Israel Shamir finds himself in the crosshairs,
and it is no surprise. For several years his
words have struck as a barb in the Zionist
edifice. Not that it could ever have been fatal,
but his writing has the annoying characteristic
of being literary prose, eloquently slicing and
dicing cherished perfidy with consummate ease.
That is the trouble with literary prose, it
cannot be fact-checked into oblivion, dealing,
as it does, with ideas and concepts; philosophy
rather than an unending series of patent facts.
This is the reason Shamir finds his books
targeted for banning, how else does one combat a
concept that examines the Protocols of the
Elders of Zion from the standpoint of
dispassionately alluding to it as a literary
phenomenon, without judging on its authenticity
one way or the other? Clearly it can only be
done by making the subject taboo, not just the
book. How does one combat literary prose? By
Publishing a book can be an expensive exercise.
Someone has to do the numbers, forecast the
number of units that is likely to be sold,
estimate the break even point, and more often,
have a blind faith that expenses will be
recovered. A Publisher works on the principle
that publishing failures will over time be
covered by the successes. If, as in this case, a
book attracts more than just input costs, then
it becomes a publishing disaster. Targeting
publishers of books in the way Al Qalam has been
is designed to ensure that the words of Shamir,
or any similar screed, is unlikely to be
published again, without the publisher having
serious misgivings about doing so.
It therefore has the effect of causing the
opposition to self-censor. Control by fear.
A campaign to control by fear relies on creating
an example by selecting its targets carefully.
Preferably someone who finds themselves somewhat
alienated from their erstwhile colleagues due to
minor differences of opinion. In this way, the
target can be represented to have strayed far
from the fold, and be deserving of his fate –
the herd mentality. Like mourners at a funeral;
they are inexplicably happy, grateful that it is
not them lying in the casket. If they target too
many, or target someone close to the center of
the herd, they run the risk of exposing
themselves as manipulators and oppressors for
all to see.
Examined in this light, it is not difficult to
understand why Israel Shamir has been targeted.
Far from hating jews, he is not afflicted with
excessive Judeophilia. Philo-Semitism afflicts
many good people on our side of the struggle.
Shamir wants Jews to be regarded in the same way
as other people on this planet. It is a call for
equality with others. Unfortunately, one of the
primary characteristics identifying
philo-Semitism is a hyper-sensitivity towards
any critique of Jewish people, even in the
abstract. Shamir’s characterization of
Judeophiles as a capitalized ‘Jews’ is an easy
target, as it lends itself to being
mis-characterized as an attack on ‘jews per se’.
It is no defense for Shamir to explain himself
in this regard; it is enough that he used the
Equally damning, is Shamir’s use of literary
imagery that draws liberally from concepts first
enunciated by other thinkers; particularly the
idea that being a ‘Jew’ is a matter of choice
first posited by Isaac Deutscher, a Jew of the
Trotskyite persuasion. It is determined that he
tells ‘tales’ that incite the reader to hatred.
True, a storyteller tells '‘tales’, and Shamir
is nothing if not a storyteller, but stories are
moral fables, and contain explicit messages that
lead to obvious conclusions. Shamir liberally
uses the technique of re-telling existing
fables, in order to explain current events. That
the tales reflect quite badly on current
behavior is a result that is difficult to
combat, if you are the one being examined
against the yardstick of the tale. People might
even begin to hate you, if they are so inclined.
But Shamirs intention is quite the opposite, it
is to win converts from the perpetrators of such
behavior. He does after all believe that being a
‘Jew’ is a matter of choice, as does Isaac
Deutcher. This theme is quite evident to anyone
reading the Flowers of Galilee.
But the argument is not that it is evident to
readers of the Flowers of the Galilee,
but that phrases could be de-coupled from their
context, and shown to be ‘teeming with
incitement to hatred’. Hence the need to
protect the ordinary people, who are not
intellectual researchers, who may buy the book
in the French equivalent of Mary Ryan’s Family
It is ridiculous stuff, but one that will
nonetheless induce paranoia into the publishing
community in France, if not elsewhere. What
yardstick will they use when weighing the wisdom
of publishing a book that contains criticisms of
Israel, the ‘Jews’, or even Zionism? Indeed, one
of the comments by the presiding judge was to
explain the ‘warlike discourse’ of
comparing Israeli society with Apartheid. Far
from pretending that France is an open society,
this judgement will ensure that French
publishing will for the foreseeable future be
even more closed than before.
Shamir has been the favored target of jewish
anti-Zionist activist for a few years now.
Philo-Semites to a man, and woman, they decry
his analysis of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
It is too close to the bone for them,
preferring, as they do, to pretend that they are
Palestinians in Jewish skins, and that they
therefore know what is good for the
Palestinians, and they tell them so
uninterruptedly. They insist that the problem is
a bilateral one, and that the status quo
can only be solved by a joint Palestinian/Jewish
approach. The modus operandi of the
struggle must therefore exclude any rhetoric
that can be deemed hostile to Jewish
sensibilities. Shamir’s tales obviously
fail the kosher test, and he must perforce be
excluded from the discourse.
This artificial construct requires that those
forming this integrated opposition must be
extracted from the societies that are directly
affected – Palestinians and Jews, not Israelis,
bringing together people with their own unique
set of in-built complexes that continues to
manifest itself it the anti-Zionist discourse.
Because the matyrological jewish complex is so
strong, it has the effect of producing a western
anti-Zionist discourse in which jewish activists
do the talking, and Palestinians the listening.
The discourse is therefore heavily flavored by
argument about whether this-or-that is
‘anti-Semitic’ or not. This is always
unproductive, and participants waste lots of
time in internal mudslinging. This lack of
common identification manifest itself in
constant internal strife. It is not unsurprising
that Jewish Supremacist have noted this schism
and that Shamir, as a consistent target of the
philo-Semite faction, has been subject to
attack, and action to ban his books taken. It is
expected that few anti-Zionist will spring to
his defense. It is classic divide and rule
I wonder then, if erstwhile ‘anti-Zionist’ will
rally to cause against Zionist, or remain silent
in the belief that Shamir deserves it?