Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conversation in D Minor 

 Why "D minor"? Twofold reasoning: As in Bach's toccata and fugue in d minor, this is an example of of words not written for any meaning beyond the sounds they make. The words are recognizable, the arguments are knowable but there is no meaning behind them. They do not offer any truth that can be humanly grasped on any level. Alternately, according to the meaning in the Urban Dictionary, D-minor is the saddest of all keys. People weep instantly when they hear it. So take your pick. 

  I. The following is part of a conversation with a friend who belongs to the Left, and maybe even to the far left ideology that animates some otherwise very nice and rational denizens in Montreal. 

 She: I explain to people that we are good friends even though you are Right Wing and I am a leftie.

 I: I'm not really Right wing. I believe I want and am willing to live with the same solutions you support. It's just that I have different emotional rationale and intentional relationship to those solutions. 

She: Like what?

I: Well, we both believe that the two-state- solution is the only way peace can come to Israelis and Palestinians. 

 She: I don't know. I heard someone talk about the One-State solution and I thought he made a lot of sense. 

 I: Are you serious? The one-state solution? What will happen in a one-state solution, do you think?

 She: Well, the Jews will become a minority... 

 I: Yes, and...? 

 She: And what? 

 I: How will that minority status be achieved? 

 She: Well, when all Palestinians return they will have greater numbers than the Jews. 

 I: And? 

 She: And what? 

 I: And then what will happen? 

 She: I don't know what you mean. 

 I: What about the violence that will be done to the Jews? The genocide? 

 She: I'm not sure a genocide will happen 

 I: All right, then. Extreme violence. Do you imagine it will not happen? 

 She: Maybe not. Maybe the Jews will just leave.

 I: Where will they go? Do you realize you are talking about a situation very like that of Jews in Nazi Europe? 

 She: Well, this time, I'm sure countries will take the Jews ... 

(voice trailing off in some uncertainty)

 I; Really? You think countries in Europe and America will open their gates wide to millions of uprooted Jews from Israel? 

 She: I hope so. 

 I: What if they don't? What will happen to the Jews who will have nowhere to go? 

 A knot and a puzzlement. Change of topic. 

 My interlocutor is a Jewish woman who, though quite alienated from her origins, is now expressing an interest in Judaism and has a few times articulated a wish that she could live in Israel. 

Confused? So am I. 

 I've re-constructed this conversation because it made me realize something. I have always thought that anti-Israeli Leftists are unaware what their devout pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel prescriptions actually mean, that their hatred derives from ignorance of at least half of the big picture. That they are ignorant of, or just disbelieve what Palestinian aspirations actually are, even though these longings are expressed fully, openly and righteously in their foundational documents (like the Palestinian Charter), in their media and education, repeatedly. I thought they didn't know that the only solution, as far as Palestinians are concerned, to the conflict will be a final solution indeed. I always believed that if you could force these Leftists to confront these realities, to force them to follow their prescriptions for "peace" to the end, they will realize that what they support is no less than premeditated genocide. This conversation made me sober up. It's not ignorance. And it's not even naivete, which could be defined in certain cases as an unconscious type of malevolence disguised as a sort of universal good. It's not absence of intelligence or understanding or knowledge. What I saw was an openness and toleration of the idea that if Israel disappears, Israel disappears, and that if that entails the disappearance of a people, then too bad. 

  II. Here is something that relates to the above:

"Yet these threats are real — and given Jewish history, Israel might be excused for being a tad over-prudent when it comes to enemies who still openly dream of the day when Israel will no longer exist. The Holocaust is seared in Israel's collective memory-preventing another Holocaust is indeed one of Israel's raisons d'être.

The same cannot be said of Europe. Even as Europeans routinely repeat "Never Again!" in reference to the Holocaust, their solemn commitment is not to prevent another Holocaust at all costs — it is rather to prevent war at all costs. For many Europeans, Israel's insistence on its national character as the state of the Jewish people is bound to yield the same tragic results Europe experienced when it toyed with nationalism.

