Search Results for: self-hatred

Uri Avnery, Still Pining for Arafat, Wallows in Self-Hatred in Al-Jazeera

Uri Avnery, former commando and current ‘peace’ activist, has long been used by the enemies of Israel. And he allows himself to be used, almost revelling in it. As a confidant of Arafat, Avnery allowed himself to be photographed with him for propaganda purposes and defended him even at the height of Arafat’s terror campaign. As Avnery said in an interview with Ari Shavit-

“Of course he used me. I was perfectly aware of that. In various situations it was convenient for him to have an Israeli like me by his side. But, after all, that is why we met: so we could used each other for the cause that both he and I believed in.”

Today, he published an article in Al-Jazeera dripping with nostalgia for the days when a one-state solution (or a no Israel solution) was still feasible. Avnery has defended Walt and Mearsheimer’s notion of a powerful Israel Lobby controlling American politics:

The findings of the two professors are right to the last detail. Every Senator and Congressman knows that criticizing the Israeli government is political suicide. Two of them, a Senator and a Congressman, tried – and were politically executed. The Jewish lobby was fully mobilized against them and hounded them out of office. This was done openly, to set a public example.

The Jews-killing-Jesus parallel is barely hidden.  

My review of Edward Alexander’s Jews against themselves

Below is a longer version of the Review published by the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, of Edward Alexander’s collection of essays entitled Jews against Themselves.

Jews against Themselves

by Edward Alexander

(New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2015), 178 pages

Reviewed by Richard Landes

Senior Fellow, Center for International Communications, Bar-Ilan University

Every Anglophone reader, Jew and non-Jew, owes it to him or herself to read Jews against Themselves. And every non-Anglophone country that aspires either to establish or maintain democracy owes itself a good translation. Rarely has a book so thoroughly and eloquently identified, analyzed, and rebuked a form of thinking that endangers the very democracy from which that thinking arose. In this case, one might call the problem “the tyranny of penitence” or “masochistic omnipotence syndrome”—the tendency to blame oneself for everything in the vain hope that in fixing oneself, one can fix everything.[1] Since, in the current world crisis of the early twenty-first century, this problem has struck the (post-) modern West with unusual force, and since the particular variant upon which Edward Alexander, professor of English at the University of Washington, focuses in this book is an especially powerful contributor to the phenomenon, his work deserves close attention. Alexander’s book is a collection of articles and op-eds written over the course of some three decades, from the mid-1980s to the present.

I have read many texts that try to explain why some Jews turn on their own people, from Sander Gillman’s Jewish Self-Hatred to the endless current Jeremiads by assertive Jews about how self-accusing Jews are a bane, not only on their own people, but on those who trust their pseudo-prophetic utterances. Never have I read one with such moral clarity, subtlety of thought, and, above all, such calm but righteous anger. The enormity of the deeds Alexander chronicles does not make him shrill in his indignation, but rather drives him to repeatedly point out, with a certain black humor and as little ad hominem as one could expect any human to muster, the exquisite and corrosive ironies that riddle the world of Jews who publicly attack their own people.

His case is a painful one, and meticulously chronicled. In a series of essays written between 1986 (chapter 1, discussion of Gilman’s book) and the present (essay on moral inversion at The New York Times), Alexander documents a phenomenon that Gilman had delineated as follows: “How Jews see the dominant society seeing them and how they project their anxiety about this manner of being seen onto other Jews as a means of externalizing their own status anxiety.” Unpacked, this sentence means that some Jews, seeing how negatively gentiles view them, turn on their own kind, holding them responsible for that hatred: “If only ‘they’ would behave the way ‘we good Jews’ do,” they tell themselves, “then non-Jews wouldn’t think so badly of us.”

The Shame of Israel: Panic in a Crooked Mirror

The Jewish World has just published a version of the article below in the Adar I 5776/March 2016 issue, dedicated to The State of World Jewry, with other essays by Jack Engelhard, Lisa Klug, Manfred Gerstenfeld, Dov Fischer, Ari Soffer, Alex Maistrovoy, Steven Apfel, and Michael Freund. Below is a longer version of the article with more links.

On the American-Israeli Jewish Divide

Jewish anti-Zionism and Proxy Honor-Murder

Peter Beinart has written many a piece about the growing split between American Jewish youth and Israel, which he sees as the inevitable cost of Israel’s failure to make peace with the Palestinians, on the one hand, and the long-term effects on liberal sentiments of seeing an Israeli Goliath bullying the Palestinian underdog, on the other. This “youth,” according to Beinart has “imbibed some of the defining values of American Jewish culture: a belief in open debate, a skepticism about military force, a commitment to human rights.” Studies show Jewish youth “resist anything they see as ‘group think’… want an ‘open and frank’ discussion of Israel and its flaws… and desperately want peace.”

To these folks, raised on bedrock values, every effort of Jews to defend Israel by criticizing the Palestinians offends their sense of fairness: blaming the victim is not a winning strategy. Beinart asserts:

For several decades, the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead. Morally, American Zionism is in a downward spiral.”

Given a choice between Zionism and liberalism, American Jewish youth choose the latter.

For Beinart, at least, the case is pretty open and shut. Israeli political choices are illiberal, bad, and her politicians act in bad faith. The split between American Jews and Zionists, therefore, is inevitable. Beinart has little sympathy to the plaints from Israel that the neighborhood here does not permit such simplistic naïveté. Not much room in this worldview for Palestinian, Arab, contributions for the endlessness of the conflict, for their poisonous hatreds, for their insane religious violence. Don’t blame the [perceived] victim. Look at your own extremists which, you too have. Israel, says Beinart and a generation of Jewish critics of Israel, should act like a liberal, or lose our affections.

To which the obvious response from here is, “Are you kidding me? Do you know what we’re dealing with here?”

To which the apparent response is, “No. And I’m not listening… Nobody’s hearing nothing.”

But why? Why do you turn a deaf ear on us, your family, trying to explain how hard it is to maintain good, liberal values in this neighborhood? Why will you cut us no slack? Why do you join groups that claim they’re “pro-Israel, pro-peace” when they relentlessly criticize us, and team up with groups that hate us? Why do you stay silent when the US and Iraqi troops devastate the city of Ramadi, when you shouted “War crime” from the rooftops when Israel did a fraction of that damage in Gaza? What is going on here?

In a reported exchange, a J-Street organizer explained their self-perception vis-à-vis Israel:

Well, I’m the head of the J Street club on my campus and what you don’t understand is that we see Israel as our younger sister. We want our younger sister to be better — we love her and care about her.

Maybe that’s what you do in your neighborhoods (not!), but around here, you don’t show love and loyalty to your sister by trash talking her so you can hang out with the people who like to slander your sister. On the contrary, that kind of talk will get her killed much faster, because of the peculiar power here of shame and the overwhelming desire to annihilate such feelings, no matter what the actual circumstances.

The Shame of it all: Panic in a Crooked Mirror

A significant amount of this “split” in the American Jewish community between liberals and Israel can be understood not as a response to real problems in Israel – of which, like any country, especially one at war with her neighbors, there are many – but as responses to feeling ashamed of her. The feelings stem not because of what Israel has (often enough not) done, and certainly not in comparison with the behavior of our neighbors, but because of “how it looks” to outsiders. Shame comes from looking bad – awful – in the eyes of people whose opinion matters. When it comes to the emotion, it matters little what actually happened. In the most toxic of honor-shame communities, men kill their daughters and sisters not because they did something shameful, but because others think it, true or not.

Fatal Attraction: The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

The following is the text of a talk I gave at ISGAP last week.

