Monday, April 9, 2018

Antisemitism and Israel

Imagine all that is going on around you, all those struggles
Picturing them just like historical incidents
For this is how you should go on to portray them on the stage:
The fight for a job, sweet and bitter conversations
Between the man and his woman, arguments about books
Resignation and revolt, attempt and failure
All these you will go on to portray as historical incidents.
(Even what is happening here, at this moment, with us, is something you
Can regard as a picture in this way)
-Bertolt Brecht, "Speech to Danish working-class actors on the art of observation"


Slavoj Zizek, "We need to examine the reasons why we equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism"
When approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one should stick to ruthless and cold standards, suspending the urge to try to 'understand' the situation

The ongoing attacks on the Labour Party for the alleged antisemitism of some of its prominent members is not only extremely biased and in the long term, it also obfuscates the true danger of antisemitism today.

Such a danger was perfectly illustrated by a caricature published back in July 2008 in the Viennese daily Die Presse: two stocky Nazi-looking Austrians sit at a table, and one of them holding in his hands a newspaper and commenting to his friend: “Here you can see again how a totally justified antisemitism is being misused for a cheap critique of Israel!”

This joke turns around the standard argument against critics of the policies of the state of Israel: like every other state, Israel can and should be judged and eventually criticised, but some critics of Israel misuse the justified critique of Israeli policy for antisemitic purposes. When today’s Christian fundamentalist supporters of Israeli politics reject leftist critiques of Israeli policies, is their implicit line of argument not uncannily close to the caricature from Die Presse?

What this means is that, when approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one should stick to ruthless and cold standards, suspending the urge to try to “understand” the situation: one should unconditionally resist the temptation to “understand” the Arab antisemitism (where we really do encounter it) as a “natural” reaction to the sad plight of the Palestinians, or to “understand” the Israeli measures as a “natural” reaction against the background of the memory of the holocaust.

There should be no “understanding” for the fact that, in many, if not most, of the Arab countries, from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Hitler is still considered a hero, the fact that, in the primary school textbooks, all the traditional antisemitic myths, from the notoriously antisemitic (and forged) book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the claims that Jews use the blood of Christian (or Arab) children for sacrificial purposes, are attributed to them.
To claim that this antisemitism articulates in a displaced mode the resistance against capitalism in no way justifies it, and the same goes for the Nazi antisemitism: it also drew its energy from the anti-capitalist resistance. Displacement is not here a secondary operation, but the fundamental gesture of ideological mystification.

So we should not interpret or judge singular acts together, we should excise them from their historical texture: the present actions of the Israeli Defense Forces on the West Bank should not be judged against the background of the holocaust. The fact that many Arabs celebrate Hitler or that synagogues are desecrated in France and elsewhere in Europe should not be judged as an inappropriate, but understandable, reaction to what Israelis are doing in the West Bank.

When any public protest against the Israel Defense Forces activities in the West Bank is flatly denounced as an expression of antisemitism, and – implicitly, at least – put in the same line with the defenders of the Holocaust, that is to say, when the shadow of the Holocaust is permanently evoked in order to neutralise any criticism of Israeli military and political operations, it is not enough to insist on the difference between antisemitism and the critique of particular measures of the State of Israel – one should go a step further and claim that it is the state of Israel which, in this case, is desecrating the memory of the Holocaust victims, ruthlessly manipulating them, instrumentalising them into a means to legitimise present political measures.

What this means is that one should flatly reject the very notion of any logical or political link between the Holocaust and the present Israeli-Palestinian tensions. These are two thoroughly different phenomena: the one part of the European history of rightist resistance to the dynamics of modernisation, the other one of the last chapters in the history of colonisation.

On the other hand, the difficult task for the Palestinians is to accept that their true enemy is not the Jewish people but the Arab regimes themselves which manipulate their plight in order, precisely, to prevent this shift – the political radicalisation in their own midst.

