At Slate, casual racism toward Palestinians (their ‘violent, vengeful’ culture) and some smart talk about Jews

Israel/Palestine
on 36 Comments

Writes my friend Rahim:

Just wanted to chime in on the topic of journalistic racism against Palestinians. I thought you would appreciate hearing last week’s Slate Political gabfest, a podcast where two of the panelists are left leaning–Slate editor David Plotz and writer/Yale Law School faculty member Emily Bazelon. They brought up the topic of Israel, framed of course in the Israeli perspective (what’s best for Israel, why are Jews defecting from Obama, etc), but in the midst of this discussion Plotz bemoaned a lack of Palestinian non-violent protest–

“What I’ve never understood is why the Palestinians have not embarked on a very long term highly-engaged thorough campaign of nonviolent protest.”

and Bazelon responded by saying it was hard, and on top of that Palestinians have a violent culture.

“They’re just beginning to do that…. [It’s] insanely difficult to pull that off. It also goes against the grain of their culture and the whole way the Middle East operates. It’s just a violent combative, vengeful place.”

Nobody blinked an eye, so to speak, when she said that, even though if someone said that same thing about another group of people it would be totally unacceptable, or at least more obviously racist. The culture of racism against Palestinians extends to both liberal and conservative journalists. It is rather amazing that David Plotz is willfully ignorant of Palestinian non-violence, but I get the feeling that if he was aware of it, he’d find some other reason to be critical anyways. I wonder what is worse, conservative Jennifer Rubin’s endorsement of genocide, or liberal Emily Bazelon’s casual racism towards Palestinians.

I listened to some of the conversation myself and agree with Rahim. The Arab Spring has been noteworthy for the restraint of the people. There is now a long long tradition of nonviolent protest in Palestine that Slate evidently feels no need to cover.

Plotz is much smarter about Jews. Here is the Slate editor talking about the political significance of American Jews for Obama. I see that he agrees with me entirely about the money question, and Obama’s loss of Jewish donors/fundraisers. Is that why Dennis Ross left the administration?

President Obama… got an enormous amount of support from Jews… They were huge donors to his campaign… They have lapsed as Obama supporters. Jewish support is down, hovering about 50 percent… It’s a gigantic drop. And moreover the Obama administration has embarked on a pretty significant campaign of outreach to Jews, because they’ve lost– because there are so many people who raised funds for them who’ve said they’re not going to raise funds for them this time around. They’ve appointed a Jewish liaison. They’ve got Debbie Wasserman Schultz running the Democratic National Committee, a big prominent Jewish congresswoman. David Axelrod has sent out messages to lots of supporters saying here are the facts of Obama’s Israel policy…

[Nonetheless we see] effective Republican attacks on Obama over Israel… [It’s a] pretty stunning moment, for Obama. There’s some thinking among conservatives, that this is a time to break the traditional alliance between … Jews and Democrats… by showing Obama to be unreliable on Israel

To their credit, Plotz and Bazelon both question the Israel lobby and Bazelon, breaking with the new strategic asset line, says Netanyahu’s gov’t is “provoking” the Arab world, against the interests of the United States. Good on ya, Bazelon.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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36 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 13, 2011, 12:29 pm

    How I wish the “Jewish support” (the 50% of the very, very few very, very rich Jews I always talk about) would DRY UP and let Obama be Obama (or be the Obama he once looked like).

    Another post on MW tells us that in 1973 Israel threatened american with nuking Egypt and Syria until USA airlifted huge military supplies. Who can doubt [the likelihood] that Israeli threats against USA are more direct (that is, that there are nukes in place within the USA today, ready to respond to unfriendly USA behavior)?

    But in that case, how can the USA ever talk Israel out of anything?

    • Scott
      November 13, 2011, 5:01 pm

      “Who can doubt [the likelihood] that Israeli threats against USA are more direct (that is, that there are nukes in place within the USA today, ready to respond to unfriendly USA behavior)?”