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

And now,

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Something to kill and die for

And one religion too

Imagine all the people

Living under our peace…

You may say we’re dreamers

But we’re not the only ones… (Jihadi Joe, 2000)

Welcome to the 21st century.

The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan

Despite the spectacular attacks on the West, most Westerners have little familiarity[1] with the Jihadi narrative, a narrative first revealed in Khoumeini’s Iran.[2] It varies significantly in some ways from traditional Muslim apocalyptic thought, which focused on a Last Judgment at the end of the world. Instead, this apocalyptic scenario focuses on a this-wordly messianic era, envisioned as the global victory of Islam: when all of Dar al Harb becomes Dar al Islam.[3] Those who join this movement fight in an apocalyptic battle in which the Jews will be slaughtered, and the rest of the harbi, would convert, accept the dhimma contract of submission (religions of the book), or become slaves (pagans), or being put to death[4]: a “Second Global Islamic Kingdom,”[5] only this time, really encompassing the whole world. In the battle, no mercy should be shown to those who resist Islam’s dominion. Everything to kill and die for: suicide martyrs goes straight to heaven; their victims, straight to hell.

Fatal Attraction: The Shared Antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

Fatal Attraction:

The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

Richard Landes, Boston University, History Department

From: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm (2014), chap. 20.

(available in Kindle; and in Polish, thanks to Malgorzata Koraszewska)

Abstract: In the aughts, the “global, progressive, left” (GPL), adopted a secular version of the Jihadi apocalyptic scapegoating narrative in which Israel and the US are the “great and little Satan” (or vice-versa). This overlap between two ostensibly completely different value systems has served as the basis for mobilizing a common struggle against the US and Israel over the last decade or so. In so doing, the Left has welcomed within its “anti-imperialist” mobilization, one of the most ferociously imperialist movements in the long and dark history of mankind, one which opposes not merely Israeli and American “imperialism,” but also targets the very culture of progressive values – human rights, peace, tolerance for diversity, human freedom – that GPL champions. BDS is a flagship (and symptom) of this self-destructive disorientation wherein progressives join forces with their worst enemies.

Prologue

This essay is not written to persuade the reader that BDS is a movement unworthy of support by anyone committed to progressive principles. Anyone who compares Israel’s human right’s record – even the Palestinian version! – with the behavioral norms of Arab political culture, could not possibly take as sincere, the Arab insistence that Israel be put on the global docket for human rights violations. This is all the more true, when one scrutinizes the list of accusations made against Israel, and realizes how many accusations are not only false, but in some cases, indicate the exact opposite of their claims.[i] This essay is written rather to explain to those who want to understand how such an absurd inversion of moral and empirical reality could have made so much headway in the Western public sphere.

I write this essay as a scholar of millennialism who has been studying the emergence in the last fifteen years, of an active, cataclysmic, apocalyptic movement (the most dangerous kind). I also write it as a Jew who began his academic career believing in a self-sustaining, self-critical democratic public sphere and assuming the fundamental maturity and commitment of its participants. I write in defense of that sphere: for the maturity (and now, courage) of the academic community and, not coincidentally, in defense of my people who are being (successfully) slandered by hypocrites and war mongers. To those who believe they should listen to the “other,” I formally request an audience. My tale is not pretty.

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

And now,

Imagine there are no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Something to kill and die for
And one religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life under our peace… (Jihadi Joe, 2015)

Welcome, Woodstockers, to the 21st century.

The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan

Eli Valley mocks Kryptonite, thinks he’s funny

Well, I’ve now read some of the exchanges between Eli Valley and some of my readers, and the long interview with Valley in the Comics Journal which Eli himself recommended to us as a good representation of his positions, especially on the issues of “pride and self-hatred.”

I know that some of my readers will roll their eyes at what I’m about to do, but I’d like to try and reason with you Eli about your arguments and positions. I do so because I think it’s important to take people seriously, even people who pretend not to take themselves so seriously.

Let me start out by saying that I was a big fan of Mad Magazine in my youth, although I think at some point I found its humor a bit fatuous, so that while I can appreciate your admiration for its work in the 50s and 60s, I don’t quite share your awarding them an iconic status. Indeed, if you wanted to increase the pungency and depth of your satire, I’d consider doing a satire of Mad Magazine. It might help you get rid of some puerile baggage.

Second, I’d like to address your attribution to modern Jews of a kind of superpower status. You say, for example:

But I don’t believe we’re powerless.  Paradoxically, that might be the chief difference between my critics and me.  A couple times I’ve been accused in the comments of being a “Ghetto Jew,” scurrying around trying to curry favor from “the Gentiles.”  I like this comment because I think it’s a bit of a projection.  I’d argue that my comics reflect Jewish confidence, not ghetto-like fear.  A ghetto mentality is afraid of open discussion of communal problems, because that might lead to a pogrom.  We have the power of superheroes but we perceive ourselves as shlemiels.

This is closely reminiscent of much of the “progressive” attitude towards the modern West and its democracies, and a distinctive mark of the Israeli left who believe that Israel is “strong enough to take it,” and therefore they virtually ‘prove’ Israel’s strength by their remorseless self-criticism. The abandon with which such critics, in Israel and in the West insist that we tolerate the intolerant (deeply regressive) speech and behavior of Islamists in our midst “in order to prove our tolerance” strikes me as based on a) a fallacy about how strong – indeed invulnerable – democracy is… itself a deeply flawed reading of the nature and vulnerabilities of democratic systems, and b) a teenage fantasy of immortality, akin to someone drunk, high on drugs, driving a motorcycle at top speed through mountain roads on an icy night without a helmet: nothing can hurt me.

If I sound harsh on this one, it’s because this attitude, as irresponsible as it is somehow attractive – who doesn’t at some level admire James Dean? – lies at the heart of much of your satirical “art.” It’s only if Jews had superhuman strength, so that your attacks would be a) warranted, and b) funny. If we’re not, or if we are, but surrounded by Kryptonite, then it’s a different story. From my point of view, you’re looking at Superman hit by Kryptonite and laughing at him: “stop faking it you phony.”

Here’s a good example:

My Mistake, Jeffrey Goldberg’s too

I just posted a piece that was co-authored with Elisa Vandernoot, who offered to help me with my blog while I am distracted working on my book on millennialism. I did not proof-read carefully enough and published a comment that I would neither have written nor should I have allowed it to get published under my name. My apologies to anyone I offended.

Jeffrey Goldberg, whose name appears in a list of “self-hating Jews” has responded with vehemence. I respond below:

From Richard Landes, in reference to criticism of the Netanyahu government’s settlement policy from, among others, yours truly:

Alas, the majority of liberal Jewish journalists and writers like Thomas Friedman, David Remnick and Jeffrey Goldberg  don’t have the fortitude, conviction and integrity of their elders. Instead of having independent minds, they have shown themselves to be self-hating.

Actually, that’s not in the context of criticism of Netanyahu’s government settlement policy; it’s in the context of using the settlement policy to blame Israel for the breakdown of the talks. You can be as critical as you want of the settlement policy; I have no problem with that. Indeed much of the criticism makes sense.

But to take the step of blaming it for the failure of the peace process when there are so many far greater obstacles coming from the Palestinian side… that strikes me as both intellectually dishonest, and excessively self-critical, bordering on what I call masochistic omnipotence syndrome. Any serious student of the Arab-Israeli conflict who thinks that the settlements are the main block to a resolution, and that if Israel stopped settlements, indeed uprooted all the settlements including East Jerusalem, that would make the Palestinians eager partners in peace, rather than still more intransigent and eager for war strikes me as self-deluding.

