This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
False alarm, in fact, perhaps just the opposite. In German, I found a short history of the place here and, translated, it seems that the Hitler Youth wanted to occupy the premises but the owner resisted. The reason for the resistance – unstated. It could have been for a variety of reasons, including opposition to the Nazis themselves. It may have been about money or just about this rural ideal being overrun by an institutional juggernaut. More research needed.
The lesson here is not to jump to conclusions. Also, every inch of Austria’s soil is infected with the possibility of the Nazis occupying. From outside to home grown. This is why the German and Austrian children of a certain age didn’t quite know what was up with their parents, now grandparents and beyond. Where were they during the Nazi period? What were they involved in? Were they or their parents supporters of the Nazis?
Questions for the Jewish future. Where were your parents or grandparents doing as the Palestinians were be ethnically cleansed from the land in 1948 and beyond? Those Jews who think that we are exempt from the questioning of our heirs have already missed the Jewish prophetic boat. It’s out there on the high seas.
On the dancing front, interesting understandings shared at breakfast about how the dances now begin with your own grounding. No words to the songs or at least little that means anything, then you dance in a group, only fleetingly locking eyes or steps with another. This is the no risk approach to dancing, since you can’t be accused of exclusivity or be rejected, so nothing personal is involved. No personal history or commitment either?
Those of us at a certain age know how complex our personal histories and commitments are. Sometimes, we or others with us would like to abandon both. Nonetheless, the lack of foundation on the public front is connected to the lack of foundations in individual lives. Uprooting in one arena affects uprooting in others. This is the real problematic in the virtual world we increasingly inhabit. Our connection with the outside/inside is assumed without reflection unless we are (un)plugged.
(Un)Plugged, the world careens out of our control. (Un)Plugged, we have difficulty adjusting to the glare of the real world. If we don’t know what the outside world is, how can we cope when we are confronted with that world?
Our control and the Israel/Palestine stalemate. The challenge is to (un)plug our control, which, if you’ve noticed, isn’t controlled by us or sometimes by anyone, so it seems. Syria going down is just another example of not having predicted what would happen and the players are so many representing such diverse interests, almost none of them having to do with ordinary Syrians at all, God only knows where the wind will blow once the dictator dynasty falls by the wayside of history. Like Mubarak but with much, much more violence.
Falling dictatorships. The world is replete with them. Now take off your Israel is a democracy hat and think of Israel from a Palestinian perspective. Call it what you will from the Jewish side and its international recognition, Israel is a fascist force – for Palestinians. Israeli fascism – shall I call it Jewish fascism since Jews all over the world enable Israel? – needs to take a hike. But where?
In my small group yesterday, some students couldn’t wrap their mind around David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, recognized as a liberal leading light in the world of his times while ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Could a liberal do such things and still be a liberal?
More or less, around the tables, the answer was no – he couldn’t be both. But since he was – my view – we have to reorient our view of – liberal fascism. I don’t mean this in the sense that it was fashionably applied to the United States some decades ago, and look how far we have come since that time, becoming at least a surveillance, if not a police state. A national security state, another nomenclature bandied around some time ago. Again, how far we have come in the last decades.
Israel has been and is a liberal venture. Netanyahu is not a right-wing fascist on most matters (un)pertaining to the Palestinians. Call him an Israeli expansionist but, then, every Israeli Prime Minister has been so. In this regard there is no difference between Ben Gurion, Rabin, Sharon and Netanyahu. The Apartheid Wall was built when the state of Israel was formed. It just took a long time to construct it.
It takes a village to raise a child, returning to our Hillary Clinton theme. It takes a state to build an Apartheid Wall. An ideology can’t do it – without a state. Even the focus on the Promised Land can’t do it – without a state. Can a homeland focus, a la Martin Buber, Judah Magnes and Hannah Arendt, undo the state and thus the Apartheid Wall? I doubt it, but then again the One State vision won’t do it either. Joining forces, Homeland Zionists and One State visionaries? Doubt it too.
