The empty pieties of David Grossman

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 42 Comments

Haaretz has reported on the publication of a long interview with the Israeli author David Grossman in the French newspaper, Libération, last month (the original article in French is here). The article’s headline, David Grossman doubts Arab states’ good intentions, is liberal Zionist speak for ‘he agrees they want to push us into the sea’. Read further and the ‘peace camp activist’ chastises Israel too. In what appears to be a gesture of humility, he goes on to acknowledge painful sacrifices must be made on both sides and regrets that “the Israelis and Palestinians are not going to fall in love with each other, but one does not seek love between nations”.

Disregarding the fact that this is not a clash between two national movements, but a settler colonial movement intent on the violent displacement of the indigenous inhabitants, he adds that in light of this ill-will of Arab states towards Israelis that constitute a ‘small minority’ of Jews in the Middle East, “We have, therefore, need of a strong army to defend our State”. Our state. Our Jewish State, it goes without saying.

The interview with Libération took place on the occasion of the publication in French of To the End of the Land (Une femme fuyant l’annonce), which he was writing when his son Uri – on active military service – was killed during the war on Lebanon in 2006. David Grossman is found by the interviewer to be ‘sometimes serious and intense, also lively, attentive and warm’, as befits a man of peace. As we saw during British writer, Ian McEwan’s and South African artist William Kentridge’s boycott-busting visits to Jerusalem, you can demonstrate your own ‘bonne volonté’ or good intentions towards the Jewish Israeli people – and from a safe distance your pity for the Palestinian predicament – just by spending some time in Grossman’s enlightened company. Aware of the ‘Grossman Effect’, the White House announced that President Obama’s vacation reading list includes To the End of the Land.

Early next month, the Israeli author will be in conversation with Alain Finkielkraut, philosopher and professor at the École Polytechnique, during his book tour of France. If you missed the fascinating piece in Tablet Magazine in July, French Jews, confronting anti-Semitism in the wake of the Dreyfus Affair, created the figure of the intellectual. And now, arguing about Israel and Islam, they’re killing it, it provides historical context to the emergence of France’s new philosophers, including Bernard-Henri Lévy and Finkielkraut. While Robert Zaretsky quips that “the contents of Lévy’s shampoo were far richer than the contents of his writing”, he explains that in their 2011 book, L’antisémitisme partout – Aujourd’hui en France (The Anti-Semitism everywhere – Today in France), Eric Hazan and Alain Badiou argued Finkielkraut, “was guilty of doing to the Muslims what has once been done to the Jews, transforming the mostly Muslim youths of France’s blighted and blasted suburbs into an irreducibly foreign element in France, portraying them as a violent rabble who, when not whistling derisively during renditions of the Marseillaise, spend their time terrorizing French Jews.”

David Grossman will be in safe hands then. Nor can he expect any awkward questions about Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Alain Finkielkraut and other signatories of the ‘European Jewish Call for Reason’ (JCall) deplore the Knesset’s new anti-boycott law precisely because of their ‘total opposition’ to the BDS movement. Contrary to the objectives of JCall – the protection of Israel – such a law, they argue, principally serves the interests of those who question the democratic character of the Israeli state and hope to see the spread of deligitimisation movements, such as BDS. Here you can see Finkielkraut call BDS ‘scandalous’ and ‘politically irresponsible’, during a 2010 TV debate with the indefatigable Stéphane Hessel, at a moment when the former insists ‘anti-Semitism is triumphing’. A conference on boycott in the presence of Hessel, French author of «Indignez-vous!», was scheduled at L’Ecole normale supérieure in January this year, and was cancelled at the last moment. Although Finkielkraut denied any part in it, he admitted he was alarmed by the announcement of this debate and added that it was “no secret that the L’Ecole normale supérieure had become a veritable forum of hate towards Israel, and there was a total prohibition on the expressions of Zionists at the moment”.

As I argued in Europe embraces the silences of Aharon Appelfeld, the Palestinian narrative falls victim to the French media’s ‘absurd tone of reverence’ in its encounters with Israeli novelists. If you read the French interview with Grossman in its entirety, this man of peace is keen to absolve the Israeli apartheid state and settler colonial movement of its responsibility for the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians. Instead he blames “a group of messianic Jews focused on kidnapping the entire state”. It is, he maintains, “the mentality of the colonies that have invaded the country”, rather than the other way round. 

