Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday 2 July 2012

In The BBC News Magazine, Gobbledegook About "Jewish Anarchists" & "Muslim Extremists"

Another example of political propaganda courtesy of the incorrigible BBC occurs in a weird little piece by Adam Gopnik in Al Beeb's online news magazine; it was originally a BBC radio broadcast.  (Hat tip: David Vance)

Inter alia, Gopnik, having derided Americans' devotion to and fierce pride in their country ("this illness"), writes:
"After 9/11, in the US we suffered from a plague of militarism of this kind, again mostly from sagging middle-aged writers who wanted to send someone else's kids to war so that the middle-aged men could feel more manly in the face of a national insult....'
He continues:
"When I read well-intentioned people talking about the impossibility of assimilating Muslims in my adopted country of France ... I become frightened when I see that they are usually entirely unaware that they are repeating –  often idea for idea and sometimes word for word –  the themes of the anti-Semitic polemics that set off the Dreyfus affair a century ago. For those writers, too, believed not that Jews were eternally evil, but that Judaism was just too different, too foreign to France, and tied to violence against the nation and its heritage.
And indeed there were Jewish anarchists in Europe, as there are Muslim extremists now. But there was never a Jewish problem in France, any more than there is a Muslim problem now...."
Let's take that analogy (I assume it's meant to be an analogy) between "Jewish anarchists" and "Muslim extremists" first.  It's nonsensical.

There's no denying that there were in the East European revolutionary movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries anarchists who happened to be Jewish.

I say "who happened to be Jewish" advisedly.  For these individuals, deracinated from Judaism, and as contemptuous of notions of Jewish particularism as Gopnik is of American "exceptionalism", were classic examples of what Isaac Deutscher famously characterised in 1958 as "The non-Jewish Jew".  Socialist Rosa Luxembourg was an exemplar of their outlook, declaring in 1916:
"Why do you come to me with your particular Jewish sorrows? I feel equally close to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations in Putumayo, or to the Negroes in Africa .... ...I have no separate corner in my heart for the ghetto: I feel at home in the entire world wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears."
To such people Judaism, like religion in general, was atavistic and irrational.

And if a few of them sought to kill, their targets were authoritarian rulers, not members of the general public, much less innocents en masse.

Contrast that outlook with the Islamocentric, proselytising, jihadist one of Gopnik's "Muslim extremists".

Now to the assertion that there was no "Jewish problem" in France.  Of course there was not. The Jews of France, as elsewhere in Europe, did not seek to impose their religion on other people.  They did not threaten the lives of other inhabitants of France or of any other country. They had demonstrated to Napoleon's satisfaction that their beliefs and practices were compatible with modernity, and accordingly that they deserved to be citizens of the Republic.

Questioned regarding a number of key issues upon which their right to emancipation rested (such as whether they practised polygamy and whether they felt loyalty to France and their fellow countrymen), they easily  demonstrated that they merited emancipation, on equal terms with their non-Jewish compatriots.

 Let's be honest.  If the kinds of questions that Napoleon asked the Jews were posed today to Muslims in France, it's doubtful whether their attachment to the ideals of the Republic, to modernity, would be as consensual, and thus as overwhelmingly persuasive.

Observes Gopnik, stating the obvious:
"If we accept the Enlightenment values of tolerance, coexistence and mutual pursuit of material happiness, things in the long run work out."
It's convincing everyone to accept "Enlightenment values" that's the problem.


  1. The BBC has a sly pro-Palestinian sports report at
    the end bit says

    Sarsak has been held without charge or trial since then, under Israel's Unlawful Combatants Law, which he protested against with a three-month hunger strike.

    Israel says Sarsak belongs to the Islamic Jihad militant group and is a threat to national security, an allegation Sarsak denies.

    In the Israel-Palestinian conflict, even the beautiful game can turn ugly.

  2. I'm so pleased that someone else has picked up on this nonsense. "Patriotism" as the opposite of "nationalism"? Tell that to a Scot. Or a linguist.

    And what an insult to the Jews of the WWII Resistance to be passed over in favour of some anarchists for a mention. And the whitewashed "polemics" blamed for the vile hatred in human beings who punished Dreyfus for being a Jew. And what of the law that allowed that?

    Maybe the failure within France to report the Muslim riots of a few years back let the writer omit them. Maybe the Muslim antisemitic slaughter in Toulouse this year could be omitted since members of the military were murdered at a different site. And maybe the increased antisemitic attacks in France since March are not being reported on either by the (non-)Jewish press in France.

    Maybe the writer doesn't have a Jewish friend in France who has to wear his kippah under a baseball cap so that he won't be attacked.

    I know the talk/article is only "A Point of View" but it would be good if points of view could be informed rather than deformed.

    And Daphne, on your PSC materials in schools article: Sections 406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996 are applicable:

    It looks as if any objections would have to be made on an education authority by education authority basis or even school by school.

    1. Thanks for this comment, Ariadne. You make some great and much appreciated points. I shall look at that link asap - the entire PSC in schools business really touched a raw nerve with me.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.