Showing posts with label Jason Cherniak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jason Cherniak. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Jason Cherniak's anti-Semitism

In the comments section of my previous post cuddly ex-blogger Jason Cherniak wrongly claims that the political cartoon I posted is anti-Semitic. His argument is premised on the blood libel, an ancient anti-Semitic canard in which local Jews would be falsely accused of the ritual murder of Christians (usually children) in order to use human blood for the baking of matzos or as part of a religious ceremony. The blood libel was patently absurd since there is an abhorrence of blood in the Jewish religion - the reason for instance why in order to make meat kosher a butcher has to use salt to purge every last drop of blood from it. Thus the suggestion that Jews would actually use blood as part of a recipe for unleavened bread and consume it is literally anathema to actual Jewish dietary laws. Worse, these false claims were often pretexts to pogroms or other violent and often murderous attacks on Jews.

Ok, so now you know what blood libel is. Below is the cartoon in question:



Jason Cherniak responds to this cartoon by saying "What a picture. Glad to know that the blood libel still lives strong in your warped mind."

The cartoon is an artist's comment on Israeli military aggression against the people of Gaza. I posted it in response to the current air bombardment which has claimed over 370 lives. This brutality is being inflicted after a year and a half long blockade of the Gaza Strip. There are no religious connotations, whatsoever, in the cartoon, not even a Star of David. The soldiers are not depicted as having any of the stereotypically Jewish features one would see in anti-Semitic cartoons. If it weren't for the words "Israeli occupiers" and "Gaza" the soldiers could be Russian, British, French, American or any other attacking army in the world. There is no suggestion of religious ritual, no Jewish religious garments be they kippot or prayer shawls or tzitzi'ot. No matzot, no menorahs, nothing, in other words, to suggest that what is being depicted is a ritualized religious murder or anything that would be the basis of a blood libel.

Depicting an army or military leader as butchers or dripping with blood is a standard image in any political cartoonists library. Change the labels and this could be a cartoon criticizing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or Czechoslovakia, the American invasion of Iraq or Cambodia, the Chinese attack on Tiananmen Square or, indeed, it could be a critical depiction of Hamas:



Cherniak and I had the following exchange by email:

Firebrand: You're kidding me. The editorial cartoon isn't even remotely anti-Semitic.

But yes, as a Jew the memory of the blood libel does live strongly in my mind - my family fled Russian pogroms and ended up in Romania which was one of the most anti-Semitic nations in Europe between the wars (before the rise of Nazi Germany) so yes Jason, I know what the blood libel is and this isn't it.

Please don't debase the concept of anti-Semitism by applying it so casually to legitimate criticism of Israel.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Jason Cherniak:
Being Jewish doesn’t allow you to ignore basic facts. You posted a picture of Jewish butchers with Palestinian blood on their knives. Do you really not see how that is similar to suggesting that Jews drink the blood of children?

FB: The soldiers are not identifiably Jewish - there are no stereotypical signifiers nor any use of Jewish symbolism such as the magen david.

Implying that soldiers engaging in a massacre (such as the killing of over 370 people) are butchers is a standard device when criticising any military operation. The soldiers in the cartoon could be Russians, Americans, French.

You are suggesting that a massacre carried out by Israelis should be treated differently than one carried out by any other military. I, for one, do not think Israel should be treated differently.

By casually throwing out accusations of antisemitism you are denuding the concept and making it easier for actual anti-semites to get away with it.

I can see why the Liberals don't want you to blog on their behalf and why partisans of other parties were sorry to see you go. You're an embarrassment to whatever side you argue for and as a Jew I find you as embarrassing as Liberals must have.

Please resume your policy of being 'off politics'.

JC:
It was my choice to stop blogging. Nobody asked me to, smartass.

As for the picture, did you miss the word "Israeli" on their clothing? What are you smoking?


FB: the point is there is no stereotypical or symbolic invocation of Judaism.

as you should know the blood libel was the false accusation that Jews kidnapped and killed non-Jewish children and killed them for ritualistic reasons to use their blood to make matzah or for some religious ritual.

There is no such connotation in the cartoon.

You are distorting and reducing the blood libel to argue that any reference to blood is antisemitic and completely disregarding the fact that references to blood and butchery are de riguer in artistic criticisms of military conflict. How do you suggest that an artist criticise the Gaza invasion without reference to blood, murder and death.

All you've shown is that you are unable to refute Barghouti's essay and prefer instead to avoid the subject by engaging in slander.

As for your blog - it may have been for a decision but I know for a fact that senior Liberals have thought it an embarrassment for years.

The 911 blowback that ended up in Dion being embarrassed and having to axe his own candidate was just the last straw. That "own goal" of yours will be with you for a long time

JC: Butcher's knives are used in kitchens where people make food for humans, goddmanit. Use your head.

Again, lol on the blog thing. You're a fool.


FB: again - it's standard to use that analogy when criticising military action. As for the blog - fine if I'm wrong restart it and see what... sorry phone trouble. if i'm wrong restart it and see what happens to
your 'career' in the Liberal party.

and if i'm wrong about your motives for ignoring the article to attack the cartoon then go ahead and refute Barghouti

JC: It's pretty clear I'm not going to convince you, so I'm not going to bother

FB: Considering that you have been unable to refute one argument I've made regarding what blood libel is or what war criticism is I'm not surprised. i have a cartoon somewhere of Brezhnev as butcher in regards to the soviet invasion of afghanistan. doubtless that's antisemitic too?

btw, do you mind if I publish this correspondence?

JC: Only if it is unedited.


