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And Everybody Hates the Jews. How Sophisticated Anti-Semitism Succeeds.

“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?!?

The Jews!!!

 

Read Raines Wagnerian pocket opera here:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/12/ilhan-omar-us-israel-policy-lobbying

*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.

But…

it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.

Update: 2/12/19

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.

Pun intended.

 

Addendum:

England’s Labour Party splits between those who know how toxic the party has become and Corbyn who reaches for another drink:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/feb/19/labour-mp-ruth-george-israel-funding-independent-group-luciana-berger

 

Addendum:

 

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:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/15/israelis-demand-education-minister-resign-gay-conversion-therapy-rafi-peretz

 

 

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31 comments on “And Everybody Hates the Jews. How Sophisticated Anti-Semitism Succeeds.

  1. I have a theory. There is an established and entrenched social dynamic. Jews have long been the scapegoats. It create a familiarity and there is a psychological comfort in familiarity, for those on all sides. Even many Jews prefer this since, at least, it gives them a clear role to play on the world stage.

    This is where Israel comes in. First, we must admit that Israel isn’t like most other countries. It was artificially and quickly constructed out of nothing in a single generation, as the last colonial project of the British Empire. And there is no other country in the world that has such a special relationship to the US, the inheritor of global imperialism from the British. Because of this, there is a shockingly large number of US and Israeli politicians that have dual citizenships in both countries, as if the two countries really are a single country. Or maybe Israel is still a colony, just now of the American Empire instead of the British Empire. Then again, maybe America is still a colony of the British Empire as well. And maybe England is still a colony of Rome. The imperial dream is extensive and long-lived.

    Israeli leaders and citizens seem to have embraced their position, while many American evangelicals and neocons have shared this embrace. It has been mixed up with some really fucked up political theology about the End Times and neo-fascist visions. Throw some cynical realpolitik on top because of Israel’s helpful location in dominating the Middle East. With massive US funding, Israel has built one of the most powerful militaries in the world. And Israel does the bidding of the US in order to maintain the flow of wealth, such as taking care of covert operations the US doesn’t want to be directly involved in.

    Let me suggest that possibly Israel wants to be the scapegoat, in this sense. They want the world to know they are a powerful and dangerous country, not a people to be messed with. It’s like the small guy who is aggressive to compensate (like Rorschach when he gets imprisoned: “I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me!”). Or like the poor black kid who acts like a thug because everyone expects it of him and so, if he is going to be treated that way, he might as well get the benefits by committing to it. Israel is a tiny country and could easily be swamped by a larger military attack. The only thing that protects it is their relationship with powerful Western countries for Israel wouldn’t exist and couldn’t continue to exist without them. Israel has no choice to play this role as portrayed. What they don’t think about is the long term consequences of being the scapegoat, as it won’t always work out in their favor, but that is something to worry about later.

    It doesn’t matter how it is explained. None of this is rational. We are dealing with deep patterns in the collective psyche. The Western world and the Middle East are built on the Bible. And in the Bible, the Jews are unique. It is the role God Himself chose for them. So they’ve been treated as such ever since. But being ‘unique’ is a heavy load to carry. This Biblical past is where the Jews entered history and they haven’t woken up from it yet nor has the rest of the world. It is irrelevant that the narrative is too simplistic because this narrative isn’t merely a narrative — it’s the mythology of a large part of the modern mind. Rational analysis and incisive critique is impotent. Israel has had an outsized place in the Western imagination for centuries upon centuries before modern Zionism.

    You’re not going to uproot that weed. Without Jewsish scapegoats, our entire millennia old world order would no longer make sense. Maybe Israeli Zionists understand this as well, if not more, than anyone else. They at least know where they stand within the present scheme of things. If society gives you a social role such that it has become part of your identity, chosen or enforced or a bit of both, then why not play it to the hilt? It creates much melodrama, which just makes it all the more compelling for purposes of propaganda and social control. Even complaining about and criticizing the whole psychological racket plays right into it, more of the same story. Yes, Jews are being scapegoated. That is the whole point. That is the myth that must be enacted by all involved. That this will end in horror, well, that is part of the narrative. Everyone knows how it ends. But it’s a story we all know and it simplifies life knowing how it ends. It’s the pleasure you had as a child when your mother read the same story to you again for the thousandth time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      There’s a tremendous amount here to unpack. Some I agree with and some I don’t but the disagreement is one of nuance versus “fact.”

      There is definitely something to the familiarity issue and how it is worked by everyone involved.

      Partially covered this in yesterday’s post with the sarcastic line about non Hellenized Jews dismissing Josephus. This schism is as old as dirt.

      One of the recent intersections (socio-political and psychologically) where this occurs is in the trajectory of Philip Roth.

      Roth began as a post ww2 American Jew trying to get from nowhere (Newark, NJ) to the then center of the world – Manhattan.

      This required antagonizing one corner of the conservative and often reactionary Jewish establishment in order to please another corner of the same culture – the haute intellectuals of Jewish literary New York.

      Roth was initially condemned by the first and embraced by the second until many years later when he was embraced by the first and became just another product as the second withered on the cultural vine.

      Today to criticize Roth (especially and specifically from a left pov) is ironically to be accused of being a conservative in either the Trump mold or the old school Jewish post war cadre – neither of which are even remotely accurate.

      But “Roth” in this context serves everyone’s purpose which speaks to your point.

      For establishment Jews who are courtiers of the regime (and are either directly with AIPAC or close to its members) “Roth” is a poster boy for “Jewish” success in America with its Rockwell tropes of assimilation “democracy” and so on.

      But he also acts/is used as a litmus test and provisional third rail – to criticize “Roth” is to be painted as an “anti-Semite.”

      This allows the regime Jews to have it both ways.

      How old is this issue?

      well in a sense “Roth” is “Josephus” and the split between Manhattan and elsewhere is a repeat of the split between Hellenized Jews and rebellion anti-Rome Jews.

      But there are massive nuances involved.

      All parties to this pantomime act as if “Roth” was the only “Jew” on the scene when in truth there was a veritable cultural riot from Mailer to Heller to Ginsberg, woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner and so on.

      But again in part to your point – the media telescopes the issue into one or a few binary packets eliminated complexity and feeding into anti-Semite/Not anti-Semite and many people including many regime Jews willingly and knowingly participate.

      But and this is crucial and a point I made in regards to the sophisticated anti-Semitism of Zizek and company is that the collaborationist Jews must be contextualized by systemic anti-Semitism which itself must be contextualized by historical anti-Semitism and capitalism and a Jaynesian context of human consciousness.

      Oy;-)

      There can be no doubt that there are cynical willing participants in the system who feed the scapegoat mentality for their own ends.

      But I do not think Israel was only the last colonial project of the British empire and reducing any complex contradictory issue to an either this or that narrative does not work.

      Even if one grants the premise the fact – the stubborn facts – remain and “the last colonial project of the British empire” is a monstrously baggy suit.

      But, crucially, Zionism is also a hall of mirrors reflect both the relatively short term historical detritus and monuments of Europe as well as existing within the narrative of European imperialism but that in turn exists within the cauldron of the Mediterranean in which for example it is helpful to always remember that Augustine was from Africa, was hired by a European gang (the Vatican) to use a discarded taken from a Middle Eastern fire sale system and use to help conquer the world.

      Round up the usual suspects here turns into a circular firing squad as “Jews” becomes both hopelessly elastic and bolted to the facts.

      Rome, Africa, the Med, the “Barbarians” and a cast of millions all twist and turn around each other.

      here I must recommend and cannot recommend highly enough Fernand Braudel – a founding member of Les Annales – whose history of the Mediterranean is crucial for this and related issue.

      As to the “special relationship” this again is both essentially true but full of contradiction and nuance.

      I’m not sure there’s a way to measure it but is the relationship between the US and Israel more or less involved than the US/UK relationship?

      People – usually anti-Semites but not exclusively – point to the amount of money the US sends to Israel but surely it is dwarfed by the amount the US has and continues to spend on and with Europe.

      But money to one side the relationship is indeed fraught and full of both the absurd and the heinous – though surely that too is not distinct from say the US/UK/N. Ireland as one example of absurd/awful – but let’s take the issue of the evnagelicals.

      Needless to say politically I find most if not all of their social views repugnant.

      But I also find the more aggressive atheists antagonism of them equally repugnant.

      This is no idle matter.

      It is true that the reactionary if not outright theocratic/fascist wing of contemporary American evangelicalism is straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale and poses an increasingly serious threat – especially as the environment collapses – note that just a few weeks ago mouth of Sauron Huckabee-Sanders rejected environmental concerns by saying it’s up to god – an argument I suspect will gain increasing traction among the evangelicals as a proof for end times thinking – but outside of a Stalin-esque or Maoist anti-religious doctrine what can one do about such people?

      I don’t mean to reject efforts at diversity and education but long term religion and the psychology of it are not going anywhere despite the more optimistic mantras f people who simplistically reduce Christianity to its broad-brush caricatures.

