Sunday, August 5, 2018

Arendt in the hands of "anti-Zionists"

....Brenner’s unique contribution to historical revision lies in the sense he makes of events.

Most of the events he refers to are real and publicly known. They have been described before by pro-Zionist writers, notably Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem. (This is not to say that a sizeable catalogue of inaccuracies and contradictions within the Brenner corpus could not be assembled — but such an exercise would miss the point).

Brenner’s “theory” of Zionist-Nazi congruence rests upon two sets of phenomena: the actions of individual collaborators who were Zionists, and the policies of Zionist organisations which. for him, were lacking in anti-Nazi resolution.

With the benefit of hindsight it is of course, easy to see that many Zionists underestimated the Nazis. They thought the new anti-semitism would be like the old; brutal, humiliating and dangerous for individual Jews.

They could not and did not conceive of the annihilation that was to come. Thus their strategy was based on a series of assumptions about the immediate prospects for Europe’s Jews which was horribly wrong.

To move from this tragic confusion, however, to the suggestion that they were unconcerned about the fate of those Jews is absurd. To argue that they were therefore in sympathy with the Nazis is bizarre.

It would be foolish to deny that there were Zionists who collaborated. So, no doubt did some Communists, Bundists and liberals. In the nightmare world of Nazi Europe many people did bad things to save their own lives or those of people they loved.

For Brenner, though, these individual acts of collaboration are expressions of the inner logic of Zionism. Individual or collective acts of anti-fascist resistance by Zionists on the other hand are dismissed as merely historical accidents, exceptions that in some unexplained way prove the rule.
It would be trivially easy to write a similar account of the “inner logic” of capitalist democracy, or of Marxism, which proved to this standard their affinity with Nazism. Such accounts have little to do with serious history.

Brenner claims to be opposed to Jewish, Arab and every other kind of nationalism. Perhaps he is so far from nationalism that he does not feel the need to avoid racial slurs, which he sprinkles throughout his writing. Thus, the inter-war Palestinian Arab leadership were not only “a parasitic upper class” but also “classic levantines” (Iron Wall p.57); and the Palestinian Arabs as a whole had a “low level of culture” (ibid p.65). As for the Jews:

“...the old Jewish slums were notoriously filthy; ‘Two Jews and one cheese make three smells’ was an old Polish proverb. Karl Marx was only being matter-of-fact when he remarked that ‘The Jews of Poland are the smeariest of all races’.” (ibid p.11)....


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