Category Archives: anti-Zionism

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Eva Illouz wrote a dramatic New Year’s piece for Ha-aretz, in which she accuses fellow Jews who support Trump of falling prey to messianic fantasies and “betraying Jews, Jewish history and humanity,” and claiming for the “liberal Jews” like herself, the sole mantle of “authentic opposition to anti-Semitism.” Invoking Freud’s definition of the uncanny (das Unheimliche), or the anguishing sense that behind the familiar lies something profoundly foreign and menacing, she claims that “the [Trump-riddled] world at the beginning of 2017 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.”

An earthquake in the Jewish world

A feeling of the uncanny accompanies the start of the new year, as Jews witness their religious and political leaders aligning themselves with anti-Semites and anti-democrats | Opinion

By Eva Illouz | Jan. 1, 2017/Rewritten by Richard Landes,  Jan 1, 2003

Over the last three years (2000-2003), like many others, I have followed the news with an undefinable mixture of dismay, fascination and terror. When reality evades our grasp, we may reach for familiar concepts to cope with its elusiveness.

In 1919 Sigmund Freud wrote a short essay, called “The Uncanny” (“Das Unheimliche,” in German), in which he attempted to understand a particular kind of anxiety and fear elicited by art or literature (for example, the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann) or events (such as recurring coincidences), the uncanny. Unheimlich is the opposite of Heimlich, the familiar, domestic and homey.

Freud’s stroke of genius consisted in understanding that psychically “unheimlich” is not the opposite of “heimlich,” but rather a sub-category of it: It is the strange that occurs within the home, as when a child looks at the face of his mother and suddenly senses that behind her face hides a ghost or a witch (countless horror movies tap into the feeling of the uncanny, turning grandparents, parents or children into possessed creatures). The uncanny is thus the very special form of terror we feel when we look at someone or something that is familiar, yet fail to recognize it. It is the anxiety that derives from actually seeing a foreign creature in the well-known body and face.

The world at the beginning of 2003 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.

The “moral leaders of the democratic world, the global progressive left,” uphold undemocratic values reminiscent of the world that the United States crushed only 70 years ago (the name of Goebbels been frequently evoked in the context of Charles Enderlin, with regard to the vicious war propaganda he has disseminated, promoting global Jihad, not rebuked but emulated and admired by his colleagues). This man is far closer in war propaganda journalism, to the Palestinian journalists who concoct footage to spur their people to hatred, than to any “modern” journalist who takes his professional commitments seriously. The Western interference in Israeli affairs, executed with the active collaboration of academia and the Mainstream news media – the apple of the left’s progressive eye, of the presumed guardians of “truth” of “bearing honest witness,and bringing social justicerevealing to all forces that undermine Western civil polities from within its epicenter. Two specters now haunt the world, and seem to have taken possession of its soul: the past specter of the mad messianic wars of the Middle Ages and the future one, of an auto-induced newspeak.

But perhaps most unheimlich of all are the new alliances that have materialized in the Jewish world. The new century/millennium brought, an alliance of a kind never seen before, between Jewish progressive groups, a large percentage of secular Jews (in both the U.S. and Israel), and Jihadi associates and supporters, the same who, during and after the wild protests against Israel, cheered mischievously at Palestinian and Arab Hitler admirers, whose own genocidal meme, “drive the Jews into the sea!” we hear loud and clear on our campuses, with the “social justice” cry, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

Progressive and Caliphater Millennialism: Interview in Mishpacha Magazine

Machla Abramowitz interviewed me in Mischpacha magazine. It was initially done as coverage of a talk I gave in Montreal on BDS and Cogwar (definitions posted here), but mutated into a much more complex discussion of messianism and the progressive left. The (slightly) longer version I post below may clarify some of the obscurities in my published responses.

For anyone interested in a more extensive discussion of the unfortunate convergence of progressive left and jihadi millennialism, see “Progressive and Jihadi Movements in Action: A Study in Interacting Millennial Currents in the Early 3rd Millennium (2000-2020).”

The End Game

Millennialism: where progressivism and jihad meet.

By Machla Abramovitz

Mishpacha Magazine, 29 Cheshvan, 5777.

They believe in the coming of a messianic epoch, one in which humanity will unite and peace and justice will reign. Their enemies are conservatives and traditionalists, or those who fail to comprehend the arc of history and humanity’s final destiny.

No, they’re not an apocalyptic cult hatching a plot in a South American jungle hideout, but modern progressives who subscribe to the idea of “millennialism.”

Richard Landes, a former professor of Medieval Studies at Boston University, and currently the senior fellow with the Center of International Communication at Bar Ilan University, is one of their leading critics. For decades, Landes has been studying the phenomenon of millennialism, or the belief that a messianic era of justice, peace and abundance is coming soon, often preceded by a massive disruptive (apocalyptic) event. Now, with the election of Donald J. Trump and the protests that have exploded nationwide, the world is witness to many expressions of millennialism, and, as is common, to disappointed expectations. The arc of history that bends towards justice has lurched into reverse.

The Low Countries at their lowest: Dutch Lethal Own-goal Journalism

I only now have become aware (thanks to Twitter) of Hans Moll‘s book (2011) on Holland’s most presitigious paper (only in Dutch alas) and Bruce Bawer’s review of it for Frontpage in English. Here I reproduce Bawer’s with comments.

The Low Countries at their lowest

A Dutch journalist exposes the systematic left-wing slant of his country’s most respected newspaper

Bruce Bawer, Frontpage, December 1, 2011

NRC Handelsblad is arguably the most respected newspaper in the Netherlands. Hans Moll was for many an editor there. He is not an editor there any more. In his new book, Verzwijgen als of het gedrunkt staat, of Hoe de nuance verdween: NRC Handelsblad over Israël, de Islam en het integratiedebat (How the Nuance Vanished: NRC Handelsblad on Israel, Islam, and the Integration Debate), Moll provides a very valuable document of our time: an insider look at the kind of day-to-day reportorial and editorial decision-making, in matters big and small, that leads a newspaper to convey a less than objective view of the world.

Not just “less than objective” – PoMo-PoCo’s insist that’s that’s not possible anyway – but a self-defeating view of the world, utterly disorienting for those who are the target of Jihadi Caliphaters. The important point here is the link between the way the media portray “reality” – or, in their terms, bear witness to their time – in the conflict between Israel and her neighbors, and the way the portray Islam, both in the Middle East and at home. a

In other words, disoriented about Israel’s conflict has a direct link to disorientated about Muslim (im)migrants in the democracies these journalist allegedly inform. Mistaking the players in one place, means mistaking them at home, where one can less afford being wrong about an enemy. For an excellent discussion of how the Netherlands went from a paragon of democracy to a besieged nation in the course of the aughts (’00s) read Abigail Esman Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (2010). Bruce Bawer has at least two books dealing with this issue: While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within (2006) and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2009).

Moll’s accounts of his professional experiences do not necessarily apply only to his own former employer. Like many other “newspapers of record” across Europe and in the U.S., NRC Handelsblad leans to the left, and the stories Moll tells about his newspaper provide insight into the mentality of journalists and editors at elite dailies ranging from The New York Times to The Guardian to Le Monde.

In the wake of the media debacle of the 2016 elections, one former NYT editor, Michael Cieply, offered some thoughts on how “narrative driven” much of their coverage (not published by the NYT). In a sense the media has long been a vehicle for redemptive action, and in its role as critic, it plays a crucial role in making democracy work. But now, we have journalists as a pack, seized with a consensus that held: a) Israelis do terrible things which we cover in intense detail; and b) Muslims rarely do terrible things, which we dramatically undercover.

