The Good Boy Scout



"In a dramatic television broadcast, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, called upon the million Russian emigrants in Israel to return at once to their homeland, in view of the growing danger to their security there."

That did not happen, of course. But it is easy to imagine what would have been the reaction in Israel if Putin had indeed made such an appeal. Or if the president of France, Jacques Chirac, had called upon the French-speakers in Israel, the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from France and North Africa, to move to France, where their life is not threatened by suicide bombers.

The Israeli media would have gone berserk. The Knesset, in an emergency session, would have denounced the outrageous anti-Semitic outburst of the president of Russia and/or France. The politicians would have tried to outdo each other in condemnations of the inadmissible interference in the internal affairs of Israel. The Foreign Office would have ordered the return of the ambassador in Moscow and/or Paris for "consultations".

What happened was, of course, the reverse. It was the Israeli Prime Minister who called on the French Jews to leave their homeland "as soon as possible" and come to Israel, in view of the ­ alleged ­ anti-Semitic wave in France. The French government and media reacted exactly as their Israeli counterparts would have done.

Every tenth Frenchman (and Frenchwoman) is Jewish.

"A deplorable misunderstanding," the official French spokesman intoned. Meaning, in non-diplomatic language: "Shut up, you bastard!"

Profound commentators all over the world tried to guess the hidden motive of Ariel Sharon. Was this a veiled warning to France not to vote in favor of the judgement of the International Court in the UN General Assembly? (France voted for it anyhow, compelling all of Europe to follow suit.) Was he doing a favor to President Bush, who detests Chirac?

The truth is much more simple. It is impossible to guess Sharon’s intention, because he had none. It was an inconsequential speech before an inconsequential audience. Sharon wanted to say something that would give him five seconds on TV, and he got them. Everybody was satisfied: the TV stations, the Prime Minister, his audience and the general public. Everybody, that is, except the French.

In Israeli ears it was an unimportant, routine statement. Israeli leaders miss no opportunity to call on every occasion upon Jewish communities to drop everything and come to Israel. If there is a sign of anti-Semitism anywhere, this is an automatic response.

If there is a "misunderstanding", it is mutual. It could be called, in the vogue phrase, a "clash of civilizations": the French-European and the Israeli-Zionist.
In the French view, the French Jews are French. The republic is not based on religion or ethnic origin. The way the French see it, every citizen is a partner in the republic and French culture ­ whether Christian or Jew, Alsacien or Breton, North-African or Corsican. This is the basis of the Republique.

And along comes the Prime Minister of a foreign country and has the cheek ­ not to say chutzpa ­ to attack the very foundations of the republic and sow discord among its citizens. That is the gravest assault on France, barring an outright military attack.

In the Israeli view, it looks quite different. According to official doctrine, Israel is "the State of the Jewish People". The "Jewish People" consists of all the Jews in the world, irrespective of whether they live in Brooklyn, Barcelona or Bratislava.

Every child here learns that all the Jews in the world will come to Israel sooner or later. They will have no choice, since the Goyim (Gentiles) hate the Jews, and so the anti-Semites will come to power in all countries in due course. Israel exists in order to offer them a haven when they are compelled to flee, once the inevitable comes about.

This explains the ambivalent reaction of the Israeli establishment to any anti-Semitic event anywhere. The natural reaction is, of course, one of anger and condemnation. But there is also another reaction, a hidden one that borders on satisfaction: Here, we told you so. Now it is happening. We were right all along.

Both reactions lead to the cry: Come, brothers, before it is too late! It rather resembles the good boy-scout in the joke, the one who helps the old lady to cross the road, whether she wants to or not.

So Chirac is furious, Sharon is obdurate and repeats his call, and in the middle stand the poor French Jews, who just want to be left alone.

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is one of the writers featured in The Other Israel: Voices of Dissent and Refusal. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s hot new book The Politics of Anti-Semitism. He can be reached at: avnery@counterpunch.org.

October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?