Tony Greenstein | 03 January 2017 | Post Views:

Why David Feldman Lent His Support to a Racist Witch-hunt

I sent a letter (copied below) to
David Feldman, Director of the Pears
Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism yesterday.  I confess some people may think I’ve been ungenerous
to him.  After all he’s only a run of the
mill academic and social scientists, almost by definition, deal in ideas, which
by their nature are transitory and malleable.
Jeremy Newmark, of the racist Jewish Labour Movement, tweets that Feldman has attacked Jackie Walker as anti-Semitic.
Professor David Feldman – academic for hire

Once upon a time, I was elected
Vice-President of the Student Union at Brighton Polytechnic.  Indeed I was re-elected.  The Polytechnic authorities couldn’t wait to
see the back of me because of the trouble I had caused them!  So eager were they to see the back of me that
when I applied to do a PGCE, a teacher training course that enables you to
teach, both the Education Faculties at the Polytechnic and Sussex University, which had joint accreditation and worked
closely together, refused to accept me. 

Mingling with the good and the great of the Jewish establishment – in this case the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
That was why I became the only Jewish
student at St Mary’s College, a Catholic teacher training college which was then
part of London University now Surrey University at Strawberry Hill in
Twickenham.  In retrospect it was a good
experience.  I met and got to know a
towering figure, Father Michael Prior, who founded Living Stones, an religious organisation
in support of the Palestinians.  I didn’t
find any Christian Zionists at St. Mary’s. 
Duncan MacPherson, who was President of the local Trades Council was
another priest/academic who was a strong supporter of Palestine and later Nur
Masalha, a distinguished Palestinian academic took up residence there.
Professor David Feldman is based
at Birkbeck College, which is part of London University.  It was where I did my MA in Imperial History
and it was where Eric Hobsbawm, the leading historian of the left, taught and
worked for many years.  One suspects that
Feldman, instead of spending his time servicing the establishment with trite
and self-serving phrases might have done himself good if he had attended some
of  Hobsbawm’s lectures!
As it is Feldman is representative
of that class of academics who will change their tune depending on the audience
and who is paying for their supper.  That
is why our universities have been turned into business universities.   There
are relatively few academics who are prepared to stand out and decry the
intrusion of market economics into Higher Education.  This is one reason for the decline in tenure.
In Nazi Germany, very few
academics stood out against the Nazification of German academia.  You only have to think of Martin Heidegger,
the world famous philosopher, author of Being and Time, the lover of Hannah
Arendt, who had to flee first to France and then to the United States.  Although the most famous of those who
accepted the Nazi shilling or Reichsmark he was by no means the worst.  German academics fell over themselves to rationalise the
‘new Germany’ and to adapt their discipline to the ‘national will’.  Social sciences and law were seen as the
subordinate instrument of Gleichschaltung
which was the concept of total domination of all aspects of society by the Nazi
state.  This was what totalitarianism
Martin Heidegger in 1933
Heidegger became rector of
Freiburg University in 1933, resigning a year later.  On May 1st 1933, the day that
trade unions were abolished, he joined the Nazi party and remained a member
throughout the war.  However in his
defence it can be said that he prevented the burning of books at the entrance
to Freiburg and took steps to protect some of his Jewish colleagues, though he
refused to supervise the doctoral theses of Jewish students.  Later evidence has shown
that Heidegger had assimilated anti-Semitic concepts into his thinking and not
simply submitted to the pressure of the Nazis.
Yet German professors faced real
pressures.  Few were as brave as Karl
Reinhardt, law professor at the University of Frankfurt who wrote to the
authorities informing them as to why he was not continuing to lecture.  By 1939 45% of university professors had been
dismissed from their posts.  Even those
who professed loyalty paid the price. What is most reprehensible about David
Feldman’s academic cowardice and surrender to political Zionism’s McCarthyism,
is that he is under no compulsion or threat. 
He has a relatively secure job.  His
life is not in danger as was the case with many German academics.
Tony Lerman – forced out of his job for refusing to toe the Zionist line
By way of contrast, Tony Lerman,
an academic and founder of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, found
that he could not live a lie.  Like
Feldman he was associated with Independent Jewish Voices when it was founded in
2007 (although because of his job he couldn’t declare this openly at the
time).  Lerman became increasingly
dissatisfied with the repetitious message of the Jewish establishment, that anti-Zionism
was nothing more than anti-Semitism in disguise.  He openly said that if this was the case,
then anti-Semitism as a term was being drained of all meaning because it meant
that to be an anti-Semite, you did not have to do any of the things that were
associated with anti-Semitism traditionally. 
It was not necessary to hate Jews or to believe in the Jewish conspiracy
theory, that Jews controlled and created both capitalism and communism, or that
Jews possessed certain ‘unhealthy’ social traits that others were clear of.  All you needed to do was oppose Zionism and
the Israeli state and/or support the Palestinians.
Tony Lerman was forced out of his
job by the funders of the IJPR.  People
like Lord Stanley Kalms of Dixons and Gerald Ronson of the Jewish Leadership Council.  It was a pretty disgusting witch hunt.  When Lerman brought out a book, it was savaged
in the Jewish Chronicle.  To call the
article by Daniel Hochhauser a ‘review’ would be like describing Mein Kampf as
a history book.  It was a non-stop
character assassination.  I also reviewed
Lerman’s Making and Unmaking of a Zionist.   
Feldman asks will the old-new definition of anti-Semitism help Jewish people.  Help them with what exactly?  The whole article is suffused with truisms and leaps of logic
Feldman knows the arguments.  He knows of the work and analysis of another
non-Zionist academic, Brian Klug, into anti-Semitism.  In his report
to the Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Semitism he cited Klug’s definition of anti-Semitism
as ‘‘a form of hostility towards Jews as
Jews, in which Jews are perceived as something other than what they are’
.  He didn’t express any disagreement. It is a
rough and ready definition which serves the purpose because, as Marx remarked in
his Theses
On Feuerbach
interpret society when the point is to change it.  You will never get a word perfect definition
of anti-Semitism nor is there any need to. 
What matters is that those who are uninterested in anything other than
defending and supporting Israel have taken up the issue of Israel.
There were 3 points in his Guardian
when Feldman made it clear that he was an intellectual for
hire.  When he stated that:
  1. 1.      
    debate over antisemitism has been a surrogate for another quarrel: whether the
    Labour party should be a comfortable place for Zionists.

