Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem, Let My Right Hand Forget Her Cunning. - Psalm 137:5.

. . .Tensions in and around Jerusalem have soared in past months over the deeply-controversial issue of Jewish construction in annexed east Jerusalem in a move which poses a constant threat to peace efforts.

Despite US assurances to the Palestinians that Israel would freeze certain settlement activity in the eastern sector for the next two years, top Israeli officials have denied the existence of any such commitment.

"There is no agreement about freezing building in east Jerusalem and normal life in Jerusalem will continue as in every other city in Israel," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told journalists during a visit to Tokyo.

The hatred of Israel in Europe is the best example Bruckner produces. Hardly anyone mentions that the Arab and Iranian dictatorships find anti-Semitism as useful a method for distracting their subject people from examining their worthless regimes as the tsars and the Nazis did.

For Europeans, criticism of sagging Arab nationalist states and resurgent theocracy would mean accepting the existence of alternative sources of sin outside the West and confronting the racial prejudices in Europe's Muslim minorities. Better to blame Israel as a source of danger to Europe for its failure to behave as true penitent.

Bewildered outsiders look on a continent where Holocaust commemoration is a civic religion and wonder how guilt for an anti-Semitic past can coexist with rising anti-Semitism and the singling out for perpetual attack of the world's only Jewish state. Bruckner's convincing answer is that because Israel stands up to its enemies it is in European eyes the root cause of the rage against it. Europe copes with the guilt of the Holocaust by transferring it to Israel, which involves the recycling of the revolting trope that Jews are now Nazis.


Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I'm not sure I'm following your argument here, Terry. Do you consider it Right wing "cunning" to build 1600 apartments in a JEWISH neigbourhood of Jerusalem?

11:47 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Dear Contentious One:

Not really making an "argument" here at all, and I see no particular cunning either right wing or otherwise in the normal urban development of Jerusalem. The post was just a bit of a sentimental tribute to Jerusalem, from which I've just returned, and a link to what I thought was a tremendous essay/review by our comrade Nick Cohen.

I will be writing about the situation in the Holy Land (not Ireland) in the coming days, however, with my usual fervent optimism and wit.

11:52 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I still don't get that "cunning" insertion, Terry. Just trying to understand, in my own pessimistic, witless way.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Don't blame me, my dear. Blame the dang psalms. It's an especially beautiful passage, I've always thought, and if I ever fail to see such beauty then let my right eye forget her cunning.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

PS It's possible that I was in mind of the Psalms after having just read an article about Bibi's speech to the Knesset alluding to the number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the bible.

No cunning involved, I assure you.

12:13 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

The psalms say something different:

"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy." (137, 5-7).

May I ask, how "cunning" sneaked into the verse?

1:09 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

All right, I see now. It's in the King James Version.

I can't imagine how that translation came to be. The Hebrew means simply: my right arm will become paralyzed, useless, forgotten for lack of use.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You have to admit - those old-time Protestants do have a way with words.

6:04 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

What does it mean, though? I tried to look up the etymological meaning of "cunning" and it just doesn't compute within this context.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I think you'll find that "cunning" isnt intended to be charged with the pejorative connotation it holds in contemporary useage.

9:57 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

I don't demur from the importance of guilt and fear in producing distorted (and contorted) thinking, but I don't think that it is sufficient as an explanation.

One thing that intrigues me is how bad judgement has often sprung from the best impulses. Will write more on this elsewhere.

3:13 AM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Deleted commenter: Banned, permanently, has been for at least a year. Still shows up. So I delete.

8:08 AM  
Blogger lbnaz said...

From the online Entymology Dictionary:

"cunning: early 14c., prp. of cunnen "to know" (see can (v.)). Originally meaning "learned;" the sense of "skillfully deceitful" is probably 14c."

Given that The King James Version was first published in 1611, and that by then, the sense of "skillfully deceitful" as the definition for cunning was already well accepted and in use, it would seem, as opposed to Terry's reassurances, that the purpose of those "old time Protestants", as Terry calls them, in inserting the term cunning was pejorative and that they likely were of the mind that Jews valorize the trait of being "skillfully deceitful".

1:01 PM  
Blogger lbnaz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

And yet, the older meaning persists:

3:44 PM  
Blogger GinnySandwich said...

...So do either of you know what it means relating to the context? Because I'm struggling a bit with my English Literature coursework, where Dannie Abse refers to the passage in the final paragraph of 'Case History' where the speaker, a welsh, Jewish doctor, is treating a patient who has very Nazi views, he knows there are all sorts of poisonous things he can use but he treats him 'like a brother' all the same and ends with 'my right hand lost its cunning'

4:15 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom
in the day of Jerusalem,
who said, “raze it, raze it,
even to the foundation thereof.”

O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed;
happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth
thy little ones against the rocks.

4:13 AM  

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