Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two bits

Pheobe on Helen Thomas:
For supposedly educated, informed non-Jews today to throw their arms up and ask what the heck these white-as-white Jews were thinking, setting up shop in the Middle East of all places, is, on a historical level, disingenuous.
She refers to the chant of "Go back to Palestine!" As for "supposedly educated," I would also point out that about (but over) half the Jews of Israel are Mizrahim, which means they never had ancestors in Europe. A senior white house correspondent, I would hope, would be aware of both of these things before making any comments on the issue.

Here's Michael Chabon writing in the NYTimes to say that Jews aren't really smarter than anyone else:
Regardless of whether we chose in the end to condemn or to defend the botched raid on the Mavi Marmara, for Jews the first reaction was shock, confusion, as we tried to get our heads around what appeared to be an unprecedented display of blockheadedness.
Albert Einstein was right when he said the only reason Jews weren't as notably blockheaded in just the same way as every other nation on Earth was that the lack of Jewish power made it impossible to notice. Of course, that's a terrible reason to attack Jewish empowerment. But here's Sander Gilman, proving himself to be quite the smarty, back in 2007:
At least they [Jews] have “smartiness,” a quality analogous to and proven by Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness”: “truth that comes from the gut, not books.” It isn’t really that Jews are smarter than everyone else; it is just that everyone believes they are.
Here's a relevant bit:
Something very similar takes place within Evangelical Christianity, which envies the Jews—because they were God’s first “chosen people” and are necessary for the plan of the End of Days—but detests Jewish religious practice because the Jews continue to deny Christ. Like Murray, the Evangelicals can never “be” Jews; they remain always a poor simulacrum of Jewish belief or, in Murray’s case, Jewish “smartiness.” Philo-Semitism creates the Jews as a universal and therefore poisoned category. All Jews are…. The same happened by extension to the Israelis after the Six-Day War: they were all powerful and resistant and ethical; since then, and as international sympathy for the Palestinians has grown, when any given Israeli acts against type all are damned as too powerful, too rigid, too corrupt. The stereotype of Super Jew has transformed itself in Jewish barbarity.
The problem with stereotypes is often that failing to conform to them brings outrage. If Israel behaves far better than every other nation in such a situation (an argument for another time, but we have no way of knowing how any other nation would act in such a situation, because no other nation could be), the occasional failing will still be cause for condemnation. That doesn't automatically make such condemnation wrong, but it should make it clear why Israel doesn't always react to condemnation by saying "Oops. Our bad."

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