Posted in: Anti-Semitism, Judaism, Arts, Film & Culture
Published on Aug 07, 2017 by Elder of Ziyon
Book review: Hello, Refugees! by Tuvia Tenenbom
Did I ever tell you about my dinner with Tuvia Tenenbom?
I was invited to a dinner party about a month ago hosted by Phyllis Chesler in her apartment. The food was great and the guests were even more so. One of them was Tuvia, who is a lot like Phyllis in important ways.
Phyllis is one of the pioneers of the modern women's movement. However, she has become disillusioned with her old friends who have now become anti-Zionist and anti-Israel. Phyllis, no fool, knows first hand how dangerous Islam is to feminism and how feminism and Zionism fit together naturally.
In other words, both Phyllis and Tuvia care little about political correctness. They care about the truth. That's why I like them.
Over a delicious dinner, Tuvia asks me why I didn't review his book about his travels through America. I tell him that if he sends me a review copy, I'd be happy to! I have a weak spot for free books, just like Tuvia has a weak spot for good food and honest people no matter who they are or what they believe.
During the course of the evening, Tuvia tries to wheedle out of me my real name. My anonymity is almost a shtick now, but I refuse to tell it to him. He keeps trying. He asks the server to pour me liquor. He asks me other questions to trap me to tell it to him.
I realize fairly soon, having read his work, that he won't give up until he gets the answer. I also realize that I am giving him my address to send the book to, so he can figure out my name anyway! So I tell him my name, knowing that he would like it. He does.
After I review his book, Tuvia emails me asking me if I'll review his brand new book, Hello Refugees!, about his travels throughout Germany to dig up information about the huge wave of Muslim refugees that were admitted there. I am skeptical about whether this fits into the general theme of the blog, but he writes back to me and says:
It’s about a people who not long ago were very busy cremating Jews and are now quite busy trying to impress the world that they the best human beings world-wide, so that can stand tall and tell the Jews what they really think of them. Is this not an Elder's cup of tea?
I agree it is my cup of tea and in no time the book arrives at my doorstep.
Tuvia writes in an entertaining way, first person and present tense. His style, both in writing and interviewing, is knowingly naive. But Tuvia is quite smart and he a skilled interviewer who can almost always get past the soundbites to find out what his subject really thinks. Sometimes he employs subterfuge to get there.
We are traveling along with him as he takes his rental car from city to city in Germany, speaking to any refugees he can find and sneaking in to their refugee camps/housing. In general, these places are guarded by good German guards who will not let in any Westerners or any reporters. Tuvia knows Arabic, and he convinces the refugees he meets to let him in so they can tell him their stories.
Tuvia genuinely likes his Arab friends, and he is genuinely horrified at the conditions of most of the places they are staying. The Germans are happy to allow these refugees into their country but didn't plan very well how they would be housed. So groups that have hated each other for centuries are thrown together, where in at least one place they spend the evenings knifing each other.
Tenenbom also speaks to German officials, from the left and the right.
One question he asks every German he meets is, why are the Germans so much more welcoming of these refugees than any other European country? The answer, no matter whom he asks, is the same: Because of Adolf. The Germans do not want anyone to think that they are still Nazis and they want to show the world how progressive and open-minded and open-hearted they are so everyone will love them.
There is another fairly consistent pattern among the German leftists he meets. They like to bring up, often unprompted, how evil Israel is. They'll throw the word "Gaza" in the conversation even if they don't know Tenenbom is Jewish. They want the world to know not only that they are progressive and welcoming, but also that they are better than those Israeli Jews whose grandparents they gassed to death.
Another surprising bit comes when Tuvia interviews the most hated right-wing Germans, who are reviled as today's Nazis. Every single one says that they support giving asylum to people who are genuinely fleeing persecution and war, for example in Syria. They want to allow entry to people who would be killed in an instant if they returned to their homes.
The German Right is more liberal than many centrist Americans.
But this doesn't stop them from being spit upon, hounded, and regarded as evil incarnate by the good Germans who are so proud of how they have transcended the nastiness of the past and now treat their Muslims better than they treated their Jews. Sure they are still in camps, with inadequate medicine and plumbing and beds, but they aren't dead! And besides, the Jews are acting horribly in Israel now, so the Germans can feel good about themselves.
In fact, many of the refugees that Tuvia interviews are economic "refugees," looking for a better life in Europe. They aren't in danger. They want to marry blonde German women.
The good German liberals aren't so liberal as they are self-righteous. They don't really care about the condition of their Muslim guests, but they want everyone to know that they are really good people today, and not like their own ancestors. (East Germans don't have the same complex, Tuvia notes.)
Hello, Refugees! is an entertaining read. While it isn't about Jews and Israel, in many ways it explains a great deal about how Jews and Israelis are treated today. But most of all, as always, Tenenbom shows in his deceptively simple style that the truth is far more complex than any of the intellectuals can understand.
(If you didn't notice, I tried to mimic Tenenbom's writing style here. With mixed results.)
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