Thursday, November 10, 2011

Another Hajaig-Style Apology

After a speech where she darkly warned about "Jewish money" controlling America, South African official Fatima Hajaig issued an "apology" that somehow managed to be more offensive than the original statement. Its hallmarks included claiming that the statement was only anti-Semitic in the minds of the beholder (alongside the classic I-apologize-if-you-were-offended structure), and spent the vast majority of her time reassuring everyone that she would not be cowed in expressing anti-Israel rhetoric or her belief that the evil hyper-sensitive Jewish Zionists were the real problem in any way, shape, or form.

Union activist Steve Hedley apparently was taking notes. We reported on him for referring to a Jewish interlocutor as a member of the "chosen people", implying in the course of it that this would cause the Jew to feel better than him. Now he's, well, sort of apologized (via TULIP):
The phrase “chosen people” refers to the Jewish people, comes from The Torah and is repeated in The Bible (Deuteronomy 14:2. It has been adopted by right-wing Zionists as a Biblical justification for the seizure of Palestinian land, which they see it as their God-given right. However, I accept that my use of the phrase in the context of the highly inflammatory argument with aggressive and disruptive intruders trying to wreck a public meeting and provoke a reaction, was unwise and I regret using the phrase. I apologise to anyone who may have been offended by this remark.

I have never been, nor will I ever be, anti Jewish, or racist against any nationality or ethnicity. Neither will I refrain from criticising Israeli state policy towards the Palestinian population where that policy is discriminatory, oppressive and racist. I regret that I was provoked into making statements that could be deliberately and maliciously miscontrued by right-wing Zionists who are openly hostile to trade unions, openly consort with the neo-fascist EDL and who wish to smear my reputation and that of my union.

"I'm sorry that I let evildoers provoke me saying into something that they were able to manipulate." My heart just wrenches. It is worth noting that I know of no evidence that "chosenness" is an important or even noticeable part of right-wing Israeli rhetoric justifying seizure of Palestinian land. I'm dubious given the actual religious meaning and pedigree of the term, and suspect that Hedley is simply lying here, but I'm open to evidence to the contrary.

The apology, incidentally, is prefaced by several paragraphs of accusation that paints the victim of his anti-Semitic assault as a consort of the EDL who was there to disrupt the meeting in service of an anti-union agenda, as well as the classic "can't tolerate criticism of Israel charge". You can read the victim's account of the story here, as well as his response to Hedley's faux-apology, which he calls "defamatory".

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