Introduction to Dexter Van Zile’s Submitted Under Protest

Dexter Van Zile’s book, Submitted Under Protest: Essays Written in Defense of Western Freedom has just been published. Reviewed by Ardie Geldman at The New English Review.

I wrote an Preface, which I post here:

Preface

Richard Landes, Medieval Historian, Critic of 21st Century News Media

In years to come, when historians begin to sort out the massive moral and cognitive disorientation of the progressive left in the first decade of the 21st century, they will want to read these pages carefully. The year 2000, best known for disappointing believers in the Y2K scare, also proved a dramatic turning point for global Jihad. In the Fall of the year 2000, the balances shifted dramatically in the war between global Jihad and the West. Quite suddenly, the vastly weaker side militarily, launched a cognitive war campaign on multiple fronts, aimed at paralyzing the West’s defenses and inciting true believers to take up Jihad. Jihadis gained the upper hand without most in the West even noticing. For some pessimists who did pay attention, while Europe slept, the unthinkable became the inevitable – a Muslim Europe.

In Europe more than any other democratic zone, a civil-society Maginot Line collapsed: widespread hostility to Jews, fueled among Muslims by paranoid apocalyptic preachers, and among everyone by lethal journalists reporting what amounted to blood libels against the Jews as “news”, led to increasingly violent public demonstrations, to schools overrun with anti-Semitic bullies, to unrestrained hatred of sovereign Jews. Jihadis participated energetically in all aspects of the attack, especially at the protests where, shouting “Death to Jews,” they fomented riots targeting initially Jews, but really, all infidels. The situation today, unimaginable two decades ago, has Europe, with an already restive and violently anti-Jewish/anti-infidel Muslim population, now further hit by waves of aggressive refugees from a radically dysfunctional Muslim world in the throes of merciless religious wars they blame on the West and bring with them to the West.

One of the key elements in the stunning reversal of fortunes in favor of Jihadis fighting the West was their ability to find allies in the Western pubic sphere, who shared their narrative of world redemption through the elimination of Israel, “our global misfortune.” FOR WORLD PEACE ISRAEL MUST BE DESTROYED!

For-World-Peace-Israel-Must-Be-Destroyed

Sharing this Zionist enemy brought progressives and Jihadis together in a catastrophic “anti-imperialist” alliance sanctioned by no less than the pacifist (!) Judith Butler, foremost proponent of post-modern critical theory, who in 2006, welcomed Hamas and Hizbullah as members of the “global progressive left” on the basis of their “anti-imperialism.”

Not only did this astonishing statement ignore the moral chasm that separates progressives from Jihadis on virtually every value Butler says she holds dear, but it is based on a fundamental error of reasoning. Espousing anti-American imperialism hardly makes one anti-imperialist. On the contrary, it can, and in the case of Jihadis, does arise from imperialist rivalry. Thus did Judith Butler, and more broadly, the PoMo-PoCo progressive “Left,” take the most regressive religious imperialism on the planet into the bosom of their global movement because of a shared hatred of US and Israel.

Pessin, Ironic Prophet: The Liberal Emperor’s New Clothes of Humanitarian Racism

This article appeared in today’s Algemeiner.

Pessin, Ironic Prophet: The Liberal Emperor’s New Clothes of Humanitarian Racism

[[In the spring of 2015, Connecticut College erupted into a bizarre frenzy of condemnation over philosophy professor Andrew Pessin’s Facebook post from and about the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, falsely (but vehemently) accusing him of racism, hate speech, dehumanization, and celebrating and inciting violence. For those unfamiliar with the Pessin Affair, see here, here, and here.]

In his now notorious Facebook post on Gaza’s rabid pit bull – the very one that caused the scandal – Andrew Pessin described the situation as one in which a rabid pit bull goes for the jugular every chance it gets, meaning that Hamas, obsessed at is it with killing Israelis, will take advantage of any occasion to do so, even if it means stepping on their own people to get at “al Yahood” (the Jews).

jihadi goliath

Cartoon by Ellen Horowitz

In the current context it means that, now that the barrier (aka: “Apartheid Wall”) makes suicide terror too difficult, Hamas fires rockets continuously and episodically at Israeli civilians. And proud of it.

Most people, having been given the “racist alert” were so shocked at the possible description of the Palestinian people as rabid pit bulls, didn’t read any more than this. But Pessin’s subsequent comments constitute the most interesting part of the post. It describes the people who call on Israel to let the rabid pit bull out of its cage (e.g., end the blockade).

He then describes two kinds of people who support that “humanitarian” discourse.

You may call for this release because you are yourself a rabid pit bull protesting your co-specimen’s detention, or because you are a well-meaning liberal hearted animal rights person. But you are demanding the same thing.

This describes perfectly and prophetically, the combination of forces that, seven months later, attacked this post and drove its composer from the “excellently inclusive” campus that ConnColl told everyone they had created and were defending by excluding Pessin. It can be understood in terms of the Emperor’s New Clothes, with the small but significant difference deriving from the fact that it’s not a joke about vanity, but an imperial procession of hatred that promotes the very poison its dupes believe they denounce.

On Anorexic Jews and Virtue Signaling: Hasia Diner and Marjorie Feld, “Historians”

Somewhat predictably, Ha-aretz has published a piece by two American Jewish scholars on why they have “left Zionism behind.” Although they claim to be historians (and in their chosen fields they may be), their argument is much more based on myths – Palestinian myths – which they have allowed to colonize their minds, and which they regurgitate without any critical thinking at all.

Apparently being critical of one’s own people is enough to quality as “critical”, even when the assertions they make have virtually no grounding in any historical reality. On the contrary, what we seem to have is a blanket, counter-empirical application of a Post-Colonial paradigm and the “virtue signalling” that lets everyone know what good, “Righteous Jews,” they are, Jews who show their virtue by taking sides against their own people.

Part of what’s so shocking about their piece, which has already solicited five indignant responses, here, herehere, here, and here, is their open revulsion at Zionism and any Jew who supports Israel. Here we find a strong echo of what Edward Alexander calls “anorexic Jews” – Jews so ashamed of their body (politic), namely Israel, that they turn against their own corporeal self.

Fisking below.

We’re American Jewish Historians. This Is Why We’ve Left Zionism Behind

Our connections to Israel flourished, faltered and finally ended even though we grew up, live and work in the heart of the American Jewish community.

Hasia Diner and Marjorie N. Feld Aug 01, 2016 11:46 AM

Hasia Diner: The Israel I once loved was a naïve delusion

When I was asked to run as a delegate on the progressive Hatikva platform to the 2010 World Zionist Congress, I encountered my personal rubicon, the line I could not cross. I was required to sign the “Jerusalem Program.” This statement of principles asked me to affirm that I believed in “the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem as capital” for the Jewish people. It encouraged “Aliyah to Israel,” that is, the classic negation of the diaspora and as such the ending of Jewish life outside a homeland in Israel.

That’s impressive, and impressively insecure. It’s not like it demanded Aliyah, just encouraged it. But somehow even that is too much (how dramatic is “my own personal rubicon [sic]”?). The idea that Israel and moving there, represents somehow a negation of the diaspora is an astonishing leap of logic. It sounds a lot like more like Diner’s notion of Diaspora (see below) is a negation of Israel. This is Judith Butler talk, nicely characterized by Edward Alexander as illustrative of

…Orwell’s view that some ideas—like the virtue of Jewish powerlessness—are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.

