The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Icon in Tel Aviv

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First of all, all thanks and blessings on Tim and Serina Powers, who talked me into putting up with hours on a non-smoking flight to attend.  They said it was worth it, and they were right.  I have never been treated better at a convention, and rarely as well.

It was a blast.  Lots of smart people, lots of interesting discussion.  I also like Tel Aviv a great deal–which is something coming from a virulent anti-Zionist.  I’ll probably drop a few more thoughts now and then as I think of them, but for now, I just want to say hello to all the wonderful people I met and hung out with there, and to thank them for a truly wonderful experience.

corwin

Author: corwin

Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 Comments

  1. “virulent anti-Zionist”?

  2. Mind explaining why you feel that way?

  3. corwin

    I would think what has happened to the Palestinian people would explain it. If that isn’t sufficient, then you should know that I have a deep and abiding hatred for American imperialism, and consider the role Israel has played in that regard.

  4. I really don’t want to get into this with my favorite living author, but if the palestinians would stop the HAMAS rocket attacks launched from their neighborhoods it would probably go much better for them, and isn’t Jordan the palestinian homeland anyway?

  5. That whole place is a giant clusterfuck.

    I do hate how anti-Zionism has become nearly the same thing as being antisemitic. Didn’t use to be that way. At least I don’t remember it being that way growing up.

    Disagreeing with a political movement shouldn’t automatically mean you hate a whole um.. race?

    What the hell do you call the jewish people anyway… collectively? Race? Nationality? Religion?

  6. Traditionally, Judaism sees itself as a people, religion, _and_ a land. So not only does that make it hard to categorize, it also makes Zionism and Judaism difficult to separate.

    For me, I would find it hard to be anti-Israel, because that implies that what should exist in the land currently called Israel is a country ruled by people who want to kill Jews, rather than by people who are tyring to figure out how to live with everyone.

    Additionally, the truth of what happened to the Palestinian people depends on whose history you want to believe. I defy anyone to prove either side’s view.

    I think the main problem with being anti-Zionist today is that in today’s world, the term is ambiguous to the point of being meaningless. all it means to me is that you disagree with something having to do with either Jews or Israel.

  7. I think it remains very possible to separate anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. It helps that there are many anti-Zionist Jews who think Israel was a mistake.

    Of course, it hurts that there are tens (hundreds?) of thousands of people happy to demonstrate in the streets proclaiming “death to all Jews” who are content to call themselves anti-Zionists.

    The real danger is that it’s no longer a philosophical debate: it is now, logistically, very difficult to eliminate the geopolitical entity “Israel” without doing some pretty significant Jew-elimination in the process. Coming up with actionable items that keep anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism separate is really not easy anymore.

    At least there’s a legitimate historical basis for the separation, even if it’s blurring. Unlike, say, opponents of gay marriage who claim not to hate gays; it takes a pretty high level of self-deception to think that there’s a difference between “hate” and “think they’re unnatural and going to burn in hell, sure glad I don’t know any and never have to be around any, but I’ve got nothing against them personally.”

    Before Israel, though, you could genuinely oppose the establishment of a separate Jewish state and still love Jews. You still can, you’re just late to the party.

    I get very aggravated, though, by the amount of energy some folks (such as pretty much every middle-east opinion paper at wsws.org) put into hating on a Jewish state, somehow blaming them for the barbarism of various surrounding Muslim states, in some of which women are officially (legally) property, laws are officially (enforceably) determined on the fly by whichever holy man has the microphone, the lands are scripturally bound to be kept forever once conquered (and war is called for to reclaim them if ever they become non-Muslim), and the citizens are scripturally bound to be killed outright if attempting to renounce the state religion (see: Islam, Apostasy). It’s never been clear to me how Israel, whatever you think of them, is the long-term problem in the region.

    I’m probably just not privvy to the secret plan, which is cool, I doubt I was key to it anyway.

  8. Its a very difficult question to decide when a the possessors of a country move from oppressive outsider occupants to status quo natives. Its even more difficult to convince others to see it your way.

    For me, anyway, the Israeli/Palestinian situation should be evaluated based on the viability/reasonability/etc. of the status quo, not on the sordid history.

    That, then, affects my interpretation of Zionist and anti-Zionist.

