Peretz’s “J’accuse” is directed towards the support by the hierarchy of the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches of their nihilistic darlings, the Palestinians. Although some in these particular churches have a history of fellow-traveling with other murderous ideologies such as Communism, Peretz rightly points out that, at least at the beginning, it was possible to be a well-meaning useful idiot and believe the ideals of Communism without seeing where it would lead. But he also rightly points out that it’s hard to see how one can ignore the fact that the Palestinians currently demonstrate:
a stagnant class structure, unproductive economic habits, an uncurious and increasingly reactionary culture, deeply cruel relationships between the sexes and toward gays, no notion of an independent judiciary, and a primitive religious mentality that gains prestige in society even as it emphasizes the promise of sexual rewards in paradise for martyrs — a crude myth that has served successfully as an incentive for suicide bombings not only in Israel but also in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. And no real challenge to any of these backward actualities has arisen in all of the turmoil the movement has sown.
Hardly the stuff to which the “progressive” UN-loving pacifists in the Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches ought to be drawn. So, why are they? Peretz’s conclusion is that they are reacting against something rather than towards something, and the “something” they are reacting against is Israel, through the time-honored tradition of anti-Semitism–not overt this time, but covert.
I agree that anti-Semitism is probably part of what drives them (whether they know it or not) to focus rather obsessively on the Palestinian cause, while many other far more worthwhile causes are ignored.
But I also disagree with Peretz; I don’t think anti-Semitism is their main motivation at all. I think that Peretz’s background on the left may be blinding him to the fact that becoming a Palestinian booster is voguish on the left as a whole. I don’t think it’s possible to ignore the effects of trendiness, propaganda, and above all the idea of Palestinians as impoverished third-world victims vs. the imperialist and Western Jews of Israel. Forgot the reality–for example, the number of impoverished Jewish emigrants in Israel from Arab countries themselves–the triumph of what in my previous post was referred to as “imagology” is a huge part of this belief system.
Years ago, Yeats famously wrote in “Among School Children”: Both nuns and mothers worship images. I think the Presbyterian and Episcopalian leaders are hardly immune to another sort of image-worship, that of the political, and I think that’s what is operating here far more powerfully than the latent anti-Semitism that is probably part of the mix.