Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peace Flotillas to kick peace in the groin

I.

Kevin Myers defines the frightening parody: "
As another insane flotilla prepares to butt across the Mediterranean bringing "aid" to the "beleaguered" people of Gaza, in its midst travelling the MV Saoirse, does it never occur to all the hysterical anti-Israeli activists in Ireland that this is like worrying about the steaks being burnt on the barbecue, as a forest fire sweeps towards your back garden? [--]

The colossal western intellectual dissonance between evidence and perception on the subject of Israel at this point in history can perhaps only be explained by anthropologists."

I offer two theories in an effort to make sense of the insanity. We are, after all, dealing with human beings whose capacity for malevolent emotion is boundless and cool, factually-based reasoning -- limited and atrophied.

First theory harks back to Edward Said's sanctimonious analyses of history, for which he was singularly unsuited and unequipped:

In After the Last Sky (1986) he wrote:

"There has been no misfortune worse for us than that we are ineluctably viewed as the enemies of the Jews. No moral and political fate worse, none at all, I think: no worse, there is none. With so much discussion recently of the Holocaust, I am centrally aware of the fact of the destruction of European Jews, an abomination which nevertheless I find hard to consider separately; there is always the connection made between Israel and the Holocaust, how one makes restitution for the other. I find myself saying that a generation later the Holocaust has victimized us too, but without the terrifying grandeur and sacrilegious horror of what it did to the Jews. Seen from the perspective provided by the Holocaust, we are as inconsequential as children on a playground; and yet - one more twist in the reductive spiral - even at play we cannot be enjoyed or looked at simply as that, as children playing games that signify little. Just by virtue of where we stand, every playground is seen as a 'breeding ground for terrorists', every pastime a 'secret plan for the destruction of Israel', as if our own destruction was not a great deal more probable. Something either pernicious or negligible can be attributed to us, no matter what we do, wherever we are, however we think or act." (p 134)

This is key: "I find myself saying that a generation later the Holocaust has victimized us too, but without the terrifying grandeur and sacrilegious horror of what it did to the Jews."

Peace Flotillistas and such are determined to make up by rhetoric and spectacles of pathos and solidarity, what reality has failed to achieve for them do-gooders to realize their potential for do-gooding. Thus, if Jews were the victims of the Nazis and Palestinians the victims of the Nazis's victims, then on the scale of victimhood, you can't get any more victim than that. Enough said.

Second theory: The extreme left/genocidal Islamist alliance is a sort of a new entity, a hybrid between the violent religious aspirations of the latter with the raw, unadorned tough moral purity of the previous. This new entity should actually terrify us. It is a cult with ideals and rituals that defy common sense, intelligence, knowledge, cool reason. Think about the druid human sacrifice in the movie 'The wicker man" and you might get a sense of what kind of hermetically closed and implacable fanaticism we are dealing with.


II.

Insane just about nails it when you consider Alice Walker's righteous declarations of absolute solidarity with the ultimate victims of Gaza:

"FP:
Is the goal of this mission, though, to just raise awareness, or is it to actually deliver supplies?

AW: Well, our boat is delivering letters. So what we're trying to draw attention to is the fact that the blockade is still in effect. On the other boats there will probably be supplies. I haven't checked but probably things like sewage supplies."

The excuse for contriving a violent international incident with Israel's IDF is the urgency of the humanitarian needs of the Gaza dwellers. Yet here is Walker delivering letters and not even bothering enough about her humanitarian mission to ascertain whether, if at all, any life-saving supplies will be carried by the flotillas. To me it seems that there is a limit to what an Israel-hater like Walker can lie about, so she does not even try to pretend she cares.

III.

But no such restraint can be detected in the support pronounced by this Canadian politician . Please note the analogies provided by the honourable gentleman: The distress of Gaza's people is openly and declaratively compared with the distress caused by the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in Haiti.

To paraphrase Oliver Kamm's rule of thumb concerning analogies: Analogies are never exact but sometimes useful. If they are to be useful, then at a minimum, the source of the analogy ought to be stated accurately.

If analogical reasoning involves two "objects": the source and the target. The target is supposed to be incomplete and in need for a complete description using the source. In this case the source is indicated as distress caused by the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in Haiti.

The target that needs to be described and conveyed fully is the alleged humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If, as we have seen from records, photos, and films, the target is misrepresented to the viewer/reader as being an equivalent of the source examples, then how are we to refer to such analogies?"

