Beware of Multiculturalists Bearing Advice: Fania Oz-Salzberger on “Islamophobic’ Friends of Israel

Last week the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Fania Oz-Salzberger, director of the Posen Research Forum for Political Thought and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law and School of History at the University of Haifa. It expresses concern about the suspicious Islamophobic “friends” Israel is suddenly finding in Europe. The piece has already been the object of several fairly scathing critiques, one the very day it appeared by Ruy Diaz of Western Resistance, another by Melanie Phillips, who is indirectly indicted, and yet another by Caroline Glick in her Jerusalem Post column.

I do a fisking here because I think that the sentiments expressed here encapsulate all the attitudes of the “bien-pensant” Israeli progressive from the romanticization of Islam to the demonization of those who fear Islam to the desire to remain morally immaculate. Fisking it then offers an opportunity to show just how profoundly misguided such an approach. I have never met the author, and I apologize if I am somewhat severe in my criticism. But when one presents oneself as a moral voice addressing one’s generation and one says ill-considered things, one should be prepared for criticism. After all, the ability to absorb criticism is part of the progressive credo. Please take my comments, therefore, in the spirit of this blog: “Opposition is True Friendship.” (Hat tip: Nidra Poller)

[Fania Oz-Salzberger in bold blockquote; me in regular; Glick in indent italics.]

With Friends Like These . . . Jews, beware of Islamophobes bearing gifts.

Sunday, January 7, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

An Israeli gal like me cannot afford to be too picky about her friends, certainly not in Europe. Recent European polls proclaimed Israel the single most dangerous country on earth, the guiltiest monger of global conflict, and, to crown it all, the least desirable place to live. Most Israelis, busy with their thriving economy under a warm Mediterranean sun, tend to forgive such pronouncements coming from dismal Düsseldorf and snowbound Stockholm. But a new challenge has now cropped up. We seem to have gained new European friends, and not quite for the right reasons.

Note how forgiving of European anti-Zionism FO-Z is. You Europeans may have crazy negative attitudes towards us, but that’s okay. We know you’re miserable. You should try coming by some time and find out we’re not the anus of the globe the way your media present us.

So what about sunny Barcelona or thriving Rome? Why are they negative? Is the demonizing of Israel in the European media and among European intellectuals really so anodine that Israeli guys and gals can just shrug it off and wait patiently for the Europeans to wake up to how lovely Israel is? Does it matter that we have European foes for “not quite the right reasons”?

These new pro-Israel voices base a love of Jews upon the hatred of Muslims. Last September the European Coalition for Israel convened in Brussels, its most prominent speakers lamenting the loss of European Jewry alongside the rise of European Islam. The tone was belligerent, the linkage crude: “The enemies of Israel are also a threat to Europe,” delegates were told. And also: “In only two generations, most parts of Europe will be under Islamic law.” Other self-declared friends grimly speak of Londonistan and augur the coming of the European Caliphate. Such statements may reflect genuine concern, but are disconcerting when made on European soil.

This paragraph alone deserves a medal. I was not at the conference, but I don’t see anything in what FO-S cites here (or “what’s online from the organization itself) as evidence of “hatred of Muslims.” On the contrary, they explicitly denounce such a move:

    “Europe needs to wake up to reality”, Dufoix stated. “This should not lead us to fear or hatred but to a true soul searching in order to rediscover the Judeo-Christian roots which can again make Europe strong and also appeal to those of other faiths.”

Do they feel concern about Islam? Certainly. And hostility as well. But hatred… for that I’d need evidence that these folks were preaching violence against all Muslims. But they don’t even preach violence against the worst of them. Again, on the contrary:

    “These terror groups have resources which they are happy to use to infiltrate the population. It starts with small children who are taught in schoolbooks to hate Israel and the west.“ He warned the European audience that we are engaged in a war of ideas. “This war cannot be won by military force but by presenting ideas and values which are more appealing than those of hatred and intolerance”, he said.

Is this organization demonizing the Muslims? Does FO-S know something we don’t? That this organization which explicitly wants to fight hatred and intolerance with values and ideals more appealing (like democracy and freedom) is really a demopathic front organization for enemies of civil society? If so, where’s the evidence?

