Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Some Insight's into Israel's Hard Left

In my post yesterday about the Sabbar Kashur story I remembered wondering, back in July, where all the Israeli feminists were: The answer, it seemed obvious, being that they're lefties first, and feminists second. Well, today's Haaretz has a piece by Meirav Michaeli, one the most vocal and visible of our public feminists. She seems to say exactly that: her anger at imagined Israeli racism made her oblivious to what was really going on.

Here's another example of the hard left's willingness to play with facts in the service of ideology. The Geneva Initiative group have been running spots implying that Palestinians are eager to make peace with us, while it's the Israelis who've been interfering. There's nothing remarkable about this - it's the consensus in most Western media, with some notable exceptions - but these are Israelis trying to convince the majority of Israelis who know better because we've been closely watching the conflict all our lives, and we know people will die if we make the wrong decisions. Well, according to this story, the authors of the campaign haven't been careful with their facts, and the top Palestinian leaders they've been quoting object to being quoted.

Neither of these stories is particularly important on its own, though they fit a pattern. The hard left assumes the worst about us and sees themselves as the last bulwark of sanity, the lone campaigners who bear the burden of saving us from ourselves.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the NIF and the organizations it supports. If you follow their newsletters, fund-raising pitches and publications, you'll easily be convinced that Israeli democracy is in dire straights, seriously threatened by forces that would do away with it were it not for them who are battling for our soul. The possibility that Israeli society is merely being its usual raucous democratic self seems not to occur to them, just as in previous years it was obvious to them that they alone understand and cherish human rights, or peace, or social well-being, or whatever value they choose to be the defenders of. In spite of their being highly educated people, they can't seem to appreciate that the rest of us may understand and indeed share the same values, while wishing to organize our communal life along different priorities

Yesterday there was a news item about how the ministry of education intends to move funds from civic studies to Jewish studies - a classic case of prioritizing. The item was sparse on data, so I have no idea what the ministry's intention really is. The NIF responded via Twitter:
Oh that's not good: Education Ministry cuts high school funding for civics courses in favor of Jewish studies
I twittered back:
@NewIsraelFund says this is a bad thing. Israelis know so much about their heritage, you see. If only...
To which the NIF responded:
Israelis have many heritages, but that won't help them get along. But this will. (the link leads to a Hebrew/Arabic site about an NIF "Project Democracy").
The self confidence is breath-taking.

Here's a nutshell history of the Jews, for the benefit of my friends at the NIF.

Jews have been around for thousands of years, longer than almost any other group, and not for lack of adversity. This can be explained in three ways. First, divine intervention. This blog doesn't pretend to understand divine intentions. Second, pure coincidence. If so, there isn't much reason for activism one way or the other. Random fate will do its thing irrespective of our efforts. Third, the Jews are still around because it's important to them to stay around.

I'm a fan of the third explanation. Jews remain Jews because they decide to remain Jews, because being Jewish is a matter they hold in highest esteem and reverence. Democracy is of course a wonderful thing, but it appeared very recently, long after the Jews already had thousands of years of practice surviving as Jews. Since many Israelis know embarrassingly little about their own culture, teaching them about it can't be a bad thing. Prioritizing civil studies over Jewish studies says something profound about you.


Anonymous said...


in order to be allowed to get taught about your own culture you have to have an exotic foreign exciting mysterious culture?

now if your culture would be cherished for its ability to make camel milk yoghurt or eat apes' brains or make phantastically colourful embroideries that would deserve a culture teaching support.

Wasn't that what Said's Orientalism complained about or was it the opposite that upset him? ;-)

Maybe anybody with geekish abilities around here could establish a kind of reservoir where one could deposit all the incidence of American and European lacks of democracy one comes across.


Ben Murane, New Israel Fund said...

Yaakov, as always, we respect the principle behind your post even if we disagree with the implementation.

Israel is a home to many heritages -- including a multiplicity of Jewish heritages from around the globe. New Israel Fund supports many NGOs that educate exactly that, particularly Ethiopian, Mizrahi, Russian and other disadvantaged groups. (Not to mention the 20% Arab minority.) So we agree that an expanded knowledge of history and heritage is good for society.

