Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Comment trail:

@ The New Republic: a discussion of the Walzer and Margalit's article ( parts of which I translated for the benefit of those interested posters) in which a case is attempted to be made that IDF soldiers were following morally-flawed rules of engagement during the Gaza war. I outline my critique of the weaknesses of this case as it is presented by the two intellectuals.

@ The Magnes Zionist
: treats the same Michael Walzer and Avishai Margalit article, celebrating Walzer's condemnation as " carefully worded but uncompromising". I took issue with some of Mr. Haber's expressed positions, based on some peculiarly misleading interpretations of Hebrew slang terms and what not.


I'm going to park here my latest comment to the Magnes Zionist until such time as it makes through his moderation. He has already banned one poster because he didn't like his line of thinking, so I get the impression that Mr. Haber is not too tolerant of people disputing his truths.

"Mr. Haber,

I’m sorry to belabour the point. I get the feeling that you get very impatient with posters who take issue with your so confidently-stated accounts.

I took your advice and googled the term "lech-le-azza". It took a few attempts at different transcripts to get a substantial number of results. Here is what one of them says:

"Faced with attacks from the Gaza Strip since the early 1950s, Israelis were cursing “Lech le’Aza” – literally “go to Gaza” and figuratively “go to hell” –
years before their conquest of the coastal strip where their sworn enemies lived in the largest numbers and worst conditions. Now, as Israel leaves the Strip after nearly four decades of strategic disorientation, Gaza is showing no signs of shedding its dubious distinction as hell’s synonym. Indeed, a vast majority of Israelis – including ones who would not part with its Jewish settlements – woke up this morning happily Gaza-less. To them, this part of the surgery they have just undergone feels less like an amputation and more like the removal of a tumor. Though this rule has had its exceptions, on the whole when Israelis heard “Gaza” what came to mind was hostility, fanaticism, violence and irredeemable destitution. The place author Amos Elon once described as “the Middle East’s
armpit” was where most years, most Israelis would not go unarmed, if at all.
It was the sprawling maze of makeshift alleys, shanty towns and open sewage channels that two generations of Israelis patrolled incessantly and recall traumatically. It was the place that a succession of Israeli administrations tried, and failed, to rehabilitate;"


So your characterization of this colloquialism as a "double entendre" (the etymology of which you neglected to mention in your original post, leaving the reader with the impression that "lech le-azza" was a malign invention of the average Israeli mind, meant to express utter contempt, disregard, and indifference to the life of Gazan Palestinians) is indeed closer to the linguistic meaning. However, you fail to identify properly the rationale of this abbreviated form of "Lech le-azazel", namely, that the misery of the place had less to do with it than the fact that since the early fifties Gaza was the place from which terrorists infiltrated into Israel, always leaving behind death and destruction.

The ill wish conveyed in this expletive has more or less the same function as "Go to hell". People tell each "go to hell" when they hope their enemy will go to a place in which they will feel very uncomfortable and maybe even their life will be endangered. “Lech le-azza” has less to do with Gazza than with the fate that awaits Israelis should they attempt the excursion without protection.


@ Bob's: the thread on Hannah Arendt generated a long long comment exchange which I hesitate to call a discussion. By 'long long comment exchange" I mean a long thread with excruciatingly long comments left there by posters whose thought processes
I cannot begin to fathom, and whose staunch loyalty to historical revisionisms would not shame even Holocaust denial aficionados. One needs to read it to believe it.

@ Terry Glavin's about Galloway's banning from entering Canada - the story that never happened


At 1:07 AM EDT, Anonymous Mingreli said...

"...One needs to read it to believe it..."

But only those with a strong stomach should try.

"...posters ... whose historical revisionisms would not shame even Holocaust denial aficionados..."

Anti-Zionism is a form of Holocaust denial.

At 5:45 PM EDT, Anonymous TNC said...

Magnes Zionist is a waste of your time.

At 10:20 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Yes, I get the impression that there is nothing "Zionist" about him, which is probably why he is admired so volubly by some antisemites-by-proxy I happen to know.

An antisemite-by-proxy is my term for what Anthony Julius called, much more decorously, "Antisemitism's Fellow Travellers":

"For the second kind, antisemitism is not relevant to the positions that they take; they do not recoil from antisemitism when they encounter it; they are insensitive to the presence of antisemitism in their own positions or in the positions that they support. They may not be antisemites themselves, but they collude with antisemitism. They are often found defending antisemites - not guilty of the offence themselves, but quick to champion others who are guilty of it. The distinction I am drawing is between the culpable adoption of antisemitism and a culpable indifference towards it. ...They share space with antisemites, untroubled by the company that they keep; they comprise a species of "fellow traveller" ("bystander" does not quite do the vice justice), the kind of person ready to overlook or excuse everything that is vicious in the cause he supports, the protagonists he admires."

At 10:28 AM EDT, Blogger Jerry Haber said...

I suppose Judah Magnes was also an anti-Zionist in your book. Why don't you read my "Zionism without a Jewish State"


and deal with it before you get "impressions."

It is so pathetic that you orthodox statist Zionists who pretend you are centrist (because to your right are the Liebermans and the Judaeo-nazis) have to hold Zionists to a litmus test.

Well, if Judah Magnes was not a Zionist, or for that matter, Simon Rawidowicz, then I am not one either. Nor was Ahad ha-Am or the other non-statist Zionists.

You may have run across those fellows; if not, I am sure wikipedia will work for you. And I can send you some links

You can have your Anthony Juliuses and other Dershowitz wannabes. According to be Julius, to be pro-Palestinian, e.g., to insist on the right of return, is to be anti-Semitic ex definitione. He has just replaced one form of anti-Semitism with another. That's the real "New" Antisemitism.

Or is it new...after all, the 1947 partition plan called for the establishment of two states. Yet when the Israeli Declaration of Independence was announced -- before Israel had been attacked by foreign Arab armies -- all mention of the Palestinian state conveniently dropped out of the reference to Partition.

The "New Antisemitism" is as old as statist Zionism.

At 11:25 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Zionism" is a fossilized term, which should have been absolete at the moment that the state of Israel was established. Hence I do not understand what "statist Zionist" means, though I imagine it has some meaning for you. You spend part of your year in the US and in case there is no more Israel as a Jewish state but an Arab state with a large Jewish minority in it, you always have the very viable possibility of packing up and leaving to an equally comfortable life in a thriving democracy. Unlike the millions of working class Israelis who will not enjoy such freedom and whose fate we can only anticipate when we look at the fate of other minorities in Arab countries, never mind Jews.

I also fail to get your point about the declaration of Independence. It seems a little desperate. Perhaps you can point me to another declaration of independence in the history of nations where the national aspirations of another people was alluded to?

Here is what it says:

"THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

..WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East."

I think these statements cover any obligations Israel was expected to address vis a vis the Arab population in Palestine. Israel cannot be held accountable for Arab rejection of the partition, and the possibility of their own statehood, by launching an all-out war upon the Jewish population, which they lost, contrary to all expectations.

Arabs need to understand that compromise and making peace are not dirty words. It seems you need to learn this very simple lesson as well.


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