Do not confine Jews to the couch – David Hirsh

David Hirsh

This piece, by David Hirsh, is from the Jewish Chronicle.

Jewish intellectuals who criticise Israel in psychological terms are wrong-headed

A therapist guides us on a journey to the frightening places inside ourselves and helps us to find ways to live with our demons. While we might do well to examine our own crazinesses with our therapists, we do not expect to have to answer for them in public and we expect our therapist to be on our side. Philosopher Michel Foucault warned that the sciences of the mind are also techniques of power and they have hostile as well as healing potential.

Jacqueline Rose, a professor at London University, argues in her book, A Question of Zion, that Israel should be understood psychoanalytically. She says the trauma resulting from the Holocaust is the root cause of the difficulty Israelis seem to have in living peacefully with their neighbours. Recently, she inspired Caryl Churchill to write the play Seven Jewish Children, which portrays Jews bringing up their children in a neurotic, dishonest and dysfunctional way and which many have said is antisemitic. Rose herself briefed the actors at the theatre.

In The Independent last month, Antony Lerman, former director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, also used psychology to explain current events, offering his own version of what Israeli psychologist Daniel Bar Tal reports about Israeli Jews. Lerman cheekily extrapolates the results to apply to British Jews. The consciousness of Jews “is characterised by a sense of victimisation, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanisation of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering”. Lerman believes it to be a scientific discovery that “the Jewish public does not want to be confused with the facts.”

Yuck, I’m beginning to dislike these Jews already. If this collection of stereotypes came from David Irving, we would doubtless dismiss it as antisemitism.

I think critics of Israeli policies should make their arguments politically and with reasons. They should avoid ascribing to Jews collectively a pathological inability to act rationally. Israel is a state and acts according to what its leaders and its electorate calculate to be its national interest. Israel may be wrong. It may even be very wrong. But making peace with its neighbours is a matter for politics, not for therapy.

These three intellectuals all imply that Jews indoctrinate their children to be indifferent to non-Jewish suffering and that this is the key factor explaining Israel’s attack on targets in Gaza and on the civilians near them.

Leaving aside his cod-psychology, Lerman offers two arguments. One, with which I agree, is that the Israeli project of settling the West Bank is wrong, morally and pragmatically. His other is that Jews should stop saying that criticism of the occupation is antisemitic. Actually, Jews do not often raise the issue of antisemitism to de-legitimise criticism of Israel, not because they support the settlements, nor because they are psychologically damaged. The usual reason for Jews to raise the issue of antisemitism is that they are concerned about antisemitism, even when it resembles criticism of Israel.

Meanwhile, in her book, Rose argues that Zionism was from the beginning less a political movement than a messianic one; not rational but more like a religion. The Holocaust, she thinks, rendered Zionists even more irrational. And, after Gaza, she asked how the most persecuted people in history became “violent oppressors”.

If we heard President Ahmadinejad call Jews “violent oppressors”, we would surely respond by saying that it is not “the Jews” but the occupation which is oppressive. We would contextualise the conflict historically and say that neither “the Jews” nor Israel are more psychologically prone to oppressiveness than anyone else.

Leaving aside the vile implication that the Jews are the new Nazis, the idea that Jews should know better after the Holocaust is astonishing. Auschwitz was not a positive learning experience. Many Jews, traumatised perhaps, but not necessarily either mad or bad, learnt that it would be better to have a state and an army with which they could defend themselves if need be.

But Rose thinks that the Jews’ inability to put the trauma behind them in a psychologically healthy way explains Israel’s attack on Gaza. She does not explain how “Germans” have been able so successfully to recover psychologically from their part in the Holocaust and to build a peaceful and multicultural society. Can we congratulate post-national Europeans for having learnt the lessons of Auschwitz while we berate “the Jews” for having failed to do so? And how have Rose and Lerman themselves emerged so healthily from the traumatic family history which so damaged the rest of us?

Anthony Julius has shown that there is a long tradition of antisemites using Jewish witnesses against “the Jews”. Rose and Lerman’s allegations about how Jews indoctrinate their children are reminiscent of this insider testimony. But the problem is not that they speak publicly; the problem is that they transform political questions into psychological diagnoses.