But it's also notable that many of these other identities hail from countries with poor participation in democratic society, if any. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopian farm villages, and Mizrahim from the Arab countries (bastions of civil rights, as you well know) need a basic civics education. The lack of it perpetuates the disadvantages these groups encountered upon arrival. Many of NIF's grantees help these groups to understand that government will listen to their needs -- if they make themselves heard.

Studies in heritage are important, yes. But it won't help them get along or create an equitable society. That's what civics education does and why it's so important right now.

There is more about democracy-building work in Israel at www.WeAreNIF.org.

Anonymous said...

forgive me if I ask some dumb questions, but as I live far away in Germany for comment confused me a bit.

Why do the "late comers" have to be "educated" by foreigners? Are the ones who were already there when they came so bad at education? If I remember correctly Israel has a lot of experience and taken all in all excellent records when it comes to welding people from all over the world together.

sorry life has made me a bit allergic and hypersensitive to patronizing attitudes and yours definitely reminds me of all the incidents which made me acquire that sore spot.

Let me translate it: Israel had so much immigration of savages that she can't manage "civilizing" them on her own.

BTW where is the NDF-fund educating our latecomers from Russia, Jews and all kinds of others. Don't we need to be supervised? Don't our newcomers deserve assistance in learning to make themselves heard? Why always this suspicion when it comes to Israel and why always this trust towards evrybody else?


Anonymous said...

Now that there’s no more Jim Crow, she observes, there’s “hypersegregation”: in the 2000 census, Detroit’s population was eighty per cent black; Dearborn’s was one per cent.

now why do people who for probably very understandable reasons are unable to get a grip on "that" believe that they can teach another country how it works and that it is all perfectly easy, if only one follows their advice?

I am sure psychos have a term for that? It can't be sublimation or compensation? or can it?


The Uprooted

Chronicling the Great Migration.
by Jill Lepore

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/09/06/100906crbo_books_lepore?printable=true#ixzz0yrV1NNQZ
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/09/06/100906crbo_books_lepore?printable=true#ixzz0yrUPivUH

marek said...


The answer is very simple - money. There is money to be had when supporting any case against Israel.

Are there any NGOs educating the millions of Muslim immigrants in Europe in civics?

Anonymous said...


I hear from time to time somebody speaking in "their" name but foreign financed civics programs?

Oh yes, now I think about it,
the Turkish state's religious authority DitiB is heavily involved in Mosque building and running and as Necla Kelek has taught me a mosque is very much about "civics".

What do you think? did they copy eachother? and if yes who was first?


Anonymous said...

Sorry for going back to the rape case, but, it was reported (in July) that the perpetrator was appealing the verdict of deception. But the new reports say the verdict was the result of a plea bargain! How do you appeal a plea bargain?

Very strange.


Anonymous said...

Victor has a further post up making some I think very smart remarks about what to focus on


Anonymous said...

If the NIF sponsored democracy-building is as one sided as Ben's post, then it is worse than useless. Individuals from authoritarian countries lack knowledge of both the rights and duties of democratic citizenship. Duties towards other citizens as well as to a democratic government. If you are only teaching rights then you are failing to teach civics.

Sylvia said...

Ben Murane wrote:

"Immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopian farm villages, and Mizrahim from the Arab countries (bastions of civil rights, as you well know) need a basic civics education."

What a shame that your hailing from a democratic country hasn't worked on you.

As one of those objects of your contempt who has hailed from an Arab country, I deeply resent your comments which I find to be racist, ignorant and repugnant.

Not to mention the humiliation and the anger I feel being patronized by someone with the intellectual depth of a cartoon character.

"The lack of it perpetuates the disadvantages these groups encountered upon arrival."
What perpetuates the disadvantages these groups encounter is your and your ilk's simplistic and supremacist view of Israeli society.

I can't believe this is being written in 2010!

NormanF said...

Europe may have given up the ghost on nationalism but the Jewish people want to retain their independence. There is no great enthusiasm in Israel for multicultural trans-nation building projects. Just the reverse.

The Israeli Far Left's idea of dissolving the Jewish State and replacing it with a "state of all its citizens" is and will remain a fringe notion for the foreseeable future.

marek said...


