Guardian contributor Mya Guarnieri and the banality of anti-Zionism

Though Mya Guarnieri seems unfettered by the requirements to abide by even the most rudimentary standards of decency, context, or proportion when taking aim at Israel on the pages of Comment is Free, the writer has evidently seen the need to spread her wings and diversify her anti-Zionist portfolio of late – writing pieces for the pro-Islamist Al-Jazeera (here and here) and, more recently, for the Bethlehem-based Palestinian news agency, Ma’an.

Guarnieri’s CiF commentary has expressed a loathing for the Jewish state that’s generally explicit enough as not to require much in the way of fisking – opining over the course of three entries in 2010 that Israel is a state which consistently displays its wretched “inhumanity“, a nation which is racist, “white and ugly“,  and is experiencing a “wave of religious fascism”, a trend which calls into the question “Judaism’s very soul” – the latter invective, it should be noted, advances the narrative of collective Jewish responsibility for Israeli actions which, in addition to her opinion that Israel shouldn’t exist, represents views codified as anti-Semitic (that is, racist). 

Guarnieri’s entries for Al-Jazeera has employed similar themes, but has contextualized and further developed her charges of fascism by noting that Israel’s descent into political darkness – which she suggested was not unlike Germany’s descent into Nazism in the 1930’s – may hopefully bring about her desired outcome, Israel’s implosion, the end of a sovereign Jewish state.

Her most recent piece for Ma’an (“Palestinian identity under attack in Israel“, April 29), expressed outrage that Israel’s Education Ministry has recently decided to add a question about the Holocaust to the matriculation exam of Arab students, which she contrasts with the state’s decision not to encourage schools to advance the narrative to Israel’s Arab children that Israel’s very creation – in the aftermath of the war in which seven Arab armies tried to destroy the nascent Jewish state on the day of her birth – was a catastrophe which should be mourned.

Consistent with Guarnieri’s previous rhetorical assaults, her diatribe against Israeli policy regarding teaching the Nakba contains gross exaggerations meant to assign maximum malice to Israel – falsely characterizing Israel’s efforts, which merely deny state funds to groups who seek to undermine the very moral foundation of its existence as “a ban on any study of the Nakba.”  

Of course, there’s a huge difference between merely denying funds to groups who advance subversive ideas and banning such speech, a profound distinction which Guarnieri evidently can not be burdened with.

But the temptation to use this incident to reinforce her broader narrative of an oppressive, fascist Israeli state was likely too great, and indeed she dutifully finds a quote characterizing the guidelines as evidence that Israel is establishing a “thought police” – which she attributed to a stray bit of hyperbole from an MK from “the right-wing Labor Party”.

Of course, as anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of Israeli politics would surely know, Labor is not “right-wing” but, rather, a left-wing party – and though increasingly marginal in Israeli politics, is, of course, solidly Zionist.

But, if, as Guarnieri does, you see the state’s very creation as a moral catastrophe, characterize the nation as one governed by religious fascism, liken it to Nazi Germany in the mid-30s, and openly opine that a sovereign Jewish state should not exist within any borders, those who don’t share your views -Israelis (and her supporters) who stubbornly resist the continuing efforts to bring about its annihilation – are, of course, by definition, “right-wing”, “fascist”, and racist.

To Guarnieri, as with the Arab publications she’s increasingly finding common cause with, it’s not simply the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem which is a “catastrophe” but Israel’s very existence – a plight upon the Middle East, and a stain upon Judaism itself, which can only be ameliorated by her destruction.

As we approach the 63rd anniversary of Israel’s birth, it seems that anyone schooled in the long, often dark history of the Jewish people shouldn’t be the least bit surprised that there are those today, as in every generation, who seek our destruction.

However, I hope I can be forgiven for my continuing exasperation over the realization that our modern enemies are more and more represented by those, like Guarnieri, whose malevolence are represented as a sophisticated, enlightened, and progressive orientation.

I can’t help but picture the young, hip Guarnieri (who lives in Israel and fancies herself quite the Hebraist) crafting her polemical assaults on Jewish sovereignty while frequenting the chic Tel Aviv cafes of Shenkin St., breezily employing the most careless and trite invectives in service of bringing about my state’s demise – a blind malevolence informed by a seemingly causal, pseudo-intellectual detachment.

As I sit here in Jerusalem on the eve of Yom HaShoah it’s the utter banality which increasingly characterizes anti-Zionist malice that I find so haunting.  

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