      And again no small issue as I mentioned in the post yesterday – Springsteen is also a product of the church and – thank god;-)

      But back to the deeper matter at hand: Certainly there are people who milk all of this for their own cynical ends and some of them are authentically cynical vs just opportunistic – the second group being pro Israel pols who are gangsters but fall under the FDR rubric of yes he’s an SOB but he’s our SOB by which I mean given the existence of Jew hatred and its once again rising to the top of the cultural charts I am not un happy that the IDF exists, is robust and very very capable.

      Which does not preclude being utterly disgusted with the cynical reactionary and often fascist actions of other members of the establishment including plenty of functionaries in Israel.

      Of course this rebounds to my point from yesterday and a few other posts – yes Avigdor Liberman is a thug but so was Thatcher and so is Marine Le Pen but i’m enjoying watching Pete Townshend’s recent vlogs, and I could watch old Catherine Deneuve films all day long.

      Of course another aspect of all of this is as you correctly say – the previously small “90 pound weakling” who becomes a mountain and is going to make sure everyone knows it.

      Again there are multiple strands here. Many cynically make use of this.

      But the generational trauma is big the way the ocean is big and deep and full of things that can kill you.

      Adorno wasn’t right when he said after Auschwitz poetry is banal but he wasn’t completely wrong either.

      It is such a massive perversity that no number of successful Jews or Spielberg movies is going to make all the monsters under the bed vanish – and it’s certainly not helped when one turns on the news to see morons and assorted thugs marching and chanting “Jews shall not replace us” – both hilarious in the Mel Brooks/Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” sense but also enough to make any reasonable person nervous.

      But again you’re not wrong – the Mossad both “ex” and current are a kind of mercenary force employed for “off the books” actions but then again as someone said to be vis a vis corruption in NYC: sure it’s corrupt but image how badly things would run if it weren’t.

      That’s classic hardboiled cynicism but it makes a valid point.

      Plenty of Israeli thugs on various payrolls but then again it’s not as if the Arabs are armed with squirt guns or America’s Murder Incorporated are all busy telling jokes and doing jazz improv.

      The situation is grim.

      As to the long term as you say it’s fraught.

      The single biggest issue is the environment.

      If/when oil and water vanish – water first – the apocalyptic scenarios will be buy one get ten free.

      Late 1980s the “experts” predicted the next major ME war would be over water.

      Case in point: Turkey’s massive ongoing dam projects on the headwaters of the Tigress and Euphrates contributed to the destabilizing drought in Syria and pose a massive issue for everyone.

      But this of course rebound to your deeper point – consider what I just typed – the fucking Tigress and Euphrates Rivers are crucial to – for fuck’s sake we might as well be discussing Gilgamesh and I mean that seriously as it’s the same damn scenario.

      This in turn rebounds to your point that none of this can be solved.

      But another important nuance – plenty of Jews have woken up in the same sense that Joyce was an avatar of the Irish awakening and Picasso and Miro and Bunuel and Lorca were the Spanish awakening – which reminds me I should have added another Jew previously to my counterpoint to the Roth narrative – Dylan.

      Not only a counterpoint to dominant regime based Jewish narratives but also an example of contrary narration among the wider Jewish community – an issue I raised in my post about Martin Amis and what appears to be his casual professional British anti-Semitism – and I hasten to add one would be well served to dip into modern Hebrew literature (in translation not withstanding Amos Oz saying reading a book in translation is like making love through a blanket) to encounter the diversity of opinion in contemporary Israel and the wider culture.

      Ok – I’ll leave off here and tackle your other comments.

      I’ve probably missed some key points but can return to them.

      Like

      1. As you know, I have no particular obsession with the “Jewish question”. It rarely crosses my mind, actually. I easily go months and maybe sometimes years without giving it much if any thought. Usually, the only time this topic comes to mind is as a historical example or background.

        I’ve used the Jews to demonstrate that, in the ancient world, there wasn’t clearly and always an exact population that went by that label. But I’m not picking on the Jews, as that was true of about every other population. Ethno-nationalism is a fairly recent invention. Still, it does amuse me, in a sick and demented kinda way, that such a conflict exists between Palestinians and Israelis who are both semites originating from the same ancient Jewish population and so neither has any greater claim. Not that this is surprising, as I’ve also written a post about how most conflicts throughout human existence have been between those most similar and related.

        “Even if one grants the premise the fact – the stubborn facts – remain and “the last colonial project of the British empire” is a monstrously baggy suit.”

        Yes, it’s a baggy suit. And I went with it. In fact, I made it even baggier, such that the butt crack is showing. That was my intention. There is a long history of empires being the colonies of former empires. For our purposes here, that goes back to Rome and the original establishment of the Western narrative of the ‘Jew’. This is the imperial narrative. And I could argue, as PKD put it, the empire never ended. And so the Jews can never end, not until the story finally reaches its conclusion.

        “I’m not sure there’s a way to measure it but is the relationship between the US and Israel more or less involved than the US/UK relationship?”

        I’m not arguing about degrees of involvement but kinds of involvement. The US/UK relationship is that of empires, one declining and the other having been on the rise. Israel isn’t and never has been an empire. Even in terms of nation-states, it’s the new kid on the block. It’s significance is through it’s relationship to older empires for, in its small size, it needed to borrow imperial might from elsewhere.

        “People – usually anti-Semites but not exclusively – point to the amount of money the US sends to Israel but surely it is dwarfed by the amount the US has and continues to spend on and with Europe.”

        Sure the US throws money around in many directions, as empires are wont to do. But there are important differences. The US government spends more on Israeli citizens per capita than on US citizens per capita, not to mention per square mile. That is an amazing comparison. Israel is a tiny population on a tiny patch of land. The amount of wealth, power, militarization, and global attention focused on that small area is extraordinary, maybe unprecedented. The money Israel proportionately receive is no where comparable to other US allies that are mostly large countries, having originated as former empires or else former vast imperial territories.

        I’m not sure there is a similar situation anywhere else in the world where a country’s citizens get more money from another country than is used by that other country on their own citizens. That is a special relationship of the highest level and extremely unusual. That is even more apparent when combined with the relative commonality of dual citizenships among the ruling elite of both countries. That is not normal. And it’s even stranger with the whole theological fixation of supporting a country in the hope and faith that this will bring on that country’s destruction, in order to fulfill a prophecy. An odd way to go about foreign policy.

        “let’s take the issue of the evangelicals. Needless to say politically I find most if not all of their social views repugnant. But I also find the more aggressive atheists antagonism of them equally repugnant… but outside of a Stalin-esque or Maoist anti-religious doctrine what can one do about such people?”

        Of course, you are talking to someone who was raised in a liberal church that came out of the evangelical tradition. No one needs to tell me evangelicals are not a monolithic demographic. But the evangelical power-mongers and authoritarian followers that have been promoted by corporatist and neocon media, politicans, and other interests are a coherent ideological group while also being powerful in their influence over domestic and foreign policy. What can we do about it? Fight them as best we can, which first requires us to understand them, then communicate this to others, and finally make our warnings loud and clear until our throats are hoarse. The rest will be left up to forces beyond our control as mere peons.

        “yes Avigdor Liberman is a thug but so was Thatcher and so is Marine Le Pen”

        You know my attitude. A pox on everyone’s house. But as an American, I’ve always reserved my harshest and most thorough criticism for the good ol’ US of A. No matter what I can say about it, Israel as we now know it would not even exist if not for the Anglo-American Empire.

        Israel is a pawn of greater powers and so it is rather pointless to blame Zionist demagogues for aspiring to gain their own power before the money eventually dries up. I’m sure there is a clear awareness among the Israeli ruling class that their country will be sacrificed in an instant when times get tough. They are a doomed people because there is no way they can last beyond the devastation of the next worldwide military apocalypse. They couldn’t even survive a regional war, if suddenly there allies were preoccupied elsewhere. Simply put, they are fucked!

        If I was a Jew living in Israel, I’d leave before it is too late. For all my hatred of imperialism, I do realize the safer bet is to be ensconced in the heart of an empire, sometimes even a collapsing or contracting empire. Being an imperial subject has its benefits. Israel, on the other hand, is at the frontier of empire and the barbarians are at the gate. And sometimes those ‘barbarians’ become the next imperial rulers as happened with the Romanized Germanic tribes, something Israelis might want to keep in mind.

        “But the generational trauma is big the way the ocean is big and deep and full of things that can kill you.”

        I’m always going on about generational trauma. It is the motivating force of the imperial narrative. It’s how the disease is spread. Each empire traumatizes numerous populations, out of which new imperialists are formed. There is a direct lineage of empire from the Levant to the Mediterranean to Western Europe and on across the ocean to the North America. As for the Mediterranean specifically, I’ll check out Fernand Braudel. I’ll try to remember his name and stop by the library after work. If not the public library, the university library is more likely to carry such a writer.

