Sunday, December 13, 2015
There are many people within the settlement enterprise, on the right of Israeli politics and within the religious community who have celebrated the death of Yossi Sarid.
This is in spite of an inconvenient truth, expressed by people of an allegedly religious disposition that the Second Temple was overthrown because of "sinat chinum" (hatred between people). And yet, this is what they are guilty of. Did not God say of the Egyptians when they were drowning in the Red Sea, that the angels should not sing because they, the Egyptians were also, his (her) children? They respond with Psalms 139:21: "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? And do not I strive with those that rise up against Thee?” (JPS Tanach 1917) It is used by the settler movement and those people opposed to the Left to justify their own particular hatred, particularly of people like Yossi Sarid.
The problem is that we can all pick and choose texts from holy script. One of the most negatively impacting issues that Jews have faced throughout the last 1,800 years of history is that our religious competitors interpreted their own religious texts to justify every atrocity they committed in the name of their faith. They have used it to justify slavery and in the Muslim world still do, to this day. Do we really want to be like them?
The reason the Jewish people have survived for 4,000 years is that we do change, nothing is sacrosanct. We have always wrestled with angels, we have always argued with God. The Golden Mean is a principle concept in Judaism. By choosing the nastier bits of ancient texts we embellish that which is hateful and disfigure that which is beautiful.
I know that Sarid could be a total ass - the left wing equivalent of the extreme right is the same unbridled hatred of the person with whom they disagree. Sarid’s eloquence was far too often vile in its expression of passionate disregard for his enemy’s feelings and the target was inevitably those communities of Jews who did not believe as he did it.
That was unforgivable arrogance - the kind of single-minded disregard for feelings that seems to be the salient affliction of modern western society’s most passionate believers. And here is the issue that afflicts Israel, Europe and the English speaking world. People whose beliefs are most passionate, often, have very limited if any knowledge outside of the narrow discourse to which they offer their undiluted support, body and soul. Once they sign up to a particular stream of consciousness, all else is discarded. It helps to explain why it is nearly impossible to engage in debate or even discussion with pro-Palestinian supporters, radical leftists and religious bigots. Facts that are not consonant with their belief system are brushed aside, often with a violent urgency that intimidates their interlocutor, and they think they are being moral. It is meant to be thus. Intimidation and violence are key tools in the suppression of debate. When a particular belief system is so exclusive that it cannot possibly win an argument on its own merits, debate must be occluded at all costs. And an essential element of this way of thinking is violent speech.
Yossi Sarid is dead, may he rest in peace. I could not agree with his politics because his beliefs excluded a display of compassion for any Israeli’s with whom he disagreed. He understood the anger and frustration Arabs felt but like far too many of his colleagues on the Left, he ignored the base prejudice and antisemitism that was rooted in Arab society. His secular mindset viewed the Arabs as victims of history and Jews (with whom he was incapable of identifying) as oppressors. History is rarely that simple and in the Near-East absolutely, it is not. The most charitable view of that same history is that both Arab and non-Arab are victims of history. But there are so many historical narratives that to choose only one is to be blind to the past and to dismiss a holistic approach to history is to celebrate ignorance over knowledge. And that is unforgivably crass.
The history of the Land of Israel is the history of the Near-East itself. It encompasses an Arab, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Ottoman as well as secular narrative that has impacted every corner of the Globe. To define oneself by only focusing on a narrow point in history or a single narrative is to reject the enlightenment.
Just as our enemies attempt to exclude us from any legitimate rendering of history, the Left has almost completely lost the attention of Israeli Jewish society. It has failed to capture our allegiance because it ignores our own legitimate story and refuses to challenge either the bigotry of our enemies or the lies of our ‘friends’. There is a desperate need for social activism and compassionate engagement in Israeli society but the left cannot re-engage the attention, the trust or the sympathies of the Israeli public in any significant numbers while it is seen to be understanding towards those ideologies and those people whose most heartfelt desire is not to live in peace with us but to destroy our society and to kill us all.
In a world of total moral collapse, Primo Levi said there was a small minority who mustered extraordinary courage to uphold human values (Michael Curtis on “If this is a man”).
The problem is that we speak in terms of carefully chosen absolutes that exclude anyone who fails to think exactly as we do. Our world is descending into another Dark Ages because of our selective intolerance. Celebrating the death of an Israeli patriot is part of that disease that infects our Western society.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Is the BBC biased against Israel and Jews in general? Does its continuous inconsistency of approach in matters pertaining to the State of Israel amount to antisemitism? Do the ideological blinkers worn by the BBC’s journalists and editorial staff prevent it from carrying out the terms and conditions of its license (which is currently up for renewal)?
Let’s see. On the 13th of November Nathan Graf, a forty year old male was repeatedly stabbed after leaving a kosher restaurant, in Milan, Italy. Being ultra-orthodox he was identifiably Jewish. And he allegedly holds Israeli citizenship (although from the original Italian news reports there was no mention of nationality except for the Afghan antecedents of the victims’ father). According to news reports, several young Israeli students heard Nathan Graf and came to his aid at which point the attacker who “appeared to be Arab” fled with two accomplices. There was no evidence that the attack was inspired by ongoing violence against Jews in Israel.
The BBC news reporter stated that the victim was Israeli and that the attack occurred during a time of multiple attacks in Israel. The BBC journalist then stated that Arabs view Jews as supporting Israel.
The BBC is a secular organization and it rejects the idea that nations can identify by religion, unless that is, the country is Muslim, in which case it is OK, even when its Islamic religious particularism is viciously prejudicial. This makes the BBC journalists assumption that the victim who was attacked, was attacked because he was Israeli, unmerited on the face of it. Unless Nathan Graf was carrying a sign stating “I am an Israeli” then the statement by the BBC reporter was conjecture, more bluntly, it was at best unprofessional speculation and at worse, a conspiracy to conceal the truth.