QED.

Secular Supersessionism: Explaining the Global Left’s Hostility to Israel

This is a video of a talk I gave last April in Bloomington Indiana at a conference organized by Alvin Rosenfeld.

They Savor Wine but Keep an Open Bar for the Hard Stuff

Richard Landes

The following is the text of talk I delivered at the Council for European Studies in Philadelphia entitled, “European Resilience?” The panel was entitled: 

A Measure of European Resilience: Anti-semitism(s) Old and New

Chair: Jeff Weintraub

Participants:

“A New ‘Exodus’? The Political Economy of Jewish Migration.” Scott Siegel, San Francisco State University

“European Muslim Antisemitism: Its Sources, Its Allies.” Gunther Jikeli, Indiana University

“They had it Coming: Retributive Justice Attacks on European Jewry.” Steven Baum, Journal for the Study of Antisemitism; Florette Cohen-Abady, College of Staten Island – CUNY

“Secular Supersessionism and Post-Christian Europe’s Tolerance for Anti-Semitism.” Richard Landes, Bar Ilan University

Discussant: Jeff Weintraub, Harvard University.

 

They Savor Wine but Keep an Open Bar for the Hard Stuff

Secular Supersessionism and Post-Christian Europe’s Tolerance for Anti-Semitism

The following represents excerpts from a chapter of a history book, written in 2050, on the asymmetric war of invasion that Jihadis had been waging against the West since 1979/1400. The historian identified this as an apocalyptic war for Muslim world conquest, a drive to turn all of Dar al Harb into Dar al Islam. The excerpts focus on Jihad in Europe during the first decade and a half of the 21st century, a period this historian considered the turning point in the Jihadi campaign, and a set-up for the subsequent decades-long civil wars that plagued the continent from 2020s onwards. The first segment describes the process of reversal of forces in 2000, the second attempts to explain why the Jihadis had such widespread and unexpected success. As a preliminary note, this author has the habit of writing his chronology not only AD/CE, but also AH, the Islamic count; and refers to the first two decades of the third millennium as the “aughts” and the “teens.”

The turn of the millennium, 2000/1420, marked a dramatic change in the fate of Europe. From this point onward, the rapports de forces between Europe and the movement of global Jihad that targeted the democratic continent, shifted dramatically in favor of the “weak side” of this asymmetrical invasion. This occurred just as the EU was reaching its highest point of both extension and integration, a development that seemed to make the EU a global colossus on a par with the USA. At the time, few even noticed the shift, much less attributed any real significance to it.

Up until the “fin-de-siècle/millennium” of 2000/1420, global Jihad’s goal of Muslim world conquest struck virtually everyone as ridiculous, especially in the West, now, with the internet, the globally dominant hegemon. Granted the Jihadis had scored major victories in the previous decades: Khoumeini in Iran (1979/1400), Bin Laden in Afghanistan (1989/1410), and the same year, Khoumeini’s dramatic extension of Sharia law to Dar al Harb with his death fatwa against the blasphemer Salmon Rushdie. But the idea that Muslims could actually take over Europe, the West? Inconceivable! Even Muslims who found the dream tantalizing, still considered it a pipe dream.

In late 2000, however, global Jihad took an immense leap from the margins to the center of the global community, and surprisingly enough, often with the enthusiastic approval of the very European elites whom they targeted. The dynamic so rapidly took hold, that what in the 1990s/1410s was virtually unthinkable – namely the Islamic take-over of the European continent – by the mid aughts/1420s, started to look to some observers as inevitable: a string of books made the dire prophecy of European demise: Eurabia (2005), Londonistan (2006), While Europe Slept (2006), America Alone (2006). These books were treated by the gatekeepers of the public sphere as either dangerous or ridiculous, alarmist, conspiracist, creating the very hatreds they warned against.

On the contrary, many Europeans thought they were in their glory days. In the very same years as the dire books appeared, another set proposed a profoundly optimistic, even triumphalist scenario of European dominance in the 21st century: The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy (2005), The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream (2005), Why Europe will Run the 21st century (2006). And all of this, just moments before the Muhammad Cartoon affair extended Muslim blasphemy laws world-wide.

It began with the second Intifada, in late September and the rapid rise to dominance of a school of lethal journalists who systematically reported as news Jihadi war propaganda. This war propaganda electrified the global Umma, including in Muslims in Europe. The actual Palestinian military uprising was a failure: it failed to chase the Jews from Israel. But it did sanctify the supreme Jihadi weapon of the new century, suicide terror, soon turned on other infidels – the next year 9-11 – and then on Muslims. The suicide terrorist became the trademark of a global jihad that fed on the destructive chaos it created.

But what the Palestinian Jihadis failed to achieve on the kinetic battlefield, they more than compensated for in the cognitive theater of asymmetrical global war. News images of Palestinian suffering and Israeli cruelty awakened Muslims the world over, and the nascent internet multiplied the effect manifold. These images of Jewish terror and Palestinian victimization aroused immense anger among Muslims, and confirmed the message that apocalyptic Jihadis had been pushing for decades: Islam was under existential threat: This is a war on Islam itself. Al Jazeera rose to unprecedented heights distributing these icons of hatred in the Arab and Muslim world. Bin Laden turned the footage of the IDF shooting a twelve year old boy to death in the arms of his pleading father, into a video summons to the global Jihad of planetary conquest.

Among Europeans, the victory of Jihadi war propaganda was at least as spectacular: not only did the icons of victimization and hatred awaken European Muslims, but the message was given immense prestige and reach when Western journalists presented it as news. In turn, the same media that emphasized Israeli aggression, systematically underreported the Muslim aggression those broadcasts provoked against European Jews. This pattern was most pronounced during periods of military clash between Israel and their neighbors, during which pack journalists unwittingly, but enthusiastically, promoted Jihadi propaganda and played down Jihadi aggression.

And even as they incited Jihadi hatred against Israel and cheered on the “resistance” by demonstrating in suicide bomber belts, they became paralyzed. “The Arabs act as if they have a knife to our throat and we act as if they did,” noted one scholar in hushed tones. And indeed they did: the knife was the threat of suicide terror. So when during Ramadan of 2005/1426 rioters shouting “Allahu Akhbar” rioted all over France in response to a lethal narrative about French cops killing two Arab boys, the police tried to contain; and French journalists and academics denied it had anything to do with Islam.

Indeed, the early aughts brought to prominence a kind of “global progressive left” street presence whose spokespeople, by 2003, claimed – in the pages of the NYT – to constitute one of two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion, which was against war. These demonstrations, which reached into the tens of millions worldwide in 2003, gave prominence to and welcomed the energy of Jihadis, who proudly sported giant portraits of Saddam and Arafat and in various places like Paris, beat up Jewish participants in the rallies. In the replacement theology of the global left, Israel became the secular anti-Christ, the new Nazis, committing genocide against the Palestinians, the new Jews.

This “Street” of public opinion, initially sponsored by the global progressive “anti-war” left, spawned its own, aggressive, and independent “Muslim Street” in Europe: starting with the Ramadan riots in France in 2005/1425. It continued with protests against the blasphemous Danish Cartoons (Salmon Rushdie redux, 2006/1426) and protesting the Pope calling Islam a violent religion (2007/1427). Infidel progressives tended not to join these demos, although they did not laugh at the absurdity of Muslims violently protesting someone calling them violent.

