Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Giving Ann Coulter her due.. with a song and a smile

Many of you, I am sure, were appalled by Ann Coulter's performance on Donny Deutsch's show. She was flippant about Judaism, Deutsch's religious commitment, and her hair... Actually she just flipped her hair around as is her wont.

It's one thing to hear this argument [that Christians are perfected Jews], known in theological circles as supersessionism [Christianity has superseded Judaism] or replacement theology, from theologians. In fact, many Christian theologians no longer make it because they see what it lead to: pogroms, Crusades, and, ultimately, the Holocaust.

But to hear it from this political commentator, a woman who loves to beat up on underdogs and spews contempt as she does so [remember her faggot episode?], was a bit too much.

She may even have realized she went overboard because she asked Deutsch to give her a moment to explain herself after the first segment. If you look closely you will almost see her sweat.

When Deutsch asked: "Should we throw Judaism away?" She said: "Yes."

Now a group called Barely Political has taken her on in song.

They prove that humor is the best medicine and the best weapon and they wield both very very well.

Bravi, Bravi, Bravi.

Armenian University gives award to Ahmadinejad: A double standard???

Seems that Yerevan University [Yerevan is the capital of Armenia] has given a gold medal and an honorary doctorate to Iran's Ahmadinejad.

Armenian Americans have condemned the university for this action because of Ahmadinejad's record of Holocaust denial. This is the correct stance for them to take.

An Armenian run Web site, No Place For Denial, continues to accuse the ADL of genocide denial, alleging that its statements on the subject have been ambiguous, a charge the ADL denies. The continuing momentum has led several communities in the Boston area to end their partnerships with a highly regarded anti-bigotry program sponsored by the ADL.

Here's what perplexes me. Dikran Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America's Eastern Region, and Sevag Arzoumanian, "No Place for Denial" have told the JTA that,

while they disagree with the notion of giving Ahmadinejad an award, agree that it was appropriate for Ahmadinejad to be invited to Armenia, a landlocked country that depends on good relations with its neighbors for trade and energy.

This, they seem to be saying, is a matter of realpolitik.

Why then don't they understand when Jews worry about the fate of the Turkish Jewish community or Turkey's relations with Israel? That too is realpolitik.

Seems to me there is a real double standard here. Maybe someone can explain the difference to me...

Monday, October 29, 2007

No comment necessary

Received the following email:

From: Jose Ortiz [brunocaronte@yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, October 26, 2007 7:26 PM
To: dlipsta@emory.edu
Subject: Your narrowminded view of the Holocaust:

Yes, we should criticize Holocaust denials' people.

But the way you lump all of us who criticize the firebombing of Germany with Holocaust denials racists I'll take it as your own narrowminded [sic] view of the event. And also an insult.

Let me say that the Holocaust and World War II go hand together. Whether it was Hitler's final solution to the Jewish problem, or Gen. Harris' decision to firebomb Nazi Germany, are the two sides of the same coin. And that coin was Hitler's Third Reich and World War II.

If you wish us to see the Holocaust as something alien from World War II, people are beginning to see that is not the case. We are smarter than that, Ms. Lipstadt. Thanks.

[I know I said no comment but it's my blog and I'll break my own rules: the premise of this criticism is completely invalid. I don't lump those who criticize the firebombing with deniers. I do criticize David Irving for lying about Dresden, overtly so.

But the important thing is the tone of the email... ]

Friday, October 26, 2007

An enduring myth: "The Poles were worse than the Nazis."

Last week I was in Poland. While there I kept stressing to the people with whom I was travelling that it is wrong to depict Poland as a place of unending antisemitism or to fall prey to the absurd but, nonetheless, oft-heard comment made by Jews who visit the place, "The Poles were worse than the Nazis."

Many people, Jews primarily among them, believe the balderdash that the Germans put the death camps in Poland because the Poles would be happy to see the Jews killed. They ignore the fact that to the Germans Auschwitz was German territory and was to be the site of a major German settlement.

One person, who is well-informed and well read, found this notion of Polish non-complicity hard to grasp. He kept trying to find links:

Weren't they guards at Auschwitz? No, I said.

Well weren't they part of the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing units? Wrong again.

Well how about in the Sonderkommando units [the groups of prisoners who essentially pulled people off the trians, pushed them into the gas chambers, and then disposed of the bodies and who, themselves, were gassed by the Germans every few months because they knew too much]? No those groups were composed, in the main, of Jews.

