Taking Aim At Cows: Harold Bloom

I'm not sure about taking classes with this intimidating fellow.

I don’t care about Israel. Many of my friends are obsessed with it, and it seems as if many other people blame it for everything; a bird shits on a man’s head and he shakes his fist at Israel; a fat and immensely influential college professor slips on a banana peel and rolls down an entire staircase, gets up, shakes his head, and shouts that the banana peel “is indulging in the humbuggery that its anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism”!

This pointlessly scattered piece in the book review indulges in a different sort of humbuggery, which is simply a useless and superficial name-calling; in brief, Bloom writes that anti-Semitism is an endemic disease in the British literary establishment and that it is nonexistent in its American counterpart. He says little more and does not really care to define his terms except for a briefly redemptive (perhaps even Shylockian) moment at the end of his review: “To protest the policies of the Israeli government actually can be regarded as true philo-Semitism, but to disallow the existence of the Jewish state is another matter.” Now I am essentially an anti-Zionist but a philo-Semite, being a Jew myself and having been sexually attracted to mounds of lusty Jewesses, but I also believe that Jews are better off without Israel, and that Israel itself would be better off if we first depopulated it and expelled all of its current inhabitants (who have proven themselves somewhat irresponsible over the course of the last century) before turning it into a colony of Mormons, who themselves have proven time and again that a peculiarly religious stubbornness and obstinacy overcome all difficulties.

Bloom does not criticize Israel in this piece, nor does he offer an example of someone criticizing or protesting the policies of the Israeli government in a way that nonetheless allows for its right to exist. He does write, in a remarkably idiotic and apologetic moment, that “Of the nearly 200 recognized nation-states in the world today, something like at least half are more reprehensible than even the worst aspects of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians.” (Possibly) True (let’s not get into it), but when I was an infant I argued similar points many times with my mother, and she always responded the same way, with the infamous and deeply philosophical Brooklyn Bridge Retort: if all of your friends jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, does that make it right? If North Korea, China, Russia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Somalia are bad, does that make Israel’s badness okay, Mr. Bloom?

The same thing might be said to those who oppose, criticize, or protest Israel: why don’t you care about these numerous other countries as well? A friend of mine in the Free Tibet movement once complained to me that they had lost a number of members to Students for Justice in Palestine (which divested from Israel at my alma mater, Hampshire College—or didn’t, actually—and infuriated all kinds of fat influential intellectuals) simply because one was hip, trendy, and new while the other was several decades old and, more or less, going nowhere. Frankly I don’t care about any of it. I decided in my teens that politics is for shitheads, and that I would much rather be a bird, a crow, flying in the sky, shitting on their heads—just to prove a point.

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