May 02, 2011

"The anti-zionism of fools"

The Arabs and the Holocaust from Danny Bermant on Vimeo.

A fascinating discussion of the Arab reaction to the holocaust between Gilbert Achcar and Tom Segev, hosted at the Jewish Book Week. Achcar is at his best. Tom Segev however disappoints. He is an extremely generous writer, but every time I hear him talk I am disappointed. The Zionist defensiveness that he holds back when he writes returns in his on stage persona. You can hear him looking for imaginary opportunities to challenge Achcar for being "soft" on antisemitism. Worse is his recycling of Zionist historical disinformation, like the disturbing claim that Nasser wasn't ready to make peace with Israel. It is unimaginable that he doesn't know the truth. Achcar was very considerate in holding back on the history of the alliance between Zionism and the most pro-Nazi and reactionary Arab figures. I prefer more confrontation.

One point that Achcar makes that was never mentioned in the video is that the emblematic status of War World II as the supreme "good war" and the holocaust as the ultimate evil is a uniquely Northern perspective. It is not widely shared in the South and for goods reasons, as so many other atrocities compete on the imagination. That is something Jews need to hear from scholars like Achcar. Because by acknowledging Christian Europeans for their acknowledgment of the holocaust, Jews pay for their social mobility with a subtle form of holocaust denial themselves, the denial that the holocaust was not an isolated event, but the culmination of a history of European racism that is still far from over, even when Jews are no longer its victims.

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