Thursday, April 28, 2016


Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under.}

Non-Israeli Jews have been in diaspora for 2,000 years or thereabouts.

We have been in diaspora so long that we have forgotten that we have a home.

The Land of Israel.

This is not to say that America is not also our home or that anyplace we happen to live, say Australia, is not a home. I live in California and have nothing but the highest regard for this land, and these people, and this country.

But that does not change the fact that Jews are indigenous to the east coast of the Meditteranean, just as the French are indigenous to France or the Japanese to their Pacific islands.

Israel is where we come from and why non-Muslims are so hostile to this notion remains a mystery to me. Many Muslims, of course, despise the idea of Jewish indigeneity because Islam is an imperialist religion and any land that was at any time conquered by the forces of Islam, as was Israel in the 7th century, must forever and always belong to the Umma, the people of Islam.

Jews, of course, have no particular reason to respect this wildly fascistic notion other than the fact that Muslims outnumber Jews by a factor of well over 100 to 1 and, therefore, have a far larger megaphone than do the Jews. Anti-Jewish racists, needless to say, believe that Jews control everything from the banks to the newspapers to the schools and do so for nefarious reasons.

This is essentially what the Nazis thought and taught.

It is true that Jews tend to punch well above our weight level, but there are reasons for this. It has nothing to do with "race" or genetic superiority, or any such notions, but because Jews have been put through the ringer by Christians and Muslims for millennia.

It was the very persecution of the Jewish people that has made us strong.

It was the persecution of the Jewish people that essentially created the IDF.

It was the persecution of the Jewish people that caused Theordore Herzl to create the First Zionist Congress in 1897.

Of all the ancient peoples of the Levant, only the Jews have survived. All the rest of our old neighbors are gone, including the Romans. The Jebusites are gone. The Assyrians are gone. The Babylonians are gone. But the Jews struggled through and survived.

I understand why Muslims resent Jews, but what I do not understand is why so much of the contemporary West also does. It makes no sense to me. The Jewish people, small as our numbers were kept, have been a major contributing factor to western culture and society, in the best sense. Judaism is a religion of law and, thus, throughout the millennia has worked through ideas of justice. This is the essence of Judaism and also a major contributing factor within Western jurisprudence and society.

There is a reason that so many towns and cities throughout the United States are named after Israeli towns. ---

But the bottom line is, the truth is, that the Jewish people are the indigenous people to the land of Israel and that is the land that we come from.

Many Muslims do not like this fact for religious reasons.

Westerners are just bullies.


  1. When you have people rebelling against western values, yes the Jews are going to be a target.
    How did you hurt your hand? Bite the bullet and get yourself a new computer if you can afford one. I get the feeling your old one is out of date.

    1. Jeff, you get the feeling that my laptop is out of date?

      Now why would you say that?

      Not that I mind, I just don't understand why you would think that.

      The system is about 3 1/2 years old, I guess, and it looks to me that either the charger or the battery has conked out. Tomorrow I will take it over to Best Buy and see if Geek Squad buddies can't replace the necessary part. If not I'll slap down the cash for a new one.

      This evening Laurie has been gracious enough to allow me to use her brand-spanking new laptop.

      As for my hand, let's just say that I got into a fistfight with a cupboard door and the door won.

  2. Mike,
    It's almost certainly incorrect to say Jews thrived "because" they were persecuted. There are much less horrible reasons why Jews tend to be on average more "successful." Other groups have similar stories.
    Persecution is not *good* for people.

    1. Kate, of course, persecution is not *good* for people.

      I cannot quantify this, or prove it in a social scientific manner, but I speculate that the centuries of Jewish persecution have helped shape Jewish tendencies, cultures, and styles of life.

      Could it possibly be otherwise?

      It is cliche to note, for example, that because Jews in Europe could often not own land that they tended to go into non-agricultural businesses, such as finance and trade.

      In my opinion, the Jewish people are a people under siege and have been for a very long time and that has very definitely shaped who we are.

      It helps to shape both our successes and our failures.

    2. Mike,
      You're entirely right to suggest that in parts of the world - Christian, Northern Europe in the Middle Ages - the fact that Jews were, through prejudice, not permitted to enter most professions and, therefore, had to make their way within a very narrow band of types of work, would almost certainly have shaped aspects of their culture, and led to being better adapted to certain types of tasks.
      That was not reproduced everywhere, though. Not to the same extent. Including in other parts of Europe. And certainly not in the Middle East. It's probably true to say that those things helped communities develop particular kinds of aptitudes. Cultures develop for complex reasons, and that seems very likely to be a factor in why Jews were, on average, quite successful in education and some professions once they were freed up to participate in normal society.

      So yes, it is possible to say that not being treated normally *can*, in some circumstances, produce unforeseen consequences that could in the future - a very long time in the future - be helpful. But only if the particulars fall into very unusual patterns.

      Unfortunately, these sorts of things, in any group do not endear them to host populations. Other groups - Chinese in non-Chinese host populations, for example - have similar problems in terms of outcomes. Although with very different history.

      Culture and styles of life would certainly have been affected. Not quite sure what you mean by "tendencies." Be interested in that.

      These are interesting discussions.

  3. It's odd I suppose that we study the histories of cultures which essentially gave up a long long time ago. The ancient Egyptians haven't added anything new to the world in 3,000 years and the average Egyptian peasant lives, with little alteration in station or geography as peasant of 5 or 6 thousand years ago. They got to a certain point and then said, we're done. We study the ancient Greeks, the taproot of western civilization but after the Peloponnesian Wars they kicked back and decided that the best their learning and insight had to give was as the house slaves of the Roman elite. We study the classical Romans themselves the rulers of a complex and advanced culture, replete with science that would not be replicated for a thousand years but who over a 180 year period turned their back on everything, sat down and waited for the barbarians, the plague and their own hedonism to kill them.

