Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Portrait of the Writer as a Political Schizophrenic, Part III


The question of a "new" anti-semitism is a misleading one. It implies something pure, sprung fully formed, rather then a piece of a continuum. The culmination of long tradition. The synthesis of a monstrous dialectic. Firstly, the anti-semitism we face today is of a piece with the Leftwing political tradition of anti-semitism, which has its origins in the Enlightenment and specifically the writings of Voltaire (who was in turn influenced by several pagan anti-semites from the pre-Christian era). This progressive anti-semitism saw the Jew and the Jewish religion as obstacles to mankind's advance and as the agents of the monotheistic irrationalism which had destroyed the pagan world of beauty and reason. The Enlightenment worshipped the world of ancient Greece and Rome and despised the Judeo-Christian ethic which had replaced it. Clearly, their rejection of Judaism was of a piece with their rejection of Christianity, but they singled out Judaism for special scorn and fear. It was the Jew who had turned loose the snake into the Garden of Eden. It was the Jew who had smashed the graven images to smithereens. In the words of 19th century French philosopher Renan: "O chaste and lovely images of the true gods and goddesses! This ugly little Jew has stigmatized you with the name of idols!"

This tradition of anti-semitism was later to be eclipsed by the reactionary anti-semitism of the late 19th century, which reached its apogee with Hitler and the Nazi regime. However, it never really died out. Both Marx and Bakunin, the chief theorists of communism and anarchism, respectively, were strongly anti-semitic, and identified he Jews with the owning and exploiting classes of society, i.e. with reactionary and counterrevolutionary forces. (It is no coincidence that many current Leftist anti-semites, Noam Chomsky, for instance, are strongly influenced by Bakunin. It should be no surprise that the most outspoken and violent anti-semites outside the Muslim world are overwhelmingly intellectuals and activists from the communist/anarchist tradition of Marx and Bakunin.) In the Leftist religion, of course, to be identified as an exploitative reactionary is no less a demonization than the libel of Christ killer or poisoner of wells was in the Christian tradition.

This strain of anti-semitism, unlike the racialist anti-semitism which Hitler would make the cornerstone of his movement, has space for those of Jewish ancestry to take part. Much as Christian anti-semitism allowed for, and even celebrated, Jewish apostasy; Leftwing anti-semitism counted Jews as among some of its most fanatic adherents and foremost theorists (witness Marx himself, the son of an apostate who had been baptized at the age of nine). One of the largest and most violent instances of Jewish participation in Leftist anti-semitism was in the Soviet Union, where many Jewish communists organized and took part in the brutal suppression of the Jewish religion and national identity that followed the revolution. Richard Pipes writes the following in his excellent Concise History of the Russian Revolution:

The persecution of Jewish religious observances was entrusted to the Bund, the party of Jewish Social-Democrats which in 1921 merged with the Communist Party. The Bundists shared the Bolshevik scorn for religion and hated with a particular passion Zionism, its much more successful contender for Jewish loyalties. Organized into "Jewish Sections" (Evsektii), they carried out the usual antireligious activities, desecrating synagogues and transforming them into clubs or warehouses. They also abolished the traditional Jewish organs of self-government. It was the Jewish Sections that persuaded the Russian Communist Party to ban Hebrew as a "bourgeois" language...and persecute Zionists. (p. 341)

This seemingly extraordinary situation of a Leftist Jewish organization enthusiastically taking part in pogromist activity as a result of its political ideology proves less and less unusual the more one studies the phenomena of Jew-hatred. In fact, anti-semitism has almost always given special emphasis to its Jewish adherents. Many of the earliest examples of pagan and Christian anti-semitism were the work of recent apostates (including St. Paul, formerly Saul, himself) and the first burnings of the Talmud were occasioned by the agitations of recent converts determined to consolidate their repudiation of their former faith. This seems to bear out the assertion that the anti-semitism we are dealing with today has a great deal more in common with pagan and Christian anti-semitism than Hitlerian racialism.

Of course, the argument is quickly made that what we are facing is not anti-semitism per se, but a particularly virulent form of anti-Zionism. That is to say, the repudiation of a political entity and not a religious or national collective. I disagree strongly with this assertion, and it is worth it to explain why.

First and foremost, the phenomenon we are discussing is an act of negation. Confusion arises from the fact that this ideology does not negate the abstract Jew, the totemic Jew, as Hitler's did; but rather the concrete Jew, the Jew of the world. I will explain: through the Holocaust, the Jew has become a secular humanist idol. A symbol. A monument to man's inhumanity to man. This Jew is worshipped unconditionally, beloved even. Sometimes with a disturbing fervor. But one must remember that this Jew is a graven image. A shadow erected in the secular humanist mind. A spectre haunting the collective unconcious of the professionally concerned. It is nothing but a thing of wood and stone given life by the adoration of its worshipper.

