Sunday, July 31, 2011

What do you call this baby?

Sayed Kashua
"(Arabic: سيد قشوع, Hebrew: סייד קשוע; b. 1975) is an Israeli Arab author and journalist born in Tira, Israel, known for his books and humoristic columns in Hebrew.

Sayed Kashua was born in Tira in the Triangle region of Israel. In 1990, he was accepted to a prestigious boarding school in Jerusalem - Israel Arts and Science Academy.[1] He studied sociology and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Kashua was a resident of Beit Safafa before moving to a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem with his wife and two children." (wiki).
I have been reading his satirical column in Haaretz for some months now, following with great interest the way he retells his life experience as an Israeli-Arab in a predominantly Jewish Israeli society. He has an unparalleled talent for making a poignant comment on some of Israel's social scabs and warts when it comes to the treatment of members of the Arab minority in every day life. His irony is sharp and on-target. It is when he allows a flash of anger to peep through in sarcastic asides that he fails as a satirist. As long as he keeps the irony, he reaches readers and succeeds in making us laugh and cringe at the same time.
In a recent piece he gave us two glimpses of the difficulties an Arab may encounter in Israel.
The first is his procrastination in finding a name for his newborn son:
קשה למצוא שם לילד ערבי. אנחנו יושבים מול אתרי אינטרנט שמציעים שמות, מדפדפים במילונים ערביים, בספרי שירה, אפילו חיפשתי בקוראן אחר שמות הולמים, אך לשווא. כל השמות נפסלו בזה אחר זה. צריך להקפיד ששם הילד לא יתחרז עם קללה, וזה כמעט בלתי אפשרי, לכל שם בערבית יש קללה שמתחרזת, וגם אם לא, זה ודאי לא ימנע מילדים אחרים להמציא קללות בלי להקפיד על חרוזים. בסופו של דבר, איכשהו ילדים חזקים ומאיימים הם היחידים שהשמות שלהם לא מתחרזים עם כינויים משפילים. ועם הילד הזה אסור לקחת סיכון, בסופו של דבר, הוא נולד פג.

כמו אחיו, סביר להניח שגם הילד החדש יגיע למערכת חינוך מעורבת, על כן צריך להקפיד למצוא שם ערבי שלא יקשה מדי על המורים והתלמידים היהודים. זה לא נעים שמעוותים לך את השם, מה שלא תעשה תמיד יקראו לך בסוף סעיד. בכלל, הניסיון מוכיח שלילד ערבי כדאי לקרוא בשם אוניברסלי, זאת אומרת שם שלא נשמע כמו חפץ חשוד, שלא יקפיץ מאבטחים ולא יגרום להרמת גבה כשהוא מושמע במערכת הכריזה של קפה ארומה. מרבית הילדים שלומדים עם ילדי קיבלו שמות ערביים כמו: אדם, עדי, רם, דני, סמי, נור ואמיר, ואני מדבר כאן על המוסלמים, כי הנוצרים יכולים ללכת גם על: ג'ורג', פיטר, מישל, כריס ומייקל.

מצד אחד אנחנו לא רוצים להיחשב כמי שעושים מאמצי יתר להתקבל, להתבולל, להיטמע בסחף הישראלי. בכל זאת, קצת כבוד, שם ערבי עם משמעות שתשפיע ודאי על הזהות. אבל מה? אני באמת אקרא לילד שלי מוסטפא, מוחמד או איבראהים? האם זה לא יהווה מכשול בדרכו למצוא עבודה, להתקבל ללימודים או סתם לטייל בחוף הים עם חברים?

It's hard to find a fitting name for an Arab child. ... It has to be a name that does not rhyme with a swearword. That's next to impossible. Every Arab name rhymes with a curse word and even if it doesn't, it won't deter other kids from manufacturing curse words that do not necessarily rhyme. When all is said and done, it is the big bullies whose names do not rhyme with humiliating nicknames. We cannot take any chances with this baby, born premature and all.
This baby boy will likely follow his siblings and join the integrated educational system so we must find a name that will not be too hard on his Jewish teachers and classmates. It's very annoying to have your name distorted and anyway, his last name will always be Sayed. Experience tells us that an Arab boy is better off with a universal sort of name, that is, a name that does not sound like a suspicious package, that won't get security guards rattled and will not cause any raised eyebrows when it is called out by the barrista at Cafe Aroma*. Those who go to school with my kids have got Arab names like Adam, Adi, Ram, Danny, Sammy, Nour and Ameer. I'm talking about the Muslim Arabs. The Christian Arabs can always go with George, Peter, Michel, Chris and Michael. Naturally, we do not wish to be seen as going out of our way to be accepted, integrated, assimilated into the Israeli mud slide. After all, we have our dignity. A meaningful Arab name is sure to have some impact on the formation of the boy's identity. But what? Should I call him Mustafa, Mahmoud, or Ibrahim? Won't it be an obstacle when he looks for a job, apply to university, or just walk on the beach with his friends? After wrestling with this issue to distraction I decided to drop the name-finding mission on my wife. Let her pick out a name and if he grows up to complain about it, I can always blame it on her.

The second is an encounter with what seems to be a hotel that is not too keen on serving people "with accents". Kasua is trying to book a room for himself and his two kids for a weekend at Ma'agan Eden, a lovely resort his director recommended as eminently suitable for a short family getaway. The man in the Reservations Dept. tells him there are no available rooms for the dates he has in mind or for the entire month of August.
אני לא יודע למה, אבל היתה לי תחושה לא טובה. "איריס", ביקשתי מהמפיקה הקשוחה, "את יכולה בבקשה להתקשר למספר הזה ולשאול על חדר פנוי בתאריכים האלה?"

"מה?" הזדעק הבמאי הג'ינג'י בחיוך ציני על פניו, "רק בגלל המבטא? אתה לא חושב שאתה פרנואיד?"

"אני יודע שאני פרנואיד", אמרתי כשהמפיקה כבר התחילה לחייג, "תגידי לו להורה אחד ושני ילדים", ביקשתי והיא הינהנה בראשה.

כן, אמרו לה במחלקת ההזמנות, יש חדרים, כן, מתאימים להורה ושני ילדים, כן, יש באוגוסט, כן יש בתאריך המדויק שאנחנו רוצים. היא קיבלה גם אפשרות לבחור בין כמה סוגים שונים של חדרים שמעגן עדן מציעים.

"אני לא מאמין", אמר הבמאי הג'ינג'י שהיה עד לשיחה, "אני פשוט לא מאמין".

"די", נזפתי ברכרוכי שהתחיל לבכות, "איפה אנחנו חיים? איפה אנחנו חיים?"

חייגתי שוב והגעתי אל אותו בחור. "כן", הוא אמר, "אבל אמרתי לך לפני שנייה שאין חדרים פנויים".

"בסדר", עניתי לו, "אני יודע שיש, תעביר אותי למנהלת בבקשה".

"שמי סייד קשוע ואני כתב של עיתון 'הארץ'", אמרתי למנהלת, סיפרתי לה מה קרה לפני דקה וביקשתי תגובה.

"זה כמו בורסה", היא אמרה, "רגע אחד יש חדרים ורגע אחר אין. באים אלינו מכל המגזרים".

"יופי. ועכשיו מה מצב הבורסה? יש חדרים?"