    So, I read anti-Zionist as “Israel doesn’t deserve to exist, we should allow the Palestinians to take over and have their way with the Israelis.” For me, thats a pretty bloodthirsty, cruel, maybe vengeful opinion. To me, it means an opinion opposed to both a two-state solution, and a cooperative one-state solution.

  9. Excuse my ignorance, but can someone define Zionist, Zion or Zionism for me? I am guessing that it is the political doctirine currently in vogue or power in Israel right now, but that is just my best surmise.

  10. Also, the title of this thread is misleading. At first, I thought what symbol “Icon” are we talking about?

    Now, I get it, though 🙂

    My train of thought chugs along slowly, but it gets there eventually.

  11. Just look it up. Zionism is not a political vogue, it’s a movement started around the turn of the 20th century seeking a Jewish state. There’s nothing particularly evil or controversial about it in itself as a political goal, but it’s conflated with the messed up religious views of the ultra-nationalist and ultra-orthodox, and is a convenient label for Israel’s enemies to apply to the oppressive policies of current and recent governments.

    Bah, I answered the question didn’t I 🙂

  12. corwin

    I had intended this thread to be a thank-you to the wonderful folk of I-Con for their convention, not a discussion of contemporary Middle-east politics; I think it says a great deal about the state of the world today that the one passed immediately into the other.

    As for the term “anti-Zionist,” in my opinion it is possible to oppose the existence of the American capitalist state without being anti-American.

  13. Concur with skzb on both points in his last post.

  14. Sorry for getting somewhat inflamed about something somewhat inflammatory. I’m not sure how receptive the people you were thanking would be of your anti-zionism. Would the con have existed without the zionist movement? And did it really need to be mentioned?

  15. corwin

    Scott: The penultimate question is both unanswerable and irrelevant. I mentioned my hatred for Zionism because it emphasizes what a wonderful convention it was. I went to Tel Aviv with creases of disapproval on my brow, and left enchanted.

  16. /breezily ignores politics

    HEY STEVE, ILU. 😀 We had a great time as well! Here’s to that happening a lot more in the nearest possible future. *toasts*

    NEXT DESTINATION: Eilat, and scuba-diving with dolphins!

  17. A cousin of mine drove around the Mediterranean from Europe to Africa and loved it. My initial response was “weren’t you in any danger?” He said not at all.

    The vast majority of the people irrespective of state, religion or political motivation (hard to tell where one starts and the other one finishes sometimes) were very friendly and surprisingly worldly. May have also been the fact that he had a New Zealand passport helped as well too, but not much.

    He’d do it again and the simple rule is, stay out of the parts that are dodgy (like any part of the world) and think carefully before you discuss certain local affairs.

    Going to Israel and being anti-Zionist is no different from living in Texas and being anti-Bush.

  18. corwin

    “Going to Israel and being anti-Zionist is no different from living in Texas and being anti-Bush.”

    Speaking as one who has been both anti-Bush in Texas, and anti-Zionist in Israel, I can assure you that former is much, MUCH more dangerous.

  19. Either I’ve failed to make my point or no one wants to accept it. I’d like to try one more time.

    Please don’t use the term anti-Zionist, at least not without context. In many peoples’ eyes, it IS like being anti-American. if it were a strictly defined term, then maybe you could argue its the listener/reader’s fault for misinterpreting, but it is not a strictly defined term. The meaning is all over the map, and many are offended by it. Anti-semitism isn’t dead, and no one likes being reminded how there are people out there who hate them just for their lineage. And while it is clear that some think that anti-zionism and anti-semitism are not equivalent, it also appears to pretty well established that many do equate them. To me, that is proof of ambiguous meaning.

    So, I would much prefer it if one of my favorite authors, and everyone else, would not use a term that fails to accurately define what one means and unintentionally offends people at the same time.

  20. Steve, are you planning any other future overseas convention visits?

  21. I’ll quit being anti-Zionist when angry mobs quit stoning gay pride parades in Israel. Theocracy scares me. And, yeah, the racism and violence against Palestinians is also highly regrettable.

