When Cain is the “Other”: On the “Other” in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

I just participated in a panel at American Jewish Studies Conference in Washington entitled Rethinking the “Other”: Problems in Post-Modern Jewish Thought, Politics and the Media. The first two talks by Susan Handelman and Jacob Meskin addressed the problem of the “other” in the philosophico-theological works of Emmanuel Levinas, a Lithuanian-born Jew who became one of France’s most notable philosophers of the 20th century, and a notable influence on Jacques Derrida, the founder of deconstruction and the works of Leon Ashkenazi, known by his scouts name, Manitou, a North-African Jew who first went to France and then after 1967 to Israel.

Their points, boiled down to a crude minimum were that Levinas and/or his followers have taken the manner in which he privileged the “other” to such a point that they have ended up failing to actually interact with the other and particularly in the Arab-Israeli conflict have given a hostile “other” an undeserved, even dangerous, priority. Handelman brought in a less-well-known thinker, Leon Ashkenazi, who, among other things, warned against a particular kind of “other”, namely Cain, the murderous and envious “other” against whom one can and must defend oneself. I was asked to give an example of how the “Cain” type views the other. Not surprisingly, my “text” was the Muhammad al Durah affair, which I post below.

The Media and the Construction of the “Other” in the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

[Note the bland title, done so as not to set off flags among the programming committee and get rejected. For those who already are familiar with the Al Durah affair, you may want to skip below to Analysis.]

My topic today concerns how Palestinians “narrate” the Israeli/Jewish “other.” Let me begin with a discussion of a particular case — that of Muhammad al Durah — and then analyze what it tells us about dysfunctional attitudes towards the “other” in post-modern Jewish and Western intellectual circles.

Let’s begin with our “text,” first by Charles Enderlin at France2.

Since we are very short of time [I had 20 minutes], let me cut to the chase. I think this is a staged scene, a deliberate lie and libel. In order to understand such a phenomenon, first you need to understand how, as a fake, it is one of many carried out that day. Indeed, I coined the term Pallywood in order to designate the existence of a whole school of film-making in the Palestinian territories designed to present the television news audience both at home and abroad with a constant stream of issues depicting the vicious Israeli Goliath crushing the plucky Palestinian David. Let’s begin with a scene from Netzarim Junction that day.

behind the factory 1

The picture seems to be a scene of Palestinians under fire, taking cover, running, and presumably looking at the position from which they are being fired at. Except that the Israeli position is behind the building in the upper right, and the Israelis never left their position that day. This whole scene is staged; they are looking at cameramen.

For anyone who wants to examine the nature of Pallywood further, I recommend viewing my movie of that name:

As for the analysis of the Al Durah staging, see my movie, Al Durah: Making of an Icon.

But this is not just a libel, it’s a blood libel, it’s about Israelis intentionally killing an innocent defenseless child, according to the cameraman Talal abu Rahmeh, “in cold blood.” In order to make the case, the Palestinian broadcast authority inserted into the footage taken by abu Rahmeh a scene of an Israeli soldier firing a rifle (rubber bullets) which was taken during the riots caused by the Al Durah footage. This billboard put up by Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon makes the point graphically.

A CHILD STANDS NEXT TO HIZBOLLAH POSTER ON HIGHWAY IN LEBANON.

When asked to explain how they could do something that violated every principle of modern journalist, a PA official explained:

These are forms of artistic expression, but all of this serves to convey the truth… We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth.

One could not ask for a better illustration of a pre-modern mentality: the (higher) truth is what counts, and any kind of dissembling is permissible to convey that truth, even if — especially if — it’s a blood libel against your enemies.

What’s even more tragic in this tale is not just that it appeared and spread (like wild-fire) in the pre-modern, scapegoating culture of global Islam, but that it jumped from there to spread (again like wild-fire) in the post-modern culture of the West. Sharon, who was not even prime-minister at the time of the incident was a particular target of venom.

hartford_courant

Here in the Hartford Courant, the barrel is gone, the Israeli soldier has been replaced by a pistol-toting Sharon who smiles sadistically at his murderous deed.

Blood libels proliferated in the Arab world, and, via Palestinian and Muslim student groups, made it onto American campuses.

sfsu-gups-flyer
San Francisco State University flyer, Spring 2002

Dave_Brown's_Goya_Ariel_Sharon
Dave Brown cartoon for the Independent, January 2003. The cartoon won the annual award as the best cartoon from the UK Political Cartoonist Association.

Europe was the Western cultural sphere especially in Europe, where it was hailed as a liberating narrative that freed from Holocaust guilt. In particular, the image opened the floodgates to comparing the Israelis to the Nazis.

place de la republique cropped
Place de la République, Paris, October 6, 2000. For the first time since the Holocaust, “Death to the Jews” was heard chanted in a European capital.

Of course, in order to even approach a meaningful connection between Israel and the Nazis, this story has to follow the line of blood libel, that not only was the death a deliberate and cold-blooded murder (like the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews), but symbolic of much more. Osama bin Laden spelled out the logic of the blood libel in his first statement following 9-11:

The whole world has witnessed Israeli soldiers killing Muhammad al Durreh and many others like him… So in fact it is as if Israel — and those backing it in America — have killed all the children in the world.

Europeans, even mainstream ones, lept at this logic. Said Catherine Nay, major news anchor, editorialist, and author of books on French politics:

This death erases, annuls that of the little boy in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

This image used to appear at Ramsey Clark’s website for International ANSWER, an allegedly “anti-war” site that cheers on any anti-American violence in the offing.

In order for these images to be equivalent, al Durah has to symbolize the deliberate murder of millions of civilians, genocide. The colossal moral imbecility of such a comparison can only be explained in terms of the power of the blood libel to distort people’s imaginations. In this case, the we are witness to a combination of pre-modern and post-modern irrationality that ominously ushered in the 21st century.

Nothing better illustrates the madness such moral disorientation can produce than the twisted spectacle in August of 2001, literally weeks and days before 9-11, at the UN Conference allegedly dedicated to fighting racism which became an orgy of anti-Semitic and anti-American hatred at Durban, South Africa. Jamal al Durah came down on Yasser Arafat’s private jet to tell his tale of Israeli genocidal hatred to the assembled participants. His son’s body was paraded in effigy. Muhammad was the patron saint of this demopathic hate-fest.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Analysis

I want to focus on this narrative not because it’s the only one that Palestinians or Arabs or Muslims believe/adopt, but because it is the dominant one, not only in Muslim circles, but in many Western “progressive” circles. The image presides over the larger image of Israel as the sole evil cause of all the misery in the Middle East. As one HR activist put it recently at a party (so off-record) in Jerusalem, “Israel is the world’s greatest human rights violator and its disappearance would be a victory for global human rights.”

Given the pervasive hostility to human rights throughout the Muslim world – rights for women, for infidels, for the weak – such a “solution” to the problem of human rights in the Middle East represents a stunning misunderstanding of the forces at play. And this stunning inversion dominates discourse at the UN; at many if not all HRO’s; in many academic circles.

There’s a pervasive tragedy in this kind of inverted moral thinking. It not only despises people who genuinely care about tolerance and human rights, but it gives a free ride to those who genuinely despise such notions as efffeminate. And in the process, it ignores, indeed it dismisses both the immense effort, the real mightiness, the self-restraint needed to effectively institutionalize human rights in civil polities and accordingly, fails to appreciate how rarely such accomplishments have occurred in human history.

So how could such dangerous moral inanity have penetrated the progressive, the “reality-based” community, they who consider themselves at the moral cutting edge of global culture, i.e. of humankind? The obvious answer, one that will provoke rolled eyes in most progressive Jewish audiences is anti-Semitism. Certainly this almost instinctive response characterizes many on the Jewish “right,” who have given up trying to speak reason with irrational people: Esau hates Jacob” they say, as if that assertion represented some adamantine mystical truth that brooks no contradiction and needs no explanation. And surely the outburst of anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish sentiment that swept through not just Arab/Muslim culture, but European and “Leftist” culture in the West since the fall of 2000, strenghtens their case.

