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:

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.


Anonymous said...

Michael Oren>>>>>>New historians.

Iron Walls

Because we all know that the reason that there's less terror attacks is because Hamas said they had stopped(sarcasm)


They start a war and lose. We won. They should get over it.

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.

This has nothing to do with pride and everything to do with Justice.

You should read this if you havnt^ and its not just those 2 morons that distort what Morris writes, virtually every new historian(finkelstein, segev) distorts what he writes. They have succeeded in brainwashing you.

you know Jews have had it so good in the diaspra these last 2000 years....oh wait.

Religious anti-semetism- racial anti-semetism- anti-zionism

This will be my last post. Because of your distorted view of 1948 you excuse EVERYTHING the palestinians have done wrong.

And for the last time: You assume that the Palestinas are acting like any other group would if they were in the same situation. Open a history book and be amazed.

Your blog is degenerating into yet anouther anti-Israel blog with no arguements to support your views.


Jerry Haber said...

Gbachrach, I think mashiah is around the corner. He must be when a right winger like yourself starts defending Benny Morris against the new historians! Ephraim Karsh must go nuts when he reads your comments.

So when did Morris become mainstream? I suggest after the Ari Shavit interview, where he bemoaned the fact that Ben-Gurion did not do a better job of ethnic cleansing. That caught the rightwing with its pants down. I mean, up until then, they were denying that Ben Gurion and Co did any ethnic cleansing. You won't see Ruth Wisse quoting Benny Morris on that, will you?

But there is another phenonemon, one that links Amos Schocken of Haaretz to Benny Morris to Tom Segev and, for that matter, to Jeff Weinblatt, whose blog you cited (from over a year ago!) And that is the hey-I-can-criticize-Israel-because-I-am-a-member-of-the-tribe-but-you-can't-because-you-are-not phenomenon. That allows Schocken to treat CAMERA like dirt, Morris to dump on two goyim like Walt and Mearheimer, Tom Segev to put down American Jewry, and Jeff Weinblatt (who is very bright and a worthy ideological opponent, but a tribalist at heart) to cite Morris.

Why should the Palestinians get over a war they lost, but the Jews and the world shouldn't get over the Holocaust.

And the Palestinians did not start the war, my friend. The Zionists did, when they declared their intention at the first Zionist conference to found a state in Palestine. Every Zionist, at least from the time of the Arab resistance in the 20s, knew that there would be a war -- that is why they prepared for it. Since you like Benny Morris, you seem to agree.

One thing about suicide bombing. There is no evidence that a single suicide bombing has been stopped because of the Wall. Don't commit the "post quid ergo propter quid" fallacy.

So why have there been less suicide bombings? Well, for several reasons: a) the Palestinians didn't see anything good coming from it -- it just gave Israel an excuse to take more of their land; b) Israeli intelligence has done a bang-up job of using Arab collaborators and infiltrating resistance cells c) Hamas has decided, for its own strategic reasons, to hold back.

But as anybody can tell you, many Palestinians go through the wall everyday to work in Israel.

As I have said repeatedly, the purpose of the Wall is not to reduce suicide bombing -- if it were, then it would be on the Israel's border -- but to steal more Palestinian land.

Gbachrach, let's face it -- the Palestinians are not going to "get over it." The Zionist fantasy has always been that the Arabs will some day accept them -- and until then there will an Iron Wall. Well, now there is an Iron Wall -- and you think it reduces terrorism. Fine -- but ask yourself this. How much "anti-Israel" sentiment was there in Israel and the West thirty years ago -- and how much is there today. What is changing here? OK, so maybe I have been brainwashed. But forty years ago you had George Ball and Paul Findlay. And nobody listened to them. Forty years ago you had Breirah, and nobody listened to them. Thirty years ago there were no Israeli human rights groups like BTselem, Mahsom Watch, Taayush, ICAHD, Women in Black, Gush Shalom, Shovrim Shtikah, Combattants for Peace, Yesh Gvul, Ometz le-Sarev, and these are just the ones I can think of...

What are you going to when the strongest criticism of Israel comes not from Arabs, not from antisemites, but from Haaretz, Israel's most widely-read paper outside of Israel. Did this ever happen before. Granted, Israel has imported a lot of Russian nationalists to make sure that there will be a constant flow of ethnic nationalists without liberal traditions. But how long will this go on?

Well, anyway, you get a yashar koah for hanging here as long as you have. If you have been here so far, you must have a few hirhure kefirah, though you will never admit it on the blog...

So at least take care of yourself, and stay in the US, where, as a Jew, you have a better chance of survival than in Israel.


Jerry Haber said...

In rereading what I had written to gbachrach, I gave the impression that there were no human rights movements in Israel 30 years ago, which is obviously false. There were movements before and after the founding of the State that fought against the Zionists and then the Israel goverment in the name of justice, peace, and human rights. We Johnny-come-lately's would do well to honor the memory of those groups, and their courage.

Anonymous said...

I'm usually a pessimist - more than Phil Weiss whose optimism sometimes seems to defy logic. But your post here put tears in my eyes. Yes, things are dire, but you're right, we (if I may presume a "we") should also remember those reasons why history is not entirely a rout of justice by injustice.

Peter H said...

In their response to their critics, Walt & Mearsheimer incude a long section on Benny Morris's critique (p. 25-43). Basically, they point out that Morris's attack on M/W completely contradicts his own writing:

"Much of what Morris says about partition in the New Republic is at odds with his extensive prior writings as well as the work of numerous other first-rate scholars who have written on the matter. Morris is certainly free to disagree with us today, but only by repudiating his prior scholarship."

By the way, Walt & Mearsheimer wrote their response in December 2006, but for some reason they waited until their book was released in September 2007 to make the response public.

Point of correction: It's Jeff Weintraub, not Weinblatt.

Jerry Haber said...

Thanks. Like many others I have not read or bought the book version of Israel Lobby because I read the original versions, and, of course, that does a disservice to the authors.

And, indeed, it is Weintraub, and I apologize to Jeff for my typing. You may want to send the W and M business to him, but he may have written something already on it.

Shabbat Shalom