Bash Israel (and your brain)

Prestigious university presses have waived all academic criteria.

Mein Kampf signed by Adolf Hitler 311 AP (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Mein Kampf signed by Adolf Hitler 311 AP
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The latest product in the flourishing bash-Israel literature is Iranophobia. The book debunks Israeli and Western anxieties about the Iranian dangers. The author, Prof. Haggai Ram of Ben-Gurion University, argues that Israeli anti-Iran phobias are largely projections of perceived domestic threats to the prevailing Israeli ethnocratic order. In plain language, he holds that Israel has to demonize Iran so as to identify the Islamic Republic with its suppressed minorities in Israel: the Mizrahi and the haredi communities. Iran, on this theory, is the hated "role model" with which these suppressed minorities can be associated: "the production of Iran as a radical external other in Israeli imagination is to be understood in relation to the emergence of ("Iran-like") ethnic and religious internal others that violated the Jewish state's self-image as 'the West.'"
And these internal others are, of course the haredi and the Mizrahi communities.
As is common in bash-Israel literature, the author adduces no real evidence for these allegations. He relies heavily - surprise, surprise! - on Yossi Sarid and other spokesmen of the Zionist Left who attack the settlers in the occupied territories by comparing them to the Khomeini phenomenon. He also relies on attacks against Shas as supporting his claim that Israel invented Iranophobia in order to respond to its "contamination" by the "haredi-Mizrahi values of Shas."
The launching of this book was accompanied by a longish interview with the author on a CBS coast-to-coast newscast, in which he pooh-poohed the Iranian danger and stated that the real danger in the Middle East stems from the "neighborhood bully." And guess who that bully is.
But the most significant aspect of this book is the fact that it is published by Stanford University Press.
INDEED, IN recent years, prestigious university presses have waived all academic criteria in order to publish any book - no matter what its academic merits are - which bashes Israel. A good example is Princeton University Press which published Jacqueline Rose's book The Question of Zion, (which is invoked in Ram's Iranophobia as supporting the claim that Zionism and Khomeinism are birds of a feather).
Rose, a psychoanalyst who teaches English at Queen Mary, University of London, is famous for her anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli campaigns. She wrote lovingly about the "unbearable intimacy shared in their final moments by the suicide bomber and his or her victims" and claimed that suicide bombing "might be the closest Israelis and Palestinians can get."
Her book is full of allegations against Zionism, comparing it to mental illness. Her evidence is typical: its founders were mentally sick. She describes Herzl as "manic," but he is not alone: she quotes Weizmann's doctor, who described his patient as suffering from neurasthenia, overfatigue, overexcitement and weakness of the respiratory organs (I suppress a cough while writing this).
But all these jabberings pale besides her proof that Zionism and Nazism are similar. She says that not only Herzl but also Hitler attended the 1895 performance of Wagner's Tannhauser in Paris (about which Herzl writes in his diaries). Prof. Rose tells a story, according to which both personalities "were present on the same evening that inspired Herzl to write Der Judenstaat, and Hitler Mein Kampf."
The learned academic, as well as the Princeton editors, did not realize that on the date of that performance Hitler was six years old and to assume that his parents traveled from their poor Austrian village with the infant Adolf to hear a French version of a German opera is a bit too much even by the sub-zero standards of bash-Israel propaganda.
She, as well as the distinguished editors from Princeton, overlooked another fact. Tannhauser is neither Germanic nor chauvinistic; it is a beautiful opera about universal love, and was played at the opening of the Second Zionist Congress.
Somebody must have divulged these two "inaccuracies" in this story about the infant Adolf at the opera in Paris and that part was omitted from the third edition of the book.
Here, too, the significant part is not the concoction of imaginary facts and accusations by the author but the fact that Princeton published it. Indeed, when it comes to Israel-bashing, anything goes.
But after all is said and done, the gods are just; anybody who readsthese and similar books must come to the conclusion that bashing Israeldoes something bad to the author's intellectual powers - if not to his"respiratory organs." They bash Israel with a bashed brain.
The writer is a professor of law atthe Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a former minister of educationand Knesset member, as well as the recipient of the 2006 Israel Prizein Law.