But as an historian, I find this kind of explanation uninteresting. If what we see occurring in the wake of Al Durah has indeed been the beginning of a wave of “new anti-Semitism” which continues to gain in amplitude – in Spain negative attitudes towards Jews has gone from 21% in 2005 to 46% at the end of 2008 – then I’m interested in understanding under what conditions this virus spreads.

I personally think, particularly in the case of the European Left, that at least one major factor has to do with the astounding appeal of moral Schadenfreude, the sheer delight with which people like to point their finger at the Jews and say, “You Jews! 2000 years other people oppress you. And no sooner do you get power than you turn around and do it to someone else.” And of course the ultimate thrill in this emotionally stunting game is to compare Israelis to Nazis.

But I’d like to make my concluding remarks here in a long and distinguished Jewish tradition of self-criticism – of both giving and taking rebuke, a tradition which I’d like to critique. I think one of the major contributors to this moral inversion, to the ready acceptance of hate-mongering lies by our MSM and in our “public sphere”, is a Jewish voice which, however well-intentioned, actually feeds the hatred.

Again let us turn to France, land of Levinas and Derrida, where the first and most virulent expressions of the new anti-Semitism occurred, datable to the very days after the al Durah blood libel hit their TV screens – and was constantly replayed in the following months and years. Here we find a peculiar Jewish voice so pronounced that Shmuel Trigano named its articulators “alter-juifs”, and defined them as Jews who, identifying themselves “as a Jew” then define Jews through the hostile gaze of the “other.” In other words, they confess to the most poisonous images of Jews produced by Judeophobes. Of the people in the French public sphere who virulently denounced Israel in the early years of the 2nd Intifada, about 80% were Jews, “alter-juifs” like Edgar Morin, people who insisted that “as Jews” they had to denounce the evil they found among their own people.

Note, I am not here accusing alter-juifs of being malevolent, or anti-Semitic even if, in the Marxian sense they are objectively anti-Semitic. On the contrary, I think their motives are honorable. I think that they, like the true Torah scholar depicted in the 6th chapter of Pirkei Avot, are “lovers of rebuke.” They go out of their way to privilege the voice of the Palestinian “other” and accept their rebuke.

In other words, the alter-juif has taken the blood libel as a symbolic truth. As one Jewish leader, who would not invite me to speak to his think-tank about al Durah, even though his subject was global anti-Semitism, said to me after viewing the evidence: “I don’t care; if we hadn’t had a settlement at Netzarim, this wdn’t have happened.” Or as one Israeli professor of media studies said to me at a public forum, “what does it matter if this is a fake? We’ve killed over 800 of their kids…” Or, to take it all the way, as Gideon Levy said before the camera, “We’ve killed 800 Muhammad al Durahs.”

This kind of self-flagellating discourse is, in fact, a prophetic voice, not so much in the sense that it is divinely inspired, but in the sense that it engages in a rhetoric of exaggeration to make its point, to “whip” the object of its rebuke into the right path. Thus, any impartial observer would have to admit that Israel isn’t a racist apartheid state like South Africa – a trip to any hospital makes that clear – or that it’s not committing genocide against the Palestinians – after four decades of occupation, their population continues to rise – but because we want her to be “better”, we engage in rhetorical excess. Nor is this uniquely “Jewish”. When the spokesperson for HRW defended the NGO’s equation of Gitmo with the Gulag Archipelago, he admitted it might be a bit exaggerated, but that it was an effort to stir moral indignation. Behind this progressive form of tochachah lies what I call a Masochistic omnipotence complex: it is all our fault, and if only we were better, we could fix anything.

Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome is a form of messianic thinking. And while in some cases, it may be laudible, right now I think, it is very dangerous because it combines with and reinforces some of the ugliest, hate and war-mongering narratives now circulating in global culture. No matter how well-intentioned, this kind of behavior has terrible consequences.

Now I don’t delude myself into believing that a little, rational critique – “be careful what you say and how you say it because it will encourage very bad people” – will convince “prophetic progressives” to tone down their moral outrage and indignation. On the contrary, when Alvin Rosenfeld said it, he received an indignant chorus complaining that he was trying to silence any criticism of Israel. I know enough about the thrall that millennial ideas can exercise over the human imagination.

What I do want to do is offer a different kind of rebuke. Not one based on the “we/you are as bad as the men of Sodom” style of prophetic inflation, but one based on a call to sober introspection.

Consider al Durah in the context of lying. As anyone who has had children or still remembers his or her childhood, or does any serious introspection, or watches House on TV knows, people lie a great deal, especially when it comes to questions of moral responsibility. And the only thing the prevents most people from lying is a real fear of getting caught.

When people do the opposite — not lying to protect themselves, but lying by accusing themselves of things they haven’t done — they miss the mark on two counts.

  • 1) the encourage lying, they make it clear to those who would lie, that they can not only get away with it, but have great success with it… hence Pallywood and its most brilliant achievement, al Durah.
  • And 2) they throw off the moral compass of those who do not understand such behavior, who, as one American told me, “assume that people deny anything they can for self-protection, and therefore if you admit to x, you’ve probably done much worse.

Does this mean we should not admit to anything?
No.
But then how do we decide? How do we measure our self-criticism?

I’d like to suggest the following introspective exercise. When Jews or Israelis are accused of something (like Al Durah) which is not true, we have two broad reasons to admit it: generosity of spirit or fear. The fear is double – on the one hand, the peer-group pressure of losing favor with fellow progressives – and the fear that to confront angry Muslims is a recipe for violence. Thus, when the pope alluded to Islam’s propensity to violence, and Muslims exploded in violent anger, Western progressives blamed the pope for provocation rather than pointing out to Muslims, however gently, that the very bad joke was on them.

When people lie to your face, why do you not challenge them? Because you’re being polite? Or because you’re afraid? And when the latter is the case, how often do you hide your cowardice behind the mask of moral grandeur? And if so, how much of your attitude is morally grand, and how much a combination of personal cowardice on the one hand, and moral condescension or contempt on the other? And if you only know how to confess, and do not know how to rebuke (except of course, fellow Jews who have the chutzpah to defend themselves and their people), then what kind of “free choice” do you exercise?

In any “real” relationship with the “other”, tochachah is a two-way street. Not only must we acquire the exceptional honesty and ego strength to receive it, we must also acquire the tact and courage to deliver it. When historians in the mid- to late 21st century look back at this tragic battle with Muslim apocalyptic rage in which we now find ourselves (and presuming the Muslims don’t win), they will not fault Jews not for a failure to receive tochachah, but a failure to deliver it. For when we Jews privilege the “other’s narrative” even when that narrative represents the basest form of self-exculpating scape-goating, we not only debase ourselves, we show profound moral contempt for that “other.” Just as we do not scold our cats for chasing and killing mice, so we do not rebuke Muslims for their barbaric words and deeds. In so doing, we do not privilege the “other,” we in fact reduce him to a two-dimensional role in our grandiose drama of masochistic omnipotence.

Generosity or cowardice?

Each of us must decide, honestly, every time.

Respectfully, the ball is in each of our courts.

73 Responses to When Cain is the “Other”: On the “Other” in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

  1. Rob says:

    Great to see you back in cracking form, RL. Excellent post.

  2. wanderer says:

    Excellent analysis. My question is –Who and/or what are the feared and how does that play into jewish identity and anti-semitism?

    We are here in U.S., where the Henry Ford anti-Semites were defeated or disappeared a generation ago, and now we have an atmosphere brought about in a significant amount by jews themselves !! Even those that go around exclaiming “Never Again”.

  3. oao says:

    We are here in U.S., where the Henry Ford anti-Semites were defeated or disappeared a generation ago, and now we have an atmosphere brought about in a significant amount by jews themselves !! Even those that go around exclaiming “Never Again”.

    which shows you the more it changes, the more it stays the same. both the antisemites and the jews who internalize antisemitism in the delusion that this will save them

  4. Diane says:

    This is the first time I’ve encountered the term “alter Juifs.” Perfect!

