Monday, June 15, 2009

David Zinn in his own words

David Zinn in his own words

Ryan Rutherford, aka David Zinn, (for reasons unknown to me at least) challenged me to reproduce his immortal thoughts in my blog, in his normal courteous manner - which I reproduce here here for your edification “I wonder if you’ll be brave enough to publish my rebuttal on your blog, or is your site nothing but a one-way street where you slander people with impunity and provide them no recourse to correct the record and your deplorable distortions?”

Of course it requires little bravery from me since there are few things which better convict the fanatic than their own words. To be honest I have not read through it since I catch the drift fairly early on; perhaps some of you will be hardy enough.

Needless to say I will not be responding but this blog is open to anyone who wishes to respond, or indeed to support Zinny. I will not include any more of Zinny on my blog. He can be found in full torrent on IAS and probably elsewhere.

I am prepared to take considered input, critical or otherwise, minus undue ad hominem irrelevancies and preferably moderately brief.

Mike Berger (aka SOLAR PLEXUS )

Dear Mr Berger

Firstly, let me just say that I feel somewhat honoured that your blog reflects a newfound obsession with my words and what you presume to be my outlook. Your references to me as Zinny are too precious for words, so thanks for the smile that this nickname engendered when I first read it on your blog.

I was also going to apologise profusely for implying that you were a liar, rather than sticking with just gullible, because we really are so poorly served by the mainstream media so it is often difficult, without a bit of work, to know what’s going on in the real world. However, after reading through your take on some of my comments I have begun to wonder whether dishonesty isn’t an integral part of your strategy, which is far from unknown among Zionists.

Let’s now deconstruct, or perhaps reconstruct, those quotations of mine that you referred to in the relevant blog entry.

I wrote that “Israel is a colonialist, deeply racist and apartheid-style state is plainly obvious to anyone who knows anything about the country and isn't a rabid right wing pro-Israel apologist”, and I absolutely stand by this comment based on extensive and wide ranging research on the issue. You are also correct that I don’t need any conference or HSRC report to tell me about what sort of country Israel is. I’m glad that the HSRC has compiled such a report as now there is yet more ammunition against the pro-Israel apologists of this world though, true to form, they’ve gone on the hysterical defensive trying to slander the researchers. The only element of this comment that I admit was rather ill-judged was my reference to “rabid right wing pro-Israel apologists” because there are people who are quite liberal in their outlook who still defend Israel, usually because of their Jewish heritage, or because they are simply ignorant about Israel’s actions. So apologies for having smeared everyone who supports Israel as being ultra right wing extremists.

You go on to quote me as having written “Ahmadienjad doesn’t really wish to eliminate Israel as ‘we know it’ – that is, as a Jewish State. His comments have been misrepresented”, which is a ridiculous distortion of what I actually wrote. In the relevant article on ‘It’s Almost Supernatural’ you are quoted as having written “Ahmadinejad's threat to reality, namely, the elimination of Israel as we know it”. Now this term, “as we know it”, is admittedly vague so I presumed you were referring to his misquoted statements that he wished to “wipe Israel off the map”. As I pointed out in my post, there is no such expression in Farsi and that Ahmadinejad was quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini who once said that he hoped the “regime in Jerusalem would vanish from the pages of history”, a quotation carrying a very different meaning to the one generally ascribed to Ahmadinejad. I pointed out twice in the relevant thread that to refer to Ahmadinejad’s quote, even if we concede that he used the term “wipe out” or something similar, by not referring to the context is to perpetuate a falsehood. For the record here is my reference to the issue in its entirety:

“…Ahmadinejad never ever proposed "the elimination of Israel as we know it". The mainstream media incorrectly reported that he had threatened to "wipe Israel off the map" which was a woefully inaccurate translation of the Farsi. In fact, this language has no such expression. Ahmadinejad was quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini who once said that he hopes that "the Zionist regime in Israel vanishes from the pages of history". There's a massive difference between this and hoping for some genocidal elimination of all Jews. He was basically saying, and by extension so was Ahmadinejad, that the State of Israel as it is now constituted must change, a sentiment which I and all humane people throughout the world share. Just as calling for an end to Apartheid was not suggesting that white people be wiped out, so calling for Israel to no longer be a racist Zionist state is not wishing for the Jews to be vanquished from this earth”.