This is not to say, of course, that Poland does not have a long and enduring history of antisemitism. It does. [Remember the scene in Lanzmann's Shoah in front of the Chelmno church?]

But then again, so does the Ukraine, Russia, and, of course, France. In fact, the late George Mosse, the great historian of European Jewry, was reported to have said that if someone in 1905 described in a prophecy what the Holocaust would be and how it would decimate European Jewry, the logical response would have been: "What a terrible thing for France to do." [Remember Dreyfus?]

In fact when the French deportations took place there was not a German official, officer, or uniformed man in site. All French police. The Germans wanted the foreign adults deported. The French sent them the adults and the children.

Yet we have no qualms about visiting Paris.

While Poland had terrible and extensive examples of antisemitism [read Jan Gross' Neighbors or his more recent work Fear for compelling examples of this], nonetheless let's not confuse that with the German plan to wipe out European Jewry. [I reviewed Gross' Fear and may have myself gone a bit overboard in condemning an entire nation. ]

Auschwitz, Maidanek, Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno, and Belzec were not "Polish" death camps. They were German camps that were placed in Poland by the Germans because that was where most of the victims were.

This is not a brief on behalf of the Poles of the 1940s. It's a reminder to keep one's historical eyes where they belong, i.e. on Germany.

I strongly recommend Rethinking Poles and Jews: Trouble Past, Brighter Future edited by Robert Cherry and Annamaria Orla-Bukowska for a series of essays that pierce the stereotypes which have obscured historical reality.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"The Israel Lobby": A devastating critique from Foreign Affairs

Despite bending over backwards to try to be kind to Walt and Mersheimer, Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations has written a devastating critique of their book.

Mead notes that while he does not think Walt and Mersheimer are antisemites he repeatedly acknowledges that the book will give great comfort to antisemites.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Turkey Blames the Jews

If it were not so serious it would actually be amusing.

Who has Turkey singled out as being responsible for the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution? The Jews.

According to a sobering story in the JTA , Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said he told American Jewish leaders that a genocide bill would strengthen the public perception in Turkey that “Armenian and Jewish lobbies unite forces against Turks.”

Babacan added, “We have told them that we cannot explain it to the public in Turkey if a road accident happens. We have told them that we cannot keep the Jewish people out of this.”

The Turkish public seems to have absorbed that message.

An online survey by Zaman’s English-language edition asking why Turks believed the bill succeeded showed at one point that 22 percent of respondents had chosen “Jews’ having legitimized the genocide claims” -- second only to “Turkey’s negligence.”

The Turks are livid with the ADL for reversing its position on the genocide and declaring that what happened was “indeed tantamount to genocide.”

According to the JTA,
Mustafa Akyol, an Istanbul-based political commentator who frequently writes about religious issues, says the strong reaction to the ADL’s policy switch and the perception that it somehow legitimized the Armenians’ claims are based on an “inflated sense” of American Jewish power among the Turkish public.

“There is a belief that [the resolution] couldn't have happened without Jewish support,” Akyol said. Now where are all those self-righteous critics who have been attacking the ADL for what it did? They have fallen prey to the same stereotype as the Turks. It's all the fault of the Jews.
Well at long last there is something both sides can agree on: the Jews did it.... but they knew that already.

Thoughts on a visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau

I just returned from Krakow and a visit to Auschwitz Birkenau. While I have been to both places quite a few times, each visit leaves an indelible mark. On this visit I did something I had never done before.

The Auschwitz Museum recently restored the Alte Judenrampe. This is the place where the trains stopped and people were subjected to:”selection” from 1942 to 1944.

In 1944 a train spur was added so that the trains went right into the camp. This was done to "expedite" the murder of Hungarian Jews who arrived in tremendous number from May to July 1944.

Not only has the site of the selection been restored but the very road on which Jews walked into the camp has also been opened.

It is a chilling – and far far more than that -- experience to walk on that very road and to try to imagine what it was like for Jews who had been plucked from their homes and brought here, either directly or via ghettoes.

There are powerful descriptions in both Primo Levi’s and Ruth Kluge’s memoirs. It is an experience that leaves one who was not there and can only imagine what it was like with no words.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oxford Union: David Irving says he's not going to accept the invitation

David Irving has told the Jewish Chronicle in London that he will NOT accept the Oxford Union invitation to appear in a debate alongside of the leader of the far right British National Party, Nick Griffin.

