Archive for August 27th, 2010

Purity of Arms: “sipping coffee in Tel Aviv.”

August 27, 2010

One of the major lessons (free of charge at that) I received growing up in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood in downtown Toronto was the simple fact that Jews are like everybody else! This has served me well throughout life. While loving Yiddishkeit, I neither elevated or diminished Jewish people. I found they wanted the same things in life most others want—decency, fairness, freedom from want, opportunity for their children etc.

When dealing with the idea of “purity of arms” I think I understood the concept  which many diaspora Jews wanted to believe. And I do think initially there was something to this high ideal. It came from those extraordinary early Zionists who built the platform for this brand new country.They surely wanted to be “Lor goyim”, that marvellous, Isaianic vision of becoming a “light unto the nations.”

Setting aside the colonizing of another people ( the same thrust that led Germans, Italians,Belgians, Dutch  Brits etc) to carve up Africa at the end of the nineteenth century, there was something idealistic about those kibbutzim that does merit appreciation. It turned out badly of course as did the imperial adventures of the aforesaid countries. The post war period then saw the European countries begin to abandon their prior projects. in the end, you can not rule another people without paying a terrible price.

Israel now is caught.Their colonizing project over the Palestinian people has become clear to the civilized world and in particular many Jews of conscience.It is surely a painful period for Israelis and Jews in general who quite naturally have deep affection for eretz Israel.

So the purity of arms doctrine cobbled out of idealistic Zionist vision has proven to be irretrievably broken.

Never underestimate the corrosive work of advanced capitalism, a deleterious force which has proven so adept at sidelining ideals all over the world! Amnesia, and I’m all right Jack. As long as I’m OK, I don’t wanna know nothing.Do what you have to do, build a Wall if you have to but don’t disturb me.

One can understand  the following reflection from an Israeli when the pathetic obtuseness of the young Israeli soldier, Eden  Abergil became known.

That Israelis are “shocked” at such photos and such behavior is quite telling. I’m not sure who’s fooling whom, Israelis or those who are shocked at this behavior. One thing is certain, it shows how much cognitive dissonance the average Israeli employs to deal with the occupation, the subjugation of an entire people all the while, sitting safely at a Tel-Aviv cafe sipping coffee and enjoying the summer sun. As this shows, the distance is not merely cognitive. Israelis now live a sheltered life, detached from the cruelties of the occupation, as they live in the equivalent of gated communities.