Monday, April 15, 2013

Brief Notes: Standing Up For Ourselves

Mike L.

{Cross-posted at the Times of Israel.}

All we are trying to do here, or so it seems to me, is open ourselves to alternative viewpoints around the Arab-Israel conflict and to stand up for ourselves.

I have no particular agenda beyond the fact that I want Israel to thrive.  That's it.  That's all.  Given the history of the Jewish people we need a place where we can defend ourselves and express ourselves.

Israel is the place that assures that.

I live in the foothills of Oakland, California, overlooking the San Francisco Bay.  I have not the slightest concern of any anti-Jewish pogrom happening where I live.  The Bay Area is, like Israel, among the most open and diverse places on the entire planet.  So my concern is not for me, nor for my family in the United States, but for my Jewish family in Israel.

The reason that I have this concern is because my father's side of the family was slaughtered by Nazis in the town of Medzhybizh, in the Ukraine by the Einsatzgruppen death squads, as part of the Holocaust and therefore I understand how the defamation of the Jewish people can lead to mass murder.  They were not put in the camps.  Under forced labor they built roads for the Germans during Operation Barbarossa and once those roads were completed they dug ditches and once those ditches were completed they were lined up, along with about three thousand other Jews, and shot dead by rifle fire.

The only reason that I was even born was because my grandparents had the foresight to get the hell out of there after World War I.

In any case, it must be understood that the Jews of the Middle East are a people under siege.  That is the very first thing that we need to understand, in my opinion.  We have to understand that our fellow Jews in that part of the world are maligned and targeted for death by political Islam and for the kind of defamation, among a significant faction within the international left, that leads to violence against us.

It is really very simple.  We should stand up for our allies and oppose our enemies.  Living where I do it is very easy to think that we do not have enemies.  The whole concept of "enemies" is anathema to the western progressive-left.  My friends in Oakland and Berkeley and San Francisco (and New York) do not believe in "enemies" because they come from a place that is so rich and privileged and safe that the whole notion of "enemies" is anathema.

But the truth of the matter is that Hamas shot hundreds, if not thousands, of rockets into southern Israel last year and the international community did not give a damn.  It was only when Israel finally stood up and fought back that suddenly we had people like Hillary Clinton fly into Jerusalem to broker a cease fire.  The west did not care in the least when Arabs sought to kill Jews.  They only cared when Jews fought back.

What I say is that we must stand strong and we must fight back. We can disagree among ourselves about any number of issues, but we must stand together because the radical Jihad, which includes millions in the Middle East, would destroy Israel if it could.  The "Palestinians" would destroy Israel and this would bring us back to the dhimmitude and helplessness that we have known for millenia.

We just recently celebrated Passover and that holiday, along with Thanksgiving, is my favorite holiday because it is the holiday in which we celebrate our freedom as a people.  We should never underestimate this or take it for granted.

I am exceedingly privileged because I do not live in a place where people are trying to kill me, but the same cannot be said for our friends and family in the Jewish State of Israel.  Once again, we have 6 million Jews with their back to the sea surrounded by 400 million colonialist Arabs who, for the most part, do not want them there.  This is not because those Jews are persecuting the hostile imperial majority population and it is not because those Jews are allegedly persecuting "Palestinians."  The hatred toward Jewish people in the Middle East is for religious reasons embedded in the Koran.

We need to open ourselves to the alternative view that Jewish self-defense is a matter of social justice.  In the west we are trained to believe that the Palestinian-Arabs are fighting for social justice against the malicious and militaristic and racist Jews.

This is false.

The opposite is the case.

The only thing that we can do is stand up for ourselves and if we fail to do that then we have no one to blame but ourselves.


  1. Well said Mike.

    If we cannot stand up for the human rights of the Jews of the Middle East then we should stop pretending that we are about human rights at all.

    1. Jeez, I have to say, upon rereading what I wrote above, it's a little on the grim side, eh, Geoff?

      But, yeah, it is about the human rights of the Jewish people and those rights are perpetually violated by those in the Middle East who call for the genocide of the Jews.

      This is no joke, as you well know.

      I suppose what pisses me off the most, tho, is that our liberal friends don't seem to give a shit. Although they may sympathize in some small measure, they still honestly believe that Muslim persecution of the Jews in the Middle East is a matter of social justice.

      How's that for a kick in the head?

    2. btw, this is where someone like Stuart would say something to the effect of, "Please show me where any liberal has ever said that Muslim persecution of the Jews in the Middle East is a matter of social justice."

      No one has, of course. No one would ever be that explicit.