      I can and do.

      • pabelmont
        November 13, 2011, 9:17 pm

        Scott: I don’t ask you or anyone to believe (from my imaginings) that Israel has done this (or that some rogue element within Israeli “intelligence” has done it). Only to recognize that it would be prudent for them to do it and easily possible. Putting those two together (and recalling all the other stuff that has gone on, like the uranium in the early days if Dimona, like Israelis knowing more quickly than Americans do what’s up in USA military technology) makes it a likelihood. Not a certainty.

      • Mooser
        November 15, 2011, 4:23 pm

        “I can and do.”

        I agree, Scott! The Israelis will never do that unless God tells them to. And if that’s the case, really what can you say?
        And besides, to think ill of Israel is to think ill of Jews, and that, as we know, is anti-Semitism.

  2. Chaos4700
    November 13, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Zionism is racism.

  3. Sin Nombre
    November 13, 2011, 12:42 pm

    You know, here in my opinion is a big part of the reason the debate on things is so skewed:

    I.e., no, it *wasn’t* racist for Bazelon to say that the Palestinians have a violent culture. And it’s not because she was right or wrong. Why?

    *Because she was talking about culture and not race.*

    But go ahead, call it racism, and then try to criticize Israeli or jewish culture and see what happens. Oh, you get called a racist anti-semite and your comments are blocked and you are hounded out of public debate and your sentiments never see the light of day either from you or other like-minded people?

    Oh well, you’re the one who accepted the premise in the first place….

    And that’s what’s happened, writ internationally now.

    • pabelmont
      November 13, 2011, 12:51 pm

      Very important point. Thanks. It is *NOT* racist to complain about Israel’s VIOLENT CULTURE. (Or to complain of USA’s violent culture, or anyone else’s).

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 2:07 pm

      I.e., no, it *wasn’t* racist for Bazelon to say that the Palestinians have a violent culture. And it’s not because she was right or wrong. Why?

      *Because she was talking about culture and not race.*

      likewise it would not be racist to say jews have a violent culture i suppose? people would be screaming their heads off if some mainstream person said israelis had a violent culture. you know they would.

      maybe you should look up the meaning of culture and ethnic group. there is a difference talking about a government or state vs an ethnicity.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_group

      An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy.[1][2][3] Another definition is “…a highly biologically self-perpetuating group sharing an interest in a homeland connected with a specific geographical area, a common language and traditions, including food preferences, and a common religious faith”.[4]

      then go to wiki’s culture page and take a look at the photos. then read the definition of racism

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism#Legal

      • Sin Nombre
        November 13, 2011, 2:32 pm

        annie wrote:

        “likewise it would not be racist to say jews have a violent culture i suppose?”

        That’s right, it would not be. No different than saying that … Sparta had a militaristic culture. Or that Germany under the Nazis had a violent culture. Or that any of a numberless cultures throughout history were violent—some in the extreme.

        Look; words matter. Racism refers to *race,* unsurprisingly enough, and the reason its wrong is because it’s stupid: It assumes some innate (genetic) inferiority. And the reason it’s especially evil is because there’s nothing a person of that disfavored race can do to eradicate the slur because it’s in their blood essentially.

        On the other hand if its merely cultural, well then it isn’t innate, and all it takes is one to renounce whatever cultural aspect that’s in question to exempt you from the identification.

        You wanna start *calling* cultural dislikes “racism” you go ahead, and I’d bet dollars to donuts almost annie that if I went back over your posts you’ve said something about israeli culture or jewish culture or etc. that would brand you that “racist.”

        It’s just incoherent to talk otherwise: How, for instance, do you escape being a “racist” if you say you think the antebellum slave-holding white culture was vicious or evil and you adopt your definition of “racism.”

        Like I say however, unfortunately the race and multi-culti warriors in the West have in large part succeeded in getting your definition adopted and they’ve disarmed themselves essentially with regard to the I/P issue. Go try and explain Israel’s behavior *without* talking about its culture. But you have to, don’t you? You *can’t* under your definition, because you’d be a racist.

