Anti-Semitism in the left: an open letter to the ISG – National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

One of the things that’s kept me going during periods of sustained antisemitism in and from various left-wing organisations I’ve been involved with was the knowledge that as well as Jewish support I also had the support of members who weren’t Jewish. I hope that goes for the Jewish members of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts who published Anti-Semitism in the left: an open letter to the ISG (International Socialist Group) today. It was a response to the posting of an antisemitic cartoon on the Facebook page of the ISG organ Communiqué featuring a demonic Jew deceitfully claiming victimhood in order to justify persecuting Palestinians.

Anitsemitic cartoon  posted by ISG, with notes

Antisemitic cartoon posted by ISG. Annotations are mine.

Shortly after being posted it was taken down with an apology which avoided using the word ‘antisemitism’ or taking the necessary steps to explain why the cartoon was “inappropriate”. There was also a comically unconvincing claim that the cartoon had been posted by “members of the public unaligned with Communiqué” who had got their hands on Aidan Turner’s account while the his back was turned, a Communiqué admin’s account and a hollow reiteration that “that there is not and will never be any space in the Communiqué project for racism of any variety”.

More accurately, whether or not Communiqué flirts with antisemitism depends on whether enough people notice it and object.

To look on the bright side, antisemitism remains something that few people on the left are proud to own up to. For now.

Update – traffic from Sarah at Harry’s Place has sharpened me up. The apology only says that it’s Communiqué’s Facebook account that was compromised. Not sure who the Facebooker Aidan Turner is.


In defence of a broader definition of antisemitism

Well it’s certainly not tactical to call Richard Kuper antisemitic because he devised a contorted argument for rejecting the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism – and Eve Garrard doesn’t. She does however demonstrate that there were several other ways than antisemitism you can balls up making your point. His piece is like a holiday from logic.

But I tend to think that the difference between antisemitism on the one hand and the persistent excusing or minimisation of antisemitism, on the other, is no more than a matter of degree. I can’t see the difference. And for that reason, I think Richard Kuper must be a bit antisemitic. Not the worst thing in the world you can be, no. But pretty bad when you’re trying to kick some guidelines about antisemitism into the long grass, and replace them with nothing.

Can anybody tell me why I shouldn’t think of Richard Kuper as a bit antisemitic? And the Green Party Regional Council?

(Don’t get in a lather – antisemitism is a kind of racism, racism is very ordinary, we’re all susceptible, you just have to acknowledge it in yourself, work on it, take measures, move on. Stop acting as if somebody has accused you of eating a live puppy.)

One possible reason more alert readers may have noticed is that I’ve departed from the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism. There’s no example there that relates to minimising or denying antisemitism.

And have you noticed that the EUMC Working Definition allows us to identify EDL’s former Jewish Arm (tiny – 12 people) leader Roberta Moore as antisemitic when she calls the Community Security Trust ‘kapos’ for not defending Israel with sufficient militancy for her liking, too?

Throwing it away and replacing it with nothing. An error. I’d call it an antisemitic error.

Is there any reason to distinguish between antisemitism on the one hand and the persistent excusing or minimisation of antisemitism, on the other?


Over on Engage, Matt points out in a comment:

“There are also some more specific problems with Kuper’s piece.

“surely be possible to question whether “the Jewish people” are a people in the secular-nationalist as opposed to the religious sense of the word (as the Israeli author Shlomo Sand has done most forcefully in his recent book The Invention of the Jewish People).”

Passages like this are always particularly galling, because it was Rashid Khalidi who wrote one of the most important works on national identification in order to defend Palestinians against charges that they weren’t a legitimate national group. All national claims are, to some extent, fabricated. When some people make such claims without contest, it is because of the totality with which they have subjugated others. Jewish national claims are as strong as any, but we are constantly made to defend ourselves against what shouldn’t be an issue. This is a regressive, and even reactionary, argument from Kuper. Actually, it strikes me as a variation on the rootless cosmopolitan line that claims that Jewish culture and Jewish difference aren’t legitimate and that the Jewish desire to refuse assimilation is wrong. Jews must be allowed difference, and we must be allowed to be different on the terms WE define, but Kuper argues for minimizing difference in order to define our politics for us.”

