Sunday, May 31, 2015

JVP Disassociates from Alison Weir

I first came across Alison Weir in 2009, when she was asserting that Jews really did ritually murder Christian children to use their blood in religious rites. Unsurprisingly, this was pretty much the last time I paid attention to Weir, as this sort of obvious anti-Semitic crackpottery doesn't really hold much interest.

But others disagree, such as the far-left "Jewish Voice for Peace" organization. I've paid more attention to JVP, because I'm quite interested in their Herman Cain-type role in the structure of discourse between Jewish and non-Jewish actors. To wit, JVP's main function in that discourse is not to persuade Jews, but rather to say things that non-Jews really love to hear from Jewish mouths. Derrick Bell's notion of superstanding springs to mind.

I digress. JVP had previously worked with Weir, but now they have reportedly informed Alison Weir that those days are over, citing her association with various hateful and bigoted groups. I say "reportedly" because tracking down direct sources on this is surprisingly difficult to find. One blogger has what appears to be the original letter by JVP, and Weir has responded to it on her Facebook page, so she apparently thinks it is genuine, but the whole thing is a little murkier than I'd like.

In any event, assuming everything is as stated, I have a few thoughts. Obviously, it's good in some sense that JVP has (finally) decided to cut ties with a bigot like Weir. Even if it was six years after she came out in defense of the blood libel. But what's interesting about their statement of disapproval is that they don't actually object to anything Weir has said (again, not even the blood libel bit, which is a gimme!). There would seem to be plenty to choose from, but JVP is distressingly silent on that point. Their objection is rather wholly associational: Weir has "chosen repeatedly to associate [her]self with people who advocate for racism." They cite a variety of far-right White supremacist sorts whom Weir has appeared with, or been promoted by.

Now to be sure, it is troubling for anyone to knowingly appear on neo-Nazi or White supremacist radio shows, and that is worthy of condemnation. But it is more than a little odd that this is the sole focus of JVP's attack. Shorn of any indicator that JVP finds anything objectionable in Weir's own statements, it seems that their main problem is that Weir makes it embarrassingly clear that their shared ideology -- the essentially indistinguishable perspective of Alison Weir and Jewish Voice for Peace -- has significant resonance with and appeal for neo-Nazis. That far-left/far-right synergy has always been soft-pedaled by groups like the JVP, and their problem is that Weir won't play ball.

To be clear, JVP had two decent options here. It could explicitly note and condemn specific views by Weir that make her such an appealing figure for neo-Nazis. That would put daylight between themselves and their positions and those which carry the endorsement of the David Dukes and Gilad Atzmons of the world. Or if they really don't have any substantive objections to anything Weir has written, then they could show some introspection and inquire as to why their shared ideology gains such a receptive audience amongst the reactionary far-right.

But the tactic they've chosen does neither. It's a head-in-the-sand approach that condemns Weir for not keeping up the ruse. They're not upset that Weir articulates anti-Semitic beliefs. They're upset that Weir reveals that the brand of anti-Israel activism they jointly espouse is one that is happily embraced by, and seen as an instantiation of the values of, reactionaries and neo-Nazis the world over.


Unknown said...

documentation of Alison Weir's connections to and endorsement of far right groups and thinkers, and use of crypto-antisemitic ideology, is available here:

Anonymous said...

for me the thin line between weir + JVP mirrors the general thin line between the most radical critics of Israel and the israel-criticism industry. obv there are always gradations but who among the pro-Palestinian cohort does not sign onto the entire antisemitic conceit that Weir makes explicit? Mondoweiss? Electronic Intifada? the PLO? UNRWA? Breaking the Silence? Like Tenenbom points out in 'Chase the Jew' (about which I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've read it), there's this entire left-wing constellation of artists, NGOs, activists, etc all of whom are funded by Europe (and many by Germany) that is driving the vanguard of anti-Israel sentiment + thought in the world. this is why i don't support Bibi to remove the settlements for pragmatic reasons (vis-a-vis yr last post about Iran). when criticism of israel is primarily (or at least primarily driven by) antisemitism in its leading actors, a policy change is not going to diffuse the central animating factor. maybe it'll make bibi look better to americans who seem (in a world-ahistorical manner) immune to European/Islamic anti-semitism but who also may have a strong opinion on settlements. but i suspect that for most people who aren't animated by anti-semitism (or who aren't trying to appease ppl who hold antisemitic beliefs), the settlements are just not that important. why should they be? if you're a sane human being ppl buying land to build homes is just nowhere near the top of your outrage scale - even if it's in politically controversial locations.

Anonymous said...

and i understand that writing this makes me just like the strawman crying 'anti-semite!' israel critics like to paint however i'd suggest that a) i'm writing it anonymously on yr blog so if it isn't safe to talk honestly about how i see things here, where is it? and b) that the anti-Israel narrative is so out-of-proportion to both Israel's 'real' crimes, and (in)comparable outrage at other states (even democratic western ones like - cough cough the United States who sadly doesn't get its own Breaking the Silence org) that those in thrall to it must be pathological. for a ipso facto version of point b read any comment thread on Mondoweiss to see every bullet point of anti-Israelism written in what must be its original, spit-flecked, psychotic form - Jews are secretly Khazars. Zionist are Nazis. Zionazis are the greatest criminals on Earth. Israels are thieving, murdering, villains that wax their mustachios and tie Palestinian children to train tracks.

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me despair that there is even a hint of sanity or even morality among the anti-Israel left - I'm sure there are those that are anti-Israel for misguided or ignorant, but ultimately sincere reasons, but I suspect the ideology being produced is entirely representative here:

Ibrahamav said...

All well and good. Do you have any other background info on Weir? College, if any, that she went to? She claims to have been arrested in civil rights demo; anything on that? Who has the dirt on Weir?