...but then again, what would French thinker and finger-pointer Henri Bernard Levy (left)talk about at the 92nd Street Y this week?
Levy, according to New York Magazine, is in town to talk about anti-semitism as the 60th anniversary of the formation of the state of Israel draws near. In an interview with the magazine, Levy talks about his concerns over the rise of anti-semitism:
What caused you to turn to explicitly discussing anti-Semitism?
Its return. And a relatively new rhetoric. Anti-Semitism, to pass under the radar, to become again undetectable, to be in a position to operate without being accused of being anti-Semitism, must draw from three sources: anti-Zionism, the denial of the Holocaust, and victim competition. It must articulate the following discourse: “The Jews are a detestable people who, firstly, invented and exaggerated their own martyring”—which is denial of the Holocaust; secondly, “They overshadowed, in doing so, the martyring of other people”—which is victim competition; and, thirdly, “They accomplished this crime because they are obsessed with the defense of an assassin state”—which is anti-Zionism.
While holocaust-denial is indeed worrisome and there is no doubt that many people still harbor anti-semitic feelings, to throw the Israel factor into the equation is a bit unfair. Chiefly because as a (mostly) liberal American I'm uncomfortable with the violent entitlement of the Zionist movement. I've long equated the Zionist movement with the descendants of the Algonquin indians coming to my door saying that Manhattan was their land long ago and that, New York real estate being the mess that it is today, $24 for this island was a rip off and I have to give them my Chelsea studio as payback. No dice.
So it goes, in my mind, with Israel. Understanding, of course, that the Jews have suffered at the hands of empires throughout history, the fact remains that the Palestinians in 1948 shouldn't have born the brunt of millenia of abuse. The takeover of the region wasn't a friendly affair and its consequences are felt the world over in the jihadist movement. In fact, the latter half of the 20th century was marked by violence stemming from the Zionist movement - to say otherwise is reckless, not anti-Semitic. Long before the official Gulf wars we were in battle with the Middle East - the massacre at the Munich Olympic games in '72, the Iran student uprising, the hostage situation in Beirut, the hijacking of airliners - all because of the West's myopic, pro-Israel view. In failing to care about the suffering of the others - those pesky Palestinians - we've suffered their deaths and humiliation hundred-fold in spectacular terrorist attacks whose prevention have come to form America's national identity. Today, America is Israel's paranoid BFF.
So do I think that the Jewish people are entitled to a country? No, I think all people should be allowed to live and work and thrive wherever they choose so long as they integrate peacefully into the local landscape while retaining their customs and faith. Does that make me pro-Iran or pro-Chavez? Absolutely not. Nor does it make me a neo-Nazi, it just makes me anti-violence.