        And I don’t care what Wiki-whatever says, although I suspect if whatever is read closely if it has a molecule of thought behind it there will be that recognition that one can indeed rightfully brand this or that culture with this or that attribute without really being a racist.

        After all, we see it being done all the time when people talk, for instance, about “rednecks,” or the “Bible Belt” populace. Or about WASPs even.

        It’s just that this is Lefties wanting to have their cake and eat it too: They wanna call it “racism” sometimes, but then do it themselves when it comes to those cultures it doesn’t like. But that don’t change the only coherent definition that’s possible.

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 2:48 pm

        I’d bet dollars to donuts almost annie that if I went back over your posts you’ve said something about israeli culture or jewish culture or etc. that would brand you that “racist.”

        perhaps you didn’t understand what i meant by there is a difference talking about a government or state vs an ethnicity.

        i happen to agree israel has a violent culture because it is an extremely militaristic state (more$o per capita than any other). i think what friedman said in the video on the front page is extremely violent. my point “people would be screaming their heads off if some msm person said israelis had a violent culture.” and they would, i stand by that. yet they are not screaming their heads off when it is said about palestinians. why is that? and there is a difference between saying israelis and jews. jews wraps in the entire ethnicity the way the usage of ‘palestinians’ does. your examples of Germany under the Nazis and Sparta reference states and places. you even qualify german under nazis. but there is a difference between referencing a state or political construct vs an ethnicity. for example if i said germans have a violent culture it has a different meaning than ‘Germany under the Nazis’. hence it means something different to speak of jews as culturally violent or palestinians as culturally violent that it does referencing people in the context of their government or state. israel, being a young state, has never had a time they were not oppressing and making war. so i think it is fair to say israeli culture is violent. however i wouldn’t say that about jewish culture. i think that would be racist and palestinians have a sustained history of non violence therefore eliminating that history when referencing their culture is racist.

      • RoHa
        November 13, 2011, 6:51 pm

        I’m with Sin Nombre here.

        If we accept that culture is learned and not innate, then comments about cultures are not racist.

        On that understanding, saying that the Palestinians have a violent culture may be false and insulting, but it is not racist per se.

        Racists are not usually inclined to think of any characteristic as learned. They regard everything as innate.

      • RoHa
        November 13, 2011, 7:23 pm

        I should add that, although the comment about the allegedly violent culture of the Palestinians is not technically racist, the intent is to demonise the Palestinians and to shift the blame on to them.

        Thus, the comment is intended to function in the same way as a racist comment.

      • Donald
        November 13, 2011, 7:27 pm

        I’m closer to annie. It depends on how the criticism of a cultural group is made. In practice there’s less of a difference between racism and criticism of a culture than Sin Nombre acknowledges, because when someone says a culture is violent they often mean it is inherently violent and any member of that culture is automatically suspect. Now if they just mean that in a certain time and place and under certain circumstances a group of people are violent that is one thing, but when someone asserts that Muslims or Palestinians or Jews or Germans are inherently violent, then that is a claim that is close to racism. The escape clause that bigots use is that individuals can choose to leave a culture-it’s not genetic. They can renounce their ethnic or religious identity. Fine, but if someone clings to his or her cultural identity than they are branded as members of the inherently violent culture.

        And yes, my own white southern culture (or the one I grew up in) has been violent and racist–that’s an empirical fact. It would be a bigoted statement if someone asserted that white southern culture is inherently violent and racist, that it was an unchangeable fact about white southern culture. As it happens white southerners are not an oppressed group in the US–they come in for some ridicule by other Americans, but they also succeed in electing Presidents. So I don’t get too worried about the occasional bigotry aimed at white southerners. I’m a little more worried about bigoted statements made about Palestinians and Muslims. In the past I would also have been worried about bigoted statements made about Jews, but currently the problem is in getting people to realize that Jews can be just as bigoted as white southerners. Right now Goldstone and others react as though it was an anti-semitic smear to compare Israel’s behavior to that of other bigoted societies.