You write that Ahmadinejad is “developing a nuclear weapon as fast as he can” though strangely you provide no proof of this. Have you heard of the NIE, aka the National Intelligence Estimate, which is an intelligence report compiled by 16 US intelligence agencies? In late 2007 they released a report that Iran stopped developing its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

Considering how you’ve misrepresented me I find it altogether rather rich that I am accused of misrepresenting you. I will concede that I should have taken more care in noting the ambiguity in your original statement which referred to Ahmadinejad wishing to “eliminate Israel as ‘we know it’”. I just assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that you were trotting out that much circulated canard against the Iranian president. Your blithe reference to a “Jewish state” also needs some clarification, so perhaps you’d care to do so. I mean if Israel withdrew from the Occupied Territories tomorrow and worked actively to assist the Palestinians in setting up an independent state, Israel would still remain “Jewish” by virtue of the majority population being of this cultural/religious persuasion. As a result of this action I seriously doubt one would hear many pronouncements from Ahmadinejad, or any other major figures in the Middle East, about Israel being “wiped out”, or at least these figures would have their real agendas exposed as there would no longer be any real world ammunition to fuel the fire of people in the region. You see, Mr Berger, the question isn’t about Israel being “Jewish” so much as it is about being a brutal occupying power and terror state.

You quote my statement that “I find it interesting that people like John Dugard are described as "ideologues" because they take "anti-Zionist positions", which suggests that to be pro-Zionist one would be free of ideology”, yet fail to tackle it in any meaningful sense, instead you just repeat that Dugard, like myself and Virginia Tilley evidently, are “ideologues”. Under that sweet photo of yourself on your blog you have written that the “blog subscribes to an inclusive Jewish identity and support for the right of Israel to exist in security and peace”. Elsewhere you express predictable sympathy for the “Zionist project”, which is by definition an ideological enterprise. I harbour no such allegiance to any state or political philosophy, except perhaps for universality, in other words applying to ourselves the same standard we apply to others. In Jesus and Confucius’ formulation this is known as the “golden rule” while Kant referred to it as the “categorical imperative”. So why don’t you point out what my ideology is, seeing as though you seem to be an expert on the issue.

I also don’t “hate Israel”, anymore than I “hated” South Africa because of the Apartheid government. I have a problem with many states around the world, but that doesn’t mean I hate the entire population. I have English heritage on my father’s side, and am still in regular contact with my family in England, but that doesn’t mean I somehow excuse that terrorist Tony Blair from illegally invading another country, nor do I ever make apologies for Britain’s horrific imperial history. The idea that one should either hate or love a particular state, without any nuance allowed, is a textbook case of ideological identification.

I did indeed write that “Just because Sudan has a horrendous human rights record does that magically exculpate Israel from any and all abuses against the Palestinians? Ditto for the question of ‘xenophobic hatred’ in South Africa, and on and on.” And you respond that “no-one said it did”. If you go back to the original thread you will notice that I was responding to the following comments from Sun:

“South Africa aint gonna spend no dollars on research into what makes the Sudanese Arabs hate, disposses and kill black (Muslim) Sudanese now will they?

Maybe even a proper funding of research into what lay behind the xenophobic hatred last year. No siree.”

So yes, someone, namely Sun, encouraged me to ask the quoted question as this was what he was seemingly implying. By referring to “Chechnia (sic), Tibet and Sri Lanka” you simply confirm the observation I implied in the above quotation and yet again fail to answer the question.

