torsdag 1. mars 2012

Israelsk gjesteblogger denne gangen

Carlo Strenger er en israelsk psykoanalytiker som har sin faste bloggspalte i avisa Haaretz. Han er en spennende stemme fra det landet som okkuperer det palestinske området og verdt å lytte til, ikke minst for oss som bader i den palestinske lidelsen til daglig. Jeg gir til beste hans to siste blogginnlegg fra hans spalte Strenger than ficion i Om Carlo Strenger:

Carlo Strenger is a psychoanalyst, philosopher and public intellectual engaged in the defense of individual liberty, a high level of public discourse and a sane solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
A professor of psychology at Tel Aviv University, Strenger is the author of seven books, most recently The Fear of Insignificance: Searching for Meaning in the Twenty First Century.

Estranged friends? A view on Israel from Western Europe
Is there a commonality of interest between Germany and Israel, or is Israel gradually turning into a liability for its Western friends?
AMSTERDAM - Last week I spent a few days in Berlin, primarily for a conference entitled: “Estranged Friends? Israeli and German Perceptions of State, Nation, Force" organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a German foreign policy organizations allied with the left-leaning Green party.

I have met with members of the Green party and of the Heinrich Böll Foundation quite often, and I can say beyond doubt that many of its members are deeply engaged with and closely connected to Israel. Quite a number of them are true friends of, feel connected to and care for Israel. They know its political and social structure well, and are well informed about current affairs in Israel.
Germany’s relation to Israel has always been complex; overshadowed by the tragedy and horrors of the Holocaust. Support for Israel is a fixture of German politics, and Chancellor Merkel has gone as far to say that one of the Federal Republic’s raisons d’être is its commitment to Israel’s existential security.

It therefore took some courage for the Böll Foundation to formulate the conference’s guiding question: do Israel and Germany still share a true friendship, or has the estrangement become the dominant trait?

Israel was represented by a number of eloquent spokespeople, among them Shimon Stein, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2007. Stein made it clear that he no longer represents Israel’s government and that he chose early retirement from the Foreign Service due to difficulties of representing Israel’s current government.
Stein’s position was particularly interesting, because he is, by no means, a starry-eyed idealist: he belongs to the realist school in international relations that understands relations between countries as a function of national interests. For him, the notion of friendship between nations is rather vague, and he prefers looking at commonalities of interest.
But here, exactly was one of the themes that resurfaced, time and again. Is there, at this point, a commonality of interest between Germany and Israel, or is Israel gradually turning into a liability for its supposedly Western friends? After all for these, the tense relations with the Islamic world are a source of great concern; partially because of their dependence on Arab oil, but also because of their preoccupation with the evolving relations with their Muslim minorities. In this respect, Germany’s friendship with Israel is indeed about to turn into more of a problem for its long-term interests.
By and large I saw remarkable sympathy and understanding for Israel’s genuine concerns, not only with respect to the possibility of a nuclear Iran. Ralph Fuecks , co-Chair of the Böll Foundation, repeatedly quoted the Mufti’s recent statement that Jews were the descendants of apes and pigs to show that incitement against Israel is by no means a matter of the past.
There are three major points on which Israel is clearly moving away from the West, as represented by Germany. One is the rise of nationalist rhetoric and the tendency of the ruling coalition to speak of Jews’ eternal right to the greater land of Israel. German intellectuals and politicians are highly aware that German romanticism has been crucial in developing this kind of rhetoric in the nineteenth century with utterly disastrous consequences in the Nazi period, and they firmly reject such rhetoric wherever it is used.

The second, connected, issue is Israel’s increasing movement towards ethnocracy: many of the Netanyahu coalition’s legislative proposals differentiating between Jews and non-Jews run very deeply against the model of civic equality in the Free World.