Against this totem is reared another figure: the Jew of life. The Jew of reality. This Jew is deeply problematic for the humanist, for he walks, breathes, occasionally talks out of turn and forgets his place. But most of all, he is useless as a martyr. No creature of flesh and blood can be worshipped as an idol can. This destruction of his most cherished totem arouses in the humanist a feeling of desperate betrayal, one which leads quickly to contempt and then, inexorably, to hatred.

This phenomenon, with its roots in the Leftist anti-semitic tradition and its feet solidly planted in post-Holocaust secular humanism, has led to a fascinating, if horrifying synthesis. Where once anti-semitism was negated by humanism's anti-racism, given new impetus by the Holocaust, the two have merged into a new phenomenon: one which seeks to annhilate the Jewish people in the name of the highest of human values. Genocide in the name of the angels.

Needless to say, this has led to some of the most extraordinary acts of cognitive dissonance of our time: Jenin, a massacre which never occurred, has become a symbol, and the slaughter which occasioned Operation Defensive Shield, an actual act of genocidal slaughter, has disappeared entirely from the world's collective unconcious. Leftists march in the streets of the world's capitals toting signs which denounce racism and yet are adorned by an Israeli flag with the Star of David replaced with a swastika. How easily, and with such orgasmic joy, do forbidden words slip once again from trembling lips. Such liberation, indeed, as could only have been dreamt of half a decade ago. Nazi, genocide, racist, imperialist, murderer, ethnic cleansing, baby-killer, prophet-killer, Christ-killer, child-slaughterer; with such ease has the whole world taken once again to the old names and faces.

The object of this scorn and terror is the Jew of life. The Jew who refuses to die. Who cannot be deified and cast in iron to be genuflected before as the crucifix of humanism. The State of Israel, as the most prominent example of this refusal, of this revolt against the imperialism of forms, is unquestionably a symbol and a target, but anti-Zionism is too small for what is going on here. We see the same monster at work in Europe, where a wave of anti-semitism is furiously denied by the legions of the right-thinking (self-appointed, of course). In the Arab world, where all the manifestations of anti-semitism past have merged with their war against the Jewish State in an extraordinary mosaic of fanatical violence. In America, where the complex tangle of peace and war is once again boiled down to the secret cabal, the Elder's conspiracy. The Jew who is transparent, who barely exists, who lives in that Moloch before which the enlightened worship, can live. But all others must die. It is not a "new" anti-semitism we face, it is the culmination of a historical process, of a dialectic of hatred which began with the Enlightenment. It is a universalism which, in its quest for universal justice, has become murder. As all quests for the universal must inevitably become murder. It is a form of spiritual imperialism, a negation of the Jew who lives. And for this, this terrible betrayal of daring to exist on his own terms, the Jew must be made to pay the price.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Un Homme Apart. While I never thought I would ever agree with Maoist French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard about anything, I must admit he's got a point here:

Jean-Luc Godard, the legendary French director who helped to launch the New Wave movement in the 1960s, had harsh words for Moore this week. Godard's latest film, Notre Musique, premiered on Monday, the same day as Fahrenheit 9/11. Later in the week, Godard lashed out at Moore at a press conference, calling him "halfway intelligent."

Godard, who hadn't seen Fahrenheit 9/11, compared it unfavourably to the work of American documentarian Frederick Wiseman. "It's like two different worlds," Godard said.

Moore's film criticizes U.S. President George W. Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, and also highlights the links between Bush's family and the family of Osama bin Laden. But Godard said Moore's film was an ineffectual piece of work.

"He's not even hurting Bush," Godard said. "He's helping him in an underground way. Bush is either less stupid than he looks or so stupid you can't change him."

Godard went on to say that the Flint, Mich.-born director lacks subtlety. "Moore doesn't distinguish between text and image," Godard argued. "He doesn't know what he's doing."

I think Godard has a good argument when its comes to Moore's skills as a filmmaker, both in the political and cinematic sense. While Godard may be a flaming totalitarian Leftist with occasional anti-semitic tendancies, and an all around arrogant pain-in-the-ass who Francois Truffaut once famously referred to as "the Bridget Bardot of radical cinema" and "a piece of shit on a pedestal", he's still a fairly smart guy. He's actually read all those books the Leftist celebrities just talk about. He knows Moore is, to say the least, politically unserious. He's a partisan demagogue who has worked himself into a lather out of his very personal, emotional, and decidedly unintellectual hatred of the president of the United States. When it comes down to it, however, Moore doesn't know what he's talking about, and such people always do more harm than good.

