Recognition -and about time too!
FORGET the US Presidential election, the global economic crisis, and Auntie Beeb's little embarrassment over naughty spoilt nephews Ross and Russel, which may yet be turned into a soap. Everyone else has spoken about them. So permit me a break to introduce a little personal good news.
My good friend Debbie, who keeps an eye on such things, has e-mailed to let me know that my name now appears in the hate list compiled by a group calling themselves Masada 2000, entitled "Self-Hating Israel-Threatening" Jews, or the S.H.I.T. list as they so wittily call it. You see, it's like a Hit List, only...dead clever, nu?
About time too. For though I am not "self-hating", quite the opposite, and don't flatter myself that I am yet a threat to the State of Israel, I was riled to think that while people much younger than myself, without my track record, and often with much milder opinions, were on the list, I still had not made it. What was up, did the gang at Masada 2000 dismiss me as a spent force? Didn't my experience count for anything? Besides, some young friends had remarked on the absence, and I was starting to fear for my street cred.
Now I can hold up my head with pride that I am in the same company as Israelis I know and admire like Amira Hass and Adam Keller, entertainers like Stephen Fry and Miriam Margolyes, many leading academics, and numerous rabbis (although Masada 2000 puts "Rabbi" in quotes to show that it has not approved their status), and many friends and fellow-activists, young and old, including singer Debbie, comedian Ivor Dembina, and even a comrade at whose funeral, sadly, I was proud to be a pall-bearer some years ago. He never hated himself nor anyone else, and nor would he ever threaten anybody, but he hated hatred, oppression and injustice, and I'm sure he would accept being posthumously honoured this way.
Actually, my pride in being selected for the list is somewhat dented when I see that with over 7,000 names it is not that exclusive. What's worse, not only am I on the same page as Israel's outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert, his wife and daughter Dana (the last of whom is a good peace campaigner, mind); but the list goes on to include Britain's chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks. He may have led a solidarity with Israel rally while Israel was bombing Beirut, but Masada 2000 won't forgive him for supporting the Oslo agreement. That agreement may have given little to the Palestinians, but even that's too much for Masada 2000, who advocate forcible ethnic cleansing.
I don't know if being on the list is supposed to frighten us. I see some professor in Germany was concerned that being branded an antisemite would damage his career, and I remember Rabbi Michael Lerner in the United States received death threats. These things happen. But if anyone in Israel, other than those listed, took this list seriously (which I very much doubt) it must be worrying to think there were so many enemies out there threatening the State, and that's just counting Jews! (though Masada 2000 is a bit more generous than the Orthodox rabbinate in recognising people,some of whom would be surprised to find themselves thus listed.). But fear not, the patriots of Masada 2000 will not rest, nor will their mouse sleep in their hand, as they sit up angrily typing in their denunciations.
Who are Masada 2000? Masada is a mountain by the Dead Sea, of course. I climbed it in 1960 and I expect it it is still a standard item on Zionist youth tours. Nowadays there's a cable lift. It was on this fortified desert mesa that Jewish rebels, sicarii, made their heroic last stand against besieging Roman legions in 73AD, and committed mass suicide rather than be taken into slavery. Masada 2000 is a group of Americans, Israelis, and others who support the settlers, admire the late fascist Rabbi (or should I say "Rabbi"?) Meir Kahane, and advocate forcible expulsion of all Arabs (they refuse to recognise the Palestinian nationality) from the whole of Israel-Palestine.
Why should these right-wing Zionists misappropriate the name of a rebel stronghold, when they are not rebelling against a mighty empire, and not under siege, but seeking to uphold and expand the American empire by means of Israeli occupation, siege, and expulsion of native people from their land? Well, the Israeli Army brings soldiers to Masada where they take an oath that 'Masada shall not fall again'. There are historical precedents for aggressors to proclaim themselves under siege, and foster such mentality even as they exhort their forces to ruthless genocide. And since Masada 2000 also favours Israel starting a nuclear war in the Middle East, perhaps we should not rule out these fanatics going so far as enforced suicide.
What Masada2000 has to say about me is not too bad, actually:
'Pottins, Charles "Charlie" This Commie Marxist is a National Committee member of the Jewish Socialists' Group [UK] wrote, "Because we jealously guard our rights and freedoms, we must resist any attempt, from whatever quarter, to identify Jewish people per se with the Zionist State". I don't remember when I wrote anything so elegant, but I don't disavow the sentiment.
Some people are just listed by name, presumably harvested from letters they have signed which appeared in the papers, with others there's a quotation from something they have signed, which becomes a bit repetitious. Some of the names listed without any information are quite well-known in the Jewish community, which leads me to suspect that whoever compiles this list is quite remote, and could not even find their way to a Jewish Yearbook or Who's Who in the public library. Judging from the entry on one woman referring to her as "He", it seems they are not familiar with Hebrew women's names. Curious.
With Rabbi Casper L.Funnye, of the Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, we are not told what he has done or said to offend, but there is a helpful photograph to indicate that he is a black man. Commenting on Rabbi Mike Feinberg, whom some people in London will remember from Anti-Apartheid activity as well as his pioneering Jewish-Palestinian dialogue, Masada 2000 notes that he is now active in the New York Labor Religious Coalition -"in other words, 'socialism through religion'". The coalition brings together Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy in support of poor people, and sweatshop workers trying to organise. The entry concedes graciously that "socialism is not a new phenomenon among progressive 'social justice' Jews."
Indeed it isn't. Whereas fascism and racial supremacism is alien, or ought to be, to most Jewish people, if we discount the pre-war Revisionist Zionists infatuation with Mussolini and readiness to work with Hitler if they could. Ironically, but with typical chutzpah, Masada 2000 uses "judenrat" as a term of abuse for people it dislikes. But the people who figured most notoriously on the judenrats, or Jews Councils, established by the Nazis to serve their purpose, were often right-wing Zionists, like Jacob Gens, the ghetto police chief in Vilnius.
The most vituperative language in the S.H.I.T. List, the most personalised attacks, and distortion of photographs, seem to be directed at women. A distinguished former Knesset member in her 'Seventies is dubbed a "slut", Dana Olmert is "far Left and gay", even Jemima Goldsmith, whose "Jewish" connection, via a grandparent, is at most tenuous, and who was educated as a Christian, is roped into the list so she can be denounced for her treachery in marrying a Muslim, and what's more, visiting Palestinian refugee camps. But the writers' fury at women who might be attracted to a Muslim man turns to frenzy when they unleash their obsessive phobia about lesbians.
I'm no psychologist, but I think if one had the stomach to wade through Masada 2000's hate list it would not take them too long to establish a profile of the disturbed personalities responsible. As for the style, as well as the content, does use of terms like "commie" and "slut", misogyny, homophobia and pictures distorted to exaggerate "Jewish" physiognomy, remind you of anything? Perhaps you have been seeing the similar hate lists produced by neo-Nazi antisemites. Is this just a result of parallel species evolving to resemble each other, or could somebody be moonlighting?