The third is the great involvement of religion in Israeli politics in a variety of ways: most importantly in the fateful influence of the national-religious agenda on the colonization of the West Bank; through the fact that Israel’s Rabbinate is a state agency; and the fact that it is even possible for ultra-Orthodox and national-religious groupings to demand that women be excluded from certain public functions like singing.
One of the participants, Prof. Michael Wolffsohn, a Jewish, Israeli-born historian at Munich University put the situation quite succinctly in one of the panels: he said that he can easily see how there could be an German-Meretz Friendship, but ever less a commonality between Germany and Israel. Because I’m quite sure that a number of readers will say ‘ah, another leftist’, it might be worth pointing out that Wolffsohn, who has served in the IDF, is considered a political conservative.
Wolffsohn’s statement highlights the growing chasm between Israel and Germany in particular, and the Free World in general. In terms of its core values, Israel has been moving away from the Free World, certainly during Netanyahu’s second tenure of the last three years.

I have, during these years, made great efforts to explain to European audiences what it is like to live under permanent existential threat, and I have tried to argue that at least certain aspects of Israel’s move to the right are the result of Israelis’ traumatization by the second Intifada and the shelling of southern Israel.
Nevertheless the conference, in my mind, has sharpened the question ‘quo vadis Israel?’ – where is the country headed? Are Israel’s growing nationalism and religiosity purely reactive, or do they reflect ethnic and religious identities that have become demographically more dominant?
I think that, certainly in German’s elites, there is still a strong will to maintain and develop friendship with Israel. This is certainly not reciprocated by Lieberman who continues to show nothing but disdain for Europe; judging from his actions, Netanyahu and most of his coalition partners seem not to care either.
In the foreseeable future such friendship will have to be nourished through the institutions of civil society – as for example the Böll Foundation’s conference in Berlin. For me, as for many in Israel for whom the ideals of liberty, human rights and equality are core values, friendship with Germany in particular and Europe in general is not purely instrumental: it reflects the ideals we share with a continent that has drawn important lessons from its tragic history.

  • Published 15:16 15.02.12
  • Latest update 15:16 15.02.12

Israel's severe right wing syndrome

Sharing problems with others doesn’t really provide too much reason for comfort, but it is quite interesting to see the analogies of the radicalization of the U.S. and Israel’s right.

