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The Israeli Left's last novel

A new best-selling novel by Nir Baram takes aim at the Israeli ‘peace industry,’ globalization and the sense of betrayal a generation of left wing and progressive operatives is leaving behind.

Nir Baram (Photo: PR)

I’ve wanted to write about Nir Baram’s new novel, World Shadow (The book is alternatively titled, “The World is a Rumor” in English), for several weeks. It’s a story of power, the battle for and against it, and the inevitable corruption of all causes in the late-capitalist world. The theme is common to many works of fiction these days, but the context is unique, and especially the novel’s criticism of the Israeli Left and the two projects it has been involved in: the peace process and economic liberalization. Given Baram’s own history and personal credentials – he is the son of a veteran, well-respected Labor MK – I found these sections in the novel to be particularly interesting.

The complicated plot of World Shadow – as complicated as the political and economic structures that dominates our lives – is told from three points of view: an ambitious businessman’s journey into the heart of the Israeli political and business elite (and his inevitable fall from grace); a group of mostly British anarchists’ attempt to organize an international strike that would fatally disrupt the capitalist order; and the story of an imaginary, global, democratic-leaning, consulting company that is hired to carry out shady political assignments all over the world.

A turning point in the career of the novel’s Israeli hero, Gabriel Manzur, takes place when he is made the representative of a Jewish-American fund in Israel – one which supports soft-leftist causes, from student loans to democracy and peace-building. Later, Manzur and his partners become closer to the Labor elite that ran the peace process and the rapid privatization of the Israeli market that went hand-in-hand with it.

Drawing connections between capitalism and the failure of the peace process is not a new idea, but Baram takes it beyond academic analysis. He tries, and mostly succeeds, to describe the way the process worked, not just from an organizational perspective but also inside people’s minds. He demonstrates how peace became the project of a certain political and economic elite, and what rationalizations were made when the peace process went from being an objective and became a means for achieving power. As the “local” part of the plot advances, the creation of a new Middle East becomes a business venture, and diplomacy turns into the ultimate networking event.

Over the years, I’ve met Nir Baram at various left-wing initiatives. His name often appears on writers’ petitions against the occupation, and before the 2009 election campaign he was involved in a largely failed attempt to revive Meretz. World Shadow is Baram’s third major novel; it has been one at the top of Israel’s bestseller lists for the past five weeks. I conducted a short email interview with Baram about the criticisms of left-wing politics in his book.

Q: Your criticism of the peace process is very different from the common narrative. It’s not about the settlements or security, but rather the manipulations of local and global elites.

For over a decade now I have been examining the peace project – in which I believed, rather naively, during the 90s – from a critical perspective. Gradually I understood that while many of the people involved in the project really believed in peace, at the same time, they learned to speak the language of peace and globalization and to use this language to better their financial status. It is not a conspiracy but simply the outline of a process.

Just like the Right, the Israeli Left adopted [Baram uses the Hebrew word which means “enslaved” – N.S.] global capitalistic principals, including outrageous privatization and a constant battle with organized labor. It did it in part because of its own close connections with global institutions and corporations that supported the peace process.

What about the current round of negotiations?

The interesting thing is that the process has been going on for years now, even though it is obvious that there’s no chance for an agreement, and then you ask yourself: why don’t these people initiate a real assessment of reality?

In the last decade it was proven that in order to maintain economic growth in Israel, “peace” is not needed and an indefinite process is enough. The result: we have been talking for 40 years about the two-state solution while at the same time, a reality of occupation and dispossession planted its roots. How long can you maintain a process that doesn’t change a thing in the day-t0-day reality? Will we be in ‘the process’ in 2045 as well? It seems that the process became its own justification.

World Shadow, which describes the actions of a global consulting firm through email exchanges between its senior employees, has won many praises in the local press for its literary achievement (the novel as a whole received mostly positive reviews). It is just as interesting from a political perspective. The workers at the firm hold the highest moral ideas – some are progressives, one is even described as a hero of some civil rights struggles – yet they work for dubious candidates and at times even for criminals. Much of their correspondence has to do with an effort to reconcile their ideals with political games. The dark tone of the novel suggests that even the best of people can rationalize the worst of actions, when it serves their interests.