Godard is also, at heart, a lover of cinema. And Moore's films, from a purely aesthetic point of view, are atrocious. Unlike documentarians like Errol Morris or D.A. Pennebaker, Moore's films have no sense of the medium whatsoever. They are choppy, simplistic, bombastic, inelegant agitprop. They seem to be shot and edited in a banal, slapped-together style more reminiscent of television than cinema. For Godard, to be politically stupid is one thing, to be political stupid and also produce bad cinema is unforgiveable. Personally, I agree with him.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

The Face of Evil. Welcome to the Ninth Circle:

On the day after September 11, Micki Weinberg walked to the UC Berkeley campus still in shock. At the entrance to campus, facing Telegraph Avenue, huge sheets of blank paper were spread out as an impromptu memorial on which students, faculty, and other passersby were invited to write comments. Glad to have found such a forum, Weinberg scanned the inscriptions. Then he saw one, large and clear, that stopped him dead in his tracks:
"It's the Jews, stupid."

The slender Weinberg, a year younger than most freshmen, had only just arrived at Cal from Beverly Hills, where he had been president of his high school's Shalom Club. As a young teenager, he had savored heady stories of how Mario Savio and his comrades in the Free Speech Movement danced the hora and sang "Hava Nagila" at sit-ins and peace rallies forty years ago. The son of left-wing, Jewish intellectuals, Weinberg viewed himself as one too, having spent the summer before his senior year of high school in Myanmar, cataloguing the archives of Rangoon's disintegrating and depopulated Jewish synagogue. "That's why I came to Berkeley -- because of its strong romantic aura of the Free Speech Movement and Mario Savio," he recalls. "Then I got here and discovered that that light seems to have been extinguished. You have this vitriol. You feel it everywhere. Berkeley is now the epicenter of real hatred."

Please read the whole thing. I'm so speechless with rage over this article that I'm afraid to write too much, for fear of saying something I'll later regret, so I'll only say that its all here: the self-righteous neo-Nazi Leftists, the Muslim fanatics who demand freedom and liberation for themselves while seeking to deny it to the Jews, the bourgeois Jewish organizations who are clueless to do anything effective, the biased and/or cowardly administrators who care about every minority group on campus except their Jewish students, the vile double standards by which Muslim and Leftwing groups can use any dispicable, violent tactic they want while the Jewish groups must be perfectly obediant at all times...This is Nuremburg, this is Kishinev, this is Munich, this is the new Holocaust in the making.

Something must be done.

The NY Times Follows Suit. Following in the steps of their French allies, the NY Times, world reknowned home of objective journalism, genocide whitewash, and reporters who make the whole thing up, has announced its surrender to Nazi forces. First Minister Frank Rich wrote the announcement declaring fealty to Generalissimo Michael Moore's Neo-Nazi Leftist manifesto Farenheit 911. Rich, a world-reknowned journalist who recently spent a year watching pornography in order to write a series of essays in which he claimed that he didn't find any of it erotic and only watched it for the articles, is now likely to be a shoo-in for the NY Times hall of fame, which already includes lumineries such as Jayson Blair, Sydney Schanberg (for his brilliant obliviousness to the Khmer Rouge genocide), and Walter Duranty (who, in an extraordinary achievement for its time, successfully whitewashed Joseph Stalin's slaughter of 20 million Soviet citizens). Moore announced that he appreciated the Times's endorsement, and said it would not effect his intake of fried foods, which he expected to remain high. Moore's children, who attend an exclusive private school for the children of multi-billionares, could not be reached for comment.

France Capitulates to Nazism...Again. World icons of courage and military prowess, the French, have once again surrendered to Nazi forces without a fight, awarding first prize at the Cannes Film Festival to neo-Nazi Leftist Michael Moore's Riefenstahlian propaganda film, Farenheit 911. Moore's producer, Joseph C. Goebbels III, announced that absolutely none of the film's lies would be changed, since: "When one is engaged in an effort to destroy the United States of America and defeat the worldwide Jewish conspiracy, one simply doesn't have time for niceties like truth and/or fairness." Moore, who is recovering in Le Poufta Hospital for the Criminally Obese from a recent overdose of lard, declined to comment.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Demanding Justice. I'm sure you've heard about recent anti-semitic remarks by Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings, in which he claimed a Jewish cabal engineered the Iraq War purely for the benefit of Israel. With everything else going on, there hasn't been much done about it, and there should be. Its ridiculous that Trent Lott gets tossed out for what he said and Hollings gets away scot free. I wrote the following letter to the Senators from my home state, feel free to cut and paste if you want and send it to your Senators and congressmen. I think its important, the Democrats shouldn't get a free pass on anti-semitism.

