Sunday, August 21, 2011

Roger 'Finkler' and the Problem of the 'Embarrassed' Jew

As an unapologetic, unabashed conservative Jew, I feel no need to apologize for Israel. Indeed, I am proud of what it is and what it has accomplished, and I am prepared to defend it loudly and sans embarrassment. The same cannot be said of Jews on the left. Cringing, self-conscious souls, they are always looking to their "progressive" confreres for  approval, only to find that it is contingent on their being first in line to bash/boycott the eee-ville, colonialist, imperialist Zionists.

Take the New York Times' Roger Cohen (please!). The son of English Jews (the most cringing and self-conscious of all Jews, perhaps), he describes the (kosher) pickle his tribe finds itself in:
Britain, with its almost 300,000 Jews and more than two million Muslims, is caught in wider currents — of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and political Islam. Traditionally, England’s genteel anti-Semitism has been more of the British establishment than the British working class, whereas anti-Muslim sentiment has been more working-class than establishment.
Now a ferocious anti-Zionism of the left — the kind that has called for academic boycotts of Israel — has joined the mix, as has some Muslim anti-Semitism. Meanwhile Islamophobia has been fanned by the rightist fabrication of the “Eurabia” specter — the fantasy of a Muslim takeover that sent Anders Breivik on his Norwegian killing spree and feeds far-right European and American bigotry.
Where then should a Jew in Britain who wants to speak up stand? Not with the Knesset members who have met in Israel with European rightists like Filip Dewinter of Belgium in the grotesque belief that they are Israel’s allies because they hate Muslims. Not with the likes of the Jewish writer Melanie Phillips, whose book “Londonistan” is a reference for the Islamophobes. Nor with those who, ignoring sinister historical echoes, propose ostracizing Israeli academics and embrace an anti-Zionism that flirts with anti-Semitism.
Perhaps a good starting point is a parallel pointed out to me by Maleiha Malik, a professor of law at King’s College London. A century ago, during the Sidney Street siege of 1911, it was the Jews of London’s East End who, cast as Bolsheviks, were said to be “alien extremists.” Winston Churchill, no less, argued in 1920 that Jews were part of a “worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development.”
The lesson is clear: Jews, with their history, cannot become the systematic oppressors of another people. They must be vociferous in their insistence that continued colonization of Palestinians in the West Bank will increase Israel’s isolation and ultimately its vulnerability.
That — not fanning Islamophobia — is the task before diaspora Jews. To speak up in Britain also means confronting the lingering, voice-lowering anti-Semitism.
The lesson is clear: Jews in Israel (Zionists--say it loud, say it proud) are in an existential fight for survival. Their enemies--jihadis and secular leftists--seek to topple all of Western civilization. One way they're doing it is via propaganda, by purveying the big lie that Israel is an "apartheid state" that engages in "systematic oppression." Sickeningly--and ironically--the most successful purveyors of this utter bollocks happen to be Jews like Cohen; Jews who are embarrassed by Israel; Jews who are desperate to establish their bona fides with their Zion-loathing brethren.

I repeat: Israel embarrasses me not at all. On the other hand, Cohen and his ilk (skewered by Howard Jacobson in his novel The Finkler Question) are a huge embarrassment.

Oh, and Melanie Phillips rocks!

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