Granted, these folks are concerned about the fearsome and loathsome folks who demonstrated with their signs in London in response to Danoongate.

london demo

And those who bombed the public transportation in Madrid and London.

london madrid

But does denouncing these inquestionably Muslim manifestations of a revolting new direction in European Islam constitute some crime against progressive values? Do such manifestations of hatred and moral depravity not deserve a “belligerent tone”? I’d say so.

Where’s FO-S’s moral indignation at these folks and their disgusting discourse? Why isn’t she hostile? Why can’t she distinguish between the horrific language of the Muslim MSM on the one hand, and the measured and civic tones of the European Friends of Israel?

And why call the link between the enemies of Israel and the threat to Europe “crude and inaccurate”? I’m not sure why. It’s fairly clear to anyone who cares to pay attention: the agressive behavior of European Muslims against their European hosts has an exceptionally high correlation with the explosion of their Judeophobic attacks on Jews. Indeed, as I have argued at some length, this is specifically visible in the role that the Muhammad al Durah affair played in

  • demonizing Israel in the minds of most Europeans — Muslim and (post-)Christian;
  • allowing the “Arab/Muslim street” to take root in Europe,
  • encouraging violence against Jews primarily among the “immigrant” Muslim populations
  • blocking any ability of the Europeans to respond in defense of the Jews
  • inspiring European elites, apparently addicted to moral Schadenfreude and resentment, to play the image — itself a call to Jihad — repeatedly before their own Muslim populations, not realizing that they were objects of the same Jihad as the Israelis.

So I’d say that “crude” and “inaccurate” are two of the last terms I would use to characterize the link between Islamic Judeophobia and aggression against the West. On the contrary, I’d say it’s the single most important issue for Europeans to meditate on right now. And the sooner the do that, the more likely the possibility that they can deal with a newly and frighteningly aggressive Islam without (too much) violence. But for our author, apparently merely pronouncing these dismissive words should suffice to eliminate the link in the readers’ minds.

Unlike the late Oriana Fallaci, whose commitment to the Jews stemmed from her heroic anti-Fascist youth, and whose harsh critique of Islam came from an enraged liberal soul, many of these new friends are Muslim-bashers first and Israel-backers second.

How ironic! Oriana Fallaci spent her last years in a self-imposed exile in NYC while earnest opponents of Islamophobia in Italy successfully attacked her in court for her “racist” remarks about Islam. So, while FO-S is busy giving absolution to Oriana Fallaci — what intelligent reader could not be struck with her intellectual itinerary! — she is busy doing to everyone else, what a) her European “bien pensants” friends did to Fallaci, and b) she would never have us do to Islam — indicting them across the board. And what does she know about these folk’s past that enables such a judgment?

Their blanket condemnation of Muslim communities on their continent rings eerily familiar. Their sweeping verdict against a whole civilization has that strange déjà vu feel. And their rather sudden nostalgia for Europe’s lost Jews is, I’m sorry to say, far too late and somewhat suspect. As the Mishna wisely warns, “Any love that depends upon some thing, when that thing is no more, the love is no more.” You see, we have a very long experience with human relationships.

Note that we’ve moved on from from “I, for one Israeli” to “we [the Jews]” and from what’s wrong with these folks (assertions are apparently sufficient) to putting them in their historical context. An assertion that many of these friends are Muslim-bashers should apparently be enough for FO-S’s readership. No evidence, not even an illustration that might help us understand what she means when she uses the term “Muslim basher,” much less evidence that such an attitude precedes their friendly feelings towards Jews. Apparently the audience to which she imagines she is writing understands these terms and accepts these assertions without evidence or clarification. Thus she can refer in this paragraph to their “sweeping verdict against a whole civilization” that she will shortly associate — the déjà-vu — with fascism and the rise of Hitler. And it is on the basis of this thin reasoning, that we then get FO-S’s regretful judgment… “far too late and somewhat suspect.”

