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Israel & the Intellectuals

- Abstract

Three months after the war in the Middle East, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Israel’s stunning victory, whatever its final effect in altering political maps, has knocked askew a whole row of stereotypes of the Jew in his relation to history, his location in existence. I suppose we are much too close to the events even to guess whether they will have any permanent significance as a kind of watershed in the course of Jewish history, but making history nowadays is a considerably more complicated and ambiguous affair than it once was because, through the intervention of modern communications media, it has become so entangled with making images. One could argue that there have been many more important moments in Jewish history, but it is altogether incontestable that never before in history have the Jews been given such an overwhelming amount of public exposure in such a limited period of time. A good deal of serious consideration has been directed in recent years to the ways in which images of the Jew in the Western mind—especially as a demonic, inhuman, or subhuman figure—are the cumulative result of a long process of cultural indoctrination. What the saturation coverage of the Israeli military success did in effect was to offer to millions, at least in North America and Western Europe, a crash course in corrective reindoctrination, with results that are as yet incalculable but which could prove to be profound.

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