Nick Cohen: How the Institute of Contemporary Arts came to symbolise Liberal Cowardice

I have argued repeatedly that 2000 marks a catastrophic moral failure on the part of the “progressive” (and even the “liberal”) left. Nick Cohen again hits the nail on the head, this time about the moral collapse of liberalism in the past decade and the corresponding rise of a post-modern fascist sensibility which, like earlier forms of fascism, found the Jews a particularly choice target for post-modern scape-goating.

MARCH 14, 2010…12:37 PM
How the ICA came to symbolise Liberal Cowardice

There is much to talk about in Ian McEwan’s Solar. As I say in today’s Observer, he makes a hat tip to John Updike and allows the great issue of global warming to be explained through the devious manoeuvres of a slobby and disreputable hero, Michael Beard. However, McEwan goes to some trouble to show that there are worse people in the world than Beard by sending him to meet a postmodern audience at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Like Lawrence Summers at Harvard, Beard had incautiously suggested that there may – just may – be evolutionary reasons for gender differences in the average intellectual aptitudes of men and women. The press denounce him as a Nazi and a eugenicist, and he agrees to appear at the ICA to defend himself. In an acid scene, McEwan shows that London followers of post-modernism are as contemptuous of the scientific method and as potentially racist as Alaskan followers of Sarah Palin.

    “When he mentioned the metastudies reporting that girls’ language skills were greater on average than boys’, there was a roar of derision and a speaker on the platform rose fearsomely to denounce him for the ‘crude objectivism by which he seeks to maintain and advance the social dominance of the white male elite’. The moment the fellow sat down he was rewarded with the kind of cheers that might presage a revolution. Bewildered, Beard did not get the connection. He was completely lost. When, later, he irritably demanded of the meeting if it thought that gravity too was a social construct, he was booed, and a woman in the audience stood to propose in stern headmistressly tones, that he reflect on the ‘hegemonic arrogance’ of his question.”

Beard’s opponent is a Jewish academic who respects the scientific literature and explains nervously why he is misreading it. Even though she is against the hated Beard, the ICA turns against her, for reasons you may be able to guess.

    “From the point of view of the audience, which seemed to be of one mind in all things, she had points in her favour and points against. As a woman she was a poor hegemon, and being unconfident poorer still. (Beard thought that he was getting the hang of this term.) On the other hand she was a Jew, an Israeli and, by association, an oppressor of the Palestinians. Perhaps she was a Zionist, perhaps she had served in the army. And once she got underway, the hostility in the room began to grow. This was a postmodern crowd with well-developed antennae for the unacceptable line. Its heart, when not seized by correct utterance from correct quarters, turned cold.”

I don’t want to second-guess McEwan, but I am as sure as I can be that the scene had its origins in a confrontation between the ICA crowd and the comedian Chris Morris on one side and my Observer colleague Andrew Anthony and Martin Amis on the other. By good fortune, Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship was in the hall and wrote a fine piece about it in the Guardian.

    “And you’re saying they [Islamists] are all murderers,” he [Morris] jabbed.

    “I think Islamists subscribe to a murderous ideology,” parried Amis.

    “So you mean they’re all murderers?”

    “No, but I believe the ideology they subscribe to is murderous.”

    This continued for what seemed like years, until Anthony deftly tagged Amis, and immediately set about the exposed belly of Morris’s argument.

    “For example, [insert name of prominent member of MCB, well known to Guardian readers] supported Osama bin Laden right up to Sept 11 2001, a period including the Kenyan embassy bombings among others.”

    Morris, on the ropes, threw out the last lunge any southpaw can in these situations: “Well we supported Saddam Hussein.”

    At this point, your humble hack had to consider. Did “we”, Chris? I certainly didn’t, and I don’t remember you doing it. Maybe you did, on your LBC show. I dunno, I didn’t live in England then, so I may have missed it.

    This was the signal for everyone else to bail in, raining shibboleths down with great fury: Israel, they cried. What about Israel? Won’t somebody think of the Palestinians! This, of course, despite the fact that I don’t ever remember Amis or Anthony saying anything anti-Palestinian. Remember – this is the liberal world, where disagreeing with Islamism is the same as hating Palestinians. Because, in this world, Palestinians aren’t people – they’re a rhetorical device. You’ll score points in every argument as soon as you mention them.

    Amis attempted to rally with a quick point about Israel being surrounded by hostile countries, but Morris slapped him down with the unanswerable “Oh my God, he’s defending Israel now”. Alas, in defending Israel, the once mighty pocket dynamo Amis had forgotten to defend himself. He reeled against the ropes, exposed. Badly exposed.

For an even more terrifying incident in England that bespeaks the same astonishingly aggressive herd mentality among the “bien-pensants” of the culturally avant-garde crowd, read this report from a Jewish-Canadian comedienne trying to wow them at a London comedy club.

Then, the final hammer blow. A grizzled old heavyweight rose, extended an arm in Amis’s direction, and proclaimed to the audience “You could read views like this man’s in the Daily Telegraph!” With this, the fight was over. For if there is one thing worse than killing Palestinians, which Amis obviously does on a daily basis, it is having a view that might, possibly, be agreed with by someone who writes for the Telegraph.

With the thorough pounding complete, the undisputed belt of righteousness was retained, and the good people of liberal England could go home happy that their great white hope, Chris “Killah” Morris, had vanquished the bad, bad men with their bad, bad ideas.

Arena had commissioned me to a write a profile of Amis, so I read Reidy’s piece, found a recording of the meeting and talked to a few principled people present. They were struck by a moment when Amis tried to get the postmodernists to see that they were failing in their duty to stand up to totalitarianism. I described it here:

    When liberal intellectuals go on one of their periodic berserkers, the targets of their rage experience three emotions. The first is astonishment as men and women who boast of their independence of mind turn into a gang of playground bullies. Outrage follows as they hear supposedly respectable academics and journalists propagate demonstrable lies. Finally they settle into a steady contempt, as they realise that many liberal intellectuals are neither liberal nor noticeably intelligent for that matter.