This is sickening rhetoric. People like Landes — who conflate support for Israel with support for settlements — are creating conditions that will ultimately lead to Israel’s disappearance.

Self-Degrading Jews

Self-Degrading Jews

In preparing for a lecture in my honor-shame class, I was thinking about about the nature of the accusation that Israel is like the Nazis. This obviously doesn’t have anything to do with reality. There’s nothing that the Israelis and the Nazis have both done that every other sovereign entity in recorded history has not done. On the contrary, any study of Jenin 2002 will reveal that the Israeli army is, militarily speaking, the opposite of Nazism on a scale of what is humanly possible. To accuse Israel of acting like the Nazis is an act of moral sadism, the worst insult you can hurl at a Jew.

So it’s not about reality, it’s a shouting match… the kind so common to honor-shame cultures, in which verbal provocations, degradations, and violence are paired in the struggle for dominance. Your mother wears army boots writ large.

So what are Jews doing calling fellow Jews Nazis? And doing it publicly, before eager audiences of non-Jews, indeed, anti-Zionists? These Jewish anti-Zionists, people like Norman Finkelstein, who go out of their way to identify as Jewish and then side with the people who are dumping on their people.

They are self-degrading. Such a designation for Jews whom some call self-hating, the alter-Juifs, the  scourges, gets at a key element of their behavior. Rather than identify their driving emotion – self-hatred, self-loathing, messianic masochism – this designation gets at their actions, and the framework in which they have meaning.

For an example of a group of Jews who make this self-degradation a matter of urgent principle, see this about a group called Independent Jewish Voices, who insist that anti-Semitism is overblown, and people like Irwin Cotler are just trying to prevent the legitimate criticism of Israel.

Honor Killing and Self-Degrading Jews

When I was preparing my talk for Yale it occurred to me that those whom I then called scourges (Anthony Julius’ term) were engaged in a peculiarly Jewish form of honor-killing. Israel, because of the terrible image that she has in the MSNM, has shamed liberal and progressive Jews, humiliated them in front of their colleagues and friends on the left. The most horrified of these, has adopted the Palestinian narrative – Israel is born in sin and must be destroyed – as a way of killing the member that has shamed the family.

As with Arab honor-killings of daughters, it doesn’t matter whether Israel has actually done the things she’s accused of. (In Jordan, for example, the family kills the daughter suspected of having been in an illicit affair, then the autopsy determines whether she was a virgin. If yes, it stops there; if no, they go after the suspected male lover.) Just the fact that she has such a bad reputation is sufficient to make her worthy of elimination.

Anything to save face.

Not “Self-“Hating Jews, but Jewish Scourges of Jews

Adam Levick of CiFWatch has a meditation on the problem of what I’ve called “hyper-self critical Jews.” Since I’m about to participate in a panel at the YIISA Conference on global anti-Semitism at Yale University later this month, I would like to encourage readers to comment so I can incorporate some of their ideas in my presentation.

The Guardian’s anti-Israel Jews, and a letter to my teenage nephew
August 11, 2010 in Uncategorized | Tags: Antisemitism, Antony Lerman, Comment is Free, Guardian, Hamas, Hezbollah, Nazi Analogies, Neve Gordon, Richard Silverstein, Seth Freedman, Theobald Jew | by Adam Levick

CiF’s Jewish Israel defamers

When joining the team here at CiF Watch, and attempting to understand why Jewish writers for the Guardian are often among the most vociferous in expressing their contempt for Israel, and so willing to demonize the state’s Jewish supporters, I had to get up to speed on the term “Theobald Jew.”

I soon learned that:

    According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations.

The CiF contributors I refer to include Naomi Klein, Neve Gordon, Richard Silverstein, Antony Lerman, Seth Freedman, Tony Greenstein, among others. These Jewish writers don’t merely critique Israeli policy, but routinely engage in hyperbole, vitriol, and gross distortions. Their rhetoric is often spewed with hate towards the Jewish state, all but ignoring the behavior of her enemies – the terrorist and reactionary movements who openly seek her annihilation. Such commentators often infer that the democratic Jewish state (the most progressive nation, by far, in the region) is almost always in the wrong, is usually motivated by a hideous malevolence, and represents a national movement which they, as Jews, are ashamed to be associated with.

Freedman, for instance, has suggested that Israel is a theocracy – one which is on moral par with Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Gordon has on several occasions accused Israel of ethnic cleansing – once advancing such an ugly calumny in the radical anti-Zionist magazine, Counterpunch. Tony Greenstein has ardently defended the ugly comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, typically advanced by extremists. Richard Silverstein has called the behavior of Israelis serving in the IDF “subhuman“, and has defended Hamas from “charges” that they are an extremist movement. Naomi Klein actually accused Israel of being so cruel and sadistic as to “bury children alive in their homes.”

While, for the Guardian, employing the services of Theobald Jews serves to inoculate them from charges of anti-Semitism, such Jewish writers, in return, receive the progressive and universalist credentials they so eagerly seek.

The Misnomer of the “Self-Hating Jew”

Bruckner on Western Guilt

There’s a new translation from Princeton U. Press of Pascale Bruckner’s latest book: The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism. Working on a deadline, I have no time to go into detail (or read it yet). But here’s a passable review (it sort of fizzles at the end, I’m quite sure the book is much better):

Robert Fulford: Guilt trip, writ large
Posted: March 06, 2010, 9:30 AM by NP Editor
Robert Fulford

All the world knows what causes great global problems. It’s the West, meaning the United States, Europe, the countries that inherited British politics and of course Israel.

There’s nothing that can’t be blamed on the West. Many countries are poor today because Western capitalism keeps them that way. If they are undeveloped, that’s the fault of colonialism, which was invented by Europe after it invented slavery. Colonialism’s numerous crimes will never be forgotten or forgiven, its numerous virtues never celebrated.

Pascal Bruckner describes the melancholy results of these attitudes in his forthcoming polemic, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism (Princeton University Press). His angry book could change a whole civilization’s opinion, if only that civilization had sense enough to pay attention.

“Nothing is more Western than hatred of the West,” Bruckner says. It runs through the bloodstream of opinion, a river of poison that thrives in our universities, affects our media, saps the spirit of foreign policy, and routinely gets subsidized by genial NGOs.

Having spent the last few days checking the footnotes on a chapter on Jihadi millennialism, I’d say that their apocalyptic hatred of us far out shines our festering self-hatreds. Nothing is more self-reflectively negative that Western hatred of the West.

In theory, guilt has a positive effect when it encourages better behaviour. Everyone could use some improvement. But the guilt of the West, as Bruckner correctly sees it, takes a morose and cynical pleasure in moral failure.

“We Euro-Americans,” Bruckner argues, “are supposed to have only one obligation: endlessly atoning for what we have inflicted on other parts of humanity.”

Bruckner identifies guilt as an indirect form of self-glorification. Popular American memoirs express the same syndrome when the authors describe, for large audiences, their earlier lives of degradation as alcoholics or drug addicts. Old sins become the basis of a new importance. In the same way, Europe’s barbarity in the fascist and communist eras gives it the authority of an expert witness.

This is, of course, a classic Christian trope, used to great effect by Augustine in his Confessions.

It acknowledges, of course, only the barbarity of the West. For the crimes of non-Western states, the West likes to find extenuating circumstances, a way of denying them responsibility.

