Thursday, 26 August 2010

Habakkuk on "Holocaust Trauma"

"walrus,So basically what is being said here is that American intentions and thinking is perfectly visible to Israel, as was the German High Command's thanks to Turing s work on Enigma?It does indeed seem highly likely that no information on American ‘intentions and thinking’ can be hidden from Israel. How accurately the Israelis interpret it is, however, another matter.What we saw in Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent article in the ‘Atlantic’ was a vivid portrayal of an Israeli leadership utterly unable to escape from Holocaust trauma, by an American Jew who was almost equally the prisoner of the nightmares of the past. The article made vividly clear the way in which Arab and Muslim hostility to Israel is interpreted through the lens of the Holocaust, so that it is seen as driven by an annihilationist anti-Semitism essentially similar to Hitler’s.

The hostility is real, and would pose intractable strategic dilemmas for Israel, even if objectively analysed. The interpretation put upon it is deluded, and puts paid to any chance of finding an answer to those strategic dilemmas which has any hope of being viable in the long term: it is driving Israel into a dead end from which there is no escape.Given the premise, it was natural to conclude that Arafat’s refusal to accept the terms he was offered at Camp David indicated that he was not interested in any settlement: which was false. It was also impossible to draw what was actually the correct conclusion from the failure of Camp David, which was that if there was any prospect of a workable peace settlement, it depended upon Israel abandoning control of the West Bank. Seen through the perspective of Holocaust trauma, the gains from conceding this are necessarily uncertain and likely to be ephemeral – and certainly not worth the increase in vulnerability entailed: all the more so now that a central fear among Israelis is of their increasing vulnerability to short-range missiles.And, last but hardly least, seen through the lens of Holocaust trauma, it becomes absolutely indispensable to preserve the Israeli monopoly of nuclear weapons indefinitely – the notion that Israel could live with MAD is simply unthinkable.A crucial point about these perceptions is that they necessarily shape not simply the way that Israel’s leaders see the Middle East, but the way that they see Western countries – most importantly the United States. Given that they are commonly taken as axiomatic and beyond argument, as a simple point of logic it follows that those who dissent from them do so either because they are fools, or through sinister motives: either they are simply naive, or anti-Semitic. If dissent comes from gentiles, the natural suspicion is that criticism of Israel provides a way of venting hatred of Jews, without making it clear that this is what one is doing. And such a reading meshes naturally with the kind of view expressed in the remarks Goldberg quotes from Ephraim Sneh, who apparently suspects that the betrayal of his grandparents by the Polish farmer who was supposed to give them shelter reveals the underlying truth about the attitudes of all gentiles, everywhere.If it comes from Jews, dissenters are under suspicion of defecting from the Jewish condition, in response to the fact that the anti-Semitism attributed to the goyim as a matter of course poses no immediate threat of a new Auschwitz in the United States, of the kind if it is supposed to pose in the Middle East.Given that all these conclusions flow naturally from the basic premises of the worldview of the current Israeli leadership, and given that the trauma seems in so many cases a pit out of which escape is impossible, they will necessarily shape the way that the cornucopia of information available them about the United States is interpreted. And this is all the more so, given that the Americans to whom they will listen are in general Jews equally unable to find a way out of this pit – or gentiles who share their view of the world.Accordingly, however much information they have available, it is quite likely that the Israeli leadership’s readings of American political realities are erratic – sometimes accurate, but at other times way off the mark. " David Habakkuk

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