As requested by Anat, here is Sophia’s comment to my post on the Oxford Untion, turned into a post. Her comments in bold, mine in italics.
Why isn’t this just the same old Europe, with its apparently endless and irrational problem with Jews? It’s wearing a new face now, is all.
As the French say, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Not only do we have a Europe reveling in Judeophobia, but one that seems determined to destroy its civilization. Apparently WWI and II (or, the “Thirty Years’ War”) were not enough to figure out that Europeans, for all their vaunted “maturity” can’t take care of themselves. Only this time, I doubt the US will come to their aid. At least the last two times they let war-mongering and fascism take over, they didn’t accompany their folly with furious anti-Americanism.
And, how many problems in the Middle East are directly related to antisemitic European propaganda that began filtering into the East in 1920 at the latest?
Don’t forget the 1840 Damascus blood libel. But don’t get carried away in this vein. The Middle East has been a deeply troubled region long before the Jews arrived: Hama rules were not invented recently.
Mein Kampf is still a best seller there and so are “The Protocols.” That they’ve found a willing audience there is tragic but they did originate in Europe; how much of the strife between Arabs and Jews has been incited by interested parties in the West, parties who realize a calm, united Middle East might actually become a rich and powerful international group and therefore a threat?
I actually don’t think the Europeans fear that. It wouldn’t occur to them. (I may be wrong.) I think the European mischief in the Middle East is largely the product of the appeal of Arabs as proxy anti-Semites in a post-Holocaust world where it’s not politically correct for Europeans to express those sentiments openly. Ironically, the Palestinians constantly complain that they’ve been forced to pay for the Europeans’ sins of the Holocaust, when they are primarily the victims of their (willing) seduction into the role of the carriers of the deadly virus of anti-Semitism. Like the Spanish in the 16th century, they kicked out their Jews, and the wealth they have has washed through their societies leaving the people impoverished and the elites immeasurably corrupt.
On the other hand, that may be too kind. As Andrew Boston argues cogently and with much material to support his case (contra Bernard Lewis), Islamic anti-Semitism has its own autonomous sources.
And how much of the conflict in the Middle East is driven by industrialist/nationalist desire to keep oil prices high? I’d bet a lot; Gary Kasparov, who is running against Putin in Russia, makes the same point in relation to Putin’s otherwise absurd defense of the indefensible – Ahmadijenad. Similarly the Soviets sought a Middle Eastern partner in Egypt, Libya, Syria and PLO and the people there got trapped in the middle. One of the biggest assets Russia has are its oil resources; combine that with a huge footprint in the Middle East and Central Asia and the global balance of power shifts dramatically; it’s the Great Game in Action, 2007 version, and Israel, with its futuristic, multicultural voice and independence, and its possibility of leading a modern Middle East, is obviously a challenge. Middle Eastern warfare and conflict, though, maintains the status quo.
It’s maddening, in the fact of looming environmental disaster, that this should be so. One of the few countries in the world that has shown what can be done in a difficult environment is Israel; it’s cutting edge – yet one British politician blamed Israel for deflecting attention from global warming due to “the occupation!”
What’s the link to this? What a great case of… I don’t think we have a word yet for this kind of idiocy. First you (the Brits, the French, the “left,” etc) become obsessed with “the occupation” to the point where you can’t even see the tragedies that are really happening, and then you blame Israel for distracting you.
And, have any of you read some of the English intellectuals from the 1930’s? Even brilliant artists like Lawrence Durrell were viciously antisemitic. It was usual; it was the voice of the British upper classes and her intelligentsia – when he and Henry Miller couldn’t find a publisher for their work, though, they turned to a Jew – whom they continued to denigrate for his identity even as he put them on the international map.
Sartre did the same thing with his Jewish admirers (and lovers) when the Nazis came. It’s similar to the way Europeans treat the US today.
The role of the British in the Middle East, the Palestine Mandate and during the 1947-1948 wars and the Wars of Attrition, up until the Suez Crisis, is abominable and little understood. We in America think of Britain in glowing, idealistic and almost patriotic terms but a closer reading of modern history, certainly vis a vis “The Great Game” in Central Asia, even WWI in Turkey and definitely in relation to the Jews both in the Yishuv and those trying to flee the Holocaust, and Europe in the wake of the Holocaust, will show a different face – the face of the Britain our national forefathers fought to escape.
So the English, like the French with their behavior in Algeria and Indochina, have much to repent for, indeed good reason to be highly self-critical of their own culture. And yet their way of handling that guilt is to a) welcome Muslims to prove they’re no longer the racist, imperialists they once were, and b) dump on Israel for reminding them of their colonial past. Will there be historians in the mid-twentieth century to wonder at this folly, or merely triumphant Islamists presiding over a ruined world?
Britain didn’t even recognize Eretz Israel for nine months, drew the disastrous borders of the modern M.E. including the catastrophically divided Iraq, gave “Jordan” to a Hashemite prince and, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, recognized and endorsed the annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan in the wake of the war with Israel. This of course included the complete and deliberate expulsion of the Jewish people from those regions as it extinguished the hopes of Palestinian nationalists – and also placed the holiest sites in Jewish history beyond even the reach even of worshippers.
It’s hard to be a Chosen People wannabe when the real Chosen People are still around.