Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What we Teach Our Children - 2

Following my earlier post with this title, which mentioned that my son is preparing to go to war, Faux Ibrahim responded in an accusatory tone:
If your son was ordered to shoot a bound and blindfolded prisoner in the foot, what do you think he would do?

And, perhaps more importantly, what do you think he should do?
Ibrahim is the false name chosen by a Lefty fellow from Rosario, Argentina, who realizes that his obsession with Israel's wrongdoing and mostly with what he perceives as its wrongdoing, must be cast as coming from an Arab; otherwise the only explanation can be that he's an antisemite. Like many of his fellow antisemites, most of what he has to say is foolish, silly, or otherwise unserious; the main reason to give him any attention at all is not for the content of his rants but for insights into his impulses and rationalizations. Still, as some readers will have noticed, from time to time I use him as a useful foil.

In this case also. It just so happens that my laptop contains something I wrote seven years ago that relates head on to Faux-Ibrahim's question; the son in the story was Meir, Achikam's older brother.

I dare Faux-Ibrahim or anyone else to show me parents anywhere in the world, and anytime in history, who do or did as good a job of preparing their sons to be moral warriors. The story of Meir and I in December 2001 is highly unusual - everywhere except in Israel. Here, it's banal. The only advantage I can claim over all the other fathers around here is that my ability to write English is better than most, Hebrew being their language.


Lydia McGrew said...

Oh, heck, I can think a commentator's an anti-Semite even if he _is_ an Arab. Perhaps even more plausibly.

Yaacov said...

You're right, of course Lydia, and it occurred to me as I wrote. But the fact remains that Faux Ibrahim feels the need to hide his sentiments, and hopes this will do the trick. As you say, it doesn't.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Where to begin.

First of all, a technical point. How do you know I'm a leftist? Just because I'm an anti-zionist? Review your Popper.

Second, your son Meir's story does not answer my two questions.

Third, I'd like to share with you this very on-topic Breaking the Silence testimony:

3 am, opening a door, breaking inside the house. The mother is hysteric. The whole family (large families) is hysteric. Someone is sent to check. It wasn’t always a terrorist’s house. Yes – they are captured, taken down stairs… And it is impossible to imagine what goes on inside a person’s head. Their eyes are tied [sic]. Two soldiers in the back escorting the guy, and more soldiers join. And these were the same people – 15 people in the company who were a problematic minority. And – simply – a tied up person, and they were kicking him in the stomach, in the head…

Wasn’t it reported to the commanding officers?

It was a commanding officer!

You come back home. Do you tell it to your mom and dad?

No way! I repressed it.

Your parents didn’t know nothing [sic]?

No way! You are part of it.

It looks like some Israeli kids are moral enough to be ashamed of the brutality they witness, but not enough to do something about it. Other kids are immoral and do the brutality.

I was not much moved by the dialog with your son. I especially disliked this exchange:

“Well what can we do? What kind of a people is this that proudly sends its men to blow up children?” I have no answer to that one; he’s right, and I tell him so.

Wrong answer.

The right answer would have been:

"It's the same kind of people, Meir, as we are. See; back in 1938, a Jew called David Raziel blew up an Arab marketplace in Haifa killing 40 people. He carried out five similar attacks, and today we celebrate him with a Ramat Raziel moshav. But he was not the only one. In 1947-48, Jewish terrorists bombed alleys, derailed trains, attacked markets; these Jews were later awarded State ribbons, as a future blogger called Faux Ibrahim will document. And they were not isolated incidents: between January and March 1948, 42 Arab civilian buses were machine-gunned by Jews. And they will tell you that it was only the Irgun and Lehi, but the sad truth is that the Haganah also committed terrorism, for instance killing 2 parents and their 5 children in the Semiramis hotel bombing in Jerusalem...

"So that, Meir, they're no worse or better than us. Under the appropriate circumstances, any person, including us, can become child killers.

"As for committing suicide, remember that we're proud of Massada, where the Jews supposedly committed mass suicide. Although the story is probably false, that's what they tell us and that's what we're proud of."

THAT would have been the moral answer to your son's query.

But you chose to confirm your son's dehumanizing of the Other.

Yaacov said...

Fuax Ibrahim -

I know you're a Lefty because I generally read what you write, and it's not only quite clear, you've even said so (tho I do think you used the hubristic term 'progressive' which is even worse because it defines one's positions in relation to everyone else).

You seem not to understand our dynamic here. I'm not arguing with you. You had your chance for that, you were spectacularly dishonest, and you blew it. As I've repeatedly said, I now use you as a demonstration of the idiocies of your world-view and occasional foil for things I want to say anyway. Thus, I owe you no response for your post; and anyway, I systematically refuted this and all other claims you make in book form. If there are any readers of this exchange - I don't think there are, this blog doesn't generate discussions in comments - they are welcome to read Right to Exist and to judge for themselves. Ethan Bronner of the New York Times found the book largely convincing, so I'm confident.

You, Faux Ibrahim, won't be convinced, because what's operating with you has nothing to do with intellectual curiosity, and everything to do with the cesspools of human emotion. Your very method proves this: You know absolutely nothing about this region, and although you invest much effort it pretending otherwise, you scrupulously insist on not learning anything. Rather like a Martian trying to understand the United States by reading Noam Chomsky and the publications of ANSWER, you flit around the Internet looking for tidbits that fit your pathologies, never testing them, ever rejecting anything that doesn't fit. You've never been here, you don't know the languages, you don't have the dimmest notions about the relations between your favorite websites and reality.

To anyone with even only a nodding acquaintance with the reality, your efforts are profoundly embarrassing; to those of us who know, however, they actually are rather interesting, for the insights they give into the murky recesses of the antisemitic mind.

You've got an 8 or 9 year old son, Faux Ibrahim, and he likes to play soccer. That's good, and proper, and also no-one will ever shoot at his soccer field, or classroom, or at him. If he grows up as you'd wish, in time soccer will be less of a passion for him and he'll find time also for constructive endeavors. He won't ever have to face destructive hatred that wishes to destroy his world, and he'll never have to train himself to face it. There is no chapter in his future in which he'll have to set aside everything and put himself in danger's way so as to protect his family, his community or his nation. That's good, and proper. It also means he'll never have to worry about how he might behave in such conditions. Enjoy him, and find satisfaction in all this. True, there is much amiss about Argentina, but it's of a gentler magnitude. Perhaps he'll take upon himself to rectify it, unlike his father who obsesses himself with faraway lands and peoples he's incapable of understanding.

Fabián said...

"If there are any readers of this exchange - I don't think there are, this blog doesn't generate discussions in comments - they are welcome to read Right to Exist and to judge for themselves. Ethan Bronner of the New York Times found the book largely convincing, so I'm confident."

I have read your book, Yaakov, and the story you link to, which is in it, was one of the most powerful scenes I have ever read about the conflict.

My best wishes for you and your family.


Yaacov said...

Thank you Fabian!