Exile and the prophetic: Exporting our expertise

Israel/Palestine
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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.

Alice Rothchild’s new film, “Voices Across the Divide” is described as “The Palestinian narrating, and the Jew listening.”  The film focuses on the effects the Nakba continues to have on the lives of Palestinians.  

Rothchild is trying to bring the Nakba home in a personal way. Will Jews and others listen?  It’s a question we should all be asking. Right now, Rothchild is soliciting funds to finish the film’s final editing.  It’s a worthy project.

When I read about the film, I thought: “Palestinians, like Jews after the Holocaust.  Palestinians after the Nakba.” 

After the Holocaust?  I first heard that question in the early 1970s when studying with Richard Rubenstein. His book, After Auschwitz, published in 1966, helped popularize this naming.  Back then, I didn’t anticipate its companion – After the Nakba.

Jews live after the Holocaust and after Israel.  I’ve been speaking and writing about this for a long time.  I haven’t thought:  “Jews live after the Holocaust and after the Nakba.”

Different extremity.  Similar struggle?  What is left for the survivors of mass death, atrocity, displacement – after?

Memorials – services, monuments, museums – are the least of it.  I doubt designations like Holocaust survivor, Palestinian refugee, wounded warrior, Newtown survivor or Boston Marathon survivor mean much to the designee.

Speaking of which, YNet reports that one of every four Holocaust survivors in Israel live below the poverty line.   It also reports an expanded initiative to bring educators from India, South Korea and Cyprus to Israel to study the Holocaust. 

So, in the name of the below poverty level Holocaust survivors, Israel – or American Jews or the United States government or perhaps India as well – will spend boatloads of money to make sure no one forgets the Holocaust survivors whose below poverty life will be hidden from view.

YNet also reports that Yad Vashem and the Israeli government will send mobile Holocaust education units to canvas rural India.  Evidently, Indians aren’t getting the Holocaust message.  Or does Israel want to teach Indians the Israel message via the Holocaust?

Perhaps the Holocaust/Israel message will be delivered with other forms of literacy and medical information in India’s hinterland.  Holocaust education packets to be handed out with AIDS information and condoms? 

I don’t know if the Holocaust mobile units will be knock-offs of the Lubavitch Mitzvah Tanks – yes, they call them tanks.  Mitzvah Tanks would blend marvelously into India’s colorful landscape. 

A JTA newsflash yesterday shared news that dovetails with Israel’s Holocaust missionary work in India. Are they linked – also with the Nakba?

It’s about the saving and aftercare of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.  This time Israel is boasting of another form of education it specializes in – caring for victims of terrorist attacks.

Listen to JTA’s narrative:

Minutes after a terrorist attack killed three at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, doctors and nurses at the city’s hospitals faced a harrowing scene — severed limbs, burned bodies, shrapnel buried in skin.

For Boston doctors, the challenge presented by last week’s bombing was unprecedented — but they were prepared.

Many of the city’s hospitals have doctors with actual battlefield experience. Others have trauma experience from deployments on humanitarian missions, like the one that followed the Haitian earthquake, and have learned from presentations by veterans of other terror attacks like the one at a movie theater in Colorado.

But they have benefited as well from the expertise developed by Israeli physicians over decades of treating victims of terrorist attacks — expertise that Israel has shared with scores of doctors and hospitals around the world. Eight years ago, four Israeli doctors and a staff of nurses spent two days at Massachusetts General Hospital teaching hospital staff the methods pioneered in Israel.

According to the New Yorker magazine, every Boston patient who reached the hospital alive has survived.

You don’t have to channel Jacques Derrida to see the textual mining of reports like this is endless.  In the spirit of “what comes around, stays around,” I note three aspects of the first paragraphs of the news item:

1)      The doctors were prepared.  Lesson: Terrorism has been happening for a long time and memorial services aren’t going to stop it.  Be prepared for the next round.

2)      The good thing is that many American doctors have battlefield experience.  Lesson:  The American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have prepared the doctors to treat victims at home.

3)      Democracies like Israel and the United States are envied by the world and will be targeted by terrorists. Lesson:  Israel, a leader in Treating-Victims-of-Terror” technology (TVT), is here to share its expertise with its allies.

It is amazing how much expertise a nation like Israel can acquire while living on the cutting edge of permanent occupation. 

Occupation gives rise to a series of expertise – and exports.  These include security services to protect against terror and healing those whom security failed. 

Add peddling arms and you have a significant percentage of Israel’s exports.

Let’s not forget the Holocaust as an export.  Exporting knowledge of the Holocaust is another Jewish growth industry. 

All of these exports make sense when we factor in that Jews have become experts in memorializing ourselves as victims – in the Holocaust but also Israel as victim – of “terror.”

But returning to Alice Rothchild and her film, how can we listen to the voices of those we displace and occupy if we build expertise around our victimhood?


About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of Burning Children: A Jewish View of the War in Gaza which can be found at www.newdiasporabooks.com

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5 Responses

  1. Citizen
    April 23, 2013, 1:22 pm

    Actually this Zionist spin is not new. The Nazis strove mightily to have the world and fellow German citizens view them as the victims, both at home and abroad, even while they were engaging in predatory conduct everywhere they touched. Imperial Japan tried to do this, but failed. Why?

  2. Don
    April 23, 2013, 2:05 pm

    “if we build expertise around our victimhood?”

    Someone with a seriously functioning intellect could spend a few, or more, doctoral dissertations responding to Prof Marc’s posts.

    Expertise around our victimhood…yipes.

  3. Mike_Konrad
    April 23, 2013, 3:09 pm

    YNet also reports that Yad Vashem and the Israeli government will send mobile Holocaust education units to canvas rural India. Evidently, Indians aren’t getting the Holocaust message. Or does Israel want to teach Indians the Israel message via the Holocaust?

