Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Norman G. Finkelstein

Ridiculous: Palestinian people have never been “Invented People”

Note: Re-edit of “Are Palestinians an “Invented People”? And how Israel was invented? 2012″

I received a developed feedback from a reader (a Jew and Israelite), probably from a collection of posts on Palestine, and I decided to publish it, with minor editing.
“The name “Palestine” has been around for a long time. “Peleset” is transliterated from Egyptian hieroglyphics “P-l-s-t”. Palestine is found in numerous Egyptian documents referring to a neighboring people or land starting from around 1150 BC.
The “Philistine” States existed on the coastal plain between Jaffa and south to Gaza. At a short period Philistine co-existed with the faked ancient Kingdoms of Judah, located above this coastal  line. This supposed Kingdom of Israel never contemplated or was able to reach the seashore.
In the 5th Century BC, Herodotus wrote of a “district of Syria, called Palestine”.
About a century later, Aristotle described the Dead Sea in Meteorology and located it in Palestine:
“Again if, as is fabled, there is a lake in Palestine, such that if you bind a man or beast and throw it in it, it floats and does not sink, this would bear out what we have said. They say that this lake is so bitter and salty that no fish live in it and that if you soak clothes in it and shake them it cleans them.”
This writer frequently engaged in debates with Zionists (a bad habit I need to kick out!) who often tend to seize on small ideas, such as “When did the Palestinians ever have their own country?”
In order to win such an argument I would have to reduce myself to their terms, and produce a map that shows a country and borders: “Palestinian Kingdom, 1587- 1702”, and then let them present their map of ancient Israel and Judah, and then get into a wrestling match, and the winner would claim the territory of their own. 
Or perhaps the issue would be better settled the way the New York colony won Staten Island from New Jersey: with a boat race.
If the goal is exclusivity, as it always has been with Zionism, then the only criterion in achieving it is winning, whether a war or a race.
 
There was no 17th century Palestinian Kingdom, or 18th or 19th. This region was dominated by the Ottoman empire. Various provinces in a larger Ottoman empire, ruled from Istanbul (previously known as Constantinople, and before that, Byzantium), much as there are today various American States governed from Washington.
Allied victory over Germany and Turkey in World War I and the League of Nations granted “mandate ”power to France and England to control the region. France over Syria and Lebanon and Mosul: France relinquished more land to Turkey than current land in Syria. England had mandated power over Palestine, Jordan and middle and southern Iraq.
Objectors will cry “Foul!”, as Americans are governed by Americans in Washington, whereas “Arabs” were governed by Turks, a different ethnic group with a different language. As if the USA is one ethnic group.
Fine. So I modify my comparison to the Spanish speaking Puerto Ricans governed from Washington, or the French speaking Quebecois governed from Ottawa. Neither the Puerto Ricans nor the French Canadians are being ethnically cleansed.
 
Prior to Zionism, there was no need for the Palestine to focus on Palestinian identity. They were citizens of the Ottoman Empire. When, during the mandate years the British made contradictory promises to the Zionists and the “Arabs” in the Arabian Peninsula.
The “Arabs” and the Palestinians expected, and had the right to expect, eventual self-rule, it was certainly not a foregone conclusion that there was going to be an independent Palestine.
Palestinians might well have been a part of a larger South Syria, or of a Greater Syria, and happily so.
They certainly would not have been ethnically cleansed under those circumstances.
The Palestinians have always had their own distinct “Arabic” dialect, and various other cultural attributes that set them apart from other regional Arabic cultures, but that was never particularly relevant.
Many various subcultures existed within the Ottoman Empire, and continued to exist within British and French mandates. Interestingly, during the years of the Yishuv, the pre-Israeli-statehood, Zionist community in Palestine and Jewish-Zionist settlers called themselves “Palestinians”.
In this way, the Zionists ironically affirmed it Palestinian identity that many of them wish now to deny.
In 1948, amid the massacres and military forced mass expulsions of the “nakba” (Arabic for catastrophe, the name commonly given to the events of 1948), as the State of “Israel” was recognized by the UN by a majority of a single vote, all of the Jews who had been calling themselves Palestinians became “Israelis”.
When the dust cleared after expelling the Palestinians from their towns and villages, the Palestinians  who remained within the green line became “Arab Israelis”, like it or not.
The designation “Palestinian” was more actively embraced beginning in 1964, with the forming of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), this out of necessity, because a people who had been ethnically cleansed, who were in a state of shock and humiliation, and who were desperate to recover and regain what was rightfully theirs, found it useful to rally around symbols representing themselves: A name and a flag are two of the basics.
Golda Meir famously said in 1969, during her tenure as Israeli prime minister;
“There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian State? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”
I would not have been able to show Golda a map that says “Kingdom of Palestine” or “Grand Duchy of Palestine” or any of dozens of designations that might have satisfied her. But this I can say for sure: There were human beings on that land, and they had been there all their lives, and their families for many generations before them down through the centuries.
And many Palestinians were actually descended from ancient Jews who later converted to Christianity and Islam, while Golda’s and the Ashkenazi Jews, were converting to Judaism in the Khazar Kingdom on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
 
Golda actually knew and the information, which has become available to the general public in the decades since, that: We Jews did come and throw them out and take their country away from them. It’s been thoroughly documented. It wasn’t when she made this statement in 1969.  
Golda was able to get away with it then.
But since an entire generation of Jewish-Israeli scholars, (and many others, but we Jews need to hear it from Jews first!) has carefully documented the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and presented the history that she personally knew, but actively hid and denied.
Golda and her colleagues concealed the truth from Jewish supporters of Israel all over the world, including my family, who taught me lies quite innocently, because they didn’t know any better.
 
