Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Tip 'O the Kippa to Dan Bielak

Mike L.

This is a fascinating clip.

It shows a brief piece (5 minutes) of a recent debate in Florida, on May 15, 2012, around the question, "President Obama: Good or Bad for Israel?"

The first speaker is Mark Alan Siegel, the Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman. The second speaker is Tom Trento, described as a "Christian Zionist." I think that we can be sure that the great majority of the audience were Jews, yet it is the Christian Zionist who receives the most applause.

Jewish political involvement is beginning to shift and in some small measure this clip may illustrate that shift... perhaps. My suspicion is that diaspora Jews, more and more, are coming to the realization that "Oslo" is dead and that the local Arabs have no intention whatsoever of making peace or accepting a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one.

In any case, the above clip is very interesting.

Kudos to Daniel Bielak for bringing it to our attention.

{Make of it what you will.}


  1. And about what Tom Trento said about a main aspect of the situation that Israel is in:

    It's not just Hamas. It's mainly Fatah-PLO-PalestinianAuthority.

    (...and, of course, the regime in Iran; and the Muslim Brotherhood; etc.)


    Haj Amin al-Husseini - The founder of the 'Palestinian movement' (and the mentor of Yasser Arafat)

    Fatah-PLO-PA in their own words

  2. Feel pretty good to be normal and have absolute clarity of thought while most Jews are insane and have psychological baggage?

    I'll be kind because I know Michael likes your presence here. But if those words were spoken by a non-jew, the adjectives would be flying.

    From the perspective of a jew who has studied the Torah and the Talmud, Siegal makes his case quite well.

    I don't see any significant difference for Israel between a Republican administration and our current administration. And particularly given that, it pains me deeply when Jews cheer the argument that Israel is the only important consideration. And that, from a man whose vision for Israel is its ultimate destruction at the end of times. There are other issues. Issues that we, as Jews, cannot ignore. I'm not religious. My level of spirituality is at about a -1. But those other commandments, they are part of the glue that holds us together as Jews. If we abandon them, then we are as certain a broken people as if Israel disappears from the map.

    Justice, Justice, shall you pursue.

  3. Re: "to oppose" violent self-proclaimedly intendedly genocidal anti-Jewish racists

    I think that a more correct phrase may be, as Cesar Milan says: "to disagree with" wrong action.

    That is:

    The disapproving of harmful wrong action, the disapproving of harmful wrong views,

    The doing of that while being calm and assertive:

    That's what's good to do.

    "calm assertive energy"


  4. Stuart,

    "Justice, Justice, shall you pursue."

    Yes, that's right.

    However, it's important to understand what justice is in any given particular situation. It's important to understand what the circumstances of any given particular situation are.

    It's important to know and understand all of the factors of any given particular situation and to understand what's beneficial to do -- what's beneficial for oneself and others.

    I don't express myself very well in writing, but I hope that you'll bear with me.

    I'm not disregarding the factors of the situation that you're referring to. I'm not advocating the non-adhering to the beneficial principals that are part of Jewish culture. What I'm advocating is in accordance with the beneficial principals that are part of Jewish culture.

    Again, I don't express myself very well in writing, but I hope that you'll bear with me.

    It's about knowing and understanding all of the factors involved and doing what's beneficial.

  5. I apologize if I come off as being disrespectful and insensitive.

    I feel distressed and frustrated.

    I, too, have psychological baggage that I referred to as Jewish people having. I'm striving to be mindful and to overcome psychological baggage that I referred to as Jewish people having and which is psychological baggage that I, too, have.

    And, I may come off as sounding like a "hawk" (among other things (unfavorable things)) -- but that's completely opposite to certain emotions that I feel (and that's completely opposite to certain understanding that I have). I'm striving to be mindful and to do what's beneficial. Certain actions that would be unmindful reflexive reactions to certain emotions (empathy, pity, fear) that I experience and that I think other Jewish people experience would not be beneficial to do and would not be beneficial to advocate doing.

    I'm striving to do what's beneficial. I'm striving to not do any actions that are harmful to myself and others, and I'm striving to do what's beneficial for myself and others. It's difficult for me to do that, but I'm striving to do that.

    "The non-doing of any evil,
    the performance of what's skillful,
    the cleansing of one's own mind:
    this is the teaching
    of the Awakened."

    -- The Buddha

  6. I watched this several days ago. I saw truth from both, but each side likes to minimize the other, and all that follows.

    Yes, it depends the context, and it also depends on the context the reader wishes to apply, and if it is applied fairly.

    It is a hard balance, to weigh between the aspiration and reality of being a Jew.

