Archive for February, 2011

Jews on the dark side

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Why do I write so much about anti-Zionist Jews, you ask? Why so much space dedicated to the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street, for example? We already know that there are a few Israel-hating crazies and naive-but-well-meaning liberals out there, but aren’t there more important targets?

Well, no, I don’t think so.

I am going to recommend a book that I am reading (I’ll have a full review later) by Kenneth Levin, called The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege (Smith & Kraus, 2005). Levin is a practicing (and teaching) psychiatrist who also happens to have a degree in History, and his book describes the psychological roots of the seemingly irrational anti-Jewish (not just anti-Zionist or anti-Israel) behavior of so many Jews.

It also documents and explains Jewish behavior throughout history, from the remarkable survival of Judaism in the face of the antisemitic depredations of the Middle Ages, through the vicious hatred for the state displayed by so many Israeli academics and intellectuals, to the concrete realization of delusional ways of thinking in politics, as exemplified by Israel’s behavior during the Oslo period.

This is a big book (more than 500 pages) and there is a lot of detail. It’s not exactly bedtime reading. But it is an essential book.

Levin’s thesis, somewhat oversimplified, is that anti-Jewish attitudes in oppressed Jews result from a) internalizing  and coming to believe the antisemitic canards of their oppressors, and b) an unrealistic delusion that they have the power to change the behavior of the antisemites by self-reform — by ‘improving’ themselves so as to no longer deserve antisemitic hatred.

These mechanisms have led to an attenuation of Judaism itself, in which the focus on God, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel in traditional Judaism has been replaced with a universalist doctrine which minimizes national, ethnic and cultural divisions and espouses abstract ‘justice’ for all humankind as its highest goal — and which sees a transnational utopia as the ultimate Jewish goal.

Proponents of this universalist ethic see it as an evolution in Jewish ethical principles, a progressive improvement from a particularist and parochial past to a more modern, ‘higher’ form of ethics. But often — as when Jewish left-wing activists call for ‘justice for Palestinian Arabs’ while ignoring the context of the intermittent war being prosecuted against the Jewish state by the entire Arab world and Iran — universalist ethics provide a cover for anti-Israel positions.

Levin goes into detail about the failure of the Jewish community in America and the yishuv in Palestine to rescue more European Jews during the Holocaust. Of course, the primary responsibility for the lack of action must fall on the US State Department, President Roosevelt and the despicable British Foreign Office, which actually opposed any actions to save European Jews after the mass murders became known, because they might want to go to Palestine after the war. Levin quotes a memo which refers to “the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued.” Really.

What may not be generally known is the degree to which attempts to rescue Jews — which could have been accomplished with very little effort and without damage to the overall war effort — were often stymied by resistance from irrational or delusional Jews.

For example, Levin notes that the New York Times, under direct orders from its (Jewish) publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, published only one story during the war relating to the Holocaust on page one above the fold: one which reported as true a State Department claim in the Fall of 1943 that 580,000 Jewish refugees had entered the country (the true number was about 21,000). The story had the immediate effect of short-circuiting support for a Rescue Resolution in Congress, at least until other sources revealed that the State Department numbers were false.

Perhaps even worse, the philosopher Martin Buber, whose own butt was safely in Jerusalem (he escaped from Germany in 1938), published an article in 1944 which called for a binational state and said  that levels of Jewish immigration must be determined in agreement with Palestinian Arabs (who of course wanted it to be zero and whose leadership collaborated with the Nazis). So although he professed admiration for the spirituality of the Jews of Eastern Europe, Buber preferred to leave their bodies in the hands of Hitler!

Indeed, all through the 1930’s, as David Ben Gurion frantically tried to create a united front to maximize Jewish immigration to Palestine from Europe — where he clearly saw that there was no future — he was fought tooth and nail by Jews like Buber, Felix Warburg and Judah Magnes, all of whom felt that a Jewish majority would be disastrous (it would lead to antisemitism, be unjust, etc.).

How many Jews could have been saved but for the obstructions placed by Jewish anti-Zionists? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We don’t know, of course.

Today it seems to me that the degree to which the Jewish people has become infected with the delusional irrationality that Levin describes is greater even than in the past. While Israel faces a physical/military danger that is no less threatening than that which loomed over European Jewry in the 1930’s, the very leadership, the vangaurd of the movement to delegitimize Israel, to prevent it from defending itself and to deter others from coming to its aid, is Jewish.

Not only is the Jewish contingent ubiquitous in the ranks of the information war against Israel — for every Ali Abunimah there are several Jeremy Ben-Amis — but they are highly effective, both because they are remarkably inventive and enthusiastic, and because of the psychological force of the ‘as a Jew’ argument.

In addition there is the simple fact that every Jew who goes to the Dark Side is one less who might support Israel politically or materially. Such support has to start with Jews, even if there are plenty of non-Jews who are prepared to help. But without the Jews most of them have little reason to do so.

The struggle against Jewish anti-Zionists isn’t a sideshow. In my opinion the information war will be won or lost depending on its outcome. The enemy understands this. We need to as well.

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