      • annie
        November 13, 2011, 7:28 pm

        ok, let me see if i understand you correctly

        “If we accept that culture is learned and not innate, then comments about cultures are not racist. ”

        wouldn’t that be determined by what was said about a culture?

        On that understanding, saying that the Palestinians have a violent culture may be false and insulting, but it is not racist per se.

        per se? no not per se. but if it is a false premise than it is racist because palestinians have far greater evidence of a culture of non violence. especially in comparison to israeli culture. and that is born out by the evidence as i mentioned above.

        israel, being a young state, has never had a time they were not oppressing and making war. so i think it is fair to say israeli culture is violent. however i wouldn’t say that about jewish culture. i think that would be racist and palestinians have a sustained history of non violence therefore eliminating that history when referencing their culture is racist.

        Racists are not usually inclined to think of any characteristic as learned. They regard everything as innate.

        not necessarily. for example how often have we heard palestinians ‘teach their children to hate’. that implies they think palestinians learn to hate not that they are born with it. for example this is on world net daily:

        Indeed, powerful and secret forces are at work in Palestinian nurseries, preschools, entertainment venues, classrooms and summer camps – forces that shape the current and future battles between Palestinians and Israelis, indeed, make them all but inevitable. However, up until recently, this amazing story has for the most part been hidden from Western eyes.

        Palestinian children are taught to hate Jews, to glorify “jihad” (holy war), violence, death and child martyrdom almost from birth, as an essential part of their culture and destiny.

        not racist?

        [edit: i wrote this before reading roha’s 7:23 comment]

      • piotr
        November 13, 2011, 10:35 pm

        “They’re just beginning to do that…. [It’s] insanely difficult to pull that off. It also goes against the grain of their culture and the whole way the Middle East operates. It’s just a violent combative, vengeful place.”

        Two thoughts:

        1) There is a phenomenon of neophyte who tries to outdo old hands in the trade. “I will be more violent, combative and vengeful than you, dudes!” Plus, neophytes may have somewhat simplistic perceptions of “how the place operates”.

        2) Some people who we hitherto thought of as clever SELECTED that place as … SAFE refuge. In case it will be unpleasant in St. Louis, Missouri or places like that. Actually, it is even more delicious: Israel is necessary for Jews because would it come to pass that Americans will start hating Jews (Leftist influence, for example) they will live safely in Middle East because of American protection. Actually, risk management for no-money-down mortgages was structured similarly, and sometimes by the same people, so it is not THAT surprising.

      • G. Seauton
        November 14, 2011, 12:17 am

        In general, ethnographers, sociologists, and other social scientists make a variety of observations and conclusions about various cultures that, whether right or wrong, may be construed by many as negative comments about those cultures. Such views might even be considered racist by people outside the field. Stating that Jewish culture is violent may be a valid observation given a specific set of data. I haven’t seen anything to support such a generalization about American Jews, but Israeli Jews do seem to have quite a violent culture–even as apart from the actions of their government.

        Certain subgroups of American Jews may have quite a violent culture. For example, Jewish friend of mine commented that openly criticizing the Orthodox Jews in his area of New Jersey could lead to attacks on his house.

        In any case, making such observations with respect to culture is by no means racist although they are often denounced as such. However, any controversial observations about the culture of a given group are problematic and liable to be denounced as racist; this is probably the only valid point that can be made by those who cry “political correctness,” which is otherwise simply a rightwing bogeyman.

      • G. Seauton
        November 14, 2011, 12:31 am

        Even given the general comment that observations made about culture are not racist per se, we can find cultural observations that clearly serve a racist agenda. This remark, of course, would seem to contradict the remark I made just above, and I’d say it becomes a fine distinction at a certain point — and one that is highly subjective. Academically, many cultural observations, although highly negative, are not racist per se. On the other hand, we can consider the history of a variety of supposedly academic disciplines that served a blatantly racist agenda. Eugenics immediately comes to mind.

