False Dichotomies

LITERATURE HIP-HOP ISRAEL INDIA LOVE MISCELLANY

My people, who say yes to lies

In an article that I thought was rather hysterical, my friend Benjamin Kerstein wrote the following: “Many of Israel’s critics are, in fact, making a very simple claim: Arabs have earned the right to murder Jews…One people (the Arabs) can slaughter another (the Jews) with justice and morality on its side; while any resistance on the part of the latter (the Jews) to the designs of the former (the Arabs) is a monstrous crime.”

That is, I thought it was hysterical until I read an article by Yuval Ben Ami on +972. Entitled “My people, who say yes to death”, it was as if he had read Benjamin’s article and then set out to prove its thesis was correct. Ben Ami begins by telling us that a survey conducted in September showed that a majority of Gazans would vote for Fatah and not Hamas if elections were held in the Strip. An innocuous enough start. Then: “What could Israel do in light of this but start a war? Israel can’t deal with peace. It has become a war machine…its citizens [are a] blinded mob that always support violence.” That’s right – the cause of Operation Pillar of Defence had nothing to do with the rockets fired from Gaza every year, or Hamas’s commitment to the destruction of the State of Israel, but was instead the response to…an opinion poll!

He then reminds us that Palestinians can also be “militant and violent”, but it’s OK because “You would be too, after decades of enslavement”. In any case, Hamas was losing power until last week (don’t forget that opinion poll), and the Israeli media “dehumanizes Palestinians and fosters our sense of victimhood.” Meanwhile, the anti-war left struggles as best as it can, but it is “batel b’shishim – cancelled out by sixty”, a clever reference to the halacha that a dairy dish into which a piece of meat falls remains kosher as long as the piece of meat is less than sixty times the size of the full dish.

But no words can give an adequate prelude to what follows: “We Israelis deserve the eternal war we live in. We deserve our murderous government…We deserve all that for saying yes to death again and again, but the Palestinians…actually reach out for peace, both on the popular level and in formal speeches…there is no way out, there was, but there isn’t now. A good night to everybody from Tel Aviv, and may the memory of the victims be blessed.”

It’s worth reading twice, if only to be sure. It’s an emotional conclusion, and it demands an emotional response. Ben Ami is desperate to be a Hebrew-speaking cosmopolitan internationalist, and he can’t bear it that his country hasn’t heeded his call to abandon Zionism. The guilt this has engendered has smashed all sense of rationality and proportion; his missive from the satanic Tel Aviv represents a gargantuan self-flagellation; each sentence another self-inflicted wound to the back, in the hope that he will be forgiven for the bloodthirstiness of his countrymen, who just don’t get it. Ben Ami’s tone and complete absence of logic shows precisely why the anti-Zionist left have no credibility in Israeli society, and proves that what motivates their minor cult are solipsism, self-righteousness, and a desperate need to grovel before the court of progressive opinion, which in any case refuses to show any rationality when it comes to Israel. Worse than that, his claims are simply false, for reasons that have been explained elsewhere – for examples see here, here, and here – but this will matter little to the author, as long as his quest for martyrdom goes on unhindered, while his evil countrymen walk towards their richly deserved fate.

5 comments

5 Comments so far

  1. NickD November 21st, 2012 2:57 pm

    Aside from the petty reluctance to call a Palestinian a Palestinian, the quote you open with seems quite reasonable (as a description of reality – not the claim). You could, of course, invert it for at least some of the people he writes for.

  2. Gert November 22nd, 2012 10:32 pm

    Ben Ami’s tone and complete absence of logic shows precisely why the anti-Zionist left have no credibility in Israeli society, and proves that what motivates their minor cult are solipsism, self-righteousness, and a desperate need to grovel before the court of progressive opinion, which in any case refuses to show any rationality when it comes to Israel.

    Very funny! But wait… you had no comical intent…

    The anti-Zionist Left has ‘no credibility in Israeli society’? (True) Perhaps you should ask yourself why what’s left of the Israeli Left has no credibility in Israeli society either? Israel seems to me to the ‘only democracy™’ in the West where the Right seems to have conclusively won, crawling your way back from that position is going to take forever (and even then I don’t see it happen). See also Israel’s [political] opposition and its almost 100 % support of this latest military action. Some opposition…

    As regards ‘the court of progressive opinion’, perhaps we should appeal to the European Far Right, all parties of which (bar Jobbik) now firmly support Israel? The Empire builders in the New World? Perhaps we should grovel ‘before the court of reactionary opinion’? Oh wait, that court unconditionally supports Israel already…

    I think you take texts like Ben Ami’s far too literal, when clearly much of it is metaphorical. And to claim this article is somehow symptomatic of the ‘anti-Zionist Left’ seems also overstated to me.

  3. Jerry Espinoza November 23rd, 2012 3:40 pm

    I really surprised when I read this discussion. I hope that many Israelis would have the capacity of criticism that you show. Notwithstanding your differences, it seems that you understand the real causes of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Greetings from Costa Rica!

  4. Gur Nischt December 14th, 2012 6:06 pm

    Gert, if what you call ‘progressive’ is systematically antisemitic and genocidal towards the Jews, then maybe you’re looking down the wrong end of the binoculars. Something being fashionable doesn’t make it right. It’s the same people who supported Staling and the Khmer Rouge. Opposing them does not make one a Nazi.

  5. zkharya January 25th, 2013 10:57 am

    Thanks for bringing this to one’s attention.

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