By Carlo StrengerTags: Israel settlers Israel settlements Mitt Romney Rick Santorum
Nobel laureate economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has recently published a column entitled Severely Conservative Syndrome, based on Mitt Romney’s recent pronouncement that he had been a "severely conservative governor." As Krugman points out, the term "severely" is generally used within the context of illnesses; and while Romney certainly did not consciously want to imply that conservatism was an illness, he certainly makes it sound that way.
Sharing problems with others doesn’t really provide too much reason for comfort, but it is quite interesting to see the analogies of the radicalization of the U.S. and Israel’s right. Romney’s breast-beating assertion of his severe conservatism is partially fuelled by polls that show that Rick Santorum is leading him in nationwide polls among Republican voters.
Megron outpost in West Bank - Fitoussi
West Bank outpost of Migron.
Photo by: Olivier Fitoussi
Krugman reminds us of two gems in Santorum’s career: connectinghomosexuality with incest and bestiality and his spirited defense of the Crusades against leftists who hate Christendom (no: this is not a typo: he defended the Crusades – obviously a timely topic for America’s current problems).
We in Israel should, of course, not be surprised. After all our right-wingers love to connect to Masada and to praise Bar-Kochba, and to bring school children to Hebron so they can connect to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This makes Rick Santorum’s praise of the Crusades outright modernist – after all they are less than a millennium behind us.
Now comes the interesting point: the Crusades, as a quick look at Wikipedia shows, weren’t exactly a success story. Even if you disregard some small humanitarian issues, like the enormous amounts of blood (much of it Jewish) that was spilled, and, as you may remember Salah-ad Din in the end took the whole thing back to Islam. So it is not so clear what was so great about the Crusades.
As you may remember, Bar Kochba was also not exactly a success story. His insistence on rebelling against the Roman Empire created some minor setbacks – about 600,000 Jews were killed when the Romans decided to make a clear point. There’s also a tiny problem with connecting to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: there is no historical evidence that they ever existed, and in all likelihood the place worshipped as their grave is likely to be the burial site of some sheikh. But, our minister of education points out time and again that nobody should delude himself that Jews will leave Hebron and Shiloh.
What then, is this "severe right wing syndrome"? Why has it been hitting both in as hard as it has Israel and the U.S.? Why does it make Republicans reject reasonable deals that could improve the livelihoods of millions of Americans? And why does it make Israel’s right utterly blind to the simple fact that their gradual killing of the two-state solution is about to lead to the demise of the very Zionist dream of a democratic homeland of the Jews they purport to defend?
We are, of course, speaking about a long-term trend here. As commentators (some conservatives like David Brooks and Ross Douthat) point out, the Republican Party has moved from a sophisticated conservative position to populist radicalism devoid of intellectual foundations during the last decades. Similarly, Israel’s right wing has evolved from a hawkish position based on reasonable arguments to a Manichean worldview that relies on knee-jerk emotional manipulation rather than anything remotely resembling arguments.
There is a common denominator of the coarsening of the right in the U.S. and Israel. Psychological research shows that humans need worldviews that provide a cognitive map, an interpretation of reality and meaning. Our self-esteem is deeply tied to our worldview. When these worldviews come to conflict with reality, one of the more standard defenses against realizing that we need to make strong adjustment in worldview is to radicalize them.
The U.S. inexorably evolves from a country that is white-Protestant and Anglo-Saxon to a truly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-racial society symbolized, of course, by a black President of global upbringing.
The American Ethos of self-reliance and freedom from government also no longer works. As Niall Ferguson, an economic historian with conservative leanings certainly not suspect of socialist sympathies has pointed out, the whole idea that a modern economy can be run without strong state involvement flies in the face of reality. The question is not whether government should be involved, but how.
Hence Republicans face a deep worldview crisis, but refuse to question their basic assumptions. Instead they move towards ever more simplistic, populist slogans.
The situation of Israel’s right is quite similar. It has been in power for more than half of Israel’s history. Its ideology was based on the doctrine that the greater Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and it has pushed the project of settling the West Bank ruthlessly.
There are hawks committed to liberal democracy like Moshe Arens and Rubi Rivlin who argue that the greater Israel will remain a Jewish state even though Palestinians in the West Bank will receive Israeli citizenship. But they can maintain this fiction only by relying on the theses of Yoram Ettinger that there are only 1.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, a thesis not even shared by Israel’s Statistical Bureau.
The others on the right largely have nothing coherent to say about how the greater state of Israel will look. They seem to lean towards apartheid, but desperately avoid looking the facts in the eye. Israel’s right simply cannot adjust to the fact that the contradiction between democracy and the greater land of Israel cannot be resolved.
The resulting Severe Right Wing Syndrome deserves to find a place in the annals of political psychopathology. Like today’s Republicans in the U.S., Israel’s right wingers try to overcome their deficit in coherent argument with breast-beating declarations of deep belief in something they can’t even define coherently.

2 kommentarer:


    "Fundamentally Freund: The silence of the Left
    Every Israeli, regardless of political outlook, should be outraged by this assault, and yet not a word of condemnation has been heard from the Left.

    Israel’s Left is notoriously garrulous and effusive. Never ones to hide their sentiments about the issues of the day, our comrades on the other end of the political spectrum rarely mince words. Normally loud and clear about where they stand, the Left seldom shies away from controversy. And that is what makes their recent reticence so remarkable. For despite a surge in violence between Arab and Jew, including incidents at some of the most sensitive flashpoints in the region, the voice of the Left has all but fallen silent.

