Demonization by Association:
In an essay about Hannah Arendt's relationship with her coreligionists, the author Gabriel Piterberg describes the exact moment in which, according to Arendt, modern antisemitism emerged:
Though contemporary persecutions clearly drew on ancient antecedents, Arendt distinguished sharply between the medieval ‘hatred of Jews’ and the emergence of modern antisemitism: the former ‘was about Jews, and not much more than that’, whereas the history of antisemitism ‘conceals many other tendencies’, in which Jews do not necessarily play a central role. To blur that distinction was ‘to abstract the Jewish Question out of the historical process and to destroy the common ground on which the fate of both Jews and non-Jews is decided.’ 
... Modernizing absolutist states, Arendt argued, deliberately turned to Jews to finance the expanding bureaucracies and standing armies that they required to counter both the old aristocracy and the rising bourgeoisie; they were happy to pit Jewish suppliers against craft guilds to advance mercantile manufacturing. Eighteenth-century absolutism benefited not just the wealthiest Jewish financiers, who might now be granted ‘exceptional’ civic rights and titles on an individual basis, but a broader layer of merchants and traders. By 1803, 20 per cent of Prussian Jews were ‘protected’ in some way, and over 3,000—Rahel Varnhagen’s family among them—had been granted dwelling rights in Berlin; they formed what Arendt terms a ‘collective exception’ to the unprotected and impoverished Jewish masses of West Prussia and Posen. 
Assimilation and antisemitism
It is at this juncture that Arendt locates the appearance of modern antisemitism: heralded, paradoxically, by the victory of Napoleon, emancipator of the Jews. The bourgeois intelligentsia’s discovery of German patriotism, in opposition to Napoleon, bred fears that the Jews might be tempted to support him; while the surrender of the eastern provinces deprived the ‘exceptional’ Jews of their necessary social backdrop, the non-exceptions.
Simultaneously, the rising German bourgeoisie included the Jews in its attack on Junker landowners—‘the aristocracy is so closely bound to the Jews that it cannot continue without them’, in the words of liberal publicist Friedrich Buchholz—while the Junkers’ counter-attacks against both the growing economic power of the bourgeoisie and the liberalizing moves of the state between 1806 and 1812 (permitting land sales, lifting trade regulations), highlighted the role of the ‘protected’ Jews as beneficiaries of marketization and allies of the state. The Junkers’ polemics against the bourgeoisie—promoters of industry and speculation as opposed to crafts and agriculture; of crass materialism against God’s order; of vain talent versus honourable character—rallied an alliance of farmers, guild members, shopkeepers: all ‘backward-looking or necessarily apprehensive strata’. 
In Arendt’s view, it was the Junkers’ success in portraying themselves, rather than the bourgeoisie, as the embodiment of the budding nation-state, that lay at the root of modern German antisemitism. The Junkers not only ‘otherized’ the bourgeoisie as everything the aristocracy was not but, crucially, prevailed upon it to internalize that ‘otherization’ as a truthful description—hence alienating the bourgeois citizen from himself. The final step was that the bourgeoisie, in order to rid itself of that portrayal, in turn projected it upon the Jews. ‘The malicious description of the bourgeoisie is the historical wellspring of almost all antisemitic arguments’, Arendt avers:
The only thing lacking here is . . . to apply it to the Jews. This proved relatively easy to do and was originally merely intended as the ultimate defamation: the bourgeois man is in truth no different from the Jew. For this, one needed only to declare that earning a living by profit and interest was the same as usury: the bourgeois citizen was nothing but a Jew and a usurer. The only people with a right to an income free of labour are those who already possess wealth. The ‘wild ambition’ unleashed by freedom of trade produces nothing but social parvenus—and no one rises from greater social depths than the Jew. 
She sums up:
What proved dangerous to the Jews was not the aristocracy’s historically determined hatred of the financiers of the modern state, but rather that arguments and characteristics trimmed and tailored for totally different people ended up attached to them . . . That the Prussian aristocracy succeeded in drilling these categories and value judgements into the head of the German bourgeois citizen until he was ashamed to be one—that is the real and, as it were, ‘ideological’ misfortune of German Jewry. For in the end the liberals’ truly destructive self-hatred gave rise to hatred of the Jews, that being the only means liberals had of distancing themselves from themselves, of shifting slander to others who, though they did not think of themselves as the ‘bourgeoisie’, were forced to be its 100 per cent embodiment. 
This observation is worth repeating, since its shrewdness easily leaps over the temporal and geographical gap, to apply today as accurately as it did two centuries ago:
For in the end the liberals’ truly destructive self-hatred gave rise to hatred of the Jews, that being the only means liberals had of distancing themselves from themselves, of shifting slander to others who, though they did not think of themselves as the ‘bourgeoisie’, were forced to be its 100 per cent embodiment.