But the one constant, the one phenomenon that brought out all the protesters in their most enthusiastic and angry moods, was the periodic episodes of lethal journalism about Israel. Even American war crimes – in some cases far worse – did not bring out the angry crowds. Thus, each episode of fevered own-goal journalism – Al Aqsa Intifada, Jenin Massacre, Lebanon, Gaza I, Mavi Marmara, Gaza II, Gaza III – produced major gains for European Jihad. Indeed, by the end of the aughts, Hamas had developed the pattern into a formal strategy: provoke an Israeli attack, get as many Muslim civilians killed as possible, and count on the Western news media to so outrage the world community, that diplomatic pressure forced Israel to stop.

In communicating the lethal narrative of Palestinian anguish and Israeli cruelty, the news media fueled the widely held belief in Europe, even among infidel intelligentsia: “The IDF kills Palestinian children every day”… the first global blood libel of the early 21st century and global Jihad’s best recruiting device.

In 2000, for the first time since Hitler, the cry of “Death to the Jews!” was heard on the streets of a European capital, in the Place de la Republique in Paris. After a decade and a half of own-goal war journalism, this genocidal cry was heard all over Europe, chanted publicly for hours. Jihadi hatreds shattered the streets of European capitals; and European leaders suddenly realized they were losing their Jews to those hatreds. “La France sans ses juifs n’est pas la France,” noted the Foreign Minister Manuel Valls, in a multi-cultural variant on De Gaulle’s more imperious version. In response, Jihadis stepped up attacks on any European infidel. In those days, anti-Zionist post-modern gentiles turned to their former Jewish friends leaving for Israel and lamented, “at least you have some place to go.”

The journalists who so acted, did this not because they were consciously supporting the goals of Jihad, but because their obsession with Israel blinded them to the longer-term consequences of their actions. They thought they were siding with the “underdog,” the Palestinians whom they, as a pack, viewed as victims and freedom fighters, the “David,” resisting the Israeli “Goliath.”

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.”

“O wad some power…” Fisking Michael Sfard

Israel’s Human Rights Activists Aren’t Traitors

By MICHAEL SFARD JAN. 5, 2016

In March 1968, my father was a member of the Warsaw University students’ committee that helped lead the enormous protests demanding reform from the Communist Polish government. The government responded with a smear campaign to try to delegitimize the protests’ leaders, claiming they were acting in the interest of Western powers, or — exploiting widespread anti-Semitic sentiments — of a Jewish-Zionist plot against the Polish People’s Republic.

In other words, the government labeled my father and his friends foreign agents. Traitors.

My father was detained for three months and expelled from the university. After his release, he left with his family for Israel, where I was born. Unlike my father, I grew up in an environment that welcomed free political discussion and allowed people like me to become human rights activists and criticize our government. When I claimed a few years ago, after yet another right-wing attack on Israeli human rights organizations, that we had reached “the bottom of the pit,” my father gave me a knowing smile. “The pit is much deeper than you think,” he said.

Precisely.

My father was right. Over the past month, I have begun to see its true depth.

No you haven’t. You do not have a clue. Nothing in Israel comes near what was going on in your father’s Poland, nothing near what the most mundane authoritarian regimes do to their own citizens, not even close to what Israel does to their enemies. It is precisely this rhetorical exaggeration that has people like you calling the IDF “war criminals” and Israel a “racist, apartheid, fascist, state.” You have no historical depth-perception, so you’re easy dupes for moral equivalence.

And the problem is, outsiders will mistake your “prophetic” rhetoric as an insight into the actual situation here in the Middle East, rather than into the fevered brains of those Jews stricken with MOS. Outsiders understandably have difficulty figuring out how to “read” these hyper-critics: are they sober and honest assessments of reality? or prophetic rhetoric uttered where no ancient prophet would have delivered his rebuke of his people, in the lingua franca of the larger world, and in the courtyards of their powerful ones?

On Dec. 15, an Israeli ultranationalist group

Ultranationalist is a term largely reserved for brown-shirt-type organizations, fascist in their principled resort to violence in their targeting of enemies: “defending one’s country even when it is committing horrific acts to its own citizens.”

Im Tirzu shares nothing in these matters with real “ultra-nationalist” groups, and the use of the term to lump the group with the worst of the far right is characteristic of this publicly self-accusing pseudo-prophetic rhetoric: our (Israel’s) smallest crimes (i.e., deviation from the strictest “progressive” values) are of such magnitude that they compare with what’s nastiest out there (ultra-nationalists, racists, fascists, Nazis). By your standards of inciteful rhetoric, this is a robust example of smearing.

NB: I’ll bet the store that you would never compare Palestinian political culture to “ultra-nationalists,” even though the parallels to the most violent type of that phenomenon are close. On the contrary, some of you revel in your contempt for evidence.

released a video portraying four Israeli human rights defenders as moles planted by foreign states to assist terrorists. The 68-second video, which rapidly made its way across Israeli social media, shows four mug shots and claims that “While we fight terror, they fight us.”

Here’s the video:

As for the accusations, knowing some of the background, and while not quite the way I would have chosen to put it, the video does nonetheless expresses a legitimate opinion. You may not agree, because it questions you and your fellow activists’ behavior, but I don’t see where calling groups that take money from hostile foreign governments to defend and protect avowed enemies of the state, a “plant” or even a “traitor,” is in any way worse than the ones they are so accusing, that is no worse than you and your colleagues calling Israel and its soldiers “war criminals,” “facists,” “nazis,” and “racists.”

You may think that the PLO is an institution that deserves your active support in avoiding responsibility for committing acts of terror against Israeli citizens. But surely you can understand that others, convinced by the same evidence that you are presumably aware of, see the PLO/PA as a devoted enemy of Israel’s very existence, think they should not receive the help of Israelis to carry out their plans for our destruction, and that anyone who does is dangerous.

The video is outright slander and an outrageous incitement.

Amazing. As the great poet Robert Burns once put it:

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!

Borderlife: Who in the Education Ministry ever put this book on the list in the first place?

I’m on a listserv that recently circulated an article from Ha-aretz entitled:

This is available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska.

By Banning Book, Israel Maintains Purity of Blood

My comments don’t address the article much, but more broadly the role of the controversy in the larger framework of the media’s unhealthy obsession with Israeli misdeeds.

This is a classic:

  • Haaretz features a “journalist” who misrepresents the situation to make Israel look as bad as possible,
  • that hatchet job is then avidly taken up by the Western press, written by and for people who apparently can’t get enough of stories about Israel behaving badly.
  • “Good,” “liberal,” “anti-racist” Jews feel they have to distance themselves from this disgusting Israeli behavior.

The Haaretz headline about “purity of blood” is grotesque, and not just picked up by neo-Nazis (Stormfront), but other papers who mistranslated “fear of assimilation” with “fear of miscegenation.” The author, Alon Idan, has the characteristic contemptuous tone for those Israelis he dislikes so brilliantly discussed by Edward Alexander in Jews Against Themselves. Idan takes a delicate, difficult, deeply personal subject and reduces it repeatedly to race, as if what has parents hoping their children marry one of “their own” – with its enormous cultural, religious, and social dimensions – is essentially an expression of dark hatreds that echo the Nazis. 

