Monday, March 19, 2007

Never Again

Seems to be the message a great many of this nation's veterans are sending us. Those who have written the history of the '60s like to pretend that the entire population of America was in the streets protesting the war in Vietnam, but the truth is that a huge swath of the baby boom generation went to war, remain proud of their service, and justifiably remain incensed at the betrayal they experienced on their return. They seems determined to make sure that this generation of soldiers and vets is not betrayed and erased the way they were. The shadow history of the '60s has just taken to the streets to attack the remnants of the establishmentarians. I, for one, rejoice.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Jewish Self-Hatred on the Right

Gershom Scholem, the great scholar of Jewish mysticism, once criticized his friend Hannah Arendt for lacking what he called ahavat yisrael, a love of Israel. There are, of course, numerous permutations of this concept, but for me it has always meant the love of one's people, their struggles, their history, their labors and their creative will. Camus once said that a mission exists for any human group which knows how to derive pride and fecundity from its labors and its sufferings. This has always been my sense of chosenness and my sense of Zionism. Unfortunately, there are those among us -- and always have been -- for whom ahavat yisrael means nothing at all. Or worse still, it means the rejection and condemnation of all who do not meet their exacting standards of what yisrael ought to be. Most of the time I deal with the leftist form of this disease, i.e. those who claim that their love for the Jewish people demands that they destroy it through assimilation or universalization. But the problem is by no means confined to the left. This post brings home the darkness that exists on the other side of the political spectrum.
Israpundit recently posted Tovia Singer’s interview of Gil-White. I had a discussion with him today in which I expressed my difficulty in thinking of our leadership so darkly.

He reminded me that during the Greek occupation we had our Jewish Hellenists. During the Roman occupation we had our priestly class in bed with the Romans. In both cases the Jewish people rose up and took their future into their own hands.

Similarly Jewish leadership was far from blameless in not doing more to rescue Jews. In fact they worked against it. They got us into the disastrous Oslo process.

Now Jewish leadership has worked to demonize Israelis living in J & S, otherwise known as settlers, and persecuting them. Just look at Amona. The establishment including the media, academia and the GOI is planning to get Israel to withdraw. This is so even when the Jewish masses oppose such withdrawal.

If we have learned anything from Jewish history it is that we shouldn’t trust our leadership. They do not represent the interests of the people.
The author writes later in the comments section:
They say that people deserve the leaders they vote for. I am trying not to be fair or even to judge but to advocate for a higher standard and for accountability.

I am also calling for a different mindset. Starting with Ben Gurion Jews and Israel have been sold down the river. We have been lead in the direction of appeasement, capitulation and concession from the start.

We need leaders like Jabotinsky who had Jewish pride and was prepared to fight for our rights. Our leaders don’t even mention our rights. They emasculate them. They are embarrassed by the Jewish particular. They want to be like everyone else and to be loved by everyone else.
One doesn't know quite what to do with this kind of lunacy. Its very dissonance seems to shut down any possibility of rational engagement. The idea that David Ben-Gurion; perhaps the one indispensible man in Israeli history, the man without whom the State of Israel would never have been declared in the first place, let alone form an army, win its initial wars of survival and absorb a million immigrants; sold the Jews down the river is sickeningly totalitarian in the enormity of its falsehood. If Ben-Gurion is a traitor then we are all traitors. The standard of loyalty has been reduced to nothing more than adherence to the ideals of the author. What these ideals precisely are I have no idea. They seem to be a random accumulation of vaguely Kahanist fantasies. The notion, for instance, of the "Hellenists" is a classic Kahanist trope. Besides the fact that it is a two thousand year old anachronism, it is, essentially, nothing more than a means of extricating from the Jewish people any and everyone who does not agree with those who employ it. Am I a "Hellenist" because I believe that Israel should withdraw from most of the West Bank? Do I fear the Jewish particular because I think that Ben-Gurion was a great man and not a traitor to his people? Am I not one of Israel because I fear the messianic psychosis expressed by this author? Because I dare to note that when "the Jewish people rose up and took their destiny into their own hands" against the Romans the result was annihilation, genocide and exile?

As for "working against" rescuing Jews, I simply have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If Israel has not done enough to be a refuge for Ethiopian Jews, Soviet Jews, Ashkenazi and Sephardi alike, then nothing will satisfy its purient critics. This is not even to mention operations such as Entebbe, which actively put the lives of Israeli soldiers at risk on foreign soil to rescue not only Israeli citizens but Jews of many nationalities.

The citing of Jabotinsky is telling indeed. We are told that Jabotinsky had Jewish pride and was prepared to fight for Jewish rights. This is true. I admire Jabotinsky as much as the next man. There is, however, a difference between me and this author: I have actually read his work. Jabotinsky was uncompromising, yes. But he was also the quintessential political realist. He was, in fact, the least messianic of the early Zionist leaders. Yes, he desired the restoration of Jewish pride. Yes, he opposed many of Ben-Gurion's policies which he viewed as unduly accomodationist. Yes, he advocated defiance as a form of political action. But he never entertained the fantasy that the Jewish people were invulnerable. He never branded his enemies traitors because of their political beliefs. His aim was to instill pride -- and thus power -- in the Jewish people, not to divide it into "Hellenists" and "real" Jews. And indeed, if any Zionist leader was wholly engaged in the world outside of Jewish tradition it was Jabotinsky. This was a man who based his philosophy on European liberalism and took the Italian nationalist leader Garibaldi as his model. He respected Jewish tradition, but was never beholden to it. He was a model of the "normalized" Jew he sought to create, a normalization based on the negation of the ghetto and the exile. In other words, a Jew who based his identity on nationalist principles and not on religion. What Jabotinsky would have to say about the appropriation of his name by those who would label the majority of the Jewish people traitors is impossible to say, but I doubt he would view it as a positive development.

More to the point, since I am writing here of Jewish self-hatred, we can see where this self-referential and self-fulfilling philosophy, this endless closed circle is taking us: to something very much like antisemitism. I have said from time to time that Kahane was an antisemite. I am generally greeted with open mouths and shocked expressions. While I sometimes enjoy rendering people speechless, I am not being frivolous when I say this. The philosophy we have here before us renders, for all intents and purposes, every Jew who does not agree with it a "Hellenist". That is to say, a traitor. By definition, therefore, the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people are wholly condemned. Most of us, after all, are not Kahanists or any variation thereof. We are enjoined, of course, to hate and despise traitors, and to consider them our enemies. Any philosophy that hates, despises and makes an enemy of the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people can bare no other name than antisemitism. And antisemitism in the hands of Jews can bear no other name than self-hatred. This self-hatred is, of course, brethren to its left wing counterpart. It concieves of itself as a voice crying in the wilderness to a stiff-necked and corrupted people. A people becoming progressively unworthy of salvation or even, perhaps, existence. There can be no answer to it except the simple dictum of the Sages: the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. They meant hatred between Jews. This hatred, baseless as it is, insane as it is; as self-hatred is, of course, inherently insane; is, for me, the most terrifying and ominous threat in an era which sometimes seems to be nothing more than an infinite architecture of the ominous and the terrifying.