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  2. From your perspective, what is the meaning and motivation behind articles such as this:
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/02/18/private-mossad-for-hire

    Sure, the US and UK, Russia and China also do the same kind of shit. But these are massive countries that, at different points in history, were or still are empires. They are also older, even the US being centuries old.

    Israel stands out from these. It was built out of scratch and its founding is viscerally real in living memory. Also, it is a fraction of the size of these empires or former empires. There aren’t many, if any, comparably miniscule countries that have the immense influence asserted by Israel or quite the same kind of relationship to some of these other global powers.

    That is a difference that makes a difference. And everyone knows this difference exists, Israelis surely more than anyone else. The role of Mossad, privatized Mossad, ex-Mossad, etc is itself different — both in practical capability and in the collective imagination. And plenty of Israeli Zionists play up this difference as a defining feature of their society, of their historical existence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      Again, yes and nuanced not exactly.

      as I said there are important qualifiers vis how one defines the birth of Israel narrative but the mercenary aspect of Israel/Mossad is not so very off from how you define it.

      There are both legitimate issue and cynical attachments involved.

      However I’d suggest there is a similar cultural trope with the British but precisely because they are not “Jews” the narrative is rendered as distinct.

      Consider the James Bond trope.

      the specifically lethal mixture of charm and force plays to a stereotype of England which finds currency in a multitude of places.

      In fact a few years ago there was a commercial for Jaguar in which a series of recent English actors (Tom Hiddleston, Ben kingsly, etc) all spoke to the camera and commented on the trope of British villains combining efficiency lethality and charm

      Bond is of course absurd but no more or less charming than Captain America et al.

      But Bond and “Bond” inhabit a world of stereotypes that reflect both cynical manipulation in the service of the empire and the empire itself.

      But while one can find dreary and predictable faux debates about his sexism etc no one points out the double standard – British spies for hire are charming rouges but Jewish spies for hire are mercenaries.

      Hmmm.

      Of course Los Angeles is full of “ex Mossad” doing dirty work for Weinstein or training actors how to hold a gun etc.

      But consider two recent images.

      In the ridiculous if still culturally significant TV Batman series “Alphred” is of course as always the classic British butler but has been updated to be ex British military both charming and lethal.

      The second is Jason Stratham (sp?) a British low rent Sylvester Stallone – working class, cool under fire and lethal – and a gun for hire in a series of action films that are rolled off an assembly line template.

      Distinct from the “ex” Mossad?

      No, exactly the same person/personae and the world is full of such types from France and Germany and Russia and everywhere else there is a military industrial complex.

      Going back to the post Vietnam era there were a string of US movies in which pre Rambo the Vietnam vet was portrayed as an updated Peckinpaugh cowboy with specific military acquired skills but also forced into a black market existence.

      This mercenary had multiple iteration – psychopath Rambo but also Eastwood in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot or James Cann or significantly Eastwood in Kelly’s Heroes.

      That film is at once fluff but also culturally crucial. It is “ww2” but really it’s Vietnam.

      So while it’s certainly true that Israel plays the role both willingly and not of mercenary there is as always more to the narrative.

      But again crucially your point about how Mossad is perceived in the collective imagination is on point.

      I assure the truth is both far worse and far less than people think.

      But that’s true of the CIA and MI6 and everyone else.

      One part great white shark one part keystone cops.

      Or Monty Python does Kafka.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The whole size difference remains central in my mind. Everyone expects empires to act this way. They have the wealth, power, and resources to do so. But it stands out that such a tiny country like Israel is able to maintain such prowess such as Mossad that has such influence both in actions and in public imagination. Israel, on its own, doesn’t possess as large of a propaganda and media system, no equivalent of a Hollywood or BBC to push its narrative on the world. Yet it maintains its position among the global powers in a way no other small country does.

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      2. rauldukeblog says:

        I’ll combine responses: I’m unconvinced about the “US spends more per capita” narrative but not unwilling to be persuaded as obviously more goes to Israel than say Honduras thus logically someone gets more and some gets less and someone gets the most.

        But crucially there are other factors that change the definitions. Total amount spent by the US during WW2 and the Marshal Plan then post war through NATO and trade must stagger anything else.

        Or consider the US rebuilding of Japan.

        And of course we’d have to find working definitions of “cost” “expenditure” adjusted for relative inflationary rates etc

        And of course while the US subsidy to Israel is massive a massive chunk comes right back in the form of weapons purchases and technology transfers.

        While emphasizing the amount has been large it breaks apart upon closer examination.

        But then there’s the issue of US politics.

        A refined addition to my previous comments would be that while I find the evangelicals problematic to ay the least they are entitled to a vote and a religious pov thus while one may dislike their influence on US foreign policy vis Israel, the alternative is essentially a revolution which as we’ve discussed is not like in the movies but essentially a circular firing squad.

        The corollary is of course the influence of Jews in US politics.

        The ability of divergent Jewish communities to get organized is a fascinating topic as culturally it’s a truism that if you talk to two Jews you’ll get three opinions.

        I happen to believe that a great deal of European left antagonism towards Zionism and Israel is down to the fact that while Zionism and the left were more or less allies against common enemies the left was crushed and Zionism was victrories if even just provisionally. Thus there’s tremendous envy involved.

        But to the US: there is a definite inverse ration at work give the relative size of the indigenous Jewish population giving rise to old anti-Semitic tropes like “the Jews run Hollywood.”

        Of course they don’t but as it is a small incestuous company town a small well organized culturally aligned group can exert massive pressure giving rise to the all too easy and potentially toxic “they run Hollywood” line of narration.

        This in turn connects to Israel’s outsize impact in the world relative to its size and population.

        a great deal of it is down to cynical manipulation of systemic anti-Semitism but also to a centuries long tradition of emphasizing education.

        That in turn rests on the very meta issue of systemic anti-Semitism in that Jews were coerced into savant positions by the oppressing classes.

        Sort of Jew as fetish for anti-Semites – an image repeated with vary degrees of absurdity and toxin the form of the “seductive Jewesss.”

        In films the Mossad feme fatale is raven haired but has blue eyes and is one part fashion model one part nija.

        At it’s most extreme it’s the Der Strummer style propaganda put out in Arab school showing scantily clad Jewish women luring otherwise chaste Arab boys to their doom – a system identical to every other oppressive/fetish trope like the Asian Dragon Lady or the oversexed Black man etc.

        In sense the out of proportion power of contemporary Jewish culture is ironically a by product of being forced into ghettos.

        Concentrate a group in a specific zone and they become powerful.

        Interesting case in point the new commercials for the next season of Handmaid’s Tale has the lead narrate and say “they never should have given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to build an army.”

        Of course there are still more issues: for example as part of the corrupt bargain the US uses Israel as a test bed for weapons tech and the money flows back and forth.

        But that in turn opens another issue: To what extent shall we define OPEC as a subsidy program from the US to the Arabs?

        I’d guess the amount of money the US has transferred to the coffers of assorted Arab oil barons dwarfs what’s been given to Israel and as the populations of Kuwait, UAE, etc are even smaller than Israel one could make the case that they have received more.

        But in the end what really matters is the clusterfuck that consumes everyone.

        Plenty of Jews agree with you and have left Israel but plenty of others have said better the devil you know or even to paraphrase Milton – better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.

        to be continued.

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    2. rauldukeblog says:

      Oh and I should add: The New Yorker is an universe of issues in regards to Israel.

      It would take a book to fully excavate but the cultural rivalry between Jewish factions both inside the US and inside Israel and then again between them is enormous.

      a great deal of the American Jewish antagonism towards Israel is personal psychology projected as social concern.

      The end of Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint is a key talisman here.

      Portnoy tries to get it on with a kibbutz woman and gets his ass kicked.

      The primary issue being that American Jews are uncomfortable with the fact that so many Israeli women look more like Gal Gadot than not.

      This is very very inside baseball cultural politics but the majority of American Jews yelling about the evils of Zionism are doing it because of personal traumas and while Faulkner built a literary universe off of the nexus between the personal and the social the difference is the contemporary Jewish culture that worships “The New Yorker” is being dishonest about their antagonism – which is not to dismiss legitimate complaints but the very establishment/regime Jews of AIPAC etc are the ones blocking a discussion of this issue so “The New Yorker” which is a regime collaborating liberal reactionary rag is welcomed as a cudgel with which “Israel” is beaten and beaten again and again beaten and then establishment regime Jews work both sides of the street condemning and praising it while the authentic culture revolves around it like any other group – after all while now cultural kitsch and museum accepted icons The Impressionists took 30+ years to gain “value.”

      All authentic cultural movements are blocked by establishment forces.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Also, think about this from the deeper view. The founding holy text and origins story of the Jewish people is mired in centuries of violence, persecution, and genocide. The Jews against others. And others against Jews. It is the story loop Jews have been trapped in for millennia.

