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Jewish Pressure Groups and Censorship


John Simkin
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It seems that Jewish pressure groups are having a great deal of success recently. Ken Livingstone has been suspended as mayor of London for comparing a Evening Standard journalist with a concentration camp guard. In reality, the newspaper wanted to drop the matter as in the 1930s the Associated Newspaper Group, had supported the rise of Hitler in Germany and the National Union of Fascists in the UK. The last thing they wanted was a discussion of these issues.

Livingstone was also a poor target as he had been a leading figure in anti-racist groups such as the Anti-Racist Alliance and the National Assembly against Racism. What is more, the Evening Standard had discovered that the anti-Livingstone campaign was unpopular with readers and circulation was in sharp decline. However, the Jewish Board of Deputies pushed the issue and Livingstone has got suspended as mayor by the Standards Board.

We have also the recent case of David Irving being imprisoned in Austria for making a speech questioning the Holocaust. Laws like this have been passed all over Europe after campaigns by Jewish pressure groups.

Then we have the case of the successful campaign by Jewish groups to get the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, banned from the New York theatre. The play tells the story of Rachel Corrie, the American peace-activist killed in Gaza.

Last night it was reported on the news that Jewish pressure groups are trying to get Paradise Now removed from Sunday's Oscar competition. Paradise Now tells the fictional story of two young mechanics from the West Bank town of Nablus sent to carry out a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The film won a Golden Globe award in January and is nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. Director Hany Abu-Assad is an Arab born in Israel. Israeli Amir Harel produced the film. Both Palestinians and Israelis acted in the movie, which was filmed in the West Bank and Israel.

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It seems that Jewish pressure groups are having a great deal of success recently. Ken Livingstone has been suspended as mayor of London for comparing a Evening Standard journalist with a concentration camp guard. In reality, the newspaper wanted to drop the matter as in the 1930s the Associated Newspaper Group, had supported the rise of Hitler in Germany and the National Union of Fascists in the UK. The last thing they wanted was a discussion of these issues.

Livingstone was also a poor target as he had been a leading figure in anti-racist groups such as the Anti-Racist Alliance and the National Assembly against Racism. What is more, the Evening Standard had discovered that the anti-Livingstone campaign was unpopular with readers and circulation was in sharp decline. However, the Jewish Board of Deputies pushed the issue and Livingstone has got suspended as mayor by the Standards Board.

We have also the recent case of David Irving being imprisoned in Austria for making a speech questioning the Holocaust. Laws like this have been passed all over Europe after campaigns by Jewish pressure groups.

Then we have the case of the successful campaign by Jewish groups to get the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, banned from the New York theatre. The play tells the story of Rachel Corrie, the American peace-activist killed in Gaza.

Last night it was reported on the news that Jewish pressure groups are trying to get Paradise Now removed from Sunday's Oscar competition. Paradise Now tells the fictional story of two young mechanics from the West Bank town of Nablus sent to carry out a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The film won a Golden Globe award in January and is nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. Director Hany Abu-Assad is an Arab born in Israel. Israeli Amir Harel produced the film. Both Palestinians and Israelis acted in the movie, which was filmed in the West Bank and Israel.

It's all quite ridiculous. Jailing people for expressing an opinion (albeit a ridiculous one) on an historical event is a throwback to the dark ages. Surely he must win on appeal.

What if one goes to Russia and says they don't believe that at the end of WW2 Stalin threw hundreds of thousands of Russian troops at the German defense, effectively murdering them, until the Germans literally ran out of ammunition? Would one be imprisoned?

I didn't know Livingstone was suspended for merely using the term 'concentration camp guard' in an analogy. I suspect the Standards Board's actions may start a public debate which the Standards Board doesn't want to have. It's laughable overuse of their power.

Edited by Mark Stapleton
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We have also the recent case of David Irving being imprisoned in Austria for making a speech questioning the Holocaust. Laws like this have been passed all over Europe after campaigns by Jewish pressure groups.

Codswallop!

The law Irving was tried under dates back to the immediate post war period and is a reflexion of the revulsion most people felt at that time (and thankfully some still feel today) when confronted by antisemitism.

Livingstone was suspended for bringing his office into disrepute.

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We have also the recent case of David Irving being imprisoned in Austria for making a speech questioning the Holocaust. Laws like this have been passed all over Europe after campaigns by Jewish pressure groups.

Codswallop!

The law Irving was tried under dates back to the immediate post war period and is a reflexion of the revulsion most people felt at that time (and thankfully some still feel today) when confronted by antisemitism.

Livingstone was suspended for bringing his office into disrepute.

I must confess I'm not fully familiar with all the details of either the Livingstone or the Irving issue. Regarding Livingstone's suspension, how does merely using the expression "concentration camp guard" in an analogy bring his office into disrepute? He must have said more, otherwise the Standards Board and Jewish Board of Deputies are incredibly oversensitive and narrow minded. Who's acting like Nazis here?

I always thought he was a very popular figure. His congestion tax innovation is something we could do with here in Sydney, btw.

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Who's acting like Nazis here?

No one.

