Thursday, December 04, 2003

Ben-Gurionism in the latest H&M sale catalogue?

Okay, now everyone who has ever wanted to accuse me of ‘anti-Semitism’ will finally be able to think that they have sturdy evidence for that.
But what the hell. One of the advantages of writing in a blog is, after all, that no one ever reads what you’ve written ...

So, what’s the fuss all about?

Well, a long while ago, I bought some clothes from the worker’s rights abusing company H&M by mail order. Since then, they have kept sending me annoying advertisements and catalogues.
In the latest waste of cellulose, however, there was one product that caught my eye.

A light blue children’s sweater. The text printed on it appears to be “JUDE” and “1955”, along with some more text that’s unreadable from this angle. After the first moment of astonishment (‘jude’ is the Swedish word for Jew), I realised that the ‘J’, of course, was a ‘T’, and probably part of the word ‘attitude’, or some similar concept of subliminal US-American cultural imperialism.

Hmm ... but what if it really would have been ‘JUDE’ and not ‘-TUDE’? (After all, the pattern behind that word looks a bit like the Wailing Wall ...) What if children’s clothes nowadays were not only adorned with prints cherishing the USA and US-Americanism, but also Israel and Jewishness? And what would ‘1955’ mean in that context?

I brought out old Cleveland, and searched the chapters on Israeli history for the year 1955. And what did I find, if not this:

”In the arena of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s efficient armed forces were used as an instrument of foreign policy. During the Ben Gurion era, the doctrine of retaliation in force became embedded in official Israeli thinking. This doctrine, sometimes referred to as “Ben-Gurionism”, was pursued in the belief that the Arab regimes could be persuaded to abandon their hostility to the existence of Israel only by being subjected to constant reminders of Israel’s military power. The core principle of Ben-Gurionism was that every Arab act of aggression against Israel would be met by an armed response well out of proportion to the initial act itself. This policy, regularly implemented in the 1950’s, continued to be a standard instrument of Israel’s diplomacy by force of arms in the ensuing decades. The most extreme example of Ben-Gurionism in action was an Israeli attack on Egyptian positions in the Gaza Strip in February 1955 in which thirty-eight Egyptians were killed and Egypt’s military weakness was exposed.

(William L. Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, Westview Press 2000, pages 344-345. )