Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hannah and Martin

In my last blog I used an idea from the philosopher Martin Heidegger to explain a feature of Orthodoxy. Heidegger was a full fledged Nazi, and was tried as a war criminal after the war. He was an academic and did not directly kill anyone; but he was a Nazi supporter from the beginning. He never recanted and continued defending the ideals of Nazism though not all the genocidal acts of the Hitler regime. If the reader thinks this use of Heidegger is inappropriate and perverse I can certainly understand such an objection. Nevertheless I ask the reader to consider the following:

Two of the greatest philosophers of Judaism in the last 50 years, by world if not internal Jewish standards are Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, both French Jews. They both became who they are through trying to understand where they disagree with Heidegger. He is already deeply embedded in contemporary secular Jewish philosophy. I know it is very strange and ironic.

Heidegger has entered Jewish life in an even stranger and more twisted way. Hannah Arendt when she was in her twenties was the lover of her university professor Martin Heidegger. The latter, afraid that his wife would discover the affair eventually broke with his Jewish mistress. Hannah Arendt went on to marry a Jew, got divorced, and then married a non-Jewish German communist. In the 30’s while living in France she worked on behalf of Jewish refugee causes. Arendt spoke on Heideggers behalf at his de-nazification hearings. The non-Jewish philosopher Karl Jaspers and Arendt’s second philosophical mentor spoke against Heidegger at these same hearings, suggesting he would have a detrimental influence on German students because of his powerful teaching.

When the Eichman trial came she was sent by the New Yorker as a correspondent, and her articles were published in book form under the title “Eichman in Jerusalem”. Hanna Arendt went on to have a long and distinguished career as a political philosopher. Besides her work on Eichman, Arendt published two other books on Jewish themes, one on Rachel Vahniger, a Jewish apostate salonieren in the Berlin of the 1790’s, and one on general themes of being a Jewish refugee and other topics.

When the Eichman book came out it caused a literary food fight the likes of which I have never seen before or since. She wrote mean and maybe unfair things about how Jews cooperated with Nazis in organizing the ghettos, how the Nazis would have murdered fewer Jews had the Jews not been so passive, the banality of evil and much more. She drew blood and the carnage was not pretty. In the end it was something of a stalemate. She was not discredited, but she did not score any victories.

What was not known at the time but is widely known today is that during this entire episode Arendt was writing to Heidegger. She visited him and his wife Elfriede throughout her lifetime. We now know that the Heideggers had an ‘open marriage’ with both parties having engaged in multiple affairs. Nevertheless Elfriede remained insanely jealous of Arendt throughout her life. Arendt wrote to Karl Jaspers and others long letters trying to get her hands around the problem of her philosophical indebtedness to a man who would have had her murdered. Most significant were her printed attempts to sanitize her ex lover and make his philosophy acceptable in the liberal democracies. It is fair to say that Hannah Arendt, knowing of her continued and past relationship with Heidegger should never have accepted the Eichman assignment. Had it been known at the time, her opponents would have buried her.

And it becomes even more interesting. An edited subset of the Heidegger- Arendt correspondence is available in German. There must be more important and in all likelihood embarrassing material in the sealed archives which will eventually come out. If you ask me, I am convinced Hanna never stopped loving Martin, and Martin never stopped loving Hannah. As the Valley girls are apt to say “it is so very, very weird”, a lifelong love affair between a beautiful Jewish woman from Koenigsberg and a Catholic Nazi from rural Messkirch. If it hadn’t happened no one could have thought this up.

Hannah Arendt is the most complex and subtle example of Jewish self hatred I have ever encountered.

Postscript…I showed this post to a friend and he wasn’t too happy with it. One point he makes … how do I know that Arendt’s behavior can’t be accounted for simply by her being in love. How do I know it is self hatred? My response it that we know from her other correspondence that she has very harsh comments and much contempt for the many Jews who were beneath her culturally. So we begin with someone who wasn’t exactly an ohaeiv yisroel (a lover of fellow Jews), who having been rejected by her lover who then becomes an active Nazi, spends formidable energy in rehabilitating his reputation. It sure looks to me as similar to the psychopathologies found in Sandor Gillman and Peter Gay.