    It makes for a powerful narrative and mythological background, especially as two of the other world religions have incorporated it as well. Even the Palestinians are part of it, as they are the original Jews who never left. So, whether Israelis are attacking Palestinians or Palestinians attacking Israelis, it’s anti-semitism in both cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      That starts off correctly and ends somewhat glibly.

      The first point is essentially true and the conclusion is technically true in the sense of how we define Semites but let’s narrate Ireland the same way.

      From IRA thugs to Maude Gonne to Yeats to The Pogues to Beckett it is as complex an cultural opera as one can find.

      It is true to say when a Protestant from Ireland kills a Catholic from Ireland its fratricidal and yet obviously it’s also “England” and “England” is “Europe” – no matter how much of a fit the Brexiters pitch – and so on.

      As I said in yesterday’s post – Ulysses is about two things. First it’s about Ireland and secondly it’s about everything else.

      Reducing Israel que Israel to x y or z can be technically correct but like a subatomic particle upon closer examination it becomes a kind of cubist painting.

      Which of course is true for everything from surfers in Santa Cruz to French films.

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      1. There is a major distinction between Semites and the Irish. The Semites were always a mixed and drifting population, whereas the Irish have staid put for most of history, as part of the oldest remaining population in Europe, the Basque. The Jewish diaspora goes back to the ancient world, having begun before the Roman Empire. The Irish/Basque regularly fought off invasions for millennia, even that of empires. But the Jews were regularly conquered and often scattered to the wind.

        The separation of time between the Jews that left and the Jews that remained is so great that they no longer even recognize one another as kin. The divide in Ireland is of a different sort, more personal. The Irish conflict is over religion, the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation. But in Israel and Palestine religion has become something far more. That magnifies the tragedy.

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      2. rauldukeblog says:

        I don’t disagree with the definitions your using but the conclusions. My point was an remains that one could apply many of the same rhetorical points to Ireland and they arguments would fall apart.

        The premise is that there is something significantly unique about the Jews and Israel and I just don’t see it.

        In the end at most there are vis Ireland/Israel distinctions without a difference.

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      3. It’s not only that there is an issue over defining Semite but that we must define it at all. There is no equivalent of Irish with a potent corollary of anti-Irish. I see this as historical. The Irish mostly remained. There is no equivalent either of the Irish that remained and the Irish that left.

        It was geography that kept the Irish/Basque from becoming a diasporic people. Even Irish-Americans who outnumber the Irish in Ireland don’t see Ireland in the way European Jews saw Israel. Irish-Americans don’t wish to reclaim Ireland nor see those who remained as foreign.

        It’s entirely different dynamic. And I’d argue that is because of the Biblical imaginary, also with no native equivalent in Ireland. Jews play a role in their own imagination and in the imagination of many others in a way that no other population does on the planet. This gets translated into politics, both in how Jews are perceived and how Jews identify. It’s a powerful force.

        For this reason, Israel has no other choice. It can’t be like other countries, even if Israelis wanted that.

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  4. This issue is hard for me to understand and, at times, that maybe makes me less sympathetic to the plight of others. I’m an American mutt. I have no people, no homeland, and no ancestral religion. My ancestors came from numerous ethnicities, regions, colonies, countries, etc over centuries. Besides European and British, I likely have some small amount of Native American genetics from centuries of family in the backcountry/frontier. And I did notice an African in my family tree. But beyond curiosity, none of this holds much significance to me.

    I am the result of multiple diasporas upon diasporas of people constantly moving and escaping that no one remembers or cares how it all began. One line of my family is Southern, before that Scottish, before that Dutch, and before that mystery. I’m simply a vague, nondescript, and interchangeable white guy. I don’t even know what ‘white’ means, other than something imposed upon me. And if I had a choice I’d rather not be subject of the American Empire, although I don’t know what is the better alternative, assuming anyone else would have me as I’m no grand prize.

    The idea of having any kind of claim over anything is absolutely alien to me. Heck, I don’t even own a house. So the belief that some domestic or foreign land is my inheritance because of some book written millennia ago just sounds straight up bizarre. Almost all the diverse varieties of identity politics are strange. I have very little identity to declare that gives me a sense of rights or belonging, beyond the arbitrary privilege of being perceived as part of the socially constructed racial majority in this country, and all that achieves is making me more depressed.

    So many debates along these lines end up feeling absurd and tiresome to me. But I understand the human impulse behind the larger conflicts. All of this seems to mean more to others than it means to me. Maybe it’s my undiagnosed autism kicking in with its stunted emotional and social development. This could be what you see as ‘glib’, as I don’t know how to not be darkly amused by people dying over imagined conflicts made real through the act of violence itself. Much of humanity has never made sense to me. This would explain why I’m drawn to anarchism, not out of ideological principle but utter incomprehension of all else.

    ‘American’, ‘Jew’, and on and on. I don’t recognize what these things are and over time they make less and less sense to my little Pooh brain. The emotions stirred up and the actions that follow, though, are real enough. We humans are able to imagine very odd things into existence. We are ruled by mythologies that are more confusion than sense, not that this stops them from infecting our minds with mind viruses that pass on from generation to generation sometimes going back to prehistory. I’d rather die than even rule in hell, but no one has given me a choice and so my wishes are moot. I guess the dying part remains a choice, suicide not being a great choice I must say. I’m not much of a fighter and I don’t expect to come out a winner no matter what game is played or whose mythology is enacted.

    Maybe everything I’m saying is irrelevant to your informed analysis of the Jewish situation. I don’t know. I just realized that I could go on debating this point or another, but I’m not sure I have it in me to care enough. As I’ve said, I see it all leading to doom, no matter my opinion or that of anyone else. The facts are of no consequence. It’s the mythology or else the fight between mythologies that makes the world go round, including the flow of money and military might, however we may divide it up in a moral accounting of blame or scapegoating.

    Still, I wouldn’t want to be in a place like Israel, as the storm approaches the shores of empire. I guess I’m trying to hide from the ruthless powers and dangerous ideologues until I die and I hope my end comes peacefully, probably not though, unless I die soon before the inevitable comes. That is to say I’m not too concerned about the ultimate fate of this or that country, as I barely can get excited by my own troubles. The world is shitty, that is all I know. So, who am I to tell anyone else what to do? If some Jews want to fight for their imagined homeland until the apocalypse wipes them from the face of the earth, if some evangelicals want to root for this ending with their votes and lobbyists, and if some politicians want to fully fund the all-out brutality of what comes next, then more power to all of them!

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    1. rauldukeblog says:

      Well you’re in pretty good company as someone like Sam Beckett ended up basically shrugging his shoulders at everything which is not at all glib even if it is despairing.

      An issue of course is that Zionism is not just a biblical regurgitation and that’s no small issue.

      I was just listening to Michael Brooks of Majority Report and realized what a straight up anti-Semite he is and have a new follow up to yesterday’s post cooking.

      But at the same time I’m not unmindful of the legitimate sense one can have that it’s all clearly on an express train to oblivion regardless of left to right or right to left this identity or that identity.

      As we’ve discussed previously it all looks utterly hopeless.

      “Glib” sounds worse than intened mostly because this infernal contraption doe snot allow for facial expressions or tone and to indicate tone reduces words to a paralytic state because of an extravaganza of qualifiers Thus don’t take my use of “glib” as intended to be harsh just a way to indicate that the topic like most others is complex and full of nuances and contradictions and paradox.

      Mutts are cool:-)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the end, it is of no concern of mine where goes the flow of imperial wealth or whatever. Just because I’m a subject of the American Empire gives me no claim over the wealth of the American Empire, as if empires have a responsibility to only spend money on their own subjects. The wealth of empires is stolen from other people who have much more claim over it.

        Besides, I don’t how it matters if the American Empire gives more money to this ally, client state, colony, etc or another — be it in terms of total amount or per capita. As you say, money flows all around, in and out of various governments and economies in ways that can’t be fully tracked. Where the wealth actually comes from and goes is anyone’s guess.

        But I do hold to the sense that Israel is an atypical country. I’m not sure exactly what that means. And it probably wouldn’t be all that helpful or satisfying to try to determine what it means, other than my curiosity about the moral and mythological imagination. Israel is a screen upon which much can be projected. I’ll leave it at that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. rauldukeblog says:

        I’m not at all out of sympathy with your pov. There is a legitimacy to a shrug as a response to the state of the world and human action – and “action” may very will be an illusion.

        I think you’re absolutely correct about “Israel” being a screen on which all sorts of things are projected.

        That reminds me: Have you seen The Year of Living Dangerously?

        Very good novel and a not bad film.

        The film opens with a bit on the Wayang Kulit – the shadow Play theater brought to Indonesia by Arab merchants circa 900 AD.

        The screen on which the shadows are projected is a stand in for “reality” and the “actions” of “individuals” are all ultimately a kind of dream.

