In the previous post, I broached a major topic – the epistemological crisis provoked by the skew of European anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism and their complementary silence in criticizing Islamism because of the unacknowledged intimidation factor that is compounded with a combination of hypocrisy and resentment (the “moral” assault on Israel and the USA). So the reader of the MSM would have virtually no idea (unless he or she paid close attention to the occasional honest remarks and unintimidated analysis that slip through the net), that they were getting a systematically skewed view of reality.
Now I’d like to add to the mix that skews our ability to gauge reality, a problem from the opposite direction — the pathological tendency of Jews (both Israeli and diaspora) to self-criticize. For example, in the discussion of the blood-libel Goya cartoon of Ariel Sharon, those who wished to dismiss the cry of outrage coming from the Jewish community had plenty of Jews to quote in their favor. The MP I cited in my posting who accused the Jews who objected to the cartoon as making “entirely spurious” case, and calling them a “lynch mob” was none other than a fellow Jew, the vehemently anti-Zionist Gerald Kaufman. And he, in turn, had no problem quoting another Jew, the Israeli Amos Oz, to make the case further:
Our sufferings have granted us immunity papers, as it were, a moral carte blanche. After what all those dirty goyim non-Jews have done to us, none of them is entitled to preach morality to us. We, on the other hand, have carte blanche, because we were victims and have suffered so much. Once a victim, always a victim, and victimhood entitles its owners to a moral exemption.
I won’t even go into the problems with this statement, which confuses the carte blanche to demonize the Israelis that the Palestinians want for being victims of their own elites with the exceptional self-criticism that characterizes many Israelis, including people like Amos Oz. What I will point out is the vehemently self-deprecatory tone of the passage, the profound impatience that Oz expresses with his fellow Jews, and the field day to be had by those who wish to dismiss as a Jewish refusal to do any self-criticism, any Jewish concern for runaway anti-Semitic vitriol, no matter how virulent and morally revolting.
I have dealt with the problem of hyper-Jewish self-criticism repeatedly in the past, including issues concerning the Alvin Rosenfeld Controversy. Among other things, I emphasized the role of a kind of “prophetic” criticism that uses high rhetorical excess to “whip” the Jews/Israelis into the right path. When combined with a desire to “please” fellow, non-Jewish progressives by showing how “non-tribal” one is, this produces a lethal combination, documented by Rosenfeld, that makes some Jews willing to confess to anything (racism, apartheid, Nazism, the illegitimacy of the State). They do this not only to urge their fellow Jews to mend their ways, but also to pursue a kind of “therapeutic” dialogue where, if they are sufficiently magnanimous in accepting blame, then maybe their enemies, say, the Palestinians, might also respond by being a bit more self-critical.
Today I’d like to bring into the discussion a wonderful comment I ran into while preparing the introduction to a volume of essays on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
An anti-Semite is someone who takes seriously a tenth of the jokes that Jews tell about themselves.
In this framework, I’d amend that slightly:
An anti-Zionist is someone who takes seriously a tenth of the “sins” to which Israelis (and Jews) – in their prophetic enthusiasm – confess.
And the problem for outsiders is that, if they don’t understand how eagerly Jews/Israelis self-criticize, how willing they are to engage in prophetic inflation and therapeutic dialogue, they might mistake what Jews/Israelis say about their own sins for a reliable insight into what actually has happened, as a reasonably accurate description of the “reality” they claim to describe. After, all, who admits to something they didn’t do?
The following article criticizes a classic hyper-self-critical Israeli — Ilan Pappé — for his latest. As you read the critique, think about the ways in which Pappé has turned the story inside out in order to be able to confess. Shades of Ariel Toaff. It also illustrates the tendency of the hyper-self-critical Jews to operate in a solipsistic vacuum of “four dimensional Jews and two dimensional gentiles” who are somehow the passive objects of Jewish aggressions. The very self-obsessed focus, the moral narcissism, raises the specter that behind these egregious acts of self-flagellation lies a more profound sense of omnipotence — what I call “masochistic omnipotence syndrome.”
Guest Columnist: Ethnic cleansing in Palestine?
Seth Frantzman, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 16, 2007
As negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at creating a Palestinian state willing to live side-by-side with Israel in peace resume, one of the major sticking points continues to be the Arab refugee issue. Bitter arguments among politicians and scholars continue to surround the creation of the refugee problem during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.
It has become fashionable in recent decades to frame the 1948 war as one in which the Arabs were victims of Zionist aggression. Anti-Zionist scholars such as Noam Chomsky, Rashid Khalidi and Ilan Pappe have presented the war as if the only important events were Deir Yassin and the flight or expulsion of Arabs from Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, west Jerusalem, Jaffa and numerous villages.