Actually the conclusion to this paragraph constitutes a somewhat breathtaking step. “Far too late”? These folks are the first ones to wake up. If they’re too late, how about the folks among the dominant progressive strain of European culture, who not only don’t feel any friendly feelings for Israel (aside from the occassional “We used to admire you, but now…”), who regularly indict Israel with sweeping verdicts? And what about the “realists” who may even feel friendly towards some Israelis, but understand that, in the rational calculus of self-interest, Israel is expendable, even as that calculus becomes suicidal? When they become committed to our existence, will that be like totally way too late? Or will they be welcomed with open arms, because they’re the prodigal son come home at last?

Perhaps it’s not the timing, but the “somewhat suspect” that’s the issue. In other words, is she saying, “Even though you folks are the first to show any public affection for Israel on the European continent since 2000 (when all this anti-Zionist rage went public), because that awakening is only coming about because you have begun to notice that the Islamists are breathing down your neck (the consequences of European bad karma engendered when they encouraged Muslim violence against Jews and shrilly denounced Jewish violence against Muslims), you are not the kind of friends I — no, we — want. And I recommend to my other friends to stay away from you.”

I, for one Israeli, would be grateful to my newfound buddies if their sympathy for me did not rely on the trashing of another religion. Unlike them, I’m touched by the sight of young Muslim women in European university campuses. They remind my of my own grandmother, a student in Prague who had to flee after the Nazi rise to power, and of all the other young and hopeful Jews whose dreams and lives were shattered by the European culture they so admired. I will therefore not solicit support based on unqualified dislike of other human groups, least of all on the continent that kicked out my grandparents.

Now this is one of the passages that drove Caroline Glick through the roof, what Glick calls “her most devastating paragraph.” I cite Glick’s piece at length because it raises critical issues that seem to hold no significance for FO-S. I append brief comments throughout before returning to Fania Oz-Salzberger’s text.

    [CG] Is it really possible that her grandmother or any Jewish student in European universities before the Holocaust would accept her comparison of them with Muslim students in European universities today?

    NO DOUBT, the Jewish students in European universities – like European Jewry in general – would have broken down and cried in exultation had the treatment they received from the Europeans then been even vaguely similar to that which European Muslims receive today. Indeed, drawing parallels between the subjugation and genocide of European Jewry [before and — RL] during the Holocaust and the treatment of European Muslims today runs dangerously close to Holocaust denial.

Interesting point (although it’s probably rhetorical overkill): for FO-S to so trivialize what happened in the Holocaust that she can compare it with the “racism” that now allegedly provokes rioting in the lost territories of French suburbia, is to erase the vast gap that separates (fairly mild forms of) ordinary prejudices and oppression from the insane hatreds of systematic persecution unto genocide. It is an insult to history… as if early 20th century European hostility to Jews, who never blew up a building in Europe (unless they became secular radicals) were somehow comparable to current European hostility to Muslims who openly say that blowing up buildings with civilians inside is a deed that redounds to Allah’s glory — Allahu Akhbar! As if this calculus of historical comparison and moral reckoning should occur without any reference to the repeated patterns of genocidal Judeophobia that circulated both in the early 20th and early 21st centuries.

The response, of course, to such a objection is, “ah but that ordinary prejudice is how the racism and the fascism begins, and pretty soon you’re on a slippery slope.” As if one could not argue, once we become sufficiently morally attuned, that the use of any violence is a “slippery slope.”

And the answer is: “No, the treatment of Jews at its resentful best in the European high culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries does not compare with the reception of Muslims in Europe today. The social security and medical benefits alone would have radically improved the lives of pre-Shoah Jews. And nonetheless the public sphere of European culture in those past generations continued to generate Judeophobia and causeless hatreds. We can document in detail the rage with which the admission of Jews to cultural equality provoked, especially from the turn of the 19th century onwards.

    [CG] Aside from the vast difference between Europe’s treatment of its Muslims today and its Jews 60 years ago, there is the issue Oz-Salzberger’s protestation that those Jews and today’s Muslims are comparable in and of themselves. For while she notes that European Jews “admired” European culture, and identified with it, it is far from clear that Muslim students share their admiration.

    According to a Pew Research Center poll taken last spring, 81 percent of British Muslims identify with their religion, while only 7 percent identify with Britain. In Germany, 13 percent of Muslims identify themselves as Germans while 66 percent identify as Muslims. Similar numbers were recorded in Spain. In France, Muslims are almost evenly split, with 42 percent identifying as French citizens and 46 percent identifying as Muslims.

