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Last Sunday I attended a conference on combating the delegitimation of Israel organized by the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR). I am going to write about it in detail later, but in this post I just want to talk about the strange appearance of Mr. Tarek Fatah (he received at the conference the “Lion of Judah” award).
I have covered many events involving Tarek Fatah and I respect him. His decisive stand against Muslim fanaticism, which has brought him many threats, is more than admirable. I have never paid too much attention to his claim to be a “secular Muslim” (an oxymoronic term) or to his socialist worldview. However, his speech at the conference and the confrontation with one of the participants, Mark Vandermaas, that followed it, left me puzzled (to say the least).
Let’s see what exactly happened (the quotes were transcribed from the actual recordings):
Tarek Fatah started:
“Look at the people of Thailand where Obama is now. There is a state for the people of Burma, there is not a single person who says that the Burmese people don’t deserve a state of their own. And all the Jews do is quote me the Bible… I am telling you your case is so simple, you’re a people and you deserve a state! That’s got nothing to do with Judaism. I don’t have to tell you that most of your founders were atheists – I have been inspired by communists, who were all Jews, I didn’t know they were Jews, I just knew they were Marxist… Shlomo Avineri, I didn’t even know that was a Jewish name. When I was 16 years old I was stealing a book by him from the library, then I found out he was at the Israeli Foreign Ministry… There is not one guy amongst you who is talking to those who you have to be friend [with]. You’re talking to friends, you’re talking amidst yourselves. I urge you to take your kids out of private school and put them in public school. And even when you do so, all of you kids are in neighbourhood schools, 80% of them are Jewish… “
After talking more about the public education, he unleashed his wrath against the right-wingers:
“You are less than 1% of world’s population. You see that you have 195 countries to convince. You have been able to convince them when the General Assembly vote took place in 1947 – from Paraguay, the Philippines, Liberia… There were three rounds of voting. You managed that. Why? You were with the United States and Europe on the left. Now you got the Republicans to support you. Do you know that the fact that a Republicans support you is your undoing? The same person who is against abortion, the same person who thinks that the immigrants should be thrown out to Mexico, the same guy who doesn’t want black people to come in, the same guys who want gated communities, the same guys who are against the civil rights movement, are supporting you! That’s a kiss of death!”
After that he jumped to the issue of who the real threat to Israel is, saying that Iran is overrated – they are idiots, who haven’t been able to develop a simple missile for ten years. The real danger comes from Pakistan, which has a large nuclear arsenal and even sells nuclear materials on the black market. It has also trained most of the terrorists in the world. Then he returned to the Jewish question:
“You are not fighting any of the fights you can win. You basically have to win the war of truth over lies, it’s as simple as that! I’m standing here, I’m a strong defender of the Palestinian right of statehood, and defend that because every Israeli prime minister has defended it whether it is Olmert, Ehud Barak who I admire greatly. I am the Labor Party supporter, I am left of centre and I am proud to be a socialist. That’s why as long as the right supports you, you don’t have a case in the rest of the world, because 99% of the people are struggling to make ends meet. As long as the Polish in Warsaw supported you, you stood up with dignity, you stood up to the Nazis as left-wing Jews. You show me one right-wing Jew in Nazi Germany! Show me one! Give me a name! Every Jew was respected because they were fighting for the working class! Today, today you have the Republican Party, the guy who said he doesn’t give a damn about 47% of the people, who said I lost because I didn’t give tips to the black people, that’s the guy supporting you?
“You better get out of that! You better get inside the Democratic Party and the NDP. I am telling you that originally NDP, in 1967 when you won the war, the NDP had a convention, and the entire council of the NDP celebrated, standing applause for the great victory of Israel over Egypt. You come back to just 3 years ago, one member of the parliament from the NDP stood up and she was booed. That was the woman with the complicated last Polish name. She was not allowed to speak! And this is the same party from over 35 years – have you accomplished anything or have you lost something? Don’t deceive yourselves – you lost out on the NDP that was the single biggest supporter of the state of Israel and the Jewish community… I have argued with people who don’t like that I learned from the Jews…
“You are being supported by right wing Nazis for crying out loud! This is a problem; we cannot accept that, you cannot get somebody from the religious right. You have to get back to the roots that created you. People who created [Mark leaves; noise] [inaudible]… I am saying this as a friend, there are people like for example Ateek who was mentioned here, I have known him for 20 years, he is outspoken, he has been for the Jewish state and has told so to the Palestinian students. Please don’t offend your friends. Thank you very much!”