In 1984 a book written by Joan Peters, entitled From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine, was released to the world. The book claimed that the Palestinians were not resident in Palestine long-term, but were recent arrivals, having come to take advantage of economic opportunities in Palestine which were largely the result of Zionist Jewish settlement.
What a perfect way for us Zionist Jews to massage ourselves (I was one at the time!) and drive a wedge between ourselves and the growing awareness about Palestine in the world around us! So it really was a “land without people for a people without a land”?  And all those “Arabs” were immigrants!
And how ungrateful that the Palestinians hate us after all the opportunity we gave them! A wave of related claims surfaced among the Zionist community. An essay by Mark Twain describing his touring of a sparsely populated 19th century Palestine, was offered up into the mix of “Palestinian-denier” evidence.
Twain, whose writing was full of humorous and ironic opposition to human bullshit, was no doubt rolling in his grave over this. And claims were often heard that prominent Palestinians, from Edward Said to Yassir Arafat, were “not really Palestinian”.
 
Enter another book, in 2003, The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz. After 19 intervening years, Dershowitz borrowed heavily from same, Joan Peters’ book, giving the same statistics and making the same conclusions.
 
Enter yet another book, but this one very different: In Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, published in 2005, Norman G. Finkelstein exposed Peters’s statistics as fraudulent, and with that revelation both her argument and that of Dershowitz, collapsed.
However, the damage is done among those who wish to ignore Finkelstein, and there are many! “Isn’t Finkelstein a holocaust denier?”, I’ve been asked. I respond: “No. His parents were holocaust survivors.”
Zionists have long used a familiar tactic against those who challenge their propaganda: Defamation. And so the lies persist.
This writer still has people putting From Time Immemorial in his face to prove their argument. They refuse to be embarrassed.
At the time of this writing (January 2012), the American public is being treated to an entertainment we get every four years: the run up to our presidential election. As the Democratic candidate will obviously be the incumbent, we are witnessing the Republican candidates claw at each other in their striving to win support for the Republican nomination.
Enter a billionaire Jewish American Zionist named Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and the 8th wealthiest American alive, who along with his wife has donated $10 million to candidate Newt Gingrich. Adelson, whose holdings include the Israeli newspaper Israel HaYom (Israel Today) made some interesting statements while in Israel at an Israel Media Watch event in 2010:
“I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back– his hobby is shooting – and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF.
 And:
“All we (the Adelson family) care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart.
Does it sound like this guy has “divided loyalties?” Maybe like the Jewish/Evangelicals neocons in the Bush administration who got us to fight a proxy war for Israel in Iraq? No- you can’t say that! It would be “anti-Semitic”!
So is it any wonder that Newt Gingrich has made the utterly incorrect and profoundly idiotic statement that he has made about the Palestinians being an “invented” people? It has nothing to do with any education on the subject of the history, or any awareness of the current situation. 
It’s simply a question of wanting to win, and of reiterating nonsense he has heard in conversations with a very rich and generous supporter, nonsense which jives with the general impressions that Americans get from our Zionist-controlled media, and that no doubt circulate in Gingrich’s Republican circles.
Does anyone think Gingrich has read Finkelstein? I doubt it! And if he did, would he turn down $10 million in favor of truth and justice?
 
The people native to the land of Palestine were not “invented” as Rich Siegel said, and foolishly repeated by Newt Gingrich . It is indeed unfortunate that someone who is supposedly educated, and who has achieved position in life where he is poised to potentially become the next president of the United States, is putting forth such foolishness

Are Palestinians an “Invented People”? And Israel, how was it created?

I received a developed feedback from a reader, probably from a collection of posts on Palestine, and I decided to publish it, with minor editing.
“The name “Palestine” has been around for a long time. “Peleset” is transliterated from Egyptian hieroglyphics “P-l-s-t”. Palestine is found in numerous Egyptian documents referring to a neighboring people or land starting from around 1150 BC.
The “Philistine” States existed concurrently with the ancient Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, above the coastal plain between Jaffa and south to Gaza. This supposed Kingdom of Israel never contemplated reaching the seashore.
In the 5th Century BC, Herodotus wrote of a “district of Syria, called Palestine”. About a century later, Aristotle described the Dead Sea in Meteorology and located it in Palestine:
“Again if, as is fabled, there is a lake in Palestine, such that if you bind a man or beast and throw it in it, it floats and does not sink, this would bear out what we have said. They say that this lake is so bitter and salty that no fish live in it and that if you soak clothes in it and shake them it cleans them.”
This writer frequently engaged in debates with Zionists (a bad habit I need to kick out!) who often tend to seize on small ideas, such as “When did the Palestinians ever have their own country?”
In order to win such an argument I would have to reduce myself to their terms, and produce a map that shows a country and borders: “Palestinian Kingdom, 1587- 1702”, and then let them present their map of ancient Israel and Judah, and then get into a wrestling match, and the winner would claim the territory of their own. 
Or perhaps the issue would be better settled the way the New York colony won Staten Island from New Jersey: with a boat race.
If the goal is exclusivity, as it always has been with Zionism, then the only criterion in achieving it is winning, whether a war or a race.
 
There was no 17th century Palestinian Kingdom, or 18th or 19th. There were, prior to Allied victory in World War I and the League of Nations “mandates”, which granted European powers control of the region.
Various provinces in a larger Ottoman empire, ruled from Istanbul (previously known as Constantinople, and before that, Byzantium), much as there are today various American States governed from Washington.
Objectors will cry “Foul!”, as Americans are governed by Americans in Washington, whereas Arabs were governed by Turks, a different ethnic group with a different language.
Fine. So I modify my comparison to the Spanish speaking Puerto Ricans governed from Washington, or the French speaking Quebecois governed from Ottawa. Neither the Puerto Ricans nor the French Canadians are being ethnically clean.
 