    Neutral observers watching Martin Amis recently at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the meeting place for what passes for the avant-garde in London, realised that he had reached the serene terminus of the emotional journey. He sat toying with a transgressive cigarette while all around him a herd of otherwise thoughtful people went quite mad.

    As anyone who reads the serious press knows, the cause of their fury was and is Amis’s insistence that there are worse ideas in the world than America, and a radical version of Islam that might have stepped out of a liberal’s nightmare is one them. That liberals cannot make a stand against a global wave of religious mayhem that is ‘irrationalist, misogynist, homophobic, inquisitional, totalitarian, imperialist and genocidal,’ to use Amis’s list, is a moral failure as great as their predecessors’ inability to see Josef Stalin for what he was and offer support to communism’s victims.

    The meeting grew angrier as he explained the obvious. So in a conciliatory spirit, Amis attempted to find common ground. ‘Would all those in the hall who think they are morally superior to the Taliban please raise your hands,’ he asked.

    Only a third did.

    Shaken, but undeterred, he sought to win the rest round. It’s not only that the Taliban throw acid in the faces of women who don’t wear the veil, he said. It is not merely that they execute teachers for the crime of teaching girls to read and write. On top of all of that they ‘black out the windows of houses where women work so that they have to live without sunlight’. Surely you fine anti-sexists, anti-racists can put aside your post-modern relativism for a moment and accept that you are a little better than that?

    When I met him in the living room of his early Victorian house by Regent’s Park, the first genteel home I’ve visited in years where you can smoke indoors, he thought his defence of the rights of women had hit home. ‘It was a statement of principle not to raise your hand,’ he said. ‘The only people you are allowed to feel morally superior to are the Americans and the Israelis. But maybe some of what I said about the Taliban sunk in. Perhaps more trembling hands would have gone up if I had asked for another vote’

    I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wouldn’t have made a difference if Osama bin Laden had appeared alongside him and declared that listening to Amis had prompted a rethink.

That a mere third of an ICA audience was intellectually self-confident enough to say they were morally superior to the Taliban has now passed into democratic-left mythology. People who have never read my profile tell me about it as if it ought to be news to me. Now McEwan has taken the confrontation and turned the ICA into a symbol of ignorance and prejudice.

From the ICA’s point of view, this must seem horribly unfair. I know good people who work there and know too that it holds serious debates. The process by which one ill-tempered meeting in the autumn of 2007 has come to stand for a whole compromised intellectual culture, must also seem to the ICA to be so random as to be incomprehensible. If Reidy had not been in the audience, if Arena had not commissioned me to write a profile of Amis, if McEwan had not been Amis’s friend, then the meeting would have been forgotten.

Unfair and accidental, the Institute’s notoriety may be, but it remains justifiable for two reasons.

1. If supposed liberals refuse to oppose movements that are “irrationalist, misogynist, homophobic, inquisitional, totalitarian, imperialist and genocidal,” it is always worth condemning them wherever and however they do it.

2. The collapse in liberal principles in the past decade has been so widespread that one vignette was bound to become a representation of the wider disintegration. The ill repute of the ICA may be accidental, but it was an accident waiting to happen.

The Massachusetts State senate just passed a bill outlawing bullying in the schools and in cyberspace. Bullying cannot be “outlawed.” It’s a question of character, and that, alas, is sorely lacking in the West these days.

54 Responses to Nick Cohen: How the Institute of Contemporary Arts came to symbolise Liberal Cowardice

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  3. obsy says:

    ‘It was a statement of principle not to raise your hand,’ he said. ‘The only people you are allowed to feel morally superior to are the Americans and the Israelis. …’

    An interesting request would have been:

    “Would all those in the hall who think they are morally superior to the Israelis please raise your hands”

  4. Richard Landes says:

    obsy, i agree. you would have had the whole audience raise their hands. couldn’t find a better illustration of their loss of moral compass.

  5. Lorenz Gude says:

    One thing I noticed that seemed to be cast as a simple repetition of history was Cohen’s reference to the left’s failure to support Stalin’s victims. For my money, the unprincipled left that has emerged in the last decade is pretty much the same as the Stalinist left of old. And “unprincipled” is the operative word. The resurgence of Stalinism is also closely related to Michelle Schatzman’s point about the domination of the anti colonial left over the human rights left. And I have to note in passing that is the trouble with Enderlin and the al Durah story – no principles. Once you see the ‘out takes’ , once you see you are dealing with toxicly dishonest people of any political stripe the jig is up. To be pointedly Goyish about it, take the recent allegations about the Pope that, as a bishop, he reassigned pedophile priests and issued orders to hush the incidents up. Once you know about them, the victims of clerical abuse are everywhere, just like fake news stories.

  6. Eliyahu says:

    The theoreticians who prepared the way for fascism/Nazism, before Hitler and Mussolini, stressed the value of emotions, of spontaneity, of the angry reaction.
    They downplayed the value of reason and facts seen as restrictive on man’s freedom and desires. Well, we have that here.

    Further, both Nazis and fascists declared that they were anti-capitalist. The Nazis were explicitly socialist [national socialist german workers party]. Not only socialist but a workers party, no less. The Judeophobic Father Coughlin in the USA in the 1930s made a certain appeal that fit very much into socialist rhetoric. Coughlin was against “international bankers,” at least he said so. So fascism and Nazism depended for their popular appeal to a great extent on socialist style rhetoric. But what they did for the workers is something else entirely. The Commies/Bolshies promised “Peace, Land [for the peasants], and Bread.” Well, after the Bolshies were firmly in power, the state took the land, hunger and starvation were widespread and there was no peace. Rather, the USSR helped start the greatest war in history. So much for slogans. In their actual practice the Commies, fascists, Falangists in Spain, Nazis, and so on, were not all that different in their results.

    What’s scary is that in the 1930s, the UK wanted to “appease” the German Nazis, even sharing/sympathizing with and/or disseminating their various territorial claims and demands. When some of those demands had been satisfied is when WW2 began. The scary part is that today the UK does the same on behalf of the Arabs and their fake narratives [cooked up in part by British psywar, cogwar experts] and unjust demands.

