“Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews.”
— Tom Lehrer, National Brotherhood Week
Recently, newly minted political tool Ilhan Omar* stumbled in her attempt to recover from her previous stumble in the international Blame the Jews 1500 meter high hurdle.
Having already repeated the old dance hall favorite that the Jews are magical Hebbes with the power to mystify their victims, she apologized (sincerely) and then switched to an old Blues standard about Jews using their endless financial resources to force the otherwise moronic Goyim to do their bidding. In this instance she meant that AIPAC, the shadowy gang of mostly Jewish lobbyist thugs, in cahoots with the not as shadowy thugs in Israel and their conniving thug allies in America, were buying America’s foreign policy to support Israel.
What followed was the usual dreary paint by numbers politics of blame, accusation, repentance, and media mud fight with conservatives and what is charitably referred to as the left, barfing on themselves and each other.
It would all be fairly humorous if not for the fact that the planet is on fire and because humans, like the old Bourbon kings of Europe, learn nothing and forget nothing, which has once again allowed blame the Jews to soar to the top of the cultural political pop charts.
Amid the round up the usual suspects routine a new twist has emerged in which self proclaimed nuance experts or experts of nuance, are arrived to tell thee that rep Omar’s only authentic mistake was in her delivery – as if New Coke would have tasted better if only Coke had used a more persuasive advertising slogan.
This of course is the same old anti-Semitism in a new package but, unlike the gutter variety of your average Neo Nazi, this has the stench of an ill-conceived celebrity endorsed perfume.
We hasten to point out that for once there was, amid the rhetorical hysteria, a refreshing and all too brief moment of actual clarity and nuance from the so-called alternative media, as one of the satellites of the Young Turks pointed out that while rep Omar is not an anti-Semite, she is a bit daft and keeps making use of reheated standard issue anti-Semitic language. Or what these days everyone calls tropes and/or memes. They then pointed out that AIPAC is a powerful lobby organization, American foreign policy is a cross between a bit of Tarantino dialogue and a coma, and that if you’re going to aim a rhetorical blunderbuss at Capital Hill and its systemic corruption, all that’s required to hit the target, is aim and pull the trigger – to begin by saying lobbying is a corrupt adjunct to the terminally corrupt whore house of politics because capitalism is king pimp.
And that by definition includes AIPAC.
Alas poor Ilhan who reversed the order and telescoped her dismount by saying two things that are technically correct but morally repugnant – that it begins and ends with the Jews (and then added the NRA as a similar if distinct example of slithering reptilian immorality – which is a bit like blaming cigarettes for cancer and then mentioning in passing the absence of universal healthcare after everyone has run screaming from the barn) and that it (politics generally, Israel and the Jews specifically) is all about the Benjamins.
Unlike the slightly more twitter savvy but no less intellectually featherweight** AOC who is currently reaping the befits of the first stages of the cult fever infecting her supporters, Ilhan stumbled over the pop culture artillery and muffed the dismount.
It – politics – is indeed all about the Benjamin’s but you don’t substitute a car muffler for a saxophone and then conclude that as a result of the pernicious influence of money within the socio economic thunder dome of capitalism, there is something sinister and unique about the Jews. Or as Miles Davis said, when told during the Kind of Blue sessions that the other resident genius, Coltrane, was having anxiety about knowing when to stop his solos – well, tell him to try taking the horn out of his mouth.
The left – we again use the phrase loosely – has an addiction problem. Jews -say the bigots – they just can’t quit them. By which we mean that the Tourette’s Syndrome have to have another shot of political rhetorical heroin reflex, to constantly bring up Israel/Zionism/the Jews/Money and so on, is both absurd and toxic.
It is toxic because it repeats the not so very long ago routines of the more lethal political viruses that previously engulfed the planet and it is absurd because Work Shall set You Free is not just a porcine obscenity, (and an example of Martin Luther’s rank monstrous stupidity) it’s also a fantastic example of how the Germans believe that jokes are always funnier when you take the time to explain them. Or as the late and dearly missed Robin William said when asked by a German reporter, why he thought Germany had no reputation for stand up comedy: Did it ever occur to you to stop killing all of the funny people.
The very act of asking about Israel, and the act of answering, are at this point suspect at best and at worst only one step removed from black leather trench coats and a pressing urge to drive a lot of tanks into Poland.*** Israel’s impact in the world is minor compared to say, China, or India, or The United States, or Europe, and the focus on Israel is in direct inverse proportion to that impact. The irony being that critics of Israel are quick to say yes Israel may be small but it sits at the crossroads of the oil and therefore, Gaza, Gaza, Gaza,
And the reason that’s ironic is because talking about Israel and oil and being upset about one and not the other (or being upset about both but insisting that the petroleum spot market has nothing to do with cost of wheat in Kansas) is like staging an anti NRA rally at Parkland and demanding that everyone wear body armor.
All of which brings us to the spastic pinhead of the journalistic “left” – The Guardian.
Exhibiting the classic symptoms of let’s blame the Jews fever, The Guardian published a below the fold train wreck by a Ph.D. candidate named, Barnaby Raine.
