Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The insanity of Jew/Israel Phobia

A Chinese friend asked me the other day if British people were antisemitic. I explained that a prejudice against Jews is common there but that traditionally it is not stated forcefully but is just part of the culture's undercurrent. He said he understood exactly what I meant - that's what the British are like. I wonder, however, how much of humanity can see through the absurd antisemitism in this video or how subtle will have to be the future that inherits this mindlessness:CAMERA responds:
The Economist, with Al Jazeera hot on its heels, has dug up a new Israeli villain: traffic lights.

This joins aphrodisiac bubble gum, poisonous candy, super rats, and stripper assassins in Israel's purported arsenal of tools to oppress Arabs.

According to a March 6, 2010 article in the mainstream British news magazine, traffic lights in Jerusalem "flick green only briefly for cars from Palestinian districts while staying green for cars from Jewish settlements for minutes."

When pressed by CAMERA to provide evidence for this wild charge, the Economist provided a list of intersections at which drivers from Arab neighborhoods are allegedly forced to wait at long red lights to make way for those from Jewish neighborhoods. Shortly afterward — coincidentally, or not — Al Jazeera English broadcast a short news segment purportedly demonstrating the discrimination at one of the intersections named by the Economist.

A CAMERA field investigation reveals that the Economist and Al Jazeera claims are absurdly false — the latest examples of how even the most benign irritations encountered in quotidian life are manipulated to demonize the Jewish state. In fact, the discrepancy between the timing of red and green lights is related, as in cities across the world, to street size and traffic flow, affecting cars from both Arab and Jewish neighborhoods equally.

Beit Hanina Junction

The Economist's first example was an intersection in northern Jerusalem near the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina and the predominantly Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Zeev. This same area was the subject of the Al Jazeera feature.

According to the Economist, traffic lights for cars approaching Jerusalem from the Arab areas remained green for 18 seconds, while traffic from the Jewish neighborhoods toward Tel Aviv enjoy the benefit of a one-minute-and-30-second green light.
This comparison is highly disingenuous, as it does not compare apples to apples.
The image [above] shows the neighborhoods mentioned by the Economist. The intersection best matching the magazine's description is shown in the highlighted square.

The road from Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov to Tel Aviv is Route 1, a major thoroughfare that crosses Israel. Traffic on this busy highway naturally has priority at junctions with smaller roads such as Derech Shua'fat, which comes south to Route 1 from the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina.

A more apt equivalent to Derech Shua'fat at this intersection is Rechov Sheshet Hayamim, the road leading north to Route 1 from the Jewish neighborhoods of Givat Hamivtar and Ramat Eshkol. At this intersection, travelers encounter similar wait times to those on Derech Shuafat — a green light for 16 seconds and a red light for one minute and 41 seconds.

Another comparable intersection can be found less than two kilometers to the west, at the junction of the road from the Jewish neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo and Route 1. Here, motorists encounter a much shorter green light then do those at the Derech Shuafat intersection.

Clearly, then, the discrepancy between red- and green-light times at the intersection is a function of road size and not ethnicity. Traffic on larger roads have priority over smaller roads that intersect it, whether those roads are from the Arab neighborhoods or Jewish neighborhoods.

Of course, the major arteries into downtown Jerusalem are open to all travelers. Motorists from the Arab neighborhoods are certainly able to use any of the larger roads crossing Route 1. For example, it is a mere half kilometer detour for Beit Hanina residents opting to skip the allegedly-racist traffic light by using the overpass highway crossing Route 1 (Route 60/Derech Ha'aluf Uzi Narkis).
Unsurprisingly, Al Jazeera bombarded viewers with additional outrageous fabrications. Reporter Jacky Rowland alleged:

The settlers journey to work will soon be even easier, because the municipality is building a tramway for them. The rail lines have robbed the Palestinians of two lanes of traffic.

The absurdity and hypocrisy of this charge is dumbfounding. The tramway is not being built for "settlers," but for all Jerusalem's residents, both Jewish and Arab. In fact, there will be numerous stations serving Arab neighborhoods. This is precisely why it "robs" Palestinians of traffic lanes — just as it robs Jews of traffic lanes where the rail is being built in Jewish neighborhoods.

Once a people become so averse to asking sane questions in an attempt to actually understand reality, how low can their culture go before it self-destructs? Next time, you think you can't be bothered to stand up to the epidemic of Jew/Israel hatred, ask yourself if this sinkhole is where you want our culture and intellectual leadership to go. And what about the police?

You know what the problem with Jews is? They just own too many cars, create too much economic hussle and bustle wherever they "settle". How dare they!


Eowyn said...

"Once a people become so averse to asking sane questions in an attempt to actually understand reality, how low can their culture go before it self-destructs?"