42 Responses

  1. seafoid
    August 23, 2011, 3:25 pm

    “His 2011 book, L’antisémitisme partout – Aujourd’hui en France”

    There is going to be an upsurge in genuine antisemitism when the ordinary people of the West wake up to what their Jewish neighbours have been doing to the Palestinians since 1948.
    Most ordinary goys believe Israel wants peace and have no idea of the lobby that keeps the Palestinians under the Zionist heel. Every meaningful Jewish organisation has been co-opted and it is going to be awful when the system breaks down.

    Israel is building up into what the French call a bordel de merde and the merde is going to fly everywhere.

    • Dan Crowther
      August 23, 2011, 3:56 pm


      hard to argue with that. im still hoping our jewish brothers and sisters in the west surprise us.

      • Mooser
        August 23, 2011, 7:09 pm

        “hard to argue with that. im still hoping our jewish brothers and sisters in the west surprise us.”

        Gosh, Dan, how would you suggest the average Jew in America take action to avoid this? Do you think that if we complain to our Rabbis we can get a message to Tel Aviv? Or maybe present a petition at next year’s all-Jewish Conference?

      • HRK
        August 23, 2011, 8:22 pm

        Do you think that if we complain to our Rabbis we can get a message to Tel Aviv? Or maybe present a petition at next year’s all-Jewish Conference?

        Are you trying to let the diaspora Jewish community off the hook? It does bear some of the blame for the plight of the Palestinians, you know.

      • Dan Crowther
        August 23, 2011, 8:24 pm


        i really dont know man – i guess my comment was a bit juvenile. I just want good things for people, and I think it sucks that people would or will lump world jewry together under the “Israeli” umbrella. dershowitz and co.? fine. but i guess my comment was a call to the “righteous jews” (to borrow from walt n mearsheimer) with the hope that not all of them have made themselves heard.

  2. Dan Crowther
    August 23, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Obama is reading Grossman right now, on vacation

    link to

  3. petersz
    August 23, 2011, 3:44 pm

    David Grossman a so called “liberal” Zionist supported the massacre of 1500 Palestinians in Cast Lead and the war against Lebanon and its massacre of hundreds of Lebanese civilians until his son got killed only then was he suddenly all against it! These so called “liberal” Zionists like Amos Oz or Uri Avnery are all the same. You are either a Zionist or anti-Zionist.

    • Light
      August 23, 2011, 4:30 pm

      Uri Avnery did not support Cast Lead or the 2006 War in Lebanon.

      • Taxi
        August 23, 2011, 5:46 pm

        The only isreali writers to trust are the ones in a self-imposed exile.

  4. MHughes976
    August 23, 2011, 3:51 pm

    Laor’s Myths of Liberal Zionism is very good on this subject. He explains the intellectual link with France, the source of the secularism and modernity to which Israeli intellectuals are committed.

  5. Eleanor Kilroy
    August 23, 2011, 4:04 pm

    You’re right, MHughes976, and I acknowledge his influence on my thinking here: Europe embraces the silences of Aharon Appelfeld

  6. POA
    August 23, 2011, 5:09 pm

    OH!!!! Lookie here, another DC Israelacky woos us with his proudly displayed subservience to Israel!

    link to

    You can bet the kinda comments that Meehan deleted won’t be appearing under Paulsen’s slobbering testament to political prostitution. Whatever else can be said about him, unlike Meehan, at least he’s got the common sense to delete the comments BEFORE they are put out there for public consumption.

    • POA
      August 23, 2011, 6:08 pm

      We should follow Paulsen’s daily postings closely. He intends to blog daily about this all expense paid junkett. Interstingly, the website that he is blogging on claims that….

      “He is in Israel this week with AIPAC……”

      Musta been a freudian slip, eh??? They forgot to name the front group as his actual host.

      Regardless, it will be interesting to get a week’s worth of a daily blow by blow of what these guided tours consist of. Already, they are on “day two”….

      link to

      ……and Paulsen has heard the wailing plaintive of yet one more poor Jewish victim, traumatized by the vicious Palestinian bottle rocket attacks. Poor dear, she could barely contain herself. Does such convincing victimhood require practice, or just a well written script?