The second statement by the BBC journalist (the Arab view on Jews) was equally bizarre, as well as religiously bigoted. It hovered on the line between journalistic license and incitement to terror.
In Islam, Jews, like Christians, are ‘protected minorities.’ This means that for as long as they do as they are told and live within the limits defined theologically by the Islamic ‘faithful’ then they enjoy the protection of their Muslim hosts (that theory does not however, stand up to the practice of movements such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State). This concept is called the Dhimmi. While it is said to be inappropriate in an era of democracy and national entities, it is not the understanding of fundamentalists who view the application of Dhimmi status as timeless. Forty percent of the worlds Muslims are fundamentalists. This means they view the Koran as absolute truth; that religious texts are understood to be literal, not figurative, neither time barred nor time diminished. A significant percentage of the remaining sixty percent of the world’s Muslims are sympathetic to the ideas expressed in their faith. One of those unfortunate ideas is that any nation, group or individual that violates the eternal contract (of Dhimmitude) between Islam and the infidel nation forfeits all rights, including that of life itself.
Many Arabs therefore consign Jews to that religious category of excommunication, which places them outside of humanity. Comparisons with far-right, genocidal ideologies (of the 20th Century) could be made. Even if the BBC rejects religion, at least religion as practiced in the Western World, the attack on a person who was unambiguously identifiable as a religious Jew was a fundamental assault on Western Society.
Unless that is, the BBC is justifying random attacks on Jews by virtue of Arab theological attitudes towards the infidel, in this case people of Jewish faith. If that is the case then the BBC has crossed a line. It now openly advocates for the murder of Jews and justifies this behavior because of its radical political bias…..in direct contravention of its operating license.
This attack and the subsequent atrocities that were carried out in France (the following day) raises questions about the wisdom of opening our borders to Arab refugees for whom unadulterated hatred of everything we in the Western World stand for is a matter of cultural identity.
Not everyone behaves like this, but far too many do.
In February 2015 Islamic State declared its intention of flooding Western Europe (within six months) with 500,000 of its followers (or 50,000 as the number appeared in later Western reporting). This seems strange given the reported ruling by IS that they were opposed to any Muslim fleeing a Muslim land for any country that is Dar al-Harb (governed by infidel, unclean) because to so flee would be a religious abomination. Nevertheless, in one case, it is known that a dozen Christians were murdered by other refugees traveling on the same refugee boat because those Christians committed the unforgivable crime of praying to the wrong god.
The attack on Nathan Graf is being portrayed as politically inspired because of the minefield of ethical issues it raises if it is not. The BBC is complicit if not the leader of this pack of vultures for whom ethical considerations are an inconvenient barrier to the ongoing war against Israel.
We should set aside the over-riding principle of welcoming the asylum seeker. The attack on Nathan Graf, the Belgian murders in 2014, French mass killings in early 2015 and latterly, the French attacks that also took place on November 13, raise serious ethical questions about the continued admittance of refugees whose beliefs are fundamentally incompatible with those of our own societies. Incompatibility, violent opposition to integration and the intelligence services being overwhelmed by an Islamic State fifth column are the minimum considerations that must now be given to any further refugee absorption in Europe or elsewhere.
These are not just questions about security. Not least among the questions we should be asking is: Given the blind prejudice of news organizations such as the BBC, are they capable of reporting the news with any fealty to the untarnished truth? If the answer is no, then the BBC has outlived its service mandate.
Update: It is 18:00 on the 14th of November. The lead French prosecutor, in a live press conference announced that one terrorist was identified as a Syrian passport holder, registered as a refugee on his arrival in Greece in October 2015. A second terrorist has been identified as Belgian. He had been known to the intelligence community for his terrorist associations since 2010. Belgium with its strong antisemitic associations has more of its citizens fighting for Islamic State than any other European country (as a percentage of its overall population). The weapons used in the Charlie Hebdo atrocity were purchased in Brussels and according to the internet site “Politico” it is suspected that three of the terrorists in the latest attacks in France came from Belgium.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Identity is our sense of self and it provides us with continuity and comfort in our everyday lives. It is our belief system as well as the physical and psychological familiarity with which we approach everything. A self-defined identity is an inalienable human right. The active right to a separate identity is denied by fascists and dictatorships, particularly within the global Muslim community.
The war being waged internationally against Israel and its supporters is largely focused on the denial of a Jewish right to a self-defined identity. That, on its own merits makes it antisemitic. Part of this war of ideas is an attempt to justify a Palestinians right of full return and thus, the elimination of the stain on Arab honor of a separate non-Arab national group regaining independence from the Arab conqueror of old.
In my previous blog (Benjamin Netanyahu and the failure of Leadership) I tried to explain the failures within Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership, primarily in the area of identity. Identity is of pivotal importance if we want to create a healthy society. It governs our self-image. We grow, according to the attributes that we collect along our life’s journey. Our sense of comforting familiarity provides the continuity we mostly crave in our everyday life. So while different facets define us, in their overlapping layers they create us in terms of personal, group and national identity.
Your religion is your heritage, or your faith, or both these things. Because it is central to the identity of most people it is a deeply personal and highly sensitive area of identification. No-one has the right to define who is a Jew, or by the same logic, no-one can tell me that yearning for either a spiritual or a physical Jerusalem is at best misplaced or at worse, geographically invalidated because of some theologically Supersessionist, racist ideology.
No-one has the right to attempt to delegitimize my history by relocating it or by deciding that only a non-Jew has the right to define for Jews, the location of their biblical temple. It is however, a common tactic of Palestinians and their widening circle of supporters throughout the world.
We can argue and scream over the top of each other without ever truly listening to what the other person says. Legitimacy, accuracy, validity - theological arguments are endowed with emotion but they do not come to us endowed with verifiable facts. So in the final analysis, all historical debate is meaningless when it comes to discussing issues of faith because faith is belief; it is not based on physical evidence. It follows on from this that if there are red lines, no single faith can define them for everyone else otherwise all religious dogma is open to debate on its authenticity, irrespective of time-line.
