Now, one of the rules of life is that no matter what happens, there is always someone who will take it too seriously. And political correctness is the latest and greatest way to suck the joy out of anything remotely light hearted or humorous in life. And the next step in PC is not to open avenues of discussion but to shut down debate and shout down anyone who might have another opinion. So comedians such as Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld no longer give free shows on university campuses because there are too many people who take offence at the 'microaggressions' in their comedy routines, and the po-faced PC student activists have won. Way to go. <slow handclap>
And of course any political opinion that varies from the PC brigade's is protested and shouted down, often violently, no debate is allowed, and this occurs at universities. Back in the day, the university was the place where all ideas were supposed to be discussed and exchanged freely and fearlessly. But not now, in many such places of higher learning. Never let truth distort one's preconceived opinion or belief! And that's progress.
Enter Ruby Hamad.
Her piece was forwarded to me, because I had no idea who she is, but I sure know now.
She starts off with a tirade about this ad, pointing out that the ad 'contributes to everyday cultural erasure.' The use of the term 'Operation Boomerang' in the ad, where Aussies overseas are brought home to Australia so they won't be deprived of lamb chops on Australia Day, well, that's cultural appropriation. On a day which many indigenous people of Australia call 'Invasion Day', to use an icon like the boomerang, to talk of bringing white people 'home' to Australia, is 'to celebrate the triumph of colonisation.'
As I was reading this, I actually thought she made some good points. Yes, the Indigenous people of Australia had a terrible time of it. Yes, the history of colonisation is a cruel one. When a Mother Country sends out its people in order to exploit resources or land or native peoples, the outcomes are rarely pleasant for either side, one the side that 'wins' is usually the invader, because they have more sophisticated weaponry among other reasons. We see how things played out over the centuries, some ways better than others. From Cortez and the conquistadores in the Americas, to the Portuguese in South America, to the Dutch in the East Indies, to the British in India, in Africa, in the Middle East, and the French in Indochina, and the Belgians in the Congo and so on. And the British in America, whether the 'Founding Fathers' or the military; and the British in Australia, looking for where to park their petty criminals while expanding the Empire.
The era of colonialism spanned many centuries. And that's just 'White European' colonialism. Do I have to go as far back as the Roman Empire? What about Imperial China? Or even modern China, in Tibet. What about Arab Slavers exploiting Africans, and forced conversion to Islam?
Long, long history. Mother country, sends out its people to exploit the resources of another country for reasons of expansion and acquisition of riches. Indigenous people suffer, die, are converted to different religions, are treated as inferiors. Strong establishes mastery over weak. Indigenous culture destroyed by disease, by alcohol, by conversion. That's the scourge of colonialism.
Now for the concept of 'cultural appropriation'. The boomerang as a 'potent and recognised symbol' used to celebrate the 'triumph of colonisation.' Using the recognisable symbols of a defeated people in mockery of them, or just for fun, or because it's there. I confess, I don't like it when Australians or other non Native Americans wear feather headdresses, at parties or for fun. I certainly don't like it when people dress in blackface or brownface for fun, and I have been guilty of this at times in the past (specifically on Purim, wearing a sari and brown makeup complete with bindi. I wouldn't do that now.) I have learned to be more sensitive to issues of race/ skin colour mainly from the US experience, where the twin historic facts of destruction of indigenous people and importation of African slaves have given rise in certain parts (but not all parts) of the country to a form of 'White Guilt'. The struggle to become a post-racist society is a real one, and it continues. (But would I boycott the Village People, because one member is an 'Indian Chief'? No. Would the group, if it formed to day, feature such a character? I don't think so.)
So for the first few paragraphs, Ruby kind of had me agreeing with some of what she had to say, although I didn't like the strident and sophomoric way in which she said it. But she had some decent points.
And then. She managed to segue into an anti-Semitic rant.
Somehow, selling lamb chops as 'Australian', even though the sheep is not even a native animal! becomes how the Israelis (i.e., the Jews, not the Israeli ARABS), have stolen hummus.
And in this act of cultural appropriation, they have erased the indigenous link of the Palestinians to their national food; not 'cultural appreciation', but 'cultural erasure'.
And it was then that I realised that Ruby Hamad is an anti-Semite who has completely swallowed the canard of White Jewish colonialism, fed directly by the 'Palestinian narrative' aka the bullshit story negating any historic truth, which fuels the current conflict there today.