      Nonetheless, it doesn't change the fact that the Jews of the Middle East are under persecution and that very many "liberals" - and I say this as a liberal - believe that violent Arab hatred toward Jews is a response to Jewish Israeli racist, colonialist, imperialist, militarist, apartheid, racist policies.

      Thus they honestly believe that Muslim persecution of the Jews in the Middle East is a matter of social justice.

      I just thought that I would have my little argument with Stuart without Stuart's presence.

      It's much quicker and easier this way.


    3. I am here. I am always here. Sometimes I just sit quietly in the corner.

      And I'm missing your point, so it's unlikely I'd say "Please show me where any liberal has ever said that Muslim persecution of the Jews in the Middle East is a matter of social justice". I'm not even sure what it means. Are you saying that liberals believe that Jews in the middle east are getting what they deserve?

      I don't believe that. Though I have little doubt there are some "liberals" who may. Just like there are liberals who believe that Palestinians have 2000 years of history in the region. Or that Jews don't have 2000 years of history in the region. Or that either one of those claims, whether true or not, are the least bit important.

    4. Stuart,

      I think that you are good and intelligent man, but I honestly do not know what to make of your views.

      I think that you care about the well-being of the Jewish people and of the well-being of the Jewish State of Israel. Thus, I consider you an ally and a friend.

      At the same time - and please correct me if I am wrong - you also give me the distinct impression that you largely blame Israel for Arab malice toward it because you think that Israel is unjust toward the "Palestinians."

      Am I wrong?

    5. To blame? No. But nobody in this conflict is blameless. Do you believe that there is nothing that Israel could have done differently over the last 60 years that may have produced a better status than exists today?

      I actually like your idea of Israel unilaterally setting final borders today. It would have been a good idea 10 years ago. Or 20. Or 30. Or even better, 40 years ago.

    6. Let me ask you this, Stuart.

      Do you think that the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust were entirely blameless, because I am pretty sure that they were not.

      There were any number of Jews, both individually and in an organized manner, that did all sorts of things that we might consider blameful.

      This also holds true for Native Americans and African Americans.

      Were those people entirely blameless?

      I think that they were not.

      The Jews of the Middle East are detested minority among a much larger and hostile majority that has kept those people in servitude and submission for 13 of the last 14 centuries.

      We are both Jews, yet I unequivocally side with my fellow Jews in the Middle East because I recognize that they are a tiny minority struggling to free itself from a much larger, hostile majority.

      Yet, you do not.

      I wonder why?

    7. I do. I wonder why you think I don't.

    8. Well, I love you, my brother, and you can join the conversation whenever you wish.

  2. I'll have to get a copy of Ruth Wisse's "Jews and Power" or David Mamet's "The Wicked Son" and get back to you. For as we say at the shul, "Jews love every -ism except Judaism."

    I honestly don't know. We hope for what? A golem to save us? A monster with the word 'truth' on its forehead who runs around killing our foes. And when he's done we erase one letter of 'truth' (emet) and turn it to 'death' (met) and the monster goes away? And that way we absolve ourselves of action, of taking a stand? I genuinely have never understood this. In the US Jews are one of the few identifiable minority groups who don't hyphenate their identity. Shame? Patriotism? Fear? In fact even the Mashadis I know call themselves Persians, not Jews.

    We don't 'do' self defense. We don't 'do' that relentless self promotion that's needed. Down here where I live are two very prominent HBC's (historically black colleges); Shaw and St Augustine. They are FEARLESS in their own identity. It's not abrasive but it's proud. Very proud. We don't do that, do we? Instead we get the Hillel to invite Palestinian speakers to rant and rave about how Israel is the worst thing in the history of people. Because....why? Because if we hate ourselves enough other people will love us?

    I say go be a penitent somewhere else.

    1. And not two minutes after I read your comment, I found this in my email.

      "What and how Gazans cook has been influenced by the conflict with Israel. According to the book, the strip’s iconic red tahini — made by roasting sesame seeds — has all but disappeared from Gaza kitchens since Israel began flooding the local food market with inexpensive white tahini."

      I seem to recall reading a post somewhere (Elder?) noting a few lies or half-truths contained within this book last week sometime, but those aside, my first thought upon reading the above paragraph in The Forward is... perhaps if Gazan terrorists would stop firing thousands of missiles into Israel, they and their people would be able to get, cook and produce whatever kind of foods and ingredients they want?

      "What and how Gazans cook has been influenced by the conflict with Israel."

      They constantly shoot missiles at Jewish civilians; every once in a while, Israel (restrainedly) hits back. Those poor Gazans and the 'conflict' from which they suffer!

      The Forward just made your point perfectly, Trudy.