These polls are immensely important, especially since these attitudes are things that the public should not know. (Like taking a poll of students at an American High School who will all embrace principles of integration for the pollster, but then act in segregated units.) Thus, the willingness of Muslims in Europe to express these loyalties and hostilities as openly as they have, suggests a) that the negative numbers are higher, and b) that Muslims increasingly feel they do not have to hide their agendas before a European public for whom they have increasing contempt.

It is this hostility to European modernity that represents the key difference. Although the Jews of pre-Shoah Europe experienced every aspect of European xenophobia and prejudice that the Muslim immigrants have till now… and far more! they greatly admired and strove to join that culture, to learn its presumably egalitarian rules and play by them, to excel and to contribute to that extraordinary experiment in freedom that even though it treated them on the whole quite badly, was nonetheless far superior to the pervasively suffocating atmosphere of the earlier world of theocratic aristocracies with apartheid legal systems that they had known both under Christianity and Islam. There can be no greater contrast between this Jewish “acknowledgment of the good” in European culture even as it prepared to sacrifice them on the altar of its own paranoid hatreds, and today’s Muslim indictment of the European civilization in which they have settled, and the apocalyptic hatreds they foment against their host culture.

    [CG] As is the case throughout Europe, in Prague itself – the city of Oz-Salzberger’s memory – evidence suggests that jihadists are making inroads. A 2005 Czech documentary film, I Muslim, included candid camera footage from inside a Prague mosque. The film showed Muslims proclaiming their support for Islamic terror and for the replacement of civil law with Shari’a law – including the death penalty for adultery – throughout the Czech Republic.

Here’s the rub. Because anything like a warning about Islam’s desire to take over Europe, and the world sounds to the politically correct like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Muslim style. And anyone so speaking automatically becomes an unbearable echo of an age past, buried, of insane Nazi haters. [Nota Bene: This refusal to listen to such terrible accusations has no interest in whether there is real evidence for this (as opposed to the overwhelming negative evidence for the Protocols).]

conquer world
Can you imagine a Jew in Weimar Germany demonstrating like this?

But the problem here is not just that the comparison is far from accurate. The very ludicrousness of the comparison forbids the far more accurate one: if anyone’s behavior in Europe today resembles that of the Nazis, including the death-cult worship of nihilistic violence and the exalted sense of a millennial kingdom in the offing, it is the Global Jihad that Fania will not have us discuss.

    [CG] And Sorbonne professor Guy Millière wrote recently: “In many French cities with a growing radical Islamist population, no teenage girl can go out in the evening, at least without a full burqa – otherwise she’s admitting that she’s worse than a whore and asking to be raped.”

I have posted on this matter. It represents the “cultural” dimension of a triumphalist Islamism, a throw-back to the unrestrained testosterone of warrior cultures, an empowerment of male libido in the crudest style of patriarchal violence. As a style of male-female interaction, it is gathering strength and taking over territory in Europe, in schools, in neighborhoods, in whole “lost territories.” It is part of a broad and not uniquely religious challenge to Western civil societies, that anyone with the moral scruples of FO-S should find unbearable. And yet, somehow, no. She grows sentimental over Muslim women — presumably wearing their headscarves much as Fania’s grandmother might have worn the headcovering of an observant married Jewish woman (if she were observant, which would have been quite rare among Jewish university students).

Fania Oz-Salzberger’s decisive sentimentality may be the sign of a good heart… but of a sharp mind? Does she know why these Muslim women wear scarves? Is it because all of them are proud of their tradition? Or might some of it be the kind of bully-macho of their Muslim men who believe they, as women, are born deficient, and like the worst of the misogynists of the Christian past, blame their own lack of sexual control on their women?

Does she wonder what these fine ladies say when their men begin to talk their genocidal anti-semitic hatreds and their imperialist schemes for taking over their host countries? Do they defy them as the Women in Black defy the troops who try and protect them from these pathological hatreds. Or do they bend – willingly or unwillingly — before the collective demands of their religion’s demands for honor and loyalty? Do they have organizations that denounce the paranoid hatreds of the men who speak for Islam in mosques all over Europe? Or do they ostracize those who might denounce the worst of their men’s unleashed testosterone?

