Thursday, April 17, 2014

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Michael L.

religion1Here is one way of thinking about the differences between the big three religions of the Levant.

As "Universalist Religions" and / or as "Political Religions."

I am admittedly painting with broad brushes here, but it is probably fair to say in this point in human history that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam take significantly different positions on the universalism of the different faiths and the political imperatives of the different faiths.

Christianity, for example, is a universalist religion in the sense that it believes itself to hold a spiritual message for all of mankind.  Ultimately, the purpose of Christianity, as it acts in the world, is to bring the faith in Jesus to all humanity.  So, there is no question but that Christianity is a universalist religion, because it is a religion that endeavors to speak to all people.

What Christianity is not, for the most part, since the Enlightenment, is a political ideology.  Following the trends of the Renaissance and the Reformation and the Enlightenment, Christianity throughout the west has generally embraced the separation of church and state.

Judaism is also not a politically-inclined religion.  Jews are notoriously political, as a people, in part because we come out of a tradition wherein debating with G-d, Himself, is part and parcel of the faith, but the great majority of Jews are not the least bit inclined to see Torah Law as the basis for the Israeli legal system or any other national legal system.

Nor is Judaism a universalist religion.  There is no notion within Judaism that all peoples throughout the world should adopt the Jewish religion for the purpose of "saving" their souls.  Christianity is universalist.  Islam is also universalist.

Judaism is not.

Islam, however, is both universalist and political.  Along with Christianity, Islamic doctrine suggests that the only possible spiritual salvation is via the one true faith.  Islam is 1.5 billion people, so it is remarkably diverse, but as a religious-political ideology it is also generally absolutist, if not fascistic.

It looks like this:

Christianity:  universalist, but generally non-political

Judaism: non-universalist, generally non-political

Islam:  universalist and political

And that is the problem.

The reason that we have a never-ending conflict between the tiny Jewish minority in the Middle East and the large Arab majority is because, for religious reasons, even a small Jewish State on any land that was once controlled by imperial Islam must stay within Dar al-Islam.  The hatred and the violence and the never-ending vitriol is not because Jews are mean to Arabs, but because the majoritarian Arab culture is deeply racist toward Jews.

This is what is most infuriating about the insipid and condescending progressive-left glance at the Arab-Israel conflict.  They honestly think that 6 million Jews on the Mediterranean coast are mean to 400 million Arabs.  They fail to recognize that the Palestinian-Arabs are used as a club by the surrounding governments and peoples in order to strike at Jewish sovereignty on historically Jewish land.

Despite living under 1,300 years of Jim Crow dhimmitude, followed by a century of ongoing warfare against us, western "liberals" blame the harassed Jewish minority for the racially and religiously-based Muslim majority hatred toward us in that part of the world.

The western-left has betrayed the Jewish people and we need to wrap our brains around this notion, because it happens to be the truth.

We do not need to run to the Right - I have not - but we need to understand where we stand with the Left.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What is a Nazi, anyways?

Michael L.

fancy swastika1That word, more than any other word that I can think of, is just laden with various miserable connotations and implications and political and psychological resonances.  The word is semiotically rich.  For reasons that could not be more obvious, it resonates deeply with almost everyone.

But, when we talk about Nazis, just who are we talking about?

Among academic historians the meaning of the term is limited to people who were members of the National Socialist German Workers Party between 1920 and 1945.  No one can be a "Nazi," i.e., a member of the Nazi Party, who was not a member of the party while it existed.

Nonetheless, words are slippery.  Would one hesitate to call a neo-Nazi with a bald head and a swastika tattooed onto the back of the neck a "Nazi"?  I would not hesitate for a moment.  And presumably neither would she.

Or, let's take the hypothetical case of a businessman in the United States who believes in a biological hierarchy of races, but who keeps that belief mainly to himself because he possesses something resembling normal intelligence.  And let's say that he considers black people and brown people and Jewish people and all non-white people to be basically inferior.  And let's say, in his imagination, he would very much like to see white people organize themselves politically around "whiteness."

Would it be fair to call such a person a "Nazi"?

