The Cult of Guilt

Philip Weiss:

I’ve been reading Amos Oz’s books since his death, and one of the feelings he leaves me with is: Self-contempt. Many of Oz’s characters look on American Jews with disdain. “To be without power is, in my eyes, both a sin and a catastrophe. It’s the sin of exile, and Diaspora,” says one. Another says that Diaspora Jews “shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of… life.”

The message is clear. Jews in the west are half-made because they never had to fight. They haven’t served in the Israeli army, at the front line of reborn Jewish sovereignty. But those exiled Jews derive pride and strength from the armed Jewish nation; Israel has given them international prestige. Because once Jews went like sheep to slaughter, we formed lines to get on the cattle cars. Now we are a proud nation.

A long time ago a comedian, I don’t recall who, used to joke something along the line that there were two kinds of Jews, Israeli commandos like Moshe Dayan and diaspora neurotics like the characters in a Woody Allen film.

But those exiled Jews have no skin in the game. They are living comfortable idle existences. Getting up like me this morning and going to my desk.

This is the core truth of the Israel lobby. The American Jews feel guilty that they are not on the front lines. They are lesser; the Hebrew language even describes Jews who leave Israel as such: yordim, lower. So they must do everything they can for the higher, fighting Jews of Israel. Raise money for Israel, buy off politicians, make sure that the U.S. government sticks by Israel through thick and thin and every massacre too…It’s been this way for a long time. American Jews may be peaceniks here but they can’t criticize Israel beyond the mild demurral.

When I saw the title of this piece, “The Israel lobby is built on the biggest guilt trip in the world”, I naturally thought he was referring to guilt-tripping white gentiles over the Holocaust.

…The heroes in the Amos Oz books are the brawny tanned Israeli warriors, who don’t think twice about blowing up “enemy” villages. They go on courageous “reprisal raids” against faceless enemies at night. Arthur Koestler said 80 years ago that European Jews were a “sick race”: because they don’t know how to wield arms and till the soil.

Jewry’s long landless history left it without a martial and agricultural (and subsequent working) class, but it arguably outfitted them advantageously for modernity vis a vis their WASP elite competition, who can’t shed theirs fast enough as traditional labor becomes increasingly unnecessary.
Modernity having released them from noblesse oblige, WASPs view their working class as unemployable dead weight in the coming economy, valuable primarily as consumers, to be replaced with more fecund and spendthrift immigrants.

Of course if they still thought of themselves as WASPs they’d see what a dumb bargain they’ve made, but I guess you can’t be cheated out of something you’ve already handed over. Not wanting your history and posterity is just weird, though. Viewed uncharitably, and charity isn’t warranted, the wretched WASP elite is now just pretending to have chosen this world, pretending they haven’t been beaten, somehow, by a tiny, determined foe. Whites created the modern world, indeed. And handed it right over.

As a non-WASP, let me just say, you’re not fooling anyone.

As the WASPs dissemble and dismantle, the Jews make themselves whole.

The Jews of the Israel lobby believe this. They think that Israel has figured out the right relationship to the Arab world and we are never to question it. We might suggest some minor changes in the p.r. campaign, but we’re going to hold the bag for you forever.

Massacre all the Palestinians you think it’s necessary to massacre and when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it’s a massacre, even liberal Zionists will go after her and say she’s not being nuanced enough.

But when Tzipi Livni goes to J Street and says that Any Israeli soldier who did anything ethically wrong on the Gaza border will be prosecuted, she is a hero.

For the Jewish nation now it’s what America used to be; before, at the end of the day we were all still Americans. That no longer applies.

And as for the famous Jewish love of argument—STFU. The Jews who are against Israel must be squashed. They are non Jews or self-hating Jews. You’ll never see an anti-Zionist Jew at J Street except by mistake; and AIPAC doesn’t let anti-Zionist Jews in even to cover their hootenanny.

It’s an insipid counter-signal from WASPs seeking to debunk “tropes” about Jewish power, to cite Jewish argumentativeness; how could they ever “conspire” against us? You think they’d notice how much of that arguing is about being a good Jew.

Because if American Jews divide over Israel it is a signal to American politicians that they can divide over Israel, too. We’re the gatekeepers. Everyone takes their cue from us. “The perception that AIPAC represents a consensus among American Jews has always been a key to its political influence, which explains the group’s sometimes seemingly outsized opposition to Jewish dissent from its line,” writes Doug Rossinow, whose piece on the dark roots of AIPAC in the Washington Post is one of the rare slams of the Israel lobby ever to appear in our papers.

Guilt-tripping whites over their historical transgressions is like a photographic negative of the guilt-tripping of Jews to accept Israel’s current transgressions.

Must be nice to control the narrative.

One thought on “The Cult of Guilt

  1. Not that you asked, but I believe the joke you are referencing is from a Jon Stewart routine back in the 90s. He was talking about going to Israel and how Jews were different there. Not 'Lemme help you with your taxes' Jews but instead 'Will you hold my machine gun while I take a leak' Jews. Though it of course may be someone else, easy to imagine other comedians making the same observation concerning the gap between American and Israeli Jews.I saw that bit on a show called Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist back in the late mid-to-late 90s. Re-watching that show now is a fascinating glimpse into the recent past. None of the pandering political nonsense that is incredibly common in contemporary stand up comedy existed there. And quite a few of the comics featured on the show are literally the same ones who are most endlessly engaging in this kind of crap now. (It had Stewart, C.K., Griffin, some of those other screechy left-wing women, probably many others I can't recall right now.) And the views that they find so abhorrent now were, of course, largely held by Clinton at the time, whom they no doubt largely supported.That's maybe the most disturbing things I've observed in society the last 15 years. Just how easily led and molded people are. When I was younger it was obvious that most people just accepted convention without really thinking about it. That's what convention is, and it's not really realistic to examine every aspect of your existence. But to then see how people just re-mold themselves to match new conventions in real time, invariably in response to incredibly childish and silly arguments . . . well it's been disconcerting.Anyway, this is a long, rambling comment, so I'll throw in one more tangent: I've been a fan for a long time Dennis. I don't comment much, but I've definitely been reading for well over a decade. Keep writing and I'll keep reading.

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