Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Poisoning Children's Minds

Steven Erlanger of the New York Times has a long report on the pervasive incitement in the Hamas controlled media. He makes no attempt to hide the fact that Hamas is inculcating the certainty that Israel must disappear completely. Much of the anti-Jewish rhetoric is based upon Koranic interpretations, which means they don't even pretend to be reactions to a specific current political configuration or Israeli actions in the here and now.

You could say that they are infused with antisemitism, except that antisemitism is a European invention, an attempt to justify hatred of the Jews even in a world that no longer cared about what the Jews did or didn't do to Jesus. This, however, harks back openly to a far older tradition. Erlanger, however, doesn't get into this discussion, he merely reports on the present.

There is nothing new nor surprising in the report, for those of us who care about such matters and follow them. For those who don't care, there isn't any significance to the report, either. Having read the Guardian daily for years by now I can say with confidence that if you look hard enough you actually can find echoes of this in their reportage, but the impact of the reportage is not in the echoes but rather in the main cacophony; the same goes, for example, for the New York Review of Books. Juan Cole would never link to such a report, but his is a private blog, so he can choose as he wishes.

I'm linking to this not because the NYT needs me to promote its content, but rather to record the fact that they published such a report, and perhaps, in the future, to wonder if they read their own newspaper.


Anonymous said...

Hamas feels the freedom and self-confidence to organize around something like the Protocols because the spirit behind its antisemtism is religiously sanctioned, and Hamas is, at bottom, a religious organization.

More interesting is the Jew-baiting coming out of the Guardian and its ilk. A distinction needs be drawn between religious antisemitism and Nazi antisemitism. "Unfortunately" for many in Europe, Hitler gave antisemitism a bad name but also lent it some very ahistoric features--homoerotic military cultism and extreme nationalism, neither of which the Left would endorse. And in fact, the Left's antisemitism is of a much hoarier variety, far more traditional than that of the Nazis---I argue that it's quite close to---surprise, surprise--church antisemitism whose roots go back millennia.

The religion has been replaced by a more secular creed. But as Bernard Harrison forcefully argues, the "frame" is very much the same. Innocent Christian victims have been replaced by innocent Palestinians. While Guardian-like Jew-baiting no longer levels blanket accusations about Jews and wars, they do level accusations about Jews and some wars. What remains the same is the Octopus Jew, his tentacles controlling everything: news media, the United States, Hollywood, whatever.

What is also identical is the Jew-centrism of the entire enterprise. Here the Guardian is instantly at home with with their COE or Vatican forebears of centuries past. Israel is for many the center of this weird universe; all events somehow refer to it. Israel is guilty of deicide, but the god who was killed wasn't Jesus but the peace of the world.

The addiction is strange but it is always was. The following cannot be "proven" in an empirical sense, but in some respects, the Holocaust happened because of the latent (or worse) antisemitism of those who were content to look on. That generation is largely gone now. But are we to believe that in 1945, their children and grandchildren suddenly dropped their ancestors' beliefs?

Hamas is what it is because it's the worst of Islam. The Guardian is what it is because it's the worst of Christianity, although it certainly doesn't see itself that way.

Lydia McGrew said...

"antisemitism is a European invention..."

I don't understand this. Is that supposed to be a true statement, or something somebody else is saying? It doesn't seem obvious to me. Or is there supposed to be a subtle distinction between "anti-semitism" (considered as European by definition) and hatred of Jews more generally? Certainly the Muslim traditions _do_ contain explicit Jew hatred. "The noble hadith" and all that. You don't need me to quote the stuff.

It's my own opinion that there is a kind of liberal Western anti-semitism that doesn't really owe anything to Christianity. But then, I'm a Christian. :-) I'm thinking here of that kind of wildly exaggerated, even distorted, self-styled love of the underdog and egalitarianism that results in a dislike of Jews because of their talents and successes. No matter how oppressed and horribly mistreated the Jews are, the very fact that they rise above it will make them hated, secretly or not-so-secretly, by a certain type of leftist, because that type of leftist is always rooting for the people who _don't_ rise above their circumstances. Such a person always resents the people who do, the people who succeed despite obstacles, the people who don't complain, the people who produce "more than their fair share" of ______ [fill in desirable position, outcome, or product]. Hence the self-hatred of the West among Western intellectuals. But I can't really see this as a Christian phenomenon but rather as a politically liberal one.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

If you read Israel's children's books from the sixties, they're full of incitement against Arabs, who are depicted as thieves, liars, barbarians, etc.

Over time, however, Israel has learned that there are certain things you may think but may not say -- if you say them, what can you accuse Hamas of? But if you scratch under the politically correct veneer, the same old prejudices and despise surface.

So we have Avigdor Lieberman, or the Moledet party, talking about the "transfer" of Israeli Arabs, although they manage to also utter the adjective "voluntary," just in time not to be accused of incitement to ethnic cleansing. As if the initiative for the transfer could possibly come from the Israeli Arabs themselves.

Aside from those blatant instances, the ever present message in Israeli society is that Israel is a country for the Jews, where unfortunately Arabs also live. You get the message in the school textbooks, as in the table entitled "Average marriage age", which, in the entry corresponding to Israel, has the footnote: "Jewish population only," lest the Arabs ruin the statistics with their third-world marriage age. Or in the defense minister's claim: "no one with Jewish blood on their hands will be safe," where an Israeli Arab would have expected "Israeli blood," considering that Hizbullah rockets also killed Arabs.

Just pay a look at the comments section of the Jerusalem Post and tell me -- where do you think that hate of Arabs comes from? And what about the conspiracy theories of some members of Knesset -- strikingly similar to the Protocols -- what's the reason behind them? Incitement. From the State, from the JNF, from the yeshivot. Done with more subtlety, granted, but exactly as pervasive and harmful as Hamas'.

Lydia McGrew said...

Ah, yes, all of that is _exactly_ like the stuff Saraa says on "Tomorrow's Pioneers." And I'm sure if the Jews aren't saying all the same kinds of things, they're thinking them.


Some people do not live in the real world.

Yaacov said...

Lydia -

Antisemitism: I see I wasn't clear. I was referring to the specific type of Jew hating that called itself antisemitism, invented Germany in the 1880s by Wilhelm Marr and adopted enthusiastically by many of his ilk (and worse) who sought a way to justify their hatred in post-religious terms and forms.

I am told that the next generation of these haters had a deep and lasting impression on the Arab world, but I'm not enough of an expert about the Arabs to say.

Ibrahim - you get your own post.

Yaacov said...

Addendum to Lydia -
As I've already written somewhere here, some day I ought to write a book abut how to recognize and antisemite. Someday. In the meantime, while agreeing with much of your characterization of that Left train of thought, I cannot but note that much of it is religious in form, if not in content. You read the belief of the Guardianistas that the world is what they believe, irrespective of rational thought, and you can't but identify in them a rather primitive religious way of thinking.

Of course I'm not saying that religious people must think in irrational terms - far from it - but that some resolutely non-religious and even atheist people tend to think in religious templates, and moreover, rather simplistic ones.

Lydia McGrew said...

Yes, but it's a religion rather different from Christianity, though. Sez I, anyway. Christianity asserts that reality is what it is, irrespective of what we think. Dante gives an excellent example of this, just to pick one writer at random, as I happen to be reading the Paradiso just now.

What I thought perhaps you would say is that egalitarianism and underdog-advocacy are Christian tropes. My answer to that (which one does sometimes hear) is that in the liberal ideology we find the idea of equality and "helping the little guy" set free from their theological moorings and hence free to roam into the realm of unreality.