"כן", היא ענתה, "עכשיו יש לי חדרים. אתה רוצה להזמין?"

"בטח", עניתי לה ונתתי את מספר כרטיס האשראי.

"אני לא מאמין", הבמאי הג'ינג'י רעד וניגב את הדמעות, והמפיקה הקשוחה צחקה לו בפנים.

I don't know why, but I had an uneasy feeling about this. "Iris," I turned to the tough-minded producer
"Can you please call this number and ask whether they have a vacancy for these dates"?

"What?" cried the red-headed film-director with a cynical smile, "Because of the accent? Don't you think this is paranoid?"

"I know I'm paranoid, " I said as the producer started dialing "Tell him one parent and two kids," I said and she nodded.

Yes, they said in Reservations Dept., there are vacancies, yes, for one parent and two kids, yes, in August, exactly in those dates. She was even offered the possibility of choosing among a few types of rooms.

"I don't believe it," said the red headed film-director, "I just don't believe it".

'That's enough" I scolded the agitated wimp who had started bawling. "Where do we live? Where do we live?"

I re-dialed the number and got the same booking clerk. "Yes," he said, "but I told you a moment ago that we have nothing available."

"All right," I retorted, "I know there are vacancies. Let me speak to your supervisor".

"My name is Sayed Kashua and I am a journalist for Haaretz, " I informed the lady. I told her what had just taken place and asked for an explanation.

"It's like the stock exchange," she said, "one moment there are vacancies and the next, they are all booked. We get guests from all sectors in Israeli society."

"Great. So how is the stock exchange now? Any available rooms?"

"Yes," she answered, "Now we have rooms. Do you wish to reserve a spot?"

"Sure," I said and gave her my credit card number.

"I don't believe it," the red-headed film director kept repeating, trembling and wiping his tears. The tough producer laughed in his face.

"Hello," I told my wife on the phone " I just booked a vacation resort for the kids. Did you find a name?"

"Still looking," she said, "Is it a good hotel?"

'Wonderful," I reassured her, "they do not let in people with an accent".

(Unauthorized, partial translation by CC)

I can offer Mr. Kashua only cold comfort by telling him that where I live, people with accent are treated with hauteur and dismissiveness, only it is done so very politely, one cannot quite pick up a quarrel and get the satisfaction of rubbing their noses in being found out. I cannot count the number of times I was treated with patient contempt by some low-level clerk who was trying to explain to me that Noga is not my first name but my family name, and that I misspell what they consider as my first name.

Or this: Two weeks after placing my daughter in a Montreal public school, she comes home telling me a joke:

- Ima (Mummy), you know how they say that Jews are cheap?

Before I could register my shock, she went on:

- My friend today told me this joke. What is faster than lightning?

- ?? - I looked at my daughter cluelessly

-A Jew with a coupon!

This in Canada, where multiculturalism was invented, and, sadly, this ingrained bigotry is what anyone can find in any "normal" society, like French-Canadian mothers refusing to place their children in daycares that have black kids.

Wasn't it the Zionist dream, to make Israel a normal country? Is there a more normal country than Canada? So there.


* Cafe Aroma is a chain of popular coffee houses in Israel which makes the best coffee in the world, (including Seattle) and serves sandwiches and such. You give your order at the counter and when it is ready, the barrista calls your name in the loudspeaker to inform you that your order is ready and please come to pick it up.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Here is a pro-democratic chant to gladden one's heart:
"Ya Obama ya Obama, we're all Osama."

Via Martin Kramer:

Reports from today's massive demo in Tahrir Square, from Marc Lynch: "Most popular chants at Tahrir: demanding sharia, free Omar Abd al Rahman [first WTC bombing plotter], hang Mubarak, Muslim-Christian unity, reject US aid, anti-Israel," and "Huge chant goes up. The people want to implement sharia." Other news sources (and a friend on the ground) also heard: "Ya Obama ya Obama, we're all Osama."

A few days ago I left a comment on the Egyptian blog "Pyramidion". His response is exactly what one would expect from a "liberation" movement whose chants include the bellicose demands specified in Kramer's post. Here it is:

"So, that is what your sources tell you about Egypt, an impending hunger and epidemics ..!!

.. My dear, the fable of the Ten plagues is simply not going to happen again, the world has grown out of this historical myths.

… Nevertheless, i found your added video most interesting as it drew my attention to the Mossad covert role in the Nile basin countries – Egypt’s strategic depth.
.. But my favorite was the fake clip about treating burned Iraqis, … Israel instigated the war on Iraq, set the U.S off the leash on some false intelligence, burned down the whole Iraqi nation .. and now Israel play the humanist and the good neighbor … very funny indeed."

By his own account, the blogger is an educated person and a pediatrician, to boot.


Update: If any one is still in any doubt about where this "revolution" is heading, here is a report of another chant , provided by the voice of a true Arab liberal, confirming that for the rebellious Egyptians, the final frontier runs through Al-Aqsa:

"Of course, US media don't report on foreign policy slogans and actions on the part of the Egyptian uprising. They want to sincerely buy the delusion of Thomas Friedman and other Zionists that there is no foreign policy by the Egyptian youth. Yet, every Friday, in the official Friday sermon in Tahrir Square there is a reference to Palestine. Just this Friday, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported this:
لفلسطينيين قائلاً: 'يا أهل فلسطين، سنتجه إليكم يوما متحدين لنحرر مسجد الأقصى، بعد أن نكون قد أزلنا كل الخلافات'."
(...To the Palestinians, saying: O people of Palestine. We shall go toward you one day united to liberate the Aqsa Mosque, after we have removed all disputes.)"

Note please that professor Abukhalil refers to a pledge made by Muslim fundamentalists to liberate a mosque in Jerusalem as " foreign policy". I agree with the good Prof. that Egyptian "liberation" has nothing to do with democracy, liberalism, freedom, humanism, peace-making, self-responsibility, or economic progress. Whom he is arguing against, it is difficult to fathom. We knew it almost from the start.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On the attempts to explain Breivik's deed

Christopher Hitchens tries to make sense of the Norway terrorist. His is a thorough and thoughtful attempt to untangle all the threads in our chaotic world that have gotten into a tight knot in this atrocity.

Key quote:

"Pushed to its logical or pathological conclusion, this would involve something that Europeans and Americans have never seen before: a conflict between different forms of fascism in order to see which assault on multi-ethnic democracy was the most effective."

In this comment, Hitchens seems to agree with how Bret Stephens described the pogrom:

"In a superb new book, "Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of Millennial Experience," Boston University's Richard Landes notes just how pervasive this kind of impulse has been throughout history and across cultures, and how much its many strains—Christian, Marxist, Islamist, Nazi, environmentalist and so on—have in common. Breivik, Mr. Landes says, was of a piece: "Like many active cataclysmic apocalypticists, he believed that the socio-political world is in huge tension, like tectonic plates about to crack, and if he can set off a small explosion in the right place it will unleash far greater forces." In this sense, Mr. Landes adds, "the thing he resembles most is the people he hates."

He's right, and not just in regards to methods. Just as al Qaeda's primary fury has always been directed at Muslims who they view as apostates, traitors or stooges of the West, the main object of Breivik's hatred was what he called the "cultural Marxists" who dominated Norwegian politics. "If they refuse to surrender until 2020," he said of them, "there will be no turning back. We will eventually wipe out every single one of them."