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  5. Let me put into context where my own thoughts come from. As you know, I not only think of the United States as an empire but as a strange form of empire. This is why so many Americans have a hard time realizing they are imperial subjects. The American Empire is the first truly global project with Washington DC as a mostly symbolic capitol. The United States is just one of the territories under its control, but its actual location of power is international, some amorphous combination of plutocrats with multiple citizenships, political alliances, transnational mega-corporations, lobbyist groups, mercenary military operations, private-public intelligence organizations, etc.

    The American Empire didn’t fully exist until after World War II. Europe had to be leveled first so that the United States would be the only industrial giant left intact. This created an unusual situation where American power spread quickly and, as an immigrant nation, it didn’t have the historical constraints of an ethno-nationalist identity. As the American Empire inherited the mantle of the British Empire, the British Empire established Israel as a new colonial project, one of its last great colonial projects. And so the American Empire inherited this ‘special’ relationship to Israel. Without the support of one empire after another, Israel wouldn’t exist and continue to exist.

    There was a common bond because Israel was likewise not a normal country. Both having citizenries formed out of immigration from diverse countries, although in the case of the latter it being built out of scratch in a single generation of immigrants. Both are products of late modernity and late stage capitalism, and so each has an artificial quality of being self-consciously constructed global projects. As such, both are in a position of having to prove themselves with bravado, in lacking the established legitimacy and self-assured confidence of societies that have continuously existed for centuries upon centuries or even millennia. The American Empire and Israel need each other as twin powers in a new global order.

    I still wouldn’t dismiss the funding angle. Maybe it has something to do with late stage capitalism as seen with globalization and the strange flows of wealth and resources, some of it superficially out in the open but also mixed in with dark money and unseen financial ties that know no national boundary. So, yes, with that background, it is extremely odd that so much money flows in and through Israel, not only financial aid from the American Empire and several other major countries but also massive loans that are forgiven before they are even given (that is to say they aren’t actually loans).

    Israel stands out as an unusual recipient. They are one of the richest and most developed countries in the world, and certainly the richest country to receive such sizable and continuing financial aid from the United States. Most other recipients are impoverished and often devastated by conflict, environmental catastrophe, etc; and they tend to be larger populations. Even countries like Germany and Japan that received funding in being rebuilt gained that support because their entire infrastructures and economies had been razed to the ground. None of that describes Israel. It is the leading military in the region and yet continues to get immense funding for military. They have a fully functioning government, a self-sufficient and booming economy, and a tech industry that is a leader in the world, along with being major global manufacturers of agricultural goods and weapons. Yet many years they are the single largest recipient of US foreign aid and the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II.

    That is not a normal situation, no matter how you dice it. You can point out that some of the money flows back into the US, although to be fair we must acknowledge the fact that as a percentage less of it flows back than is required of other aid beneficiaries. Still, that amount of wealth, resources, and goods flowing in ways that are impossible to account for is all the more significant and interesting, as a key player or conduit in this pseudo-American global empire. I’m not sure that either the United States or Israel can be honestly considered as nation-states in the standard meaning. They are something new, and taken together they form some kind of power structure that is intertwined.

    It’s even more odd when considering some of what I already mentioned. The Palestinians are the original Jews who, when the other Jews returned to their ‘homeland’, were denied their homeland. They are originate from the same early Israeli population and, if anything, the Palestinians have more genetic claim than do the Israelis since the latter has long mixed with other populations and so, like me, are mutts… not that genetic purity means anything as even the original Jews were mutts because they were originally a religion of high rates of conversion.

    To make sense of this in Western terms, you can’t compare the Israelis and Palestinians to the Catholic and Protestant Irish, as both groups of Irish have continuously remained in Ireland. Instead, the European Jews returning to Israel and displacing the Palestinians would be equivalent to Irish-Americans en masse returning to Ireland invoking Celtic texts as their claim to the land and then putting the native Irish who fought for their freedom into a giant ghetto. If that were to happen, we could see it clearly with moral judgment of why it would be wrong. But so many lack the capacity to see Israel in the same light because Jews are special and must be forgiven for their transgressions, assuming those transgressions are acknowledged at all.

    Trying to say that it is all equal because the Palestinians have also been violent is false equivalence, as the Palestinians were the natives fighting for the land they had been continuously living on for millennia. If Irish-Americans did the same thing to the native Irish still in Ireland, don’t you think that those native Irish would fight back and do so violently? And wouldn’t they be justified? What moral claims can Irish-Americans make over possession of Ireland? None. No more than I can claim Germany because of my German ancestry.

    Israel is not a normal country, as neither is the United States. They represent something entirely new on the world scene. We should fight anti-semitism, but we should do so with eyes wide open about the strange new world we find ourselves in.

    https://original.antiwar.com/john-j-mearsheimer-stephen-m-walt/2006/08/22/the-israel-lobby-and-us-foreign-policy-6/

    “Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War II. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars.2 Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year.3 This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.4

    “Israel also gets other special deals from Washington.5 Other aid recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year and thus earns extra interest. Most recipients of American military assistance are required to spend all of it in the United States, but Israel can use roughly twenty-five percent of its aid allotment to subsidize its own defense industry. Israel is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, an exemption that makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the United States opposes, like building settlements in the West Bank.

    “Moreover, the United States has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems like the Lavi aircraft that the Pentagon did not want or need, while giving Israel access to top-drawer U.S. weaponry like Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the United States gives Israel access to intelligence that it denies its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye towards Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.6

    “In addition, Washington provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. Since 1982, the United States has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel, a number greater than the combined total of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.7 It also blocks Arab states’ efforts to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s agenda.8

    “The United States also comes to Israel’s rescue in wartime and takes its side when negotiating peace. The Nixon Administration re-supplied Israel during the October War and protected Israel from the threat of Soviet intervention. Washington was deeply involved in the negotiations that ended that war as well as the lengthy “step-by-step” process that followed, just as it played a key role in the negotiations that preceded and followed the 1993 Oslo Accords.9There were occasional frictions between U.S. and Israeli officials in both cases, but the United States coordinated its positions closely with Israel and consistently backed the Israeli approach to the negotiations. Indeed, one American participant at Camp David (00) later said, “far too often, we functioned . . . as Israel’s lawyer.”10

    “As discussed below, Washington has given Israel wide latitude in dealing with the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), even when its actions were at odds with stated U.S. policy. Moreover, the Bush Administration’s ambitious strategy to transform the Middle East – beginning with the invasion of Iraq – is at least partly intended to improve Israel’s strategic situation. Apart from wartime alliances, it is hard to think of another instance where one country has provided another with a similar level of material and diplomatic support for such an extended period. America’s support for Israel is, in short, unique.”

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    1. rauldukeblog says:

      Well there’s a lot here and some of it I agree with and some of it as I’ve said previously I think is too narrow if not factually incorrect.

      To define Israel as only a last gasp British colonial project is too thin a narrative.

      Was it within the context of the collapse of the British empire in the post war period defined by “East of Suez?”

      Yes it was but reducing the narrative to only that is as useful as reducing America qua America to charging up San Juan Hill or crushing the Huc rebellion in the Philippines.

      The Anaconda miner’s strike is certainly a perfect example of corporate imperial depravity but historical narratives are rarely if ever x+y = the whole story.

      England’s empire is a freak show in that it is dead Zulus but it’s also DH Lawrence and James Joyce etc etc etc.

      There’s no getting around it – the empire gives us colonel Blimp and dead subjects of the empire but it also gives us everything else.

      After all there is a through line from the empire and the Raj and close your eyes and think of England to the Beatles.

      Within all of that there is also Israel and Zionism.

      What’s more it is incorrect to reduce it to only a final toss of the empire because that version elides things like the Dreyfus Affair which stands at one end of Zionism with the mid point being the Holocaust and the end point being Israel.

      All of that and a million other things contribute to the narrative.

      Additionally as a matter of historical fact one must keep in mind that even if one grants the premise that England established Israel as a colonial project they did it in a bizarre manner with people like Glub Pasha being put in charge of the “Jordanian” Trans Arab Legion and the Brits making sure as they let the door hit their asses on the way out that all of the strategic hill top forts were safely in the hands of the Jordanians who not only had the high ground but were supplied with British weapons and had British NCO’s and officers to lead them.

      While no one could ever go broke overestimating British imperial perfidy the suggestion that they set up Israel as a final load of imperial jizz doesn’t survive a close excavation of the facts.

      That it occurred during the final spasms of contraction as England went bust after ’45 is true and that any number of sketchy as fuck transactions occurred only speaks to the SOP of politics being the business of gangsters whether you graduated from Eton or Ben Gurion U.

      I’m not sure the US empire didn’t exist until after ww2.

      One could make the case that it reached it’s peak in the post war period but prior to that one has things like the Monroe Doctrine and of course the destruction of indigenous communities and the whole issue of “Manifest Destiny” and zeitgeist events like H.D. Thoreau refusing to pay his war tax in the 1840s and going to jail as a result.

      Twain of course wrote The War Prayer in 1903 as a diatribe against the conquest of the Philippines etc.

      But again to grant the premise the empire does become world hegemon after ’45.