I’ll close (lekaf zechus) with my friend’s question: Why blog negatively on Arendt's oddness, rather than amaze at it? What if she was the smartest Jewess ever?


At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your ignorance about Hannah Arendt is blatant. I was lucky enough to know her and have several conversations with her, and she was the farthest thing from the epithet you hurl. It's easy to call someone a self-hating Jew when they do things you don't agree with. I was fortunate enough to get some insight into how much she loved being Jewish and how much she did for others. Given a choice between her actions and what I saw of the Monsey community when I lived in the area, Arendt was a far better Jew. She lived her life in G-d"s image far better than those who do it with external trappings.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger avakesh said...

I am far from being a closed minded chauvinist but the Kalusenberger Rebbe is quoted to say that the reason some Jews dislike other Jews is because they love Goyim too much. There is an important psychological insight in this statement. Love covers a multitude of sins; nay, it causes a multitude of sins. It is far better to love the Jews and respect the others.

I think that one definition of integrity is living by one's ideals. All men are mortal and all people occasionally betray their prinicples. This is no hypocrisy; it is merely human weakness. However, we expect something more from men and women of spirit, or, at least, from those who claim to be people of spirit. Hannah Arendt allowed personal feelings to cloud her judgment - both in assisting a confirmed Nazi to evade responsibiity and by evolving a philosophy that minimized the sins of the entire generation of her contemporaries. One can make the point that all of her elaborate philosophizing was a cover for one dark and forbidding relationship, even if she did not know it. She had shown herself to be just another gifted apologist for herself, her actions and her desires.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

anonymous 1...Arendt may have been kind, though she doesn't across that way in her many letters especially, if I remember correctly in the letters to Mary McCarthy and Buchler. I wasn't using Orthodox standards so the bashing of religious Jews doesn't really help your case. The issue has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with what you call external trappings. The woman blamed the victims of the Holocaust and minimized the evil of the Nazi Eichman in a book that was read around the world, while working to rehabilitate a Nazi who should never have been allowed to return to a position of eminence. Are you familiar with Heidegger's famous post war Spiegel interview? He was a monster even if Arendt owed her ’thinking’ to him.

Franz Werfel, who lived with Alma Mahler during the war, is written up as a self hating Jew. Alma Mahler was a Nazi sympathizer living in LA, not a card carrying Nazi ideologue. A Jew can be kind to some, perform good deeds, make a contribution to culture and society and still be self hating.

I look on with amazement at the continued attention Arendt is given by political theorists. They pump and they pump. There is a cottage industry making a living off her. In this respect she is similar to another tchatchke of a philosopher, Leo Strauss, one more Jew Arendt held in contempt. At least Strauss was an oheiv yisroel.

avakesh...I agree fully with your comments.Very well put.

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Berthold in Arizona said...

The right name of the Berlin Salon lady is Rahel Varnhagen.

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain to me what exactly is a self-hating Jew? It seems to me that a Jew who expresses hatred for/revulsion toward other Jews is not self-hating, but a Jewish anti-Semite.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

A self hating Jew, as I understand it, is a Jew who 1)hates being a Jew.2) unconsciously identifies with those who hates Jews 3) thinks of himself as being exempt from the criticism of the anti Semitic Jew haters and 4) projects his self hatred onto other Jews and expresses this hatred by harboring feelings of contempt, superiority, disgust, etc.

It would be interesting to explore the possible concept of self hating Orthodox or charedim, using the same formula.

Besides the books I mentioned in my post I recommend the 'Yale Companion to Jewish Writing and Thought in German Culture, 1096-1996.'Check out the Jews around the poet Stefan George, amongst many possible examples..

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evanston Jew: I suggest you read the book of Julian Young on Heidegger and Nazism. While Heidegger was a despicable person and was a Nazi for a short while, he gradually becamec disillusioned with the movement, though not with Nazism in its "ideal" sense. His refusal to apologize for his behavior in the notorious Spiegel interview, is , of course also depicable. However, he was never tried for "war crimes," but was subject to a denazification hearing and barred from teaching fo a specific period of time.

lawrence kaplan

At 4:22 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Dr. Kaplan...a few things...In the Spiegel interciew if my memory is correct, not only didn't Heidegger recant, he went on to compare the comparable ''evils'' of American mechanized agriculture and slaughter of animals to what was done in the Holocaust.