Part of today’s situation in Europe effectively is the growth of antisemitism. In Malmo, Sweden, the aggressive Muslim minority harasses Jews so that they are afraid to walk in the streets in their traditional dress. Such phenomena should be clearly and unambiguously condemned: the struggle against antisemitism and the struggle against Islamophobia should be viewed as two aspects of the same struggle. Far from standing for a utopian position, this necessity of a common struggle is grounded in the very fact of the far-reaching consequences of extreme suffering. In a memorable passage in Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered, Ruth Klüger describes a conversation with “some advanced PhD candidates” in Germany:
“One reports how in Jerusalem he made the acquaintance of an old Hungarian Jew who was a survivor of Auschwitz, and yet this man cursed the Arabs and held them all in contempt. ‘How can someone who comes from Auschwitz talk like that,’ the German asks. I get into the act and argue, perhaps more hotly than need be. What did he expect? Auschwitz was no instructional institution [...] You learned nothing there, and least of all humanity and tolerance. ‘Absolutely nothing good came out of the concentration camps,’ I hear myself saying, with my voice rising, and he expects catharsis, purgation, the sort of thing you go to the theatre for? They were the most useless, pointless establishments imaginable.”
In short, the extreme horror of Auschwitz did not make it into a place which intrinsically purifies every single one of its surviving victims into ethically sensitive subjects who got rid of all petty egotistic interests.

The lesson to be drawn here is a very sad one: we have to abandon the idea that there is something emancipatory in extreme experiences, that they enable us to clear the mess and open our eyes to the ultimate truth of a situation. Or, as Arthur Koestler, the great anti-Communist convert, put it concisely: “If power corrupts, the reverse is also true; persecution corrupts the victims, though perhaps in subtler and more tragic ways.”


FreeThinke said...

Does it never ever–– EVER –– occur to anyone that the reason the Jews have been –– and still are –– almost universally despised and rejected could be the simple fact that they ARE –– as a people –– quite HATEFUL?

Of course it does, but the TABOO against expressing even the SLIGHTEST negative opinion about the Jews –– or even a positive one about their salient characeristics and identity as group –– is SO strong that most have been cowed by the threat of ostracism –– and even incarceration –– into maintaining grim, tight-lipped, stony silence, while they quietly seethe inside.

Thus once again "Conscience Makes Cowards of Us All."

Thersites said...

What do you find hateful in them, FT? I have some Jewish friends, and I don't perceive any hate from them. Am I missing something?

FreeThinke said...

I too have been blest to have Jewish friends and rewarding professional relationships with Jews. I have felt deep affection and admiration for these people in tsome of the INDIVIDUAL relationships I have enjoyed with them. I shall always be grateful to have known them.

HOWEVER, –– as an Ethnic GROUP –– the following characteristics emerge and tend to dominate the way Jews, as a unique entity, act and interact with the rest of the world.



Exaggerated sense of Self-Importance.

A Desire Always to Dominate.


Overly competitive.

Unduly challenging.

An ever present Demand for Special Treatment .

Over-eagerness to GIVE, but never to ACCEPT advice or criticism.

Ruthless in business dealings.

Statements like the following almost invariably come out in social relations with Jews:

"You know what you need to do ..."

"Let me tell you something about yourself I bet you don't know ...

"SO your daughter just had TWINS? Well, let me tell you MY GRAND daughter just had QUADRUPLETS!"

"Did you know HER son flunked out out of college halfway through his freshman year? MY son got all A's and made the Dean's List."

After a while it gets really OLD.

FreeThinke said...

I think it's the total lack of MODESTY and unabashed AGGRESSIVENESS that rubs most peope the wrong way.

FreeThinke said...

And I'm sorry but I don't think I will ever be able to forgive the ruinous effects of fervid DISLOYALTY to our country the overt Marxists such as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the crypto-Marxists (academics, lawyers, Judges, publishers, et al) and the Cultural Marxists (poisonous philosphers of the Frankfurt School and their demented disciples) –– the greatest percentage of whom were Jews bent on INFILTRATING, DOMINATING, UNDERMINING and DESTROYING OUR culture probably out of residual hatred for the way Jews were treated historically in Mediaeval Europe. Their absolute contempt for Jesus Christ and Christianity is well documented in the Talmud –– or so I've been told.

Their rabid determnation NOT to ASSIMILATE is probably the Root Cause of most of the Anti-Semitism they rightly fear. In this regard i think it fair to say the Jews are their own worst enemy.

FreeThinke said...

I forgot to mention


Cynical detachment

Hasty Retreat to Cowering VICTIM Status when faced with their own wrongdoing.

Aggressiveness combined with Self-Pity is a most unattractive amalgam.

Piteous cries of ANTI-SEMITISM! ring thriugh the air if you dare to fight back when they attack you.

Thersites said...

In other words, far too human. ;)

FreeThinke said...

You asked for my opinion. I gave it. What others may make of it is their business, but I am not alone in what I have seen and experienced for myself. I was never "taught" to feel as i do. It was born of long experience.