Prior to Zionism, there was no need for the Arabs of Palestine to focus on Palestinian identity. They were citizens of the Ottoman Empire. When, during the mandate years the British made contradictory promises to the Zionists and the Arabs, and the Arabs expected, and had the right to expect, eventual self-rule, it was certainly not a foregone conclusion that there was going to be an independent Palestine.
Palestinians might well have been a part of a larger South Syria, or of a Greater Syria, and happily so. They certainly would not have been ethnically cleansed under those circumstances. The Arabs of Palestine have always had their own distinct Arabic dialect, and various other cultural attributes that set them apart from other regional Arab cultures, but that was never particularly relevant.
Many various subcultures existed within the Ottoman Empire, and continued to exist within British and French mandates. Interestingly, during the years of the Yishuv, the pre-Israeli-statehood, Zionist community in Palestine and Jewish-Zionist settlers called themselves “Palestinians”.
In this way, the Zionists ironically affirmed the thing that many of them wish now to deny: Palestinian identity. In 1948, amid the massacres and military forced mass expulsions of the “nakba” (Arabic for catastrophe, the name commonly given to the events of 1948), as the State of “Israel” was recognized by the UN by a majority of a single vote, all of the Jews who had been calling themselves Palestinians became “Israelis”.
When the dust cleared after expelling the Palestinians from their towns and villages, the Arabs who remained within the green line became “Arab Israelis”, like it or not.
The designation “Palestinian” was more actively embraced beginning in 1964, with the forming of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), this out of necessity, because a people who had been ethnically cleansed, who were in a state of shock and humiliation, and who were desperate to recover and regain what was rightfully theirs, found it useful to rally around symbols representing themselves: A name and a flag are two of the basics.
Golda Meir famously said in 1969, during her tenure as Israeli prime minister;
“There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian State? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”
I would not have been able to show Golda a map that says “Kingdom of Palestine” or “Grand Duchy of Palestine” or any of dozens of designations that might have satisfied her. But this I can say for sure: There were human beings on that land, and they had been there all their lives, and their families for many generations before them down through the centuries.
And many Palestinians were actually descended from ancient Jews who later converted to Christianity and Islam, while our ancestors, Golda’s and mine, the Ashkenazi Jews, were converting to Judaism in the Khazar Kingdom on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
 
Golda actually knew and the information, which has become available to the general public in the decades since, that: We Jews did come and throw them out and take their country away from them. It’s been thoroughly documented. It wasn’t when she made this statement in 1969.  
Golda was able to get away with it then. But since an entire generation of Jewish-Israeli scholars, (and many others, but we Jews need to hear it from Jews first!) has carefully documented the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and presented the history that she personally knew, but actively hid and denied.
Golda and her colleagues concealed the truth from Jewish supporters of Israel all over the world including my family, who taught me lies quite innocently, because they didn’t know any better.
 
In 1984 a book written by Joan Peters, entitled From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine, was released to the world. The book claimed that the Palestinians were not resident in Palestine long-term, but were recent arrivals, having come to take advantage of economic opportunities in Palestine which were largely the result of Zionist Jewish settlement.
What a perfect way for us Zionist Jews to massage ourselves (I was one at the time!) and drive a wedge between ourselves and the growing awareness about Palestine in the world around us! So it really was a “land without people for a people without a land”! Those Arabs were all immigrants!
And how ungrateful that the Palestinians hate us after all the opportunity we gave them! A wave of related claims surfaced among the Zionist community. An essay by Mark Twain describing his touring of a sparsely populated 19th century Palestine, was offered up into the mix of “Palestinian-denier” evidence.
Twain, whose writing was full of humorous and ironic opposition to human bullshit, was no doubt rolling in his grave over this. And claims were often heard that prominent Palestinians, from Edward Said to Yassir Arafat, were “not really Palestinian”.
 
Enter another book, in 2003, The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz. In case 19 intervening years had given anyone a memory lapse since the publication of Peters’s book, Dershowitz borrowed heavily from same, giving the same statistics and making the same conclusions.
 
Enter yet another book, but this one very different: In Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, published in 2005, Norman G. Finkelstein exposed Peters’s statistics as fraudulent, and with that revelation both her argument and that of Dershowitz, collapsed.
However, the damage is done among those who wish to ignore Finkelstein, and there are many! “Isn’t Finkelstein a holocaust denier?”, I’ve been asked. I respond: “No. His parents were holocaust survivors.”
Zionists have long used a familiar tactic against those who challenge their propaganda: Defamation. And so the lies persist. This writer still has people putting From Time Immemorial in his face to prove their argument. They refuse to be embarrassed.
At the time of this writing (January 2012), the American public is being treated to an entertainment we get every four years: the run up to our presidential election. As the Democratic candidate will obviously be the incumbent, we are witnessing the Republican candidates claw at each other in their striving to win support for the Republican nomination.
Enter a billionaire Jewish American Zionist named Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and the 8th wealthiest American alive, who along with his wife has donated $10 million to candidate Newt Gingrich. Adelson, whose holdings include the Israeli newspaper Israel HaYom (Israel Today) made some interesting statements while in Israel at an Israel Media Watch event in 2010:
“I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back– his hobby is shooting – and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF.”
 And:
“All we (the Adelson family) care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart.
Does it sound like this guy has “divided loyalties?” Maybe like the Jewish neocons in the Bush administration who got us to fight a proxy war for Israel in Iraq? No- you can’t say that! It would be “anti-Semitic”!
So is it any wonder that Newt Gingrich has made the utterly incorrect and profoundly idiotic statement that he has made about the Palestinians being an “invented” people? It has nothing to do with any education on the subject of the history, or any awareness of the current situation. 
It’s simply a question of wanting to win, and of reiterating nonsense he has heard in conversations with a very rich and generous supporter, nonsense which jives with the general impressions that Americans get from our Zionist-controlled media, and that no doubt circulate in Gingrich’s Republican circles. Does anyone think Gingrich has read Finkelstein? I doubt it! And if he did, would he turn down $10 million in favor of truth and justice?
 
