Thursday, December 24, 2009

Strenger on Carter

Jimmy Carter apologized recently for his harsh anti-Israel position of recent years. The JTA smells politics. Goldblog is guarded, and working on it with his readers. Yourish is dismissive. There's a lot more of that out there if you care to look for it.

Carlo Strenger looks at some of the longer-term aspects. He says nothing new, but most of us generally don't. I"m linking not for the novelty but because he's right.
Israel and the Christian world have been locked in a very complex relationship that has deep historical and theological roots. The theologically based hatred of Christianity towards Jews was transformed in the 19th century, and received its racial formulation from 1873 onwards, when the Austrian journalist Wilhelm Marr coined the term anti-Semitism. This form of hatred of Jews led to the horrors of the Holocaust, and the Western world has yet to come to terms with its refusal to do anything to stop the genocide.

Jews have been the bad conscience of the West for a long time - and even more so since the Holocaust. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy has pointed out that many in the West have never come to terms with the fact that Jews, the perpetual victims, now have a powerful army, and are no longer in the position of having to beg for protection and recognition. But most of all, for many there was relief: now that Jews had become the victimizers rather than the victims, the guilt of the history of persecution ending in the Holocaust could finally left behind. Many in the West used a ubiquitous defense mechanism: humans tend to hate those who induce guilt in them - and finally guilt against Jews could be transformed into hatred against Israel.


Barry Meislin said...

He may be right about some things but he's wrong about others:

...that there is a big difference between being critical and even exasperated with Israel's inability to end an occupation that should have ended in 1968, as David Ben-Gurion knew very well, and the self-righteous rage and hatred that many of Israel's Western critics express in their criticisms.

Given the realities at the time---the buildup to the 1967 war, the aftermath of the war and Arab responses to Israeli overtures following the war---there was absolutely no way, politically (not to mention, strategically), that Israel could have given up everything (and I mean everything, because that is what would have had to have happened---then, as now).

But people like Strenger (and there are not a few) would like to believe that forcing Israel into indefensible borders, while ignoring the repercussion, is the stuff of virtue, hence it must be true.

And note that for Strenger, it is "Israel's inability".

Indeed, it is always Israel's inability and it will always be Israel's inability...until such inability becomes the inability to defend itself from destruction.

In this conflict, the people who are at the forefront of self-blame, self-chastisement and self-excoriation are pitted against those who are at the cutting edge of blaming everyone except themselves.

It is a perfect match.

AKUS said...

The problem with Carter's apology is that the damage hgas been done by this old fool, and his "apartheid" analogy will contantly be cited while the apology will be ignored or brushed aside.

In any event, his grandson looks so horribly like him that few Americans, remembering the disaster of the Carter years, will vote for him. For once, a redeeming feature of the effect of media images on politics.

chareidilite said...

We used to say "What Bubba (Carter's brother) says, Jimmy thinks." But over the years, Jimmy has done enough of his own talking to amply demonstrate what he thinks. I believe that the anti-Semite label should be used sparingly and judiciously, but I think there is plenty on record that makes it clear that Jimmy Carter is an anti-Semite.

NormanF said...

Jews used to be hated because they were weak and rootless. Now Jews are hated because they are strong and ruthless.

No matter what the Jews do, they can't win.