Which affirms my feeling that antisemitism should not be thought of only as slathering Jew hatred and active malevolence towards Jews, but that it should also include the distinctive forms taken by a preparedness to put Jews at a deficit unless they toe your ideological line, to withhold sympathy from the errant Jews while upholding the entitlements of other groups (here, Palestinians), and to hold Jews responsible for Israel while moving to prevent anybody from identifying hostility against Jews with hostility against Israel. I don’t think that this doubles standard is always antisemitic – sometimes it’s no more than policing members of your group. You judge by effects – here the outcome is to throw out some careful and context-dependent guidance on antisemitism, Kuper allowing his anti-Israel politics to trump concern for Jews battered over the head with those same politics emanating from many different sources on a daily basis.

Definitions of antisemitism have got to be broader and more differentiated than the simple final solution kind. They do need to allow for anti-Israel antisemitism.

I am not antisemitic because I don’t feel antisemitic

No matter how sincere you perceive me to be, all the above sentence can confirm is my beautiful intentions. It doesn’t tell you anything about whether or not I am antisemitic. To discover that, you’d have to look for a difference between intent and effect in what I say and what I do. Perhaps I’d be the last person to realise, and react with vehement indignation if accused of antisemitism.

This kind of response is summarised in the MacPherson Report’s definition and description of unwitting, unconscious and unintentional racism (6.13-17).

Of course, my intentions matter. Somebody who openly intends to be antisemitic is clearly much more of a direct threat than somebody who doesn’t. But somebody who holds a view of herself as constitutionally incapable of racism is an irrational liability to any multiracial society.

George Orwell wrote:

“To study any subject scientifically one needs a detached attitude, which is obviously harder when one’s own interests or emotions are involved. Plenty of people who are quite capable of being objective about sea urchins, say, or the square root of 2, become schizophrenic if they have to think about the sources of their own income. What vitiates nearly all that is written about antisemitism is the assumption in the writer’s mind that he himself is immune to it. “Since I know that antisemitism is irrational,” he argues, “it follows that I do not share it.” He thus fails to start his investigation in the one place where he could get hold of some reliable evidence — that is, in his own mind.”

Modernity excerpts this from Stephen Sizer, Surrey-based evangelical pastor:

“It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself. Jimmy Carter is not alone in describing the Zionism practiced by the present government of Israel as a form of apartheid.”

The rest of Modernity’s post demonstrates that while Stephen Sizer proclaims that he is against antisemitism, he’s actually rolling in it.

Here is Farid Essack shrugging off the good question “Why Israel only?”. He says:

“And to ask Jews to remember their past is hardly anti-Semitic. Jewish activists do this all the time.”

The point is, it depends what this edict to remember the past is in service of.

Jews, remember your past:

  • because it’s your only defence against the future
  • so that you can empathise with other oppressed peoples
  • because people oppressed by Jews are your particular responsibility
  • so that you realise it’s pointless to try to integrate
  • so that you understand why Israel must carry on existing
  • so that you think of yourself as one of the chosen people
  • because the Nazis tried to obliterate your future
  • because Jewish history is special
  • so that you understand how to contribute to the continuation of world Jewry
  • so that you learn from your mistakes
  • so that you know how to recognise the fascism that’s coming round again sooner or later
  • so that you can defend humanity against fascism
  • because otherwise you won’t understand enough to be fully Jewish
  • because antisemites are trying to rewrite Jewish history
  • because it’s an empowering history of survival against all odds

Some of these reasons are trivial, some politicise Jewish history, some mystify it, some politicise Jewish identity, and some are antisemitic.

Farid Essack’s piece was part of a correspondence debate summarised on Engage – see in particular Robert Fine’s response on the ongoing construction of Israel as an absolutely culpable incarnation of negative properties. He doesn’t say that this way of painting Israel is antisemitic, but I would strongly argue that in effect it is. Most Jews find the prospect of cancelling the state of Israel, and Israel alone, hard to explain in any terms which are not extremely ominous to Jews.

