After sending my previous letter, "Justification thru Misinformation", I recieved the following interesting remarks from a friend (and my response to those remarks):
After reading Ahad Ha’Am on workshop, Peter Geyl’s book about Napoleon and wading through Sholmo Sand’s book “The Invention of the Jewish People” it is hard for me to understand the ‘lie’ concept. All peoples who ultimately believe that that are a ‘nation’ create a collective persona which for some is real, for some is make believe and for the majority is a cornerstone for what they were going to do anyway. While I think I understand your objection for believing our own lies as the beginning point in any debate, that form of self delusion seems to me should be taken as a given so that you can move beyond it rather than attempting to pursue a policy of changing the minds of those who have already accepted the mindset. I think it was Shimon Peres who is quoted as saying that he looks to the future to make a difference not the past.
If your objective is to make a more tolerable society which is humanitarian driven, better to proffer honest solutions based upon ‘best practice’ than try to quilt, either way, the followers to move forward. Maybe that is why I personally have such a hard time using the Shoah as a basis for Israel’s existence but then again some ‘story’ needs to be made up, doesn’t it?
To which I respoded:
Thanks for your comments on my latest diatribe. Actually, I agree with quite a lot….. But you are perhaps confusing the conceptual “non-lie” of how a people see themselves (for example: as a nation), and the “lie” that is born out of a policy of “deception” in order to portray as a “lie” someone else’s “non-lie”. I hope you followed that.
We see ourselves as a “nation” (the Reconstuctionists call ourselves a Civilization). Perhaps others see us merely as a "religion”. What counts, as you rightly say, is our own assertion of our “collective persona”. This is what we and others need to work with regardless of past (historical) interpretations of how we created our belief in the particular “collective persona”. In the same light our collective persona is imbued with a series of beliefs regarding our property rights to the Land of our Forefathers. That, too, is all right (regardless of internal disagreements as to the validity of one belief or another). While others may or may not see this as self-delusion, for us this is completely real, our artistic and beautiful creation sculptured through centuries of historical and emotional illusions. These are our Truths.
……Unless……..or until…….we run into someone else’s “collective persona” which drastically conflicts with our own and is imbued with it’s own set of Truths.. At that point we leave the realm of “Truth” (for there are more than one, and they conflict), and enter the world of politics, the interaction between people (and peoples) in the present, often in order to influence (or manipulate) a particular future. This is not a world of historical and emotional creations rooted in a conception of the past (though perhaps greatly influenced by it). This is a world accustomed in the use or misuse of power, a world of honesty and dishonesty, integrity and knavery, deception and candor. This is the Israeli/Palestinian world which I live in, travel in and, once in a while, write about.
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