Bruckner was one of the New Philosophers who emerged in Paris in the 1970s. They were passionate anti-communists, more academic yet more flamboyant cousins of the American neo-conservatives. In 1983, Bruckner created intense discussion with The Tears of the White Man: Compassion as Contempt, a vehement critique of the West’s sentimental and mainly unsuccessful aid programs. He influenced many writers, though perhaps fewer policy makers. His fiction can generate as much controversy as his essays. (One novel became the basis for an unfortunate Roman Polanski film, Bitter Moon.)

In the 1990s, Bruckner argued in favour of military action against Serbia in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. He supported the war against Saddam Hussein but later decided the human cost was insupportable. Even so, he writes in The Tyranny of Guilt that the pacifists who paraded against George W. Bush in 2003 were supporting one of the worst dictatorships in the Middle East. He sets down a typically rueful conclusion: “Iraq was an exemplary case of the double bind: whether one approved of the intervention or not, one was wrong.”

I can go with that formulation.

Israel has suffered spectacular collateral damage from Western masochism. We might guess that Europeans would empathize with the state of Israel, which was in large part founded by Europeans on mainly European models. But those in the West who consider their own history shameful find it natural to dislike its offspring in the Middle East. Pathological hatred of Israel has reached grotesque levels in Europe.

Bruckner, no admirer of recent Israeli governments, nevertheless suspects that supporters of the Palestinians are essentially Europeans pursuing their own guilt trips in a foreign theatre. He agrees with Bernard Lewis’s remark that for many people, “the Arabs are in truth nothing more than a stick for beating the Jews.”

Actually, that means they’re not pursuing their own guilt trips, but scape-goating the Jews. In other words, the one place they’ll allow themselves to stop guilting themselves and go after someone else, is when it comes to the Jews.

Why do those who love the Palestinians never march for the Chechens, the Tibetans, the Sudanese, the Congolese? People who speechify endlessly on the Palestinians show no interest in the Uighurs. Those who care about only one of the world’s downtrodden peoples naturally arouse suspicion that something other than humanitarian feeling is behind their rhetoric.

Europe displays its paralytic guilt complex, Bruckner notes, even on its common currency. Once the great artists of Europe (and some not-so-great monarchs and politicians) appeared on European money. Travellers in Europe found themselves paying their bills in Michelangelo, Cervantes or Voltaire. No longer. The European heritage has disappeared from the cash, to be replaced by unidentifiable arches, bridges and doors. Artists are too blatantly specific — too European, in fact. Chastened by its history and terrified by its enemies, Europe prefers to advertise nothingness.

Read more

What’s going on in Goldstone’s head?

Lots of people accuse Goldstone of being a self-hating Jew; and lots scoff at such an accusation. I think they’re both wrong. It’s not an impossibility to scoff at, and for sure the idea that the accusation of “self-hating” is not leveled at “just about anyone who dares to criticize Israel on any grounds,” a joke, a bad joke for anyone who knows how often Jews criticize Israel. No, it’s Jews who compare Israel to the Nazis (like Norman Finkelstein, Richard Falk, and David Theo Goldberg), it’s Jews who think that somehow they show the bona fides by being viciously critical of Israel, when the crimes they denounce in public, play out on a world stage where, by their morally exacting standards, everyone behaves more like Nazis than Israel.

Note that the proud “self-hating Jew,” M.J.Rosenberg cites Palestinian statistics with apparently no idea of where they come from or how deeply unreliable they are.

I’ll fess up. I’m an SHJ. I thought the Gaza war was everything Goldstone said it was and more. It’s hard to call it a war actually because the casualty numbers were so unbalanced.

1387 Palestinians killed of whom 320 were children
(773 were not fighting at all)

10 Israeli soldiers killed (3 by friendly fire).

For him it’s an obvious step from MSNM reports to despising Israel. What’s your problem? As Anthony Julius called these folks who don’t even have the decency to inform themselves, so eager are they to plaster their liberal credentials in public: proud to be ashamed to be a Jew. Of course, just because M.J. Goldberg mockingly declares himself a “self-hating Jew” doesn’t mean I’d consider him one. (That would probably mean reading more of him than I really want to do.)

But it also doesn’t mean that “self-hatred” isn’t both an identifiable phenomenon and one that characterizes Jews more than any other identifiable group.

Now Goldstone is not necessarily in this group. Indeed, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, he responded to the question, “How does this compare with previous cases you’ve studied – Kosovo, Rwanda?” he replied:

I don’t like making comparisons, each situation different. One can’t compare what’s happened here with genocide in former Yugoslavia, nowhere near that situation.

Whitson, Kampeas shootin’ the Horse Manure

Every once in a while one reads an interview that reeks of brown-nosing. Here’s one by Ron Kampeas, who had been sharply critical of HRW for their visit to Saudi Arabia, of the key player here, Sarah Leah Whitson. Fisking and further analysis added throughout.

Sarah Leah Whitson of HRW answers my questions
By Ron Kampeas · August 3, 2009

Sarah Leah Whitson, the senior Human Rights Watch official at the center of the controversy over meetings with potential givers in Saudi Arabia, kindly and conscientiously reached out to me to answer my questions.

She also chided me for not reaching out to her before posting my questions. I had some lame reply about blogging and its immediacy, but she had a point.

In any case, while I still have broader critiques about HRW’s notion of balance — Israel on the one side, the rest of the Middle East on the other — Whitson’s replies directly addressed my questions, and were not in any way evasive.

Here are my questions and her replies (I summarize, but also include direct quotes from our conversation):

* Does/ would HRW solicit funds in Israel?

Whitson first of all made clear these were not fund-raisers in Riyadh (“I wish” was how she put it), but not exactly not fund-raisers: They were friends of HRW making their friends, colleagues and acquaintances aware of its work and mission.

“They are informal dinners hosted by friends and supporters, where they come to ask us questions.”

And yes, there were two similar private events in Tel Aviv recently.

How on earth is this a non-evasive answer? What on earth is “friends of HRW making their friends, colleagues and acquaintances aware of its work and mission” mean? They flew out there – how many? – to shoot the breeze?

How charming of her to jokingly say, “I wish…” What a lovely opening: “And if they had/did offered money, would/did you you accept it?”

* Does/Would it do so through presentations that expose human rights abuses by Palestinian authorities and by Arab governments?

So what if, by 2020, Rotterdam is a majority Muslim? We already have an answer.

In October of 2004, David Pryce-Jones, whose book on Arab honor-shame culture, The Closed Circle was to be a major player in my new course, “Honor-Shame Cultures, Middle Ages, Middle East,” came to BU to speak. Commentary published a formal draft of the talk in December of that year, “The Islamicization of Europe.” In the question and answer period, Pryce-Jones told the story of turning the tables on a Dutch reporter who was interviewing him.

“You’re from Rotterdam,” he commented, “are you aware that, by 2020, Rotterdam will be a majority Muslim?

“So what?” the reporter shot back.

Well, it’s not even five years later, and we have a pretty good answer, and it’s not very pretty.

Of course, the reporter was just being “politically correct.” After all, Muslim immigrants, according to the prevailing paradigm, were just like any other immigrant, and to suggest otherwise, was to reveal one’s racist prejudices, one’s Islamophobia. Of course there were some of us, even back then, who felt that anyone who wasn’t afraid of Islam was a cretin.

You be the judge of the reporter’s remark:

Eurabia Has A Capital: Rotterdam
Here entire neighborhoods look like the Middle East, women walk around veiled, the mayor is a Muslim, sharia law is applied in the courts and the theaters. An extensive report from the most Islamized city in Europe

by Sandro Magister

rotterdam sharia styles

ROME, May 19, 2009 – One of the most indisputable results of Benedict XVI’s trip to the Holy Land was the improvement in relations with Islam. The three days he spent in Jordan, and then, in Jerusalem, the visit to the Dome of the Mosque, spread an image among the Muslim general public – to an extent never before seen – of a pope as a friend, surrounded by Islamic leaders happy to welcome him and work together with him for the good of the human family.