IN THIS context, Ilan Pappe’s work deserves special attention. He was born to a German Jewish family in Haifa in 1954. The former senior lecturer in the University of Haifa’s Department of Political Science recently announced he was moving to the UK because it had become “increasingly difficult to live in Israel” with his “unwelcome views and convictions.”
These views are those of the “new historians” – leftist scholars who in the 1980s began to reinterpret Israeli and Palestinian history. He is the author of six works on the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Middle East. In his recently released book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe claims that Israel prepared a special plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine’s Arab population known as Plan D for dalet. Pappe’s “evidence” is derived from his interpretations of files found in the Hagana and Israel state archives.
One of his most damning pieces of evidence is the village surveys carried out by the Hagana’s intelligence units. These surveys go into minute detail about many Arab villages, including the number of armed men, the mukhtar and any anti-Jewish activity in the village. Pappe lends further evidence to his thesis by showing that Jewish forces, whether Hagana, Irgun or Lehi, attacked Arab villages even before the declaration of the state on May 15, 1948.
But Pappe makes one egregious mistake. He never bothers to ask the same question of the Arabs he does of the Jews: What about their lists, their intelligence reports and their ethnic-cleansing plans? What were Arab intentions in the five months between the passage of the UN partition plan on November 29, 1947, and the birth of Israel?
THE ARCHIVES of The Palestine Post, now The Jerusalem Post and then the newspaper of record of Mandatory Palestine, provide some of the answers and tell a very different story from the one presented by Pappe.
Sixty-two Jews were murdered by Arabs in the first week after the UN partition plan was passed, and by May 15, 1948, a total of 1,256 Jews had been killed, most of them civilians. These deaths were caused by Arab militias, gangs, terrorists and army units which attacked every place of Jewish inhabitation in Palestine.
The attacks succeeded in placing Jerusalem under siege and eventually cutting off its water supply. All Jewish villages in the Negev were attacked, and Jews had to go about the country in convoys. In every major city where Jews and Arabs lived in mixed neighborhoods the Jewish areas came under attack. This was true in Haifa’s Hadar Hacarmel as well as Jerusalem’s Old City.
Massacres were not uncommon.
THIRTY-NINE Jews were killed by Arab rioters at Haifa’s oil refinery on December 30, 1947. On January 16, 1948, 35 Jews were killed trying to reach Gush Etzion. On February 22, 44 Jews were murdered in a bombing on Jerusalem’s Rehov Ben-Yehuda. And on February 29, 23 Jews were killed all across Palestine, eight of them at the Hayotzek iron foundry.
Thirty-five Jews were murdered during the Mount Scopus convoy massacre on April 13. And 127 Jews were massacred at Kfar Etzion on May 15, 1948, after 30 others had died defending the Etzion Bloc.
IN ARAB countries more than 100 Jews were also massacred and synagogues were burned in Aleppo and Aden, driving thousands of Jews from their homes.
Back in Palestine many small kibbutzim were subjected to attacks, including Gvulot, Ben-Shemen, Holon, Safed, Bat Yam and Kfar Yavetz – all in December. In January and February, it was the turn of Rishon Lezion, Yehiam, Mishmar Hayarden, Tirat Zvi, Sde Eliahu, Ein Hanatziv, Magdiel, Mitzpe Hagalil and Ma’anit.
In March and April these attacks culminated with an assault on Hartuv by 400 Arabs based in the village of Ishwa and an attack on Kfar Darom by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Arab attackers also bombed The Palestine Post in February. In March, the Jewish Agency, the Solel Boneh building in Haifa and an Egged bus were also bombed.
SOME OF today’s scholars prefer to present every massacre of Jews as a “response” to some Jewish deed, and to portray as a “myth” the very idea that Israel struggled desperately for existence in 1948.
But it was no myth.
The fact is 1,256 Jews were killed in five months. Even before the first Arab villages were captured in April, 924 Jews had already been killed. Ilan Pappe should have pondered what might have been if those Jews had not been slaughtered.
What if attacks and riots had not been the first Arab reaction to the partition plan?
Plan Dalet was a plan, it was one of many plans. The lists compiled by the Hagana had been cobbled together for a decade before 1948, but they were not blueprints – merely intelligence assessments. The British also kept lists of everything; they knew about weapons in various kibbutzim, about the Hagana and illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. Those lists weren’t blueprints for ethnic cleansing anymore than were the Hagana files on Arab villages.
When a Jewish area was overrun – and some were – the homes were looted or destroyed and any survivors were killed, as at Kfar Etzion (only three of the defenders survived the massacre).