Religion, defined as cultural or ritual, is part of our identity, whether it is in opposition to religious ritual or defined by it. It makes arguments against legitimacy put forward by Jews themselves, Presbyterian Churches, Muslims, and ‘progressives’ wholly illegitimate, by virtue of their prototypical, prejudiced reasoning.
In a secular state, national identity is limited by its secular borders. In Israel the ultra-orthodox establishment defines who is a Jew. That is contrary to the health of the secular nation. The US Presbyterian Assembly (the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S.) declared when it signed the hateful Kairos Palestine document that Judaism was superseded. To logically extend this argument, Judaism is not a legitimate faith – which means that Jewish faith communities are likewise illegitimate. The intent was to identify any Jewish aspirations for living in the Land of Israel as wholly insupportable. But its global genocidal potential can not have been missed by Israel’s enemies. In both of these cases organized communities arrogated to themselves the right to deny others an identity of their choosing; a human right they denied to no other community.
The Arab world view is based on an exclusive Arab identity. As Lee Smith explains in his book ‘The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations,’ “Arab nationalism is secular in the sense that it does not derive its political legitimacy from divine revelation, but it is an absolutism nevertheless.” Absolutism thrives because the Arab nation is unencumbered by Western concepts of free will and the will of the people. There are no physical borders to define it. Arab exceptionalism has no noble message for humanity. The nation’s task is to fulfill Arab destiny; it is colonialism through conquest and morality has no place in the methodology to be employed. As an identity it thrives on subjugation.
Edward Said delighted in the idea that Islam was something all ‘Arab’ people shared. It meant that secular Arab nationalism could be embraced by non-Muslims if they recognized the supremacy of Islam. The logical follow through that derived from this was to disempower minority faith and non-Arab ethnic communities throughout the Arab world, justifying their often institutionalized and inhered inferior status.
The Islamic theological underpinnings of this philosophy creates fault lines between Muslim and non-Muslim national entities. The religious or ‘secular’ Arab national will has no geographical limits. Israeli self determination and any other legitimate Jewish aspirations are an unacceptable challenge to Arab hegemony. According to Arab religious theology and Arab secular dogma Jewish identity is narrowly permissible but only through renunciation of an identifiable, tangible homeland which also eviscerates the spiritual. Christians, Kurds and every other minority are similarly, ruthlessly offered limited, conditional acceptance.
Jerusalem has relevance to a Jewish identity because it is mentioned in the Jewish bible as well as in countless Jewish prayers. There is good reason it is not mentioned in the Koran. Arab identity defines Mecca and Medina as being central to Islamic faith however the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in twentieth century Egypt. It focused attention towards Jerusalem in order to shift the regional centre of political power away from the Arabian Peninsular.
If identity is what defines us then arguments over rights take on extra significance for people who express an affiliation for secular institutions because the physical borders of their state constrains them. It makes the arguments about Jerusalem crucial on almost every level of consciousness, at least for Jews and to a lesser but still important extent, for Christians.
Religion is faith not fact. Those people, organizations or nations trying to take away our rights by rewriting our ‘history’ or by denying us our religious heritage have no right to do so. Informing us that ‘Jerusalem’ is unconnected to us is part of the propaganda war persistently waged against us. It is an assault on our right to define our own identity.
Those people that therefore try to deny me my rights are guilty of cultural ethnic cleansing. The incessant incitement is incitement to cultural genocide, which precedes the physical act. We should demand that the world acknowledges this fact and highlight the corruption of our enemies at every opportunity but instead our silence is interpreted as acceptance of a hateful Muslim narrative that denies us our past, rewrites our history and conditions our existence on subservience.
Crucially, at a time in human history when we should all be enjoying unparalleled intellectual and social freedom, that conditional approval has growing Western acceptance. That prejudice represents the strongest argument for anti-Zionism being quintessentially antisemitism.
Jewish Israel must be able to assert its rights in its own homeland without threat of denigration, denial or delegitimization (all of which was beautifully summed up by Abu Mazen’s pithy little quote about filthy Jewish feet having no right to step out onto the Temple Mount).
If Israel decides to create a formal constitution the first statement of principles should declare that Israel is the original homeland of the Jewish nation and this fact is our inalienable right. It is part of our identity.
A homeland shared with others means that Israel’s minorities must be able to share in the benefits of participation in the Israeli journey. If Jerusalem is central to Palestinian-Muslim identity it is recent but no less valid than the centrality of Jerusalem to Jewish identity, with one exception: There is no fork in the road leading away from the belligerent denial of my nations past, towards a benevolent future. History must be our teacher. Delegitimization precedes extermination. De-escalation starts with rhetorical de-escalation, on both sides; within government and outside it.
Those who do not accept the legitimacy of our identity do not want peace. They must be marginalized. Only then will we successfully muzzle the antisemitic racist, President Mahmoud Abbas and his ilk. Only then will peace be possible.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
It has been a busy few months for Benjamin Netanyahu. He has had to contend with calls from Hamas for a third intifada and antisemitic incitement from our alleged “peace-partner” Mahmoud Abbas. Waves of terrorism and violence have spread across Israel as armed Arabs threw rocks (the size of building bricks) and brandished knives; he has had his authority questioned and his handling of Muslim incitement and violence on the Temple Mount challenged across the Israeli political spectrum. 45 stabbing attacks in the last month have resulted in more than 100 Israelis being wounded, and 10 murdered. Muslim children as young as thirteen years of age have viciously attacked identifiably Jewish children in this latest escalation of antisemitic violence. Bibi’s reputation as a man who can deliver on security lies in tatters. His reputation as a prime-minister who can bring prosperity to all Israel is based on the memory of his time as Minister for Finance from 2003-2005, during the government of Ariel Sharon. Since then, the average Israeli has not prospered. In fact, the average Israeli has suffered consistent, annual reductions in his standard of living. It is five years since major gas deposits were discovered in Israeli territory and still he dithers over exploiting those energy deposits.
