Monday, March 7, 2016

Moving forward to change the narrative about racism

Sar Shalom

As others have noted, the Arabs' strategy to eradicate Israel has evolved first from a conventional military campaign, to a terror campaign, and now into a delegitimization campaign in order to enlist the world to eradicate Israel on their behalf. An essential component of this delegitimization campaign is that Israel is a European colonial creation which has developed into an Apartheid state. Those who have followed my writings would know that I have often argued to counter the Apartheid smear with references to how Zionism does for the Jews what Reconstruction tried to do for the freedmen. One objection to this approach is that historians will hesitate to accept the analogy. As this is a realistic obstacle to advancing a narrative of emancipation of Middle Eastern Jewry, I would like to suggest an alternative tack that could open the door to such acceptance, but would avoid openly challenging the precious narrative of Palestinian pristine victimhood, at least to start, and thereby avoid raising defense mechanisms to counter the effort.

One thing to understand about the Apartheid smear is that it relies on Zionists being portrayed of European colonists. That is what separates the claimed Apartheid in Israel from the genuine Apartheid in much of the rest of the Middle East. That is, while other Middle Eastern countries have separate castes based on religion, gender, or "Palestinian" status all of those are imposed by natives and it is thus tolerated if not supported. However, in Israel the differences are imposed by those whom the West has dubbed "European colonists," and that is what must be opposed. However, in order for the designation of European colonialist, and subsequently that those colonialists are practicing Apartheid, to be accepted, it has to be accepted that the Israeli Jews are, well, European. Fortunately for those continuing the war against Israel by diplomatic means, and unfortunately for the truth, this is an easy sell for much of the West. Most Americans and Europeans do not know any non-European Jews, nearly everything presented about Jewish history and culture is European-Jewish history and culture, and most of the public figures from Israel are White Ashkenazi Sabras with Protexia.

To counter the misperception that Jewry is European-Jewry we need to promote cultural interest stories about Mizrahi Jewry on a regular basis. I have in mind Simon Schama's miniseries from a few years ago The Story of the Jews. Such a production would start by asking what you think of when you think of Jews and show images associated with Ashkenazi Jews. It would then proceed to show another side of Jewry coming from the Middle East. Initial stages should focus on Middle East Jewry on its own terms without calling attention to the abuse perpetrated by surrounding populations on them. Such attention will alert the defense mechanisms of pristine victimhood meme and hinder knowledge from seeping in to the general consciousness that could engender receptiveness to the notion that Middle Eastern Jews deserve protection. The next stage would highlight the connection between European Jewry and the Jews of Palestine, both in terms of movement from Europe to Palestine and of European support for the Jewish community in Palestine. Once it is no longer assumed that the Jews had abandoned and forgotten their homeland, either after the Babylonian exile or after the Bar Kochba revolt, the privations of the Pact of Umar would be introduced. The defense mechanisms for the pristine victimhood meme would go up at that point, but by then common knowledge of Middle Eastern Jewish history could parry those mechanisms much as knowledge of the Holocaust used to parry questions about Israel. Finally, education about Middle Eastern Jewish history would cover the reintegration of European Jewry into the Middle East in the various aliyah waves.

Such an effort may or may not persuade a wider audience about the reality of the Arabs' motives. However, it would not create any reason to support their efforts and thus would have little risk. Further, it would educate us about a much neglected part of our people.


  1. In the land that engendered the term, pronounced 'apart-hate' their treatment of the sort-of more or less indigenous population is not remarkably different from the treatment of the indigenous populations in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil or Mexico. It's simply not. The only significant measurable difference is that the indigenous population was never numerically overwhelmed whereas in all those other places they were, either by immigration or extermination or both. This is why the Arabs have to harp on the trope that "Greater Israel" is such a horror. Because in Israel, the Jews in fact are numerically superior and for better or worse that's an unavoidable fact. The Arabs are forced to portray 'The Jews' as this tiny minority ruling over a vast sea of Arab multitudes, which of course is complete nonsense but it makes a nice story.