The people native to the land of Palestine were not “invented” as Rich Siegel said, and foolishly repeated by Newt Gingrich . It is indeed unfortunate that someone who is supposedly educated, and who has achieved position in life where he is poised to potentially become the next president of the United States, is putting forth such foolishness

“Jew hating Jews”: So what, isn’t common in every other religion?

Why as a “Jew” criticizes the State of Israel for occupying Palestinian lands, or applying apartheid policies of discriminating among Jews and non-Jews (Goim) in Israel, differentiating among European Jews and Middle-Eastern Jews and so-called Jews from Ethiopia in higher civil services, the Zionist movement and the various Zionist lobbies in the US and France…take arms against this “Jew hater of Jews?”

Norman G. Finkelstein is an irreducible anti-Zionist, anti State of Israel apartheid policies in the Palestinian occupied land.  Norman G. Finkelstein is a “Jew Hater”: He is currently writing a political memoir, which will serve as the introduction to a new edition of his book, The Rise and Fall of Palestine, to be published by New Press next year. Criticizing the late Christopher Hitchens, Norman G. Finkelstein wrote: “It’s not exactly a martyr’s fate (Hitchens) defecting from The Nation, a frills-free liberal magazine, to Atlantic Monthly, the well-heeled house organ of Zionist crazies. ”

I checked out a blog “Observing” the Middle East, which subscribed to my blog, and I left a comment on one of its pieces that vehemently attacked Tom Friedman positions on current undemocratic Israel political climate.  Friedman, a staunchp supporter of the “existence” of the State of Israel, and a radical supporter of US globalization for open market to the international financial institutions, criticized Israel current decade-long policies on refusing a Palestinian State, resuming the extensions of settlements in occupied land, changing the laws to curbing free expressions and the working of human rights NGO, deforming the democratic process and civic status…https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/israel-2011-less-democratic-and-far-more-sectarian-by-antoine-shalhat/

The Zionist advocate claimed that Tom Friedman is totally ignorant of Israel society and its political structure…and a “Jew Hater”… My comment was: “How many Mosques have to be burned down before Your blog consent that this is a trend in Israel political climate?  How many new colonies and settlements have to be built before your blog admit that it is becoming a cause to resistance and not just a consequence as you claim?”

My comment was prompted with this statement: “Waiting for moderator approval before posting…”.  I immediately replied: “Why do you need a moderator to censure free expressions”? Again, the same waiting for moderator green light that never materialized…Moderator meant to screening out comments not fitting the strict political direction of the “social platform”?

Noam Chomsky, the icon of anti US liberal capitalism, and the preferred target of apostates, is a “Jew Hater”

The founders of G-Street new Jewish lobby are Jew Haters because they want a Palestinian State…

In the 1960’s, a few Lebanese youth Jews founded a student movement for reforming the educational system and made strong in-roads in Universities.  Israel disseminated falsehood to the Lebanese Mufti claiming that the leaders of the Lebanese student movement met yearly with Israeli representatives in Geneva. The Sunni Mufti published a letter in a daily, sort of fatwa, against the movement.  The student movement had to disband: How can you fight the good fight when Israeli Jews hates the Lebanese Jews engaged in reforming the system? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/a-jew-against-zionism-and-state-of-israel-who-is-alico-baydha/

Note 1:  There is a book on Flathead Tom Friedman and calling for Occupy Tom Friedman for his overzealous propaganda for US liberal capitalism.  Tom Friedman had “revelations such as of the impediments to freedom in the Arab world is “the wall in the Arab mind.” Friedman explains in 2003 that “I hit my head against that wall” while conversing with Egyptian journalists who “could see nothing good coming from the U.S. ‘occupation’ of Iraq” and who are thus written off as proponents of “Saddamism.”

Note 2:  You may read of the various kinds of Jews https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/acrobatic-discrimination-zionist-jewish-ashkenazi-sephardim-hebrew-israeli-semitic-hasidic-and-what-else/

From Atheist, anti-war, and socialist: To extreme Bushist Junior and liberal capitalism apostates?

Who is this late Christopher Hitchens?  Originally from England, Hitchens died at the age of 62 in Houston.  He suffered from cancer and published his health condition on his column. Hitchens was a confirmed atheist and a “Marxist”, but changed sides and ideology since the second term of Bush Junior.  At first, Hitchens wrote of Bush Jr. ” He is so amazingly unintelligent, not cultured beyond imagination, and unable to express in any basic way.  The worst is that Bush Jr. is very proud of his shortcoming and deficiencies…”    Hitchens reverted and supported loudly  Bush Jr. in the second term. Hitchens is claimed to be friend with Salman Rushdi, Ben Killer, and a staunch enemy of director Michael Moor…

Late Christopher Hitchens said: “I’m occasionally asked whether I still consider myself a Marxist.  Even if my “faith” had lapsed, I wouldn’t advertise it, not from shame at having been wrong (although admittedly this would be a factor) but rather from fear of arousing even a faint suspicion of opportunism.  To borrow from the lingo of a former academic fad, if, in public life, the “signifier” is “I’m no longer a Marxist,” then the “signified” usually is, “I’m selling out.”  No doubt one can, in light of further study and life experience, come to repudiate past convictions.  One might also decide that youthful ideals, especially when the responsibilities of family kick in and the prospects for radical change dim while the certainty of one’s finitude sharpens, are too heavy a burden to bear.”

