Monday, November 19, 2007

Who should decide who makes a good Jew?

Another thought-provoking and wonderfully written piece by Noga on what Anne Carson calls "the economy of the unlost" and the shrinking of meaning of terms (complete, of course, with obligatory Arendt quote). The starting point of the piece is the question of whether David Hirsh should or shouldn't be called a "loyal Jew" or an "ultra-Zionist" provoked by the Gilad Atzmon piece referred to here.

I still have to make up my mind about this, because I share Hirsh's distaste for the parade of progressive secular Jews (Klugs, Roses, Finks and so on) denouncing the views of most Jews while "speaking as a Jew".

P.S. Isaac Deutscher's "Non-Jewish Jew" essay is the licence the Klug-Roses use, and some day I may get around to writing up my critique of Deutscher.

P.P.S. I have terrible trouble spelling Deutscher's name, just as most people seem to have terrible trouble with David Hirsh's!

P.P.S. This relates, of course, to the whole Independent Jewish Voices debate, on which read Keith Kahn-Harris at Liberal Conspiracy. (Keith previously featured here - read the comment from the Contentious One.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A few ineresting quotes by Deutscher can be found here:

http://www.engageonline.org.uk/archives/index.php?id=49

>> Arieh L"tz

The Contentious Centrist said...

Bob: I think we have been around the Isaac Deutscher's block before. And we got to quarrel (almost) over the meaning of Zionism, an issue which seems to be all the rage these days. And let me tell you, I've come to a point of near exhaustion over this subject.

The latest thread of the long knives on Engage is an example of how badly confused things are.

I researched a bit about converso history and one of the things I took from it is how people react to misfitting pictures. They react suspiciously. The conversos' ways elicited that kind of pathological enviornmental suspicion. Did you know that conversos were called Jews in seventeen century Europe (England included)? And unbaptised Jews were called Hebrews. It is my contention that Shakespeare did not know the difference between a converso and a Jew and conflated the two, in Shylock. This is what happens, when language lags behind history. There is a shift in meanings which do not clarify but further confuse.

Look what happened to the memory of the Holocaust. Survivors lacked the proper language with which to tell their stories and history catapulted forward, into post-modernist obfuscation, and they now find their story hanging in the balance, between narratives that exclude it from history. It is a terrible thing to happen. I'm not sure I explain it well. Probably not.

Transpontine said...

Yes I have similar problems spelling Nietzsche, at least Deutscher doesn't have a z in the middle.