      I attempted two comments, and neither one of them was allowed.

      Amazing, isn’t it, that these “Congressman” and “Representatives” really have NO DESIRE to hear what you have to say, unless of course your head is buried neck deep in their…oh, uh…never mind.

  7. Taxi
    August 23, 2011, 5:28 pm

    David Grossman? Who cares about his insidious hasbara in prose?!

    Someone needs to tell that old goat that Palestinian youth graffiti is the highest form of literature coming out of israel today.

  8. Miura
    August 23, 2011, 5:31 pm

    An excerpt from a review of Grossman’s latest work of fiction:

    SOME NOVELS are met by such a hurricane of hostile criticism that they sink out of sight. Only word of mouth, the contrary opinion running from reader to reader, can occasionally bring them to the surface again. To the End of the Land has the opposite problem. It arrived on a foaming wave of praise which, when they actually get down to its pages, will leave many readers puzzled. Normally an author can deflect blurb hyperbole with a wince. But this fanfare has been on a Hollywood Bowl scale that does Grossman, who has proved himself in the past to be a wise and talented writer, no favors at all.

    ‘To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.’ So wrote Nicole Krauss. Paul Auster ranked the book with Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina: ‘wrenching, beautiful, unforgettable’. Grossman’s American publisher called it ‘one of the very greatest novels I shall have the privilege of publishing … When critics look back at the 21st century and list its 20 best novels, it will be on it.’ Several reviewers and interviewers have grabbed at the Tolstoy comparison: the vast scale, the humanity, the panorama of families in a land incessantly at war. Perhaps, they venture, this is the War and Peace of our own times.

    A Letter to the Editor cut to the chase:

    Reviewing David Grossman’s To the End of the Land, Neal Ascherson is right to be reminded of ‘those American war films, proclaimed to be ‘against Vietnam’, in which only the American victims are in focus’ (LRB, 3 February). Grossman’s novel–like most Israeli fictions about the conflict–is almost entirely preoccupied with Jewish suffering, its Arab characters never more than shadows that flit across the stage. What Ascherson misses is the thread that connects Grossman’s aesthetics and his politics. Grossman is, to be sure, concerned about what Israel has done to the Palestinians, but he’s far more concerned with what oppressing the Palestinians has done to Israel. The indifference to the inner lives of Palestinians and the emphasis on Jewish victimization in To the End of the Land reflect the pinched sympathies–and imaginative failures–of the Zionist consensus to which he belongs. This is a major reason why Grossman is so enormously popular in Israel, even on the right. Despite his opposition to the occupation, he remains a loyal soldier. As George Packer touchingly noted in his New Yorker profile, ‘even though he is alienated from Israel’s leadership, he still sends his children into the army.’ The fact that he continues to support a two-state solution ‘even though Arab militants killed his son’ (Packer again) has been turned into another reason to admire him: an example of his supreme generosity (never mind that these ‘Arab militants’ were defending their land against an Israeli invasion). Purportedly an anti-war novel, To the End of the Land breathes new literary life into the old cliché of Israel’s anguished soul.

  9. eGuard
    August 23, 2011, 6:26 pm

    So 5 years ago he loses a son in the war and he writes a bestseller about it, and travels the world to tell about war and peaceprocess. But we do not hear him talking about his son. Never. That doesn’t fit. Something is wrong with this man.

  10. Sin Nombre
    August 23, 2011, 10:41 pm

    What’s interesting to me is the unabashed strength of identification with judaism that modern western jews have maintained. So much so, as we see with Grossman, that no matter how liberal-minded they are otherwise, in the end, when push comes to shove, no, damnit, they are just not going to join in bashing Israel even for something like Cast Lead. Nor come out and call a spade a spade that the occupation is colonialism and racism. They just can’t bring themselves to do that. It would mean breaking with the tribe, even if they know they are hostages to crazy tribal leaders.

