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Tight Connections to My Heart

By David Golding

But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain’t the time for your tears

Bob Dylan


Dylan once praised Meir Kahane (a name that should be on everyone’s lips these days, if we don’t choke on it) and has been ventriloquized by Abe Foxman/Alan Dershowitz at least since 1983, with the release of “Neighborhood Bully” on Infidels, a lame piece of agitprop for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, now a beloved anthem among Israeli fascists (it’s also furnished with the usual dreary Zionist chauvinism: Jews invented medicine and single handedly fought off the Ku Klux Klan, and made “a garden of paradise in the desert sand,” etc.). He spent the 1970s in the arcane gutter of evangelical Christianity cum Jewish longue durée mysticism and the result was predictable. I respect every one-time radical’s right to turn reactionary, in the same way that I respect death as a bad joke.


When I listen to critics of Hamas (and in the largest sense, Hamas needs not only to be criticized but defeated) (I’m not talking about Netanyahu but the so-called moderates who take time out of their presumably busy days to worry about Hamas’ strategy or its charter, which is to say its thoughts on the Zionist project), I wonder what these people were saying in the seventies and eighties when Israel, like other despotic regimes in the Middle East at the time, gave its full support to the Muslim Brotherhood as a bulwark against Palestinian/Arab leftism, or what they were saying before July 2013 when Mursi was trying to crush the trade unions and the workers who made the Egyptian Revolution, or what they have to say about the bloody and corrupt comprador rule of the current Palestinian Authority, or for that matter what they have to say about the tactic of criticizing a strange and unpalatable (I won’t say orientalized) leadership as a means of giving practical support to the cruel and wide-scale oppression of that leadership’s people, and this isn’t rhetorical, because I really would like to sit down and talk with these people, because I still have faith in the humanist project, or what’s left of it.


A Fanonian thesis on materialist psychology in the context of settler colonialism: think of resistance as a pendulum, or rather the institutions that act on behalf of that resistance as a pendulum (because true resistance never wavers and never ends). Who gets to speak on behalf of the oppressed? At first, I’d say, whoever is closest to the oppressed (because as Primo Levi told us, the Muselmann never speaks). Then that voice has two choices: collaboration or resistance, although practically speaking everyone chooses both in varying degrees. The institutions that succeed combine collaboration and resistance deftly, with an almost Lenin-like foresight. But, in the end, gravity does its dirty work. Right now, Hamas, Israel’s former pet project, is like a ball about to sink (towards its own destruction or towards some rapprochement with the Israeli state). Its rockets are epiphenomena, hopeless interventions in the realm of chance. Hamas will and is suffering a catastrophic military defeat. In all likelihood, given the unsustainability of the not really open-air prison that Israel has set up in Gaza, Hamas will also suffer a political defeat. The entrenched Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, grievous collaborators with this current slaughter, are smiling.

But they shouldn’t be smiling. Their smiles are disgusting, the smiles of people who believe in gravity and materialist psychology. Because, as we’ve seen in recent months, Palestinians in the West Bank are having none of it. Palestinians around the world are having none of it. Jews—courageous Jews, like the Jews who invented medicine and went to the South to fight against white supremacy and to be killed, sometimes, for their courage—are having none of it (I’m thinking of those honorable men and women who went to occupy the New York headquarters of the Friends of the IDF and were, naturally, arrested by that truly villainous occupying force, the NYPD, about whose crimes we’ve heard so much recently, crimes that are essentially no different than, or rather are essentially the same as, the crimes of the IDF: and yes I know there were only a dozen or so Jews at that event, but courage and resistance have nothing to do with numbers, because those nine Jews who were arrested are worth more, to me, on a moral level, than the 1,661 American Jews, according to The New York Times, who have enlisted in the IDF as if they were joining the boyscouts or as if they were joining the Spanish Blue Division, or more to me, too, than those American frat boys cum Kahanist footsoldiers who called Obama a nigger and a faggot on the eve of his 2009 speech in Cairo (what happened to that speech? Reading First’s contributions on it are like visiting a museum of messianiana, or like viewing a petri dish of intellectuals in which you come to understand that it’s an intellectual’s destiny to be optimistic, that an intellectual, on some level, knows his optimism is false, is shit (but golden shit), but that an intellectual, or what’s left of her or him, won’t have any truck with cynicism, which is a different thing than pessimism, since pessimism is only the foundation or the skeleton of optimism).


Here’s a joke I’ve heard a lot lately:

What’s the difference between Israel and Hamas?

Israel uses rockets to defend children while Hamas uses children to defend rockets.