If their distingishing characteristics really were "all too human," it wouldn't bother me, but my distinct impression is that The People Who Would Live Apart have misinterpreted their own history to the point where instead of woreshipping YAWEH," they have, instead spent thou[sands of years arguing AGAINST the Divine Precents that are supposed to be the foundation of their Faith and their very Identity as a people.

This has produced the dismal result that the Jews as a whole have largely abandoned GOD, and wound up worshipping THEMSELVES. Thus the ARROGANCE, CONCEIT and quintessential BOSSINESS I mentioned above.

But YES, thank you for saying it so simply and clearly: The Jews ARE "far too human." It's just too bad THEY don't begin to realize it.

Now, please consider this (I think obvious) point:


The needs and views of Jews
Are forever in the news,
While billions of the Red Chinese,
The Taiwanese and Japanese
The Lebanese and Portuguese
Are treated like so many fleas.

And Sub-Saharan Africans
And all the South Americans
And 20-million Mexicans.
Are treated like 
So many garbage cans ~

Why this should be so
No one's allowed to know,
And yet it may be why
The world is full of woe.

~ FreeThinke

Joe Conservative said...

They have an overabundance of wealth and influence, no doubt about it.

Jen said...

YES. And if we could turn such a critical eye on our own shortcomings, the world might be a better place. It's SO EASY and LAZY to constantly criticize others. FAR more difficult to examine oneself so meticulously..not to mention the amount of integrity it would require to do the work necessary to rise to such high standards.

Matthew 7:1-3 King James Version (KJV)
7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FreeThinke said...

We could just as easily turn those scriptural admonitions around and direct them at YOU, Ma'am, for daring to
pass judgment on ME for answering Farmer's question honestly.

Self-righteousness may turn out to be the greatest and most unpardonable sin of all.

How dare ANYONE presume to tell another whom he may or may not like or dislike?

I always liked YOU by the way, and thought the feeling was mutual, but then you withdrew from the blogosphere years ago and have made appearances at only the rarest intervals. I've often regretted your absence, but you do NOT know ME at all, and have NO IDEA what agonies of self-doubt and years of intense soul searching I have done to be able to achieve what i have today. Frankly I doubt you could ever meet a person more critical of himself than I have been over at least sx decades.

I just turned SEVENTY-SEVEN this very day, and feel that age should entitle me to be as frank and direct as I choose to be on issues that pertain to our fate as a nation and our character as a people.

Failure to understand the source and nature of the pressures brought to bear on us historically means we would have no hope ever of overcoming their deleterious effects.

Sunshine, as they say, really is the best disinfectant.

Jen said...

ah well, FT, none of us is perfect!
For instance, I knew in my bones that leaving a comment here today wasn't wise. Did I listen to myself? Noooo.

But hey, what's life but a repeating sequence of twenty-four hour increments in which to learn from one's mistakes. :-)

Happy Birthday!!!

p.s. don't worry about my absence from the blogosphere...I'm much more present, in reality. ;-)

FreeThinke said...

Not to worry. You had EVERY right to express YOUR feelings –– as I did mine, Jen.

I also "knew in my bones" that it would be "unwise" to respond to this post –– especially with the high degree of candor I showed,

For the record: I have no wish to HARM theJews, but I despise TABOOS of ANY kind, and I refuse to accept the notion that ANYONE should be held IMMUNE from CRITICAL ANALYSIS.

It bothers me a great deal that we are free to chastize, analyze, castigate, counsel, revile, defame, berate, vilify, excoriate, ostracize, repudiate and REJECT every sector of humanity, EXCEPT the JEWS.

This particular taboo I beieve is THE primary cause –– the ROOT –– of the Political Correctness choking the life out of society today.

Please remember that Our Lord, Jesus, did not hesitate to criticize the Estabishment of His day –– overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple, healing on the Sabbath, confronting the Scribes and Pharisees with their sad stiff-necked misinterpretations of the Word, etc, –– and for this He was turned over to the Roman Authorities to be CRUCIFIED.

Speaking Truth to Power –– to use the modern cliché –– always has been and always will be extremely dangerous.

In my admittedly not humble opinion, the Jews have accrued entirely too much power unto themseness. Their influence is so grotesquely disproprtionate to their meager numbers I find it not only bizarre but frankly disturbing –– even frightening.

We should never forget that POWER CORRUPTS.

NO ONE –– and no particular GROUP –– should .have more than their fair share of it. Or so I believe,

I wish you much succes and happiness in your persona journey through Reality, Jen. I do not worry about your absence from the blogosphere, but i hope it's all right for me to say I miss your presence here?

Jen said...

Of course it is. Thank you, FT.

Joe Conservative said...