Thursday, June 12, 2014

Creating a Narrative

Sar Shalom

narrative1In a previous post, I asserted that the test of a candidate's pro-Israel bona fides should be judged on what that candidate's narrative surrounding Israel is rather than on how much that candidates avows that he or she will support Israel. I would like to put forward a suggestion for an alternate narrative that would be more robust against delegitimization efforts. As a contrast, it would help to look at the narrative I imputed to Obama:
...the Jews had a connection to the land of Israel long, long ago, but abandoned and forgot it in ancient history, only to remember it in the wake of the horrors of the 20th century in Europe. While the Jews achieved great things when they resettled their home, one cannot ignore that they had to displace a thriving Arab population in order to achieve it.
A few observations from this pernicious narrative: one, we have to deemphasize the eurocentric basis for Jewish self-determination. The eurocentric narrative makes it too easy to claim that "innocent" Palestinians are paying the price for what Europe did during World War II (or even what Europe did during the preceding centuries to those who would admit that). Secondly, we need to do more to establish our indigenousness to the location. References to the Bible in general, and Genesis in particular, may have their place in instilling devotion to the land among the faithful, but to convince others we will need to answer for the time between, in Ruth Calderon's words, Tnach and Palmach.

To counter the delegitimizers' narrative, I propose focusing on the Jews who stayed in the region and only mention Jews from outside insofar as they affect the Jews there. Accordingly, the European Zionists would be noted for augmenting the local Jewish population, rather than creating it from scratch as seems to be the belief among many. An additional objective for a new narrative would be to liken Arab opposition to Zionism to the racism that prevailed in the American South and South Africa.

My narrative would start with the second Judean rebellion during Hadrian's reign. In the wake of that rebellion, Hadrian expelled the Jews from the core of the newly-renamed Palestine, that is from the vicinity of Jerusalem, though the Jews continued to maintain communities in the north and in the south of Palestine, albeit smaller than the community that existed prior to the rebellion. In subsequent centuries, these communities completed the Mishna and the Palestinian Talmud under Roman and then Byzantine rule. Following the Arab-Islamic conquest of the region, the Jews continued on, developing the vocalization system for Hebrew and writing much of the liturgical poetry that we know today.

The Jews suffered under Muslim rule, resulting in many of the local Jews either leaving or becoming Muslim, but this suffering was less than what came as a result of the Crusades. Thus, Jews joined with the Muslim armies in overthrowing the Crusades. At some point, Arab-Muslim rule was transferred to Ottoman-Muslim rule. Under Ottoman rule, there were two types of Muslims to whom the Jews had to accommodate themselves. There were the Ottoman rulers who merely required that the people living in the province accept Ottoman rule. However, there was also the local, largely Arab, Muslim population that expected to maintain the social order from the time of the Arab conquest in which Muslims were on top and Jews below, and would violently enforce that on anyone who did not have protection from the Ottoman authorities. Over time, as the economy in Palestine deteriorated, both Jews and non-Jews left the province, with the Jewish population surviving on alms sent in from Jewish communities from outside.

There were two changes in the 19th century. First, Ottoman authority began to break down, with the result that the local Muslims, as well as the Christian population, had a freer hand to oppress the Jews, which was manifested in the Damascus blood libel of 1840 as well as pogroms across Syria-Palestina in the following decades. Second, the local Jews saw an influx of coreligionists, both from the wider Middle East and from outside the Middle East, who came for their own purposes. These immigrant Jews may have had a paternalistic attitude to the local Jews, but they were more sympathetic to the local Jews than they were to the local non-Jews. Further, they did not come to the region to be subservient the way the effendi saw as their due from any non-Muslim. Much in the way the elite whites of the American South kept the lower-class whites by keeping them focused on any n***s asserting too much dignity, the effendi diverted the fellahin's rage by redirecting it to the erosion of Arab and Muslim privilege.

This will need some work. In particular, I would like to work in how the conflict continues today because the Palestinian national movement (PNM) will accept nothing less than the restoration of Arab/Muslim privilege in the entirety of Dar-al-Islam and possibly Matti Friedman's point about how the PNM finds losing to the Jews to be more humiliating than losing to Christians because there is no history of Jews being equal on the diplomatic stage the way there was with the Christians.

9 comments:

  1. Your thoughts make sense from a tactical standpoint, as well as from a historical standpoint.

    The eurocentric narrative makes it too easy to claim that "innocent" Palestinians are paying the price for what Europe did during World War II.

    It is necessary for pro-Israel / pro-Jewish people to make people understand that the Arabs represented a major factor in the Holocaust. People tend to think that guilt for the slaughter of the Jews and the Gypsies and the Gay people and the Socialists during the 1940s was mainly a German Nazi project, but this is false.

    The fact of the matter is that much of the Arab world coluded with the Nazis in the extermination of the Jews and that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem between 1921 and 1937, Haj Amin al-Husseini, spent the war years in Berlin and hoped to bring the Holocaust to Israel.