Reading the novel, I thought about the ease with which President Clinton, who is admired by the Israeli Left for his role in the Oslo years, moved into a lobbying position for international companies that were working directly against the interests of the Israeli public regarding taxation of natural gas companies.

I asked Baram where he came up with the idea of the firm, and which people he had in mind.

I read a great deal about such consulting firms. And I understood that a novel like this can’t describe good and bad, black and white. People who work in companies like MSV [this is the name of the lobbying and consulting firm in the novel – N.S.] have principles, things they believe in – and they live in a constant struggle between their jobs and the values they believe in.

This tension is especially fascinating in our generation, where so many people work for companies, corporations, governments, etc., whose actions they oppose. In my opinion, this fact is what gave  complexity to the part of the novel about MSV.

I really wondered how I should describe the essence of an international political consulting corporation. And the conclusion was that the sum of correspondence between the senior employees, in which conspiracies are being hatched, planes, where they talk about personal life, ethics and money, about hopes for the future and ways to politically eliminate the president of Bolivia – all these are actually the “corporate soul.” In a way I handed the story to the company’s workers. It was quite a challenge creating different characters only through emails and protocols, sometimes with a single sentence.

Your Israeli hero is the representative of an investment fund which supports democracy and peace in Israel. Reading the book, I had the feeling that you are suspicious of the growing dependence of the Israeli Left on foreign support and funding. I must admit that this is an issue that is on my mind as well.

I used to be in such an NGO – one that really does important work – and in every discussion, they asked: “Wait, is this idea political? If it’s political than it can’t be done.” The entire fight, the vision, was shattered for so many NGOs, each doing important work, but one which is confined to a tiny fragment of the world. That’s one problem.

Moreover, the money from abroad comes with a set of rules, do’s and don’ts; this is something that castrates the potential of constant political action. Like what [the head of MSV] Thorstin Vanderslys says in the novel, and I tend to agree with him on this: “the best political and moral minds are busy in an endless negotiation with government offices, but there is no force that fights for the grand political vision.”

Like many other works of fiction from recent years, your book replaces Communism with Anarchism as the dominant ideology – or fantasy? – of left-wing revolutionary forces. Why did this change took place in your opinion?

The rebels in the novel indeed don’t promise a brave new world. That is the trap, right? The capitalism of the past 30 years drains the wealth of 90 percent to the benefit 2 or 3 percent. This is crystal clear by now. Last month it was reported that 95 percent of the financial recovery’s fruits in the U.S.A. landed in the hands of the upper 1 percent. This is such a chilling fact that just because of it millions were supposed to flood the streets in protest. But when you raise opposition to it, you’re immediately confronted by this reaction: do you have a better model? Please explain. And every model you suggest will be shoved aside with, “That’s already failed.”

Now, Anarchism obviously rose because of the failure of the communist project in the Soviet Union, but the London rebels I describe say something else when they call for a billion-strong strike – “we don’t have an image of redemption right now. First we will disrupt the current order, which is the greatest disaster, and then, after we match the power of global capitalism, we will speak about the future.” A fight doesn’t require the clear image of a new order. You fight evil because it’s evil now, and out of the struggle solutions emerge.

What’s missing from World Shadow is the Right – both on a local Jewish-Israeli level, and on the international front. Each generation in the Zionist Left has told his own story and scrutinized his parents. Yet Baram published his novel when the Right – and often, the religious right – is the dominant political, cultural and ideological force in Israel. One could almost feel that this is the last novel of the Zionist Left, and by the time it ends, not much of it remains. Even the focus of the plot shifts and major events take place in London and South America, not Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv skyline (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

What remains of the lefty elite has sold out or lost touch with the masses; the political parties are fragmented, lacking a coherent ideology or strategy; and the political causes depend on life support from American and European liberals. A new generation of activists sees itself as part of an international movement, alienated from its parents and their causes and indifferent to the national identity. Could this break down end up being the beginning of something new? We may never know, Baram would say. For the time being, all that is left is to resist.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. XYZ

