Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Else to Read the Jewish Press?

I suspect that most people don’t buy the Jewish Press for the news, because it’s not so much a newspaper as it is something to hold ads for Pesach Hotels together in. What we refer to as the Jewish Press (the articles, the op-eds, etc.), is just the glue that makes up the binding, as it were. Consistent with this theory, you would expect that what is written in the Jewish Press would just be meaningless gibberish, and it usually is. (I exempt from this harsh criticism “The Silly World of Chelm,” which is truly timeless commentary.) However, due to the political leanings of its “editors,” the meaningless gibberish must of course have a right-wing slant.

If I am able to continue this blog, you can expect that criticism of random garbage I find in the Jewish Press will constitute a big chunk of it. However, for now, I just want to draw attention to an opinion piece in July 2’s issue (last week’s), by Benjamin Weinthal, “Europe Will Never Forgive Israel For The Holocaust”.

The thesis seems to be that the governments of Western Europe condemned the May 31st flotilla raid by the Israeli Navy, not because they actually felt it was a bad idea and not conducive to peace in the region, but because they blame the Jews for the Holocaust.

What’s really interesting about Weinthal’s argument is that he’s not blaming on just anti-Semitism, which is the usual (indemonstrable) claim, but the completely absurd idea that it is all part of Freudian urge to absolve themselves of the Holocaust.

In an attempt to justify this craziness, you get a really hilarious bit of writing, so much so that it seems to be a parody of right-wing Jewish writing on the UN. It’s rife with non-sequiturs and other fallacies so huge that it’s a wonder Weinthal himself didn’t break down in tearful laughter as he was writing it.

What follows, is a partial fisking:

As an Israeli psychoanalyst once noted with bitter irony, the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz. The corollary to this observation is that Europeans will never forgive the Israelis and the Jews for Auschwitz.

Doubtful, but OK, maybe.

How can one explain the latest outbreak of European loathing for the Jewish state after it intercepted a flotilla heading for Gaza in open violation of a naval blockade?

How indeed? What reason could there be for the governments of several countries allied with Israel to issue warnings and condemnations of a botched raid that resulted in the deaths of nine citizens of another friendly state and highlighted the humanitarian crisis engendered by the Gaza Blockade? Try as I might, I can’t think of any. Oh wait, I know!

The widespread condemnation Europeans have expressed toward Israel after its commandos boarded the so-called peace flotilla on May 31 - and used force only when threatened with death - signals a desire to turn every Israeli action of self-defense into absolution for the crimes of the Holocaust.

Duh! It’s so obvious! Europeans (all of them!) don’t care about questions of international law or global security or human rights, they care only about absolving themselves of the sins of the Holocaust! The link is so straight, and so obvious!

The UN Human Rights Council - chaired by none other than Colonel Khaddafi's government - issued a resolution condemning Israel.

I’m not sure what the UN Human Rights Council or the dictator of Libya have to do with Europe, specifically. Maybe, to Weinthal, anti-Israel sentiment = Europe, by default. That would explain a few things.

Meanwhile, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom blasted Israel's "disproportionate" response, and their handmaidens in the European media turned Israel into a punching bag.

Well, this is at least Europe, so that’s a start. I’m not sure why Spain and the United Kingdom are interested in absolving themselves of the guilt of the Holocaust, in that they had nothing to do with it. Maybe they feel guilty for not intervening enough? But, if that were true, we should expect to see Benjamin Weinthal articles claiming that other countries that could have intervened more (and, really, who couldn’t) also hate Israel because they wish to absolve themselves of guilt. Perhaps articles criticizing the United States and Papua New Guinea are on the way?

The Europeans' vicious attacks on Israel are animated less by the Jewish state's foreign policy than by Europe's ongoing fixation on the Holocaust.

Here is the big leap, coming up. Let’s follow the logic train. The UK criticizes Israel’s foreign policy. This criticism becomes, in the parlance of Weinthal, a “vicious attack.” This “vicious attack”/criticism on Israel’s foreign policy is not motivated so much by finding Israel’s foreign policy deserving of criticism (that’s too obvious), but because Europe has a heretofore unrealized “ongoing fixation with the Holocaust”. I’m not sure what this ongoing fixation consists of, but it doesn’t sound too healthy. Are they talking about the Holocaust too much? Too little? I don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s clearly leading to anti-Semitism, I guess.

What else could explain the presence of posters equating Israel with Nazi Germany at pro-Hamas demonstrations in Vienna?

Yes, what else could explain.... Wait a second, lots of other things could explain this. Let me get this straight. There’s a pro-Hamas demonstration in Vienna. At this demonstration, there exist posters that equate Israel with Nazi Germany. OK, with me so far? Rather than conclude that some European people who like Hamas (it is a pro-Hamas rally, after all) really don’t like Israel, Weinthal is taking this as conclusive proof that the governments of Germany, France, the UK etc. blame Jews for the Holocaust. If you didn’t follow that, don’t worry, I didn’t get it either.

According to one recent German university study, 45.7 percent of the European respondents supported the contention that "Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians."

I have no idea what study this is, so I’m not going to even bother being skeptical about its findings. (But I’m skeptical.)

In their eyes, apparently, maintaining a naval blockade against a government sworn to destroy you - while providing the unfortunate people living under that government with tens of thousands of tons of supplies and humanitarian aid - now equates to looting and butchering six million people.

Yes, that’s exactly their position! The European respondents who believe that Israel is engaged in a “war of extermination” really mean that Israel = Nazi Germany from 1942-1945 in every conceivable way. How else could you read the report? (I’m sorry, but again, where is this study? Who conducted it?)

Wolfgang Benz, the controversial director of the Berlin Center for the study of anti-Semitism, neatly summed up this incongruity on German television when he insisted that "anti-Semitism is different from anti-Zionism."

Aha! Wolfgang Benz, you clever anti-Semite! Trying to argue that anti-Semitism is different from anti-Zionism! Really. This only proves that you’re really an anti-Semite who is expressing the innermost desire of all the Volksdeutsche; to blame Israel for the Holocaust! Again, what else could Wolfgang Benz have meant? (Keep in mind, he’s controversial! For what, I don’t know, but he’s probably an anti-Semite.)

Anyway, this post has gone on long enough, for an inaugural. Suffice it to say, the article goes on in this vein for some time. The really hilarious part is the rhetorical trick of just asking “What else could explain X, but the very thesis I’m trying to advance? As added proof, here is Y – and what else could explain it but the very thesis I’m trying to advance?” over and over, ad infinitum. I don't have a problem with contrarianism, even for the sake of contrarianism, but just advancing a crazy contrarian theory without explaining why the conventional obvious one is inadequate is not contrarianism, it's intellectual laziness.


Izgad said...

I grew up calling it the Jewish Depressed and that was in a more right wing time in my life.

Vox Populi said...

Well, yeah, from a right-wing Zionist perspective, the entire world sucks. You've got all the world governments, headed by anti-Semites that want to kill you later, the Arab governments, headed by even worse anti-Semites that want to kill you now, and your own government which is too stupid or too evil to even try stopping them. Also, it's raining.