Two blogs in The Times of Israel recently came to my attention. Rebecca Rachmany had written that Israel, based on her definition, is guilty of apartheid. Varda Epstein responded with a well thought out, well researched blog providing all the recognized dictionary definitions of apartheid to show that Israel is not an apartheid country. If I understood Ms. Rachmany’s later comments, she agreed that she was in error. Great. Except for one problem. Her words are on the web. They are in circulation in perpetuity.
I have often written that words are weapons and when used indiscriminately they are destructive. Too many people go searching for facts to fit foregone conclusions, an ingrained ideology. They cherry-pick. Ms. Rachmany searched until she found a definition that fit her point. Based on a cherry- picked definition she carried on with her opinion.
It was Edward Said who warned against building a thesis on a false assumption by “generalizing the attributes they associated” with a people, “creating a certain image” that “infused a bias” through “scientific reports, literary work, and other media sources.
We still have not learned that lesson.
Rebecca Rachmany has given a gift to anti-Semites in Canada. An Israeli Jew calling her country an apartheid state is manna from heaven for the hatemongers in my country. They’re “qvelling.”
Canada has a strong left-wing population. It was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who compared left-wing fundamentalists in the West with the late Hugo Chavez. They are all “opposed to basically sound economic policies, want to go back to Cold War socialism … want to turn back the clock on the democratic progress that’s been made in the hemisphere.”
These are the same people who will hold Ms. Rachmany’s comments close to their hearts.
Fundamentalists are people with a point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views. Sound familiar?
A group of left-wing intellectuals from the United Kingdom researched the behaviour of those who champion practices that go against their best interests and published a document called the Euston Manifesto.
“The left became so consumed by anti-Israeli and anti-Western sentiments that they started to support tyrannical regimes that suppress human rights and democracy while being sympathetic to terrorism and accepting of racism and bigotry.”
These are people who become so embedded in their ideology (brain-washed- a petrification of thought) they cannot see the irony of it all. Where are the left -wing women, like Canada’s Naomi Klein and Judy Rebick, when it comes to the apartheid practiced in Saudi Arabia where 50% of the population is kept separate, hidden away, without an ounce of human rights?
Robert S. Wistrich has written an excellent book, From Ambivalence to Betrayal, The Left, the Jews and Israel, on the history of the development of left wing antipathy toward the Jews and Israel and of course, the Great Satan, The United States. And this antipathy, this distaste for Israel and the Jews is held by prominent left-wing Jews, like the aforementioned Naomi Klein and Judy Rebick.
My teacher in clinical pastoral education, Ken Jackson, once said: The people on the right are so closed-minded that nothing new can get in and the people on the far left are so open-minded everything falls out. And for me that includes “tsechel” (common sense).