Friday, September 08, 2006

Jacqueline Rose book gets a roasting

In the September/October 2006 issue of Democratiya Professor Shalom Lappin writes a blistering critique of Professor Jacqueline Rose's book The Question of Zion. (Professor Rose's eurocentricity and ignorance of 'dhimmitude' - a major factor in shaping not only Arab rejectionism of the Jewish state but Israeli suspicions of Arabs - has already been challenged here).

"Given Rose’s professed reverence for Edward Said it is also strange to find her trapped in a thoroughly Eurocentric view of contemporary Israel. On her account, Israeli society is entirely the product of European Jewish immigrants and their neurotic reactions to persecution in Europe. The overwhelming majority of the (approximately) 850,000 Jews forced out of Middle Eastern and North African countries between 1948 and 1965 were absorbed in Israel, where they and their offspring now constitute approximately 50% of the Jewish population.

"The experiences of these people in their Arab and Muslim host countries, from which most fled as refugees, is a significant factor in determining their attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s rightwing parties in Israel successfully exploited both the social marginalisation of many Middle Eastern Jews and the deep suspicions with which some of them regard the Arab world in light of their encounters as a minority there, in order to gain support for hard line nationalist or ultra Orthodox religious agendas.

"Part of the populist propaganda that these parties employed in their campaigns painted supporters of the Israeli left and the peace movement as members of a European elite that dominates the economy and indulges hostile Arab interests through misguided liberal naiveté (or worse), while disregarding the concerns of deprived Middle Eastern Jewish voters. This dimension of the Israeli political scene and its role in shaping Israeli-Palestinian relations escapes any mention in Rose’s psychological parable."

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