Steve Apfel is Director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book, 'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and...
Sun,Mar 9,2014 7 AdarII 5774
Prof Marianne Hirsch, Columbia University. Takes the dumb side?
Intellectuals are people given to thought and reason. From Abraham onwards Jews have been intellectuals. Jews lived by the seat of their intellect, and that’s how it always was. Dumb is one thing they never were, or so the world understands, especially the half of it that looks at the Jews askance for being more clever and influential than humanity feels it can stomach.
How things have changed. Today a counter culture, prevalent on the Left, has taken hold wherein many a Jew, young and old, seems ready to dump the intellectual habits of their forebears. In short, they seem willing to dumb down.
Opinion formers who dumb down for personal gain lead the pack.
Ben-Ami, owner of J-Street, attracts big money with his business slogan: ‘Pro - 2 state solution, Pro-peace.’ Finkelstein makes loads from writing books on how Jews milk the Holocaust for all it’s worth. Academics and columnists too numerous to name fashion careers out of being anti one thing and pro another. The anti is for Israel and the pro for boycotting it. Tsipi Livni, the peace bargainer for Israel, sets her sights on the ultimate in take-home prizes: a Nobel award. Even a busker with a saxophone, Gilad somebody, only has to slander his people to nab a share of the pie.
Whether for cash or career Jews on the Left stopper the mind and dumb down for gain.
Opinionated opinion-leaders are just the half of it. Jews on the Left imbibe their ‘spiel’ with little to gain beyond a fuzzy glow from taking up the cause of underdogs.
The underdog Palestinians are hardly more than props with nothing to do except appear on stage looking oppressed. There are no lines for them to speak, no acts for the props to do. They have only to stand there looking victimized. Flotillas will sail to rescue them, motions and rulings will pass in their favour, concessions will offer them hope, aid money will alleviate their poverty, barbarous acts will be koshered, documentaries shot to paint their plight, history made up to give them antecedents.
On stage, looking poor and oppressed, the props wait for the latest favour to come their way. While they are about it, Jews on the Left find time for Israelis, this time to make people the agent of oppression. And while they give Palestinians a history they deny Israelis a real one.
The patriarchs and rabbinic masters should be turning in their tombs. Good brains are being tossed aside for empty invective and catchy slogans.
To illustrate, consider one clever Jew on the Left, a budding Seinfeld, who scoffs at his people thus:
“This week an Israeli report came to the conclusion that the occupation of Palestinian territories was not actually an occupation. This news must have been met with widespread celebrations within the occupied territories. I’m pretty sure that if these territories had streets, the Palestinians would be partying in them after discovering that all this time they had simply imagined being oppressed.”
What does the comedy turn tell us about a Jew who dumbs down? There are several give-away words. Spurning the intellectual way of his forebears, the Jew on the Left permits outrage to get the better of him. “Oppressed and “Occupied.” He has imbibed that Palestinians are both, and he’s outraged for them. Not stopping to interrogate the claim, he resorts to parody. Where are the questions we’d expect a Jew with a perfectly good mind, with keen intellect, to fire?
Those are posers you’d expect the intellectual to fire. But the Jew on the Left dumbs down. His brain gone all pulpy, he falls back on parody.
Another ‘spiel’ that strikes the Jew on the Left dumb is the ‘Gulliver ploy’. Gulliver is the name of a comment wannabe, the anti-Israel type that frequents pro-Israel sites. Shallow his ploy might be, but it has the power to frighten Jews on the Left frigid.
Ploy or complaint; who better than Gulliver to give it a voice.
“I refuse in any way to respond to the accusation of anti-Semitism. It's as common as confetti and diverts attention – exactly what is intended – away from the substantive issues. Anti-Semitism is the old ruse of Israel advocates who freely use it as a debating tactic.”
We’ve all met the argument: ‘Just because I happen to be anti-Israel please don’t brush and tar me with being ‘anti-Semitic.’
The shot quite devastates Jews on the Left, making them wilt and wither up in shame. You hardly see them in their contrition and scorn for close-minded kinsmen who can’t debate without flinging ‘anti-Semite!’ at all and sundry. Jew turning on Jew is a sight to make all Gullivers beam. And scuttling from the field of conflict they live another day to decry the state of the Jews.
