Saturday, 10 January 2009

Stealing land: a trope in passing

Israel stole the Palestinians' land. An interesting trope and a very common one:

Jews steal land. They don't fight for it, they don't buy it, they don't expel people from it. They wait until someone is out of the house, until their back is turned and then they sneak up and take away what doesn't belong to them. A bit like Fagin's bunch, in fact. Remember this trope and keep using it. It is not justice we are talking about here. It is character. And that's the Jews all over, isn't it? No guts. No courage. Never stood up for themselves in the war. Tried to lie low. Natural for a low people. Ever seen a Jew athlete? Seven stone weaklings plotting behind your back. Thieves with forked tongues only out for themselves like any thief. Embezzlers. Cowards. Thieves. Sorted.

See how easy it is? Keep trying it till you get it perfect.


The Contentious Centrist said...

Was it something you read in the Guardian or the Independent?

George S said...

It's just what I see fairly regularly here. This time I heard it on the radio, in a discussion programme called Any Answers. It was one of the callers, but the trope is very common in comments boxes and correspondence.

Gwil W said...

Jews steal land written in the Guardian or Independent. Eh? Where?
I always thought the Guardian and Independent were good quality, basically ok, newspapers. The Independent's Finch for instance is well informed on Middle East affairs isn't he?

George S said...

It's not a trope used by the journalists, Gwilym, but by those who write in the correspondence and comments columns. It is very common, in fact pretty standard. I sometimes think that many of the journalists who do not use it, nevertheless assume it.

Yes, The Guardian and The Indy are basically good newspapers, of course they are. (I have been known to write for both of them, as also for The Times). I think they are rather less so when it comes to Israel - primarily by leaving out positive reporting and headlining the negative.

No British newspaper is entirely a monolith with a single policy, of course. All the quality papers offer a range of counter-views but in the end they tend towards one view or another in terms of sheer balance. That's fine. That is what newspapers have always done and should do. I do read the Guardian -as well as The Times and The Telegraph too, more rarely the Indy (I can't stand that big blazing front page: it says entirely the wrong things to me, whatever the story).

I think The Guardian and the Indy are pretty good on internal politics and I would - generally, meaning quite often - support the causes they support. I am less convinced by them on world news and campaigns.

And of course The Guardian is practically the union journal of the arts sector. Everyone just assumes everyone else is a Guardianista. It is the right-thinking paper for right-thinkers.

But, to a poet especially, I think, right-thinking is simply not thinking.

And being well-informed in Middle East affairs is great of course. But all the combatants are well-informed about aspects of Middle East affairs. There may, in fact, not be such a position as absolutely objective outsider informant. People do their best, writing their lines according to their lights.

It may however be that the constant weight of opinion of a comments column is what is to be read between the lines.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Norm Geras, on the Guardian:

"It's no surprise that he does it, since such opinions are two-a-penny these days; and it's no surprise on which website he gets to do it, since the shape of contemporary left-liberalism comfortably accommodates this (shall we say) 'political tendency'. But what a farrago. What a shameful farrago of woolly thinking, soft excuse-making, repeated self-contradiction, and lack of all sense of argumentative continuity. One thing that will certainly still be happening in 2009: stuff like this will still be appearing regularly at"

Gwil W said...

George, Thanks for your valued info on the current state of British newspapers. I see the Guardian is the British Press Website of the Year 2008 so I'll link there in lieu of a newspaper.
In coffee houses it's mostly International Herald Tribune or Daily Mail and the latter I avoid like the plague.

Anonymous said...

I prefer this one:

A Message To Israel: Time to Stop Playing the Victim Role

I can understand that after centuries of persecution it's satisfying for a Jewish state to be the aggressor for a change, but there's a codicil that goes with that role. You don't get to act like a victim any more. "Poor little Israel" just sounds silly when you're the dominant power in the Middle East. When you've invaded several of your neighbors, bombed and defeated them in combat, occupied their land, and taken their homes away from them, it's time to stop acting oppressed. Yes, Arab states deny your right to exist, threaten to drive you into the sea, and all the rest of their futile, helpless rhetoric. The fact is, you have the upper hand and they don't. You have sophisticated arms and they don't. You have nuclear weapons and they don't. So stop pretending to be pathetic. It doesn't play well in Peoria.