His Wikipedia entry describes him as being born to secular Jewish parents. His problem is that his identity is based on history but not on an understanding of what drives people to maintain and nourish a healthy identity (more about that later).
On the event that marked the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of “those among us that challenge our democracy” and yet, he has done nothing during his tenure to strengthen Israeli identity or to lesson the incitement of the Muslim and greater Arab world against Israeli identity or Israel itself. During his tenure as Prime Minister we have all witnessed the growth of the international antisemitic Left and the progress of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement as it progresses, relentlessly, into the mainstream of Western Thought.
In a New York Times article, Pankaj Mishra opined that “the new can emerge only within a tradition”. Israel is a ‘newish’ secular society swimming in a sea of religious superstition, cant and, biased history which is weighted towards Arab conquerors and their descendants. If the current reality fails to be consonant with past narratives then it is ignored or worse, attacked.
For example, there is no doubt that Jerusalem is central to Jewish history, Jewish racial memory and Jewish religious thought (as well as having significance for Christianity). Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times in the Tanach, the Jewish bible, and it is referenced in countless Jewish prayers. Not even once is it referred to in the Koran. When Mahmoud Abbas aka Abu Mazen, President for Life of the Palestinian Authority tells us to keep our filthy (Jewish) feet off the Temple Mount, that is more than just incitement to violence, it is antisemitism. When he falsely accuses Israel of “executing” a thirteen year old Muslim boy who is being treated in an Israeli hospital, (having been disarmed after he stabbed a thirteen year old Israeli riding on his bicycle, eleven times) that is also incitement but also the kind of lie that travels around the world in a few hours even when Israel later, proves otherwise by showing the wannabe child murderer comfortably propped up in an Israeli hospital bed, surrounded by more food than he can possibly eat.
National identity is about history and culture; it is about ritual and comfort, what we refer to as our values. In the case of Israel those values encompass Jewish and democratic principles as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. Because Bibi Netanyahu and most of Israel’s politicians are secular and Jewish we have today a crisis of identity because instead of being universal as most of those founding principles are we have sectarian identity politics preached in opposition to the spirit of the founding declaration. The Arabs who want to be Israeli are attacked by the fascist Left as well as by fellow Arabs who have nothing of equal substance to offer the Jewish citizens of Israel because their identity is specific to being Arab. Bibi and his ilk are so alienated from their shared identity they are incapable of arguing for an Israel that unites all of its citizens: Jew, Christian, Muslim, Israeli and Arab.
In “Israelism, Arab Scholarship on Israel, a critical assessment” Hassan Barari refers to the “inevitability syndrome” where Israel is and can never be acceptable and will eventually ‘disappear.’ He declares Israel to be an outpost of Western imperialism although Arab imperialism is never mentioned. He says: “three ideological currents have produced dominant discourses. The pan-Arabist, the Marxist and the Islamic discourses have provided the overriding framework that conditions much of the understanding and interpretation of Israel.” Israel with its intellectually active past and present has nevertheless left the scholarly debate on identity to the activist enemies of peace and co-existence.
The Zionist vision of one nation for all of the people, irrespective of race, religion or color has been abandoned to the hysterics who fear adulteration of ideology, political power base and religious purpose. Histrionics and humbug are part of the debate on both sides of the identity debate. As Israel’s second longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu could be expected to present some kind of vision for a unified nation that leaves the extremists on the periphery of society instead of allowing them to take center stage.
As shown by Hassan Barari’s academic examination of Arab attitudes towards Israel, Arab literature and its communications are wholly ethnocentrically mono-cultural and mono-racial in outlook. The secular Arab and Islamic world does not and cannot accept a multi-ethnic state unless it is its own Arab empowered version of one; one in which we are all victims of their ongoing and comprehensive, cultural and ethno-religious colonization. What is at issue is the destruction of Jewishly identifiable history, its physical presence obliterated and its religious significance extirpated from cultural memory by constant denial at home and abroad.
When Abbas spits out his epithetic “filthy Jewish feet” he is simply expressing Arab ideas about the other. Surely, drawing attention to the disgusting rhetoric of Palestinians and Islamists (along with age-old antecedents in Arab thought) is something we can work with in order to unify the nation. Surely, we can use this hate to highlight the basic corruption of anti-Zionism in Western thought. Israel is a country in which all of its citizens, minorities as well as the Jewish majority may live within its borders, in peace. There is no other place like Israel in the Near East or in the Muslim World.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
David Milliband, writing in the Evening Standard on the 4th September 2015 related how, in 1940, his father and grand father fled Belgium to Britain and were “accepted” into the country as refugees. In 1945 his grand father returned to Belgium to find his wife and daughter, both of whom had spent the war years in hiding. He applied with them to immigrate to Britain and was turned down because the Home Secretary said he could not sanction “a flood”. David Millibands’ interpretation of this event – defining the difference between an immigrant (seeking a better life) and a refugee (fleeing persecution) missed the point entirely. Britain then as now, was antisemitic.
The horrifying revelations around the Shoah made no difference to the hardhearted and bigoted ruling classes, especially, under the Labour Government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin. Britain’s Foreign Office (Department of State) and its administrative classes were relentlessly antisemitic and unfailingly pro-Arab. The Balfour Declaration in 1917 was the twentieth century’s one exception that made the rule.
The historical reality is that Britain allowed a paltry number of Jewish refugees into the United Kingdom before World War 2 and they all had to have homes to go to so that there would be no burden upon the state. Britain’s ruling classes made sure that those people who were accepted into Britain were the “right kind of Jews” – they were middle class, intelligent and Western educated and yet the hostility of officialdom remained steadfast.
