Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Responding to Jeffrey Blankfort

Jeff Blankfort, a veteran anti-Zionist, 
seems quite upset that my recent letter in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat was reprinted in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a weekly serving a small rural area of Mendocino County.

While I guess I should be flattered that I inspired Blankfort to research my background to discover that I am—GASP—a Zionist activist (and thanks for the shout-out for my 
book, Jeff!), he appears to insinuate that, by not providing my Zionist bona fides in my letter, I am somehow deceiving readers. Of course, there’s no space in a letter to the editor to do that. But Blankfort, in a 2500 word comment, should then have the integrity to disclose his own associations.

And what are those associations? Blankfort has presented at speaking events with Gilad Atzmon, an ex-Jew who has declared burning down synagogues to be “a rational act”, but also believes “There’s no such thing as antisemitism.”. He’s also appeared together with both Greta Berlin and Alison Weir. Berlin was a founder of the Hamas support network known as the Free Gaza Movement, which tried to bring expired medications and worn-out shoes to Gaza by boat; in 2012, she notably promoted a Holocaust denial film and then gave multiple, 
mutually conflicting explanations of how that happened. Weir appears to be David Duke’s favorite antizionist (at least until Duke tweeted out his admiration for Ilhan Omar in 2019); her books have been on sale at his website. Weir is so toxic that even Jewish Voice for Peace, which promotes an astonishing litany of lies and libels about Israel, won’t work with her.

It's only who he chooses to associate with, of course; he has his own track record of hate speech. As cited 
here, he “spoke at Oct 18 2012, at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists. Using coarse, vitriolic language, Jeff evoked the themes of classic anti-Semitism, speaking of 'Jewish power', and mockingly comparing those concerned with rising anti-Semitism 'dogs who like to roll in horseshit.'" Declaring firmly "Our business here was to stop support of Israel", he made no pretense of objectivity or impartially, until he concluded "The Jewish establishment is the biggest purveyors of untruth and disinformation you can possibly find anywhere in the world".”

Antisemitism is, at its heart, a conspiracy theory. No wonder that Cynthia McKinney, the disgraced former Congresswoman from Georgia whose promotion of conspiracy theories have made her a favorite of wingnuts the world over, is a big fan:

But all of this pales in contrast to the ne plus ultra of Far Left antisemitic online gathering places, the “Palestine Live” Facebook group started by Jeremy Corbyn supporters. The British activist David Collier has written at length about the old-school antisemitism rampant in that group—Holocaust denial, Rothschild conspiracy theories, links to white supremacist websites, uploads of the Protocols of the Elders of Ziyon (there was so much material that he had to do two separate posts on it-- 
here and here. Of course Gilad Atzmon, Alison Weir and Greta Berlin were members. So was Jeff Blankfort, who was prominent enough to be added on the SECOND DAY of this group’s existence. On page 182 and 183 you can find comments posted by Blankfort; nobody could be faulted if they had guessed that those were statements made by David Duke:

“Israelis like to use the terms blood libel and Jew hatred in the matter that some dogs like to roll around in horse shit, the only difference being that the dogs come out invariably smelling better.” And “How could anyone possibly connect Jews with money any more than bees with honey.” Blankfort spoke up about someone banned from the group for more extreme antisemitism (one can only imagine what could get someone banned from such a group), and posted, inter alia, “Most Jews are not semites.” (As if antisemitism is in any way an opposition to “semitism” or “Semites”; look up 
Wilhelm Marr, Jeff.)

So now that we have established who Jeff Blankfort is, let’s examine his response to my letter. He doesn’t straight-up assert that I am assisting the Mossad, but he does feel it necessary to spend a few paragraphs chewing over what is apparently a Hebrew neologism for those who do so, and has decided that I am indeed qualified to be one. Sooner or later, though, if you insinuate dual loyalty or even outright assistance in espionage to all Jewish supporters of Israel, you might even be correct once! Sorry Jeff, just not this time. He also cites an alleged quote from Chaim Weizmann which only appears on several quote aggregation websites with no documentation. Given that a quote such as this would have been frequently used over the decades to charge Jews with dual loyalty—especially by the KGB, which helped create the basis for modern leftist antiZionism—I would strongly suspect that this quote is just another in the very long line of deliberate misinformation known as “Pallywood”. Even if the quote were genuine, modern Zionist thought has obviously developed quite a bit over the past 100 years, and neither the State of Israel or the Zionist organizations abroad adhere to such a philosophy.

Blankfort’s rewriting of Biblical history is quite interesting. If he wants to take Genesis as literal history, he should go back and reread it. According to the narrative, Abraham indeed came from Mesopotamia but then personally went to what later became Beersheva, Hebron and Jerusalem. Everything else in the Biblical story is centered around the land of Israel.

