Iran is so irrational it would invite its own destruction (Inside the mind of the anti-anti-Semites)

Israel/Palestine
on 13 Comments

As it looks like Netanyahu and his supporters here are giving Obama a reprieve until after the election on attacking Iran, now is a good time to think about the “ideology” that drives them.

What is striking to almost all impartial observers about the proponents of bombing Iran is that they seem to believe that Iran will commit national suicide in order to kill a bunch of Jews. What gets these people to believe this about Iran?

We all know about the ideology of the anti Semite. I’d like to introduce the ideology of what I will call the “anti-anti-Semite.” To them anti-Semites have a disease. This disease is not curable nor can you reason with someone who has it. It is all encompassing; it motivates basically everything they do.  There is no nuance in the anti-Semite. It is a fixation that is a waste of time to try to understand. It goes without saying that to these people anti-Semitism  has nothing to do with perceived Jewish conduct.

Of course there are other ways to approach the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. Among others the historian Albert Lindemann wrote a history of modern anti-Semitism (Esau’s Tears) that attempted to treat anti-Semites as real human beings. They might be evil but they’re not aliens from another planet. This brought down the wrath of the anti-anti-Semites. Reviewer after reviewer lambasted him for trying to humanize the anti-Semite.

In the historiography of the Holocaust the historians who most closely share the views of the anti-anti-Semites are called “extreme intentionalists.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functionalism_versus_intentionalism

They believe there was a straight line of continuity between Hitler’s verbal threats in the 1920′s and 1930′s and the gas chambers. The most extreme of the intentionalists is Daniel Goldhagen who argues in his book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” that the German population before World War 2 were “eliminationist anti-Semites” and ordinary Germans killed Jews “willingly and happily.” They were just awaiting the opportunity for an orgy of Jew killing. If I can use a little hyperbole, for Goldhagen understanding the Holocaust and anti-Semitism comes down to goyim hate Jews– and the Germans really really hated the Jews. When reading Goldhagen one comes away with the sense that the perpertrators of the Holocaust were caricatures of human beings. The noted Holocaust historian Raul Hillberg called the book “totally wrong about everything” and “worthless.” He summarized the outcome of the debate about the book “ in sharp distinction from lay readers, much of the academic world had wiped Goldhagen off the map.”

What does this have to do with bombing Iran?

The right wing leadership in Israel as well as well as their “amen corner” in the U.S share the same view of anti-Semitism as Goldhagen. The ideology of “anti anti Semitism” is so powerful that once labeled an anti-Semite one falls somewhere in the continuum of Hitler’s anti Semitism. Thus In 1982 Begin likened the blockade against PLO leader Yasir Arafat in Beirut to the siege on Hitler’s bunker. To the uninitiated this comparison seems absurd. Arafat was a Palestinian who believed that Israel was established on his people’s land. Whatever the merits of his case, what does that have to do with Hitler? Saddam Hussein also went through a period of being called Hitler. Lately it’s Ahmadinejad. Suppose the leaders of Iran used the same language about Turkey or Egypt that they use about Israel? Would the leaders of those countries consider for a minute that Iran would be willing to be destroyed just to drop a nuke on them? It’s only with the ideology of anti-anti Semitism that such a conclusion makes sense. Anti-semites are so irrational that there is no such thing as deterrence. And Iran should be deterred. Make no mistake about it: if Iran knows anything about Israel they’d be aware the retaliation will be severe. Iran will be punished not only for their own attack but for all of history’s attack on the Jews.

There is another seemingly perplexing thing about Israel. One would think that it would be in the interest of an Israeli prime minister to frequently give speeches aimed at the Arab world stating Israel’s interest in having good relations with her neighbors in settling the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, etc. To the outside observer there have to be many fair-minded Arabs who would be moved by such an appeal. The reason this is not going on is because to the right wing Israeli leadership, the Arab world is a mass of anti-Semites. Anti-Semites can’t be reasons with or swayed. In their view Israeli action or inaction has nothing to do with the attitude Arabs have toward Israel. And not only the Arabs. What to everyone else is self evident– that Israel’s behavior and misbehavior have a direct correlation to how Israel is viewed around the world–is somehow denied by the champions of Israel. That Europe looks askance at how Israel treats the Palestinians can’t be as straight forward as it is. Remember there is no relationship between the attitude “the world” has towards Jews (Israel) and their actions. So European criticism of Israel is just an example of European anti-Semitism. That Rabin was celebrated around the world for the Oslo accords is ignored.

Such is the power of the anti-anti-Semitism narrative that imagine the Israeli spokespeople explaining the havoc caused after an Israeli strike on Iran. What newscaster is going to challenge them when they say the Jewish people were not willing to suffer another Holocaust?

The anti-Semitism as a disease paradigm is not Just reserved for the anti-Semite. Jeffrey Goldberg is confounded by Glenn Greenwald’s lack of fondness for Israel. He theorizes

“based on the way he writes about Israel and American Jewish organizations, I often suspect that some really bad shit happened to him in Hebrew school.”

And on “self hating” Jews in general–

In my experience, those Jews who consciously set themselves apart from the Jewish majority in the disgust they display for Israel, or for the principles of their faith, are often narcissists, and therefore seem to suffer from an excess of self-regard, rather than self-loathing. “Self-hater” is a euphemism, then, for “auto-anti-Semite,” or some other such locution.

How tribal and ethno-centric is Goldberg. He can’t fathom that someone with Glenn Greenwald’s worldview is critical of Israel. After all Greenwald is still a Jew. Therefore he must have had some trauma as a kid to explain his criticisms of Israel. I’m quite sure Goldberg hasn’t wondered what psychological disorder has led Fouad Ajami to be pro-Israel.