        Certainly, the views held by many academics of previous eras on the nature of “the savage” and nonwhite peoples display tremendous inherent racism. The intellectual underpinning of these views was fairly thin, of course. So viewed within a historical perspective, we should always be a little suspicious of negative judgments of other cultures, even when these judgments develop from a fairly “emic” process of research.

        I think we are on safer ground when we denounce political orientations, such as Zionism, conservatism, etc.

    • Sin Nombre
      November 13, 2011, 10:21 pm

      I don’t think there’s a smidgen of difference between anyone here: Things are just being confused by a failure to fully accept that when talks about a culture, it is indeed talking about a *culture.*

      Thus annie objects when one talks about the culture of a certain ethnic group.

      But, as Donald somewhat fingers, how can she deny that indeed that this or that ethnic group at a certain place and certain time has a “culture”? After all she agrees that other groups—indeed entire countries—can have them.

      As Donald then further intuits the problem is when people speak a bit too casually, not noting that no, they don’t believe that whatever group they are talking about *innately* possess this or that non-virtuous characteristic. Or, to put it my way, when they don’t preface what they say by noting that they are indeed just criticizing a perceived *cultural* characteristic.

      But so long as they do, or indeed so long as that’s what they mean—and I think that’s what lots of allegedly “racist” statements really mean to say—it ain’t racist at all.

      Instead, by meaning “culture,” it’s absolutely understood it’s *not* innate, not immutable, not in the blood, not genetic, not invariable, and indeed understood that there’s no doubt lots of folks *from* that group who do *not* share that cultural characteristic.

      And absolutely understood that culture changes. So that, for instance, when people used to say during Hitler’s day “the Germans are violent,” the vast majority almost certainly didn’t believe it was innate or etc.: They were simply talking casually making a *temporal* observation. Temporal because it *is* cultural.

      Now, I’ll concede that there’s no doubt some true racists who may try to advance their delusions by hiding it under supposed casual talk about culture. But in general they’re easy to spot. Why? *Because they talk about this or that group’s “culture” as it if *is* immutable and always existed.

      But who really believes that some *behavioral* trait is indeed unique and immutable and innate in any group? Who can believe that given that throughout history probably *every* group one can think of has at times been … pacifistic, and then aggressive, violent, and submissive, and on and on.

      There’s just no real disagreement here I don’t think. Of *course* at certain times and in certain places ethnic groups can develop and manifest a certain culture , no different than any other groups. Including racial groups. But to speak of such cultures, even as regards racial groups, is *by definition,* not racist; As would be clearer if it was always spelled out that way … it’s *cultural.*

      • Donald
        November 14, 2011, 5:38 pm

        Well, I’m thinking of Islamophobes, Sin Nombre, who often seem to be saying that Islam is inherently and unchangeably violent and oppressive and incompatible with democracy. Presumably these are the sorts you mean when you say–

        “Now, I’ll concede that there’s no doubt some true racists who may try to advance their delusions by hiding it under supposed casual talk about culture. But in general they’re easy to spot. Why? *Because they talk about this or that group’s “culture” as it if *is* immutable and always existed.”

        Well yes, but Islamophobes would heatedly deny that they are racist, because their hatred isn’t directed at people for their genes, but for the allegedly evil religion they espouse. Some anti-semites might fall into the same category (though maybe not–anti-semitism sometimes is linked to crackpot racial theories.)

        So yes, it can be legitimate to criticize a culture, and that isn’t racism or bigotry or any other bad thing, but it’s also true that some criticism of cultures is actually a form of hatred that resembles racism. In casual speech I tend to call both anti-semitism and Islamophobia forms of “racism”, though I don’t know if the haters involved necessarily have any crackpot biological theories in their minds.