    And yet, while it’s true that modern Western liberal thinking has embraced “multiculturalism” and has denounced racism, this has been done via especially saying that there’s nothing special about European/Western culture or ethnicity that should be hung onto . Esp. in the U.S. If you are of Germanic descent, say, or Slavic of other European stock, sure nobody cares if you get involved in folk dancing from the old country. But otherwise you are not supposed to make any *important* decisions or value judgments or etc. so as to “keep faith” with your fellow-ethnics. Indeed that in and of itself would be called racist usually. No different than any attempt to have any kind of “White People’s (political) Party,” or etc., urging the membership or following of same based solely on one’s race or ethnicity or etc.

    And of course this idea of the … near total devaluation of ethnicity and etc. has often been most strongly or prominently pushed by liberal jewish figures.

    And yet, as we see with Grossman and so many others, jews have very strongly maintained their sense of ethnic/whatever identification. Very strongly. Very very strongly. Again so strongly that they won’t even really absolutely condemn Israel’s blatant theft of others’ lands and its now decades-old domination over millions, even though they themselves would individually be against it.

    In short they just won’t break with their fellow ethnics, no matter what. (And of course one can see that as very admirable; loyalty and all that.) Even as the rest of us are told that it’s damn near the epitome of evil to base our decisions or judgments on any such similar criteria. (Or to even let that influence us.)

    A neat trick, but just how sustainable is this I wonder?

    Oddly enough though I don’t think the … “jewish” view of this is going to be the one in trouble anytime soon. One of those situations where … all it takes is enough sustained perceived ethnic aggression by some, and the rest are essentially at the mercy of that denominator, with enough ultimately viewing themselves as having no choice but to revert to tribalism as a perceived mode of self-defense if nothing else.

    • HRK
      August 24, 2011, 9:52 am

      What’s interesting to me is the unabashed strength of identification with judaism that modern western jews have maintained.

      I’ll second that. I find it fascinating. Especially because modern Western gentile intellectuals seem so eager to bash their own European heritage.

      Take the familiar character of the university anthropologist who downright hates all things Christian and spews bile at those students or others who would dare hold such “irrational” beliefs (or put their Christian ethics into politics–voting pro-life, for example) but then goes overseas and becomes an advocate for some tiny tribe’s animism or superstitions or whatnot.

      But very few Jewish intellectuals have turned this way against their fellow Jews or Judaism. Think of the Peto example in Canada–look how she was treated and look how few Petos there are.

      My own opinion is that the modern Western gentile academician (I’m thinking liberal arts here) is a lonely soul in search of a tribe. Doing research work which few ordinary people know about (or care about), he or she necessarily becomes isolated. And from there it’s a quick step to elitism.

      He or she doesn’t want to be Christian–certainly every individual’s prerogative–but, besides, Christianity doesn’t provide a tribal framework for a society to live under. (For example, Christians often make the point that “God has only children, not grandchildren.” This stresses the individualistic nature of Christianity. It’s what you as an individual believe and do that matters–not your family, extended family, ethnic group, etc.)

      And so these academicians desperately want a tribe–something to connect with “out there” (but not God, of course). The existential angst of meaninglessness forces them into this corner. So they join the left’s anti-tribe tribe–which is composed mostly of intellectuals like themselves (and hardly ever common people, truth be told). Think Bill Ayers: After being on the lam, he made a beeline for academia, and, of course, a lot of people have said he’s spent a large portion of his life wanting to be a black man.

      My point isn’t that one (white or black) is better. Academicians should talk about the sins of Europeans, colonialism, etc. But the gleeful bashing is weird–at least in light of what I know now–that elites from other people groups (which are typically much more collective in orientation) don’t take part in the same kind of bashing of their people.

      Also, there’s opportunism: When a society becomes individualistic beyond a certain point it benefits people to “jump groups.” White bashing doesn’t hurt their professional advancement because whites don’t group up against anyone–even those who bash them–it would be a huge racial sin for whites to do this. But by bashing they become favorites of the minority groups who feel aggrieved by what whites have (either genuinely or supposedly) done to them. As favorites, they have connections and allies. This helps tremendously in academia.

      But otherwise you are not supposed to make any *important* decisions or value judgments or etc. so as to “keep faith” with your fellow-ethnics. Right. And I agree with the ethics behind this–you should make decisions for the sake of what’s good for the country and not take into account one’s ethnicity. I’d be curious to know how many strongly identifying Jews would agree with this moral premise–and then actually walk the walk.

      • Sin Nombre
        August 24, 2011, 5:57 pm

        HRK wrote:

        “Especially because modern Western gentile intellectuals seem so eager to bash their own European heritage.”

        Amazing phenomenon, isn’t it? A very interesting, complex story there begging to be explored. And certainly I think your focusing on Christianity with its universalist precepts is a very very smart observation of a huge factor in same.

        Funny too: Whenever I see one of those anti-European bashers who so often (if not invariably) consider themselves Christian bashers too, (and especially Catholic bashers), almost all their moral message seems clearly derivable from nowhere other *than* Christian and especially Catholic precepts.

      • Donald
        August 24, 2011, 6:25 pm

        There’s some truth to this–I can see it as someone who is both Christian and “left”. Just speculating, but it may come from both Jewish and Christian roots–the idea that you should cast out the beam in your own eye first, coming from Jesus, and from the Hebrew prophets there is the idea that God judges His own people harshly because they should know better. It’s also a reaction to the centuries of Western imperialism, where Western crimes were justified on the grounds of our cultural superiority. Of course a reaction can turn into an over-reaction.

        Among people who still do identify as Christians or as Jews, you see both the tribal mentality and the (for lack of a better word) the anti-tribal mentality. Many Christians and Jews have the tribal attitude, though the details are different. We’re great, everyone else sucks. Then you’ve got the self-critical attitude, which can sometimes go too far I think, in people who almost seem to hate everything about their background. If it doesn’t descend into self-hatred I much prefer the self-critical attitude to the self-worshipful one.

        As far as what happens with leftwing secular academics I’m not sure. Sometimes you people on the right are unfair in your criticisms–not all lefties who are slapped with this “hates the West” label actually deserve it. But there is enough truth in the accusation with some that it is worth wondering about. For the most part I think it’s just that over-reaction that I spoke about above, combined with the fact that people seem to need something to admire or identify with. So you have the phenomenon of Western lefties genuinely concerned about injustice in their own societies thinking that communism was the answer. (Though of course communism itself is a Western idea.)

  11. Richard Witty
    August 23, 2011, 11:52 pm

    A good man. Another low blow post from Mondoweiss in the name of “journalism”.

    • Cliff
      August 24, 2011, 3:13 am

      Phil is a humanist. You are a racist, jewish supremacist.

      Get over yourself, troll.

      Why was it again, that you were censored by richard silverstein, dick?

      • Richard Witty
        August 24, 2011, 4:43 am

        David Grossman is a uniquely inspiring, insightful, kind, sensitive man.

        The comment stands well. Phil takes unnecessary and utterly counter-productive potshots at hundreds of wonderful individuals, all because they have different emphases than he (or of those that he chooses to publish).

      • James North
        August 24, 2011, 9:54 am

        Richard Witty said, ‘I better not endorse David Grossman too enthusiastically. He is a genuine liberal Zionist, who has for decades at least recognized that Israel’s settlements/colonies are the biggest single obstacle to a lasting peace.
        ‘I, Richard Witty, am by contrast most emphatically not a liberal Zionist. I believe the Israeli settler/colonists have the right to stay on the lands they occupy illegally. David Grossman is actually closer to most Mondoweiss contributors than I am.’

      • Richard Witty
        August 24, 2011, 10:33 am

        That might be true on that specific question. I prefer Fayyad’s creative response, that as the settlers are human beings, and it is cruel and likely illegal to forcefully remove en-masse 550,000, that they should be allowed to remain in their homes in Palestine, as Palestinian citizens, obeying Palestinian law, with no pretense of segregated status in the settlements any more.

        Boy, I have one racist attitude, don’t I?

      • Richard Witty
        August 24, 2011, 10:35 am

        Your comment also does not address my point about the habitual hatchet jobs that Phil, Adam, you, others now routinely present on really wonderful people if they disagree with the Palestinian solidarity politically correct position.

      • James North
        August 24, 2011, 10:54 am

        Richard Witty said, ‘Here I admit I am not a liberal Zionist

        That might be true on that specific question

        ‘This vague confession means I endorse the illegal Israeli occupation and settlement/colonies in West Bank. In other words, on the most important single issue in Israel/Palestine, I differ completely with liberal Zionists like David Grossman, Uri Avnery, Jerry Slater, and many others. My views on the most important single issue in Israel/Palestine today are indistinguishable from the Netanyahu/Likud position.
        ‘I apologize to Mondoweiss visitors for misleading them over the past few years.’