His disillusionment was worth little. His complaint was the Nazis refused to be led by Him, they refused to listen to Him, the real intellectual leader of the movement. So on top of being despicable if not out and out evil, he had meglomaniac aspirations, and was a political idiot.I do not remember reading that Heidegger ever resigned from the party, though I might have forgotten this detail.

He wasn't tried for war crimes because he didn't kill anyone and was relatively quiet during the second half of the war, once the Nazis rejected him.

I acknowledge Heidegger was not a racist but his 'ideal' form of Naziism would have murdered the same number of people in the name of lebensraum and what not.

At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evsnson Jew: I hope it was clear that I was not trying in any way to defend Heidegger the person. The question as to what extent Being and Time can be divorced from Heidegger's espousal of Nazism is a different issue and a very complex one. Again, see Young's book.

lawrence kaplan

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Have you seen Richard Rorty's article "On Heidegger's Nazism" in Rorty's collection of essays "Philosophy and Social Hope", pp. 190-197? Rorty tries to separate Heidegger the intellectual from Heidegger the Nazi (to use Rorty's terminology, to separate his project of self-creation [his philosophy] from his political activity [his Nazism]). What's relevent for this post is that Rorty tries to convince the reader that had Heidegger's life been different, his philosophy would have remained the same but he would have become an anti-Nazi. The way he does that is to sketch a scenario -- in which Heidegger falls in love with a Jewish woman! I can't tell if Rorty missed the Arendt connection, or if he's implicitly and unwittingly making the same point EJ is, that Arendt was too "bad" a Jew to fix Heidegger.

Regarding Arendt, Barry Gewen's NYT review of Cesarani's Becoming Eichmann spends some time on Arendt, noting "Gershom Scholem, reproaching Arendt for this austere universalism, accused her of lacking "Ahabath Israel: Love of the Jewish people."" But Gewen points to Arendt's _philosophy_ as the reason for her lack of "ahavat yisrael": "Her thought tended to move from individuality to universality without passing through the communal, lived world that provides most people with their sense of identity. Such radicalism is what gives her writing its power, but also what makes it so troubling. In her response to Scholem, she wrote: "I have never in my life 'loved' any people or collective — neither the German people, nor the French, nor the American, nor the working class or anything of that sort. I indeed love 'only' my friends and the only kind of love I know of and believe in is the love of persons." This is a statement that manages to be warm and chilling at the same time." Thoughts?

At 11:51 AM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

anonymous 9:17...I have very little of real value to add to your pertinent and learned comment. I agree that her remark is both warm, or at least seductive, and chilling at the same time. In the light of the Heidegger relationship, it takes on new meaning. I remember Scholem’s Commentary essay and Arendt’s response as if it were yesterday. I was so thrilled when he stood up to her. There were other heroic people at the time that didn’t let her get away with her calumny. Lionel Abel and Gertrude Ezorsky come to mind. Arendt was tight with the Partisan Review crowd, thus creating conflicts for a large number of New York Jewish intellectuals. It’s interesting that she went to Mary McCarthy for solace. I’m rambling, but your mentioning Scholem’s essay brought this to mind.

On the general point, if Being and Time is or isn’t one long apologetic for Nazism, I am inclined to go with people like Karl Lowith and Hans Jonas, who believe it is. I’ve read the earlier Rorty piece on Heidegger and Philosophy and Social Hope is on my shelf, waiting patiently to be read. OTOH, the methodology used, might be separable from the particular categories, such as “throwness” and alienation that he developed. It’s a long topic, and I am not totally competent in this area, though as usual I have opinions.

