Monday, July 16, 2018

Oddities of the Jewish Religion



About a decade ago, I happened to be talking with an eminent academic scholar who had become known for his sharp criticism of Israeli policies in the Middle East and America’s strong support for them. I mentioned that I myself had come to very similar conclusions some time before, and he asked when that had happened. I told him it had been in 1982, and I think he found my answer quite surprising. I got the sense that date was decades earlier than would have been given by almost anyone else he knew.

 Sometimes it is quite difficult to pinpoint when one’s world view on a contentious topic undergoes sharp transformation, but at other times it is quite easy. My own perceptions of the Middle East conflict drastically shifted during Fall 1982, and they have subsequently changed only to a far smaller extent. As some might remember, that period marked the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and culminated in the notorious Sabra-Shatila Massacre during which hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians were slaughtered in their refugee camps. But although those events were certainly major factors in my ideological realignment, the crucial trigger was actually a certain letter to the editor published around that same time.


A few years earlier, I had discovered The London Economist, as it was then called, and it had quickly become my favorite publication, which I religiously devoured cover-to-cover every week. And as I read the various articles about the Middle East conflict in that publication, or others such as the New York Times, the journalists occasionally included quotes from some particularly fanatic and irrational Israeli Communist named Israel Shahak, whose views seemed totally at odds with those of everyone else, and who was consequently treated as a fringe figure. Opinions that seem totally divorced from reality tend to stick in one’s mind, and it took only one or two appearances from that apparently die-hard and delusional Stalinist for me to guess that he would always take an entirely contrary position on every given issue...

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2 comments:

Amanda said...

Thanks. Lots of good stuff at that site

WWS said...

Nothing that brevity
would not improve.