Saturday, January 17, 2009

Farewell, My Lovely: Europe and Israel

A talented commenter with a flair for the ironic on The New Republic's The Spine blog suggested
the following in an attempt to alleviate the mood a bit:

"..possibilities for morbid fiction:

Wuthering Hates -- the story of a lot of unexamined feelings about Israel that emerge in confused theories of balance and neutrality

I'm Proud, But Also Prejudiced -- the novel Jane Austen would have written had she lived to see Disraeli become prime minister

Eyeless in Gaza -- I was just free-associating, but that would be a great title for a novel!

The House With the Seven Oh Bollix Watch Out Six Gables -- the story of a Hamas rocket unit that just escapes an IDF artillery attack on their hideout

Farewell My Lovely -- An ageing continent, Europe, commissions Philip Marlowe to find reasons to justify its final abandoning of its commitment to Israel."

The author of the new version of "Farewell My Lovely" may have hit the nail on its head, as this article by Frank Furedi illustrates:

I am standing in a queue waiting to buy a train ticket from London to Canterbury. A well-dressed lady standing behind me informs her friend that she “can’t wait till Israel disappears off the face of the earth.” What struck me was not her intense hostility to Israel but the mild-mannered, matter-of-fact tone with which she announced her wish for the annihilation of a nation. It seems that it is okay to condemn and demonize Israel. All of a sudden Israel has become an all-purpose target for a variety of disparate and confused causes.


Distancing Europe from Israel is seen as necessary for appeasing the anger of Europe’s Muslim population. From this perspective, the problem is not simply Israel but also Europe’s Jewish population.

So in order to accommodate what are taken to be Muslim sensibilities, Jewish interests often become a negotiable commodity.

This, in turn, reminded me of George Orwell's
Antisemitism in Britain, in which he recalls some similar incidents in April 1945:

Middle-aged office employee: “I generally come to work by bus. It takes longer, but I don't care about using the Underground from Golders Green nowadays. There's too many of the Chosen Race travelling on that line.”

Tobacconist (woman): “No, I've got no matches for you. I should try the lady down the street. She's always got matches. One of the Chosen Race, you see.”

Young intellectual, Communist or near-Communist: “No, I do not like Jews. I've never made any secret of that. I can't stick them. Mind you, I'm not antisemitic, of course.”

Middle-class woman: “Well, no one could call me antisemitic, but I do think the way these Jews behave is too absolutely stinking. The way they push their way to the head of queues, and so on. They're so abominably selfish. I think they're responsible for a lot of what happens to them.”

Milk roundsman: “A Jew don't do no work, not the same as what an Englishman does. ’E's too clever. We work with this 'ere” (flexes his biceps). “They work with that there” (taps his forehead).

Chartered accountant, intelligent, left-wing in an undirected way: “These bloody Yids are all pro-German. They'd change sides tomorrow if the Nazis got here. I see a lot of them in my business. They admire Hitler at the bottom of their hearts. They'll always suck up to anyone who kicks them.”

Intelligent woman, on being offered a book dealing with antisemitism and German atrocities: “Don't show it me, please don't show it to me. It'll only make me hate the Jews more than ever.”

I could fill pages with similar remarks, but these will do to go on with.


A roundabout response, here.


At 4:52 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Eyeless in Gaza" is indeed the title of a novel, written by Aldous Huxley in the 1930's.

"...Jews are always jumping to the head of the queue..." was an accusation made by no less than the post-war British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. He did what he could to push the Jews to the back of the queue, where he believed we belonged. He went so far as to propose reopening German concentration camps and populating them with the Jewish refugees who had the temerity to try to make their way to Palestine on boats such as the Exodus.

Orwell wrote about antisemitism in 1945. It is a damning fact that antisemitism peaked in the Anglo-Saxon world in that year. It is also dispiriting to see how Orwell and many others like him endeavoured to downplay the Holocaust in these discussions.

Removing the Holocaust as a factor in political discussions is a tactic that has been picked up by some of our contemporaries, such as Christopher Hitchens and Ilan Pepe. Hitchens can write about Evian without mentioning the 1938 conference held there (Golda Meir was the Jewish Agency observer) that proved to Hitler that he would be allowed to exterminate the Jews with impunity. Pepe writes about Ben Gurion's plans (including Tochnit Daledt) to start preparing for war in 1943 without mentioning the fact that 5000 European Jews were being murdered daily at the time, and that the Palestine Arab leader Amin El Husseini was in Berlin praising the killings.

At 5:20 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Ilan Pappe.

"On Pappé's A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, Benny Morris wrote:

"Unfortunately much of what Pappé tries to sell his readers is complete fabrication. [...] This book is awash with errors of a quantity and a quality that are not found in serious historiography. [...] The multiplicity of mistakes on each page is a product of both Pappé's historical methodology and his political proclivities[.] [...] For those enamored with subjectivity and in thrall to historical relativism, a fact is not a fact and accuracy is unattainable."[22] "

"Efraim Karsh, regarded as the most vocal critic of the New Historians, also accuses Pappé of factual misrepresentations:

"Readers are told of events that never happened, such as the nonexistent May 1948 Tantura "massacre" or the expulsion of Arabs within twelve days of the partition resolution. They learn of political decisions that were never made, such as the Anglo-French 1912 plan for the occupation of Palestine or the contriving of 'a master plan to rid the future Jewish state of as many Palestinians as possible. And they are misinformed about military and political developments, such as the rationale for the Balfour declaration . ." .'[25] "

With the Jenin "massacre" myth, the al-Durah hoax, the Gaza beach bombing lie, and other incidents still repeated as "Israel's atrocities" by people who know them to be falsehoods, it is very easy to doubt much of what Pappe narrates about events that took place more than 60 years ago. I always wonder why the need to embelish and inflate the misery of Palestinians, as if being refugees for four generations is not enough by way of generating pity..

At 6:04 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is sad that some of the worst enemies of the Jewish people, the world's most viscreal anti-Semites are self-hating Jews..


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