Norman G. Finkelstein (currently writing an introduction to the new edition The Rise and Fall of Palestine) has targeted late Christopher Hitchens as a political apostate. I republished the parts related to Hitchens with slight modifications for easy read . It reads:

Norman G. Finkelstein wrote: “Depending on where along the political spectrum power is situated, apostates almost always make their corrective leap in that direction, discovering the virtues of the status quo. “The last thing you can be accused of is having turned your coat,” Thomas Mann wrote a convert to National Socialism right after Hitler’s seizure of power.  ”You always wore it the `right’ way around.”

“If apostasy weren’t conditioned by power considerations, one would anticipate roughly equal movements in both directions.  But that’s never been the case.  The would-be apostate almost always pulls towards power’s magnetic field, rarely away”.

“Although a tacit assumption equates unpredictability with independence of mind, it might just as well signal lack of principle.  As if to bear out this point, Hitchens has now repackaged himself a full-fledged apostate.  For maximum pyrotechnic effect, Hitchens knew that the “awakening” had to be as abrupt as it was extreme: if yesterday he counted himself a Trotskyist and Chomsky a comrade, better now to announce that he supports Bush and counts Paul Wolfowitz a comrade.  Their fates crossed when Wolfowitz and Hitchens both immediately glimpsed in September 11 the long-awaited opportunity: for Wolfowitz, to get into Iraq, for Hitchens, to get out of the left.  While public display of angst doesn’t itself prove authenticity of feeling (sometimes it might prove the reverse), a sharp political break must, for one living a political life, be a wrenching emotional experience.

“Hitchens collects his essays during the months preceding the U.S. attack on Iraq in The Long Short War.   He sneers that former comrades organizing the global anti-war demonstrations “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all” (emphasis in original),  and the many millions marching in them consist of the “blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist.”  Similarly, he ridicules activists pooling their meager resources for refreshments at a fundraiser – they are not among the chosen at a Vanity Fair soiree – as “potluck peaceniks” and “potluckistas.”

“Hitchens is at pains to inform readers that all his newly acquired friends are “friends for life.”  As with the solicitude he keeps expressing for the rights of Arab women, it seems that Hitchens protests too much.  The famous aphorism quoted by him that nations have no permanent allies, only permanent interests, might be said to apply, mutatis mutandis, to himself as well.  Indeed, his description of a psychopath – “incapable of conceiving an interest other than his own and perhaps genuinely indifferent to the well-being of others” – comes perilously close to a self-portrait.

Freud once wrote: “To discover our true human nature, just reverse society’s moral exhortations: if the Commandment says not to commit adultery, it’s because we all want to”.  This simple game can be played with Hitchens as well: when he avows, “I attempt to write as if I did not care what reviewers said, what peers thought, or what prevailing opinion might be,” one should read, “My every word is calculated for its public effect.”

“Hitchens has riotous fun heaping contempt on several of the volunteer “human shields” who left Iraq before the bombing began. They “obviously didn’t have the guts,” he jeers, hunkered down in his Washington foxhole.  Bearing witness to his own bravery, Hitchens reports in March 2003 that, although even the wife of New York Times columnist Tom Friedman is having doubts about going to war, “I am fighting to keep my nerve” – truly a profile in courage, as he exiles himself in the political wilderness, alongside the Bush administration, Congress, a majority of U.S. public opinion, and his employers in the major media.

“Outraged at the taunt that he who preaches war should perhaps consider fighting it, Hitchens impatiently recalls that, since September 11, “civilians at home are no safer than soldiers abroad,” and that, in fact, he’s not just a but the main target: “The whole point of the present phase of conflict is that we are faced with tactics that are directed primarily at civilians….

“It is amazing that this essential element of the crisis should have taken so long to sink into certain skulls” (emphasis in original).   No doubt modesty and tact forbid Hitchens from drawing the obvious comparison: while cowardly American soldiers frantically covered themselves in protective gear and held their weapons at the ready, he patrolled his combat zone in Washington, D.C. unencumbered.    Lest we forget, Hitchens recalls that ours is “an all-volunteer army” where soldiers willingly exchange “fairly good pay” for “obedience” to authority: “Who would have this any other way?”  For sure, not those who will never have to “volunteer.”

“It’s a standing question as to whether the power of words ultimately derives from their truth value or if a sufficiently nimble mind can endow words with comparable force regardless of whether they are bearers of truth or falsity.  For those who want to believe that the truth content of words does matter, reading the new Hitchens comes as a signal relief. Although redoubtable as a left-wing polemicist, as a right-wing one he only produces doubt, not least about his own mental poise.