And my favourite Israeli journalist, Ben-Dror Yemini, weighs in with an explicit version of the same view, in his usual, no-nonsense, clarity:

2. לפי דוח שפורסם לפני חודשים אחדים בנורבגיה, רוב מוחלט של מעשי האונס בשנים האחרונות בוצעו על ידי "לא מערביים". כלומר מהגרים. בעיקר מוסלמים. ממשלת נורבגיה עוצמת עיניים. היא אינה נוקטת בשום צעד רציני כדי לבלום את האלימות, את הפשיעה, את ההתנחלות והכיבוש, את ההשתלטות הזרה על המדינה, שבעוד עשרות שנים בודדות תהפוך למוסלמית.

זו הסיבה שפעיל הימין, אנדרס בריוויק, פגע במשרדי הממשלה ומשם המשיך לכנס של דור ההמשך של מפלגת השלטון. פעמיים נפגע בריוויק על ידי מהגרים שבאו לכבוש את ארצו. אטימות הממשלה היא שהובילה אותו למצוקה, לאין מוצא, ובהמשך לפעולת ההתנגדות.

הדברים שנכתבו עד כאן הם הבל גמור. משום שמי שמוצא הצדקות לרצח, לטבח, לטרור, הוא שותף לפשע. מותר לבקר מדיניות הגירה. אבל בין ביקורת לטבח אין ולא צריך להיות שום קשר ובוודאי לא הצדקה. ובכלל, גם אם רוב מעשי הפשע והאונס מבוצעים על ידי מהגרים, זה לא אומר שכל המהגרים הם פושעים ואנסים.

העניין הוא, שזו בדיוק הרטוריקה שכל כך התרגלנו אליה. רטוריקה של הבנה לטרור, ובהמשך הצדקה. ולא רק רטוריקה. קשה קצת לשכוח את המשטים והמצעדים הקבועים של חברי הקואליציה האדומה-ירוקה. רדיקלים משמאל וג'יהדיסטים איסלאמיסטים. מי שמבקר את הרב-תרבותיות לא צועד יחד עם טרוריסטים ולא מחפש הצדקות לטבח. הרדיקלים משמאל, לעומת זאת, נמצאים בצד של החמאס והטרור. יחי ההבדל הקטן

According to a report published a few months ago in Norway, the dominant majority of rape cases in the recent years were perpetrated by “non-Western” individuals, that is to say, immigrants, especially Muslims. The Norwegian government is turning a blind eye and does nothing to thwart this violence, the crime, the expansion and take-over, the foreign invasion on the state that in a few decades will be Islamized.

This is the reason that this right wing activist, Andres Breivik, targeted the government offices and proceeded to attack the next-generation of the governing party. Twice Breivik has been hurt by immigrants who had come to occupy his country. The government’s inaction caused his distress and eventually led him to commit these acts.

All of the above is total nonsense. Anyone who seeks to justify murder, massacres, terror, is complicit in the crime. It is permissible to criticize immigration policies but there cannot be any connection between criticism of immigration and massacres. And even if most crimes and rapes are done by immigrants it doesn’t follow that all immigrants are criminal and rapists.

The problem is that we are accustomed to exactly this type of routine rhetoric. A rhetoric that shows understanding towards terror becomes, in due course, a justification, not just rhetoric. It’s hard to forget the flotillas and the routine marches of the red-green alliance: Radicals from the Left and Islamist jihadists, in lock-step. Those who criticize multiculturalism do not march with terrorists or try to find justifications for massacres. The Left radicals, however, are on the side of Hamas. Vive la petite différence. (Translated by CC, emphases and links added by the translator)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Parpera'ot (Trifles)

encountered today:

1. Zion-upon-Danube

Just spoke to a friend of mine, a Hungarian-Canadian who told me about a friend of hers who is a Canadian who had relocated to Hungary about 20 years ago. Anyway, this person keeps insisting that if things don't work out with the Palestinians, Israel is planning to take over Hungary. Already the Zionists (=Joos) are in charge of the government and the media, working towards this aim. This, my friend told me, is a relatively young and very intelligent human being and she really believes this and cannot be disabused of her notions.

2. Proof of Apartheid in Israel:

Angry Arab has a way of shooting himself in the foot. He posts, with much bravado, another proof of Israel's racism and links to the source of the story that concludes with this paragraph:

"Levi denies the worker was fired. He declared himself “against assimilation” and insisted that “there was suspicion of an affair. There was no affair. These extremist groups keep getting involved and making everybody crazy.

“This is the ‘peace supermarket,’ he said. “Extremist Palestinians and Jews don’t like it.”

3. Such hilarity! What passes for humour in Egypt


" Mubarak simply turned Egypt into a crippled with corruption Middle Eastern nation that looked more Zionist than Arabic"

This essence of wisdom and self-awareness comes from from the Egyptian doctor-blogger with a strong inclination towards history.

When I read such superabundance of nonsense and detachment from reality, I am tempted to do an unkind thing and rub the author's nose in his own absurdities, so I left this comment on Pyramidion's blogpost:

“Mubarak simply turned Egypt into a crippled with corruption Middle Eastern nation that looked more Zionist than Arabic, ”

Indeed. Egypt, under Mubarak, looked very much like the Zionist entity:

and in the post-Mubarak era, Egypt is set to scale even great heights:


Or this:

Are you, as a doctor, doing something about promoting hygiene in street food that is probably consumed by the millions of Cairenes everyday, including unsuspecting children? Shouldn’t this be your first priority, rather than manufacture all sort of perfidious tales to tell about Israelis? Israel succeeds because it cares more about it own citizens than the failures of its neighbours. It’s the nature of democracy that you look inward, and try to correct what is wrong with your own society. It seems to me you don’t really get the idea that democratic reform is about agency and self responsibility. Your emotionally-satisfying rants are not doing one tiny thing to feed hungry kids or provide tolerable food quantities for Egyptians.

Don’t you worry about your countrymen going hungry? About unhygienic food being sold to people?

5. Norwegian Ambassador to Israel: About terrorist attacks on innocent civilians

"ההבדל הוא שהפלסטינים שתוקפים את ישראל באמצעות פיגועים. לא משנה כמה זה לא מקובל ונורא, הם עושים זאת במטרה מוגדרת הקשורה בכיבוש
הישראלי. יש שם יסודות של נקמה בישראל ושנאה לישראל. לזה אפשר להוסיף את האלמנט הדתי בפעולותיהם. בכל מקרה יש מוטיב עיקרי למעשים שלהם.
The difference is that Palestinians are attacking Israel through the means of terrorist actions. Never mind how unacceptable or terrible it is, they are doing this with a defined goal that is related to the Israeli occupation. There are elements of revenge against Israel and hatred of Israel. To this you can add the religious dimension to their actions. In any case, there is a principle motive to their actions. (Translation: Camera)

"במקרה של הפיגוע בנורבגיה יש לרוצח אידיאולוגיה שאומרת שנורבגיה, ובמיוחד מפלגת הלייבור, מוותרת על התרבות הנורבגית. אני יכול להעיר שאם האיש הזה נגד הגירה ונגד מוסלמים, זה מדהים שהוא לא הרג מוסלמים אלא פוליטיקאים נורבגים, ומנסה להרוס את האדמינסטריציה בנורבגיה

In the case of the attack in Norway the murderer's ideology maintains that Norway, and especially the Labour party, is selling out Norway and its culture. I can comment that if this man is against immigration and Muslims, it is amazing that he did not kill Muslims but Norwegian politicians, and is trying to destroy the Norwegian administration. (Translation: CC)

Contentious Interpretation: We shouldn't beat about the bush. The bottom line is you Israelis, deserve it. We, Norwegians, do not.