Israel did not ban the book, a message Haaretz so diligently tried to convey, and which so many in the British MSNM immediately and tendentiously trumpeted, starring, among others, the BBC’s Lyse Doucet. In fact, as the article entitled so negatively above, explains the situation is as follows: Several teachers had asked to include the book in the national curriculum for advanced literature. Their request went to the academic advisory committee which voted to recommend including the book. The recommendation went to the Ministry officials who actually have the legal authority set the curriculum. They decided not to accept the recommendation. The academic committee appealed to the Ministry officials to reconsider their decision (there is a formal appeals process for this). After reconsideration, the Ministry officials stood by their initial decision.

Bottom line: The book was never included in the curriculum at any time. Its proposed inclusion in the curriculum was never cancelled, because the only people with authority to set the curriculum never included it. It was not removed from the curriculum, because it was never in it. No decision was ever made by anyone in the Israeli government to forbid the teaching of the text. No order forbidding teaching the text was ever issued. I believe this is what one might call a tempest in a teapot.

But let us, for a moment, consider why the book, at whatever level of opposition, might have been negatively evaluated by the education ministers. In addition to being, in the queer theory meaning of the word, deeply transgressive in for its depiction of the love affair (which plenty of Israeli parents, Jewish, Christian and Muslim don’t want their children to be exposed to at so early an age), but it also depicts the IDF as sadistic war criminals. 

In a country where the IDF makes constant and valiant efforts, not only to avoid the sadism so prominent among our neighbors, but to raise the level of concern for enemy civilians to unheard of heights in the annals of warfare, such depictions, however artistically compelling, demean a genuinely noble national spirit, in particular by accusing us of things our neighbors do all the time, and as a matter of (their) principle. As for the racism charge, Israel is, given the circumstances, one of the least racist countries in the world (come to our hospitals, our universities). To stretch and distort the story in order to level charges against us, while ignoring the far more terrifying stuff our neighbors do, is pretty mean spirited, to say the least.

Whatever its literary and conceptual merits, there is no reason on earth why a national school curriculum would want to require, or even encourage its youth to read the book. Indeed, the real question any sound journalist should be asking is: “Who on the academic advisory committee in Israel thought this book was appropriate for high schoolers in the first place?” 

Policy Perspectives from the World of Apocalyptic Honor-Shame

I recently received a challenge from one of my less avid fans on a list-serv that I participate in. He challenged me to answer a series of policy questions from the perspective I irritatingly espouse – namely current Western policy concerning the Middle East and Islamic nations is useless at best, self-defeating, even suicidal, at worst because it ignores what I call the HSJ paradigm that focuses on honor-shame dynamics and their current vehicle, apocalyptic Jihad.

I post here my answers.

Dealing with Islam:

Right now in the West, the reigning prime directive reads: “Don’t piss them off.” We think it’s the “vast majority of Muslims” that we thus soothe, but we also encourage the triumphalists, especially with the extent of our placation, our appeasement.

Instead of thus empowering triumphalist aggression, we should pick our fights and target triumphalism. There are so many places the cultural Maginot Line of a robust civil society have crumbled, so many places to start getting serious about what Muslims ask of us and we ask of Muslims. (For a good view of one of the early collapse see, alas, France after 2ooo in The Lost Territories of the Republic.) We need to arm progressive Muslims in their fight with the forces of triumphalism, not concede repeatedly (often with a post-colonial objective) to triumphalist aggression.

Without reciprocal relations, free societies cannot exist, much less aspire to the near utopian hopes of global progressives.

Educate about Islam, not just the masses but the policy folks. I’ve spoken to an audience of 400 people in homeland security and only 1/10 of them claimed they knew what dar al Islam and dar al Harb is. If you don’t know that, you’re historically and religiously illiterate about a crucial element of our current predicament. And 15 years after 9-11, and 26 years after Khoumeini’s fatwah against Rushdie extended Shari’a to the West?! We can’t afford that ignorance.

Right now, we are babes in the woods. As much as I want to believe what you [another list member] say about this administration [being fully aware of the problem], everything I see and hear indicates the opposite: it is overprotective of the “99.9%” of Muslims who, they tell us on their behalf, “reject the extremists.” Where does Obama come up with this stuff? How on earth can serious people take this seriously? Unless of course, they’re in such denial about the problem we face that they’ll take the pablum.

But part of our predicament has been we believed that these indulgences in moral posturing (PC) – Moral and Tolerant Europe Triumphant, The Passionate “cause” of the Palestinian Underdog – were somehow cost free. (If “tout flatteur vit aux dépens de celui qui l’ecoute,” then how damaging is self-flattery, which can be endless?)

On the contrary, these moral postures have allowed the Jihadis to maneuver the progressives into suicidal positions, into a proleptic dhimmitude where the GPL sees itself salvific warriors bringing world peace through self-abnegation, even as it submits to Muslim triumphalist demands that they not only dare not criticize (triumphalist) Muslims, but, rather, they must adopt the Muslim enemy (Israel).

Syria

(Let’s just hope it’s better than criticizing the Obama Administration for not giving enough aid to the Free-Syrian Army).  American troops?  How about Israeli troops  (no, that wouldn’t work); Turks?  (strike that);  Iran (Never, never).

Syria is a symptom of a breakdown of a political culture. The Arab “Spring” was actually a quake that hit a very weak political culture – Lee Smith’s Strong Horse. Those political dynamics reflect a broader, heavily authoritarian (patriarchal honor-murders) culture, and these social dynamics make it virtually impossible to launch and sustain a democratic political culture.

Instead it was springtime for Jihad and tribal warfare.

As for policy, our our journalists and academics and talking heads, systematically misinformed us about the situation beforehand, as well as during. With foolish expectations borne of the “post-colonial” paradigm, we thought – and were encouraged to foresee – a wave, from Tunisia to Syria of more democratic, vibrant, civil societies. Muslim Brotherhood? “Moderate,” and “almost secular.”  So whether we intervene (Libya) or don’t (Syria), it works to the advantage of the Jihadis because they are the most brutal in a brutal culture, and we are clueless. And when they fail, as all such brutal efforts do, they – at least under current conditions – just prepare more wretched chaos to fuel the next round of violence.

To think differently about this means having an appreciation of the impact our behavior has on others (allegedly a Western specialty).

In 2003, when the GPL and European countries (led by Chirac) had such a grand time turning Bush into the Antichrist, I got an email from a medievalist who was in Tunisia. “The Arabs think the French are weak. They side with their enemies and humiliate their friends.” By that logic, I can assure you that triumphalist Muslims think the Left is weak.

I’m not saying, “don’t oppose the Iraq War just because you don’t want to look like a wuss,” but rather “be cognizant of the impact of what you’re doing in terms of how your enemy (triumphalist Islam) perceives you.” The public mutual contempt the Left and Right have expressed for each other has done terrible damage.

In the 11th century, it was emperor and pope attacking each other publicly for fifty years that loosened revolutionary forces; and among the beneficiaries of that open hostility, were the free towns, the urban communes of the later 11th and 12th centuries. In the 21st cn, however, by far the greatest benefactor of public hostilities between twin poles of public discourse (in this case right-left, rather than royal-papal) has been the Jihadis… by comparison with a progressive 11th cn, the 21st cn looks alarmingly regressive.

We can’t even begin to think strategy much less tactics as long as we can’t talk about this larger massive politico-cultural failure/dysfunction in the Arab and Muslim world. And yet, thru some alchemical process operated by a particularly irresponsible branch of post-modernism, it has become “racist” to address cultural and religious problems.