Raine is a poster boy for Columbia Universities’ notorious blame the Jews assembly line which was established decades ago by itinerant bigots looking for a place to set up their stalls and display their trinkets.
Their argument – such as it is – is repeated by Raines with all the gusto of a gigolo with one eye on a rich old bat and her jewels, and the other on the nearest exit.
Raines begins with a nice head fake in which Ilhan is blamed New Coke style for bad messaging but not for the cancer causing content of her message. AIPAC are goons, money in politics is a toxic and Zionism is a plague.
Well yes, yes, and please go fuck yourself.
Zionism is of course flawed. But then again, so were Albert Speer’s blueprints. Werner von Braun’s autobiography was called: I Reach for the Stars. And as Mort Shal said: And it should have been subtitled: But sometimes I miss and hit London.
But Raines doesn’t stop there. His next number, an old crowd pleaser, is that Zionism is only about the victimization of the Palestinians. And like America Israel is only a colonial monstrosity that has done nothing expect spill other people’s blood.
As Raines constructs History:
“The deeper, tougher truth is that America supports Israel because at some level America is Israel; these are two settler colonies born in violence, condemned by their original sins and by their later crimes to paranoias about the revenge of the wronged.”
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.
Then again, you go around carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you’re not going to make it with anyone anyhow.
Except perhaps the tenure track committee at Columbia or the intellectually afflicted palsy victims at The Guardian who having found their passion, amputated their reason with a rusty saw and a whoopie cushion.
Having stated up front he’s not a bigot, Raines reverses course and makes the case that America and Israel are immoral twins.
Notice that he doesn’t mention, for example, America and England and the issue of Ireland, or America and France and the issue of uranium in Chad, or not so former SS troopers being hired to restock the Foreign Legion, in order to teach the finer points of New Wave Cinema to the otherwise unsophisticated Vietnamese, or America and a hit parade of Central and South American sadists, who made Marquez and Roberto Bolano fall down in fits of uncontrollable laughter.
No, having dispensed with the idea that there is something unique about the Jews and to say there is, is to traffic in standard anti-Semitic tropes, Raines traffics in a standard anti-Semitic trope by saying there is something unique about the Jews.
And The Guardian provides a barrel of lube.
And together they reduce History qua History to only the blood bath of smallpox infected blankets as if the only thing worth mentioning about Da Vinci is that he designed weapons for the inbred Parisian thugs to use to beat the Dukes of Normandy to death.
It’s certainly true that Da Vinci did that but then there’s everything else because History qua History is funny that way.
Raines will tell you that the Palestinians were just sitting around minding their own business when Zionism happened to them. Zionism in turn is reduced to a wholly owned colony of the wider evil of Western imperialism and Gaza, Gaza, Gaza.
This is entering through the front door of liberal left reasonableness and exiting through the back door under the sign that says: This way to the next Pogrom.
In other words, there is no cause and effect between Auschwitz and Zionism. The Palestinians never shook hands with the little corporal in Berlin, never imported not so ex Nazis to help them build better high faster further gas filled missiles, never embraced either Soviet imperialism or American colonization, never arrested and executed their own leftists, never were complicit in the subjugation of their own people, never set up circular firing squads full of Koran humping goons, and really were just a bunch of pastoral peace loving lumberjacks: I’m a Fedayeen and I’m okay…
That this bolts the Palestinians to a bespoke History as nothing but perpetual victims devoid of autonomy, and thus steals paternalistic bigotry from the usual habitual racists, of course goes without discussion. In this formulation, the Palestinians are both inside History as victims but outside of History stripped of responsibility.
As the old SNL routine had it: It’s a dessert topping! No, it’s a floor wax!
Zionism like every other socio political cultural gesture is a baggy suit that proves Whitman correct – it contains multitudes. Amos Oz was a Zionist, but so was Jabotinsky. England gives you Enoch Powel, and Thatcher but it also gives you Graham Greene and The Who. France gives you Le Pen and Duras.
As we never get tired of pointing out: You want Born to Run and The Rising, then you take everything that made it – from the singular genius of a freak from the intersection of nowhere and despair in Freehold, NJ, and the post industrial wasteland, and the catastrophes of Ireland and Italy incorporated, or you reject it, cherry pick the intel and Bruce ends his days as the most popular bartender at the Stone Pony, and Tenth Avenue Freezeout becomes an advertising jingle for a discount electronics emporium having a president’s day sale,
History said one of Ireland’s mutant jazz mystics, is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake.
That, needless to say, was not entirely successful but does prove the (complex truth): Ulysses is (to borrow a phrase) about two things. First, it’s about Ireland, and secondly, it’s about everything else.
America is a mess. It’s soaked in blood and stupidity. Feel free to make your own list but from The Trail of Tears to Operation Condor, to importing not so ex-Nazis it’s been a parade of operatic spasms of sadism.
But it’s also, Springsteen, and Mark Twain, and Louis Armstrong, Mingus, Monk and Sarah Vaughn and the cure for polio.
It’s Hemingway, Faulkner, Pynchon, Fitzgerald, Scorsese, Coppola, and e.e. Cummings.