His analysis of the migrant crisis today is also flawed by his ideological myopia. So, he refuses to acknowledge either the political antecedents to the current crisis and the historical failures that have left Western nations unprepared for the latest crisis. Those people trying to flee conflict and the economic migrants that seek a better life have both had their funds plundered by people traffickers and criminal gangs. But that is only part of the problem that we refuse to acknowledge because to do so would involve, by necessity, a change in international immigration policy and a muscular and wholly unwelcome military response to ongoing international crises.
David Milliband’s selective analysis of the causes behind regional instability – those causes that created the current refugee crisis in Europe - is distressing because without honest debate around those sources of conflict, instability can only grow and create with it, ever escalating disruption and dislocation. Without addressing the causes of the current crisis the probability of global conflict can only increase.
David Milliband refers to “decades-old wars in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo” as well as in Afghanistan and Syria-Iraq without offering explanation, background or any suggestions for how to stop them. He refers to “the wider phenomenon of regional instability, the proxy wars causing chaos in Yemen” without mentioning who is the paymaster for that regional instability (it is the Islamic Republic of Iran). He states that Syria’s middle-classes are ‘fleeing,’ but he fails to join the dots to connect the collapse of the middle-classes with the failure of the state and its consequent future inability to be rebuilt as a stable entity.
When failed nations reassert their independence (in whatever form they eventually take), stability is reliant on the people being in place to lead. But the core of their communities will probably remain in Europe, enriching European society. This is in spite of the fact that a recent survey disclosed a significant percentage of refugees and migrants, and their second generation descendants are not only disengaged from their host society but also financially dependent on those societies, to maintain their relatively comfortable European lifestyle.
There are lessons to be learned from history. When in 1947-48 the Arab leadership of what was then known as Palestine fled to their gated mansions in Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Amman and Cairo the Arab peasantry that remained behind were left beleaguered, largely without leadership and therefore, without guidance. They were vulnerable to the depredation, malice and greed of local and foreign Muslim gangs who fled to ‘safety,’ once the lethality of the fighting with the Jews of Palestine began to seriously impact the profitability of their enterprise. Worse was the definition uniquely appropriated to Arab refugees from that conflict; unique in all the history of human conflict, it provided them with a status that could never be resolved. Despair, false hope and superpower machinations even then undermined regional stability because it would not encourage resettlement.
The Arab refugees from Palestine became victims of their own leaders’ propaganda when the wealthier classes, the local Arab leadership and those racially or religiously intolerant of any future that involved living under Jewish control fled to the neighboring Muslim lands.
The Muslim world, unlike its Western rival, has rarely, if ever, been forced to confront the racism within its society. Its religious bigotry is instead, worn as a badge of honor. There is enormous resentment feeding Muslim interaction with minorities through those dreamed of Muslim empires. This is the reason that Muslims are so welcoming of vile and murderous organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State (Daesh), al-Qaeda and all of their affiliates.
It is not their fundamentalism that is bereft of morality (although this could be argued is contributing to the outcome) but the inevitable conclusion of extremist thinking that is encouraged by so many of their ideological and functional leadership. That conclusion is perpetual warfare waged against everyone who cannot prove that they too are “true believers” and of course in that two-word honorific is the root of all suffering.
It is this inhumanity that is demonstrated throughout the Muslim world, every day. In the United Kingdom between April and June 2015 one thousand cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) were reportedly carried out. And it is illegal in the UK so what would have happened if Britain made FGM legal? A video also recently surfaced of a father in the Arab world proudly handing his daughter over to a Sharia court for execution by stoning. Her crime was disobedience.
There is a refugee crisis in Europe but one of its main causes, the one David Milliband refuses to be drawn into acknowledging, is the moral blight that has penetrated every section of the Muslim world.
The refugee crisis cannot be solved while we continue to rejoice in our multicultural diversity because all it means is that we are too cowardly to take a stand against barbarism. And a selective stand against injustice is no more than a cynically toadying acknowledgment of our international impotence, a grotesquely judicious application of morality.
If Turkey is unwilling to exercise control over its borders it should be expelled from NATO and allied forces gathered to collect immigrants and refugees and relocate them to a neutral zone in a failed state, to be administered by Europeans (and who-ever else is willing to assist in the task).
It is the only realistic way to:
a) protect vulnerable people from exploitation
b) to process large numbers of refugees
c) to return economic migrants to their country of origin
If Syria cannot be saved it should be re-divided, with appropriate border adjustments to foster stability. Kurdish self-determination should be granted and separate self-governing cantons established for the Alawites, Shia, Sunni, Christian and Druze minorities, all within the former Syria. At a time in the future the cantonization of Syria will lead to a united nation, perhaps based on the Swiss model. But for now the toxic ethnic and religious conflicts crisscrossing the former Syria defile any national aspirations that its competing war-lords may have harbored.
To rebuild Arab and the greater global Muslim society, to contribute in a way that meaningfully addresses local concerns and provides wise leadership at all levels of society requires people, many of whom have fled to foreign lands, to return and rebuild the nation. If that leadership is comfortably domiciled in Europe that rebuilding will be delayed by decades if not longer. Current estimates place the end to the Syrian conflict and a return to ‘normality’ at twenty years into the future.
The flight of the Arab masses from Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are a positive outcome for their regional rivals in Turkey, Iran and even, in Egypt and not just because it debases two Arab, formerly military heavyweights. Unless the world’s superpowers and European nations are willing to radically change their geo-strategic thinking on how to conduct a stabilization strategy within the Near–East that conflict will spill over into Europe and not just Europe but the nations that are on the periphery of the Near-East (Pakistan, [India], Asia and Russia).
It is this failure of imagination that could create the instability that unintentionally leads to the next global conflict.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
A prominent peacenik whose family had survived the massacre and ethnic cleansing of the Jews of Hebron in 1929 was being interviewed by Swedish TV at the start of this century. Suddenly and without warning this also prominent Swedish journalist verbally attacked him. More than most of us, this man of peace should have had a response but he was shocked and had no response to his Swedish abuser. Palestinian suffering had become the unquestioned fact of European (and much of the rest of the world) orthodoxy.