Iran –Let’s hear the deal/threats or  bombing policy that you recommend and why?

I’d go very strong on rallying collective hostility to Iranian claims, use every kind of pressure to get them to stand down. i wd have been blown away if you had told me in the 1980s that the nuclear disarmament crowd would not say a word in the 21st century about re-starting a nuclear arms race, this time in the highly volatile Muslim world, i’d have said, “don’t be absurd.”

Of course, if you told a signer of the Hamas Charter, with its genocidal paranoid participation in a movement for global Islamic dominion, that within twenty years, infidels would be marching in the streets with their banners, shouting “we are Hamas!” he would have responded, “Only Allah can make infidels that stupid.”

Iraq  (Can’t be working with Iranian, Shi’a militias, right?)

The Answer to Hisham Milhelm’s Searing Question on Arab Cultural Failure

For Malgorzata Koraszewska’s Polish translation, see here.

I have often lamented the lack of Arab self-criticism (and the surfeit of Jewish self-criticism). About a year ago, Lebanese journalist Hisham Melhem wrote a devastating piece about the current state (meltdown) of Arab culture across the boards. He repeatedly insists that this cannot be explained by any one factor. Below, I go through his article and attempt to show how honor-shame dynamics, in the peculiarly pathological form they have taken in the Arab world since the victories of Israel against the Arab onslaught have led to this nadir.

NB: I do not, by this post, mean to insult Arabs – although I realize that much of what both Melhem and I have to say will strike some Arabs as insulting. But in the spirit of self-criticism, I offer these reflections as sober appraisals of an undoubtedly painful reality that we all – Arabs above all – need to think about. The learning curve begins when one dives into self-criticism, rather than violently flees it.

Who brought the Arabs to this nadir?

In recent weeks and months I tried in this space to critique an Arab political culture that continues to reproduce the values of patriarchy, mythmaking, conspiracy theoriessectarianism, autocracy and apolitical/cultural discourse that denies human agency and tolerates the persistence of the old order.

Note the importance in this description of the Arab world, of denying human agency, which is something that Western liberals comply with on a regular basis, treating Arabs and the Muslims  as forces of nature that have no moral agency: Sharon visits the Temple Mount, of course they start an Intifada; say Islam inherently violent, of course they riot in protest. It’s our fault for provoking them, not theirs for having no self-control. Have a thousands of Muslim citizens of Western democracies take off to join savage jihadi armies? It’s the fault of Western racism and Islamophobia.

Of course, this is merely the adoption by Westerners of the logic of the very Arab world Hashem is criticizing: if attractive women make testosteronic men horny, then cover the woman, don’t tell the men to learn self control. News headlines regularly adopt this principle of not attributing agency to Arabs, especially in describing the conflict of Israel with her neighbors: Stones pelt Israelis; Israelis shoot Palestinians.

The article in which I said that the ailing Arab body politic had created the ISIS cancer, and subsequent article published in Politico Magazine generated huge response and sparked debates on Twitter and the blogosphere.

The overwhelming response was positive, even though my analysis of Arab reality was bleak and my prognosis of the immediate future was negative. Yet, these articles were not call for despair, far from it; they are acris de Coeur for Arabs, particularly intellectuals, activists and opinion makers, to first recognize that they are in the main responsible for their tragic conditions, that they have to own their problems before they rely on their human agency to make the painful decisions needed to transcend their predicament.

Sweden’s Image as Moral Superpower: Studies in Suicidal Moral Narcissism

In an article about the many problems of “Sweden’s ugly immigration problem,” Margaret Wente writes:

Sweden’s generous immigration policies are essential to the image of a country that (like Canada) prides itself as a moral superpower.

Note the role of “image” and “pride” in the choice of policies. In order to parade on the global scene as a “moral superpower,” Sweden adopts policies it can’t sustain, indeed that threaten the fabric of their extraordinary civil society.

I suspect that a fair amount of the secular supersessionism that motivates much “leftist” anti-Zionism, and that finds so nurturing environment in Scandinavia, can be located in this suicidal sense of being the cutting edge of the global community. “We are good because we’re so open and empathic and generous. You Israelis are bad because you’re mean to the poor Palestinians. QED we’re morally superior.”

Congrats on your self-coronation. How’s that going? Painted cakes do not satisfy, though sometimes they can poison.

Yael Lavie Interviews Tuvia Tenenbom on B’tselem’s Holocaust-Denying “Top” Researcher

I’m preparing a post on an interview with Tuvia Tenenbom by I24 reporter Yael Lavie that took place October 8, 2014. Even though it’s old, it illustrates a key dimension of the cogwar against Israel and how even Israeli journalists participate. Below, for further reference, is a transcript of the interview with some brief notes (h/t Sarah Chin).

I welcome any further information or thoughts on what I think is a transcript immensely revealing of current Israeli journalism’s dysfunctions.

Reporter: Welcome back, it is still Wednesday October 8, 2014, this is still the morning edition on i24, where you should be and I am still Yael Lavie last I checked, thank you for staying with us and onto our next topic. Now our next story combines 2 of the core narratives of Israel and the Jewish people, the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As research for his new book, Catch a Jew, author and German journalist Tuvia Tenenbom interviewed Attaf abu a-Rub, field researcher for Israeli human rights NGO B’tselem.  Abu a-Rub has denied the Holocaust. First let’s take this, let’s take a look at this controversial bit and then meet the author himself.

[Clip showing Arab interviewees denying holocaust]

Reporter: Tuvia Tenenbom is with us in studio, first of all thank you so much for joining us.

Tenenbom: thank you for having me, morning

Reporter: Good morning good morning to you, first of all I have a question to you. You actually walk around the West Bank you know and you speak to Palestinians, but yknow the man you spoke with, the B’tselem volunteer [sic] did not know what you were really doing there right?

the implication here is that the revelation is illegitimate because Nutch-al-Rub doesn’t know that it will be reported because Tenenbom is “on the other side.”

Tenenbom: all he knows is this, I was working on this book, that came out in Israel now,

Reporter: To Catch a Jew

Tenenbom: To Catch a Jew, tfoos haeyhudi which means to catch a Jew, and I asked B’tselem at the time if they can, I said I wanted to see as they do an operation from beginning all the way to the end, as they do research, as they collect data and all that stuff. And I spoke to Sarit Michaeli who is the spokesperson of…

Reporter: right

Tenenbom: (continuing) of Btselem and Sarit said to me she’s gonna give me the best, her top researcher and his name is Attif,

Reporter: ok

Tenenbom: I went to meet Attif, we went to Jenin, and we drove to Jordan valley, and then we met people and then he says what he says, he says a lot of things, this is one of them, you know for example if we are to

interruption here at point where more of Attif’s problematic attitudes were about to come out.

Reporter: what did you say to Sarit Michaeli and B’tselem people when you said that you want to join them from the beginning, that you were doing this what for? Did you explain what…

Sorry TT interrupts here, but she was about to accuse him of illegitimately failing to inform B’tselem that he was not sympathetic to them. Implication of such an accusation: B’tselem has a right to keep secrets from the public. Enderlin took precisely the same approach with his tapes of Talal.

