12 thoughts on “Wieseltier: Brissers, Birthers and Bellyachers – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I don’t know Wieselter’s work.

    I do know that the description of “playbook” is a sign of a weak argument. More likely Wieselter is an independent thinker, not a puppet, as self-defined “right-thinking” radicals gamble with.

    There was an interesting article by Gideon Levy this morning in Haaretz.

    The title was (that from earlier comments by Richard S, he would support).

    Swedish article on organ harvesting was cheap and harmful journalism

    But radical Gideon Levy, supporter of BDS, also stated:

    “We, a small group of Israeli journalists trying to document the occupation, always knew that we must not publish an unfounded report. One mistake and the whole journalistic enterprise would fall into the hands of official propaganda, which automatically denies all suspicions and is just waiting for a mistake. ”

    “Like the perverse comparison to the Nazis, any exaggeration in describing the occupation’s cruelty will ultimately damage the struggle against it. ”

    “Over the years, the IDF has killed thousands of innocent civilians, among them women and children. The Shin Bet security service has tortured hundreds of people under interrogation, sometimes to death. Israel prevents food and medicine from reaching Gaza. Sick people are extorted by the Shin Bet to become collaborators in return for medical treatment. Thousands of homes in the territories have been demolished for nothing. Dozens of people have been killed by special units when they could have been arrested instead. Thousands of detainees have sat in jail for months or years without trial. Is that not enough to draw a reliable portrait of the occupation? Is that not shocking enough?”

    1. While I have no interest in condoning yellow journalism as a man of principle, I have to take issue with Levy’s argument as a man of reason. Myths of exaggerated cruelty have often been employed effectively, those of overturned incubators in Iraqi occupied Kuwait being one notable example.

      Regardless, I am disappointed with how carelessly the reported concerns of Palestinians are being dismissed here. While I have no reason to believe Palestinians origins were stolen for transplant, it seems rather likely some Palestinians organs were among those stolen for research at Abu Kabir, and the difference in intent doesn’t rightly make the crime any less is heinous. Dismissing such concerns outright simply because the Aftonbladet article tied them into conspiratorial conjecture is just as intellectually dishonest than the article itself.

  2. I can’t help but wonder how Wieseltier took Bush bowing over to Abdullah to get a medal draped around his neck and then diving in for a bit of kissy face.

    Also, the “self-hating Jew” meme is just outright absurd, as the whole concept of “race treason” is built on the bigoted idea that individuals should be allied on the grounds of perceived “races” in contest to others. Such accusations along with charges of “anti-Semitism” for criticising Jewish individuals or the state of Israel gives the impression that the accusers are diluted into believing they are part of some vast conspiracy which all but a few “self-hating Jew” embrace. Granted, best I can tell, bigots have to convince themselves that all people are bigoted in one way or another to feel vindicated in their own prejudice.

  3. You don’t know who Wieseltier is. He’s poison, he’s a disgusting pro-Israel Jew. He’s something you find under a rock.

      1. I think richard is playing on what Wieseltier said about Norman Finkelstein. He said those exact words except “self-hating Jew” instead of “pro-Israel Jew”. But, yeah, without that reference I would be bothered by the statement, too.

        You give Wieseltier more credit than I would. He is obviously an intelligent man, and he is a fairly good prose stylist (not entirely synonymous with being a good writer) , but his writings are so infected by his intense tribalist outlook that he rarely says anything interesting. He very much reflects the magazine he works for in that way.

        True, he doesn’t come across as as much of a chest-thumping jingoist as Peretz does, but my impression is that they basically come from the same place, view of the world. Their prism of Jewish chauvinism & nationalism ultimately overrides any other consideration. That’s why for culture criticism I’m far more likely to turn to the more neutral & universal sensibility of the New Yorker (mainly for Alex Ross and Anthony Lane), or the Nation magazine. And yes, the Nation has a politically liberal slant but no particularly narrow and cock-eyed tribalist cultural frame of reference I’m aware of.

        Such a strong particularist outlook does ultimately stunt one’s intelligence in the end, because one’s understanding of the world becomes so much more limited and circumscribed. Take a writer like Kurt Vonnegut, he displays more wisdom and insight in his little pinkie than Wieseltier exhibits in his collected prose gushings, I would suggest part of this fact naturally flows out of Vonnegut’s wholehearted embrace of the world in all its diversity and contradiction.

        At the same time, great intelligence, even great genius, has co-existed with deep-seated bigotry to match and surely trump Wieseltier’s, look at Richard Wagner, for example. So, this is a tricky, complicated issue. If somebody’s work can universally transcend the personal prejudices they demonstrate in other contexts, maybe then you can appreciate it on its own terms. Anyhow, this subject demands a much fuller analysis than I can give here.

        (also, comparing Leon Wieseltier to Richard Wagner maybe is a bit of a stretch. Wagner’s eventual influence and place in the culture gave the legacy of his intense, despicable racism much more of a pernicious influence than anything Wieseltier could achieve sputtering and spouting from his little rag; it’s also a-symmetrical in that you are comparing world-historical artistic genius, Wagner, to an obvious second-rater in comparison, Wieseltier).

