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Netanyahu’s cycle of violence

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NetanyahuThis is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

The New York Times headline screams empire:  “Netanyahu Takes A Lonely Stance Denouncing Iran.”  Then Israel’s Prime Minister treats us to his ultimate lament:  “People have a historical memory that goes back to breakfast.”

Netanyahu’s historical memory is much longer.  It goes back to Abraham, Jacob – and Nathan Milikovsky, his grandfather, being beaten by a mob in Europe.

Maybe next year he’ll include his symbolic beating in the international court of public opinion.  Thus the ever-expanding Jewish historical narrative – Abraham, Isaac, Nathan and Benjamin.

With Netanyahu we have the mythical founding and the mythical return.  Nathan is the stand-in for the founding of the state of Israel.  Benjamin is Israel’s ancient shield reborn.

But just for Mr. Netanyahu to know that when I travel next week to speak at the World Council of Churches convention in Busan, South Korea, most people will initially pass me off as a representative of American and Israeli empire, i. e., read Jews more or less control the world.

Breaking through that glass ceiling isn’t easy.

Every time Jews of Conscience break through the “Jews control the world” glass ceiling, Netanyahu and his thugs construct another ceiling by abusing Palestinians or by characterizing Iranians as uncivilized.

Netanyahu’s dress code for a free Iran is much like his history lesson – short on facts and long on myths.  It limits the Jewish ability and the ability of others to think and presents an image of Jews to the world that is irredentist.

Irredentism:  “Any position of a state advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. It is often advocated by pan-nationalist movements and has been a repeated feature of identity politics, cultural and political geography. Because most borders have been moved and redrawn over time, a great many countries could theoretically present irredentist claims to their neighbors.”

Highlight actual or alleged, pan movements and identity politics.  But don’t forget the claims of others – actual or alleged.  Claims and counter claims, the cycle of cycles.  The end result, a specific cycle, in shorthand, the cycle of violence and atrocity.

Netanyahu pins that cycle on Iran.  How convenient.

Today it is he and Israel – with his American Jewish enablers – that continue the cycle of violence and atrocity.  While constantly threatening to enlarge it.

Thus Netanyahu’s history lesson.  The Jewish face presented to the world.

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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11 Responses

  1. just
    October 12, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Iran (Persia) is a much more established nation/region/state than Israel is. It has an actual history and indigenous people — one not claimed by a “book”.

    Oh, wait. It’s the “narrative”, not the real world.

    Good luck, Professor.

    • October 12, 2013, 6:01 pm

      iran is much more established? why even mention that? there’s just no comparing, it’s ridiculous
      the world’s leading scientific, i repeat scientific, not zion-propogandistic and truth-perverting, expert in the world as far as the study of biblical archaeology is concerned, is professor finklestein of tel aviv university. he says there is no proof whatsoever of “the kingdom of david” extending beyond a scant 70 years.
      it’s ridiculous to say it’s “much more”, unless you don’t know how long persia/iran have been around.
      and talking about archaeology, do you have any idea of the priceless treasures of
      babylonia/iraq that have been lost forever because of the invasion of the new barbarians like the earliest form of cunieform tablet writing?

      • October 12, 2013, 6:02 pm

        by the way, good luck to you, mr ellis, at the conference

  2. radii
    October 12, 2013, 3:13 pm

    Netanyahu knows only one tune and it just affects most listeners as an unpleasant, discordant mess … his time is over and the world waits for israel’s new leader to cut the deal that’s been on the table for over 20 years now

  3. Krauss
    October 12, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Actually, Ellis, if you’ve had bothered to read up on the facts you’d know that Bibi is conflict-averse. He talks a great deal but it was Labor that did most of the actual warfare.

    But again, facts are annoying.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    October 12, 2013, 5:58 pm

    RE: “Netanyahu’s dress code for a free Iran is much like his history lesson – short on facts and long on myths.” ~ Marc Ellis

    MY COMMENT: According to Netanyahu’s “logic”, Hasidim will not be truly “free” until they dress in denim* rather than basic black!

    * Netanyahu riles Iranians with fashion faux pas over jeans –

    • piotr
      October 13, 2013, 7:48 am

      Actually, Haredim are now listed as a “demographic threat”, together with Arabs. While I would like to see Bibi and Sara in jeans, the hip members of the coalition, like Lapid, often dress casually.

  5. RoHa
    October 12, 2013, 10:45 pm

    I remember what I had for breakfast. This is because I have the same thing every day.

    Netanyahu has heard the same myths being peddled for years.

  6. seafoid
    October 13, 2013, 7:01 am

    Hitler’s aides were big into eternal war too. How did judaism end up so bellicose?

  7. amigo
    October 14, 2013, 2:04 pm

    “Netanyahu: For the first time in history, Arabs realize Israel is not the enemy”

    Now he is a comedian.

    But ,I thought all Arabs want to drive Israel into the sea.

    What changed.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      October 14, 2013, 3:55 pm

      “Netanyahu: For the first time in history, Arabs realize Israel is not the enemy”

      LMAO. The Arabs have been begging the israelis for peace, having proposed a comprehensive peace plan a decade ago. If there is anyone who, for the first time in history, must come to a realization regarding peace, it’s Benny and his merry band of ethnic cleansers.

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