Your last quote has me observing that “Instead of fixating on who wrote and funded the HSRC report, why not actually review the report and tackle it on the basis of facts, and not mere ad hominem attacks. Or is this just standard operating procedure for pro-Israel zealots who cannot address factual information and must constantly go on the offensive with smear campaigns against those who disagree with their perspective of Israel as a paragon of purity?” and once more you fail to address the issue and confirm what I wrote by contending that the report is “fruit of a poisoned tree”. You also seem to think I’m motivated by “negative obsessions” without specifying what these are, and even imply that I am akin to a Holocaust denier like David Irving. You really do appear to harbour a pathological hatred for me, and by extension I presume you exhibit similar hatred towards all critics of Israel.

I notice with some interest that your latest blog entry is entitled ‘Ideologues and Bigots’ which is a perfect description of yourself. You clearly hold to a rigidly doctrinaire belief system and don’t seem too upset by the treatment of the Palestinians, past or present. You have a lot to say about the HSRC and the likes of Virginia Tilley, but where is your outrage at some of the pronouncements of Avigdor Lieberman, surely one of the most repugnant individuals to ever be part of the Israeli government? He has said that if Arabs in Israel don’t give a loyalty oath to Israel they should be expelled, and has proposed dropping all Palestinian prisoners in the ocean to drown. Where’s the indignation, Mike? Or does bigotry only apply to statements that are critical of poor little old Israel?

I’m not sure what’s more revolting, equating me to that despicable anti-Semite Irving or with those racist right wing rejects who Max Blumenthal interviewed in Jerusalem. The first thuggish lowlife he interviews says that Obama is a “f&*$head who should be shot” while others say that Obama should go and “f^$# himself”. The same fine gentleman who eagerly desires to see the President of the United States assassinated later says “white power…f*%^ the niggers”. An overweight and unattractive young woman says that Obama is “a Muslim for sure, and who even knows if he was born in the United States?…we haven’t seen his birth certificate…he’s like a terrorist”, thus revealing her ignorance and bigotry in one foul sweep. One clearly drunk buffoon called Obama a “p*#$y and faggot”, while another repeatedly said “f&$# Obama”. Yet another fine specimen of American Jewish youth said that he’d like to eat a watermelon with Obama who is “another nigger from the town”.

When have I even remotely expressed such sentiments? You have repeatedly asked, in a highly arrogant manner, who I am as if I first have to pass some Mike Berger test before I can say anything about the Israel/Palestine conflict, so why not actually try and find out who I am and what values I hold before making such sick, disgusting, utterly egregious and deeply reprehensible comparisons between me and some asinine scumbags who don’t deserve to scrub my shoes or work in my garden, let alone have a conversation with me. People, furthermore, whose entire value system I loathe with all my being and who should make all decent people sick to the core of their stomach. You may quibble with my interpretation of your person based on what I assumed you wrote, but at least I took your words on, and didn’t begin spewing all manner of obscene insults based on no evidence whatsoever.

On the “Guess who’s coming to SA” thread you write that you “don't really wish to get into the F(inkelstein) - Dershowitz or F(inkelstein) - anyone debate”. Could this be because you’re afraid that Finkelstein will be shown to have destroyed the likes of Dershowitz who is so loved by the Zionist brigade? It is actually very important to compare the work of Dershowitz and Finkelstein because then one will be able to see that the former is nothing but a liar, fabricator and outright propagandist. Dershowitz even relied largely on another hoax, namely Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial, for his famous book The Case for Israel, which should suggest the kind of scholarship that the famous litigator is responsible for. He even made changes to his book for the paperback addition after Finkelstein had exposed some of his fraudulence.

