Thursday, November 15, 2012

More on the Susie Linfield: the Zionist reviewer for the Nation magazine

Khelil sent me this:  "After reading your review of Susie Linfield's review of Halliday I went to the The Nation and saw that she teaches at NYU (my grad school). I did some research:

She's worse than I (and maybe you) thought. Here she concedes Morris' point on expulsion (along with his view that it was part of the 'fog of war') but then excuses it as unavoidable by Israel: "Each side realized that this was an us-or-them war, a fact that has been swathed in mystification, at least in the West, for decades."

Then she finds this to dismiss: "“All we want to do is have the three religions of people here live together in peace.” This particular woman may be expressing her genuine wish, but as a description of the larger conflict her statement is, to be blunt, utter hogwash, and anyone who is genuinely interested in solving the suffering and statelessness of the Palestinians would best ignore this kind of sentimentality."

She speaks about "The Oslo Accords were met by a furious spate of terrorist attacks from Hamas and Islamic Jihad" but does not mention any Israel violence, terrorism or "settlements". And approvingly cites Morris by way of portraying 'Arafat's rejection at Camp David as a continuum of the " consistent rejectionism of the pre-1948 Palestinian leadership"

She thinks Albert Hourani is Palestinian: "Palestinian intellectual Albert Hourani"

She informs us about the cultural bridge between Israel and Palestinians, which she caricatures solely as:
"the secular, educated, mini-skirted women of Tel Aviv and the masked men of Gaza will somehow merge into a unified, peaceful entity is either extremely deluded or playing a very cruel game. What kind of legal system could such a “country” have? (Hamas—and not only Hamas—openly professes adherence to sharia law.)" Apparently, she is oblivious to the cultural division between secular/reform Jews and the Haredim/Ultra-Orthodox and that Israel adheres to Rabbinical law that prohibits civil marriage, enforces Kosher and makes divorce harder on women than Iran. And all Palestinians are masked men.

She follows with silly protestations akin to the line of supporters of Apartheid South Africa but how could this state reconcile a political system, foreign policy, ect.. and then concludes: "And since such a state would, inevitably and fairly quickly, become demographically dominated by Palestinian Arabs, why would anyone imagine that the rights, the freedoms and the cultural integrity of the Jewish minority in this “binational” society would be protected?" Apparently the opposite extant disregard for Arab rights, including citizens of "Israel", does not occur to her and Palestinians are inherently incapable of treating Israelis better than Israelis treat the Arabs today.

And adds, "Put most bluntly: Israelis and Palestinians have been slaughtering each other’s children for decades; for entirely good reasons, they regard each other with fear and loathing, and the idea of forcing them together into a “nation” is grotesque"

She praises Israel, after their colonization of 78% of Palestine, for being so enlightened to accept that the indigenous have a right to 22% (in her understanding of Israeli policy--but leave that aside), and faults the Arabs for not returning the favor: "Alas, the Palestinians, and the larger Arab and Muslim world, failed to follow a parallel political development" And believes that 'Arafat was opposed to a two-state solution.

Then there's her attack on the right-of-return and she finds a nice Palestinian; for her "the crux of the problem": "When the Palestinians demand the “right” to return, they are essentially demanding two states of Muslim Arabs: one in the West Bank and Gaza, the other in Israel. To my knowledge, the only Palestinian intellectual who has been honest enough and gutsy enough to say this, and to point out both its disingenuousness and its impossibility, is the president of Al-Quds University (and former PLO representative) Sari Nusseibeh—though he has, alas, scant following among his own people."

And akin to that article in the Wall Street Journal I sent you recently she thinks she's being clever in referencing Arab Jews, as if leftist supporters of the Palestinians deny the right of return AND compensation of Arab Jews. "The “right of return” is a phrase that has always baffled me. For if return is indeed a right for Palestinians, surely it must be upheld for others, too. And so, I wonder, what of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews who left, or were expelled from, the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa, where they had lived for centuries? Some of them, and their descendants, might want to go “home”: Isn’t that their right?"