If only the Jew on the Left would bring intellect into play. If only he’d find a little strength to meet Gulliver head on. If only he’d press for answers, I’d vouch that the Jew on the Left would be shocked to the core.
“Common as confetti…” If true, let Gulliver name one academic, boycott activist, media type or politician who freely admits to hating Israel because of hating the Jews. What person with a living to make and a reputation to uphold would admit to anti-Semitism? Who knows – perhaps after all, anti-Semites are as common as confetti.
The Gulliver type is really proposing that, for once in recorded history, no one really hates the Jews; what they hate is the way Israeli people (who just happen to be Jews) treat others. That makes not very much sense. After all, Israel’s Arab neighbours treat Palestinians far, far worse, yet Gulliver types don’t mind one bit.
Are there really no anti-Semites?
“Of course there are!” Gulliver blurts. “But I’m not one of them.”
Fine, but how do we know he’s not? Anti-Semitic means what to Gulliver?
“How would I know what my accusers mean by anti-Semite! It’s the accusation itself that’s bogus, the misuse of the term, not the correct use. Nothing I have posted in this thread could support your accusation that I am anti-Semitic, or too stupid to know the difference.”
Now if Gulliver does not know what his accusers mean by ‘anti-Semite’; and if he can’t tell us what it means to him, how can he blame his accusers for misusing the term?
Listen well to Gulliver’s retort.
“I do know what it means. Most who bandy it around also know, but are happy to use it when clearly it is inappropriate. Further, whilst there are clearly millions who hate Israel and what the government of Israel does in their name- there are millions like me - who neither love nor hate Israel, but merely disagree with it. To bandy anti-Semitism at me, and others like me, whose arguments avoid hate speech terminology, is completely inappropriate.”
So, he came out with it finally. To Gulliver an anti-Semite is one who employs hate speech. That’s what makes him different from a critic of Israel. The anti-Semite swears at Jews! Gulliver never does that, so he can’t be one.
The argument of a baby! If only Jews on the Left would call the bluff they’d find that Gulliver types are babies – intellectual pygmies, puff pastry without filling. All they do is raise a stink. The moment their bigotry starts showing Gulliver types turn skunk. And it works. Jews on the Left, embarrassed and beaten, stiffen up from the stink.
Besides the dirty skunk ploy, think about it. Since when are Jews not up for argument? Don’t people despise them for being too clever? Were not Jews practically made for dissent? Yet here are Gullivers asking us to believe that Jews can’t or won’t argue; here are Gullivers postulating a radical break from millennia-old Jewish habits.
Would they only summon the courage to face off the adversary, Jews on the Left would soon see of what stuff he’s made.
What of the J-Street lobby, the American Jew on the Left’s answer to the American Jew on the Centre and Right’s AIPAC?
We saw the slogan. J-Streeters are pro-Peace and pro-two-state Solution. And the Jew on the Left swallows that banner line without a blink. He swallows it whole, though it fairly yells at him to check it out.
A world atlas and a coloured highlighter suffice to check it out. If the Jew on the Left would only highlight parts of the world experiencing war, or in the throes of unrest, or where terrorist attacks have occurred, he’d soon see of what stuff J-Street’s banner slogan is made.
Begin with Africa: Nigeria, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania. Then move to the Middle East: Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, and so on. Work next on Asia: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Bali, Indonesia. Then Europe: Britain, France, Germany, Spain. Finally, highlight trouble spots in Eastern Europe: Chechnya, Russia, the Urals.
At this point stand back and take in the parts highlighted. These are war zones, or zones with simmering wars, or zones prone to terror attacks. All are Muslim countries, or countries bordering Muslim countries, or countries that have experienced attacks by Islamic fanatics.
Pro-peace and pro two-states, one Jewish, the other Muslim: where oh where is Ben-Ami’s working model to be found? Where oh where does a Muslim state live at peace with a neighbour, or even with itself?
And which ruler in the Muslim world adheres to a paper agreement? Where in the Muslim world can a non-Muslim become a citizen, or follow another faith, or dress how she likes? It would be the exception if there was such a country. Expulsion – unrest – war, not peaceful co-existence would be the model to look at.
Yet J-Street’s model wants two states and peace?
What makes Jews on the Left afraid to bring their God-given intellect into play? Why dumb down when there’s a world of insight waiting just the other side through Alice’s looking glass?