Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Misfortune

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The controversy was set in motion when Armitage’s comments were printed in Foothill’s student paper Jan. 28. In an interview with the Sentinel, Armitage said of Israeli treatment of Palestinians, “And what they’re doing with Palestinians every day? They’re killing them. They’re walling them in, they’re essentially doing the same thing that was done to them… It’s exactly what Hitler did to the Jews.

Not only do we have to listen to this nonsense within the halls of academia, we are also expected to bite our tongues, bow to the idols of freedom of speech and not, definitely not, accuse the good professor Armitage of antisemitism. Then again, if professors are to be held accountable for the clarity of their ideas and the quality of their thinking, antisemitism might in this case be a lesser crime. In this imperfect world, Professor Armitage can be as antisemitic as his heart desires without losing his tenure (I assume he has tenure), his salary, his perks. Can he also display crass ignorance of history and utter disregard for the meaning of words without incurring some kind of academic penalty?

It’s exactly what Hitler did to the Jews.

Note the precision: exactly. He could have said “as bad as.” He said exactly.

They’re essentially doing the same thing that was done to them. Again, note the use (in fact a misuse) of the emphatic qualification essentially.

What could be more inescapable than this condemnation of Israeli treatment of Palestinians?

But wait a minute. Is professor Armitage really talking about Israelis? What essentially did Hitler do to whom? He essentially conceived and implemented a clear-cut program to eliminate the Jews from the face of the earth. The fact that he was stopped short of victory takes nothing away from his program. However, the extermination project was aimed at Jews, not Israelis. And the people to whom it was applied could not under apply it in turn to Palestinians or anyone else. They are dead. Essentially dead. And essentially Jews.

Does this explain why Armitage misuses the word essentially? The Israelis are not “essentially doing” they are essentially Jewish.

As for the exactly, if Hitler exactly killed Jews every day and walled them in, why in the world did it cause such an uproar in history? Saddam Hussein killed Iraqis every day, the taliban walled women in their homes, black Sudanese are being killed this very week in Darfur, prisoners are walled in in every country in the world, justly or unjustly but exactly walled in. What was so bad about Hitler? Why can’t Israelis do to Palestinians exactly what Hitler did to the Jews if what he did was kill them every day and wall them in? These things happen.

I would not deny that Israeli soldiers are killing some Palestinians some days. Would Professor Armitage deny that some Palestinians are killing some Israelis some days? What, then, is the essential quality of these killings? Do we need to know anything more about them? The whys and the wherefores? Apparently not. So the logical conclusion would be that Palestinians are doing to Israelis exactly what Hitler did to the Jews.

Aha, good professor, I hear you! I see you wagging your finger. No, no, no, the Palestinians are not fencing in the Israelis. You are right. You win. Winner takes all, rake it in, I won’t even play my joker, not a word about the impenetrable invisible wall of Arab countries surrounding Israel. You win. Exactly means exactly and the Palestinians are not essentially fencing Israel in…

…because the Palestinian Authority and its conglomerate of armed militant activist groups have their own clearly announced project; the plan is to kill so many Jews that the rest of them will flee Israel, and the last remnants can easily be reduced to exact essential dhimmitude.

This amply documented extermination project has more than one wing. The military wing went into action today, 22 February 2004, in a crowded Jerusalem bus, killing seven, maiming

62. Without the concerted action of the propaganda wing this atrocity, one in a series of more than a hundred, would stand starkly, unmistakably for what it is: AN ATROCITY. The murder of innocent civilians, a crime against humanity.

Civilized people would not only condemn this atrocity, these atrocities, they would come forth and put an end to such barbaric actions. Which is why the propaganda wing took care, before kicking off the killing spree, to construct a narrative within which these atrocities would be presented as noble acts of resistance against intolerable oppression.

Essentially that narrative is constructed on the basis of a stinging accusation: they are doing to the Palestinians what Hitler did to them.

By what magic can professor Armitage blithely incorporate the narrative and remain innocent of complicity with the project it promotes? Is he exactly antisemitic, essentially antisemitic, or inadvertently antisemitic? The question is academic.

Nidra Poller

Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Misfortune

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Nidra Poller

Author, Paris, France



  • The Middle East conflict as seen from Europe and particularly France:
  • French policy
  • media coverage
  • public opinion
  • Jewish community reaction






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