Saturday, July 22, 2006

From TPM Cafe
Fun on a saturday morning
I understood Zionism from childhood as the argument that my father, Robert I Edenbaum, born in the Bronx and the grandson of immigrants from Eastern Europe, had more rights to land in Israel than someone whose family had lived there for 20 generations. No one I have met has ever countered that definition, and the logic then as now could only be defined as racist.
The same people who defend my father's right of return to a place he never left also make demographic arguments for denying the approximately three million Palestinian refugees the right to return to their Israeli land: arguments predicated on the need to maintain the racial integrity of the Jewish State and reminiscent of the rantings of various reactionary movements around the globe, with the difference that this example is defended as moral even by liberals who fight against the implementation of such policies on their own soil.

The simplicity and clarity of the above points and my impatience with those who see them as anything other than clear place me to my chagrin in the company of Noam Chomsky. Chomsky does not understand psychology -though he might say that he simply has no interest in it- while consciousness is, of course, defined by neurosis. For that reason alone I suppose I should be more willing to accept the arguments of those to whom zionism was fed with mothers' milk: not to accept them as abstract logic- as truth- but as the result of the logic of their lives. Perhaps I should be more forgiving, but I'm not. Maybe I'm just a Jewish exceptionalist.

Still, I'm not surprised by arguments over the meaning of excessive or comparable force, even though comparable force would mean the destruction of entire sections of Tel Aviv, hundreds of thousands of refugees forced from their homes over a matter of days, billions of dollars in losses and threats to bomb Israel back to the stone age made by those actually able to do it.

On another more abstract note, it's a peculiarly American desire to turn everything into a question of "community,' as if somehow the opposite of a daily group hug is anarchy. I'm not particularly interested in most of the posters here, though the ramblings of the rank and file are consistently more interesting than those of the Poobahs. I'm not out to offend anyone but I'm not out to make friends either. As long as no one gets kicked in the teeth I prefer to let community take care of itself, and the concern for policing social niceties seems little more than another oddity of Americana.

Joe Lieberman in an act of rhetorical slight-of-hand and self-delusion has turned the American respect for courtesy into one for authority and from that into the defense of his own unctious self-importance. Chomsky and the rest of the liberal intellectual elite may all have no interest in psychology (though Chomsky is the only pundit who gives the defense of intellectual objectivity any weight) but that does nothing to deny what psychology brings to politics and daily life.
The people say Lieberman is a creep, and sometimes the people are right.


  1. Anonymous2:29 PM

    You and Noam Chomsky are right to think that it is racist -- and unfair -- to allow distant immigrant Jews more right to land in Israel/Palestine than someone who already lived there. Sad, though, that you seem to believe mainstream Zionism advocates anything remotely resembling that. Then again, I've heard conservative bigots charge that "affirmative action" means firing whites and replacing them with minorities. Radical, almost willful misunderstanding is now the norm in political discourse, so I guess I expect too much?

  2. Bi-national state? Palestinian right of return?
    You're on!

  3. Anonymous8:31 PM

    "Bi-national state? Palestinian right of return? You're on!"

    Note jeffster's weasel words: "someone who already lived there."

    I reckon j would claim that members of the Palestinian diaspora "didn't already live there."


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