    It is because one takes social justice seriously that one addresses the issues of persecution everywhere, especially where it is most serious, including in the closed societies, and including Jew hatred.

    Christians are actually involved in the same circumstance as Jews, but for Jews it is more pronounced existentially and by the numbers. The argument about support for Israel's ultimate destruction at the end of times is boilerplate and seems irrelevant to what is actually occurring to Jews and Christians on an everyday level.

    To me, the issue is also Jewish support for Christian people who are under attack across the globe. So long as Christians appear embodied in the Pope or Swaggart, as many on the left believe, we turn away from the regular people that are being attacked and killed solely for their freedom to practice their faith. Christians need our support.

    I mostly agree that significant difference for Israel are unlikely no matter who runs our government, and that Republican deficiencies in other areas tip the scale against them. But I increasingly see that Obama, though constrained by national security, is far more interested to adopt the failed approach that has led to havoc in Europe, and I think he is wrong to do so.

    It's too bad that some that are so wedded to Obama that any critical words are interpreted as blasphemy. The apostate must therefore be Republican. It says a lot about the status of political discourse in the present day.

  7. your last paragraph, Oldschool. Is that really the only possibility? That those that disagree with the apparent majority in the video, are simply blinded by obedience to their master? I'm a pretty considerate guy. I'm not a blind follower of anyone. I observe, I question, I question again.

    The exact same can be said for those that oppose Obama. I don't see it near as often from Jews, but what I do see, is an identical outcome. Jews opposed to Obama on issues related to Israel, suddenly opposing every other thing that he does. He isn't perfect, far from it. But politics are complicated. Rarely are we going to get a single candidate or elected official that exactly encompasses all of our ideals. We don't have to turn into manichean machines, where every candidate or elected official is either good or evil.

    And we can respect opposing views without painting those we disagree with as blinded bots. Certainly not before we look in the mirror and carefully examine our own blind spots.

  8. Stu, I think that you may be misreading School.

    (Either that or I am misreading you!)

    School does not mean to suggest that an apostate from the Democratic party, such as myself, for example, automatically therefore becomes a Republican, but that it's unfortunate that many people will make the claim.

    Recently there are some people who have taken to calling me a "Republican" despite the fact that I have never registered as a Republican and have never voted for one in my life.

    This, however, may change in the not too distant future. I do not see myself registering as a Republican any time soon, but I am certainly willing to consider voting for Republican candidates if I believe the Democratic opponent is, imo, not acting in a manner that supports the well-being of American interests and Jewish-American interests.

    The great thing about being an independent is that one gets options. The better thing about being an independent is that one is free to think in categories that are unacceptable to partisan ideologues.

    Good for us!


  9. While Dan, good man that he is, is striving to do what's beneficial for himself and others, all I want is to take Tikkun Olam down toward the docks and shoot it dead.

    Is that really too much to ask?

  10. Stuart, did I say that it is really the only possibility? I think not. You are taking it out of context. Are you applying context fairly?

    If you do not think such people as I described exist, then I suggest you look further. I see plenty.

    Nor did I say or imply that this type of behavior is limited to one group. It just happened to be the group I was discussing.

    Many stereotype Christians, when they are actually extremely diverse. Many see criticism as traitorous or bigoted. These are the ones most deserving of your lesson that we respect different views and blind spots, which is, after all, the thrust of what I communicate here and elsewhere.

  11. I am suddenly put to mind of the scene in Mystic River, where a thuggish Sean Penn brings a crazy and confused Tim Robbins (whom Penn believes murdered his teenage daughter) down to some sleazy bar near the docks in Boston.

    Penn and some of his hoodlum buddies have Robbins trapped in a booth where they mock him in subtle ways before bringing him outside to meet his maker.

    Would anyone object if I did that to Tikkun Olam?

    1. I would object. But you knew that.

    2. Mike,

      I wouldn't object to the abandonment of conceit.


    3. Fair enough.

      I tell ya what, I am not someone who is unwilling to compromise. Instead of taking Tikkun Olam down to the docks for the purpose of shooting it dead, how about we just kick the crap out of it a little?

      I have to tell you, I am tired of the tyranny! The tyranny of Tikkun Olam! This one tyrant that needs to be put back into its place.

      Tikkun Olam should not get to rule, but merely advise.

    4. Dan, if I abandoned conceit there'd be nothing left of me whatsoever.

      But maybe from a Buddhist perspective that's a good thing, eh?

    5. Righteousness is not a destination, it's a path. You'll find your way back to the path :0)

    6. Mike,

      "Dan, if I abandoned conceit there'd be nothing left of me whatsoever.

      "But maybe from a Buddhist perspective that's a good thing, eh?"