(Yes, I know, we Americans should talk--always trembling in our boots about terrorists and 'rogue states' and 'evil empires' when we have enough nukes to blow up entire continents, and spend more on arms in an hour than most of the world's nations spend in a year. But just because we're hypocrites and Nervous Nellies doesn't mean you have to be).

Calling Hamas the 'aggressor' is undignified. The Gaza strip is little more than a large Israeli concentration camp, in which Palestinians are attacked at will, starved of food, fuel, energy--even deprived of hospital supplies. They cannot come and go freely, and have to build tunnels to smuggle in the necessities of life. It would be difficult to have any respect for them if they didn't fire a few rockets back.

The Israel lobby has a hissy fit when anyone points out that Israel has been borrowing liberally from the Nazi playbook, but to punish a whole nation for the attacks of a few--which Israel has been doing consistently in Gaza--is a violation of international law--a law enacted in response to the Nazi practice. And please, spare us the hypocrisy--borrowed, I'm ashamed to admit, from my own government--of saying 'every effort is made to avoid civilian casualties'. When you drop bombs on a crowded city you're bombing civilians. Bombs don't ask for ID cards. Bombs are civilian killers. That's what they do. They're designed to break the spirit of a nation by slaughtering families. They were used all through World War II by all sides for that very purpose. And that's what they're intended for in Gaza.

And please, Israel, try to restrain yourself from using that ridiculous argument, borrowed again from Bush (how low can you get?), that Hamas leaders "hide among civilians", by living in their own homes. Apparently, in the thinking of Israelis, they should all run out into an uninhabited area somewhere (try to find one in Gaza), surround themselves with flares and write in the sand with a stick, "Here I am!"

Yesterday you shelled three UN-run schools, killing several dozen children and adults, despite the fact that the UN had given you the precise coordinates of all its schools in Gaza. So much for 'taking every care to avoid civilian casualties'. You seem to feel you can kill whomever you like, whenever you like, and wherever you like, just because you have a blank check from the United States. Every day this assault goes on you're demonstrating contempt for the UN, the international community, and human life. Talk about a rogue state.

You might also pay attention to the fact that your outdated policy of macho bullying--the policy you've been following for decades--isn't working! The Palestinians are human. They're not dogs you can beat into submission. The worse you treat them, the more they'll fight back. That's what it means to be human. The more you oppress people, the more people resist. We dropped more bombs on Viet Nam than all the bombs dropped by all nations in World War II. Not to mention napalm, herbicides and all kinds of sophisticated land mines. But did they bow down and kiss the feet of their conquerors? They did not.
You'll have to kill them all. And when you do, you may finally lose the support even of the United States.

Remember that American support is based entirely on the notion that no politician can win without the Jewish vote. But not all American Jews think Israel is on a divine mission from God. A great many American Jews believe in international law and justice.
I can understand how Israel could resent this lecture coming from an American. After all, isn't this what we Americans did? Came into someone else's country, slaughtered 95% of its inhabitants and took over? And didn't we go all Nervous Nellie whenever they fought back, accusing them of aggression to justify even more genocidal slaughter? And didn't we get away with it?

Yes, but I'm sorry to tell you, Israel, you came on the scene too late. Genocide just doesn't fly any more. I know it isn't fair, you have every right to feel aggrieved about this, but the world's smaller, cowboys are passé, and bullies aren't heroes any more.

George S said...

Well, you know me, Door. Ever ready for massacre, genocide, imperialism and buckets of innocent blood.

Now I suggest you leave me to my horrid self and go elsewhere.

ps The Jewish vote. Any idea how many Jews there are voting in the USA? And which way they vote? No, don't bother to dirty your keyboard by answering.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid to say that I agree entirely with the Huffington Post article. Israel's behaviour as a country has been nothing short of appalling, and I am tired of any criticism of Israel being interpreted (no doubt as a way of negating any criticism) as anti-semitism. It has nothing to do with the fact that Israelis are Jewish, pink, purple, blue, green or whatever. It has to do with the fact that they are behaving in an inappropriate way.