Thursday, August 07, 2014

Things We Read Today, August 7, 2014

I'd never heard of Jacob Bacharach until today, when I came across his Bloggingheads video made with Will Wilkinson.  It spurred me to spend my Amazon gift card on his novel (along with the new Rick Perlstein) and to check out his website.  The guy is a hell of a good writer.

In my recent absence from the blog there have been two big news events in world politics.  One was the shoot-down of a commercial airliner over Ukraine, and I worked up a high dudgeon over that one.  (What would you have if you took this country's scummiest Tea Party elements, egged them on officially, and gave them state-of-the-art military hardware?  You'd have the pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine.) 

The other has been the escalation of fighting in the Gaza Strip, and I have lacked the courage of my convictions on that one.  It's a sign of their bankrupt position that so many supporters of Israel view their mission as a PR battle; that being said, they're doing well in the PR battle.  Even an Israeli liberal like Amos Oz is speaking in favor of the campaign to eliminate Hamas.  And it's discouraging to see just how many U.S. fora where criticism of Israel is still beyond the pale.

In this blog post, Jacob Bacharach writes in part from his perspective as an American Jew who has felt his childhood faith become tangled up with the political program of Zionism.  He knows whereof he speaks, and he has harsh words of criticism:

The terrible truth is that Israel was infected from the moment of its birth with the European evils whose virulent, 20th-centurty apotheoses necessitated, in the minds of so many, the creation of Israel in the first place, and we Jews, through Israel, have become a sick reflection of our own historic persecutors. I am not even speaking of the still unique evil of Nazism, although in the more extreme eructations of Israeli hard-liners, you do hear the debased language of racial purity and superiority. I am thinking of the old, durable, seemingly ineradicable traditions of pogrom, persecution, expropriation, and colonization. The Israelis possess the imperial arsenal of a modern Western nation-state, which camouflages the essentially primitive, pre-modern nature of their policy toward the Palestinians. The state of Israel is behaving like a village mob. Palestinian tunnels are the poisoned well. The Israelis are killing and lighting fires. “We will drive them out!” Where will they go? How will they escape? “They will have to figure it out, the devils!” But you forced them into the ghetto in the first place. “Yes, and they should be happy for what they have!” The US stands by like a distant monarch, its silence and occasional provision of more kindling a kind of majestic assent.

It would be comforting to say simply: I wash my hands of all of you. But we have accepted a state made of our religion, and that state is behaving abominably, unforgivably. It is a shame that we will not erase in a hundred years.

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