Even Irving, who seems to me to be someone who thrives on the maxim, "I don't care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right," apparently understands that keeping company with a man like Griffin was not a good career move.

Actually given that he has said things such as seeing Black cricket players "makes me queasy" and many other things which led Judge Gray to say "Irving is a racist", it seems to me that he might actually have been in good company with Griffin.

[For Judge Gray's comments regarding Irving's racism see the final section of his judgment. ]

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Armenian Genocide: Beating up on the ADL

The passion with which some people are attacking the ADL for its position on the Armenian genocide leaves me wondering if they are not using this as an excuse to beat up on the organization.

As I wondered in a previous post, will there be the same passion against Jimmy Carter when he comes to Lexington as there against the ADL? Take a look at this clip from Lexington , Mass town meeting. Why not criticize Carter, who after all, says quite explicitly that neither what happened in Armenia nor what is going on in Darfur are genocides.

Or will anyone complain about the sneering way in which NPR's Senior News Analyst, Dan Schorr, referred to the genocide on his weekly news analysis on Weekend Edition this past Saturday?

Schorr, his voice dripping with criticism, referred to "this business of people who want to please the Armenians in California coming up with a resolution calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians genocide" which will antagonize a "once very loyal ally, Turkey."

Will these people criticize Carter, stop supporting NPR, or go after the politicians who are changing their positions on this matter? Will John Murtha, who has so severely condemned the war in Iraq, stop being their hero as a result of his call for the defeat of this resolution?

I don't think they will do any of these things. They will go after the ADL which has done important work in the field of prejudice reduction.

Without falling prey to conspiracy theories -- something I abhor -- I have to wonder what is these ADL critic's unspoken agenda? Why are they singling it out?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No comment necessary

Just received the following email. It speaks for itself.
The profound bigotry is yours. It's telling that you say "many of [the emails you receive] are so overtly antisemitic that I have not posted them."

Why not post them -- if they exist.

If you cannot see how racist Israel is, perhaps you should ask Desmond Tutu or Nelson Mandela, both of whom clearly know infinitely more than small-minded racists like yourself.

The fact is, again, that you are the bigot.

Your characterization of the work of Mearsheimer and Walt is so riddled with falsehoods as to make it laughable.

You capitalise on malicious -- borderline actionable
-- misrepresentation of people whose work you clearly have either not read, or if you have, are incapable of understanding.

You are a racist bigot of the very first order.

You should be ashamed of yourself. Emory should be ashamed to have such an idiot on its faculty.

Fantasy Land: White Supremacist creative history

The following statement appeated on a White Supremacist site yesterday:
Earlier this week, Prof. Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University appeared on the Bill O'Reilly television program to urge that engineering Prof. Arthur Butz of Northwestern University be fired for writing--outside his classroom-- critical studies of the Auschwitz gas chambers. Instead of rebuking Lipstadt for her tyrannical desire to silence academics who do not subscribe to her opinions about World War II, O'Reilly replied that he would take her request to fire Prof. Butz, to the President of Northwestern!

Had the shoe been on the other foot, and O'Reilly had urged that Emory University fire Lipstadt, there would have been a national uproar. Instead, Lipstadt can advocate a Judaic dictatorship over college campuses and the termination of a highly competent professor of engineering who has educated generations of youth, and there is nary a peep from the great white race in America. Thanks be to God the Muslims still kindle in their hearts a righteous anger against injustice like this.
Nothing in this statement bears any relationship to reality:
1. I did not appear on O'Reilly this week. I did appear about eighteen monts ago on this topic.

2. When I did I noted that Butz CANNOT be fired because of tenure [and the fact that he does not engage in his historical distortions in the classroom]

3. Consequently, O'Reilly made not "promise" to bring this to the President of Northwestern.

It's amusing and a sign of how desperate these folks are.

Cancelled speech reinstituted

Since I blogged about the cancellation, let me blog about the reversal.

The University of Leeds Department of German, Russian and Slavonic Studies yesterday successfully held a lecture by German academic Dr Matthias Kuentzel on the topic of ' Hitler's Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East. More than 120 people attended the lecture. Apparently the was wholly undisturbed and the discussion was held in a civilised manner.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Washington Post, Jimmy Carter, Senator Lindsey Graham speak out against the Armenian Genocide Resolution: Yet all the attention is on Abe Foxman

The Washington Post has severely condemned the Armenian Genocide resolution, as has Jimmy Carter [this a.m. on CNN], Senator Lindsey Graham, Juan Cole, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

This represents people from the far left, the blatantly anti-Israel, the Republican right, and the left of center.

