In his Opinion piece in ‘The Boston Globe’ yesterday, Jeff Jacoby says that Israel has a right to exist. Further, he asserts that anti-Zionism is bigotry and it is “preposterous” to say otherwise. He supports that by proposing that if somebody were to say “that Ireland has no right to exist, that Irish nationalism is racism, and that those who murder Irishmen are actually victims deserving the world’s sympathy” then “Who would take his fulminations as anything but anti-Irish bigotry? Or believe him if he says he harbors no prejudice against the Irish?”
I have nothing against the Jewish people. And there was indeed a concerted effort on the part of the Third Reich to destroy European Jewry, and six million Jewish human beings were thereby destroyed.
Whether it wise for the United States to enthusiastically and immediately recognize the entity raised up in consequence of the forcible armed taking of Palestine is open to question; as is – and even more so – the 1967, LBJ-initiated American embrace of whatever the Israeli ‘realm’ (how can you have a realm without a king, linguistically speaking?) saw fit to do.
The Irish, my first thought is, have been around in the same place for millennia. So Jacoby’s equation of “Ireland’ and ‘Israel’ in that sense is not particularly accurate, as history goes. Of course, the question arises whether the Celts ‘found’ an ‘empty land’ when they first came over to the Emerald Isle back in the mists of pre-Roman time. After all, maybe the ancestors of the Irish had to engage in the same type of take-over as the first-arrived future-Israelis had to do just 60 years ago. If so, then in 1948 the world saw pretty much a throw-back to the old primitive-civilizational, tribal history of one people displacing another.
Although if there were prior inhabitants of the fabled Isle, there was probably a great deal of blending and mixing, interpenetration of cultures – you could say – lasting for quite a long time, until the ‘Irish’ were in many ways a product of the Celtic and the lifeways of the earlier inhabitants.
If so, then the Israeli phenomenon is hell-and-gone from that. The Israeli approach appears to be something akin to subjugation if not extermination of the Palestinian folk who inhabited ‘the land’ in 1948; blending and interpentration of cultures is most certainly not in the playbook. And who could be surprised that in the face of that game-plan, the pre-Israeli inhabitants have – with an oh-so-human display of self-preservation – continued to resist as best they can the ‘blessings’ of their assigned role in the Israeli – and the Zionist – vision?
But Jacoby got me to thinking – and the Israeli government actually beat me to it: just how is the story of the Israeli taking of Palestine any different from the American taking of ‘America’, as We like to call it? After all, there were peoples all over this huge chunk of the continent, and while they didn’t have a European-style government set up, they surely had a culture and a history here; their gods and their dead were here, and they had – according to their lights – a ‘going concern’ in terms of habitation.
They were infected, lied-to, tricked, hunted down, shot, hung and in the end even machine-gunned next to pits into which their bodies would fall (now that sounds familiar) and all but exterminated. Nor is there today any American desire to have any courts go over the vast detritus of broken, solemnly-pledged treaties, to adjudicate whether there was just and fair dealing, whether indeed the treaty-contracts were honored by the American parties, and consequently whether – the treaties having been broken in the interests of American expansion– most of the real-estate of this great country actually reverted back to the Indians for the cause of American ‘failure to perform’ long ago. Oy!
The Israelis are on to something when they claim that they are the ‘Americans’ of the modern Middle East.
Of course, it was not historically advisable to pull an 18th-century play in the middle of the 20th century, precisely as the entire colonialist phase of European and Western history was coming to a close.
Let alone, because a significant moral element in the closing of that phase stemmed from the shock and outrage at what the Nazi Reich (realm?) had perpetrated against, among others, those of Jewish faith.
“It may seem strange” – to borrow Lincoln’s tactful phrase – that a people so recently subjected to the dark pandemonium of forced uprooting, concentration in camps, and extermination would so soon thereafter seek to impose such a fate on anybody else.
That monstrous disconnect, generating a cognitive, moral and political dissonance of stupendous proportions, has been the exact reality that Israeli propaganda, diplomacy, and military exertions have been designed to hide, to prevent from remaining visible and audible in American public life and discourse. It has proven impossible to prevent among the Israeli citizenry themselves, thanks to some courageous ‘press’ and ‘media’ in their midst who have kept the difficult truths alive for the still-vital conscience of the Israeli people); We for the most part no longer enjoy such a civilized and crucial benefit.
Does Israel have a right to exist? Well, according to the law of the gun, yes. And the United States is hardly in a position to lecture the ‘realm’ from any moral high ground. Nor have We in Our employ many politicians who would care to try, if indeed they retain any ability to operate in the realm of morality at all any longer.
But the Israeli government cannot at the same time insist that it is the overall, the ‘real’, victim in this intensifying catastrophe. You cannot be David and Goliath. Not, anyway, without being very very two-faced.
The Israeli ‘experiment’ faces its own demographic pressures militating against its long-term success; its own fundamental conceptual inconsistency – seeking to be a one-religion ‘modern democracy’; its own tactical and karmic blowback from its sustained program of deceit and violence; and – the hellhot ironies! – its loss of the political and financial support of its superpower enabler, in no small part through the efforts of Israel-indentured neocons and Fundamentalists and vote-cagey Democrats who squandered and have now irretrievably lost the United States’ financial, diplomatic and military hegemony which Truman and Johnson yoked to the very whims of the Israeli government without a serious thought to the ultimate common-weal of the United States and the strictures of genuine justice and morality.
Consequences, thus, all around. Toothy turkeys coming home to roost. A thorough-going, full-spectrum debauchery of the power and integrity of both the United States and the Israeli realm.
But hey – they had a ‘right’ to do it.
Me, I am thinking of what Jefferson said about slavery: “I tremble for my country, when I think on the fact that there is a just God”.