I’ll tell you something else...the later Heidegger, the so-called quietist green period Heidegger, is also half an apologetic for Nazism. If America and Russia are both damned, then Nazi Germany looks a little better. Nevertheless, the idea of clearing a space for being to appear (I forget the exact jargon) is in my mind very close to the doctrine of ‘hamshachat haoroth’ that is found all over chasidus ,e.g. the Sfat Emes, Rav Kook and many others even in our time.

I have even written a piece on Heidegger and Rabbi Soloveitchik, which I will not publish, at least this time around. There is a connection, but it is proving to be difficult to establish beyond a reasonable doubt.

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evanston: I know I am repeating myself, but you should read Julian Young's quite recent book. Young deals with and in my view sucessfully refutes the various arguments of Lowith, Jonas, Rockmore, etc., linking Being and Time to Nazism.

As for the Rav: It is striking that in Halakhic Man, written in 1944, he anticipated Jonas' famous critique of Heidegger issued soem 20 years later at the Drew(?) Conference. In my article on Hermann Cohen and the Rav on Repentance, I discuss at some length the Rav's use of Cohen, Scheler, and Heidegger in the working out of his conception of repentance.

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:41 P.M. was I.
lawrence kaplan

At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Many years ago, I purchased and read Hannah Arendt's works on totalitarianism and the Eichmann trial. The book on totalitarianism then struck me as a very lucid and passionate attack on both Nazism and Communism from a classical liberal democratic POV. The critique of the Eichmann trial was nothing more than an exercise in Jewish self hatred. Such views could then be seen and continues to manifest itself in such august residences of the secular Jewish chatting classes as PBS, NPR, the NY Times ( and especially its op ed page, Magazine and Book Review) and the NY Review of Books. One can only wonder what would have happened to Arendt's reputation if her relationship with Heidegger had been revealed in her lifetime, especially with respect to its impact on her admittedly iconoclastic view of her own national and political loyalities.

I find it curious that she sought refuge and defense with Mary McCarthy, who was well known for her long time feud with Lillian Hellman-a Jewish apologist for the worst of Communism- and who minced no words about what she thought about Hellman's use of her talents to serve the Communist line as an intellectual form of a "useful idiot", to paraphrase Lenin's line re Communist sympathizers.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Steve Brizel...I agree with some of what you said.I differ with you on two points, one important and one minor.I do not agree that Jewish self hatred continues to manifest itself 'in such august residences of the secular Jewish chatting classes as PBS, NPR, the NY Times ( and especially its op ed page, Magazine and Book Review) and the NY Review of Books.'You might detest liberalism, but you need to justify a wholesale indictment of secular Jewish intellectuals as 'self hating Jews'.

Your last paragraph is odd...we both noted it is interesting /odd that Arendt found solace /refuge with McCarthy. You then seem to connect Arendt with Hellman because of the latters fight with McCarthy.Such guilt by association is worthy of the other famous McCarthy, two decades earlier.

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

EJ-David Mamet has a wonderful new book on Jewish self hatred in which he indicts the secular Jewish chattering class. IIRC, Mamet points out that these cultural arbiters will go out of their way to condemn violations of human rights, anti Semitism and the Holocaust but are resolutely anti Israel/Zionist. Take a look at the last few issues of the NY Review of Books re the alleged suppression of a speaking appearance by Tony Judt, who claimed that the ADL and AJC were responsible for this and the letters in support of Judt-who IMO is a classic example of a self hating Jew. I highly recommend the Mamet book on this issue.

Re Arendt, let me clarify my view. While I found it odd that Arendt would seek comfort with McCarthy, I wondered whether Mccarthy would have done so if she knew about Arendt's relationship with an unabetted and unbashed Nazi apologist. Given McCarthy's life long vendetta with Hellman and her stated opinion about Hellman's record, I have my doubts.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

EJ-I like your definition of a self-hating Jew in the cultural and literary sense. It is very easy to find many members of that club. However, since post Zionism is an element of or a branch of the post modernist intellectual faith and really allows anti semitism to be warmed over in new intellectual terms,it is easy to find evidence of self hating Jews who merely claim to he post Zionist or anti Zionist in the liberal chattering classes in the media and academic elites.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

steve brizel...Thank you for the clarification of the McCarthy Hellman point.I don't have an opinion, because it would be hard for me to predict how an ex-Catholic would bounce. The fight with Lilian Hellman was also personal. I have a flow chart somewhere of who slept with who, but I misplaced it.LOL.

