Another Tack: Taboo on Israeli chauvinism

Those Israelis not shunned in the media and on campuses abroad are predominantly left-wing trashers of their own country.

By
March 26, 2010 17:04

 
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Truth is often an unwelcome guest. Truth can be unpopular. Truth can disconcert. Truth can be bad for business. Truth can be counterproductive for certain reputations – even for the reputation of professionals whose status is ostensibly derived from their dedication to seeking truth.

Truth can be denied even when solidly backed by history. In our postmodern moral-relativist environment no truths exist, only self-serving narratives, claims and counterclaims. Hence truth can be spurned as a biased assertion aimed at furthering someone’s narrow interests. This is all the more insidious because it’s so fashionable.

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It’s simplistic to dismiss any fact as an expedient and calculated misrepresentation. This isn’t just intellectual indolence. It’s also intellectual anarchy. Everything can be willy-nilly turned upside down. With nothing rooted to actual sequences of events, liars are liberated. Falsehoods are granted equal standing with truth. Frequently they even gain ascendency and are paraded as unquestionable. Values are devalued. Good and evil are interchangeable. Anything goes.

MY ABOVE ruminations were inspired by twin events. An opinion piece I wrote for an Australian newspaper elicited a deluge of noxious e-mails sent to my private mailbox. In these my ancestors and I were dispatched to the lowest levels of hell and my offspring and I were threatened with torture and death.

Yet somehow worse, because it didn’t come from the loony fringe, was a very polite letter sent by a highly respectable German magazine editor to an acquaintance (also German) who suggested the periodical print his translated version of my column “A good cop goes to Auschwitz” (January 20). The column revisited the World War II avid Arab collaboration with the Nazis (in the wake of MK Muhammad Barakei’s provocative participation at the Auschwitz liberation memorial).

It was flatly rejected on the grounds that it’s “too pro-Israel” and “too massively partisan.” The editor judged it unsuitable, saying it raises “the specter of chauvinism” (in its original sense of ultra-nationalism, before it was hijacked by gender polemics).

The rejection is no big deal. This wasn’t my idea in the first place. The rationale for the rejection, though, is anything but insignificant. The original text cataloged Arab collusion with the Nazis – from prewar through postwar years. Listed were established facts, easily verifiable (many amply backed by photos and evidence from both the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials).

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Decades ago none of this was esoteric. In time, however, political correctness rendered any reference to Arab pro-Nazi militancy uncool. It became obfuscated, almost forgotten.

Even Israeli schools no longer teach about the Hitler-Himmler-Eichmann crony, Berlin-resident, self-styled pan-Arab prime minister Haj Amin el-Husseini. This British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem ended up an internationally wanted war criminal.

In the aftermath of the very Holocaust which Arabs supported and abetted – when this country’s Jews were forced to fight for their survival against the Arab genocidal invasion of 1948 – the same above-named mufti imported against newborn Israel volunteers from remnants of Bosnian Waffen SS regiments he recruited to bolster Hitler. They vowed to finish Hitler’s job here.

This remains ever relevant. Even deceased, the mufti is still vastly revered among Arab masses. Ongoing Arab/Muslim aversion to any Holocaust mention, coupled with Holocaust distortion, is notorious (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example). The Arabs’ Jew-hatred predated the Jewish state and “occupation” calumnies. Without antecedents to today’s events, we get sucked into the deception that Israel’s birth and subsequent “territorial conquests” are the roots of all evil.

Expunging the past twists, disjoints and isolates bits of history out of all context, thereby obscuring the fact that Arabs didn’t instigate the Mideast conflict to win Palestinian self-determination but to prevent Jewish self-determination. Such truth-warps facilitate brainwashing.

ONE WOULD suppose that a brief tip-of-the-iceberg exposé of the Arabs’ Nazi penchants should be of particular interest to Germans who don’t know nearly enough of how their forebears perpetrated genocide, with whose help and whose cheers.

The convenient mythology of German victimhood leads many to portray Holocaust atrocities as a disagreeable occurrence, about which nobody knew and for which nobody is culpable. This laundered version of history reduces the Holocaust to a crime without readily identifiable perpetrators – an alien band of no distinct ethnicity, known generically as Nazis.

Sanitized historiography portrays Germany as yet another pitiably occupied nation. The Allies “liberated” – not vanquished – it. Too many Germans bellyache about their suffering and avoid acknowledging that without millions of ardent followers and enthusiastic accomplices, no regime could have sadistically slaughtered multitudes.

With blitzkrieg intensity, bloodstained Germany transformed itself into spotless, progressive New Germany, which goes out of its way to proclaim bigheartedness and beneficence. For Germans collectively World War II’s calculated, systemized, industrialized bloodletting constituted something akin to reform school. Dutiful Germans recited their lessons, did their homework, sat for their exams and graduated with honors. What more can be demanded of them? They paid their dues. They emerged edified from the cataclysm.

By their yardstick, Jews didn’t equally purify themselves nor rise to Germany’s ethical standards, overcome the distasteful past as elegantly as Europeans, surmount residual unpleasantness and let bygones be bygones. Hence, even Germans feel free to carp about Israeli self-defense and urge Israel’s return to the Auschwitz borders (as dovish Abba Eban dubbed the 1949 armistice lines). The underlying impression is that Jewish sovereignty is perversely a Nazi legacy, that Germany is consequently responsible, albeit indirectly, for Arab grievances.

This meshes with Muslim canards that the Holocaust’s ultimate victims are Palestinian Arabs, whom a manipulated and guilt-tripped West burdened with the pariah Jewish state. As a result, unfortunate Arabs, despite their self-professed blamelessness, paid for Europe’s alleged sin. This has become so de rigueur in Europe that to challenge it is to go against the grain of conventional wisdom.

This is what the magazine editor was loath to do. Why court superfluous controversy and open oneself and one’s publication to accusations of – heaven forfend – siding with Israel? The editor openly cites this as his overriding apprehension.

Therefore, he won’t publish material he deems non-objective. Yet why expect an Israeli writer to be from the UN? Are such demands ever made of Arab commentators? It’s somehow accepted that Arabs/Muslims are entitled to righteous rage. Those Israelis not shunned in the media and on campuses abroad are predominantly left-wing trashers of their own country. Israel-bashing Israelis are celebrated as impartial; those who argue Israel’s case are denied resonance.

This bears grim implications for Israel’s ability to win the PR war. Foremost, Israelis must do what’s best for Israel regardless of image damage. Image repair is nearly impossible. Israel is hard put to secure world sympathy if pro-Israeli voices are unheard because they are, alas, pro-Israeli.

Presumably, Israeli apologetics must be diluted by pro-Arab lip service to achieve quasi-legitimacy and avoid being castigated as one-sided. Even straightforward unimpeachable information (such as Husseini’s wartime Berlin address) isn’t exempt from the taboo on “Israeli chauvinism” – and all in the name of evenhandedness.

The writer was The Jerusalem Post’s long-time political correspondent (as well as for years of the now-defunct Davar). She headed the Post’s Tel Aviv bureau, wrote daily analyses of the political scene as well as in-depth features. See her personal blog at http://www.sarahhonig.com

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