Tenenbom: I explained everything, I said I am writing for the German media, I am writing for a paper called Die Zeit, I am writing and the purpose of this one is I’m writing a book for the publishing company in Germany called Suhrkamp, it’s one of the best in Germany and I’m writing about the issues here and I would like to meet and I would like to see, everybody knows B’tselem, I would like to see how it happens

Reporter: but when you set out to start writing the book the premise was actually, that the Palestinian people are anti-Semitic, that was your premise to begin with

in other words you found what you were looking for?

Tenenbom: never ever, this is one of the lies that you have all over, never ever. Actually when I came here

here’s a clash of narratives. YL is here articulating the “word” from the “left” aimed at discrediting the contents of TT’s book. TT’s response – lies – is a sign of how widespread the campaign. whether it’s lies or just misinformation, conjecture presented as facts, is another matter.

Reporter: it’s not the lies, I mean I’m asking you straightforward

protect the conjecture.

Tenenbom: I did not come here because you know I’ve seen it somewhere, I did not come here with any agenda, political, I didn’t even know where I’m going. My commission was, the basic idea was go to Israel because I did already a book a year before that yknow..

Reporter: called?

Tenenbom: I slept in Hitler’s room, says name in Hebrew, I don’t have it here,

Reporter: but that was also…

Tenenbom: it was the same thing, you go to Germany, for 6 months, talk to people and then come up with what it is, what I found out was…

Reporter: the premise of that book was also about anti-Semitism..

Tenenbom: it came out that to be antisemitism, but this was not the idea before,

Reporter: mmm hhhmm

Tenenbom: when I started the subject you have to understand, first of all the two books, were not my ideas. It’s not like I had a guide, a reason, I was chasing something I tried to find something out, no, in both cases there were German companies, publishers, who asked me to do it because they read my articles in Zeit,

Reporter: there’s something you know, the German um uh the German you know editors ask you to write the book, there’s so many things I can say about that

as an interviewer shouldn’t it be “i could ask about that”? Instead, she’s out for bear and passing up moose.

but here’s my question to you, you know you though and I’m just wondering you claim actually your claim is that the Palestinian people are, what, are anti-Semitic?

has she read the book? I think not. Framing telling: are they or aren’t they anti-semitic? a frame only someone in denial might make. Real question based on extensive evidence: how far has the officially sanctioned anti-semitism permeated the society… an answer TT is far more empirically equipped to answer than YL.

Tenenbom: this is not what I claim, this is not this is not what the book is about, the book is about what happens here. One of the things that happens here what the book is exposing is

Reporter: yes

Tenenbom: is things I did not know when I started it, what the book is exposing is there are 1000s upon 1000s and millions upon millions of euros invested by Europeans. I thought when I came here there were two people here, the Arabs and the Jews, and this is the conflict between them, during my travels here, and you have to understand, 7 days a week 14 hours a day,

Reporter: no I understand but (unintelligible)

Tenenbom: everywhere I go I see especially in the Palestinian areas you know I see European NGOs, operating NGOs, and Israeli NGOs FINANCED by Europeans, and some Americans but mostly Europeans, some of it by European governments for the most part

Reporter: I get but the NGO thought Btselem that you interviewed, Btselem had a response, I’m gonna read it out to you:

Btselem Response

this is an interesting moment, since the statement essentially acknowledges the seriousness of the allegation and promises to investigate. Strangely YL doesn’t read the part of the statement that includes B’tselem’s firing of Abu-a-Rub for both saying it, and lying about it. 

Reporter: I mean what is your claim then about Btselem, that one guy, one of their researchers, yknow which by the way a Holocaust Denier, I feel again, I can say this, I come from a family of Holocaust victims, of you know most of, I’m a German Jew, most of my family perished in the holocaust, you know that guy, really doesn’t is not gonna take away anything of my existence, I have to say and I don’t think it projects on the organization itself….

Possibly the most astonishing statement in the interview. Would her ancestors who died in the H agree with her dismissal of the significance of TT’s identifying a denier of the Holocaust. 

The man is a major conduit of information about the behavior of Israelis and the suffering of Palestinians on the West Bank, and his denial of the Holocaust (ie his inability to analyze evidence) doesn’t matter? and shouldn’t reflect on B’tselem? Even B’tselem disagreed.

Tenenbom: no no no this is where you are wrong, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, most Palestinians think there was no Holocaust, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, Attaf is entitled, entitled to his opinion, and I don’t care what Attaf thinks…

interrupts.

Reporter: and many Israelis don’t think there was ever a Palestine or there should be a Palestine…

?!!! comparing denying there ever was a [presumably Arab] Palestine – there never was – or there should be a Palestine – political position – to Holocaust denial. Every side has their “narrative”, same-same, he-said-she-said. YL’s comment reveals a massive disorder in the ability to handle empirical information.

Tenenbom: but..let’s not mix the issues here, I don’t care what Attaf thinks, he’s entitled to his opinion, he’s a nice guy, what I care about, is a (Hebrew) he’s a researcher for Btselem, he’s the guy who’s supposed to come out

Reporter: a researcher for B’tselem is someone who walks around, who walks around with a camera (Tenenbom trying to speak)

Tenenbom: all what B’tselem is what is B’tselem, they have 11 researchers, what is the big issue with B’tselem, they have 11 researchers, all of them Palestinians, ok, all the names you have around it, its nothing to do

in other words, just as happened at Netzarim junction on Sept. 30, 2000, no westerners, israelis are around to cover what goes on in B’tselem’s “information” (really “narrative” acquisition.

Reporter: because that is at the core what btselem does,…

Tenenbom: what I think now if you have a researcher who thinks that there was no holocaust, this is what his own research came up with, you know, how can you rely on other research that he says, when the first time that the clip came out, on channel 2 of Israel, btselem claimed that channel 2 added to the video, they claim that I am lying, that Btselem is lying, when the first time

interruption regularly when TT starts hitting hard.

Reporter: again I have to read I have to read the response they claim (Tenenbom trying to talk) that the btselem employee did in fact make the statement of his own volition

he lied. got caught when more tape made available.

Tenenbom: just a second, let me get there, when the Lech, the Facebook, by a woman named Milach, put the whole, video that you see here, the first response of Btselem was this proves…

Reporter: but you know what we are doing right now, we are doing the same thing that yknow that maybe I think people that have an axe to grind (Tenenbom goes to speak, points finger in his face) let me finish, you know are doing, let’s say you know he’s a holocaust denier this this and that, what does it help, seriously, what does it help, you know, in the agenda of trying to progress a peace process because this is now a battle between you and an NGO, I don’t think he necessarily represents all of the Palestinian people

complete loss of any pretension to be a journalist. and here we see the real framework in which TT’s evidence is ground to dust: what (do i, and my friends) think leads to peace, and what (do i etc) thinks will impede peace. B’tselem, against settlements for peace. You battle B’tselem. Your evidence means nothing in the bigger picture, it doesn’t “represent all of the Palestinian people.”

Tenenbom: this is not a battle between me and an NGO, these are the facts, they know, they denied it, they denied and denied and denied, and after Haaretz said this is what he said, you know they came out, B’tselem finally said

Reporter: but what does it mean, what do you think it means?

Tenenbom: what it means is that they employ people who hate the Jews, who thinks of the Jews…

Reporter: you know there are Israelis who hate Arabs as well

another interruption just as he gets to the point YL has been trying to undermine.