    These “leftists” in London remind me of the fascists and Nazi sympathizers. They are belligerent, ignorant, self-righteous, believe in Big Lies, are unreasoning and intolerant.

  7. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Lorenz, I disagree with you.

    The question is not “no principle”, it is highly simplifying principles. Of the leninist kind, even more than the copycat stalinist kind. Lenin is the incarnation of political cynicism: remember my favorite Lenin quotation: “we support them (the social-democrats) as the rope supports the hanged man”.

    The leninist point of view is that everything is permitted in order to attain the ultimate messianic goal of happiness of earth, the new man and the new society, i.e. communism.

    Enderlin has an ultimate goal: peace between Israel and the Palestinians, with an international frontier on the June 4th, 1967 line. He is willing to subject everything else to this ultimate goal, even if he has to lie and manipule the opinion.

    I am not knowledgeable about the catholic church, but I’d bet that the ultimate goal of people who sprout, claiming they were abused sexually by catholic priests is once again an ultimate positive (in their eyes) goal: reform the church in what they think it should be or destroy it as a factor of obscurantism and whatsoever.

    Who cares about truth, when the ultimate goal is so attractive?

    There is a deep difficulty in the leninist point of view: it willfully ignores the possibility that the process used in order to obtain the messianic goal might, in fact, make this goal impossible to attain (I’m not even treating the problem of the impossibility of the new man and the new society). The leninist point of view denies all complexity, all possibility of conflict between values, all grey areas, all human or psychological considerations.

    I suspect that Lenin should be the saint patron of the advertisement industry. And of the MSNM industry too: simplify, simplify, describe the world in black and white, and you’ll be sure to make a profit. Or to win power.

    The only difficulty here, is that turning language into a vehicle of permanent lies and outlandish simplifications is basically destroying language and decent communication between people.

    The ideological left keeps forgetting my favorite Lenin’s phrase. It keeps thinking that the ultimate goal of a perfectly happy society (communism or any suitable substitute) is sufficient justification for the basest acts. Messianism turned into idolatry. This is the ground for justifying that covenant between islamists and leftists. If the higher goal is an anticolonialist world, where no people will be oppressed by a foreign power, and the former colonialist states will be dissolved into harmless smaller entities, then, of course, it is right to conclude an alliance with the antiimperialists of today, i.e. the islamists, isn’t it?

    This is a highly principled and moral position, where the leftists renouce to some of their dearest values: gender equality, the right to atheism, the right to change of religion even if one is muslim. What, my friend, this is indeed an act of devotion, which should reward with praise and admiration the brave leftits who agree to forget part of their ideals in view of this wonderful goal: destroy all colonialism!

    A teeny tiny bit of jewish wisdom: should you learn that Messiah is coming, it is not sufficient reason to interrupt the children who are studying Tora. If studying Tora means acquiring a critical mind and an autonomous spirit, what more can I say?

  8. E.G. says:

    I too think the Left is not unprincipled. And I agree with Michelle characterising the “mother of all principles” as the end justifying the means.

    Once this principle is applied, lying and Taquiyya and distortion, false equivalence and analogies, hyper-simplifying some things and super-complexifying others, indoctrination, Newspeak, etc., are legitimate actions.

    An important feature of those National and International variants of Socialism is the constant resort to Jew-hatred and demonization. That’s because, IMO, what is perceived as threatening is precisely the Jewish insistence on observing the law (or principles) while systematically criticising and questioning it.
    [And, when no principle is available, there’s a search for one; And, when more than one principle can apply, there’s discussion over which is the more appropriate one]

  9. Cynic says:

    Lorenz, Michelle,

    Could not better names be applied to those you wish to describe as “anti-colonial” or “human rights” Left, because they are liars and to name their ideologies with clichés is to fool ourselves.
    They want the power of colonialists; to control the “rights” they dispense in the name of the latest standard they bear on the path to that power.

  10. E.G. says:

    I have 2 posts swallowed by the filters.
    Meanwhile – the ad!

  11. Richard Landes says:

    i agree. both enderlin and j-street see themselves as highly moral. and they think they are saving israel from itself. they clearly feel (as does this crowd at the ICA) morally superior to those gross fools who think that by the sword they will defend israel. don’t they know it’s the 21st cn? as for the pre-modern viciousness of the muslim world, that’ll all go away once they realize we’re their friends… no?

    i guess the real question is, what is that veil that produces their false consciousness, and how do we pierce it? (or is that too phallologocentric a way to phrase the problem?)

  12. Michelle Schatzman says:


    i guess the real question is, what is than veil that produces their false csns, and how do we pierce it? (or is that too phallologocentric a way to phrase the problem?)

    Please Richard, could you correct the typos and expand the abbreviations… I don’t understand this last sentence. Beyond that piercing is OK with me. If someone on the planet uses one of these supposedly male verbs, I don’t feel immediately raped. I must admit that I, too, pierce, enter, dismantle, cut up and even sew, practically and allegorically.

  13. Michelle Schatzman says:


    if you have propositions as to the replacement of “anti-colonial” and “human rights”, I’d be very happy. One of the consequences of idea hijacking is that we are at a loss with words. We have entered again the time of the unsettling lie, where words are used in self-contradictory fashion, but no one is allowed to state it.

    Eric Blair, I am so much obliged to you… obrigada?

  14. Richard Landes says:

    the veil that separates the liberal from an awareness that he is adopting a fascist discourse even as he thinks he’s defending the right values (eg J-Street thinking they’re saving democracy in Israel by overriding the voting public thru US pressure).

  15. E.G. says:


    Some are Moral Hypocrites. Some others are demopaths as well. At any rate, it’s true that “anti-colonialists” has not much sense these days (it used to be anti-Imperialists, a term nicely adjusted to Russian and British ears).

    What these people are doing is monopolise a terminology (and a conceptual frame) that is consensual these days for both Right and Left, and injecting into it some new meaning. So one a priori agrees with Human Rights, and self-determination, autonomy, equal rights… until one realises that they actually mean discrimination and hierarchisation… in short, a “new order” rather than a more flattened re-distribution (of power, resources), with new order-givers at the top.

