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This I must watch on Netflix

[ by Charles Cameron — continuing in the pesky socratic tradition ]
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Here’s the possible parallelism, d’you dare say it’s a moral equivalence, are the scales even close to equal, or isn’t that the moral point anyway?

Just a few years after the destruction of European Jewry, the soldier wonders, have we now become oppressors? Have the Arabs now been sent into exile?

Here’s the whole paragraph:

In 1949, Yizhar Smilansky, a young Israeli veteran, national legislator, and novelist writing under the pen name S. Yizhar, published “Khirbet Khizeh,” a novella about the destruction of a lightly fictionalized Palestinian village near Ashkelon, some thirty miles south of Tel Aviv. Writing from the point of view of a disillusioned Israeli soldier, Yizhar describes the Army’s capture of the village and the expulsion of its remaining inhabitants. The time is 1948, the moment of Israel’s independence and its subsequent victory over five invading Arab armies that had hoped to erase the fledgling Jewish state from the map. It would be forty years before the New Historians—Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, and Simha Flapan among them—marshalled the nerve and the documentary evidence required to shatter the myth that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs had all voluntarily “abandoned” their cities and villages. Yizhar was there to bear witness in real time. He wrote from personal experience; he had been an intelligence officer in the war. In “Khirbet Khizeh,” Yizhar’s protagonist is sickened as he comes across an Arab woman who watches as her home is levelled: “She had suddenly understood, it seemed, that it wasn’t just about waiting under the sycamore tree to hear what the Jews wanted and then to go home, but that her home and her world had come to a full stop, and everything had turned dark and was collapsing; suddenly she had grasped something inconceivable, terrible, incredible, standing directly before her, real and cruel, body to body, and there was no going back.” Just a few years after the destruction of European Jewry, the soldier wonders, have we now become oppressors? Have the Arabs now been sent into exile? And why can’t I bring myself to protest? “Khirbet Khizeh” eventually became part of the Israeli public-school curriculum.

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Source & resource:

  • David Remnick, How Do You Make a TV Show Set in the West Bank?
  • Netflix, Fauda
  • **

    With any luck, I’ll report back at some point. It seems to me that a love of the individual Palestinian should nest within a love of the State of Israel as the circles in the tai chih symbol rest within the swirls of the opposite colors. But what a charged topic!

    A koan!

    5 Responses to “This I must watch on Netflix”

    1. Jim Gant Says:

      Charles,

      I started watching Fauda – for what it’s worth – I think it is excellent.

      Do good, be good.

      Jim

    2. Grurray Says:

      “have we now become oppressors?”
      .
      The answer is no. What occurred was a population transfer. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs left Israel to move to surrounding Arab countries, and a million Jews left surrounding Arab countries to move to Israel. Population transfer is the only time-tested, post-Vienna System method to avoid ethnic conflict. It happened in the United States. It happened in Turkey and Greece. It happened all over the world, and it still occurs today. Just recently in Syria, for example. In a perfect world where war could be made obsolete it wouldn’t be necessary and could be abolished. Since we unfortunately don’t live in that world and we have to come up with the best solution to save people’s lives and their cultures, we must move them to safety.

    3. Charles Cameron Says:

      Were some of the Arabs evicted forcibly?

    4. Grurray Says:

      Restraint and concern for civilians is the origin of the IDF’s ‘Purity of Arms’ doctrine, and it yes was a response to the killing of civilians
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havlagah
      Someone told me an anecdote once about IDF soldiers manning a checkpoint during the second Intifada. They stopped a Palestinian family and performed the routine search. Some groceries, among other things, were pulled out of the car, checked, then returned. The car was then allowed to pass. The soldiers then discovered a few watermelons hadn’t been returned to the car. They thought about eating them since they were in the middle of a long shift on a hot day, but they ended up turning the melons in. The reason was their code of conduct disallowed seizing any non-threatening posessions.
      .
      We could argue that the Purity of Arms doctrine isn’t based on humanistic, altruistic motives, and we would probably be correct on that point. The soldiers had determined that it wasn’t their duty to interpret this doctrine, nor their duty to judge how to apply it to certain situations, nor their duty to figure out how it improves the universe. They were trained that it was simply their duty to strictly follow this code of conduct.
      .
      The main objective of the doctrine is to dampen the effects of the consequences of war on both the population and the troops by keeping them focused on and obedient to a moralistic command. However, regardless of the motives or whether people feel a higher purpose or not, there’s an undeniable result. Civilian lives will be saved. That permanently tips the scales in my view.

    5. Charles Cameron Says:

      Thanks, Grurray.
      .
      I think my penultimate sentence:

      It seems to me that a love of the individual Palestinian should nest within a love of the State of Israel as the circles in the tai chih symbol rest within the swirls of the opposite colors.

      comes as close to an understanding of the situation as I have yet managed. Fifteen years.

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