It’s not very often that I find a review of a book worth reading in the English language zionist Jerusalem Post… but this one in particular caught my eye because it included a photo of Noam Chomsky. His has been one of the loudest voices of reason since the creation of the State of Israel.
Those of us that oppose Israeli policies have been labeled by the Israelis as;
The list is endless… especially for Jews like myself that actually live in Israel. To criticise, to condemn is not always out of hate. That is a point that the accuser does not want to see. It is often done out of love, not only for our own people, but for those victimised by them. To sit by silently while our people act like the beast that the west ‘supposedly’ destroyed in World War 2 is a crime in itself.
I owe no one an apology for my outspokeness. I owe no one an explanation of why I am the way I am. None of the labels mentioned above fit me, if anything I can be labeled a Humanist… if that is a crime than I am guilty.
Below is the book review mentioned. It is long but worth reading.
It is followed by an article from today’s Wall Street Journal… by a Palestinian American living in Ramalla… quite the eye opener and definitely worth your time if you are sincerely a supporter of Human Rights.
By Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor (editors)
Transaction Publishers, 283 pages, $39.95
The passionate debates that raged through the Jewish world about Zionism in the years before the Second World War have long since died down, rendered irrelevant by events. Today Israel enjoys overwhelming, if occasionally critical, support.
But in recent years, the anti-Zionist camp has managed to recruit a motley collection of Jewish apologists, who seize every chance to proclaim that the Jewish state has no right to exist.
The editors of The Jewish Divide over Israel, Edward Alexander, an American professor emeritus of English, and Paul Bogdanor, a Londonbased writer, return fire in this feisty collection of essays, including contributions from such distinguished contributors as Cynthia Ozick and Irving Louis Horowitz.
The problem this book faces is that it aims at targets who, for the most part, are too extreme to be interesting in themselves. George Orwell noted 60 years ago that there are dreary tribes of polemicists who have to be fought against, but in real life are not worth powder and shot.
The contributions here that eviscerate Noam Chomsky and Israel Shahak are cases in point. They are crisply and efficiently written, but the overall effect on the reader is depressing.
Doubtless these pieces are necessary, and useful for those who have to deal with the wild allegations of such people and their disciples. But the awkward fact is that monomania only excites the hopelessly partisan. Even its exposure does little to lift the reader’s spirits.
The book becomes much more interesting when it tries to answer the question as to why some Jews feel motivated to attack Israel with boundless ferocity, identifying it as “the father of impurities from which all lesser deformities flow.”
Some personal factor or factors are at work. What are they? Disappointment? Perhaps. Several Jewish intellectuals charge that Israel’s behavior violates the highest Jewish ethics and values. This claim has some basis. All states, driven by necessity, mistake or fear, go wrong from time to time.
But the conclusion the critics draw that Israel has therefore lost its moral right to exist is absurd, ignoring as it does such Jewish values as repentance and forgiveness. In the mind of the accusers, Israel alone should forfeit its existence for its bad behavior.
What is worse, most of these people are ignorant of Jewish values, and otherwise do not identify as Jews. As the editors point out, it is “the demonization of Israel that makes them Jews.” A desire to fit in to their intellectual milieu? More likely. In progressive academic circles, hostility to Israel is a fact of life.
When the likes of Tony Judt complain that Israel is bad for the Jews, they worry that their Jewishness will compromise them in the eyes of anti-Israel campus critics. The venom of their attacks comes partly from the fear that any hint that they accept Israel’s existence will rule them out of decent, left-wing society.
Just as the baptismal certificate was the entry ticket to European culture for the Jewish intellectual of the 19th century, so the anti-Israel article in the London Review of Books is the price of academic acceptance for the Jewish intellectual of today.
The weakness of the intellectual for rigid ideological schemes for distinguishing good guys from bad guys, summed up by the editors as “utopian messianism,” and a resulting intolerance toward those who have no choice but to make compromises with reality, should also be taken into account.
All these things, however, do not entirely explain the obsessive and intense hatred of Israel on display here. It boils down, in all probability, to the discomfort felt by a few Jews with the positive assertion of any form of Jewish identity.
In some obscure way, these people take such assertions to be an attack upon themselves and upon their status, and react accordingly. And to them, the very existence of a Jewish state is cause for alarm. They internalize all attacks on Israel, fair or otherwise, as truthful because it chimes with their sense of psychological unease, and they react either by publicly pronouncing anathema upon Zionism or by fawning over its attackers.
The essays here, about half of which are appearing in print for the first time, are nearly all well written and of high quality. If I had to single out one piece for special mention though, I would select Alan Mittleman’s superb demolition of the theologian Marc Ellis.
His target is easy meat: anyone who spends Yom Kippur attacking Israel in front of a Christian audience leaves himself open to justified ridicule. But Mittleman’s incisive analysis sums up not only Ellis, but many other high-minded critics, when he remarks that “…he holds up an entirely unrealistic standard for politics – the complete renunciation of national interest – as the only measure of a just politics. The historic Jewish community, marginalized and victimized, apparently lived according to this standard. Only with the state, with the return to history, have Jews forfeited their pristine morality for a sinful compromise with the world.”
