UCCF blogger gives Carte Blanche to ‘Israeli Apartheid Guide’

The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) blogger Daniel Blanche reviews Ben White’s new book at Shiny Ginger Thoughts:

So, my friend Ben wrote a book. As a result of writing this book, and of the other work he does, my friend Ben was denounced as an antisemite and a holocaust denier. To reassure you, he is certainly neither of those things. But he has written a controversial book.

Ben White was not ‘denounced as an antisemite and a holocaust denier’ as a result of writing this book. Back in 2002, White wrote that he does not consider himself an antisemite, but he understands why some are. In 2006, White argued that Ahmadinejad wasn’t really denying the Holocaust when he called the Holocaust a ‘myth’. Following widespread public criticism of White’s book, White condemned Holocaust denial and antisemitism, although in his book, White recommended the writings of French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

I finished reading this a couple of days ago, but I need to put some thinking time in before I reviewed it. I can see why people are angry about it. I can see why it has attracted a lot of negative press. But I think you should read it. I really do.

Ben takes us through three broad sections. The first relates the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It tells the story of the rise of Israel, and the subsequent displacement of the Palestinian people. It is a powerful story, powerfully told, using quotations from early Israeli leaders and interviews with Palestinians affected.

These quotations, however, include doctored quotations, such as the fake quote that Ben Gurion said “We must expel the Arabs and take their places”, when he actually said ““We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places.”

What comes across most clearly is the awareness that the Zionist project would require the eviction of the Palestinian people if it was to succeed – and great lengths were gone to in order to ensure that it did succeed. At the end of the section, I was angry. Very angry.

The second section has to do with the current apparatus of Israeli apartheid.

Here Blanche casually uses the term ‘Israeli apartheid’ as if it were a factual description. Yet the term is historically, morally and intellectually flawed. The South African anti-Zionism movement and its use of the apartheid analogy has itself been critiqued in detail.

Ben talks us through the situation on the ground for Arabs within Israel and those in the OPT, again drawing on a wide range of sources. It is painful reading. When I got to the end of this section, I felt more or less despair. How could anything change such a system?

This ‘wide range of sources’ includes Ilan Pappe, Uri Davis, Charles D Smith, Tom Segev, Tanya Reinhart, Jeff Halper, Hussein and McKay, and Maxime Rodinson. White’s use of sources is successfully critiqued here. One wonders how much attention Blanche has really paid to White’s historiography?

And so the third section, which outlined action that I could take, was great. Ben refuses to allow us to walk away because the situation is too complex, or the solutions too distant. We must do something; I must do something. Ask me in a few months what I’ve done – I know that I am too prone to laziness, and am likely to let this challenge pass me by.

What does White challenge Blanche to do? Boycott Israel, divest from Israeli companies and ‘international companies that are profiting from doing business with apartheid’, campaign for EU and international sanctions against Israel. White’s calls for boycotts have influenced churchmen as high profile as Brian McLaren. For many, such calls appear to be an extension of his Israeli Apartheid Gospel, deeply rooted in what seems to many as racist theology. One wonders whether Blanche subscribes to the same theology, namely that Jews cannot have a state because God doesn’t like them anymore?

After the final section is an excellent FAQ, which helped to answer some questions I had about the topic, and should probably be made available online if at all possible. It would by itself lend a lot of clarity to discussions of the issue.

Ben has been criticised for writing a one-sided story. It does come across as one-sided. But then, it seems pretty clear that the reality of the situation is also one-sided.

So the children of Sderot, for example, have been invented as Zionist propaganda?

The book does acknowledge Palestinian violence, and perhaps is not as clear in denouncing it as some would like. But the picture here is of an occupied people fighting against their occupiers – is that really so clear cut, so obviously morally wrong? I suspect that only those who have never experienced the situation could say so.

Does Blanche differentiate between Palestinian violence which is self-defense, violence which is directed against soldiers, and violence expressed as suicide bombs in Israeli cafes, restaurants and nightclubs? The difference should indeed be clear cut and obvious for all.

Ben has also been criticised for quoting innacurately. I don’t know whether that’s true or not; Ben has defended himself here. But it doesn’t ultimately matter all that much.

Well, isn’t this a revealing paragraph? Blanche claims that it does not matter whether White has been quoting inaccurately in his book. I would suggest that Blanche, who argues that there is a difference between ‘fact’ and ‘value’, reconsider some facts about this book and how it was promoted and launched.

Because the reason people are so angry at this book is because it makes the one critique of Israeli policy that is worth making, and that goes to the heart of the issue. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. In other words, it defines itself in ethno-religious terms. Only Jews can be Israeli nationals; all Jews are welcome in Israel. Imagine if someone suggested that Britain should define itself in terms of a particular ethnic identity! Oh, wait, that would be the BNP – and we don’t like them, right?