The Finkler Question

I finished Howard Jacobson’s Man Booker longlisted ‘The Finkler Question’. I hardly read fiction (something I regret) and my other half was surprised that I couldn’t put it down. Truth is I was scouring it for insight about the state of my life, no part of which is untouched by the Middle East conflict. Most recently, I was volunteering in the local woods and somebody involved with the Israel Coalition Against Home Demolitions gave an impromptu lecture – “as a Jew”, you understand – during a tea break. Even in an Essex wood, having just encountered two incidents of arson, we’re to be lectured about Israel? Something is wrong. And that isn’t the half of it.

The Finkler Question is peopled by this type of activist and other characters who react to them. Does the Mann Booker longlisting mean that these activists are noteworthy when in a world of just priorities this novel would only be of niche interest? Or perhaps it speaks differently to different people – like The Independent, Bloomsbury avoids the subject entirely:

The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious, unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.”

Now for me, that review summarises only part of the book I read. I read a very interesting and sparklingly funny novel mainly about British Jews living with an imagined Israel, and about how some purported friends of Jews are not after all good friends to Jews.

Spoiler follows.

Julian Treslove is an unchallenging and patchily reflective secular philosemite. This philosemitism has its origins in a fixation with his Jewish school friend Sam Finkler, a figure of intellectual superiority and insouciant mystique which Treslove imprints as essential Jewishness. Because this philosemitism is so bound up in the part of Finkler’s character which outwits and confounds Treslove, neither Israel, Jewish culture nor Jewish religion contribute to it; it is unaffected by Finkler’s earlier transformation (in reaction to his father) from ardent Zionist to equally ardent anti-Zionist. It is an essentialising infatuation. Through the lens of Treslove’s fascination, innocent queries and – later in life – the jealous self-consolation of a rival, Finkler emerges as a frequently ridiculous figure, but Treslove’s philosemitism endures. The third major character in the book is their former teacher, over three times their age when they met, Czech Jewish emigree Libor Sevcik. Libor and Finkler have been recently widowed, Treslove would like to have been, and the three commune.

Treslove’s strange inner life seems, among the characters of the book, to escape general notice. He isn’t after all the archetypal everyman character his work as professional look-alike suggests. He has a gloomy penchant for women who look terminally ill whom he invariably bores into hating him. He shows no interest in the two sons he accidentally fathered, keeps creating figments of Jewishness where Jewishness doesn’t exist, and from the beginning we learn that he is also extremely fearful of personal accident.

In the briefest unguarded moment Treslove is mugged. For the next few days he has nosebleeds and undergoes a deep change. His attacker had uttered a phrase he resolves (after days of skewed meditation) was “You Jew”. Formerly his admiration of Jews was vicarious and empty of personal aspiration. Now, as victim of an antisemitic attack, he experiences not the appropriate response of empathy but a dramatic and welcome change of identity, a sort of reverse trauma: he begins to think of himself as a Jew. The Jewish identity which steals upon Treslove consists of jollity, good sex and burgeoning energy. As Finkler’s and Libor’s fortunes and spirits decline, Treslove’s seem buoyant. He begins a relationship with Hephzibah, a Jewish woman who doesn’t look terminally ill, on whom he dotes in the same vein as his former girlfriends but is well-received.

Hephzibah is somebody who “dissolves Jewish differences”. Her Jewish sensibilities are British and early 21st century (not anti-Zionist, not centrally pro-Israel). She smells of the orient and cooks with intensity. All this, when they become acquainted, warms Finkler. Imagining that Hephzibah and Finkler have an exclusive Jewish affinity, Treslove’s besottment with Jewishness, devoid of spiritual, religious, or cultural content, consisting entirely of affected yiddish phrases, and notwithstanding his keen awareness of antisemitism, arrives at its inevitable destination of jealousy and suspicion.

Meanwhile he and all of the other characters are becoming aware of the encroachment of anti-Zionism, in the name of Palestinian rights, from the background into the foreground. Finkler is principle personality in an anti-Zionist group he has named ASHamed Jews, “which might or might not, depending on how others felt, be shortened now or in the future to ASH, the peculiar felicity of which, in the circumstances, he was sure it wasn’t necessary for him to point out.” Jacobson’s satirical account of the characters and exploits of ASHamed Jews is closest to life, and recalls the narcissistic silliness of the activists in Tariq Ali’s Redemption.