The Contentious Centrist
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Demonization by Association:
Friday, February 28, 2014
“Going on the region’s current very poor track record with minorities and the well-recognised historic animosities, a relatively small and newly ‘legally unassured’ Jewish minority would come out of the dissolution of Israel really badly because they were Jewish.”
Edward Said in an interview with Avi Shavit:
“[Q] In a binational state, the Jews will quickly become a minority, like the
“[A] … the Jews are a minority everywhere. They are a minority in America. They can
certainly be a minority in Israel.”
Knowing the region and given the history of the conflict, do you think such a
Jewish minority would be treated fairly?
“I worry about that. The history of minorities in the Middle East has not been
as bad as in Europe, but I wonder what would happen. It worries me a great deal.
The question of what is going to be the fate of the Jews is very difficult for
me. I really don’t know. It worries me.” [-]
“[Q]So what you envision is a totally new situation in which a Jewish minority would
live peacefully within an Arab context?
“[A] Yes. I believe it is viable. A Jewish minority can survive the way other
minorities in the Arab world survived. I hate to say it, but in a funny sort of
way, it worked rather well under the Ottoman Empire, with its millet system.
What they had then seems a lot more humane than what we have now.
So as you see it, the Jews would eventually have a cultural autonomy within a
pan-Arab structure? “[-]
“[Q]So in a generation or two, what we will have is an Arab-Jewish minority
community in an Arab world?
“[A]Yes. Yes. I would have thought.”
If you want a a preview of how Jews will fare under such “humane” conditions, all you need is take a look at what some BDSers fantasize about:
“I was looking forward to the end of the world as it would have permitted me–even for a second–to witness the end of the Zionist entity over Palestine.” http://contentious-centrist.blogspot.ca/2012/12/prof.html
This is a perfect representation of the anti-Zionism of BDS. It is neither extreme nor rare within that movement. in its aims This is cultivated and well-defined hatred with a plan. True, that compared with this vision, Edward Said’s admiration for the Ottoman millet system begins to look quite attractive …
About the tolerance of Islamic regime, here.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Milan Kundera, wrote in his book Immortality:
“The more the fight for human rights gains in popularity, the more it loses any concrete content, becoming a kind of universal stance of everyone toward everything, a kind of energy that turns all human desires into rights. The world has become man’s right and everything in it has become a right: the desire for love the right to love, the desire for rest the right to rest, the desire for friendship the right to friendship, the desire to exceed the speed limit the right to exceed the speed limit, the desire for happiness the right to happiness, the desire to publish a book the right to publish a book, the desire to shout in the street in the middle of the night the right to shout in the street.”
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish stated on one occasion:
"Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because you are our enemy. The interest in us stems from the interest in the Jewish issue. The interest is in you, not in me. So we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy, because it enjoys unlimited support. And we have the good fortune of having Israel as our enemy, because the Jews are the center of attention. You’ve brought us defeat and renown.”
Sunday, January 19, 2014
The Principle of Relativity
Following a tweet by David Frum:
If this report is correct - big if - Kerry has walked way back from earlier Obama admin demands on Israel. http://t.co/SFW9xm6tbu
— davidfrum (@davidfrum) January 19, 2014
A poor man comes to his rabbi to complain about how difficult life is for him, his wife and their six children in a small one-room hovel. The rabbi reflects a bit.
Then he asks: Do you have any chickens?
- Good. You must now keep them inside your home.
The poor man, astounded, nevertheless does as advised. Returning a few days later, he complains to the rabbi that things are even worse now. What to do?
- Do you have any goats?
- Yes, two.
- Good. So you must keep them inside your home with the chickens and all the rest of you. Things will get better.
A week later, the man returns: Rabbi, your advise does not work. The noise, the filth, we can't sleep, we can't breath properly. What kind of advise is this?
The rabbi reflects and tells him: OK. Now go home and remove the chickens and the goats from your home.
The man returns a few days later and hugs the rabbi in gratitude: rabbi, you have no idea what relief your last advice gave my family. We suddenly feel so much better, breathing fresh air in our tiny but comfortable home!
[The principle? I guess it's a version of relativity. Add an extra abrasive element, create a sense of panic and claustrophobia, then remove the element that should not have been there in the first place. Once removed, the entire culture of the exchange changes. Or so it is hoped ... ]
Saturday, January 04, 2014
The Meaning of "False"
The adjective FALSE has 10 senses:
1. not in accordance with the fact or reality or actuality
2. arising from error
3. erroneous and usually accidental
4. deliberately deceptive
5. inappropriate to reality or facts
6. not genuine or real; being an imitation of the genuine article
7. designed to deceive
8. inaccurate in pitch
9. adopted in order to deceive
10. (used especially of persons) not dependable in devotion or affection; unfaithful
AbuKhalil asks a question:
Look at this. The New York Times provides FALSE justification for the Israeli racist bigoted "Law of Return"
"Many European countries, as well as Israel, grant a fast track for citizenship or otherwise give privileged status to people born elsewhere with shared roots." This is an article about Israel but the sentence begins by a reference to European countries, notice. And which European country grants automatic citizenship purely based on religion? Which one?