The problem is that then as now, Sweden like much of Europe has a national identity that is increasingly porous and ill-defined and progressively more schizophrenic. In its eagerness to appreciate the cultural eccentricities of its newest inhabitants and in deference to those differences, many states in Europe have created a two tier legal system that forgives or turns a blind eye to many crimes that may be attributable to cultural or religious differences.
And a simple example will suffice. Aside from South Africa / Lesotho (depending on the report) either country of which has an even higher incidence of rape than Sweden has, Sweden is now by far, the rape capital of the rest of the world. Even worse – reports suggest that the Swedish statistics hide under-reporting of rape by somewhere between 400% and 900%. At the current rate it is believed that one in four Swedish women will be raped at some time during their lifetime. That includes those who were children when they were violated.
In 2002 it emerged that 85% of convicted rapists were identified as immigrants or second generation Swedes. And that figure has continued to go up but no official reports are now allowed to tell the story.
Some forty years ago I was living on a kibbutz and we had some Swede’s temporarily living amongst us. The atmosphere was international and it was exciting but sometimes we even managed to discuss issues of a serious nature. So our Swedish friends said that in their country there was nothing happening to agitate popular emotion and sometimes there was a feeling that Sweden needed a war to awaken its people from their emotional torpor, their intellectual indifference. Sweden has not fought a war for some 200 years (The Swedish–Norwegian War of 1814) nevertheless in this expression of collective Swedish insanity lies the reason behind Israel’s European misfortune.
The traditional Jewish bogeyman is the perfect animator for Sweden’s bored citizens and it allows them to forgive the rapist. It does not mean that we have supplanted the Muslim immigrants’ crimes against women but they can forgive the rapist; it is just Jews (or Zionists) that must bare collective guilt for Sweden’s debasement. Hence the verbal and physical attacks on Jews and Zionists that occur in Swedish society across the board: The Swedish Church, the Swedish Press, its monarchy and its government. No narrative that differs from the Palestinian one is permitted in Sweden. A self-image based on absolute tolerance, ironically, cannot suffer disagreement. But even the Swedes must have their object of hate to alleviate or distract them from the tensions within Swedish society which were brought about by all the impossible contradictions created by a Muslim immigration that rejects much of the fundamental bases of that same Swedish society such as equality and tolerance.
And the Jewish people are a minuscule percentage of the global human population so it does not matter at all what technologies or medical discoveries emerge from Israel. While every year the world’s Muslim population increases at three times the global Jewish population the economic and political power that is represented by that Muslim growth far outweighs any Jewish contribution to global society. That is the painful reality that Israel must come to terms with.
If Sweden and in fact Europe is a lost cause then Israel must disentangle itself from its European connection and actively examine its relationship with the remainder of global society.
In practical terms it means that in the Western world and at the United Nations antisemitism and its proxy anti-Zionism are both given free range without negative consequences. It means that every lie becomes the new truth. It also means that there are no negative consequences to the inflated Muslim self-image and Islamisms' associated LibLeft fascist accomplices.
To return to the Swedish failure, if all truth is relative to the situation as presented then there is no truth, only narratives. If history is trivialized then there are no lessons to be learnt from it. Under conditions such as these, the Swedish acceptance of a radical racist Islamic or Arab nationalist narrative is both understandable and almost irredeemable. This is the sickness that afflicts all of Europe. The continent that nurtured Western Civilization is dying.
Sweden rediscovered its sense of purpose when it embraced its refugees and their often spurious narrative of victim-hood. Its intoxication with a liberal democratic but essentially amoral social model meant that blame became a non-word in the Swedish lexicon. Such generosity had to have its scapegoat to distract the people from the negative consequences of their failed social model.
If possession of a holistic group identity is anathema because in a globalized world, nationalism is viewed as a anachronism and therefore it is understood to create a negative emotional space around which nothing good can flourish, then by doing away with the greater national group identity, all crimes can be forgiven because they are the product, not of the group, but of aberrant individual behavior. According to this narrative, “ethnic identity politics” is good because it is not European while European nationalism is bad because it is imperialistic. This manipulation of identity makes antisemitism all the more puzzling except when it is viewed as an attack on the individual and not the group. Zionism is damned because according to the prevalent anti-Western narrative it is an expression of a particular European group identity which should have been suppressed because of its "inherently imperialist nature". Jews are all “European” (incorrect, but facts are unimportant). Jews have suffered because of European nationalism so they have no excuse for possessing any belief. The retention of any antiquated concept as part of personal identity simply reinforces the religious prejudices of the morally self-superior Swede. It is a truly all encompassing narrative that reinforces not just Sweden’s but most European antisemitic thinking.
Pan-Arab, Palestinian and greater Muslim group identities are more difficult to brush aside. Muslim antisemitism is based on a theology of conquest, dominion and domination. It is therefore inseparable from the Arab and greater Muslim anti-Zionist narrative. It is impossible to disassemble that paradigm from its religious roots without denying their legitimacy (which would be heresy). It may be easier to reject the contemporary historical lies which most Muslim are fed.
But in any debate on the issue of Israel-Palestine or inter-religious dialogue there will always be a closed mind that accepts no debate around any inconsistency of approach. To allow for self-doubt within an atmosphere of political orthodoxy would destroy a consensus that unites a nation whose tremendous internal problems it is unwilling to face up to.
As Pascal Bruckner has written:
“The die-hard student radicals that Bruckner (a French philosopher) knew in Paris shared a few traits with his father (a French Nazi collaborator), on the other end of the political spectrum: self-certain, righteous anger and the will to expose world-historical villains. Not for nothing was the extreme left infected by antisemitism, because the anti-Semite always knows exactly who is guilty.” The extreme left and the extreme right are but two sides of the same coin. Their poison has leached into and polluted the centre ground.