I’m not aware of a single Zionist,
bar Michael Foster, who has been suspended for what they think in the Labour
Party.  It is anti-Zionists, including Jewish
anti-Zionists such as Jackie Walker and myself, who have been suspended.  What is truly outrageous is that Feldman has
gratuitously attacked Jackie as coming within the anti-Jewish historical
  1. 2.      
    it is
    not only the proven incidence of antisemitism that should concern us but also
    the well of support that exists for people who reveal prejudice or callous
    insensitivity towards Jews.

Having been a member of the Chakrabarti Inquiry
Feldman knows, because absolutely no evidence was produced by it, that there
was no ‘well of support’ for anti-Semites
or anti-Semitism inside or indeed outside the Labour Party.  There have been a flood of allegations by
those well known anti-racists in the popular media – the Daily Mail, Express,
Times, Telegraph etc. but that is all there has been.  Eric Pickles and the Right of the Tory Party
are also concerned about anti-Semitism but that doesn’t stop them, to this day,
being partners of the ECR
in the European Parliament which contains genuine anti-Semites.  The fact that when challenged, both The Times and The Telegraph retracted their suggestion that I was anti-Semitic, demonstrates
how thin is the gruel that the merchants of ‘new anti-Semitism’ feed on.
  1. 3       the
    commonplace idea that racism expresses relations of power too often leads to
    the belief that it expresses only that. But racism can inform acts of
    resistance and solidarity as well as domination. If we fail to recognise this
    we will be poorly equipped to identify racism when it is directed against a
    group that is relatively affluent, coded as “white”, and most of whose members
    feel attached to the strongest power in the Middle East. It will increase the
    chances that we are blind to bigotry and myth when it is directed against
    British Jews.

In plain language, because people like Feldman are
good at dressing up stupid ideas in complex language, racism is not about the
power held by rich and affluent white people, it is about ‘acts of
resistance and solidarity’.  In other
words Black people and anti-racist activists who oppose Israel’s treatment of
the Palestinians are playing with anti-Semitism because they are challenging
those ‘coded as “white”’ ‘most of whose
members feel attached to the strongest power in the Middle East’.
  We can that Feldman, when he refers to people
being ‘coded’ he means Jews but Feldman, being a slippery academic, skirts
around the subject.
The irony of Feldman’s position is that he acknowledges in the Guardian article that Trump’s electoral campaign, was ‘sustained by nods and winks to anti-Jewish
but all he can say is that this ‘is changing the dynamic of Jewish politics in Israel and
across the world.’  
Such reticence about calling a spade a spade.  Again Feldman is more than aware of the welcome given to Trump and his coterie of advisors, headed by Steve Bannon, by the very Zionist movement that is apparently  concerned by anti-Semitism.  How does he explain this?  He doesn’t.  Like the caravan in the middle of the night he simply moves on.

The question
that I keep asking is this.  What is the
difference between someone who sells their body for money and someone who sells
their intellect for money.  Indeed is
there a difference?  Surely the former is
more honest?
New Year’s Day Letter to Professor David Feldman [email protected]
Dear David Feldman,
I copy below the link to my blog
post, which has been copied to social media, concerning your unwarranted and
unprovoked attack on Jackie Walker.
As you know, as a long standing
anti-racist activist Jackie stands in the tradition of Jewish opposition to racism,
anti-semitism, included.  You of all people are aware of how charges of
anti-Semitism have been weaponised in and around the Labour Party.  To see
you running for cover is shameful.  You sought to appease those who stand
for racial supremacy and bigotry, be it in Trump’s America or Netanyahu’s
When German academics averted
their eyes from their Jewish colleagues in 1933, at least they had good reason
to fear for their own livelihoods and worse.  You had no excuse for
joining in with the Zionist mob at Limmud.  And even in Germany there were
those like Professor Karl Reinhardt, who preferred to resign rather than accept
what was happening.  Even Heidegger, despite his Oath of Allegiance to the
Nazi state, defended 3 of his Jewish professorial colleagues.

I note the report in November’s Jewish Chronicle
that ‘When a member of the audience accused Prof Feldman of demonising Israel,
he quipped: “I think it does a good job on its own”, before
apologising for the remark after cries of protest.  I’m surprised that you
are so unware of the attack on human rights organisations in Israel, the
imprisonment of Palestinian children as young as 12, the demolition of Bedouin
villages in the Negev to make way for Jewish towns or indeed the mobs who march
to the chant of ‘Death to the Arabs’ that you felt the need to apologise. 

Perhaps if the chant of ‘death to the Jews’ were heard in Britain there would
be some substance to the fake anti-Semitism allegations that you have given
sustenance to.  In the meantime you need to grow a backbone.

Kind Regards

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Tony Greenstein

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