    RL, you help us understand what is right under our noses.

    I’ve been curious lately about the Jewish response to anti-Semitism in pre-WWII Europe. Was there the same tendency among Jewish intellectuals to honor their enemies and rebuke their own kind for fabricated sins?

  5. E.G. says:

    Diane-
    Yes, definitely. Didn’t help them too much either.

  6. Diane says:

    “Given the pervasive hostility to human rights throughout the Muslim world – rights for women, for infidels, for the weak ….”

    “There’s a pervasive tragedy in this kind of inverted moral thinking. It not only despises people who genuinely care about tolerance and human rights, but it gives a free ride to those who genuinely despise such notions as effeminate. And in the process, it ignores, indeed it dismisses both the immense effort, the real mightiness, the self-restraint needed to effectively institutionalize human rights in civil polities and accordingly, fails to appreciate how rarely such accomplishments have occurred in human history.

    RL, this section caught my attention as seeming to embody a contradiction. If the Muslim world “genuinely despises” human-rights talk as “effeminate,” then how do you account for the massive “Arab street” reaction to the Al Durrah affair? A boy killed in cold blood. So what? Happens everyday in the Arab world. Think of the Fatah official’s children gunned down on the way to school in Gaza. Or the tens of thousands of children used as human mine-sweepers in Saddam’s war with Iran. It’s perhaps the (supposed) fact that the killers of the little Mohammed were dhimmis that makes (effeminate) human rights-based outrage acceptable among macho Arabs.

  7. Diane says:

    In other words, human rights only matter when they are taken away from Arabs by subhuman Jews.

  8. E.G. says:

    Diane-

    it’s Doublespeak. Human sacrifice is fine for Moslems (they actually preach it), but their leaders know it’s not at all fine for the rest of the (effeminate) world. So if they can show the Jews acting like Barbarians (while in fact they are) they just do it, in order to get support for their cause. Moral support, like money, has no scent and no gender. And wars include using dirty tricks.

    You don’t really think that, say, an Iranian actually felt sorry about Al Durrah. S/he got angry about the Israelis – and it’s not the same thing.

  9. rl says:

    Diane:
    it’s an excellent point and although E.G. made important points, it’s still something of a mystery. unquestionably, it’s a case of “whose ox is gored.” if you kill my kid, you’re an abominable murderer; if i kill your kid, i’m a hero. this is tribal thinking at its most elemental (my side right or wrong). and it fits together in a particularly sick way with what i call the Moebius Strip of Cognitive Egocentrism — they scream bloody murder in the most dishonest fashion, and “we” can’t beg their pardon fast enough.
    do they feel outraged? no question. do they honestly think that what theyr’e doing in targeting israeli children is “different” and justifiable? no question. should we be affirming their moral outrage. absolutely not.
    the whole point of “human rights” is that it demands you grant to others the rights you want to keep yourself. it’s effeminate because it means you can’t dominate others, the only form of manhood recognized in a tribal warrior tradition, where killing another man is the proof of manhood.
    our human rights community should be making demands on this tribal mentality. instead, they can’t encourage it enough. why? that’s the $60,000,000 question.

  10. oao says:

    rl,

    it’s still something of a mystery

    really?

  11. oao says:

    looks like you explained it quite well. and if you add islamic supremacism, what mystery is left?

  12. Cynic says:

    #4 Diane,

    Just take a look at the attitude of the NYT’s owner before and during the war to Europe’s Jews.

  13. Cynic says:

    So if they can show the Jews acting like Barbarians (while in fact they are)

    E.G. :-) you have phrased that last bit differently.

  14. Cynic says:

    rl,
    Diane and you are pre-supposing that there are human rights, actively practiced, in the Arab camp.
    I feel that this is wrong.
    They just create another 1001 Nights fable to suit their psychosis as each situation demands.
    Everything that has been displayed over the past years just exhibits a psychological facade, and even invoking “A deep hatred of the Jews” as dictated by their religion is just a cover up for this tribe’s sorry mental state. A mental state inherited from a psychopath that has been inculcated to produce a genetic modification.

  15. Diane says:

    I’m reading Shelby Steele’s 2006 book “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era,” in which he argues that the strategy of early civil rights leaders like MLK — shaming white Americans into granting blacks civil rights — was a complete success. But white guilt undermined that success, because it refused to let itself morally off the hook, and worse, denied blacks any personal responsibility or free agency, setting the stage for endless black rage, self-pity and a bottomless sense of black entitlement.

    It occurs to me that one could trace a parallel relationship between Western guilt over colonialism, well-intentioned efforts to right those wrongs (leading to real progress in Third World economies and governance), undermined by the postcolonial progressive West’s stubborn refusal to let itself morally off the hook, denying the Third World any personal responsibility or free agency and setting the stage for a flood of self-destructive anti-Western (particularly Muslim) rage, a bottomless well of Third World dependency and entitlement, to which the West invariably responds with “mea culpa.”

    See also Steele’s May 2, 2006 WSJ op-ed looking at the war in Iraq through a “white guilt” filter. http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008318

  16. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    I’m not sure the NYT is the best example of pre-WW2 “alter Jews”.
    This is more like it. The point is about voicing protest rather than keeping silent dissent: commission more than omission.

  17. Eliyahu says:

    Let’s not only look at the NYT [dealt with in a recent book by Laurel Leff, I believe. See the Wyman Institute site]. Let’s look at the supposed and self-styled champions of anti-fascism and anti-Nazism, the Commnunists and the Trots. The CPs around the world followed the the USSR lead in supporting the Nazi-Soviet Pact [we don't forget the British-made Munich Pact either]. EG, with your knowledge of France, you know that the French CP opposed resisting the Nazis until the USSR was invaded. Even JP Sartre admitted this in his book on Judophobia [Reflexions sur l'antisemitisme? OR ...sur la question juive?]. The Trots opposed armed resistance to the Nazis, preferring to see the German-Nazi army as fellow workers. The Belgian Trots led by the hideous Ernest Mandel, publshed an underground paper in –German. It was entitled “Arbeiter und Soldat.” They thought it more important to rouse the German troops to revolutionary fervor rather than rousing the occupied peoples into fighting them.

    The CP in the US called for opening a Second Front [in the West] but did not call for any military action to stop the death machinery in Auschwitz.

    The “pacifists” in the US had an outfit called The Peace Now Movement [also: Peace Now Committee]. They wanted the US to offer reasonable terms to Hitler. Actually, there were few if any Jews in this movement.

  18. E.G. says:

    Eliyahu,

    Not only had the French CP delayed its anti-Nazi (re)action, but they also had the Chutzpah to claim for many post-war years that their members had payed with their lives the major price of the resistance (i.e., that most resistance members were CP members or sympathisers), which is, mildly put, an exaggeration. As well as omitting to mention that quite a few resistants were not only “red” but also “yellow starred”.

  19. Scott D says:

    Diane,

    I too have been challenged by Steele’s application of civil-rights derived White Guilt to global affairs. For me the question is how such a system regains moral authority once the critique has been internalized. Reagan and Thatcher boosted some confidence in the West in the 1980s by supporting dissidents and free markets and Clinton/Blair/Bush tried to define a post-Cold War positive moral authority through humanitarian and well, other democracy-building interventionism.

    This, too, is the challenge for Israelis and Jews who struggle of the meaning and purpose of Power. It is an advantage and disadvantage to be in the shadow of the Shoah and know the nations all around seek your destruction: a paranoid courage and determination.

  20. Scott D says:

    I have some hope, if you forgive the word, that Obama’s election creates an opening for the US to reclaim some elements of moral authority, specifically that denied by progressives, peace-niks, and post-colonial anti-western activists. Can Obama’s own “otherness” along with his pragmatism help US progressives see the “Other” in greater fullness? fewer excuses and less glamorization? Richard notes the allure of millennial thinking that seeks to uproot, overturn, oversignify, and I recall my own slow turning away from the aura of final “social change.” I’m sad some smart conservative academics have chosen to ridicule Obama’s every move instead of seizing the opportunity for some of their goals to be achieved BY him, such as confrontations with Mideast extremism and a reframing of the issue for progressives.