    And the reason I noted that in the RSA there is a sort-of indigenous majority is because there's never such as thing as 'the black' population. The RSA has 11 different official languages that demarc groups of peoples who many of whom came TO the RSA at the same time as the whites AND for the last few centuries were constantly at a level of low grade hostilities with one another. There's strong evidence that Mandela's own Thembu people migrated to South Africa in the 16th century from Eastern Central Africa and the Eastern Great Lakes. That predates the Europeans by barely a hundred years.

    By comparison the anthropology of the Native Americans in the US is replete with tales of tribes and nations at near permanent genocidal war with EACH OTHER. Now this was not a constant or prevalent thing everywhere but it was present. But that's glossed over in the quest for the "Happy Noble Savage" mytho-hagiography we swear by.

    But I digress....

  2. We are a people at war wherever we live.

    Trudy knows that.

    1. No, we're not. We're a people that face considerable threat wherever we are. Not a people who are - or have ever wanted to be "at war." ( Unless you go back millennia.) Mostly we have just wanted to be able to get on with our lives. And we have. But the world can't take very much of that. It never has. It's always been that way. Nothing will change it. It is gearing up again all over the world. Again.
      We should all be aware of that. It's only going to get worse. *Not* just in Israel/Palestine, but everywhere. Including the U.S.

      Robert Wistrich was warning of this. He was right.

    2. No one wants to make Jews stateless again just to leave us alone.

      Israel is the resistance. Holding on to defendable territories until such a time as no terror state can emerge is an act of resistance.

    3. I don't know, Kate.

      We're a people that face considerable threat wherever we are. Not a people who are - or have ever wanted to be "at war."

      I'm sure that you've heard the line when someone says that they're not interested in politics that, "Well, you may not be interested in politics but it doesn't mean that politics is not interested in you."

      The way that I think of it is that the Jewish people of the Middle East - but not only in the Middle East - are a people under siege.

      Whether we want to call it "war" or some other euphemism is not so important to me.

      What is important is that we acknowledge the threat, openly and publicly, and act upon it.

      I consider myself to be in a privileged position merely because I live in a part of the world wherein almost nobody particularly wants to see me dead for religious reasons. But as we learned from San Bernadino, even that is relative because the idiot in the White House is ushering Jihad into the United States... without even necessarily meaning to do so.

      There is no one in this world who wants peace more than do the Jewish people, but it's not an option.

      The genocidal Arabs have made it exceedingly clear over many decades - over millennia - that they want us dead or gone and they are not the least bit shy about saying so on a public stage.

      The rest of the world seems to think that we have it coming, that Jews deserve whatever beating that we get, and this puts us in the position wherein our only option is to fight back hard.

      It does not matter to me what we call it.

      War or not war.

      What does matter to me is that we take effective measures to make it end so that our kids do not have to grow up with this crap and I can write about baseball or cooking or fishing or even astronomy.

      If my tone sounds pissed-off, it is because I am damn well pissed-off.

      I am not pissed-off at you. You are friend and a fellow Jew.

      But I am very pissed-off at the heinous scum who refuse to leave us alone.

    4. Mike,
      However much Arab societies have been unable to overcome their endemic anti-Semitism - and it is anti-Semitism that goes back many, many centuries - it is true to say that it was another part of the world that actually acted on its genocidal feelings. The Middle East is an extraordinarily difficult place for Jews and other minorities. There are complex and interesting reasons for that. Really complex reasons. Israel's existence is simply one further layer on that cake.
      Btw, Gad Saad, who grew up as a Jew in Lebanon, and eventually had to flee to escape execution, is very interesting on the subject.

      There seems to be a very significant difference between Jews in Europe and Jews in America. Here in Europe, we - regardless of age- seem to take nothing for granted. Well, at least those of us who aren't ostriches.
      That means we pick up on the changes happening around us. And our antennae go up. Maybe because we know we need to be aware. We know that is what is happening now. And that it has been going on for quite a long time. We see all the signs. Small and large. Being at risk of death is the least of it. It doesn't work that way. Even with the awful events in Paris etc. We are more and more uncomfortable with the language spoken around us, the casual references to conspiracy theories, the relentless anti-Zionism that has become the overwhelming obsession of so much of our media, intelligentsia, and artistic community. We see and hear it in our schools and universities. And most particularly, from our left-leaning political parties and their supporters. We can sense an old and recognizable ugliness in our countries. And, I would say, this time we have a real sense that we are looking at a kind of ending.
      It is in the air.
      And people are having to be more cautious about advertising their identity. Our synagogues and institutions, our Jewish schools are under guard. They have had to be for a very long time. More so lately with possibilities of terrorist attacks. But guarded for a long time now.
      We realize we are insecure and that we are under pressure. And that changes in European demographics will not necessarily be helpful. We are a less and less important electoral bloc. We are small in number.