  22. “I’ll quit being anti-Zionist when angry mobs quit stoning gay pride parades in Israel”

    Dan – that did not quite happen. Angry ultra-orthdox mobs did protest the gay parade, and threw stones at policemen (not on gays, as the riots happened before the parade). that was to protest the gay parade in Jerusalem in 2005/6. Last year the gay parade in Jerusalem passed without incident after talks between the leaders of the gay community and ultraorthodox leaders. But the parade in Jerusalem is a recent development. Traditionally the largest gay parade in israel takes place in Tel Aviv and there has been no opposition to that – none whatsoever. It’s a major event, officially endorsed by the municipality of Tel aviv, and enjoyed by many, both gay and straight. Israel as a whole is very accepting of gay rights, more than the US, actually.
    You can look up more information here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Israel

  23. What is the plan/solution you guys think of if you’re anti-Zionist? Where would all the jews go? That part has never been clear to me, so I thought I’ll ask here once and for all.

  24. Dan’l, I trust you’re much more anti-Iraq and anti-Zionist: ‘Two gay men were killed this week and four other bodies were found in Baghdad’s Sadr City as part of a cleric-fueled crackdown on what the Boston Globe says is a “perceived spread of homosexuality.”‘

    Or do you consider protesting against a parade (by throwing rocks at police) several years ago worse than murdering people last week?

  25. Can’t people around the world just get a long??

    Why do people have to be “jew”, “black”, “muslim”, or “american”? People are people. Nothing says it better than what Mom always used to say: “Treat others how you would want to be treated”.

  26. Scott: Zionism refers to the existence of a Jewish state. I oppose the existence of a Jewish state. That is what being it means to be anti-Zionist.

    Mog: I see no reason why they can’t remain where they are. The area now comprising Israel is a place where Jews, Muslims, and Christians peacefully shared a relatively small patch of ground. However, the real answer is that I favor unity on class lines, not religious lines.

  27. Okay, I just got done rereading Teckla. Let me just say that it seriously screws with one’s head to read Teckla and then come peruse this thread.

    ‘Course, now I’m in the middle of rereading Dzur, so having my head screwed with works.

    Glad the Con was fun. I seriously need to find my way to one of those one day.

  28. skzb: Are not Jews, Muslims, and Christians attempting to live peacefully in Israel? Are not Muslims in the Knesset, the Israel legislature? I do not understand what you would want to see happen? Is it merely changing the name?

  29. Steve, glad you had a great trip. Do you mind telling us if there were any specific things your hosts did that made the experience good, or if it was more of a ‘good vibes’ sort of thing.

    {ducks head for having dared try and return this to the intended topic}

  30. Steve: saying that Jews, Muslims and Christians shared the land that now comprises Israel peacefully is, well, inaccurate. And that is me being very, very, extremely understated. This region was fought over like almost no other region in modern history ever was. at best you could say that for a time, Muslims and a relatively small number of Jews and Christians lived in peace under the rule of the ottoman empire, but it was clear who was on top (muslims) and who were the inferior subjects. Looking back to that era is tantamount to looking back to Saddam’s peaceful, unified Iraq where there was no sectarian violence.

    I do hope that sometime in the future this land will belong to all its inhabitants equally, but getting from here to there is quite tricky.

  31. For the first time; that I’ve perceived, Mr.Brust is being horribly dishonest.

    Very Well Said, Scott!
    Bravo…

  32. Let me interject a thought, channeling some top-of-my head history, and some opinions from my (and Steve’s) beloved Grandpa Ed. Having escaped the pograms as a child, and the dreaded czarist “draft,” Grandpa was a thoughtful man who didn’t much like to talk politics or religion, but loved to discuss what I guess I would call “ethics.” He was a businessman, a proud family patriarch, a cutthroat card player, and a devout but practical Jew. He only ate bacon when he was eating breakfast out, and never met a waitress he didn’t want to flirt with.

    Anyway…Ed was enraged when the stories from Nazi Europe began to come through to the US;
    enraged because the Zionist leaders preferred to allow the ghettos rather than mobilize the Jews to self-defense; enraged because the US and the Zionists worked together to leave the flight to Palestine as the only option by closing immigration to the US; enraged because even the children were shepherded away to their deaths. The collusion between the Zionist leadership and the Nazis is well-documented… it served these people well to become America’s outpost in the Mideast and leave the ghettos to be moved to the death camps.

    For his part, Grandpa’s solutions were personal, not political or religious. He begged by Grandma Esther to please let him bring over some Jewish children to adopt. Esther, who raised 3 sisters, a brother, and 5 children of her own (starting when her mother died when Esther was about 13)…she just said no. (Smart lady).