Why would FO-S grant Muslims — both men and women — a positive judgment every bit as blanket and sweeping as the negative one she applies to those who fear Islam? Is not her warm feeling for her Muslim sisters at university today perhaps a bit sentimentally indulgent? Is it possible that she is admiring a woman who dare not tell her how afraid she is of the retribution of males who kill women for the sake of their own honor. And given these gaping holes in her moral and sentimental consistency, is it not a bit unseemly that FO-S would make such sweeping judgments on the worthiness of various moral actors on the European scene, on behalf of “we Jews” of long memory?

Now let us return to Fania Oz-Salzburger’s concluding remarks.

[FO-S] To be sure, Israelis could use more friends in Europe: sober, reliable, critical friends.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is I think the description of Oz-Salzberger’s friends… or at least the friends she thinks and wishes she has. Unfortunately, if we’re speaking of the progressive left here — and every rhetorical shortcut in her reasoning suggests just that — then they have, since 2000, failed miserably on sobriety and reliability, and excelled ferociously in criticism. Indeed their criticism of Israel has been drunk with excess, their reliablity when it came down to who to believe in a crunch, has been sorely lacking. So I’m not sure what this sentence represents, other than the author’s ability to extend her faith in the progressive left long after these folks have consistently behaved with faithlessness to their own values, and shown an astonishing meanness of spirit where Israel is concerned.

And Europeans who care to look find some of their own best ideas well-implemented in Israel, from the rule of law to the bright application of technology for human well-being. They can trace their own literary, artistic and musical traditions flourishing among the country’s diverse cultural origins.

Nicely put. But although FO-S seems fully aware that Israel represents one of the most advanced civil societies on the planet, something that the constant recurrence to the vocabulary of apartheid and Nazism among her “progressive friends” radically denies or dismisses, she seems strangely wry and understated in her rebuke of her fellow enlightened progressives. Why so underspoken when it comes to chastizing the astonishingly reckless, morally hysterical left, and such stern and unyielding accusation when it comes to the “tainted” Israel “lovers” about whom she’s warning us?

Most important, they may realize that gaining Israel’s ear can yield political fruit and bring Europe closer to Middle Eastern peacemaking: Ask the German government, whose sensitive involvement in the aftermath of the second Lebanon war makes good footing for future diplomacy.

I’m not sure what this means, but if it’s an invitation to the Europeans to be nicer to the Israelis so that they can convince the Israelis to cede more territory as a way of “peacemaking”, then God help us all. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but my bet is that with Prof. Oz-Salzberger, we’re dealing with a relatively unreconstructed Oslo enthusiast: If only we’re nice and give more in response to the demands of adversaries, things will get better. On the contrary, the Arab-Israeli exchange these days is not “land for peace,” but “land for war.” The ways in which this behavior backfires — from the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, to that of Gaza in 2005 — producing more violence rather han less, has presumably not made much of an impression here. On the contrary, urge Europeans not to be so grotesquely anti-Israel and we’ll let you back to the negotiating table where you can continue to contribute to a “just” solution.

Jewish people have a long memory, whereas the European Union often seems short of the asset. It may be our role to remind today’s Europeans of the medieval past, the great centuries when Islam was young, tolerant to minorities and philosophically minded. There would be no Maimonides, no glorious Sephardi Jewish tradition, without the Arab world. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be threatening the existence of Israel today, but no Muslim power has ever dealt the Jews such calamities as brought upon them by Europe.

Jews may have long memories, but my sense is that the author has, at best, a limited and profoundly faulty memory in which she cherry picks her points of comparison, misunderstands the larger dynamics, and does a dance with the devil — all in the name of denouncing erstwhile “friends of Israel.” It is nothing short of ludicrous, this late in the game, for her to trot out the old chestnut of a “tolerant and philosophically-minded” Islam as a way to chastize Islamophobes. As Ruy Diaz put it, Maimonides’ testimony hardly supports her take on Islam seen through rose-colored glasses:

    “[T]he Arabs have persecuted us severely, and passed baneful and discriminatory legislation against us…. Never did a nation molest, degrade, debase, and hate us as much as they.” (Andrew G. Bostom’s The Legacy of Jihad, p. 60.)

