Monday, May 26, 2014

The Europeans Vote, The Israeli Press Analyzes

Israel is trending right, we often hear, but this is misleading. Hard-core Greater Israel types are stuck somewhere between 30-35% of the population, which is about the same level the pollster Khalil Shikaki tells us Hamas supporters in Palestine are stuck. The real trend, and danger, is a kind of collectivist cynicism that's taken hold, nuanced by neocon-like codes, and spread by what passes in Israel for the mainstream media--especially Reshet Bet, the public radio service that virtually all of us turn to for news.

This morning was a case in point. The Pope is visiting; presumably, the platitudes could wait. The wake-up show host, Arye Golan, led with a report on the French vote that propelled Marine LePen's party into first place in yesterday's vote for the European Parliament.  LePen got about 25% of the vote, while pro-EU parties held their own almost everywhere else. To sort things out, Golan asked Tel Aviv University's Avi Primor--a former ambassador to Germany and the EU--to join the conversation.

This was an earthquake, was it not?, Golan began, perhaps the beginning of the end of the EU. (Decoded: Strong nationalist ties are inevitable and will always trump liberal dreams such as the EU; which is why Israelis have to privilege national solidarity--the "Zionist" principle--over any peace agreement, whose cosmopolitan ideals cannot be trusted, right?)

Primor, perhaps the country's most seasoned expert on the EU, was determined to cloud the issue with facts.  No, he said, this was not an earthquake.  Only around 45% of the French electorate voted, and LePen's voters were the ones that tended to be mobilized. Her party, like other proto-fascist parties across Europe, always gain ground when unemployment is high and growth is slow.

Ah, Golan replied, but the EU's economy is doing well now. (Decoded: Stop with the materialist explanations you academics always drag out. People are rich enough but naturally bigoted. So why do they always blame Jews for their desire to do for themselves over others?)

Actually, Primor responded, the economic recovery has not been felt in the lower rungs yet, and may not be for some time.

But--Golan reached for his ace--the vote still implies a reversion in Europe to its traditional anti-Semitism, does it not? (DecodedDeep down, they hate Jews, and will always hate Jews, right? Anti-Semitism is surging in vile new forms, so isn't EU criticism of the Israeli occupation just a false front on implacable sentiments? They are just looking for ways of delegitimizing us, and LePen's victory tears the veil off, right?)

There is surging anti-Semitism, Primor answered, but the Semites it is directed to are mainly Arab Muslims.  The party of the right tends to adore Israel, in France as in the US.

But still, the EU's architecture must be in danger. (Decoded: Oh, come on. How can such a borderless system hold together when ordinary people are naturally suspicious of those beyond their borders.)

No, Primor insisted, the EU will always have some problems, including local nationalist excesses, but its architecture reflects globalist processes that are in many ways irreversible.

Well, anyway, Golan ended things, "Thanks for an optimistic interview." (Decoded: You are terribly naive. )

You see, the problem is not the ideology of the right, but the defensive and slightly creepy ways media personalities valorize Bibi's status quo: by relentlessly implying that liberal principles are un-Zionist, foreign criticism is hypocritical, and positive proposals for diplomacy are vaguely feckless. Primor was cogent. Golan wasn't buying it; he doesn't want to look like a fool.