Monday, January 11, 2010

See Only What You Intend to See

Phil Weiss is back home from a very quick trip to Israel. Israel is "the world's worst country", he says (twice).

During his trip he managed to see only the things he intended to see: Palestinians who hate Israel's occupation, but none who hate Jews. Israelis who demonstrate against the occupation, but none who see complexity. Masses of Israelis (he seems not to have talked with any of them beyond a passing grunt) who are blind to reality and can't see the Truth, but none with a feeling of history. He saw cardboard figures galore, as he and his readership always do, but no real people. He is fully bereft of compassion for real people, but full of derision for the caricatures he imagines them to be. And he came away greatly heartened, because a handful of Jews, some Israeli and some American, see the world as he does, and this vindicated his conviction that the Zionist project is ending. He's a contemporary of the greatest moment in millennia of Jewish existence, and all he can generate is spite.

Somewhere deep down I feel for him. A bit. It can't be pleasant to be Phil Weiss.

11 comments:

This Is Hell said...

The comments there are even more bizarre; e.g. Israel is 'committing MORE homicidal attacks on Iran...' etc etc.

I'm afraid sir, that when confronted by people who when they see white they call it black that there's no hope. You can't shame the shameless, you can't scold the insane.

Maoz said...

Yaacov, be fair. Weiss attributes the phrase "the world's worst country" to Barghouti both times. While it is clear that Weiss is not a fan of Israel, this piece of his in no way demonstrates that he himself believes that it is the world's worst country.

NormanF said...

I don't see the Zionist project ending. And that is a great source of frustration to those who hate the Jewish State which will be around long after they are gone.

Danny said...

When you read the comments on this article (and other mondoweiss posts), you cant help but get the feeling that people of this ilk cheerlead for terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians because cynically it helps expedite the destruction of the "Zionist entity". Innocent civilian deaths is a small price to pay to say "i told you so". these people are sick. Even the Jewish ones (who say they are shielded from being attacked as anti-semitic), care so much of the Palestinians' "rights" but care less about Jewish rights to life. They just pay no heed to the consequences of a sovereign "Palestinian" state. When the Iranian tanks roll into Nablus, they will just say that the Jews brought this on themselves! Phil Weiss is scum.

Anonymous said...

These folks will go to all lengths to prove their worth to non-Jews by bashing Jews and the Jewish state.

Good Kapos they would have made.

Bryan Z said...

Comparing them to Kapos is just as bad as comparing Israel to the Third Reich. All analogies to Nazi Germany on both sides are ugly and ultimately faulty, useful only as appeals to emotion. It would be best to avoid them.

Victor said...

What about references to "fascism", in a political context - ie the PLO, like most Arab political hierarchies, is a fascist institution, demonstrating dictatorial political control, state-sanctioned monopolies of main industries and aggressive nationalism.

Is "fascism" too tied to Nazism, or would you say it is an appropriate term for this conversation?

Jon said...

No, see, we're not allowed to make use of any metaphors at all. Analogies are strictly prohibited.

Victor said...

On the subject of "seeing only what you want to see"... check out this report from the BBC on an Afghan poll. The story itself isn't very relevant, but note the last quote at the bottom:

There are lots of sensitivities here and we couldn't just adopt a Western style of democracy, we would have to create our own style.

We need to respect religion and people's traditions and we can't allow them to be made fun of.

But if we amalgamate Islamic values, traditions and what we've learned from our history to create our own style of democracy, it will work. We must not force Western values onto Afghanistan - we've got a complex setting here and we need to respect all its facets.


Afghan Muslims, like Arab Muslims, like Italian Catholics and Indian Budhists, have no problem stating that they want their nation, and their (democratic) government, to represent their cultural and religious values. This is a narrative that will not be questioned by the BBC or Mondoweiss, for that matter.

Now, imagine if an Israeli Jew had said that they want to live in a country whose government reflects Jewish cultural and religious values. Apartheid! Ethnocentrism! Religious Intolerance!

NormanF said...

Victor, good point. Israel is accused of being an ethnocentric country but that term is never applied to any Arab country which is as ethnocentric as one can get in terms of ethnic and religious character. Israel is blasted for being an apartheid state although the worst apartheid regimes on the planet are in the Arab World. Much of the criticism of Israel has nothing to do with Israel's treatment of its Arab minority but rather with that fact that Jews run the country. And this is what has the Jewish State's critics fit to be tied. Of all the peoples on the earth, the only one today who don't deserve an unquestioned right to national self determination are the Jews.

Anonymous said...

it is not only that they do not criticize ethnocentricity it is one of the best selling arguments of travel agencies - but when the agencies try to apply the same gimmick to Israel by showing Jews in traditional garb our local Israel-lovers immediately protest because they do not want Israel to be presented in this "back to the original" style. Now if the agencies and media would sell it as Israel being diverse and open-minded I wouldn't mind so much but to me it looks like implying that they are unable to adjust i.e. while a traditionally living Touareg is presented as standing for a colourful enviable expression of his identity (whatever that is supposed to be) a bearded Jew is presented as standing for something somewhat bizarre.

Of course I can't prove my point I can only insist that my gut reaction to these pictures is legitimate. A Buddhist monk with his naked arm is "sold" to me as attractive a traditional Jew not for example I never get shown these phantastic wonderful beautiful little hats you have for women in Israel i.e. would they want me to find traditionally living Jews attractive they would show me those hats but no it was pure chance I stumbled across them while looking for some handicraft inspiration ...
rgds,
Silke