Thursday, October 20, 2011

LWieseltier in the Cognitive Warfare Trenches

Leon Wieseltier is the literary editor of The New Republic and has come up against a phenomenon that we have witnessed for decades but, being of the 'liberal' persuasion, he is...shocked.

He is forced to acknowledge crude anti-Zionism and perhaps anti-semitism amongst the elite he so much would like to think is like him: open, fair and rational.

In his Justice for Jebusites, he deals with the cognitive warfare waged against Israel, the idea of Zionism and the Jews.

Excerpts: is [Sari] Nusseibeh, in Al Jazeera, instructing the Jews on “why Israel can’t be a ‘Jewish State.’” He prefers “a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state whose official religion is Judaism and whose majority is Jewish,” which is fine, if the purpose of that Jewish majority is to establish the state also as a permanent unchallenged sanctuary for Jews: Zionism, after all, is primarily a remedy for a danger. But Nusseibeh’s reasonableness has its limits. He rehearses the old argument that “a ‘Jewish State’ implies that Israel is, or should be, either a theocracy (if we take the word ‘Jewish’ to apply to the religion of Judaism) or an apartheid state (if we take the word ‘Jewish’ to apply to the ethnicity of Jews).” This is absurd. The prospects of a Jewish theocracy in Israel are much less than the prospects of a Muslim theocracy in Palestine — none of the religious parties in Israeli politics are as powerful as Hamas is in Palestinian politics; and the guarantee of equal rights under law to all the inhabitants of Israel, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian, is the obvious antidote to the dystopian fantasy of apartheid...

...then Nusseibeh goes wild. The “more serious reason ... why Palestinian leaders—and indeed no responsible person—can morally recognise Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ ... has to do with the very Covenant of God in the Bible with Ancient Israelites.”...

...he explains, “no one then can blame Palestinians and descendants of the ancient Canaanites, Jebusites and others who inhabited the land before the Ancient Israelites...for a little trepidation as regards what recognising Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ means for them.” They have that Jebusite feeling!

Never mind that Palestinians are not the descendants of Canaanites. The Arab scion of Oxford rationalism is here concurring with the Jewish chiliasts in the West Bank that the Bible is the warrant for the politics of today. Nusseibeh is right: the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites was a genocidal affair. I never read those passages of my Bible without horror, though I know of no monotheism that has not justified the mass murder of innocents. But this Jewish state is not that Jewish state, and never was; and it is a slanderous misreading of the history of Zionism to suggest otherwise.

...MEANWHILE, IN The New York Review of Books, where a good word about Israel must never be said, David Grossman is denounced as an apologist for Israeli racism and expansionism. Yes, that David Grossman. In an incompetent and obtuse review of To the End of the Land, Patricia Storace accuses the Israeli writer of evasiveness and cowardice in his treatment of the Palestinian question. His book, she declares, reads like “the effect of a doctrinal national memory,” when in truth Grossman’s novel is a vast interrogation of doctrine and memory.

...Grossman is no more “confined” to Israel than Joyce was to Dublin or Faulkner was to Mississippi...What really bothers Storace about Grossman’s novel is that it is so damned Israeli, and that its attention wanders from the Palestinians, who are of course all you need to know about Israel. Her intolerant piece is yet another example of the new heartlessness toward Israel. A whole country and a whole people have been expelled from the realm of imaginative sympathy...

He is not a supporter of the Jewish communities in Yesha but nevertheless, realises that that issue is only a cover for the onslaught on Jewisah nationalism and the concept of a Jewish state in any geographical or political configuration. That animosity is what drives "Palestinianism".

It is evil, intolerant and life-threatening.

I love his title and remind you of my contra to the theme of "in Canaanite eyes", here, and here and here.


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