Catch The Jew, by Tuvia Tenenbom
In many ways, I think that politically speaking the author and I would have a lot of differences. Certainly in our background we would be quite different–my own Jewish ancestry goes back within the United States some three hundred years or so without the sort of ties to Europe and Israel that many people have within the Jewish community, and as an American I am perhaps a bit more fierce than most of the people the author talks with here, except with the Jewish settlers and most of the Palestinians, who are not too unlike my own personal ferocity in conflict. Yet the author is clearly a winsome person I think it would be enjoyable to talk to. And it is that feeling that one would find in the author, despite his complex and often fictive personalities, a friendly person who genuinely appreciates honest dialogue and feels that this can only happen with a certain sense of disguise. As I happen to agree with the author that this is the case, it is intriguing to see the way that he examines the problems Israel faces in a thoughtful book that spares no punches and comes to some thoroughly unpleasant solutions, if you’re a European at least.
This book contains 55 chapters, along with a short epilogue, that describe the author’s sojourn in his homeland of Israel where he engages a wide variety of people about their thoughts on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and demonstrates some obvious truths that are only less than obvious because of the problems of self-hatred and political correctness and the refusal of many people to accept reality and to respond to it. Throughout the course of this journey, the author makes friends with Palestinian leaders, discovers the German source of a great deal of anti-Semitic funding for movies and other acts of hostility to Israel, looks at the hypocrisy of Europeans in seeking to demonstrate their liberal bona fides by showing hostility to Israel and judging it by a double standard that does not apply to the Palestinians in terms of violence and hostility. The author also points out the way that Israel’s people often desire popularity with the world, and points out rather pointedly that they are not going to find it without defending their self-interest with dignity and strength. Understandably, the author is pessimistic about Israel in the long term given its desire to be liked and the bias of non-state actors with obvious biases against them who have not repented and changed their anti-Jewish ways from the pre-WW2 period.
And that is perhaps the most poignant aspect of this book, in that Israel’s sincere desire to be liked is so contrary to the reality of the hostility of Palestinians and Europeans, who ally together because of their shared hostility to Judaism and their desire to catch and hunt and harm Jews wherever they may be found. The author may seem paranoid to those who do not understand the fear under which Israelis live, but one is not being paranoid when (almost) everyone is out to get you. In reading this book I realized the author’s deep criticism of a great deal of what is considered to be European liberalism even as he has a great deal of warmth in his own personal dealings and a high degree of respect for those who, like right-wing members of the Knesset or generous Israelis helping wounded Syrians or Jewish settlers in the West Bank, are considered to be beneath any dignity by those who fancy themselves to be fair-minded and honorable people and the arbiters of the standards of respect for the world. In reading this book, one understands that the people of Israel have many enemies, sometimes including themselves.