Senator ________,

I am writing to express my outrage over recent anti-semitic remarks by Senator Fritz Hollings. Just as Trent Lott was forced to step down for praising segregation, so Senator Hollings ought to resign for his vicious and offensive remarks. This issue is of deep importance to me and could very well sway my vote in the next election. I ask that you demand that Senator Hollings resign as soon as possible.

Friday, May 21, 2004

New Blog. I just started a new blog specifically for the purpose of beating up on Noam Chomsky and his sleazy acolytes. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Haaretz Comments (And Also Gets It Right). There's an excellent (and surprisingly well-written) contemplation of Ayalon's speech in Haaretz. Check it out.

Ami Ayalon is Right. Former Shabak head Ayalon made this speech at the peace rally the other day. I'm sure it wasn't what they wanted to hear, but he's absolutely right. See what you think:

The Majority Decides

I didn't want to come to this square and be a part of the politics of this rally. It was only the horror of seeing more of our soldiers killed that brought me here. I have no words with which to console the bereaved families. So instead I have come here, to this square, to shout out the truth as I see it.

I came, and find myself asking: Why are we here tonight? To tell the prime minister to get out of Gaza? He already knows we have to get out. To tell the prime minister that settlements should be removed? He knows that too. To tell the prime minister that he has a large majority that would support such a move? That's true enough, but that majority did not come to this square tonight.

So I ask myself: How is it that, at this crucial time, such a small segment of the public has come to this square? Why is it that Tzippi Livni, Ehud Olmert, Meir Sheetrit, Tommy Lapid and their colleagues are not here? If the majority indeed decides, how come there are so few immigrants here, so few residents of the Negev and Galilee, the poor districts and development towns? If we are the deciding majority, why did we give up so glibly on our religiously observant countrymen, who could not make it here because we scheduled the demonstration for Shabbat? The truth is this: The speakers on this podium – myself included – and you out there in the audience do not represent the deciding majority!

Let me tell you why the real deciding majority is not here. They are not here because we who stand in this square tonight have not managed to win the hearts of the deciding majority. We never created a real dialogue. Perhaps we never really
wanted to. We turned the settlers of Judea, Samaria and Gaza into enemies. We arrogantly turned them out. We monopolized the quest for peace. That is why the majority did not come here, although I know that, today of all days, they wanted to come.

This majority is sitting at home and keeping silent, despite the fact they want
peace no less than us. This majority wants to leave Gaza as much as we do. But they
want to do so after lowering the national flag to half-mast, observing a minute's silence, and wiping a tear at the shattering of their Zionist dream...

This majority will feel connected to us only when the pain of those slated to be evacuated drowns out the rejoicing of those who will do the evacuating. The deciding majority – those who came here tonight and the many more who stayed away – do not and should not care who ends up signing the accord that ends this conflict. But because the majority stays silent, it has no influence or power to decide, and therefore becomes meaningless.

Israel today has a prime minister who, I personally believe, wants to make progress. Where or why, I really do not care. I believe that after tough deliberations he arrived at the painful conclusion that all the Gaza Strip settlements must be evacuated. I believe he is capable of carrying this out, that he has the determination and the power. I believe that only he who feels great sadness on the day of the evacuation will be able to pull it off without finding himself in the middle of a civil war.

I believe that leaving Gaza is a small step for the people of Israel but a big step for the vision of a democratic Jewish state living in peace with it neighbors. It is a big step for the Zionist dream!

But to leave Gaza, we need for the majority to break its silence. It has to say – no, to shout out – what it thinks. We need an organized majority to tell the prime minister: "If you go ahead with this, we will be with you!" We need a big-time majority, not small-time politics. Gaza is no longer a matter of politics, it is a matter of preserving lives.

Therefore what we must do is speak not only of disengaging from Gaza, but also, most critically, or reaching consensus with those who are not here tonight but think like us. Like us, they know where we want to go. Like us they know the painful price we must pay to get there. Like us, they have red lines. Red line: No Palestinians will return to Israel proper under a final accord. Red line: Palestine will not constitute a threat to Israel's security. Red line: There will be no civil war in Israel.

That leaves the question of when it will happen, when will the day finally arrive? When every person standing here, and all those who think like us but stayed away, gets up in the morning, every morning, and asks him or herself what they are doing to bring that day closer. Has he written a letter to the prime minister, government ministers, Knesset members? Has she written to a newspaper? Has he signed a petition, or signed up others? How many? Has she demonstrated at the junctions, or put up posters? Does it burn like fire in his or her soul? This day will not come on its own, but only when we fight to bring it about.

Well, That Was Quick. So much for Ghandi's revenge.

Amnesty International Can Go Fuck Itself. Leftist advocacy group Amnesty International continues its increasingly desperate campaign of pseudo-objective propagandizing. I will take them seriously when they do two things: 1) Issue a massive and blanket condemnation of Palestinian terrorism that brands Yasser Arafat a genocidal war criminal, and 2) Come up with a viable military plan for how Israel can fight terrorism effectively without being condemned by Amnesty International. Until these two conditions are met, I have only this to say to Amnesty: Israel will never consent to the murder of its citizens. The fact that you condemn our attempts to defend ourselves proves that you reject this assertion. This makes you nothing but a bunch of self-righteous anti-semitic hypocrites. Fuck you and your numerous celebrity underwriters. Oh yeah, and Kofi Annan too. I'm sticking with Arik.

And the French Loved It. No huge surprise, they have a fairly long history of collaborating with Nazism.

Another asinine puff-piece from the Times, this one of the "dissent is patriotic" variety. I have no patience for this self-indulgent garbage. Its nothing more than a desperate intellectual contortion from people too decadent to take responsibility for the implications of their politics. Moore is not a patriot, he is a vicious hater of the United States and everything it stands for. He attacked Bill Clinton with the same ferocity with which he is now assaulting Bush. His claim to stand for the common man is absurd. The "common man" in his films is regularly depicted as a stupid, easily manipulated couch potato incapable of understanding the reality Moore has come to reveal to him. Moore is a figure suffused not with patriotism but with contempt, contempt for all who do not genuflect before the High Church of Michael Moore.

I want to make it clear what I think is going one here. There is no question that the international Leftist elite understand quite well that what president Bush is doing right now is a massive threat to their cultural/political hegemony, and they are going to do anything, and I do mean anything, to bring him down. If Bush is reelected, I am certain that there will be physical violence. This is a much more disturbing problem than anyone wants to talk about, but it is, I think, what we are dealing with right now. Moore has become, quite clearly, the resident court jester of this elite, tickling their funnybones, indulging their contempt, reinforcing their prejudices. He is small fry, but he is also justifying, with his demonizations of Bush, their continuing efforts to destroy the president and bring an end to the War on Terror. Make no mistake, the goal here is absolute, abject, unconditional surrender to Islamic radicalism. It is sick and it is obscenely dangerous and it is happening right now. It is imperative that those of us who oppose this suicidal phenomenon stand up and speak out against it now. It doesn't matter where: demonstrations, letters to the editor, weblogs, anywhere and everywhere it is possible. The more our point of view is out in public the better. It is the only way to break through the cultural/hegemony of the international elite and save our country and civilization from collapse and annihilation.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Leftwing Neo-Nazi Propaganda Film Becomes Cause Celebre Due to Director's Lies. Leftwing Neo-Nazi racist Michael Moore's latest compilation of slanderous vomit gets an unsurprisingly wide-eyed puff piece in the NY Times. He continues spewing his blatently dishonest line about being censored by Disney corporate interests due to the astonishing "revelations" of his film. In fact, his movie is a patchwork of already discredited conspiracy theories that were floated after 9/11 by the likes of anti-semites Cynthia McKinney, Amiri Baraka, and other even less reputable figures. Moreover, Disney made clear before the film was made that they would not distribute it. I am constantly amazed (though I shouldn't be) at the way the mainstream media simply accepts the assertions of well-known distortionists like Moore instead of doing their own research and finding out what the truth is. Their capacity for critical thought simply collapses when faced with anyone who claims to be "dissenting" from the mainstream of American sentiment (from the Left, of course, Rightwing dissent is a horrifying threat to American democracy, unlike the regulatory empire of Ralph Nader or recklessly untrue hatchet jobs on the president in time of war). The truth is rather obvious here: Moore is making a movie which openly distorts the truth in order to make the president of the United States look not just bad, but evil. No one, not the Disney corporation, not me, and not anybody else, is obligated to fund or distribute obvious political propaganda with which they do not agree. That, also, is free speech. The right to choose not to advocate a position that is abhorrent to you. Mr. Moore's Nazi soul could never understand such a thing, in his meglomaniacal fantasy world he is the sole arbiter of truth, and anyone who dares to dissent from him is either corrupted or evil. The media, of course, is more than happy to oblige his ridiculous ego trip, since they essentially believe the same thing. They consider George Bush evil as well and consider it their moral duty to help bring him down. The fact that this violates every ethic and principle of their profession is irrelevant to them. In the throes of their own brand of fundamentalism, they believe they are in the service of a higher god.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Portrait of the Writer as a Political Schizophrenic, Part II.