Why then all the attention to Abe Foxman's position??? I have been inundated with emails critical of Abe Foxman and the ADL. So many of them are so overtly antisemitic that I have not posted them.

Various towns in Massachusetts want to drop the ADL's anti-prejudice programs because of its stand on the Armenian genocide. Are they also going to condemn Jimmy Carter when he comes to town???? Why does he get a free pass?

By the way, Carter also refuses to call what is happening in Darfur a genocide. But Israel practices apartheid? What am I missing here?

And why all the talk about the Jewish Lobby controlling foreign policy when 7 of the 8 Jewish members of the House Foreign Relation Committee voted FOR the resolution? Did these Representatives not get the message? Were they missing the day the Lobby handed out its marching orders?

Something is out of whack here.... seriously so.

Oxford Union: David Irving invited to speak at Oxford Union along with other people with "awful and abhorrent views"

Well, never underestimate the decision making process of Oxford Union students. They have invited David Irving to speak at the Union, one of the most prestigious "debating" venues in the world.

They have not asked him to speak about the Holocaust but they have asked him to speak about freedom of speech. On this topic I hope someone asks him to speak about how he tried to deny freedom of speech to those authors who have criticized him [just like Bin Mafouz] in the past. I am still struck by the fact that he offered to drop the suit against me if I agreed to pulp my book.

His ability to do this had, by the way, been seriously curtailed since his disastrous [from his perspective] suit against me.

The only redeeming aspect of this gesture is the group of people with whom the invitation to Irving was grouped. As the Guardian reported:
The Oxford Union debating society came under fire last night after its president said he had approached Holocaust denier David Irving, British National party chairman Nick Griffin and the Belarussian dictator, Alexander Lukoshenko, to speak at forthcoming events.

Luke Tryl said he had asked Mr Irving and Mr Griffin to speak at the union's Free Speech Forum, due to take place at the end of November, adding that Mr Lukoshenko, the Belarussian president, accused of a string of human rights abuses, had been approached to address students later in the term.

"The Oxford Union is famous for is commitment to free speech and although I do think these people have awful and abhorrent views I do think Oxford students are intelligent enough to challenge and ridicule them," he told the Guardian, adding that no formal decision on who would be invited had been made.

He has been grouped with some of the despicable people in the world. People can take some comfort in the headline the Guardian gave this event:
BNP leader and Holocaust denier invited to Oxford Union
Dictator among those asked to address students

Irving sandwiched between the far right wing BNP leader and a dictator. That needs no comment.

If Irving does come I hope the students are well prepared and ask good questions -- as we did in court -- that skewer him.

And, while I think the invitation should never have been issued, I tend to think a strong campaign against the invitation should NOT be mounted. All it will do is make Irving look like a martyr rather than the reviled character has become.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New York Times Oped by Deborah Lipstadt and Michael Broyde on Libel Tourism

See today's New York Times for an oped by me and Michale Broyde, my colleague from Emory Law School, on Libel Tourism, the attempt by Saudi bizillionaire Ibn Mafouz to stop anyone from publishing anything linking him to terrorism.

He is exerting a chill of unbelievable proportions and must be stopped. Where are the voices of outrage from my university colleagues? They seem to take Saudi efforts to silence those who criticize them in stride. Wonder if Mr. Walt and Mr. Mearsheimer are going to write about this... doubt it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

House Foreign Affairs Committee passes Armenian Genocide resolution

A short while ago the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the resolution condemning the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in World War I as an act of genocide.

Turkey is very upset and is threatening to reconsider supporting the American war effort, which includes permission to ship essential supplies through Turkey and northern Iraq.

So here's my question: if the "Jewish lobby" controls American foreign policy and many Jewish organizations, especially Abe Foxman and the ADL, opposed this resolution because of their fears about the welfare of the Turkish Jewish community and their appreciation of Turkey's relations with Israel... HOW COME THIS PASSED????

Maybe Jimmy Carter can explain.... Must have been a mistake....Or the Foreign Affairs Committee did not get its marching orders right... And if Jimmy can't explain maybe Professors Walt or Mearsheimer can....♠

Saturday, October 6, 2007

On using [and preferably not] the term "Jappy"

Over this weekend I was taken aback when a smart, sharp, funny, sassy [in the best sense of the word] Jewish woman used the term Jappy. My friend Miriam was commenting on a TV character and dismissed her as "Jappy, Jappy, Jappy." [She also tends to be emphatic, a characteristic with which I admit to being somewhat familiar.]

