In light of all the Mel Gibson-style anti-semitic "dangers" of today, please don't take offense reading this lively debate. Or, just don't read it if it might offend you.
It interests me more (most of the time) to hear the opinions of people who don't work for the media, than to hear the opinions of those who do (who are more often than not subjected to censorship). Journalists often risk losing what would have/could have been a fresh perspective on vital world issues (in this case it's more like an ancient world issue -- so maybe fresh isn't the right word). And besides, they're in the business of reporting/analyzing the news, which is tough enough as it is, and leaves them little time (or freedom) to express what they truly believe and feel as human beings.
The views expressed below do not express my own beliefs, but we're all people, no matter who or what we're affiliated with, and people (and their beliefs) must count not just for something, but for everything. Over here are only three people engaging in what I consider a lively debate...Again, I'm not trying to offend anybody. And I haven't even bothered to check who these people are or what they do, cuz it doesn't matter.
_________________________________________________The Problem is Chutzpah
by Jennifer Winkler
Uri Avnery in his article, "Anti-Semitism & Zionism", relates a pivotal incident in his father's life:
One day, during a session of the court, a young lawyer cried out: "Jews like you are not needed here anymore!"'
I think almost everyone reading this will focus on the quote without its final word, that is, "Jews like you are not needed here." That's a pity, because the last word is a clue to an important discovery.
We are told that the story of the Jews is one of ever-repeated persecution, that arises spontaneously and seemingly inevitably out of some kind of inherent flaw in (goy) humanity.
Well, it's time to study this history, and not be simply fed it by those with fantastic ulterior motives - as we have realized it's time to study the Israel/Palestine issue, and not be simply fed an interpretation by one side of it.
Can this history be found? It can. It needs diligence and true objectivity, however. One has to have one's guard up, of course, vis-a-vis one-sided preferential interpretation. Most (though not all) that I have found is written by Jews and is especially accommodating to Jewish-defensive interpretation.
It seems bizarre of course that some people would be attacked all the time just because they were what - different? They were attacked by people who usually didn't have much. Why would these attackers waste their limited resources so much on attacking Jews? Why would nature (the-survival-of-the-fittest) gear them up to waste themselves so on senseless attacks?
Another obvious question to ask is, "Has something like what has happened to Jews happened to anybody else?" In this regard I am reminded of an article I once read in the (wonderful) National Geographic magazine. It was an article about a rural area in western Canada. There was a sect (Christian) of people who were very tight-knit. Their many families lived and cooperated together on the same large farms as a unit (like a commune or kibbutz). Other people living in the region had great animosity toward the people of this sect. Yet no wrongdoing was associated with them. It seems to me they evoked hostility merely because they worked at an advantage relative to other people.
From all that I have read it seems the Jews are "guilty" of operating at an advantage relative to other people: the advantage of inherent chutzpah (my dictionary says it's from the Yiddish, meaning "gall, brazenness"). If ever there was a word explaining the entire advent of the Israel/Palestine conflict that would be it!
If Jews have been simply disliked, why did this dislike occur time and again only after a period of warmth and cooperation with Gentiles? Jews in early fourteenth century Spain were prominent in positions of privilege and power and intermixed with, even married, the natives. LATER sentiment against Jews arose. Jews were prominent in the Weimar regime of Germany. There was much intermixing of Jews and Germans. LATER sentiment against Jews arose. Similarly in the USSR and the Soviet satellites.
Somehow repeatedly the non-Jews got quite fed up with the Jews. Even in texts written by Jews there are hints why. The book Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, contains references by contemporary "antisemites" to "wealth (Jews) amassed through thieving and cheating" (to which Palestinians can relate) and the idea that Jewish absence would "make the German people again the master in its own house" (to which Americans can relate).
We hear always that pograms and persecutions took place. Rarely we get a glimpse of what motivated them. But, briefly, in his book The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, Benjamin Ginsberg mentions Czechoslovakians being irritated by "tremendous influence" of Jews and "animosities" caused by "Jews in the government" being cited as the cause of a pogram in Poland.
The Fatal Embrace importantly observes that Jews, through the centuries of their diaspora, frequently have assumed unpopular and coercive roles in government, such as that of tax collector and inspector. They characteristically have striven for positions within the frameworks of power. They have tended to be partisan, moreover, forming close ties with particular regimes; these ties would haunt them when regime change later occurred. Jews were highly associated with Soviet block Communism, being mutually supportive and probably mutually discrediting.
