Friday, November 02, 2007

Wooooah, Oooooah, the Israelites

Trawling through the infrequently checked AW mailbox turns up this, from the Jewish Chronicle, thanks to a tipoff from its subject, Mark Elf, who regarded himself as having been treated quite badly by it - he points out that his "obsession" with writing letters to the JC about Aaro had generated a grand total of one letter at the time. Raises a few thoughts in retrospect, particularly after the highly interesting divergence of opinion between the "Israel Lobby" and yer actual Israel.

I would guess that no more than half of the Decents actually give a lazy shit about Israel, and if you bracket out the ones who have family or similar connections there, that might fall below ten per cent. Politically, Israel is popular as a Decent cause because they're tight with the USA, they don't like Muslims and they can usually be relied upon to be on the side of the most insane and belligerent possible policy. Psychologically, the appeal of Israel is that they too have a dimly remembered Socialist past, and a present which is not wholly but substantially driven by violence, fear and a dash of bigotry. The Israel Defence Forces are the embodiment of the Decent id, crushing the Other beneath their feet, but regretfully, because they are forced into it by the innate corruption of their enemies. You don't have a Freudian to see what kind of urges are being played out here.

The actual country called Israel is obviously absent from this picture; you could bust a blood vessel straining your eyes to see any hint of recognition that it has a number of different political parties who don't agree on much. I honestly believe that the majority of Decents care no more about the actual Israelis[1] than they do about the Darfurians, Iraqis or whatever other minority is being wheeled on this week as scenery for the Shameful Silence Of The Left Pageant. When Israel looks after its own interests, as opposed to those of Decent politics, they've got no time for it. Decency[2] is the problem; Zionism-in-the-pejorative-sense is a symptom.

Aaro is at the upper end of the scale of Decency in terms of general thoughtfulness and decency-not-in-the-pejorative-sense, and he has actually spent quite a lot of time and effort (in "Paddling to Jerusalem", for example), thinking about the social and historical context of the paternal side of his family tree. But even in Aaro, there's a lot of strange things going on - I think we all remember the disaster area of his Lebanon invasion columns, which frankly got much closer to actual apologia for war crimes than anything I'd be comfortable with. And. the atmosphere of tu quoque around this particular piece is extraordinary. We are treated to the sight of Aaro (who is not Jewish) lecturing Mark Elf (who is), on behalf of "the Jewish community", about his tiresome obsession with, and simplistic one-dimensional view of, the territory located around 31 30 N, 34 45 E.

[1] (sorry, always "the Jews" in Decent discussion for some reason; I was always told that careful writers avoid that phrase these days but I think Decent use of it carries the ghost of a long-gone satirical intent)
[2] or at least, the War Party, of which Decency is just one expression.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a reasonably good, up to date book about Israeli party politics and current affairs ? One that describes debate within Israel ?
(not a facetious inquiry)
Also , does 'Tu Quoque' mean "you cock' in Latin, as in "Aaronovitch says 'you cock' to a lot of people in this column, but he is more of a cock" ?

11/02/2007 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Possibly this brings us back to the point about the Decents' relationship to Israel being similar to what Orwell reckoned about the Thirties Communists' relationship to the Soviet Union: in the latter it replaced patriotism, in the former their previous socialism, without the actual mental habits changing. Perhaps, just as it was a notional USSR that the Communists mostly favoured, so it's a notional Israel that the Decents support so strongly now.

11/02/2007 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well 1930s Communists did at least take an interest in developments in the Soviet Union, albeit in a highly slanted way. The Decent relationship with Israel is rather more similar to the relationship of hardline 70s Maoists to Albania, ie they don't really know anything about it and don't care, but it represents a convenient ideological reference point and noble myth.

11/02/2007 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger levi9909 said...

Hi guys and thanks for the plug. I tracked the hits whilst, coincidentally, showing my niece my blog. I was just boasting of my prowess to rub mainstream hacks up the wrong way and I was showing her the Aaro stuff. Then I showed her the tracker and there you were. If only you opened the e-post more frequently people might have seen my post on Aaronovitch's diatribe against me instead of just my home page. Here's the one I did when I first saw his Jewish Chronicle article. It's dated 6th July 2007. Keep up with the programme guys.

