Down That Road Again

If you thought the LSE (and Britain in general) was bad at curbing extremism and hatred (and I do, see here, here, and here), then Oxford University will knock your socks off. From The JC:

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister was met by a protester screaming “slaughter the Jews” as he spoke at the Oxford Union.

Antisemitic and anti-Israel abuse was shouted throughout Danny Ayalon’s speech on Monday evening, with students causing numerous disruptions to the event.

During the hour-long session one student ran towards Mr Ayalon shouting the Arabic phrase “Itbah Al-Yahud” [Slaughter the Jews].

As many as 10 others, carrying Palestinian flags, made attempts to attack Mr Ayalon but were intercepted and removed by security.

Unlike when Ayalon spoke at LSE, the administration in this situation sprang to his defense as a speaker and contributor of ideas. No faculty petitions up north (to my knowledge). In their statement (PDF), the Oxford Union said:

Whilst the vast majority of the audience behaved in an orderly and responsible fashion, some members continually interrupted the speech, and one individual in particular appears to have made a directly anti-Semitic remark. These individuals exceeded the principles of free speech that the Society upholds…

…This morning, the Union’s President launched an investigation aimed at identifying the
Members who disrupted the event. The Union will be taking disciplinary action against these
Members, in accordance with the Society’s rules…

…The Oxford Union believes in the rights of free speech and protecting our invited speakers’ ability to express themselves in an orderly and disciplined environment…

…Last night was unprecedented. A disorderly minority disrupted and prevented the speaker from holding the floor where he had been invited to speak.

It’s nice to see an apology, or even an admission that something at the event had not gone as planned. Certainly no such statement was issued at LSE. Because what’s the point of debating when you can just wave your flags, shout some cheers, and win the argument? You don’t even need to make a point.

It’s a perfect storm of the western recoil, its love for countries-in-waiting (see: the Free Tibet movement), and willingness to attend a rally. I really do feel for Ayalon and any other Israeli officials who seek to engage in a back-and-forth with the community in Britain. It won’t do a thing: the minds of this country are made up.

The Bombing of Auschwitz

A consolidated B-24 Liberator of the 15th A.F. releases its bombs on the railyards at Muhldorf, Germany on 19 March 1945.

Via Blog Them Out of the Stone Age:

What if the Allies had bombed Auschwitz? That’s the counterfactual Mark Grimsley poses in his brief, but intriguing piece for World War II magazine (article at BTOSA). As he admits, “most ‘what if’ scenarios begin with a plausible rewrite of a historical event. The bombing of Auschwitz does not have this characteristic.” A strike on the death camps was not seriously discussed at high levels, much less considered a viable option.

It was certainly possible to launch such an attack:

The Auschwitz complex was well within range of the U.S. Fifteenth Air Force, based at Foggia, Italy … By the summer of 1944, escapees from Birkenau had supplied the Allies with detailed, accurate information about the facility. The crematoria and gas chambers could be readily identified in aerial photographs.

Owing to political considerations and the diversion of “considerable air support” that targeting the camps would require, a raid was never launched. Debate has raged for thirty years whether or not it was a moral imperative to attack the camps, but simply put, it was absolutely within Allied strategic air capabilities.

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Fisk Hates Israel

Robert Fisk, writing in the Independent, has portrayed Israel as a self-hating, self-destructive state whose very existence is unjust. I can’t quote at length, as the piece is too sarcastic in decrying the “Israel under siege” mentality and as we all know, sarcasm doesn’t translate well on the internet.

Britain – this came yesterday from Israel’s ambassador in London, no less – is “a battlefield” in which Israel’s enemies wish to “de-legitimise” the 62-year-old Jewish state…

…Israel the underdog. Israel the victim. Israel whose state-of-the-art, more-moral-than-any-other army was now in danger of seeing its generals arraigned on war crimes charges if they set foot in Europe…

…One of the most distressing moments at Herzliya came when Lorna Fitzsimons, former Labour MP and now head of Bicom, a British-based pro-Israeli think-tank, pointed out that “public opinion does not influence foreign policy in Britain. Foreign policy is an elite issue.” Deal with the elite, and the proles will follow – that was the implication. “Our enemies are going out to international courts where we are not supreme,” she said…

…Alas, no Kahan Commissions for Israel today. No judgment for Gaza. Just a slap on the wrist for a couple of officers who used phosphorus and a criminal charge against a soldier for stealing credit cards…

…All of which suggests that the real earthquake beneath Israel, the real danger to its image and standing and legitimacy, is a nation called Israel.

Brilliant, Fisk. First you imply that any Israeli fear of a growing sense of illegitimacy is pure hogwash, and then conclude your idiotic ramblings with a suggestion that the nation probably doesn’t deserve to exist, thereby proving your earlier point wrong (and reminding us again and again that anti-Israeli – and not just anti-Zionist sentiment is alive and well). Well-played.

The London School of Embarrassment

Once again, the London School of Economics continues to embarrass itself and its reputation with an unequivocal defense of Reza Pankhurst. The Islamic Society and countless others have sprung to his defense, and Pankhurst himself has denounced the “McCarthyite witch-hunt” of recent disclosures of his membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir. However, the only reason the story broke in the national press was because the LSE Islamic Society failed to address the concerns of some members over Pankhurst’s affiliations.

Those few students who have bothered to criticize the school for its recent failings have been dismissed as “pro-Israeli loons” and “morally blinkered propagandists.” I know at least one has received a number of threats from those who disagree with him. Whatever happened to respectful debate? There is nothing ‘illogical’ with concerns over an academic institution lending a member of an extreme organization a platform and respectability, especially when the individual holds private indoctrination sessions with selected groups of students.

The mind reels on a number of levels, but I’ll try to categorize my thoughts in a fairly logical order.

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Antisemitism, Dissent, and the LSE

The face of “new antisemitism

Every time I think I’m disgusted by my school, it gets worse. I thought we’d reached a low when the London School of Economics voted to twin (my personal conspiracy is that the vote was scheduled on American Thanksgiving so none of the ‘Israel-loving’ Americans would show up) with the Islamic University of Gaza, which was founded by Ahmed Yassin. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also founded a little organization called Hamas.  Aside from hosting Hamas’s R&D program for the Qassam rocket, IUG’s ‘distinguished’ faculty has referred to gays as “perverts” and “morally sick,” and proclaimed the university to be an absolute reflection of Hamas and its philsophy.

Ridiculous as it is, maybe it ends there? Not so fast.

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