These, and many other, references and my own personal observations indicate that Jews strive at life, at progress and prosperity, with exceptional gusto. Their drive and assertiveness is overwhelming to non-Jews and puts non-Jews at a considerable relative disadvantage. Therein lies the problem. They're just too pushy, they're hard to compete with.
Observing this, and determining to protect against Nazi-type actions, what should we do? Give the Jews a state of their own? What sense would this make? Why would you take high-performance people and put them in a team of their own? A super team that in a global community would outcompete and annoy the rest of us.
And, indeed, this is exactly what they have done. They've mastered an intricate task that Arabs have only just begun to realize exists: making America do exactly what they want AND with essentially no one who matters cognizant of it. (America is being plundered psychologically, as well as materially, and generally neither Americans nor their Arab foes recognize it.) In fact, what we have seen happen in Palestine is what you would expect if the problem was not (mindless) persecution of Jews, but a big dose of innate Jewish chutzpah.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ms. Winkler may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------[JTR Comment: This is a reply by David Meir-Levi, described at one web site as "an American-born Israeli) to Jennifer Winkler (who has an article about Jewish "chutzpah" (obnoxiousness) posted at this web site). Meir-Levi's text was emailed to us by "Becky Johnson." Judging by what we found in a search of her email address on the Internet, Ms. Johnson is a quintessential self-deluding Jewish (or married to one?) "leftist." One one hand, she's an activist for the "homeless" in Santa Cruz, California. Swell. On the other hand, when it comes to Jewish identity, she turns the tables completely: she is an ideological activist/apologist in the enforced homelessness of the Palestinian people by the apartheid Israeli state. Hers is a classic case of shameless, two-faced, Judeocentric hypocrisy. (Her article shafting the Palestinians concludes with this: "This article can be reprinted at no cost by not for profit organizations that work for social justice." Such a comment is immoral, corrupt, grotesque, and obscene.)]
THIS IS DAVID MEIR-LEVI'S RESPONSE TO JENNIFER WINKLER'S ARTICLE ENTITLED "THE PROBLEM OF CHUTZPAH" RECENTLY PUBLISHED ON YOUR WEBSITE. ---- Becky Johnson
Dear Ms. Winkler,
Thank you for showing us just what a problem Jewish “Chutzpah” is. I found your article (published recently in Indymedia) very interesting. You have almost hit the proverbial nail right on its proverbial head. Jewish “Chutzpah” is, indeed, a (but not “the”) problem.
It is important to note that we Jews are different, and always have been. It is our destiny to be different. We learn this from the non-Jewish prophet Balaam, in Numbers 23:9 (“…Lo it [Israel] is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations”).
And, indeed, enough of world Jewry have lived their lives in a way to fulfill this destiny that Jewish history is an attestation to the price to be paid for being different. But, don’t forget, it takes a lot of “Chutzpah” to be different. Social pressure, especially when it is exercised with violence and intimidation, can be very difficult, even dangerous, to face up to, and to stare down.
For 2,000 thousand years when the world reveled in polytheism, the Jews had the “Chutzpah” to say “NO…there is only one God”…and to then suffer the enmity of the polytheists. For 2,000 years since the onset of Christianity, the Jews have had the “Chutzpah” to say “NO…there is more than one way to worship God, there is more than one path to the Father, and we Jews prefer our own path”…and to then suffer the brutal, soul-withering, relentless, lethal Jew-hatred of much of the Christian world, a hatred that reached its apotheosis in the Holocaust. For 1,400 years since the onset of Islam, the Jews faced the Moslem world with the same message….and suffered the dhimmitude and persecution that Islam imposed upon the “People of the Book”.
Inherent in the Jewish message of the right to be different is the assertion that all humanity has that same right, and no one should be persecuted because he/she/they may choose a different path of communion with God. That is a message that we Jews have had the “Chutzpah” to relate to the world on a daily basis for 4,000 years. And it is only in the past 200 years (since the Enlightenment period in Europe) that this message has begun to take root in the West. Intolerance has the Middle East still mired in a medieval mindset. Some societies are slower learners than others.
