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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Economist decries Israel's 'Holocaust obsession'

It's been less than a week since I last ripped The Economist for trivializing the Holocaust. And it's already time to rip them again.

In a review of Jeffrey Goldberg's Atlantic article laying out the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, The Economist complains that our real problem isn't Iran, but the 'Palestinians.' And they have the gall to complain tht if only we could get over our 'Holocaust obsession,' we would be able to make 'peace' with the 'Palestinians.'
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been impossible to resolve both because of its viciously tangled concerns of security, religion and historical justice, and because of political defects on both sides. But on the Israeli side, the essential defect has been a lack of both the political conditions and the psychic equipment to address the nature of the conflict. Right-wing Israelis, who now constitute a majority of the electorate, have proven incapable of understanding themselves as occupiers, incapable of acknowledging the Palestinian claim to nationhood in Palestinian territory, and incapable of accepting that a Palestinian state must be created even if some level of terrorism continues. Many Israelis are unable to see themselves except as victims, threatened now, as throughout Jewish history, with annihilation by fanatical anti-Semites.

Mr Goldberg's article rightly focuses on the centrality of the Holocaust to the way Israeli leaders think about Iran. (Former Israeli Air Force general Ephraim Sneh points Mr Goldberg to a poster on his wall showing three Israeli F-15s flying over Auschwitz in 2003. "We were too late," Mr Sneh says.) He fails to follow the insight through: to what extent does the Holocaust obsession irrationally distort the Israeli perspective on Iran? At some point, one has to wonder whether the Israeli conception of the Iranian nuclear threat as a second Holocaust represents a psychological projection of existential fears rooted in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved without tremendous political sacrifice, and perhaps not at all. Israelis don't even know what tools they would need to resolve it. It's understandable if Israelis and their leaders react by displacing their anxieties onto an enemy they can put in the familiar role of a Hitler or a Haman, one they can engage with a tool that gives them a familiar feeling of control and power: their air force.
The conflict with the 'Palestinians' has been impossible to resolve for one very simple reason: The 'Palestinians' do not, cannot and will not ever accept the existence of a Jewish state in this region. Neither do their patrons like Iran, Syria and Hezbullah, nor do the majority of citizens in the two Arab countries with which we are nominally at peace - Egypt and Jordan. Not even the Saudis are truly ready to accept the permanent existence of a Jewish state in this region.

The Economist's anonymous blogger "M.S." notes that 'right-wing Israelis' now constitute a majority. But the Right has not always constituted the majority in this country. During the mid-1990's in the heyday of Oslo, many people in this country thought there would be peace with the 'Palestinians.' Today, most people realize that there will not be peace and that's why the Right - which is seen as far more realistic - is now the majority. It wasn't an obsession with the Holocaust that changed people's minds. It was the murder of over 1,000 Israelis by 'Palestinian' terrorists during the Oslo War, followed by the 8,000 rockets we got in return for expelling all of Gaza's Jews.

There will not be peace with the 'Palestinians' in any of our lifetimes. And even if there were to be peace, it would not end the Arab - including the 'Palestinian' - desire to extirpate the Jewish state's existence. It would be regarded as temporary, as a phase, like Mohamed's treaty with the Quraish tribe, which was so often cited by Arafat. That is the reality that Israelis face and it is totally unaffected by the Holocaust.


At 12:22 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Holocaust is only a reminder of the perils the Jewish people still face. Its not the determinant of their outlook. But no Jew cannot afford to dismiss the truth the Arab World - and yes - the Palestinians remain as ever unreconciled to Israel's existence. A Palestinian state would not end the conflict. Its going to continue well beyond our own lifetime. That is the reality of the Middle East the Economist and people in the Western chancelleries, academia and the mass media have yet to grasp.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

I think the Economist is part of News International(NI), owned by Rupert Murdoch and Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia. QED.

Also, here in UK the populist papers such as the Sun, largest selling paper in UK, published by NI, is having an effect on working people as they echo the anti-Israel sentiments spewed out by the paper.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Xhosa said...

The British have long since gotten over the Holocaust so they wonder why haven't Jews done the same thing.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Yair said...

I do believe you two miss the point. The article says Israel "has to get used to" terror not stopping (regardless of concessions), and even so, it's not sure "peace" can happen! (making me wonder what it's definition of "peace" is, if it does not involve safety and security for Israel and its citizens).

The Economist (and a good part of the World Community) already know the Palestinians will not accept peace. They're trying to screw Israel and help the Palestinians anyway for their own interests. The formula used to be "territory for peace". These days it's just "territory".

The best long term solution to this diplomatic problem is not so much 'hasbara' (which cannot change the conception and reality of the Economist and ilk's interests) but rather to show the world the ME cannot be stable as long as Israel does not desire it to be. This will require initiative and accepting some pain though, and I cannot see the Israeli Left agreeing with this...

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Moriah said...

Remembering the industrialized slaughter of millions is necessary to keep us from becoming complacent, if we forget, if we fail to take seriously Muslim's promise to "Finish the job" We don't need another memorial but we must look at our children and remember what the empty shoes of over a million Jewish children means and swear, beyond mere platitudes that we will do everything humanly possible in our power never to allow it to happen again.

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easy to understand why the world wants to forget and replace the Holocaust. In the aftermath of Nietzche's declaration that "God is dead", what has man wrought? Compared to the never discussed atrocities of Stalin's 90 million in the gulags, or Mao's 60 million in labor camps, or God knows how many millions in Jungs re-education camps, or Duvallier executing seven a day in Haiti because the Holy Spirit told him to; a "mere" six million dead Jews are nothing.

Israel needs to get over it. The Jews need to forgive and forget WW2.


It's just amazing how that whole "turn the other cheek" thing only works for the aggressor and never the victim.

The day Israel quits its outrage and obligation for the victims of the Holocaust is the day it loses its morality.

Oh wait, Israel has allowed the palis, and anyone else, the right to hijack the word holocaust for their own political agenda. Perhaps the Economist is right?

At 11:09 AM, Blogger freedmanslife said...

I assume you know that David Landau, the former editor of Ha'aretz, the one who purportedly told Condoleeza Rice that Israel was "just waiting to be raped" by a more hostile American position, is now the Economist's main Middle East correspondent. Of course the Economist famously keeps its authors' identities anonymous but Israel is a small country and people talk. It's no wonder the Economist has moved from being reasonably neutral on Israel to very critical.


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