    Just why it is that they have gotten a free pass on that atrocious endeavor mystifies me.

    I presume that oil has something to do with it.

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    1. The role of Husseini is even worse than you describe. The Wannsee Conference, at which the Nazis decided to go from expelling Jews from where they ruled to implementing the Final Solution occurred two months after Hitler first met Husseini. Do you think it's a coincidence?

      Husseini deserved to be with Goerring, Ribbentrop, Doenitz and the other Class A war criminals on the docket and then at the scaffold at the Nurenberg Trials. But France decided to confine him in a manner, house arrest, to facilitate his escape, so that was not to be. The West's way of giving Husseini a pass has a long pedigree.

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    2. Don't know about the Mufti's persuasive powers, but he was definitely in the camp of war criminals.

      One huge mistake was not trying him at Nuremberg and thus making an official repudiation of Muslim antisemitism as acceptable in the area of human rights and politics.

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    3. Sar Shalom,

      And then he goes to Egypt where he was housed and befriended by the Brotherhood because he was a leading member of the Brotherhood in Israel prior to the current state.

      So, we know Husseini was a Nazi who hoped to bring the Holocaust home with him as a birthday present from Hitler.

      We know that Husseini was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Brotherhood was allied with, and in ideological sympatico, viz-a-viz the Jews, with the Nazis.

      We also know that the Obama administration sought to befriend the Muslim Brotherhood even during a period when Muhammad Morsi held rallies in Cairo screaming for the conquest of Jerusalem as a matter of Jihad.

      Can someone please put two and two together, because the disinclination to recognize the obvious on the part of allegedly intelligent people is becoming tedious.

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    4. Can't recognize the obvious if you don't know it, which is the case for most people, even progressive Jews among them.

      It is incredible to talk to some of these people and see how little they know, as they speak like experts. Their ignorance is fed by the false narrative that is prevalent among the intelligentsia.

      But change is starting, and once it takes hold, it will be multidimensional.

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  2. It is a larger problem when history is perverted. There is no reason to act like Zionism was not European, forged by people who saw what was coming, and acted to exert self-determination, their right, in the face of persecution, to join their brethren that never left.

    No "people" owned this land at the time, and it was always the homeland of all Jews, legally recognized after the Turks were forced to abdicate their own imperialistic activities.

    Palestinian Arab claims of external self-determination in Palestine was reflexive and an exercise in xenophobia and related Intolerance that is condemned in others, especially Jews that were free to move as they saw fit.

    What may be emphasized is that Israel is not only populated by European Jews, as many in the anti-Israel crowd believes, but half of its Jews are indigenous to the Middle East and lived under a different type of repression, but it was clearly repression of the type the anti-Israel crowd says they care about.

    In other words, Jews have nothing to apologize for and should confront the critics to be accountable for their numerous examples of immorality and outright bigotry.

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    1. Denying that Zionism was implemented by Europeans is admittedly problematic. However, there is need for a narrative that would justify the state of Israel even if there was no Spanish Inquisition, no Dreyfus Affair, and no Holocaust.

      Rabbi Yehuda Alkalay attempted to start a Zionist movement before Hertzl in response to events in the Middle East, specifically the Damascus blood libel. Other than that, I'm not aware of anyone attempting a narrative as I described. This is only a first attempt. A few key elements I'd included are:

      Jewish civilization continued to develop in Palestine after the Hadrian edicts.
      The Jewish communities of Palestine suffered privations under virtually all rulers.
      Jewish communities outside Palestine maintained a connection to the land by supporting Jewish communities there.
      Arab rejection of Zionism is based on religious and ethnic supremacism, not any real privations they are suffering.

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    2. Right the fuck on!

      This is what we need more of, School.

      Look 'em straight in the eye and tell the truth:

      "Jews have nothing to apologize for and should confront the critics to be accountable for their numerous examples of immorality and outright bigotry."

      That is precisely the conclusion that I came to within recent years.

      What I need to figure out, now, is how to represent in the manner that School is talking about, while still being able to simply enjoy a hot dog and a beer at a baseball game.

      You guys get me.

      There is only a tiny percentage of people who understand what we're talking about, despite the fact that there is no more vital conversation with such tremendous consequences.

      But I still intend to enjoy a dog at the game as much as I am able.

      Good shabbos, fellahs.

      :O)

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    3. But there WAS a Spanish Inquisition, Dreyfus Affair, and Holocaust. They are all relevant in the creation of Israel, in addition to it being the ancient and legally recognized homeland of the Jews.

      There is no uniform model to create a nation state. In the end it comes down to the ability to exercise sovereignty.

      As for how to find balance, it is necessary to understand that, even with the hate, Israel is strong. We can lose perspective in the narrow tunnel where the political battle is fought.

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