Wednesday, 11 November 2015

I made my mother proud

My parents were shocked when I decided to emigrate to Israel in 1964. Nobody in our London community did that. It was hot and dangerous there. Besides, all those Israelis were communists as well.
To cap it all I was going to do manual work on something called a kibbutz. After they had scrimped and saved to send me to a boarding school. After I had passed my A levels and could go to a good university and have a fine career.
Well, those were the kind of things they said. Anyway, I went.
Later I did feel a bit sorry for my mother. She could not brag like the other women when they were playing klabyasch together. My son is milking sheep in the desert, would not have given her a lot of bragging points.

When I was in the Israeli army my father became very ill. My mother went to the Israeli embassy and asked them if they could find me and tell me to come and visit. The embassy contacted the military.
The first I heard about it was when some attractive female officer who had something to do with soldier welfare spoke to me.
I was on a special paratrooper course at the time. The only way you could get off it was in a coffin. Which is not really that funny, because the popular name for my base was suicide base.
Everybody was nice about it. No, I could not leave the course, but afterwards they would do all they could to help. Compassionate leave would then be no problem.

My father’s health improved and then the war started. So I forgot about going to London.
The Six Day War was a watershed moment for British Jews. The community suddenly discovered Israel and they were proud.

The Jewish community was always organizing special dinners and dances. They were usually events where the rich and famous could flaunt the fact that they were rich and famous. There was a spate of dinners to celebrate the Israeli victory.
Some bright mind hit on the idea of organizing a dinner with the British parents of soldiers serving in the Israeli army (IDF) as guests of honour.

They went to the Israeli embassy to get a list of names. It could not have been very long. I had never met or heard of another British Jew in the army.
The embassy had my name because my mother had been round to see them about my compassionate leave.

My parents received an invitation to be among the guests of honour at some dinner with important people. My mother later wrote me that they had been treated like royalty.
The food was not too bad either.

She said it was the proudest moment of her life.

Who cares?

A story from my past.
They were two young ladies. One was white, robust and healthy-looking. The other was small and black, a Hindu from the former Dutch colony, Suriname. They were lesbians who lived together in a flat above the flower shop in the van Woustraat, that is on the edge of the Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam. 
They were a happy couple. 

They did not actually live in an ethnic Moroccan neighbourhood but ethnic Moroccan youths used to hang around their street. They had a run in with a group of these youths who started to bully them. 
The youths liked to harass lesbians and the Hindu lady being black was a bonus.

The ladies went to the police to file a complaint about the harassment. Surely one should not accept such things in a democracy?
The friendly police officer explained to them that this sort of thing was difficult to prove, it did not have much priority and the police certainly did not want an unnecessary confrontation with the youths. He suggested they move.
Of course they refused. The cheek of the man. One does not give in to intimidation.

The harassment got worse. The group started hanging around near to their flat every evening. The youths were waiting for them to step outside. 
The police did nothing. 
The young ladies did not leave their flat in the evening any more.

The Hindu lady had the most problems. In the beginning when she told her friends about the predicament, they were all ears. It was exciting. 
However, she did not stop talking about it and became a bore. Her friends began to avoid her.
She was obsessed with her helplessness and had trouble sleeping. She had trouble concentrating as well and lost her temper quickly. That is why she was fired from her job.

I had just started work in the borough. There was a public meeting about harassment by ethnic Moroccan youth. I sat on the elevated platform with the important people. The young ladies were in the audience.

The Hindu lady stood up to tell her story, but she kept breaking down and crying.
An alderman leaned over and whispered to me. He said I should not take the complaints about harassment too seriously. Most of those who complained were, like that Hindu lady, not emotionally stable.
The ladies eventually moved.

It's the contex, stupid

Analysis is always dependent on context. You change the context, you get a different analysis. The recent Kristallnacht “commemorations”  in Amsterdam are a good example.
The relevant facts.

On Sunday there was the speech of Haneen Zoabi. She had been invited by a so-called anti-racist "platform" that has broad support in Dutch society. The specific persecution of Jews was secondary in her speech.
Her primary goal was the delegitimization of Israel. For her, Israel and Israelis were barbaric, the modern equivalent of the Nazis. Her speech was a tirade of hate, filled with lies and half-truths.