      For heaven’s sake, you are all focussing on the technical aspects of the social-political-economic order in saying that “Capitalism is bad and rapacious” when the real problem is PEOPLE and human nature, not the mechanics of “the system”. A socialist world order would be just as corrupt if you allow the people running it (and there would always be a powerful elite even if the system claimed to be “social democratic”).
      In any event, the standard of living for much of the world has risen in recent years, and in Mexico, for example, I read that the majority of the population is now middle class thanks to “capitalist” ideas like NAFTA. What is so bad about that? In any system, there are going to be the better off and the worse off. The most important thing to go guarantee everyone the right to rise as far as their talents take ( as opposed to making sure that everyone is the same) and that those in the lower percentiles have their basic needs (food, clothes, shelter, medical care) guaranteed.

      Reply to Comment
      • Right now, in the US, about 26 States are refusing Medicaid extension, leaving 60% of those below the federal poverty line without direct access to Satancare. Defining “basic” is an elite privilege. And “the better off” exist in religion as well.

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      • Kolumn9

        That is precisely the problem. The capitalist system has succeeded where the socialist system failed miserably – the nearly universal distribution of cheap essential goods and services. Best as I can tell every single place that has pursued capitalism is lightyears ahead of where it started. It is almost comical that some people still embrace the failed models of centralized socialism in spite of the repeated failures of that experiment. So, where does that leave people that are ideologically committed to the ideas of the socialist left or for that matter to those that for whatever reason hate capitalism? In panic. There must be something wrong with the system, right? How can it actually work? It is about to fail any minute, right? Why is this thing still working? So, they gradually realize that socialism isn’t likely to work, but their distaste for a working system based on principles they despise remains what guides them. That translates into a desire to see the system collapse even where there is no credible system to replace it.

        Notice that the heroes of this guy’s novel aren’t socialists. They are anarchists. They don’t even bother to present a vision of a better world. That is how brainless the entire approach thing – they pursue revolution because of a nihilistic distaste for the system, not because they know what to replace it with. It is staggeringly obscene that relatively intelligent people propose that the disruption of society should be pursued as *the* goal. Just obscene.

        When it comes to Israel the approach of the extreme left is about the same. A complete distaste for what works – Israel – and a desire to sabotage and replace it even where the proposed solutions are incredibly unlikely to work. Here too it is a nihilism, barely concealed by appeals to greater ideals, that guides people. The Lustick article was a good example of that. He didn’t even bother suggesting that peace would happen were his approach to be pursued – the elimination of Israel – he just prefers years of conflict, death and destruction.

        The whole thing just demonstrates how spoiled the ideologues of the left are. The collapse of a working system and revolutions are seen as good things. The nearly unavoidable collapse in supply chains, in power struggles, the deaths that result from score settling, the deaths that result from pent-up ethnic conflict, the deaths from drug addictions, deaths from preventable diseases, the societal collapse following a collapse of funding institutions, the poverty, the repressions, the massacres, the expulsions are all theoretical constructs on the way to a better world. But they have no better world to offer, so how can they justify collapsing a working order? Faith? In what? They believe in nothing.

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    2. “People who work in companies like MSV have principals, things they believe in – and they live in a constant struggle between their jobs and the values they believe in.” : Human social evolution creates bubbles which allow advancement internally while blinding (or creating resignation) externally. When you burst that bubble with the greater outside, expect to be vilified; yet, without these bubbles, there would be less progress overall, for they give hope, repose, mutual aid. Human particularism bursts bubbles; but new ones need must form. You’re going to lose when you win.

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    3. XYZ

      Well said, Kolumn9. You put your finger on it. This is in line with what I have commented on repeatedly here regarding the apparent indifference to human rights I see so often among so-called “progressives”. The motive was NOT to “improve the lives of humanity” but rather indulging feelings of jealously, rage, impotence, alienation and whatever to simply tear down what exists, for its own sake.
      Regardint “progressives” selling out… I saw a documentary regarding the early history of the USSR and a formerly idealistic young Bolshevik commented how, just 5 years after the Bolshevik Coup (misnamed as “the Bolshevik Revolution”) so many formerly idealistic young Bolsheviks were mainly interested in making a comfortable life for themselves as bureaucratic functionaries.
      Similarly someone wrote a book about what happened to all the young, liberal, idealistic “Braintrusters” FDR brought into the gov’t to run the New Deal. Most later because wealthy influence-peddler lawyers.
      THIS IS HUMAN NATURE.

