Kenneth W. Harrow, a well-known Professor of English at Michigan State, comments on the idea of a so-called Jewish collective interest and Israel, indicating in part that this may be a misreading of the reality.
Esi Dogbe-Bani writes:
A clear example is the way in which Jews all over the world, regardless of ideological stripe, religious inclination, or location fight for "greater Israel," and never cease to remind the rest of the world about the Holocaust * using the danger of anti-Semitism to win all the concessions they can get wherever they are located globally. No, it is not simply because they have perfected the art of memorializing their collective trauma and exceptionalism. It is because somewhere along the line Jews forged a Common Interest that overrides all else.
i'd like to comment on this statement. first of all, Jews do not fight for "greater Israel" regardless of ideological stripe. there are many Jews who are not zionists, many who oppose Israel's policies, and especially its expansionism, its settlements, its government's actions against the Palestinians. it is as wrong to ascribe a common policy to Jews as to any other people. secondly, if there is a sense of a common interest, it hardly came because of an exploitation of collective trauma! it came because there was such a thing as anti-semitism and the holocaust, a common experience against which Jews had to struggle. this was not "somewhere along the line"; it was at precise historical moments. So, maybe some Jews exploit these historical events for their own agendas; that hardly means the events and responses to them by Jews in general were calculated so as to exploit sympathy; the collective interest was a collective struggle, and in that respect resembled the black struggle against slavery, the African struggle against colonialism. and if voting patterns reflect a sense of "common interest," the African American voting block of almost 90% democratic surely reflects a strong sense of common interest, one forged in response to racism and its institutions, not forged "somewhere along the line."
this is not the first time i have read or heard how Jews are to be admired for sticking together to effectively. it is more than passing strange that the way in which this so-called admiration is cast inevitably carries an anti-semitic subtext that is stating that this Jewish solidarity explains how Jews are able to manipulate the u.s.govt to support Israel's oppression of Palestinians. i object to this subtext not only because of what it implies about Jews, but also because of its equally pernicious notion that black solidarity can be built on the logic of identifying Jews as manipulators and exploiters.
Kenneth W. Harrow
Professor of English
Michigan State University
fax 353 3755