Unfortunately, it's become more common for pro-Israel polemicists to deliberately conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism in an attempt to delegitimize said criticism and defame the critics. This tactic can only give comfort to actual anti-Semites as by overextending the concept of anti-Semitism these polemicists are effectively making the concept of anti-Semtism meaningless and making it easier for actual bigots and racists to practice their craft.

As British philosopher Brian Klug, a founding member of the group Independent Jewish Voices, wrote in his seminal essay, The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism "when anti-Semitism is everywhere, it is nowhere. And when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognize the real thing--the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance."

In response to an essay by the American Jewish Committee accusing Jewish critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic, the New York Times interviewed British historian Tony Judt, one of the essay's targets. According to the Times: "The link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created,' [Tony Judt] said, adding that he fears 'the two will have become so conflated in the minds of the world' that references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust will come to be seen as 'just a political defense of Israeli policy.'"

It is important to be clear about what anti-Semtism is and what it is not. When the Jason Cherniaks of the world refuse to make the distinction because it is convenient to use anti-Semitism as a pretext to dismiss all and any criticism of the Israeli government then they demean the memory of those who have died or suffered under the heel of anti-Semitism over the centuries and give comfort to Jew-haters everywhere. To the extent that Israeli politicians encourage this deliberate conflation of anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel, they put themselves in opposition to the interests of the Jewish people throughout the world by sacrificing their safety and security in the interests of short term polemical gain.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza has risen to 360 and Cherniak would have you believe that this can't be referred to as butchery or bloodletting.
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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Cherniak and 9/11 "truthers"

Jason Cherniak and his hangers-on have played fast and loose with the facts in order to insinuate that there are prominent NDPers who advocate wing-nut 9/11 conspiracy theories. How unfortunate that it turns out the first major party to boast a bona fide 9/11 "truther" is none other than the Liberal Party thanks to Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes who claims that Israel is behind the attacks.

German Intelligence (BND) claims to have warned the U.S. last June, the Israeli Mossad and Russian Intelligence in August. Israeli businesses, which had offices in the Towers, vacated the premises a week before the attacks, breaking their lease to do it. About 3000 Americans working there were not so lucky.

Thanks to Dawg's Blawg for doing what Cherniak only dreamed of doing - finding a major party candidate who is also a 911 truther.

Update: The Liberals have dropped Hughes as a candidate. Congratulations to Jason Cherniak for scoring on his own net. Had it not been for his logically tenuous accusations against the NDP various bloggers would not have been motivated to dig in Jason's backyard.
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Saturday, 20 September 2008

Jason Cherniak gets it wrong

Jason Cherniak is a well known Liberal blogger cum pitbull. In a blogosphere of partisans Cherniak is a sectarian extraordinaire who never fails to rush to judgement in the absence of facts if he can score a few partisan posts. Recently, he has smeared a political activist named Stacy Douglas who was a provincial NDP candidate in Scarborough Agincourt in the 2003 provincial election and planned to be a federal candidate when it looked like there would be an election in 2007.

On Friday, Cherniak made a post on his blog titled NDP fired candidate who was anti-Israel which claimed in no uncertain terms that Ms Douglas was "fired" by the NDP for comments she made in support of Palestinian rights. He repeats the claim, using the phrase "getting rid of Dougls" instead of "fired" in a subsequent post. Cherniak's evidence? Well, she was the candidate at one point and is no longer and she wrote a letter to Jack Layton in March complaining about the party's decision not to back the Durban II conference on racism. In the absence of any actual factual evidence (such as a statement or news item) stating why Douglas no longer is the candidate, Cherniak assumed, in the absence of any facts, that Douglas must have been dropped as a result of the letter. After all, correlation must mean causation ergo a letter written in March and someone not being a candidate six months latter means the two events must be connected. So concludes the steel trap mind of Jason Cherniak and hey, if his finely tuned legal intellect makes a supposition it's not just an ordinary suppostion it's as good as a fact; hence Jason's assertion that his blind speculation must be true.

The problem is it isn't.

My grade 6 teacher used to say that when you assume you make an ass of u and me. In this case, Cherniak has only made an ass of himself. The fact is that Ms Douglas is not a candidate because she is in England this year pursuing her academic studies. Had there been an election in 2007 or early 2008 she would have been a candidate. Had there been an election, as scheduled, in the fall of 2009 after her year abroad was over, she also may have been a candidate but as the Prime Minister decided to break the spirit of his own law and call a snap election Ms Douglas cannot be a candidate because she is not in the country.

So here is the upshot of this. Because of Cherniak's combination of intellectual arrogance (if I thinks it it must be so) lack of due diligence (if I thinks it's a fact there's no need to verify it) and general sloppiness he's now defamed a once and possibly future poltical candidate with the claim that she was fired by her party for her criticisms of Israel, a claim which in this day and age also implies the existence of anti-Semitism.

It's one thing to criticize other political parties based on their actual deeds or misdeeds or on their policies but to engage in this sort of smear because of intellectual laziness is not acceptable. I say intellectual laziness because Cherniak is a law school graduate and should have at least a passing familiarity with the methods of critical thinking and debate. If this is an example of Cherniak's analytical mind at work then I think he's going to have a very serious problem practicing law, particularly when it comes to arguing cases in court. If he was deliberately disregarding logic and due diligence in order to score cheap points than shame on him but moreover shame on anyone who takes his blog seriously. The reason the BBC was a force to be reckoned with during World War II's propaganda wars was because they had a reputation for being factual and credible. Once you become known to invent facts for propaganda reasons you're finished and if Cherniak does not take responsibility for his mistake and apologize then I think he's finished as a serious commentator.
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