      That of course undercuts the premise of there being a “special relationship.”

      But if one grants that premise one would have to mark it as distinct from the “special relationship” between the US and Britain.

      But even if one does make a distinction there are other factors at work including the cynical if not still legitimate fact that votes count (even if not all votes are counted) and if one wants to win NY and CA one courts different communities.

      As I said previously I find evangelicals views mostly abhorrent if not absurd but I’m not against their having the right to vote any more than I’m against the very large well organized New York Jewish community having the right to be organized and vote.

      Then there’s the issue of responsibility.

      Reparations for past political crimes is hardly unique as a concept and for Jews the most recent large scale crime occurred in historical terms five seconds ago.

      I am not sure the statue of limitations has run out on the German fellows with the train fetish.

      As to Israeli bravado it certainly is an issue but again the argument seems too narrow.

      An anti-Semite I knew told me that Jews were tight with money.

      To which I said well if you were constantly worried that you might have to bribe a sadistic border guard you might keep a little extra in your back pocket as well.

      This highlights the mysterious qualia of narratives.

      A may be true but so is B even if they contradict each other.

      Is Israel full of bravado based on a sense of insecurity?

      Yes.

      Is it because it’s a relatively recent invention?

      Yes.

      Is Israel divorced from a five thousand year old cultural and institutionalized collective memory?

      No.

      As to the money.

      it is crucial to note that from 1949 until the 1980s Israel was not a world leading economic power.

      From ’49 until the 1970s it experienced not only constant low grade asymmetrical, warfare, serval episodes of potentially annihilating apocalyptic general wars, but also several episodes of hyper inflation all of which undercuts the assertion of economic dominance and thus in turn refutes the premise that there is something unique about American aid to Israel.

      The argument rests on a closed set of data points from the relatively recent era and is used retroactively to present a monolithic picture stretching from 1949 until today.

      A survey of modern Hebrew literature from Amicahi to Shabtai and others reveals a country barely getting by for decades.

      The literature in turn is supported by detailed analyses which establish the facts – Israeli’s recent economic success is just that – recent.

      As I said previously American aid to other countries dwarfs aid to Israel.

      The US spends about 5 billion a year on and in Israel of which several billion are returned through weapons purchases from behemoths like Boeing and Gruman and Raytheon – all of which is laundered through the bladder of Wall Street which in turn mixes that stream with oil money so that the idea of Israel as satrapy of the empire and with its boot on the neck of the Palestinians is another yes but narrative because everyone is cooking the books including the Palestinians.

      The US spends about 30 billion a year to maintain its forces in Europe and given the numbers I’d assume a comparable amount to keep forces in and around Japan.

      Add in the Marshal Plan, the Cold War, trade and everything from French wine to British chat shows and the amount of lucre makes Israel look like a financial pin head in comparison.

      Except for Japan and China every one of the top ten economies in the world are in Europe and of course the US (though India must rank in there somewhere).

      This then rebounds to the issue of context.

      America’s connection to Israel does indeed include perfidious issues but it also includes the aforementioned need for votes and the fact that Israel’s existence was up in the air well into the 1970s which meant the US was still dealing with blowback from ww2 – and let’s not forget that the generation of US pols from that era were all ww2 vets or were at least alive during the war.

      Nixon, JFK, LBJ, Rayburn, McCarthy, Humphrey, and so on – so the idea of a straight line from the sun never sets on the British empire to a romp on the beach in Tel Aviv is hardly accurate and the story like all stories flies apart into a million pieces.

      You make the point that Germany and Japan were raised to the ground and then rebuilt unlike Israel – well not really though as half of all Jews had just been serially exterminated and the US establishment was full of people were either avowed anti-Semites or indifferent which added to the potential for Israel to be very short lived “colonial project.”

      That in turn brings us to the use of not so ex Nazis by Israel’s “friends” a fact that consistently escapes these discussions.

      The US, the Europeans and the Arabs all made use of Nazis and in the case of the US not only did they use them but they told the Israelis to smile about it.

      These are not inconsequential issues but speak to the utter depravity of politics and contextualize the “special relationship.”

      Let’s not forget that we have Nixon on tape talking about the “fucking kikes” while ordering Kiesinger and J.J. Angleton to spy on American Jews.

      Special relationship?

      Then there are the sources who claim that Kissinger told the Egyptians to start the ’73 war because it would force the Isralies to negotiate.

      Typical Henry – it almost led to ww3 and costs thousands of lives – the man was a political Ebola virus and Nixon was Jack the Ripper.

      That’s part of the context for the “special relationship.”

      None of which is to discount perfidy on the other side – it’s a circular firing squad with shit on a stick for everyone.

      Which again undercuts the suggestion that there’s something unique about Israel.

      As to the “Palestinians are the original Jews” this is just wrong.

      The Semites broke into multiple tribes.

      The Jews are the original Jews.

      “Palestinian” is an invention of the Romans who after crushing the Maccabee revolt redrew the map and declared the region from Damascus to Gaza to be “Palestine” – land of barbarians.

      The contemporary use and definition of “Palestinian” is derived from British cartographers who had read Gibbon.

      Technically those people were subjects of the Ottoman empire then of the British empire and then stateless.

      As to the idea that they were minding their own business when Zionism happened – I’ve dealt with this in several post but two salient and crucial facts will suffice:

      First, with the Arab states as proxy they participated in the UN negotiations and the UN vote on the post British Mandate and partition of the Mandate into Israel and Palestine with Jerusalem as a UN administered city and the Palestinians gaining the majority of the useable land.

      They lost the vote.

      They declared war.

      They did not win.

      The war was illegal.

      Were there Palestinians forced from their homes?

      Yes.

      Bad things happen when you start wars and don’t win them.

      Secondly, senior leaders of the Palestinians worked directly with the Nazis.

      This is as much of a disqualifier as it is for Vichy, or Henry Ford.

      Work with the Nazis to kill Jews and you can go fuck yourselves.

      Period non negotiable.

      None of which means Jabotinsky and Shamir and the Stern Gang weren’t a pack of thugs.

      It doesn’t mean Sharon wasn’t a psychopath.

      It doesn’t mean that there are no bigots in Israel.

      Avigdor Lieberman is a gangster and a moron and a bigot.

      But that doesn’t mean the Baath Party was full of people quoting Ben Franklin and MLK. It doesn’t mean George Habash was a cupcake.

      The they are mutts suggestion also doesn’t work.

      The “Palestinians” intermarried with everyone – Druze and Alawaites and Greeks, and so on.

      There’s a crusader in every wood pile.

      Which puts me in mind of the old Robin Williams joke: why are there no Jewish faith healers?

      Your leg?!?

      My arm!!!

      As to Ireland and Israel my point was an remains that the intertwining of national mytho-poetic narratives is similar.

      The narratives are similar both factually and in terms of how people tell stories to define themselves.

      it’s no accident that Leopold Bloom is a Jew.

      Joyce saw the Irish as Jews and with good reason not withstanding serious divergent issues.

      The tune may be different but the meaning is the same.

      The circular firing squad of Ireland has more in common with Israel than not.

      The false equivalency is in the assertion that Zionism is somehow illegitimate because of the imbalance between hypothetical claims by Irish Americans on Ireland – a fact seemingly lost on IRA fund raisers in Boston, NYC and Chicago but still this again speaks to an elision of context.

      Zionism was not a Jewish con job at the expense of the Palestinians.

      Zionism sought to make arrangements with Europe for the assimilation of Jews and was not just rejected but was violently opposed.

      The Dreyfus affair stands as a European lynching on a grand scale and any discussion of Zionism that does not position Hertzel in relation to Dreyfus is a non starter.

      Thus any discussion of the impact of Zionism on the Palestinians that excludes the facts of European systemic anti-Semitism and the Arab collusion in that systemic bigotry is a-historical.

      As to the argument that “Jews are special” as an argument used to excuse Israeli crimes one need only spend a few hours observing Israeli media, intellectuals, cinema, music, theater or the “diaspora” to get a taste of the 24/7 free for all of competing views most of which involve some form of masochism and a steady opera of criticism.

      Do AIPAC and Israeli pols take advantage of the zeitgeist?

      Yes but so do Corbyn, Macron, Clinton, Sanders, and the Maybot.

      Politicians are not monks they are morally crepuscular spiritual hermaphrodites on a spectrum ranging from not awful to full blown psychopaths.

      That goes for pols in Japan and Chicago and Israel.

      The idea that Zionism rests only on a biblical claim is simply not true and again elides context.

      And as an aside the “biblical claim” is no more or less egregious or absurd than any other cultural narrative from the Upanishads to Mao’s little red book.

      It’s all fabrications and distortions and half truths and the stuff of humanity.

      Think Israel is unique?

      Try telling the French the Bayeux Tapestry is just a glorified napkin.

      As to Walt and Mearsheimer – oh boy is that a can of worms.

      Right out of the gate they are flat out wrong.

