Monday, August 24, 2009

In The Twinkle of A (Canaanite) Eye - Cont'd

I blogged last week, one this topic:

In The Twinkle of A (Canaanite) Eye

, on the new academic takedown of Israel and am reviewing Nur Masalha's article on the subject: Reading the Bible with the Eyes of the Canaanites: Neo-Zionism, Political Theology and the Land Traditions of the Bible (1967 to Gaza 2009).

I had reached page 64, So, we'll pick up where we left off.

11. Eventually, you come to the realisation that Masalha hammers away with terms and language that boxes in his subject, a linguistic trap. If you adopt his language, he's got you. He makes up the English, defines it (or not) by himself and then what are we, his readers, to do?

On p. 65: "nationalised and racialised text"; "mobilising myth". On p. 68: "orthodoxisation"; "zealotocracy"; On p. 69: "clericalisation"; "maximalist colonial-settler expansionism". On p. 70: "triumphalist history". On page 73,"militant (a nd also radical) neo-Zionism". I'm sure there are other examples, but these will do.

Can they be applied to other societies? Are those societies democratic or not? Are those terms meant to be polemical or academically neutral? Is the Arab society better or worse when we apply those terms to its reality?

Here is a value-laden sentence for your judgment:

"As a primordialist movement of secular nationalism, asserting the antiquity of Jewish nationalism (Smith 1986), inspired by eurocentric ethnic, volkisch and racial ideologies, Ben-Gurion viewed the Bible in an entirely functional an 'historical account' of Jews' 'title to the land' - a claim not necessarily borne out by recent archaeological findings".

This, of course, is hogwash. Vicious (you like that Nazi/German flourish?) true, but worthless nevertheless. We could start at the end. Recent archaelogical findings (and there are loads of examples here at my blog) absolutely indicate the overwhelming truht of the Biblical narrative. Things found where they are supposed to be, names that are mentioned, implements that were used, etc.

Racial? Jews are the most variegated racial people existing: White Ashkenazis, dark Sefardim, black Ethiopians, brown Cochin Jews, etc.

Maslha seems to be arguing Zionism as if he were back in the 1930s.

12. On page 69, he quotes Kimmerling, one of the most former (he's dead) anti-Zionists around that Zionism has to "explain to itself" why it "chose Palestine, the land retitled as the 'Land of Israel' as its target-territory...".

Ask any Jew: no one has to explain why "Palestine was chosen for it is the Land of Israel/Eretz Yisrael, it's just that some goyim, Romans, changed the name of the country to a Latinized Philistine to "Palestine" and the Arabs adopted it even though they can't even pronounce it properly (the hard P always comes out as Filastin) and even though it is not an Arab word (Bilad A-Shams, the normative Arabic word refers to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel and more). On p. 70, it becomes the "so-called 'biblical Land of Israel'").

Of course we Jews have a title to the Land. Unless, and this is the irony, Masalha and friends actually hold to the Biblical account (the Koran does) but simply seek to take the Jews out of the pages and replace them with those "Canaanites" whose "eyes" he adores and then stretch history and filter the Arabs of today into the die of those Canaanites. How dare the Jews presume that book was about them!

13. On page 70, he writes as if Gush Emunin still exists as a recognized institutional body. He's wrong although the spirit of Gush Emunim is quite present. On page 76 he has Rabbi Shlomo Aviner as a "former Rabbi of Bet El". He still is the current Rabbi there. On that same page he writes of "East Jerusalem's Old City". That should be Jerusalem's Old City.

14. On page 71 he pits "a theocratic regime for Israel based on the halacha" against universal, humanistic and liberal values". I reject that and suggest that liberals can be very dictatorial and that, on the other hand, halachic Judaism is quite a humanistic religion.

15. On page 71, he writes of the rebuilding of the Temple "on the site of the Muslim shrines in occupied East Jerusalem". Hmm. Could it be that the Muslim shrines are on the site of the Temple in a formerly Arab-occupied Jerusalem.

16. Masalha, on page 75, does seem to recognize "traditional passive religious longings for the land". Passive is the key. God forbid the Jews actually get active. They are so better when passive, as in Hebron in 1929.

17. Pages 76-87 are devoted to the issues of ger toshav and Amalek as 21st century personifications and categorizations of today's Arabs. The discussion certainly exists but is marginal. What is more important is that the Arabs, in adapting the suicide-bomber tactics, have dehumanized themselves and awarded themselves their own ticket out of human society.

18. Masalha continues to use non-Hebrew texts, composed by ideological and political opponents and woefully misinterprets or excludes other commentaries that wouldbalance the picture. I Yiddish, naraschkeit translates as childish simplicity and that's the narrative Masalha builds, the naraschkeit narrative. Zionists have made a perverse use of the Bible, By the way, I found that "Jonathan Tubbs, a British archaeologist, argued that the Israelites were themselves Canaanites, and that "historical Israel", as distinct from "literary" or "Biblical Israel" was a subset of Canaanite culture. [Tubb, Johnathan N. (1998) "Canaanites" (British Museum People of the Past) p.16]". I wonder whose eyes are staring at Masalha now.

19. On page 100, Israel made a "blitz" on Gaza. It was "by any standard...a crime against humanity". By whose standard?

Masalha promotes a "Palestinian liberation theology". That's the color of his eyes. The Bible contains mega-narratives that are "politically oppressive and morally reprehensible" - unlike Islam, for example. He adopts the position of Gandulla ( that:

The Old not a historical document but a constructed fiction from the times of the Greek-Roman domination of Canaan, starting with the manipulation of the collective memory with ideological autolegitimation means. However, this process of intentional re-memoration began by the editors of the text appears in different materials from different sources, in time and space that has some historical elements, similar to the etiological myths.

You understood that? If not, go read this: GANDULLA, BERNARDO. Los Hebreos en el Gran Canaan. Buenos Aires: Editorial Canaan, 2005.

For Masalha, page 94, the Bible is a "collection of traditions complied [sic? compiled?] by many authors who were theologically and ideologically motivated". And Masalha is not so motivated? And the entire claim by Arabs is, what, not ideological and theological and on inferior evidence and sources? Ple-a-s-e.

A Prior, he quotes, "found incitement to war and violence in the very foundation documents of Judaism", along with Christianity and Islam but the Hebrew Bible sees its divinity as "coercive, 'ethnocentric, xenophobic and militaristic'". Phew. That was a mouthful. (See here and also here for more).

This is a blog. It is not a platform for genuine academic dueling, complete with footnotes. Nevertheless, for my constituency I felt the need to expand on Masalha's untenable promotion of a false approach to history and politics.

I'd appreciate comments, especially from Nur Masalha.


universityloveconnection said...

We have a few college students online from college of Yale University and we love your blog postings, so well add your RSS or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen , Blog Manager Yale-University

IT Services London said...

I must be ashamed, cause the only words I know are "Shema Israel" I never attended a synagogue, although I should... IT Support London