Update: Here is Prof. Allan Dershowitz's reply to His Excellency, the Norwegian Ambassador's drivel (H/T: K2K, in the comments)


A single evil organisation

Every day the Angry Arab News Service provides us with the opportunity to climb into his Arab mind, and take a look at its bizarre furniture. Every day we are regaled with posts that express his view of the Western world (Zionist), the Arab world (mostly Zionist) and the few among the Arab street who have not come under the sway of Zionism. Take a look and this list from yesterday's offering, Monday, July 25, 2011:

The Zionist Inspired Norwegian terrorist

The Zionist Inspired Norwegian terrorist


Turkish view of Zionists

The scientific proof of the superiority of the Zionist intelligence

Saudi Zionists

The Zionist Syrian regime

Zionist opportunities

The Zionist NYT

There are also sporadic references to Zionists in other posts w but I won't try your patience by quoting them all. It is too tedious. Anyway, suffice it to see that for the Prof. of political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley, there is very little happening in the world that cannot be explained by Zionism's long and malevolent reach. It is all Zionism. Under every rock and behind every tree.

And why would Prof. AbuKhalil have such a view of the world?

Here is one possible explanation, helpfully and sagaciously provided by the Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon:

"George Saliba: The source that finances and incites all these international organizations, in the East and West, and especially in the Arab world… They are led by a single, evil organization, known as Zionism. It is behind all these movements, all these civil wars, and all these evils, using the people of the West – whether in the US, in Europe, or their followers. […] What is happening is only natural. Jesus Christ healed the sick among the Jews. He gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, and resurrected their dead. [...] They strived to crucify him until he died. […] Do the people of the opposition, with their notions and their deeds, belong to Christianity or to Islam? No. They are deeply rooted in Judaism and in Zionism, which does not wish well on any nation, people, or country. […] Any intelligent person who reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion will see the extent of its influence on the politics of our region and the world. "(MEMRI, Via: Mick Hartley)

Thus the Leninist-Anarchist or whatever Prof. from California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley and the Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon are united in common cause and causalities.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Giraffe's Cognitive Dissonance


"The fun is not to hate your enemies: "

Can you believe the total absence of self-awareness of this person who cannot speak without bile streaming out of his keyboard?


Another gem: Whenever material is thin on the ground, the visiting prof. from wherever regales us with the latest innovations from the unfathomable resources of his sarcastic brilliance. Here is one example:

"Abraham Foxman is working on a new definition of anti-Semitism. According to his new--yet to be released-- guidelines, it is deeply anti-Semitic to not appreciate and enjoy Israeli bombs when they fall on you."

(Of course, AA 's grasp on antisemitism is highly eccentric, to say the least)

By the same logic, according to AA, it is deeply racist of Israelis and their supporters to fail to appreciate the Arab beauty of suicide bombings in pizzerias, and qassams being lobed at school buses and kindergartens.

BTW, AA has a unique obsession with Abe Foxman. So much so that he actually feels an irresistible urge to drag his name into comments which have nothing whatsoever to do with Foxman or his organization, as in this example about a Lebanese belly dancer who performed to the music of an Israeli group in France.


The Uberschmuckitude of Juan Cole

Please note how Juan Cole manages to sneak both Israel and Zionists into a post commenting about the horrific terrorist attack in Oslo:

"The suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is anti-multiculturalist and believes that the Qur’an commands Muslims to be extremists. His attack on the Labour Party appears to have derived in part from its insufficient hate of people of other cultures. Breivik’s discourse, about Islam and the Qur’an being *essentially* evil, is part of the Islamophobia promoted by some right wing forces in the west; and his actions show where that kind of thinking can lead. I wrote in 2006:

“The hatemongers are well known. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Cable News, Rush Limbaugh’s radio program and its many clones, telebimbos like Ann Coulter, Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Congressmen like Tom Tancredo, and a slew of far rightwing Zionists who would vote for Netanyahu (or Kach) if they lived in Israel– Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Michael Rubin, David Horowitz, etc., etc.”

It comes so naturally to him, this sanctimonious and scurrilous attempt at slanderous association between subjects that have nothing whatsoever to with each other. Was the terrorist attack carried out on behalf of Israel? Of Zionism? Of Netanyahu? Isn't it a fact that Norway is one of the most pro-Palestinian, virulently anti-Israel countries in Europe? Don't pose such questions to Prof. Cole, who, like the hadith, sees a Jew behind every tree and rock.

Note also please how he suggests that Netanyahu and Kach, a movement legally banned in Israel, are posited as interchangeable.


The Huge Lie

I'm marking this post on Engage as potentially very important in the discourse around Israel/Palestine conflict. I'm not in the mood to talk about it now and maybe the urge that compelled me to note this post will have been gone by the time I do feel like talking and writing but still, I think it is worthwhile to keep a log entry.

Here is the passage that made me pay attention:

"From reading Vally’s answer to Berman, you’d never know there was such a thing as Hamas (never mentioned), nor Iran, nor Hizbollah, nor terrorism of any kind. You’d never know that Israel has been repeated attacked, invaded and threatened with destruction — and as a result has genuine security concerns.

All of that is left out, as if it doesn’t matter. And as a result, in a world in which there is no Hamas, no fascist regime in Iran seeking to build nuclear weapons to destroy the Jewish state — in that world, and only in that world, Vally’s article makes sense.

He accuses Israel of “violent occupation, apartheid, genocide and gross human rights abuse” — no less. The Palestinians, of course, are just victims. The Israelis — the aggressors.

I’m arguing for the importance of context, of seeing Israel as an embattled state with genuine security concerns. The vast majority of Israelis want a two-state solution and an end to decades of conflict. Probably most Palestinians want this as well. Labelling one side as perpetrators of apartheid and genocide hardly helps matters.

Calling Israel an apartheid state is the core of the problem, because it’s a lie.

It’s a potent lie, particularly in South Africa — and it must be challenged, every day, everywhere it is used."


I left comment here quoting this passage.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Noise and Signals

Normblog's humorous take on the uncontrollable, unquantifiable proliferation of opinion in our fantastic cyberage reminded me of a very short story by Rony Lakish, an Israeli author with a unique imagination. I'll quote just the second half of the story, which is somewhat pertinent.

The narrator is at home, preparing his supper, when there is a knock on the door and his solitude and peace of mind are rudely invaded by a stubborn creature who wants to sell him something:

"But it was not a dear sir at all. It was a lady.

“If you could only give me a minute of your precious time, dear sir,” she said glibly, “ I will tell you how you can take part in…”

“But I don’t need any encyclopaedia” I demurred, feebly, “ And how long is a minute?”

“A minute is a minute”, With this decisive assertion, she extended her right, or left, foot to step into my parlour.