Have you any suggestions?

__________

Update I:

(H/T: K2K): Benny Morris on Alice Walker:

"Among the do-gooders joining this year's flotilla is African American novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Alice Walker, who wrote last week in the London Guardian: "Our boat, the Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of". She then lauded Ghandi and Indian freedom strugglers and Jewish civil rights activists who helped blacks gain their rights in the American South. It is unclear how the 67-year-old Walker knows what is in the hold of the flotilla's ships. Nor does she seem to know that mail reaches Gaza regularly, without the intercession of American do-gooders. She appears completely unaware that Israel has good reason to fear arms smuggling to the Hamas (not to mention the Hamas's declared aim to annihilate Israel) and appears not to have heard of the ongoing, 100-year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, that has little in common with a minorities' struggle for equal rights. But Guardian readers will no doubt be moved by her moralizing affirmation "that the Arab child, the Muslim child, the Palestinian child, the African child, the Jewish child, the christian child, the American child, Linkthe Chinese child, the Israeli child, the Native American child, etc. is equal to all others on the planet." I liked the "etc."

___________

Update II:


"The Second "Freedom Flotilla" is a joint and coordinated effort of several groups working to delegitimize Israel on a global scale. The claim of the organizers that they are seeking to relieve the siege of Gaza and to provide urgently needed humanitarian aid rings completely hollow, given the vast economic improvements the territory has been witnessing. Indeed, the New York Times reported on June 25, 2011, that "two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month." The report from Gaza continues with a description of a "second shopping mall" about to open and "hundreds of homes" under construction.1 The motivation behind the flotilla is thus clearly political. All the groups involved have separately sent ships and land convoys aimed to "break the siege" of Gaza in order to hurt Israel's image."

_____________


Update III: Nathalie Rothchild:

"Today, denouncing Israel seems to be one sure-fire way of creating a sense of consensus at a time when there are few issues that unite people in the West. So everyone from one-hit-wonder authors to street-cred-seeking politicians, from Nobel Prize laureates to Islamists, wants a piece of the anti-Israel action. It has become a badge of honour for members of respectable Western society to be able to stake a claim in the struggle against Evil Israel and in defence of The Children Of Palestine – whether they do it by going native and moving in with families in the West Bank, by donning that trendy political garment the keffiyeh, or by taking to the high seas in boats where journalists nearly outnumber crew members, which means you might get your name and photograph in an international newspaper.

Today, following the Arab uprisings, many Western radicals are envious of these foreigners who seem to be expressing their political passions in a way that has become alien here at home. So for some, boarding the flotilla this year looks like a chance to play a role in the changing set-up in the Middle East. (The Canadian boat is even named Tahrir, after the square that became the epicentre of the Egyptian uprising.) But this is not political solidarity as we might have understood it in the past. Rather this flotilla is riding on a wave of Western narcissism. And in the end, it’s the Palestinians who will pay the price for it – not only by being reduced in the eyes of the world to the level of helpless children who need Alice Walker to mother them, but also by potentially becoming the targets of Israel’s unpredictable, defensive responses to being put under the global spotlight once again."

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10 Comments:

At 5:24 PM EDT, Anonymous Will james said...

I'm not sure that it's worth trying to parse the bogus analogies of the Israel-bashing crowd. As you note, they are essentially immune to simple rational discourse about these matters. Studying the specific forms of distortion and obfuscation seems to me to be better left to Kevin Myers' anthropologists.

The antisemites and the Israel-haters are having a field day recruiting naive do-gooders and idealists and turning them into useful idiots. It's a pity that they have so little competition in this venue. Why hasn't the progressive left organized anti-apartheid weeks on college campuses to protest the treatment of minorities in Muslim countries?

Why is it that San Francisco has a ballot measure to ban the Jewish practice of circumcision as "male genital mutilation" but no one has thought to sponsor ballot measures criminalizing the truly barbarous practice of female genital mutilation?

The flotillas are just another clever, deceitful way to exploit the legacy of the progressive left's struggles for freedom. Meanwhile, what's left of the true left seems to be clueless as to how to oppose these initiatives. I suspect we need to go beyond pointing out the irrationality and unfairness of the various delegitimization campaigns and launch aggressive counter-campaigns that will capture their fair share of the blissfully ignorant do-gooders out there who want a better world.

 
At 9:24 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello WillJames!

CC: I read Kevin Myers this morning, and glad to see you connect his dots with some of your points from that now quiet TNR thread.

