[URBANTH-L]this is so unbalanced

Jamie Sherman jsone at Princeton.EDU
Thu Jan 8 13:23:57 EST 2009

While I can see the point regarding "sanitized language," and am -  
like so many others - horrified by the actions taken by the Israeli  
government, I found Loshitzky's article offensive and inflammatory  
rather than helpful in promoting critical thinking or analysis. The  
moderator's comment, that Loshitzky used "strong language" does not  
nearly capture the problem. Strong language is less the issue than  
the blurring of the line between analysis, activism, and propaganda.

That Israel has deliberately used attractive female voices as part of  
their propaganda machine is worth pointing out, but Loshitzky's  
rhetoric not only mirrors the sexism of Israel's public relations  
tactics (as Virginia Cornue pointed out)  it even more  
problematically makes absolutely no distinction between Israeli  
governmental policies and the Israeli body politic. In failing to  
make the distinction, what ought to be justifiable outrage against  
the Israeli government and its current and past mistreatments of the  
Palestinian people becomes what others have called "anti-Israel"  
statements. Moreover, such conflations shut down the possibility of  
dialogue between those Israelis (myself among them) who oppose  
Israel's policies by casting any response that does not simply agree  
with her position as more Israeli apologetics and propaganda. In this  
way, I see Loshitzky's writing as not only problematic from an  
intellectual and academic perspective but harmful to what slender  
hope there is for any kind of resolution to the conflict.

In this way, and for that reason, Loshitsky's article points to the  
mechanisms of propaganda, her essay is itself propaganda as much (or  
more than) analysis. Which opens the question here: What is, and how  
do we navigate the line between an ethically engaged anthropology and  
partisan propaganda in emotionally and morally charged contexts? To  
what extent and in what ways can anthropological activism be  
mobilized toward constructive dialogue across religious, ethnic, and  
political affiliations?

Perhaps by way of comparison, while Marranci's commentary was  
extremely critical of Israel, I found it illuminating, deeply  
disturbing, and challenging in the best way. By addressing the  
interplay of power and analyzing the actions of each in terms of  
their respective strategies, he brought new insights without  
demonization and opened a space for analytical and moral discourse  
that - to me - represents the hope of understanding and addressing  
rather than simply continuing to flame the resentments that reproduce  
the conflict.

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