On to Tony Judt and Mamet ...what can I say that will not generate an endless back and forth. How about...I thought Mamet's book was awful, I respect Tony Judt,I found the original article informative, and don't care much about the subsequent food fight.We really do have big time differences here...

Next week I have a post on Satmar. We can continue the conversation.

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but you need to justify a wholesale indictment of secular Jewish intellectuals as 'self hating Jews'."

I don't think you need to justify this. Perhaps the term should be "post Jews" They would like Israel to be more morally principled, perhaps not even to exist if they need to control territory desired by others. But it is one thing to think it would be better for Israel not to exist. It is another to look away from Arab violence and inability to deal with political realities, and sacrifice Jewish lives for post nationalistic niceties. If their Jewish identity is only in how morally superior they are to the nationalistic Israelis, and not connected to the need to save Jewish lives, something strange is going on. We understand why they don't like Israel; we don't understand why they prefer muslim murderers. Youre the psychologist, what do you call it?

At 1:21 AM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

anonymous 10:23...good point. First let us agree that we are not talking of the many secular liberal Jewish intellectuals who have not weighed in on the Arab -Israeli conflict.So Brizel can't just condemn liberal secular Jewish intelligensia uberhaupt.

Speaking about Chomsky, Judt and Avishai Margalit there are worlds of diffrence. Chomsky is almost impossible. His hatred for America is unbounded and his messing with holocaust denial is demented. I can't figure him out. He fits your description. Avishai Margalit is a wonderful Jew, a very good Jewish philosopher and cannot be accused in any way of being a soneh yisroel unless much of the labor party , meretz and the bulk of Israeli academics are as well. He writes against the occupation for the nyr of books. My memory of the Judt article is not absolutely clear but I thought he is a return to '67 lines plus anti bush in Iraq. He is straight old fashioned leftist before neocons made it a shame,fought in the idf and is closer to Margolit than chomsky.

I would like Israel to be more principled and decent to the Arabs, I want it to exist,I am not in favor of a binational state and I don't look away from Arab violence. My position, which is not far from Judt's and margolit and which I said in my own way in my political posts was just announced by the Tzipi Livni as the platform on which she will challenge Olmert, if he doesn't shape up.Check it out in haaretz.Times are a changin'.

At 2:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sufficiently acquainted with all the figures you cite to comment intelligently. Let's take the Judt piece in the NYRB (I take it you mean this: He makes this point midway:

"Israel is the only Middle Eastern state known to possess genuine and lethal weapons of mass destruction. By turning a blind eye, the US has effectively scuttled its own increasingly frantic efforts to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of other small and potentially belligerent states."

Is this rational - does anyone think Iran would disarm if only Israel had no nuclear weapons? Please. He seems to accept most antiIsrael sentiment quite uncritically. He complains that any criticism of Israel is equated with antisemitism, when actually much is ignored and only the most blatant examples ever commented on. It is one thing to take criticism into account - another to take it all as deserved as he basically does. When it comes to his proposal for a binational state, not distinctly Jewish, I think that would be an idea worth considering if not for the fact that the open society would just happen to be Jews sharing terroritory with Arabs who want to kill them and drive them into the sea. That is just what I am talking about. It may be unconcious and he may not realize what he is saying, but what he proposes right now is a recipe for destruction. Palestinian society is not capable of coexisting with Israeli society right now - it would be a bloodbath. I happen to think (not a popular view) that Israel is built on irrationality, and agree that democracies can't really be limited in today's world to one nationality. But what relevance does this have today? These moral niceties are irrelevant given the fact that Palestinian society in its present state is focused on death and destruction and is not about to change its aspiration to drive out the Jews if one offers citizenship in a binational state. This is concern with moral abstractions and lack of attention to Jewish life - he is trying to prove that Israel is morally superior at the cost of Jewish life.