He is not a member of the Nazi party, because the party is long gone.  As soon as Eva - who as it turns out may very well have been Jewish - gobbled down that cyanide in the F├╝hrerbunker, the party was over.  Yet I think that any reasonable person would agree that the attribution "Nazi" is appropriate for such a person.

Now, let's take things from a specifically Jewish perception for a moment.  Prior to the Holocaust what the Nazis did was demonize and defame the tiny Jewish minority in Germany.  We represented about 1 percent of that entire population.  And, just as in the Middle East today, the hostile majority population yammered at one another that Jews have too much power and that we have nefarious plans to take over the universe and that we are secretly and maliciously subverting the health and well-being of perfectly innocent children, nuns, and bunny-rabbits.

What I would suggest is that when anti-Semitic anti-Zionists and Israel Haters in places like Daily Kos or the UK Guardian or the Huffington Post or the New York Times or the European Union malign the tiny Jewish community in the Middle East then they are acting as "Nazis."  They are behaving essentially as the National Socialists behaved prior to the slaughter.  And just as the original Nazis honestly believed that what they were doing was right and good and just, so do the anti-Zionists, BDSers, and malicious Europeans.

And this is what slays me.

It is as an alleged matter of "social justice" that the western left kicks the Jewish people in the teeth.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Return of Old-Timey Jew Hatred

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

klan1The news, on this first day of Passover within the American Jewish community, is of the shooting-up of a number of Jewish facilities near Kansas City, Kansas.

CBS reports:
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- An elderly man opened fire Sunday at two Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City, killing a doctor and his teenage grandson and an elderly woman before he was taken into custody, authorities and witnesses said.

The suspect was shouting anti-Semitic slogans as he was arrested, CBS affiliate KCTV reported.

"I've been told he was yelling 'Heil Hitler' as he was being taken away in cuffs," Rabbi Herbert Mandl, who serves as a chaplain for the Overland Park Police Department, told CNN.
Three people were killed including a local physician and his teenage grandchild.
Grandfather and grandson attended the United Methodist Church in nearby Leawood. The church's senior pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, broke the news to church members at a Palm Sunday evening service, The Kansas City Star reported.

Although Corporan and his grandson apparently were not Jewish, the shooter could be charged with a hate crime if he targeted him because he thought they were.
There is a certain hideous irony, I suppose, in the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center describes the killer, Frazier Glen Miller, 73, as a "raging anti-Semite" and a former "Grand Dragon" of the Ku Klux Klan... yet he ends up killing Methodists.

My experience tells me that the truly troubling anti-Semitism in the west today comes out of the Left far more so than it does from the Right, but that does not mean that the political right-wing is free from anti-Jewish bigotry.  The difference is that on the Right anti-Semitism is marginalized, while on the Left it is being maintreamed, hysterically enough, under the banners of "social justice" and "human rights."

Things have changed very much since the bad old days of mid-late twentieth-century American race hatred.  In the 1960s and much of the 1970s it was the political right-wing which could be counted on to carry the proud banner of bigotry and racism, which is part of the reason that so many American Jews identify with the progressive-left and the Democratic Party.  It is precisely because the Left took the lead in the struggle for civil rights after World War II that it earned a large majority allegiance within the Jewish community and rightly so, at the time.

Since then, however - sadly enough - the great majority of anti-Jewish sentiment comes from the Left in the west, not from the Right.  The grand hypocrisy, today, is that the political Left expresses its dislike of the Jewish people as a matter of "anti-racism."  Because the Arabs of the Middle East tell the world that the Jewish minority is mean to them, sympathetic progressive westerners have taken up their violent and genocidal anti-Israel / anti-Jewish cause as a matter of human rights.

How's that for a kick in the head?

