The Wise Raven is Dead

It takes an enemy to eulogise a great warrior. His hurt cry is sweeter than friends’ approval. A few days ago died my great countryman Edward Said, and our comrades-in-arms wrote obituaries tolling like copper bells in the air of his native Jerusalem. They stressed goodness of his heart, expanse of his knowledge, his relentless support for the downtrodden of Palestine. But to my ears, the most pleasing obituary to Said was that composed by his and ours enemy, one Zev Chafets, who wrote in an American Zionist (well, aren’t they all ?) paper The New York Daily News :

‘Said didn’t blow up Marines in Lebanon in 1983, ignite the Palestinian intifadeh or send Wahhabi missionaries to preach violence against infidels. He certainly didn’t fly a plane into the World Trade Center. What he did do was jam America’s intellectual radar’.

Who the hell is Zev Chafets ? This symbol of integration of two Jewish elites, of America and Israel, an American Jew from Michigan went to Israel in 1967 and became director of the government press office under the arch-terrorist and mass murderer Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Now he poisons Americans’ minds with his racist propaganda and promotes war. On August 19, 2003, he wrote : “The people of Iraq have made their choice. They want barbarism. The polite term for this in the Arab world is self-determination. The Arabs have been given the chance to rule themselves. The result is almost two dozen impoverished, xenophobic dictatorships. This is not a condition imposed upon the Arabs. On the contrary, it expresses their political culture. It’s what the Arabs want”[1].

What do ‘the Jews’ personified by Chafets want, then ? On November 12, 2002, Zev Chafets wrote in the New Haven Register an article headlined, “Disarming Iraq is only a start in Middle East”. He explained that the Arab and Iranian cultures were “irrational” and that nothing could be done to “improve the collective mental health of Arab societies” short of invading and subjugating them to direct Israeli – American rule[2]. In short, they want domination.

Inverting his own rhetoric, we can say : Chafets did not drive a 65 ton bulldozer over the pregnant Nuha Swaidan and the Seattle girl Rachel Corrie, he did not sodomise the Lebanese prisoners of war in the dark cellars of Shabak, he certainly did not pour bombs on Baghdad and Kabul. He provided intellectual support for these deeds. And Edward Said was the greatest adversary he came across.

Edward Said could not stop single-handed the mighty Judeo-American disinformation machine, but he explained to us its working. Like the wise raven from Tolkien’s Hobbit, he pointed out the vulnerable spots of the dragon. He explained to us the vital importance of the battle for narrative, the struggle for discourse, this spiritual plane of the war on the ground. He understood that the scientists and columnists’ ‘explanation’ of the world outside its Anglo-American ‘core’ precedes its conquest. Paradoxically, I came to his reading of history in snowy Moscow of 1991, when the theories of Milton Friedman, the tools of neo-liberal discourse were applied as powerful systemic weapon and turned the people of Russia into poor strangers in their own home.

Though the name of Edward Said is inseparably connected to the sad and haunting Holy Land, it would be a mistake to view his oeuvre through Palestinocentric eyes. He was a Karl Marx to Foucault’s Hegel, to wit, like Marx overturned Hegel and placed his theory on the feet, while previously it was standing on the head ; Said overturned Foucault and gave his great ideas to the people. His Orientalism provides a revelatory reading, for it explains that ‘area studies’ of the American discourse – not only Oriental Studies, but its sisters Kremlinology, Russian Studies and Chinese Studies as well – are tools of subjugation.

But he was also a Karl Marx to Karl Marx. While Marxists concentrated their attention on the ownership of the means of production and saw the capitalist owners as ultimate enemy of the people ; Said perceived the true order of the battle. The great and evil minds that direct politics from their university cathedra are infinitely more important to our future than the rich but feeble-minded bastards. Indeed, their takeover of American universities, so clearly presented by Saul Bellow in his Ravelstein was the paramount event of the last thirty years. Whoever controls universities, controls the media ; who controls media, controls government. Or, in Biblical terms, Leo Strauss begat Wolfowitz, Wolfowitz begat Iraqi War. Milton Friedman begat IMF, IMF begat world poverty. Bernard Lewis begat Samuel Huntington, Samuel Huntington begat the War on Islam. Bernard-Henri Levy begat Andre Sacharov, and the Soviet Union was privatised by Marc Rich and Vladimir Gusinsky.

Said taught us to perceive the big guns of aircraft carrier beyond academic mantle of the reticent professors. He noticed the unique place of Zionist ideas in the Western imperialist thought. He left further development of this thought to us. Indeed, when I pointed out the Zionist connection and the mean Judaic spirit of the new American imperialism, I was duly assaulted by gatekeepers of PC ; but Edward Said wrote to me much needed letters of support. To his last days he referred to my writing, though it was extremely hazardous for a professor in a leading American university. For there are rich benefactors who support universities and think-tanks, who provide advertising to newspapers, and they are tied-in with the Zionist knot.

Edward Said was well aware of it, and he dreamed to use the Arab funds to counteract the Zionist propaganda machine in the tug-of-war for American minds. He could do it : not in vain, Chafets wrote that ‘his “Orientalism” did more for the jihad than a battalion of Osamas’. He was indeed a great warrior in jihad of spirit and he dreamed of our think-tanks fighting the JINSA think-tanks in a spiritual Armageddon. But the Arab princes and the Russian billionaires preferred to spend their money on tangible assets. They did not understand that material things are more fragile and perishable than the assets of spirit, and that tomorrow they will lose their material goods because today they did not invest into spirit.

Edward Said was an Arab, and it is natural that he frequently referred to the Arab experience. But his ideas are equally important for all the people who were deemed irrelevant by the new masters of the world. The evil wizards he confronted are the enemies of mankind ; they are equally bad and foreign to a Detroit worker and a Palestinian peasant, to a Russian scientist or a Turkish writer. We do not know who will incarnate the dream of Said : a Californian computer genius or a Saudi prince, a Russian media lord or a wise Chinese Communist leader, an Indian Raja or a Malay Prime minister. But it will be done, for the magic of names tells us that Said (spiritual bliss) will overcome Chafets (desire for material things).

1. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/col/story/110377p-99696c.html

2. ‘He says “disarming” but of course he means invading the Middle East’, commented our friend Stanley Heller in an article called It’s Not Just the Oil

http://www.aloufok.net/article.php3?id_article=629

Israel Shamir is a critically acclaimed and respected Russian Israeli writer. He has written extensively and translated Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Jaffa, is a Christian, and an outspoken critic of Israel and Zionism.