I'd like to run something past you, truepeers, that seems to have made sense to me for a long time, in regard to irrational anti-semitism. I'll try to keep the stream of consciousness as brief as possible in the attempt.

To me, a lot of the youth-oriented rebellion of the 1960s was basically boiled down to "I'm mad at Daddy because he took the T-Bird away." That is -- life demands sane and rational acceptance of reality and risk. Teenagers HATE the idea of responsibility. Too many boomers are arrested adolescents.

Isn't it possible that developmentally disabled adults from the Baby Boom generation blame Jews, in the crystallization of the Israeli state, for the very things they hated their fathers for? (I.E., forcing them to recognize life asks more of them than the next toke of weed)?

And that, because so many of them are now today's mainstream journalists, the idea has become almost codified?

truepeers said...

I think that's right, Eowyn. Israel represents all that the youth wish could fade away - responsibility, the need to fight to defend yourself, and to identify with a national or ethnic group to that end. Israel is a reminder of the necessity of conflict, something that is most unwelcome to Utopian minds.

But why don't the youth of today's West just get over this rebellion? Here we need to reflect on how youth culture has come to be the predominant culture since WWII, and how a central fact of the culture is to institutionalize an ethic and esthetic of ritualized "rebellion" as a function of bureaucratic culture - in schools, media, corporate management, various arms of government and NGOs. Ih short, what has come to be the dominant culture is what Dag calls "conformity hippies".

Bureaucracy and "rebellion" go together because they both have an interest in eroding all the older forms of obligation and social capital that compete for power and influence with bureaucracy. But this becomes ultimately self-destructive for a culture dominated by bureaucratized romanticism cannot really renew itself, since renewal must come from developing new forms of freedom and trust, courage, obligation, initiative, etc., on the margins of bureaucracy. The instiutionalized youth culture of faux rebellion becomes nihilistic and refuses to recognize its own self-interest because that would be "racist" or "sexist" or "homophobic" or "colonialist" or "ecocidal" or what have you. And to the extent that Israel still has to act like a self-interested nation (though it has its good share of conformity hippies smoking a lot of dope too), fighting enemies in order to survive, it's a reminder of a reality that the dominant youth culture and its worship of victims doesn't want to recognize.

truepeers said...

Re-reading my previous comment, i sense there needs to be a clearer articulation of "self-interest". Obviously bureaucratic youth culture does have an interest in growing itself as much as possible and this is not the same self-interest i was referring to in terms of what is ultimately needed for renewal - reponsibility, trust, freedom, etc. But the bureaucratic sate is today basically bankrupt, doesn't have enough children from families with high amounts of social/educational capital, and so will never repay its debts without devaluing its currency, which is to say it won't repay its debts. So, it's hard to see how the bureaucratic state can gather capital and grow any more, though I fear we are going to go through a protracted period of watching conformity hippies act out in denial, like the Communists we see today rioting in the streets of Greece. And it is going to be tough for anyone else to access capital and grow. In the long run, if the West is to survive it will have to rediscover the kind of self-interest of which Israel is, to a limited degree, a model.

Eowyn said...

Ah. Yes.

"The instiutionalized [sic] youth culture of faux rebellion becomes nihilistic and refuses to recognize its own self-interest because that would be "racist" or 'sexist' or 'homophobic' or 'colonialist' or 'ecocidal' or what have you."

The keyword is "nihilistic."

That which is false, but which is used as a premise, is necessarily nihilistic. As in your succinct examples. The end result of nihilism, is, of course, destruction.

The interesting aspect is that nihilism DEPENDS upon its opposite -- that is, rationalism -- to exist. So what happens when you kill the host?

A parasitic relationship for which we ought to have found an antidote by now, but obviously haven't.

Me, I simply don't understand the kind of incestuous nihilism Jewish "progressives" are going through -- demonizing the very idea Jews have lived for for centuries.

Makes me wonder ... are they even Jews, anymore, these people?

truepeers said...

are they even Jews anymore?

Who knows? Who can say? Religious identity is ultimately always a question of what you look like from various perspectives, including your own which we thus have to respect, to a degree.

If you want my idiosyncratic take, I suppose they are still Jews to the extent they are capable of rediscovering the need to love their own nation/family as something bounded and limited and yet central or important to human history, and to see the enemy of this nation/family as a necessary enemy - as long as there is within one the seed that will allow one to learn to see that the conflict exists for fundamental theological reasons that do not suggest ready compromise: serious Muslims are never going to be happy with an exemplar of Western modernity and free societies in any shape or form in their neighborhood, while Israel is never going to do the amount of killing that would subdue the Islamic enemy by force of will. If you are one day capable of seeing this standoff clearly and still embracing the cause of Israel as an act of faith, then maybe you're still a Jew.