Social Issues

Henry Kissenger once said that Israel had no differentiation between its foreign policies and domestic policies. That is a truth, but an unfortunate one. Its more accurate to say that Israel's domestic problems tend to be ignored in favor of the big issues of war and peace. Few people seem to be noticing that Israel is going through something of an economic revolution at the hands of Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This basically amounts to the Thatcherization of Israel's once highly statist economy, continuing a trend which has been ongoing for the better part of two decades. For a long time I was a free-market evangelist, but lately I've started to have some sympathies with some aspects of Socialism (that collective gasp you're hearing is all my friends from the States having heart attacks). By this I mean the egalitarian, anti-hierarchical aspects, as well as the feeling that the commodification of human interaction that occurs in a purely capitalist society is a worrisome phenomenon. However, I have no illusions about the foolhardiness of centralization and total state ownership. One cannot study history and not see the extraordinary dynamic energy unleashed by an unfettered free market. No country can survive indefinately without the capacity for rapid and complex change that can occur only in a capitalist society.

What worries me the most is the way that Jewish and Zionist values are undermined as Israel becomes more and more capitalistic. The closeness of people here, the natural trust people have in eachother, the willingness to sacrifice material comforts for the sake of building the Jewish State; all of these are meaningless in a society with no values other then the material. To put it simply: Globalization undermines Zionism. I do not want Israel to simply import the alienation and unhappiness of the West in its quest to become a paragon of globalization. After all, if the only point of life is to make money, everyone will just move to America, where one can do it much easier and without having to worry about being blown up on the bus to work.

In true Zionist style, I would like to see the application of Jewish values in a modern context to create a state which is neither Western nor Eastern, but a combination of the best of both (as the Jewish people are themselves a combination of the best of East and West). For instance, Jabotinsky's concept of a modern Jubilee Year. I would like to see a system which can reconcile Judaism's historical egalitarianism with the dynamic possiblities of the free market. One which will create an economy which will serve our needs, and not the opposite.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The New PM. Some interesting details on Sonia Ghandi, who will likely be India's new Prime Minister. There is a small Jewish community in India, by the way. I believe its divided into three communities, the two most prominent being the Cochin Jews, who have been there since time immemorial, and the Baghdadis, who were Iraqi merchants who came much later. I actually met a student here a few weeks ago from an Indian Jewish family. I think their rate of aliyah is very high.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Return of the Nehrists. The NY Times has the story. Absolutely extraordinary. Just as some background, Sonia Ghandi is the Italian-born wife of Rajiv Ghandi, who was the Indian Prime Minister until he was assassinated around two decades ago. Rajiv's mother, Indira Ghandi, was a very popular and powerful Prime Minister in the '60s and '70s until she self-destructed, enacting martial law at one point and brutally putting down a Sik (pronounced "seek", I'm not sure how its spelled) uprising. She was assassinated by her own bodyguards. Her father was Jawaharal Nehru, Mahatma Ghandi's right-hand man and India's David Ben-Gurion. He was the principle driving force/ ideologist behind the Non-Aligned Movement. Essentially, he created the Third World. This included, among many admirable aspects, a disturbing sympathy towards communism and a tendancy to excuse and/or support any radical movement, however violent, that proved suitably post-colonialist. This, coupled with Nehru's closeness to Gamal Abdel Nasser, is why his dynasty has also tended to be extremely anti-Zionist and pro-Arab throughout the history of the conflict.

An extraordinary story and an extraordinary family, no question about it. And now returned to power in the world's biggest democracy. This should be interesting.

Good for the Jews? There has been a massive upset in the Indian elections. The ruling BJP party has fallen to the Congress Party. This could be very bad for Israel's emerging alliance with India. The Congress Party has longstanding historical/ideological connections to militant Third World movements like the PLO and to pan-Arab nationalism in general. A cause for concern.