Note the emphasis not on violence, but degradation, or, in the current parlance when criticizing Israeli treatment of Palestinians, “humiliation.” In other words, and once again, Jews have managed to thrive intellectually despite the headwinds that their host cultures set up against them. So FO-S here pretends — as a Jew — to remind the short-memoried Europeans of the past. But what she has to say comes not from a Jewish “memory” (e.g., what Maimonides himself had to say), but from a politically-correct confection about Islam that is at best misleading, at worst, profoundly inaccurate as an image of Islam’s tradition of “tolerance.” Rather than remind anyone of the history we all need to study and learn from, the author has substituted wishful thinking for historical memory and illustrated the profoundly superficial historical memory of current Western “enlightened” thinking.

Israelis probably deserve a better European opinion, warranted by our history, culture, science and freedom. Not for being the targeted foes of Islam. Beware of Islamophobes bearing gifts.

Probably? Again, how gentle her reproach of European culture, especially that segment that pretends to enlightened values. But those folks not only don’t have a high opinion of us, it is directly related to their astoundingly foolish attitude towards Islam, in which they not only view it with inappropriately positive colors, but absorb and repeat its current demonizing discourse about Israel and the Jews. Our author stands in the middle, telling Europeans not to be nasty to Muslims and Israelis not to respond to the friendship of those who do.

Unquestionably the Jews and the Israelis deserve better than the Europeans currently are willing to dole out to them in scraps of approval on the floor while above the table they indulge in a chorus of anti-Zionism with their Arab and Muslim “friends.” The real question is, why do they not get a “better European opinion”? Why have the “intellectual elites” of Europe — the talking heads, the MSM, the political leaders — indulged in such morally corrupt discourse as comparing Israel to the Nazis?

There are a wide range of answers to this question:

  • “revolutionary” post-colonial dogmatism,
  • “realistic” alliance with the oil-rich Arab world against the hegemonic American colossus with Israel as collateral damage
  • fear and appeasement of Islam,
  • the Judeophobic attraction of moral Schadenfreude (the pleasure in being able to point the finger at Israel),
  • the politics of resentment against both the USA and Israel,
  • disguised (post-)Christian supercessionism,
  • an uncritical acceptance of the MSM’s spectacle of Israeli Goliath vs. the Palestinian David.
  • Whatever combination of these factors one selects, it says awful things about the current intellectual state of “moral Europe” that they have so dim a view of their own natural ally in the experiment in civil society, specifically at a time of serious danger to the Europeans. That it takes awakening to the dangers of an aggressively imperialist Islam to shake Europeans from their slumber and inspire in them the courage to defy the suicidal silence that characterizes the European public sphere right now, should neither surprise nor dismay us.

    Is it possible that the people FO-S so patiently awaits — and here I speak of the secular, progressive left — are even more craven, more cowardly, than the Europeans our author finds so objectionable? What exactly is wrong with the groups in the European Coalition for Israel? Is it purely that they are Christian groups who believe that a Judeo-Christian religious current is at the origins of democratic Europe? Is it that they may have affinities for more openly right-wing, and newly philo-Judaic groups like Vlaams Belang? Is there evidence? Is there any reason to believe what “left-wing” groups like the Green and the Socialist parties have to tell us about what is fascist, when these groups are now in full scale denial of the Islamic fascism in their midst?

    Had Fania Oz-Salzberger had the modesty to say: “We should not embrace these people without a background check,” maybe her advice would be worthwhile. Had she used these groups’ attitude towards Israel to shame her progressive friends into realizing what moral fools they are… perhaps. But to tar these groups with the brush of Islamophobia, a far more problematic, polemical and mostly misused term than the euphemism Islamofascism (which I’ll bet out author would never use), strikes me as unacceptable. If she wants to be masochistic enough to wait patiently until her enlightened friends wake up to the smell of burning flesh that begins to rise up from the European continent and deal with a primitive and totalitarian force of potentially staggering proportions, that is her choice.

    But to pretend to represent the memory and the moral ballast of Jewish history, and tell Jews to avoid anything to do with “friends” who might be right wing, strikes me as a form of moral arrogance all too familiar from guardians of the public sphere until now. It is they who have kept us sleeping while the balance of forces has shifted, soon decisively, in favor of forces we will all abhore when it is too late.

