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Day 3 (Kanfer): Is Zionism Still Relevant to the American Jew?

From: Stefan Kanfer To: David Shneer Subject: Don’t pack any hair gel! Dear David, The rules of combat, even a prose one such as this, demand accuracy rather than distortion. You note that I approvingly cited Oriana Fallaci, then go … Read More

By / December 1, 2006

From: Stefan Kanfer To: David Shneer Subject: Don’t pack any hair gel!

Dear David,

The rules of combat, even a prose one such as this, demand accuracy rather than distortion. You note that I approvingly cited Oriana Fallaci, then go on to claim that “the New Yorker tore her apart….” The magazine did nothing of the kind.

It profiled her. The writer found her views too trenchant and was not persuaded by her heated arguments about the threat of Islam in Europe. (Cassandra was also fiery—and was, it will be remembered, borne out by history.) Happily, the profile is available for our readers on the New Yorker site. Here is what they will find at the conclusion of the piece:

Fallaci’s virtues are the virtues that shine most brightly in stark circumstances: the ferocious courage, and the willingness to say anything, that can amount to a life force. But Fallaci never convinced me that Europe’s encounter with immigration is that sort of circumstance.”

Does that sound like a tearing apart? Alas, I think you see what you want to see and read what you want to read. Facts are painful things. I understand.

Here is an Associated Press report underlining the legitimacy of Fallaci’s argument:

“In a recent interview with Corriere della Sera, Saudi dissident and designated terrorism supporter Saad Al Faqih warned that Italy will be hit soon, as it is the logical next step in al Queda’s strategy of driving a wedge between the U.S. and its European allies.”

Already scores of Italians of Islamic background have been rounded up. The police have their work cut out for them; the place is overrun with Muslims, as Ms. F. reported again and again, sometimes to alert citizens, sometimes to sleepwalkers.

In any case, you have set up the straw man of Zionism as a 19th-century concept. Of course things have changed, and not every Jew wants to make aliyah. I am one of those whose identity does not depend on living in Israel. I was born in the U.S. and this is my home, and a damn good one. Visiting Israel is not the same as backing it, and I take no credit for having been a tourist in Jerusalem. I do take credit for sending money there, and for taking up the cause of the Jewish State any time, anywhere, against its enemies, against the indifferent, and against the anti-Semites.

I have always treasured the remark of Billy Rose, a theatrical producer who made millions and gave his vast sculpture collection to Israel while he was still alive. Viewing the massive bronzes, Ben Gurion asked him what he should do with the precious art if the Arabs attacked. Rose’s instruction: “Melt ’em down into bullets.”

Israel is currently fighting for its life. Every Jew knows in his bones that Israel must live, must triumph, and must stay on guard for the next attack. It cannot be iterated enough that what happens to Israel will, sooner or later, happen to the Western world. The foe is the most malevolent since the heyday of Hitler and the last days of Stalin. If this isn’t relevant to Jews worldwide, then Noam Chomsky must have had more influence than advertised. And we both know that he is no worse than a bad cold.

Enjoy the rest of your trip, and remember not to pack any hair gel, water, or perfume when you fly. Bon voyage.

Stefan

Next e-mail: Shall we burn books to keep warm?

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