On Monday, Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, held a dignified speech at the official Kristallnacht commemoration. The persecution of Jews was central in his speech. He also referred to the atrocities of IS as modern day forms of barbarism.

The first context is the battle of the commemorations.
This places the two speeches at opposite ends of the spectrum. For many Dutch Jews, Aboutaleb’s speech was a breath of fresh air. He gave them their commemoration back.

The second context is the delegitimization and demonization of Israel and Israelis.
Some statistics. According to an ADL global poll, 5% of the Dutch population are overtly anti-Semitic. According to research of the University of Bielefeld, 39% of the Dutch population believe that Israel is trying to exterminate the Palestinians. This research took place before the last Gaza war.

All available data supports the contention that many in the Netherlands agree with Zoabi’s tirade against Israel. Many more than the number of overt anti-Semites.
Therefore, for these people the two speeches were not the opposite of each other, they were complementary. They also believe that the Holocaust was barbaric. For them, Israel and IS are the two prime examples of modern day barbarism.
Recent statements from Aboutaleb reinforce this conclusion. His argument against anti-Semitism in the Netherlands is: you cannot blame Dutch Jews for what Israel does, just as you cannot blame Dutch Muslims for what IS does.

Zoabi's speech was controversial. Both Israel-lovers and Israel-haters applauded Aboutaleb's speech.
For the Dutch mainstream the two speeches were complementary and as such reinforced the rising delegitimization and demonization of Israel in the Netherlands. 

Friday, 29 May 2015

The Adventures of Alex Haak

Alex Haak is an octogenarian Dutch immigrant to the US who now lives in Port Charlotte, Florida.
During the Second World War he lived in the Hague in the Netherlands. At the end of the war Haak was thirteen years old.

In 1949 he jumped ship on the East Coast. A year later he was called up for military service, even though he was an illegal alien at the time. He served in a non-combatant role in the Korean War. This allowed him to later become an American citizen through the naturalization of veterans act.
He then proceeded to fulfill the American Dream.

Haak had a good story. He spoke about the little Jewish friends from his neighborhood who he missed. He painted a picture of the occupation of the Netherlands as if it was a big Warsaw Ghetto, with many people dying from starvation on the streets.
This story established him as a victim and gained him much sympathy.
He became a Baptist. His fellow churchgoers were touched by his lack of animosity towards Germany and Germans.

Every now and then he said things that sounded strange to mainstream Americans. However, Haak managed to turn this to his advantage. He proclaimed that he was proudly outspoken and his slogan became, “Alex Haak will tell it like it is”.
He was a colourful figure. Unbuttoned loud shirts, a fedora hat and a cigar. He unabashedly called all women "honey".
Even though he only spoke broken English, he looked very American. Whatever he did, he was always beyond reproach.
After all, he was a victim.

Haak got married and he and his wife Roberta had three children. He dabbled in politics, became Police Commissioner and later Mayor of Toms River, a small town in New Jersey. He was a Republican then but later switched to the Democrats and finally became an Independent.

After a career of entrepreneurship he retired to Pinellas County, Florida in 2002 and tried to restart his political career.
He ran for City Commissioner in South Pasadena three times and lost every time. He also did not succeed in his attempt to become South Pasadena mayor in 2004.
His final roll of the political dice was running for mayor of St. Petersburg in 2009. He lost.

Haak is now 83 years old. What does he do with himself? He spends his time posting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments on a Jewish/Israeli newspaper site, The Times of Israel.
He is an octogenarian anti-Semitic troll.

Now for the background story. Starting back in the Netherlands.
Before and during World War II there was a Dutch Nazi party: the NSB (Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging). The ideas of the Dutch Nazis were similar to the ideas of the Strasserite wing of the German Nazi party.
One of the prime objectives of the NSB during the war was the indoctrination of youth. They seem to have succeeded with Haak. He still praises the NSB and is lyrical about its youth movement. His ideas about Jews and the Second World War also correspond to the NSB propaganda.

According to Haak there was/is a Jewish conspiracy to control the world. The Russian and German communists were part of this conspiracy. Hitler stopped them and the Jews then turned their attention to America. Jews now control America.
He later substituted Zionists for Jews and became quite modern.
Haak maintains that Churchill not Hitler was responsible for the war. Hitler was just fighting the Jewish conspiracy. He is also a Holocaust denier.