    In any case, thanks Richard for going into the lions den, so to speak. I saw you on the schedule and knew to come here for your reflections. Was Handleman’s reference to Cain in Ashkenazi’s work useful to the audience? Levinas, it should be noted, warned that we must always recall the Otherness of the Other, so as to not pretend we’ve met and are just the same. It is the facile meeting of global unity that reduces the Other to One Like Me, Cognitive Egocentrism, lack of appreciation for the evolution of the institutions of rights-based civil society.

  21. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Diane and you are pre-supposing that there are human rights, actively practiced, in the Arab camp.

    I don’t share your impression.
    On the one hand, Arabs believe they have rights (which, from a Judeo-Christian point of view, are not very human). On the other hand, knowing the Judeo-Christian sensitivity to Human Rights, amplified by the Left-leaning organisations, they’re piggybacking on the zeitgeist, in order to get or gain sympathy. Thus, Arabs and Moslems willingly and often cry that their human rights are trampled, yet rarely do they complain that they do not respect any other’s (including their own) human rights.

  22. shriber says:

    I am very familiar with Handleman’s work. In the past she would have been called a popularizer. However, since the populace has become so ignorant and can barely read a tabloid paper without a dictionary Susan can pass herself off as an intellectual.

    Levinas; friend Maurice Blanchot had already criticized Levinas’ notion of the “other” as did the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur. The latter thinker I believe had called this “other” a murderer: meaning that it was dangerous to theorize about a will of the wisp as if it were something tangible and benign.

    Levinas countered by saying “I am an other” meaning that the self has an absolute responsibility to itself as well as the other.

    I don’t believe he ever reconciled this contradiction.

    To be fair to Levinas otherness is a concept that takes distances the self from the self and negates his primary mode of existence which narcissistic.

    Still, it is dangerous as Ricoeur saw to deal in these rarified concepts as if they applicable directly to political or social thought.

    I noticed that a lot of left wing intellectuals have tried to do just that.

  23. Mark M says:

    Regarding RL’s thought experiment: “I’d like to suggest the following introspective exercise. When Jews or Israelis are accused of something (like Al Durah) which is not true, we have two broad reasons to admit it: generosity of spirit or fear. The fear is double – on the one hand, the peer-group pressure of losing favor with fellow progressives – and the fear that to confront angry Muslims is a recipe for violence.”

    I should note that Menachem Begin once provided a name for those who, out of fear, admit to crimes they had not committed—“a Jew with trembling knees.” Yehuda Avner provides an example of a JWTK in this description of a meeting between Begin and Sir Isaiah Berlin. I apologize for the length of this post.

    Yehuda Avner, “A Jew with trembling knees.” Jerusalem Post, 11 July 2003.

    Twenty-six years ago this week, after having been prime minister for close to a month, during which time his international reputation steadily mutated from slightly unhinged political caricature to statesman of note, Menachem Begin spent his every waking hour transmitting hush-hush feelers to Arab rulers and elaborating a plan for peace. The original, which he called “A Framework for the Peace-Making Process,” was written in his own hand, and I prepared its digest a single-page summary for easy reference.

    Wishing to check it for accuracy but being hard-pressed for time, Begin proposed I ride with him to the King David Hotel, where he and his wife were hosting a tea for old Revisionist friends from abroad and for which he was running late. So when he settled back into the corner of his chauffeured limousine, I read him the text while he, head cocked in concentration, approved or disapproved each sentence with a nod or a grunt. Then, scanning the corrected page, he scribbled a few last cosmetic improvements and was still doing so when his car drew up under the hotel portico.

    Switching on a smile, he bounced out into the pumping hands of well-wishers and blew into the hotel like a tornado, radiating great power.

    Camera flashes bathed the lobby in a luminescent glow as though for some opening night and reporters buzzed around him like so many mosquitoes, thrusting microphones into his face and pelting him with questions. And he, impeccably neat, strode across the lobby with precise, suave steps toward the elevator, his face beaming, his eyes flashing, and his hand wafting the corrected page aloft like a pennant.

    Such was the crush, I had to bodily insinuate myself through the excited crowd to reach the phalanx of bodyguards surrounding the prime minister in an attempt to retrieve the document for retyping (Begin would need it later in the day for a meeting with foreign minister Moshe Dayan).

    Reaching the elevator, the prime minister caught sight of a familiar face in the throng and, unthinkingly, slipped the page into his pocket, stretched out a convivial hand, and with a warm smile called, “Sir Isaiah, how good to see you. Welcome to Jerusalem.”

    SIR ISAIAH Berlin, the celebrated British intellectual, Oxford professor and revered historian of ideas, flushed darkly as if he had just endured an insufferable intrusion. He threw Begin a crabby look, turned his back on him and walked away.

    The prime minister stiffened, frowned, seemed about to speak but didn’t and assumed all the dignity he could muster as he stepped into the elevator. The door glided shut in my face and I decided I needed a drink.

    The bar off the main lobby was jam-packed and I had to elbow my way to the counter, where people were sipping and munching and crunching, and talking jovially at the tops of their voices. Suddenly, out of the crush, Sir Isaiah Berlin emerged. Standing there amid this boisterous crowd, with his scholarly stoop, wearing a staid, dark suit and a buttoned waistcoat over a prominent paunch, he looked like a fish out of water.

    “Did I not see you just now with Menachem Begin?” he asked, his joweled features frowning with disapproval. “Have I not seen you in the past with Yitzhak Rabin? How can you possibly be in the service of two politicians of such conflicting ideologies, Labor and Likud?” I could savor the distaste in his voice.

    Confirming that I had previously been on premier Rabin’s staff, I explained that the new prime minister was anxious, in light of this first governmental change in our country’s history, to preserve the integrity and continuity of the permanent civil service in accordance with British practice. (“This government has come to serve, not to reap,” Begin had said). Hence he had asked most of Rabin’s people to remain at their posts.

    Pensively stroking a balding scalp set in a crescent of iron-gray bristles, Sir Isaiah nodded and said, “Quite right. Makes sense. Proper thing to do.” Whereupon he dived into a monologue spoken at such an astonishingly rapid pace it was partly incomprehensible. Only later did I learn that this was his manner of speech and not an emotional outburst.

    The gist of what he was saying was that though he considered himself a man of probity and a well-tempered and composed Oxfordian, not given to vehement public stands or demonstrative displays, he could not, as a Jew, shake the hand of Menachem Begin as prime minister. It was too much. He feared what the man would do to the country. He feared for Israel’s Zionist dream. He feared for his own Zionist dream. He was terribly shaken and perplexed.

    ALL HIS LIFE, he said, he had been a two-state Zionist a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state. Moral life could entertain nothing less. Begin was a radical ideologue. But no ideology dare be taken to its radical conclusion. Justice and decency can survive only by untidy accommodations. The Arab-Israel quarrel was a conflict between two rights of equal validity. Israel, therefore, had to concede territories. Partition! This was his profound philosophical view as a Jew.

    And as a Jew, he loathed violence. Terrorism of any kind, for however noble a goal, was abhorrent. In the 1960s he had condemned the French for their brutal war of counter-insurgency against the Algerians, and had then condemned the Algerian FLN for their counterterrorism against French civilians. So how could he shake the hand of Menachem Begin, who in 1946 had ordered this very hotel, the King David, in whose bar we were presently standing, to be blown up with the loss of 90 lives?

    I cut in to insist that the King David then was not a hotel but had been requisitioned by the British as their headquarters; that a prior warning had been given for its evacuation but was ignored; that the Irgun had never deliberately targeted civilians. But he kept on going at such a helter-skelter pace he probably did not catch what I was saying.

    Only when I raised my voice to declare that, at the end of the day, we Israelis had democratically elected our own prime minister in a free and secret ballot did his whitening brows arch upwards in concession.

    “Well yes, that’s true,” he muttered. “And, yes, when all is said and done, who am I to offer you people advice? You would never accept it. I’m no better understood in the Jewish state than I am elsewhere. As often as I come here I don’t understand Israel at all. I don’t know how many Jews in the Diaspora really understand Israel. I don’t know how many Israelis understand the Diaspora, for that matter.”

    And with this inscrutable thought, he fumbled with a magnifier dangling on the end of a chain from his waistcoat pocket, brought it close to his eyes to check his watch in the dim light of the bar, downed a whiskey, and apologized that he had to run.

    I TOOK THE elevator up to the sixth floor, and, endeavoring to assume a calm exterior, knocked on the door of the Begin suite. A petite woman in a homely dark suit, with springy gray hair and thick glasses, opened it.

    “Come in, come in,” said Aliza Begin in her characteristic tobacco-roughened voice. “Let me offer you a cup of tea. Or would you prefer coffee?”

    “Ah, here you are,” called the prime minister, extracting the page from his pocket and drawing me into the lounge. “I was talking to my friends here about Sir Isaiah Berlin ”

    “Stop taking it to heart, Menachem,” chided Mrs. Begin with a chuckle. “For 30 years you’ve had so many people turning their backs on you, and suddenly you’re surprised that some still do. Sit down. Relax. Try one of these pastries.”

    She handed him a plate from a table set in the center of the room on which sat a large china teapot and an ornate hot-water urn, surrounded by cups and saucers and, around them, rolls, pastries, cheeses, dips and homemade rolls. A dozen well-dressed, prosperous-looking guests stood around the room, chatting in an admixture of English and Yiddish.

    “Sir Isaiah has, of course, an extraordinary mind,” granted Begin, seating himself on a couch and inviting his guests to join him. “As a philosopher he’s a genuine original thinker. But as a Zionist he’s a ” he took a sip of lemon tea and an impish look lurked in his eyes “a J.W.T.K.”

    “A what?”

    “A Jew with trembling knees,” said Begin naughtily, and the people around him laughed knowingly.

    “Those utopian Zionists wove a fantasy that bewitched the Zionist movement for decades,” Begin went on earnestly. “Had we followed the Isaiah Berlins we would never have had a Jewish state. Their flight of fancy led them to the delusion that the Arabs would eventually come to terms with us.

    “And why would they want to come to terms with us?” he asked the air contemptuously. “Because the economic progress we would bring to the Arabs would eventually bring the Arabs to the peace table, they theorized. Ze’ev Jabotinsky had too much respect for Arabs to believe that kind of nonsense!”

    The very mention of the name prompted these old Revisionists to pick up the strings of time and reminisce with the adoration of disciples about the man in whose footsteps the prime minister devoutly walked.

    And I, standing there on the periphery, listening in, heard him talk of his “master and teacher,” as though he were a prophet, decades ahead of his time. He said Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionism was the only unblinking realism in a crumbling Jewish world.

    He was the first to warn against the coming European catastrophe; the first to organize illegal rescue boats to Eretz Israel; the first to sound the war-cry for a Jewish army; the first to maintain that we have to fight for a Jewish state; the first to advocate the building of an iron wall of deterrence, in alignment with a Western power, that would ultimately convince the Arabs they had no alternative but to come to terms with a Jewish state.

    “Ze’ev Jabotinsky foresaw this iron wall doctrine already in the 1920s,” concluded Begin. “And ultimately, it was to become the strategic imperative of all of Israel’s leaders. Surely few men have been so vindicated by history.” And with that, he handed me the digest of his peace plan for retyping.

    Taking leave, it occurred to me that this was high drama personified: Begin and Berlin no ordinary men perfectly representing the two warring sides of the Jewish character, the opposite poles of Jewish political style, the conflicting strains of Jewish philosophy, the contending interpretations of the Jewish narrative, and the contradictory visions of Jewish survival.

  24. E.G. says:

    From my vantage point, I see alter-Jews proceed in some sort of “holier-than-thou” competition. Their premise is that the Jews are strong (spiritually) and powerful (materially) and, as such, they should care – and all the more so after the Shoah – for justice and fairness for all, and first and foremost for the poor and the dispossessed other. For these Jews, wherever they are, the most immediate such other are the Arabs of Palestine. Their second “other” are the Zionists, whom they wish to distance themselves from. The other “other” are on a waiting list.

    Well, most if not all they do is speak and write (some film), and it often seems they’re competing among themselves on who denounces more/better/in a more widely read or viewed or heard medium the Zionist sins (oops! it’s but an honest to god critique of Israeli policy) as being the quasi-sole reason for Arabs of Palestine’ suffering. Must have something to do with many of them being in Academic institutions (see: publish or perish). It’s nonetheless a narcissistic attitude, the purpose being to show one’s universal interpretation of his/her Jewishness (a model others should follow), as well as one’s brilliant original thinking (a model others cannot follow). In fact they’re seeking to reach or to maintain a mandarin status.

  25. JD says:

    “Alter Jews” is an interesting concept. I do not think one can understand left wing anti-semitism as something other than arising from the Soviet Union’s worldwide Anti-Zionism propaganda campaign circa 1966, stoked by the failure of their allies and weapons in in ’67 and ’73. The Western left, that is the part attached to socialist trends, absorbed the campaign, including its aspects reflecting internal Soviet anxieties such as the threat of nationalism and good ol’ Russian anti-semitism.

    As for Sharon, his special prominence should be understood within Palestinian discourse of massacre-ology. In the 70′s and 80′s westernized Palestinian thinkers struggled with the “why” so many of their parents left in ’48, the parents assuming the Jews would do to them what they would have done to the Jews had they won. In response the “Deir Yassin” massacre was elevated as the causation of the departures, but was weak. The Phalangist massacre was almost a relief for them, it was used to reinforce the Deir Yassin causation hypothesis–regardless of the actual intra-Arab reality of the killings in Lebanon.

  26. oao says:

    On the one hand, Arabs believe they have rights

    yes: ONLY rights, mainly the right to dominate and subjugate.

  27. Cynic says:

    Cynic,

    Diane and you are pre-supposing that there are human rights, actively practiced, in the Arab camp.
    I don’t share your impression.

    E.G. are you saying that the Arab camp actively practices human rights?
    You mean of course the “rights” of the Imam, the clan leader and some self anointed thug.
    There is a judicial system in that camp which will uphold the rights of some lowly member to whatever is due to him by “due process”????

    Mark M,
    Alter Juif; Court Jew, they are all the same.
    he could not, as a Jew, shake the hand of Menachem Begin as prime minister.
    Sir Isaiah was more worried about a handshake sending him to Coventry than an honest and sincere discussion on their differences of opinion based on facts and not the impression created by those he wished to sup with.

    Unfortunately I have had to make the acquaintance of these types of people who for the sake of their ideological bed-mates resort to insincere and basically selfish behaviour while expounding on diplomacy, talks and yadda yadda.

  28. Cynic says:

    , I see alter-Jews proceed in some sort of “holier-than-thou” competition. Their premise is that the Jews are strong (spiritually) and powerful (materially) and, as such, they should care – and all the more so after the Shoah – for justice and fairness for all, and first and foremost for the poor and the dispossessed other

    without considering whether the “other” is a lamb or a crocodile?
    Without considering the context?
    Why resist and fight to remain alive, to go against that innate animal behaviour of fighting for survival?
    All the evolutionary progress that produced the discerning sense of friend or foe to be thrown to the wind? Just lie down and be raped to please those ideologues?
    Who,especially a Jew,in their right mind with hindsight to boot can dream on in bright daylight and think that with all their spiritual and material strength they can go out to fortify the house of a “neighbour” while leaving the doors to their own house open and not suffer loss?

    The court or alter juif is fooling you talking with one tongue to you while with another to those who truly matter to him.
    The Arabs use two easily discernible languages but the A J casuistry.

