Friday, April 20, 2012
Left-Wing Jewish Dhimmitude
One of the problems that we have as a community is in the prevalence of left-wing Jewish dhimmitude among so-called "progressive Zionists." This is essentially the same as what we often call "Jewish Stockholm Syndrome" or what Kenneth Levin dubbed "The Oslo Syndrome" in his book by that name.
The main symptom of left-wing Jewish dhimmitude, and it is a left-wing phenomenon, by the way, is in the incorporation, in greater or lesser degrees, of the "Palestinian narrative" into one's own way of viewing the long Arab-Muslim war against the Jews in the Middle East. The more the "Palestinian narrative" informs one's thinking, the more of a Jewish dhimmi one is.
I would argue that pretty much all of us have this ideological infection to one degree or another. At its most benign it reveals itself in the use of terminology that inherently favors one's enemies. For example, instead of calling Judea and Samaria "Judea and Samaria," Jewish dhimmis will tend to use the term "West Bank." "West Bank" however is the term that Jordan adopted in the middle of the twentieth century to remove any Jewish association with that land. Thus every time that we use the term "West Bank" we are adopting language specifically designed to wash away Jewish history on Jewish land. We thereby reinforce the position of the enemies of the Jewish people. This is so not because we need to keep that land, but because it tends to erase Jewish history on that land.
But this is Jewish dhimmitude at its most benign. Almost all "liberal" Jews, including me, have tended to use the term "West Bank" when refering to that area. It's only fairly recently that I, myself, began to refer to "Judea and Samaria" or, say, "the western bank of the Jordan river." Another less benign use of language which betrays a measure of Jewish dhimmitude, however, is in the use of the word "Occupation" with a capital "O." It is as if we are to believe that measures that Jews in the Middle East use to protect themselves from hostile Arabs, such as check points, represent the Mother of All Occupations, the Uber-Occupation, the Occupation from which all other occupations derive. When one uses the term "Occupation" one is signalling an embrace of the "Palestinian narrative." Israeli guilt, and Palestinian innocence, is inherent in the term.
Even so, progressive-left Jews who tend to identify with the "Palestinians" are largely well-meaning. They want what most of us want, an end to the conflict in a two-state solution. This level of Jewish dhimmitude is generally not malicious, although it sometimes is. What mainly it is, however, is counterproductive. This reason that it is counterproductive is because one cannot win an argument with one's ideological opponent if one insists upon discussing the issue using one's opponents language. Left-wing Jewish dhimmis of this medium sort are constantly doing battle with anti-Zionists and Israel Haters within frames developed by the anti-Zionists and Israel Haters, themselves. By doing so they earn the contempt of both the non-Jewish Left and the entire Right, including the Jewish Right. The non-Jewish Left holds them in contempt for seeming to justify the "Occupation," while the conservative-right holds them in contempt for seeming to justify Arab malice toward Jews and the Jewish state.
The worst Jewish dhimmis, however, are Jewish anti-Zionists and Israel Haters. Someone like, say, Norman Finkelstein is a Jewish Dhimmi Par Excellence. People like him or Chomsky or the Jews in groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (an anti-Zionist organization) represent the height of Jewish dhimmitude. They believe as fervently as any "Palestinian" that Israel is a racist, imperialist, colonialist, apartheid, racist state that must make way for yet another Arab state in the region. This is a form of dhimmitude so complete that the "Palestinian narrative" of perfect victimhood has taken over their thinking on the subject completely. They know with a clarity that Yassir Arafat would have admired that the Jews are guilty and that Israel was born in sin. The "New Historians," such as Ian Pappe and an earlier version of Benny Morris, did much to advance this toxic and false notion among Jewish people throughout the world.
What I would suggest, now that Oslo is most definitely done with, is that we root the "Palestinian narrative" out of our thinking as much as possible in order to take a fresh look at the conflict. This is certainly easier said then done and represents a process that must take place over time, perhaps even over years of the life of the individual. This is not to suggest that every detail of the "Palestinian narrative" is false. It is merely to suggest that every detail of the narrative should be held up to scrutiny to make certain that we Jews remain fair to ourselves.
For example, Mahmoud Abbas has claimed that any future state of Palestine must be Judenrein and Barack Obama has validated this notion by formally complaining to PM Netanyahu about Jews building for themselves in parts of Jerusalem where he does not want them to live. If, as a Jew, you believe along with Mahmoud Abbas and Barack Obama that Jews should be allowed to live over here, but not over there, then you have definitely fallen into dhimmitude. You are siding with non-Jews over Jews on the question of where Jews should be allowed to live. It's pretty revolting and is entirely unfair to a whole segment of the Jewish population, the so-called "settlers," that Jewish dhimmis perpetually demonize and spit hatred towards.
And that is really at the heart of the matter. We cannot expect others to be fair to us if we cannot even bring ourselves to be fair to one another. The Jews of the Middle East have come through 1,300 years of second and third class citizenship under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperialism, followed by the Long Arab War which continues to this day. A good place to start in rooting out the "Palestinian narrative" is in recognizing the larger history as a context for understanding the struggle. This is why someone like Dan Bielak continually emphasizes the need to tell the factual truth about the history of the struggle. I tend to disagree with Dan that an assessment of historical facts is a relatively simple matter. The reason for this is because there is an inherent subjectivity in the writing of history. Nonetheless, Dan is absolutely correct that history is in our favor, which is plenty good enough reason to emphasize it.
In any case, now that the Arabs have definitively killed and buried the peace process, it is time to start thinking in fresh terms.
The longer we wait to do so, the longer the status quo will continue. I recommend against.
Cross posted from Israel Thrives.