David Hirsh

David Hirsh

David Hirsh is a lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths and the editor of Engage, at http://www.EngageOnline.org.uk. His ‘Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections’ is downloadable from the website of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism

This piece, by David Hirsh, is from the Jewish Chronicle.

44 Responses to “Do not confine Jews to the couch – David Hirsh”

  1. Allan Siegel Says:

    I have tried re-reading these sentences a number of times to grasp exactly what is being said here: “Actually, Jews do not often raise the issue of antisemitism to de-legitimise criticism of Israel, not because they support the settlements, nor because they are psychologically damaged. The usual reason for Jews to raise the issue of antisemitism is that they are concerned about antisemitism, even when it resembles criticism of Israel.” It just does not make sense; in much the same way as the rest posting goes askew; the discuss or examine the psychological trauma of a people is fair game in Israel or in any environment where collective experiences influence or impact state affairs. If it is valid for Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Serbia or Hiroshima – why not Israel?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Actually, Allan Siegel, I think it’s does make sense. However, that’s me. What if a full stop appears after the first “Israel”. Next sentence starts “Nor do they raise this issue because they support the existence of the settlements, and certainly not because they are psychologically damaged.” And finally, after the second “Israel”, add “which most Jews certainly don’t see as above criticism.”

      Many more words, and David undoubtedly had a strict word limit and may even have been edited to shorten the piece still further, but hopefully making more sense for you.

      Or am I missing something in your comment?

  2. Alex Says:

    I’d argue that Rose and her ilk aren’t commenting on “the Jews” in the slightest. They are engaged in a cross between a desperate plea for acceptance by their (typically) anti-Israel peers and an orgy of intense intellectual masturbation. I’m sure the desperate plea to fit in bit has been dealt with substantially here.

    The “Jews-are-damaged” bit adds in the intellectual masturbation, where, in a sickening (and public) exhibition of self-love, the person attacks Jews to glorify themselves. To say, “I was one of these sick people, but I rose above it. So I am great.” But, of course, this doesn’t work if Jews are normal. And because Jews are normal, with good people and bad, generous and greedy, kind and cruel, healthy and sick, smart and stupid, you know, the same as everyone else, it doesn’t work. But the important thing isn’t that she succeeds. It is that she tries, and in the process, convinces herself. Making herself feel so much better about herself.

    But for those trying to perform a psychological analysis on an entire people – the attempt says more about the “analyst” than it does about anything else.

    Even the caricature they think they have put on the couch.

  3. Jacob Says:

    Thanks David for a much overdo superb critique of Jacqueline Rose’s views.

    “And, after Gaza, she asked how the most persecuted people in history became “violent oppressors”.”

    This is a tendentious question; she has already offered an answer such as it is in her book.

    “Meanwhile, in her book, Rose argues that Zionism was from the beginning less a political movement than a messianic one; not rational but more like a religion. The Holocaust, she thinks, rendered Zionists even more irrational.”

    This is pointed out in a review of her book: “The Last Resistance” by Jacqueline Rose

    http://www.democratiya.com/review.asp?reviews_id=187

    “Jacqueline Rose wrote the pieces in The Last Resistance as a Jew. ‘Calling up these voices,’ she writes of thinkers like Arendt, ‘[I am] rebuilding the legacy of my own Jewish history.’ (p.198) What does it mean for Rose to write ‘as’ a Jew? What is the performative work done by these phrases? What does the claiming of this legacy do in her politics? The essay that opens the collection, entitled ‘The Last Resistance’, starts with the figure of the Marrano. Marranos were Jews forcibly converted to the Catholicism under the Spanish Inquisition, yet clinging onto some notion of Jewish identity in secret.”

    If I were a psychoanalyst I would say that it is Rose’s views that are motivated by some kind of personal trauma which she has projected on Jews. However, I agree with David that it’s best not to resort to psychological.

    In any case here is Shalom Lappin superb review of the book “The Question of Zion” by Jacqueline Rose

    “Rose’s book exhibits a remarkable lack of familiarity with the most basic elements of Jewish culture and Zionist history. She relies heavily (in fact almost exclusively) on a few influential secondary sources to support her far-reaching assertions.”

    Read the whole review here,

    http://www.democratiya.com/review.asp?reviews_id=40

    It is also telling that she should resort to the term “question” when speaking of “Zionism;” another indication that the “Jewish Question” has morphed into the “Zionist question.”

