Tag Archives: Political Pilgrims

Netanyahu –again!

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done it again: he has repeated what any historian of the Middle East knows, that the so-called Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, was a buddy of Adolph Hitler’s. Netanyahu has a terrible way of reminding the world of awful truths at a time – has it ever been otherwise? – when most people including major politicians would like to look away.
One is reminded of an old very Jewish joke: Britain’s then general, Harold Alexander [the hero of the ordinary Tommy, not “the movie star” Gen.Bernard Montgomery] was making a protocol visit to a synagogue in Jerusalem. He was back in British Mandated Palestine to check out logistics for Britain’s see-sawing grim war in the Western Desert against legendary Nazi Gen. Erwin Rommel. The president of the Congregation made a little speech: “General, I want to you to know that everyday we pray 24 hours a day for an Allied victory in The Desert”. One of the little old congregants, in tallis and phylacteries, totters up, tugs the president’s sleeve, and whispers in Yiddish, “Don’t say that! If they lose, they will take it out on us”.
There was never any question of what would happen to the Mandate’s then small Jewish community if the Germans did break through. It was well known at the time that Hussein, the leader of the Arabs’ war against the Jews, had escaped British capture and was in Germany. [“Palestinian” did not designate the Arabs of the Mandate until the 1960s but contradictorily did the two Jewish brigades recruited in Tel Aviv fighting with the British in Italy].
Netanyahu, not for the first time of course, has been misinterepted, in that he did not suggest Hussein gave Hitler the idea of wiping out the Jews but simply that they had mutual ideas on the subject. [The Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, which gathered high Nazi officials to lay out the techniques of the Holocaust would only take place a year after the publication of the official photograph of Hitler with Hussein.] It’s likely Hitler had already considered the ways in which he would try to extinguish the Jews long before Husseini recommended burning them, if he indeed he did.
Does any of this have relevance today?
Does the fact that the Palestinians only became Palestinians recently mean that their cause is any less just?
One is reminded that Ferhat Abbas, the leading Algerian intellectual, only a few years before the beginning of the bitter war by Algerian Muslims for independence from France, had questioned whether there was such a thing as an Algerian identity. He, like so many other Algerians, unlike Arab Muslims as well as those to be called Pieds Noir [Black Feet], European refugees, who later flooded into metropolitan France, came to believe in their “nationhood” as he came to be its first president on independence.
But whatever the present day claims of “The Palestinians” to “an independent state, living side-by-side in peace” with a Jewish Israel, the long history of Arab aggression and institutionalized hatred of and warfare against the Jews in that tiny piece of land must be taken into account. At a time when the Mainstream Media, again, distorts the fundamental aggression of Arab terrorists, in personal attacks, often on civilian targets, it is well to be reminded of the long history of violence and who perpetrated it.
Yes, it will be argued that the Jewish state is a colonial manifestation, the imposition of a Western culture in an aggression on a “native people”. That appeals as such leftwing rhetoric has so often to some American “political pilgrims” [see Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims: Western intellectuals in search of the good society]. They have in the last half century jumped from one miserable cause to another in search of perfection – Communist China, Castro Cuba, Sandinista Nicaragua, and now, “Palestine”, only to be disillusioned by oppression and corruption. Fulsome examination of a blind loyalty to “the Palestinian cause” will eventually return the same results.
Netanyahu, as brutally frank as he sometimes is, was right to remind us of this little tidbit of history.


Political Pilgrims [Cont.]