  16. E.G. says:

    Regarding Israel, Moral Hypocritical Demopaths operate one of their usual reversals. The Israelis are deemed both responsible for the fate of others (Venerable Others, mind you: World Jewry and Palestinian Arabs) and irresponsible for choosing the leadership and the policies that will ensure their own good fate and fortune (hence “save us from ourselves”).

  17. Eliyahu says:

    When will intelligent people realize that the “Left” today is mostly a mood, a cult, an inchoate, amorphous mass movement, manipulated by psywar/cogwar experts?? It is better understood through social psychology than through any logical critique or examination of ideologies. Nick Cohen and Ian McEwan’s writings above make clear what we already knew. We are dealing with fanatic cultists who ought not be assumed to have an ideology, not even an imperfect one, for an ideology is too bound up with reason, with some logic and consistency [not always to be sure]. These people are manipulated by slogans, prejudices and emotions. Some of Ray’s notions about a set of feelings or prejudices becoming integral to a person’s personality make sense in this context. These people, exemplars of unreason, have been under psywar/cogwar manipulation for years, it seems. Hence, the notion of Left which presupposes certain historical principles, goals and loyalties is out of place in this context.

  18. Michelle Schatzman says:


    maybe your analysis could apply to the leaders of the left, the ones who are aware that they are orchestrating the manipulation. But the funny thing is that the Komintern is dead, so I really do *not* understand who might be orchestrating anything internationally.

    But it certainly does not apply to the willing victims of manipulation.

    Unless you can point out to me real psywar/cogwar experts (and name names, please), I’ll rather think that the psychological explanation hinges on people telling themselves lots of lies, and pushing themselves to believe them, probably because it makes them feel good.

    It is very sad to realize that Mashiach is not coming through the freeing of proletariate, the winning of the damned of the earth, or any other secular idolatry. This realization makes people feel terrible. And if, on top of it, one has also to realize that the US are not all bad, that Israel is not the devil, and that Hamas and Fatah are not sweet victims whose word is gospel, what will remain?

    Are we, in some way, witnessing the final fall of the terrible secular religion of communism and all its successors?

    There is an immense nostalgia for communism in countries which never enjoyed the real thing. Some people on the reasonable left in France (yes, they exist) start thinking that the social situation was better in the time of the cold war and the iron curtian, because at that time, the “socialist” bloc frightened the politicos and the bosses, and therefore it was easier to develop an anticommunist left and to get quite a few wins.

    There is some truth in that statement, I must admit. Somehow, we have to completely overhaul our ideologies. I am deeply sensitive to social distress, and there is lots of it in the industrialized countries. Social struggles are not going to go away, because they come from reality. But they probably need an utterly new paradigm.

    OK, time to vote (before 8pm, in my town), and I am going to draw lots right now.

  19. Cynic says:


    But the funny thing is that the Komintern is dead, so I really do *not* understand who might be orchestrating anything internationally.

    International media giants?

  20. Michelle Schatzman says:

    International media giants? But they are so much more conservative than the crazy left! Rupert Murdoch is no friend of the glitzy english liberals described by Nick Cohen. And I’m afraid that Bertelsmann is not scoring any better with these fellows.

    So, Cynic, tell me who could play the rôle of the “chef d’orchestre clandestin”…

  21. Eliyahu says:

    Michelle, I think that the most significant mindbenders in the last 60 + years have been British psywar/cogwar experts, who invented the notion of a “palestinian people” heretofore unknown to history. Let’s not names for various reasons. But the most important have been British. Then of course we have American entities like the Ford Foundation which set up the Durban I conclave which was supposedly “anti-racism” but turned into an orgy of hate against Jews and Israel. It is not only the leaders of “leftist” groups that manipulate minds. The media do it all the time. It is interesting that in different countries, different facts about the Middle East, for example, are regularly omitted from “news” coverage. How much coverage is given to the persecution of Christians in Egypt, in “new, democratic Iraq,” and in the palestinian authority?? The palest authority just closed down a Christian-oriented TV station in Bethlehem. Did you know about that? The manager was one Samir Qumsiyeh, who has gotten some modicum of news coverage over the years, but not much. You probably know that the Fatah named the main square of Ramallah after a major terrorist [dalal mughrabi] last week, shortly after Biden left the country. But was this reported in the major French media. Mughrabi led a gang of terrorists who landed on a beach in Israel, killed a nature photographer shooting sea birds, then took over a bus, killing 38 people altogether, including 13 children. Let’s assume that you knew that much since you are well informed. Maybe you also knew that the nature photographer was an American woman, Gail Rubin. But did you also know that she was the niece of a US senator, Senator Abraham Ribicoff??

    Obama’s gang had nothing to say about that. It ought to have been considered an affront and an insult to the United States, indeed to the US Senate. But Obama, Hilary, and Axelrod did not mention it in their public appearances. They did not publicly protest it, as far as I know. Nor was it much reported in the American press, if at all. Do you know differently? If not, then we can say that the Obama crowd accepted the affront and insult to America made by the Fatah.

    That the story of renaming the square in Ramallah, of Gail Rubin’s murder and of her connection to Ribicoff show that the news is manipulated, not just by direct lies but by omission, which may be worse in the sense that if they lie directly, some people can read between the lines.

  22. Eliyahu says:

    to continue with distinction between today’s “Left” and the historic Marxist “left” is the way almost no Leftist intellectuals today talk about the labor exploitation, the near-slavery conditions in Arabia, that is, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, etc. Yet these countries own billions of dollars worth of assets in Western countries, including real estate, industrial-manufacturing concerns, bonds [incl. US T-bonds], etc etc. They are major capitalists. And by Lenin’s definition of imperialism [essentially finance capitalism] they are also imperialists.

    Do we hear any discussion of that by the “Left”?? How about France’s M. Besancenot and Mlle Arlette so-and-so? They are fire breathing revolutionaries, aren’t they?? Do they ever apply Lenin’s definition of imperialism to the super rich Arabs?? Do they show concern for the semi-slaves in Arabia?? We could go on and on.