As always, again, feel free to make your own list but while America is J. Edgar Hoover slipping into a pair of Mary Janes and a corset, it’s also Dylan and Like a Rolling Stone.
Except when it’s the balcony of the Loraine Motel and Lightning Hopkins.
But despite the fat lady has sung rhetoric of Raines and other professional pinheads, reducing it to only the nauseating greatest fuck ups is the high end version of Trump 101. Say something (anything) that is mostly true and then add ten things that are not even remotely true, and say it all with the conviction of a born again virgin, and you have a blueprint for any sort of demagoguery you like – Lobbyists are a plague and American politics is a clusterfuck inside a steel cage death match, Netanyahu is a reheated Jabo Revisionist gangster, (all of which is true) and then jump off the deep end and to quote George Costanza imitating a Neo Nazi: you know who’s to blame for Astroturf?!?
Read Raines Wagnerian pocket opera here:
*We call Omar a political tool because anyone who believes you can use the system to change the system is either a professional cynic or a fool in search of windmills.
** AOC’s ever-expanding cult of personality is a more refined version of Omar’s lack of depth. As we’ve said elsewhere, AOC isn’t wrong, the impending collapse of the environment will usher in the end of “civilization” and the establishment of a series of Gileads and rival left gangsterocracies in a hard core porn rendition of Mad Max. But like Omar, AOC foolishly believes the corporate fascists can be voted out of power.
*** One of the more predictable and boring and banal exchanges in this carnival side show is that the bigots respond to accusations of being bigots by saying every time someone criticizes Israel they are accused of being anti-Semites.
First, no one is more critical of the Jews than other Jews (except for the guys with the train schedule fetish) and the argument rests on the inherently anti-Semitic trope (sic!) that Jewish culture qua Jewish culture is monolithic.
It’s not and hasn’t been since the Borsht belt stand up comedian’s guild accused Josephus of selling out to the Romans.
Secondly, if the critics of Israel want to be taken more seriously as less bigoted, they might want to make their speeches in another stadium or media platform, far away from the guys playing the Luftwaffe serenade, shaving their heads, and screaming that fluoride was put in your water by George Soros. There’s any number of reasons to despise BiBi but doing it while performing as the opening act for a one man show of Goering’s favorite Spartan poetry, is a bad look that would make an reasonable person nervous.
Thirdly, the critics keep repeating the same a-historical bullshit. If there is a context to the assorted disasters of the Palestinians (which there are) then there’s a context to everything else.
Born to Run is a masterpiece.
it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.
We are both amused and nauseated having just watched a few minutes of the Sam Seder Majority Report gang of Muppets explain how Ilhan Omar was speaking the truth. It turns out per Omar and Seder et al, that, “America’s foreign policy towards Israel, is based on money.”
They are of course correct.
Where as America’s foreign policy towards Japan is based on sushi and Anime.
America’s foreign policy towards England is based on dental supplies.
America’s foreign policy towards India is based on Priyanka Chopra and the Jonas Brothers.
America’s foreign policy towards Italy is based on Monica Bellucci.
And of course America’s foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia is based on sand.
England’s Labour Party splits between those who know how toxic the party has become and Corbyn who reaches for another drink:
A crucial point must be made in response to the consistent atrophied, anti-Semitism of the faux left:
The claim is made that Zionism not only fell on the innocent Palestinians and the Arabs, but was also a vast con job – a real estate swindle and as it involved the Jews the anti-Zionist anti-Semites leave hanging in the air the idea that it’s the same old formulae – Jews+money=conjob.
This standard anti-Semitic rhetorical shit on a stick is also employed by so called “Progressives” who offer a head fake of “I’m not an anti-Semite and the Jews and the Palestinians should be treated equally” but Zionism was a crime, the Jews ethnically cleansed the Palestinians and Gaza, Gaza, Gaza.
What goes missing in this rancid rendition of the Waffen SS glee club’s favorite dance hall routines is that, in addition to all the factors we have listed previously, it is also a fact that Zionism was not a secret.
Theodore Herzl was hardly a wall flower and in the period from roughly Bonaparte’s reconvening of the Sanhedrin, through the Dryefus Affair to making the trains run on time, Zionism was a vast, open public debate and the world – including the Arabs – were completely in the loop about what was on the agenda.
There was no con, no swindle, no theft.
For decades Zionists made effort after effort to achieve some sort of deal with everyone from America to the Czar.
Each attempt was compromised by indifference, lies, and violence and as the movement morphed in response the plan to move as many Jews as possible out of Europe was openly discussed.
The Arab response – not withstanding individual efforts at accommodation – was pogroms, terrorism, and multiple attempts at genocide.
As we recently put it to a correspondent:
Lost your house in Haifa because your neighbor was a Jew hating fascist and you kept your mouth shut while he stockpiled weapons and ammo, and listened to Himmler on the radio recite his favorite poems, extolling the virtues of Roman discipline, or read ersatz reprints of pamphlets by Marx with notes by some proto Badder Meinhof cell?
Too fucking bad.
Addendum: Speaking of context and how cultures is full of contradictions that defy the strident straight jacket of the professional bigots, you know the world is odd when a thug supports minority rights and cultural diversity: