Three Views on Israel/Palestine: A Convenient Hatred, Our Harsh Logic, and Wrestling in the Daylight

A Convenient Hatred book coverOur Harsh Logic book coverWrestling in the Daylight book cover

A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism

Phyllis Goldstein

Facing History and Ourselves, 2012

Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies from the Occupied Territories 2000-2010
Compiled by Breaking the Silence

Metropolitan Books, 2012

Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity
Brant Rosen

Just World Books, 2012

Just as it would be impossible to understand the rage of some Muslims toward the West without knowing the history of the Crusades and the colonial ventures of Western powers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it would be impossible to understand many Jews’ self-destructive inability to trust non-Jews in the post-Holocaust era without factoring in the morally atrocious history of anti-Semitism. Phyllis Goldstein’s book is a bit sketchy on the psychological and economic roots of anti-Semitism, thereby seeming to ontologize it as a mysterious force that will always be present, but it offers an important sense of how anti-Semitism has structured Western life for centuries.

Unfortunately, many apologists are now misusing the cry of “anti-Semitism” to justify Israeli policies; they don’t understand how Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its efforts to drag the U.S. into war with Iran provoke more hatred of Israel and, by extension, the Jews worldwide who support it. It is never right to extend anger to all members of an ethnic, racial, or religious group for the obnoxious behavior of some of its members—doing so is the quintessence of racism. Yet the testimonies of Israeli soldiers presented by the Israeli organization “Breaking the Silence” might give even the most morally blind supporter of the Likud government an understanding of why people around the world are increasingly directing their anger toward Israel. Our Harsh Logic also profiles many morally sensitive Jews who refused to accept the IDF’s disrespectful and oppressive treatment of Arabs as legitimate—it’s a book that needs to be read by both Zionists and the haters of Zionism and will make many Jews proud of our Israeli dissenters!

Moral sensitivity is also a main theme in Wrestling in the Daylight, a compilation of the emails that Rabbi Brant Rosen received from congregants, American Jews, and Israelis as he slowly developed an understanding of the injustice of the Occupation, along with Rosen’s reflections on those exchanges. Like Our Harsh Logic, Rosen’s book reveals a capacity to transcend the unthinking nationalism that permeates many contemporary synagogues. It also shows why anti-Semitism must be fought with the same energy with which we fight Israel’s self-destructive and immoral policies.

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2 Responses to Three Views on Israel/Palestine: A Convenient Hatred, Our Harsh Logic, and Wrestling in the Daylight

  1. Brant Rosen February 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    By way of correction: my book is not “a compilation of emails” that I received from congregants, but rather, anthology of my blog posts over a two year period that charts my journey from being a liberal Zionist to a Palestinian solidarity activist. It does also include comments that were posted on my blog in response to my pieces – by congregants and many others as well.

  2. Wesley Parish April 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    One of the things that annoys me about the study of anti-Semitism is that it gets separated from the other forms of ethnic and religious hatred. Anyone who followed the anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia following the fall of Ordo Baru in 1998, knows they share a similarity with the pogroms in Christian Europe during the Mediaeval period right up to the modern era. Or for that matter the anti-Chinese riots in California during the Gold Rush.

    Starting from that it is possible to go through the common features and work out defense mechanisms, you also find that much of the Western media’s coverage of the Israel-Arab conflict, for example, teaches hatred of Arabs and Muslims.

    Fixating on anti-Semitism as a sui-generis form of hatred, eventually leaves one defenseless, despondent and despairing. Not a wise move.

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