The Guardian just loves self-hating Jews

Some of us can’t do enough to support our enemies

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, January 15, 2009

Last Saturday, the Guardian published a letter that compared Israel to the Nazis; described the Palestinian Authority as “Palestinian Quislings”; called on Britain to recall its ambassador to Tel Aviv; and supported a boycott of Israeli goods.

Before informing the readers that the images from Gaza “reminded” them “of the siege of the Warsaw Ghetto”, the 78 signatories felt compelled to say: “We the undersigned are all of Jewish origin”, somehow establishing a connection between what they said (Israel = Nazi) and who they were (Jews).

This is not the first time the Guardian has given voice to Jews proud to be ashamed to be Jewish. In 2002, it published a letter in which 45 Jewish intellectuals denounced the Jewish state.

The latest letter raises, as do its predecessors, three questions: the substance of the accusations levelled against Israel; whether being Jewish makes such opinions more compelling or more legitimate; and what purpose these individuals serve, by linking their Jewish credentials to the radical ideas they endorse.

On the substance, the signatories compare Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Nazis. This is not new, of course, but its repetition does not make it truer. In Auschwitz, there were around 30,000 daily deaths — all unarmed, starved prisoners. In Gaza, since the start of Israel’s offensive, there have been fewer than 50 deaths a day, up to 70 percent of them Hamas fighters. Nazis took joy at massacring civilians. Israelis give warning via phone to civilians. Nazis starved their victims for months before destroying the Ghetto.Israel sends humanitarian aid in the form of food and medicines every day. Intelligent people should be able to see the difference and refrain from such comparisons. Are our friends of Jewish origins stupid or malicious? Judge for yourself.

But the effect is to demonise Israel by comparing it with Nazism, the quintessential evil of modern European history.

And, in the process, it ends up trivializing the Holocaust as well, much like Holocaust denial. If only 50 people a day died in the Warsaw Ghetto while the Nazis were resupplying their hapless Jewish victims with food and medicine, one cannot fault the Nazis too much. It also follows, logically, that Jews trying to turn that history into a paradigm of evil are exaggerating – for political goals perhaps? You see where this can go.

Anyone with a sense of history should know better than to compare Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto. Even in Zimbabwe things are worse than Gaza. Does that “remind” them of the Warsaw Ghetto? Or do people “of Jewish origin” evoke such comparisons only when Israel is involved?

Second, is being Jewish relevant? Identity is no substitute for knowledge and expertise; religious identity does not confer authority to speak on anything. So why the invocation of “Jewish origin”? Because the Jews are the gatekeepers and once they break a taboo, others can cross that line. If you are Jewish, what you say cannot be labelled as antisemitic. If you are going to trivialize the Holocaust and demonise Israel, it therefore helps being Jewish — ask Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry. Had he been an Episcopalian, no one would ever have heard of him. Because he is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, his lurid thesis made him a “courageous whistleblower”. The same with the Guardian’s Jewish letter writers.

It follows that these proclamations of “Jewish origin” serve an agenda: they offer an alibi to antisemites. Shielded behind such proclamations, our enemies can call for our destruction, protected by a Jewish certificate of good behaviour that shows that what they are saying is no worse than what certain people “of Jewish origin” are thinking.

Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi is executive director of the Transatlantic Institute

Last updated: 9:26am, January 15 2009



Fri, 01/16/2009 - 08:35

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Fri, 01/16/2009 - 11:15

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Invicta, you need to do your research into what horrors the concentration camps were. Your post shows a severe lack of knowledge and does not help your point of view which i trust is to support the poor people stuck in Gaza.

Gaza will have a future when they don't elect leaders who call for the destruction of their neighbours, when they don't educate their children to hate jews and kill jews (watch their TV programming, do your research). The jews have been here before and will not tolerate the threat of annihilation again. But, in terms of Gaza, you are right, it is a terrible mess. Its desperately poor, its people lack a promising future - but blame Hamas for leading their people to the abyss. Whilst their leaders sit in the safety of Lebanon and Syria, spouting further hate and violence, the people of Gaza suffer. The 'great men' of Hamas deserve your anger, Invicta, for the suffering of Gaza. All they had to do is stop firing the rockets at the civilians in Southern Israel but they pushed Israel into reacting. Why? Read Hamas' charter Invicta. It offers the Palestinians only more suffering and death, not hope and peace.

Brian Eggleston

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 15:59

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To seek to suppress the views of Jews that have an empathy with the suffering of people in Gaza is misguided.

