Monday, March 02, 2015

Netanyahu’s speech and the American Jewish condition

Philip Weiss on March 1, 2015

The scandal over the Netanyahu speech to Congress is in the end a story about the Jewish condition in the United States.

Netanyahu is coming here to tell the Congress to torpedo the efforts of the U.S. president to cut a deal with Iran. He does so because he seems to believe that Iran poses an existential threat to Israel. His actual and implicit messaging links the Iranians to the Holocaust and to Hitler. Whether or not he is working the matter to get another term, or to maintain Israel’s regional hegemony, there can be little question that many Jews share this belief. They say that Iran is determined to destroy Israel and so the charge “Never again” means, we must destroy Iran’s nuclear capability by any means and isolate the society generally. Just as Iraq which attacked Israel was also linked to Hitler by various Israel supporters 12 years ago.

That analogy proved absurd, and the Iranian/Holocaust analogy is also illogical. James Fallows has done the best job of exploding the “existential threat” claim, and many realists have said that a nuclear Iran could be contained. But my interest here is Jewish consciousness, and again– many Jews believe this. For as Roger Cohen, Alice Rothchild and Gershom Gorenberg have said in recent weeks, Jews are post-traumatic. A group doesn’t see half its population wiped out in Europe in a genocide without deep scarring. I’ve heard about Jews who keep a bag packed under their bed because they think we could be rounded up. My old editor used to ask me if my wife’s family would hide me. I don’t have the would-they-hide-you gene, but many Jews do. And Jewish politics are more temperamental than anything else. How far out you are on the paranoia curve determines whether you are a full-on neoconservative or just a garden-variety liberal Zionist, and the two categories blur.

(More here.)


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