May 30, 2010

Calling Sam Lipsyte

From the NYT Magazine:

The Integrationist

Can Job Cohen, a Jew who reaches out to Muslims, be the next Dutch prime minister — and a model for Europe?

While slouching against a wall in a former cigarette factory in the industrial outskirts of The Hague one day last month, I was visited with the sudden realization that over the formative centuries of European history the two words that most succinctly signaled “other,” “foreign” or “enemy” were these: “Jew” and “Turk.” Crudely unpacking them, “Turk” meant Muslim, Arab, infidel, the threat from without; a Jew was the enemy within, someone who, even if born and raised in your hometown, was part of another political as well as religious entity; the Jews of a city were referred to not as a community but as “the Jewish nation.” “Jew” and “Turk” were in fact constructs Europeans used to help define their own identity: that which we are not.

What brought this to mind was the scene in front of me. The Labor Party in the Netherlands — which several weeks ago emerged from the endless gray muddle of the country’s multiparty system to take the lead in polls as the nation approaches an election on June 9 — was unveiling its candidates. On a makeshift stage, before banners bearing the party’s logo of a fist inside a rose, stood two people. At the top of the list of candidates — the man responsible for the recent shake-up of Dutch politics, who is making some people in Europe begin to wonder whether he represents a way for mainstream parties on the Continent to successfully combat the swelling tide of populist, anti-immigrant voices — was Job Cohen, who until March was the mayor of Amsterdam. Cohen was raised in a secular Jewish household in the hamlet of Heemstede, not far from Amsterdam; his parents spent World War II in hiding from the Nazis; his paternal grandparents died at Bergen-Belsen. At Cohen’s side, No. 2 on the candidate list, was Nebahat Albayrak, who was born in the central Anatolian region of Turkey and moved as a child to Rotterdam, where her father worked as a scaffold builder.

There is certainly some truth to the conventional wisdom about the immigration debate: that Europe lags far behind the United States in its ability to craft a truly multiethnic society, to turn newcomers into citizens. European countries, by this reckoning, are prisoners of their old racial or nationalistic identities. And the Netherlands has of late been a particular example of this; its right-wing, anti-immigrant standard-bearer, the golden-maned Geert Wilders, has steadily gained support since he formed his Freedom Party for the 2006 parliamentary elections. Earlier this year, Wilders’s party was leading in the polls. In municipal elections in early March, his party, riding on his virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric, won the city of Almere and came in second in The Hague itself — the seat of the Dutch government and home of the International Criminal Court. On a protest-filled visit to London afterward, Wilders — who is facing trial in a Dutch court for inciting hatred — boasted of becoming the next prime minister.

But shortly afterward, the political landscape was transformed by the surprise entry of Cohen into the race to lead the country. In an electorate split up across a dozen or so parties, the Labor Party doubled overnight, from 11 percent in the polls to 22 percent, while Wilders’s numbers have dropped in several straight polls. Some see in Cohen’s rise the possibility of a new Dutch society, and with it perhaps a hint of how new national identities could form in Europe. In what would be confirmation of the worst fears of a Wilders, the new identity prototype has an inclusiveness that inverts the centuries-old formula. As the Jew and the Turk stood side by side with their fellow candidates — which included a good mix of other ethnicities as well as native Dutch — Cohen proclaimed, “This is the Netherlands!”

From Sam Lipsyte's comic novel The Ask summarizing a debate on the Middle East:
"One of the experts said the Palestinians were irrational and needed a real leader, like maybe a smart Jewish guy." 

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why do you quote Sam Lipsyte so much? His literature (if you can call it that) is quite low brow and trashy.

Dennis Mangan said...

“Jew” and “Turk” were in fact constructs Europeans used to help define their own identity: that which we are not.

Yeah, those words don't mean anything except in the minds of those evil Europeans. In fact, "European" means nothing except "not a Jew or Turk".

Anonymous said...

Chill out on the anti-Semitic innuendo, dipshit.

rob said...

Jewish people aren't retarded. They have to realize that being hated by Arabs is just an annoyance. Europeans hating them is existentially dangerous. Surely some think that if they give Europe to Arabs, then Arabs will get over the Jews taking Israel. Even if they don't, at least the stronger potential enemy gets weakened.

Anonymous said...

Europe lags far behind the United States in its ability to craft a truly multiethnic society, to turn newcomers into citizens. European countries, by this reckoning, are prisoners of their old racial or nationalistic identities.