Eowyn said...

" ... [A] question of what you look like from various perspectives,"

With deepest respect, no.

God knows I'm no Talmudic scholar. But I do know the basic premise. I know that there IS a Basic Premise. (If that makes sense.)

Today's Jews make the mistake of trying to make cultural curls fit the narrative of the eternal Sea.

And, I'm sorry; but comings and goings ought never to change the basic nature.

(Ugh ... totally stream of consciousness. Sorry.)

truepeers said...

There is of course a definition of Jew in religious law - a duly recived convert or someone with a Jewish mother - and in secular law (Israel's law of return which recognizes the paternal line and converts). Judaism recognizes a (partly) racial definition of Jew because being a Jew is not simply something you choose by living up to the commandments, or holding some doctrine. It is something you inherit and can come back to after having been lost to the nation for generations. Judaism is wise in recognizing how marks of identity/culture can survive generations even after someone in your family line has previously turned against the faith and you have lost for a time the greater context for the traits that nonetheless survive as part of who you are.

But as to "the basic nature" of a religion. My point is that none of us can reduce that to a simple formula. Religions are expansive, always growing in their implications. The revelations or events on which religions are based are, as long as the religion lives, open-ended in their implications and interpretations. There really are many perspectives on "what is a Jew?" and the state of Israel and diaspora have endless discussions about it. So, in the most complete sense, i think a religion is all the various perspectives on it that it has given rise to. Now that "complete sense" might not be useful in many situations. But there is something to be said for understanding a revelation or series of revelations in terms of all the possible ways of looking at it, even the crazy and hateful ways of looking at it - because the ways they hate you or have crazy fantasies about you will not be quite the same way they hate or fantasize about anyone else. A religion is a complex, it seems to me, a complex whose bits and pieces we variously accept and reject.

Anonymous said...

In the US, and to a lesser extent Canada, public support for Israel is pretty high. Even among baby boomers. Especially when the question is phrased as a head-to-head regarding whom they support in the mid-east conflict. The political class in both countries tends to support Israel as a matter of routine. The US has been providing substantial annual military and financial aid for about 40 years, and this continues through all the periodic turbulence experienced during the relationship.

Abstract theories that reference bureaucratic conformity culture in order to explain disdain for Israel are really misplaced in the North American context. Unless you think some jack-off giving a speech in a public library and a UCC General Council meeting are the real centres of power in our country while the campus meeting of the spartacist league is an accurate representation of public opinion. In which case, I guess you live in a very frightening world.


truepeers said...

Nope, it's this kind of thing, and this that has me worried, not to mention the general insanity when it comes to the religion of the peace process that racks American political leadership and leads them to do things like build a Palestinian army to add to all the established militias (while Obama pressures Israel in all sorts of ways while making clear he will do nothing about Iran).

I see in Canadian society many instances of Judeophobia. I take these as commonplace, part of Western culture for centuries. And that's why I talk about it not because of any special fears of the moment but because i find that for the most part we still don't have a very good grasp of what antisemitism is. We thought we had learned the lesson of the HOlocaust; but I don't think we have and this is demonstrated by the fact that the "political correctness" that has emerged as the most widespread response to the Holocaust is itself antisemitic, as an number of pro-Israel speakers at universties have learned. What goes on in universities is not something isolated from the mainstream - it is what leads and shapes public opinion. Just watch the MSM discourse on Israel....

truepeers said...

Alternatively, you might say, it's the common disdain for the Judeo-Christian tradition that has me worried. I don't think we can be a free society without it.

Eowyn said...

"Religions are expansive, always growing in their implications. The revelations or events on which religions are based are, as long as the religion lives, open-ended in their implications and interpretations."

Now we're getting into Maimonedes territory :)

But I still argue that all expansions proceed from a basic premise and, in the case of Judeo-Christianity, the Basic basic premise of love thy God before all else, and then love thy neighbor.

This is the blueprint, and what "me firsters" are heedlessly destroying. Hence, the decline of civilization.

Anonymous, you said:

"Unless you think some jack-off giving a speech in a public library and a UCC General Council meeting are the real centres of power in our country while the campus meeting of the spartacist league is an accurate representation of public opinion. In which case, I guess you live in a very frightening world."

Alas, the loudest voice gets the hearing; and, yeah, I'm guilty of fearing the widespread acceptance of the loudest voice.

The good news is, dismissal of God will ultimately have no legs whatsoever. It's whistling past the graveyard. (Not to mix too many metaphors *grin*)

There is scientific proof God exists (not that I needed it, but it's nice to have confirmation):