Reply to Kathleen Christison
James Franklin Moore
(See CounterPunch, February 7 / 8, 2004, Offending Valerie: Dealing with Jewish Self-Absorption, by Kathleen Christison
You are still much too gentle with Valerie and Daniel, still too cautious and careful not to give offence as they spin their self-absorbed sophistries. But let's leave them aside for a moment and make sure that we are clear about a few basics here. First, the Zionists had no "right" whatever to Palestine. Never did, never will. The early Zionists themselves were quite candid about the fact that they were stealing others' land. And they were equally candid about the fact that in order to realize their project, they would have to forcibly dispossess the folks who were living there. All the cant about "a land without a people for a people without a land" and "the Jewish homeland" came later as part of the PR campaign.
Benny Morris's comparison of the Zionist enterprise to the European settlement of North America is the complaint of the guy who is caught speeding and argues that others were speeding as well, so why should he get a ticket. It's just bad luck for the Zionists that they got caught. (The rest of his argument, eggs and omelets, is moral sophistry of the lowest sort.) The lights are on now guys and we can see what you're doing, so get used to it. But one small point of distinction. The American settlers never, as far as I know, sat back in their chairs and conference rooms in Europe and wrote treatises in which they strategized how they would push the native population off the land. There was a great deal more self-deception in the American ethnic cleansing. One of the things that is most chilling about reading the early Zionists is their clear-eyed, calculating ruthlessness. It is the face of evil itself.
As for Jewish suffering, well, things always look a good deal more complicated when you get round to getting into the actual history a bit. Most of us take all of this stuff about Jewish suffering a bit too much at face value. The bottom line here is that a lot of people have suffered tremendously over the past two millennia. Not just Jews. And sometimes people, millions in some cases, have suffered at the hands of Jews. We never read about that, though, do we? Throughout European history the Jews were often quite a bit better off than their Gentile neighbors, and when they were attacked, as they were now and then (though not with the frequency you'd expect) they were attacked for all sorts of reasons, but never because of some mysterious "disease" called anti-Semitism. Often, for example, the Jews were agents for the peasants' oppressors, tax collectors and supervisors for the Prince for example. If the peasants didn't dare take on the Prince directly, they might lash out at the Jews, who generally enjoyed special legal and economic privileges granted by the Court. Sometimes the Jews had become direct oppressors of the peasants as a result of money lending. Sometimes the Court deliberately set the peasants against the Jews for strategic or economic reasons. Or if there was a general rebellion against economic repression, as with the Cossacks in Russia, the Jews, as a privileged class, Other and almost universally better off than the peasants, naturally became a target of resentment and revenge. In any case, it had nothing to do with a "virus of anti-Semitism."
The suffering of European Jews during World War II has been the reason generally given as the justification for Israel. But Israel was not founded because of the Nazis' murders of European Jews. World War II followed the birth of Zionism by more than fifty years. Indeed, World War II was used cynically by the Zionists as a way of advancing the cause of Zionism. In some cases the Zionists made secret deals with the Nazis, sending tens of thousands of European Jews to their deaths in order to gain some imagined advantage for the Zionists in Palestine. The Zionists were shockingly ruthless about this sort of thing. In Iraq, shortly after World War II, Jews killed Jews in faked terrorist bombings to create a public spectacle of "anti-Semitism" in order to drive frightened Iraqi Jews to Israel to bolster the Jewish population in the land just recently depopulated of its traditional inhabitants.
So many lies have now been told, so many crimes committed, that the cry of Jewish suffering has been degraded into schtick. Fifty-five million people died during World War II. Fifty-five million, not six million. The Gypsies were basically annihilated as a people. True, six million Jews died (or was it five, or four? It's illegal in some countries even to ask where that number six million came from). Six million Jews, along with fifty million others, give or take. We killed three million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians during the Vietnam War. Tens of millions died in Stalinist Russia, many of them at the hands of Jews during the early years. Tens of millions have died in Africa in recent memory. Millions die miserably every year for all sorts of reasons, for reasons of ethnic hatred fueled by economic stress, for reasons of simple disinterest and inhumanity, whatever. And today Jews are continuing their systematic murder and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. And through it all, all this talk about the suffering of the Jews. And anti-Semitism. Enough already.
We all know, or should by now, that "anti-Semitism" is the race card that Israel plays in order to have its way in the world. It is a technique for scaring unsuspecting Jews into emigrating to Israel and for silencing Israel's critics. The cynicism and duplicity of the Zionists since the days of Herzl has been too galling for adequate description. If I were a Palestinian, I would not willingly give up one square meter of my homeland to these European Zionist invaders. Some of the early Zionists were candid enough to say the same thing. It was the Palestinians' land, after all, before this swarm of scheming European locusts descended upon them. I would insist on the so-called one-state solution with unrestricted right of return and restitution, for that is the only settlement that will bring true justice. But most Palestinians have now been beaten down to the point that most of them, even Hamas, have said they will settle for the 1967 borders. All the Arab states have lined up behind this idea. So why can't we get this deal done? The answer is that the Israelis feel that if the Palestinians are so weak that they will accept twenty-two percent of their patrimony, then why should Israel give them anything at all. Especially since that twenty-two percent involves control of vital aspects of the water table. That's the bottom line here. And it's not just the intransigence of the Likudnik leadership of Sharon. This is the Zionist strategy that has run through every Israeli government, Left or Right. It is the true face of Zionism.
You think it's chilling that Benny Morris regrets that Ben Gurion didn't finish the job in 1948 and run every last Arab off the land? Others have openly regretted that Ben Gurion didn't carry on beyond the Jordan to capture the oil fields of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Others have openly speculated about the eventual need for a preemptive nuclear attack against the United States. These poisonous waters run very deep.
It's time to cut the crap and get on with it. Life is short and our blood-soaked world has many serious problems. All this talk about "the Palestinian narrative" - let's hear no more of this. This relativizing trope is an old shoe that won't travel anymore. Forget about Valerie. Forget about Daniel. These people have turned themselves into freaks. They will tie you up in senseless talk from now until doomsday, and that is their purpose. You have already spent too much time and energy trying to engage them in dialogue. Daniel never will be able to "hear" you. Forget him. But do continue to work for justice. Find other ways of attacking the problem. Address Christian communities. Speak the truth. Write the truth. You will be honored by future generations, even as the murderers and their apologists attack you today. Perhaps the Zionist exercise of chutzpah, lies and murder will succeed in the short run and the last of the Palestinians will be driven off their land. But in the longer term, Zionist Israel will never stand. It cannot. The Zionist Jews say they stand above the laws of the nations, that Israel may judge others, but no one may judge Israel. But how can this be? It is a mockery of reason and of our humanity, and this too shall pass.
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