And, yet, leftists are shocked and dismayed when their fellow Jewish leftists complain about little things like Nazi Swastikas entwined in Shields of David during anti-war protests in Civic Center, San Francisco.  Or the fact that high profile western leftists joined with actually Jihadis, who they describe as "peace activists," in an attempt to confront Jews off the coast of Israel aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Traditional right-wing racism in the United States is not dead, but it is dying.  As far as traditional right-wing Jewish animus goes, William F. Buckley, Jr., founder of the National Review, did as much as anyone on the political Right to combat that racism.  Writing in the New York Times, Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of The Times Book Review and Week in Review, tells us this:
In the 1950s, when American conservatism still bore the taint of anti-Semitism, Bill Buckley moved forcefully to erase it. One important step was banning anti-Semitic writers from National Review, the magazine he founded in 1955. Many of his allies included Jews — from Marvin Liebman, the publicist who helped organize conservative rallies and events, through his great friend Richard M. Clurman (of Time magazine) and also, as you point out, neoconservatives like Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. Buckley was also a champion of Henry Kissinger, who remained one of his dearest friends.
I am not a huge fan of Kissinger, but that is not the point.   I am not even a fan of the political right-wing, on the great majority of issues, but that is not the point, either.  The point is that despite the old maniac in Kansas, the Jewish people in the United States, and perhaps the west, more generally, need to acknowledge that which they have been loathe to acknowledge.

We need to acknowledge the fact that the progressive-left, and significant segments of the Democratic Party, have betrayed their Jewish constituency through the acceptance of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, and the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) the Jewish State of Israel.

Until this betrayal is acknowledged, western Jewish leftists will continue to support, implicitly if not explicitly, a political movement that is perfectly comfortable in the defamation of Jews via anti-Zionism within progressive-left venues.

Until this unfortunate little fact sinks in to the minds of Jewish Democrats we cannot stem the tide of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism within the western-left.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Announcing My Sunday Column for the Elder of Ziyon

Michael L.

elder1 The Elder and I, happily enough, have agreed to an arrangement wherein I will write a regular and exclusive Sunday column for the popular and influential Elder of Ziyon blog and he certainly has my thanks.

The first piece is entitled, Presbyterian Aggression, and is concerned with "Zionism Unsettled," a booklet written and published by the Presbyterian Church (USA), which blames the failure of Arab-Jewish relations in the Middle East on the Jews.

Here is a tid-bit:
As people who follow the ongoing Arab aggression against the Jews in the Middle East know, the Presbyterian Church (USA) recently published a booklet entitled "Zionism Unsettled" in which the American branch of that denomination condemns Israel and Zionism for the deterioration of relations between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East.

As the JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) author of the piece writes:
"But instead of recognizing the reality of rampant, deep-seated anti-Semitism in the Middle East & North Africa, "Zionism Unsettled" places blame on the State of Israel and presents a revisionist history of the Mizrahi refugee experience. Among many unfounded claims, the blooklet states that Mizrahis "share a history of largely harmonious integration and acculturation in their host countries. Sadly, this model of coexistence was destabilized by the regional penetration of Zionism beginning in the late 19th century." 
It staggers the imagination to realize the degree of hatred, ignorance and moral stupidity required of the Presbyterian Church for them to publish such toxic rubbish under their official seal. Whatever their reasonings or excuses or justifications or apologetics, this little "booklet" is nothing less than a true kick in the head to the Jewish people.
Read the rest at the Elder of Ziyon and drop in there regularly because it is the foremost site devoted specifically to the Arab-Israel conflict from a pro-Israel perspective.

Also, needless to say, please drop in on Sundays.

I may have a word or two.

Does This Look Like A Man Under Unhealthy Pressure From A Disproportionately Powerful Lobby?


He should know.

Bob Carr famously complained to the ALP caucus while in government about what was he expected to say about Israel the next time he was speaking from the steps of the Lakemba Mosque. 

After all, where else would you make a major policy statement affecting Israel and the Jews?

He could have kept his mouth shut I suppose given that his audience would have included supporters of Hezbollah and the PLO whose opinions about what should be done about Israel and the Jews would not suffer from ambivalence or uncertainty at least when expressed in private. Prominently it would have included the Mufti of Australia who was about to lead a delegation of Australian Muslims to Gaza to demonstrate solidarity with Hamas.

Instead he chose to say this.

   ” I’ve been to Ramallah, I’ve spoken to the Palestinian leadership, and we support their aspirations to have a Palestinian state in the context of a Middle East of peace. And that means respect for the right of Israel to exist. But we want that Palestinian state to exist, in the context of a peace in the Middle East, and that’s why we say, unequivocally, all settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease. That is the position, of Kevin Rudd, the position of the Federal Labor Government, and we don’t make apologies for it.”