By Blanche’s definition, the 57 states which identify as Islamic along ethno-religious lines would also be racist, BNP-like states. Yet Israel is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, with approximately 1 in 6 citizens being Arabs, and Jewish citizens from all corners of the globe, including Ethiopia, Morocco, India and Iraq. One wonders why the Jewish character of the state of Israel is more offensive to Blanche and White than the Islamic character of the 57 Muslim states?

Ultimately, Ben argues that Israel/Palestine must be a place where Jews and Palestinians are equal under the law, and a state which exists for the good of all its citizens. This is much more radical than the two-state solution, much more difficult to move towards than even that mirage. But anything else enshrines racism as a successful nation building strategy.

The world really doesn’t want to go there.

Any serious attempt at anti-racism in Israel/Palestine has to tackle the expressedly racist and genocidal aims of the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, drawn from religious jihadist ideas, and deny them a platform. Ben White has, ironically, attempted to downplay the jihadist nature of Hezbollah, and praised Christians who are involved in Islamic ‘resistance’ against Israelis. The ruling party in Gaza, Hamas, incidentally, remains a Nazi organisation.

I would assume that if there were a person preaching a similar worldview against Palestinians as Ben White does against Israelis, Blanche would condemn him forcefully, wouldn’t he?

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21 Comments

Filed under apartheid analogy, bigotry

21 responses to “UCCF blogger gives Carte Blanche to ‘Israeli Apartheid Guide’

  1. angry anarchist

    Just goes to show what an ignorant twat Blanche is, even after having read White’s shite, and supposedly now having a beginners guide to the situation, he still dribbles out “Only Jews can be Israeli nationals”. What a load of old bollocks, how about the million Israeli Arabs for starters. Israel is a multi-ethnic, cross-cultural, multi-faith state, a Jewish homeland that is also home to many other nationalities and faith.

  2. angry anarchist

    I see that on the Blanche blog he is running scared and not wanting to talk anymore! http://danielblanche.blogspot.com/2009/07/israeli-apartheid-beginners-guide.html Typical of these arrogant white-conservative-evangelical-know-it-alls who think that they are perfectly placed to mediate conflicts thousands of miles away and thousands of years old, they make bold statements then shit themselves and say they don’t want to discuss it anymore when someone has the temerity to challange them. As I said previously…. twat!

  3. seismicshock

    Today Blanche has admitted he has a ‘desperately sick heart’, and his soul has advished him to ‘talk properly, you cretin’: http://danielblanche.blogspot.com/2009/08/run-away.html

    Whilst it’s nice to see him loudly professing his own humility on his blog, perhaps he would step down from his pedestal and debate with us mere mortals on this topic?

    Perhaps Blanche would also stop to consider whether his ‘desperately sick heart’ indeed has anything to do with his admiration for Ben White’s book?

    One wonders if Blanche and his soul are in conflict over Ben White’s recommendation of a Holocaust denier in the book Blanche just gave a glowing review to?

  4. angry anarchist

    Seismic, I’ve just read his ‘Run Away’ blog, so now he’s a wanker too!!!???

  5. seismicshock

    AA: one possible interpretation of the ‘Run Away’ post is that Blanche is worried about his own attitude towards Jews, and this article describes his inner conflict over the matter. Perhaps Blanche could enlighten us?

    • angry anarchist

      Seismic, you forget that these God-has-finished-with-the-Jews types don’t show any regret or ‘repentnace’ for their theological antisemitism, they don’t have the mustard to admit that they are wrong on this at it will reveal their true heart of hate towards to Jew. They have to hide it with theology.

  6. Hello angry people.

    Just wanted to put it on record that my blog is not in any way connected to UCCF, and my opinions are personal. Obviously I stand by them, but wouldn’t want my employer to be ‘implicated’.

    Ta very much.

  7. seismicshock

    Mr Blanche, is your ‘Run Away’ post about your conflicting feelings towards Jewish people? Please, enlighten us.

    I will interpret your dodging of the moral and ethical issues raised in this post, your eagerness to bring the debate to a close, and your failure to answer basic questions put to you on your own blog (what do you think of White citing a Holocaust denier? simple question isn’t it?), as a tacit admission that you haven’t done any homework on your friend’s book.

  8. modernityblog

    Daniel,

    I don’t think we are angry so much as perplexed, as to why, otherwise intelligent Christians, can not see any problems when the net results of White’s distorted view of the Middle East is to increase animosity towards Jews?