What I have described above is an ideology. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide who the true believers are and who among the Jewish right  are cynically using Jewish fears for Israel’s gain. Does Netanyau really believe that Iran would nuke Israel if they had a bomb or does he believe that an Iranian bomb would hamper Israel’s freedom of action? Or possibly a combination of the two.

There is no question that there is anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, but the first step in fighting it is to recognize that it is very much related to Israeli behavior. If by some miracle some future Israeli leader offers the Palestinians a state on terms they find acceptable and perhaps even apologizes for the harm Israel has caused them there is no question in my mind there will be a lot less hatred of Israel
and Jews.

About Yakov Hirsch

Yakov Hirsch is a writer and poker player who lives in New York

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13 Responses

  1. marc b.
    October 10, 2012, 1:37 pm

    I’m quite sure Goldberg hasn’t wondered what psychological disorder has led Fouad Ajami to be pro-Israel.

    hilarious. i’m quite sure that goldenberg hasn’t ‘wondered’ about much of anything since he was an adolescent, his worldview fixed in the crayon-scribbled marginalia of the pages of a marvel comic strip. i often suspect that some really bad shit happened to him in hebrew school.

  2. Woody Tanaka
    October 10, 2012, 2:15 pm

    Excellent article, Yakov.

  3. ColinWright
    October 10, 2012, 2:40 pm

    I think that at bottom, all this has to do with Israel’s need for an enemy: there has to be an external threat.

    And that external threat will always be found. Iran was just the best available candidate for a while.

  4. MRW
    October 10, 2012, 2:46 pm

    Good article, Yakov. The real problem for Israel, now, is that it’s lost the Christian churches in the US, and the US Military.
    link to mondoweiss.net

  5. Mooser
    October 10, 2012, 3:06 pm

    “I often suspect that some really bad shit happened to him in Hebrew school.”

    Goldberg has a low opinion of the conditions in Hebrew Schools, doesn’t he? He seems to be suggesting that child abuse takes place. And he is certainly in contact with the Jewish community. This really should be looked into, and I commend Goldberg for opening our eyes to it.

  6. American
    October 10, 2012, 5:03 pm

    “There is no question that there is anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, but the first step in fighting it is to recognize that it is very much related to Israeli behavior.”

    I don’t know that I would call what Muslims feel anti semitism or anti semitism for no reason…they do have valid reasons for disliking the Jews in Israel and the Jews outside of Israel that support it.
    If the ME had hated Jews general in they could have exterminated them in the ME long, long ago before Hitler tried it , they didn’t.

    As for Goldberg?…he’s a joke, like all his kind. If there’s one thing I have learned in my historical travels on this subject it’s that as many Jews hated and resented gentiles as there were gentiles who hated Jews. Seems to me there are fewer Jew haters among gentiles than there are gentile haters among the zionist these days.
    At any rate the Goldbergs are beating a dead horse…no one cares any more..Jews like Greenwald and many other Jews don’t even care any more…the slur has become like water off a duck’s back.

    • mijj
      October 11, 2012, 8:23 pm

      > .. “There is no question that there is anti-Semitism in the Muslim world” ..

      yeh .. “they don’t like us because they’re anti-semitic” is a very weird kind of mindset .. it’s very much like the “they hate us for our freedoms” mindset.

  7. SulaymanF
    October 10, 2012, 5:43 pm

    Excellent analysis.

    I’d also add that netanyahu is movtivated by a religious narrative that feeds into this; Iran is the new Amalek.

    • Sumud
      October 11, 2012, 9:43 am

      Yes he’s on the record at least twice in 2010 and 2011 specifically referring to Iranians as Amalek.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    October 10, 2012, 7:43 pm

    RE: “In my experience, those Jews who consciously set themselves apart from the Jewish majority in the disgust they display for Israel, or for the principles of their faith, are often narcissists. . .” ~ Jeffrey Goldberg

    MY COMMENT: Stated like a real narcissist, Mr. Goldberg! ! ! Psychological projection much?!?!

    • DICKERSON3870
      October 10, 2012, 7:53 pm

      P.S. RE: “Stated like a real narcissist, Mr. Goldberg! ! !” – me (above)

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Narcissism]:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others. . . A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else [calling them names, like that of "a narcissist" ~ J.L.D.] . . . A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person . . . Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person [or perhaps a "narcissist" ~ J.L.D.] . . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  9. Taxi
    October 11, 2012, 11:44 am

    It’s a recorded fact that when a fire in an insane asylum breaks out, all the ‘crazy’ people rush to the exit door.

    So then why would Iran set it’s own house on fire and run to the top floor?

  10. Donald
    October 11, 2012, 3:50 pm

    The attitudes Yakov talks about here remind me of the Leonard Jeffries theory of “ice people” and “sun people”, where white people are “ice people” who are naturally cruel. The difference is that nearly everyone recognizes that the Jeffries theory is an over-the-top black racist reaction to centuries of white racism. Jeffries is treated as a crackpot. Netanyahu is a Prime Minister.

    “One would think that it would be in the interest of an Israeli prime minister to frequently give speeches aimed at the Arab world stating Israel’s interest in having good relations with her neighbors in settling the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, etc. ”

    And on the Iranian nuclear issue, you’d think it would be in their interest to reach out to the Palestinians, pointing out that an Iranian nuclear attack would also wipe out the Palestinians. If they really are worried about such a thing, then it’s in Israel’s interest to persuade the Palestinians to join them in pressuring Iran. But it doesn’t seem to cross their minds. Iran must building a new sort of neutron bomb, one which only kills Zionists.

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