      The US has not given Israel more money than anyone else since ww2

      It is a fact that the US has spent more in Europe and Asia – a fact.

      And again if one wants to argue numbers than one must engage the dismal science and adjust for things like hyper inflation and cost of living – what does a 1973 US dollar buy in France vs what does it buy in Israel?

      How much did the US spend in and around Vietnam?

      Do we calculate post traumatic stress cases?

      Air America and the heroin trade?

      What was the cost of the US nuclear umbrella for Europe?

      It simply is not true that the US has spent more in aid to and for Israel.

      And then consider that when W and M point out how Israel gets to spend the aid differently they leave out things like how the US subsidizes Europe’s healthcare system by preventing the Europeans from building up their militaries.

      Isralies do not get 6 week paid vacations but the Germans do.

      And when the French need to kick colonial ass in Africa it’s the US that ferries the Foreign Legion and provides logistical infrastructure.

      Cost?

      Beats me but I’ll be it aint inexpensive.

      US bases – located where?

      England.

      Germany.

      Italy.

      Spain.

      Greece.

      Japan.

      S. Korea.

      Yup.

      Israel?

      Nope.

      Except for 800 paratroopers in the Sinai acting as a human speed bump in the event of a war.

      Opinions are all well and good but the facts, the dreary stubborn facts remain.

      Someone calls me a kike I know it’s 1936.

      I’m not in a position to choose between good and bad but spend my time shuffling between bad and worse.

      Israel in this case is bad.

      No Israel, is worse.

      Like

      1. I have a harsh moral sense. It’s a combination of being raised by highly principled conservatives in a highly idealistic liberal church, filtered through decades of severe depression.

        I don’t have a forgiving personality. And what I’m against, I’m against totally. One of those things is imperialism, and the world order right now is run by imperialism. Israel is inseparable from that imperialism, whatever else one may say of it. There are no two ways about it. The same is true of the United States.

        I hate, I despise imperialism down in the cells of my body. I say this as a subject and beneficiary of empire, specifically of an empire I consider evil. And I struggle with the fact that every day I don’t fight against the violent oppression that makes empire possible I am complicit in it. The least I can do is not be hypocritical about it.

        “The Jews are the original Jews.”

        Well, to be honest, there are no original Jews. Pretty much all humans are mutts at this point. The closest thing to a pure human anything is that of the Pygmies who literally are pure human, in that as far as I know their ancestors didn’t hybridize with other hominids.

        But my main point is that Palestinians can make a claim in having lived on their land continuously for millennia, and Israelis can’t. That makes all the difference in the world, in my opinion. Some people try to dismiss Native American claims to their own land by stating that they too once were immigrants. I call bullshit on that. Native Americans have a claim on North American soil like no other population.

        “Bad things happen when you start wars and don’t win them.”

        Bad things were already happening. It didn’t start with that war. But no shit bad things happen when you fight against powerful governments, especially global power structures with massive militaries. The Native Americans started wars against the United States, whether or not we consider it to have been an empire at the time. And it didn’t end well for the Native Americans, with a similar fate to the Palestinians with both populations being corralled and impoverished.

        “a fact seemingly lost on IRA fund raisers in Boston, NYC and Chicago but still this again speaks to an elision of context.”

        Those people are hypocrites and reactionaries. Such people exist on all sides. That is what makes the reactionary mind so powerful. It can draw almost everyone in under its sway. Most of those who oppose one set of reactionaries too often are reactionaries themselves. That is how the disease spreads, mostly through battles of identity politics. And anything can be turned into an identity, most of all when nostalgia is involved.

        Like

      2. You have to give me credit for being fair and equal in my opinions. For a long time, I’ve been harshly critical of the citizens of Western countries holding themselves morally above the United States, as if they aren’t complicit, while their governments regularly do the bidding of the American Empire. That is because the American Empire isn’t merely American. It is British and European, as it is Japanese and Korean, as it is Saudi and Israeli. That is specifically what makes this new imperialism so demented because it is so amorphous and insidious.

        I’m not saying that Palestinians are innocent. No one is innocent in this world. But some claims on land are stronger than others. Sure, Palestinians were put in ghettos and Native Americans in reservations after some of them fought back and their violence was not the act of the innocent. Then again, German Jews were also put in ghettos after some of them violently fought back. That doesn’t change the moral force of the claims of Palestinians, as with Native Americans, in having lived on their land continuously for millennia.

        I also don’t see it as having delegitimized their claim in allying themselves with stronger governments as Palestinians did in their war. The Native Americans did the same thing in allying with whatever big government was available in their fight against whichever population happened to be stealing their land at the moment. When you are a small population without much military power, it forces you to chose between submission or allying with someone who can help you fight.

        Some people claim that what happened in the past shouldn’t be dredged up, that lots of bad things have happened. But I don’t see how that applies to historical events still in living memory. The last of the Indian Wars happened during the young adulthoods and childhoods of many people still alive now. Many Native Americans fought to the bitter end and they were perceived as terrorists. But most people in the exact same position would have done the same in fighting for their freedom and rights.

        The same narrative of terrorism gets applied to the Palestinians and to Muslims in general. You can easily consider Osama bin Laden to be evil for what he did and yet, in one talk I heard him give, he was absolute correct in everything he said about the evils of the American Empire, the greatest terrorist organization that has ever existed. It’s not a matter of innocence in pointing out the evils of empire. I discussed some of this in the following post where I brought up Native Americans as a comparison.

        https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/good-liberals-vs-savage-nihilists/

        Like

      3. There was something Derrick Jensen wrote in one of his books. He uses it as a specific example of how oppression operates and how intimate it can be. In a community on the West Coast (maybe California), some remaining Native Americans remain in the area where their ancestors lived for longer than anyone can remember.

        But about a century ago, the white settlers wiped out much of the local population in stealing the land. At the time of writing, this event had happened only a couple of generations before. So, the Native Americans in some cases were renting property on the very land that their grandparents lived on, the very grandparents who were killed by the grandparents of the present ‘owners’. That was well within living memory, as the children that survived that massacre were still alive. Consider how the the events in Israel and Palestine are even more recent.

        Were the older generation of Native Americans that lived there violent when white settlers invaded their land? Did they initiate violence in defense of their land? Were white women and children killed? Were the Native Americans perceived as terrorists and their slaughter considered justified? Probably yes on all accounts. Even so, the still living descendants retain their moral claim to the land, no matter how much government power enforces the present social and economic order of territorial possession and private ownership.

        If a war broke out between Native Americans and the US government, depending on the circumstances, I probably would take the side of the former. That would be true, even if it meant me being forced to move elsewhere for the sake of those with ancestral claims based on still living memory. I’d gladly embrace refugee status in the name of freedom and justice of those who have been denied it for too long. That isn’t just talk. I really do feel that strongly. But I wouldn’t support one population of Native Americans returning to a specific area to displace and ghettoize another set of Native Americans that had been living there continuously for millennia.

        Morality isn’t always clear in practice. Yet for some issues and situations, there is a moral bright line.

        Like

      4. rauldukeblog says:

        There’s a lot in several posts so I apologize in advance if I miss something.

        I started to go point by point but it occurs to me it doesn’t matter.

        Here’s what matters:

        Auschwitz.

        I could stop there but I’m polite to a fault.

        The world directly and/or indirectly attempted to exterminate the Jews.

        Members of the Jewish community spent decades attempting to work out a quid pro quo with different states.

        Each effort failed and was accompanied by either direct violence or indifference and tacit support for violence against Jews perpetrated by others.

        “Israel” was not the first choice, assimilation was and it was rejected.

        Blaming the victims for saving themselves is dubious at best.

        The entire premise is faulty.

        There is nothing unique about any of it – genocide, political perfidy, immorality, savagery, manipulation, lucre and so on are the coin of what we charitably define as civilization.

        The difference between the tribes of N. America and the Jews is that the Jews got organized, fought and won.

        The Apache, and Olani, and 500 others fought, lost, were badly organized and were all but exterminated.

        And we walk in a vast circle.

        If we define America, or England, or Israel, as only a sin than what do we do with everything else?

        People seem to want to stock pile rocks and glass while I’m more sanguine.

        Slavery was an abomination.

        But it produced the Blues and Jazz.

        The Medici and the Borgia were thugs.

        Caravaggio hands in the Louvre.

        Enoch Powel was a goon.

        I like The Who and think Townshend is a genius.

        The Jews did not con the Arabs and the Palestinians were not robbed swindled or in any way cheated.

        The stubborn dreary facts can be spun any way one wants but in the end they remain:

        Zionism was a public decades long movement that made no secret of its goal and as it morphed in response to one catastrophe after another the world was kept well informed about what was going on and what the plan was.

        Everyone from Freud to Einstein to Tolstoy to Balfour to Churchill and a cast of thousands were all regularly interviewed and their opinions on Zionism were openly discussed.

        The Arabs were told exactly what was going on and their response was multiple attempts at genocide.