  29. E.G. says:

    Cynic #24

    I don’t share your impression regarding RL & Diane’s presupposition. As oao specified: rights, only rights, ones we don’t consider human, and note the absence of duties we either like or consider human for example here.

    Alter-Jews are not court Jews (although some of the latter can be labelled as such). Court Jews would sometimes intercede for their community while alter-Jews often proceed like an active minority.
    see: http://www.psy.ox.ac.uk/social_psych/Martin_Hewstone_Sage_Handbook.doc.

  30. E.G. says:

    The last reference takes faster to download here:

    http://psyweb.psy.ox.ac.uk/social_psych/Martin_Hewstone_Sage_Handbook.doc.

    See specifically the part “Social Change: Minority Influence and Innovation”

  31. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Please find below alter-me’s answers to your inquisitorial reply to my initial comment I see alter-Jews proceed in some sort of “holier-than-thou” competition. Their premise is that the Jews are strong (spiritually) and powerful (materially) and, as such, they should care – and all the more so after the Shoah – for justice and fairness for all, and first and foremost for the poor and the dispossessed other

    without considering whether the “other” is a lamb or a crocodile?

    One other is a martyr; the other “other” is the first’s tormentor.

    Without considering the context?

    The context? Occupation. Bad. Immoral. Spoliation depriving and depraving…

    Why resist and fight to remain alive, to go against that innate animal behaviour of fighting for survival?

    Ah, but Jews should know better than that. What are animal instincts without high moral standards? We’re not in a KZ! Is that what Jews should wish for? Is that why they want a state of their own? To make others bear what we suffered? Or is it a jungle we “chosen” people actually wish for? The founding Zionist ideologists theorised the Jewish state as the spiritual center for the world – intellectually and ethicaly, beaming integrity – not a battlefield ruled by ruthless self-interest (I spare you the next usual beastly free-market/exchange/wild economy tirade)

    All the evolutionary progress that produced the discerning sense of friend or foe to be thrown to the wind? Just lie down and be raped to please those ideologues?

    Evolution continued with the ability to negotiate, rationally, respecting each other. And please don’t exaggerate. Your bank is raping you but you try to talk them out of it, don’t you?
    But your banker won’t talk much with you when you go bankrupt and right now you’re going morally bankrupt. You’re indebted – pay! And you’ll save us all.

    Who,especially a Jew,in their right mind

    in their left mind, rather. But of course, empathy is just as important as analysis.

    with hindsight to boot can dream on in bright daylight and think that with all their spiritual and material strength they can go out to fortify the house of a “neighbour” while leaving the doors to their own house open and not suffer loss?

    The past has taught us that we’re capable, over and again, to rise up from the ashes and bloom. That our spiritual strength overcame all the difficulties for millenia. Generosity is our heritage and we must not betray it. It’s one of the 3 pillars of the world according to our sages. To trust the other means you take the risk of her betraying your confidence, but it’s merely a probability: just endowing someone with credibility means a change for that someone, as s/he feels more secure, mature, capable… And don’t forget, the other needs to trust you too. It’s a dual process. We need to channel our own experience of always being suspected into something positive. But you prefer risking both your and the other’s lives, and your children’s lives as well, because you’re afraid to suffer loss – in fact loss of what? Each and every day we’re losing our dignity, our principles, our moral, our legitimacy, because we don’t dare be our human, humane selves!

    A few (approx. 6) bon mots from poets, philosophers, soc. scientists etc. should be added to decorate the text. But even without the much needed elegance accessories, intended to diminish your intellectual stand, I hope you feel guilty enough.

    Most Sincerely,
    Alter-E.G.

  32. oao says:

    it’s quite simple really. one or more of the following:

    1. cowardice
    2. delusion and denial
    3. ignorance
    5. arrogance

  33. oao says:

    Your bank is raping you but you try to talk them out of it, don’t you?

    you can change or not use banks.

    The past has taught us that we’re capable, over and again, to rise up from the ashes and bloom.

    you mean, we should facilitate the loss of millions every few decades just because we can survive?

    do you have any idea what would be the demographics, economics, even the state of the whole world if those millions were not exterminated? particularly in the context of the current status of the civilized (until recently) world?

  34. E.G. says:

    oao # 33
    I opt for #4.

    oao#34
    Are you talking to me or to alter-me?

  35. oao says:

    I opt for #4.

    if arrogance, it is of the ignorant kind. the others are probably subconscious.

    Are you talking to me or to alter-me?

    depends. I was referring to the jews, but if you channel their notion of “we’ll survive”, then to you.

  36. Cynic says:

    Ah, but Jews should know better than that. What are animal instincts without high moral standards?

    So some more inquisitorial phrases:
    What are you trying to get across with that? That animals with high moral instincts don’t enter a war to stave off the attack to nd their lives and society but just lie down and let themselves be raped?

    Aren’t you being just a little too Derridarish?
    The context? Occupation. Bad. Immoral. Spoliation depriving and depraving…
    How did the “occupation” come about?
    Basically if one takes it way back then the discovery is made that the Other considers the existence of said Jews to be the problem so the Jews to accord with high moral standards and for justice and fairness for all, and first and foremost for the poor and the dispossessed other should have committed suicide.

    By the way I’m not considering “Court Jews”, when I lump them together with “alter Jews”, from the middle ages in Austria and such places. I am referring to the court Jews of Westminster and relatively recent history in the first half of the past century.
    One Frank Shapiro published a book in 2002 “Haven in Africa” and discusses what could have happened had a certain group of people forming the Emigration Planning Committee, which included Anthony de Rothschild, Simon Marks and others, which had been established for the purpose of finding places for Jewish refugees, not let the threat of anti-semitism leach their willingness to follow through at all costs to save the lives of others.
    Shapiro speculates because the files on this scheme was closed even to Board of Deputies members.
    In may 2003 Bill Oakland wrote to the Jpost that he as a member of the BoD could not access the files and wrote: … about the failed scheme to send European Jews to Northern Rhodesia, whose government would have been only too happy to accept them. This shameful episode was swept under the carpet by the pre-war Anglo_Jewish leadership, which rejected the scheme, using the lame excuse that it would create anti-Semitism and evoke accusations of dual loyalty.
    …..
    The prewar Board leaders must have known what was going on, but their fears about their standing in Britain seemed to have taken preference over the saving of Jewish lives.

  37. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Aren’t you being just a little too Derridarish?
    Blush. You’re not saying that I successfully put my(other)self in the “other’s” frame of mind, are you?

    It was a bit of an effort to gather bad faith and distorted argumentation in order to assemble the reply (from authentic sermons heard/read). Like those advanced here. Independently from the question of an IDF Gaza operation.

    Indeed, part of the exercise was meant to distinguish Alter-Jews from Court Jews (remote and less remote in time – thanks for clarifying). Alter-Jews are a noisy minority who draw their legitimacy from their professional status and from being Jews. They represent a marginal stream (with the groupies they create) that aims to become central. The way they use their Jewishness is particularly odious: it’s invoked to add weight to their arguments and to endow them with an untouchable position or, when attacked, to self-righteously claim a victim’s status. They need this because they’re self appointed in the flagellator role.

  38. E.G. says:

    oao,

    Arrogance is #5 in your above comment.
    Whatever you initially put as #4 (contempt?) is missing.
    But it’s a good unpacking.

  39. oao says:

    How did the “occupation” come about?

    Not only that, but how many opportunities were there to end the occupation and the pals refused them, stating explicitly that they want all of israel?

    however, my guess is that most diaspora jews are quite ignorant about the details of the conflict, or rely on the MSM crap.

    until antisemitism reemerged, they paid little attention to srael (see melanie phillips recent article). now they either (a) emigrate to israel or (b) consider israel a risk to themselves: if it only disappeared they would be liked again.

  40. oao says:

    as to gaza, the occupation went away. now, what exactly is happening now?

  41. oao says:

    robert spencer at jihad watch wrote STEALTH JIHAD which was critiqued by one Jacob Laksin. Spencer has responded, but David Yerushalmi critiqued his response in that it ignores the fact that laksin’s argument is similar to the typical jewish response to the nazis and now neo-nazis and jihadis. iow, american jews respond in the same way 70 years after the holocaust, with a full view of a potential similar holocaust. Here’s the central paragraph:

    “Indeed, I have heard the refrain that by making stealth jihad an issue of US-THEM, we are exacerbating the problem and making it more difficult to “assimilate” these stealth mujahideen (and, the argument goes, we are antagonizing all those otherwise assimilated and peaceful Muslims). This is of course the American version of the Jewish response to Nazis, both the original ones and the neo-Nazis in Europe and America. I often heard growing up in the 1960s and early 70s that we should just ignore the neo-Nazi types lest we bring them more attention (and embolden them and otherwise awaken a dormant anti-Semitism in the broader population).”
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/024076.php

  42. oao says:

    btw, i strongly recommend to read the whole yerushalmi piece, it is a very good explanation of why the west is dooming itself in the face of sharia jihad.

  43. E.G. says:

    oao,

    Thanks a lot for the Yerushalmi reference. I join your recommendation.

    However I wouldn’t qualify Laskin as Alter-Jew. His reaction is J.W.T.K.
    An Alter-Jew is not a chicken. S/he offers an alternative view that is more progressive, less Judeo-nationalist, and much less neurotic (in the early Woody Allen sense, absent humour). S/he is a militant, sometimes an activist, screaming to silence other, already hushed, voices.

    Mellanie Phillips calls them Jews for genocide but if you follow the link (in her paper) to their site, under “What do UK Jews Believe about Israel?” you can read that: “IJV is not claiming to be more representative than the Board of Deputies or to replace it in any way. That would be ridiculous. But we are suggesting that our viewpoint is that of a sizeable part of the Jewish community in the UK. There is evidence for this. It comes, for instance, from an opinion poll carried out by the United Jewish Israel Appeal in 2004, the results of which were published in the Jewish Chronicle on 18th June 2004 under the heading “Minority Support for Sharon among British Jews”

    It reveals a community closely tied to Israel (78% “care deeply” about Israel against 5% who don’t) but highly critical of the Israeli government, while disturbed by what they see as biased media coverage. It indicates that the viewpoint of Independent Jewish Voices is that of at least a significant minority, and possibly a majority, of Jews in the UK.” (emphasis mine) How they reached that conclusion from the data is beyond my understanding.

    “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” is another such British group.
    And they’re in a European network European Jews for a Just Peace that extends, of course, to other continents.

    The good Jew in their eyes? See this part of an obituary:
    “Michel était un juif. Ni religieux, ni culturellement juif. Ni sioniste bien sûr. Il était pourtant juif pour moi, remarquablement juif bessarabien. Pas parce qu’il avait été enfant caché, pas parce qu’il portait encore en lui cette terreur à vif. Il était juif par le style qu’il donnait, un peu décalé aux choses de la vie, une claudication, une juivication, qui était comme un arbre sur lequel sont greffés des fruits culturels venus d’ailleurs, des encyclopédistes, des matérialistes, des révolutionnaires.”
    Extracted from here French Jewish Union for Peace. Their favourite Israelis? see Israelis who deconstruct the Zionist Myth.

  44. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    Going back to #16:
    I was referring to the attitude of those who in their minds have “assimilated”.
    I refer you to Ed Lasky’s articles:
    The New York Times and the Jews
    That was article 1 and the second one
    Part 2 of NYT&the Jews

  45. Cynic says:

    E.G.

    I replied with two posts to what you had written, in #16 I gave two links to articles by Ed Lasky on the NYT and the J*ws but they have not appeared. Don’t know what word WordPress took exception to, if that was the cause.

  46. E.G. says:

    Cynic,

    Todah
    As the Maccabees overcame the mean Hellenists so shall we overcome the @#+Ӥ^ filters !

  47. oao says:

    However I wouldn’t qualify Laskin as Alter-Jew. His reaction is J.W.T.K.
    An Alter-Jew is not a chicken. S/he offers an alternative view that is more progressive, less Judeo-nationalist, and much less neurotic (in the early Woody Allen sense, absent humour). S/he is a militant, sometimes an activist, screaming to silence other, already hushed, voices.

    I did not call him an alter jew!!!

    As to those who are according to your definition, it is often hard to tell to what extent all this progressive stuff is real ideology or subconscious rationalization of cowardice. fear can produce ideology.

    progressive jews are as much in denial about a reality that defies their ideology as the next guy. their instinct may cause them to realize that reality, but it scares them so they build a mental mechanism that allows them to feel better and to possibly convince the not convinceable about them.

  48. oao says:

    It reveals a community closely tied to Israel (78% “care deeply” about Israel against 5% who don’t) but highly critical of the Israeli government, while disturbed by what they see as biased media coverage.

    Sounds to me like a very confused lot. and it’s hardly surprising, if you’re trying to assimilate despite the realization that that’s somewhat of an illusion. that’s a typical jewish stance in the diaspora.

    It indicates that the viewpoint of Independent Jewish Voices is that of at least a significant minority, and possibly a majority, of Jews in the UK.” (emphasis mine) How they reached that conclusion from the data is beyond my understanding.

    that’s a common technique by ideologues who want to present their ideology as empirically based on facts, exploiting the current lack of knowledge and ability to reason in the public. most of the latter will just believe their conclusion without actually trying to check by deriving it themselves.

  49. E.G. says:

    oao,

    Sorry about misunderstanding your “classification” of Lasky. Cynic’s links definitely corrected my impression.

    As to those who are according to your definition, it is often hard to tell to what extent all this progressive stuff is real ideology or subconscious rationalization of cowardice. fear can produce ideology.

    Since I’m only familiar with some Alter-Jews and mostly via media (none of my best friends ;-) ), their consciousness or subconscious, individually and collectively, are opaque for me. From their productions, I infer who their relevant or reference “other” is, and how they relate to these “other”. I can also compare their self positioning vis-a-vis their “ethnic” reference-group with their stance towards other such groups (e.g., professional, ideological). Some may be acting out of fear or cowardice, but I can’t tell that from what I observe. I do observe fervour (a sense of being on a (holy?) mission), partiality, lack of intellectual integrity presented as hyper-scrupulous morality, and a very high sense if not idea of one’ self. Not scared of either rhetorical redundancy or exaggeration.

    Regarding techniques of distortion such as making the data fit the theory one advances – that’s the ABC of manipulation.

  50. oao says:

    Some may be acting out of fear or cowardice, but I can’t tell that from what I observe

    and perhaps they cannot tell either or don’t want to bring it to the conscious.

    I do observe fervour (a sense of being on a (holy?) mission), partiality, lack of intellectual integrity presented as hyper-scrupulous morality, and a very high sense if not idea of one’ self.

    wiseltier, in referring to judt and his ilk, wrote that they reproduce anti-semitism, they internalize it.
    the high moral horse is an attempt to prove themselves as better than the zionists and therefore worthy of not being the target themselves. it is not hard to figure out how this could be produced by fear, or at least a desire to be excommunicated from their social groups.

  51. oao says:

    a desire NOT to be excommunicated, of course.

  52. oao says:

    Regarding techniques of distortion such as making the data fit the theory one advances – that’s the ABC of manipulation.

    but in this case they did NOT make the data fit the theory. rather they made claims which the data do not support, because (a) they know the readers would not discern it (b) they are unable/unwilling to make the correct inferences themselves

  53. E.G. says:

    oao,

    I won’t argue or discuss Alter-Jews’ deep psychological motives. Each may have her or his reasons and experience to act as s/he does (for ex., Nurit Peled-Elharar vs. Esther Benbassa), be it fears or inferiority complex, or Stockholm syndrom. I don’t think it has any relevance or value to the discussion.

    There are some behavioural features that seem common to many -like dissociating oneself from one or more category (social group) that s/he normally belongs to. Is it important to know (supposing we could validate our respective assumptions) why s/he wishes to be considered different?

    because (a) they know the readers would not discern it (b) they are unable/unwilling to make the correct inferences themselves

    I think (a) they hope (b) mostly unwilling. These are trained, often media savvy people.

