Sunday, July 01, 2007

Jews and Conspiracy Theories

‘Once you’ve been here for longer you’ll become more right wing’ I was told 3 months into my Aliya by Roey, the neighbour of some close family friends. Sitting around the Shabbat table, I had been asking questions about Disengagement and Amona, but as has happened time and time again, the act of questioning itself was seen as betraying left wing tendencies.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been upset – after all, the moment someone can't see an underlying logic in someone else's opinion, the moment they believe that only their opinion is correct and legitimate, it follows that anyone with a dissenting view must be either irrational, stupid or naïve. Maybe I should have been thankful that I was getting the benefit of the doubt.


Last month I attended a conference in Bar Ilan on the future of US-Israel relations, part of which dealt with the
article by two political realists, Walt and Mearsheimer who claim that US foreign policy has been unduly influenced by the Jewish lobby.

As one speaker said, this conspirational view became a mainstream accusation in Europe years ago. Because if, as the European thinking goes, Israel is clearly in the wrong, if (as Portuguese Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago stated)
Ramallah is the equivalent of Auschwitz, then any policy supporting Israel must be irrational, must be unduly partial to some sinister group working behind the scenes.

The moment we convince ourselves of the absence of any other reasonable opinion is the day we embrace conspiracies. The moment we can't see that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq had something to do with genocidal regimes, or that disengagement was in some way influenced by demography or preventing international isolation, all we are left with are more indefinable factors 'explaining' the policy – that the US is on an anti Muslim crusade, that the Israeli government wants to screw over the religious.

Working in politics in a country in which everyone fancies themselves as a political analyst is not always easy. And I am still surprised that Ichud HaLeumi seems to be the default mainstream national religious position or that a two state solution remains controversial in some quarters.

Yet what really bothers me is the inability of so many people to understand the logic behind another person’s views, to grasp the subtlety of positions, to understand that an opinion can be legitimate even if you think it's wrong.
As I wrote last year, what I can't get used to is that anyone who thinks differently is automatically considered to be irrational or mistaken – something the Netziv argues led to the destruction of the temple.

Or maybe Roey was right; maybe I just I haven’t been here long enough…

3 comments:

amechad said...

Amen! I agree with you 100%

esp "Working in politics in a country in which everyone fancies themselves as a political analyst is not always easy. And I am still surprised that Ichud HaLeumi seems to be the default mainstream national religious position or that a two state solution remains controversial in some quarters."

100%

Anonymous said...

Nice article did enjoy it BUT open mindedness dose not always help giving you an example when the idea of the unreel natural withdraw from Gaza came up i was crazy how a Jew kick another Jew out of there house and then give the land over to Arab who all they have done is terror to us and then i sat in a taxi with a lefties who explained me that why should my kids die in Gaza protecting 7,000 crazy settles who live in the mits or 1.5m Arabs lets get the hell out, so i listens and i partly agreed with him and then only after the hurt of watching the poor ppl being throw out of there houses and then (side issue the government failing to give them what they promised house job ext) only now i understand those soldiers where not there protecting the 7,000 settelers they were there to protect the ppl of main land Israel so in sort i learnt then and there keep to Owen beliefs and don't try to adopt others cozy open mindedness messes u up!

PS. to much open mindedness lets your brains full out!

Yehudi01 said...

Love your blog here...I've linked mine to yours. I agree with you in many areas. Peace would be fantastic, but considering the current situation, it's doubtful the Left will be able to bring about a workable solution that will bring both peace and security, (and not give away the country at the same time). My wife and I are making aliyah soon, and we badly want to live in an undivided Jerusalem. I pray it so.