Anticipating the rebuttal, she writes: "Think, if only for a minute, of the havoc that would ensue. With the “return” of so many “refugees,” both to Israel and the surrounding states, what would happen to the millions who would, of necessity, subsequently be displaced? Why would this not create new generations of refugees or at least masses of enraged, displaced people? How would this grand, mad population transfer take place? What relation does any of this have to justice, and why would it not result in social catastrophe and ruin on a massive scale?" Oh yeah, because building new homes isn't an option. Israel after all is a pioneer in 'new settlements'.

And Palestinian rights must be contingent not only on Arabs Jews, but the world: "Indeed, if each Palestinian has the right of return, so must every other displaced person on Earth. What, then, of the hundreds of thousands of Bosnians, Croats and Serbs who lost their homes (and much more) in the bitter Balkan wars of the 1990s?"

Her efforts to attack right-of-return is clearly an obsession, she jumps to citing it as "bad faith" and even a corollary of fascism: "And if return equals justice, let’s take it further; post-World War II history is replete with states that came into being at the cost of immense violence and immense dislocation, and that have made some of their neighbors quite unhappy. Why not retract the division of the subcontinent—which resulted in massive expulsions, population transfers and an estimated million deaths—and impose a one-state “solution” on Pakistan and India?...These examples are absurd, but only because they illustrate the essential bankruptcy of the concept of restoration, which obsessively revisits, and tries to re-create, a presumably edenic past rather than accept the far more difficult task of building a viable future. Indeed, the idea that justice lies not in creating history but in un-making it—which is the key idea behind the “right of return”—is the very definition of reaction, which is precisely why it is never advocated as a solution for anyone but the Palestinians, and why it is a sterling example of bad faith. In most circumstances, this attempt to vanquish history is commonly called revanchism, and is usually associated with ultranationalism and fascism."

Oh yeah, and it's ugly too: " It seeks ultimate justice: which may seem, at first glance, a beautiful thing but which usually turns out to be an ugly thing."

Again she quotes Morris on the failure of two-state: "Morris writes, “primarily because the Palestinian Arabs, in the deepest fibers of their being, oppose such an outcome.""

Conceding Morris' point that a West Bank/Gaza state may be two small to even be viable, she is giddy about the Jordanian option: "the reconstitution of Transjordan: that is, a West Bank-Jordanian Palestinian state. ... In Morris’ view, it is the only candidate that could realistically absorb the Palestinian populations of the West Bank, Gaza and the diaspora and build a sturdy, reasonably prosperous state with them. I cannot tell whether this proposal has even the slimmest chance of being seriously considered by the Palestinian leadership, the Israelis, the surrounding Arab states or the Jordanian monarchy. (Jordan’s Hashemite leadership probably has zero interest in sharing power with the Palestinians; it was the Jordanians who went to war against, and expelled, PLO guerrillas in 1970-71 and who slaughtered hundreds [notice she writes hundreds] of Palestinian civilians in the process.) ... But any opening up of the political possibilities in what has become a desperately intractable, ever-deteriorating situation is to be welcomed—though it probably won’t be."

But here it all comes into focus for this Zionist:"And yet the left’s increasing antipathy to Israel—not just to its policies, but to the existence of a Jewish state itself—is, to me, both fatally misguided and puzzling. Take, for instant, the incessant criticisms of Israel, and the almost unanimous support for the one-state “solution,” in publications like Le Monde Diplomatique, The Nation, The New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. ... The echoes here are very loud, and they lead me to wonder why the grand, deluded schemes of the left are any less imperialistic or hubristic—any less tragic—than those of our antagonists on the right.
The left’s embrace of Israel’s enemies, and its rejection of historical accuracy or even historical sense, is even more rebarbative.
Anti-Zionism has become the anti-imperialism of fools, and talk of a one-state solution is a party to this folly. ... But I very much hope that [Morris' book] will ignite a freer, more honest, radically different conversation on the left, one informed by historical knowledge and current realities rather than the fantasies—alternately sentimental, infantile and grandiose—for which such a high price has been paid by all sides."