There are a couple of difficulties with this book. First, the editors, by concentrating on left-wing Jewish enemies of the state, ignore others no less dangerous. Where is Natorei Karta in all this? Their public caperings in full haredi garb at the side of terrorists sworn to our destruction is notorious, but you will find little mention of them here. Yet they too have influence, albeit not on college campuses, and they have in full measure that “utopian messianism” rightly decried by the editors.
Second, not all of its targets belong here. Nobody need quibble with the presence of the Noam Chomskys, the Jacqueline Roses, and the Norman Finkelsteins of this world. They have earned their reward in full.
But Thomas Friedman is scarcely a sworn enemy of Israel, however unfair his criticism of the country may be. And while Benny Morris’s books receive wellmerited attention here from Efraim Karsh, his recent polemical writings, including a thorough debunking of the egregious Ilan Pappe, come close to earning himself a place in this book as a contributor.
Alexander and Bogdanor have certainly put together an impressive and necessary book. But be prepared to be depressed too.
Here is the second article…
Wall Street Journal
Things Go Better With Rights
By ZAHI KHOURI
September 30, 2006; Page A8
In 1995, I moved from a comfortable life in America to Ramallah, Palestine, to invest in the most American of businesses there. I was instrumental in bringing Coca-Cola to the Middle East in the early 1980s; after the Oslo Peace Accords were signed I decided to launch the Coke franchise in the West Bank and Gaza.
Over the last decade, the business has grown. Today, Coca-Cola employs hundreds of Palestinians and sells 10 million cases of Coke a year.
As a Palestinian American, this was more than a moneymaking venture. Each gleaming bottle, with that red Coca-Cola swirl in both Arabic and English, would be a miniature ambassador from America. And each potential investor who saw that Coke was successful might decide to invest as well. It seemed the perfect strategy: to promote American interests while helping to build an economy that could serve as the foundation of a viable, independent Palestinian state.
Following the peace accords, scores of other Palestinian Americans moved to the West Bank and Gaza. Professors came to teach at universities. Doctors came to help modernize the healthcare system and treat patients. Artists came to exhibit and perform. Other business professionals came to invest, modernize the economy and create jobs. Each, in their way, wanted to help build an independent Palestine. Each served as the real ambassadors of America, so different from the American-made Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets Israel uses to rain destruction on the Palestinian economy, cities and villages.
But Israel has decided that we Americans are not welcome. Many, like me, have lived in the West Bank for more than a decade. Unlike American Jews — or Jews from anywhere — who can receive instant citizenship upon arrival, we are unable to obtain residency. Instead, we Christian and Muslim Palestinians must rely on our American passports, renewing our tourist visas every three months. A hassle, yes, but the only way to stay in Palestine, often in the homes our families have inhabited for generations.
Since Hamas assumed government authority after democratic elections this year, Israel has begun to deny Palestinian Americans the right to enter. We are left to wonder why.
This new policy could be another turn of the screw to pressure Hamas. It could be manufactured as a painless concession for future negotiations. It could be one more tactic in Israel’s drive — which began in 1948 with the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians — to empty as much land of as many Palestinians as possible.
We do not know the reason for denying entry to Palestinian Americans. But we do know the result. In addition to breaking families apart — for example one spouse with children in the West Bank, and the other unable to return from visits to the U.S. — it is discouraging investors. It is driving out the very people the U.S. State Department, the World Bank and other international organizations encouraged to return. We are the ones building businesses, creating jobs and inspiring hope for a better future.
Using the pretext of security, Israeli policies of home demolitions, land confiscation, restrictions on movement and construction of the separation wall have choked the Palestinian economy. According to the U.N., more than 540 checkpoints and other structures impede movement throughout the West Bank, and crossings into Gaza are rarely open. Gaza represents 30% of the Palestinian economy. Yet we cannot ship goods from the West Bank to Gaza. And Gaza cannot import raw materials for processing, even though it possesses a talented labor force. Israel has also been refusing to turn over nearly $55 million a month (now totaling roughly $400 million) in Palestinian tax revenue. With the cutoff of international aid, this has led to a humanitarian catastrophe. Since March, Palestinian Authority employees — about one-quarter of the labor force — have not received their salaries.
Israel will not gain security by creating Mogadishu next to Silicon Valley. Only an open and thriving Palestinian economy can lay the foundation for a sustainable peace.
Our humanitarian crisis is not the result of a natural catastrophe. There was no tsunami, earthquake or drought. We helped to build nations. We have the natural resources and human capital to build a thriving, stable Palestinian economy as well. We do not need international handouts. We need the free movement of people and goods. We need unrestricted gateways between the occupied Palestinian territory and the rest of the world.
American policy makers have tremendous influence with Israel. They should use it to insist on freedom of movement of people and goods, and to maintain access for Palestinian Americans and Palestinians with other foreign passports to continue to play a role in economic development. A vibrant Palestinian economy serves the interests of all — Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.
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