“Deriding Chomsky’s “very vulgar” harnessing of facts, Hitchens wants to go beyond this “empiricism of the crudest kind.”  His own preferred epistemology is on full display, for all to judge, in Long Short War.  To prove that, after supporting dictatorial regimes in the Middle East for 70 years, the U.S. has abruptly reversed itself and now wants to bring democracy there, he cites “conversations I have had on this subject in Washington.”  To demonstrate the “glaringly apparent” fact that Saddam “infiltrated, or suborned, or both” the U.N. inspection teams in Iraq, he adduces the “incontrovertible case” of an inspector offered a bribe by an Iraqi official: “The man in question refused the money, but perhaps not everybody did.”  Citing “the brilliant film called Nada,” Hitchens proposes this radical redefinition of terrorism: “the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”

“Al-Qaida is accordingly terrorist because it posits an impossible world of “clerical absolutism” but, judging by this definition, the Nazi party wasn’t terrorist because it posited a possible world without Jews.  Claiming that every country will resort to preemptive war, and that preemptive is indistinguishable from preventive war, Hitchens infers that all countries “will invariably decide that violence and first use are justified” and none can be faulted on this account – which makes you wonder why he’s so hot under the collar about Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

“Hitchens maintains that “there is a close…fit between the democratically minded and the pro-American” in the Middle East – like “President for Life” Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah of Jordan…; that Washington finally grasped that “there were `root causes’ behind the murder-attacks” (emphasis in original) – but didn’t Hitchens ridicule any allusion to “root causes” as totalitarian apologetics?

That “racism” is “anti-American as nearly as possible by definition”.

That “evil” can be defined as “the surplus value of the psychopath” – is there a Bartletts for worst quotations?; that the U.S.’s rejoining of U.N.E.S.C.O. during the Iraq debate proved its commitment to the U.N

That “empirical proofs have been unearthed” showing that Iraq didn’t comply with U.N. resolutions to disarm; that since the U.N. solicits U.S. support for multilateral missions, it’s “idle chatter” to accuse the U.S. of acting unilaterally in Iraq.

That the likely killing of innocent civilians in “hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes” shouldn’t deter the U.S. from attacking Iraq because it is proof of Saddam’s iniquity that he put civilians in harm’s way.

That those questioning billions of dollars in postwar contracts going to Bush administration cronies must prefer them going to “some windmill-power concern run by Naomi Klein” – is this dry or desiccated wit?

“On one page Hitchens states that the world fundamentally changed after September 11 because “civilians are in the front line as never before,” but on another page he states that during the 1970s, “I was more than once within blast or shot range of the IRA and came to understand that the word `indiscriminate’ meant that I was as likely to be killed as any other bystander.”

“Hitchens states that, even if the U.S. doesn’t attack or threaten to attack, “Saddam Hussein is not going to survive. His regime is on the verge of implosion” (emphasis in original), but on another page he states that “only the force of American arms, or the extremely credible threat of that force, can bring a fresh face to power.”  He states that the U.S. seems committed to completely overhauling Iraq’s political system, but on another page he states that replacing Saddam with “another friendly general…might be ideal from Washington’s point of view.”  On one page he states that “Of course it’s about oil, stupid” (emphasis in original), but on another page he states that “it was not for the sake of oil” that the U.S. went to war.

“In one paragraph Hitchens states that the U.S. must attack Iraq even if it swells the ranks of al-Qaida, but in the next paragraph he states that “the task of statecraft” is not to swell its ranks.  In one sentence he claims to be persuaded by the “materialist conception of history,” but in the next sentence he states that “a theory that seems to explain everything is just as good at explaining nothing.”  In the first half of one sentence he argues that, since “one cannot know the future,” policy can’t be based on likely consequences, but in the second half he concludes that policy should be based on “a reasoned judgment about the evident danger.”

“Writing before the invasion, Hitchens argued that the U.S. must attack even if Saddam offers self-exile in order to capture and punish this heinous criminal.  Shouldn’t he urge an attack on the U.S. to capture and punish Kissinger?  And, it must attack because Saddam started colluding with al-Qaida after the horrific crimes of September 11.  Should the U.S. have been attacked for colluding with Saddam’s horrific crimes, not after but while they unfolded, before September 11?  France is the one “truly `unilateralist’ government on the Security Council,” according to Hitchens, a proof being that 20 years ago it sank a Greenpeace vessel – next to which the U.S. wars in Central America apparently pale by comparison.

“Hitchens assails French President Jacques Chirac, in a masterful turn of phrase, as a “balding Joan of Arc in drag,” and blasts France with the full arsenal of Berlitz‘s “most commonly used French expressions.”  For bowing to popular anti-war sentiment in Germany, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stands accused of “cheaply” playing “this card,” while in the near-unanimous opposition of the Turkish people to war Hitchens detects evidence of “ugly egotism and selfishness.”

“Hitchens says that Wolfowitz wants “democracy and emancipation” – which must be why Wolfowitz rebuked the Turkish military for not stepping in after the Turkish people vetoed participation in the war.  A “principled policy cannot be measured,” Hitchens sniffs, “by the number of people who endorse it.”  But for a principled democrat the number of people endorsing a policy does decide whether to implement it.

“Hitchens’s notion of democracy is his “comrade,” ex-Trotskyist but ever-opportunist Kanan Makiya, conjuring up a “complex and ambitious plan” to totally remake Iraq in Boston and presenting it for ratification at an émigré conference in London.  The invective he hurls at French, German and Turkish leaders for heeding the popular will shows that Hitchens hasn’t, at any rate, completely broken faith with his past: contemptuous of “transient polls of opinion,” he’s still a Trotskyist at heart, guiding the benighted masses to the Promised Land, if through endless wars and safely from the rear.

“Hitchens resembles no one so much as the Polish émigré hoaxers, Jerzy Kosinski, who, shrewdly sizing up intellectual culture in America, used to give, before genuflecting Yale undergraduates, lectures on such topics as “The Art of the Self: the theory of `Le Moi Poetique’ (Binswanger).”  Translation: for this wanger it’s all about moi.  Kosinski no doubt had a good time of it until, outed as a fraud, he had enough good grace, which Hitchens plainly lacks, to commit suicide.  And for Hitchens it’s also lucrative nonsense that he’s peddling.

