Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A note from an old friend

Michael Lumish

{Also published at Jews Down Under.}

I have a buddy from high school who was always a bit of an intellectual rebel. He is of Irish descent and I am, of course, of Jewish descent. 

We were not trying to burn anything down or bully other people. We were not Antifa-like "fascist anti-fascists" beating the holy shit out of people wearing red baseball caps in the streets of Berkeley. We were just trying to figure out the social aspects of the world that we lived in at the end of the 1970s and the dawn of the Reagan era.

This was actually a moment in American cultural history wherein youthful radicalism was cooling off because racism and sexism were widely abhorred and because the Vietnam War was over and there was no draft. American college students liked Reagan and thought that Springsteen's Born in the USA was a tribute, rather than a criticism.

He is a creative guy and we discussed Vonnegut and Tolkien and Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson and Brautigan and Salinger and Charles Bukowski. We sat around on living room floors with books of art and wondered at what we were looking at.

We smoked a bit of pot and discussed the world around us. We were not particularly hostile to the government, but we were critical because we were born in the 1960s and raised during the Vietnam War. We grew up during Watergate and the rise of the New Left. And it is definitely fair to say that we had some contempt for mid-late twentieth-century Wonderbread Connecticutian suburban normality.

{I will never forget being absolutely mystified at something called the "color guard" at Trumbull High School.}

A few years out of Trumbull High my buddy and I actually embarked upon a Thompsonesque road trip across the United States on a journey to discover San Francisco. We even had the temerity to drive through Kansas... or perhaps it was Nebraska! It was there that the Grimace menaced my buddy after we had spent the entire night driving through the midwest before pulling into a grand-opening of a McDonalds in the middle of nowhere, practically at dawn. We were exhausted!

In any case, we have not, until recently, been in touch but when we were close friends Israel was not heavy on my mind. We were very young. We talked about art and literature and, in the manner of youthful smartasses, the stupidity of our parents and our teachers.

As we have recently been in contact, and he has taken note of my interest in the Movement for Jewish Freedom, he writes on my Facebook page:
I prefer to think I am practical and a realist, perhaps a jaded one.

The unfortunate reality is that too many people are looking at those in Gaza and the West Bank as Palestinians.

It is likely impossible that all those people can be convinced they are not a legitimate ethnic group.

So, I am saying is you can speak the Truth but while you are presenting your case people are switching you off and paying attention to the PR being advanced in the MSM.

Call these people whatever you want, what progressives are being sold is these are people who need to live somewhere and Israel is oppressing them.

They see them as oppressed maybe even innocent or righteous!

They do not recognize the poison within their culture and the genocide in the hearts of their leaders.

Their opinions are based on ignorance and emotional manipulation.

What I am trying to figure out is how do you change this narrative.

Most of the people in these polls are not studying history, issues, etc. The question then becomes what is driving the anti-Israel sentiment-especially in the last couple of years. I doubt the sentiment is driven intellectually but is being driven more by marketing if you will.
I like this comment very much because it is fair and not coming from a Jewish pro-Israel ideologue.

What I want to address, however, is this line concerning presumably the western-left and their feelings about Arabs who live in Israel:
They see them as oppressed maybe even innocent or righteous! 

The western-left views Arabs as the innocent, indigenous victims of Jewish-Euro-White "settler-colonialism." It is for this reason that the European Union and the Democratic Party, not to mention the United Nations, literally fund the murder of Jews in the homeland of our forefathers and honestly believe that they are doing so from a moral standpoint. Academic anti-Zionists have been making the same false claim from Edward Said to Rabab Abdulhadi and Hatem Bazian.

This is one of the biggest problems that the Jewish people need to overcome. Diaspora Jews are overwhelmingly "progressive" -- whatever that means, exactly -- but the progressive-left is increasingly an enemy to the Jewish people through supporting hostility to the lone, sole Jewish state.

The general trend -- since Trump had the cajones to throw his hat into the political ring -- is to draw an equivalency between "alt-right" antisemitism and progressive-left antisemitic anti-Zionism. As a liberal, I very well understand this inclination to be fair-minded and suggest that the problem lies with the fringes on both sides.