        Lost your house in Haifa because your neighbor was a Jew hating fascist and you kept your mouth shut while he bought guns and ammo and listened to radio broadcasts of Himmler recite poetry extolling the virtues of Roman discipline or read ersatz reprints of pamphlets by Marx with notes from some proto Bader Mein Hof cell?

        Too fucking bad.

        That is the stark difference between The Trail of Tears and Tel Aviv.

        I do not volunteer to die to make some fucking Jew hating freak happy.

        If that requires the IDF then so be it.

        Like

      5. Let me put it in personal terms. I live on Native American land, as is true for nearly any US citizen. But it isn’t a generalized statement I’m making. I know the precise tribes that lived in the area and used this place as a regular site. In fact, I know the precise locations of their camps. A trading trail passed nearby my childhood home in the park I used to play in. About a century or so ago, local residents would still sometimes see Native Americans passing along the trail.

        There were two tribes that stayed here regularly. One chief was the medicine man of Black Hawk, the Sauk leader who fought the US military and terrorized the settlers who invaded his people’s land. Black Hawk finally surrendered in Fort Madison where my brother and his family lives. There used to be a large mural of Black Hawk alongside what used to be called the People’s Park, until it was made into the front yard of a high rise for rich people. The Meskwaki, one of the allies of the Sauk, still live in Iowa (the two tribes were treated as the same by the US government). They were forced out like the rest, although some stayed behind and kept hidden. Shortly after, in following white man’s law, they collectively bought some land in the area they last lived before being forced onto a reservation. They weren’t given reparations or anything and their gaining that land was a purely economic deal, not the result of justice.

        The point is I live on bloody soil. I live and work among some of the descendants of that bloody time. My good life has been paid for by the suffering and death of generations of others. My good life still is being paid in this manner through the actions of the American Empire and its allies, including Israel, throughout the world. I have absolutely zero moral claim for being here. If the Sauk showed up tomorrow demanding the return of their land, I would support them. I would accept leaving upon their retaking their homeland, assuming it came to that. Or if they allowed me to stay and demanded I pay rent, I would do so under compliance with their wishes and laws.

        This isn’t a philosophical argument. If I and other descendants of immigrants have no claim over European land based on ancestors that lived there in recent centuries, why would European and other Jews have claim over Israel that their ancestors left in millennia past? The Jewish diaspora began a few centuries short of three millennia ago, in 733 BC, and was more fully established when they were driven from Jerusalem around 136 CE. Modern Israel was founded in 1948, over 1800 years having passed. Could you imagine if every people on the planet suddenly made claims over the territories their ancestors possessed in past millennia? Ignoring the conflict and violence that would ensue, it would be impossible to sort out and the result would not be freedom, liberty, and sovereignty for most of the world’s population — instead, probably ending in numerous genocides and ghettoizations as that is how disagreements would be settled.

        Like

      6. “The world directly and/or indirectly attempted to exterminate the Jews.”

        No, the ‘world’ did no such thing. There is no ‘world’ as such. Certain governments attempted to exterminate particular populations of Jews. Certain governments have attempted many things, including the extermination of other populations: Native Americans, Irish, Congolese, and on and on. Many tribes of people did not only experience attempts at genocide for they were successful and such people no longer exist, not just cultural genocide but obliteration of entire populations. I doubt anyone knows how many hundreds of millions have died in the accumulation of genocides over the centuries.

        “Blaming the victims for saving themselves is dubious at best.”

        The world is full of victims. And the world is also full of victims who become victimizers who spread the disease of collective trauma, from generation to generation, from one population to the next. It is well established in social science that many victimizers were once victims. Not understanding that is dubious at best. It is also sad for it means the cycle of victimization will continue. One victimization does not justify another. Victimization Olympics and moral lesser evilism does not make the world a better place. Down that path is darkness.

        Like

      7. rauldukeblog says:

        I apologize if by “the world” it was lacking percision.

        The US, England, France,Germany, Spain, Russia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Belgium, Holland, the Vatican and all the countries that were either silent and complicit or were vocal and complicit. That does leave out Mexico and New Zealand so you got me there.

        The fact remains Zionists made their intention perfectly clear over decades and the response was genocide and attempted genocide.

        It didn’t work.

        The victims of other atrocities should take lessons on how to get organized and fight.

        As I said: I’m not volunteering to satisfy some fucks obsession with Jews.

        Like

  6. Here is my concern about Israel and Zionism, as with so much else in this fucked up world. There are many gateway drugs to the reactionary mind. And none of us is immune, not even the most informed and radical of left-wingers. We are immersed in the reactionary. And it seeps into everything, into our minds most of all. If we aren’t vigilant, we have no hope. We are in the middle of a reactionary plague. And the shit is getting serious. It could make the last two world wars look like child’s play.

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  7. I don’t know what I’d do if I were an Israeli born in Israel. That is the position I find myself as an American born in America, and I still don’t know what to do about it. Immigrants have a different set of issues to deal with. But for us native born subjects of immense power of violent oppression it puts us in an uncomfortable situation and a moral quandary, to say the least. Pointing out that the other guys aren’t innocent is no comfort, much less a justification.

    The US and Israel are among the wealthiest and most advanced countries in the world. It is a decent lifestyle for most people in both, and it is easy to rationalize what one benefits from. I have no doubt that I have received more than my fair share of the world’s wealth and resources, not that anyone ever asked my opinion about it. Still, it’s not as if I’m powerless. Such authoritarianism continues, as hundreds of millions every year go on suffering and dying to uphold the empire around the world, because people like me do nothing.

    The one thing that seems clear to me is to speak truly and with moral force. I have an obligation, in living within the empire, to be a voice against empire. That is the very least I can do. And as the empire isn’t limited merely to one country, that means I must hold the same standard to every tentacle of the beast. And I don’t have to wait to the other side (Native Americans, Vietnamese, Palestinians, etc) to be innocent before I speak out. I’m against imperialism. Full stop.

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  8. By the way, when I speak of the American Empire, Zionist Israel, or the relationship between the two as ‘special’, unusual or whatever, I don’t mean that as implying that it is worse. I simply mean it is strange and unprecedented, unlike what came before. There is a new kind of global order. The United States, Israel, and all the allied nation-states (not to mention the new corporate-states like Bezos incorporated) — none of those are the ‘American’ Empire but they are all expressions and extensions of it, the many tentacles.

    It is true that early elites attempted to turn the United States into a colonial empire modeled on the British Empire. That dream of traditional power still held on at least with Theodore Roosevelt. But WWI dashed any remaining hopes for that old imperial order. And WWII was a furnace out of which the new imperialism was took shape amidst the rubble of fractured empires. No doubt Trump would love to revive old school power in his play-acting the role of an old school tyrant, and his buffoonery is great distraction for the real power behind the scenes. None of that matters.

    There really is something different going on. China and Russia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia all are still playing old games of authoritarianism, as far as I can tell. They haven’t caught up with the new paradigm. The United States could be defeated or could collpase, and even then the American Empire could continue on before. I have strong suspicions that the international intelligence complex behind the American Empire is already acting autonomously and largely in secret, no longer beholden to or held accountable by the US government, and I have no doubt that involves plenty of present and former agents multiple countries, not limited to Mossad.

    National loyalty no longer means what it once did, not even in (pseudo-)ethno-nationalist projects like Israel. I’m starting to think that many national governments have become fronts of something, as I keep repeating, far more amorphous and insidious. This is particularly apparent in the cases of the US and Israel because of their mutual rise to global dominance in the late 20th century. And I do see this all mixed up with a new form of authoritarianism that is hard to pin down because of how the reactionary mind has taken hold in parts of our society. I don’t trust any of it.

    This is not normal, not in the sense of how political and economic power has been wielded for centuries. Call the relationships that hold it together ‘special’ or don’t, as it is irrelevant. Maybe we don’t yet have the language to describe this new species of globalization.

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  9. Let me start again. I don’t want to fight about this. I value your friendship too much and I’d hate to lose it over something like this. I was being overly confrontational. To put it simply, I was being an asshole. I’m sorry about that. I hope you can let it go. If you want, feel free to delete my comments here.

    Your friendship is more important to me. I don’t want to antagonize you or get self-righteous, as is so easy to do. I’m tired of polarized debate and all that crap that creates an us vs them mentality. Or if there must be an us vs them, I’d rather someone like you be part of the ‘us’ I identity with.

    My getting overly emotional and combative here is because it is important. And I’m sure that is why you’ve responded as you have. Obviously, this topic matters. A lot! It is no doubt worth arguing over, but this is not how I’d want to go about it. I just worry about the creeping takeover of the reactionary and authoritarian in all areas of our society. It scares me, actually, and depresses me.

    I apologize for taking it out on you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      No worries and do not take this cursory response as dismissive but sincerely a question of being pressed for time.

      My “obsessive fucker” comment was not directed at you and in retrospect I should have made that clear. I meant the other obsessive fuckers;-)

      Seriously, no harm no foul!

      More later.

      Liked by 1 person

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