What planet are they on? What were the European media reporting from the Holy Land.

But just as indisputable is the distance between this image and the harsh reality of the facts. Not only in countries under Muslim regimes, but also where the followers of Mohammed are in the minority, for example in Europe.

In 2002, the scholar Bat Ye’or, a British citizen born in Egypt and a specialist in the history of the Christian and Jewish minorities in Muslim countries – called the “dhimmi” – coined the term “Eurabia” to describe the fate toward which Europe is moving. It is a fate of submission to Islam, of “dhimmitude.”

Oriana Fallaci used the word “Eurabia” in her writings, and gave it worldwide resonance. On August 1, 2005, Benedict XVI received Fallaci in a private audience at Castel Gandolfo. She rejected dialogue with Islam; he was in favor of it, and still is. But they agreed – as Fallaci later said – in identifying the “self-hatred” that Europe demonstrates, its spiritual vacuum, its loss of identity, precisely when the immigrants of Islamic faith are increasing within it.

Holland is an extraordinary test case. It is the country in which individual license is the most extensive – to the point of permitting euthanasia on children – in which the Christian identity is most faded, in which the Moslem presence is growing most boldly.

Here, multiculturalism is the rule. But the exceptions are dramatic: from the killing of the anti-Islamist political leader Pim Fortuyn to the persecution of the Somali dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali to the murder of the director Theo Van Gogh, condemned to death for his film “Submission,” a denunciation of the crimes of Muslim theocracy. Fortuyn’s successor, Geert Wilders, has lived under 24-hour police protection for six years.

There is one city in Holland where this new reality can be seen with the naked eye, more than anywhere else. Here, entire neighborhoods look as if they have been lifted from the Middle East, here stand the largest mosques in Europe, here parts of sharia law are applied in the courts and theaters, here many of the women go around veiled, here the mayor is a Muslim, the son of an imam.

This city is Rotterdam, Holland’s second largest city by population, and the largest port in Europe by cargo volume.

The following is a report on Rotterdam published in the Italian newspaper “il Foglio” on May 14, 2009, the second in a major seven-part survey on Holland.

The author, Giulio Meotti, also writes for the “Wall Street Journal.” Next September, his book-length survey on Israel will be published.

The photo above is entitled “Muslim women in Rotterdam.” It is from an exhibition in 2008 by the Dutch photographers Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek.

In the casbah of Rotterdam

by Giulio Meotti

In Feyenoord, veiled women can be seen everywhere, darting like a flash through the streets of the neighborhood. They avoid any sort of contact, even eye contact, especially with men. Feyenoord is the size of a city, and there are seventy nationalities coexisting there. It is an area that lives on subsidies and residential construction, and it is here that it is most obvious that Holland – with all of its rules against discrimination and all of its moral indignation – is a completely segregated society. Rotterdam is new, having been bombed twice by the Luftwaffe during the second world war. Like Amsterdam, it is below sea level, but unlike the capital it does not enjoy an image of reckless abandon. In Rotterdam, it is the Arab shops selling halal food that dominate the cityscape, not the neon lights of the prostitutes. Everywhere are casbah-cafes, travel agencies offering flights to Rabat and Casablanca, posters expressing solidarity with Hamas, or offering affordable Dutch language lessons.

What’s in a gym? A Look Inside the NGO Culture in the “Territories”

Seth Freedman is a columnist for the Guardian. He served in the Israeli army and has a complex attitude towards the Israelis which partially tempers his tendency to believe that the overwhelming hostility to Israel from the “Left” must have something to it:

Then there are those – like me – who prefer to incorporate the “10-bar theory” into their thinking. Namely, that if you walk into a bar and someone starts a fight with you, the chances are that they’re the one with the problem. But if you walk into 10 bars and each time someone wants a piece of you, then it’s more than likely that you’re the one doing something wrong.

I don’t know. Given the madness going around, the high-octane anti-Semitism and the low-octane anti-Judaism that the post-modern folks at the bar are imbibing, why anyone would go with the 10-bar rule is beyond me. But hey, if it gets you a stint at the Guardian, why not?

I the meantime, he’s got enough intellectual integrity to give us a real insight into the culture of NGOs at work “helping” the Palestinians.

Battling it out at the gym
Seth Freedman
Friday 19 December 2008 09.00 GMT
An innocuous inquiry about where to work out in Ramallah has sparked a fury among NGO workers in the city

Comments (100)

Despite inauspicious beginnings, I am generally well-disposed to the legions of aid workers who flock to the occupied territories to alleviate the suffering of the local populace. Their cause is just, their aim is true – regardless of the brickbats hurled their way by the likes of NGO Monitor and other such detractors.

There’s a lot of subtext here which emerges from a reading of the two links – both to Freedman himself. I might be willing to argue that their “cause is just” if it is indeed to alleviate the suffering of the local populace; but I’d be very hard put to accept the (facile) claim that their “aim is true.” On the contrary, if their aim were true, they would either a) be working elsewhere where the local suffering is far greater (say Darfur or Congo) — something even Freeman acknowledges; or b) be targeting the predatory practices of Palestinian leaders, both secular and religious, who so amply contribute to the suffering of their own people.

Of course when your militancy confronts the Israelis, you don’t have to worry too much for your safety; and when you don’t confront the vicious (and touchy) elites who oppress the people whose suffering you want to help, you can live without too much anxiety for your safety.

Dropping everything in their home countries and relocating halfway round the world to help those who can’t help themselves are qualities that ought to be admired by anyone with an interest in promoting global tolerance and goodwill among men.

The real issue is how one understands the phrase “can’t help themselves,” and the degree to which one’s help further infantalizes the ones one wishes to help. If you go in, as does International Solidarity Movement, determined not to challenge the Palestinians on their addiction to hate-mongering and terrorism (like suicide bombing), then, I’d say, you’re not doing them any favors.

What has Jews Tied in Knots: Shrinkwrapped tackles a Problem Posed by TAS commenters

My favorite shrink blogger has just posted a meditation on a question posed by some commenters here at the Augean Stables. It goes to the core of what I’ve called “Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome” and takes the analysis to new depths of psychological analysis. Shrinkwrapped begins with a discussion of the Ben Dror Yemini article, and comes to his remarkable conclusion:

Ben-Dror Yemini concluded with some questions about the Israeli response, or lack thereof, to the entire affair:

    And where is Israel? It does not exist. It is the Dreyfus in this affair, but a strange Dreyfus. A Dreyfus who has had a libel stuck to it, but who remains nonchalant. Others fight for it. Official Israel has never bothered to thank Karsenty, or others who have fought to dispel the libel. Regarding assistance, there is nothing to even discuss; on the contrary. Unofficial Israel was on Enderlin’s side. Most of the articles, mind you, were against Karsenty and for Enderlin.

    Justice came to light, in France, not in Israel. This is not by chance. If the trial had been held in Israel, there is concern, only concern, that the result would have been different. Freedom of speech is indeed a supreme value but on one condition: That it is found in the hands of very specific people. But that is the subject of a different article.

For those who have not followed the case, Richard Landes has a summary here; also see the discussion of Pallywood, and by all means read the entire article by Ben-Dror Yemini, with special attention to the comments.

