Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Belgium: Holocaust scholar Joëk Kotek says Jewish people are paranoid and hysterical

One obsessive theme over which the European media, scholars, NGOs, politicians etc. agonize is the boycott of Israel.  Following renewed calls for the cultural boycott of Israel, the Belgian daily La Libre Belgique ran two interviews on the subject (20 Oct).

One of the interviewees, Marc Jacquemain, professor of sociology at the University of Liège, explained why he feels that it is his moral duty to  back the boycott.  He claims that Israel exploits the Holocaust to implement apartheid and colonial policies, which he finds "abominable".  He trots out all the usual accusations.

The second, Joël Kotek, is a Holocaust historian, professor at the Free University of Brussels and at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris.  He is in charge of the Regards magazine edited by the CCLJ, a secular Jewish organisation, based in Brussels, known for its harsh criticism of Israel. Joël Kotek used to be responsible for education at the Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris. Wikipedia states that he is a scientific expert at the Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, Malines, and at the Aladin project.  He also works for the Revue d'histoire de la Shoah, Paris, the Kantor Centre, University of Tel Aviv, the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, and the Brussels Parliament.  He is the author of numerous books.

Joël Kotek is against the boycott and considers that Israel is a democracy. He points out that the BDS movement is highly selective as it does not target countries like Turkey which occupies one third of Cyprus, Morocco which occupies part of the Sahara, Russia for its annexation of Crimea and China for its poor record on human rights.

Regrettably, Joël Kotek also argues that the boycott is absurd because it undermines the position of the "most healthy ("sain"), progressive and dynamic elements of the Israeli society".  The use of a term associated with social hygiene like "sain" carries a dark, negative connotation as it could imply that sections of the Israeli society are diseased/rotten [*].

He then goes on to say that the "boycott provides ammunition to the Israeli and Jewish Far-Right" and that "The boycott serves the purposes of the people engaged in the most suicidal behaviour in Israel and does not help the peace promoters".

He repeats the assertion: "I repeat, this boycott does the bidding of the Israeli far-right because it reinforces the Jewish paranoia" and  "It is easier to target a small country like Israel where paranoia is very real". 

Joël Kotek is upset with people who do not share his views and voice their disagreement.  "I am the director of the Regards magazine [see above].  We can hardly say what we think because we risk being labelled as anti-Israel, anti-Zionist or even anti-semitic by the Jewish Far Right.  The surge in radical positions is a fact.  The Jewish paranoia is whipped up by those obsessed with fighting Israel".  This claim is odd because he has been criticizing Israel for many years and his career doesn't seem to have suffered - on the contrary...

Joël Kotek then makes another extraordinary generalisation: "The Jewish people are a hysterical people and with good reason a paranoid people too, We have to help them cure ("guérir") their hysteria and paranoia". 

Generalisations like these made in public by a historian are deeply regrettable.  During the interview, Joël Kotek refers no less than five times to Jewish "paranoia" and twice to Jewish "hysteria".

Interestingly, also refers to paranoia but his targets are all the news outlets which since 1982 base their reports ont the "paranoiac themes of contemporary Arab-Muslim anti-semitic propaganda". 

[*] "A côté, ce mouvement est totalement absurde parce qu'il frappe surtout les éléments les plus sains, progressistes et dyamiques de la société israélienne."  The definition by the Larousse: of sain is clear: "Qui ne présente aucune atteinte pathologique ou anomalie (par opposition à malade) : Un corps sain."

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