Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Jews Must Do as We Say

For those of you tired of my intense focus on the Guardian and its ilk, my apologies. Moreover, I can see your point. I've demonstrated that they're antisemites, and that since they're incapable of seeing Israel in an rational framework, they've lost any reason we should listen to them. As well we don't, when it comes to the policy- and decision-makers.

The thing is, these days offer such rich findings regarding their pathologies, that the historian in me just can't resist indexing them, in case I ever get around to writing that book about "How to Recognize an Antisemite".

Take Peter Beaumont, for example. Near the top of his column he mis-characterizes Israeli society in a way that is more than spectacular:

But cultures attached so strongly to the past have difficulties not only in negotiating their relationship to the challenges of the present, but also in charting the possibilities of the future. They are resistant to change, delineated by ideas of what they once were, not what they could be. It is doubly true of young countries, even those populated by people with an ancient culture. For young states require an instant, powerful history to bind them. That insists on a gulf between themselves and the other.

This, referring to the Jews in one of the most exciting periods of change in 2,000 years! And about a country which worldwide is second only to Silicon Valley in its exuberant embrace of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

So where does he get his peculiar notions from, if they haven't even the vaguest connection to the reality he purports to be describing? You must seek no further than the bottom of the same column. Once he has finished detailing all the (imaginary) things wrong with Israel, and without ever mentioning the policies of the Arabs, he go on to apportion a bit of additional blame:

It is wrong to blame Israel entirely. Some culpability must also attach to the friends and allies who have so long supported it in a conception of itself so out of step with the post-colonial era, not least the United States, whose outgoing president George W Bush once again supplied Israel with a free pass yesterday by attaching responsibility over what has happened in Gaza entirely to Hamas.

In some respects, Israel is suffering the same malaise that afflicted Britain in the aftermath of the Second World War. Then, by virtue of being on the winning side, it took this country decades to come to terms with the fact that in reality it was a military, colonial and economic power in decline. It is a process Israel must also confront - to recognise its painful and difficult history is not a perpetual guarantee of sympathy and a free hand to act as brutally as it wishes.

That's the key: the perpetual red-herring of of Colonialism. You see, Israel insists on living in the past when Colonialism was the norm; it can't seem to understand that the world has changed now, moved on, looks into the future, etc etc etc.

(Beaumont is actually at the Observer, not the Guardian, but there isn't much light between the two, and it's all the same website. But accuracy is important).


Meryl Yourish said...

How did I miss your blog?

You've been blogrolled.

joseph said...

Dr. Lozowick,

I saw Juan Cole's "historical(???)" analysis and thought of your discussion of historical demons (and what I interpret to be preconceived notions whether conscious or not)and then this article reinforced my concerns about Cole. How can an historian, who, like a scientist, should examine his subject with an open mind, not only have such deep biases that he cannot see what is before him but then pretend to teach as well? Oliver Sacks book, "An Anthropologist from Mars" examines, in the first chapter, a man who suffers from blindness and short term memory loss. The result is that he is blind, but doesn't know it. He should meet Professor Cole.



Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

And about a country which worldwide is second only to Silicon Valley in its exuberant embrace of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

I've seen this claim made quite often. But is it accurate? In the first place, Silicon Valley is not synonymous with technological innovation, but, rather, with software, which is only one branch of technology. For instance, some of the most impressive recent developments, such as the maglev train, come from Germany or Japan, not from the United States and much less from Silicon Valley.

In the second place, this table would seem to suggest that Israel lags well behind Japan and Taiwan in technological innovation on a per capita basis, and South Korea is about to surpass it as well.

Of course, Argentina's performance is dismal. I'll have to keep loving the country for other reasons than pride.