Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Comment is Free's 'Jewish naqba denial'

The new blog, CiFwatch, is doing a valuable service exposing antisemitism and distortions in Middle East coverage on the Guardian website, Comment is Free. Today it gives the floor to Point of No Return. Please visit CiFwatch and leave a comment:

It’s easier to condemn Comment is Free for what it does than for its sins of omission. And for a site that focuses disproportionately on Middle Eastern issues, CiF is remarkably coy about the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

There were more Jewish refugees fleeing from Arab countries after 1948 than Palestinian Arabs from Israel. There were more of them, they lost more and suffered more.

But only rarely have Jewish refugees been the subject of attention at Comment is Free. Coinciding with a conference in London in June 2008, Matt Seaton allowed Lyn Julius to put the case for Jewish refugees. But he also got David Cesarani, an academic not known for his expertise in this field, bizarrely to argue that Jews who fled Arab countries should not have their suffering compared to ‘the misery of the Palestinians’. Rachel Shabi, the Guardian’s pet Mizrahi, was then wheeled out to deny that Jewish refugees were refugees at all – in fact most were Zionists who left of their own free will – an argument which she contradicts in some of her other writings. It’s a classic CiF strategy: obscure, confuse, and de-construct historical fact.

The denial of what is being increasingly becoming known as the ‘Jewish naqba’ is central to the Guardian’s agenda.

On no account must the ‘de facto’ exchange between roughly equal numbers of Arab and Jewish refugees be permitted to challenge the Palestinians’ exclusive claim to victimhood.

On no account must the successful integration of the majority of Jewish refugees in Israel and elsewhere be mentioned. This would undermine the ‘sacred’ right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. It would be disastrous if the reader twigged that Palestinian refugees could just as easily be resettled – if not more easily – in Arab host countries.

On no account must the idea that the Jews in Israel are anything other than ‘white’ interlopers from Europe, engaged in a colonial adventure in Palestine, be challenged. The whole edifice of Guardian groupthink crumbles once you introduce the notion that around half the population of Israeli Jews come from ‘indigenous’ communities in the ‘Arab’ world predating Islam by 1,000 years.

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4 comments:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

This was posted on the CiF Watch blog. I also note that "comment is free" has a certain Orwellian ring to it, especially since much reasonable commentary is rubbed out.
- - - - - - - the text below was posted on CiF Watch - - - - - -

Bataween rightly characterizes what CIF and other press and broadcasting outlets are doing. They are instilling a "narrative" for long term purposes. Some anti-Israel themes go back to the 1940s, that is, Jews who were Nazi victims have become Nazis, are acting like Nazis.
IN the 60s, new themes emerged. Israel was no longer fighting the whole Arab world, but a hitherto unknown small, innocuous, ever innocent people called "palestinians," although journalists wrote as if there had already and always been "palestinians."

Another theme of the 60s was especially promoted by the so-called "Left." In the soft version, the Jews were said to have made a mistake by setting up their state in the land of a "non-white" people. This insinuated that the Jews were "white," if not "ultra-white." We now more commonly run into the hard version of this argument: the Jews are merely European colonialists like all others who deliberately came to "palestine" to despoil the "palestinians". It doesn't matter that 100 years ago, bigots in Britain were calling Jews "Orientals" who were not quite white. Jews were commonly seen in Europe as not really European no matter how long their forefathers had been there. In British literature, we see this in Thackeray's Vanity Fair, for example. Later in the 19th century, there was Trilby by DuMaurier. Here the villain is a swarthy Polish Jew who corrupts a pure white maiden. Note that the villain was a swarthy Polish Jew, not a native of Syria or Egypt or India. DuMaurier was also an illustrator for Punch where cartoons mocking the Sassoon family [originally from Baghdad]
were common, particularly the athletically proficient family member who belonged to the circle of the Prince of Wales. John Buchan's 39 Steps too identifies the Jew --in this case a German Jew-- as the enemy of Britain.

Now, the Jews' skin color has been magically transformed into a uniform white for all Jews and the Jews who went to Israel from Europe are insinuated to have been real, authentic Europeans all along just like every body else. So What was the Holocaust all about??

The constant factor here is that Jews in Europe were perceived in many countries, including the UK, as alien, not quite belonging to the nation, Orientals, etc. In fact, the Jews did not originate in Europe although Jews lived there for nearly 2 millenia. Now, the locus of the Jews' alien nature has been transposed to the Middle East, whence they had originated in historical fact, but were now --post 1948-- just Europeans like everybody else but worse, more guilty of colonialism.

Also forgotten is that the Arab nationalist movement were eager admirers of the Nazis, for the most part. This included the chief Palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin el-Husseini who urged the Germans to kill more Jews, and asked Hitler before they met in Berlin to recognize the Arab right to solve the "Jewish Question" in the Arab lands as it was being solved in Europe.

These facts as well as the age-old oppression of Jews in Arab lands as dhimmis, cannot be allowed to intrude into the narrative, which belongs to what someone has called cogwar, that is cognitive warfare, a form of psywar operating over the long term to change attitudes and perceptions and loyalties, etc. The cogwar has superficially reversed old perceptions of Jews as alien to Europe with the new belief that they are alien to the Middle East. But the underlying belief in the Jews' alien nature remains. This shows the success of the cogwar campaign.

bataween said...

Thanks Eliyahu. Before it was 'Jews to Palestine' (you don't belong in Europe) now it's Jews out of Palestine (you belong in Europe).

Levana said...

Could one believe that 25,000 happy Egyptian Jews left Egypt by their own free will, in five months from November 1956 to March 1957, leaving behind all their assets ? Strange behaviour indeed. Most of them did not go to Israel,and many other thousands followed, untill Egypt became "free of jews". One could wonder WHY ?
Levana

Anonymous said...

Yes. And the hundreds who did not get the chance to be expelled from Egypt on 1956-57, were tortured like hell in 1967.
The so-called Palestinians' Naqba, never included those mass imprisonment and torture. This was an Egyptian specialty to Egyptian Jews.