Sunday, October 31, 2004

Some comments of mine from an email exchange on the situations in Iran and Israel:
"I respect Iranian political culture because I respect the culture at large. If people are thinking and struggling articulately, with an awareness of the the ambiguities -of art and life- then I don't worry so much about them. If ambiguity is not allowed, then it's a problem.
Israel terrifies me."
"I'm not defending the Iranian government. I'm saying that the struggle is in the minds of the people of Iran, and that they are aware of the stakes. On the other hand. I've read more than one article describing the purblind anxiety of Israeli liberals, who will not admit what they've built their lives upon."
"But which is closer to civil war, Iran or Israel?
I'm betting on the latter. The government of Iran is based on hypocrisy and lies, but the people are still torn between the old and new. This can be seen in the street and in the culture. On the other hand, Israeli society itself is problematic.
The US exists as the result of a crime, the theft of land. But we're here and we're not going away. That's not a moral argument, just a fact. But Israeli life is still based on a moral argument that most of the world considers absurd. And although such comments leave me suspicious when they're made by Europeans, I can't say the comments themselves are wrong."
"The delusions of a government, or the delusions of a society:
Which is more dangerous to world peace?
So perhaps there is something to be learned through a comparative study of Golan-Globus and Abbas Kiarostami?"
"It's been my assumption for a long time that American political intellectuals don't understand culture. Neither of my parents did, and they both had Ph.D.'s in American lit; they respected literature as a thing worthy of study but had an intellectual's contempt for the people who wrote it. The one time they actually admitted a preference as to what I'd end up doing, they both said 'physics.'
I almost laughed out loud.

Our fingers are all crossed on tuesday."

It was a friendly exchange, but I meant what I said. I don't give a rat's ass for Israel. And I don't take it particularly seriously, politically, or culturally. Iran fascinates me, and I'm betting that of the two Israel will take a lot longer to mature. I can pretty much guarantee it won't do so until its Jewish population gives up on the dream of living in a Jewish state, rather than one which Jews can call home.

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