Jonathan Freedland assumes the worst of Israel supporters....


By Jonathan Hoffman
June 15, 2013
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http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/columnists/108363/when-israel-bo...

Jonathan Freedland asserts that those who posted unpleasant comments about Stephen Hawking on social media were ‘defenders of Israel’. Of course there is no evidence for this at all, since social media allow vitriol to be posted under the cover of a pseudonym. Those comments could just as easily have been posted by opponents of Israel in order to defame its supporters. Once this possibility is accepted then Freedland’s argument – that abuse directed at a ‘national treasure’ by Israel supporters only intensifies hostility to Israel – collapses.

But then what would he have to write about …

COMMENTS

happygoldfish

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 09:02

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Jonathan Hoffman: Jonathan Freedland asserts that those who posted unpleasant comments about Stephen Hawking on social media were ‘defenders of Israel’.

no, freedland asserts that the daily express said that they were defenders of israel (to be precise, they used the word "pro-Israeli")

Freedland: The article focused on what it called the "barrage of vile abuse" and "disgusting" jokes aimed at Hawking by defenders of Israel on social media
Daily Express: Reacting angrily to the Professor's decision to join the academic boycott, pro-Israeli users voiced their outrage on social media sites.

but this is irrelevant to freedland's actual argument …

Jonathan Hoffman: Freedland’s argument – that abuse directed at a ‘national treasure’ by Israel supporters only intensifies hostility to Israel – collapses.

no, freedland's argument is that the express was wrong to use the word "regime"

his opening words are …

Sometimes it takes just a single word.

… explained shortly after as …

For the Express report referred to Hawking's decision to join the boycott of "the Israeli regime," which is why he was staying away from a conference hosted "by the regime's president," Shimon Peres.

Regime. That's the word reserved for Iran and North Korea. Yet here it was applied to Israel, not in a rant from George Galloway or a fiery polemic in the left press, but in the Express, a paper of the centre-right with little interest in foreign affairs.

freedland goes on to say that this is a public relations problem (my words), that never mind the justice of the situation, the reality is that israel is beginning to lose the public relations war …

today even the express ("a paper of the centre-right with little interest in foreign affairs") automatically and thoughtlessly (it corrected it in later editions) used "regime" …

tomorrow such usage may become standard among both the media and the people …

freedland says that such a "shift" will happen when a "tipping-point" is reached, and who knows what that tipping-point will be? (it could have been hawking)

(btw, that tipping-point does seem to have been reached in ireland )

freedland's above analysis of the public relations problem seems correct … jonathan, do you really disagree with it?

freedland concludes that the tipping-point can only be avoided by ending the occupation …

unless the country changes course, ending an occupation 46 years old this week, then Hawking's action will become the norm. The great physicist has allowed us a peek inside the black hole inhabited by the world's pariah nations. That glimpse alone should make us recoil.

jonathan, that is freedland's argument, and that is what you should be taking issue with!


joemillis1959

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 09:55

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Seriously? Really? This from the man who bullies those with whom he disagrees, who attacks them in disgraceful and disgusting terminology (Theobold Jews, Queens of Renegade Jews, etc). Whose coterie of acolytes includes some of the vilest, despicable and hate-filled little men in the community.

This is as hilarious as his attempt yesterday at the Board of Deputy to retain his anonymity during debates - when his face is plastered all over the internet, including of his own volition on this blog.

Remove the mote from your eye.


joemillis1959

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 09:55

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Seriously? Really? This from the man who bullies those with whom he disagrees, who attacks them in disgraceful and disgusting terminology (Theobold Jews, Queens of Renegade Jews, etc). Whose coterie of acolytes includes some of the vilest, despicable and hate-filled little men in the community.

This is as hilarious as his attempt yesterday at the Board of Deputy to retain his anonymity during debates - when his face is plastered all over the internet, including of his own volition on this blog.

Remove the mote from your eye.


joemillis1959

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 09:56

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Seriously? Really? This from the man who bullies those with whom he disagrees, who attacks them in disgraceful and disgusting terminology (Theobold Jews, Queens of Renegade Jews, etc). Whose coterie of acolytes includes some of the vilest, despicable and hate-filled little men in the community.

This is as hilarious as his attempt yesterday at the Board of Deputy to retain his anonymity during debates - when his face is plastered all over the internet, including of his own volition on this blog.

Remove the mote from your eye.


joemillis1959

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 15:26

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Seriously? Really? This from the man who bullies those with whom he disagrees, who attacks them in disgraceful and disgusting terminology (Theobold Jews, Queens of Renegade Jews, etc). Whose coterie of acolytes includes some of the vilest, despicable and hate-filled little men in the community. You berate people for hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, but wasnt it you at the Board of Deputies yesterday who fought a rearguard action to retain his anonymity during debates ? Dont you think this is a smidgen hilarious when your face is plastered all over the internet, including of your own volition on this very blog? And you wondered why people laughed when you spoke.


StevenKalka

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 15:25

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According to Jonathan Freedland, someone should be immune from criticism if regarded as a "British national treasure". He sounds like he would have supported the divine right of kings had he been born centuries earlier.

Aside from disability, I don't see why he should be immune from the butt of jokes. Disability doesn't bestow expertise on human rights, nor does being a cosmologist.

While stance on Israel may sway some, it could also tarnish his reputation among fellow cosmologists fans.

I wouldn't turn to Stephen Hawking for ethical guidance any more than I'd seek a plumber for brain surgery.


happygoldfish

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 16:47

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why do people keep shooting the messenger?

