In the space of two weeks, anti-globalization activist and best-selling author Naomi Klein, the preeminent figure of the radical left, published a lengthy essay justifying the U.N.’s disastrous Durban II racism conference, and helped organize a boycott of this week’s Toronto International Film Festival — for the crime of showing Israeli films. The New York Times reports that celebrities who signed Klein’s boycott letter include Harry Belafonte, Viggo Mortensen and Julie Christie. However, Jerry Seinfeld, Natalie Portman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisa Kudrow, Patricia Heaton and Lenny Kravtiz countered with an ad supporting inclusion of Israeli films, and opposing blacklists. While Jane Fonda initially joined Klein’s boycott, she has now apologized for endorsing its “inflammatory” words.
The following editorial by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, in today’s National Post of Canada, exposes Naomi Klein’s irrational rage — and reveals an ugly episode from her past that she has been carefully hiding.
The strange, enduring rage of Naomi Klein
September 15, 2009
GENEVA — Supporters of liberal democratic values may have a hard time understanding why anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein has recruited Jane Fonda and other stars to boycott the Toronto International Film Festival for the crime of showing films from Tel Aviv, a symbol of tolerance in a region of tyranny.
Klein has never called for a boycott of films or any other products from the dozens of Arab and Islamic countries that systematically subjugate their women, torture dissidents and persecute religious and ethnic minorities.
She was not moved to protest when the city of Toronto twinned with Chongqing, nor when it established a “friendship relationship” with Ho Chi Minh City, despite the widespread human rights abuses in both China and Vietnam.
Nor has she ever called for the boycotting of films from the many Western democracies, including Canada, whose soldiers are fighting Islamist terrorists in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Klein’s singling out of Israel — particularly its most liberal city and cultural sector — has no rational basis.
This should come as no surprise. For while Klein’s statements and writings on Israel pose as sober analysis, the truth is that she has always acted on this subject out of intense emotion, hysteria and anger, rather than rational thought, facts or logic.
“This is, I think, the most emotional event I have ever done,” she recently told an audience of 500 Palestinians in Ramallah. “I have never had this feeling before, this feeling of overwhelming emotion.” This was how she opened her speech that accused Israel of committing “apartheid,” and Jews, except the tolerant few like her, of using the Holocaust as “a kind of get-one-genocide-free card.” The crowd, according to reporter Patrick Martin, responded with “one of the longest and loudest rounds of applause I have ever heard.”
At first glance, Klein’s targeting of Israel seems a newfound passion. The subject was absent from her first two books, as well as from her columns in the 1990s.
In 2007, however, Klein devoted a chapter of The Shock Doctrine to her theory that Israel seeks war for financial gain. In January, when Israel fought to end Hamas rocket attacks, Klein called for a global boycott –against Israel, not Hamas.
And now, in a cover story for this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, Klein offers a revisionist whitewash of the anti-Semitic Durban conference of 2001, laments the collapse of this year’s Durban II conference and portrays Jewish organizations as lying profiteers who sabotaged this UN cure-all for racism. As she did in Ramallah, Klein accuses my organization, UN Watch, of “misinformation,” yet fails to name a single example.
Ignoring the mass “Kill the Jews” marches during the 2001 conference, Klein accuses the late Congressman Tom Lantos and other Jewish delegates of creating a false memory, belatedly conflating a harmless gathering with the 9/11 attacks that followed days later. In fact, the hate-fest was documented in numerous statements, news reports and editorials published during the event itself. She cites cherry-picked quotes from Shimon Peres to support her arguments, without mentioning that he instructed his delegates to walk out of the Durban conference, describing it as “a farce” where “human rights were defeated,” and as a “court of mockery of justice.”
As to Durban II, Klein’s fictionalized account imagines that a newly hired UN bureaucrat was the organizing force, but avoids any mention of Najat Al-Hajjaji, the representative of Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi who actually headed the two-year Durban II planning process, as well as the final conference’s main committee. The essay has gone completely ignored.
But Klein has certainly succeeded in becoming today’s leading opponent of Israel in the Western world. While this is a new role for someone famous as an anti-capitalist crusader, the truth is that Klein has nurtured a strange rage against her own people, faith and national cause, from a remarkably young age.
