Wisse should ask why no Israelis are writing Hebrew versions of "Jews and Power," and why there is no public in the Jewish state for such books. Or why nobody in Israel under the age of sixty writes the history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict the way she does, unless associated with Shalem Center or Bar Ilan.So my question here is: is this indeed a generation thing? Are we looking at a generation of American and Canadian Jewish intellectuals, who, picked on when they were brainy little Jewish kids in their public school in the forties and fifties, not cool because they were Jewish, with lingering guilt over their inability to connect unselfconsciously to their Judaism, as had their parent's generation, bought into the Zionist mythology, appropriated Black victimology, and used their often considerable talents of writing, to fight back against the antisemites and the self-hating Jewish liberals --only to find themselves embraced by Christian evangelicals, shunned by respectable intellectuals, banished to a Commentary ghetto, and belittled by the Israeli establishment? Has the danger passed? Part of me says yes. Part of me says that there is just no continuation of the Podhoretz-Ozick-Wisse-Foxman-Klein-Levin generation. Even the rightwingers coming up in the ranks (I see them at ZOA meetings at Hillel) cannot use the same slogans and cling to the same myths as the older group. Ruth Wisse can barely use the term "Palestinian". This indeed is a generational thing. But let's not be too happy too soon. I fratelli Hazony, David and Yoram, Michael Oren, and a whole bunch of AIPAC youngsters, are still there. The profile has changed -- most of the rightwingers are now products of modern orthodox day schools -- and the talk is now less of "Arabs" than of "radical Islam". There is less idealization of Israel, but just as much demonization of the Arabs (though not of the Palestinians, who are considered whiners and schlemiels, terrorists who can't bomb straight.) More Jewish rightwingers are studying Arabic, and Middle East Studies after 9/11 -- and they are not doing it out of a desire to learn the history of Islam, either They are doing it because of the influence of Lewis, Pipes, Oren, et al., the "Clash-of-Civilization" thang, and the desire to protect the interests of Israel, the US, and the Republican party (no need to assign priority; they are all the same interests) But why stop there? As readers of this blog know, I am not much happier about the "leftwing" of the Israel lobby, neither the think-tanks like the Brookings Institutions' Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, nor the liberal columnists like Tom Friedman and Richard Cohen, nor Democrats like Hilary Clinton (who was recently, and not surprisingly, endorsed by Charles Krauthammer as the "least objectionable of the Democratic candidates", or words to that effect). In short, one generation comes, the other generation goes --to paraphrase Yizhak Shamir -- it is the same sea and the same Jews. Yes, Walt and Mearsheimer's book is a best-seller, but so is Podhoretz's book (I forget the title -- something like, "How To Start A World War By Bombing Iran," if I am not mistaken) -- and this, even after the ongoing debacle in Iraq, for which Podheretz and Co. should take some responsibility. I would like to think that things are changing, but I see no light at the end of the tunnel, except for... Except for the resistance to the Occupation going on in Israel, and supported by people of good will everywhere. Except for the Human Rights organizations that are recording the daily violations of Palestinian life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Except for the Israelis and Palestinians, and their supporters, who fight injustice within Israel and the Occupied Territories. Except for the Palestinians, the children and grandchildren of the Nakbah survivors, who are able, despite all odds, to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, film-makers, and then to become articulate spokespeople for their people. And we will be seeing more of them. Except for the Palestinians who will not leave their land, who cling to it, and who continue to embrace its life. And except for the Israelis, who, willy-nilly, will have to learn to live with the inhabitants of the land and their descendants. Perhaps it will take generations, but the time will come. If Iron Curtains can fall, then so can Iron Walls. And, finally, except for those Jews who have resisted the temptation to become nationalist Zealots, who do not hold up Simeon and Levi as role-models, who do not forget that according to traditional Judaism, "pride" is a sin and "Jewish pride" an oxymoron.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Are There Any Grounds For Optimism?
Phil Weiss wrote some amusing posts about the CAMERA conference ("Israel's Jewish Defamers"!) in New York City, which he actually plunked down $40 to attend. According to his report, the atmosphere was heavy with the sort of pessimism that one associates with the Jewish neocons, who believe that Israel, that "tiny beacon of western democracy," cannot survive for long in a hostile desert of Arab Islamofascists plotting the next Holocaust, with the help of their unwitting dupes, the self-hating liberal Jews, and the leftwing antisemites, a.k.a, the anti-Zionists. Phil was heartened by the fact that the average age of the attendees was around 62. In fact, he was so encouraged that he writes, "The CAMERA people are losing and they know it." In my own mean-spirited review of Ruth Wisse's book (which I also posted on the Amazon website) I wrote: