Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Exchange of Opinions

...[For Tony Judt] to equate any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism is silly and perhaps dangerous. But it is equally dangerous to overlook, which is what Judt seems to be doing, the enormous destructive role that anti-Semitic theories play in anti-Israeli sentiments in most of the Middle East, be it in populist or intellectual guises. Jews may be doing well in Holland, the US, and Germany, but the attempts to downplay the potency of anti-Semitism will not aid in addressing the "problem of evil" anywhere.

That was Marat Grinberg, Assistant Professor in the Department of Russian and Humanities at Reed College, Portland, Oregon.

And Judt replies:

...anti-Semitism among Palestinians and other Arabs is stupid and deplorable. But far from fueling anti-Israeli sentiment, it has frequently been spawned by it. [?]

Anger and frustration at Israel's actions disposes people to hate all Jews and believe ill of them - as we have seen in Europe's own Muslim communities in recent years. I don't downplay this development. On the contrary, I see it as a new and dangerous twist in the long history of anti-Jewish prejudice. One hundred years ago, anti-Semitism was "the socialism of fools" (Bebel); today it is the consolation of losers. Those who complacently attribute the Middle Eastern tragedy to resurgent anti-Semitism among dispossessed, displaced, and humiliated Arabs should know better. They are blaming the victim.


No, Tony Judt, the Arab is not the victim except, perhaps, the victim of his own stupidity, stubborness and desire to make the Jew the victim, again.


Peter Drubetskoy said...

BS, Bar Kochba. Anti-Zionism does not have to have anything to do with antisemitism. It is just easier for you to claim so. Opposing an ideology does not equate with hating a certain ethnic group. Grow up.
And, while I am not familiar with the views of Tony Judt, from the quotes here there is not even a reason to conclude that he is an anti-Zionist either. Or you'll claim that criticizing the Israeli government actions is automatically anti-Zionist?

YMedad said...

No, not criticizing gov't actions - even I do that all the time. Antizionism is a form of antisemitism because it denies the Jews the right to be and the historical reality of being a people. It negates what we truly are and it causes the hate of our national character rather than some inconsequential ethnic religious community. It denies us the human rights that every other group has.

Avi said...

It is anti-semitic to deny the right of self-determination to Jews, which is extended to everyone else.

Peter Drubetskoy said...

Your right to self determination cannot come at the expense of other
peoples', and cannot include as a prerequisite dispossession and
expulsion of other peoples. If, for instance, tomorrow the Gypsies, who
also have never had a country of their own, decide that they want one
and for the purpose of creating it they will demand, say, a territory in
the South of France and will start expulsions of the people that have
been living there - will you support this? People who oppose Zionism in
the way it unfolded itself in the history of the State of Israel (not
the Zionism of Ahad Ha'Am, say) do so mostly on these grounds. This, I
repeat again, does not have to have anything to do with

In general, in any moral and legal framework, people can exercise their
rights and freedoms only as long as this does not encroach upon other
people's rights and freedoms

I don't know if the Zionist dream could have been realized without the
expulsions of the Arabs in 1948. It is a hard question. Some, even
former(?) leftists like Beni Morris or Yehoshua Porat, while admitting
that atrocities were performed by the young state and that it was
unprecedented not to let the Palestinian refugees return home once the
hostilities were over, claim that Israel was justified in doing so as a
prerequisite to its survival. A moot point, both from factual and moral
points of view. If they are correct (which I don't believe to be the
case) then I will indeed be forced to conclude that the idea of Zionism
did not have a moral footing from the very beginning. Zionism did not
prevent the Holocaust of the Jewish people and it does not make the
Jewish people safer in general, since we're actually safer being
scattered across many countries ("don't put all your eggs in one
basket", as they say). Even so, I don't believe that the Zionist dream
still demands the continuous dispossession of the Palestinians for its
survival right now (actually, quite the opposite is true!). What's done
is done and we cannot go back and fix our past mistakes and crimes. The
State of Israel exists, like it or not, and our efforts, our moral
imperative must be to address the injustices we cause today, prevent any
in the future and retribute for the past.

YMedad said...

Sorry for being short (you seem to have more time that I): "prerequisite dispossession and expulsion"? Which history books have you been reading? The Jews (those who weren't already the resident and indigenous population in the four main cities and other places) first went to outlying areas, bought the land and attempted to integrate to the extent they could. We'll skip the "prerequisite" Arab thievery and violence during 1860 - 1920 and get right to the violence that they initiated, with the intent of ethnically cleansing the land of Jews and which they succeeded - temporarily at Tel Chai, Hulda, etc. and permanently (Hebron, Bet HaAravah, Neveh Yaakov, at least until 1967).

Peter Drubetskoy said...