Ah, well. We sat down. She settled into an armchair and placed in front of her a splendid-looking attaché case, stuffed with whatever. Truth be told, she looked quite stylish.

She launched into her monologue, “I am the representative for the Bli-Bla-Blo Company. We buy and we sell, address and redress; we also negotiate and we arbitrate for the mega-rational, trans-global workers’ union’s township committee. We have in our possession a few surveys and thousands of questions, for any buyer and any seller. If you were but inclined to be so kind, then of course, it could be operational without being confrontational. When you order a pizza, do you prefer it hot or cold, or with extra toppings?”

When she spoke, her lips moved. Her mouth seemed a little parched. I fetched her a glass of water. She took a long gulp and asked, “Well, Mr…?”

“Look here, Miss, I don’t need any questionnaires, “ I reiterated, “And furthermore…”Link

“And answers?” She hastily interrupted. “What will you do if you were asked questions? Today”, she declared categorically “everyone needs answers.”

I did not fully agree with her, but she directed a long, unwavering look at me. “Hmm, yes, o.k., yes, “ I concurred. “How much will all this cost me, anyway?”

“Three and four…five and six… just a minute, please”. She snapped open her case with a click and brought out something. It was an online, laser-synchronized computer with an alternative reality selection, and peripherals for navigational capabilities in underwater databases, and some optional extras. “ I’ll just log on here, “ she said, and did, “there, from the info in our possession…”

She then lounged across the armchair, her thighs resting on the armrest. “So, what do you say?”

I was hungry. She had invaded just as I was preparing the evening meal. The evening meal is the most important meal of the evening. So, there was nothing to it but offer her a meal, as well.

Afterwards, she joined me for a stroll in the garden. My dog has his needs, and her dog was nowhere to be seen. She had left the printer on my desk. Out in the fresh open air, everything is different. She had curves, and I noticed her hair was pulled up in a ponytail. When we returned from our walk, it was getting cool and late, and there was some agreement between us. Can’t remember what it was about."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Palestinians want

Benny Morris:

"...[I]n a poll run by American pollster Stanley Greenberg, conducted jointly by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, based in Beit Sahur in the West Bank, and the Israel Project, a peace-promoting international nonprofit organization."
the following results are reported:

73 percent of Palestinians approve [of the Hadith that calls for the elimination of Jews] ...

61 percent of Palestinians rejected the American-Israeli formulation for a settlement of the conflict based on two states for two peoples, one for the Arabs and one for the Jews ...

66 percent of those polled adopted the PLO-PNA gradualist approach of a two-stage "solution" to the problem of Israel, approving a first stage in which there would be two states before moving onto "stage two" with the establishment of one Palestinian Arab-majority state over all of Palestine ...

72 percent of those polled denied that there was any historic link [between the Jewish people and Jerusalem] ...

22 percent of those polled supported firing rockets into Israel ...

65 percent favored a diplomatic-political solution to the conflict ...

20 percent preferred the road of violence ...

2 percent thought Abbas should focus on peace talks with Israel."
Morris concludes that:

" This perhaps reflects the average Palestinian's tiredness of the conflict and unwillingness to pay the costs of violence while supporting the goal of Israel's elimination. Eighty-three percent of those polled thought that PNA President Mahmoud Abbas's priority should be creating jobs. But only 2 percent thought it should be peace talks with Israel."

The statistics appear to reflect some confusion on the part of Palestinians as to what they really want. They want Israel destroyed, Jews eliminated, but support a dipolimatic solution to the conflict. It seems they resolve the paradox by declaring that a diplomatic solution is only temporizing, until the final solution is achieved.

This perplexing and seemingly contradictory position is reflected in an article by Michael Totten, about his last visit to Jerusalem, where he
" met an Arab who said he’s ready to die in a nuclear holocaust as long as the bomb destroys Israel."

"There can be no real peace with Israel or with Jews, believe me,” he said. “You are dreaming of peace, but there will never be peace.”

“But you just had Jewish customers in your store,” I said, “and you were friendly to them.”

“Yes,” he said, “because I need their money and don’t care if they are Jewish. If this was a Hezbollah store, Hezbollah would tell them to leave.”

He admires Hezbollah, but isn’t necessarily willing to emulate them or to run off and join Hamas as a fighter or suicide bomber.

“I don’t want to fight,” he said. “I just want my rights.”


“Hezbollah is more honest than me,” he said.

“How so?” I said.

“They will fight,” he said, “and they will die for what they believe in. I care about my shop and supporting my family, my children.”

I’m not sure “honest” is precisely the word he was looking for. Perhaps what he meant is that Hezbollah fighters are more true to themselves than he is."

Trying to understand a little better how the interpret his interviewee's positions, Totten talks to an Israeli "expert" on the Arab side of the city:

"There are many different streams in the society,” he said, “but this is also true of many individuals. There are two different political lexicons among the Palestinians, and you can hear both from the same people. A person will tell you the Jews should be killed because they’re the enemies of God, they don’t have any rights here, and so on. But the next day he’ll say we’re all brothers, we’re all human beings, we have to co-exist here in the Holy Land. I hear both from the same people.”

“What do you make of that?” I said.

“I don’t understand it,” he said. “If they say one thing to one person and something different to somebody else, that I can understand. I don’t have an explanation for why I hear such different things from the same person. The culture does have two different lexicons, though. It has one of peace and one of struggle, one of human rights and one of…I don’t know what.”

The only explanation I can think of is that they have two contradictory yet sincere thoughts in their hearts and their minds at the same time. Most humans have mixed feelings about some things, and it only makes sense that a Palestinian who lives in Israel and has nearly all the same rights as Israeli Jews will be pulled in opposing directions more than most people are.

“Do you think they’re sincere when they say each contradictory thing?” I asked Cohen.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Do you have ever ask them about this?” I said.

“Yes, of course,” he said.

“What do they say?” I said.

“Nothing memorable,” he said. “I don’t remember anything significant. I became aware of this many years ago. Of course, at the beginning I was shy to ask, but then I started asking the people I knew better before I finally had to stop. They’re confused, but they don’t have anything interesting to say about it. They’ll say something like, ‘Yes, you know, well, this is Islam, it’s written in our book, so we have to say it, but we don’t always mean it.’ They’ll also say, ‘in Islam you can also find other things, not only that we should kill the Jews.’”

He wanted to know why I came to him to learn about Arabs, which is a very good question. And I have a good reason.

“Because you’ll tell me things that they won’t,” I said.

“That’s because they tell me things that they won’t tell you,” he said.

“Exactly,” I said.

“They’ll tell you about the Jews, though,” he said. “They will tell you many interesting things. They wanted to say ‘Stop using Muslim blood in your Matzoh’ at their demonstrations, but it didn’t pass the slogans committee of the Israeli left.” He laughed. He’s a jokey kind of guy even in a serious interview. I don’t know if he was kidding about both halves of that sentence or only the second part."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Daily Snarl

Look at this knee-jerk snarl by the professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley, aka Angry Arab:

"Zionists think that they can issue commands to the Egyptian people

Look at this silly headline in an Israeli propaganda sheet: "Let Mubarak die in peace".
Failing, in the bitterness of his hermetic robotic hatred, to note that the plea (how can "let X die in peace" be possibly interpreted as issuing a command?) is actually addressed to the Egyptian people by "Jihad al-Khazen, one of the most prominent, influential and respected columnist in the Arab world, defended Mubarak in an op-ed published by leading newspaper al-Hayat".

