Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hijab Cool

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Elder of Ziyon and Jews Down Under.}

Twenty-First Century "Hijab Cool"
When I was growing up in the outskirts of New York City in the 1970s there was hardly a hijab to be found.

Of course, when I was growing up in the outskirts of New York City in the 1970s there was hardly a Muslim to be found, either.

There were only a few more Muslims in Kingston, N.Y. or Trumbull, Connecticut than there were Jews living in Mayberry, North Carolina, ten years earlier, with that nice Sheriff Andy Taylor and his cute little boy, Opie Cunningham.

It was only long after 9/11 - as political Islam stridently re-asserted its presence on the international stage - that I focused on political Islam and its relentless hostility toward Gay people, women, and dhimmis throughout the Middle East. Christians in that part of the world have it the worst, as Raymond Ibrahim will be more than unhappy to inform you. Although neither Europe, nor the Vatican, seems to much care, there is a Christian genocide happening right at this very moment throughout much of what was the Byzantine Empire.

To the extent, however, that as a kid I even thought about Muslims I figured that they were pretty much like everybody else. I grew up somewhere in the middle of the middle class, during the early years of the Age of Sesame Street, and my friends were from all across the ethnic kick-ball court.

Irish kids. Black kids. Italian kids. Asian kids. Catholics. Protestants. Jews. It was all just part of the mix and virtually none of us gave a damn one way or the other.

Although I did not realize it at the time, I grew up during a period when the United States, in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, was well into the process of moving beyond racial animosities. I came across the occasional antisemitic slur, because it's not as if all of my neighbors were head-over-heels in love with either Jewish people or Gay people or Black people to begin with.

Yet us kids played baseball together and went fishing together and hung out after school. Most of our parents were not particularly bigoted, and considerably less so than were their parents, and we were less so, still. The United States was shedding its prejudicial past as minority groups moved into the professional class, as women gained social and economic equality, and as Gay people, through the efforts of people like Harvey Milk in San Francisco, gained acceptance in the general culture toward the end of the twentieth-century.

Sadly, however, the ideal of ethnic and gendered diversity has been replaced on the illiberal progressive-left by multicultural fragmentation and identity politics as represented by the hijab... all of which moves in a direction entirely counter to Martin Luther King, Jr.s liberal dream of equality.

The hijab is a symbol of Muslim supremacism, not liberal diversity.

It could recently have become a symbol of liberal diversity in the United States if people like faux-feminist icon, Linda Sarsour, had made it so, but they did not. There is nothing essentially anti-feminist about any style of headscarf, so long as it is worn voluntarily, but unfortunately that is not the case for hundreds of millions of women throughout the Muslim world.

If Sarsour, and those westerners unironically adopting an Islamic patriarchal style of women's apparel in the name of feminism, had made it clear that they oppose the rise of political Islam, things might be different. If they had stood up for the 1,200 women victimized by the mass rapes in Cologne on New Years Eve, 2016, things might be different.

But they did not.

On the contrary, contemporary feminism betrayed its essential values precisely because it failed to speak up for the rights of women, Gay people, or dhimmis in either Asia or Europe. Thus it becomes difficult to see how contemporary feminism can possibly be said to stand for universal human rights.

By embracing the hijab western feminism drains itself of ideological content. It stands for everything and nothing, which is precisely why the recent Women's Marches held aloft no specific demands even as they reduced women to their sexual organs and wore pink "pussy hats." Thus, whatever anyone might say about Sarsour, she is not liberal and neither is contemporary feminism.

For most of us from the various abused ethnic minorities who lived for thirteen centuries under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperial rule, the hijab is not a cool western fashionable accessory representative of "hip" culture.

On the contrary.

For Jewish people - and other dhimmis familiar with their own history - the hijab is, along with the keffiyeh, a symbol of ethnic oppression. The keffiyeh is to many Jews what the Klansmen's hood is to most African-Americans. It represents the intention of violence towards one's own people in order to ensure racist political objectives, by any means necessary.

And the keffiyeh, needless to say, is born of the hijab.