Well, in which world do you live then? In your post in the lengthy citation on the collaboration of Arabs with the Zionists it claims that "by the end of 1947, Zionist institutions and individual Jews had bought close to 7 percent of Palestine's land surface". Wow, a whooping 7%! There must be some mistake, no? We got 55% of the territory. Well, it included Negev - technically Eretz Israel, but somewhat looked down upon, not what we really wanted! We wanted those lands with the few water resources and more or less fertile lands, no? We wanted to be in the merkaz, who cares about some arid Negev? But that's aside...
Now, did you see me denying that Arabs also used ethnic cleansing against Jews in Hebron and other places? But is one justified in stealing from other people because one is robbed? Is one justified kicking other people out of their houses if one is kicked out? And if Arabs wanted to ethnically cleanse the land of the Jews (which, as your quotes on collaborators show, wasn't the intention of all the Arabs, definitely) what of the Yishuv leadership, which was much more unified and systematic in its efforts to do the same (and never really concealed it)?
Now, how many Jews were ethnically cleansed form "Tel Chai, Hulda <...>Hebron, Bet HaAravah, Neveh Yaakov<...>" etc? About 10,000. How many Arabs? About 750,000! 450 villages erased. Surely, all of these people wanted only our deaths, right? If this is not dispossession and expulsion, what is?

Peter Drubetskoy said...

”and the Arabs privately owned only 15% of the land, the rest was up for grabs and the Mandate promised all of that for the development of the Jewish National Home.”

First, 15% is more than twice than 7%. Second, I wonder where even this number is coming from. This source details some of the available demographic data and the difficulty in estimating the precise numbers. Regardless, the myth of “land without people for people without land” seems to be just a very convenient fabrication.

Mandate promises are immaterial. They were made by a colonial power without asking the indigenous population (neither Jewish, which was on the whole opposed to Zionism at that time, nor Arab) and were definitely superseded by the UN Partition Plan.

”and yes, I assume that the vast majority of those Arabs deasired the physical extermination of all the Jews in the Mandate area, many acted on that belief (no matter how incompetent you think they were) and then after 1948, they continued, first as fedayeen, then as Fatah, then as PLO, then as Hamas, then as Islamic Jihad and now we have Iran.

Wow, you put them all in one big basket of your hate (forgetting, for a second, that Iran is not even an Arab country.) Let’s talk about fedayeen, for example: "Using documentary evidence from IDF archives Israeli historian Benny Morris has concluded that the majority of Palestinians killed on the border between 1949 and 1956 were unarmed migrants.” (source). Talk about “the vast majority”

Hamas became a major force only after we helped it to become such (and Islamic Jihad does not even deserve a mention when talking about vast Palestinian support, being a much smaller group) In fact, all Israel managed to do with its policy is to increasingly radicalize the Palestinian society (admittedly, just as Palestinian leadership with its actions did the same to the Israeli public.) I don’t actually think Hamas is the worst it could get. If Israel were able to substantially weaken Hamas (which doesn’t seem at all realistic), history teaches us that it will only bring about even more despicable groups – more like Al Qaeda, which so far had been opposed by the Palestinians. Even Hamas has more and less moderate elements within it. No, none love the Jews or are willing to accept the two states solution, but the more moderate elements are currently more concerned with creating more or less functioning Palestinian state in the WB and Gaza than with annihilating Israel. If we play it right and smart we can reach some sort of solution with those and who knows what changes both societies will undergo in 10 years of relative calm? Right now the tensions are so high, both sides are so convinced that the other side is the devil incarnate and that there will never be peace between the two, that this belief itself becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Meanwhile, unless one believes that some people are fundamentally bad based on their ethnic origin – and this is called “racism” – most people on both sides really just want to live normal lives. If it only weren’t for the ideological poisoning of their minds…

Regarding Iran, by the way: even if one is to accept the thesis that Iran is the biggest existential threat to Israel and that if it achieves the nukes it will use them against Israel (debatable points both, but regardless), then the most natural thing Israel should do is to achieve some solution vis-à-vis the Palestinians as soon as possible, because it will neutralize the Iranian threat more than anything else (and unless you live in a fantasy land, forget about a military option, really; I don’t think there is anybody in the world that, unless totally delusional, can seriously believe it is possible or will ever happen.)

And, finally, you never replied to my question: if you knew there was a really good chance of achieving peace with the Pals but for that you’d have to leave Shiloh or, let’s say, agree to live under Palestinian sovereignty, would you agree? The implication from your answer would be clear: if you would not agree, then the territories are more important for you than peace and all your talk about how peace with Arabs/Palestinians is impossible is nothing but a smoke screen for your insistence to keep living in a certain place under a certain rule. If one the other hand, you do agree, then peace is possible and there is a point to try to discuss what kind of steps could bring to it.

P.S. I wonder whether you got my email I sent to your begincenter.org.il account (I got some notification that there were problems delivering it.) If you did not, how could I reach you?