Jihad al-Khazen cannot be suspected of being a crypto-Zionist, when he is described as:

"an anti-Israel, anti-American, anti-Semitic columnist for the London-based al-Hayat, one of the leading newspapers in the Arabic Diaspora. Though al-Hayat is somewhat pro-West on some issues, al-Khazen's ink poisons the editorial page. In a recent column, the Lebanese columnist openly admits, "Throughout my journalistic career I have mainly focused on criticizing the United States and on attacking Israel." His blatant lies and vitriol, in the last month alone, are worth recounting."
An author after Prof. AbuKhalil's own heart and mind.

So, one might well ask, scratching one's head: What gives?

A famous Israeli joke tells about a man who visits a zoo and stands for hours next to the giraffe's enclosure, staring at it in utter fascination: There is no such animal, he finally says.

This is more or less how I feel whenever I visit AAAA's blog (on a daily basis). I've been asked why I find this person's fulminations so interesting. I don't really know how to answer except that I look and read and think to myself: this cannot be real.



The most encouraging aspect of this article is the fact that I found it, of all places, on this website: Now Lebanon,

"independent, non-sectarian, and includes members from all Lebanese political, ethnic, religious and socio-economic groups and persuasions. The single idea that is truly sacred in this forum is the pursuit of an independent, democratic, liberal and prosperous Lebanon, with equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens."

with a note at the bottom of the page that
"The above article was published in on July 19th, 2011".
Oy. So, the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.


Second aside:

AA is not as outlandish and alone as one might wish.

Just happened to visit a website where the real issue is discussed of what to do with all those Jews living in Israel once Israel becomes a real democracy.

A few choice quotes from commenters:

"Saeed Hotary

Any Jew who occupies any part of historic Palestine is a zionist. Zionism will not be conquered until former zionists exercise their right of return OUT of Palestine. I dont buy this distinction of non zionist vs left zionist. Both you and Larry are not part of the solution as is"


"It is a call for a new Past Zionist discourse. It seems that Zionism, as a word, ideology, theology or movement has emerged as the new battlefield between those who would claim to be better Zionists: the settlers and their supporters, and those who say that a “Zionist is not a settler” and that “we” need to end the Occupation to save ourselves. In the meantime, ultra-right nationalism thrives in Israel’s political system, the domestic human rights movement is under attack, settlement and occupation are ever more engrained as Israel’s civil religion, and Palestinian families are cleared out of East Jerusalem to make way for privileged “Zionists,” the settlers.

This is not a criticism of those who would anchor their worldview or politics in Zionism. Rather it questions the wisdom and efficacy of such an investment, when what we really need is to focus on democracy, human rights and social justice. Perhaps, at a later point, Zionism can find its place in the discussion, and Judaism can work its way back into democracy. But for now, democracy must be the first priority because that is what is being molested at this time."


"I am always shocked at the level of compassion and humanising of Israelis that I hear from Palestinians who have lost more than everything at Israeli hands. Even though Israelis (such as the ones who said youre drilling holes in the lifeboat his sympathisers and who probably formulate the majority in Israel) dont necessarily deserve such care from those the very people they are oppressing. After everything that was and is being done to the Palestinians, its only understandable there are those who feel like Saeed Hotary, whom you call an ethnic cleanser. Fantasies of having the brutal occupier leave the homeland they stole is not quite the same as the one that Zionists exercised the last 60 years. They really had 60 years to prove their intentions and failed at every turn. Would you be so forgiving if it happened to you? Israelis should be totally understanding if Palestinians feel like Saeed, but hope for forgiveness."


"I am a 3rd generation refugee, but regard Jaffa, Palestine as my home. My family owned large amounts of commercially valuable property in Jaffa. When my Right of Return occurs, I want my property back. The world community will soon impose the Right of Return on isreael, so I dont need to negotiate to get less than I would otherwise. In terms of you living in israel since age 6, that is your problem. That means that your family has been trespassing for a long time. Most countries deport illegal immigrants even if they have been in the country for decades. You and your families do not have the permission of the Palestinian people to remain in Palestine. Russia welcomes you home"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Nightmarish Opposite of Doubt

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

From Bertrand Russell's "Mortals and others":

"The moral of this story is that believers in every kind of ‘ism’ ought to hang together, however opposite their nostrums may be. They differ from ordinary people by the fact that they have a nostrum. One man’s nostrum is only endurable to the ordinary person when it is counterbalanced by another man’s nostrum. If the believers in any one ‘ism’ could convert the believers in all other ‘isms’ to their way of thinking the general run of mankind would find them so boring that they would exterminate them. This applies to the believers in optimism no less than it applies to the believers in pessimism. The pessimism of our age is generally explained as being due to the bad state of the world, but I believe it is quite as much due to the boredom, which we all endured in youth through the optimism of the Victorians."

From Roger Scruton's "The Uses of pessimism":

"The worst are precisely those who wish to sweep away the settled community of strangers, and to impose in its place either a divinely ordered 'brotherhood', or the conscripted unity of a society at war. The best are those who are no more convinced about anything, than they are convinced that convictions should not matter. Robespierre, Lenin, Hitler, Sartre, Mao and Bin Laden do not share many features. But they are united in one thing, which is the 'passionate intensity' that comes from demanding conviction and unity in the place of settlement and doubt."

Not with a bang but a whimper ...

According to this report:

"The navy intercepted the French-flagged vessel after it informed the ship that it was nearing the Gaza blockade lines and must change its course to the Ashdod port or Egypt. The ship refused to divert its course, causing Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Grantz to give the navy permission to take control of the yacht.

The navy told the passengers to prepare for a "calm boarding." There was no resistance and the 15 activists on board were transferred to a naval ship participating in the mission. The passengers were provided with food and water and checked by an IDF doctor. They will be taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where they will undergo standard security procedures and transferred to Interior ministry officials and immigration authorities. [-]

Passengers on the ship included citizens of Canada, France, Greece, Sweden and Tunisia, as well as Israeli Haaretz journalist Amira Hass and a team from Al-Jazeera TV.

On Monday, representatives of the ship issued a statement saying "The presence at sea by the Dignity-Al Karama is a setback for the Israeli government who by force and coercion seeks to perpetuate the illegal and criminal blockade to silence civil society movements around the world."

Monday, July 18, 2011

You wouldn't know, would you,


" The diamond pendant necklace, for example, was given to Opposition Leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) by the wife of the king of Morocco during a secret visit to the capital, Rabat, when she was Foreign Minister.

Livni quickly deposited the gift in the Knesset storage vault, as per the law regarding gifts to Knesset members. Livni also received a diamond-and-gemstone gold necklace with a set of gold rings, courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Morocco."

if it weren't for the invaluable services of the ever vigilant Angry Arab, quick to be mortally offended by any sign of normalization between any Arab and Israel.