  4. dahoit
    November 13, 2011, 12:45 pm

    Wasn’t an eye for an eye codified by Jewish authors in the distant past?
    Revenge is not limited to any one ethnic group.
    And any lack of support by Jews for Obomba is mystifying,as this administration is more Israeli centric than the shrubs.Do they believe their own propaganda?Wow.Or is it just more disinformation.

    • john h
      November 13, 2011, 3:18 pm

      Yes it was, and when you add that to the chosen people concept you get this:

      “According to the Rabbis, “Israel is of all nations the most willful or headstrong one, and the Torah was to give it the right scope and power of resistance, or else the world could not have withstood its fierceness.” (Wikipedia, Jews as a chosen people, [2]; Beẓah, 25b)

  5. Rafi
    November 13, 2011, 12:46 pm

    “violent culture” is beyond the pale, but do you disagree that the middle east is a violent place? and if you think it’s all Israel, get educated.

    what do you mean by “he agrees with me entirely about the money question”, that BO’s only concern re:Israel is Jewish money and votes?

    “when Israel looks at Obama, they don’t see a friend” M. Bachman

  6. William Burns
    November 13, 2011, 12:56 pm

    And yet, somehow, Israel was not founded by “a very long term highly-engaged thorough campaign of nonviolent protest” directed at the British. Must be the violent culture over there.

  7. dumvitaestspesest
    November 13, 2011, 1:04 pm

    “and this violent , combative, vengeful place”has been treated very fairly, humanly, justly , but the peace loving, forgiving, decent and honest US/Israel combined Powers.
    What an irony.
    They really think that people, all over, are just plain idiots, who have no brains ,and inhale themselves numb , on daily ” info/news” spit out by corrupted mainstreamers.

  8. Les
    November 13, 2011, 1:10 pm

    Were those people not Jewish, such casual expressions of old fashioned racial anti-Semitism would be recognized for what they are.

  9. nyclawyer
    November 13, 2011, 2:46 pm

    The argument is not that Arabs are inherently violent. The argument is that traditionally, Middle Eastern power politics and disputes have been solved by force instead of reconciliation. The expansion of Islam and Arab imperialism was anything but “peaceful”.This applies to Shia v. Sunni conflicts and to much a larger extent against infidel/non-Islamic entities such as Israel. If Rahim is confused about this assertion, there is plenty of academic literature I can send him on this topic. I think some self-introspection is in order.

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 3:03 pm

      traditionally, Middle Eastern power politics and disputes have been solved by force instead of reconciliation

      could the same be said about israel? what about the treaty with egypt. was that only israel choosing reconciliation and not egypt? how long are you going back when you reference ‘Middle Eastern power politics’ and what’s your background that you feel authorized to speak on the subject of arab tradition.

      re Shia v. Sunni conflicts, are you aware that before we invaded iraq baghdad was an integrated city with many integrated neighborhoods and many people inter married. did you know it was considered impolite to ask what someones sect was? isn’t there actually a tradition of these people living together for centuries and not killing eachother? if killing eachother were the predominant tradition why aren’t they all dead?

      • Taxi
        November 13, 2011, 11:49 pm

        Lol annie!

        “if killing each other were the predominant tradition why aren’t they all dead?”

        Priceless logic!

    • annie
      November 13, 2011, 3:21 pm

      The expansion of Islam and Arab imperialism was anything but “peaceful”

      The expansion of zionism is anything but “peaceful” too. so do we say israel is a combative, vengeful place? is it combative, vengeful when they burn olive trees to expand their settlements. in fact which parts of israel were acquired without violence? can you name any?

      and since we all know the expansion of the zionist has been violent from day one it would be perfectly acceptable on msm to says zionism is a combative, vengeful culture. because i think it is. i’m sure you wouldn’t find that racist in the least nyclawyer, since you’re so good at explaining what the argument is.