        I think I’m rambling at this point…

  4. Extra points will be awarded for warren’s accurate identification of the quote in question.

    Weisetlier points to the absurdity of the self-hating Jew meme, then turns around and uses it at every opportunity against anyone who fails to be sufficiently deferential to the vermin of Israel.

    In fairness, Weisetlier had good grounds for being furious with Norman Finkelstein, after Norman exposed his tiresome lies in support of Joan Peters, even after her book was identified as a threadbare hoax.

    ps: his writing is abysmal, but as Gore Vidal perceptively remarked, Weisetlier “has very important hair.” .

    1. richard, using language like “the vermin of Israel” is offensive and inappropriate and does absolutely nothing to further the conversation. That rhetoric also has a pretty dark historical shadow.

      Just as it’s not right for extreme right-wing Israelis and their American friends to have internalized such language and turned it around on the Palestinians, it’s not right to use it about Israelis or Jews. In fact, such language to describe a people or nation has no place anywhere.

      One can speak out in the strongest possible terms against what Israel is doing and has done to the Palestinians and others without resorting to such Goebbels-esque rhetoric. Such language on a blog like this also serves the malign purpose of “confirming” for those who wish to portray liberal progressives who protest Israeli policy as having something against Jews deep-down, that they are correct. So, that language is harmful on a bunch of levels. By the way, richard, Israel’s right-wing supporters absolutely love that kind of language and eat it up, it’s their bread and butter.

  5. The only objection I can really see to the phrase “Israeli vermin” is that it is a bit of a redundancy. Even were I not Jewish, I’d feel entitled to so refer to anyone who applauds the massacre of Arab children with white phosphorus (as nearly 100% of Israelis do, according to polls from Tel Aviv University). If anything, I’m being overly diplomatic.

    Israel is now an intolerable threat to humankind. It has to be dealt with, and the special pleadings on behalf of these monsters have to stop. Step one should be a naval blockade, followed by more serious modes of persuasion. The Jewish state should be reduced to Gaza-like conditions, if that is what is required.

    You don’t play games with an enemy like this.

    1. First, thank you to Warren for catching that highly offensive phrase which violates my comment rules. I strongly agree with Warren on this, Richard H. & urge you not to engage in hyperbolic offensive speech of this sort.

      There is a place for energetic criticism of Israel, but not of this sort. At least not at this blog.

      I’m not aware of Wieseltier “applauding” the massacre of Palestinian children w. white phosphorus. Is that what you’re claiming he’s done or is this more hyperbole??

      Israel is no more a “threat to humankind” than Iran is & you are making the same mistake the anti-Iranian war party makes. It simply discredits yr argument when you engage in over the top rhetoric of this sort.

      Israel has an atomic bomb & this does post a threat to the region. But all other nations possessing nuclear weapons pose a similar threat.

      The Jewish state should be reduced to Gaza-like conditions

      I will simply not allow such comments here. The immorality of Israel’s treatment of Gazans in no way justifies the same treatment of Israelis.

      You are on notice. Any other rhetoric like this in future and yr comment privileges will be removed.

  6. You can remove my comment privileges. Erasing the facts however is not possible.

    ” Israel is no more a “threat to humankind” than Iran is.”

    A transparently absurd statement, in light of the fact that Israel possesses a massive nuclear arsenal and has attacked every country in the region except for Cypress, murdering tens of thousands of people, most of them, civilian.

    Iran has a legal right to enrich uranium under the NPT, the very same treaty the gangster state of Israel refuses to sign. It’s quite clear who the rogue state is. Any other country behaving as Israel has would have been subjected first to sanctions and second to military assault, to overwhelming global approval. Were Iran (or anywhere else) engaged in the abominations Israel routinely commits, it would already have been attacked. You know it. I know it. Everyone else knows it. The hypocrisy is so blatant it hardly bears mention.

    It is the duty of conscientious Jews to condemn israel without qualification and to urge measures to protect humankind from the Israeli contagion, a modern incarnation of the Nazi ethos. Their ghoulishness we now know extends to international organ harvesting, as the outstanding Allison Weir reports:

    “Just as in the case of the rampage against Jenin, the attack on the USS liberty, the massacre of Gaza, the crushing of Rachel Corrie, the torture of American citizens, and a multitude of other examples, Israel is using its considerable, worldwide resources to interfere with the investigative process.”

    http://www.counterpunch.com/weir08282009.html

    If such a state is not a threat, I don’t know what is.

    1. You make the same mistake that all grandstanding demagogues do whether of the left or right, you mistake yr partisan opinions for facts or the truth.

      Israel has not used its nuclear arsenal on anyone as has the U.S. I’m opposed to Israel having nuclear weapons. But claiming Israel is a greater danger to the world than any other nuclear power is specious.

      Calling Israel a gangster state is a violation of my comment rules which you clearly spurn. You can peddle your trash elsewhere as your comment privileges have been revoked.

      And don’t bother as a non-Jew telling me what my duty or the duty of other Jews is. I can define my own moral dimensions w/o yr dicta, thank you.

      If such a state is not a threat

      Of course it is a threat. But that’s what you claimed. You claimed it was a world threat, which it is not. It is a regional threat. There is a diff.

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