There are two things that stick out in Haak’s ideas.
Firstly, his extreme and particular hatred of Anne Frank and the other Jews who were hidden during the war.
Secondly, his effusive praising of the German occupiers because, among other things, they gave him (always “me” not “us”) extra food whenever he asked. The Nazis did not just give extra food to people. They usually only gave it in return for information, about things like the hiding places of Jews.

Haak had an uncle who helped Jews for money. That was the way he made a living. There were people like that.
After the transport of Jews to the death camps was completed, the Nazis and their Dutch collaborators intensified the hunt for the hidden Jews. The “Jew-hunters” called on all members of the youth movement and their friends to join the hunt.
Haak adored the Germans and the Nazi youth movement. He was an impressionable twelve year old and believed the Nazi propaganda.
For him the hated hidden Jews were the rich Jews (later he called them “the Zionist”) responsible for the war. 

All the hidden Jews his uncle was helping were betrayed to the Nazis. Nobody knows who betrayed them. Haak knew where they were hidden. It may have been him. He had the opportunity and the motive. That could be the reason he received extra food from the Nazis "whenever I want".
That would also explain why in his later years he trolls Jewish/Israeli newspapers. He is still justifying his betrayal.
However, there is as of yet no hard evidence. I did pass the information I had on to the American Anti-Defamation League (ADL). They are investigating but I doubt it will come to anything.

There is a strange twist to Haak’s story.
At the end of his life he has become a kind of grand old man for a part of the Florida Democratic party. He is friendly with four activists there: Susan McGrath, Darden J. Rice, Lucy Trimarco and Dana Young.
By substituting "Zionist" for "Jew", the Strasserite Haak has become mainstream.

No, Alex Haak need have no fear. He can enjoy his last years.
He will die more peacefully than Anne Frank and the other betrayed hidden Jews. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

"Fight anti-Semitism: kill the right Jews"

Begin 2015 there were a number of jihadist attacks in Europe. Some were directed towards Jews. There were fatalities.
After these attacks, the Prime Minister of Israel called on European Jews to leave for Israel, where he said they would be safer. He was in the middle of an election campaign and I thought he was just playing politics, I still do. 
However, he was also right.
Not only because of Muslim extremism and anti-Semitism. The reaction to this extremism by many on the European left is an even bigger problem. They blame Israel for the rise in anti-Semitism and compare support of Israel to support of IS.

Take the example of the Labor party mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb. On the surface a vociferous opponent of anti-Semitism who uses clear language without any ifs and buts. He was even invited to President Obama’s summit on extremism.
However, take a look at his arguments. Why does he object to the chants of "kill the Jews"?
He objects because in his own words, "you cannot blame all Jews for Israel just like you cannot blame all Sunnis for IS". 
So, according to his explanation Israel is responsible for the anti-Semitism and Israel is comparable to IS. Would he object to the chant of "kill the Zionist Jews"?

It is not only Aboutaleb. Another example: a letter (the only one published) in the socialist daily de Volkskrant from Noor van den Bergh, who says she is Jewish, commenting on the attack on the Copenhagen synagogue. She objects to the Israeli flag next to the Copenhagen synagogue that was attacked. She distances herself from Israel.
In fact she is saying, leave me alone, go after the Zionist Jews.
A day later a full column in the same newspaper from Myra Keizer, who also says she is Jewish. Once again the comparison between Israel and IS. Again it sounds like, leave me alone, go after the Zionist Jews.
Both women are members of a small anti-Zionist Jewish organization, whose leader is a strong supporter of the Socialist Party.

You would have to pretty obtuse not to know what this socialist newspaper is trying to tell you.
The left in the Netherlands has turned the attack on a Copenhagen synagogue into an Israel-hating fest. This is happening all over western Europe as well.
Aboutaleb and his (Jewish) supporters have separated Jews into "good" and "bad" Jews. The good ones who hate Israel should be left alone. 
And the overwhelming majority of European Jews who support Israel, what about them? Well, anything that happens to them is their own fault for supporting Israel. 

The new mantra of the Israel-haters is, "fight anti-Semitism: kill the right Jews".