    • Woody Tanaka
      November 13, 2011, 3:50 pm

      “The argument is not that Arabs are inherently violent. The argument is that traditionally, Middle Eastern power politics and disputes have been solved by force instead of reconciliation. ”

      Oh, bullshit. Bazelon just got caught with her racism hanging out. She didn’t mention “power politics” she said “their culture”. Stop trying to make excuses for one of your own.

      • G. Seauton
        November 14, 2011, 12:45 am

        Clearly, the argument that Palestinians have a culture of violence serves to distract from the obviously disproportionate level of Israeli violence against Palestinians. It’s an argument that backfires with anyone who has followed the conflict; it obviously is aimed at a less informed audience, specifically (though not exclusively) in America. In this sense, it serves a racist agenda, and although it may not be strictly racist (as Sin Nombre observes above), it is, in effect, racist propaganda.

  10. seafoid
    November 13, 2011, 4:13 pm

    This civilisation versus barbarians shtick is as old as history. Colonialism depends on it.
    The question is for how much longer Zionism is part of the West. Barak described Israel as a villa in a jungle. It seems to have become very jungleised.

    • Taxi
      November 13, 2011, 11:52 pm

      He meant to say: the stolen villa in the stolen jungle.

      • seafoid
        November 14, 2011, 8:07 am

        Taxi – this is really fascinating

        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/nov/24/hell-victory

        “Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Morgan, who was put in charge of UNRRA’s DP operations in Germany and Western Europe, was one of those Englishmen who felt that Jews were always pushing themselves ahead of the queue. He was also given to describing Jews who annoyed him as “of the traditional Shylock aspect” or “one of the most revolting Jews I have ever had the misfortune to meet.” When Zionist organizations began to assert themselves in the DP camps, he became so overwrought that he had to be quietly relieved of his job. Many British and American officials actually found the Baltic DPs, nice Nordic people, not seldom with carefully hidden pro-Nazi views, much more to their taste than the Jews, who were too traumatized to work or follow orders from anyone outside their own circles.

        David Ben-Gurion was already thinking about the survivors, and where they would go. In his words, “the ability to exploit the disaster and the price that could be extracted from it were wholly dependent on their attitude to Zionism.” Soon after the war, he visited a number of DP camps in Germany, making speeches about Palestine. “What happened in Poland,” he said, “could not happen in Palestine. They would not have slaughtered us in synagogues. Every boy and every girl would have shot every German soldier.”

        This was propaganda, of course, and his politicking among the desperate sounds more than a little ruthless. >b>Ben-Gurion’s intention, in the words of his biographer, Shabtai Tveth, quoted by Shephard, was “to see for himself to what extent the power of [the survivors’] adversity could be used in his battle to establish the Jewish state.” And yet his brand of Zionism served as a much-needed tonic, for it offered people whose lives were wrecked a future, a vision of redemption, something to live for.

        Kibbutzim were formed in former concentration camps and prisons such as Belsen and Landsberg, where Hitler had written Mein Kampf. Inevitably, Zionist politics were marked by factional squabbles, and also a type of militancy that betrayed, in the view of one American official, “perhaps unconsciously the effects of living for many years under Totalitarian rule.” Yet it also restored a degree of discipline and raised morale among people who now felt they had a place to go.

        Ben-Gurion’s aim was to get a million Jews to move to Palestine, by all possible means, legal or illegal. This put the British in a dilemma, largely of their own making. In the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Jews were promised a homeland in Palestine. But Arab goodwill had to be courted to secure Arab support in the war against Germany. And so, the British tried to stem Jewish emigration to Palestine, despite their earlier promises. On the face of it, some of the Foreign Office arguments were not foolish. Was the insistence on sending Jews to Palestine not “by implication to admit that [the] Nazis were right in holding that there was no place for Jews in Europe”? Ernest Bevin even “felt passionately that there had been no point in fighting the Second World War if the Jews could not stay on in Europe where they had a vital role to play in the reconstruction of that continent.”