“It’s not exactly a martyr’s fate defecting from The Nation, a frills-free liberal magazine, toAtlantic Monthly, the well-heeled house organ of Zionist crazies.  Although Kissinger affected to be a “solitary, gaunt hero,” Hitchens says, in reality he was just a “corpulent opportunist.”  It sounds familiar.

Note 1: Norman G. Finkelstein is currently writing a political memoir, which will serve as the introduction to a new edition of his book, The Rise and Fall of Palestine, to be published by New Press next year. 

Note 2: You may read the other parts on apostates in https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/noam-chomsky-the-apostates-preferred-target/

Noam Chomsky: The “Apostates” preferred target?
Who is an apostate? And why Chomsky, the dedicated humanist, Marxist and anti US liberal capitalism is elevated as an icon by the most powerful capitalist Empire?
An apostate is one who changes sides: You can be a Democrat and jump train to the Republican Party, shift affiliation to another sect within a religion or join another religion, have particular ideological system at youth and “get reformed” with age, abide by a set of value system at a difining period and vehemently criticize the same value set at later periods…
Consequently, being labelled an apostate should not carry any negative connotation: Transforming to another life-style should be appreciated as a valiant and courageous attitude for changing “who we are, and what we believe in…” on the ground that we acquired more knowledge, travelled outside our limited boundaries of confinement,  and had the opportunity to communicate with various other communities and civilizations…
Negative connotation is attached to those who turn coats for the simple exigency of feeling attracted to centers of power in order to survive or enjoying opportunities and privileges carried by associating with the power-to-be.  Coat-turners, as they feel obligated to viciously attacking the “opposite” side in order to satisfying pre-conditions for being admitted in the new club, are heaped with all kinds of nasty labels on the ground that they didn’t actually change their line of thought, but cashing on the comfort of the “other side” dominant position…
In general, apostates are not convincing in their newer mental position: It smacks of cut and paste line of thinking. Mostly, they cash in by reminding everyone “who they were”, as if this line absolve them from developing on their current position. It is normal: The original position was due to time and energy invested before adopting an ideology, a political stand, a religious affiliation…
When we change side in later years, it is very difficult to believe that the apostate invested as much time and energy and zeal in acquiring the same level of conviction and engagement as when younger.  The kinds of proof the apostate delivers to the “new alliance” is taking pictures with the elite of the other side and playing the mouthpiece in critical events and election periods…

For example, late Christopher Hitchens, an atheist and “Marxist” changed political attitudes and sided with all of Bush Junior decisions, and said: “I’m occasionally asked whether I still consider myself a Marxist.  Even if my “faith” had lapsed, I wouldn’t advertise it, not from shame at having been wrong (although admittedly this would be a factor) but rather from fear of arousing even a faint suspicion of opportunism.  To borrow from the lingo of a former academic fad, if, in public life, the “signifier” is “I’m no longer a Marxist,” then the “signified” usually is, “I’m selling out.”  No doubt one can, in light of further study and life experience, come to repudiate past convictions.  One might also decide that youthful ideals, especially when the responsibilities of family kick in and the prospects for radical change dim while the certainty of one’s finitude sharpens, are too heavy a burden to bear.”

Norman G. Finkelstein wrote: “…Although it might be hoped that this accommodation (apostasy), however disappointingly understandable, were accomplished with candor and an appropriate degree of humility rather than scorn for those who keep plugging away.  It is when the phenomenon of political apostasy is accompanied by fanfare and fireworks that it becomes truly repellent.

“Depending on where along the political spectrum power is situated, apostates almost always make their corrective leap in that direction, discovering the virtues of the status quo. Thomas Mann wrote a convert to National Socialism right after Hitler’s seizure of power: “The last thing you can be accused of is having turned your coat. You always wore it the `right’ way around.”

“If apostasy weren’t conditioned by power considerations, one would anticipate roughly equal movements in both directions.  But that’s never been the case.  The would-be apostate almost always pulls towards power’s magnetic field, rarely away”.  However elaborate the testimonials on how one came to “see the light,” the impetus behind political apostasy is a fairly straightforward, uncomplicated affair: to cash in, or keep cashing in, on earthly pleasures.  Indeed, an apostate can even capitalize on the past to increase his or her current exchange value.

“Professional ex-radical Todd Gitlin never fails to mention, when denouncing those to his left, that he was a former head of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).  Never mind that this was four decades ago; although president of my sixth-grade class 40 years ago, I don’t keep bringing it up.  Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on the exploitation of one’s political past?  In any event, it’s hard to figure why an acknowledgment of former errors should enhance one’s current credibility”.

“If, by a person’s own admission, he had got it all wrong, why should anyone pay heed to his or her new opinions?  Doesn’t it make more sense attending to those who got there sooner rather than later?  A member of the Flat-Earth Society who suddenly discovers the world is round doesn’t get to keynote an astronomers’ convention.  Indeed, the prudent inference would seem to be, once an idiot, always an idiot.  It’s child’s play to assemble a lengthy list – Roger Garaudy, Boris Yeltsin, David Horowitz, Bernard Henri-Levy… – bearing out this common sensical wisdom.

“An apostate is usually astute enough to understand that, in order to catch the public eye and reap the attendant benefits, merely registering this or that doubt about one’s prior convictions, or nuanced disagreements with former comrades (which, after all, is how a reasoned change of heart would normally evolve), won’t suffice.  For, incremental change, or fundamental change by accretion, doesn’t get the buzz going: there must be a dramatic rupture with one’s past.