“The logic that made it impossible for those who had never been Zionists to call themselves ASHamed Zionists did not extend to Jews who had never been Jews. To be an ASHamed Jew did not require that you had been knowingly Jewish all your life. Indeed, one among them only found out he was Jewish at all in the course of making a television programme in which he was confronted on camera with who he really was. In the final frame of the film he was disclosed weeping before a memorial in Auschwitz to dead ancestors who until that moment he had never known he’d had. ‘It could explain where I get my comic genius from,’ he told an interviewer for a newspaper, though by then he had renegotiated his new allegiance. Born a Jew on Monday, he had signed up to be an ASHamed Jew by Wednesday and was seen chanting ‘We are all Hezbollah’ outside the Israeli Embassy on the following Saturday.”

ASHamed Jews marginalises itself with its inbuilt silliness and internecine fighting. Its threat to British Jewish life is a small part of a constellation of other antisemitic events, related and unrelated to Israel, which eat away at the morale of British Jews, most of which are counterparts of actual instances in British current affairs.

Finkler’s son enacts the ideological foundations of ASHamed anti-Zionism with antisemitic effect. Treslove’s son Alfredo is exposed to Holocaust denial in the company of British men in keffiyot. The great grandson of Libor’s friend is blinded in London by an Algerian shouting “Death to all Jews”. An orthodox Jewish child is surrounded by a mob of jeering, jabbing children, only saved by Treslove and a dog walker. There is the inept and category-defying act of wrapping the doors of Hephzibah’s not-yet-open Museum of Anglo-Jewish Culture in bacon. Video blogger Alvin Poliakov attempts to restore his foreskin with “a system of weights he has devised using cpper jewellery, keys from a children’s xylophone, and a pair of small brass candlesticks”. Hephzibah begins to dread the opening of the museum, assessing that the mood is wrong for learning about the positive contribution its Jews have made to British life.

Libor, stricken by the death of his wife, articulates the historical awareness of the Holocaust generation, as well as escapism and a paralysing, impotent fatalism. Finkler’s wife, Tyler, a convert to Judaism, has the most trenchantly contemptuous insights about the Jewish content of her husband’s anti-Zionism, and contrasts with Treslove’s gropings. On Finkler’s domination of ASHamed Jews in the media, “‘They’ll soon realise their mistake,’ Tyler had prophesied. ‘With a greedy bastard like you around, they’ll soon discover how hard it is to get their own share of shame.'” Tyler is at first Jacobson’s main vehicle of argument against anti-Zionism but is dead by the time the book begins.

In the later parts of the novel, Finkler becomes unbearably uncomfortable. He is puffed up, but as a professional thinker, even at “the show-business end of philosophy” he has a public stake in his powers of reason. He also has integrity, and Jacobson perhaps allows himself some wish-fulfilment with the development of Finkler’s thinking about Israel and his willingness to contest some forms of anti-Zionism. That thinking doesn’t lead, here, to Zionism or a pro-Israel position, but to his reasoned dissociation from ASHamed Jews and – a less reasoned response to kinship – a reconciliation with his own Jewishness.

Other reviews:

contains no culture, religion or spirituality.

Gaza flotilla

I tend to look at it like this. The Israeli military took the bait dangled by the Mavi Marmara, which refused to port at Ashdod and so provoked the Israeli action its activists probably hoped for, which resulted in 9 deaths and many injuries. Unsurprisingly (Iran arming Hamas and Hesbollah) Israel is very defensive at the moment. A very right wing government is in power, with solid popular support. Hamas and Hesbollah need to take responsibility for Israeli popular support for their right-wing government. And every death and injury on the Mavi Marmara must be investigated.

Nobody serious says that Gazans are hungry – but they are entirely dependent and unable to leave. Like Israelis, they voted in their bad leaders. Hamas, which is jointly responsible for the blockade, has diverted much of the construction aid to Gaza into its own fortifications, rendering the rebuild impossible. Hamas is even more content than the Israelis to squeeze Gazans, and has refused to accept the aid the Mavi Marmara activists died to bring directly to them. Meanwhile Egypt opened its border with Gaza indefinitely. A ship called the Rachel Corrie is making its way to Gaza with the blessing of the Irish government. Israel will have less grounds for linking that one to Al Quaeda. However, antipathy to Israel does seem to make people prepared to keep appalling company, so perhaps there is a link.