Update: This story seems to have been lost among the Iraq hysterics and the fighting in Gaza. Unfortunate. I think its a bigger deal than that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Portrait of the Writer as a Political Schizophrenic. Discovering the extraordinary fact that people actually read my stuff has prompted a certain amount of thinking on my part (a very certain amount), on the subject of clarifying exactly what I think about this whole crazy situation over here (the matzav, if you will) and all the various nasty issues it raises. The problem is, once I started thinking about it, I realized that I don't have completely firm opinions on these things. They often shift according to events and the mad vicissitudes of politics in this region. I couldn't say whether I am Right or Left. Often I bounce back and forth between extremes. What I would call political schizophrenia (or at least bipolar disorder). I think, however, that this puts me in the same place as a lot of Israelis, who also don't know quite where to turn these days. So, in the interests of clarification (or not, as the case may well be) I thought of writing a few things about my feelings on certain large issues. If only to illustrate my painful predicament as a political schizophrenic.

The Occupation

This is obviously the big one, since its basically the question of what Israel will be and look like in the future. I am deeply conflicted over this issue, but I think a few things are fairly clear.

Firstly, the occupation hurts Israel. Economically, politically, and morally the occupation comes at a very high cost. I think there is a lot of truth in the idea that the system in place in the territories leads to the degradation of Israeli culture and society and damages our conception of human life and dignity. I also think the financial cost of maintaining a military/political presence in the territories (not to mention the settlements) is simply unsustainable and unjustifiable in a country which needs every cent it can get. The worst aspect of it, however, is the effect it has on the Israelis themselves. I have had the singularly depressing experience of speaking to veteran Israelis who have served in the army and the reserves, lived all their lives here, and are thinking about leaving Israel. Why? Because they believe the occupation is corrupting and ruining Israeli society and they see no hope of it ever ending. This is simply immensely dangerous to Israeli society. No country in Israel's position can survive with a large percentage of its citizens alienated and disillusioned. A friend of mine, a reserve lieutenant in the reserves, once said to me: "the most important thing is to be right, and you cannot be right if you are occupying three million people". I can't deny that he has a point.

On the other hand, I also think that Ze'ev Jabotinsky's Iron Wall theory was absolutely correct. Jabotinsky was the founder of Revisionist Zionism, a non-Socialist militant branch of the movement which led to the Herut Party led by Menachem Begin which later became the dominant faction of the Likud Party. In the thirties, before the state was founded, Jabotinsky wrote an article called "The Iron Wall" in which he theorized that the Arab world would never consent to a Jewish State in its midst. Therefore, the coming Jewish State would have to make itself militarily impossible to destroy, and would have to be founded and developed behind a proverbial "Iron Wall" of military superiority. I think this was and still is an extraordinarily perceptive and accurate assessment. Now, it is not a difficult stretch to see the occupation as exactly that Iron Wall which Jabotinsky was writing about. One could argue that it has provided the margin of safety which has allowed Israel to be an extraordinary success in the realm of state-building despite the violent opposition of nearly all of its neighbors and a good chunk of the rest of the world. From this point of view, the Arabs' continuing rejection of our national rights and continued desire to annhilate Israel justifies the occupation both morally and strategically until such time as the Arab world is prepared to accept or at least acquiesce to Israel's existence.

Ramming right up against this, however, is the demographic issue. I think this is an enormous and very relevant issue whose danger is not in the least bit exagerrated. It is absolutely an existential question. As the demographic ratios become more and more lopsided it is going to become harder and harder for Israel to resist the analogy of apartheid South Africa. If this becomes the prevailing consensus of the world's elite (as it already is in many circles) even the United States may not be able to resist its influence. This is a basic and fundamental threat to Zionism itself, which has always insisted on a Jewish State with a Jewish majority as its first perogative. Without the Jewish majority, everything else means nothing.

Personally, I think the best solution is the one outlined by Sharon in his withdrawal plan. Namely, keeping the large West Bank settlements, evacuating Gaza, and drawing Israel's borders according to the needs of the demographic situation. Unfortunately, that solution seems stalled politically due to the (misguided, in my opinion) opposition of the Rightwing. This paralysis is not only stalling the situation. It is, in my opinion, undermining Zionism as I understand it.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I should have comments on this thing now, but they're only showing up when you click on the permalink (maybe that's the idea - I'm basically computer illiterate). If any of you out there actually read this thing, feel free to post away.

Well...everything's going to hell again. In other words, everything's back to normal. Amusing place this country. Never a dull moment. As I mentioned below, I am royally pissed about the Likud referendum and the attendent discord in the Israeli government (also very much the normal state of affairs). Why? Firstly, because Gaza is a useless chunk of rock chock-full with religious fanatics who want to hurl us all into the sea and which, contrary to Rightwing propaganda, is not and never has been a part of the Land of Israel or in any way significant to Jewish history (ok, Shabtai Tzvi, fine). Secondly, young Israeli soldiers are being foced to spend ridiculous amounts of miluim (reserve) time protecting three religious nuts and a dog in a hut on top of a cliff which, by fascinating coincidence, serves as a perfect target for said religious fanatics. Thirdly, said soldiers and said huts cost a shitload of money which this country can't afford. I want to make this clear: the fact that there are people in my neighborhood searching for food in garbage cans while the government spends millions of dollars on settlements which any reasonable person knows are someday going to have to be evacuated and demolished is insane. Nuff said.