At 12, as Klein has proudly recounted, she wrote her Bat Mitzvah speech “about Jews being racist.” Her target then was attitudes supposedly held by her sixth-grade classmates in Montreal’s well-respected Jewish People’s School.
As a college student in 1990, Klein wrote an editorial (see full article below) for the University of Toronto’s student newspaper The Varsity, entitled “Victim to victimizer.” In her various accounts, Klein describes a simple op-ed that urged Israel to “end the occupation not only for the Palestinians, but also for its own people, especially its women.” To organize a response, she claims, no less than 500 Jewish students gathered for a “lynch mob” meeting. However, she showed up herself, unrecognized, and stood up and told them off. “I was 19,” Klein told the Guardian, “and it made me tough.” The experience “prepared me for controversy,” empowering her to take on multinationals and the World Bank. Heroic stuff.
The facts, though, tell a very different story.
Klein’s article was anything but normal. Its thesis sentence and blaring headline: “What Israel has become: Racism and misogyny at the core of its being.”
“Israeli men,” she said, “reach maturity by brutalizing and degrading Palestinians.” Then there was “Israeli men’s misogyny toward Israeli women.”
Most disturbing, said Klein, “is something known to Israeli women as ‘Holocaust pornography,’ where images of emaciated women near ovens, shower heads, cattle cars and the like are used to sell clothing and other products.” Jewish women, she informed her readers, “are sexualized as Holocaust victims for Israeli men to masturbate over … the themes are fire, gas, trains, emaciation and death.”
If such aberrant ads or magazines ever existed, they were well hidden. But Klein was looking to demonize — not only Israel, but Judaism, and Jews.
“A Jewish education is an education of fear,” continued Klein. “Jews made the shift from victims to victimizers with terrifying ease.”
“I wish to be saved from Israel,” she concluded. “I am a Jew against Israel — just as Israel repeatedly proves itself to be against me.”
Interestingly, all this Goebbels-like venom — Israel as wicked, racist and depraved in its essence — as well as the article’s hysteria, rage and paranoia, are erased from Klein’s later accounts.
As to her alleged confrontation of a lynch mob, the Canadian Jewish News reported a meeting between 50 Jewish students and the Varsity editors, noting Klein’s attendance. It says nothing about her supposed dramatic intervention. Others present don’t recall any. Either way, Klein claims the community’s outrage changed her life, scaring her into silence on Israel for over 10 years. Now she’s back, and with a vengeance.
Two decades ago–in the “Victim to victimizer” article that she continues to revere, even as she has been hiding its true contents — Klein asked Toronto to hate Israel on the grounds that “racism and misogyny” were “at the core of its being,” a society sick on “Holocaust pornography.”
In her recent op-ed calling on Toronto to boycott Israeli films, Klein attacks the Jewish state for objecting to the Goldstone inquiry on Gaza created by the UN Human Rights Council — in which the Arab-controlled body declared Israel guilty in advance.
The path to Middle East peace requires mutual dialogue, recognition and compromise — not irrational boycotts motivated by selective morality, anger and rage.
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch in Geneva (unwatch.org).
(Naomi Klein, The Varsity, University of Toronto, Nov. 29, 1990, pp. 5-6)
Click here for original Varsity article in PDF
Victim to Victimizer
What Israel has become: Racism and misogyny at the core of its being
By Naomi Klein
There is name for Jews like me. I am called a “self hating Jew.” You see, Jews are not allowed to dislike other Jews, to disapprove of mainstream diaspora opinions, or to criticize Israeli policy in anything other than a strictly Jewish forum, without being accused of self hatred.
Why all the guilt? Because a Jewish education is an education of fear. From early primary school we are thought that Jews have always been persecuted and hated; that Israel exists for a reason: because nobody else would take us, because they will come again. The climax came in the fifth grade on a class outing to a Holocaust exhibit. These are photographs of gas chambers, these are lampshades made of Jewish skin, this is you.
However, it is not the non-Jews I fear. When I speak out on issues of misogyny in Israeli culture – of Israeli soldiers’ brutality towards Palestinian women, of the escalating incidents of battery and rape of Israeli women by Israeli men, of the abusive treatment of women who dare to protest the occupation, and of the servile attitude of the diaspora, it is only other Jews who come after me, as they have been known to condemn the many voices of dissent in our community. I am asked to believe that this country which silences me is going to save me. On the contrary, I wish to be saved from Israel.