Instead of hurling insult after insult, clearly something of a speciality with you, such as calling me and others “Hyde Park corner nutters” and “grade A paranoids”, perhaps you might like to provide a critical assessment of Finkelstein’s work and to show where he displays all this so-called “paranoia”. As Woody Allen once said, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you”. In all seriousness, paranoia usually implies that someone holds a belief with virtually no correlation to the real world. Considering that Finkelstein has displayed a consummate scholarly skill in his work that has been lauded by many experts on the Israel/Palestine issue, while exposing others as frauds and fabricators, the charge of paranoia doesn’t fit all that well without clear substantiation. The US is a major terror state, and Israel’s international terrorism, while on a much smaller scale to that of its chief donor, is also very well-known. To acknowledge this point, whether one is Norman Finkelstein or David Zinn or Nigel Parry or Pete Sampras, isn’t to display paranoia but mere acknowledgement of the world as it actually is. Considering how you’ve displayed yourself to be the consummate ideologue and also a disgraceful smear merchant, I realise that reality rarely intrudes upon your warped brain and that for you those who live in the real world are to be reduced to objects of your vile scorn.

I can’t help but notice the irony that you accuse others of paranoia yet you are one of the chief contributors to a site devoted to “Exposing anti-Israel bias in the South African media and promoting a balanced South African foreign policy towards the Middle East”. If anything, the media in South Africa isn’t critical enough of Israel, nor is our government, at least not publicly among the top echelons. I am also rather curious as to what you could possibly mean by “balanced”, seeing as though you and most of those on ‘It’s Almost Supernatural’ appear to be uncritical adherents of everything Israel does and never utter so much as a peep about the sickening violations of Palestinian rights in the Occupied Territories or within Israel proper. It seems that “bias” and “balanced” have very different meanings for ideological extremists and those who hold to a higher standard of factual integrity.

I wonder if you’ll be brave enough to publish my rebuttal on your blog, or is your site nothing but a one-way street where you slander people with impunity and provide them no recourse to correct the record and your deplorable distortions?

I eagerly await your response.

David Zinn

1 comment:

David said...

I had a similar response when I discovered this letter published in the Cape Times on the 18th March 2008:

Blind loyalty to Israel

The highly personalised nature of the attacks on Zapiro by Mike Berger and David Jacobson (March 14) reflects their profound political and ideological partisanship. Such blind loyalty to Israel does not, in fact, help the cause of Israelis or Jews. Instead, it reproduces intolerance and blind spots.

The cartoon that has offended them did not in any way attempt to equate Israeli military strategies of collective punishment in Gaza with the Nazi genocide.

Instead, it made the more general point that, given Jews' historical experiences of oppression over many centuries, we ought to be acutely sensitive to matters of social injustice. In fact, many Jewish artists, writers, activists and intellectuals have come to similar conclusions.

The role of left and progressive Jews in the anti-apartheid struggle is a case in point. Cartoonists such as Zapiro raise uncomfortable questions and prod self-criticism, especially when it comes to the actions of their "own people". Thus it is not surprising that Zapiro challenges fellow South African Jews for their unquestioning support for Israeli policies.

This tradition of uncompromising critique is Zapiro's strength. Former President Nelson Mandela once told him that even though members of his family were known to be ANC supporters, he recognised that it was Zapiro's job not to spare the ANC government from his sharp pen.

While Mandela could acknowledge the role of the political cartoonist, even when his cartoons lampooned and parodied Mandela's government and party, Berger and Jacobson are calling for Zapiro to close ranks and show unflinching loyalty towards his "own people".

Steven Robins

Such a resounding rebuke from a fellow Jew should have shamed you into silence on the Israel/Palestine issue forevermore, but blinkered idiocy is clearly a very tough habit to break. Who do you think you are even shining Zapiro’s shoes, let alone challenging any of his cartoons? He is one of the greatest South Africans alive and worth more than all the members of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation put together, not to mention all Israeli supporters of Kadima, Likud and Yisrael Beitenu combined. Zapiro is one of the greatest assets this country has, whereas the likes of you sadly fuel the fire of a certain brand of anti-Semitism with your blind loyalty to that murderous terror state known as Israel. This was another important truth Yoav Shamir’s film attempted to communicate. As usual, your blinkered and belligerent brain refused to process such disconcertingly honest information.

David Zinn (aka Zinny)