  23. E.G. says:


    But why have you omitted the KGB fabrications? Or is it a lie the Ford foundation et alii. made us gobble?

  24. E.G. says:

    I agree with Michelle about the distinction between “leaders” and the hoi polloi.
    I agree much less about the wilful self-delusion. I think most of these people lost connection with facts, meaning, proportions, having been subjected to indoctrination, channelled and reinforced by Academia and media.
    Ignoring or discounting anything that doesn’t fit one’s conviction is the normal consequence of individuals being imperfect information processors.
    Taking advantage of it, useful idiots are produced en masse.

  25. Eliyahu says:

    EG, you refer to KGB fabrications. Sure. And the Western powers lie too. Especially about Israel. I said before that British psywar/cogwar experts invented the “palestinian people” as an excellent psywar/cogwar instrument for destroying Israel. First, they pretend that there is this poor, woebegone little nation, a collective Jesus in fact, that was oppressed, dispossessed by the alien intruders, the Jews –of course, we merely meant to say “the Zionists”. We didn’t mean to say “Jews,” we’re not antisemites!

    Indeed, the Western powers had been keeping the 1948 Arab refugees in refugee settlements [I don’t say “camps” because they don’t live in tents but in permanent buildings]. The Commie powers did not pay for the Arab refugee settlements and for UNRWA.

    And now Western psywarriors have invented even an ancient history for these “palestinians” which gets credence among anthropologists, who are mostly soft-brained. The “palestinian people” notion has no documentation behind it, no written records, no inscriptions, no archeology. But it is pushed in the media, in the universities, by certain churches, by “left” groups which are mainly manipulated by govts. The Palestinian Arab intellectuals got on board too.

    In this effort, the Jews are deemed aliens to the land that the Romans called Judea. The notion of Jews as aliens is obviously an old theme in European Judeophobic belief. The difference now is that the new Judeophobia says that the Jews are not alien to Europe but are essentially, quintessentially Europeans –that is, racist, Aryan oppressors and colonialists– and are alien to the Middle East. So the new Judeophobia in its anti-Zionist form has the Jews no longer alien in Europe but now alien to the Middle East, whereas Jews used to be commonly called “Orientals.” What this brilliant, diabolic propaganda has done is to simply transpose the locus of the Jews’ alien nature from Europe to the ME. When they were far more numerous in Europe than today, they were told go back to the Orient, to “palestine”. Get out of Europe. Kant, Hegel and Voltaire did not exactly say that but seem to have been thinking it. D’Holbach either said or came close to saying it. Of course, various 19th century Judeophobes in Europe did say it. The Brit novel Trilby focusses on an evil, swarthy Jewish villain, obviously not a real, decent, upstanding, moral Nordic European. Now, the belief that Jews are alien to the ME is commonplace in that same Britain where Trilby was such a popular novel at the end of the 19th century.

    So the new Judeophobia/anti-Zionism plays on old Western Judeophobic themes, includes the crucifixion which is now supposedly inflicted on the “palestinians” who continue in fact to call themselves Arabs and also –in the case of Hamas– part of the Islamic nation [ummah]. Both the Arab and Islamic ummahs are much bigger than Israel, so in order to portray Israel as a Goliath, a huge monster, an ogre persecuting or crucifying somebody, then the palestinian Arabs cannot be seen as part of those two large human groups, nations, but as a small, innocuous people repeatedly crucified by Israel, that is, the Jews. In that way, the “palestinian” Arabs are viewed as a collective Jesus. So anti-Zionism today plays smoothly into old, traditional Western beliefs about Jews. These beliefs are, I repeat: the alien nature of the Jews and the Jewish propensity to crucify the weak, innocuous, and innocent. There may be some more.

    And this kind of psywar/cogwar propaganda is carried out in the West and, I believe, was mainly conceived by British experts. Did Western media, like Time magazine, really need the KGB to tell them not to publicize the Arab-Nazi collaboration?

  26. E.G. says:


    And there’s this too:

  27. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu and all,

    An interesting documentary (be sure to watch part 2 too)

  28. JD says:

    “But the funny thing is that the Komintern is dead, so I really do *not* understand who might be orchestrating anything internationally.”

    What’s to organize? The believers are still here.

    And it was not the Komintern, but usual Soviet propaganda offices from about 1967-1986 and their admitted anti-Zionism campaign. All the same arguments one hears today came out of the early years of the campaign.

    One curiosity is the obsession with nationalism. This was a peculiarly Soviet fear for domestic reasons, as has proven true with the break up. The fear was projected onto Israel, fueling crazed obsessives later. One victim was Tony Judt’s mind, who seems like a busy beaver these days writing about everything else after he exposed himself as a Sovietized idiot. He wants people to forget I mean, really, complaining about Israeli nationalism as contrary to human goals, etc., and exceptional, after the break up of the Soviet Union, Bosnia, etc. Nations are in!

    There was no secret British operation, that’s junk.

  29. obsy says:

    Truth is only truth. It has no social value on its own.
    Conventional wisdom is accepted information.
    Many people do not want their veils to be pierced.

    Point out their stupidity and convince the others.

    EoZ has three good posts up (about lady ashton and msm):

    The article about Clinton’s defense for Fatah is also worth noting. Though, this is at virtually every blog that I read.

  30. Michelle Schatzman says:


    I basically agree with you – though nevertheless, many of the present day believers came to conscience after 89-90. Saying that the Komintern is dead was a way of saying that the Soviet empire does not exist any more – as you probably understood.

    I do not believe either in a secret British operation.

    I was thinking that, maybe, one of the reasons that this enormous twisting of thought is happening has to do with the way our democratic societies work.

    By construction, democracy may be a fairly unstable regime: if a given society is split almost by half, majorities change all the time. Either all possible majorities look very much alike, or they do not.

    If they do, then an anti-system movement is prone to develop. This is for instance the case of Austria, where governments are usually coalition governments between left and right, and therefore, there is much continuity between any two given governments. Such a situation has fostered the development of the extreme-right.

    If they do not, as in Spain for instance, then the people may find that too many changes of policy occur, and it is difficult to swallow in day to day life.

    In a way, there is an intrinsic problem in democracy: it can work only if most people subscibe to some civil religion. In the USA, it is fairly obvious that the Constitution is the God of civil religion. I am afraid that most European countries are losing their civil religion, or have already completely lost them.

    In any case, one of the requisite characteristic of a functioning civil religion is that it must not be felt as a religion, i.e. something with a degree of arbitrariness, but as the unsaid foundation of civic life. I’d venture the idea that, as soon as it is named as a civil religion, it basically stops being efficient – which makes it hard and dangerous to think about it.

    One of the most impressive examples of civil religion is what Orwell named “common decency”, i.e. an implicit list of behaviors that are desirable or unacceptable.

    Another example is what Robert Putnam analyzes in his work on social capital: clubs, associations and civic organization creating feed-back in prisoner dilemma-like situations.

    Therefore, I venture an explanation of the present situation: uncomfort with loss of civil religion and lack of social capital drives people to get reassurance from junk mental food, i.e. totalitarian leanings. Junk food makes you fat and sick, junk mental food does the same to your society: it makes you join the masses and abandon your free will to manipulators. Manipulators have always been around, as well as bacteria and viruses. Manipulation can take on a weakened population. Then, it is just transmitted, by human interaction.

    Being human, we live from interaction. Being interactive, we learn very early to represent the other in our minds, and to put ourselves in her place. If the other seems ot have a very twisted way of thinking, either we abandon interaction, or we twist our mind in the same way.

    This theory might account for the persistence of prime divider societies: abandoning interaction is deadly in these societies, so people have to acquire the twisted mindframe.

    Another observation is that we enjoy unstable societies, according to a very basic principle, which says that if it is stable, it is difficult to change its course.

    Any constuction that has to have dynamic uses must confront the stability/drivability conflict. France is, for instance, known to be a society where small changes are extremely difficult to operate, and change mainly comes through large movements – no small earthquakes, only large ones.

    Answers? No, not really. I never took u the prophetizing career, it’s probably too late now.

  31. Eliyahu says:

    “I do not believe in a secret British operation.”

    But do you agree that the UK was a silent partner in the Holocaust with all that is known now about the results of the 1939 British “white paper on palestine”?? Plus the orders given to the BBC by the Foreign Office, headed by Anthony Eden during WW2 not to publicize the Holocaust?? The BBC did not report on the Holocaust until late in 1942 at the insistence of Shmul Zigelboym, delegate of the Jewish Socialist Bund of Poland to the Polish National Council [Polish govt-in-exile] in London.

    Also search my blog for quotes translated from Shmul Zigelboym’s memoirs.

    Now if the UK was a silent partner in the Shoah, suppressing the news of it, enforcing the very restrictive immigration policy for Jews into the Jewish National Homes, then when did the UK stop being Judeophobic on the level of high politics?? After WW2, as Meir Zamir has shown, Britain aimed to set up a grand pan-Arab state in the Fertile Crescent which would be under British guidance and sponsorship. In this context, the UK actually took direct part in the Arab war against Israel even before 15 May 1948. If Israel had helped to thwart British plans for a pan-Arab, British-sponsored pan-Arab state, then that might well be reason enough to plot to undo Israel.

  32. E.G. says:


    Whether you name it a religion, a cult, or a set of principles people freely adhere to, the outcome is the same. The question is how come democracies have become vulnerable by “religiously” living by their democratic standards and principles.

    I don’t think that as soon as it is named as a civil religion, it basically stops being efficient. Why would spelling things clearly hinder a system’s efficiency?
    Nor that uncomfort with loss of civil religion and lack of social capital drives people to get reassurance from junk mental food, i.e. totalitarian leanings. Though I like your “junk mental food” analogy (BTW, what do you mean by “social capital”?)

    IMO, democracy, like any system, contains features that are dysfunctional. And these dysfunctions are being exploited by Moral Hypocrite Demopaths. They’re largely helped by the MSM, if only because of the MSM’s inherent dysfunction of focussing on “Man bites Dog” (i.e., exceptional, rare events; minority opinions).

  33. Lorenz Gude says:


    When it first rains here in Western Australia the power goes off – I’ve lost two replies so here goes again. I agree there is a difference between unprincipled and highly simplifying principles’ and I see that Enderlin may be acting on principle and note RL’s comment that he is sincere. I also agree with you that highly simplifying principles are a part of what the media uses to manipulate. Not just Fox and MSNBC in the US but also the more serious press like the NY Times or the WS Journal.

    But I want to point out that for me there is another side to it. Sometimes we have to make black and white decisions leading to action and therefore make sharp judgments. That is what is behind my phrase ‘the jig up’ for the ideological left and for Enderlin. RL made such a judgment when he decided to expose him. To quote an old bit of ‘Roman Catholic’ wisdom sometimes attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux ‘ the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ I’d be surprised to find there was not a pithy Jewish equivalent. My larger point being that good intentions only go so far.

    To be serious about Catholicism for a moment I was born into that faith, experienced clerical abuse, and cast myself into outer darkness (gratefully) at the age of 16, world without end, Amen. I harbor no desire to destroy the Church which provides genuine spiritual sustenance for many or to reform it. It will have to that for itself. And, yes there those who claim clerical abuse out of therapeutic fashion, badly judged idealism as you suggest , or just plain mendacity. I bring the existence of clerical abuse up from time to time because to never bring it up is to be silenced.

    On further reflection what I think is going on with the ideological left and Enderlin is a loss of balance. The process you describe where anti-colonialism or peace trumps everything including truth and other ideals ostensibly held is, for me, a serious and destructive loss of balance. I felt you implied something like this the in latter part of your post. You seem to me to treating the rationalization process with open sarcasm which certainly echoes my feeling. Prior to that you describe the process as “Messianism turned into idolatry”. Indeed. I understand the position Moses took a little better now. :-)

  34. Cynic says:

    The problem to my way of seeing things is that there is no fixed set of rules that must be followed in a just society.
    Democracy, for example, is defined as X but is structured as Y.
    e.g. a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections but then the creation of a “supreme” court which can be loaded with partisan bias to which the people have no recourse; democracy?

    For example the US was originally set up as a Republic but with time the Constitution has been eroded by judicial shenanigans which has gone from pure judgment according to constitutional terms/rules into basically twisting it to legislate and create new realities thus usurping the “power invested in the people”.
    Democracy being a cliché was shaped and moulded by the class in power to mean whatever they wanted and the ability of the people to understand words, so poor, that they are unable to be vigilant sufficiently to protect their rights.
    The one thing that the US Constitution, which I use in this example, lacks is the insistence on education as a principle foundation for a person’s freedom and independence.
    Whoever shouts loud enough can inveigh and insert their imaginings into the stew as others are cowed by the sight of the cudgel of “civil religion”.

    People have lost sight of the fact that “humans” are still basically part of the animal kingdom with all its natural/inherent aptitudes and impulses, subdued to some extent by the philosophical goblins strewn in their path by the would be messiahs.

    democracies have become vulnerable by “religiously” living by their democratic standards and principles.
    because there are no hard and fast rules to hold “them” on track. Basically people are too scared to because they are insecure in their own knowledge of the rules (standards and principles) to stand up and object as e.g. (hee) the PC multiculti diversty stick/schtick is wielded.

  35. Cynic says:


    Something I must disagree with you on and that is using the word “principle’ in such close association with the media.
    There is nothing principled in their manipulation of the readers.
    With regard to the NYT I think you should have qualified “serious” with “agenda driven” given the rubbish, in my opinion, written by Friedman, Cohen et al. :-)

  36. Cynic says:


    Here’s another smack for the NYT’s reporting
    The New York Times once again shows itself a stranger to the truth

    It reinforces the dismaying fact that if you want to inform yourself properly about the Middle East, the mainstream media reports are simply to be avoided. They promulgate so much disinformation, propaganda and lies that it is now impossible for the average reader to know when any such reports are actually telling the truth.

    Phillips links to this post by Rubin
    How NY Times Coverage Buries Middle East Reality; Find the Four Gigantic Errors

  37. Michelle Schatzman says:


    in your #32, you write:

    <blockquote cite =”I don’t think that as soon as it is named as a civil religion, it basically stops being efficient. Why would spelling things clearly hinder a system’s efficiency?”>

    As soon as it is spelled clearly, the arbitrariness of the construction is made clear. Then it becomes an object of ridicule, and next, it gets forgotten.

    The one wrong thing with us is, that we do not realize that all rites, all social habits, all social constructs have a significative degree of arbitrariness, even when they are useful and necessary. Languages, for instance, are highly arbitrary, and they show the traces of a long history, with its high number of accidents.

    If I say that such and such behaviors participate of the civil religion, then, immediately, I disqualify them, because the word “religion” in such an irreligious country as France is very negative. However, the word “civil” should correct the feeling that “religion” creates, but it does not.

    Maybe it is different in other countries.

    @all: I hope to have more time to answer your comments during the coming days.

  38. E.G. says:


    Tech note: the “grammar” for quoting is to use blocquote the same way as i or b (once in the beginning, and once at the end with /).

    And there we go. A democratic system is not an arbitrary one; It does contain a few arbitrary elements, and rather fewer than in other government systems. If noticing such elements in social rites or language use were indeed obstacles, we’d have long ago stopped practising these ridiculous means to interact. Because many more people than you seem to think have already noticed them.

    IMO, it’s precisely the too scrupulous (better than religious, eh?) adherence to some democratic principles that sometimes highlights their inherent dysfunctions e.g., freedom of expression. How far can/should it go? Is it acceptable to give a public platform to calls for abolishing democracy or discrimination in the name of that freedom?

  39. E.G. says:

    Cynic #34,

    because there are no hard and fast rules to hold “them” on track.

    Them who?

    Indeed objecting the apparently knowledgeable (mis)interpretations of what democracy is, and what can be done in the name of its “sanctified” principles can be fearsome, especially once a dissident does dare and is given the opprobrium treatment.

    I’m sure Michelle can tell you more about Bernard Kouchner’s invention of the “Right to intervene” (or was it the obligation?) in cases such as the ex-Yugoslavia civil war. In the name of Humanity and Humanitarian Intl. Law, of course. Few objected, though I’m not sure whether it’s been actually adopted or merely remained a rhetorical device.
    At any rate, it wasn’t present during the Iraqi operation debates.

  40. E.G. says:


    I just learn that “the road to hell…” is not a Jewish adage. Indeed, I never encountered it in the scriptures (but I’m no specialist). The one I’m familiar with is:

    “This world is like a vestibule before the world to come; prepare thyself at the vestibule, that thou mayest be admitted into the hall.”

    (Talmud, Ethics of the Fathers/ Pirkey Avot 4:16)

  41. E.G. says:


    I just learn that “the road to hell…” is not a Jewish adage. Indeed, I never encountered it in the scriptures (but then, I’m no specialist). The one I’m familiar with is:

    “This world is like a vestibule before the world to come; prepare thyself at the vestibule, that thou mayest be admitted into the hall.”

    (Talmud, Ethics of the Fathers/ Pirkey Avot 4:16)

  42. E.G. says:


    I just learn that “the road to hell…” is not a Jewish adage. Indeed, I never encountered it in the scriptures (but then, I’m no specialist). The one I’m familiar with is:

    “This world is like a vestibule before the world to come; prepare thyself at the vestibule, that thou mayest be admitted into the hall.”

    (Talmud, Ethics of the Fathers/ Pirkey Avot 4:16)

  43. obsy says:

    Is Hamas trying to protect Clinton by creating an incident that perfectly fits her words?

  44. Cynic says:


    Them who?

    The “democracies”.
    You wrote:
    The question is how come democracies have become vulnerable by “religiously” living by their democratic standards and principles.

    Each one makes up its own version of the “cliché” (ultra-orthodox, orthodox, conservative, reform, neo-reform, neo-conservative, secular, secular-reform, …) rolls it up and inserts it inside the hollowed out cudgel, sort of like a mezuzah, which it then waves around and threatens all and sundry in its demagoguery.