Sweden’s malignancy infects the rest of Europe because Europe’s separate societies have steadfastly refused to inoculate themselves against the antisemitic contagion. The Muslim demographic expansion into Europe has only accelerated the re-oxygenation of this infestation. I see little chance of any remission in this disease and the current refugee crisis will only exacerbate its symptoms.
Friday, August 21, 2015
“Those in authority should have stopped the obscenity of past-war fascism. They didn’t. So, we did.” Morris Beckman (The 43 Group)
Most people just want a life lived without unnecessary distraction, pain, or inconvenience. A few go out of their way to cause suffering, to coerce and to spoil the simple world we live in. Miseducation is crucial in any attempt to control society. They create fear, but most important, they attempt to fashion us in their image, or at least, in the image they believe we need to fit.
I use the word “image” because they are akin to idolaters – their god is fashioned from an ideal they passionately believe we must follow – whether it is for their profit, our benefit or someone else's benefit is of no consequence because their self-belief is immutable and therefore any debate is also irrelevant. They demand obedience from us and subservience to them. Oppose them and you are damned. If this sounds like fascism it is because it is just that. I accuse the radical left (of which Mr Jeremy Corbyn is an honored member) of fascism for good reason.
Fascism can be defined in almost any way but its primary contemporary usage seems to have deteriorated so that it is now understood to be little more than an epithet to be used against those with whom we passionately disagree. But in his book “Liberal Fascism” Jonah Goldberg says “the liberal fascist project can be characterized as the effort to delegitimize good dogma by claiming all dogma is bad.” I would modify that by stating that fascism is the replacement of one set of beliefs with another, using propaganda in place of fact; sophistry and mendacity as tools of trade. Jeremy Corbyn and his kind provide good examples of this.
In an interview with Britain’s premier broadcasting network, BBC Television managed to educate a new generation of people about a Jewish blood libel while giving Britain’s leading Labour Party contender for leader of the opposition an easy ride that forgave him his iniquity in consistently siding with holocaust deniers, racists and antisemites.
The tools of fascism are simple – lie consistently and the people will replace the truth with your updated narrative. A few days ago Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed by the BBC about his past – he denied knowing that a friend was a holocaust denier and referred to meeting up with him some fifteen years earlier. Since that interview, a photograph has surfaced on the official internet site of holocaust denier Paul Eisen. It shows Corbyn at a formal reception for Eisens’ organization (Deir Yassin Remembered), held in 2013.
Corbyn was also given the opportunity to explain to the BBC and its millions of viewers that Eisen’s organization was all about keeping in the public memory an atrocity allegedly carried out by “the Zionists” (failing to mention his organization being the vehicle for a holocaust denying Jew hater). The BBC then showed bodies piled neatly up but unlike any other news program I have ever encountered failed to provide any warning that it was going to show the photo. Jeremy Corbyn deliberately misled the public on British national television when he stated that the massacre was the work of “Zionists”. In 1948 there were Arabs and there were Palestinians – all organizations of administration and governance in Palestine with the name “Palestine” in the title were Jewish.
The radical left has followed the Arab/Muslim lead in dividing Jews into two groups, those who are anti-Israel and the rest. Jeremy Corbyn deliberately misrepresented a conflict that was never that simple because central to the Arab-Israeli conflict is Arab conquest inextricably mixed with Islamic theological prejudice. Corbyn demonized all Jews living in Palestine at that time and if we follow through with his unspoken logic, accused all Jews of supporting terror simply by identifying with the Jewish right to self-determination.
The Arabs do not and did not (in 1948) kill Zionists – they kill(ed) Jews. But massacres carried out by people are rarely, if ever referred to as massacres carried out by Muslims. They are carried out by ISIL (an acronym few people can break down by its constituent letters). They are carried out by organizations. In Palestine the militias were identified as socialists, as right wingers or as Arabs dedicated to a pan-Arab unity against the rest. The massacre was carried out by Palestinian fighters against local Arabs. Specifically it was carried out by Irgun and Lehi fighters. But Corbyn was scoring points, aided and abetted by the BBC.
Here is my problem with the fascist, Jeremy Corbyn. He lies, he is indifferent to the consequences of his actions, and he is morally selective in his support of those who justify religious genocide. He calls an antisemite who propagates blood libels against Jews his friend. He dishonestly applies general principles to particular cases of moral conduct (in this case, his anti-Zionism is antisemitism because he deliberately chooses to ignore the prejudice and religious hatred that is fundamental to the beliefs of Israel’s enemies).
It is truly simple. If he is not anti-Jewish he has no problem sharing a platform with those people who are anti-Jewish, or, calling them his friends and proclaiming the validity of their causes. What does that make of the morality of the man who would be Prime Minister of Great Britain?
The man who would be prime minister has also worked for Iranian State TV – so he has received money from an organisation that is the international mouthpiece for a regime that again, denies the holocaust as well as hanging gays, persecuting its Baha’i minority, murdering members of the radical left (such as he), crushing free speech and killing protesters.
I started this blog with a quote from a founder of the 43 Group. The 43 Group were an anti-fascist organisation set up after World War 2 by Jewish ex-servicemen (and women) as a consequence of the support given to British fascist and antisemitic organizations by the Labour government of Clement Atlee (not known for his love of Jews)! I call it support because the fascists used the Public Order Act of 1936 and the Public Meetings Act of 1908 to prevent Jews from defending themselves against fascist incitement and violence. In the years that followed the end of World War 2 news of Hitler’s death camps was often the subject of headlines and graphic newsreels. And yet Labour governments were conspicuous by their inactivity against fascism. In the timeliness of their non-support for Britain’s returning Jewish servicemen and women (as well as ordinary citizens) Britain's Labour government encouraged and was therefore complicit in fascism’s antisemitic incitement.