      • James North
        August 24, 2011, 11:01 am

        Richard Witty said, ‘The main disagreement here is not between “Phil, Adam, James North and others” and David Grossman. “Phil, Adam, James North and others” and David Grossman agree that Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank is the greatest single obstacle to peace.
        ‘I, Richard Witty, am the odd man out here. I support the illegal occupation. I agree with Netanyahu and Likud.’

      • Cliff
        August 24, 2011, 11:01 am

        He misled no one. i’ve been following this blog for almost five years now and i think people back then thought he was a joke as well.

      • Donald
        August 24, 2011, 3:11 pm

        “Boy, I have one racist attitude, don’t I?”

        Yes, you do. Palestinians who try to negotiate with Israel and who feel they must keep the US happy as well are likely to make concessions they really wouldn’t want to make. I doubt very many Palestinians really feel much concern (nor should they) for the rights of Israelis living where they are because they have profited from the rules of an apartheid regime. Somehow you’ve managed to convince yourself that sticking up for the rights of people to benefit from apartheid is the act of a non-racist. I think you’re a bit confused.

  12. American
    August 24, 2011, 2:18 am

    “A neat trick, but just how sustainable is this I wonder?”

    Not very or at least not without consequences I don’t think.
    If this was 720 BC it might be normal for the times.
    But if we really examine it, the tribalism, consider that some Jews in the US remain more or less tribal and some don’t. Their leaders have to work a lot of over time to get them to stay tribal in modern countries today.
    Take the US for example. Most Jews immigrated in here in the 1920’s. So the majority have been here 80,90 years. But not until the holocaust were they on the national scene so to speak, and not until the last several decades were they in any place to get pubic attention, and not until the last 10 or 12 years since 911 have Israel or the Jewish connection really meant anything to most Americans. But now, due to the US zionist and Israel, they are receiving attention and the public is connecting the solidarity or tribalism of the Jews concerning themselves and Israel.
    So really the negative attitudes toward AIPAC and I/P and Israel from those who always follow that and the new new negative attitude from a different public with mainly domestic interest like the 81′ s trip to Israel has actually been a fairly short trip. From the time the zios and Jews came into enough prominance to have government megaphones with the general public, till now when the tribalism, for lack of better word, looks to be in part responsible for our Israel woes and many corrupt politicians regarding our FP, is not really that long a time span.
    Which is a long way of pointing out that when tribalism does get noticed, becomes obvious, and it’s regarded as a negative element or hostile to the majorities interest it usually gets in trouble.
    In the old days we would have a swords and knives tribal war , these days we use politicial war.
    So I think when tribalism gets challenged over something and it’s a smaller tribe, it folds up or back or inward or committs hari kari by trying to beat the house odds.

    • annie
      August 24, 2011, 3:06 am

      So really the negative attitudes toward AIPAC and I/P and Israel from those who always follow that and the new new negative attitude from a different public with mainly domestic interest like the 81′ s trip to Israel has actually been a fairly short trip. From the time the zios and Jews came into enough prominance to have government megaphones with the general public, till now when the tribalism, for lack of better word, looks to be in part responsible for our Israel woes and many corrupt politicians regarding our FP, is not really that long a time span.

      aipac wasn’t my radar 10 years ago, israel either for that matter.

      • American
        August 24, 2011, 2:05 pm

        Mine either. Never heard of AIPAC.
        But when I did start looking into the whole ME- Israel -Jews-zionism-I/P-US/Isr thing I was floored by the extent of it and how long this influence had been going and how many creditable people over the years had spoken against it, pointed out the dangers and yet it continued for pure craven “domestic political considerations.”
        I hope we do get to see the tide turn on this aberration. I think Washington has about abdicated away all the American people’s interest to the point where they are now having to pry the fillings out of our teeth they have so little left to give away–so maybe the public will now finally turn on them.