  4. juliantheprostate Says:

    By selecting facts from history anybody can “prove” anything about anybody else. The objective facts are [a] that Zionists rejected offers of what they had no claim to [e.g. Uganda] in favour of what the Jewish people could legitimately claim and the Arab people claimed Palestine, also legitimetely, as part of the Arab world. Civilised people sit down and negotiate in this sort of situation, as the Zionists and Arab leaders did in 1919. But then the wahhabists deposed the Hashemites in Arabia and their supporters in Palestine encouraged campaigns of violence against Jews. Proposals for a shared state, with an inbuilt Arab majority in its legislature, were rejected by the Palestinian Arabs 3 times in the 1920’s. This violence has persisted to this very day. However, the Jews [i.e. Israelis as from 1948] do not lie down or go away from their legitimately-restored presence inthe area. They take the necessary measures to protect themselves. They respond to war with war and do not leave occupied territory except under a peace settlement. What’s to psychoanalyse?

  5. Michael cohen Says:

    Psychoanalysis has declined in public interest and scientific validity. It has become a “dead science” and an anachronistic system of beliefs.Most psychoanalytic doctrines are still unproven by the most modern experimental or statistical methods.Jacqueline Rose may be a cheerleader for Psychoanalysis, however there are far more rational common sense ways of understanding Israel and its peoples behaviour. I agree with David when he says that critics of Israeli policies should make their arguments politically and with reasons.

  6. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    David notes that these three intellectuals all use psychoanalytical or psychotherapeutic language and other approaches to “explain” both Zionism and the attachment of the overwhelming majority of Jews’ to Zionism as a psychological disorder. Yet not one of the three has any professional qualifications in psychology, psychotherapy, let alone psychiatry. Rose is a Professor of English, Lerman is, apparently, a political scientist and Churchill a playwright. All of these professions are, of course, vitally necessary for the task of defining Zionism as a mental illness.

    It’s just as well none of them attempts to practice on the individual level what they preach on the mass level: they’d soon fall foul of the British Psychological Society, let alone the General Medical Council.

  7. Susan Says:

    Zionism after the Holocaust was largely based on the rational fact that German Jews were the most assimilated Jews in Europe and they seemed well-integrated into German society, but that turned out to be an illusion. German Jews thought they were Germans first, but their fellow Germans didn’t.

    Jacqueline Rose and Caryl Churchill should visit Hadassah, a Zionist woman’s organization. She would see Jewish and Arab doctors working together to treat Arab and Jewish patients. She would see Arab and Jewish patients being treated equally. She would see an ER where everyone is treated the same. She would see Hadassah training Palestinian doctors and nurses. She could go with Hadassah’s staff as they travel to help non-Jews in natural disasters all over the world. They could not retain their belief that Zionists are oblivious to Palestinian and non-Jewish suffering.

  8. Jonathan Romer Says:

    In a healthier atmosphere than contemporary Britain it wouldn’t be necessary to waste time rebutting crap psychology of this kind. It would be enough simply to note that no other party to any other conflict (so far as I’m aware) aside from the Jews is accused of mass psychosis as a form of crime. In fact, when the idea of collective mental scarring is occasionally brought up in relation to other groups — the Palestinians in particular — it is used in exculpation: How can you be surprised that they resort to violence, when such violence has been done to them? It is only natural.

  9. Jacob Says:

    “the discuss or examine the psychological trauma of a people is fair game in Israel or in any environment where collective experiences influence or impact state affairs. If it is valid for Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Serbia or Hiroshima – why not Israel?” Allan Siegel

    Well, no one as far as I know has used psychoanalysis to try and delegitimize any other people or country.

    Has J. Rose suggested that the Serbs don’t deserve a State because of what they did in to non Serbs?

    In any case a comparative analysis of say Serbian nationalism with Jewish nationalism would have been an advance over the tendentious way Ms. Rose went about discussing Zionism.

  10. Jacob Says:

    Secular and especially socialist Zionism was no more messianic than British socialism or in general, the labor movement. It was also a lot less messianic than Marxist Leninism or the Arab nationalism of the Baath variety. For Rose to suggest otherwise is either a sign of ignorance or of cherry picking facts in order to make tendentious point.

  11. Paul Milson Says:

    There are legitimate ways of writing about national traumas. Here is one from World Affairs:

    “Drunken Nation: Russia’s Depopulation Bomb” by Nicholas Eberstadt

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/se/util/display_mod.cfm?MODULE=/se-server/mod/modules/semod_printpage/mod_default.cfm&PageURL=/2009 – Spring/full-Eberstadt.html&VersionObject=6B5364E3567A9756EECAD0BB207BEEDA&Template=29E587BBB8D9DC25271BBCA69C2FF6B8&PageStyleSheet=76CF36CE1FA93556BC999EC2A5F18260

    But first one has to define a national trauma. Thriving nations like Israel can’t be said to be experiencing a national trauma.

    Jacqueline Rose is using the tools she knows best psychoanalitic literary criticismd to make a political statement.

  12. Paul Milson Says:

    Here is better link to the article I mentioned above:

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/2009%20-%20Spring/full-Eberstadt.html

  13. Robert Samuel Simon Says:

    There is every justification in understanding politics in terms of psychology, certainly the advisors and spin doctors to politicians think so. But there is no reason to assume that Israel is special in this regard, as it operates in every country of the world. Furthermore, I see no reason to believe that survivors and descendents of survivors in Israel are more chauvinistic than others in Israel, or that the Hollocaust is the major past experience guiding Arab-Israeli relations. More relevant is likely the violent history that took place in Israel-Palestine, and I think a psychologist would find more interesting material in studying this and its relation to the pysche on both sides of the conflict.

  14. j.r. Says:

    Jacqueline Rose may be a cheerleader for Psychoanalysis

    …but she is a very poor one who does psychoanalysis a disservice. The elementary error of confusing individual and group psychology renders her whole argument worthless. As a result her stereotypical objectification of the group jews/israelis couched in pseudo-psychoanalytical language is just prejudice. And the narcissism expressed in her moral superiority is a familiar aspect of those jews who feel a need to ingratiate themselves with the majority community.

  15. Lynne T Says:

    Susan:

    I am sure that what goes on in Hadassah hospital is exactly as you describe it to be, but Jacquie Rose and Caryl Churchill are not likely to be moved from their beliefs by even a fraction of an inch. Rather, they would find that the non-Jewish doctors and patients were somehow being treated as inferiors to Jews.

  16. Bella Center Says:

    Frankly, I would enjoy reading an analysis of the psychological makeup of the anti-Zionist who refuses identification with and has no empathy whatsoever for the millions of people who’s nation she is helping to scapegoat and deligitmize.

  17. Nicole S Says:

    David: Please explain to me why you say the project of settling the West Bank is morally wrong. I would agree that, pragmatically, it is not a good idea, foolhardy even in the present inflamed circumstances. But historically and legally, doesn’t Israel have as much right to the West Bank as anyone else (just going back to the Mandate, not biblical times)? Anything for a peaceful life, obviously, but what is its moral obligation to surrender territory to a Palestinian state?

  18. Linda Grant Says:

    Nicole, perhaps you could explain why Palestinians already resident on the West Bank are not eligible to become Israeli citizens if Israel historically and legally has the right to settle there. Normally, people living on a particular piece of land hold citizenship of the state which has power over it. In the Palestinians’ case, not.

    If the territory is not surrendered to a Palestinian, but remains permanently ‘settled’ by Israel, then surely they should become Israeli citizens since they are not citizens of any other state.

  19. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Nicole S., as ever, David H. can speak for himself, but for my part, I would go back to the UN Partition Plan that the Jews of the Yishuv accepted. The Palestinians and their backers and sponsors didn’t, with results that we all know. After the dust of that war had settled, the Jordanians had occupied, more or less, that section of “Palestine” that had been assigned to the projected Palestinian state, basically, the West Bank. Given that it “fell” to Israel as a result of the ’67 war, it has always been seen (other than by the far right in Israel) as a part of any peace settlement.

    That successive Israeli governments (starting with Labor/Mapai ones) have seen fit not merely to permit but to _encourage_ settlements in this space is morally wrong (the Yishuv accepted in 1947 that the West Bank wasn’t “theirs”) and also politically inept: what happens to the settlers should a lasting peace treaty be signed, involving handing over and de-occupying of the West Bank. Leave, for the moment, questions of land swaps out of the equation.

    So what’s your solution, if David’s argument leaves you unconvinced (and all the other arguments on this topic since the start of Engage)?

  20. Nicole S Says:

    Linda: I can’t explain anything. I was genuinely seeking enlightenment. I would guess Palestinians on the West Bank can’t be citizens because Israel is considered to be occupying the land rather than owning it. Me, I’d be quite happy for them to be citizens of Israel if they want to. Brian Goldfarb: I am not unconvinced, I simply do not know the moral reasoning. It seems always to come back to complex historical and legal disputes, in which it is not clear to me that Israel is entirely in the wrong. I have not read David on this topic and would be interested to do so.

  21. j.r. Says:

    Bella Center 12.58pm: in that case you would enjoy reading Anti-Semitism by Avner Falk (Praeger 2008) pp 117-120.

  22. Nora Says:

    “Frankly, I would enjoy reading an analysis of the psychological makeup of the anti-Zionist who refuses identification with and has no empathy whatsoever for the millions of people who’s nation she is helping to scapegoat and deligitmize”

    I wouldn’t enjoy, Bella, but I would like to know also. It is time we put some of these anti-Zionists on the couch and on the defensive.

  23. Brian Robinson Says:

    I’ve always been put off by Jacqueline Rose’s attempt to use psychoanalysis to diagnose (and treat?) the Israel-Palestine conflict. If psychoanalysis had any validity at all (and it did have some at a time when medical understanding of psychological disorder was pretty much zero), that validity rested on the free associations of individual patients as interpreted, in the privacy of the consulting room, by an individual therapist. There was also some validity when this process was extended to groups of patients, physically present before an analyst.

    But then people (starting with Freud himself) started to do ‘psychobiography’, and even to ‘analyse’ people who weren’t present, through third parties (cf the case of ‘Little Hans’), and then came the ‘analysis’ of literature – and now, it seems, whole countries (or nations).

    While I’m on the subject, I’ve got another related grouse. One often hears (indeed it’s something of a cliché) the analogy with the physically or sexually abused childhood victim who grows up to become, him- or herself, an abuser. So, it is sometimes said, with Jews post-Holocaust. But there’s a huge difference between personally suffering violent or abusive behaviour during one’s formative years and as a result learning to assimilate that way of behaving and adopting it as if it’s normal, as a part of one’s behavioural repertoire; a difference between +that+ and the sort of abuse at second hand, so to speak, that most Jews now alive experienced as a result of the Holocaust.

    We’ve read our history, we’ve had relatives, we’ve attended talks, met survivors, been to the Washington or Jerusalem museums and so on – but all that is quite different, is it not, from the direct experience of the survivors who directly suffered. One might, just might, perhaps, make out a case for relevance with some of the early horrors, for example Deir Yassin, but you’d need to do (maybe it’s been done?) – or have done – an awful lot of work with the original perpetrators of those early massacres.

    It doesn’t apply to anything Israel might be doing now. Nor does the little that’s left of Freud’s ‘royal road to the unconscious’. But then, I was merely an acute general psychiatrist, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

  24. Linda Grant Says:

    Nicole

    I think most Palestinians wish to be citizens of their own state, where they control their destiny rather than under perennial occupation. This is the moral case. It#s to do with ideas of freedom.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      To add to Linda’s comment.

      Nicole S. says: “It seems always to come back to complex historical and legal disputes, in which it is not clear to me that Israel is entirely in the wrong.”

      Dare I suggest some reading then? To attempt an understanding of the immediate background to the creation of the State of Israel, one of the most recent (pro-Zionist) efforts is (I’m recommending him a lot these days) Benny Morris “1948: The First Arab-Israeli War” (2008) is as good as any.

      Most people here do not and would not say that Israel is entirely in the wrong. Given the origins of the State, most of us would start from Israel’s right to exist, its right, as a sovreign state, to protect its citizens from harm, whatever the origin of that harm, and to defend its territorital integrity. This does not give the State or its government for the time being carte blanche. Having conquered territory in pursuit of its defence (in 1967), it is morally bound in the contemporary world to return that territory to its rightful rulers and owners.

      Obviously, what (most) successive Israeli governments have accepted and stated as policy (at least in principle if not in practice) is that they would vacate this land in return for a final peace treaty that would…(I sincerely hope that what would go in that space doesn’t have to be literally spelled out – else we’re wasting our time talking to each other). Clearly, creating “facts on the ground” in the form of settlements makes this final treaty a lot more difficult to achieve – see only the problems in getting Israelis out of Gaza – which is one more reason why the “project of settling the West Bank is morally wrong”.

      • Nicole S Says:

        Brian: I have not yet read Benny Morris, but I shall follow your recommendation. All I am saying is that I do not think the moral case for withdrawing from the West Bank is as clear cut as Israel’s critics always assume, except in so far as doing so would achieve peace, and the Palestinians must share some of the responsibility for that. I’m not even sure withdrawal will achieve peace, since the objections to Israel’s existence are deep-rooted. On the other hand, pragmatically, I completely agree that indefinite occupation is not tenable.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          No-one here is saying that the Palestinians (and their backers in the Moslem world) do not also share a responsibility for the current state of affairs and for the lack of a solution to the situation, nor that, in the words of the late Abba Eban, “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

          However, once the first Israeli government after 1967 permitted the establishment of settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza, they lost the moral high ground. When they were “only” administering the place until someone was prepared to step forward and negotiate for a final settlement in good faith, they held that high ground. They were right in international law and they were right in moral terms.

          Further, unilateral withdrawal won’t necessarily achieve anything either; it doesn’t appear to have done so in Gaza. The best the Israelis could have done was to have dismantled the refugee camps, replacing them with modern housing, and arranging for inward economic investment – whatever the UN said. They didn’t, and everyone has to live with the consequences of that, and the other sides refusal to concede Israel’s right to exist, and exist in peace.

          However, as Perez de Cuela (then UN Secretary General) said when asked to mediate between Britain and Argentina during the Falklands dispute (and before it became a war) “It takes two to tango” (which is what Eban was hinting at too). Israel needs a credible partner to negotiate with: as Yitzchak Rabin said, “you don’t make peace with your friends, but with your enemies.”

  25. Nicole S Says:

    ‘I think most Palestinians wish to be citizens of their own state, where they control their destiny rather than under perennial occupation. This is the moral case. It#s to do with ideas of freedom.’ Linda, I fully understand that. What I am questioning is whether there is for Israel a moral (rather than practical) imperative to provide that state. Various solutions have been on offer several times, and the Palestinians have refused them so Israel alone does not bear the responsibility for their lack of citizenship. I am just wary of Jews falling over themselves to apologise for Israel unnecessarily.

  26. Linda Grant Says:

    Of course Israel does not bear sole responsibility for the situation. However the case is always a moral one where people are denied freedom and Israel has its own considerable part to play in the absence of that freedom.

  27. Lbnaz Says:

    Why exactly can’t Jews who reside in the West Bank be entitled to the same citizenship same rights, security and responsibilities as Arab Christians and Muslims in a Palestinian State comprising the West Bank, Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital?

    Why is it that the extant Jewish communities in the West Bank, whether or not the Israeli government ought to have allowed them to establish in the first place or ought to have provided them with resources once they were established, be uprooted and all their residents be ethnically cleansed just so that a new State of Palestine can start off a Judenrein State?

    Since it is not uncommon to hear people calling for an Arab and Muslim majoritarian one state solution or some ephemeral no state solution, why exactly is it so inconceivable to argue for a Palestinian leadership with a legitimate monopoly on force that actually wants to exclusively pursue a two state solution and offer the small minority of Jewish residents of the West Bank (who clearly – unlike those calling for a so-called unconditional right of return of any and all UNRWA clients and Palestinians in the diaspora to claim land and acquire citizenship in Israel – poses no demographic threat to the majority of West Bank Arab residents) full Palestinian citizenship?

  28. j.r. Says:

    Progress in Israel/Palestine is as far removed from abstract morality as it is from cod psychoanalysis. The simple moral act of Israeli unilateral withdrawal from gaza did not have the expected moral benefit in terms of amelioration of the conditions of Gazans and Israelis. And the moral actor was not rewarded by the beneficiaries of the action or by the international community. In fact the consequences have included more conflict, more human suffering and more demonisation of the party that followed its moral compass. Morality has been found wanting; hopefully realpolitik will provide a way forward.

  29. Brian Robinson Says:

    “Withdrawal from Gaza …”? Sure, the Israeli government removed Jewish settlers from Gaza, but they never relinquished control by land, air and sea.

  30. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Brian R.: “Sure, the Israeli government removed Jewish settlers from Gaza, but they never relinquished control by land, air and sea.”

    Whatever happened to the international law that allowed a sovreign state to defend its citizens and its territorial integrity? I am aware that there is a dispute (angels on the head of a pin, anyone?) as to how many rockets were fired into Israel after the end of the “pause”/cease fire, but given that israel _had_ withdrawn, what was the government supposed to do?

    And no, I’m not going to repeat myself. regular readers of these comments columns know what comes next.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      Brian.

      I don’t want to derail the thread and just hope we’ve seen the end to your insulting (and personal) attacks against Engage.

      I’ve read an article by Halper on his visit and I think Norm’s puts it better than I can.
      http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2009/04/needing-conflict-to-survive.html

      Also Brian for some reason wordpress is sometimes sending your comments direct to the spam box so if one of your comments doesn’t appear then email me and I’ll check the spam box.

  31. j.r. Says:

    Brian Robinson, are you saying that Israel didn’t withdraw from gaza? Or that the withdrawal made no difference to the gazans? Or that the withdrawal was irrelevant, a nothing, with no possible implications for the peace process? Or are you just saying that no Israeli government can do anything good? On a point of information gaza has land borders with Israel and Egypt which are controlled by those countries respectively. But I suspect that facts are an inconvenience here; the Israelis could withdraw all their citizens to the beach in Tel Aviv and you would still find them culpable.

  32. Brian Robinson Says:

    j.r. why on earth are you subjecting my factual comment to such a rant?

  33. Richard Gold Says:

    Brian.

    Welcome back !

    You say “j.r. why on earth are you subjecting my factual comment to such a rant? ”

    I hope you bear this in mind the next time you make a personal attack on people involved in Engage or you rant against Engage ? – which you have done on other sites

  34. Brian Robinson Says:

    Richard, I’m not sure that I +am+’back’ any more than I’m sure that I ever went away. I think there are certain cogent questions that Engage has been asking that have never been properly answered by severe critics of Israel. Equally I think Engage has on occasion made it rather too easy for its critics to accuse it of being apologists for Israeli abuses, and being so in a somewhat bullying manner (and itself not above verging on the ad hominem).

    As we all know, the Israel-Palestine conflict is a hugely complex one.

    But I do think that every Diaspora Jew should read Jeff Halper’s latest piece, if they haven’t already done so. It’s called “Israel’s Jewish Problem” and may be read here:
    http://tinyurl.com/cp2jbk

  35. j.r. Says:

    Brian Robinson, the point I made, perhaps with a rhetorical flourish but definitely sans rant, was that your comment was not factual. You expressed a biased opinion that was factually incorrect. The situation of Gaza is a result of the isolation imposed by the international community due to the Hamas putsch’s abrogation of the previous agreements on which palestinian autonomy is based. Your comment that Israel retains control of land, sea and air is incorrect. But as you say, the Israel-Palestine conflict is a hugely complex one.

  36. Brian Robinson Says:

    j.r. thank you but I repeat: “But I do think that every Diaspora Jew should read Jeff Halper’s latest piece, if they haven’t already done so. It’s called “Israel’s Jewish Problem” and may be read here:
    http://tinyurl.com/cp2jbk

    This does not directly answer your point but it remains the response I wish to give to it, and indeed to most, if not all, contributors to Engage.

  37. j.r. Says:

    Brian Robinson: That you can propose a piece like this as required reading for an entire ethnic group says a lot about you, and what it says is not good. Your linkage of this piece implies that you believe:

    1. diaspora Jews as a group are a single mass of like minded people.
    2. jewish organisations control access to information in a malign way.
    3. diaspora jews as a monolithic group have a negative effect on international relations.

    All of these false ideas are commonly identified with contemporary anti-semitism. And I find it hard to believe that I need to tell you that the ideas in the linked piece are not unfamiliar to me or any jews I know.


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