Modern Arabs and Muslims for Jews and Israel frequently encounter the defensiveness and xenophobia inspired by the complex history of Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism, which story in Muslim-Jewish relations is not the only story, only the one over which people are rightly most sensitive. The prompt for what follows emerged in a very small online workgroup on anti-Semitism — and kept restricted in headcount to keep the same manageable and progressing — and it involved the issue of Jewish defense accompanied by the familiar blanketing animosity that accompanies conflict between ethnically-identified rivals. Diffusing that focus requires a very different view of intercultural politics and political reality.
For BackChannels, today’s greatest struggle, and it’s a long one, is that between the medieval apprehension of the world and the realities of the modern world and its greater potential for humanity.
With some wandering, this “From the Awesome Conversation (FTAC)” moves from simple apology for hurt toward a much greater theme: civilizational transitioning.
Although the BackChannels style has been to italicize such posts — and put this “further explanation” at the bottom of the piece — that approach has been reversed for length and greater ease of reading.
Above: bolding added.
I’d like to see reconciliation even while noting that context — “rhetorical situation” — shapes our conversations here and elsewhere.
There may be “component parts” and “knee jerk reactions” that just bring out the worst in us.
There are certainly impolitic thoughts swirling through our heads as passing events “get to us” and we “go off”.
And there are strong defenses involved in meeting criticisms that may go deep and turn a little meditation into a searing event.
There’s an old high school joke: “Time exists so that everything doesn’t happen at once; space exists so that everything doesn’t happen to you.” 🙂
Today, and because of our handle on the material necessities in life — no one starves for lack of food but rather lack of access to the same — “space” has become less important than “time” and how we live in Time is what all the arguing comes down to. The Jews, and I am certain in response to miseries, found their point of departure from the tyrannical and disordered — probably some Qaddafi-type of 6,000 years ago. “Pharaoh” gets the blame (and Egyptian women credit for rescuing Moses) . . . and we have all gotten a different start on a different civilizational path. It’s good to revisit the basics and perhaps as a different expanded base for something needed tomorrow. Time gives us time to play with time.
One more thing as regards bigotry in general: disaggregate.
I don’t think the future needs a politics defined by, say, “Arabs and Jews”, but rather, at this time, the Medieval of Mind and the Modern. To get to a more modern world, a more mutually survivable world (at least) or more thriving (at best), some elements seem needed to get the “medieval of mind” through the barriers to the modern world.
In the peace crowd, it’s common to the point of cliche to talk about “building bridges”, i.e., “common ground”, and perhaps cultivated bonding.
The invisible sieve concept is different. It’s about massive positive filtering toward a more comfortable, peaceful, and prosperous world. Some Out There with Baghdadi and ISIS may not make it. Quite a few among leaders, sad to say, don’t want it because their power is invested in the perpetuation of medieval absolutism. Putin’s display of this was brilliant: $52 billion for the Winter Olympics at Sochi : $0.00 for Syrian Relief + the incubation of ISIS, which serves his medieval / neo-feudal worldview — and that of Assad and Khamenei as well.
Notably, this as an aside, I may regard the promotion of anti-Semitism as an artifact of the medieval world. It ranks right up there with the history of the use of the accusation of heresy in the Christian church as a means of leveraging wealth from competitors or the hapless, and in Muslim-majority states today, the “takfiri” have put on display the same political mechanics.
In other forums and following the Jewish mythos of a journey to a river, I’ve referred to a “river in time” that requires on the banks of the past a novel “forming up”. It sounds simple, but any brief reflection on the economic and social systems within and around clans, families, and tribes in their real politics tells that political reality proves anything but simple. While Khamenei has Revolutionary Guard forces in Iraq’s more sectarian Shiite militia, the state of Iraq itself struggles but nonetheless produces a more balanced official army, and one duly chastened by its route from Mosul and the ensuing slaughter visited upon its troops by ISIS. That the Iraqi defense forces have come back at all seems to me nothing short of miraculous, but now they’re doing their work.
The Syrian migration issue that has so fueled the arguments that divide the west (in chess: a fork) between cultural self-defense and the promotion of its Greco-Roman Judeo-Christian values — to which Islam may contribute or adjust, but ejection of al-Qaeda is certain — involves simply in-filtering good people while rejecting the infiltration of fascist-minded subversives who may be so by way of habits of mind or the adoption of ungodly ambitions.
The modern world is not altogether a good world. It can be deeply impersonal and “depersonalizing”; it can drop people from many kinds of inclusion, including economic, that neither churches nor families (or clans) are guaranteed to rescue or redeem; it can support criminals in the board rooms and in public offices: however, it strives continuously to be better than its current state as reflected in its state of affairs. Modernity involves ideas about cultural and social progress and produces systems — accountable, responsible, responsive — that produce, overall, a better state of being or life experience across the board.
The medieval want for themselves alone, and that with low regard for others.
Egypt may have an authoritarian politics in place today, but it’s modern and appears transitional; the wildly popular rejection and ejection of the Muslim Brotherhood signals, at least to me, a broad cultural recognition and sea change in response to a confrontation with a representative of the medieval world. Egyptians have chosen a march forward into something else — something modern.
Forgive my rambling.
Suffice it to say this forum may be as much about broad cultural change and preservation as much or more than anti-Semitism.
The experience may be likened to looking through a very small window out onto a much larger world, and, in the words presented here, “Tiimescape”.
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