Nobody seems to care about historic truth anymore, and this piece will go on forever if I spell it all out, so I will try to use bullet points to destroy her 'argument'.
- Jews are indigenous to the Land of Israel. We would not be sitting on the floor and mourning the loss of Jerusalem for the past 2000 years every Tisha B'Av otherwise. We would not pray for Jerusalem every day in every prayer, at every wedding, after every meal, after every Yom Kippur and Pesach Seder, if the connection to Jerusalem and Israel and the Jews were not a deep and true one.
- There has always been a Jewish presence in the land, whether after the Roman destruction all the way to the Ottoman Empire and after, in the modern era. All the attempts by the (Jordanian) Muslim Waqf to destroy the ancient historic record of the Jewish Temples etc, are doomed to failure, because the record is so strong. And try as you want, Mahmoud, the Menorah is a far more potent symbol of Jewish identity than anything you can come up with. And they just keep finding these coins and sherds emblazoned with menorahs EVERYWHERE.
- From 1948, 800,000 Oriental Jews were stripped of all assets and kicked out of their Arab countries where they had been for hundreds if not thousands of years. Most of these Jewish refugees went to the nascent state of Israel and became Israeli citizens. I can assure you that these Levantine Jews knew what hummus was. (BTW, many spoke Arabic and followed Arabic customs, but they observed the Jewish religion. You could say that these Jews were also Arabs, but don't let that do your head in.)
- Thus, to speak of the Jewish Israelis as if they were all of Ashkenazic origin, or 'white', is complete nonsense. Ditto, to say that modern Israel exists only because a bunch of Europeans who were guilty about the Holocaust decided to give Israel to them in order to assuage their collective conscience is a puerile and ignorant opinion.
- Who are the ethnic Palestinians? I can tell you with certainty the the term 'Palestinian' was reserved for the Jews in Mandate Palestine, and an Arab would have been offended to be called that term. The Arabs were proud to be called Arabs. 'Arab' is not a nationalistic term; it describes a people of a certain culture who speak Arabic. The Arabs of the area had links over family and tribal lines which did not adhere to any borders drawn before or after 1948.
- The term Palestinian, referring to Arabs, mainly but not exclusively Muslim, only came into common use after the 1967 war. There is no ethnic group called 'Palestinian' who have a special and unique culture. They are Arabs and they enjoy Arabic food and music and clothing and language.
- If Jewish Israelis are colonialist, please tell me 1) what Mother Country sent them? and 2) what resources were they exploiting? What sort of colonialism is this? Answer: IT'S NOT. It's return to homeland.
- I could go on and on, filling in the gaps and going over the historic record, but I think this is enough for here and now.
Ruby, I see it like this. The Jews in Israel SHARE with the Arabs a culinary tradition which relies on foods that grow in the area. A Jewish Israeli, as well as an Arab Israeli, is entitled to call the falafel an Israeli national food. Because it is. I'm sorry if you feel that this causes 'cultural erasure' of the noble Palestinian people. Jews and Arabs have a long and chequered history in the area, and I'm sorry if you think that having light skin or blue eyes makes a Jew less of a Jew and less entitled to be in the Jewish homeland. That actually makes you racist, I think. My (blue-eyed) grandfather and (brown-eyed, olive-skinned) grandmother were natives of Tzefat; they were Ottoman Palestinians. They had every right to be there and eat hummus as well as couscous and preserved lemons, and stuffed courgettes and ful, and so do I.
Your attitude may feel oh-so-noble to you and your fellow travellers, but it's just another example of racist anti-Semitism, and it just feeds into the lies that perpetuate this tragic conflict. Not to mention the reversal of reality. It's not the Jews who want to 'erase' the Arabs; it's the Arabs, specifically the Muslims, who want to annihilate the Jews, and make no secret of it. If the Palestinians wanted peace, they would have had it a while back. They would be minting currency and printing stamps and welcoming tourists to the beautiful Gaza beaches and the historic (Jewish) heartland of Judea and Samaria, aka 'the West Bank'. But they, and all the Arab states, only seek the destruction of the Jews and the appropriation of their land which they have paid for over and over again, with blood and treasure, for centuries.
Yesterday I heard on the radio how avocado on toast was a 'classic Aussie breakfast'. Why, If I were a MesoAmerican, having my native avocado appropriated like that- why, I would ...what would I do? Nothing. Just eat it. Bon Appetit! (Oops, that's French!)