Miriam is someone whose Jewish identity is integral to who she is. It's not something she takes on and off at will. More importantly, she delights in being a member of this particular "tribe."

I will cut her some slack and say she may be too young to remember when the term was used by comedians, journalists, and just about everyone at will. I am not sure. But the fact is that it is deeply antisemitic and unequivocally misogynist.

"The Jap" is a stereotype of someone who has all the attributes an antisemite would associate with Jews: loves money and material comfort and will do anything to anyone to further her own needs even if it means causing others pain and problems. She is rich, narcissistic, self-centered, a "user" of people, and generally a pretty disgusting person.

This stereotyping of a Jewish woman would not make sense if those who spread it did not have 1000s of years of antisemitic stereotypes on which to rely.

Furthermore the term is ONLY associated with women, as if to say it is Jewish women who have raised these disgusting attributes to an art, oppressing not just non-Jews but also the Jewish men in their orbit.

I am sure there will be those who will tell me it was spread and nurtured by Jewish comedians. How then, they will probably ask, could it be antisemitic? The answer is that just because a negative stereotype originates with a member of the group under attack does not mean it is not a stereotyping of the group.

Those who created and spread this version of the stereotype are the same generation of comedians and writers who nurtured the obnoxious image of the Jewish mother. While the Jewish mother, as they depicted her, was overbearing, intrusive, and disgusting, she had one redeeming social value. Unlike the "Jap," she focused her energies on making things better for others, her children particular. In contrast, the "Jap," who has all the same tendencies, is only interested in herself.

[I might point out that the stereotype of the Italian mother has all the same attributes of the Jewish mother. She, however,was and is depicted as an affirming, wonderful character.]

I wonder if the term would have ever gained traction if it did not also build on the contempt once extant in this country for people of Japanese descent. In other words the term was already one of contempt so it was easier to transfer it from one group which was an object of contempt to another group which is an object of contempt.

The fact is that there are lots of young spoiled, self-centered, materialistic people: some of them are men, some of them are women, some of them are Protestant, some of them are Catholics, some of them are White, some of them are Black, some Asian, and some of them are Jews.

Thanks to the too often maligned notion of "political correctness," we hear the term less frequently today. I hope Miriam -- and anyone else inclined to use the word -- will return it and keep it forever consigned to the one place it belongs: the dust bin of ugly prejudicial stereotypes.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

If David Irving is a scrupulous historian how come he's posting phony news stories?

As a result of having read about David Irving's supposed comeback, Michael Moynihan of Reason visited Irving's website. [This is something I rarely do. So hats off to Moynihan for having the gastro-fortitude.]

He discovered that Irving has posted a story which claimed to come from the AP on a Harvard Law School student who was supposedly expelled for having cited a Holocaust denial source in a paper. The attack on the student, according to this story, was led by Alan Dershowitz.

The story is a satire. It has no relationship to reality. Irving apparently picked it up from some virulently anti-Zionist website.

Posting a story from such a website without checking if it is true [a ridiculously simple thing to do] seems to fly in the face of Irving's protestation in court that he waswas scrupulously fair in everything I do in public life?

Wonder if the Guardian or Forward will be hoodwinked, as they were by Irving, into doing a story on this too?

More about the Forward's less than stellar coverage of this story in another post.

Re David Irving: Caveat Emptor

From Bente, David Irving's partner and the mother of his youngest daughter:
"You cannot trust a word he writes."
Now ain't that the truth!

Readers should know that rumors have been circulating for years -- and on occasion Irving has made statements that inidcate that Bente has been less than pleased with his escapades.

Deniers continue to lash out at Irving

The Forward has reported on Irving's epiphany and deniers' reactions:

Michael Santomauro, who runs the revisionist Web site Reporters Notebook. “[Irving] is a flip-flopper on the Holocaust,” Santomauro said. “I think he’s positioning himself to sell more books

Well I never thought I would agree with a denier but Santomauro got it just right.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

UK's UCU [University and College Union] Cancels Boycott Threat

The UCU has been told by its own legal advisers that their threatened boycott against Israeli institutions is illegal.

Now who is going to tell those who spearheaded it that it was also immoral, stupid, and contrary to the very essence of what universities are all about?