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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Symptomatic souvenir

In the previous posting, I excerpted an article that mentions Israel's cultural war. In this week's JPost, Sarah Honig writes that the cultural war has even reached the level of tourists' souvenirs. Sarah went to buy a picture book for friends abroad and thought twice about it when she saw that the introduction had been written by Tel Aviv University history professor Aviad Kleinberg. Sarah decided to read the introduction - rather than hope that her friends would only look at the pictures - and was horrified with what she discovered:

To be fair, Kleinberg didn't resort to his customarily acerbic vocabulary in this touristy album. Instead, he struck a tone of pseudo-objectivity about his own country. The absence of sympathy or a compassionate word for it, and the effort to distance himself as far as possible from a Zionist stance, were conspicuous. An unfeeling UN observer could have produced kinder copy.

Kleinberg rattles off long lists of this country's conquerors and we're among them - with no distinction. Jews are weighed on an equal scale with Persians, Greeks and Britons, to name but a few. Jewish claims aren't particularly outstanding, not even regarding Jerusalem. Could a historian omit to stress that Jerusalem was no other nation's capital?

Kleinberg did. He had, however, seen fit to ruminate about (significantly unspecified) "dreamers who cannot bear other people's dreams… until the messianic age arrives and all other owners of the holy stones shall be subjugated or eliminated." Kleinberg subtly implies moral equivalency between Jews and Islamic jihadists.

IF ANY doubt lingered, he asserts that "between 1949 and 1967, Jerusalem was divided between two of its latest conquerors." There's no difference between the IDF and Jordanian Legion. Jews - who formed the majority of Jerusalem's population already in the early 19th century - are occupiers.

But then again we also "conquered" the Galilee, Jaffa, Beersheba and Eilat.

The foreign reader cannot but conclude that we're interlopers who embarked on arbitrary imperialistic land-grabbing. There's no reference to a concerted Arab attack on the day of Israel's birth, indeed to any Jewish self-defense.

Read it all.


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