Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lumish and the Culture Question

{Cross-Posted at Geoffff's Joint, Bar and Grill and Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers.}

Mike L.

I am late to the party on this business of Romney's alleged gaffes in Israel, but I find the "culture question" interesting. Some on the left, along with Palestinian "leadership," are claiming that Romney is a racist. This is hardly surprising given the fact that the most racist political movement in the west today, outside of political Islam, is the progressive-left, which ironically enough flings around charges of racism like they are confetti.

What Romney said was this:

"If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world, it's this: Culture makes all the difference," he said, citing the work of historian David Landes, the author of the book "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations."

"As I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney added. "One, I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place."

So he was praising Jewish culture for the success of Israel, while acknowledging "the hand of providence."  Well, I don't know much about the hand of providence, but I find it refreshing that Romney is brave enough to stand up for Jewish culture and recognize that the success of Israel is mainly due to those cultures, the cultures of the Jewish people.

I fail to understand how progressive-left Jews, if they honestly have any self-respect, could take issue with such a statement. The two books involved in this unjust attack upon Romney are "Guns, Germs and Steel," by geographer Jared Diamond and "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," by economist David Landes. The first suggests that the wealth of nations is primarily a function of access to natural resources, while the latter stresses culture as a primary source of success.

It should seem fairly obvious to any thoughtful person that both are important to the economic success, or the economic failure, of any particular society. That's obvious, is it not? The United States has been a highly successful country because of natural resources and, in part, because of the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism as outlined by Max Weber's book of that title. Weber's famous book stressed culture and Landes owes him an intellectual debt, as I suspect Richard would agree.

Palestinian citizens of Israel are, in fact, among the most economically successful Arabs anywhere in the Middle East, which is why the majority of them have no desire to live under a Palestinian government. While progressives are calling Romney a "racist" and claiming that it is the occupation that is the reason for non-Israeli Palestinian economic failure, what they cannot explain is just why it is that so much of the rest of the Arab world is likewise an economic failure despite not being subject to those mean Jews.

The truth, of course, is that any culture that venerates death is going to result in a culture of poverty, despite access to resources. The Palestinians are not a failure because they are being oppressed by the Jews. The Palestinian economic failure is due to a culture which tells them that their highest ideal should be killing Jews as noble shaheeds doing the work of Allah (Hamas) or because they have simply been taught that the Jewish people have no legitimate rights to ancient Jewish land and therefore must be fought, tooth and nail (Fatah).

It could hardly be more obvious.

Until such a time as the Palestinians stop naming sports stadiums after murderers they are going to experience disproportionate poverty. It's just common sense. Furthermore, no economy that oppresses woman and gay people can possibly compete in today's world and be successful.

Has the "occupation" negatively effected the Palestinian economy in the Gaza and Judea and Samaria? I would assume so, but that is a direct consequence of allowing themselves to be used as the primary Arab weapon against the Jews of the Middle East. If the Palestinians would work with us Jews, rather than against us, then we could help them, but we cannot do anything for them so long as they continue to send rockets into Israel.

This is their choice and that choice derives from their culture, not from our guilt, as malicious progressives, and some Jewish progressives, would have you believe.


  1. Well put. One could make a case that, due to the sensitive nature of some aspects of the job he's seeking, he should probably keep things like that to himself (or at least have his surrogates make the point), but I don't see how what he said is wrong. Let alone 'racist.' I'm no fan of Romney, but I don't see any problem with his (or anyone else) pointing this out.

    Then again, some people in certain quarters of the left, particularly online, have so devalued that word (racist) as to render it completely meaningless these days. To some, simply thinking any differently than they do on any given subject can only mean that the other person is insane and / or racist. Yawn.

    1. It's the lowest form of politics.

      It's the politics of defamation and character assassination.

      As for Romney, I'm not even an advocate for the guy. I see him as someone who comes out of the rational right, a Rockefeller Republican I suppose.

      What I do think, tho, is that as Jews we need to begin the process of moving away from this tendency to eat all the blame. That's what Jews do, isn't it?

      We eat the blame.

      I guess what I do not understand is why? I mean, it tastes like garbage, because it is in fact garbage, so why eat it?

      Why should we incorporate their hatred into who we are?

      We need to stand up for ourselves and we need to recognize our friends.

    2. "It's the lowest form of politics.

      It's the politics of defamation and character assassination."

      Agree. Honestly, I'm having a hard time discerning the difference between certain 'progressives' these days, and the John O'Neill or Lee Atwater types of yesteryear, when they act like this.

      Just to be clear, I'm all for standing the fuck up and calling anyone out when they're full of shit. That's why I got kicked off of Daily Kos, for instance. What I'm not for, however, is the twisting of words and the politics of personal destruction. I have no tolerance for that these days. I've long since gotten over the partisan hack thing, and I'm so much better off for it.

  2. Agree entirely with your comments Mike. Romney should be applauded for saying what he did. I don't know about "providence" either but we could hardly expect a Republican candidate in Israel not to talk a little like that and besides there is plenty of material in the Israel story for inspiration.

    Blaming the "occupation", shouting "racism" and denialism is what you must expect from the liberal/left.

    1. Now, am I to understand that you were liberal/left?

      I was.

      I still am, actually, but I simply refuse to support a political movement that is not friendly to the Jewish people.

  3. I left the Australian equivalent of the Democrats (Australian Labor Party) when I realised that it harboured a viciously anti-American and anti-Israel faction that I wasn't prepared to give any oxygen.

    The moderates try to persuade you to stay to help them in the faction wars but that misses the point. These guys are the enemy. If you can't throw them out you must attack in the open from the outside.

    I was definitely "left/liberal' then but that was thirty or more years ago. I've never been aligned with a party since and try to avoid labels.

    I'm an independent I guess and think of myself as of the political centre. The "angry centre" as Don Chipp would have said, an Australian politician I admired.

    My main political interest right now is assisting in the noble cause of the eradication of the Australian Greens from all Australian legislatures within five years.

    1. Huh.

      Y'know I was a Green myself for a short while at the end of the 1990s. My politics were never quite radical Left, but close.

      I eventually came to the same conclusion that you did, but many years after you... only fairly recently, in fact.

      I am still suffering the fall-out from friends and family who want me to support the Democratic party and the Obama campaign.

      I think once more and more Jews declare their political independence it will become more acceptable among US Jews to not support the Democratic party.

      My bet is that US Jewish support for Obama will go from 77% in 2008 to something around, or under, 65% this November.

      What I suspect is that we will see a modest diminishment of Jewish support for the Obama administration, but I do not think that it will be large enough to prevent his re-election, unfortunately.

      We shall see.

    2. I still don't like to admit it, but... I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. From there I went to Dean in 04, to Edwards at the end of 04 and early 08, to "meh, who cares" when that latter primary came down to Obama and Hillary (I voted Obama in the primary and general) in the end, to "well, Kitzhaber's better than some others, at least" in OR in 10, to "I'm only registering as a Democrat in PA, and not an independent, because unless I'm a registered Democrat I won't ever have a say in Philadelphia city elections" now.

      That's been my journey. I'm still a liberal (although a few of my positions, like being extremely pro-gun, would be classified as 'conservative' by some; although I consider those positions part of my civil libertarian streak, as well as a touch of "when they come for us, we'll blow their fucking faces off this time"), and the only real thing that's changed is I've become wary of certain quarters of the left. They no longer all receive the benefit of the doubt from me.