I just spent a few hours on a totally different topic
(American Art story/family drama of Shakespearean proportions where I actually know the father and son), and my brain can not remember what I also read this morning that pointed out the obscene hypocrisy of anti-war left in excusing the aftermath of Vietnam. So, instead I am about to read Bret Stephens
new WSJ column "The Coming Afghan Debacle"


As to the still unlaunched 2011 Gazaflotilla, it seems they have dropped the pretense of humanitarian aid and are making this the "non-violent MLKjr" tactic. Guess it is difficult to overcome the NYT reporting that Gaza can not import BMWs fast enough to meet the demand :) ok, I read that at Commentary because I no longer read the NYT.
Turkey withdrew, and Greece may not have been such a good launch port.

The dilemma of counter-campaigns is that they get no press. The Emergency Committee for Israel tries, but it just gets no echo.

well, see you later this week.

K2K

 
At 4:22 AM EDT, Anonymous Will James said...

Hey, hey, K2K,
Kind of rhymes with LBJ!

Glad to see that you are still reading voraciously. Thanks for the heads up on Bret Stephens article. I think, unfortunately, that his pessimist assessment is very much on target.

I have also come to loathe the NYT's coverage of everything having to do with Israel. Ethan Bronner occasionally manages to stifle his antipathy out of a sense of professional fairness, while Isabel Kershner give free reign to her deep hatred in everything she writes. If the NYT ever fires her, she'll be scooped up by Al Jazeera in a heartbeat!

 
At 4:24 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel

 
At 8:53 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WJ: agree on NYT and Kershner.

AsiaTimes online is often a mixed bag, but Victor Kotsev, based in Tel Aviv, is always worth reading. Today's column "The second freedom flotilla sails"
updates the 2011 flotilla with more fact, detail, and insight than any other source, including the ways of counter- delegitimization of the flotilla concept:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MF29Ak02.html

Interesting point that Israel has decided 'no riot control dogs'. made me think of a Daily Show bit early in US vs Iraq 2, where, instead of dropping shock and awe bombs, the US Air Force deployed thousands of kitten paratroopers who gently landed in the arms of smiling Iraqis.


Benny Morris: "Israel and the Coming Flotilla War"
highlights Alice Walker & Co ignorance of "the ongoing, 100-year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, that has little in common with a minorities' struggle for equal rights. ..." http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/israel-the-coming-flotilla-war-5537

Even though Israel revoked the threat to deport and ban foreign journalists, which has yet to stop that meme, I really find it questionable that CNN, CBS, and the NYT would find the 2011 flotilla so newsworthy. One would think they would keep their crews covering what is happening in Greece, so much more important to the rest of the world.

K2K

 
At 1:15 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Canada Day on July 1!

2011 flotilla adrift in the news cycle...they should have chartered a freighter to deliver BMWs and SUVs in such big demand in Gaza :)

thirty days to find out who got indicted by the UN for the Hariri assassination. If Lebanon fails to deliver the indictments, in 30 days, the four names are made public.

K2K

 
At 12:46 PM EDT, Blogger EscapeVelocity said...

The faux Peace Popular Fronts have a long history of not being interested in the least of promoting peace...springing out fo the Communist radical Leftist mindset.

No Justice, No Peace!

 
At 12:49 PM EDT, Blogger EscapeVelocity said...

Will James said...

Why hasn't the progressive left organized anti-apartheid weeks on college campuses to protest the treatment of minorities in Muslim countries?

Why is it that San Francisco has a ballot measure to ban the Jewish practice of circumcision as "male genital mutilation" but no one has thought to sponsor ballot measures criminalizing the truly barbarous practice of female genital mutilation?

----

Once you study this for a while, the answer becomes rather clear. These folks are enemies of Western Civiliztaion and Peoples. Full Stop.

 
At 7:23 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just following the 2011 flotilla headlines. latest is the captain of the US boat was arrested by the Greeks for trying to leave without a permit, and 'endangering the passengers'.

Maybe Israel already put in a bid for the 29 Greek state-owned ports now for sale :)


p.s. following Will & Kate in Canada is much more fun.

K2K

 
At 7:59 PM EDT, Anonymous Mike said...

Emotion is never logical yet we evolved emotions for a reason. Emotions most of increased our chances of survival. It does seem however from a practical standpoint as useless. They seem to cause problems. At the same time though what makes us human is our emotions.

 

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