Carr knows that the prevailing almost universal opinion of those with the power among the Palestinians and their supporters in the Middle East is that all the land between the river and the sea is "Palestinian land" and that all of Israel is one big "illegal settlement". Carr knows that even the "moderates", if they can bring themselves to talk about Israel having a "right to exist", for benefit of a foreign audience only, mean an Israel that does not have sovereignty over its own borders or population. An interim step to swamping the Jewish population and once again subjecting it to dhimmitude, expulsion or death as is required by what passes for a political culture that demands subjugation and submission even of their own people. 

This is why the Palestinian polities and those of almost all Arab Muslim countries and Iran are tyrannies. Always have been of one form or another.

Carr knows this. And yet it is the Jews living in Jerusalem and Judea, even in those tiny areas that have always been ear marked as part of Israel where the overwhelming majority of Jews live lawfully and peacefully who are "illegal". 

Is this a man who was under unhealthy pressure to signal to the world that Australia had jumped camps on the question of Israel and the Jews and their right to live peacefully and lawfully even in Jerusalem or in that tiny part of Judea that is earmarked for Israel in what remains of the Oslo Accords?

Very likely I would suggest. But there is something else in this picture.

From here this is  a man who looks and sounds just like any other garden variety bigot. The world is full of them. Either you resist them or you go along with them. That depends on what kind of a future you want for the world I suppose. 

cross posted

Geoffff's Joint

Jews Down Under

The FresnoZionist Has Some Words

Michael L.

The piece below was written by the FresnoZionist and published at his site of the same name.

Today everyone is concerned that the negotiations with the Palestinians will “fall apart.” If that happens, it is said, there will be severe consequences for Israel: boycotts and delegitimization (because no matter what, Israel will be blamed for the failure of the talks), possibly another violent intifada (because Palestinians will then be even more ‘frustrated’ than usual), there will be anti-Israel actions by the UN, the Americans will stop supporting Israel diplomatically, etc.

Therefore, it is said that Israel must do everything possible to ensure that the talks continue.

This is despite the fact that everyone must know by now that the Palestinians will not and cannot honestly agree to end the conflict. As I said the other day, even if we offer them a state in all of Judea and Samaria — leaving aside the security considerations that make this impossible — they will never stop insisting that the part of the land of Israel that they don’t get also belongs to them, and will never stop trying to get it.

This is the essence of the Palestinian narrative, the Palestinian Cause, and what they have been assiduously teaching their youth. This is why Palestinian refugee status is hereditary, and why there are hundreds of thousands of refugees who are not permitted to assimilate in their countries of residence, and why they demand a “right of return.” This isn’t rocket science (pardon the expression). Just ask a Palestinian.

But if we know that the talks can’t succeed, why keep up the pretense? Well, in order to avoid the consequences discussed in the first paragraph.

My hypothetical visitor from Mars is shaking what would be his head, if he were an Earthling. This is so pointless.

But it is not pointless for the Palestinians. They have made it clear to the US that they will talk only if they are paid to do so. So they receive bribes, including money and military aid (to, er, “fight terrorism.”) Most important, every time there is a ‘crisis’ in negotiations (which they create), they threaten to walk away unless they get something from Israel. They present their demands, and the US explains to Israel that it’s necessary to “generate good will,” to “build confidence,” or to “strengthen (the allegedly moderate) Abbas.” So Israel releases 104 murderers, for example. This has been going on literally for decades.

Note that Israel gets nothing in return, except a continuation of the talks that we know will not succeed. And the Palestinian demands are never satisfied. Israel offers an additional 400 prisoners? Not enough, say the Palestinians, give us 1000! A construction freeze in Judea and Samaria? Not enough, it must include eastern Jerusalem!

I submit that the consequences of continuing the talks are worse than letting them fall. It will happen anyway at some point, and Israel will be worse off because of all the concessions it has made along the way.

Israel doesn’t need to be ashamed of its history and of its possession of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. It doesn’t need to apologize for its struggle to keep the Jewish homeland that has been reestablished after almost 2000 years. And it doesn’t need to pretend that its enemies — who themselves don’t pretend otherwise — are interested in coexistence.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Words Cause Permanent Damage

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

Barry Shaw is a special consultant on delegitimization issues to the Strategic Dialogue center at Netanya Academic College. He is also the author of Israel Reclaiming the Narrative and a columnist for the Jerusalem Post.