      Reply to Comment
      • HUMAN NATURE, brought to you by Yahweh.

        Of course elites will always be with us. The question is how to regulate elites, which can happen through battles over entry rules. This too was part of the New Deal. As was Social Security, which allowed later work mobility fueling US economic advance, people then less tied to the care of aging parents (ties now returning).

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        • XYZ

          Or as a secular “progressive” may put it….this is human nature as developed by evolution by way Darwinian natural selection.

          I am afraid I don’t understand your point.

          Reply to Comment
          • Evolutionary theory will have to account for the evolution of humanity endogenously, with no exterior exit once humans are detailed, however that is done. Yahweh creates something inferior, then offers exit–if you do what you are told. But this telling is in fact a human creation. So be afraid, unless, of course, one as a monopoly on God. Evolutionary thought may try to regulate what has evolved, but it doesn’t condemn and then offer a way out which cannot be subject to the same analysis that produced said condemnation.

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      • Kolumn9

        You skipped the most important part. From 1917-1922 the entire structure of Russian society was destroyed. The economy was ruined. Millions were killed and millions fled. Wars, great and small raged. At the end the revolution ate its own. Stalin and Lenin killed, exiled or harshly imprisoned nearly everyone involved in the revolution. Those that survived did so by being invisible as nameless, faceless bureaucrats and focusing only on their own survival and that of their families. This was the only way to survive. If you want to see corruption you have to go to later periods, once the fear of someone knocking on your door in the middle of the night started wearing off. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t corruption in the early days, but most didn’t dare get involved for fear of repercussions. The path of the later corrupt ‘socialists’ in Russia is basically indistinguishable from the path followed by the generation of the 1960s/1970s US ‘progressives’ that gradually settled as a class into cushy lives within the government bureaucracy or milk it from the outside.

        And many of the early Soviet socialists actually had decent intentions. What they did they thought they were doing for creating a better world for humanity. They were delusional but at least many of them were convinced that they were only one additional brutal step away from creating a paradise on earth. Yet the cost of their revolution compared to the outcome was so overwhelmingly imbalanced that there is very little question that it was not worth it. Other countries have industrialized and joined the modern world in vastly less destructive ways while providing better lives to their people.

        At this point many ‘progressives’ are so full of hatred that a ‘better future’ by any objective criteria isn’t even considered a relevant criteria for determining the value of plans or goals. Like in the case of Israel the outcome isn’t important as long as that which exists is destroyed in the process. Those honest enough to admit it state clearly that what they propose might lead to massive bloodshed, but that they just don’t care. The same applies to anarchists who demand the destruction of the system. It isn’t that they think something better will come along. They just don’t care to think that far ahead. Destroying what exists is good enough as an objective. It is nihilism in quasi-intellectual garb driven by a mixture of hatred, boredom and angst, not logic or reason. It is despicable and disgusting.

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    4. XYZ

      Baram Jr here certainly inherited the old MAPAI arrogance and condescension from his form MK father. Who appointed him to tear down the world for the rest of us? Who says he can define the current world system, which as I said has provided the ability of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of people around the world to improve their lives, particularly in Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Far East and even we are seeing the beginnings of this in Africa? People around the world are living longer, healthier lives. Sure there are problems, but things are getting better for much of the world. And Baram Jr, because of whatever personal frustrations and jealousies he has, can act like the Bolsheviks of 1917 and tear everything down in the name of some amourphous “better world” that only Baram Jr knows? We see what happened to the Bolshevik dream. Why would Baram Jr’s destroyed world end up any different?

      Reply to Comment
      • Since the industrial revolution, which began in the UK through textiles, was in large part funded by the slave trade, and since our lives are much better because of the industrial revolution, the slave trade must have been a good thing.

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        • Kolumn9

          Not quite. See, the heroes of this novel and the ‘revolutionaries’ of the day wish to collapse the system, not any individual aspect of it. This is like someone during the industrial revolution demanding to blow up all the factories because somewhere down the line there is some vague connection to the slave trade or to Jews or to immodesty or whatever was considered taboo at the time.

