Guardian

Guardian “As-an-Israeli”, Aluf Benn, fumes at his country’s narrow concerns over their own safety


Aluf Benn is angry with Israel.

Benn is angry with his country over their myopia and narrow self-interest in responding to the Arab revolutions.

How angry is he with his fellow countrymen? Well, he’s at least angry enough at Israel to give him a platform at the Guardian to express his disgust.

Indeed, as Ha’aretz circulation continues to dwindle to minuscule numbers – indicating that an increasing number of Israelis no longer take their fanciful pseudo-intellectual musings seriously – we likely can expect their enfeebled political analyses to appear more often on the pages of ‘Comment is Free’.

In Israel is blind to the Arab revolution, CiF March 23, Aluf Benn, the Ha’aretz editor-at-large, displays an impressive ability to avoid allowing stubborn, undeniable political realities to get in the way of his puerile idealism.

Benn lectures Israeli leaders who don’t possess his sophisticated political imagination and “can not see beyond the recent escalation across the Gaza border“, and have not “reached out to the [Arab] revolutionaries, celebrating their achievement or suggesting we need to know them better…”.

Benn then diagnoses our political myopia:

“there’s a deeper motive underlying the Israeli attitude. They see their country as a western bastion, a modern democracy that is unfortunately surrounded by less developed nations.”

Is he implying that Israel’s political exceptionalism in the region is even debatable?

Ben then digs deeper at the roots of Israeli ethnocentrism:

“Beyond eating hummus in local Arab restaurants, the wider Middle Eastern culture is largely shunned by Israeli Jewish society….Israelis are so arrogant and ignorant about their vicinity that whenever we make comparisons, the benchmarks are always the US, western Europe…never Egypt, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority or even Dubai.

Then:

“This attitude leads to a policy of self-isolation from neighbouring societies.”

To argue that its Israel which isolates itself from the Arab world, and not the other way around, is a simply staggering inversion – one which, no doubt, plays well in the Shenkin St. cafes in Tel Aviv he likely frequents with Mya Guarnieri and Rachel Shabi.

There are, actually, quite a few very real reasons for Israel’s isolation in the region.

In addition to the toxic anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incitement which dominates public discourse in the region, the Arab League still maintains a boycott of Israeli goods. While the stringency of the boycott varies according to each Arab nation, this economic warfare, which was initiated in 1945, before Israel was a state, would seem, at the very least, inconsistent with Israel’s integration into the Middle East.

Even more unneighborly, however, is the refusal by many Arab states to allow entrance to anyone who uses an Israeli passport or who has any Israeli stamp in their foreign passport.

The “neighboring” countries who, under most circumstances, don’t accept my Israeli passport include: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

So, while most Israelis would of course love to have a better relationship with its Arab neighbors, and of course hope that the political upheavals currently taking place in the region will result in a move toward Israeli-style liberal democracy, wishing for something doesn’t make it so, and many quite understandably (given the history of the region) fear the possibility that secular Arab tyrannies may be replaced by regimes influenced or dominated by Islamist movements which are hostile to Israel’s very existence.

No, Mr. Benn, it isn’t cynical to be less than enthusiastic about the potential for this “Arab Spring” to devolve into greater instability and to foment even darker political pathologies.

Its called political sobriety.

20 replies »

  1. The irony of it that Aluf Benn et al have no idea about Arab culture and society, don’t spaek/understand the language, don’t know any ordinary Arabs, evn they don’t eat the abovementioned hummus, their diet is the environment friendly and cholesterol free Sheinkin-aragula salad.
    Maybe this is one of the reason that they are so embittered.
    (The other reason must be their knowledge that in Israel the number of their readers is extremely limited, no reasonable person gives a rusty nail about their self-righteous deluded and ignorant propaganda)

  2. Benn’s article is awful, meaning par for the Haaretz/Guardian course (with one specific example I’ll get to in a minute), but it does contain one kernel of a good idea–that having more democracies in the Middle East could be a positive for Israel. Benn being Benn, he has to ignore the real prospect of these revolutionary movements being hijacked by Islamists and becoming at least admirers and at worst acolytes of 1979 Teheran, but historically, it is documented that genuine democracies do not go to war against each other. And general support for that end-goal democracy from Israel seems reasonable, though it’s worth noting that’s EXACTLY what Ehud Barak said, only to have Chief Strategist Benn deride those ideas as “long-term thinking”. You know you’re reading something from Haaretz, a publication that has lambasted every Israeli leader to the right of Hadash for not considering long-term issues, when they castigate a leader for doing just that.
    The worst example from Benn’s article comes when he chides Israel for daring to compare itself with Washington, Paris, London, Brussels etc., and not with Bashar Assad, Mahmoud Abbas, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and King Abdullah. Does he honestly, really, genuinely think any comparison of what Israel is really like to what those countries are really like are A) going to match up and lead to B) something that would be better for the region? Either Mr. Benn doesn’t know why Israel aspires to be more like the flawed and oft-hypocritical but genuinely democratic countries of the OECD (which Israel is now a member of), or he wishes they were more like the vanguard of bad regimes who hate Israel and stay in power or the uncertain states where flawed regimes hated Israel less and are in uncertain transition periods.
    I hate to say this, but Benn’s work here specifically and Haaretz’s in general makes me wonder: are they reaching the point where they have as much credibility on any issues that involve facts and serious thought as David Irving does?