So why do I say that you are at least partially right, that this “Chutzpah” is a problem? Because it is indeed a problem for those for whom difference is a threat. It is a problem for those for whom non-conformity is frightening. It is a problem for those who demand agreement, for whom mindless conformity is a value, for whom uncritical obedience is a virtue. That is why, historically, the Jew has always been the natural enemy of the totalitarian, the dictator, the tyrant. From Haman to Hitler, from Seleucus to Stalin, from Antiochus to Arafat…the Jew has stood up to them all, stared them all down, and in doing so paid a horrific price for our “Chutzpah”.
In sum, difference is a threat only to the primitive mind. “Chutzpah” is a problem only to the insecure soul. So that is why I say that you have ALMOST hit the nail on the head: Jewish “Chutzpah” is indeed a problem….but only for some.
David Meir-Levi Menlo Park, CA USA
February 19, 2004
PS. Regarding your article’s egregious errors of history, fallacies of logic, lapses of rational thought, and mendacious mis-representations of the current Mid-East conflict….we can discuss those in a separate email.
This is JTR's "Palestine Man" response to Mr. Meir Levi:
Dear Rabbi Meir-Levi:
I have a question for you. Do Jews have a monopoly on "chutzpah" like everything else? Is the right to say "NO" reserved exclusively for Jews? If we are talking about the word "chutzpah" itself, yes, it is a Yiddish word. If we are talking about the concept of "chutzpah", as you define it, meaning saying "NO!" and resisting social injustice (as well economic injustice), I always thought those rights were innate (meaning even us "inferior" Gentiles are born with them), and God-given. But then, you Jews seem to think we Gentiles worship a different God, therefore not only are we a different species, we are of a different world.
The Palestinians decided, I guess, that they too, had as much right to "chutzpah" as you Jews, and had as much right to say "NO!" and defend their basic human rights against the injustices of your Judeocentric jingoism and Zionist tyranny. What about the "horrific price" they have paid for their "chutzpah?" Over 3, 000 civilians dead, out of a population of 1.8 million. You do the math, and use the same ratio to figure out what that would mean if we were hypothetically talking about a country with the same population as the United States. How many million people would that translate as? And this is NOT counting the casualties of the First Intifada.
First of course you say that "It is our [Jews] destiny to be different". Self-exclusion has always been a trademark of Jewish culture, the underlying message being of course, "we are not like the rest of you (Gentiles), which makes us special". Then of course comes your claim that, "Inherent in the Jewish message of the right to be different is the assertion that all humanity has that same right, and no one should be persecuted because he/she/they may choose a different path of communion with God". Does that explain the Judaization of Jerusalem, and declaring the Old City as part and parcel of "Israel's Eternal Capital", and making two of the world's greatest religions, Christianity and Islam, captives to Zionism? Does it explain the hundreds upon hundreds of Christian churches and Muslim mosques that were destroyed in the Galilee (which the "Partition Plan" had designated as part of an Arab state), and which continued to be destroyed when Sharon embarked on his "Mitzpim" project, which meant displacing and uprooting more Palestinians and replacing them with Jews (after all, Sharon's philosophy was, "the Galilee has been annexed. It's ours. Whatever's there is Jewish").
Does it explain the fact that you Jews have taken 78 percent of historical Palestine, and have moved thousands of settlers into the remaining 22 percent, leaving nothing but a few large population centers, and a dry strip along the "Judean" Desert for the Palestinians? Does it explain the fact that you have not only stolen the land, but also the water aquifers in the Occupied Territories, stealing what little water is to be found in this parched and arid little corner of the world? Does it explain the fact that you have formally annexed the Golan Heights, which has enabled you to steal water from the Sea of Galilee, which Syria would have been able to share had you not stolen this vital piece of her territory which was its main access to freshwater? Does it explain your theft of water from the Jordan River, and during your occupation of Lebanon, stealing water from the Litani River?
It seems that those who are not Jews, are not entitled to share the world with Jews. Everything in the world, and the universe belongs to Jews. But then according to the Talmud, God is a real estate agent who favors the Jews in any land or water dispute, and only Jews matter. The rest of us, we poor, unfortunate, miserable Gentiles, are the "least of brethren". We are inferior. We are dogs waiting for the Jews to throw us an unwanted chicken bone.