All this is aside from the fact that his premise that Israel doesn't face an existential threat seems mistaken. The lebanon war has taught us otherwise, if we didn't know it before. The idea that the threat is only from suicide bombers who can pose only limited damage is naive.

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Anonymous 2:31AM-Thanks for stating my case re Tony Judt.

EJ-IMO, there is not a lot of difference between Noam Chomsky, Tony Kushner and Tony Judt. Yarom Hazony sets out in his book the case against the Israeli secular academic intelligentsia and media establishment of which Judt would be a charter member but for his teaching in NY and Europe. Try reading Haaretz's editorials, op eds and feature coverage-these pages reek with Jewish self hatred disguised as post Zionism. Take a look at the "culture" that this class exports to the US in the form of drama, dance, book tours, art, etc with the help of UJC donations-it also drips with Jewish self hatred on a large scale.

I don't think that Ms. Livni has as much chance of becoming the next PM of Israel. Her views are very far left and would seem to be popular in North Tel Aviv, as opposed to any other sector of the country. Believe it or not, I think that Netanyahu has an excellent chance-depending on his ability to forge an alliance with the Sephardim,RZ and Charedim-the classical begin Likud coalition- and deal with the economic issues and the cuts to their sectors. The more missiles fall on Sderot and the more that Baker & Co. prattle about pressure on Israel, the better Bibi's chances.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

I was thinking u were talking of his more/most recent essay in the London Rev. of Books here, where he just says what left people ought to say about neo-cons, and which is proving truer every day with the shambles of the Bush Iraqi policies.I for one would rather he say it than Buchanan from the anti-Semitic right. I reread the 2003 NYRB article and yes he calls for a bi-national state because he refuses to accept ethnic cleansing or anything less than democracy in Israel. There have been changes because of Sharon, another left wing intellectual self hater, and Gaza, and the tragic choices may never occur; if so, he has no reasons and might not always be in favor of a bi-national state. I fully agree with you on the core point it is irresponsible today to call for a binational state. Whether this is self hatred, I tend to read Judt as more of a case of enormous idealism that can’t face the thought that Jews are occupiers or might commit ethnic cleansing. I am not fully confidentin my reading and I concede your arguments are stronger. I posted on the issue of Israel’s occupation as a contributor to anti Semitism, and I think we disagree on that issue.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Steve Brizel…We are far, far apart on these issues and there is so little common ground that I am really the wrong guy with whom to have a discussion. There is no shortage of right wing blogs happy to talk about the awful leftists and liberals where you detailed ideas would be welcomed and confirmed. My opinion of Yoram Hazony is higher than Mamet. I think his book isn’t awful, just wrong and slanderous of wonderful Jewish scholars that made major contributions to Jewish thought and to Israel. The topic whether all left Jewish intellectuals are self haters is not one I started, and I ask you again not to bait me.

At 4:11 PM, Anonymous dzerzh said...

EJ, it's a mystery to me why criticism, let alone condemnation, of Jewish "leaders" co-opted into organizational roles in ghetto Judenraete is equated with Jewish self-hatred so frequently (in fact, unanimously by my unscientific count) by participants in your cybersalon.

How would you categorize the contempt in which these "Aelteste"
were held by WW II Jewish resistance heroes like Hirsch and Boris Smolar and Abba Kovner? Do you think these men and women, prepared to fall in combat against Nazis like the heroes they were, were manifesting "Jewish self-hatred"?

This was a point, by the way, raised specifically by Dr. Arendt in her late seminars....

At 5:58 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

I think everyone remembers or has heard Gershom Scholem's line about not being able to condemn since he wasn't there and couldn't imagine, etc. I am not knowledgeable enough about the issue itself to comment. Sorry.If you care to repeat your point in some more detail, the floor is yours.

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I was thinking u were talking of his more/most recent essay in the London Rev. of Books here,

Ok, some clips from this essay.

"Since its inception the state of Israel has fought a number of wars of choice (the only exception was the Yom Kippur War of 1973). To be sure, these have been presented to the world as wars of necessity or self-defence; but Israel’s statesmen and generals have never been under any such illusion."

Is it fair to characterize '67 as a war of choice? It's incredible to call '48 a war of choice. This is warped IMO.