All too often Jews are accused valuing the lives of fellow Jews over those of gentiles; of proclaiming themselves to be “God’s Chosen People” – the implication being that Jews consider themselves to be superior.

Israel’s seeming indifference to the loss of civilian lives in Gaza and apparent lack of respect for international law only reinforces these views in the wider community; strengthening many people’s impression that Jews are arrogant and “only look after their own”.

I would suggest that it is actually very helpful for community and inter-faith relations when Jewish leaders and commentators speak up for Muslim victims of Israel’s intervention in Gaza.

jose (not verified)

Fri, 01/16/2009 - 16:11

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It is wrong to compare Gaza with Warsaw or another ghetto. It is even more wrong to compare Gaza with a concentration camp.

First, Gaza is not occupied since 2005. So Invicta has facts wrong. It is not even an Israeli blockade since Israel does not control the frontier between Egypt and Gaza, lack of control that is the very origin of this conflict. At best, one could say that Israel boycotts Gaza. A minimum, for a hostile territory at the hands of a terrorist organization that vouched to destroy Israel.

People underfed for three years, as is pretended, look quite slim and very weak. I have pictures of ghettos and concentration camps ready for Invicta, if needed. By comparison, the civilians in Gaza seem really obese. Maybe they are badly fed, like many people in Muslim countries and in USA, but they don't look underfed. Of course, present conditions in the Gaza Strip are not the 'normal' ones.

It is evident, even to the layman, that Hamas is to blame for the situation in the Gaza strip. They missed all opportunities to show they were better than the PA, that they brutally evicted from Gaza in their 2007 coup.

Now, if you listen to NGOs in Gaza, there is no Hamas fighter at all. I wonder who the Israeli army is shooting at. It helps to have a critical mind, when listening to propaganda.


Fri, 01/16/2009 - 17:52

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Mr Ottolenghi makes valid points. The comments in response to Elizabeth Wurtzel's article on the Guardian's Comment is Free at

illustrate this well.

invicta deliberately misses the point or deliberately intends to insult the memory of those who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto. Hamas are not brave freedom fighters. They kill their own people with as little compunction as they would kill every Jew if they had the chance. It suits Hamas to bleat that its people are starving, but what it doesn't say, and ignorant people like you fail to enquire into, is that it often confiscates foreign aid and sells it back to its people. Those who don't have the money to buy it may well be underfed but they are not starving.

I am particularly galled though by the amount of aid money appropriated by Hamas - and uncommented on by the EU and other donors - to pursue its murderous aims:
The following is a partial list of how Hamas has spent its much of its donor funds since Israels unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005 (Invicta why doesn't it spend this money on food for its people?):

1. Qassam Rockets: The most common rocket launched out of Gaza is the Qassam. Made of a simple steel casing and a number of easy-to-find household items, these projectiles have wreaked havoc in Southern Israel, forcing civilians to scramble for cover. On one December day alone, Hamas fired 60 Qassams into Israeli territory. At roughly $200 a piece, these rockets can be built with virtually no limitations.

2. Underground tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypts Sinai Peninsula are the lifeline of both the Hamas economy. They also ensure that Hamas maintains its military capabilities. Published reports estimate that there were close to 1,000 operational tunnels before Israel destroyed untold numbers of them as part of Operation Cast lead. The cost of construction of a standard 1500 square foot passageway ranges between $60,000 and $90,000. Larger tunnels with more elaborate designs can run as high as $150,000 to complete. Once built, Hamas also profits by taxing the owners of the tunnels.

3. Salaries of Fighters: An October 2007 Reuters report revealed that Hamas pays the salaries of 10,000 security officials and 10,000 civil servants in cash. By paying them in cash, the idea of accountability to the international community is eliminated. It also reduces the waiting for Hamas fighters. "I received my salary from a suitcase, we did not have to stand in line at banks," said one Hamas fighter. Published reports put the monthly payroll of the organization at roughly $9 million.

4. Financial support for family members of terrorists: Through a network of charities, the family members of martyrs- suicide bombers, rocket launchers and snipers- all receive support from Hamas. The Israeli government believes that each family gets a one-time gift of between $500 and $5,000. After that, they get monthly stipends of $100. In total, these checks can add up to about $30 million annually. Thus the EU, the UN and various charities are supporting the suicide murder of Israeli civilians whether they are aware of it or not.

5. More Advanced Rockets: While the primitive, first generation Qassams are more than adequate to terrorize Israeli towns in the area known as the Gaza Belt, more sophisticated rockets, capable of reaching farther into Israel and able to cause more serious damage, are on the way. Recent attacks using more sophisticated rockets on the port city of Ashkelon have raised the stakes. With a population of over 100,000, a petroleum pipeline and other important infrastructure projects, the rockets raining on Ashkelon now pose a more serious threat. According to one rocketeer interviewed in the Christian Science Monitor, the cost of the new rockets capable of hitting Ashkelon rocket was $900. How many such rockets now exist is unknown.

So while aid is desperately needed for the people of Gaza, money rarely gets to those who need it most. Furthermore, between misappropriated humanitarian funds and the money sent with the specific purpose of funding jihad, such unregulated cash has certainly done more harm than good for those Palestinians eager to live a better life.

And in spite of the aid money Hamas misappropriated to boost its war effort it could not build even one fortified air raid shelter for its people. What other "democratically elected" government behaves in ways calculated to bring down hell on its people but does not provide for their safety? Hamas leaders, however, hide in comparative safety under hospitals, or scuttle away abroad.

Philip Witriol

Sat, 01/17/2009 - 02:00

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Last week, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a woman wearing a Muslim headscarf, could be seen in a YouTube video, standing among Pro-Palestinian demonstrators on a public street, bellowing at Jewish counter-demonstrators, "Go back to the oven" and "You need a big oven; that's what you need."

Clearly, she hasn't seen The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the new version.

It's the one where the little Muslim boy and the little Jewish boy make friends and head unsuspectingly for the oven, hand- in-human-hand.

Quite regularly, various leaders of various Islamic terrorist groups, and even an ex-CIA agent that the NYT uses as an expert on Mid-East affairs, refer to Israel as a "cancer" on the world. Louis Farrakhan, America's best-known Jew-hater, is honored by the twenty-year church home of our first black President, and hardly more than a few bat an eyelash in disapproval. A black minister can stand in the full view of esteemed dignitaries and spew anti-Semitic tripe, and it causes barely a stir. CNN can air terrorist-inspired "news" footage, and it takes a determined conservative blog-press to highlight the truth before anyone even notices.

Well, any time Israel gets the chutzpah to fight back against nonstop, deadly rocket attacks with any determination, nearly every Muslim enclave the world over can be counted upon to take to the streets in their propaganda solidarity. And leftist newspapers and television outlets the world over can be counted upon to broadcast the terrorists' anti-Jew poppycock as though no one will notice that it's woven of the same cloth.

The more things change...and the beat goes on...

But, really, hating Jews is as old and entrenched as, well, as old as the Bible. Long, long, long before Africans enslaved other Africans and sold them to European and American traders, there was Jew-hatred. Jew-hatred is so much older than the State of Israel that it would take a historical scholar to date it.

Way, way, way, way before there was the Holocaust, there was Jew-hatred. Jew-hatred runs through the 7th century's Koran like a consistent thread. Karl Marx himself was a self-loathing Jew. George Soros is a modern day version of Karl Marx. Louis Farrakhan thinks Hitler had the right idea. So does David Duke. So does Ahmadinejad. So does that American woman in Muslim dress standing on the street in Fort Lauderdale.

Isn't it about time someone, somewhere explains exactly what it is about the Jews that inspires this vile, purely diabolical hatred. Why, if even a fair number of Jews utterly despise their own Jewishness, and as this is an ancient hatred, persisting throughout the ages, there must be something pretty substantial to it. Hate this vile doesn't just spring out of pure air.

Jew-hatred is the elephant in the room of humanity.

Jonathan Hoffman

Mon, 01/19/2009 - 09:19

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Great article

Brian Eggleston

Mon, 01/19/2009 - 17:26

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Philip Witroil wrote:

"Way, way, way, way before there was the Holocaust, there was Jew-hatred. Jew-hatred runs through the 7th century's Koran like a consistent thread"

The following comment was posted on the website of a Middle Eastern broadcaster a few days ago.


I don’t know what your opinion is, but I would say that was Jew-hatred.

At least I would say that if I hadn’t copied and pasted this comment from the Israel National News website and replaced the word “Jew” with “Arab” and “Torah” with “Koran”.

jose (not verified)

Mon, 01/19/2009 - 19:05

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Brian Eggleston

Great! You proved that since there is Arab hatred is Israel (but who denied that?), Jew-hatred does not exist!
Or maybe that one wrong condones another wrong...
Or maybe I did not understand what was the thesis of your post.