Monday, July 25, 2005

Your Morning Cup Of Tribalism

The Shorter Dennis Prager:

Evil Targets God's Chosen:

It's God's will that I am hated, which gives me self-esteem.

Metaphysics makes Retardo's head explode! Still, I'll give it a try... isn't this is sort of like the Jesus Had To Die To Redeem Mankind question? Okay, if that is so, then how can one be mad at Pilate, say, for just playing his predetermined role? Likewise, it seems to me that if Prager insists that it's God's will that Jews are chosen and then must be hated because of it, then how can people who believe such a cosmicly fascist thing be mad at anti-semites who are, like Pilate, just fulfilling their biblically-determined role? It seems to me the tribalist chauvinism and self-pity to which Prager subscribes actually excuses and implicitly encourages anti-semitism. Not a good thing. Which is one reason among many why most Jews, like everyone else, think Prager's a nutjob.

Not to be outdone, David Gelertner uses the occasion of the London bombings to attack the city's mayor as a terrorist puppet, and to make the broad argument that this is what is to be expected of people who aren't sufficiently pro-Israel. I read his column as basically a sneer at Europe. Which wouldn't be all that unusual for him. Anyway, he's pretty funny:

Many Europeans love to run on about Jewish terrorism in 1940s Palestine, during Israel's struggle for independence from Britain. Israel owes its creation and continued existence, Livingstone says, to "systematic violence and terror." Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a "war criminal who should be in prison." (And President Bush is "the greatest threat to life on this planet." London's dapper mayor has a good word for everyone!)

It's time to dispose of the endlessly repeated Jewish terrorism story. You've heard about sins of omission. Jewish terrorism existed and was unforgivable, but describing it without mentioning the official Jewish response is a lie of omission.

There were repeated confrontations between Palestine's Jewish community and Jewish terrorists. A famous one followed the 1944 murder in Cairo of Lord Moyne, the British minister-resident in the Middle East, by the terrorist Stern Gang. In response, the shocked and revolted Jewish community hunted down terrorists relentlessly, turning over more than 700 names to the British.

There were truces too, when the Jewish authorities (desperately outgunned and outnumbered in their war for independence) tried to co-opt two terrorist groups, the Stern Gang and the Irgun, into the regular army. But the Sternists and the Irgun invariably returned to terror, shattering the truce.

Jewish terrorism was stamped out at last after a U.N. mediator was assassinated in late 1948. Israel's new Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion ordered: "Arrest all Stern Gang leaders. Surround all Stern bases. Confiscate all arms. Kill any who resist." Soon afterward, the Irgun also bit the dust.

An israeli private citizen summed things up following an earlier terrorist attack. "None of the barbarities the Arabs have committed in the past months can excuse this." (And the Arabs had committed plenty.) Ben-Gurion laid it on the line: "There is no compromise, no equivocation. The way of terror or the way of Zionism."

I love the "sins of omission" part, a hefty charge from our burly pundit. Yet it is Gelertner who is omitting quite a bit. First of all, he doesn't mention who the Stern Gang was making diplomatic overtures to. I'll fill in the blanks. It was the Nazis. Gelertner knows this, but hopes no one else does. The Stern Gang, the original terrorists of Palestine, wished to make an alliance with the Nazis so as to kick the British out of Zion.

Gelertner mentions that the Stern Gang murdered a "U.N. mediator" but is careful not to write the man's name or anything about his background. I think I know why. It was Count Bernadotte of Sweden (which is, you know, in that monolithically anti-semitic continent of Europe), a man who'd saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.

The purpose of Gelertner's omissions is that he wants to make the Stern Gang out to be less vile than it in fact was. Thus establishing that the Stern Gang were garden-variety or even chickenfeed sorts of terrorists, he can then show with the rest of the column just how hardcore anti-terrorist Ben-Gurion and the early Zionists were because they came down so hard on such a relatively tame group! Yes, yes.

Which is probably fun for Gelertner to write, and fun for me to laugh at the mendacity of.

Because actually, far from "stamping it out", the Stern Gang's ethos was at least partly institutionalised in such entities as the Likud, Kach, and Moledet political parties. Bernadotte's assassin, according to wikipedia, was eventually one of Ben-Gurion's security guards. None of the plotters were arrested.

One stern Gang leader who approved the hit on Bernadotte was eventually elected Prime Minister: Yitzhak Shamir.

Irgun, the group from which the Stern Gang broke (the latter being more radical), at least had the virtue of not being explicitly pro-Nazi. Yet it too bombed the British while WW2 raged. Monachem Begin was a prominent member. Later, he was of course elected Prime Minister.

"Stamped out", Gelertner says. Right.

See also Busy, Busy, Busy.

**Update: As I re-read this, it occurred to me that Gelertner's explicit point, that Israeli terrorism ceased after 1948, gives a hint about the definition of the word. Hmm, what happened in 1948? And might the same also happen with the current terrorists?