      Yes, I think so. However, I myself, don't know that from personal experience. However, I hope that one day I'll attain that -- the abandoning of conceit (the abandoning of the conceit, 'I am') -- the total relinquishment of craving and the cessation of suffering.

    7. Geez, Dan,

      I thought this blog was about projecting a hard-line, right-wing, warmongering, Zionist view... but here we are discussing Buddhism.

      Is there any such thing as a Hippie Countercultural NeoCon?

      Holy Crap!

      I've just invented an entirely new category.

      The Hippie Countercultural NeoCon!

      We rock!

      {Good for us.}


      I'm just laughing my ass off, I tell ya.

  12. oldschooltwentysix,

    "It is a hard balance, to weigh between the aspiration and reality of being a Jew."

    The thing is that the point is not to "be a Jew" ("a 'good' Jew" ("a 'good' (superior) person")).

    The view that the point is to "be a Jew" ("a 'good' Jew" ("a 'good' (superior) person")) is a wrong view. The holding of that wrong view is involved with the holding of a self-identity wrong view -- that is: conceit. The holding of that wrong view leads to the doing of wrong actions -- harmful actions -- out of desire to "be a Jew" ("a 'good' Jew" ("a 'good' (superior) person")).

    The point is to not do what's harmful and to do what's beneficial.

    The point is to be mindful.

  13. That is true, Dan, but I only stated the reality that exists for Jews. It is certainly not "wrong" and not so complex as you make it out to be.

    Some things apply to Jews simply because they are Jewish, and this is the specific context in which the balance I mentioned is struck.

  14. It's obviously not the only possibilty. Here's what you wrote:

    It's too bad that some that are so wedded to Obama that any critical words are interpreted as blasphemy.

    How can you possibly identify "some people". How can you tell the difference between people who give considerable thought to each issue, and those who follow blindly? Do they exist? Undoubtedly. But because neither you nor anyone else can identify who is who, and despite your qualification, what your words have done is to paint everyone on the other side of the room as zombie. Otherwise, what is the purpose of the claim? The generic argument that some people are stupid? Set the ball up on a tee and hit it out of the park? That's not a homerun. "Some people" are not your enemy. We really need to move on from that.

  15. Stuart,

    I can identify the some that do. It is not difficult to see, or to ascertain intentions from discussions. YOU ADMIT THEY EXIST! So what are you actually arguing about?

    Moreover, I have done no such thing as "paint everyone on the other side." What nonsense! I have identified certain behavior that people engage in, as you acknowledge. I have not called anyone my enemy either! From your remarks, it seems like you are more into this us versus them dynamic than I am, by a long shot.

    As I said, I see plenty of the types I described, and if you want to dispute it, fine, despite that you "undoubtedly" acknowledged they exist. You have never seen the type of behavior I mentioned, directed at Christians or criticism of Obama?

    Are you seriously trying to suggest there is no intolerance practiced by Obama partisans or that a significant number on the left have an aversion to Christianity?

    What is the purpose of YOUR claim? And why are you lecturing me about what I meant anyway? You insist on unfairly taking things out of context and putting words in my mouth. That is disappointing.

  16. Just the opposite 'school. There is intolerance everywhere. Knee jerk reactions occur when each individual issue isn't addressed, and the the maker of the argument is judged rather than the content of the argument. I'm sure that's what you're referring to. It happens. All too often. From all sides. But any assertion that begins with "some people" is almost invariably a straw man argument, that obscures issues rather than clarifies. "Some Palestinians want to destroy Israel" is no more useful than "Some Jews want to destroy the Palestinian people". Both are true, yet neither advances any discussion.

    My argument is purely related to semantics. You made a fine comment above (I think the first one in this posting), and then ended it with a rhetorical device that diminishes the value of the rest of what you had to say. We complain about the hateful vitriol that dominates I/P discussions, yet continue to use those same devices which lead to that hateful vitriol, even when the discussions are limited to people who are on the same side of the argument. If we can't discuss it peacefully among ourselves, how can we possibly discuss it peacefully with those with whom a just and peaceful resolution is essential?

  17. Stuart,

    Before you indicated it's wrong to say ALL people. Now it's wrong to say SOME people. Semantics is certainly a problem. But the way people choose to contextualize is no less, especially when the implications are obvious.

    The fact is that you spoke to the issue of if there would be a difference between administrations. I chimed in with agreement, but to distinguish that Obama is not without problems with respect to Israel, and then an observation how some treat such criticism, which I have experienced and observed first hand.

    As such, I disagree with your opinion that I diminished the value of the comment. There was no vitriol and it was quite peaceful.