          But what is worse even than that is that they have abandoned even the pretense that the socialists had of trying to build a better world. So, their destruction is just nihilistic.

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          • I hardly know what the novel is in entirety solely from this review. But it seems that at least one major protagonist is not collapsing the system, but altering it from within, or trying to. The question seems one of fallen choice, not world destruction.

            Indeed, there is no single system. Words and resources can transport across systems. I have long starkly known that if all people were like me the world would collapse; this does not mean that a few people like me might not be useful, although I have my doubts on that particular. What you call “anarchists” I see similarly. Young Israeli activists so self labeled are not going to bring Israel down, and I think some of them know that. But they may act as catalysts at crucial moments. In the US, in fact during WW II, Jehovah Witnesses succeeded in bringing at least two crucial religion cases before the Supreme Court–but the US did not thereafter become a nation of Witnesses.

            My point about the evolution of industrialism, that if began fueled by capital from the slave trade, it might still be the case that unpleasant, and unnecessary, destruction still exists in capitalism. The complete nullification of critique is a mistake, and it usually fails at some point. As a once evolutionary biologist I know how the hard the world can be; my conceptual tools may be limited thereby, but they are not vacuous.

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          • Kolumn9

            According to the review one protagonist is failing to alter the system from within and the other protagonists are actively interested in destroying the system caring little about what replaces it.

            Such nihilism should not be justified on the basis of suggesting that all mutations are potentially good for the host. Nor does circumstantial evidence of occasional positive mutations from the extremes justify the inherent immoral stand of people who choose destruction as a goal in and of itself. Were one to go down this road one would have no compass whatsoever to take a stand on anything.

            In the case of Israel there are ‘activists’ who for all practical purposes embrace the destruction of Israel as a goal. Not because they can come up with a viable alternative, but just because they have filled themselves with a hatred of what currently exists and this pointless angst drives them in their interactions with the world. Debating viable alternatives becomes a distraction for them. It is sufficient for them to simply declare that alternatives exist in order to cover their ass about the inherent nihilism of their position.

            A critique of capitalism often falls into a similar hole. Blinded by the aspects of capitalism that are ideologically deemed immoral or offensive critics choose to ignore or downplay the staggeringly massive benefits that it has imparted on the planet. And sure, the way that capitalism works is through the destruction of existing networks when more efficient systems become available. It is a destructive system by its very nature. In the best of worlds that destruction is tempered by some reasonable amount of temporary redistribution to those impacted so that they can land on their feet. Where the critique focuses on these aspects it is entirely legitimate. Many on the left go way past that point towards rejecting it as a system entirely, usually by focusing on its negative aspects, but with no viable proposals for its replacement. Where alternatives are proposed they are of the “there are alternatives” cover-your-ass variety rather than practical proposals. This provides ideological justification to those, like some of the protagonists of this book, to focus on destruction for the purpose of destruction driven by the idea that the destruction of a bad thing must be inherently good. However, such an attitude is not driven by logic, but by a simplistic blind hatred of a system for the distribution of goods and services that actually works remarkably well according to all the available evidence.

            Reply to Comment
          • I wouldn’t say all mutations are good for the host, and in any case don’t like to call the State or society as an organism. Neither of us really know the novel. A “billion strong strike” is fantasy, hardly an attempt to bring anything down. Which is distinct from violence, as capitalists have, in many cases, used violence to achieve their personal goals. I have found that extreme positions can produce alternatives for change and mending. A position can be important not because it wins, but because it is there to generate alternatives. And this happened during the American Great Depression.

            It is the blanket silencing you apply, generally, which I dislike and distrust. As an example, Anarchist of the Wall (if that is the correct name) would probably not be if the Wall was on the Green Line. As it is, they have helped detail what the Wall has done to lives. As I read you, you don’t care what the Wall or occupation does to lives, save in so far as it makes locals conform to “Israeli” wishes. So all attempts to intervene are amplified in presentation to destructive absurdity, needing to be silenced. Anarchism is not the problem–rather, the tools employed. Nonviolent anarchism, which does exist, really fails your predictions. Yet you lump it all together.

