Ozick says Obama needs 6-volume history of Jews on his bedside table
Phil Weiss, Donald Johnson, MondoWeiss, Jul 9 2016
Two weeks ago the NYT Magazine ran a glowing profile of the writer Cynthia Ozick, 88, as a moral crusader that did her the service of leaving out her racist views of Palestinians. No mention, for instance, of this prejudiced statement:
By replacing history with fantasy, the Palestinians have invented a society unlike any other, where hatred trumps bread. They have reared children unlike any other children, removed from ordinary norms and behaviors.
Tomorrow’s NYT Book Review gives up another page to Ozick to propound her views. Nor surprisingly, many of these views involve the treatment of Jews as the central historical experience of the west.
Q: What’s the last great book you read?
A: “Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition,” by David Nirenberg. Not about anti-Semitism per se, this landmark study in the history of ideas is also, and stunningly, a history of how the tendentious workings of imagination have shaped not merely Christian and Islamic religious dogma but the entire span of secular philosophy. An indispensable book that left me in irredeemable despair…
Q: If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
A: A book that Kafka also read, and that electrified me when, at 17, I discovered it on a bookshelf in Newark, NJ: the six-volume “History of the Jews,” by Heinrich Graetz, first published in 1891, translated from the German. … [I]t taught me that a writer lacking history, however gifted, is an empty sack. …
Q: If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
A: “History of the Jews,” by Heinrich Graetz.
The NYT writes about the late Elie Wiesel and ignores his racism. They write about Ozick and ignore her racism. Obviously they have made a conscious choice to lionize these two and ignore their anti-Palestinian racism. If they did discuss it, it would raise the obvious point that concern for anti-Semitism has in some people morphed into anti-Palestinian racism. We really can’t think of another case where this happens. But if the liberal mainstream ever acknowledged how concern for anti-Semitism has morphed into a new form of racism in many cases, it would shoot down nearly all the remaining arguments people make to distract attention from Israel’s crimes.
A few words on the garbage of Graetz, from Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom. My emphasis:
In the last three hundred years, Europe turned “national”. The modern nation replaced earlier social patterns, such as the city state, feudal society and the dynastic empire. The national idea carried all before it, including history. Each of these new nations shaped an “imagined history” for itself. In other words, every nation rearranged ancient myths and historical facts in order to shape a “national history” which proclaims its importance and serves as a unifying glue. The Jewish Diaspora, which was “normal” 2000 years ago, became “abnormal” and exceptional. This intensified the Jew-hatred that was anyhow rampant in Christian Europe. Since all the national movements in Europe were more or less anti-Semitic, many Jews felt that they were left “outside”, that they had no place in the new Europe. Some of them decided that the Jews must conform to the new Zeitgeist and turn the Jewish community into a Jewish “nation”. For that purpose, it was necessary to reshape and reinvent Jewish history and turn it from the annals of a religious-ethnic Diaspora into the epic story of a “nation”. The job was undertaken by a man who can be considered the godfather of the Zionist idea: Heinrich Graetz, a German Jew who was influenced by German nationalism and created a “national” Jewish history. His ideas have shaped Jewish consciousness to this day. Graetz accepted the Bible as if it were a history book, collected all the myths and created a complete and continuous historical narrative: the period of the Patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt, the Conquest of Canaan, the “First Temple”, the Babylonian Exile, the “Second Temple”, the Destruction of the Temple and the Exile. That is the history that all of us learned in school, the foundation upon which Zionism was built.