  18. Stuart,

    this is something that I will have to address going forward, so I might as well begin to approach it now.

    You write:

    I don't see any significant difference for Israel between a Republican administration and our current administration.

    That's obviously a key question and it is a question that people of good will can disagree on.

    I don't know about you, but when I think about Israel I think of half of our number. I think of half the world's Jews. What are we? Something like .02% of the world population? And the half that lives where Jews come from, the half that lives in Judea and around Jerusalem are under siege.

    They are, in fact, under siege and have been for almost 100 years. And that's why Gordis' kid is out there risking his neck.

    The first difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to the well-being of Jewish people is that Republicans, as all the polls definitively show, are more in favor than are Democrats of the Jewish state of Israel. That is to say, the Democratic party is not the friend to Israel that the Republican party is.

    That's the first consideration, in my opinion.

    The second consideration is the performance of the Obama administration. If there was any chance for a negotiated settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict, Barack Obama threw it in the gutter immediately upon taking office.

    You know that's true, because you know that Obama threw a monkey wrench into even the possibility of negotiations when he demanded "total settlement freeze."

    What I mainly want going forward is for us chew this over in a collegial manner.


    1. Michael,

      We disagree. You think the settlement freeze was a monkey wrench. I don't think so. I understand your position that negotiations, without preconditions on either side, would have been better. Given the history of the settlements since 1967, I had no problem with it.

    2. FWIW, I mostly agree with Stuart on this, that significant differences for Israel are unlikely no matter who runs our government. However, Republican deficiencies are apparent in other areas tip the scale against them. They may talk a good game, but their actions make clear their intentions for a laissez-faire society where only the few benefit.

      My issue here with Obama is, though constrained by national security that requires support of Israel, he is far more interested to adopt the failed European multicultural approach that will increasingly bring cultural strife.

      The reality is that both parties are inept for their own reasons, and the system is dysfunctional where people are too prone to demonize and read the wrong intent into most any move for purely partisan intent.

    3. Here's a question for both of you guys.

      Who do you think is more likely to prevent Iran going nuclear?

      Obama or Romney?

      And, perhaps even more importantly, how much importance do you give the issue?

      To what extent do you think that it matters if Iran goes nuclear? I think that it is important, but I do not get much impression the the progressive-left does.

      What do you guys think?

    4. Last question first. I think it's essential to take all reasonable steps to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities.

      I don't think there's a damn bit of difference between what Obama would do and what Romney would do, as far as outcome is concerned. Methods might be a little different. But really, Romney is kind of a wild card when it comes to foreign policy. I suspect he'll rely on advisors. And I know nothing about who his advisors are now, or might be in the future.

      I think (hope?) nothing but talk happens before the election. After that, hell if I know.

    5. Can't say I know, but believe that both parties would support the use of force, at least according to what I saw in a recent Pew poll. But it is also said that it would only delay the inevitable. Of course it matters. Iran not only hates Israel, but the USA, and all infidels.

      The place where Obama fell was after the election in 2009. Those who seek freedom from the theocracy are likely less a threat than the totalitarians that are now in charge. In other words, it is the regime that is the larger problem.

      I agree that progressives are largely indifferent about the nukes, or the general and systematic repression practiced against the people of Iran, and frequently are hostile to people that raise these serious, troubling issues.

  19. Well, the bottom line is that the Obama administration is doing what it can do to prevent Israel from defending itself against the development of Iranian nukes while giving Iran the cover and time that it needs in order to get the job done.

    Whatever Obama's intentions, such are the effects.

    "The UN atomic agency has found evidence at an underground bunker in Iran that could mean the country has moved closer to producing the uranium threshold needed to arm nuclear missiles, diplomats said Friday."


    This president has neither the vision nor the stomach to do what is necessary in preventing a nuclear armed Iran and big part of the reason for that is because Obama is not opposed to radical Islam.

    What's important about Iran is that it is the first Islamist state and as radical Islam continues to gain power throughout the Middle East, it obviously will not be the last.

    We are seeing the spread of this movement under the misnomer "Arab Spring" which Obama told the world was a good thing, something akin to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

    It's not.

    I mean, I'm pretty sure that Stokely Carmichael never called for a genocide against the Jews.

    To be frank, a Jewish person would have to be highly naive to trust this president with Jewish or Israeli security.

  20. btw, Stuart:

    You think the settlement freeze was a monkey wrench. I don't think so.

    What I think is that Obama's demand for a "total settlement freeze" was used by Abbas as an excuse to avoid negotiations.

    That's not an interpretation of what happened, but a literal description of pertinent facts.

    How you can ignore it is beyond me.