    The late Jacques Barzun chronicled our modern day version of this in "From Dawn to Decadence" - a critique of the good ideas that ultimately went moldy from the year 1500 to the present. That's what we study.

    We study the failures, the dead ends. That's why Israel has such little hold to critics and scholars of the west. It hasn't failed. There's no closed chapter after which to pontificate. As a work in progress or stubborn refusal to die, Israel is not a good model upon which to theorize. It could change tomorrow and render everything the so called experts propound into nonsense. It's a living laboratory which I suspect would have to be treated by a modern day de Tocqueville ot be treated fairly. But there are precious few of them around today, aren't there. And if there were they'd be tarred and feathered as extremist right wing reactionaries by an academic cadre that's just barely less extreme than Emma Goldman. But that's what it will take. A narrative by someone with no skin in the game but who understands why the Jews and Israelis are the way they are. It won't be a Jewish academic either.

  4. Mike,

    I understand why Muslims resent Jews... Really? Why?
    Jews? As opposed to Israeli Jews?

    ... but what I do not understand is why so much of the contemporary West also does. It makes no sense to me.
    Really? Again, why?
    That seems extraordinary.

    Why do you think people resent other people? It's not rocket science.

    1. Some thoughts from Ed West:

      So nothing is going to get better. Only worse.

    2. It seems to me that one of our fundamental areas of disagreement is on the significance of religion within the conflict.

      Muslims resent Jews because such resentment is embedded in the Quran and because it is essential Islamic doctrine that any land that was once part of the Umma must remain so in perpetuity.

      Israel is an itch that the Islamic world cannot successfully scratch.

      As for the West, what is it that seems to you extraordinary about my view?

    3. "What is it that seems extraordinary to you about my view?"

      Well, wherever you look in the world, groups that want to fit in with host populations, and not get into trouble, would be advised to blend in and do, on average, about the same as the general population around them. Doing, on average, less well, brings a certain amount of being looked down on. More dangerous, however, is to do "better." That, the world over, is resented and usually blamed on nefarious reasons. Hence the persecution of high-achieving groups in many parts of the world. Human nature is universal.

      If you add to that the "political" and "sociological" belief - and they are inextricably linked - that everybody *should * have equality of outcomes, as opposed to equality of opportunity, then that is further fuel to the fire.
      Again, the modern way of explaining differences in group outcomes becomes to create conspiracy theories.
      If inequality of outcomes is unacceptable ideologically, then any group "punching above their weight" *must* be doing so because of unpleasant reasons. For which they will be blamed and suspected. Even, or specially, if that means conspiracy theories come into play. As, of course, one can see they do. And will continue to. Not just in Europe or the Middle East, but in America, too.

    4. Re significance of religion in conflict. I don't doubt at all the significance of religion. I was trying to ask whether you thought some Muslims tend to "resent" Jews, or whether because of religious traditions they might have a "bad opinion" of Jews. Those are different things, I think.
      I have no doubt that the mere existence of Israel is exceedingly resented. In most of history, though, I'm not sure "resentment" would have been the most appropriate word to describe the difficulty.
      And I do understand the ideas around land that was previously Islamic. However, outside of a small minority of extremists, it doesn't seem that the Islamic world spends much of its time preaching hatred and loathing for people in Spain, for example. That's interesting, I think.

    5. Kate, I have a difficult time wrapping my brain around the idea that non-Jews envy Jews.

      I said that I understood that many Muslims hold Jews in contempt for political-religious reasons and then wondered how we earned such contempt from Europeans.

      Your answer is envy.

      "More dangerous, however, is to do "better." That, the world over, is resented and usually blamed on nefarious reasons. Hence the persecution of high-achieving groups in many parts of the world."

      Given ongoing persecution of our people, and that our population level has been kept to a minimum for millennia by both Christians and Muslims, it boggles my mind that the Jewish people would be envied.

      Envied for what? The world championship of getting our asses kicked?

      And this is not to say that you are wrong, because obviously many Europeans and Arabs, and whoever else, think that we rule the world in nefarious ways for entirely selfish purposes.

      And then we are told that we have learned nothing from the Shoah.

  5. Re the horrors going on in UK Labour party:

    Have to say this particular part of what Ken Livingstone said is beyond repulsive. And totally calculated.

    1. Jeff,
      He is, absolutely, that vile!
      Totally agree.
      Sadly, he is one of Corbyn's cronies, and they are really not very different. Not at all. This is who they are. It really is.
      The Labour party is this now. Even if it eventually manages to chuck these people out, it has no real chance of being very different. Ideology and obsession, and changing demographics make that a given. Maybe they can, in some set of circumstances, be electable. But they can never be even-handed to the British Jewish community. One would have to be delusional to think that could be so. Sadly, there are delusional people about; vociferous ones. However, to quote/paraphrase Saul Freeman ( brilliant man on social media who has been forced into calling them out in recent times, and who was very much on the Left), "It'll be a cold day in Hell before I vote for the Labour party again."
      I know I can't. And if that means staying at home on election day, so be it. Sad. More than sad. Tragic and frightening.

  6. This is brilliant from Charles Moore. On why the Left - not just in the UK - embraced antisemitism:

    Please read.

    1. I am an idiot and got that link wrong.
      It should be this:


      It's really worth reading.
      It applies to America, as well.

  7. Also, this is great from Nick Cohen:

    "I saw the darkness of antisemitism, but I never thought it would get as bad as this."