      • annie
        August 24, 2011, 2:39 pm

        exactly american. that’s why when lli says silly things like “I will contend that the fierce anti-Israel voices here do so not from a passion for the Palestinians but purely from a standpoint of hate for Jews/Zionists” it makes no sense. if it were a matter of ‘pure’ ‘hate’ for jews no amount of politics would make one iota of difference. i will repeat my response to him:

        if this was the case people would have been screaming bloody murder about zionists actions decades ago, and for the most part they weren’t. the growth of this so called ‘deligitimization’ of israel has grown exponentially over the course of the last decade precisely because of the internet, social networking and the ability of people to access and spread information without the firewall of msm controlling the narrative.

        ‘deligitimization’ is nothing more than exposure

        as you say, it’s just when you start looking, and the tide is turning. not because people don’t like jews, but because people don’t like crime, injustice, ethnic cleansing..etc and they are opening their eyes.

        from my perspective, because i have been following this a relatively short time..things seem to be moving relatively fast. it seems to me there is so much more public awareness of zionisms criminal nature now than there was even 2 years ago. or maybe people are just less afraid to discuss it.

      • American
        August 24, 2011, 3:06 pm

        You’re exactly right…exactly how I see it also.
        And like you none of this was even on my screen until 911.
        I don’t recall ever in my life even having a conversation about Jews except as a sympathic comment on some movie or program about the Nazis.

      • annie
        August 24, 2011, 3:26 pm

        i had 2 jewish boyfriends each for a few years. one in college and the other in a late twenties. i don’t recall we ever discussed israel. ever. totally. off. my. radar. i remember sitting next to a guy on a plane when my kid was an infant (because he was in my arms and he threw up all over the guy) and we started talking and i ask where he was from. he said palestine and i said ‘where’s that?’. he said where israel is (paraphrasing). i said huh? he said ..bethlehem..where jesus was born. that was in ’88. not a clue.

    • Sin Nombre
      August 24, 2011, 5:45 am

      AMERICAN wrote:

      “Not very or at least not without consequences I don’t think.”

      Nice to see you’re not squirming to leave yourself any wiggle-room there, AMERICAN…


      Seriously though, I take your numerous points in favor of saying that tribalism has its difficulties, and especially the one that today at least, tribal wars tend to be fought with politics instead of knives and guns.

      But how do we know that latter situation isn’t just a temporary respite from resuming old history? And lots of your (clearly correct) history about, say, jews in the U.S. (and in the Diaspora generally too I suspect) not being very tribal until lately can be read in two ways, can’t it?

      That is … even *though* any perceived need for tribalism was very very low for a very long time, that even in a society and culture where tribalism was ever-more frowned upon if not basically condemned … well there it was all the time latently, no? Ready at a moment’s notice to be re-awakened in a considerably ferocious state.

      (Not to mention the idea that to at least some extent there was a goodly amount of jewish tribalism going on all along, but that it was just manifested in a non-obvious way given the lack of need and pressures to operate in openly identifiable ways.)

      And then there’s that big recent foreign policy piece from I forget who published I forget where saying that while we in the West are in our bubble blathering on about multiculturalism and pluralism and etc., out in the vast-majority rest of the world it’s just massively marching along re-organizing itself along ethno/racial/tribal/religious lines. The Balkans, Africa, Asia… Look for instance at the fault lines the Soviet Union fissioned along when it failed.

      Plus it seems to me that while you’re right that tribalism does have its problems (the moral/ethical I suppose being the most problematic). But so too does … ideology, doesn’t it? (Meaning here essentially alternatives based on ideas instead of blood or religion.)

      Ideology after all is so … abstract, theoretical, vague-ish, complicated… And it keeps running into such foundational-eating problems: Okay, that is, communism posits that our loyalties should be towards the dictatorship of the proletariat. But what about when that doesn’t quite work economically…? And as to multi-culturalism/pluralism, well what does it command when it looks and says—with good reason and logic—that it has to compensate for past discrimination? Gee, discrimination itself really, no? (I.e., “affirmative action” or etc.)

      And then, as I mentioned in the my first post here, it just seems to me that a system trying to operate on a multi-culti/pluralistic basis might be a very unstable one. As I said before, it can seem one of those systems where all it seems to need to shake it very possibly to bits is one or two constituent parts not playing by its rules, leaving the others feeling that they too have to go tribal to defend or even just represent themselves.

      You know; the old “everyone’s at the mercy of a very small denominator” phenomena.