This popular analysis is false.

The greatest enemy to the Jewish people -- despite Pittsburgh -- is unquestionably the western-left because it is the western-left that supports the European Union and the Democratic Party and both, sadly, tend to support the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) the national homeland of the Jewish people.

Cranky hard-right White Supremacist antisemitism has virtually no political support in the United States. There are no openly White Supremacist Senators or Congresspeople.

There is, unfortunately, a mainstream "progressive" contingent that is openly anti-Israel and antisemitic and we all know it.


  1. Until the Western Left realizes and acknowledges there is a Holy War going on it is pretty much irrelevant. Dumping on Christianity and Judaism but giving Islamic Supremacism a free pass is crazy. Of course, doing that necessarily changes the rhetoric and they aren't about to do that. It has taken years to find way to demonize Jews after the Holocaust.

    1. "Muslim Supremacy" is an amazing thing. It is the most successful form of settler-colonial imperialism within recorded history.

    2. Look at the bold claims the left makes for itself, then take a gander at the geo-political causes it has embraced over the years. It's a chamber of horrors.
      Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised at the embrace of Muslim Supremacy.

    3. Mike,
      Your friend sounds smart. But many smart people have been fooled. So, one might ask why he wasn't fooled by the propaganda.

  2. also, add this: https://www.jns.org/congresswoman-elect-tlaib-supporter-of-bds-to-lead-delegation-to-judea-samaria/

    1. She should be banned from entry to Israel, by name, for life. There, problem solved.

  3. A digression. Since you mentioned Vietnam, are you aware of how Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory? Do a search for --vietnam casualties by year-- and ask how the casualty figures for 1972 forward do not represent the jaws of victory.

    As to the left and the Democratic Party, the major point is that they are not monolithic. The is the left of Michael Walzer and Paul Berman/Democratic Party of Ted Deutsch and Eliot Engel and there is the left of Glenn Greenwald/Democratic Party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What's needed is to strengthen the hand of Walzer and Berman/Deuthsch and Eliot against Greenwald/Ocasio-Cortez rather than going after the entirety of the left.

    Another important point from your friend is "how do you change this narrative." That is our central challenge. If we change the narrative, we will have convinced everyone of Israel's self-defense needs and that Jordan's 1949-conquest does not permanently abrogate all Jewish rights.

    1. you cannot save the Democrat Party! The future voices of them are all gonna be intersectional communists, and that really did get mainstreamed under Hussein Obama. He validated their view on everything including muh Palestinians, Islam, transgender ideology, America and The West as inherently evil and racist (and Israel by extension), you name it. It's their weltanschauung, not simply a misguided view on one subject.

    2. add to that he gave that crowd the green light to be in our politics and invited them into the Democrat Party. It wasn't like that before he got nominated. Even Hillary 2008 (not the Obama-like 2016 version) as Prez woulda left a VERY different Democrat Party by this point. The DLC/Bill Clinton party is dead and decomposed; they're never coming back. I held my breath they would, and they're not.

    3. https://spectator.us/camille-paglia-hillary-trump/

      I LOVE Paglia. A Sample:

      "Right now, the campus religion remains nihilist, meaning-destroying post-structuralism, whose pilfering god, the one-note Foucault, had near-zero scholarly knowledge of anything before or beyond the European Enlightenment. (His sparse writing on classical antiquity is risible.) Out with the false idols and in with the true!"

    4. American casualty numbers dropped after 1972, but ARVN numbers went up. Nixon was trying to transition the fighting from American troops to Vietnamese. He did that, but then the war was lost because the South really didn't have the support of most Vietnamese. The was was stupid from the beginning, George Kennan, the architect of the domino theory, said that Vietnam was not what he meant. The idea that China was going to control Vietnam was nonsense, the Vietnamese have long had serious problems with China, Russia was their chief backer in the war. Interestingly, the worst government, by miles, in Southeast Asia, was the Khymer Rouge of Cambodia. The Vietnamese threw them out and subsequently had a short border war with China as a result. Looking back at history, it is clear that America would have been much better off cultivating Ho Chi Minh after he defeated the French. But Monday morning quarterbacking is always easier than real time decisions.

