Some Israelis and some politically sophisticated Jews here in the US have, in a sense, been crushed by the weight of anti-Israel propaganda, and — while it is painful to say this — have become part of the problem. It’s hard to defend yourself when the lies are pouring in from all directions, and sometimes you wake up saying “wait a minute — did I fall for that?”
Daniel Gordis describes this from an Israeli point of view, but it occurs here, too, especially among those who would describe themselves as being concerned with “peace and justice”.
Cynicism is a dangerous disease, a cancer of the soul. Often, we don’t know we have it, until it’s too late, until part of us has died. It’s also contagious. And this country has stage-three cynicism. By cynicism, I don’t mean the occasional snide joke at a cocktail party. I mean a low-grade but constant self-loathing among many of the people I know at the elite of Israel’s intellectual and academic circles, for whom discussion of the Jewish State is more than passé it’s absurd. If you say something about the values inherent in Zionism, you sound odd. If you insist that the Jews have something unique to say and that having a State is our platform on which we can begin to articulate that “something,” they look at you as if you’re “cute.” As if you’d referred to a young dating couple as “courting,” or as if you’d just called a pair of jeans “dungarees.” You’re an anachronism, and no one “in the know” will take you, or your ideas, very seriously.
This self-loathing manifests itself in a relentless discussion of the occupation, with no reference to why the occupation began or to the fact that Israel doesn’t exactly have many sane choices that might end it. You see it when people insist Israel should “just sign a peace agreement already,” with no consideration of what’s unfolding in Gaza, in complete denial of the obvious fact that there’s no way that Abu Mazen can deliver on anything he promises before or during Annapolis. It’s the culture in which post-nationalism is taken as an obvious truth, with no recognition of the fact that it’s only when discussing the state of the Jews that people insist that the nation-state should be dismantled. It’s the conversational style in which every mention of an Israeli soldier has to be followed by an account of some act of barbarity, lest you appear overly nationalistic. — Daniel Gordis, “One Treadmill, Two Refugees, One College” [my emphasis — the entire article is recommended]
On the one hand, it’s important for all of us to be as well-informed as possible, and that means reading and listening to the views of the ‘other side’ and taking them seriously. This is necessary from both a moral and practical point of view.
On the other hand, the messages you receive in the media are carefully calibrated to have an effect. Many of the presenters are professionals, and they know how to bring about a result, to create an opinion in your mind, subtly and almost subliminally.
It’s important for all of us to remain focused on the basic historical facts, which have not changed as a result of post-modern, post-Zionist, post-anything-ism, so that we can resist being pushed into the pit of cyncism that Gordis describes so well, where we will become our own deadly enemies.
The opposition to the existence of Israel and the Jewish people — and that is what it is — is pervasive and well-financed, and has leveraged itself into almost a grass-roots movement in places like the UK and some US campuses. That doesn’t mean that the goal is any different than Hitler’s.
The Jews need to be part of the solution, not part of their problem.