Monday, September 5, 2016

The Mother of All Myths

If historian Yuval Noah Harari were not an Israeli, seriously, would we be hearing about him? Just look at this fawning nonsense in Murdoch's Weekend Australian Magazine by Sunday Times journalist Josh Glancy:

"These are the views of Yuval Noah Harari, the 40-year-old Israeli historian who has become something of a prophet when it comes to explaining our past and predicting our future. He's like his namesake, the biblical Noah, warning of the coming flood. He is the seer loved by Silicon Valley who doesn't have a smartphone or use social media. The man who spends months at a time in silent meditation before emerging to write books that strike at the heart of the modern condition." ('People don't realise what is happening', 3/9/16)

A little googling tells us where Glancy's coming from:

"Last week I conducted an experiment. I was one of several partygoers being subjected to a long and tedious sermon on the Middle East by a Tehran-based journalist. As his references to Zionism became increasingly vicious (and his tone increasingly tiresome), I decided to change the direction. 'I'm a Zionist', I said. A shocked silence followed. the other members of the group stared into their wine glasses, mildly embarrassed to have ended up in conversation with such a mindless zealot. They quickly drifted away." (Ed got it wrong. Zionism is about more than support,, 31/3/13)

He elaborates:

"For many, the word Zionism has become utterly toxic, symbolic not just of walls, tanks and dying children but of a vast imperialist project that from its inception sought to dispossess an indigenous population in order to accommodate the desires of European migrants with an ancient, even spurious territorial claim."

Glancy advocates "mounting an effective defence" of Zionism by pushing the idea that "Zionism is about more than providing shelter. It is also about giving a rootless, homeless people the freedom to build their own country. It seeks to give members of this nation the choice whether to live in that country or not... It seeks to normalise the Jewish experience, so that Jews do not forever remain a nation of forced exiles."

The problem here is that, like all Zionists, Glancy conflates Judaism/Jewishness with people/nation.

Israeli historian Shlomo Sand comprehensively demolished this fundamental Zionist dogma in his 2009 book The Invention of the Jewish People. In the introduction to that book, he writes:

"If world Jews were indeed a nation, what were the common elements in the ethnographic cultures of a Jew in Kiev and a Jew in Marrakech, other than religious belief and certain practices of that belief? Perhaps, despite everything we have been told, Judaism was simply an appealing religion that spread widely until the triumphant rise of its rivals, Christianity and Islam, and then, despite humiliation and persecution, succeeded in surviving into the modern age. Does the argument that Judaism has always been an important belief-culture, rather than a uniform nation-culture, detract from its dignity, as the proponents of Jewish nationalism have been proclaiming for the past 130 years?

"If there was no common cultural denominator among the communities of the Jewish religion, how could they be connected and set apart by ties of blood? Are the Jews an alien 'nation-race,' as the anti-Semites have imagined and sought to persuade us since the nineteenth century? What are the prospects of defeating this doctrine, which assumes and proclaims that Jews have distinctive biological features (in the past it was Jewish blood; today it is a Jewish gene), when so many Israeli citizens are fully persuaded of their racial homogeneity?

"Another historical irony: there were times in Europe when anyone who argued that all Jews belonged to a nation of alien origin would have been classified at once as an anti-Semite. Nowadays, anyone who dares to suggest that the people known in the world as Jews (as distinct from today's Jewish Israelis) have never been, and are still not, a people or a nation is immediately denounced as a Jew-hater.

"Dominated by Zionism's particular concept of nationality, the State of Israel still refuses, 60 years after its establishment, to see itself as a republic that serves its citizens. One quarter of the citizens are not categorized as Jews, and the laws of the state imply that Israel is not their state nor do they own it. The state has also avoided integrating the local inhabitants into the superculture it has created, and has instead deliberately excluded them. Israel has also refused to be a consociational democracy (like Switzerland or Belgium) or a multicultural democracy (like Great Britain or the Netherlands) - that is to say, a state that accepts its diversity while serving its inhabitants. Instead, Israel insists on seeing itself as a Jewish state belonging to all the Jews in the world, even though they are no longer persecuted refugees but full citizens of the countries in which they choose to reside. The excuse for this grave violation of a basic principle of modern democracy and for the preservation of an unbridled ethnocracy that grossly discriminates against certain of its citizens, rests on the active myth of an eternal nation that must ultimately forgather in its ancestral land." (pp 21-22)

In his puff piece on Harari, Glancy writes that his "basic theory [in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind] states that it is our capacity for telling stories that has made us great... We use our language skills to create myths - money, religion, nationhood - that bind us together and allow us to co-operate on a mass scale."

Indeed. And surely the "eternal nation that must ultimately forgather in its ancestral land" is the mother of all "active myths," to borrow Sand's words.

1 comment:

Grappler said...

I cannot help but respond to this piece of utter drivel:

"It seeks to normalise the Jewish experience, so that Jews do not forever remain a nation of forced exiles."

with a quote:

"If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel, then I opt for the second alternative." (David Ben-Gurion, 1938)

and a link:

The Zionist project were never interested in saving the "forced exiles" - it was only ever interested in taking over someone else's country at all costs - including lives of Jews.