In the bridge between the medieval and modern eras, Germany’s Luther had at least opened the coffin’s lid:
“Luther’s influence was not decisive, and certainly not neutral, but ambivalent. So, for example, his writings communicated a generalized distrust, describing Jews as thieves in his preface to the 1528 edition of the influential 15th-century handbook for policing vagrants, the Liber vagatorum. This “evolved into a powerful and all-embracing stereotype—‘that of the Jews as a people of thieves and robbers extraordinaire,’” except that Luther by no means propagated this message alone.”
We shouldn’t be writing with crayons, but on the web where ideas move quickly in these small tiles, broad statements and telegraphing are what we do.
The intellectual history of modern “Jew hate” appears to move from Russia (with the “Protocols”) via White Russian emigre fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution; at the end of WWII, the Soviet Union was in position to amplify and leverage anti-Semitic sentiment in the middle east into political influence and power.
The Arab World could not have hated the Jews quite so much prior to WWII and Nazi and later Soviet influence for it’s states sustained a population of (that well-known figure) 800,000 Jews and their businesses and synagogues. There’s certainly a minority experience contained in the memory of that population, but that it was there and working tells us that the politics of the World War and its immediate aftermath set the stage both for the birth of Israel and the Arab expulsion of the Jews.
IF the Kingdom represents today’s Arab world, it is heavily invested in western success through Kingdom Holdings. It has taken small steps toward updating its culture (I have yet another blog piece standing signal to that), and it has taken interest in developing technology requiring the western interface. Nonetheless, the narcissistic medieval worldview needs must prevail for the time being, and cultural inertia continues to leverage anti-Semitism. (just a little more).
Rival Iran — Moscow / Moscow-Tehran — challenges the liberalism of the west with “absolute power” — the rule of the emperor or king for his own desired ends and with sufficient contempt and cruelty to enforce a malign will. One may consider the destruction of Syria by a tyrannical Assad as flanked by Putin and Khamenei merely a demonstration of the “principle” of absolute ownership of an entire people.
In 2011, Barack Obama offered President Putin a gambit: lean west — and Putin rejected the role of tempering Assad and instead embraced the KGB past — that which groomed Arafat and approved Abbas — and here we are. By focusing on ISIS and some on Tehran while “working with Russia”, we avoid a fast disaster.
For the Palestinians, all of the above involving Russia’s historic influence, has been a disaster, and this view — I don’t think I’m the only one propagating it — may be reaching the Arab World on the “Anglo and western axis”. The other channels and manipulates and incites along medieval lines that it means to sustain, and it wants the wars of all against all that lend it glory.
An earlier post noted social media’s unsuitability for “long copy”.
In “Life Online”, readers much prefer epigrammatic statements and slogans to digested narratives or overviews — we want to get the message quickly and then get back to the next social moment or breaking news.
I’ve tried with BackChannels to find a place between the scholarly tract and the lay observation with hope that other journalists — more powerful — and some in the generally interested public would pick up on the blog’s themes.
Of course, I place some faith and hope in each post at the moment it’s published, and often that is all a writer may do.