Given Hamas’ eliminationist mission (I know some people detect an acceptance of Israel, but I think we’d know unambiguously if that were the case), there is a good case for checking what goes in and out of Gaza. I’m not sure what lies in between where we are now, and no checks. It’s not really for most of us to say. That the blockade hasn’t worked is no cause for gloating. It means that more people will die, in the long run, until Hamas gives up its claim to the land where Israel exists.

I heard a story of British Jews called “murderers” by strangers because of Israel’s actions. Here is a little personal manifesto.

Noting the forms antisemitism takes these days, I:

  • accept and understand the need for the Israeli state where Jews can assume responsibility for their own security
  • refuse to assume responsibility, beyond that of the next person, for the actions of a state where I don’t have the franchise
  • insist that the originators of the antisemitism, and not Israel, are blamed for antisemitism.
  • refuse to discuss the predicament of Palestinians if it appeases people who scrutinise Jews about their support of Israel
  • undertake – while avoiding undermining Israeli and Palestinian progressives – not to make Israeli politics a particular concern, and so appease those who singularly hate or love Israel and would have us make Israel central
  • will defend Israel against antisemitic attacks in ways which cannot be used by the Israeli extreme right
  • request that Israeli progressives (in particular) defend Jews against antisemitic attacks
  • recognising that Hamas and Hesbollah, who hold some power, must be held partly responsible for Israeli public opinion, insist that Israel’s enemies are held to the same standard as Israel.
  • ask people who make easy statements about what ‘Israel’ should ‘do’ towards peace, to talk about feasibility and security at a respectful level of detail.

Anglican vicar uses police to intimidate blogger

Stephen Sizer, a blogging Reverend who espouses anti-Judaic theology, who associates with Holocaust deniers and antisemites, and consequently who I’m not going to link to, managed to persuade the police to pay a visit to one of his blogging political opponents, Seismic Shock, as he relates on Engage.

The Sarge made it clear that it was an “informal chat” but the Reverend has suggested otherwise:

Dear Vee,

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.


With blessings like these who needs cusses?

To echo the incongruous but rousing cry of another opponent of free speech, Michael Cushman: “We will not be intimidated!”

Read Alec on Stephen Sizer’s recommendations for preaching about blogging. They don’t reflect well on the author. Read also Modernity on why it is important to respond in this way to intimidatory attempts at censorship. Rosie probes around the policing.

Who started it? / anti-Zionist malice / the doctors of your nightmares

Bob directs his readers to Keith Kahn Harris’ attempts to persuade fighting Jews to cool it, which reminded me of David Newman dismissing Jewish fears of antisemitism. Engage refers us to the story of a surgeon’s abuse at the hands of anti-Zionist boycotters within his profession.

Politically Newman and Kahn Harris are both good blokes in the grand scheme of things – not antisemitic, not abusive, not Israel-eliminationist. You can see, my standards are quite low for this particular ‘debate’ (or vicious fight). So I’ll give them some attention anyway, because I don’t think British debates about Israel are really about the Palestinians – the Palestinians are just a pretext for an entirely inappropriate, futile but nasty attack nobody should take at face value. And I don’t believe concerns about how the Jewish community comports itself should inhibit anybody from lashing out or otherwise manoeuvring in response to racism. The issues I have are that, when examining ‘debates’  between anti-Zionists and their targets, I don’t think it is appropriate, as David Newman does so comfortably, to position yourself somewhere in remote distance and pronounce. Nor as Keith Kahn Harris does, to draw moral equivalences between aggressor and aggressed, as if there has been some kind of misunderstanding which can be assuaged by dedicating oneself to accommodating your adversary.

