We often forget that one of the primary proponents of anti-Islamic ideology in the West prior to the War on Terror were Serbian nationalists like Radovan Karadzic, pictured above, in drag as a new age healer.
Every weekday morning, I turn on the news as I pick up our bedroom before heading off to work. Last Friday was no different. Hoping to catch the all-too-brief snapshot of CNN's international channel that we get here in the US between eight and nine AM Pacific time, I switched on the TV, which, as I discovered, was already tuned to what looked like a European news program.
"Over ten thousand veterans have committed suicide since coming home from Iraq," I could hear an American-accented voice saying, as I folded my wife's puppy dog-themed red pajamas.
Unnerved by what I'd just heard, I looked up at our television screen wondering if the channel was tuned to CNN. My suspicions proved correct. It wasn't This was the morning broadcast of Russia Today, which, unsurprisingly, was covering America's Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan conference, a reprise of the similarly-named 1971 event, in which Vietnam vets such as Senator John Kerry spoke out against the war in Southeast Asia.
As inclined as I was to dismiss this broadcast as a polemical exercise by an anti-American news channel, these figures didn't seem all that far off. Our neighbor works as a physical rehabilitation specialist at a local VA hospital where the majority of her clients are soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The stories she's told me about their state of mind, (and their bodies,) sound like obvious recipes for suicide.
Broadcast the day after the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, this depressing disclosure capped off a stream of bad news issued forth throughout the week. From the rising US casualty rate (confirmed today at 4K) to the increasingly chaotic state of the economy, last week, it felt as though the entire country was taking inventory on the various ways in which the war has begun to tear at the fabric of life here.
This feeling is made more pronounced by the fact that my view is one that is both that of an insider as well as an outsider, as an Israeli as well as an American. Thus, reading all of the glowing reviews of Republican Presidential nominee John McCain's visit to Israel last week in the Israeli press, especially the overt deference shown his candidacy, I felt myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the correspondence between what Americans were waking up to and how we were reacting to McCain.
Though the Arizona Senator's positions are largely indistinguishable from those of Clinton and Obama, there is a particular spirit to his approach to the region that, like Bush, is both ideologically and morally impervious to the mistakes America continues to make in Iraq. Or, to put it in the words of a US colleague, "Like Bush, McCain just doesn't get it. His problem is that though his reasons would be different, he'd still be willing to do it all over again."
So, how might one explain the preference we showed for McCain? Is it ideological, or is it due to a justifiable anxiety about the mess that the Americans will leave Israel with if they withdraw from Iraq? Don't discount how concern over how such a move might further empower Iran, (despite how the American invasion of the country has already done so), motivates such flawed judgment calls. Fear continues to play an enormous role in informing many Israeli positions on Diaspora politics.
The problem is that these kinds of dynamics do not necessarily play out well anymore abroad, especially in crisis situations like the one that America is presently undergoing. Everything that is wrong with the Bush Administration, and how it has run the country the past seven years is epitomized by how the situation in Iraq has impacted the US economy, and injured nearly thirty thousand American troops. The figures are not as high as Vietnam, but the combination of events feels unprecedented.
This is how most Americans view the conflict, even if they believe the invasion was justified. Why make Israel complicit with this situation? This is the risk we take when we fail to properly qualify ourselves in relation to domestic American politics. This doesn't mean we have to shut up about it. We can have our opinions, and share them. But only if we make a more serious effort to qualify our preferences with a more profound sense that as Israelis, we don't take for granted the toll this war has taken on America.
Attributed to progressives sympathetic to Islamist criticisms of Israel and Zionism, this genre of anti-Semitism is the least understood form of prejudice against Jewry. Viewed as opportunist in its support of Islamic and right-wing Arab views of Jews and Zionism, as a means of disguising racism as anti-colonialism, left-wing anti-Semites are treated almost as though they are false progressives, who don the multicultural mantle of the left in order to be openly prejudiced.
Jews are incited against not because they profess an inferior culture or religion, but because the object of their faith is a state that discriminates against non-Jews, specifically, Muslims. Because their concept of the state is so integral to their religious identity, Jews are viewed as being inherently biased against non-Jews. Whether they are Diaspora or Israeli Jews, the foundational importance of the Zionist state, as an exclusively Jewish state, is supposed to be similarly viewed by progressives and by Islamists as an iconographic instance of the core politics of Jewish identity.
In short, Judaism is a synonym for racism because behind it hides Israel. Progressives aren't supposed to like Judaism, first, because Israel stands for the indivisibility of religion and state, and second, in the form of the Israeli state, for the official practice of discrimination against Palestinians on the basis of their ethnicity. Though Judaism is found to be deeply problematic, both historically and theologically, the notion of returning to the promised land that Zionism prescribes is less important than how it is understood to function as a cultural cover for the West's theft of Arab lands.
When I first heard San Antonio's Fearless Iranians from Hell, I thought they were terrible. Just another thrash band, with predictably bad metal leanings. But, twenty years later, the project's singularity is painfully obvious.
Faux-Middle Eastern hardcore, featuring the bass playing of an ex-member of the Butthole Surfers on the late, great Boner label, I played this hilarious 1986 EP back to back this morning with Muslimgauze, and it made a whole lot more sense.
While I'd argue that the concept is definitely stronger than the execution, one of the great things about punk has always been that as a form of critique, given the right context, sometimes a good idea is all that's really required.
The killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 was of particular importance in reinforcing this understanding of Pakistan. A Jewish-American reporter engaged in a multiethnic marriage, Pearl's murder by Islamic militants was promoted as an iconographic instance of the clash of civilizations thesis, transposed to America’s relationship with Pakistan. The ideological tensions inherent in emphasizing Pearl as though he were the US - multicultural, liberal, interfaith - to Pakistan as uncivilized, violent, politically corrupt and religiously intolerant - ought to be clear.
Pearl represented America, and its actualization of the ideals it was promoting on the War on Terror, which Pakistan, with its tribes, its madrassas, and its fundamentalists was in conflict with. This made Pearl a martyr-equivalent to domestic neoconservatives. If Americans wanted more nuance in news coverage of the country than Pearl’s remembrance allowed, they had to seek it out from foreign news sources such as the BBC and The Guardian.
- From a report I recently wrote about south Asian news coveragein the US