Jews made the shift from victims to victimizers with terrifying ease. Military service is compulsory in Israel. It is the backbone of the Israeli economy. Although women are also drafted, they are mainly channeled into secretarial jobs. Every Israeli man from the age of 18 to 21 serves in the army. They are taught the siege mentality and to hate Arabs. This hatred makes these lost years meaningful.
These young men, who begin to feel their own strength and the strength of their country with a machine gun in their hand, are reported to go into Arab villages and gratuitously scatter garbage and broken glass for Palestinians women to pick up with their bare hands. This is above and beyond the sanctioned bulldozing of Palestinian homes, the closing of their schools, and the shooting of their children. After all, Israelis are stronger; they have guns. Israeli men reach maturity by brutalizing and degrading Palestinians, particularly Palestinian women.
The effect the violence in the Israeli male’s life has on Israeli women is worsening. As the brutality of the intifada escalated, so does the brutality in Israeli homes and reports of rape. In the army, brute force rules and it appears to be crushing Israeli women.
By far the most disturbing development in Israeli men’s misogyny towards Israeli women is something known to Israeli women as “Holocaust pornography” where images of emaciated women near ovens, shower heads, cattle cars, and the like are used to sell clothing and other products: “Jewish women are sexualized as Holocaust victims for Israeli men to masturbate over… the themes are fire, gas, trains, emaciation, and death,” writes Andrea Dworkin in October 1990 Ms. Magazine.
A woman walking alone in Jerusalem has the freedom to choose which type of harassment she will endure depending on which part of town she is in. On one side, she can expect verbal and possible physical sexual assault from Israeli men who believe that a woman alone is asking to be raped. On another side, in the orthodox districts of the city, she can expect to be stoned by Israeli men for showing a little too much skin. But that’s not violence — that’s religion. And when a ten year old Palestinian boy throws a rock at an Israeli soldier because he has robbed him of his freedom, he gets shot. But that’s politics, not religion.
Women’s concerns about rape and brutality are considered trivial when men are busy worrying about death and war. But, in Israel, the feminist and the peace movements are closely connected. There is an organization in Israel called Women in Black. They are women in mourning until the end of the occupation. Every Friday afternoon, groups of Israeli women dressed in black stand vigil at busy intersections all over the city, holding signs which read “End the Occupation” in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. They too are stoned – for political and religious reasons. Passing cars throw fruit and insults; calling them “traitors” and to “go fuck an Arab.” Since the increased tension in the Gulf, conditions have deteriorated. Last month, right-wing Israeli protesters came to a vigil with sticks and beat the Women in Black, calling them “Hussein’s whores.”
There are dialogue groups of Palestinian and Israeli women that organize conferences and teach-ins on the intifada. In Tel Aviv, a group called ”Yesh S’vul” [sic] (there’s a limit) protests near the Women in Black. They are a small group of soldiers on reserve who are refusing to serve in the occupied territories.
There are Jews in Israel who are working against hatred.
As for me, I know that I, like many others outside of the mainstream diaspora, am a Jew against racism and sexism. Some time ago I might have said that I am a Zionist against what Zionism has become in Israel. But for now, I am a Jew against Israel – just as Israel repeatedly proves itself to be against me.
So, my profile is not about one country but, unfortunately, about two. So long as Israel continues to usurp Palestine, it will be a country with racism and misogyny at the core of its being. Until this brutality ends, Israel is a country with blood on its hands and on its profile.
New York, Sept. 15 — Nine months and three days after the Arab-controlled U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution declaring Israel guilty of war crimes in Gaza and establishing an inquiry to document this pre-determined guilt, Richard Goldstone, who was named to head the 4-member inquiry, has published his report to the council finding Israel guilty of war crimes. While the inquiry also faults Hamas, the focus of blame falls disproportionately on Israel. “The comparison between those who pursue terror and terror victims is inconceivable,” responded a source close to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
For more information on the U.N. Goldstone Inquiry:
- The U.N. Human Rights Council’s Goldstone Report
- Israel’s Response to Goldstone Report
- 50 UK & Canadian lawyers challenge Goldstone Inquiry bias
- UN Watch legal brief requesting recusal of inquiry member Christine Chinkin
- Background, materials & timeline: unwatch.org/goldstone