Sophia noted [Emphasis mine-SW]:

    There is so much guilt – guilt that Jews should be bearing arms at all – we’re ready to assume the mantle of wanton destroyer because even to pick up a gun is unsettling for so many of us. One principled antizionist position argues that the moral dilemmas confronting the defense of a state, including the conduct of wars and police actions, contradict higher Jewish moral codes – even the basic principles of Torah – THOU SHALT NOT KILL – the voice of Ha Shem resonates through the ages.

    This argument is not so easy to deflect as more spurious antisemitic or racist claims against the Jewish state or even the universalist argument against the existence of a “Jewish people”. The universalist argument works toward one world, one global people; thus any particularism in an affront to that scheme. One can argue rationally against this.

    But how do we argue with G*d?

    I submit, many Jews, including many Israelis, maybe not even consciously religious, assume guilt that isn’t even theirs because the incredible moral conflicts involved in self-defense, let alone in war, can so outrage the soul.

    There’s another possibility … perhaps they are simply so depressed after their endless battle for survival, their war against man, that they no longer wish to live. That is maybe even more disturbing. It means that many Jews would rather die as a people, or would rather kill their own state, than fight for life.

She made a second comment that was even more pointed and trenchant:

    Nevertheless I submit there is a huge moral weight assumed by most idealistic Jews, certainly by Israel; and that’s reflected in the history of the IDF, the idea of restraint in arms.

    It makes failures of this doctrine, even accidental disasters, that much more striking and it’s used again and again in anti-Israel propaganda; ironically, as we all know, if Israel really were like the Nazis or even most Western states, the propaganda wouldn’t be so effective. For example there’s nothing unusual about the US missing a target and the Brits just used “vacuum bombs”, a particularly lethal weapon, against the Taliban, the Soviets disappeared millions; and terrorists strike anybody and everybody who happens to be in range. Peace movements to the contrary notwithstanding, ideological and even religious justifications support even the bloodiest of these deeds.

    Children are killed in war, many deliberately – as in attacks on Israeli children, the masses of Basij. But the idea that Jews would kill a child – even accidentally – instant abomination. There must be atonement. Did this, consciously or otherwise, drive media coverage of al Dura?

    Is it a particularity of Israel that even accidental deaths in the conduct of a war are fodder for the international press as well as self-loathing? It’s a toxic combination: guilt, the need for atonement, a press hungry for sensation, a public perhaps unconsciously seeking the familiar image of a crucified innocent.

This is embodied in the expression so often heard these days among the Israeli left: “so what if Al Durah was a fake, we’ve killed over 800 children in the Intifada.” This quote comes from statistics tendentiously compiled by B’Tselem, an Israeli group (anyone under 18 is a child, and anyone who is [reported] not engaged in military action is a civilian). Gideon Levy took the theme to its climax in his response to the latest developments in Paris: “We’ve killed 800 Muhammad al Durahs!” So accidental becomes, symbolically intentional.

When is a Christian who cites a Jew criticizing another Jew guilty of Anti-Semitism? In French Court

John Rosenthal, one of the best journalists covering the strange world of French politics and Jihad, has an article at PJMedia on the Kafka-in-Wonderland world of the infamous Chamber 17 of the French court system, dedicated to cases of defamation. In this case, to which I have only alluded, a French Christian is found guilty of “anti-Semitism” for posting an article by an Israeli Jew, Stephane Juffa, criticizing, among others, Charles Enderlin, that “veritable pyromaniac of war.” The logic of the accusation brought by Enderlin is nothing short of staggering, and the guilty verdict of the judge, Nicholas Bonnal (who has, at other times, shown sober judgment), mind-boggling. I quote some key passages below.

Are the Al-Dura Critics Anti-Semites

Is a [Christian who quotes a] Jew who accuses another Jew of “cowardice” and “self-hatred” in the face of anti-Semitism thereby himself guilty of anti-Semitism?

In the strange, through-the-looking-glass world of French justice apparently he is.

The setting is yet again the Al-Dura affair and, more specifically, the legal campaign conducted by Middle East correspondent Charles Enderlin and his employer, French public television network France2, against critics who have challenged the authenticity of Enderlin’s, in the meanwhile, infamous September 2000 report depicting the Palestinian boy Mohammad Al-Dura allegedly being shot dead by Israeli forces.

Nicolas Ciarapica is an evangelical Christian and the owner of the website Blogdei. On January 8, he was summoned to appear before the 17th Chamber of the Parisian county court (Tribunal de Grande Instance): the same jurisdiction, specializing in “press-related” offenses, that has also heard the other Enderlin “defamation” cases. Unlike the defendants in the other cases, however, Ciarapica was not accused merely of having “defamed” Charles Enderlin, but rather of having “defamed” him, more exactly, inasmuch as a Jew: hence, the specific charge of what in France is known as “racial defamation.” In other words, Ciarapica stood accused of having promulgated anti-Semitic “hate speech” directed at Enderlin.

The object of the suit was an article titled “French Jews Are Completely Fed Up,” which appeared on Blogdei in February 2006. As Ciarapica explained to the court:

    I try to [post articles] that are of interest for the evangelical Protestant community. Like a lot of other members of my faith, we pay attention to Israel…. Every time one starts accusing the Jews, it is a sign that there is something wrong in society. The average French person watches the television and it is always the same. He never sees a report concerning the Jews that allows him to have empathy for them. I am shocked by this. We try to engage in “re-information”: to present a different tonality. We looked for different sources of information. We found the Mena. (Source: Guysen News; link in French)

How to Deal with Rageboy: Hitchens on Rushdie

Hitchens nails it. We’re in a show down and we’re totally psyched out. (Hat tip: n00man)

Look Forward to Anger
IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO SATISFY “RAGE BOY” AND HIS ILK. IT’S STUPID TO TRY.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, June 25, 2007, at 1:46 PM ET

rageboy
Rage Boy

If you follow the link, you will be treated to some scenes from the strenuous life of a professional Muslim protester in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar. Over the last few years, there have been innumerable opportunities for him to demonstrate his piety and his pissed-offness. And the cameras have been there for him every time. Is it a fatwah? Is it a copy of the Quran allegedly down the gurgler at Guantanamo? Is it some cartoon in Denmark? Time for Rage Boy to step in and for his visage to impress the rest of the world with the depth and strength of Islamist emotion.

Last week, there was another go-round of this now-formulaic story, when Salman Rushdie accepted a knighthood from her majesty the queen, and the whole cycle of hysteria started up again. Effigies and flags burned (is there some special factory in Karachi that churns out the flags of democratic countries for occasions like this?), wounded screams from religious nut bags, bounties raised to suborn murder, and solemn resolutions passed by notional bodies such as the Pakistani “parliament.” A few months ago, it was the pope who was being threatened, and Christians in the Middle East and Muslim Asia who were actually being killed. Indeed, Rage Boy had a few yells and gibberings to offer on that occasion, too.

I have actually seen some of these demonstrations, most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses. And you may have noticed that the camera is always steady and in close-up on the flames, which it wouldn’t be if there was a big, surging mob involved.

Of course, this is not to say that there isn’t a lot of generalized self-pity and self-righteousness (as well as a lot of self-hatred) in the Muslim world. A minister in Pakistan’s government—the son of revolting late dictator Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, as it happens—appeared to say that Rushdie’s knighthood would justify suicide bombing. But our media regularly make the assumption that the book burners and fanatics really do represent the majority, and that assumption has by no means been tested. (If it is ever tested, and it turns out to be true, then can we hear a bit less about how one of the world’s largest religions mustn’t be confused with its lunatic fringe?)

