Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ezra Nawi, Jailed And Fined

I have written about Ezra several times before. The verdict is now in. Read it and weep.

Apropos the grim realities of occupation, which many American Jews refuse to view apart from their sense of the Jews' suffering at the hands of European others, yesterday's snipe at me by Jeffery Goldberg comes on the heels of his column celebrating Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds." As it happens, my wife, the Hebrew University literary critic Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, wrote the following letter to the Atlantic in response, which they chose (at the last minute) not to publish. She wrote this:

I find Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with Quentin Tarantino (“Hollywood’s Jewish Avenger,” September Atlantic) troubling because it unapologetically valorizes stereotypes of Jews to, of all people, Jews.

The enduring image of the victimized Jew in Western culture was indeed earned by a long history capped by the Holocaust, but the reality of Jews exercising power—financial, cultural and, in Israel, political and military—is what has defined Jews in the last fifty years. Yet we are being asked, in the film and in Goldberg’s presentation of it, to accept that the most adequate expression of Jewish power is vengeful and brutally violent. As if the Elephant in the Room is not the fact that Jews actually use sovereign power, among other things, to maintain a settlement regime and an occupation.

Tarantino claims that all his Jewish friends love the film. Goldberg acknowledges fantasizing that “when I came out of the screening room…I was so hopped up on righteous Jewish violence that I was almost ready to settle the West Bank—and possibly the East Bank.” What kind of dots are being connected here? Are we really being asked to believe that the daily humiliation of Palestinians is somehow belated revenge for Nazi atrocities? Does Goldberg not know better?

Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Jerusalem, Israel