Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.
-- Ronald Reagan
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
How I became an 'unconscious fascist' by Fiamma Nirenstein
Another meaningful episode: a group of Professors at Ca Foscari University, the prestigious Venetian institution, signed a petition calling for a boycott of Israeli professors and researchers. The content of the document is totally irrelevant, but the reaction it provoked among the Jewish community is very interesting.
One prominent Venetian Jew, when asked for his opinion, said: "They're making a serious mistake. Those professors don't realize that they are reinforcing Sharon's policy with their boycott."
Such an absurd reaction is the clear proof of the failure, within the Jewish world, to understand this totally new type of anti-Semitism that focuses on the State of Israel. Another document, this time a letter by a group of professors at the University of Bologna "to their Jewish friends", was published with a very large number of signatures.
Here is an excerpt: "We have always considered the Jewish people an intelligent and sensitive one because they have been selected (that's right, selected!) by the suffering of persecution and humiliation. We have school friends and some Jewish students whom we have helped and educated, taking them to high academic levels, and today many of them teach in Israeli universities. We are writing because we feel that our love and appreciation for you is being transformed into a burning rage… we think that many people, also outside the university, feel the same. You have to realize that what was done to you in the past, you are now doing to the Palestinians… if you continue on this path, hatred for you will grow throughout the world".
The letter is an excellent summary of all the characteristics of the new anti-Semitism. There is the pre-Zionist definition of the Jewish people as one that suffers, has to suffer by nature, a people bound to bear the worst persecutions without even lifting a finger, and is, therefore, worthy of compassion and solidarity.
And there is the well established, democratic, military powerful, and economically prospering state of Israel, which is the antithesis of this stereotype. The "new Jew" that tries not to suffer, and that, above all, can and wants to defend himself, immediately loses all his charm in the eyes of the Left.
But it was different before the map of Middle East was painted in red by the Cold War and Israel was declared the long hand of American Imperialism. The rising new born Israel, until the 1967 war, was built on an ideology that allowed and even obliged the left to be proud of the Jews and the Jews to be proud of the Left, even when Israelis were fighting and winning hard wars.
The Jews that survived Nazi-fascist persecution, the persecution of the Right, created a socialist state inspired by the values of the Left, work and collectivism, and by doing so, again sanctified the Left as the shelter of the victims.
In exchange for this, the Jews were granted legitimization. But in fact, the Jews were enormously important for the Left. The people of Israel were a living accusation of the anti-Semitism that marked the Holocaust, the Nazi-Fascist anti-Semitism; and now they were building collective farms and an omnipotent trade union! To some degree, this absolved Stalinist anti-Semitism, or gave it a much smaller importance than it really had. The Jews became indispensable for the left: look at the passionate and paternalistic tone of the Bologna professors, as they seem to plead: "Come back, our dear Jews. Be ours again. Let us curse Israel together and than take a trip together to the Holocaust memorials".
One of my favorite columnists. The article
Microsoft is contemplating a special dividend of $10 billion from it $46 billion cash hoard. This one puts the capital asset pricing model, a financial holy of holies, to a test. In theory, shareholder response should have been ho hum, it's already our money because we own Microsoft. Why should it matter to us if it's shifted from one pocket to another?
In practice, the result was a $10.2 billion jump in the company's market value after it was bruited that Microsoft might dip into shareholders' money to pay a special dividend to, ahem, shareholders. Evident message from investors to management: Our money is more valuable in our hands than in yours.