Let Them Eat Cake: a Journey into Edward Said’s Humanism


Counter Punch has the article Let Them Eat Cake: a Journey into Edward Said’s Humanism.

We had learned in Hebrew school that Israel was a land without people for a people without land. Perfect, I thought. People gave me bar mitzvah gifts including certificates for trees planted there in my honor. A land without people suggested barrenness to me. Trees seemed like a sensible idea.

I remember having long discussions about Israel with a Palestinian friend. I described to him my upbringing that was similar to what was discussed in this article. My only point was that it would be understandable for people to believe what they had been taught as a child. I was not trying to make the case that what they had been taught was true. He educated me a lot about the Palestinian situation, but we never came to a point where I could see eye-to-eye with him. Over the years as we went our separate ways professionally, I have seen how right he was, and how wrong I had been. The final straw for me came when someone recommended that I read “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit. The purpose of the suggestion was to make me less negative about the State of Israel. This book, written by the grandson of one of the founders of the Zionist movement, showed me how correct my Palestinian friend had been in ways that I could not have imagined.

After reading the book and commenting on what I had learned, the person who suggested I read it, banished me from his circle of friends, and we have never spoken since.

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