Z Word interview with Paul Berman

Paul Berman

Paul Berman

Paul Berman interviewed by Michelle Sieff.

Ben Cohen picks out this passage for special attention:

The unstated assumption is always the same. To wit: the universal system for man’s happiness has already arrived (namely, Christianity, or else Enlightenment anti-Christianity; the Westphalian state system, or else the post-modern system of international institutions; racial theory, or else the anti-racist doctrine in a certain interpretation). And the universal system for man’s happiness would right now have achieved perfection – were it not for the Jews. The Jews are always standing in the way. The higher one’s opinion of oneself, the more one detests the Jews.

Writes Ben: “It is a point worth absorbing. Too many of us regard antisemitism as belonging to the realm of the uncouth, the intoxicant of the beer hall, perhaps, but not the bistro. Its true home, as Berman says, is in the loftiest thoughts. Therein lies its danger.”

One Response to “Z Word interview with Paul Berman”

  1. Inna Says:

    I think these are the key paragraphs:

    Still, it would be disingenuous not to notice another obvious reality. An Iran without a nuclear program would be in no danger of Israeli attack. Here is an impending war that rests on a single variable. Why not alter the variable? Equally obvious: Israel is not going to launch a war against any of the groups on its own borders that remain at peace. Why not do everything possible to disarm those groups? Protests, moral pressures, diplomatic pressures, not to mention grand international alliances, not to mention human rights reports!. There are a lot of things that could be done. But it may be that, around the world, some of the people who weep over the sufferings caused by war would rather see still further wars than undertake even the simplest and most obvious steps to avoid the wars.

    It’s human nature to believe that a political movement like Hamas is weak – or, if it is strong, that its wild language is merely blather, and not to be taken seriously.

    Back in the 1930s, people used to assume that, once the Nazis had found their way into a position of responsibility for the well-being of Germany, they would stop saying wild things and would certainly think twice about putting their program into action. Power was supposed to sober the Nazis up.

    Anyway, history does not lack for genocides, and we have to assume that a lot of people have figured that, for one reason or another, genocide is a good idea. The people who think in this fashion are not just the fanatics who engage in the massacres, but also a larger public that gazes from the sidelines without objecting, and sometimes even applauds.



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