In his most recent piece, entitled Original thinking: When Israel supporters use the language of delegitimization, we read:
We increasingly see well-intentioned, powerful and influential people, who have the close attention of the media, make misplaced statements that feed into the adoption of a viewpoint that Israel has no legitimate right to be where it is. The misuse of language and deed is an indicator not only of the general public’s views, it also displays how pro-Israel influential voices are chasing a narrative that is driven by the Palestinian side of the conflict.

One perfect example of terminology drift can be seen with the area once known as Judea and Samaria becoming “disputed territory,” then the “West Bank,” and now “illegally occupied Palestinian land.” Any staunch Israeli, or dispassionate neutral, would argue that it is neither illegal, nor occupied, and certainly not Palestinian land according to international law and binding resolutions going back as far as the League of Nations Mandate of 1922. All this has not stopped the flow of terminology becoming accepted language.
I have been making precisely this same argument for years, now.

The language that pro-Israel people often use to describe the aggression against us is the very language that our enemies use to delegitimize Israel for the purpose of its eventual dissolution.  When we erase 3,500 years of Jewish history through the casual usage of "West Bank" we are playing directly into the hands BDS and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.

By normalizing usage such as "Occupation" - with the "Big O" to suggest that it is the Big Mama of All Other Occupations or the Uber-Occupation or the perfect Platonic Occupation - sends a signal to the world community that even most Jews consider a Jewish-Israeli presence on the historical heartland of the Jewish people to constitute theft.

We not only rob ourselves of our own history through veiling that history under a misnomer like "West Bank" but we essentially tell the rest of the world that historically Jewish land is not historically Jewish land and that, therefore, we are thieves.

We validate the so-called "Palestinian narrative" of pure victim-hood and then wonder why so many people despise the Jewish State and consider her supporters to be morally bankrupt.  Of course, many people consider Israel, and her supporters, to be morally bankrupt.  How could they think otherwise when even so many Jewish supporters of Israel speak about the conflict in terms specifically designed to suggest Jewish guilt and Palestinian-Arab innocence.

As I wrote in a piece back in March 2011 for Israel Thrives:
These things are important to keep in mind, because the language that we use often predetermines the conclusions that we draw. If, for example, we think of Israel as "an apartheid state" then it goes without saying that Israel is an institutionally racist country, much like the former apartheid South Africa, and it must therefore be eliminated as a Jewish state. The word "apartheid" predetermines the conclusion. 
What I recommend to all my fellow Jews, if I may be so bold, is to rid oneself of all elements of the Palestinian narrative. Just root it out entirely and examine the elements. Remember, those who project the Palestinian narrative do not have an interest in Jewish well-being and the narrative, itself, is largely an ideological construct, a fantasy. It certainly doesn't hold up to historical scrutiny, not unless you think that Jews fleeing the pogroms of late 19th century Russia came to Palestine as the vanguard of some expanding empire, which of course they did not.

This being the case, it is worthwhile to reexamine the language that we use in regards I-P and the assumptions that we may bring to the table. The question to ask when we examine that language and those assumptions is whether or not they form a part of the Palestinian narrative? If so, it should be held up to serious inquiry and deleted if found to be just more anti-Israel propaganda that has snuck into the minds of well-meaning liberal Jews.
I couldn't agree with myself more.

You'll notice, by the way, that in early 2011 I was still referring to the Arab-Israel conflict (or the Long Arab War Against the Jews of the Middle East) as the "Israel-Palestine" conflict.  I was wrong then because even as I wrote a piece concerning ridding ourselves of the faux "Palestinian narrative" I was using terminology derived from that narrative.  It is not an Israel / "Palestine" conflict because the aggressors against the Jews are not limited to the Palestinian-Arabs.  It is the Arab Middle East as a whole that is seeking to eliminate Jewish sovereignty and self-defense on Jewish land.

The odds are 60 or 70 to 1 against us, in terms of shear numbers.

Goliath was not a Jew, but a Philistine.

David was a Jew.