I suppose if we simply accept that no matter what position we take it won’t be enough separately or together, then we can focus on the task at hand which is to end the oppression of the Palestinian people. Of course, that won’t do it either. We are back at square one.
You see the problem is what we might call the Ben Gurion Syndrome (BGS). Liberal to the world, fascist to the Palestinians. We can’t say that the BGS is impossible since, to some extent, it survives today. American Jewish support for Israel isn’t fascist, not even close, except in its policies toward Palestinians. Elie Wiesel a fascist? No way.
To call the Jewish establishment fascist is a misnomer, way too easy and wrong. Though, if I step outside of my context, for Palestinians the BGS is what it is. Why beat around the liberal/fascist dichotomy bush?
BGS like a mountain’s narrow wooden bridge; it’s dangerous to cross. The winds are too strong and it’s single file with one foot in front of the other; darkness is coming soon. We have to get across to the other side before darkness falls. To make it across, we have to forge ahead.
Jews of Conscience in exile. We have never been able to explain how a suffering and progressive people can do/enable the things that are going on in Israel/Palestine.
It would be easier if the Jewish establishment sent their kids to the Hitler Youth camps of our time. Then things would become so obvious the world couldn’t look away. Sure?
Caught in the horns of the liberal/fascist dilemma. Thicket. Abraham and Isaac time. Untangling trust and fidelity can occupy interpreters for thousands of years. As with Job, where the return of wealth and children is Biblical add-on, a late redactive act.
BGS is one tangle. The anti-Semitism I encountered in the European BDS movement is another tangle. There we have the reverse of liberal/fascist. Or more accurately, we have the liberation of Palestinians without any sign of respecting Jews. Liberal/anti-Semitism. How is that going to work out?
You remember I reported on my time in Ireland and Scotland a few years ago. The few who showed up for my lecture in Ireland were openly hostile to anything Jewish being said and the then director of the Irish section – well he couldn’t say the word “Holocaust” or “Israel” when I had tea and dinner with him. I doubt it had to do with a speech impediment. The Scotland director, too, could hardly say “Jew” without a bite. Strange days, I thought. I was uncomfortable not on their Palestine stance, not at all. And I wasn’t retreating to the Progressive Jewish stance, the Michael Lerner two-step that says I’ll hold you if you love Israel true.
Also their distortion of Ilan Pappe’s works and the whole Israelis-in-exile crew, their “good” friends as they reported to me. Don’t know whether the friendship thing is true and it certainly isn’t a credential for me if they’re talking out of both sides of their mouths. Pappe is serious historian, an Israeli and a Jew. He has gone far out on a limb, with safety concerns galore. There’s no reason to impute an intentional genocide claim, that Pappe doesn’t make, as substitute for a calculated “Israel is for Jews only” claim that he does make. To some the difference might seem too subtle for public discourse. It is important.
When the political anger takes us too far, soon the cliff is in view. If we jump over the cliff, where do we land?
Because, you see, when it comes to Jews, the baggage can easily get mixed up – history knocks at our door. Sure it’s complicated. But revving up negative comments about Jews is dangerous and stupid. Call me what you will, there’s no way I am going to be silent about it. Especially when I hear it in Europe. Why go that way when it only means distorting everything?
Yes, a few, and I am a supporter of BDS, simply remark on the few because it tangles me up in blue. As with Ben Gurion.
A few do not make a whole. It does not give Jews a reason to retreat. BDS is the symbolic right way to a real difference. Nonetheless the screening process for those attracted to Jewish issues is almost impossible. We have to struggle with it and keep moving forward.
History’s baggage on the Jewish front. It might be easy for my student to say that the contradiction of liberal and fascist is impossible since the act of ethnic cleansing defines all. But how does he judge the anti-Semite committed to wiping out – the injustice of – the Jews?
Perhaps easier to deal with the Global Warming warning of mass death. You can’t be on both sides of that debate, can you?