Stephen Kalka: According to Jonathan Freedland, someone should be immune from criticism if regarded as a "British national treasure".

no, freedland only thinks hawking should be immune from (well, he says they're "appalling") vile abuse and disgusting jokes

according to freedland, a "British national treasure" should not be someone immune from criticism, but is someone whose views are automatically perceived as mainstream by "many people around the world" …

As I never tire of pointing out, quoting scholar Ze'ev Mankowitz, people don't believe in ideas - they believe in people who believe in ideas. Many people around the world believe in and respect Hawking and will, as a result, now think that perhaps they, too, should boycott Israel.
Avowed opponents of the boycott - and I am one of them - should fear this shift

Stephen Kalka: I wouldn't turn to Stephen Hawking for ethical guidance any more than I'd seek a plumber for brain surgery

no, that's not haiku
you should say "any more than I'd seek a brain surgeon for plumbing"

joemillis1959

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 17:28

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Went to see this old geezer last night at the O2.

It seems to me that this Neil Young song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlSzS5PuRos

is very apt for the person who posted this blog. Him and his pathetic, cowardly, myopic friend(s)


richmillett

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 09:54

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you old hippy, Joe. I hope you were wearing your flares as usual.


joemillis1959

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 10:00

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Nah, mate. I managed to squeeze myself into a pair of tight denims.


joemillis1959

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 10:51

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Jonathan and his mirror images at the PSC/JFJFP are like certain football fans who cough up 70 quid to go to the match and spend the 90 minutes hurling abuse at each other without watching what's going on on the pitch.

And then they try to drag the rest of us into it.


Macairt

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 11:14

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I think Hoffman completely misses the point of Freedland's article, which is the danger of an Israel boycott simply becoming 'common sense', whereupon it is very difficult to impossible to shift.

I totally agree it was unfair for the Daily Express to stress offensive comments from pro-Israel posters: if pushed one can do that with any group.

The point that Freedland was making was that it was important to ask 'why' the Express was doing that, and the danger of that becoming all too common, and thus entering mainstream discourse.

Hoffman lives in a world of absolute justice and rights, his version of the pro-Israel cause is so self-evidently just it needs no detailed, 'getting down and dirty', logical, forensic argumentation to the unconverted. He can only preach to the choir, which means he is to all intents and purposes absolutely useless.

Marcus Dysch writes a good piece about the damp squib of the Closer to Israel event: the brain child of middle-aged men, behind the times and totally out of touch.

Freedland knows that to reach any audience, one must know what they are and are not prepared to accept, and one must work within that. Which means openly acknowledging Israel's sins and flaws, as well as trumpeting her virtues.

That means embracing a detailed, plausible two-state peace plan which an unconverted, neutral audience can accept, to which there is no alternative (asides various forms of Zionist or anti-Zionist one-statism) to the Geneva Accord, and versions thereof.

Daniel Levy outclassed Caroline Glick completely in debate. All she could do is complain of antisemitism, instead of reflecting on where she went wrong, and how she could change.

CIF Watch is effective on asserting Israel's virtues, and her foe's vices. But is insufficient to persuade UK audiences, where the media is tending to render the anti-Israel narrative 'common sense'.

Jonathan Freedland is battling valiantly against this tendency, but he is undermined by mantra-, volume-and-repetition-is-argument school of hasbara of the ZF et al., which has brought the very term 'hasbara' into disrepute.

Inability to change to changing circumstances is potentially the most fatal flaw anyone can have. Hoffman represents the inflexible school of pro-Israel apologetics, and the one that may, alas, be destined for a tragic end and consequence.


StevenKalka

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 14:10

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I'm not so sure national treasurehood carries worldwide. Even national treasurehood may be overblown domestically.

I don't know about the UK, but in the US we have such a fragmented popular and political culture that few national treasures exist, if any. The Kennedy legacy is not what it is. Fads come and go.


StevenKalka

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 15:11

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In the US, the closest we come to a national treasure is an individual who acts heroically, such as an airline pilot who safely lands his plane in the Hudson River after developing engine trouble. Entrepreneurs like the late Steve Jobs of Apple can be pretty popular, although not quite treasures.

Popular intellectuals rate far from treasurehood status.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121345792

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121345792


happygoldfish

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 15:27

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stephen, how about (the late) richard feynman or carl sagan?

StevenKalka

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 16:12

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Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan were highly regarded. It helped that they didn't branch out into areas in which they were uncredentialed. Carl Sagan certainly popularized the astronomy field with his tv show 'Cosmos'. He did have charisma. Richard Feynman may have been a treasure for his work in developing the atomic bomb. I'm not sure Carl Sagan rose to treasurehood, though.

In the US, we define national treasures more often as historic sites and places that define us as a land and people, like the Statue of Liberty, civil war battlegrounds, the Alamo, the Grand Canyon.


Ben F

Wed, 06/19/2013 - 17:58

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Speaking of hasbara being brought into disrepute...

http://wp.me/P3pxXH-8E


Rich Armbach

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 09:41

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.


Rich Armbach

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 09:42

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Interesting how Happy gets to comment out of hours o:)


happygoldfish

Thu, 07/25/2013 - 08:01

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do we now have guardian/independent sub-editors (the guys who write the headlines) working at the jc?

(or foreign office or un or al-ahram?)

the jc headline "UK minister condemns 'abhorrent' attacks on Arab property" (21/6/2013) gives the impression that the uk is criticising israel

however the jc's own text …

Mr Burt … welcomed the “widespread condemnation of these attacks in Israel and the Israeli government’s stated intention to bring those responsible to justice".

… shows that burt was praising israel

(even press tv confirms that burt "tried to purge the Israeli regime of any responsibility" )

(for the actual foreign office statement, see here)

strangely, the guardian and the independent don't seem to have reported this at all …


happygoldfish

Fri, 08/09/2013 - 17:59

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same sub-editor on 9th august? … click here

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