Israelis know what they mean when they say "Never Again!" For them, the slogan means: never again shall the Jewish people stand defenseless on the brink of annihilation, and Israelis are ready to fight if genocide knocks again at their gates. Europeans, by contrast, have repeated the "Never Again!" slogan for more than six decades, and yet they have watched indifferently over repeated genocides across the globe, from Cambodia to Rwanda, Sudan to Srebrenica, China to the Congo."

III. I believe Hannah Arendt provides a very cogent insight into the issue raised in the highlighted quote above concerning the issue of nationalism from “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (p.3) here it is

One of the hasty explanations has been the identification of anti-Semitism with rampant nationalism and its xenophobic outburst. Unfortunately, the fact is that modern anti-Semitism grew in proportion as traditional nationalism declined, and reached its climax at the exact moment when the European system of nation-states and its precarious balance of power crashed.

It has already been noticed that the Nazis were not simple nationalists. Their nationalist propaganda was directed toward their fellow- travelers and not their convinced members; the latter, on the contrary, were never allowed to lose sight of a consistently supranational approach to politics. Nazi “nationalism” had more than one aspect in common with the recent nationalistic propaganda in the Soviet Union, which is also used only to feed the prejudices of the masses. The Nazis had a genuine and never revoked contempt for the narrowness of nationalism, the provincialism of the nation-state, and they repeated time and again that their movement, international in scope like the Bolshevik movement, was more important to them than any state which would necessarily be bound to specific territory. And not only the Nazis, but fifty years of anti-Semitic history stand as evidence against the identification of anti-Semitism with nationalism. The first anti-Semitic parties in the last decades of the nineteenth century were also among the first that banded together internationally. From the very beginning, they called international congresses and were concerned with a coordination of international, or at least inter-European, activities.”

IV. Via Normblog: Albert Camus and the Jews:

"[W]hen the authoritarian regime of Vichy passed a salvo of anti-Semitic laws in 1940, most Frenchmen and -women did not blink. One of the few who did blink - in fact, doubled over in shock and revulsion - was Camus. Working for the newspaper Paris-Soir, Camus was stunned when his Jewish colleagues were fired. In a letter to his wife Francine Faure - a native of the city of Oran, Algeria, who was very close to the local Jewish community - Camus said that he could not continue to work at the paper; any job at all in Algeria, even one on a farm, would be preferable...

At the same time, he began to reach out to Jewish friends. To one, Irène Djian, he denounced these "despicable" laws and reassured her: "This wind cannot last if each and every one of us calmly affirmed that the wind smells rotten."


At 10:15 AM EST, Blogger EscapeVelocity said...

It would matter if it involved the dissappearence of a dark skinned backward people.

This is just the meta-positioning of the Western Left as Anti Western, Anti White, Anti European....aka Third Worldist Maoism Nationalist Anti Imperialism....expressing itself.

Unfortunately for the Jews, they have been ejected from the fold with regards to Israel, and are now the enemy of the good people of the world.

Welcome to my world.

At 12:29 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has there ever been a study as to why Jews have been hated throughout history? No one ever writes about that. There has to be a reason. Does it stem back to the days when Catholics said they killed their Christ?

At 3:06 PM EST, Anonymous TNC said...

Great post, CC!

Anon, of course people write "about that". There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books on this topic. Many of these texts contextualize antisemitism--that is, they examine Jew hatred in specific times and places rather than see some sort of universal reason why Jews are hated in the first place. They also examine the stated reasons for Jew hatred (as stated by the haters), how this is put in practice, etc.

I really do not want to put words in your mouth but I suspect what you are trying to say here is no (reputable) authors blame "the Jews" for Jew hatred and this is not ok w/ you.

You want more authors to say, "The reason Jews are hated is because they did x, y or z. Therefore, the hatred is justified and understandable."

A common version of this on extremist websites is:

"Jews caused the German economy to collapse and benefited during the collapse so it is totally justified that Germans would hate Jews and treat them negatively."


"Jews poisoned wells in medieval Europe and therefore got what was coming to them in the form of pogroms."


"Jews killed Jesus therefore it is justified why Christians hate Jews."

Maybe I am reading you wrong but that is how I read your comment.

At 3:35 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I read anon in the same way as TNC. There is nothing to be said in response; it is a purely antisemitic puzzlement, that is, a posturing of wide-eyed naivete: What, me? antisemitic? I was only asking a rational question.


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