Reeking of Smugness


Posted by Bob Lord

I periodically receive the viral emails that make their way through the right-wing American Jewish community. Because I'm Jewish by birth, folks think I subscribe to the "Isreal can do no wrong" point of view. The latest piece is a doozy, The Deadly Israeli House, by Daniel Greenfield. This piece has been pasted into an email and is furiously working its way through the vast network of AIPAC affiliated Jews. 

It's worth a read, because it is so emblematic of the absolutely putrid smugness of these zealots. Here's a sample:

Now that Netanyahu has gone to the mattresses, literally, by authorizing new housing, the media has begun braying that Israel has humiliated Obama all over again. They say that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings. But every time an Israeli jackhammer roars, Obama stands, like that famous trash-mourning fake Indian, off Highway 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with a tear slowly making its way down one glistening cheek at the sight of another humiliating Israeli house.

According to the New York Times, which is never wrong, building more houses makes peace impossible. Peace, which is not in any way obstructed by rockets, suicide bombers, unilateral statehood bids and declarations of war, comes up against only one obstacle. The stout unyielding wall of the Israeli house. You can shell Israeli houses, bomb them and break inside to massacre the people living inside, but then after all that, Israel goes and builds more of those damn things.

The point of the piece, if there is one, is to make the argument, in a sickeningly sarcastic style, that the world is condemning the poor innocent Israelis' harmless nomebuilding activities while scary Muslims are doing scary Muslim things. But the piece is noteworthy in the way it reeks of smugness, smugness in the belief that Israel can do no wrong, and smugness in the belief that pursuing a peaceful solution is an exercise in futility that superior Israelis should not be forced to endure. 

And Israeli houses endanger this cycle of peace and violence. They endanger it by creating “facts on the ground,” a piquant phrase that only seems to apply to houses with Jews. Muslim houses in no way create facts on the ground, even though they are built out of the same material and filled with people. Or perhaps they create the good kind of facts on the ground. The kind of preemption of negotiations that the professional peacemakers approve of.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has declared Israeli houses to be an “almost fatal blow” to the peace process. It is, of course, only an “almost fatal blow” because the peace process, like Dracula, cannot be killed. Israeli houses, fearsome as they may be with their balconies and poor heating in winter, are never quite enough to kill it.

Like the monster of a horror movie, the peace process always comes back and no matter how many blows the Israeli house delivers to it, a year later there’s a sequel where the Israeli house is being stalked by the peace process monster all over again.

One commenter succinctly blows Greenfield's assinine piece out of the water:

Who are you trying to fool Mr Greenfield, yourself or others? 

The international community considers settlements in occupied territory to be illegal. Israeli neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and communities in the Golan Heights, areas which have been annexed by Israel, are also considered settlements by the international community, which does not recognise Israel's annexations of these territories. The United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel's construction of settlements constitutes violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice also says these settlements are illegal and no foreign government supports Israel's settlements. 

Up untill now, Israel has managed to evade any meaningfull financial or political repercussions concerning its settlement policy but now, with a major diplomatic breakdown and sanctions looming, isnt it time to get back into the real world, address the real facts, find real solutions?

But Greenfield and his ilk are impervious to that logic, becasue Isreal can do no wrong and its perfect citizens (especially the orthodox ones) should be able to build houses wherever thier hearts desire, even on land owned by Palestinian families for a hundred fucking years.  

The cruel irony here is that Isreal is precluding itself from surviving long-term as a democratic, majority Jewish state. Once it completely eliminates all hope of a two-state solution where Israel and Palestine co-exist, peacefully, side by side, it will be destroyed by demography, as an ever growing majority of Palestinians demand their rights and their dignity. 


  1. Israel ending its 45 year long occupation and returning to the 1967 borders as it should, would be a nice start.

  2. What are the most important first steps towards that “horror movie monster” peace process? I never really hear or read about any solutions, just that both sides refuse to back down.

  3. Scratch Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s name from my earlier comment. Breaking news says he’s planning to resign because of his recent indictment. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

  4. Agreed. AIPAC has presented itself as the voice of the Jewish community for too long. It doesn’t speak for me or many other Jews who trend progressive. But I’m old enough to understand the fears AIPAC plays upon, mostly among older Jews who remember Israel’s tenuous position in the years after its founding. However, AIPAC’s success in the Jewish community is dwindling and other voices are being heard.

    The email you reproduced is a slightly more subtle and intelligent version of the garbage that’s sent out and recirculated endlessly by the far right echo chamber. It sounds desperate in its heavy-handed attempts at sarcasm. If the people supporting Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are resorting to this kind of nonsense, it may indicate they feel they’re losing their power in dictating the American view of Israel.