      I dunno, AMERICAN. Obviously our national credo here esp. is that we are this “credal” nation, which is just another name for an “ideological” one that holds that we all should be blind when it comes to race/ethnicity/religion/tribe and etc.

      But that don’t mean that this hasn’t put us in a bubble of … unreality in terms of how the rest of the world is going. Indeed it suggests the opposite to a big degree.

      And look even at the troubles the EU is having! And look at the admittedly ever new but still distinct turn in the most important and even the most “liberal” of its states—such as Germany and France and GB—saying that no, damnit, “multiculturalism” has “failed” and new immigrants are going to just have to conform to what’s perceived as their national norms.

      Or, to put it another way, look at … pretty much the entire rest of the West.

      We do live in a bubble here, no doubt. I mean … the Israelis come here and just don’t mention their tribal views other than as they perceive same as necessary. Little or no open talk, that is, of the sort that is said to be common in Israel referring to arabs as “insects” or etc. And the same is true for the arabs: Little or no talk on their part of their textbooks or common public opinions viewing jews as dogs or snakes or etc.

      I dunno, but I sure wouldn’t count tribalism out, that’s for sure.

      • American
        August 24, 2011, 1:43 pm

        Maybe I wasn’t clear.
        It wasn’t that Jews weren’t tribal in the US all along, it’s that their tribalism basically had “no negative effect” on the majority–didn’t interfere with anyone else or anything that important to the majority. So no one had any reason to actively oppose it or shine a spotlight on it.
        But tribalism is a ideology in itself. And zionism made it more so for Jews.
        So when the tribe became a political force with a agenda (for Israel) that did affect the majority it started getting noticed by the public.

        This can inspire others to become tribal or there is some tribalism in everyone is what I believe you are saying and I agree. So I don’t count it out at all. And as you said “a system trying to operate on a multi-culti/pluralistic basis might be a very unstable one”. Absolutely, because when you have a government or ruler that favors one tribe(s) and lets it/them get ahead of another or others you got big trouble sooner or later.
        When I say tribalism is not sustainable and has consequences I don’t mean the tribe or tribalism will ‘disappear’, I mean it’s not sustainable in terms of power or influence because some other tribe(s) will always take their power away from them and marginalize them if they are the smaller tribe and noxious to a/the larger tribe(s).
        You can look at the US on the Israel issue and say that we are under a “tyranny of minorities” there instead of the more usual tyranny of the majority. A tribal minority rule can hold on for awhile…till it goes too far and is seen as detrimental to the majority and then it gets flipped or marginalized in some way.

        My impression is that US (and the world) has a lot of tribalism,using the term loosely, going on now. Here we have bent over backwards to protect minorities and diversity to the point where in some cases it has created a lot of “political minority tyrannies” and this was created by the politicians “niche” voters and donors stragety. The problem with this is that once politically empowered the niches can and usually do get more and more extreme with more and more demands that bump up against what others perceive as the common good or some other tribe’s rights or welfare. And we can use tribalism to apply to the Jews on Israel, immigrants on immigration, the elite on wealth and economic policy, the religious on church and state. There are a lot of tribes out there all trying to get what their tribe wants, more for their particular tribe, impose their tribe brand, without much thought as to what the country would be like if we gave in to all of their want lists.

      • Sin Nombre
        August 24, 2011, 5:47 pm

        AMERICAN wrote:

        “Maybe I wasn’t clear.”

        Not to the extent that I just did some erroneous extrapolation of what you had written. But thanks for your further comments anyway; very thoughtful.

        And, I’d still be interested in your opinion of what my final guess was, which is that ethno/racial/cultural/religious tribalism is indeed going to prove more durable in the world than multi-cultural pluralism.

        Yeah or nay?

      • American
        August 24, 2011, 6:59 pm

        I’d definitely say Yeah. You’re right.
        And that it has always been so and probably always will be.

        The thing in a multicutural society is how competing tribalism is “managed” by the ruling government.
        None of them are managing it too well appears to me.

  13. American
    August 24, 2011, 2:58 am

    “Instead he blames “a group of messianic Jews focused on kidnapping the entire state”. It is, he maintains, “the mentality of the colonies that have invaded the country”, rather than the other way round.”

    You can’t make something right out of what was intrinsically wrong to begin with.

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