    Surely, as a Christian, you can’t think that it is a good idea?

  9. angry anarchist

    According to his blog Blanche has blanched again and will no longer engage in debate on the issue he raised as, accordign to him, no one is likely to change their mind. I wonder if he takes that approach in his “ministry” with university students and only speaks to those he knows he can win the argument with. Perhaps all he can do is hide beind the weighty theological tomes that he boasts that he likes to read in his spare time (such false humility) http://www.uccf.org.uk/students/regional/east-central/contacts/field-staff/daniel-blanche

  10. Paul

    I wonder how, in his “ministry”, this shit Blanche relates to the many Jewish students whose paths he will undoubtedly cross.
    Does he communicate the “love” of his “Christ” in the same ways as did Martin Luther, John Chrysostom and so on, by openly hating us?
    He would, I have no doubt, like us to follow the examples of his “Christ”. This, presumably, is the same “Christ” who was born, lived and died as a Jew? Born in Judah, lived in Israel and died in Judah according to their “new Testament”. Not a single mention of a “Palestine” in the entire Bible. Not a mention of his “Christ” being anything other than a Jew. That must stick in his antisemitic gullet, don’t you think?

  11. seismicshock

    One more thing he might have learned from Ben White!

    • angry anarchist

      Also playing the victim is another trick he has learnt from his mate White.

      “As it is, I’ve received nothing but hate, on this blog, other people’s blogs, and now through my e-mail. It feels a lot like an intimidation campaign.” whinge whinge whinge….. such a tender gentle Christian boy who can’t really cope in the world of men’s debates. Really, complaining that people are emailing him, replying to his blog and on other blogs, poor lad, he really is part of the persecuted church, his life must be so difficult! Perhaps he’ll claim that the International Zionist Conspiracy is out to get him now.

      If he wants to feel what being hated is really like, wear a kippah and go to a Ben White book launch.

  12. angry anarchist

    hey maybe he’s not a twat after all as he seems to be admitting on his blog that he may be wrong, so I wish him well on the masturbation issue, don’t really want to be rubbing the man up the wrong way for too long after all!!!

  13. seismicshock

    Good to see Daniel has responded to some of the concerns posted on his blog. To be fair, Daniel was probably unaware of the controversy surrounding Ben White’s book and concerns about White’s conduct towards the Jewish community.

  14. modernityblog

    I give up with that thread.

    Rarely have I found smugness and ignorance bound together with such care, except on Blanche’s blog.

    Their contempt for counter thesis or fact is palpable.

    Their ignorance of Christianity, antisemitism and how they are perceived suggests that they are not amenable to, or capable of, reason.

  15. seismicshock

    Absolutely Mod, I think your comments on that thread were very insightful.

    Incidentally, Philip Blue seems to think ‘the Jewish vote’ is holding back fair play:
    http://philipblue.blogspot.com/2009/01/change-you-can-believe-inobamas-israel.html

    Whatever the reasons for supporting Israel or not, given his silence thus far, his appointment of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, as well as his selection of advisers, Mr Obama seems unlikely to be less supportive of Israel than Mr Clinton. Only when they are free of the electoral necessity to court the Jewish vote will Democratic presidents strike a more evenhanded pose. But for now, Mr Obama’s promised change will not materialise.

    Is this what passes for political commentary these days? Is this really worthy of a writer who boasts of an Oxbridge education and a spiritual quest for truth? To blame the Jews for holding back justice?

    This comment is up there with “If there weren’t any Hispanic vote, Mr Obama would have a more evenhanded immigration policy” in terms of bigotry.

    And then he has the temerity to accuse you of distracting from the issue at hand. It’s as if Blue was writing satire – he expounds all his efforts in the thread to attack Israel, and then accuses you of ‘defaming’ other countries!

  16. modernityblog

    I don’t mind disagreements, but PR for the Syrian Govt. is a bit much to take. I have never heard anyone suggest that:

    “For the record, most still have Jewish minorites that are extraordinarily well treated. For example, Iran (not actually Arab) constitutionally must have at least 1 Jewish member of parliament. I’m not a fan of Iran, but that is one point in its favour.”

    “extraordinarily well treated”????

    There are many issues with debatable points but that shouldn’t be one of them

    Just in case, Blue or others need confirmation of the status of Jews in Iran, I hope that they watch this small BBC story on them. Look out for the piece on the cemetery.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/avdb/news_web/video/9012da680051d70/bb/09012da680051d71_16x9_bb.asx

    or http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3681938.stm

  17. angry anarchist

    Just revisited the Blanche blog and noticed their typical English belief that because they were polite that means they won the argument…. bollox!

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