SNAPSHOTS-TOP.jpg

« Israel's Actions Legal & Restrained | Main | Time Magazine Fails to Correct Errors »

February 23, 2009

Harsh Critic of Israel Rethinks Stance

Observer (UK) columnist Nick Cohen wrote a surprising essay,"Hatred Is Turning Me Into a Jew," published in London's Jewish newspaper, in support of Israel's military strikes against Hamas. "Surprising," because Cohen has long been a harsh critic of Israel. What turned him around? His disgust with the escalating anti-Semitism and the fascist behavior that comes along with it, the double standards applied to Israel and Jews, and the realization that Jews are the canary in the coalmine.

Here are some excerpts:

British Jews are living through a very dangerous period. They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will excuse. If a mass murderer bombed a mosque or black Pentecostal church, no respectable person would say that the "root cause" of the crime was an understandable repulsion at the deeds of al-Qaeda or a legitimate opposition to mass immigration. Rightly, they would blame the criminal for the crime.

If a synagogue is attacked, I guarantee that within minutes the airwaves
will be filled with insinuating voices insisting that the "root cause" of
the crime was a rational anger at the behaviour of Israel or the Jewish
diaspora...

As the struggle between theocracy and liberalism intensifies, I can see some
being pushed into taking the same journey I have taken and finding their
views towards Judaism and Israel softening as they realise that antisemitism
helps drive the fascistic ideologies of the 21st century just as it drove
the Nazism of the 20th.

I will tell them that the opponents of totalitarianism must never be
frightened. If their enemies say they are Jews, they should shrug and say:
"All right, I am."

For the whole column, click here or read below.

Hatred is turning me into a Jew

Nick Cohen
The Jewish Chronicle
February 12, 2009

The more the British Left indulges antisemitism, the more kosher I feel
My name is Nick Cohen, and I think I'm turning into a Jew. Despite being
called "Cohen", I've never been Jewish before. It's not simply that I am an
atheist. My Jewish friends tell me that it is hard to find an educated
London Jew who is not an atheist, but that I have no connection with Jewish
culture.

The Jewish side of my family is my father's (which is not a help, I gather).
My great grandparents fled from the Tsarist Empire at the time of the
pogroms, but their son, my grandfather, revolted. He became a Communist and
married outside the faith. My father was brought up with no connection to
Judaism and, inevitably, so was I.

My sole interest in Jewish concerns came from being a left-wing opponent of
the far Right, and the blood-soaked antisemitic superstitions which turned
Europe into a graveyard. When I was young, such attitudes seemed
unproblematic. You did not have to be a Jew to oppose fascism; everyone I
knew did that regardless of colour or creed.

Today the old certainties have gone because there are two far-right
movements: the white neo-Nazi parties that the Left still opposes; and the
clerical fascists of radical Islam which, extraordinarily, the modern Left
succours and indulges. I am not only talking about Ken Livingstone, George
Galloway and their gruesome accomplices in the intelligentsia. Wider liberal
society is almost as complicit. It does not applaud the Islamist far Right,
but it will not condemn it either. From the broadcasters, through the
liberal press, the Civil Service, the Metropolitan Police, the bench of
bishops and the judiciary, antisemitism is no longer an unthinkable mental
deformation. As long as the conspiracy theories of the counter-enlightenment
come from ideologues with dark rather than white skins, nominally liberal
men and women will not speak out.

Fight back and you become a Jew, whether you are or not. Mark Lawson
recently described an argument at the BBC over the corporation's decision
not to screen the charity appeal for Gaza. His furious colleague declared
that the only reason Lawson supported the ban was because he was Jewish.
Lawson had to tell him that he was, in fact, raised a Catholic.

A furious Labour MP was no different when he told a colleague of mine that I
had gone off the rails when I married a "hard-right" Jewish woman from North
London. My friend replied that this would be news to my wife, a liberal
Catholic from Stoke-on-Trent.

It was kind of him to point that out, but I would no longer protest that I
wasn't Jewish, and I don't think Lawson should either. It is cowardly to
stammer that you are not a Jew because you concede the racist's main point —
that there is something suspect about being Jewish — as you do it.

In any case, my experience of left-wing antisemitism has changed the way I
think and made me, if you like, more Jewish.

