Sunday, January 20, 2013

"If someone says we have to talk peace, he’s considered extreme left."

Israeli broadcaster Shlomi Eldar gave Ha'aretz an important interview, in which he talked about some things that Americans are not allowed to discuss:
A few days after the end of Operation Pillar of Defense, I gave a talk at a Herzliya high school. The children, who said they came from good homes, told me we have to kill all the Arabs, including the Israeli Arabs, because where do they get off thinking they will get control of the country. Their ideal is to go into the army and kill as many Arabs as possible. That’s one side of the picture, Israeli youth, the new generation, living in an atmosphere of demonizing the Palestinians − which is something the Israeli media are responsible for in no small measure. The other side of the picture is the young generation in Gaza, a child of five or nine. Let’s say he is not wounded, but a four-ton bomb landed next to his house. Do you know that in Operation Pillar of Defense, not one pane of glass remained intact in the whole of Gaza? It’s a tactic of creating sonic booms to frighten people without hurting them. A child who has a bomb like that land next to him can’t hear anything for the next three days. What does he think about the Jews afterward? And where will we end up, if this is how Jewish youngsters think about Arabs?

Nowhere good.

We are on a nothing-to-lose track. Which is why I say there is no future. When I told the high school class that we have to look at them as human beings, one boy jumped up and said, “Who do you vote for? You’re extreme left, no?” I replied, “It would surprise you to know who I vote for.” But that’s not the point. The point is that we in Israel have reached a situation in which if someone says we have to talk peace, he’s considered extreme left.
Lately, I've been reading the work of Gershom Scholem, the brilliant historian of Jewish mysticism. Born in Germany in 1897 to parents who were very assimilated Jews, young Gershom -- then called Gerhardt -- rebelled against his father by becoming an ardent Zionist at the age of 14. He signaled his conversion to Zionism by hanging a picture of Theodore Herzl on the family Christmas tree, an image which I find amusing.

His brothers also rebelled -- one by becoming a far right thug, the other by becoming a Marxist.

Scholem moved to the land now called Israel, where his academic pursuits gained him an international following. Despite his expertise in Kabbalah (and, as many now forget, Gnosticism), he never became an observant Jew and seems to have held no personal belief in the supernatural. His meticulous, logical approach to fundamentally irrational material may explain my interest in his work.

Professor Scholem always favored equal rights for the native Arabs. He always favored peace. If he were alive today, many in Israel would label him "extreme left."

I doubt that he would continue to live there. I doubt that he would consider Zionism a success.
Comments:
Thanks Shlomi Eldar for telling us to think of Arabs as human beings, even though, as we know, that's against the Jewish religion. He could ask himself the following question: what approach would he recommend to people of his own ethno-religious background if they were in such conditions as the Zionists force the Palestinian Arabs to live in? The answer is, of course, terrorism.

All serious armies inculcate mental illness in their soldiers - the classic description being breaking the personality down and then building it up again mechanically. This happens to an extreme in the Israeli armed forces, and as we know, Israeli culture is highly militaristic, meaning, the culture of the armed forces has a very strong influence in the rest of society. No need to belabour the point that the values of which he speaks are as sick and inhuman as fuck.

Eldar comes from a culture in which racism is so extremely prevalent that there is little or no room for even thinking 'what would we do, if we had people like us coming at us?' That is surely the reasonable way to think of the need to underline that Arabs should be thought of as human beings.

But is it Eldar's? I don't think so. He sounds as if he's saying we should treat our servants decently, or give the Indians decent reservations.

Also note that the English translation 'Pillar of Defence' is a fucking lie - it should be 'Pillar of Cloud'. Israeli nationalism, i.e. Zionism, has as a major reference the biblical shite about the Jews being the chosen people, regardless of whether the carrier for this obnoxious idea is 'atheist' or whatever. See also several other official names for Israeli military actions.

Did Scholem have any problem with the 1948 naqba? Or was he a 'binationalist', as I believe Chomsky was for a time?

I've encountered people who say 'we' all had a lot of time for Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, and then, oh dear, the brand later tarnished itself. I have no time for that amnesia whatsoever. Some of these people even had the backbone to oppose e.g. post-WW2 'ethnic cleansing' policies carried out against Germans.

If Scholem condemned the naqba, then good on him. But I strongly doubt that he did. There was major hoo-hah a few years ago when someone did graduate research on it, and on the Deir Yassin massacre in particular, in Israel. All the usual stops were pulled out.

Zionism - which is an organisation - positioned a fair few of its factions as 'liberals', pre-1967, and then repositioned them later. Benny Morris is an example. Oh the poor victims of the naqba, let's revise historiography so as to recognise what happened...and then 'look, people, recognising something doesn't mean I don't support it'.
 
Joe - on the issue of the indoctrination, have you seen any work on 'killology'? You might find Dave Grossman's book interesting, if you haven't already read it.

In say WW1, in accidental encounters with enemy soldiers, when no-one was there to issue orders to shoot, it was common for people just to say 'oops, sorry mate', and continue on their respective patrols. This was especially so when the encounter only involved a single person on each side, but it was also often so when people were in groups.

The most common reason for shooting someone to kill wasn't because a soldier believed in his own side's war goals, or because he was defending his own life. It was because someone had ordered him to kill the other person. And when no-one had actually given an order to shoot, often people didn't.

There was a lot of that in the US army up until Vietnam and the subsequent end to conscription. Not much of it now in the US army.

As for the Israeli army, there's practically none of it at all.

The Israeli army is different from other armies. It's a professional-conscript army. The state religion, even when it doesn't have any outward religious trappings, plays a major role in the army, in the culture outside of the army, and in the relation between the two.