The Nazi approach to "justice" is not meaningfully comparable in either of these very diverse cases and it is disingenuous to claim that it is.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsourc.../peoplesct.html

What I meant was, in Livingstone's case, it seems there was no deliberate attempt to cause distress to Jewish people so the punishment is excessive, IMO.

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Who's acting like Nazis here?

No one.

The Nazi approach to "justice" is not meaningfully comparable in either of these very diverse cases and it is disingenuous to claim that it is.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsourc.../peoplesct.html

What I meant was, in Livingstone's case, it seems there was no deliberate attempt to cause distress to Jewish people so the punishment is excessive, IMO.

So you would agree that in both cases no one sitting in judgement has "acted like Nazis?". I think it is important to be able to see the difference.

Irving flouted a rather old Austrian law repeatedly, received a fair trial by jury and was found guilty and sentenced.

Livingstone has been behaving extremely oddly in his relationship with the media in the last 18 months and seems to have brought his current problems upon himself.

I think it is likely however than Livingstone has had to endure some pretty awful treatment and exposure by the right wing media here - however he is an elected politician and really ought to know how to conduct himself by now.

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I believe Livingstone's suspension was harsh. I also think that banning plays from the theatre and attempting to have movies removed from the Oscar awards is a backward step and reflects badly on the Jewish lobby. Corrie was killed by Israeli forces while they were demolishing Palestinian settlements and the Jewish lobby has to face that fact. Should such a story not be told just because it may reflect badly on Israel? No way.

Basically, I agree with the main argument of this thread. Jewish pressure groups are wielding too much power and in some cases are using that power quite irresponsibly.

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The Standards Board found Livingstone guilty of being “insensitive” and “offensive”. Politicians are guilty of this all the time. However, it is not illegal to be insensitive. I found it pretty offensive that Tony Blair should invade Iraq. However, being offensive is not a good enough reason to overturn the democratic process.

The Jewish Board of Deputies of course complained to the Standards Board because they considered Livingstone’s comments to be anti-Semitic. That is of course ridiculous and cannot be substantiated.

This issue is not about comments made about reporters from the Evening Standard. It is an attempt to stop him from criticising the policies of the Israeli government. According to Livingstone, the Board of Deputies has been complaining to him for many years about his criticism on Israel's anti-Arab policies. They have accused him and others of being “anti-Semitic” because of these comments. As Anthony Lerman, director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research has said that equating criticism of Israel policies with anti-Semitism “drains the word anti-Semitism of any useful meaning.”

Anti-Semitism still exists in the UK. According to official statistics, a Jewish person is three times more likely to suffer a racist attack than a “white European”. However, a person of African, Caribbean or Asian descent is 10 times more likely to suffer such an attack. However, it is Arabs who have the largest problem. They are 11 times more likely to suffer a racist attack.

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Anti-Semitism still exists in the UK. According to official statistics, a Jewish person is three times more likely to suffer a racist attack than a “white European”. However, a person of African, Caribbean or Asian descent is 10 times more likely to suffer such an attack. However, it is Arabs who have the largest problem. They are 11 times more likely to suffer a racist attack.

Racism is indeed still a problem in the UK and elsewhere. It tends to start with prejudice (eg "the jews are conspiring against us").

Regarding our Ken - he of course claims he has been targeted because he has been critical of Israeli policy consistently in the past.

Ken's full statement on the matter John is paraphrasing from can be read below.

http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/mayor_statement_280206.jsp

The truth however is rather simpler - he made a crass and insensitive series of comments to a jewish journalist and then stamped his foot and refused to apologise.

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Thanks for the link, Andy.

You have to give him points for answering his critics. Livingstone's comments regarding the usefulness of the Standards Board were refreshingly direct.

Seriously though, I think Livingston has a point. Criticising the actions of the Israeli Government doesn't make you anti-Semitic, any more than criticising the actions of the British Government makes you anti-British. There's a false link there.

Many Governments get criticised. Look how many critics the Bush Government has here but that doesn't make the critics anti-American. You should be aware that the Israeli Government has done some pretty wacky things over the years, worthy of criticism, IMO. Livingstone's well within his rights to discuss issues such as these.

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Criticising the actions of the Israeli Government doesn't make you anti-Semitic.

Has anyone (other than you) suggested or implied that it does?

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Criticising the actions of the Israeli Government doesn't make you anti-Semitic.

Has anyone (other than you) suggested or implied that it does?

Yes. I've seen it employed quite often. Critics of the Israeli Government often get accused of anti-Semitism.

Not here they don't - please feel free to criticise Israeli government policy in as many threads as you like without being anti semitic.

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I'm glad that this Forum is spared the equation of criticism of the government of Israel and anti-semitism, but Mark has a very good point.

Perhaps we all need to be very careful about the terminology we use. For example, if this thread had started "Pro-Israeli Pressure Groups …" then much of the debate in it would have lost a lot of its point.

For my own part, I have no problem separating my attitude to Islam from my attitude to the government of Saudi Arabia; my attitude to Roman Catholicism from the Italian government; and my attitude towards Judaism from my attitude to the government of the State of Israel.

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