    This is shameless. I had a good laugh when I read this.

    Israel has milked the Holocaust for all it is worth, and then some.

    I have tried again and again to tell my Jewish friends that the Holocaust is being overused. Most just do not get it.

    This is going to backfire on them. It has become crying wolf.

    Like the term anti-Semite, which is also overused.

    There are times when it is legitimate to call people anti-semites. There are times when it is legitimate to bring up the Holocaust; but Israel and the World Jewish Community overuse them.

    It is going to hurt them in the end.

    Hint: No Hasbara activist would say what I just said.

    Israel collect tens of billions of Holocaust Reparations. Why don’t they use the money to help the survivors?

    I should not laugh. Such self-destructive behavior is not funny.

    And worse yet, it cheapens a legitimate memory of the Holocaust.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    April 23, 2013, 9:46 pm

    RE: “Occupation gives rise to a series of expertise – and exports. These include security services to protect against terror. . .” ~ Marc Ellis

    SEE: “Boston airport security program rife with racial profiling has Israeli links”, by Alex Kane, Mondoweiss, 8/14/12

    Security officers at Boston’s Logan International Airport have come under fire for the widespread racial profiling of Arabs, Muslims, Blacks and Hispanics in their zeal to ferret out terrorists.
    The “New York Times” broke the story over the weekend after officers who requested anonymity came forward; some officers have complained internally to the Transportation Security Agency as well. A Massachusetts lawmaker has called for congressional hearings on the racial profiling allegations.
    The Times reports that officers estimated that “80 percent” of passengers “searched during certain shifts” were people of color.What’s more, the Boston airport “is the testing ground for an expanded use of behavioral detection methods at airports around the country.”
    But what’s not touched on in the Times report is the fact that Logan International’s security procedures are modeled on Israel’s policies at their own airport–policies that are blatantly racist. . .
    The Israel connection is integral to understanding Boston’s racial profiling problems. In 2009, according to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Jerusalem Post reported that “Boston’s Logan Airport has tapped the Israeli company New Age Security Solutions to help secure the facility using Behavior Pattern Recognition.” . . .
    . . . It took until August 2011 for the Israeli-inspired model to be operationalized. That was the date when the “behavioral profiling” became an official model at Boston’s airport–and this was “a direct result” of “Israeli influence” on security procedures at the airport, according to the Associated Press.
    Fast-forward to the New York Times story. The Times reports that one anonymous TSA officer complained that this “behavior detection program is no longer a behavior-based program, but [rather] a racial profiling program.”
    To observers of how Israeli security works at Ben Gurion Airport, the allegations of racial profiling will come as no surprise. Palestinian and Arab travelers at Ben Gurion are guaranteed to be harassed by Israeli security. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to mondoweiss.net

    P.S. IN THE WAKE OF THE BOSTON BOMBINGS, a “National Security Expert” on Fox “News” said that the U.S. is like
    a 14-year-old going through “security puberty”; and we must demand that our government “get on the Israeli page”! ! !
    On the Wish List from the Boston Bombings – The Israelization of America [VIDEO, 00:24] – link to youtube.com

  5. DICKERSON3870
    April 23, 2013, 10:31 pm

    RE: All of these exports make sense when we factor in that Jews have become experts in memorializing ourselves as victims – in the Holocaust but also Israel as victim – of “terror.” ~ Marc Ellis

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [Defence mechanisms]:

    Projection: Projection is a primitive form of paranoia. Projection also reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the undesirable impulses or desires without becoming consciously aware of them; attributing one’s own unacknowledged unacceptable/unwanted thoughts and emotions to another; includes severe prejudice, severe jealousy, hypervigilance to external danger, and “injustice collecting”.

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    ALSO SEE: “Injustice Collecting”, By Nando Pelusi, Ph.D., psychologytoday.com, published on November 01, 2006
    You can’t let go of a grudge, says Nando Pelusi, Ph.D., because there are deep-seated emotional payoffs.

    [EXCERPTS] We have a complicated relationship with the grudges we hold. We get obsessed and aggravated by the many slights [not to mention far more grievous victimization - J.L.D.] that befall us, but we’re ever reluctant to bury our pain and move on. Like an illicit affair, our beloved grudges usually end up creating misery for all involved.
    The tendency to itemize every unfair knock we’ve ever suffered is known as injustice collecting. Sometimes the injustices are personal, as in, “My boss unfairly promoted Rick over me.” This kind of self-talk leads to anger. At other times, the catalogued outrages lead to overwrought generalizations, such as, “Nothing ever goes well; this is too unfair.” This type of thinking leads to hopelessness and rage.
    Enough grudge holding and soon you’ll see more iniquity than actually exists. The injustice collector becomes a trigger-happy perceiver. If you walk down the street recounting the affronts you’ve suffered lately, you’ll kick up quite a cloud of dejection.
    Injustice collecting springs from a sensible motive: the monitoring of fairness as a form of self-protection, an impulse that evolved among social creatures who depended on one another. Nursing grudges may have raised our odds of survival and reproduction, however unconsciously. . .
    . . . But injustice collecting is about more than just resentment toward cheaters; just as often, it’s resentment on a mass scale—about anger at the very order of the universe. If a tree falls on a school bus or an earthquake levels our home, we’re stricken by the absolute injustice of it all. Islamist radicals, for example, resent the West’s development, and many are willing to die for their version of justice.
    Self-pity plus religious outrage—a combination that fuels suicide bombers—might also be a cognitive virus, replicating itself because humans are so easily attuned to believing in absolute justice.
    Fairness is a desirable abstraction, and one we’d better reach for, but it is not a concrete measurement, however much we might wish the courts, God, or the Constitution to decree it. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to psychologytoday.com

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