Understand, however, that if the Muslim world had given up on its imperialist tendency to oppress all non-Muslims then I would not care about the hijab. I am no more offended, for example, at the Christian cross, or a nun's habit, then I am at the Flying Spaghetti Monster, because none of those things represent hostility toward Jews. Christianity traversed the European Enlightenment of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and came out the better for it because it heightened the value of self-criticism within Christian culture resulting in a humanistic sensibility.

Whereas Catholicism formally renounced its doctrinaire Jew-hatred in Vatican Council II, Islam has never done any such thing and God knows that they need to. 

The cultures under Islam, including most of those in the West, have simply not gone through a similar liberal reformation and couldn't give a fig about western-left liberal notions concerning the freedom of the individual. From the seventh-century until the present, most of the Muslim world treats women like chattel, murders Gay people outright, and seeks the elimination of Jewish self-determination and self-defense on the very land of Jewish ancestry.

Whatever else the hijab represents it has absolutely nothing to do with western liberalism, feminism, or universal human rights.

The corporate embrace of the hijab, much like the now-and-again corporate embrace of hip socialist iconography, is a way of co-opting cool for the purpose of making a buck. 

In The Conquest of Cool, historian and The Baffler publisher, Thomas Frank, argues that the New York advertising agencies were key in creating the 1960s counterculture and I feel reasonably certain that Mad Men's fictional Don Draper - who at the end of the series we are led to believe created the famous 1971 "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" Coke ad - would have agreed.

In the meantime, while Madison Avenue seeks to make a few bills marketing the hijab, the western-left is shedding itself of liberalism.

The primary question facing contemporary western feminism, therefore, if they wish to maintain anything resembling ideological credibility, is just how they square one of the world's foremost symbols of patriarchy, the hijab, with their alleged devotion to women's equality?

Friday, March 24, 2017


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An open letter to David Friedman

Sar Shalom

Congratulations on being confirmed as president Trump's ambassador to Israel. I have no doubt that you will be a good friend of Israel. There are no limits to the extent of which I believe you will be a good friend of Israel. However, can you be a great friend of Israel. Allow me to explain the difference between a good friend and a great friend. A good friend is someone who adopts policies that help Israel. A great friend is someone who induces others to adopt policies that help Israel. This is particularly important because your time in office will be limited and your long-term impact will be based on the effect you have setting the framework for how your successors view the region.

The narrative. As a new report from the BESA Center demonstrates, western support for the Palestinians is based on false narratives. Convincing someone to support Israel thus requires a narrative in which, under that individual's value system, Israel is the good side. In contrast, the currently prevailing narrative is that the conflict is one of Israeli Goliath against Palestinian David. This narrative would explain Obama's obsession with the settlements, even if it can't be proved that it was the motive.

The David and Goliath narrative has two components. One is the Palestinians as innocent victims. The other is of Israelis as capricious victimisers. Both components will have to be confronted explicitly as just providing the litany of Israel's contributions to society will leave adherents of the narrative saying that it does not excuse Israel's victimization of the "innocent" Palestinians.

Overall theme. The main thrust of the following sections is that the essence of the conflict is, as Einat Wilf describes it, is the inability of the Arabs and Muslims to accept the fact that those whom they have historically treated as inferiors are now claiming equality and exercising power in their midst.

The way forward. Many in the West believe that the way to move forward on peace and to help the Palestinian people is to put pressure on Israel. On the latter issue, even many supporters of Israel concur, with the response being only to limit the help given to the Palestinian people if the cost to Israel is too high. Call attention to facts that complicate this narrative. For instance, visit Israeli Arabs like Ali Salam and Gabriel Nadaf who can show what genuine cooperation with Israel can yield. Visit one of get-togethers of Palestinian leaders like Sheik Jabari with the settlers to show that the settlements are not an unambiguous hindrance to Palestinian aspirations.

Media coverage. Bring in Mattie Friedman and Mark Lavie to identify what issues are systematically buried by the media's code of omertà and devise strategies to create scenes that would force those issues onto the media radar screen.