Tenenbom: no of course but you know what, if they had an attack on Iran, and a researcher, a researcher who said that all the Arabs are bad people, or something like that there is no Palestine, never was, B’tselem would have fired that guy or that lady in a second

Reporter: no but the thing is…

Tenenbom: it shows you the mindset of Btselem, you have a mindset and this is what I find, not just B’tselem, I find Shalom Achshav, peace now, I find it in many other left-wing organizations,

Reporter: (trying to interrupt) but that’s because they oppose you opinions,

in other words, whatever you say about the left is just because they don’t share your opinion. hermeneutic seal.

Tenenbom: they are so much with self-haters

Reporter: but to call people whose opinions differ from you that they are self-hating Jews is somewhat doing the same thing as denying their opinion or denying any…

master of narrative relativism. anything but consider the problem TT’s pointing to, which is the zealous masochism of some Israelis leads them to poison the world they think they’re helping.

Tenenbom: they are, everybody is entitled to their opinions, I’m not saying they are not entitled to their opinion, they are entitled to their opinions

Reporter: but they are self-hating Jews

Tenenbom: they are self-hating Jews, if they have the facts, look if you employ these people, and you call them researcher you have a problem with this, and again I have no problem with Attaf, I have no problem with Tamar who goes around paid by the EU, paid by the EU, goes around to….

Reporter: I’m going to stop you right there only because we have a completely different segment coming up. And again I’m glad you joined me because I respect your opinion

not.

Tenenbom: thank you very much and I respect yours

Reporter: even though I might be a self-hating Jew

Tenenbom: no you are nice person

Reporter: thank you, ok we’ll be moving on

Tenenbom: thank you

Question about European Supersessionist Anti-Zionism

What does it mean that Western Europeans are the people with the least affiliation with Christianity, and yet, outside the Muslim world, express the most pervasive supersessionist hostility towards sovereign Jews? Secular, progressive supersessionism?

 

Rousseau explains the 21st Century Hysteria about Israel

In the mid-18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, then one of the more radical thinkers of the enlightenment, made the following argument about Jews and their opinions. (HT/AP)

If someone dared to publish among us books that openly favored Judaism, we would punish the author, the publisher, the book dealer. That arrangement is a convenient and sure way to always be right. There is a pleasure in refuting people who do not dare speak… [When] conversing with Jews… The unfortunates feel themselves at our mercy. The tyranny practiced against them makes them fearful… I will never believe that I have rightly heard the Jews’ reasoning as long as they do not have a free state, schools, universities where they might speak and argue without risk. (Emile, Book IV, 618-20).

[See also essay by Elliott Green, “Reason, Science and Progress: Modern Pretexts for Judeophobia, Left & Right,” Nativ, 10 (June 2007)]

The reason why Jews were “at the mercy” of their monotheistic dependents (Christianity and Islam) for so many centuries was because of the profoundly immature and insecure doctrine of supersessionism, the Oedipal, zero-sum claim that the offspring monotheistic faiths were so superior to their parent(s), that they replaced, erased them in God’s singular affections. Christianity was the “New Israel” and the Jews were cast out; Islam was the true religion and Judaism and Christianity were inferior. In order to make such a remarkable, unnecessary, and mean-spirited claim, they had to make sure that the predecessor monotheism was publicly humiliated, visibly put down. (Hence Rousseau’s comment on the “pleasure of refuting people who dare not speak.”)

Radical Thoughts on Fighting BDS

I was just on a panel at the IDC Herzliya Conference about BDS and Europe. [My remarks made to the panel treated BDS as a cogwar campaign to destroy Israel, one of the most coveted desires of the apocalyptic millennial set (and many other Arabs and Muslims, alas).]

This is the second such discussion I’ve been in (the previous one, on Wednesday past is here in French), and below are some of the thoughts they both have inspired.

If Others Think It’s Our Fault, It Is.

People who identify themselves as “left” consistently pooh-pooh the problem on the one hand, and then turn around to say, “and if we [Israel] weren’t so bad, if our behavior didn’t seem so close to South African apartheid, then we wouldn’t be having these problems.” So on the one hand, “it’s not a big deal,” and on the other hand, “it’s our fault.”

Of course what they mean by “our fault,” is not their fault, but the “right’s” fault – Bibi, Hotovely, Bennett, the settlements, the occupation, and any other Israeli action that provokes anger among outsiders, whether they be Arab or Western. “As long as the ‘right’ keeps talking and acting the way it does, it’s impossible to win the fight against BDS. If we uprooted the settlements, then the BDS advocates wouldn’t find so sympathetic an audience.” To paraphrase Roland Freudenstein, a foreign panelist, most sympathetic to Israel, “explain and defend everything you do, including the wall, including the occupation. But building settlements?!? Seriously, Settlements?!”

As for disagreements with figures like Obama and Kerry, their perception, even if false, trumps our sense of reality. One Israeli panelist at the IDC actually dismissed the Levy Commission’s ruling on the legality of the settlements, by invoking Ban Ki Moon, “certainly no anti-Semite” (and also, no lawyer). The invocation of Moon was not about legal reasoning, but about international perception. If that’s the way the world thinks, don’t fight it. If the world sees the settlements as an illegal move that prevents peace, then it’s up to Israel to bend. As one of my (former) colleagues once said to me during the early years of the intifada, “I support Israel, but Sharon! ShaRON!.”

The situation, as I see it, is the opposite. It’s not the right that’s responsible for the loss to BDS, but the progressive left, which should have won this particular battle against the demonization of Israel handily. Indeed, the attitude of submission that it argues we Israelis should take – if the “vast majority” (apparently a favorite meme in more than one place) believes we shouldn’t have settlements, then so be it – is the reason why progressives have folded in the face of aggressive Islamist demands. 

Richard Landes, “Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel” March 30, 2015

Richard Landes,“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel…” from ISGAP on Vimeo.

Seminar Series:
Antisemitism in Comparative Perspective

“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel as the 21st Century Antichrist”

Richard Landes
Department of History,
Boston University

Monday, March 30, 2015, 5:30PM
ISGAP Center, 3rd Floor

The “New” 21st Century Anti-Semitism: A Brief Bibliography

I list here all the earliest works that identified a new wave of Western Anti-Semitic sentiments that literally exploded on the scene in the wake of the reporting on the Second Intifada (aka Al Aqsa Intifada, the Oslo Jihad) in October 2000. If anyone has others to suggest, please recommend them.

Shmuel Trigano, ed., Observatoire du Monde Juif (November 2000-2004)

Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle judéophobie (Mille et une nuits, Paris, January 2002); English tr. Rising From the Muck: The New Anti-Semitism in Europe (Ivan R. Dee, NY, 2004).

Emmanuel Brenner et al., Les territoires perdus de la République: antisémitisme, racisme et sexisme en milieu scolaire (Mille et une nuits, Paris, 2002; English: The Lost Territories of the Republic (American Jewish Committee, New York, 2006).

Phyllis Chesler, The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It (Jossey Bass, NY, July 2003, revised edition, Gefen, Jerusalem, 2015)

Manfred Gerstenfeld, Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem, 2003)

A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain, ed. Iganski and Kosmin (Profile Books, London, 2003);

Gabriel Schonfeld, The Return of Antisemitism (Encounter Books, NY 2004);

Paul Giniewski, Antisionisme: le nouvel antisémitisme (Cheminements, Angers, 2005)

Fiamma Nierenstein, Terror: The New Anti-Semitism and the War against the West (Smith and Kraus, Hanover NH, 2005

Old Demons, New Debates: Anti-Semitism in the West, ed. David Kerzer (Holmes and Meier, Teaneck NJ, 2005).