    The ubiquitous righteous indignation, the pervasive and ever-present cries for justice and human rights are suddenly nowhere to be heard. And just why, you might be wondering, have the would-be defenders of decency abruptly grown inaudible?

    The answer is as revealing as it is disturbing.

    Put simply, it is because the victims in recent incidents are Jews.

    Take, for example, the near-lynching that took place over the weekend in Haifa, when two off-duty soldiers were nearly beaten to death by a group of Israeli Arabs. After parking their car, the two young men were accosted by at least seven Arabs, who asked them if they were Jewish, began chanting, “Jews, Jews” and proceeded to pummel them with clubs and metal bars. The culprits grabbed one of the victims, pounded him into the pavement, and then carved the words, “you dog,” in Arabic, into his head using a sharp object.

    “At certain moments I felt my end was near,” one of the soldiers told Yediot Aharonot.

    Fortunately, security guards from nearby Rambam hospital heard the commotion and intervened, saving the two soldiers from near-certain death. Incredibly, the police initially sought to downplay the incident, preferring instead to label it an act of “hooliganism,” as though it were a late-night bar brawl that got out of hand. Subsequently, however, they backtracked and acknowledged that it was a hate crime.

  2. Indeed, by all indications, this was a vicious and unprovoked anti-Semitic attack on two young men who are giving the best years of their lives to defend this country and safeguard the liberties that each and every one of us take for granted.

    Every Israeli, regardless of political outlook, should be outraged by this assault, and yet not a word of condemnation was heard from the Left. There were no denunciations of the anti-Jewish bigotry that exists among some Israeli Arabs nor any calls for their leadership to demonstrate greater tolerance and understanding.

    Can you imagine the outcry had the situation been reversed and a group of soldiers had mauled two innocent Arabs?

    We all know how that would have played out.

    But for some reason, when the perpetrators are Arabs and the victims are Jews, the Left sees fit to hit the mute button. They seem to adopt a similar approach when it comes to the exercise of fundamental freedoms by Jews as well.

    Consider the unrest on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem over the past week, where the police had their hands full quelling numerous outbreaks of Palestinian violence. On Friday, more than 100 Palestinians rioted following prayers at the Aksa Mosque and stoned policemen. It was the fourth time in five days that Muslims on the Mount had attacked Israeli police or groups of Jewish and Christian visitors.

    In one incident, they sought to intimidate a group of would-be pilgrims by hurling stones and shoes at the police accompanying them. These incidents are all part of a coordinated Palestinian effort to subvert the rights of Jews and Christians to visit the Temple Mount and worship there.

    Anyone who claims to cherish the values of tolerance and liberty should be out in front condemning such incidents with all the passion they can muster. The right to worship freely should apply equally to all, regardless of whether they are followers of Moses or Muhammad.

    And yet here too, the Left had nothing – absolutely nothing – to say, as though breaching Jews’ freedom of religion is not a human rights issue worth fighting for.

    None of this, of course, is at all surprising. Israel’s Left has never shown a propensity for intellectual consistency, let alone a penchant to apply its principles in an evenhanded manner. But what makes this all so ironic is that they are undermining the very liberal principles they claim to hold dear. You can’t be selectively open-minded and expect people to take you seriously, just as you can’t willfully ignore acts of injustice simply because they run counter to your political agenda.

    Perhaps that explains why the power of the Left has been steadily in decline in recent years. Disingenuousness and deceit will only get you so far. Even in the political realm."

    The massive, colossal hypocrisy born out by latent (?), but overt antisemitism (more than likely sub-conscious Lutheran 500-years plus Norwegian "heritage") on your part in my honest opinion is no less depraved and despicable than on the (Israeli) Left Mr. Freund decries with absolute seriousness, honesty and justification (just like being the nature of the *Left* in general almost anywhere in the West).
    IF you try to delete my comment as a response to your blog, it all crystal-clearly prooves that I've WON!
    Gabor Fränkl