    5. joseph: The South lost because it lacked materiel. They were rationing bullets! Further, the North had no embedded proxy units by then and thus had to rely on a conventional invasion which was highly vulnerable to American air power as in the 1972 Easter Offensive. The North was no better prepared for that in 1974-75, and they made sure that they would not have to by testing the waters before going all in. The withholding of air power is what enabled the final assault on Saigon.

      As to the transition to the Vietnamese, the strategy always called for American air support and materiel.

      Cultivating Ho Chi Minh might have led to a tolerable political result, in which case it would have been the best option. But, skipping all the years of Westmoreland's attrition strategy and going straight to Abrams' COIN approach would have resulted in what the war set out to achieve. If any portion of that could have been achieved diplomatically, it would have been better even the war Abrams would have fought, but we don't know what Ho would have accepted.

    6. There are many books written on the Vietnam war and many viewpoints. Your view seems to be a minority view, though certainly not an outlier. Most historians take the view that the corrupt, kleptocratic oligarchy that ruled South Vietnam was very unpopular. Ho had let the war against the French and was popular throughout the country, at least according to most historians. The "Hearts and Minds" campaign never worked. The lesson is that to fight guerrilla war you have to have popular support, something we did not have. The lesson should have been learned in Afghanistan and Iraq. I don't think it was.

    7. Yes, there are many books written on the Vietnam War, but how many of them about Abrams' war not through the lens of Westmoreland's war?

      As to Ho's popularity, why the Hue massacre? Do you seriously think Ho would have been popular after that?

      Some points are a matter of fact. For instance, while air power was largely ineffective during the counterinsurgency phase, because targets could not be readily identified, it was devastating to the North during the 1972 Easter Offensive. So devastating that it was 3 years until the North could even try anything again. Similarly, the strategy of handing off ground fighting to the Vietnamese while continuing to provide air and materiel support is a matter of fact. Intercepts from the North provide an open and shut case of their intent and plans if the 1975 offensive had been opposed by the US. How many of the histories make use of those intercepts?

      As to lessons for Afghanistan and Iraq, there were those who did learn the lessons and those who did not. Unfortunately, Cheney and Rumsfeld were among those who did not and Bush was too bedazzled by Cheney to do anything about it until the nation was turned off.

  4. No one learned the lessons of Roger Trinquier, David Galula or Bernard Fall re Algeria or Vietnam. They laid it all out what needed to happen and no on listened outside of a small cadre of military experts. Algeria and/or VN were good examples of tactical brilliance and strategic and political idiocy. Same thing with Rhodesia. Unbeatable in the field only to give it all away at the conference table.

    If you want to see a good example of both tactical and strategic brilliance review the history of the SA Border War (Angola/SW Africa-?Nambia) or the China-Vietnam war of 1979. In both cases the winners showed unmatched capability in the field against a much larger enemy coupled with crystal clear strategic objectives that were winnable and objectively advantageous to win.

    1. The post-1968 commander of MACV, Creighton Abrams, did learn the lessons. The problem is that by the time the Tet Offensive had happened, everyone was so used to claims of progress clearly disconnected from reality that no one was willing to believe any progress was made under Abrams.

    2. Tet was a classic set piece battle not an asymmetric war. It also didn't help that the US media was flat out lying and/or working for the NV's. For instance, My Lai is burned into the American psyche but how many people know that during Tet, the NV and NVA massacred thousands of VN civilians in the city of Hue? Just rounded them up and shot them like the Nazis did.

  5. Winston Churchill said this in 1937 CE:

    “[Winston] Churchill did not accept that the
    Jews were a foreign race [to the Holy Land].

    He said it was the Arabs who had been
    the outsiders, the conquerors.”

    SOURCE: Churchill and the Jews
    (chapter 10, page 115) by Martin Gilbert, year 2007 CE

    Winston Churchill was British Prime Minister
    from 1940 to 1945 CE and from 1951 to 1955 CE.

    Who are the Palestinians?


    Ancient Roman historians identified
    JEWS as the inhabitants of Land of Israel,
    and located the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem