Monday, January 02, 2006

Iran Means What It Says

Michael Rubin, 2 January 2006

Iran must worry me if I am reading and taking note of articles from a Fellow of the AEI {2}, but there it goes. If I find information and/or opinion from centre/left sources to add to this, I will.

Although MR is saying this is consistent and this is ideology, I think it is also based on an Iranian fear of what the Israelis and or the U.S. might do if it all goes too far. "The idiocy is in the ideology" to loosely paraphrase Marshall Mcluhan: once you become sucked into impractical ideology - knowingly or unknowingly - you end up making speeches like the current president of Iran. This is what the Nazi propaganda machine did. Goebbels made speeches where he explained clearly what he thought propoganda was and was not, which are extremely enlightening in todays terms. Knowledge and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, 9 January 1928.

Even if we stick simply to Holocaust denial, we have a distinct problem in the fact and fantasy department. The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Jonathan Sacks, has gone on air on the BBC to worry about the growth of anti-semitism. My instinct is to say, in the European context, this is inevitable: for example,the rise of neo-Nazi parties in the part of Germany that was the GDR (disaffected unemployed youg men who ar ethe children of people brain-washed by the so-called communist state they grew up in) is well known. And there is the internet. There has been an increasing amount of desecration of synagogues and Jewish graves across europe in recent years. I guess this is orchestrated rather than piece-meal. It also becomes fashionable. A meme. I heard someone on the radio saying Muslims will be blamed but it is probably skin heads.

In the wider contect, the point however, is to clearly distinguish between Zionism (which version are you against? SEE Wiki entry on AntiZionism) and anti-semitism. The technique seems to be to get at Zionists through anti-semitism. Hit at the weakest spot. Holocaust denial is an integral part of this technique. In a rational world it should be possible to be anti-zionist without being accused of (or actually being) being anti-semitic. A writer such as Robert Thompson, a catholic, is earnestly anti-zionist, but often so determined to put an anti-zionist case (which version is he, for example against?) he appears to be anti-semitic. Or can we say, the words of anti-zionists can be denigrated and negated by the accusation of covert anti-semitism, if need be. So its very important to say which zionism you are against. Knowing the sensitivity (=guilt) of non-Jews to the Holocaust, some Jews often shout down anyone who even mentions Zionism. Reading this
Wiki: anti-zionism (links to wiki:zionism) makes it clear to the novice on this subject that this a much more complicated problem than at first meets the eye.

The two basic perspectives: (1) the propaganda value of conflation by those against the state of Israel, (2) the understandable sensitivity of many Jews who by default see attacks on zionism as soon turning to attacks on them if they don't defend themselves, in the light of this knowledge is then seen to be far too simplistic. More people therefore in the mainsteam media should be writing articles about the varieties of Zionism, and asking questions about which one could be criticised, if any, without the accusation of ant-semitism being true.


I do not agree with the settlements in post 1967 Israel. So I fall into a category of anti-zionism. Though I see why they were put there: demography war.

My view is that the emotional displays of the settlers who were recently removed from Gaza, if it was genuine and not a show for the media (we know they are being compensated for their losses), are only fueling the hatred of Israel by those who do not want it to exist. The people who are shall we say blanket anti-semitic, are then able to point at this small minority of religion cranks and say they represent what Israelis as a whole feel.

The religious ideology of the die-hard Zionist settlers of Gaza and others in West Bank settlements (who perhaps ought to be distinguised, in a way, from the Zionists of 1948), shows how unrealistic they are about what in essence must be a political problem, not a millenarian fantasy. They indeeed subsume true morals and ethics in their bid to defend their unrealistic, historo-religious position.

This all shows shows how devilish politics can be. The settlers (there are many varieties but more or less all hav had their living subsidised by the Israelis state) have been used by the state in its war of demographics for decades. When things change, as they did with Ariel Sharon's decision to pull out of Gaza, they are unceremonially dumped, Zionism or not.

It is understandable why they should be upset. But not understandable why they can't see, and admit, they were pawns in a nasty, cynical game, and to have removed themselves from Gaza without tears and wailing. The tears and wailing, it might be argued, show how they rely more on their fantasies than real world events. Or, maybe are cynically manipulating the media themselves.

The settlements were only possible too, because settlers were feather-bedded into these communities by the Isreali state. Very few of them could have walked into these places and set up what they did set up (at a standard in stark contrast to the squalour of Arab lives around them) without financial handouts and an infrastructure. Few of them could have stayed there without the Israelis government support. Indeed, without incentives to settle, despite their professed Zionism, we must ask how many would have taken on the task of settling in such hostile places. At the same time, though having been in Gaza for example, for going on decades, they always had the fact they could retreat to Israel proper, if things got tough.
Compensation for Jews Who Lose Homes in Disengagement shows there is always a bottom line. Although therewas a logic to the settlements in Israeli government terms as can be seen form Wiki: anti-zionism (links to wiki:zionism), we can see under Wiki: Israeli settlement there are/were a variety of motivations for settling.

For someone outside the issue, for whom it has no impact on his own life, the destruction of perfectly good housing, which could have been used for Gazans to live in (no of course they will not live in houses once occupied by Jews, and yes they do have big families which could not fit into these small houses, but what a sorry state of affairs when the houses are demolished, then Palestinians are employed to clear up the rubble! It is the same category of moral and ethical bindness which condones (allows) the thorwing away of perfectly edible food from supermarkets by the skip full every day of the week, all round the world.


In the process of reading around this topic have come across Maxime Rodinson, discussed here in a valedictory to both him and Jacques derrida who died in 2004.


My view has progressively been since it is difficult for the ordinary individual to know what is fact and what propoganda, and even to know what are real as opposed to bogus debates (whose agenda for what why and when?), it is often better to go to the heart of a problem, as here, by seeing what the people at the heart of the difficulty think of their own problem. I picked up two sites, produced by, through this entry in the Peace Encyclopedia: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Zionists with the questions: "
Is anti-Zionism the same thing as anti-semitism? Is an anti-Zionist also an anti-semite? " answered in part by reference to a variety of quotes. There is also an entry: Anti-Semitism.

The Centre of Ethic Jewish Studies have created the Peace Encyclopedia and Famous Jews Interactive. This intro gives a flavour of the thinking.

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memories of a childhood in Iraq in the 1950s * thoughts on events in the Middle East

Location: United Kingdom

expatriot in Middle East as child, retired teacher.

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