If Mary went to Bethlehem today

Three years ago, Scott McConnell, the editor and publisher of The Israel-Hating Leftist, a.k.a. The American Conservative, approvingly quoted a description of the Virgin Mary as a “poor Palestinian woman.” Drawing on Bat Ye’or’s analysis, I said that McConnell was “invoking the Revisionist Palestinian Theology which is aimed at removing Israel from its central place in the Christian world view, as a preparation for removing Israel from the world.”

Which raises an interesting question: what would actually happen to that “poor Palestinian woman” if she went to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem today? Dr. Denis MacEoin of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, wrote a letter to the Independent venturing an answer.

Also, for a full draught of the World according to Scott McConnell, see his cover article in the July 3, 2006 issue, “Divided & Conquered,” in which, striking one victimological note after another, and identifying himself totally and uncritically with the Palestinians, he blames the entire Israel-Palestinian problem on the Israelis’ perverse meanness and selfishness.

Note: While I condemn TAC and McConnell and will continue to do so, I also continue to point out that the magazine is a strangely mixed bag and that one can find a worthwhile conservative article or two in every issue.

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Tom S. writes:

I never cease to be amazed at the extent to which the paleo right has internalized the radical Arab view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even anti-Israel organizations such as the BBC, and anti-Israeli pundits such as Robert Fisk, usually at least go through the motions of blaming both sides, before they start criticizing Israel. But for paleos such as McConnell, Buchanan, and Sobran, there is not even a pretense of such even-handedness—the whole problem is Israel and Israeli policy. Even hard-headed realpolitik is denied as being a possible Israeli motivation; to those like McConnell, Israel is simply being mean and cruel, for no reason at all. Cut out the references to Allah, and most paleo pronouncements on the Middle East could have come straight from a Hamas press release. McConnell, it seems, even has trouble admitting that his (and our) Savior was a Jew! Criticizing Israel is one thing, but this verges on the pathological.

LA replies:

Tom writes: “Even hard-headed realpolitik is denied as being a possible Israeli motivation; to those like McConnell, Israel is simply being mean and cruel, for no reason at all.”

Tom’s characterization of McConnell’s view of Israel is better than mine, “he blames the entire Israel-Palestinian problem on the Israelis’ perverse meanness and selfishness.” Selfishness still implies some rational motive. But, according to McConnell, there is no rational motive for Israel’s supposed refusal to make peace with the Palestinians. He says in the article I linked that the Israelis could have easily solved the Palestinian problem any time, but that they have refused to do so, out of sheer nastiness.

This is the classic leftist victimological view of things, and earns McConnell’s magazine the sobriquet, “Israeli-Hating Leftist.”

LA continues:

As an indication of the extraordinarily pro-Palestianian character of The American Conservative, an Arab-owned magazine store in my neighborhood in Manhattan, Global Ink, at 111th Street and Broadway, carries back issues of TAC going back eight or ten months. I have never seen a magazine store keep back issues of a magazine like this. Obviously they favor TAC because of its pedal to the metal opposition to the state of Israel.
A reader writes:

Too strong that bit about Israel Hating Leftist, and innacurate because some things it has are really conservative.

LA replies:

To make a point, one cannot get into every nuance. A certain broadness is permissible. McConnell’s theme—the passion that drove him to found the magazine and that has been its central thread from the start—is both anti-Israel and leftist, leftist in the sense of mindlessly siding with a third-world “victim” against a Western country.

And here, as every time I have attacked TAC, I have added the qualification that the magazine also features legitimate conservative content. Just the other day I quoted and recommended a TAC article. I realize it seems odd both to attack a magazine so strongly and to praise it. But that’s the uncomfortable reality that one cannot escape. Completely to dismiss TAC would be wrong, since there are worthwhile things about it. But to fail to draw attention to TAC’s dark and hateful side would also be wrong.

Ingemar P. writes:

I agree that there is something sinister—or, at best, intellectually sloppy or dishonest—about Mary and Jesus being labelled as Palestinians. I do not know of any scholar worth his salt who would call Vercingetorix a Frenchman.

Interestingly enough, the name “Palestine” is an invention of the Romans (c. 70 AD), to humiliate the Jews who were defeated and scattered at Masada. They named the ancient lands of Judea and Samaria after the hated Phillistines.

LA replies:

True, but the origins of the word are not relevant in this context. In many instances, the name of a group was coined as a denigrating reference used by the group’s enemies (e.g. “Puritans,” “neoconservatives”), and was eventually embraced by the group itself. From ancient times, the land was called Palestine—and its modern Zionist Jewish residents were referred to as “Palestinians,” with no one thinking there was anything derogatory about that—until May 1948, when the State of Israel was founded.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 28, 2006 09:25 AM | Send

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