            As an aside, you say below that Scandinavian countries are moving toward an “American model.” Yet they do not start with the proportional equivalent of 40 million uninsured for health in the US. You simply ignore such things. They are a cost of the true system. Silencing is a tool I too well know from the receiving end; I want no part of it.

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          • Kolumn9

            Again you return to embracing extreme positions because they ‘might’ be eventually productive. ‘Extreme positions’ have also led to suffering on an industrial scale. Yet, if you are incapable of judging nihilistic anarchism as being fundamentally wrong, then you have no capacity for moral judgement whatsoever. Go away because really you are just trolling in your pontifications.

            It is not blanket silencing to suggest that a person that wishes me destruction is not someone whose opinions I should particularly tolerate, publicize or acknowledge as legitimate. It is common sense. “Anarchists against the wall” would most certainly still exist with a slightly different name regardless of whether a wall would exist or not. The wall just happens to be a widely known symbol among the community they get support and encouragement from and it provides them with legitimacy in certain circles. Yet, yes, their goals are indeed nihilistic and destructive even if you like some of their articles. ‘Non-violent’ Nazism and ‘non-violent’ Communism all existed and still I can lump those that held those ideologies together. I don’t see why I should make a distinction for the anarchists because they have yet to wreak mass havoc on the world. And yes, Nazism and Communism were the problem, and so is Anarchism.

            As for the wall, it was necessary and in my view still is since nothing has really changed. If you didn’t live in Israel through the time period when the buses were blowing up on a daily or weekly basis then you aren’t going to understand. You can whine all you want but you are not going to convince anyone who has. So, the answer to you point, is yes, I don’t care what needs to be done to ensure my personal security and the personal security of my fellow citizens. I have yet to see a reason why I should accept a massive increase in the risk to my life and those of my loved ones out of concern for the well-being of people who by and large would treat my killer as a hero. And before you go off about me generalizing. Yes, I am generalizing. Explicit support for the massacres of Israeli civilians (that is, me) was only running at about 75% among the Palestinian population when the buses and restaurants were blowing up. Oh, and those that would have killed me back then are still treated as heroes by both the people and the officials among the Palestinians.

            Your aside is not interesting. I already pointed out that the overall results in terms of societal performance between the Scandinavian model and the American model are basically the same. Given that, I am not interested in having a debate about your domestic policy preferences and that is all it is when both systems have nearly identical vital indicators.

            Reply to Comment
          • “if you are incapable of judging nihilistic anarchism as being fundamentally wrong, then you have no capacity for moral judgement whatsoever. Go away because really you are just trolling in your pontifications.” : I have encountered this need to silence for certainty before. I found the same socially mandatory dogma in the Soviets. Silence and silencing become weapons. So you remain silent on the Yesh Din reports and the recent analysis of permits in the seam zone. I do not find this the highest level of intelligence.

            In offered example, it is not whether the Wall is wrong or right; it is that the Anarchists of the Wall, through their nonviolent action (which, of course, harms you tremendously), help detail the personal harm the Wall has done. You would silence that harm for asserted benefit; and that is about all needed for your view of “negotiations.” Even if the Wall is completely legitimate in all its placing and rationale, this harms needs to be said, for the future of all. Unless one uses the tool of silencing.

            Embracing “extreme positions” is not inherently wrong. Some might call your own positions extreme. But silencing defines extreme by its forced absence. So, “go away.” It is wanton arrogance to claim that those in your land who lived through the bombings but hold not your views are somehow malformed or lost, which seems to be the position underlying your approach. And you do this all while hiding your name.

            During the WW II, I am certain a majority of Americans approved the internment of Japanese Americans; it was wrong nonetheless, yet I do not condemn Americans as such for it. In your example, you neglect the targeted assassinations that this site, at any rate, says occurred at the beginning of the second intifada. These do not absolve the bombings; but, if true, they color in part whatever polls you might site. Silence has a way of creating truth through removal, again, as the Soviets showed us.

            “I am not interested in having a debate about your domestic policy preferences and that is all it is when both systems have nearly identical vital indicators.” : The vital indicators are not identical at all; the US has one of the highest infant mortality rates in developed countries. Medicaid does not kick in for the poor until they have lost all their assets. Such stark reality is not present in Scandinavia. The Scandinavians will not go to the “American model.”