    Ultimately this article is intended to bolster Fania Oz-Salzberger’s credentials as a moral figure. In the general scheme of 21st century moral discourse in the public sphere, she has positioned herself firmly among the “progressives” — against demonization, for warm and generous feelings for the “other,” an opponent of resurgent fascism. That this moral posturing is apparently far more appealing to her than dealing with the monster in our midst, that she sniffs at these Christian friends with remarks about them coming along too late, when they are the first to show up, that she still awaits the return of “sober, reliable, and critical” friends who didn’t have the decency to distance themselves from the Muslim “friends” when they began to compare Israel to the Nazis (Chomsky, Saïd, etc.)… all this suggests we are dealing more with moral narcissism than serious moral thought. I will be pure… right up until my consummation in the fires I, in my purity, failed to put out.

    On some level, this piece represents a plea to hold out. Don’t go with these right-wing religious Europeans who love us because their enemy is our enemy. If you do, you’ll further alienate the people we really want to come around… the progressive left. And the last thing we want to do is alienate these folks further because they are the “real thing.” And so we end up with a fascinating insight into one of the (many) sources of the dhimmi behavior of the Israelis vis-à-vis the media and the Western intelligentsia: even as they act like dhimmi afraid to criticize Muslims lest they be called racist Islamophobes, Israelis behave like dhimmi towards them, enduring their abuse, remaining faithful, avoiding any other relationshiph that might offend their spurning love.

    And in the process, she illustrates perfectly how extremely intelligent people can become dupes of demopaths, denouncing possible friends, embracing likely enemies. I’m fairly sure that ceding to the peer-pressures that guide her discourse is not the best of procedures for dealing with our current dilemma.

    Until Fania Oz-Salzberger, and the people who find her article compelling, have come up with an answer about how to deal with
    a) the rise of aggressive and anti-democratic Islam,
    b) the proliferation of demopathic “moderates” like CAIR and Muslim Council of Britain who use human rights language to prevent people from denouncing all but the most extreme forms of Islamic imperialism, and
    c) the widespread morally hysterical demonization of Israel by prominent members of both the Muslim world and the Western intelligentsia,
    then I don’t think she is in a position to tell us which friends we should embrace and which we should reject in the current battle for civil society.

7 Responses to Beware of Multiculturalists Bearing Advice: Fania Oz-Salzberger on “Islamophobic’ Friends of Israel

  1. nobody important says:

    Wow. Powerful, impassioned, and yet completely rational and thoughtful. Thank you.

  2. Solomonia says:

    Must We Be So Picky About Our Friends?

    Probably, but we need to be careful of who’s doing the picking. Richard Landes has a lengthy fisking of an op-ed by Fania Oz-Salzberger: Beware of Multiculturalists Bearing Advice: Fania…

  3. Cynic says:

    Could very well be coming from the Ochs Sulzbergers. Just the spelling is different but the message is the same.

  4. Eliyahu says:

    Just a few comments:
    1- Prof Fania Oz-Salzberger is a good personal friend of Prof Yuli Tamir, minister of Education in the Olmert govt, on behalf of the Labor Party. Yuli Tamir is also a long-time “peace now” loyalist. Let us recall that the original “Peace Now” movement was active during WW2 in the United States on behalf of “peace” with Nazi Germany [see inter alia, the NYT index for 1942 through 1944], and was apparently founded by a German agent [who was a Norwegian].

    2– the word “cities” in the quote from Guy Milliere was probably “cite’s” in the original. That word as usually used today in France refers to neighborhoods of housing projects [HLM], with the connotations that Americans give to housing projects.

    3– I think that the main explanation for her position is that she is still carrying a torch for the “enlightened” European Left. As RL says:
    On some level, this piece represents a plea to hold out. Don’t go with these right-wing religious Europeans who love us because their enemy is our enemy. If you do, you’ll further alienate the people we really want to come around… the progressive left. And the last thing we want to do is alienate these folks further because they are the “real thing.”. . . We end up with a fascinating insight into one of the (many) sources of the dhimmi behavior of the Israelis vis-à-vis the media and the Western intelligentsia: even as they act like dhimmi[s] afraid to criticize Muslims lest they be called racist Islamophobes, Israelis behave like dhimmi[s] towards them, enduring their abuse, remaining faithful, avoiding any other relationship that might offend their spurning love.