It’s time for someone to write an update of Paul Hollander’s marvelously insightful and humorous [after a fashion] 1981 Political Pilgrims. For those kiddies for whom all this, and the environment in which it was written, is ancient history, may I remind you of Hollander’s hypothesis he fulfilled so well. It was to expose those Western intellectuals who flitted allegiance from one Marxist paradise to another.
That followed, of course, their final acceptance that their initial unassailable infatuation with the Soviet Union was a failed love affair however bitter sweet. Even their political naiveté could no longer take the strain between their hopes for a collectivized paradise on earth and the stark realities of one, if not the worst, of tyrannies the world had ever known. So they transferred their political affections to Communist China, then Castro’s Cuba, then to Sandinista Nicaragua, and so on, sometimes falling off the train even into North Korea, Albania, Romania, or Mozambique, along the way.
True, there was a basis in the excoriation of the ancien regimes: Tsarist Russia was an abomination, Nicaragua’s Somoza was the epitome of petty tyrants [even if FDR did say “he’s a SOB, but he’s our SOB” after weaning him from pro-Nazi sympathies], Batista’s Cuba was infinitely corrupt, etc., etc.
But the Political Pilgrims were willing to excuse almost anything in the hope that the new revolutionary regimes would deliver on the promised “from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs” in their hoped for utopias. Along the way, however, they picked up rationalizations for the absence of the rule of law and new, bitter human rights transgressions. And, so, on to the next candidate with the help, often, of a compliant media. [There was The New York Times’ Herbert Mathews famous infatuation with Fidel Castro, the Christian Science Monitor’s Moscow correspondent as a Soviet agent, etc.!]
One would have thought with the dramatic and swift implosion of the Soviet Union and its empire, and for all but the most delusional, Communism as a solution to life’s problems, the whole pilgrimage might have ended. But as Hollander speculated in the final pages of his book, the Western intellectuals’ problem is not in the stars but in themselves.
Although enormously influential in deciding the fate of their societies, they nevertheless have an unrequited hunger for more direct power, often denied them by the structures of the Western democracies and the good sense of their electorates. They are left often to squabble, as Henry Kissinger has acknowledged as “one who knows one”, as fiercely as any other contest in the modern world for the scraps and bones of academia. [Looking over the shoulder of my academic contemporaries, I am not so sure they are indeed “scraps].
All this comes to mind as I watch, fascinated, as all the diverse antidemocratic elements of the Western intellectual environment coalesce behind the reputed cause of the Palestinians. “Palestine” has become the new fashionable mantra which unites single-minded political fanatics, the usual student adolescent ebullience, tired old ex-Stalinists who have no other place to go, and the assortment of dizzy Hollywood bimbos [male and female] who must make a political statement whatever their apolitical heritage, training or talents. More sinister.”Palestine” now becomes a “front” for the jihadists in their murderous rampage against the West and its humanism.
Of course, without getting into the terribly complex history of Zionism, Jews and the state of Israel, except to point out that initiatives for compromise by the Israelis have generally been met with Arab rejection, there is a real Palestinian Arab cause. More than anything else, it is hidden by the guilt of dozens of Arab and Muslim states – many of them with enormous inflows of petrodollars they cannot efficiently absorb – who have refused to take in their Palestinian Arab brothers, or having done so, assign them to second-class citizenship.
One simple equation is that while “the Zionist entity” has taken in more than 800,000 refugees from Arab and Muslim countries – most of them robbed of everything they owned but lucky to escape with their skins – the Arab-Muslim world has used the Palestinian Arabs as a political foil for 60 years to rally opposition to the Jewish state, a scapegoat to fend off agitation against their own corrupt and oppressive regimes..
One must distinguish between the real and continuing problem of the Palestinian Arabs as a people suffering as much as anything from the opportunism and adventurism of their self-appointed elite. [The West Bank Palestinian leaders have virtually abandoned even their earlier corrupt elections.] That elite has lived off vast sums from international donors for Palestinian relief. Sec. of State John Kerry just announced $212 million as an initial down payment for rebuilding Gaza after the destruction the Hamas leadership brought on it with their attempt to terrorize the Israelis into military defeat with a massive missiles attack on civilian populations. That makes more than $400 million Washington has thrown into the hopper this year, with the well publicized theft of much of such American and European donations by corrupt politicians who prance around the UN seeking support from the new Political Pilgrims.
For rather suddenly as political movements go, “Palestiine” has become the new home for our Political Pilgrims. Coincidentally, in Western Europe, it has become the camouflage for the traditional and yet to be explained historic anti-Semitism. Except for France with its 400,000 Jews, it becomes all the more inexplicable since in such countries as Poland – whose population pre-World War II was a quarter Jewish — it is a reawakened anti-Semitism without Jews courtesy of Adolph Hitler.
But “Palestine” has become much more than all that. It is the excuse used by bright, young twisted intellectual university students to deny the platform and a hearing to spokesmen to what they consider an unacceptable cause or line of reasoning. Alas! Political Pilgrims today have turned their back on the very raison d’etre of the university as a forum for all ideas and their advocates. That “intellectual trend” and the state of mind it epitomizes threatens the very soul of Western culture.