Meanwhile the Palestinians had the courage to decide that they were not going to sit back and vote themselves out of existence. They decided it was time to say "NO!" and think of their survival as a people. They decided that their land and their crops and their homes were key to their survival, their lifeblood, their livelihood, their future. They decided they were sick and tired of being continuously raped as a people, humiliated, belittled, oppressed and stripped of not only their ancestral homeland but their dignity. They decided they would not let IDF thugs and terrorist settlers break their spirit. They decided it was time to exercise "CHUTZPAH".
Sorry, Rabbi, THIS is the one thing you can't take away from them. And it may upset you deeply Rabbi, but the truth is, the millions of diaspora Palestinians have as much right to that old, famous tune, "If I forget Thee, O Jerusalem...".
Jennifer Winkler responds:
In this particular controversial subject area one finds a lot of people severely bound to dogma. There is a certain stock formulary of Jewish ideas about Israel, which can be found on Internet forums, newspaper letters to the editor and everywhere else that people in the Western world talk about it, that in fact has so little variation one could imagine it is written by the same person (though of course it isn’t).
Living by dogma and living by one’s wits are radically different paths. It is probably the most significant difference among those in contention over Israel/Palestine and perhaps among people generally. I can’t argue with the people of dogma, because they don’t know what argument is. My already abundant efforts at it have clarified that.
In David Meir-Levi I perceive such attachment to dogma and therefore not much point in directly communicating with him. But for those people not bound to dogma I’ll compose a retort.
Whatever may be true about Jewish directions in history, one thing is pretty clear: it hasn’t worked, not over the very long haul, anyway. Engineers do “failure analysis” when their bridges fall down. Well, when persecution keeps happening, failure analysis needs to be done too. What happens when an engineer won’t admit he ever could make a mistake? He won’t see his mistakes, and then of course he won’t correct them. It becomes probable that the failures will be repeated.
Now what people usually say at this point is: how can you blame the victim? Or (even if only a scant amount of blame is suggested): why are Jews always blamed? In reply one must say: since when is anyone excused from responsibility and potential blame, and why should goyim always be blamed?
Attention has been given to the matter by Jews, but it has been so driven by an insistence on self-blamelessness, that persecution is explained entirely in terms of Gentile weaknesses, e.g. jealousy, etc. Indeed there are likely to be Gentile weaknesses figuring in it. But there are indications that there is more to it than that.
To say it once, anyway, for the record, my quest in sharing my article “The Problem is Chutzpah” is to fulfill a personal civic duty I perceive. The events of Sept. 11 prompted me to examine matters related to the Middle East. In peeling back the layers of issues, I find a startlingly serious one behind it all: a misconstrual of the Jewish situation as being one of mindless persecution by the Goy. Being a misconstrual it has prompted corrective actions that are unsuitable – in fact logically they stand to make matters worse. Unlikely as it may sound, I feel I’m doing my duty to try to save people from the dangers of their unseeingness, as I would holler “Fire” to a building’s occupants if I saw that it was on fire and thought they didn’t know.
For supposedly intractable persecution the answer was deemed to be a separate state. But, alas, it takes more than a flag and real estate to obtain independence. Benjamin Ginsberg in The Fatal Embrace, Jews and the State paints a picture of a history of Jewish activity in countries of the diaspora wherein tight alliance with the powers of the land was achieved and used to extract benefit. This occurred in Spain, Russia, both czarist and Stalinist, Germany and many other places, spanning both medieval and modern times. How can one now not look at the neocons in America today and not see it there too?
What is culture? Habits, ways of operating that are ingrained, pre-scripted human behavior that as individuals we pick up from those around us. It is inherent to the business of being human. After eons of latching onto ruler entourages as a way of life and survival, why would this type of behavior disappear suddenly upon the nominal establishment of a Jewish state?
Because the processes of fundamentally changing behavior have not been carried out, Israel is not functioning as a sovereign state but as a protectorate of the United States. Thus, Jewish people, if they’re pledged to the welfare of Israel, remain as ever dependent on the whims of Gentiles.
If attachment to the ruling elite is perilous, as Ginsberg’s analysis reflects, then why would it not be in America too? And why would it not in fact be the most dangerous Jewish co-opting yet, because unlike in any previous instance, it’s so blatantly in service of an exclusively Jewish thing: Israel.
What can be expected from people who say “Don’t tread on me”, upon your treading on them?