Here are excerpts from the brilliant David Collier’s daily reporting from the anti-Israel and (as he shows) antisemitic Cork conference this weekend.
Today I am in Cork, Southern Ireland. This is a story that began two years ago, with a failed attempt by a twisted academic at Southampton, to place a fake academic veneer on part of the delegitimise Israel campaign. Those that suggest this is not true are simply not listening to the organisers, the speakers or even the delegates. Activism as a central theme was ever present. There is little denying that this conference is about attempting to place additional tools in the arsenal of the anti-Israel activist. Indeed, it is clearly the primary purpose.
Two failed attempts to hold a conference in Southampton, sandwiched between legal attempts to force the hand of the university, has led us all to Southern Ireland and to Cork, where finally, Oren Ben-Dor got to hold his circus of hate. This, even though the University at Cork, distanced themselves from the event.
It soon became apparent that the conference had attracted the true haters from across the globe. The first face I saw was Tom Suarez, who had delivered a vile talk at SOAS just a few months ago. Suarez has recently written a book about ‘Zionist terror’, that completely removed Zionist actions from context, used tenuous links to build vague conspiracy and that almost entirely airbrushed Arab violence out of existence.
[Richard] Falk during his speech, referenced the Tom Suarez book. This an indication of the incestuous nature of this ideological exercise. Suarez creates a conspiracy tale, Falk uses this as a basis for his own masturbatory acrobatics and this in turn will be used by others to Barkan and Suarezfurther their own agenda with an ever increasing tale of nonsense. From Pappe’s highly dubious historical rendition, to the latest works of those like Falk and Suarez, a small group of academics are using each other as ‘legitimacy props’ , to build an ideological argument out of little more than internal strands of twisted hatred.
One of the loudest rounds of applause is reserved for the ‘true Torah Jew’. The one who denounces the vast majority of Jews as ‘false’. The crowd love this. The hypocrisy passes everyone by. This is not a humanitarian, but rather a fundamentalist who has an entirely different vision of what should come to pass. At a coffee break, this true Torah Jew spoke to me about anti-Zionist Jews in Europe during the 1920’s. I pointed out the vast majority of those people burnt in Auschwitz. Given that, I argued, they support my argument far more than they do his.
There were moments of humour too. After the true Torah Jew had delighted the crowd by refuting the Jewish nature of Zionists, a woman ran up to give him a hug of appreciation. Two impossible world’s colliding for a brief moment of total awkwardness.
Just as was the case yesterday, a vicious antisemitic question went unanswered. This one was truly vile. Be prepared to read this twice:
It suggested Zionist parents *deliberately* starve their children of affection in order to create the internal callousness necessary to do what Israelis apparently do to Palestinians.
As it went unanswered by the panel, there were protests from two members of the audience, who demanded to know why such a question was not rejected outright. Just as with a similar question the day before, this question removed the humanity from Israelis, and by failing to respond, the panel were indirectly legitimising the question.
As the two expressed absolute outrage at the suggestion Zionist mothers deprive their children of love to ‘breed killers’, members of the audience, including I believe, Claire Short, expressed dismay that these people were vocally disrupting the event. ‘Behave yourselves’ was the cry. Not for the first time recently, I sat as a witness as Jews were expected to sit quietly and simply swallow unacceptable antisemitism and were then berated for speaking up against it. Simply horrendous. A whole room full of people, and only two people spoke up, and when they did, there was an attempt to belittle and silence them.
Another speaker used the term ‘untermenschen’ to describe Israeli attitudes towards Palestinians. A deliberate and vile reference of course to Nazi Germany and their attitude towards Jews. During the Q&A session an anti-Israel activist spoke up suggesting such comparisons do their cause no favours. A moderating comment truly appreciated by the handful of Zionists in the room. He received light applause from maybe 10 of the attendees. This however was not going to go unanswered, and Ghada Karmi once more took to the floor. Not only was such terminology acceptable she said, it was ‘understandable’. She went on to say it was important to describe it as such, and argued it played to an ‘agenda’ if such terminology was restricted. Karmi went on to suggest there is “no other way to describe” Israeli attitudes to Palestinians.
It probably can be said without causing surprise that Karmi’s more extreme and particularly vile comments received loud applause. This is the way such events pull people towards extremist positions. Not everyone in the room is full of hate, but it spreads like a poison, infecting previously unaffected individuals. Rather than moderation receiving the loudest applause, extremism does. And as this conversion takes place, the more moderate voices become ever more scarce in the room.
It is the final comments of Independent Researcher, Joel Kovel that will no doubt take the headlines, but in truth, his entire speech could be classified as a horrific antisemitic attack. Kovel began his talk with a prophecy of doom. We are he declared, ‘at the end of days’.
He then began, as many ‘ecologists’ do, to describe how capitalism and human existence are destined for the ultimate clash, unless of course, we learn to return to ‘nature’. Which country does he see as underpinning the ‘existential’ ecological front line? Israel of course. The audience seemed to appreciate the suggestion that the world is ecologically doomed unless you can remove Israel from the Middle East. UCC cork is now pushing the idea that the outcome of the global environmental crisis centers on the destruction of Israel.
Then he actually conjured up the ‘dancing Israelis’ antisemitic conspiracy story from 9/11. Remember, this is happening in an Irish university campus (UCC).
He was supported in his ideas, by an audience member who shouted ‘Mossad agents’, before Kovel confirmed it himself. But this is what you get when you allow these misfits to gather under one roof. Yesterday we had accusations that Jewish mothers deliberately deprive their children of love in order to breed callous killers, today 9/11 conspiracy theories. Inside the UCC, from the front desk of a UCC lecture hall. Cork has placed itself firmly into bed with rabid antisemites.
*Important note*. Although someone in the audience did vocally oppose this horrific antisemitic conspiracy theory, there was no comment or official rejection by any of the organisers. Only antisemitism gets this type of public shrug, this air of acceptability. It isn’t as if the venues were not warned this would happen.
The absurd and surreal continued to arrive at breathtaking pace.
Far too many incidents to mention them all. Like George Bisharat suggesting Israel ‘owes’ compensation to the Arab states for taking the Jewish Arabs away from them. There are no limits to absurdity at a conference such as this. And of course, every time Oren Ben-Dor opened his mouth, the same words seem to reach the microphone. A story of ‘being’ and ‘denial’ and ‘Jewishness’ and ‘pathology’. He asked several questions during the three days, which boiled down to a single repetitive refrain:
“dear (insert name of speaker here), are your thoughts about Jewish ‘pathology’ as twisted as mine”?
It is difficult to express how accurate the above is, to someone who has not just sat through three days of this conference.
One final incident worthy of comment came at the very end of the final panel. Philip Franses, who suggested he had a ‘Jewish upbringing’, was painting a utopian picture of everyone living together and sharing the land. Franses was indeed an odd one. At one point in his talk, he seemed to suggest the Arabs had welcomed the Jewish refugees as they entered British Palestine (go take a history lesson Philip). Anyway, during an exchange, he asked Dr Atef Alshaer, another panelist, whether he thought it would be possible to create a shared poetry, both in Hebrew and Arabic together. (I know, I know, just accept it).
Alshaer had politely navigated the question. This accommodating position was far too nice to the Jews for UCC’s very own James Bowen, who felt he had to interject. Bowen suggested that Alshaer had been ‘too nice’, and went on to repeat Ghadi Karmi’s absurd stance that Palestinians were the real descendants of the Jews. But then he went even further.
He actually laid a claim for the Palestinian people to ‘Hebrew’, as being their language. I imagine in his head, Judaism is a Palestinian invention too. The Jews were visibly stripped of their entire identity. Zionists are fake invaders with absolutely no ties to the region at all. That Bowen’s internal issues are driving his agenda are clear. How this conference ended up at Cork should also be clear to all.
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