, by a gross misrepresentation of the Holocaust as the culmination of 2000 years of Gentile anti-Semitism rather than an aspect of World War II. Jews have, to a significant degree, resurrected their medieval social position updated to reflect modernity and multiculturalism.

      • Rosetta on August 7, 2019, 2:03 am


        Judaism is not a religion? That is news I suspect for most people. Of course Judaism is a religion.

        Jews are human beings you say? Sure, and so is everyone else. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, all human beings.

        Or do you refer to the primitive Judaic teaching that somehow, miraculously, only Jews have souls and only Jews are real human beings – none-Jews being subhuman?

        I said Judaism was invented in Iraq and if religions had homelands or rights to land, which they do not, then Jews would have rights to a bit of Iraq and Christians would be the ones with rights to a bit of Palestine where their religion was invented.

        What I was trying to say, and clearly failed, is that religions do not create a genetic history. The claims of Jews being a ‘people’ founder because despite some areas of intermarriage, there are no conclusively shared genes present in every Jew on the planet. How could there be?

        Which makes Jewish claims of ‘links’ to Palestine even more ridiculous since many have no Middle Eastern genetic ancestry but are Europeans through and through.

        Yes, Israelis are citizens of Israel although non-Jewish Israelis are second-class citizens. And does not Israel define nationality as Jewish? This of course means that non-Jews who have Israeli citizenship are without a nationality.

        My point regarding orthodox Jews rejecting the proposal to create a literal State of Israel was merely to say that Judaism had no requirement or expectation of a material State of Israel because it was only ever metaphor. It is largely irrelevant who did and who did not support the imposition of a State called Israel on Palestine since the act was certainly immoral and while not yet tested in a court of law, no doubt also illegal.

      • eljay on August 7, 2019, 7:54 am

        || Nathan: … The Jews are human beings … ||

        It’s true. People who choose to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish are still just people and, as people, they are entitled to the same rights and protections as other people. No group of people – not even “the Jews” – is entitled to be supremacists, to have a supremacist state or to to evil unto others.

        You Zionists might want to reflect on that fact.

        || … The Israelis, for example, are citizens of Israel. … ||

        Israelis – Jewish, Muslim, Christian, atheist or other – are citizens of Israel. “The Jews” are not.

        You Zionists might want to reflect on that.

      • Talkback on August 7, 2019, 9:54 am

        Nathan: “The Jews are human beings, whereas a religion is an abstract idea. ”

        So is “Jewishness”, peoplehood or any other collective marker.

        Nathan: “Nobody on this planet is wondering “how a religion becomes genetic”.”

        Oh that’s very simple when tribal religion/culture outrules intermarriage, because others are seen as inferior or unclean.

        Nathan: “The Israelis, for example, are citizens of Israel.”

        But if they belong to the nation or Israel religion/heritage is the deciding factor. Does that remind you of the only formee Aryan state in Europe who was singled out and even boycotted in the 20th century?

      • Mooser on August 7, 2019, 2:01 pm

        Shorter “Nathan”:
        ‘Judaism isn’t genetic, or religious. Judaism is Zionism, and anybody is welcome to join in dispossessing the Palestinians.’

      • Mooser on August 7, 2019, 2:14 pm

        “The claims of Jews being a ‘people’ founder because despite some areas of intermarriage, there are no conclusively shared genes present in every Jew on the planet. How could there be?”

        Oh, I don’t know. Actually, we seem to have quite a lot of genes in common, (a lot of them recessive, but just give them a chance to express themselves!).

      • Talkback on August 7, 2019, 8:12 pm

        Mooser: ” (a lot of them recessive, but just give them a chance to express themselves!).”


    • MHughes976 on August 7, 2019, 8:37 am

      I suppose you could say that my religion, Anglicanism, was indigenous to England. But indigeneity in the sense of a status creating rights has surely to be taken as being from that place, being born or brought up there. These things bring with them the habit and experience of obedience to and protection under the laws of that place and to the expectation that you will according to ability work and pay taxes there. On this basis it is logical that you have political rights there. Other claims to political rights may be based on other things , such as heredity and ideological affinity with those already there, for what they are worth. But a right to be welcomed on other grounds cannot be a form of being indigenous or of coming from the place, it must be a form of coming from elsewhere or being exogenous. The fact that some of your ancestors were indigenous because of birth, residence and obedience to its laws indicates not that you are indigenous but that, by the very same token, you are not.

  9. Rosetta on August 7, 2019, 3:21 am

    It is ridiculous. Christians founded Istanbul, does that mean they have rights to it? Christians founded Bombay and Madras. Do they have rights to those cities? Of course not.

    If followers of Minerva came back and said, we founded London so it is ours, the world would laugh. And yet some followers of Judaism got away with just that ridiculous concept in Palestine.

    • RoHa on August 8, 2019, 1:34 am

      “If followers of Minerva came back and said, we founded London so it is ours, the world would laugh.”

      Fans of Geoffrey of Monmouth would disagree. They would claim London was founded by King Lud, and so belonged to the Welsh.

  10. Rosetta on August 7, 2019, 3:24 am

    So, if Israel happily accepted Jewish Palestinians as citizens, what is the issue in a modern democracy with Palestinians in general being Muslim or Christian? Or indeed Atheist.

    What other modern democracy discriminates on the basis of religion? I can’t think of one.

    Surely the only reason Zionist Israel denies nearly six million Palestinians their rights is because they are not Jewish. Until that fact is addressed nothing will change.

    • eljay on August 7, 2019, 9:05 am

      || Rosetta: … Surely the only reason Zionist Israel denies nearly six million Palestinians their rights is because they are not Jewish. ||

      Of course. Israel was conceived and established as – and continues to be maintained as – a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for those Israelis and non-Israelis who choose to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish.

      To Zionists, non-Jewish Israelis – citizens, immigrants, expats and, of course, refugees – represent a “demographic threat” to Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism.

      Zionists like Nathan may say things like “[t]he Jews are human beings” – which implies equality – but they will deliberately omit the Orwellian bit about some humans being more equal than others.

  11. Ossinev on August 7, 2019, 7:38 am

    “It might come as a surprise to you to find out that the Jews are NOT a religion. The Jews are human beings, whereas a religion is an abstract idea. Nobody on this planet is wondering “how a religion becomes genetic”.

    So Jews are not a people. They are human beings who practice a particular religion (which IMHO like other religions is an elaborate exercise in fantasy)

    As such there is no form of “genetic connection” and certainly no form of “genetic entitlement” to another people`s land – in this case Palestine. And no “right of return”.

    Phew that`s sorted then. Thanks for the unravelling of a major conundrum .Screws up the IHRA but that too is an exercise in “Jewish people” fantasy.

  12. Citizen on August 8, 2019, 8:46 pm

    Meet Melanie Phillips:

    “Antisemitism is everywhere and it will never go away.”

  13. Keith on August 9, 2019, 12:38 am

    CITIZEN- ““Antisemitism is everywhere and it will never go away.”

    Yet another gilded victim of Jewish suffering! Is there no end to fat-cat suffering? Gentiles are so evil!

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