Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I imagine a fair number of people are wondering why I haven't been updating so much recently (or at least haven't been updating regularly.) Partially it's been because I've either been somewhere without access to a computer, partially it's because everything seems to be in a holding pattern politically until the war starts, but a lot of it is because every time I think of something worthwhile to say, somebody else has already said it. (The situation that prompted my starting this blog- the paucity of good liberal commentary- has largely abated, and the long prophecised "liberal instapundit" has apparently come to be.)

Case in Point?Max Sawicky's excellent entry about "the new and bizarre phenomenon of American philo-semitism"; where Israel and world Jewry are identified as one and the same thing. Max is closer to the issue than I am (being both Jewish and more than a little disturbed at the charges of "anti-semitism" aimed at those who are, like himself, against invading Iraq) and has nailed a lot of the problems that made me slightly uncomfortable about this and him palpably angry. The latest target is the Catholic church, and it's perhaps predictable that the locus for this is Instapundit, who never saw an insult against principled opposition to war that he didn't like.

Here's a piece:

One blogger, no shiksa she, offers a potted history of Vatican/Israeli relations. The problem with this catalogue, broadly speaking, is that it demands that the Vatican state be a light unto the nations. In other contexts, this has been recognized as unfair, hence discriminatory. After all, the U.S. government itself, not to mention Israel, has trucked with all manner of fascist and neo-Nazi swine through the decades.

I've previously noted the new and bizarre phenomenon of American philo-semitism. In the philo-semitic world view, the Israelis are like Jackie Robinson or Colin Powell. They are remarkable and super-tough, like the Terminator (the good Terminator). They will do the dirty work because they love America. Like Tonto loved the Lone Ranger. Come the apocalypse, the Jews will all become Christians, the ultimate act of devotion.

In the philo-semitic universe, Israel and world Jewry are one. The Jewish state is the vessel of world Jewry. Zionism is our universal ideology. As that noted Talmudic scholar George Will once said, surveying the furniture on his front lawn, "Israel holds just one one-thousandth of the world's population, but holds all the hopes for the continuation of the Jewish experience as a portion of the human narrative."

You see, philo-semitism has some similarities with anti-semitism. In both views, Jews are identified as a narrow undifferentiated whole embodied in one tiny country that has lots of sand. It would not be a stretch, in this light, to suggest that Jews' first loyalty is to their mythical 'homeland.' (Note, a refuge is not necessarily the same as a homeland.) In fact, Jewish experience is very diverse -- dare I say it, multi-cultural? There are different ethnicities, languages, cultures, and varieties of religious thought (two Jews, three opinions). In our local deli, there is some god-awful thing called 'schwarmerei.' I never saw that stuff in Washington Heights.
Aside from an enduring curiosity about what "schwarmerei" is, Max pretty much sums up my thoughts, which has been happening far too much recently. The discussion is great, too, if more than a little disturbing, as this piece by Tom Walker illustrates:

The thing is, one can understand Ariel Sharon's psychosis when one encounters the philo-semitism of Will, Reynolds and their ilk. Sharon harbours no illusions about what lies beneath such professed "friendship". Hence the utter ruthlessness -- Sharon's determination to use the Christian right as means to HIS ends.

I have a friend who regularly goes apocalyptic on the theme of how the turd blossom establishment will revert to an anti-semitism of the more strenuous early-20th century kind when the going gets really, really rough. One day we can expect to see George Will patiently explaining in the New Christian Völkischer Beobachter how the treacherous Wolfowitzs, Kristols, Frums AND THEIR SWARTHY ZIONIST, COMMUNIST, WALL STREEET BRETHREN got us into this mess.
I don't see Sharon as psychotic and Tom would have better made the point if he had left that out, but it's a worrisome thought; the movement neocons have shown that they're willing to embrace or abandon whomever or whatever it takes to maintain power, and while charges of anti-semitism are often levelled at the left, it's worthwhile to remember that it is the extreme right that is historically connected with it.

(I had run across mention of a study that contrasted the broad anti-semitism that is found in some of the more reactionary right against the anti-Israelism that is present in the hard left, but having no link, I sadly can't offer proof.)

This prompts a thought, though. If the Arabs ever did embrace Israel (or at least accept it), enough so that the U.S. didn't see the necessity of handing over the vast amounts of foreign and military aid that they certainly are, then is it possible that the middle east itself might become a new global power to rival the U.S.? Israel is (as is often belabored) a modern and extremely advanced democracy whose citizenry can be counted among the best and brightest in the world, and the resources in manpower and energy that could be brought to bear by the region are awesome to contemplate. If Bush's scheme to "let democracy bloom" actually succeeds and the region becomes modern and democratic, there's no reason to believe it would be see itself as a client to the United States. Indeed, considering the endemic nationalism in the region, that seems unlikely.

It's perhaps an unlikely prospect, but could the United States be in the process of building its greatest rival?

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