Dr. Elias Akleh is a Palestinian. In 1948 and again in 1967 his family were displaced, and like millions of other Palestinians, he now finds himself living outside of his homeland. It is perhaps fortunate that he did not move to the UK and join the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, because after their AGM on Saturday, he would most likely by now be facing moves to expel him from the same campaign that seeks to liberate him.
I say this after reading his recent article The Brainwashing of the Jews, in which he makes a number of strong claims about the Judaic religion and the role it has played in shaping Jewish Identity. In exploring his theme, he draws entensively on the work of Jewish writers Nurit Peled-Elhanan and Lillian Rosengarten, and also cites Atzmon approvingly. But, it is the inclusion of the latter which I think would have necessitated the PSC Star chamber to be reconvened.
Also fortunate not to be members of the PSC are Richard Falk and Prof. Mearsheimer, both of whom not only endorsed Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who?, but went on to refuse to withdraw their endorsements when their ‘mistakes’ were pointed out to them. Tony Greenstein would surely have no compunction in denouncing them to the PSC as anti-semites.
The thought that, had they been members, the PSC might have taken action against a Palestinian and two influential figures in the Palestinian solidarity discourse because they dared to suggest that Jewish ideology is a subject that can and should be debated, is especially ironic when you consider how Ben Cohen bemoans the fact that Jewish Power has failed to damage Mearsheimer, despite even the intervention of the mighty Dersh.
The fact that a controversy did not erupt, that the endorsement of a Holocaust revisionist by a prominent professor at a major university did not lead to calls for his dismissal or resignation or even a chin-pulling symposium in the pages of the New York Times’s “Sunday Review,” represents an important shift in the privileges that anti-Semites and their sympathizers enjoy.
Later he claims:
The truth is that the rising fixation with Jewish power in our time has unwittingly revealed Jewish emasculation instead. Jews do not control the discourse; rather, the discourse controls them.
I think Cohen, in highlighting how this is a struggle for control of the discourse, is dead right. His angle is that as the victim of anti-semitism, Jews should be able to decide what anti-semitism is, -and that that decision should not be challenged. So naturally, he is troubled that an increasing number of Jewish voices are vocally expressing dissent and insisting on opening up the discourse, because, as is clear, there cannot be an easily accepted definition of anti-semitism, when there is disagreement within the group said to be the real victims..
As a Palestinian Dr. Akleh welcomes the fact that more Jewish voices are speaking out against the ideology which with they have been ‘brainwashed’. As a Jew, Cohen wants those voices stopped, and punished.
Now, which side has been taken by the PSC?
In both Cohen and Akleh there are ideas worth considering, ideas which examine the question of anti-Semitism from opposite ends of the spectrum, and I would urge people to read them for themselves. And, if you’re worried about the PSC exec finding out you’re reading Akleh, why not do it under the bed-covers with a flashlight, in the early hours?
You should be safe…… for now.