"It is one thing for the US unconditionally to underwrite Israel’s behaviour (though in neither country’s interest, as some Israeli commentators at least have remarked). But for the US to imitate Israel wholesale, to import that tiny country’s self-destructive, intemperate response to any hostility or opposition and to make it the leitmotif of American foreign policy: that is simply bizarre."

the idea that the US is imitating israel is bizarre; if this came from a nonjew, wouldnt you label it antisemitism?

"There is, for example, a blatant discrepancy between Bush’s proclaimed desire to bring democracy to the Muslim world and his refusal to intervene when the only working instances of fragile democracy in action in the whole Muslim world – in Palestine and Lebanon – were systematically ignored and then shattered by America’s Israeli ally."

Lack of US intervention is why the Palestinian democracy failed? I think it had a lot more to do with Arafat and co's corruption dont you.

"This blind spot obscures and risks polluting and obliterating every traditional liberal concern and inhibition. How else can one explain the appalling illustration on the cover of the New Republic of 7 August: a lurid depiction of Hizbullah’s Hassan Nasrallah in the style of Der Stürmer crossed with more than a touch of the ‘Dirty Jap’ cartoons of World War Two? How else is one to account for the convoluted, sophistic defence by Leon Wieseltier in the same journal of the killing of Arab children in Qana (‘These are not tender times’)?"

Qana is Israel's fault and not the fault of those who put civilians at risk, etc etc etc

This is very biased stuff. When you write this:

"Whether this is self hatred, I tend to read Judt as more of a case of enormous idealism that can’t face the thought that Jews are occupiers or might commit ethnic cleansing"

No doubt he is consciously just following idealistic notions. I'm just saying that the practical results of holding Israel to such high moral standards and expecting so little of the other side (their failure in democracy is US/Israel's fault, Qana is Israel's fault, etc) is to slight the cost to Israeli life and preference Arabs no matter what they do. The term they bandy about is functional antisemitism.
One doesn't hold Jews to such radically higher standards than their enemies unless one has internalized some self-hatered of Jews, the west generally, whatever...I don't care.

At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One doesn't hold Jews to such radically higher standards than their enemies unless one has internalized some self-hatered of Jews, the west generally, whatever...I don't care."

Or not, I don't really care about motivation. In practical terms, it makes little difference if he is a self-hating Jew or super idealistic. What matters is that his view seems skewed and at very best naive, and it seems to me that such distorted perception leads to policy recommendations that would be disastrous in terms of the cost in Jewish life. I'm very bottom line.

apologies about the poor formatting, etc - but if you switched to haloscan it would improve LOL

At 9:43 AM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

anonymous...I am backing into a fight I don't want to pursue and cannot win. I accept your principle with serious reservations.I feel Israel should be held to higher standards than terrorists organizations and even the PLO, but there are limits, what you call radically higher standards where I agree with you, and each case is up for grabs.I, myself thought Israel started the last Lebanon War, though they were provoked. The 1948 War is as you know a subject of intense debate with endless attacks by revisionist Israeli historians, and the revisionist views are gaining ground even in Israel. A full discussion involves a war by war analysis. My guess is that before an impartial panel Judt's pt. of view would prevail on some and lose some. As you know the discussions get very complex. I think it is fair to say no one other than committed Zionists believe every war was defensive. I can live with the idea that Israel started some of the wars to acheive some strategic goal or prevent some potential danger, and so what? If Israel takes out the Iranian reactor is it defensive? Not by ordinary definitions of the word.

I have posted on this...I claim if the Democrats get elected the Brezinski/Carter/Baker ideas will prevail and an imposed settlement will be attempred back to the 1967 borders. I believe Sharon saw this coming and tried to make concessions to soften the future critiques. Israel lived for many years with these ideas and Judt is a left version of this thinking.If you believe such a policy is a serious danger to Israel, I can't say you are follows that some compromise ought to be reached with the Palestinians before the Americans say the gig is up and impose an unfavorable solution...hence Tzipi Livnis ideas.

Someone should start a blog devoted just to this topic.


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