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Views from the Left Field
January 26, 2016
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I want to start this post with a quote from Anthony Julius’s preface to Fathom 2015:
“...It engages with a troubling characteristic of much of the public, political discourse regarding Israel and the Zionist project. In this discourse much is taken for granted, very little is proven; and the content of what is taken for granted is almost wholly hostile, both to Zionism’s legitimacy and intentions, and to the state’s intentions and actions.
So far, so familiar. It has been easy (and therefore common) for the response to this discourse to comprise an Israel-advocacy conducted at a similarly low level of argument, replying to one-eyed condemnations with similarly one-eyed praise, in a tiring, unilluminating, dance and counterdance of vilification and adoration….”
For those who don’t already know, Fathom is a centre-left publication emanating from the UK which focuses on matters pertaining to Israel from a pro-Zionist perspective. I have found it informed, intelligent and thought-provoking even when disagreeing with some of its content and emphasis at times. I don’t read it enough and want to remedy that. Perhaps some of my readers will join me in that.
You can start by downloading the 2015 Fathom Review from this site. It will introduce you to its high calibre contributors and to absolutely fascinating articles which touch on the core of the issues confronting Israel, the region and the world.
It certainly makes demands on our time and intellectual energy. It will not provide you with that immediate affirmation and emotional turbocharge one gets from reading or listening to Caroline Glick for instance. But in the long run such clearsighted and empirically-based perspectives will inform those who carry the most weight in the intellectual and high-end political decision-making circles.
The dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, set in the wider context of Islamist-Western conflict and the global ambitions and machinations of various regional and global players, makes for polarisation and over-simplification. At times this is necessary. Real-life, existential threats do not always allow for endless rumination on ethical and historical ramifications: the simplest and most direct solution may well be for the best. The post-mortem can come later.
But at the same time, we also need to change the dynamics and the narrative in a much slower, evolutionary process. Short-term pragmatic issues co-exist with long-term trends and possibilities and it is important, certainly for leaders, to be aware of and sensitive to both. Fathom, read alongside more direct reportage and analysis, is extremely useful for widening and informing one’s frame of reference.
Another argument for reading Fathom (all this is purely voluntary BTW, in case you wonder whether I’m getting paid for advertising) is that not everyone responds to blunt argument. Fathom provides very persuasive information and analysis for those who resist black-and-white approaches to political issues.
Now for something different courtesy of Bev Goldman. This is a short video which highlights the humanitarian activities of IsraAid on the Island of Lesbos off Greece. As you all know from TV, Lesbos is the first port-of-call for refugees surviving the Mediterranean and the Turkish and other unscrupulous middlemen aiding their desperate flight to Europe.
Whatever one’s politics on this matter, common humanity is never something to be sneered at or rejected. It is heart-warming to see Israelis, Arabs and Jews, responding to human suffering with expert humanitarianism. That is indeed as important as the latest Israeli innovation. Let’s spread the word.