        This was not unreasonable, but it was more than a little self-serving, and probably unrealistic. In fact, for many Jews there was indeed no place in Europe. They faced ostracism and even pogroms in Poland. In July 1946 several dozen Jews were killed after they returned to the Polish town of Kielce. Going back to the killing fields of Ukraine and Belarus was hardly an option either. And neither Britain nor the US was willing to open its borders to a sufficient number of them. If there was more sympathy for the Zionist cause in the US than in Britain, this was no less self-serving than the British position. The British Labour MP Richard Crossman noted in his diary that the Americans had various motives for “shouting for a Jewish state.” Apart from “attacking the Empire and British protectionism,” which would hardly be ignoble,

        they are espousing a moral cause, for whose fulfilment they will take no responsibility, and most important of all, they are diverting attention from the fact that their own immigration laws are one of the causes of the problem.
        Even when it was possible for Jews to move to Britain or the US, Zionists did what they could to stop this diversion from their plan to populate the Jewish homeland. Shephard shows that in response to a joint British and Swiss offer to take in a number of orphaned Jewish children, much welcomed by the children themselves, the Zionist leadership refused. Only Palestine would do. Something similar happened in the US a year later, when Truman tried to persuade Congress to allow more DPs to settle there. Shephard reports that opposition came not just from nativist congressmen, but also from Zionists who worried that this would weaken the case for Palestine.”

        Don’t forget either that all the reparations money from Germany was spent on infrastructure and that there is none now to pay for the wellbeing of dying Holocaust Jews , 200 000 of whom live below the poverty line in Israel .

  11. teta mother me
    November 13, 2011, 6:41 pm

    you’ve all discussed the ‘racism vs culture,’ and ‘is whatever it is violent or not,’ and is it ok to say so about Arabs but not Jews, etc.

    Y’al passed over this very good news (for Democrats):

    “[Nonetheless we see] effective Republican attacks on Obama over Israel… [It’s a] pretty stunning moment, for Obama. There’s some thinking among conservatives, that this is a time to break the traditional alliance between … Jews and Democrats… by showing Obama to be unreliable on Israel”

    so LET Jews migrate to the GOP.
    Israel is on its way to implosion.
    Let GOP get tagged with it.
    If Israel starts or provokes a war on Iran, Israel is American white-bread toast; bagels will no longer be fashionable in the US.
    Why would Democrats WANT to be associated with Israel?
    If sentiment on DailyKos, which advertises itself as a “Democratic” blog, holds that everything that’s BAAAAD about foreign policy is related to neocons and Republicans, and if Israel & Israel loyalists drag US into further foreign policy quagmire, then Dems are far better off disassociated from that situation.
    Democrats can then take on the mantle, and task, of an American rebirth, a nation of ALL its people, not kowtowing to one, minority, interest group in preference to the overall interests of the US.

    Hell, if I were Obama, I would tear up checks from Haim Saban & his pals, and the Pritzkers & Crowns just as publicly, dramatically, and arrogantly as the Israeli ambassador tore the UN resolution about zionism-racism. People would go crazy in support of Obama’s independence, courage, and strength. If he REALLY wanted to make history, he’d form a bi-party ticket — Ron Paul for VP.

    • pabelmont
      November 13, 2011, 9:27 pm

      Teta: As I said above, I wish the AIPAC money would dry up entirely (or so very much) so that Obama would no longer be tied to Israel. He had some good instincts once upon a time. BUT THEY WON’T ALLOW HIM to get that desperate. They need to keep him tied to their apron strings. so the money will not dry up that much. (Also, DEMS in congress need AIPAC money). Obama would not really want to shoot off his mouth about Israel and thereby loose whatever the DEMS “have” in Congress.

      He is not brave, is not a statesman, is not “into” suicide. He kow-tows with the rest. We’ve all seen it.

      If Israel “implodes”, it may well take us with it, because too many parts of USA’s military and diplomatic are tied to Israel too tightly.

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