Why just that comparison?

How does Israel measure up?

Zimbabwe, China anyone?

Tanstaafl said...

“Jew” and “Turk” were in fact constructs Europeans used to help define their own identity: that which we are not.

And "goyim" and "kafir" are European constructs too?

Tanstaafl said...

“Turk” meant Muslim, Arab, infidel, the threat from without; a Jew was the enemy within, someone who, even if born and raised in your hometown, was part of another political as well as religious entity; the Jews of a city were referred to not as a community but as “the Jewish nation.”

My brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the stranger, Turk and Jew against European.

OneSTDV said...

Can Job Cohen, a Jew who reaches out to Muslims, be the next Dutch prime minister — and a model for Europe?

What exactly does a "model for Europe" mean? Allowing even more Muslims in so they can further take over European society?

I think Geert van Wilders and the Swiss minaret ban were setting a good precedent. How about using that as a "model for Europe"?

Reg C├Žsar said...

You'd think a fellow who wrote a whole book about the fate of Dutch Manhattan might have taken into consideration how that early experiment with immigration and multiculturalism turned out.

On the island of Manhate, and in its environs, there may well be four or five hundred men of different sects and nations: the Director General told me that there were men of eighteen different languages... -- Fr. Isaac Jogues

Ondrej said...

Cohen is a mayor of Amsterdam. From Wiki: "Today, people of non-Western origin make up approximately one-third of the population of Amsterdam, and more than 50% of children."

More on Amsterdam: „Among Holland’s 50 largest municipalities Amsterdam ranks 49th in the area of safety, 43rd when it comes to poverty, and — related to the latter — 49th in the percentage of residents on welfare. Regarding the percentage of privately-owned housing, it is right at the bottom (50th).

Social welfare system has suffered both from the influx of relatively unskilled or unemployable immigrants, as well as from a changing work ethic — or perhaps we should say, lack of work ethic — that has seen a high percentage of people, from immigrant and local background alike, remain on welfare without valid reasons.”

But the good news: “ Amsterdam is a powerful magnet for people from around the globe — including many refugees, legal and illegal immigrants. The city is home to people from some 185 different nationalities. its large choice of cultural offerings, combined with the presence of a varied culinary selection, all set in a historical city, makes for happy citizens..”

http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl/162-amsterdam-livability



Seems like deconstructing the idea of Dutch nation already bears its fruit.

Mark H said...

"As Cohen told me: “The approach is geared toward the individual. You hear that one of these kids has changed in the past few months. Is there someone who knows him, who can talk to him? You put questions: Why don’t you go to school? Should I look for a job for you? If you think life is better in Morocco, go and see for yourself.” Pieter Jan van Slooten, a policy adviser who works on the antiradicalization program, told me that his office now works hand in hand with mosques as well as schools and community groups to determine when young Muslims show signs of falling prey to radicalism."

This is pretty much what we need in America. Had our government pursued such policies, the recent acts of terror could been prevented.

Whatever criticism one may level at this man, at least he is far ahead of liberals in America. When was the last time Democrats openly criticized the Muslim community in America? It never happened.

l said...

Somebody should tell the Israelis that "Jew" and "Palestinian" are crude constructs.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/201053133047995359.html

Fred said...

The funny thing is that the New York Times didn't need to go to Amsterdam to profile an "integrationist" Jewish politician; they could have found one right in their backyard, in the city once known as New Amsterdam, in the person of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer: "Tea Party leader Mark Williams rips Scott Stringer as 'Jewish Uncle Tom' for supporting WTC mosque".


"They have to realize that being hated by Arabs is just an annoyance."

Getting killed is more than an annoyance. A lot more Jews have been killed by Muslims in the last 60 years than by Dutchmen or other Europeans.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those words don't mean anything except in the minds of those evil Europeans. In fact, "European" means nothing except "not a Jew or Turk".

Yeah. As if there were nothing there. Because if there's nothing there then there's nothing that anyone need worry about preserving and putting something there will only make us stronger.

Henry Canaday said...

The major powers of Europe, England, France, Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary, did indeed have a problem with excessive national pride and willingness to assert it militarily, up to about 1914-18, a problem revived by Germany in the 1930s and Russia after the Second World War.