Last night I watched a documentary called The Black Power Mixtape which was aired in 2011 on something resembling what my friend Benj DeMott calls “PBS’s affirmative action program.” It suffers from a glut of commentary from black celebrities (Talib Kweli, I still love you!) but the footage of the black power movement, filmed by Swedish journalists between 1967 and 1975, is close to miraculous (when Stokeley Carmichael takes over for a Swedish journalist and interviews his own mother about the suffering of his own family, you’ll have to forgive me for thinking “that’s the voice we need to hear, not the voice of those fucking hypocrite Swedes, who chanted, ostensibly as an anti-Vietnam War protest, ‘nigger, nigger, go home’ to Nixon’s black ambassador to Sweden, Jerome Holland, although fuck Nixon and Nixon’s feudal racial politics). And when I saw footage of black children at a Black Panther school in Oakland, ostensibly “brainwashed” and singing bellicose anti-white-power songs, and when I was reminded of J. Edgar Hoover’s absurd but absolutely not absurd statement that the Black Panther’s free breakfast program was the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America, and when I heard someone else say that the greatest legacy of the Black Panthers was universal free breakfast programs (not that they really exist anymore universally, in spite of Michelle Obama’s revisionist history/activism), and when I heard a clearly sick and abused Angela Davis, in prison, smoking a cigarette, respond incredulously to questions about the so-called violence of the black power movement, talking about her schoolmates who were killed by white supremacist bombings in Birmingham, Alabama—I thought about Hamas and about failed revolutions, revolutions that can’t succeed and whose only real goal is that children will be able to eat, and about the disgraceful and racist insults that are hurled at Hamas, and about how little the world, whatever that is, gives a shit, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, although the truth is that I laughed and I thought, as if I were a resurrected Jean Genet, that Angela Davis and Stokeley Carmichael were the two most beautiful human beings I’ve ever seen.


Uri Avnery: let’s have a drink (do you drink? Your website shows you smoking a pipe, which goes well with whiskey). It must be hard being a humanist in Israel these days. I think we disagree on a lot of things, but that’s okay.


If death is a bad joke, who are its (hack) comedians? Jodi Rudoren, The New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief, seems to be a funny woman, as evidenced by the Youtube video her husband shot of her hamming it up with Abe Foxman (on which Foxman, that consummate charlatan, admits his own charlatanry, the same Foxman who told Haaretz that surveillance against Muslim Americans is a good thing and argued that blacks and Hispanics are “infected” with anti-Semitism). Her husband, Gary, an archetypal aging Brooklynite creative-class Zionist and sketch comic artist who’s made propaganda videos on behalf of Jewish-American immigration, videos in which he plays a clueless Jewish-American, or himself, seems like one of those harmless assholes you have to put up with whenever you have to meet up for drinks in a Middle Eastern country with a woman who works for The New York Times and the husband, who’s slightly overweight, which is okay, has a supreme but highly partisan knowledge of the local cuisine and will put the natives in their place if something’s not to his liking. And I’m not saying that’s something that I’ve experienced, but it’s not something I haven’t experienced, either. Jodi Rudoren’s close friend, the feminist rabbi Susan Silverman, sister of the comedian Sarah (who gets it but doesn’t, like all comedians, playing the Lolita-Nazi-Jew to parody but also to shock (shock: what can shock us anymore?), admitting Israeli crimes but treating them like all crimes, as the truth of this depraved reality, tweeting psychosexual-cultural “realities” like “Israel is this bizarre world where Jews r gorgeous & kick-assy instead of sneezy & shirt-stainy.” Dylan should have added comedy as one of his fabled Jewish inventions. He should have written a Dostoevskian parable in which one has to choose between supposedly Jewish comedy and supposedly Jewish medicine (echoes of Nazi pseudo-intellectualism) and supposedly Jewish human rights activism and sparing the life of thousands of Gazan Palestinians. Is it worth it?

If you don’t have the patience or the stomach to watch the video, at least read Blumenthal’s article. It leads you down a rabbit hole, but if you look through the rabbit hole to the bottom (there’s always a bottom) you’ll see the truth of the warped, myopic mind that is the main pillar of America’s cultural, economic, and ethnochauvinist support for Israeli crimes.


The truth is, death isn’t a joke. I didn’t mean to say that death was a joke. A lot of people who have bad intentions talk about death as if it were a very serious matter. I think it’s a serious matter. (I never saw anything of myself in Lee Harvey Oswald, although I did see something of myself in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev). It doesn’t matter what I think, anyway, or what anyone else thinks. Because thoughts are their own punishment (forgive my theology). Anyone who defends what’s happening right now, or what was happening two months ago, in Gaza, is like Dylan’s amnesiac bourgeois killer, “them that defend what they cannot see/With a killer’s pride, security/It blows the mind most bitterly/For them that think death’s honesty/Won’t fall upon them naturally/Life sometimes/Must get lonely.”

Concluding Unscientific Postscript:

An email, August 4, 2014:

Subject: Security Message for U.S. citzens: Demonstration this evening

Santiago, Chile

Security Message: Protest Tonight

U.S. Embassy Santiago informs U.S. citizens that a protest in support of Palestine is expected to take place in downtown Santiago this evening starting at 19:00. The protesters will be on bicycles and their route will begin at Plaza Italia/Metro Baquedano and continue to the Israeli Embassy (San Sebastian 2812, Las Condes). Protesters may also continue on to the U.S. Embassy. It is unknown how many people will participate. Please avoid these areas this evening as even peaceful protests have the potential to become violent.

From August, 2014

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