Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Basman on Michael Oren on Remembering the Holocaust and on Gideon Levy






If I am understanding some of Oren’s reasoning correctly I disagree with him, respectfully.
He seems to argue that it was important for Netanyahu to stress the reality of the Holocaust because that is essential to Israel’s self defence:“Accordingly, denying the Holocaust not only deprives Israel of its raison d'ĂȘtre, but, more nefariously still, it invalidates the Jews' need to defend themselves…”

Firstly, I dissent from the notion that the Holocaust defines Israel’s raison d’etre, but more I fail to understand how denying the Holocaust’s reality—a travesty I mean not at all to gainsay—invalidates Israel’s need to defend itself.

Obama has already been severely criticized for in his Cairo speech making the Holocaust the sole repository of causation for Israel’s existence while skirting totally the deep Judean connection to the land as it ranges from the earliest mists of history to recent history ante World War II.

The Holocaust adds tragic resonance to Israel’s need to defend itself but it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of that need, which is existentially self defining and self justifying.

I have a different reading of Netanyahu’s great U.N. speech than Oren’s and a different reading of why Netanyahu was stirringly correct to dwell on the reality of the Holocaust.

I wrote about that reading when commenting on another thread on Gideon Levy’s soft headed criticism of the speech. I’ll repeat some of what I said:

“…Gideon Levy from this and the few other things I have read by him is quite soft headed.

My impression was that Netanyahu briefly but powerfully reminded the world —in which there are doubters and deniers—of the Holocaust not to prove that it happened but to demonstrate how egregiously the U.N. shames itself by letting such perfidy occupy centre stage.

Similarly the comparison between Hamas and the Nazis was apt in context. The context is virulent anti Semitism and the desire to accomplish genocide. That aptness is driven by the extent to which Hamas is an Iranian proxy and the context’s circle gets completed by the fact and content of Ahmadinejad’s evil screeds.

What is inapposite and obtuse is Levy’s demand for historical exactitude in the comparison of either Hamas and the Nazis or the London Blitz and the Gazan shelling. The point was to contrast Churchill’s decision to firebomb Dresden with Israel’s attempts in very difficult circumstances—the embedding of Hamas fighters—in civilian enclaves to minimize civilian casualties while exercising its absolute right to defend itself, and deter, indiscriminate shelling, which appears in fact to have proven somewhat successful. (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/20/AR200909...)

Here’s an instance of that obtuseness of levy’s sheer inability what Netanyahu was trying to say: “…And if we can compare a poorly equipped terrorist organization to the horrific Nazi killing machine, why should others not compare the Nazis' behavior to that of Israel Defense Forces soldiers? In both cases, the comparison is baseless and infuriating…”

We all should know what’s really baseless and infuriating here.

Netanyahu was correct to emphasize the Holocaust party for the reasons already mentioned. But what sneering stupidity do we get from Levy: “Netanyahu began the speech as if he were chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial - Holocaust, Holocaust, Holocaust; his family and his wife's family.” And as if such stupidity wasn’t enough get this: “No less demagogic was his attack on the Iranian regime. They shoot demonstrators there, he protested vehemently. As if they don't do that in our Bil'in and Na'alin.”

What is shockingly being said here is that Israel in dealing with these protestors is morally equivalent to Iran’s massive and violent suppression of its dissidents such that Netanyahu has no ground on which to stand to call out Iranian brutality in the suppression of its own citizens,. And deepening the shock is the intimation that the response to the Bil’in and Na’alin protestors is comparable in its scope to what Iran did. Absent that intimation the comment is even more self evidently idiotic.

And how about this: “Bashar Assad, who has been knocking on doors for years, claiming he wants peace? No one has opened the doors. “ Levy should read this: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/the-syria-temptation-a....

And so on.

The sneering ignorance animating Levy’s piece, the condescension—“Talk of security and victims may still have buyers among the WIZO women of America, but that's it”—ironic given the false and self refuting assumption of Levy’s superiority to these women….”

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