Israeli military thought, scarily, informs the approach of the US officer corps.

And as I think you may have covered here, former Mossad boss Ephraim Halevy called for an eventual reintroduction of conscription in the US... This is also the guy who penned a call for widespread cultural changes in the west, in immediate response to the 2005 bombings in London.

Which may help with the 'whose Okhrana' question.

I've always thought it was crazy, how gun rights and abortion get so much relative importance in US politics compared to other issues, and I haven't studied the detailed lines along which the gun 'debate' has developed or seems likely to develop. (I should say that I'm not especially against sane well-balanced non-anti-social people having guns, to protect themselves and their families, although I'm vegetarian, and against the 'right' to hunt and fish.) But it seems to me that the backdrop is one of an enormous desensitisation to violence in US culture; that Hollywood hasn't 'just happened' as an 'emergent structure'; and that the consciously steered historical drift may be towards War 2.0 - featuring not just aircraft carriers and whacking the Muslims on the world island, but a lot more crazy fucking shooting in 'CONUS' than there is at the moment.

I could go on about the specificity of US prepperism, which seems to have as a major theme the idea of boarding up your well-stocked house and shooting through slits at anyone who comes close.

The assumption here is that everyone outside who hasn't eaten for a few days will have become a savage who is ready to tear anyone's leg off just to get a bite to eat. Those who actually know something about famine, including famines that occurred in 'advanced' countries in the 20th century, will know that this is not what universally happens in a famine. This doesn't stop the idea from playing well in certain gun-owning circles in the US.s war goals, or because he was defending his own life. It was because someone had ordered him to kill the other person. And when no-one
 
b,

I think you are being a little unreasonable in your first comment. There are reasonable Israelis who are not so blinded by racism. They are fighting a losing battle against a kind of institutionalised racism that is necessary to maintain current Israeli prerogatives. You are gonna tend to be racist if you think your tribes were chosen by god. But if you are European and competing with the wog locals for land and water it will be difficult to remember to be fair in your dealings with them, and easy to think that you dont have to be fair because they are not quite as deserving as your people.

I was reading about "THE INTERESTING NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF OLAUDAH EQUIANO". It was striking how often people who would have thought of themselves as honorable men (Im guessing), felt fine breaking their word to an African slave. Self-interest doesnt need much racism to feed on.

Israeli culture is very militaristic because everyone serves. But its the kind of militarism which doesnt really accept casualties. If Israelis started taking substantial casualties there would be an enormous crisis. Self-interest again.

Zionism is not an organisation. Its is a idea made real by Israel - which unfortunately has racism embedded within it. And Israel itself has been captured by capitalism and money. Now they fight to defend their landlords. Funny how things work out.

Harry
 
Harry saved me the trouble of writing a corrective to b. The phrase "that's against the Jewish religion" is both wrong and bigoted. Any expression of bigotry is only going to make things much worse, since such statements feed right into the defensive/militaristic instinct. That instinct is based, in turn, on the paranoid belief that "They're ALL out to get us."

If "Zionism" is a organization, then what's the address and phone number? That statement is akin to someone like Glenn Beck saying that Marxism is an organization

I'm also confused and annoyed by people who seem angrier at the Chomskys and the Scholems than at, say, Netanhayu.

Halevy is an interesting case. Did you read Ostrovsky's books? He's the "Ephraim" (otherwise unidentified) who leads our protagonist into all sorts of trouble in the second book. If Ostrovsky is speaking accurately, and I think he is (at least in large part), then Halevy is surprisingly critical of Israeli actions, at least when speaking privately. He pursued what amounts to his own separate foreign policy. (This was before he became Mossad head.)

I suppose I should write a long post about that guy one of these days. Interesting case; insufficiently studied.

I think we are going to see a rising apocalyptic strain in Israeli culture because the secret foundation of their whole project is fundamentalist Christianity in the United States. The Christians are far more fanatical in their support of Israel than are American Jews, due to the popularity of Hal Lindsey and "Left Behind" and other examples of pop apocalypticism. The problem (from an Israeli standpoint) is that fundamentalist Christianity is finally losing its popularity in this country. The Likudniks know this. They see the writing on the wall, and I doubt that they like the message.

The shotgun marriage of the Israeli right and Christian fundamentalism was always going to end badly. The Southern Baptist fundies, for all their blubbering about how much they love Jews, will always see Jews as alien creatures. The classic case would be Glenn Beck (a Mormon, but the same principle applies), who literally gets all weepy at the very mention of Israel -- yet he derives his entire world-view from old school anti-Semites like Cleon Skousen.

When I first hopped on the internet in 1995, nearly every fundamentalist Christian website was just one or two hyperlinks away from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Yet these are the guys the Israeli right chose as allies.
 
The average Israeli has become so radicalized in this last decade that the ethnic cleansing and armed aggression advocated by a Meir Kahane, which at one time was considered so extreme THERE that his Kach party was outlawed, has now at least plurality support, and perhaps majority support. The Israeli left and the peace movements have never been so powerless.

This sea change has meant the death of the Oslo and other two-state tracks of negotiation. The Likud adopted dropping Oslo as a negotiating policy when the American/Israeli dual citizen neo-cons wrote their white paper, 'A Clean Break-- a New Strategy for Securing the Realm,' for an in-coming Netanyahu (in his first time as PM).

With the possibility of a peaceful negotiated settlement flickering its last dying embers, US intelligence and others have been gaming a near-term Middle East situation without the existence of the state of Israel.

XI
 
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