  3. Haaretz is positively huge compared to England’s der groaniad,which is read by a staggering 0.5% of the populace,(300,000 readers from a 60,000,000 population.)

  4. “.Israelis are so arrogant and ignorant about their vicinity that whenever we make comparisons, the benchmarks are always the US, western Europe…never Egypt, Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority or even Dubai.”

    And when they – or others – do compare themselves with those countries, they are told that “we” (whoever) hold you to a higher standard”.

    In the eyes of the Alf Benns of the world, Israel can never win. Funnily enough, as an Israeli, he is a real Finkler.

  5. What a dumbass. Definitely sales well to the guardian general readership. They love this crap.

  6. Adam, since we are now expanded to As-an-Israeli, may I suggest a further subcategory for “As-a-friend-of-Israel”? Our dastardly politicians say it all the time.

  7. Israeli leftists have an amazing ability to deny reality. They keep harping on issues that have been left behind in the fast paced events that are changing the face of the region.

    The truth is the Arabs hate the Jews and Israel and regardless of what regimes emerge in the Arab World in the future, this popular enmity is not going to disappear.

    Its a fact of life Israel must deal with and there is no guarantee the cold peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan will continue to exist in the next five to ten years.

    Israel has to prepare for life in the Middle as it is and not how Benn and his fellow Haaretz leftists wish it could be.

  8. Israeli leftists have an amazing ability to deny reality. They keep harping on issues that have been left behind in the fast paced events that are changing the face of the region.

    The truth is the Arabs hate the Jews and Israel and regardless of what regimes emerge in the Arab World in the future, this popular enmity is not going to disappear.

    Its a fact of life Israel must deal with and there is no guarantee the cold peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan will continue to exist in the next five to ten years.

    Israel has to prepare for life in the Middle East as it is and not how Benn and his fellow Haaretz leftists wish it could be.

  9. “Indeed, as Ha’aretz circulation continues to dwindle to minuscule numbers”
    First of all, the site you link to doesn’t provide any statistics to back up the “continue to dwindle” contention.
    Secondly, any such claim is irrelevant without analyzing the effect that Yisrael HaYom has had on the circulation of all neswpapers (hasn’t Yediot been dwindling a lot more?)
    Thirdly, why don’t you tell us which New York newspaper you read – the NY Daily News ? It has a larger circulation than the Times. And perhaps you prefer the Sun amongst the London papers for the same reason.
    And finally, why don’t you post figures for CifWatch itself, so that we can compare them to figures for CiF. What – CiF is more popular ? According to your theory that means that CiF is telling the “truth”, not you.
    I’m off to buy a copy of the National Enquirer (circulation = 1 million+)

  10. NormanF:
    “Israeli leftists have an amazing ability to deny reality. They keep harping on issues that have been left behind in the fast paced events that are changing the face of the region.”

    As opposed to Israeli rightists like Bibi & Avigdor who are currently ahead of “the fast paced events that are changing the face of the region” ?

    And please tell us how Israeli rightists are dealing with changes of attitudes amongst Israel’s friends in Europe and in the American Jewish community, since you are the expert on “denying reality”.

    And speaking of “denying reality”, perhaps you can tell us what is the Likud policy for the future of the West Bank?

  11. “First of all, the site you link to doesn’t provide any statistics to back up the “continue to dwindle” contention.”
    I don’t know, Crap; the market share percentages that came from 972 do seem like, you know, stats–stats which reflect Haaretz is much less widely-read than several Israeli newspapers, and stats which were compiled by a website even you could not realistically tag as Likud-friendly.
    Have to give you some credit for the re-direct about circulation figures, as well as the effort to somehow link Haaretz to the NY Times (we have smaller readership figures, but they’re the right kind of readers, damn it!). Your arguments are pathetic, but it’s admirable the way you accelerate into them before hitting walls of reality.

  12. Ben:
    Nobody denies that Ha’aretz has a smaller circulation than other papers. However this article says “continues to dwindle” and the link from that statement does not show any trends. Any drop in the last two years is a result of the sudden emergence of “Yisrael Hayom” which has hurt other papers far more than Ha’aretz.

    Your statement “hitting walls of reality” is amusing from someone who thinks truth is proportional to circulation figures.

  13. MindOfCrap,

    “amusing from someone who thinks truth is proportional to circulation figures.”

    And amusing that the truth is proportional to the number of United islamofascist Nations and appeasers resolutions against Israel…

    and the paucity of UN resolutions against genocidal islamofascist/jihadi theocratic dictatorships.