Although the second part of the speech was met with whispers of disapproval and Mark Vandermaas left outraged, there were people who clapped at Tarek’s words. When the Q&A session was announced, Mark was the second person to ask a question:
Mark: “This is for Mr. Fatah. I grew up in a non-Jewish household; my parents lived under the Nazi occupation during the Holocaust. I served in the Middle East as a UN peacekeeper. Recently, in 2011 I conducted a 28-day vigil outside of a mosque in London to protest their direct support for the boat to Gaza. In 2012, in response to students being intimidated at the Western Ontario University, I created the first Israel Truth Week Conference [applause], also, after the conference the Canadian Society of Yad Vashem suggested to me that if I get 50 people together, they’ll provide a bus to take Christians to the national Holocaust ceremony, where I received the honour of my life being asked to participate in the candlelight ceremony. And I came here today from London, which is two hours drive, hopefully to hook up with members of CIJR to talk if they can help me produce the next Israel Truth Conference in 2013, which will be in one of the largest Christian churches in Hamilton. My parents were very active in the NDP. Throughout my entire adult life I voted conservative, and I hold conservative values today, and if I were in the United States, I would vote for Romney and Ryan [applause] and my question to you is: we don’t know each other and you don’t know anything about me, am I a Nazi, Sir? Am I a Nazi?”
Moderator: He asked if he is a Nazi.
Tarek: That’s obviously a question in extremely bad faith and manners and it reflects a lot of your hostility. I would be very dishonest, if I said that you asked this question in good faith.
Mark: Sir, I asked this question at the urging of the CIJR Chair Mr. Kincler as I was standing by the door, after asking what I should do, but please don’t accuse me of dishonesty.
Tarek: [yelling] Don’t bully me! I am no one’s patsy and I am not taking bullying from anyone, you understand that? I have had my family fight for the Jews, don’t give me that crap! How dare you play games with me! You think you can bully me? That’s why the Republicans… you support the Republicans and the people become anti-Israeli, because bullies like YOU who try to intimidate ME and then support… [booing]
Moderator: [moves to another question]
Obviously, Tarek was following the principle “it’s my way or no way”. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain the rude emotional outburst with which he reacted to the calmly asked question. This was supposed to be a scholarly conference and he could’ve used the opportunity to clarify his position in the answer, but his behaviour was at odds with the atmosphere of the event.
I’ll get back to his extreme leftist position – he invoked the Occupy Movement terminology. 99% of the people struggling to make ends meet? That sounded like a phrase from the mouth of somebody who crawled out of an Occupy Wall Street tent.
Let me say something about Mark’s character. I have known him for a while – he is an open, honest and straightforward person. Everything he said in his question was true. He may not be a TV personality like Tarek, but he has made significant contributions to the cause of Israel in Canada. And he definitely doesn’t belong to the mythical 1% and hasn’t made any money with his activism. It was horrible to see him being viciously attacked by Mr. Fatah. Many of the participants, who came to Mark to shake his hand and congratulate him after that, thought the same way.
No matter how hard Mr. Fatah tries, he can’t separate anti-Semitism from Marxism. Marx had clearly defined anti-Jewish views. As a convert, he tried hard to prove that he was just like the other Germans. In his article “The Jewish Question” (quoted from “Karl Marx: A World without Jews”, Philosophical Library, New York, 1959) he wrote:
“What is stated as theory in Jewish religion, namely, contempt for theory, art, history and man as an end in himself, is an actual and conscious point of view, held to be virtuous by the man of money. Even the relations between the sexes, between man and woman become an object of commerce. The woman is auctioned off…
The law of the Jew, lacking all solid foundation, is only a religious caricature of morality and of law of general, but it provides the formal rites in which the world of property clothes its transactions…
The social emancipation of Jewry is the emancipation of society from Jewry.”
Not much new here – Marx simply perpetuates the stereotype of the evil money lender, who sits in his dark chambers thinking how to enslave mankind. That was not that different from the position Hitler took. Hitler didn’t invent anti-Semitism, he expanded it and found eager supporters among the progressives, including the peasants and the working class, who voted him into power. But of course, that’s a phenomenon that the narrow-minded Marxist “class analysis”, cherished by Mr. Fatah, is not able to explain.
I agree with Mr. Fatah that we can’t name any right-wing Jews in Hitler’s Germany. That’s because there were no Jews, neither left-, nor right-wing. For the luckiest few, who were still useful, Hitler found a loophole declaring them “Honorary Aryans” (like Herbert von Karajan’s wife). The less lucky ones managed to escape, often with just the clothes on their backs. And we all know where the rest ended up and why so few of them came back… As of Germany before Hitler, there were Jews in many different positions in the government, culture, science, etc., it’s laughable to claim that they all were left-wing.
Jews haven’t done well even in places where the “progressive Jews” have been in charge. When Lenin’s gang took over Russia, the large number of Jews in the government – like Trotsky, Sverdlov, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Radek, etc. – other than feed the conspiracy theories about the Jewish worldwide takeover, did very little to improve the plight of the Russian Jews. The truth is that they were faithful followers of Marx in trying to “emancipate the society from Jewry” – they stopped the pogroms, but destroyed Judaism along with the other religions and the well-off Jewish peasants and merchants were persecuted just like all other “class enemies”. Under Stalin, when the repressions expanded tremendously, the Jews became targets of the spy trials along with millions of others, although Jews like Yagoda and Kaganovich were part of the repressive apparatus. Thousands of Jewish actors, artists, writers and ordinary peasants and workers perished or languished for years in the camps. The last large purge, which happened just a few months before Stalin’s death, targeted specifically the Jews.