    The only time there was a real democracy at work, from the voting point of view, was in Rio in 1988 when a Chimp in the zoo, Macaco Tião, was put up for Mayor of Rio and some 400,000 dissatisfied citizens voted for him having decided against all the other candidates. He came in third in that election.
    Unfortunately such a form of protest is now prevented making it impossible for those with insufficient funds to have a “democratic” voice.
    Voting is not the be all and end all of a democracy, but unfortunately the “democratic standards and principles” is not fixed but can be and is manipulated exposing the vulnerabilities of permitting monkeys, after being elected, to carry out the “religious precepts” with regard to the ancillary institutions necessary for a “democratic” process.

  45. Cynic says:


    When the French “intervened” in Green Peace’s boat in the harbour in New Zealand, was that Democracy at work? :-)
    One has to start treating these clichés with contempt and conjure up hard and fast rules for use in coming to terms with modern man in a society.

  46. Cynic says:


    With regard to your link, as far as I know it was reported at the time that one of the “martyrs” Reem Riyashi was forced into an affair with her husband’s cousin, a member of Hamas, and was made a choice she could not refuse.

    The Radical Islam Suicide Hotline and Dispatch Center

  47. E.G. says:

    Hillary adds fuel to fire
    Establishment of Palestinian state would promote rather than curb terror,7340,L-3867836,00.html

  48. Lorenz Gude says:


    I recently wrote this comment over at Bill Roggio’s the Long War Journal:

    I think it is fair to say that most MSM reporting of the [Afghan] war is an attempt to control domestic perceptions of the war. That is the 20th century industrial age model of centralized control of information and exercising the power that control gives. Which is why I read Bill [Roggio] and Michael Yon to get an independent view of what is happening. It is not that they too don’t have a point of view – all of us do – but rather that they don’t see themselves as gatekeeers but know they are one voice of many on a network.

    And I have already read the excellent fisking of the NY Times piece done by Barry Rubin. I first experienced the NY Times doing this sort of thing in 58-59 following the progress of Fidel Castro from Oriente Province to Havana. The Times presented Fidel as a social democratic reformer. Pfui! Just as Walter Durranty covered up Stalin’s slaughter of the Kulacks in the 30s. My father didn’t fall for that one either. On the other side of the ledger John Burns of the NY Times did an excellent job covering the Iraq war from Baghdad always trying for balance and to get beneath the surface. It was also obvious after a while that the editors were at the very least putting his material under their own headlines which were, of course, tailored to their agenda. Another example would be that the Times published a Brookings Institution piece by O’Hanlon and Pollack entitled A War We Might Just Win before the ‘General Betrayus’ hearings in which Hillary made a bit of a fool of herself with her ‘suspension of disbelief’ remark. She was trying to make the good general out to be General Westmorland, but anyone who read the independent journalists and Iraqi bloggers or even just the Brookings report had more than enough information to know General Petraeus was being principled in his estimates. So I agree that anyone who depends on the NY Times for their understanding of anything political – the Middle East in particular – will be constantly misled. Unfortunately a large proportion of our educated classes do rely on it and think it is quality, principled journalism. The good news is that they are going broke and are talking about putting themselves behind a pay wall again. The bad news is that the iPad may give them a new lease on life and that in any case they me be deemed ‘too important to fail’.

  49. Cynic says:


    I hope that, if you read the comments in your Ynet link, you will realise that it is not “I” commenting there. :-)

    By the way this Mark Steyn piece aptly describes why my contempt for the “clichés” exists.
    Bienvenue au Canada

    Dean Steacy, lead investigator of the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission:

    Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.

    Susan Cole, Canadian “feminist,” defending the mob on Fox News:

    We don’t have that same political culture here in (Canada)….We don’t have a 1st Amendment, we don’t have a religion of free speech….Students sign off on all kinds of agreements as to how they’ll behave on campus, in order to respect diversity, equity, all of the values that Canadians really care about. Those are the things that drive our political culture. Not freedoms, not rugged individualism, not free speech. It’s different, and for us, it works.

    Translated from the original Canadian, “diversity” means “state-mandated mob-enforced conformity.”

    Everything reduce to believers and deniers – religion of free speech: whatever next?
    It is all relative.

  50. student aid says:

    Many Many thanks for this nice posting it is very help for me There are daily reports of a dysfunctional health system: overcrowded and overflowing emergency rooms, the closure of intensive care beds due to personnel shortages, and patients who are dying because they are not operated upon in time. In the schools, there is a lack of dictionaries and reference books; even pencils are sometimes in short supply. Nurses are forced to work overtime to make up for the lack of personnel, and teachers must contend with increases in the number of pupils per class medical school.

  51. Cynic says:

    student aid,

    If you are referring to the British National Health System the word “dysfunctional” is far too weak to describe the sickness at work in the minds of those running the system:
    Ambulance service gets £38 for every patient they don’t take to hospital

    Patients’ groups expressed horror at the “sick experiment” in which NHS managers have agreed to pay £38 for every casualty that ambulance staff “keep out of Accident and Emergency” (A&E) departments after a 999 call has been made.
    Documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph disclose that staff at Britain’s largest ambulance service have been encouraged to maximise the organisation’s income, by securing payments for diverting patients to telephone helplines.
    Last week, an investigation was launched at the ambulance trust piloting the scheme following the death on Thursday of a man whose case was referred for telephone advice when an ambulance should have been immediately dispatched.

    And these are the very same Brits who pontificate on “Human Rights”, Diversity, Democracy, yadda yadda!

  52. Daniel Bielak says:

    The comment by “student aid” is spam.

    There have been several similar such spam comments, with different names (with links to spam-type commercial organizations) given as the authors, on posts on this blog.

  53. […] It’s hard to think of a better example of the kind of aggressive stupidity that inspired the title of my next book: They’re so smart cause we’re so stupid: A medievalist’s guide to the 21st century. Think Eric Holder, and John Brennan, and the Department of Defense, and the list of useful infidels goes on and on. […]

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