Although I want to see every Israeli settlement on the West Bank dismantled,
it was clear to me that when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel it
had declared war and had to accept the consequences. I would not have
thought that five years ago.

You do not need me to add that mine is a minority point of view among
liberals, and that British Jews are living through a very dangerous period.
They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will
excuse. If a mass murderer bombed a mosque or black Pentecostal church, no
respectable person would say that the "root cause" of the crime was an
understandable repulsion at the deeds of al-Qaeda or a legitimate opposition
to mass immigration. Rightly, they would blame the criminal for the crime.

If a synagogue is attacked, I guarantee that within minutes the airwaves
will be filled with insinuating voices insisting that the "root cause" of
the crime was a rational anger at the behaviour of Israel or the Jewish
diaspora.

Put like this, the position of British Jewry sounds grim. Remember, however,
that the first aim of radical Islam is to subjugate Muslims. When brave
feminists, gays, democrats and liberals in the Muslim world and in Britain's
Muslim communities make a stand, they, too, are accused of being the tools
of Zionists.

As the struggle between theocracy and liberalism intensifies, I can see some
being pushed into taking the same journey I have taken and finding their
views towards Judaism and Israel softening as they realise that antisemitism
helps drive the fascistic ideologies of the 21st century just as it drove
the Nazism of the 20th.

I will tell them that the opponents of totalitarianism must never be
frightened. If their enemies say they are Jews, they should shrug and say:
"All right, I am." As long as readers of the Jewish Chronicle don't object,
of course.

Nick Cohen is a columnist for The Observer. His latest collection of essays,
'Waiting for the Etonians: Reports from the Sickbed of Liberal England', is
published this week

Posted by LG at February 23, 2009 01:37 AM

Comments

This is to Nick. I applaud you as I am also a returned Jewess and for most of the same reasons you have stated. I live in the USA and I would absolutely love to be in contact via: my email as i have been working on many things now for a very long time. Welcome back! Please send this to Mr. Cohen from a Jewish Sister.

Posted by: Rachel at February 23, 2009 01:33 PM

Perhaps Nick will also realize that not every settlement in the West Bank should be dismantled. His ideas on the settlements that those like Livni want to keep seem to be informed by the same left-wing antisemites from whom he is now revolting.

Posted by: Harcourt Fenton [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 23, 2009 05:48 PM

You are not right about gays. I am a gay and a recent convert to Islam from Roman Catholicism.

I am going to Mecca to prform a haj and was promised by the Saudi consul that there is no problem to visit Saudi if you don;t advertize yourself as a gay.

Posted by: Yaakov Sullivan at February 24, 2009 07:26 PM

Yaakov, let me get this right. You think that it will be okay in Mecca if you stay in the closet? I would be interested in knowing how that worked out for you when you get back. Sincerely.

For Nick Cohen, apparently "liberals" don't study real history or they would know that the original deal that created ALL of the Muslim states out of the Ottoman Empire gave the majority of the Palestine Mandate to the Arabs, the Jewish Palestine was everything west of the Jordan. The Arab Palestine already exists, it is called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Since fairness is a big claim of liberals, why do you insist on giving away more terrorist-occupied Jewish land to intractable and irrational closet nazis? Especially since the closet is made of nothing but pseudo-Quranic rhetoric and mad dog violence.

Posted by: Paraleitheus at February 28, 2009 02:53 AM

Hmmmm. So you're saying it's okay to be gay in Saudi Arabia unless they know you're gay?

Posted by: Greg at March 1, 2009 06:33 PM

So Nick Cohen has finally opened his eyes and seen the Loonie Left for what it really is ,fascism in disguise .He mentions Ken the Red and Grumpy George ,but there are others like Annie :walking on broken glass :Lennox who all of a sudden was an interested and very vocal anti Israel critic during the Gaza clean up in response to Hamas rockets.The question to be asked is why did it take so long to realise where the threat (Islamic)comes from ? The left wing loonies are missing the bigger picture as the recent events in Pakistan against Sri Lankan cricket players reveal.

Posted by: Samuel at March 5, 2009 10:20 AM

Guidelines for posting

This is a moderated blog. We will not post comments that include racism, bigotry, threats, or factually inaccurate material.

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)