“The rejection of one’s core political beliefs can’t but entail a rejection of the person holding them: if the beliefs were wrong, then one’s whole being was wrong.  Repudiating one’s comrades must also be a sorrowful burden.  It is not by chance that “fraternity” is a prized value of the left: in the course of political struggle, one forges, if not always literally, then, at any rate, spiritually, blood bonds.  Yet, the élan with which Hitchens has shed his past and, spewing venom, the brio with which he savages former comrades is a genuine wonder to behold.  No doubt he imagines it is testament to the mettle of his conviction that past loyalties don’t in the slightest constrain him; in fact, it’s testament to the absence of any conviction at all.

“Conversion and zealotry, just like revelation and apostasy, are flip sides of the same coin, the currency of a political culture having more in common with religion than rational discourse.  A rite of passage for apostates peculiar to U.S. political culture is bashing Noam Chomsky.  It’s the political equivalent of a ritual signaling that one has “grown up”  and grown out of one’s “childish” past.  It’s hard to pick up an article or book by ex-radicals – Gitlin’s Letters to a Young Activist, Paul Berman’s Terror and Liberalism… – that doesn’t include a hysterical attack on Chomsky.  Behind this venom there’s also a transparent psychological factor at play.

“Chomsky mirrors their idealistic past as well as sordid present, an obstinate reminder that they once had principles but no longer do, that they sold out but he didn’t.  Hating to be reminded, they keep trying to shatter the glass.  Chomsky is the demon from the past that, after recantation, no amount of incantation can exorcise.

“Two altogether opposed political stances can each draw an audience’s attention.  One is to be politically consistent, but nonetheless original in one’s insights; the other, an inchoate form of apostasy, is to bank on the shock value of an occasional, wildly inconsistent outburst.  The former approach, which Chomsky exemplifies, requires hard work, whereas the latter is a lazy substitute for it.

“Thus Nat Hentoff, the hip (heloves jazz) left-liberal writer, would jazz up his interminably dull Village Voice columns by suddenly coming out against abortion or endorsing Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination.  The master at this pose of maverick unpredictability used to be Christopher Hitchens.  Amidst a fairly typical leftist politics, he would suddenly ambush unsuspecting readers with his opposition to abortion, admiration of the misogynist and juvenile lyrics of Two Live Crew (“I think that’s very funny”), or support for Columbus’s extermination of Native Americans (“deserving to be celebrated with great vim and gusto”).  Immediately the talk of the town became, “Did you read Hitchens this week?”

“Although a tacit assumption equates unpredictability with independence of mind, it might just as well signal lack of principle.  As if to bear out this point, Hitchens has now repackaged himself a full-fledged apostate.  For maximum pyrotechnic effect, he knew that the “awakening” had to be as abrupt as it was extreme: if yesterday he counted himself a Trotskyist and Chomsky a comrade, better now to announce that he supports Bush and counts Paul Wolfowitz a comrade.  Their fates crossed when Wolfowitz and Hitchens both immediately glimpsed in September 11 the long-awaited opportunity: for Wolfowitz, to get into Iraq, for Hitchens, to get out of the left.  While public display of angst doesn’t itself prove authenticity of feeling (sometimes it might prove the reverse), a sharp political break must, for one living a political life, be a wrenching emotional experience.

Freud once wrote: “To discover our true human nature, just reverse society’s moral exhortations: if the Commandment says not to commit adultery, it’s because we all want to”.  This simple game can be played with Hitchens as well: when he avows, “I attempt to write as if I did not care what reviewers said, what peers thought, or what prevailing opinion might be,” one should read, “My every word is calculated for its public effect.”

“It’s a standing question as to whether the power of words ultimately derives from their truth value or if a sufficiently nimble mind can endow words with comparable force regardless of whether they are bearers of truth or falsity.  Deriding Chomsky’s “very vulgar” harnessing of facts, Hitchens wants to go beyond this “empiricism of the crudest kind.”  His own preferred epistemology is on full display, for all to judge, in Long Short War.  To prove that, after supporting dictatorial regimes in the Middle East for 70 years, the U.S. has abruptly reversed itself and now wants to bring democracy there, he cites “conversations I have had on this subject in Washington…”

“To demonstrate the “glaringly apparent” fact that Saddam “infiltrated, or suborned, or both” the U.N. inspection teams in Iraq, Hitchens adduces the “incontrovertible case” of an inspector offered a bribe by an Iraqi official: “The man in question refused the money, but perhaps not everybody did.”  Citing “the brilliant film called Nada,” Hitchens proposes this radical redefinition of terrorism: “the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint…”

“Hitchens resembles no one so much as the Polish émigré hoaxers, Jerzy Kosinski, who, shrewdly sizing up intellectual culture in America, used to give, before genuflecting Yale undergraduates, lectures on such topics as “The Art of the Self: the theory of `Le Moi Poetique’ (Binswanger).”  Translation: for this wanger it’s all about moi.  Kosinski no doubt had a good time of it until, outed as a fraud, he had enough good grace, which Hitchens plainly lacks, to commit suicide.  And for Hitchens it’s also lucrative nonsense that he’s peddling….

“It’s not exactly a martyr’s fate defecting from The Nation, a frills-free liberal magazine, toAtlantic Monthly, the well-heeled house organ of Zionist crazies.  Although Kissinger affected to be a “solitary, gaunt hero,” Hitchens says, in reality he was just a “corpulent opportunist.”

Note 1: Norman G. Finkelstein is an irreducible anti-Zionist, anti State of Israel apartheid policies in the Palestinian occupied land.  He is currently writing a political memoir, which will serve as the introduction to a new edition of his book, The Rise and Fall of Palestine, to be published by New Press next year.  


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2020
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Blog Stats

  • 1,419,038 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 771 other followers

%d bloggers like this: