Saturday, August 1, 2009

Something Quite Disturbing

An Australian blog called The Sensible Jew (TSJ) emerged in May this year to some mainstream media fanfare in The Age. It proclaimed its mission as: "Occupying the territory between the Beth Din & Antony Loewenstein since 2009." Those behind it could abide neither the current Jewish community leadership (too Zionist) or Antony Loewenstein (too anti-Zionist).

The latter, of course, had their measure, writing, in a letter to The Age: "The new blog The Sensible Jew... appears unconcerned with anything other than improving the PR of the Zionist agenda. While a mature debate is raging overseas about war crimes in Gaza, ongoing settlement expansion in the West Bank and racist laws in Israel that would ban Arab memorials for 1948 ethnic cleansing, the mostly anonymous bloggers prefer to talk about Jewish spokespeople appearing clumsy on television. As is seen in Britain and the US, a growing number of concerned citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, are no longer willing to accept a self-described Jewish state that actively discriminates against the non-Jewish population. A global campaign to boycott Israel is growing in strength. Instead, the Australian Jewish community obsesses about who belongs to what Jewish roof body. The parochialism is startling." (13/6/09)

As it happened, the TSJ bloggers recently decided to call it a day - but not before making this revealing comment in their final post: "Some in the [Jewish] community... have rejoiced at this blog's closure. There have been thanks given to God, and other expressions of similar delight. My concern is not that there might be people who disagree with me... but that there are Australian Jews who felt that a group of Zionists, whose beliefs fall very much within the mainstream of Australian Jewish life, could somehow be so vile that this blog's closure could provoke utter bliss. The most radical position presented on this blog has been the mooted democratisation of our leadership. That there is a significant number of people that cannot tolerate such a mild topic for debate without resorting to flaming, abuse, and trolling is symptomatic of something quite disturbing. Many more have commented or emailed to express support for what this blog was about. But such people were rarely motivated to comment on multiple occasions. Some privately confided that they were intimidated by the trolls, or that they just couldn't be bothered fighting with the more conservative elements. Such people felt that if their opinions and identities were made public, they would be publicly shamed, ridiculed, or defamed. Again, such people were not propounding radical views, and ours is not a violent community, so it shocked me profoundly that there was enough fear to keep a significant number quiet." (SJ signs off, 15/7/09)

The very first comment to follow was even more forthright: "But you have learned something that some of us have faced for years in our attempts to offer alternative opinions, that there is a vicious, intolerant and nasty streak in the community, that [, and] I don't like to say this, but say [it] with some sadness, [there is] a good dose of fascism."

Although continuing to cling to their illusions of a kinder, softer Zionism, we should at least be greatful to the TSJ bloggers for such a frank acknowledgment of the nature and modus operandi of the Zionist dead-enders they (and we) have had to contend with.

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