hey Eric didn’t I tell you you were too dumb to write about Palestine?

I have just seen Eric Alterman’s response to the response to the Nation’s cool-tempered editorial on the massacre on the Mavi Marmara:

You know, it’s funny. Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are all engaged in this blockade (which I strongly oppose). But if you read The Nation’s editorial on the topic, “Free Gaza,” you’d have to assume that they are all doing this because it’s fun, or because they are big meanies or, at best, for no reason at all.

Never mind priorities, that the siege in intolerable and must end. Never mind reality, which is that Israel is engaged in a terroristic blockade to overthrow a democratically elected government. Never mind that Egypt complies because it does what America and Israel tell it to do, or that Fatah complies because its policy-making component is populated by a group of collaborators who do whatever Israel tells them to do.

Never mind that senior Israeli officials openly admitted that the blockade was a failed policy on its stated terms, and that they kept it in place in the face of the flotilla to assert the inviolable principle that Israel will not give in to resistance, because they are the boss—or, in Alterman’s cutesy rhetoric, precisely because they are “meanies.” Never mind that pace Hamas’s charter it’s not a particularly anti-Semitic political movement in practice, nor is it opposed to “liberalism in all its forms,” since it has repeatedly attempted to sign reconciliation agreements that would have created a legislative council with representation from both Hamas and Fatah, while impossible Fatah demands scuppered them.

Alterman is afflicted with a serious case of White Liberalism. This disease turns the pseudo-intellectual into a very picky consumer of resistance movements. Not that one, they have funky red beards, and those folk aren’t very nice to their brown women, who we do the honor of bombing without gender discrimination. This complex suggests that resistance movements must fit into the box we construct—white, secular, liberal, Western—to receive principled, unqualified support for ending the suffering of the groups on whose behalf they resist.

None do.

Hamas doesn’t have to placate Alterman’s audience at the 92nd Street Y in order to justify ending the suffering of the people who voted for it, any more than those expressing sympathy for American suffering on 9/11 and who were concerned about its causes needed to quibble about the fact that America was a barbaric country that executed children, condones penal rape, and in which half the population believes the Earth is around 6,000 years old before saying so.

Such facts are irrelevant except to those who think that Palestinian suffering must be gingerly framed to be sure not to offend American Zionist sensibilities. This is racist anti-universalist thinking, and it’s intolerable and even “illiberal.”

Reading Eric, you think that perhaps he saw Senator Ribbentrop Schumer speaking in front of the Orthodox Union and decided that so long as he was several picometers to the left of a call for outright “strangulation” of the Palestinians in Gaza he could grandstand about the “complications of the conflict.” Eric, here are the complications: American Zionists have been indoctrinated with a victimization complex from a tragedy that almost none of directly experienced.

We think our people died because we were weak, intellectual, effeminate. We think the solution, more psycho-social than practical, is a fascist Sparta in the Middle East, because none of us go to live there except the haredim from Williamsburg and Borough Park.

That Sparta does good work for the Empire, its intellectual backers in Brooklyn collect money from the Empire, their egos are assuaged, and the merry-round keeps going round and round, while Israel descends into madness and Palestinians are more and more mired in misery and hopelessness, and the Erics of the world prance around podiums in New York, so distant imaginatively, morally, and intellectually from the conflict that it becomes totally clear that the people living there—the Jewish Israelis too, living in a fantastically unequal racist society—aren’t even the point.

The point is positioning within a native community, the point is social status to be gained by transcribing and condensing the consensus of that community rather than challenging it. And who cares that Israel prevented oxygen machines from coming into Gaza this week, or that Gazans can’t leave for medical treatment? Not them, for sure, despite not even remotely convincing parenthetical avowals of concern.


Technorati Tags: Alterman, American Liberal Zionism, American Zionism, Eric Alterman, Gaza, Israel, Jewish, Palestine, Zionism

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