Category Archive 'Bernard-Henri Levy'

25 Jan 2017

Competitive Victimhood

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Bernard-Henri Levy, in his recent The Genius of Judaism:

One could — we must — wonder whether at the root of this paradigm of a victim-centered vision of the world might not lie the worst of history in general and of religion in particular: competing Adams, infinitesimal differences that have generated infinite rivalry among Edom, Jacob, and Ishmael. From Edom to Adam, says the Talmud, what is there but an additional letter, a vav — the red, bloody vav that is the matrix of a war set to become eternal?

Not to mention the thorough indecency of the quest for victim status, an indecency that is the unacknowledged correlate of the competition — its perversity, born in the mud of Auschwitz and re­packaged, banalized, metered out in small doses to allow everyone a little slice of the cake of victimhood, just enough to affirm their iden­tity and to clear away, if possible, any singularity that might mar the purity of their martyr status. How pathetic and grotesque this reduction of human essence to a bare suffering that becomes humanity’s sole definition, its sole glory, while simultaneously purging it of any­thing resembling intellectualism, culture, literature, philosophy, concepts, reason, truth, remembrance, and, especially, religion and prophecy: all of these useless adornments, these now-secondary qual­ities that appear to have been there only to obscure deprivation and to prevent people from relishing their status as victims.

Remember, too, that underpinning the competition, at its origin and at its apex, is hatred — yes, hatred once again, a pure and unadul­terated hatred: Once you give in to it, you never get out. Hatred for the victim whom one intends to unseat, of course, but also for the victim whom one is endeavoring to hoist onto the pedestal to be cov­ered in the bird droppings of the competitor’s sad passion. Oh, how the iron indifference of the “pro-Palestinians” to the Palestinians of flesh and blood recalls Genet’s contempt for the fedayeen whose eulogist he strove to be and for the other dispossessed, Arab and black alike, who were no more than cards in his deck!


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