But The Netherlands has not been any kind of major power since the late 17th Century, and then only a trading and naval power. The Dutch of this Golden Age provided a model for European progress, in art, religious tolerance, a rough kind of democracy and economic dynamism, partly because a trading power necessarily welcomes people from all over the world in its main port.


When other European nations tried to imitate the tolerant and dynamic Dutch, the effort was followed by two centuries of real progress, but also by civil wars and the building of trade empires, and then a ‘reset’ toward jealous nationalism and militarism. It might to be an interesting century ahead if the new Dutch model is copied elsewhere.

dearieme said...

"I was visited with the sudden realization that over the formative centuries of European history the two words that most succinctly signaled “other,” “foreign” or “enemy” were these: “Jew” and “Turk.” "

Oh what balls. For the Dutch, English, Scottish and many Germans, "Roman Catholics" were the key threat over many centuries that were formative for them. Indeed, they were more than threatening for the slaughtered or supressed Protestants of France, Austria, Poland, and the Czech lands.

Anonymous said...

Jews don't traditional fear/hate muslims - they look at their "golden age' as the moorish occupation of Spain - no bother about how the iberians felt about it, it was good for jews.
Likewise the look at Queen Isabel as 'evil'

Funny side note - most all monarchs that were reform minded and anti-corruption were almost inevitably 'anti semitic' hmmm.

tommy said...

I think Jews are inclined to push for the "proposition nation" model everywhere except Israel.

Cohen may help the left remain relevant by moderating its rhetoric, but nothing important will change. The situation will continue to deteriorate. The Netherlands needs radical action, but it will get Cohen and his kind instead.

the Jews of a city were referred to not as a community but as “the Jewish nation.

Observant Jews have generally viewed themselves as being above and not counted amongst the nations. Occasionally they refer to themselves as a goy kodesh, or holy nation. Jews have always viewed themselves as a people apart, and that is not merely a European construct. Who is this asshat kidding?

Anonymous said...

"But the good news: “ Amsterdam is a powerful magnet for people from around the globe — including many refugees, legal and illegal immigrants. The city is home to people from some 185 different nationalities. its large choice of cultural offerings, combined with the presence of a varied culinary selection, all set in a historical city, makes for happy citizens..”

This sounds like a description of NY or Chicago. It's a shame that's happening in Europe also.

Noah said...

The Netherlands has always had a large percentage of Jewish people...that's where the Sephardic Jews fled after the Spanish Inquisition booted them from Spain...

Dutch Boy said...

Gee, what luck! The Dutch can have a tag-team of enemies ruining their society instead of depending on the Muslims alone.

stari_momak said...

Meanwhile, over at NRO, the death of some poor Israeli commandos who were just trying to enjoy a little paintball practice gets, oh, about 100 times more coverage than the death of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz.

Mr. Anon said...

"Earlier this year, Wilders’s party was leading in the polls. In municipal elections in early March, his party, riding on his virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric,...."

I.e., for telling the truth about the effect of muslim immigration to Europe.

"But shortly afterward, the political landscape was transformed by the surprise entry of Cohen into the race to lead the country. In an electorate split up across a dozen or so parties, the Labor Party doubled overnight, from 11 percent in the polls to 22 percent, while Wilders’s numbers have dropped in several straight polls."

And this is not grounds for suspicion? Isn't it possible that these polls are being cooked?

"“This is the Netherlands!”"

No, this is a usurpation and the theft of a european people's rightful home and nation.

corvinus said...

They make out Cohen and Wilders as having opposite ideas. Why not try both? Ban immigration of Muslims to the Netherlands and encourage emigration (via propaganda on how cheap and uncrowded life in Morocco or Turkey is and cutting off welfare), yet at the same time borrow some of Cohen's ideas so they don't burn down your cities in the meantime...

ATBOTL said...

Geert Wilders isn't much better than this guy. He would be happy if the Netherlands became 100% black as long as they weren't Muslims.

l said...

Palestinian children need smart Jewish lawyers:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/201053082239109343.html

rob said...

Getting killed is more than an annoyance. A lot more Jews have been killed by Muslims in the last 60 years than by Dutchmen or other Europeans.

Sixty years? What about increasing the window by a decade? Does that change the count, even just a little? Did something happen in that decade that led to the creation of Israel? Even just one thing that a few Jews might never forget?

Anonymous said...

As Christian Europe becomes secular, why should Jews not also lcease to meet as a community?

Well, if religious Muslims immigrate, then Jews have an excuse to continue to "dwell alone".