Finally, avoid simply asserting that their narrative is wrong. Simple assertions that the narrative is wrong will be dismissed. Instead, call attention to uncontrovertable facts that challenge the narrative and force them to bob and weave to reconcile the narrative with those facts.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Alt-Whatever

Michael Lumish

I am convinced that the words "alt-right" and "alt-left" - and, my favorite, "CTRL-L Delete" - are essentially alt-meaningless.

Hillary basically conjured the New Fear out of thin air on the campaign trail in order to paint Trump as a racist. Most people never even heard of Breitbart - which, from what I can tell, is not a racist outlet, anyway - until the Clinton campaign sought to shore-up their victory. The Klan is irrelevant in the US, as are Neo-Nazis, and there is no sudden vast re-emergence of white nationalism happening anywhere in the US.

In other words, they have the country on a very dangerous witch-hunt and its mainly the well-educated and sophisticated among us who tend to buy into this politically convenient myth.

I did not advocate for Trump, nor did I vote for him. Nonetheless, I have lost friends for being insufficiently hateful toward the man, as if my lack of hatred toward Trump is partly responsible for the rise of the New American Nazism, which does not exist.

That, for me, represents this political moment.

It is my guess that future historians will note this as a period of near mass-hysteria, something akin to the Red Scares of the 20s and 50s, but this time coming out of the American Left.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Facebook Note: the Left versus Liberalism

Michael Lumish

In a comment under a post for the Rational Zionists Facebook page, Jason Paluch drew an important distinction between liberalism and the Left. I would link to that specific comment, but it is a closed group so I cannot.

Nonetheless, Jason wrote, "Just like how all conservatives are not racist members of the Ku Klux Klan, or whatever the local equivalent of that is, not all of those left of center are naive dupes and useful / useless idiots for Islamists. I'll remind you that it was classical liberals who won both world wars, and created Western civilization itself."

This is my comment in response:
The distinction between Left and liberal is crucial.

A liberal is someone who draws his political philosophy from western Enlightenment notions of social justice and thus believes in democracy, individual freedom, and equality of opportunity.

On economic matters, liberals favor western-style capitalism, although usually with a significant social safety net. For this reason socialists, democratic or otherwise, are not considered liberal.

On racial matters, liberals believe that individuals should be judged according to their individual characteristics as human beings, rather than as representatives of particular ethnic groups docketed within a hierarchy of victimhood. For this reason, identity politics is not liberal, either. Thus organizations like Black Lives Matter are Left, but not liberal.

Finally, and most crucially, liberals believe in the open interrogation of ideas and, thus, freedom of speech. The Left, on the other hand, believes in politically-correct speech codes that have a chilling effect on the free expression of ideas through tactics that run from social shunning to litigation.
It seems to me that the Left is in the process of driving out its liberals.

Am I wrong?

This Week on Nothing Left

Michael Lumish

Nothing Left
This week the first half of the program is dedicated to discussing J Street - we hear from Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) and speak with Daniel Mandel of the Zionist Organisation of America.

We then hear from journalist Sol Stern on the disgrace that is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and hear from Italian journalist Giulio Meotti on the Islamisation of Europe.

Alan Dershowitz and Isi Leibler in Jerusalem  shares their thoughts on J Street and American Jewry.


3 min Editorial: Alan on J Street

10 min Daniel   Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) on J Street

23 min     Daniel Mandel, ZOA on J Street

29 min     excerpt from a J Street supporter [ Israel should be destroyed]

43 Min     Alan Dershowitz on J Street

48 Min Alan Dershowitz comment on J Street from one of our previous interviews with him

49 min Sol Stern, journalist on UNRWA

1: 8 min Giulio Meotti, Italian journalist on Islamisation of Europe

1: 31 min Isi Leibler, Jerusalem on J Street and American Jewry


The podcast can also be found on the J-Air website:

Or at our Facebook page: 

NOTHING LEFT can be heard live each Tuesday 9-11am on FM 87.8 in the Caulfield area, or via the J-Air website www.j-air.com.au

Contact us at Nothing Left:

michael@nothingleft.com.au

alan@nothingleft.com.au