The potential for the ethnic cleansing of Jewish Palestine was never realized because of the discipline, determination and sheer luck of the Yishuv.
If the Arabs had not carried out across the board attacks throughout the Yishuv between 1947 and 1948, perhaps the nature of the subsequent Jewish victory would have been different. As it was, the ceaseless attacks against all isolated Jewish settlements only gave Zionist commanders every reason to see neighboring Arab villages as threatening and to act accordingly.
Scholarship – including that of the “new historians” – on the 1948 war will remain incomplete until methodical studies are carried out about widespread and often well-planned Arab assaults on the Yishuv.
The writer is in the doctoral program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His master’s thesis was on the 1948 war.
In other words, Pappé, like Avi Shlaim, lives in a world where Israelis act in a vacuum — nothing violent their enemies do counts in explaining Israeli actions, any violent Israeli act is measured in the most negative fashion against an absolute yardstick. And anything short of perfection creates such disappointment that they must shout their moral indignation from the highest hilltops. As for outsiders consuming such convoluted products of the Jewish soul — caveat lector. Contents are dangerous to anyone who ingests them with anything less than a barrel of salt. Alas, Europeans and Leftists seem so eager to view Israel negatively, that these twisted cries of a pathological soul become yardsticks of reality.
UPDATETo illustrate just how Pappé’s work can have an impact on demopaths and their dupes, Arnaud de Borchgrave covers the same issue as Frantzman, without any (apparent) independent knowledge (hattip JW). After giving an umediated version of Pappé, he then consults not an Israeli on how accurate, but, taking the revisionism as accurate, goes to an Arab for his opinion:
Commenting on Pappe’s historical research, Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut and editor at large of the Beirut Daily Star, writes, “Many Israelis will challenge Pappe’s account. Such a process should ideally spark an honest, comprehensive analysis that could lead us to an accurate narrative of what happened in 1947-48 — accurate for both sides, if it is to have meaning for either side.”
This is actually a good direction if, what Khouri means, is that the Arabs also start an investigation into their myths. For example:
the myth that the Naqba originally meant what Israel did to the Palestinians rather than what the Arab leaders whom they blamed from bringing on this catastrophe with their vain and foolish assumption that they would wipe out the nascent state and massacre its population, and then failed to do what they promised.
the myth that they were the innocent victims rather than the frustrated aggressors who would have, had they been able to, masscred as many Jews as possible
the myth that the Israelis are responsible for the misery of the Palestinian refugees, rather than the Arab leadership who compounded their catastrophic mistake in attacking Israel with an even more catastrophic mistake of imprisoning the refugees in camps so that they could, someday, repair the error by doing what they set out to do in the beginning
the myth that Israel is the vicious entity in the area and they just want “justice”
the myth that their leaders want a Palestinian state, rather than the elimination of Israel
If we have that, then we can work towards a mutually meaningful narrative of 1947-8. But if it’s just Israeli myth-busting, accompanied by Arab myth affirming, we have a recipe for another Naqba.
An Israeli official textbook for Palestinian third-graders, says Fares, “that fleetingly acknowledges the Palestinian trauma of exile and occupation in 1948 is an intriguing sign of something that remains largely unclear.” The “something” is worth exploring and reciprocating, “if it indicates a capacity to move toward the elusive shared, accurate, truthful account of Israeli and Palestinian history that must anchor any progress toward a negotiated peace.”
The key word here is “reciprocating. But where is the evidence of that reciprocation? Where in Palestinian or Arab textbooks do we even have the acknowledgment that Israelis are human beings, rather than subhuman demons who deserve to be wiped out?
The consensus in Israel today, says Pappe, is for a state comprising 90 percent of Palestine “surrounded by electric fences and visible and invisible walls” with Palestinians given only worthless cantonized scrub lands of little value to the Jewish state. In 2006, Pappe sees that 1.4 million Palestinians live in Israel on 2 percent of the land allotted to them plus another 1 percent for agricultural use with 6 million Jews on most of the rest. “Another 3.9 million live concentrated in Israel’s unwanted portions of the West Bank and concentrated in Gaza that has three times the population density of Manhattan,” notes Pappe. Back from the Middle East last week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said prospects are good for a two-state solution. A “viable and contiguous” Palestinian state, pledged by the Bush administration, remains a pipe dream.
It’s too tedious to go over all this nonsense. Pappé’s figures are all gimmicky, as well as his characterization of both what the Israeli consensus is, and what the Palestinians get. The reason why a Palestinian state “remains a pipe dream” is that it’s not the Palestinian leaders’ dream, but the liberal West’s dream.