Israel's anti-Boycott Law

The debate rages on. I was following it a bit absent-mindedly, as I have nothing really to say for or against it. But I read this post on Engage and was moved to make a comment:

“The general assumption seems to be that the Israeli street support the law and don’t want their tax shekels to fund any kind of boycott, even one to weaken the settler economy. I’m not so sure – I speculate this perceived support might be a case of demagoguery by politicians …”

The Israeli street is fully aware that when boycotters speak about “settlements” they do not make any distinction WHATSOEVER between settlements and settlements. There is a consensus in the Israeli street about which settlements are no longer settlements and which settlements can be regarded still as settlements. Jerusalem neighbourhoods, the townships and villages that thicken the Green Line, Gush Etzion, the Golan Heights, all these “settlements” are not regarded, in the mind of the Israeli Street, as settlements. This is not the result of any demagoguery by politicians but a grass root support for these places of residence and an instinctive aversion to anyone or anything which would designate their population as something criminal or illegitimate. The term “settler economy” which intends to draw a line of demarcation between what is good Israel from bad Israel is not a term that the Israeli Street would be familiar with, or would have much patience for.

I suggest that people apply allan siegel’s profound wisdom when he says “It is ultimately up to Palestinians to judge whether the boycott is effective (not for Israelis or anyone else) and I’ve not noticed many complaints from that side.”, to the other side of conflict: that it is ultimately up to Israelis to judge whether they support the law against boycott of “settler economy” and I’ve not noticed many complaints from Israelis against the logic of the law. Most of the criticisms I’ve encountered come from people who contend with the advisability of passing such a law, from the point of view of PR and considering that the actual details of the law will be lost more or less on everyone.

Israeli Journalist Ben Dror Yemini as usual, has some sharp insights to impart on this matter:

“1. A boycott is a legitimate means…. The struggle against the boycott supporters ought to be conducted in the public debate arena. It is not a simple matter. The industry of lies is working overtime. But we must see that it is far from winning the day. The boycott supporters’ achievements are limited. Part of the Israeli Right seems intent on strengthening their hands. As far as this Right is concerned, the law would serve as an additional ammunition in its bag of tricks.

2. That being said, there are clauses in the law that are justified. Those are the clauses that disallow benefits for organizations that support the boycott. Whoever maintains the position that Israel deserves to be boycotted does not deserve any benefits from the state. Just as in the case of the first, and discarded, version of the “Nakba Law”, which suggested that those who commemorate the Nakba be censured, the final bill which passed, and rightly so, denied any funding for such commemorations by the state.

Israeli ethos has fostered a very special type of entitlement. As in the case of the painter who joined a Canadian campaign of boycott against the city of Tel Aviv; he returned home to receive an award from the city of Tel Aviv for his artistic achievements. And like hundreds of artists from the same political persuasion who demand money from the state to explain to the world that Israel is a pariah state. They are free to speak and preach as much as they like, but not at our expense.”

(Hastily translated by noga)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Egyptian, An Israeli and An Angry Arab-American

The Egyptian:

"The question, then, is not, how could an Egyptian “liberal” partake in a round of Holocaust revisionism? Rather, it is whether Ahmed Ezz el-Arab and others like him are in fact really liberals. That is, is it possible to be a genuine liberal and an anti-Semite at the same time? Of course not. Egyptian anti-Semitism is the starting point of a political ideology that has dominated the region for more than 60 years and shaped how politics are conducted. Jew hatred and the accompanying conspiracy theories serve as a way of explaining the world that not only builds up hatred, but also crushes any serious attempt at examining the region’s true ills. Until Arab officials, journalists, and academics—encouraged by their Western counterparts—start to reconsider not only the roots of their anti-Semitic discourse but also its ugly fruit, there’s little chance of liberalism carrying the day in the region. After all, liberalism needs real liberals. "
The Israeli:
"Many people are discovering that the Israeli-Palestinian problem is not as central as it was depicted, and it is certainly clear today that it is not the heart of the Middle East conflict. On the contrary, in the eyes of more and more Arabs Israel appears indeed like a model worthy of discussion –its democracy, the way it has successfully integrated East and West, its highly developed civil society.This process is beneficial for Israel. Now it has better chances in the region, without the incitement of decades past as a tool of dictatorship in the hands of dictators. This process is also beneficial for Arab societies, which are developing self awareness; societies that are finally able to look at themselves internally. There will not be another central axis on which the whole Arab world will be able to lean. But there will be endless true and stable axes – even more than the old illusion that is breaking up now. "
The Angry Arab:
"For the fourth or fifth time, the gas pipe line to Israel has been bombed. I received word about this latest one from one of the leading figures of the Egyptian uprising. He was ecstatic and told me that they laughed for one hour yesterday when they received the news. And then Egyptians (and other Arabs) were joking about it all night long with various comical hash tags. Wait: I am not supposed to write on this because Thomas Friedman reassured Zionists that the Egyptian uprising has no foreign policy goals."


To me it appears that the Angry Arab and the Egyptian journalist agree on the basics, that anti-Israel sentiment animates the populism of the Arab "spring". AA is couldn't be any more pleased about the tales of violent sabotage, and sign of the vivid animosity against Israel that he can find in Egypt after Tahrir. The Egyptian journalist rues the treason of the so-called "liberal" Linkclasses for maintaining exactly the kinds of antisemitic/anti-Zionist postures, which he cannot compromise with their talk about democratic reforms, freedom, law, order and civil society. The Israeli journalist seems to want to look at the Egyptian's understanding as though it were representative of the mood in the Arab Street, and center his analysis around that.

Having asked the same question.
I listen to Samuel Tadros when he asks, plainly: " ... is it possible to be a genuine liberal and an anti-Semite at the same time? Of course not."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Golden Horoscope Advice

"Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) One thing I love about you Scorpios—you’re not afraid to own your opinions. If you think someone’s moronic, you don’t chastise yourself like one of those oversensitive Pisceans (“Oh, that’s so mean; I shouldn’t think that!”). I hope you never lose your ability to clearly understand and express your own ideas about the world, even if they’re harsh or critical, without becoming muddled in self-censorship or self-delusion. However, that doesn’t mean you should always express those opinions out loud or in mixed company, especially this week. By all means have them—but keep them to yourself."

- Hear that, Contentious?

- Fat chance ...

The Irony of Arendt

Via Bob, I arrived at this article by Gertrude Ezorsky “Hannah Arendt Against the Facts” New Politics 2, 4 (1963).

As a reader of Hannah Arendt's books, which I have not yet exhausted by any means, it is always a surprise for me to realize that whatever impressions or opinions I formed about Arendt in the past, there is always another corner to turn. This passage interested me:

"One of Miss Arendt’s troubles is her conception of Zionism. ... Miss Arendt does not find Eichmann’s 1939 Nisko project inconsistent with his Zionist opinions—although that project called for a “Jewish state” in an area without water and ridden with cholera, dysentery and typhoid. The earlier Nazi policy was to rob Jews and let them emigrate to Palestine for there were few countries which would accept Jewish emigrants. This is the stage that Miss Arendt consistently characterizes as “pro-Zionist.” Were the anti-Semitic hooligans who chased Jews in the streets of Eastern Europe yelling “Go back to Palestine” also pro-Zionist? The directive to allow Jews to leave Germany for Palestine came from Hitler after he had studied not the Zionist classic, Der Judenstaat, but a Nazi tract of Alfred Rosenberg’s on the racial question. Was Hitler also pro-Zionist?"
The critic appears to read Arednt's description of Eichmann's "Zionist" sympathies at face value. When I was reading the book myself, I never for a second imagined that this was being stated straightforwardly. In fact, I had many misgivings about Arendt's representations and misrepresentations in the book of Judaism, of Gideon Hausner, of large chunks of Israeli society, of her unquestioning acceptance of dubious historical rumours as facts, her harsh and almost heartless treatment of the Jewish leaders. Arendt seems to have been quite bigoted on several fronts when it came to Jews whom she did not understand or seemed very remote from her own intellectual milieu. Nor would I rely on Arendt for historically-verifiable instruction at all (For example, an unquestioning belief that she shared with many contemporary Germans that Heidrich, the architect of the Final Solution, had Jewish blood, a falsehood she takes as fact and around which she develops d an entire paragraph about his death and supposed repentance). I also share in the vehemence at the unsuitability of brutal ironical voice she employed in the book, and which invoked unspeakable pain and helpless outrage in her Jewish readers. But I do believe that "irony" is the magic key word here.