  54. Cynic says:

    #58 E.G.

    To me it appears to be a situation where they feel weak in their “root” group in relation to the other and so decide, sub-conciously?, to go against it.
    Cowardice is for sure one of the factors involved such that one cannot stand up for one’s roots and thus go with the distortions and lies to mitigate it and, forgive the “poetic license”, insinuate oneself into the other. What a lie they are telling themselves.
    Had they the conviction of power over the other it would most probably be different.
    Using the “Six Day War” as an example of the behaviour of the Alter-J*ws and then comparing it to later times when the media started twisting facts and omitting context it seems apparent, to me anyway, how spineless they are in the wind.

  55. Rich Rostrom says:

    The problem here, ISTM, is the extent to which Jews have embraced the self-critical ethic of Western culture. One of the great strengths of Western culture is its acceptance and even welcoming of criticism. Unlike, say, Japan, we bring out our dirty laundry and wash it. We have declared the telling of unwelcome truths to be a heroic virtue, which it often is.

    But in the last century or so, this quality has turned into a cultural auto-immune syndrome: attacks on Western cultures, societies, institutions, governments, and actions became privileged and valued throughout the intellectual milieu.

    It isn’t just Israel and Jews. Australian historian Keith Windschuttle was practically lynched for showing that the supposed genocide of Tasmanian natives was a myth. Ward Churchill made a lucrative academic career out of anti-American posturing, especially fabrications about U.S Indian policy. And a century ago, Kipling saw (and satirized) British intellectuals who hated the Empire and were eager to believe any negative story about it.

  56. oao says:

    There are some behavioural features that seem common to many -like dissociating oneself from one or more category (social group) that s/he normally belongs to.

    But when it comes to jews, this is a classical behavior which has contributed to their fate in history. it is typical. when you start hating “yourself” you only help justify your discrimination and extermination.

    Is it important to know (supposing we could validate our respective assumptions) why s/he wishes to be considered different?

    i think so — it’s important to understand motives.

    I think (a) they hope (b) mostly unwilling. These are trained, often media savvy people.

    probably. however, they are equally ignorant, unable to reason, lazy and coward. they may be trained in how to write what they see people want to read, but not in thinking independently, critically and analytically.

  57. oao says:

    it seems apparent, to me anyway, how spineless they are in the wind.

    and they will experience the consequences at some point. my guess is that they will convert to islam and dhimmify themselves quite readily. and there is nothing better i wish for them.

  58. oao says:

    It isn’t just Israel and Jews.

    yes, but this has affected jews just a bit more drastically than the goyim, no?

    but with the advent of jihad and infiltration of the west, it looks like it’s finally finished. and to be honest with you, it does not deserve anything better.

    Ward Churchill made a lucrative academic career out of anti-American posturing, especially fabrications about U.S Indian policy.

    hypocrisy is how one tries to distract from one’s own failures. the british empire criticizing america — now that’s funny.

    however, many in the us are doing the same thing to israel. there were posters here who were insisting israel should give its land back to the arabs. when I told them that it would do it if and when the US gave its land back to the indians, they either disappeared or said they were not prepared to do that.

  59. E.G. says:

    What a coincidence. Le Figaro published an op-ed by author Marek Halter, who recounts his meeting in Damascus with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, shortly before the Israeli Gaza operation.

    Why meet? Halter, who advocates discussing with one’s ennemis, invokes “the Midrash stating that had Abel tried talking to Cain, the latter might not have killed him”.

    I’m not familiar with such a Midrash (is anyone?), but know that there are at least 3 Midrashim referring to the Cain-killing-Abel case. It is furthermore interesting to note that Halter the secular Jew (as he states in the same article) chose, of all available wisdom, to justify and anchor his acts in the Jewish exegesis on brotherly dispute and murder.

    (they discussed mainly the conditions for Gilad Shalit’s liberation, and Halter reports that Mashal is/was ready to accept some agreement with Israel – provided Israel retreats to June 4, 1967 lines – and stating that such agreement can only be reached by using force).
    French Article

  60. oao says:

    Halter, who advocates discussing with one’s ennemis,

    that’s because he is too ignorant and stupid to realize that hamas is his enemy too and belabors under the illusion that it’s only the enemy of israel, and why care about that? not to mention that he simply ignores the refusal of hamas to recognize and talk to israel, its goal of jihad, its treatment of its own people and its acts on israel. he simply has no clue.

    Halter the secular Jew (as he states in the same article) chose, of all available wisdom, to justify and anchor his acts in the Jewish exegesis on brotherly dispute and murder.

    other than hypocrisy and ignorance, comparing two hostile BROTHERS to israel and hamas is abysmal stupidity.

    but this is the quality of the media and world’s attitude towards the conflict and islam.

  61. E.G. says:

    oao,

    Halter is neither ignorant nor stupid. And, if only for the H preceding the alter, I wouldn’t categorise him as an Alter-Jew. He did deposit a letter form Shalit’s parents and got the promise it’ll be transmitted to Gilad. It looks like this op-ed is part of the deal. Still, I suspect he made up the Midrash ad hoc, and find it very disturbing. Even for a peacenik.

    While looking for the Midrash he cites, I found a few sources that explain Rashi’s treatment of the diverse Midrashim. Seems like Rashi, whose approach was to keep the interpretation as close as possible to the text, actually excluded many of the previous Midrashim in his exegesis, aiming to portray Cain as evil with no possible excuse (as some Midrashim may have tried to argue) for his bad deed.

    Cain is a murderer, and an unrepentant one. Never forgiven.

  62. oao says:

    He did deposit a letter form Shalit’s parents and got the promise it’ll be transmitted to Gilad.

    Big deal. He’s giving them the opportunity to do their demopathic thing and fool the infidels; and he cannot guarantee shalit will see the letter.

    It looks like this op-ed is part of the deal.

    Exactly. I rest my case.

    Still, I suspect he made up the Midrash ad hoc, and find it very disturbing. Even for a peacenik.

    It’s these ad-hoc things that tell you who people are.
    Just like when pal activists went to protest to obama in hawaii he chirped “you got the wrong barak”.

  63. E.G. says:

    I just got an Orthodox scholar and Rabbi’s answer: the Midrash Halter cites does not exist.
    A contrario, one of the Midrashim (that Rashi discarded) tells that they DID talk – but it was a dispute, and an unsettled one too.

    Halter is a very talented storyteller.

  64. [...] other words, we are dealing with a culture of scape-goating and demonization of the “other.” When that “other” then blames itself for the disasters this culture inflicts on itself, [...]

  65. [...] promoting Palestinian demands is considered betrayal, as long as they cannot imagine what “an other’s perspective” might be like, and temper their feelings accordingly, they condemn themselves — and [...]

  66. [...] correctness in which we dare not judge the “subaltern” underdog, in which we grant a kind epistemological priority to the “other,” has created a new phenomenon, what I’d like to call “demopathy,” a variant on the ancient [...]

  67. [...] opposite “progressive” meme of “your side right or wrong” that must accept the epistemological priority of the subaltern “Other” (as does Helena Cobban), it’s a pretty ugly accusation. It goes hand in hand with the common [...]

  68. [...] What I’d like to suggest to you is that the enemy is not “us-them” per se, but zero-sum, us-them, thinking. Instead of needing to abolish the boundaries between various identities – gender, ethnicity, religion – and create a kind of entropic, homogenized “global humanity,” I think we should consider identities based on a sense of difference, of “us and them” as not only necessary to mental health, but a precious resource that should be encouraged, rather than abolished. What we need is not a destruction of identity – here, religious identity – but positive sum relations between different entities. Not the invidious form of zero-sum identity formation of “I’m better cause you’re worse,” but the positive-sum of my freedom necessitates my granting you the same freedoms, that “I derive my self-respect from treating you with respect.” (This then opens the fascinating and urgent door: how does one act with some “other” that does not reciprocate?) [...]

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