The acceptance of an honor by a distinguished ex-Muslim writer, who exercised his freedom to abandon his faith and thus courts a death sentence for apostasy in any case, came shortly after the remaining minarets of the Askariya shrine in Samarra were brought down in shards. You will recall that the dome itself was devastated by an explosion more than a year ago—an outrage described in one leading newspaper as the work of “Sunni insurgents,” the soft name for al-Qaida. But what does “Rage Boy” have to say about this appalling desecration of a Muslim holy place? What resolutions were introduced into the “parliament” of Pakistan, denouncing such shameful profanity? You already know the answer to those questions. The lives of Shiite Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians—to say nothing of atheists or secularists—are considered by Sunni militants to be of little or no account. And yet they accuse those who criticize them of bigotry! And many people are so anxious to pre-empt this accusation that they ventriloquize the reactions of Sunni mobs as if they were the vox populi, all the while muttering that we must take care not to offend such supersensitive people.

Hitchens points out the key issue here: if this were true indignation at the mistreatment of Muslims, surely the blowing up of the mosques would be far more heinous than a Qur’an in the toilet. But this isn’t about real damage or real injury, this is about honor, shame, and bullying fools. We are such an ideal target for this kind of manufactured indignation because we are so sensitive to it, so ready to fold the minute they look at us cross-eyed. Partly this comes from our “cultural sensitivity” which at this point has reached inane proportions, partly from intimidation, our fear of Muslim anger. Both are invitations to aggression.

This mental and moral capitulation has a bearing on the argument about Iraq, as well. We are incessantly told that the removal of the Saddam Hussein despotism has inflamed the world’s Muslims against us and made Iraq hospitable to terrorism, for all the world as if Baathism had not been pumping out jihadist rhetoric for the past decade (as it still does from Damascus, allied to Tehran). But how are we to know what will incite such rage? A caricature published in Copenhagen appears to do it. A crass remark from Josef Ratzinger (leader of an anti-war church) seems to have the same effect. A rumor from Guantanamo will convulse Peshawar, the Muslim press preaches that the Jews brought down the Twin Towers, and a single citation in a British honors list will cause the Iranian state-run press to repeat its claim that the British government—along with the Israelis, of course—paid Salman Rushdie to write The Satanic Verses to begin with. Exactly how is such a mentality to be placated?

Precisely. And one of the corollaries to the answer to Hitchens’ rhetorical question — Nothing — is that if we leave Iraq without assuring some stability, we will not only have failed to appease it, we will incite it with our lack of resolve. In the world of global Jihad, all the rules of civil society and positive-sum games work in reverse: generosity and concession invite hatred and aggression.

We may have to put up with the Rage Boys of the world, but we ought not to do their work for them, and we must not cry before we have been hurt. In front of me is a copy of this week’s Economist, which states that Rushdie’s 1989 death warrant was “punishment for the book’s unflattering depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.” There is no direct depiction of the prophet in this work of fiction, and the reverie about his many wives occurs in the dream of a madman. Nobody in Ayatollah Khomeini’s circle could possibly have read the book for him before he issued a fatwah, which made it dangerous to possess. Yet on that occasion, the bookstore chains of America pulled The Satanic Verses from their shelves, just as Borders shamefully pulled Free Inquiry (a magazine for which I write) after it reproduced the Danish cartoons. Rage Boy keenly looks forward to anger, while we worriedly anticipate trouble, and fret about etiquette, and prepare the next retreat. If taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean living at the pleasure of Rage Boy, and that I am not prepared to do.

This is a classic showdown, mano a mano, eyeball to eyeball. And we’re blinking before the confrontation starts.

Israele Siamo Noi: Italy’s New Bestseller?

Ruthie Blum, whose laser vision has skewered more than one unsuspecting victim, interviews Fiamma Nirenstein, the fiery Italian journalist who went from 60s radicalism to proud Zionism in her life of passionate integrity. Fiamma’s new book — Israele Siamo Noi — represents what I hope will be the beginning of a turn-around in European perceptions… from the sick (in the Nietzschean sense) self-hatred and dhimmi appeasement of the current anti-American, anti-Zionist “left” to a healthy respect for all that Western culture has achieved in the way of civic culture, freedom and tolerance, and the courage to defend it against global Jihadis. Her insights into why the Italians don’t want to think about the threat posed by Islam are at once illuminating and depressing.

One on One: Making the case for commonality

Ruthie Blum, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 9, 2007
Fiamma Nirenstein rushes into her kitchen to brew some Italian coffee before we sit down to discuss her latest best-seller, Israele Siamo Noi [Israel Is Us; Rizzoli Publishers], which sold out in its first week and is already on its second printing. On the table, amid a mound of newspapers – The Jerusalem Post prominent among them – is a laptop with at least three documents on which she is working simultaneously: one, an article she needs to finish by evening to meet her deadline for the Milan-based daily, Il Giornale; another, a lecture she is preparing for her upcoming trip to Rome; yet another an entry for her popular blog.

The music of the bubbling espresso pot is accompanied by the repeated Outlook Express jingle signalling she has new mail and the ring of her home and mobile phones.

“Pronto,” she answers each, practically simultaneously, talking to one caller in Italian and the other in Hebrew. This she does while ushering me into the salon and gesturing that I take a seat on the couch. The spacious, sunny living-and-dining room may as well be a multilingual Mideast studies library, for all the books on the subject lining the walls, and the dozens more piled high on other surfaces – a number of which she herself has either authored, co-authored or contributed to.

Given the room’s decor, it may as well be located in Florence, where Nirenstein was born and raised; in Rome, where she lives and works (and visits her 25-year-old son, Binyamin) half of every month; or in Tuscany, where she spends her summers. The panoramic view of the Holy City from the floor-to-ceiling windows is the only give-away to the location of Nirenstein’s home in Jerusalem – which she shares with her Israeli husband, Ofer Eshed, a TV news cameraman.

“Israel is a country of heroes,” Nirenstein says in Italian-accented English, now turning her undivided attention to our hour-long interview. “My book tries to destroy the vile myths perpetrated about its being ‘colonialist’ or an ‘apartheid state’ on the one hand, and about terrorists ‘being militiamen fighting for freedom’ on the other.”

Nirenstein does this, she explains, by dissecting what she calls the “sick words” that have infiltrated the language and consciousness of an increasingly anti-Semitic Europe – terms she and a group of Italian academics plan on collecting for a glossary, “because such word abuse prevents even the possibility of understanding what Israel is all about.”

She comes by her passion for Israel – and familiarity with the conceptual distortions characteristic of “autocratic ideologies” – honestly. The daughter of Holocaust historian and long-time Al Hamishmar correspondent Aharon “Nir” Nirenstein (who came to Palestine in 1936 from Poland, and went to Italy in 1945 with the Jewish Brigade) and Corriere della Sera journalist Wanda Lattes, Nirenstein was an ardent communist in her youth. And, just as Zionism was part and parcel of her upbringing, so too, she says, was she caught up in the “mental corruption” that caused her generation to look to the likes of Che Guevara for inspiration, while attributing the world’s ills to “capitalist imperialism.”

Nirenstein, who has been reporting from Israel for the Italian print and broadcast media for nearly two decades, after years of being an international columnist (recently, she moved from the Left-leaning La Stampa to the conservative Il Giornale), is a European version of a neocon. Her journey across the political spectrum – like that of her American counterparts – began as a response to the radical climate of the 1960s in her own country. Unlike theirs, however, Nirenstein’s was paved with an added complication: To side with anything resembling the right wing in post-World War II Italy meant aligning with the fascists.