    To my knowledge, my grandpa supported the temple, the charities, but never sent money to Israel except for once when Grandma demanded that he “plant trees in the desert.”

    If I can denounce the Vatican for collaborating with Hitler, so too can I denounce the Zionists and their US puppeteers for their collaboration.

    So let’s get back to the class struggle and stop confusing governments and sectarian leaders whose very aim is to split us into fragments with people living in different lands, or different neighborhoods, who are more like us than they are different.

    You may have your blog back!.

  33. Well taken, sis. I should also mention, for those who might be interested in such things, that Grandpa Ed is largely the basis for Noish-pa (with a little of Apa, my paternal grandfather, thrown in).

  34. Cynthia,
    I believe the entire second paragraph of your post is completely and utterly untrue. Your accusation of zionist leaders being in collusion with nazis in order to make the zionist state a reality at the expense of the lives of jews is disgusting.

    I don’t see you attributing any blame to the heads of the USA, UK, etc who closed their borders. Oh no – they were under the hypnotic influence of those evil elders of Zion, right?

    I pity you for your deluded beliefs.

    Steve, I hope you don’t believe this is true. seeing this kind of anti-semitic screed on your blog and coming from your sister is alarming.

  35. “I don’t see you attributing any blame to the heads of the USA, UK, etc who closed their borders. Oh no – they were under the hypnotic influence of those evil elders of Zion, right?”

    Look more closely. My sister, and I are very much aware of disgusting and barbaric refusal of Roosevelt and Churchill to receive Jewish refugees; my parents actively campaigned against that policy at the time.

    To conflate, as you do, the history of the collaboration of Zionist leaders with Nazis on the one hand with antisemitic filth concerning the “elders of Zion” on the other is disingenuous at best.

  36. You can’t put anything into a closed container.

  37. I find it very hard to believe in the collaborqation of zionist leaders with nazis as your sister claimed.

    You see there are currently two main streams of zionism, the political-secular one and the religious one. Secular Zionism as initiated by Theodore Herzl uses the idea of a jewish state as a tool to end the “Jewish problem” – the problem of jews not being accepted in Europe as equals despite attempts to fit in in the later part of the 19th century. This stream decided that the best solution was to have a jewish state, but notice this is a *solution* to a problem, not an end in itself. the end was taking care of the interests of Jews, and although later the idea of self rule became more important it was always a basically secular-humanist stream with some socialist leanings.

    The second stream is religious Zionism. These are the people for whom creating a Jewish state is the beginning of a process that will ultimately bring the messiah. These are the people who pushed and spearheaded the west bank settlements, and for whom the idea of a Jewish state with as much land as possible is the fulfillment of a divine promise and an end for which human lives can be sacrificed here and there. But at the time we’re talking about – WWII or thereabouts – this type of Zionism was a small minority lacking any influence.

    I’m not going to try to convince you that the leaders of mid 20th century Zionism were angles. But they were also not mad. What you are claiming here (if you agree with Cynthia) is that Zionist leaders decided to sacrifice Jewish lives to advance a cause whose very aim was to save Jewish lives. That’s not just accusing those people (yet unnamed) of being thoroughly evil – this is accusing them of going against their own interests. It sounds like the kind of conspiracy theory in which president bush devised 9/11 or one of David Irving’s revisionist theories about WWII.

    And yes, accusing zionist leaders of this partly redeems the leaders of the US and the UK. Not totally but it DOES remove some of the blame, which I suppose is the entire point.

  38. Cynthia, could you please name me some names? preferably with sources to back your claims, of course.

    The only Zionist leaders I’m aware of having any deal with the Nazis except trying to bribe them to let Jews go are the leadership of the Lehi, an extremist movement that was very much minor, and violent, fringe. Their deal was with Rommel to the tune of “we help you by subotaging the Brits in Palestine after you conquer Egypt and you leave the Jews in Palestine alone”- it was of course rendered moot after Al Alamein, and was pretty secret because the people who made it knew that if word got out their careers(and probably they) would be dead.

    The mainstream Zionist leaders tried to smuggle people from Europe by any means possible, AFAIK.

    Also, if we can return to the main issue of the post: you were my favorite GOH to date. Including Neil Gaiman:)

  39. i know it’s been a while since you posted this, but i’m curious to know if you agree with your sister’s opinions about the Zionist in ww2.

  40. A rose for Icon!

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