      Communities are starting to disappear in some countries. That will increase. Over time.
      It *is* a pattern; as David Deutsch says. And many of us know it. The Western world tolerates Jews for small periods of time. And then its age-old habits start up again. You have it somewhat different in the States. Thankfully. Although my feeling is that that too will change. One can already see signs of that.
      Could Israel/Palestine be sorted out? By diplomatic missions from the US etc.,? I don't think it has any hope. Could Israel/Palestine be sorted out by any of the draconian measures you and others have mentioned? ( And I leave aside that I vehemently disagree with those measures ) I do not believe they would bring about anything that resembles peace. If any of those measures were taken, the repercussions would take your breath away. The Middle East would erupt. And all Jews everywhere would be in a position of immeasurable precariousness.
      I don't think there are answers to this. That may be my "European-ness" talking. But that's not necessarily a bad thing as in this part of the world we have got used- however horrible it is- to a feeling that we are always here on sufferance.
      That is reality. And reality is worth facing up to.

  3. Israel could start by dropping a big old bomb on Abbas' head:

    "A condolence letter from Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to the family of a terrorist killed trying to run over Jews expresses “great sorrow and deep anguish.”

    According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MERI), a non-profit organization that translates Arab and Persian media, Abbas sent the letter on March 6, 2016 to the family of Amani Hosni Jawad Al-Sabatin. Two days before, on March 4, Sabatin was killed after she attempted a car-ramming attack against a group of Israeli soldiers at Gush Etzion junction, just south of Jerusalem.

    In his letter, Abbas—who has frequently been referred to by press and policymakers as a “moderate”—calls the deceased terrorist a “martyr who quenched the land of Palestine with her pure soul.” After expressing his sorrow and anguish, the PA leader states:

    “I beseech Allah the Exalted and the Omnipotent to bestow upon this martyr His many mercies, and may she rest in Paradise. May Allah fill your heart with forbearance and consolation.”

    Eliminate the inciters.

  4. "The conclusion is obvious: Israel must assert sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and most of the Arabs must leave."

    He makes sense.

    "They have deluded themselves into thinking that we are like the Crusaders or the French colonists in Algeria, and if they make things hard enough we’ll go back where we came from. But where we came from is here. Their strategy has guaranteed that the only solution for us is for them to leave. And we are the stronger party."

    1. Ah, but what about "ethnic cleansing" so unacceptable in the 21st century.

    2. It's unacceptable because it *is* unacceptable.

    3. Come to think of it ethnic cleansing would have been a smart solution. One and done. For example, there is no "Armenian Apartheid Week".

  5. You're raising valid points about what Israel should do in the kinetic war (military jargon for involving lethal force).

    However, this post is about our enemies' nonkinetic efforts as represented in the delegitimization campaign, (start at 1:50). My conjecture is that the acceptance of the delegitimizing memes starts with the belief that Jews, if they had any connection to the southwest Levant at some point in ancient history, had abandoned and forgotten it. People apparently believe that a bunch of Europeans one day opened the Bible and decided that its text gave them the right to dispossess a people in a far away land the way the Bible records that the Israelites did to the Canaanites (never mind what archaeology says about the transition from Canaanite to Israelite rule). Any objections to that conjecture? Any questions as to potential of my action platform to change that public perception?

    As Einat Wilf has said elsewhere, , our problem is that we assume everyone knows the fundamentals. People will not know that Jews were living in the Levant throughout the period of Muslim rule unless we tell them and repeat it over and over.

    1. Of course it would be a good thing to tell people the history. The problem has been that the Arabs through their various channels have been getting to them first. Yes, it would be good if the narrative people know is the one where Jews have been living on their own land despite various occupations over the last two millennia.

  6. Hard to believe anybody would miss Joe Biden. Just sayin'...