Still, Nirenstein asserts, “You cannot run away from reality indefinitely. Ultimately, you have to know what’s right in terms of values, and be courageous about standing up for them.”

For her, this endeavor has taken the form of examining, reporting on and writing extensively about terrorism – and defending Israel in the face of it. “This costs something, of course,” she says, alluding to the bodyguards who pick her up from the airport every time she lands in Italy, and shuttle her from place to place throughout her stay there.

This is the tip of that iceberg of intimidation that permeates even Western countries (not to mention anyone in Arab lands) when it comes to reporting negative news about the Palestinians and Muslims. Anyone who does not appreciate the “price” one must pay to report accurately, does not understand why our news reporters — even the top echelon — do not serve us, their audience, well.

During her most recent stint to promote her book – an appeal to Europeans to emulate Israeli democracy – Nirenstein says she was pleased about the positive reception it received, but stops short of being optimistic. Shrugging and smiling wryly, she sighs: “I’m afraid Europe will only wake up if terrible things happen that none of us would wish on ourselves or on anybody else.

Why is it significant that your book has received so much attention in the mainstream Italian press?

My previous [eight] books have also been given extensive coverage, but what’s significant in this case are the headlines. “Israel: A model for all of us,” and “Israel: A model for democracy.

Even the newspaper Corriere della Sera – which isn’t known for its pro-Israel attitude – titled the review: “Israel – a laboratory of democracy for all of Europe.”

I got the sense that this book released a cork in European public opinion. Many people have approached me and whispered in my ear, “I am with you.”

I would like to think this is true, and anecdotal evidence I have culled from British and French friends and acquaintances suggests that it is. But like the “silent majority” of Palestinians that Rees assures us wants to be freed of the madness that rules them, they have enormous difficulty standing up and speaking out. As the Japanese saying goes, “The nail that sticks up is hammered down.”

How Europe Can Lose: Pipes on Underestimating Your Enemy’s Intelligence and Your own Stupidity

Last December, Dan Pipes posted a piece entitled “How the West Could Lose.” It’s the kind of thing that the Europeans can’t even think about much less assess. For an example of how suicidal the Europeans, see Paul Beilin, “The Islamicization of Antwerp” (comments in next post).

Middling souls sustain;
Great souls launch, democracies;
Small ones, destroy them.

How the West Could Lose by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
December 26, 2006

After defeating fascists and communists, can the West now defeat the Islamists?

On the face of it, its military preponderance makes victory seem inevitable. Even if Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, Islamists have nothing like the military machine the Axis deployed in World War II, nor the Soviet Union during the cold war. What do the Islamists have to compare with the Wehrmacht or the Red Army? The SS or Spetznaz? The Gestapo or the KGB? Or, for that matter, to Auschwitz or the gulag?

Yet, more than a few analysts, including myself, worry that it’s not so simple. Islamists (defined as persons who demand to live by the sacred law of Islam, the Sharia) might in fact do better than the earlier totalitarians. They could even win. That’s because, however strong the Western hardware, its software contains some potentially fatal bugs. Three of them – pacifism, self-hatred, complacency – deserve attention.

Pacifism: Among the educated, the conviction has widely taken hold that “there is no military solution” to current problems, a mantra applied in every Middle East problem – Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Kurds, terrorism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. But this pragmatic pacifism overlooks the fact that modern history abounds with military solutions. What were the defeats of the Axis, the United States in Vietnam, or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, if not military solutions?

My favorite is “War is not the answer.” A popular bumper sticker in places like Cambridge. As soon as one suggests that force may be necessary, the conversation is over. “Oh, you’re one of those people who think that they only understand force.” Well no, they understand more than force, but without force, they don’t understand much.

This issue lies at the heart of demopathy: Arabs/Muslims play on our desire to believe that they are “rational” like “us.” And while there are some who do, the culture remains in the place where the vast majority of pre-modern cultures have operated for millennia — “might makes right.” That’s the point of the Caliphate.

Mis-applying a Problematic Paradigm: Soros Redefines “Deeply Superficial”

George Soros has a long piece in the New York Review of Books about the critical contribution of AIPAC to our disastrous foreign policy along with some major tilting at Alvin Rosenfeld. He proves himself a thorough and profoundly uninformed disciple of the Politically-Correct Paradigm (PCP1) but, as some have already pointed out, very wealthy people seem to think they can be an expert on every and anything… sort of like Donald Trump.

What’s so worrisome is how hollow – again – all this sounds. Just PCP bytes, strung together like Pallywood footage. If you just squint hard enough, you won’t see just how profoundly misguided the narrative, the analysis, and the recipe for resolving the problem. Even Barack Obama has distanced himself from this silliness.

It is way too long and poor to fisk from start to finish — how much more interesting to read articles that tackle real issues like Goldhagen on humiliation and terrorism (up next) — than this intellectually meager fare. What I do focus on below is the rant within the rant in which Soros tilts at Alvin Rosenfeld. Just understanding how mediocre his argument on this topic will give a taste of the overall, lengthy, diatribe.

What makes this particularly unfortunate is that it comes from the “pen” of a great admirer of the philosopher and scientist Karl Popper, a passionate advocate of the “Open Society” — after which Soros named his “democracy-promoting” Open Society Institute (of which I was a fellow back in the 1990s) — as well as an articulate spokesman for the exegetical modesty of scientists who must always remain open to the possibility that their formulae for understanding the universe may be wrong and need to be subjected to criticism. In this case we have an inability to see the difference between an extraordinarily open society — Israel — and its extraordinarily closed neighbors, on the one hand, and an unquestioning application of a highly questionable paradigm — “Land for Peace” — to a conflict where the contrary paradigm seems most operative — “Land for Jihad.” In pursuing such a misguided framework, and deriving a particularly harsh strategy — force the open society to make huge concessions to the closed societies in the hopes that these latter will keep promises they show no sign of intending to keep — Soros urges on a strategy that turns Israel into a sacrificial lamb (or a test-monkey in a space probe), and threatens terrible damage to the West’s ability to resist Islamism. Nor is he alone in such a foolish approach.

On Israel, America and AIPAC

By George Soros

The Bush administration is once again in the process of committing a major policy blunder in the Middle East, one that is liable to have disastrous consequences and is not receiving the attention it should. This time it concerns the Israeli–Palestinian relationship. The Bush administration is actively supporting the Israeli government in its refusal to recognize a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, which the US State Department considers a terrorist organization. This precludes any progress toward a peace settlement at a time when progress on the Palestinian problem could help avert a conflagration in the greater Middle East.

You would not know from Soros that Hamas’ charter cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion approvingly (article 32), and invokes a genocidal apocalyptic Hadith about killing every last Jew on the planet (article 7). “Hey. I’m sure they don’t really mean it. You know those Arabs… always exaggerating. They were democratically elected, no? That makes them legitimate representatives, no? We make peace with enemies with whom we negotiate, no?”

Now why would Soros act as if this were not an issue? What’s the purpose of whitewashing Hamas? Does he do his own research? Or does he get fed information by his handlers?

It goes on from there. If you feel like having the most simplistic, dusty Oslo logic thrown in your eyes for many paragraphs, go to the article and read it. It doesn’t get any better than this mediocre rehash in its analysis, all served up with a tone of complete confidence. At one point, he informs us that many don’t understand Hamas, but those (like himself) who do, know that the bad Hamas is in Damascus and the good Hamas, responsive to the Palestinian people who elected it, is in the West Bank and Gaza. One has to wonder how so stunningly gullible a man could have made so much money.