For example, who maintained a singular campaign to exclude Israel, alone out of all the world’s occupying or repressive states, and then when Jews resisted this hosted debates with references to Zionists which map neatly onto references to Jews in the run-up to the holocaust, used Jew, Zionist and Israeli interchangeably and invited antisemitic campaigners onto their platforms, and then neutered or voted down motions to address antisemitism? The University and College Union. The Green Party. Others. Within The Green Party and UCU anti-Zionists are the only ones seeking special treatment for Israel. Nobody is seeking positive treatment for Israel.

Who, because he doesn’t hate Israel, persecuted this senior surgeon to the point of breaking down and retreating? He didn’t seek special treatment for Israel or Jews – anti-Zionist boycotters did.

The anti-Zionist front groups Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Physicians for Human Rights Israel, and an energetic persecuter called Dr Derek Summerfield are culpable, not their targets who as far as I can see are responding with words and arguments, not with counter-exclusions.

It’s a testimony to latent antisemitism that these futile and marginal campaigners can get so much done within their organisations. Racism attaches to so much of the so-called ‘debate’ and campaigning about Israel, and when it is inadvertant it’s even more alarming.

NHS doctor Rita Pal:

“A grown man breaking down in tears just because some doctors have been mean to him. If we did that, we would be taken straight to the GMC loony bin, locked up, fed bagels by our Jewish GMC Chair Count Rubin and forced to repent. Whistleblowers are sinners you see.”

Declared Conflict of Interest – Avid Fan of Fiddler on the Roof, Continuously buy cakes from jewish bakeries. Always amazed by the length of jewish noses. Represented in the past by a jewish bagel eating barrister Robert Jay QC.”

Clearly this is a person who loves Jews. And talking – Rita’s words – of how Baum “pissed the world off”, Keith Kahn Harris should approve – he encourages Jews to think of themselves a troublemakers. But Baum got pounded out of that medical role. One commenter, Dr Liz Miller (my word, she says she’s MIND Mental Health Champion) is ROFL at the news of Baum’s breakdown. I guess this will be one of the many exceptions which tend to complicate KKH’s arguments.

The anti-Zionist boycotters are fighting a self-serving proxy war. Those who turn viciously on members of their own organisations (for example, Michael Cushman of UCU, the Green Party’s Green Left, and Derek Summerfield of the British Medical Association) are the only ones who can end this fighting, and they are satisfied for it to continue. So it will.

Keith Kahn Harris seems not to understand this. He doesn’t mention Professors Baum or Yachar by name in his broad and general analyses of the Jewish scene. It is the comportment of the Jewish community in wider society which primarily concerns him. The thrust of what he argues suggests that he’s encouraging angry, fearful, even tearful, people to turn the other cheek and chalk the hurt up to debate. I strongly disagree. It’s right to demand more of the original aggressors than you demand of the targets of the aggression.

I came across a kind of community pride I prefer when Anthony Julius, perhaps in conversation at Jewish Book Week, urged Jews and Israelis to assert and assume their place in the world, despite the slanders against them.

An alternative view which I find pretty convincing – Gideon from Simply Jews commenting on the Engage piece I linked above.  He notes the General Medical Council’s coward’s boycott of Israelis, and Israelis’ self-boycott of British medical collaborations. He is content with this, seeing it as a British, rather than Israeli, disadvantage and only a simple act of reciprocity.

You can shrug about the Greens and UCU, hollowed out as they are becoming, but you can’t give up on the British Medical Association or the General Medical Council. Until then, it is only responsible to fight anti-Zionist boycotters – this involves fighting for your organisation’s democratic structures, which they seek to exploit and erode.

I would prefer to live my life away from organised politics – mainly because I am really bad at political organisation and also because I’m collegial and have no urge either to hold a position of power nor to work with or fight people who want this for themselves. And so much of what on the surface appears to be a political project turns out to be more of a vanity project. But there you go.

Meanwhile the people who do want to work for a Palestinian future are quietly building bridges and turning Israeli and Palestinian attention away from mutual blame and hatred and towards alternative degrees of compromise and accommodation. When somebody erupts in pain or anger, they don’t harangue them about somebody else’s pain or anger.

Update: I was less than forthcoming with links to evidence my generalisations about KKH above. But wrapped round a link to this post, Bob provides a number of further links to Keith Kahn Harris-ishness, so you can judge for yourself.