Yet the Biblical narrative is not in any way required to understand how Jews are indigenous to Israel. Nor was it the basis for modern political Zionism, led by resolutely secular—and socialist—Jews. The land of Israel, as even Blankfort acknowledges, is where the Jewish people developed our unique identity, language, faith, and ties to a particular piece of land. Were there Canaanites, Philistines (sea people from Europe who lived on the coast), Moabites, Edomites and other tribal peoples in and around that land? Of course. But they all disappeared from history millenia ago. There are no living Canaanites who give their children Canaanite names, teach them Canaanite legends, or observe Canaanite religious practices. Yet Jews are living in the same place, speaking the same language, following the same faith, and giving their children the same names as thousands of years ago. The lie that Ashkenazi Jews have “no connection” to the Land of Israel and the Middle East is long since disproven by genetics indicating Middle Eastern origin (such markers, of course, were absent in their non-Jewish European neighbors). And despite the fact that the Khazar origin story (created by Arthur Koestler in the 1970s without any actual scientific evidence) is still worshipped by antiZionists as a way of trying to separate the bulk of world Jewry from the Jewish homeland, there is no genetic, historical or archaeological evidence to support it. How ironic that Blankfort titles his piece by referring to “Israeli mythology” while simultaneously promoting the Khazar nonsense. Let’s not forget to mention that he uses “Jewish supremacy”, a term popularized by David Duke--not a surprise, coming from an active member of Palestine Live.

Blankfort, on the basis of his extensive (4 months’) time in Israel over 2 decades, has come to the conclusion that Israeli Jews are irredeemably racist. Now let’s be clear—racism exists in Israel, and it is vile. Just as racism exists in every country in the world, and it is vile everywhere. But only in regard to Israel is it followed by “and therefore, that country should not exist” (or some variant of that). There isn’t a way, without sounding like a reprehensible bigot, to say that countries with exponentially worse human rights records than Israel towards their own minority groups—China, Russia, Iran, just to name a few—should be eliminated as nation-states. And those who come to that conclusion regarding Israel aren’t any less the reprehensible bigot. Did Israel have in its recent past have restrictions on where Arabs could rent housing? Yes. Did the US have in its recent past have restrictions on where Blacks could rent housing? Yes. Have courts in both countries taken steps to remove them? Yes. Should the US be disestablished because of this? (I'd say no, but I’m not sure where Blankfort stands on that one).

What do Israeli Arabs think about their country? In a recent 
survey, 60% said they had a favorable view of the country and 63% said it was a positive place to live. That doesn’t sound like a group being treated as Blankfort alleges.

Blankfort also has a problem with Israeli democracy—it doesn’t elect an Arab as Prime Minister. Arabs are 21% of the population. Jews are 74% (and 5% other, for those of you keeping score at home). While Arab parties were in governing coalitions in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Arab parties in the past few decades have been staunchly anti-Zionist and refused to serve in any coalition. That changed last year when Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am party served in the coalition that recently disbanded. Meanwhile, Arab members have been elected to the Knesset from various parties—Labor, centrist parties, even Likud-- and served as government ministers. Will an Arab be Prime Minister of the Jewish state one day? There’s no law against it. Just as Blankfort was still not able to find a single legal or political right held by a Jewish Israeli not also held by an Arab Israeli. Arabs even can-- 
and do-- live in Israeli settlements; though there's often friction arising from that, just as in multiethnic societies the world over. No, the Nation-State Law didn’t remove any rights from its Arab citizens nor add any new rights for its Jewish citizens.

Blankfort then goes on a lengthy tirade charging Israel with controlling US government policy towards Israel. Of course, if Israel really did control the US government we wouldn’t have had Reagan’s sale of AWACS to the Saudis, or George W Bush's apparent refusal to help Israel destory Iran's nuclear weapons development program, or Obama’s JCPOA which legitimized that nuclear program while turning a blind eye to the mullahs' drive for a nuclear bomb, or his refusal to veto UNSC 2334 which overturned decades of US policy stating that final status issues of a peace agreement would have to be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians. After invoking historically antisemitic tropes about Jewish money and power, he then complains that he will be labeled antisemitic and a “self-hating Jew.” I don’t call people such as Blankfort “self-hating”. My experience is that those like him are very much in love with themselves-- and with their edgelord willingness to deploy rhetoric used to justify the persecution and outright slaughter of Jews just a few generations ago.

Blankfort and I likely agree on one thing: that the Palestinian Arabs should be able to determine their own future in their own nation-state. But his position is that, of all the peoples in the world, Jewish national self-determination is uniquely illegitimate and the Jewish state should be eradicated, to be replaced by the 22nd Arab nation-state. (Basically, it's the same position which Vladimir Putin has taken towards Ukraine, and threatens to for other nation states within what he feels is Greater Russia.) And that is, by the criteria in the 
IHRA definition which has been adopted by three dozen democracies as well as the US Departments of State and Education, indeed antisemitic. Not all criticism of Israel is antisemitic, of course, but that doesn’t mean that none of it is. Pre-emptively declaring in advance that this would be the response to your words doesn’t in any way mean that it’s incorrect. If you’re sharing platforms with antisemites, if you’re using historical tropes of antisemitism against the Jewish state, if you're using terms popularized by actual neo-Nazis, if you’re demanding that Palestinian self-determination and dignity require the elimination of Jewish self-determination and dignity—well then you might just get correctly called out for promoting antisemitism.


  1. Jeff Blankfort and his equally obnoxious sister Jan Bauman were present at the infamous anti-Israel demonstration in front of "Israel in the ball park", where fake guns were pointed at the little children entering and exiting the venue.

    Vile, vile, people

  2. You are if anything too kind. Blankfort is also an open Hitler apologist/Holocaust denier who was caught making apologias for Nazi genocide by the ultra anti-zionist writer Tony Greenstein. Blankfort has specifically engaged in a long and friendly correspondence with the Nazi apologist and sympathizer Louis Faurisson.