Added to this is the bitter disillusionment of seeing that Nixon can't go to China. Or, more precisely, Arik can't get out of the territories. Now, my disillusionment here is not with Sharon. I think he understands the situation quite well and realizes the need for a unilateral withdrawal. However, it is now clear that he cannot bring his own party with him, as I had hoped he could. And is Arik can't bring the Likud, then it doesn't really matter what he understands or realizes. Even worse, there doesn't seem to be anyone else to turn to. Labor is still married to the idea of negotiations with Arafat. Meretz is suicidal. Shinui is the only party saying anything intelligent at the moment, but their ideas on the economy are basically Netanyahu's and I just can't hang with that. Sigh...

I'm beginning to understand why people say Israel is too democratic for its own good.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

For Rummy. The surrender monkeys are sharpening their blades, so I fully recommend sending a message about our support for Rumsfeld and the job he's been doing, which in my opinion has been extraordinary. Feel free to cut and paste if you like:

Dear (president, senator, etc...)

I am writing to express my total and heartfelt support for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Rumsfeld has fought two wars to defend the people of the United States and has done an extraordinary job of understanding the threat we now face and formulating a strategy to defeat it. Under no circumstances should he be forced to resign in order to satisfy the base desires of partisan demagogues and opprtunistic politicians. I am one of the majority of Americans who consider themselves lucky to have a man of his talent and resolve on their side in this troubled time.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Not Happy.

I know I should write something about the Likud referendum, but I'm so royally pissed about it that its just not going to happen right now. Maybe in a few days...

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Ah, Sweet Irony. The Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team just beat the hell out of the Italian team to win the Euroleague championship. Yes, Israel is the European basketball champion. Victory is sweet.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Real Left Speaks.

Thomas Cushman: I'd like to focus on the response of Polish intellectuals and former anticommunists and activists to the war in Iraq, Polish relations with America more generally, and how the latter have affected relations between Poland and other European countries, especially those that were against the war. I am an American liberal who supported the war in Iraq on humanitarian grounds. It's somewhat difficult to find such people in the United States, so I've had to come all the way to Poland to find liberals who support the war. In your essay "A View from the Left: We the Traitors" (Gazeta Wyborcza, May 29, 2003, and in English in World Press Review, June 2003), you took a very strong position of support for the war in Iraq and noted that you share that position with other former dissidents. Could you explain this in more detail?

Adam Michnik: I look at the war in Iraq from three points of view. Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a totalitarian state. It was a country where people were murdered and tortured. So I'm looking at this through the eyes of the political prisoner in Baghdad, and from this point of view I'm very grateful to those who opened the gates of the prison and who stopped the killing and the torture. Second, Iraq was a country that supported terrorist attacks in the Middle East and all over the world. I consider that 9/11 was the day when war was started against my own work and against myself. Even though we are not sure of the links, Iraq was one of the countries that did not lower its flags in mourning on 9/11. There are those who think this war could have been avoided by democratic and peaceful means. But I think that no negotiations with Saddam Hussein made sense, just as I believe that negotiations with Hitler did not make sense. And there is a third reason. Poland is an ally of the United States of America. It was our duty to show that we are a reliable, loyal, and predictable ally. America needed our help, and we had to give it. This was not only my position. It was also the position of Havel, Konrad, and others.

TC: Yes, you specifically mention that this is a view you share with Vaclav Havel and Gyorgy Konrad.

AM: We take this position because we know what dictatorship is. And in the conflict between totalitarian regimes and democracy you must not hesitate to declare which side you are on. Even if a dictatorship is not an ideal typical one, and even if the democratic countries are ruled by people whom you do not like. I think you can be an enemy of Saddam Hussein even if Donald Rumsfield is also an enemy of Saddam Hussein.

From an interview with a former Solidarity activist at Dissent Magazine. This is the real Left, the one that opposes tyranny and hierarchy and whose supreme value is human freedom. Those who opposed the war in Iraq are not the Left, they are an authoritarian movement of reactionary would-be tyrants whose sole interest is expressing their unbending hatred of all who will not recognize their righteousness. The real Left has an important place in the War on Terror. I, for one, want to hear more from them.