September 21, 2007

Who's the idiot?

I've just received a complaint in the comments section from my friend Georgina. It arose out of my post on Howard Jacobson's follow up to his piece on how Jews are a dispossessed people just as much as the Palestinians are. I said that someone who said that Jacobson's view was shaped by his being Jewish was an "idiot." Here's my friend's comment:
I'm sorry to see you refer to an anti-Jacobson correspondent as 'An idiot (who) walked into the trap of believing that just because most, maybe all, Jews in the mainstream media jump through hoops to defend the racist war criminals of the zionist movement and the State of Israel, it must be a Jewish state of mind.'
You are usually the first to admit the overwhelming pressure the Zionist Jewish community use to ensure this misunderstanding is perpetuated. Until I met you and discovered others, such as the admirable Stephen Rose, I too was 'an idiot'. That's because I had many Jewish friends and acquaintances who without exception whole-heartedly supported the racist state of Israel. Then I started reading the Jewish Chronicle which appeared to speak for all the Jewish communities in this country and, again, saw no anti-Zionist dissent. As to the mainstream media, at that time I didn't in general distinguish Jews from non-Jews (not having had any occasion to), so I suppose if someone wrote in favour of Israel I thought they were Jews and vice versa.
You are expecting the majority of perfectly sensible people, often with their hearts and their heads in the right place, to have the opportunity and inclination to look as deeply into these matters as you do.
I by the way am the 'lady from Milton Keynes' dishonourably mentioned in Jacobson's second article.
Did you see that? Sorry, a digression from the "idiot" bit. Did you see that Georgina got a personal mention in the Jacobson article? I didn't read the whole thing (remember?) so I didn't see the reference. Let's have a look now:
A lady from Milton Keynes missed my point and proved it all at once, explaining that the difference between dispossessed Jews and dispossessed Palestinians is that the former have become the dispossessors of the latter. But that is not a moral difference, it is a tragic political consequence. If we insist on making it a moral difference we not only compromise our good faith, we fail to find a solution to the consequence.
Of course! Jacobson is earnestly looking for a solution, not covering for Israel by muddying the waters by invoking a probably bogus lineage for Jews and Palestinians. Meanwhile in the real world, the zionists dispossessed and are dispossessing the Palestinians. What part of that is Jacobson refusing to understand? But worse, in my opinion, what on earth are editors thinking of when they allow their commentators to target named, or at least identifiable, people, in that way? Ok, she stuck her neck out by writing the first letter but there was nothing she misunderstood. If anything, as I argued before, she pandered to his own misunderstanding by referring to Jews (including himself) as dispossessed. And of course, she can always write to the Independent who would surely allow a private individual to respond when they've been singled out by a dishonest hack. Apparently not:
Here is what I wrote to the Independent when I found out about it:

I see that the gentleman (I wonder if you would publish that? He happily called me 'lady'.) has dismissed my published response to his previous article as a failure to understand what he was saying. I am happy to accept that possibility because, in truth, his first article was almost unreadable. That you have allowed him another diatribe on the same subject, but this time one that is both personalized and vindictive, makes me wonder why. It doesn't worry me, however, as I think he is doing himself and his cause nothing but harm.
So yet another resident zionist in the media can say what he (or she, when it's a she) wants, target identifiable individuals and those individuals can be (invariably will be) denied a right to reply. This repeats and repeats. Even the "liberal" papers allow the last word to the zionists, and people have complained when I have referred to the media as zionist controlled.

So who is the idiot? Is it idiotic to believe that because every Jewish journalist in the mainstream media is an apologist for Israel or has engaged in smears of named individuals for criticising Israel, then every Jew must support Israel, either its racist structure or its appalling behaviour? Or is it idiotic to expect counter-inductiveness on the part of casual readers? Oh dear, maybe I'm the idiot.

Nope, I don't like that. I'm not an idiot. What we have to do here is assume that if a people's identity is based on an accident of birth, no matter how many of that group subscribe to an idea or exhibit a certain voluntary behaviour, we should not generalise about the whole of those people's identity group. Difficult sometimes I know. But I shouldn't call it idiotic. I'm sure it is called inductive reasoning to assume that all observed instances are typical of all possible instances of the same thing. I'm not sure I've expressed that well, so maybe I am the idiot.

I just checked the letters page of the last Independents from 17/9/07 to today and there were some letters rubbishing Jacobson but there were two supporting Israel. One claimed wrongly that the previous correspondents had challenged Israel's legitimacy and the last was from someone claiming that there wouldn't be any Palestinian refugees if the Arab states hadn't mobilised against Israel in 1948. The fact that the zionists began their ethnic cleansing campaign in November 1947, about seven months before the Arab states mobilised and the fact that there were already about 300,000 Palestinian refugees by the time they did hasn't occurred to that person. And that letter, lying about the cause of the Palestinian refugee situation seems to be last word in this round. Would it be idiotic to point out that the Independent's editor, Simon Kelner, is himself Jewish? I really don't know.

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