This idea is perpetuated by the monies from EU and our great friend Soros. I do have my doubts about their ideological convictions sans money.

Anonymous said...

thanks Sylvia

yours reads like a breath of fresh air


Anonymous said...

If there were no nationalism, what would be the point of World Cup Soccer and Europe Cup Basketball and Eurovision and the Miss World beauty pagent? And what would we eat when we wanted something novel? or wanted to hear different music?


Yaacov said...

Ben -

Are you for real? You're spoofing, right?

1. The ministry isn't talking about the Arab sector- no-one's going to foist Jewish studies on them - so your mentioning them is a pale red herring.

2. The Mizrachim were kicked out of their Arab countries about 60 years ago. They're not a minority group, not a disadvantaged group, they're simply "the Israelis". I'll hazard a bet there are even some of them among the staff of the NIF and its daughter organizations. (Due disclosure: I"m not guessing. I know).

3. The Russians - now here almost a generation - are no longer a disadvantaged weak group, if they ever were. Most are now solidly in the middle class. Ever heard of Avigdor Lieberman? He's their man, or at least the man of some of them. The NIF dislikes him intensely, but it's hard to argue that he's not a democratically elected representative of voters who fully understand how to use democracy to get their voice heard. What will your programs teach them: who they're supposed to vote for?

4. Multiple Jewish heritages? There were of course differences between Yemen's Jews and Germany's. Of course. Yet the most salient thing about the matter is that until the 18th century, at least, the similarities were always greater than the disparities. Is it conceivable you don't know that? Because the minster of education fears that Israeli school children aren't really aware of it, and wishes to rectify the matter. That's what you - or someone at the NIF - wishes to stop, because it's more important to learn about civic action programs?

Anonymous said...

it's 'dire straits' not 'dire straights'
Differing etymolgies according to my dictionary.

Sylvia said...

Did you see Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with Fidel Castro in Cuba?


Martin Sandberger said...

While I applaud the sentiments of the artists who are boycotting performance in the territories, I fear this is a feelgood manuever, as it doesnt address the root problem. The root problem is that Palestine was stolen from the Palestinians and needs to be returned. As someone who has eloquently revealed the atrocities of the zionist experiment, I am surprised that you have not formally joined the BDS movement. The signature of the artists, both israeli and American, would have much more significance if they refused to play in israel itself

Carrie said...

Martin Sandberger (17 August 1911 – 30 March 2010[1]) was an SS Standartenf├╝hrer (Colonel) and commander of Sonderkommando 1a of the Einsatzgruppe, as well as commander of the Sicherheitspolizei and SD in Estonia. He played an important role in the mass murder of the Jews in the Baltic states. He was also responsible for the arrest of Jews in Italy and their deportation to Auschwitz concentration camp.

Anonymous said...


when we wanted something novel

quite simple, the NIF would sponsor Disney Parks for that

up to now I seem to remember that everybody on this blog has had the courtesy to us multi-linguals non-native English typers to not act as a language drill sergeant.

thanks Sylvia
just printed it. I wanted to get off Goldberg because of his Israel becomes leper choice of words, but now you put the alert on him ...

I hope it is his real name, hopefully nobody could sink that deep ...

As to the artists not performing in Ariel I find that highly confusing because if it is Brecht's Caucasian Circle as the first piece ever then I can read that only as a slap in the face of Ariel's citizens by the non-boycotting artists.

Latma TV got the boycotting part but not the presumption and/or insult via choice of piece



Adolf Eichmann said...


I am a totally disinterested person that wants to contribute to the debate in an honest and constructive manner. I have no intention to stir emotional reactions nor to hurt anybody´s feeling. I just want to be objective and that´s why I randomly chose an insignificant alias because otherwise my nazi affiliations could have a negative impact on the debate.

Martin Sandberger said...

Soros is a great man for fighting the fight against zionism. His recent ocntribution of 100 million dollars to Human Rights Watch will put the zionist entity under greater scrutiny

Eichmann said...

Zieg Heil, Martin! Eichman here. Too bad you escaped hanging, eh?

By the way, you should get in touch with your pal Fake Ibrahim, who runs a bookshop specialized in holocaust denialism.