The NDP (that’s short for New Democratic Party) itself has been anti-Israeli for decades, in addition to bringing financial ruin to every province, where it formed a government. Sure, there were lefty Jews among its supporters, who were more than willing to accuse Israel of every sin under the sun. At the last year’s opening night of the Israeli Apartheid Week, the far-left Jewish activist Judy Rebick proudly called Israel a “shitty country”. But the presence of such hostile Jews still hasn’t changed the situation. In a notorious interview from 2010 Libby Davies, deputy leader of NDP, said that Israel’s occupation started in 1948, thus wiping the country from the map.
I wonder if this is the party that the Jews have to get into…
Even the socialists in Sweden and Norway are hostile toward the Jews and Israel. Painting the Republicans as a gang of Nazi villains is beyond stupid – I wonder how an educated man like Mr. Fatah could justify it. At the same time he ignores the welfare underclass, which is the powerbase of Obama.
As of Naim Ateek, whom Mr. Fatah mentioned in the end of his speech as a great friend of Israel, he was discussed in the presentation of Prof. Paul Merkley on the Christ-killer motif in some churches. Ateek is a founder of the “Palestinian Liberation theology” and a virulent critic of Israel. When Mr. Fatah’s favourite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to the Palestinians everything they wanted, including Jerusalem, the “grateful” old terrorist Arafat unleashed one of the largest waves of Arab terrorism. Instead of condemning it, Ateek used the opportunity to blackmail Israel for defending itself, comparing the country with the “baby killer” Herod and the Palestinians to the crucified Jesus.
How can you call him a friend? With the friends that Mr. Fatah recommends, Israel doesn’t need enemies.
Other than the distortion of reality caused by the Marxist lens through which Mr. Fatah observes the world, there is another important issue, which is not limited to him.
I call it “boxing of the Jews” (like putting them in a confined space). The problem is that so many different people are trying to put the Jews in a box to fit their own agenda – for people like Marx and Hitler Jews epitomize the pure greed (an old anti-Semitic image). For well-meaning progressives like Mr. Fatah, all misfortunes of the Jews and Israel come from the fact that they are not left-wing enough.
Despite having different agenda, both attitudes display the same flaw – they paint the Jews like a class of kindergarten kids, who must behave in a certain way to be liked. In both cases they are expected to lose their specific individuality.
It never occurs to them (or they simply don’t want to admit it) that the Jews are a people like every other people – there are smart Jews and stupid Jews…
Educated Jews and ignorant Jews…
There are Jewish bankers and Jews on welfare…
The fighters in the Warsaw ghetto were Jews and many of the police guarding it were Jews as well…
Albert Einstein was a Jew and so was Bernie Madoff…
Ayn Rand was Jewish just like Abbie Hoffman…
Presenting the Jews as a monolithic group, which would solve all of its problems by going to the NDP or the Democratic Party (or any other ideological flavour of the day) is beyond ridiculous. But that’s how the socialists, communists and the followers of every other ideology, which tries to “solve” mankind’s problems once and for all, see the world. There are no individualities, but little cogwheels, which must follow the imaginary laws of the theory.
Mr. Fatah might get offended if I call his “advice” to the Jews patronizing, but that’s what it is. The Jews are not a flock of sheep, which could be pushed from one political party to another. During the last 2,000 years they have proven that they could survive under almost impossible circumstances (unfortunately paying a hefty price).
Living at the mercy of enemies and do-gooders is not a sustainable way of life. If you, like Blanche DuBois, always “depend on the kindness of strangers”, you won’t go very far.
That’s why the existence of the state of Israel is so important – that is the place where the Jews can live and support any party, conservative or progressive (and, boy, didn’t they come up with such diverse political parties), regardless of what Mr. Fatah and his friends prescribe as best for them.
It is also important to be a Jewish state, “a national home for the Jewish people” as the Balfour Declaration stated, not some kind of a federation, where the Jews would have to once again depend on the imaginary kindness of the Arabs.
A Jewish state is the only real insurance that nothing of what happened before would be repeated. Many of those who see Jews as stereotypes have a hard time reconciling the yeshiva student with the IDF soldier, but they are two sides of the same coin – education and spirituality are worth very little if you don’t possess the force to defend them.
Jews don’t need to justify their existence or be lectured about what side they have to take. Just like everybody else, they are making their own decisions.
There is one statement of Mr. Fatah I agree with: “Please don’t offend your friends!” But first the Jews must decide who their friends are.
© 2012 Blogwrath.com