11/03/2007 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

thanks Mark, I have now edited the post so that your name links to the specific post rather than the front page of JSF. I was planning to do this in the first place and actually consciously remember the moment when I decided I was too lazy to open up gmail again and check the link. I really do promise to be less fucking slack about this on an ongoing basis (and also about maintaining the blog in general).

11/03/2007 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger levi9909 said...

Thank you. And thanks again for the plug. In fact, it's good that you dug this up because it gives me an excuse to expose more of the great man's dishonest which I'll do a bit later tonight or in the small hours.

Pip pip!

11/03/2007 09:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT: Are we still doing Seals of Dacre, because Nick has just written a humdinger on immigration.

11/04/2007 01:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry chaps but I think you have this utterly and completely arse about face.

Israel is the central obsession for Deceents not America. America is supported because it is the hegemon which stands foresquare behind Israel.

Read one of the key text for all Decents 'Terror and Liberalism' an its obvious that the books are being cooked to give Israel the moral get out of free card largely through transforming what is essentially a very bitter nationalist struggle into a supposedly fascist death cult.

All the main US Decents are extremely pro-Israel. Go and read Waltzer's Just Wars and surprise, surprise the only 'just war' he finds is Israel's 1967 assault on its neighbours.

Look at Harry's Place. Sure its difficult considering much of the material but the obssession with defending Israel's rather than America's honour is absolute.

Look at poor old Norm.

Last years Lebanon slaughter really brought where the loyaltes lie into very sharp focus.

Of course this doesn't hold for ALL Decents but it is a least a strong position as that they are driven by a love of the US and violence more generally

11/04/2007 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with the last comment. Israel’s not a marginal concern for most Decent writers – one only has to look at their emotional engagement with the country or the moral contortions they have to perform in its defence to get an idea how important it is to them (Aaronovitch’s JC stuff about Israel’s bombing of Lebanon being a case in point).

11/04/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a relative newcomer to the world of decency I might be wrong here, but recent events seem to have crystallized Israel as a place on which to stake quite a lot.

The attacks on September 11th made some 'guilty liberals' like Andrew Anthony realise that, shock
horror, terrorism is bad and that maybe Israel isn't so bad after all (ie 9/11 makes the illegal occupation understandable, or some such nonsense).

And it also gave the Israel Lobby an excuse to further conflate the threats posed to Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah with the threat posed by al-Qaeda to the West, no matter how different the actual orgnisations (and i use that term loosely) are, and no matter how much they hate each other. Oliver Kamm seems particularly bad in his steadfast refusal to see any differences between any Islamic extremist group.

And finally - and probably most importantly - it is clear that Israel gives the Decents a topic over which they can decisively differntiate themselves from the rest of the British left (far left or moderate). Being vociferous about Palestinian rights is now seen as terrorist-appeasement, and it also ticks that other beloved box of the decents, 'anti-semitism' (since Israel isn't as bad as Iran, any criticism = prejudice).

The odd thing is that events on Harry's Place in recent weeks seem entirely, and quite scarily, concerned with the SWP/Respect spat, when so much has been happening in, say, Pakistan...

11/05/2007 02:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.. and events in recent weeks have included the Saudi royal visit to London, and instability spreading out from Iraq and Afghanistan.

11/05/2007 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good point about the Saudi visit to London. I'd have thought that this visit warranted a bit more focus from, well, everyone, not just Decents.

One last thing - thinking about 'silence on Saudi' etc - there is a hilarious blog piece by alan Dershowitz on the comment is free site in which he says that, having done his research, he is unaware of Peter Tatchell ever opposing Muslim regimes. Peter Tatchell's last piece on comment is free? why, only a piece critical of a muslim regime...

11/05/2007 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The USA would like to sell lots of arms to Saudi Arabia. However the Israeli lobby would probably object (though Israel itself seems quite relaxed about how many arms are sold to Saudi Arabia). So the job of selling arms to Saudi Arabia gets sub-contracted to the UK. Some people seem very happy with the jobs created (and the slush distributed). However it means that the UK has to be extra nice to Saudi Arabia and grateful to the US (perhaps to the extent of having to support the US in illegal invasions).

And a strange silence reigns when the House of Saud gets a state visit to the UK.

11/06/2007 04:09:00 PM  

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