Notice how the professor who should know better resorts to a sleight of hand in order to justify his claim of falseness. The article speaks of European countries granting a fast track for citizenship or privileged status to people with "shared roots".
AbuKhalil finds it convenient to "contradict" this statement by equating "shared roots" with "religion". But "shared roots" could mean anything from religion to race to nationality to language to culture, etc,. A religion like Judaism is a shared root. A language like Hebrew is a shared root. Historical memory, attachment and narratives are a shared root.
To understand how silly and transparent this ploy is, let's imagine a man told by his doctor to avoid eating strawberries. Next day the man shows up with full blown allergy symptoms. What's this, asks the doctor, didn't I tell you not to eat strawberries? I didn't eat strawberries, says the man. Only strawberry ice-cream. You said nothing about strawberry ice cream. That's AbuKhalil's rationalization of his claim of "FALSE justification": He would eat the Strawberry ice cream and blame his doctor for the onset of allergy because clearly when the doctor warned against eating Strawberries he did not specify all the foods in which Strawberries are a more or less important ingredient.
It is a significant point to understand how AbuKhalil understands/uses/abuses language in the service of his loudmouth, black&white politics.
Anne Carson (the Canadian genius poet) describes a similar phenomenon in her book of poems "The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos":
“What really connects words and things?
”Human beings, tend to use language as Homer says
“the gods do. All human words are known to the gods but
have for them entirely other meanings alongside our meanings.
They flip the switch at will”.
In other words, the gods know that Red is Red and when they speak to mortals, they use it in its proper denotation. But sometimes they prefer to pretend that red is Red. This is when they lie, or try to fiddle with our mind. People do not do well when their minds are fiddled with, which is why Albert Camus is reputed to have warned us about the danger of playing fast and loose with meanings:
"Mal nommer les choses, c'est ajouter au malheur du monde' (Not to call things by their correct names is to add to the troubles of the world)"
Now for the crux of the matter itself:
Here is a list of countries, mostly European, that practice a form of "special consideration in a country's immigration laws (called "repatriation") which facilitate or encourage the reunion of a diaspora."
More accuracies from Prof. AbuKhalil:
In this missive, the professor makes the following statement:
"Israel all but admitted that it has killed Hassan Laqqis..."
It certainly is plausible and possible that Israel is responsible for killing Laqqis, but it is not in anyway a certainty or a fact. So I decided to do a little snooping around and it took all of 2 seconds to find that:
Laqqis was killed in an assassination when reportedly a number of gunmen shot him in the head in his car from close range as he arrived at his home at around midnight of 3–4 December 2013 local Beirut time in the Hadath region, a suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut. He was rushed to the hospital but died there a few hours later.
A Lebanese Sunni militant group, "Ahrar al-Sunna Baalbek Brigade" (Arabic: لواء أحرار السنة بعلبك ), believed to be an Lebanon-based al Qaeda-linked group from the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on Twitter. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated this group “is not a fictitious name... This group exists ... It has its leadership ... and I am convinced it is linked to Saudi intelligence.” Hezbollah has also claimed Israel was responsible for the assassination. Israel has denied any involvement in the matter."
Presumably, this information is available to a professor who teaches in an American university in America. So it invokes a certain suspicion of bias when he takes these facts:
1. "A Lebanese Sunni militant group, "Ahrar al-Sunna Baalbek Brigade" ...claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on Twitter.
2. "Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah stated this group “is not a fictitious name... This group exists ... It has its leadership ... and I am convinced it is linked to Saudi intelligence.
3. "Hezbollah has also claimed Israel was responsible for the assassination.
4. "Israel has denied any involvement in the matter."
And sums them up as ""Israel all but admitted that it has killed Hassan Laqqis..."
What does "All but admitted" mean?
"All but" is a ceremonial "almost", that is, an "almost" that means "practically", or 0.01% short of absolute certainty.
Is there anything in the list of facts cited above to justify such a level of professed certainty?
Friday, December 20, 2013
How to Promote Conversation And Preserve Academic Freedom by Boycotting Israeli Academics
A storm in a tea kettle (larger than a cup but not yet a bucket) has erupted after the following calumny at ASA took place:
Members of the American Studies Association have voted in favor of endorsing the academic boycott of Israel by a 2–1 margin, making it the second major U.S. scholarly association, after the Association for Asian American Studies, to do so.
Of the 1,252 votes cast, 66.1 percent of members endorsed the boycott, 30.5 percent rejected it, and 3.4 percent abstained. Slightly less than a third of the association’s 3,853 eligible voting members participated in the 10-day online referendum.On Engage, David Hirsh tried to appeal to the higher passions of one academic who had decided to succumb to the BDS campaign and vote for the resolution. By "higher passion" I mean what Spinoza called the passion for reason.
Claire Potter responded to his letter. Since I'm not a scholar or an intellectual, I could not really figure out why, when all is said and done, she voted for the resolution. Perhaps someone can explain it to me in plain English. I'd be much obliged.
In the meantime, I commented on these exchanges and here is a trail of my comments. I would like to emphasize that I do not understand why someone who is thoughtful, knowledgeable and virtuous, would vote to boycott Israeli academics. I do have some conjectures, though, assumptions, perhaps not too charitable but still, a plausible explanation that is based on principles may convince me yet that was a reasonable and adequate move:
” I’m going to take a leap of faith and say ok,”
I don’t know. I’m not a scholar myself but I do try to emulate the meticulous ethical thinking of scholarly role models, like Norman Geras. What I learned from him is that in making ethical decisions, there is no room for the self-indulgence implied in the option of “leap of faith”. Ethical thinking has to be based solidly and demonstrably upon first principles of fairness, clarity, justice.
So Claire Potter might as well have admitted that she did not change her mind but did change her decision due to her blind faith in the good faith of her colleagues. Fully aware of the weaknesses of her own decision to make this decision, in fact forcefully thwarting her own intuition and better judgement, she tries to find refuge in “cute” arguments like having succumbed to a “leap of faith”. This is hardly the kind of formulations and thinking one expects from an academic.
The concept of “singularity” exists in Mathematics to designate in general a point at which a given mathematical object fails to be well-behaved in some particular way. Being mathematically “well-behaved” is “not violating any assumptions needed to successfully apply whatever analysis is being discussed”.
Potter’s decision is ethically incomprehensible in the same way that singularity is mathematically not “well-behaved”. It is based on a “leap of faith” that is not really given any ethical structural support, and seems to be excused as a personal whim and self-confessed naivete. In the context of her entire apologia, what she claims is that in her vote “yes” she had to boycott and divest from her own conscience. Why? Because she really did not want to be perceived as one of those “odious persons”.
“Jimmy Porter: Nigel and Alison, they’re what they sound like, sycophantic, phlegmatic and pusillanimous.
Cliff Lewis: Big words
Jimmy Porter: Shall I tell you what they mean?
Cliff Lewis: No not interested, don’t want to know.
Jimmy Porter: Soapy, stodgy and dim.”
“Criticism is not the same as boycott and it is not the same as demonization. ”
Criticism of policies does not end in removing human beings from other humanity. Demonization does.
Boycott is the first step taken after demonization has reached a certain saturation. It is the midway GOAL of demonization. It is the rational next phase in making the targeted subject a pariah. I don’t see anyway around this truth. It is also clear to me from Potter’s own response that she has internalized the logic and the sentiments of the BDS pushers. She testifies to being very moved by the narratives presented to her by Palestinian students. She seems to forgive the bad BDSers who bullied her verbally but she extends no such mercy to aggressive Zionist and anti-BDS voices. Your letters are very fine, nuanced, compelling, rational, even-keeled, polite, but they are no match to the passion of compassion that Potter has elected to surrender to, rather than maintain moral and intellectual clarity. It is so much easier, cozier to bath in the warm bath of self-righteousness than face the cold and hostile looks of disappointed friends.
I’m reminded of this quote from “Scent of a woman”:
Lt. Col. Frank Slade: … Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard…”
She simply doesn’t understand antisemitism and does not want to. She has accepted the perversion given to this millennial phenomenon of hatred by the pushers of BDS. It was easier to do that.
As I pointed out, she internalized the total spectrum of BSD’ propaganda. There are no half-measures with this crowd. She will soon find out that she painted herself into a corner and that any slight dissension or mildest remonstration from her will be dealt with shouts and clamorous pounding to drown her words and get her to stay in line.
I know we are supposed to be grownup about these things and not throw around accusations and mindless analogies but I am beginning to understand how a fascist movement gets momentum and support from really good people.
Claire Potter, having signed on to boycott only Israeli academics, writes: "what I am promoting is conversation." http://t.co/JoANcfY7x9
— Spinoza's rose (@ContentiousNote) December 20, 2013
Proper use of antisemitic card:Taboo for Jews to mention Holocaust; Palestinian activists fully permitted to analogize Israel with Nazis.
— Spinoza's rose (@ContentiousNote) December 20, 2013