Anonymous said...

RE: "They have to realize that being hated by Arabs is just an annoyance."

I'm having a hard time thinking of myself as they. As a Jew I feel comfortable with my Christian neighbors. Those among them who are antisemites don't threaten my life--they are just low-level annoyance. Freedom of association is more important than forced niceness.

But I do fear Muslisms. Even non-radical ones have become the silent majority that tolerates radicalization of their young. And then we are talking about incivility, violence, blood, etc.

When my friends and acquaintances who live in non-EU Eastern European countries complain about this or that ethnic group, I tell them they don't know how lucky they are. The worries they have now are nothing, a slight inconvenience of a tight shoe, in comparison with Islamization.

When they look wistfully at EU, I tell them: at least your country can't be invaded by Muslims. Maybe Eastern Europe will become the beacon of freedom despite some totalitarian tendencies. After all, your own dictator looks more attractive when compared with a Muslim dictator and Sharia government.

Mr. Anon said...

"“ Amsterdam is a powerful magnet for people from around the globe — including many refugees, legal and illegal immigrants. The city is home to people from some 185 different nationalities. its large choice of cultural offerings, combined with the presence of a varied culinary selection, all set in a historical city, makes for happy citizens..”"

I have my doubts that a utopian society can be built upon the desire to legally score weed and tail.

Mr. Anon said...

" rob said...

"Getting killed is more than an annoyance. A lot more Jews have been killed by Muslims in the last 60 years than by Dutchmen or other Europeans."

Sixty years? What about increasing the window by a decade? Does that change the count, even just a little? Did something happen in that decade that led to the creation of Israel? Even just one thing that a few Jews might never forget?"

Yes, and that was done by Germans, not by the Dutch. If jews treat every gentile as a potential murderer, they should not be surprised if we end up not liking them. If they are so mistrustful of their fellow citizens, then they should not live in western nations - they should emigrate to Israel. But don't expect me to turn my country on its head in order to assauge your uneasiness.

jody said...

is there any place outside of israel where politically active jews are not extremely hostile toward european peoples?

Fred said...

"Yes, and that was done by Germans, not by the Dutch. If jews treat every gentile as a potential murderer, they should not be surprised if we end up not liking them. If they are so mistrustful of their fellow citizens, then they should not live in western nations"

Rob (who I presume is not Jewish) brought up the Holocaust, not me or another Jew here. I think Rob misses a couple of distinctions though. One is the one that you pointed out, that the genocide in that case was launched by Germany, not the Netherlands. The other is that, even in Germany, it took years of political machinations for the Nazis to turn the industrial might of Germany into an engine of genocide and to turn individual Germans into agents of the final solution.

The vast destruction the Nazis had heaped on the German people by the end of the 3rd Reich also left a bad taste in the mouths of Germans that remains generations later. So a resurgence of a Nazi-like genocide against Jews there seems unlikely. But even if it did happen, it would again require a period of political machinations and organization.

On the other hand, present day Muslims have no such qualms against killing Jews, and it requires no elaborate political machinations or organization for them to do so. So a Dutch Jew has a lot more to fear from a group of Muslims in an alley today than he does from a group of Dutchmen or Germans.

rob said...

You've convinced me Fred. Mr. Cohen has no reasons at all to destroy Holland. He's doing it for shits and giggles because he's an evil monster.

Fred said...

"You've convinced me Fred. Mr. Cohen has no reasons at all to destroy Holland. He's doing it for shits and giggles because he's an evil monster."

No, you're right, Rob: Mr. Cohen is trying to destroy The Netherlands (Holland is just one part of that country, incidentally; if you love Europe so much you should try to be less ignorant about it) to get back at Nazi Germany for the Holocaust. That makes a lot of sense.

corvinus said...

I should also point out that the Netherlands has had a Jewish presence for hundreds of years. In fact, in some respects Yiddish is closer to Dutch than German. Just to give one example, the word for "to be" is zijn in Dutch and sein in German, but the Hebrew letters in Yiddish spell out zijn.

Fred said...

"I should also point out that the Netherlands has had a Jewish presence for hundreds of years."

Of course. That's where Spinoza and other Iberian Jews went when fleeing the Inquisition. Before the Dutch switched to the Euro, Spinoza's face was on their 1000 guilder note.

The Dutch have long had a tradition of welcoming foreigners. Wrongly or rightly, Cohen is acting in that tradition.