    One of the sane responses to this syndrome is to realize that the very notions of right and left are not operative today, since today’s “Left” so often has adopted the Judeophobic positions of the pre-WW2 Judeophobic “right.” As an example, consider Hubert Vedrine, foreign minister in Lionel Jospin’s socialist govt up to 2002. Vedrine’s father was a high official in the Vichy regime. I never heard that Hubert had denounced or renounced his father. Indeed, he seems to share his father’s Judeophobia. On the other hand, a few Euro Leftists [only a few] have openly rejected the Judeophobia of the majority of their movements. Consider Pilar Rohola [spelling?] in Spain, and Ilke Schroeder in Germany.
    What I believe motivates people like Guy Milliere and Robert Redeker and Alexandre Del Valle is a concern for civilization as such. They criticize Islamic behavior in Europe for that reason, because it is destructive of civilization. And I believe that they realize that attacks on Jews/Israel represent hatred for civilization. Further, many Europeans are angry with their governments for tolerating the intolerable, such as the slogans in the photos that RL posted above. Now, we can partially –but only partially– exonerate the EuroMuslims for their prejudices when we realize that the Euro mass media incited them to hate Israel. As RL pointed out, the French media repeatedly showed the ritual [if imaginary] death of little Muhammad al-Durah. They also presented hour after hour, day after day in October-November 2000 Arab spokespersons like Leila Shahid and Marwan Bishara, slandering and vilifying Israel [as I saw them on French TV], objectively inciting violence against Israel and Jews in France, etc. The French TV did this voluntarily. I do not believe that the Arabs forced them to do so. So some of the reasons for Euro behavior that RL adduced can be called in to supply an explanation.

  5. Thank you for addressing this so accurately. I too believe that treacley, weak-willed apologetic articles like this are a greater danger than scabrous attacks. Some of us, it seems, still want to cling to the liberal root of multiculturalism that assumes all cultures have equal standing and claim to respect in the marketplace of ideas.
    In my most recent post ( I have addressed a similar multicultural apologia. On my blog I analyze the recent PBS special on Anti-Semitism and find another recent attempt of the liberal media to reinforce the authority of this obviously bankrupt idea.
    All cultures are not wondrous and marvelous some of them simply have too many flaws to qualify for the cheery brotherhood we (former) liberals would love to confer upon them. Some are better than others. It is an unnatural act in which liberals sometimes indulge that they carry the idea that “everyone is entitled to his opinion” to the next illogical level where all opinions are of equal validity. They delude themselves that just because someone else has a different point of view, and they are entitled to that point of view, that that point of view is just as valid as any other. This is the same trap we fall into when we think that just because a person (Noam Chomsky for instance) is possessed of great intellectual power and is capable of rational thought, that that is what he is doing. It is obvious to all but the most morally crippled that Chomsky’s intellect is employed in the productions of huge quantities of morally and rationally corrupt nonsense. We belong to the most successful, freest and most tolerant culture the world has ever known. The US is the heartland of it and Israel is the frontline avatar of it. It is not chauvinism to believe this, it is demonstrable. Let’s be open minded to all possibilities including the one that holds that together we are humanity’s best hope to avoid a collapse into a dark age of Islamic Medieval tyranny.

  6. Justin says:

    I’m no fan of the Israeli government nor am I of the Palestinian equivalent. In fact I believe that governments tend to gravitate towards evil naturally so.. I suppose my resentment is quite normal.

    However, I believe that the authorities on both sides need to relax before they kill more and more of their own people.

    But I think most people for the most part now finally have figured out that most of this is all manipulated to pull us into conflict for the benefit of very few.

    War is a racket, it’s always designed years before it comes to fruition – don’t believe it? Go read some history 90% of the worlds wars were all based on lies and manipulation of either cultural/religious or racial fears.

    Again, government always tends to gravitate towards evil.. it only took about 2000 years for people to begin to figure this out :P

  7. Alprazolam. says:



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