It so happens that I have just begun to skim a book I was given by someone who knows I'm interested in Arendt, and came across a relevant passage which provides a plausible explanation for the way Arendt characterizes Eichmann's "Zionism".

From "The Writing on the Wall and other Literary Essays" by Mary McCarthy, in the chapter titled: The Hue and Cry, the author says:

"Smoothly and efficiently-almost peacefully. This was the fearful characteristic of the final Solution, and for this Eichmann, the transportation expect, was the perfect instrument. Of course sic psychiatrists pronounced him normal; he was normal and average and therefore perfectly fitted for his job, which was to "make the wheels run smoothly," in both a literal and figurative sense. His function was to normalize the Final solution. With his conceit and boasting, his pompous home-made cliches and "winged words," he was at once ridiculous and ordinary, for ordinariness carried to a zenith is absurd. No better example of the mass murderer who is at the same time the perfect family man (Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux) could be found than the ineffable Eichmann. One of his lawyers said he was like the mailman-a person you see every day on his methodical rounds and seldom notice. Naturally he got along well with Jews; it was part of his job to do so. Among the cliches he incorporated in his personality (to speak of his "character" would be a mistake) was the Some-of-my-best-friends cliche. That he would push this to the point of imagining that he had been converted to zionism (the Jewish final solution) was pushing the logic of the cliche to the nth degree of complacancy and self-delusion. How could abel have missed the irony in Miss Arendt's account of his "conversion"-a dramatic irony, furthermore, since when she tells the reader that Eichmann had been "promptly and forever" made a Zionist by reading a "basic book," she is dryly summing up a speaker who has no idea of the effect on an audience of what he was saying? It was Eichmann, alone in the world, who considered himself a good disciple of Herzl.

According to Abel, Eichmann must have thought about Nazism politically since he thought about Zionism. But Eichmann's "thought" was a parody of the idea of thinking. Had Mein Kampf been his "bible" he might have pressed a flower in it. His Zionist 'studies" has a function; they made him an expert, at least in the circles he moved in. they made him "stand out" from his co-workers-the life-object of all mediocrities. As a specialist in Jewish emigration, he was perfectly fitted, when the time came, to arrange Jewish Jewish emigration to the next world, to Abraham's bosom. Among his fellow-bureaucrats, he might have passed highest in a vocational aptitude test for a new job. A sadist, a monster, or demon would not have qualified for the position; these "undesirables" had their place in the Nazi system as jailers and editors of periodicals, but a man with Eichmann's responsibilities could not be a beast of Belsen or a Julius Streicher. The fact that Eichmann was squeamish , could not bear the sight of blood, was even an "idealist" permitted precisely that distancing from reality that facilitated the administrative task-a distancing that reflected the physical and psychic space between the collective will of the German people in the homeland and its execution in the east. If Eichmann seems to have been cordial, rather than the block of ice described by one witness, this was good public relations, for one of his duties was to allay the suspicions of the Jews and other foreigners he came in contact with, so that they too would be distanced from reality."

McCarthy's essay is disturbing on several levels. She seems to belittle Jewish concerns even as she acknowledges Jewish pain. But Jewish pain is marginalized and somewhat ridiculed, in her urgent need to defend her friend by any means at her disposal. Thus, we read that

"[Arendt] is expressing the same pain her Jewish readers felt in reading her summary of that "dark chapter" and for which they are ready to condemn her, as a tyrant used to condemn to death the messenger of bad news..."
So Arent's pain is fully appreciated but her Jewish critics' pain is
no more worthy of consideration than the irrational acts of some idiot tyrant.

McCarthy notices that
"So far as I know, all Miss Arendt's hostile reviews ... have come from Jews, and those favourable to her , from Gentiles ... "
But this perception does not really give her pause to look and look again, at least to try to see why such division is occurring. The long and the short of it is, she and her "Gentile" friends who "get" Arendt's meanings as they should be gotten, unlike her Jewish detractors who must misunderstand her, or do so deliberately for some reason or another we do not quite know. Perhaps a clue can be discerned in the way McCarthy dismisses one of Arendt's Gentile critics as:

"Richard Crossman, M.P., who has been championing the state of Israel since 1946 and who winters in Tiberias".
In other words, the Jewish Hannah Arendt is embraced by McCarthy and her many Gentile, thoughtful and truly sympathetic fellow-thinkers. Arendt is one of them, not one of those.

Reminds you of something?
"In the minds of the privileged Jews such measures taken by the state appeared to be the workings of a sort of heavenly tribunal, by whom the virtuous - who had more than a certain income - were rewarded with human rights, and the unworthy - living in mass concentration in the eastern provinces - were punished as pariahs. Since that time it has become a mark of assimilated Jews to be unable to distinguish between friend and enemy, between compliment and insult, and to feel flattered when an antisemite assures them that he does not mean them, that they, are exceptions - exceptional Jews. The events of recent years have proved that the "excepted Jew" is more the Jew than the exception; no Jew feels quite happy any more about being assured that he is an exception. " (Privileged Jews Author(s): Hannah Arendt Source: Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Jan., 1946)
I believe it was indeed Hannah Arendt who mercilessly analysed the phenomenon of the "exceptional Jew" which she diagnosed and named when she was researching antisemitism in German society at the onset of the nineteenth century. More than any other Jew, she understood profoundly, on the intellectual and emotional levels, the meaning, the appeal, and pervasiveness, the harm, of this construct. And yet, such is the irony of fate, or whatever, that she is being cossetted, defended, coddled, toasted, for being an exceptional Jew.

No other author than Jane Austen, in my reading experience, has managed to draw with such meticulous detail, wit and, yes, cruelty, the stratagems and arts and shallowness of the female flirt in her novels. Yet I remember reading somewhere that both Jane and her sister, Cassandra, were known among their social circles as outrageous flirts. So Austen's portraits of the flirt came from a profound intimacy with this vice. Perhaps this is why we are not so angry with Isabella at the end of "Northanger Abbey". We do not feel happy for her downfall. Some of her author's empathy, though subversively employed, must have trickled through.

Perhaps we can regard Hannah Arendt in the same ironic light: that she, who so incandescently wrote about this pathology of the "exceptional Jew", would herself become in the ripeness of time and under the right set of circumstances, the beneficiary of the position about which she has written with such contempt and sympathy.