            Since you have told me what to do, let me suggest that you take your problems with academics elsewhere; go roll over others to show how intelligent you are.

            Silence. Silence is best, for only then is truth heard.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      Capitalism has succeeded in creating immense wealth for a privileged class of risk-takers/entrepreneurs/outright robber barons. In the process, millions of middle-class people have been lifted out of poverty and allowed to live decent lives, if low by comparison to the owners of the system.

      In this respect, capitalism is a success when compared to the failed communist system. But success has is price. For one thing, human greed is such that it literally knows no bounds, and causes severe damage to things like the environment and natural habitat, etc. Ho hum (if you’re from the Mitt Romney school of get rich quick and forget about the consequences).

      Also, the entire world was witness in 2008 to the abysmal failure of unfettered, American-style capitalism, and how capitalism, in its purest, Mitt Romneyesque form is literally a recipe for disaster. Of course, you’ll never hear Mitt Romney and his friends apologize for their part in the failure of their beloved system; for some reason, the man actually thought his career choices afforded him a shot at the Presidency.

      We need only look at the countries with the highest standards of living in the world (consistently the Scandinavian region) for their brand of capitalism, which is tempered with a good dose of socialist elements that ensure that no member of their societies falls through the cracks. Where does the U.S. rank in world quality of life rankings? Far, far south, closer to Eastern European countries than Western ones.

      What about Israel? Happily, it still has some socialist elements in its capitalist system, such as socialized medicare and a welfare system. But the country has been moving closer to the American model in recent years – too close for comfort. Let’s hope future Prime Ministers will look to Scandinavia for inspiration.

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      • Kolumn9

        Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark for a while and now Norway as well) is persistently moving away from the ‘Scandinavian model’ and towards the American one.

        And the differences in the standard of living are not great according to most indicators. According to HDI (human development index) rankings the US is 3rd, just behind Norway and Australia. Sweden and Denmark are 7th and 15th. It is safe to suggest that differences in terms of actual results between the American model and the Scandinavian model are not great. The rest (equality/inequality, vacation policy, paternity leave, government provided health insurance) are arguments over policy preferences, not actual results.

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    6. Aaron Goldberg

      Where can I find English versions of his books. I have read about this guy for year, not even the lousy ‘Jewish’ bookstore around the corner from me here in Melbourne stocks his books? Book Depository has nothing, nor amazon? Thanks

      Reply to Comment
    7. XYZ

      For an accurate, brilliant literary expose on what happens when “the worst possible system” is overthrown spontaneously “by the people” without proper regard for what is to replace it, as Baram Jr is advocating, read George Orwell’s magnum opus “Animal Farm”.

      Reply to Comment
      • I dare to say that Orwell would have no hesitation in decrying the evolved system of Occupation, where doublespeak, his concept, doing fine, “permanent” being just a little longer than “temporary” in the Seam Zone (see 972 post on this topic). So, yes, let us all read “Animal Farm.”

        Reply to Comment
    8. Dan

      Anyone know where to buy this book in english online?

      Reply to Comment
    9. David

      Baram is a signpost of the Israeli left.

      He attacks them for what exactly, trying to end apartheid?

      Deep down he doesn’t care about the Apartheid system. He rather concentrate on the price of cheese for Israeli Jews.

      Ultimately, it’s a man unconcerned with racism. As such, his message is popular to a ‘left’ in Israel that is increasingly racist itself, but in the wider Western world he is to the right of many right-wing nationalist parties in Europe.

      It’s actually quite astounding how a man of his position can moan about the left not thinking about Israeli Jews more, even as the occupation deepened.

      This is why the Israeli left is by and large intellectually and morally bankrupt. They’ve come to accept Apartheid as the permanent solution.
      And now they want the remnants of the left in Israel that still fights for democracy to give up and join their fight in railing against the price of cheese and completely ignoring the Palestinians.

      This is why the left in Israel is dead. It is not only in a moral vacuum, it’s intellectually stupid.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Dan

      He is remind me Yair-Lapid with all the P.R for nothing.
      And you cant read his books in English cause their is not!

      Reply to Comment
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