The Left and not just the radical left have always had a problem with Jewish rights; we have the right to assume that this prejudice extends to Jews as a group and as individuals. There will always be people who will point out the large number of Jews who have been ideologically and intellectually at the forefront of radical and left wing politics. But almost always this has been at the expense of any positive Jewish identity. It is easy to understand why. If acceptance means renunciation of part of ones own identity, Jewish Uncle Toms have been consistent in using a wholly specious anti-Judaism to gain that acceptance and speak with an essentially spurious Jewish authority when attacking Jews and Judaism.
The crux of the matter is that Jeremy Corbyn comes across as a true social democrat, a person who cares about people and supports minorities irrespective of their race, religion, sex or sexuality. At the same time he is politically in bed with people and organizations that are misogynistic, fascistic, murderous, classically anti-democratic and antisemitic.
Can we then trust him to be a leader for all the people of Britain? Only a fool would believe that.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
“Postmodernism has taught us that we live in an age of irony…where an undiscriminating skepticism brushes matters such as morality and political ethics aside as so much anachronistic detritus.” (Humanity, an emotional history. Stuart Walton)
My children attended a school that had a significant Muslim population. My children’s friends were of many faiths and ethnically diverse backgrounds. So I was concerned that there were times they felt under threat because of what they were not, as opposed to what they were. The good Muslims would tell my children and their friends that they would protect them (from the bad Muslims). Of course I was outraged. We live in the UK and at least in theory, we are all equal, which means we are also educated towards equality. This means we should all receive equal treatment from the moment of our birth and throughout our lives. I do not mean that we should all receive a private education, private health care and a free luxury car but there are certain inalienable rights which are consistent across all sections of society. Those rights should only be constrained when our actions prevent others from enjoying those same equal rights.
But I could rant and rave as much as I wanted to about how no-one is equal if they feel the need for protection, and it makes no difference whatsoever to the end result, which is that their generation, growing up in an environment of selective tolerance, has little if any faith in the established order, in authority, in government. This is perhaps the greatest crime for which our politicians should be condemned.
So physical bullying and threats occurred and were ignored. Teachers’ mouthed hollow phrases like “zero tolerance” while looking away. It is easier to act against cyber-bullying than it is, to impose a sanction on the right kind of bigot.
If truth is subjective, it follows that it is also subject to partisan policies. Therefore, the application of justice can be conditioned on circumstance and is consequently often, no more than an act of self-congratulatory illusion.
Resenting anything is a passive emotional response. Hate is not a passive emotion. It cannot surprise us that the activist hates any feeling of powerlessness and strikes out against whatever is responsible for that feeling even when the emotion is the product of a manufactured, systemic prejudice.
There has always existed a selective freedom of speech which allowed for discrimination to be applied. This is one of the human species most unattractive character traits. We are a herd that cleaves to the collective as if our lives depended on it. In past eras it did. But in the late 20th and early 21st century our education system was supposed to have delivered a population able to think and act for itself and not as an unthinking mass in the thrall of the latest singer, actor, sportsman (or woman), aristocrat or orator. But this is the era of celebrity and perhaps because so much is asked of us and the choices are so diverse we are unwilling to commit to a position that is outside of a consensus that has been decided for us and with little credible discussion.
It follows on from the previous paragraph that demagogues have played an essential role in human history. They have manipulated emotions, prejudices and passions and rarely if ever for altruistic reasons. Power, domination and exclusion of anything or anyone that is contrary to ones own position is a primitive response to any challenge. But it is also a very effective means of establishing dominance and control. That elemental behavior is the reason that Israel is having such a hard time internationally. People who are committed to a cause will usually, aggressively push that cause. Jews are neither used to reacting to aggression by returning it nor are they accustomed to behaving badly in response, but it is often the only way to react to aggression because it is the normal way that we establish reasonable rules of conduct. Only an enemy that respects its opponent behaves with care.
But here’s the thing. In British universities, where Jews and their supporters are frequently assaulted under the assumption that they are “Zionists” (and if they are not, oh well!) the most senior court in the land, the High Court of Justice ruled that a perception of fear or a perception of intimidation was not a legally admissible behavior that could be used to define prejudice against the entire Jewish student community. If members of the radical Left or Islamic faith experienced an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, a way would have been found to criminalize the perpetrators and rid the universities of the perpetrators influence. It does say much about inequality within the British ‘justice’ system.
Selective equality infuses much of British and Western society today. One more example will suffice to demonstrate the art of that selective equality and the parallel incitement that accompanies it. Within the last few days it was revealed that Britain’s main teachers union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) had cooperated with an educational charity for children (‘Edukid’) to produce an antisemitic educational resource which was to be rolled out across the country and whose purpose it was to profile Palestinian suffering. Apart from its omission of any historical context, the reason I refer to this document as antisemitic is that it does not refer to Israelis as Israelis but as Jews. Of course Muslims – Arabs are referred to as Palestinian. So Britain’s main teachers union adopts a Nazi tactic of propagating a prejudiced narrative against Israel which leads all British children taught by the NUT to erase any differentiation between Israeli's and Jews anywhere else in the world.
This resource was to be rolled out to all children, from three years of age.
This is only possible if the process is racist from its inception. As obscene was NUT's pernicious defense that it works with the Holocaust Educational Trust to produce materials for schools. So learning about dead Jews is OK (as long as some Muslim teachers do not have to present the material to their classes).
Maliciously, the NUT provides an illegitimately analogous equivalence between the Shoah and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
A conspiracy by a national British trade union (the NUT) and a British educational charity (Edukid) to role out an Arab (Palestinian) libel against Judaism and the Jewish state should result in both organizations losing their charitable status and both being heavily fined. Extinction is what both organizations deserve. Individual initiators of this antisemitic conspiracy should be given a life time ban from receiving public funding. In fact the only likely consequence will be enhanced credibility amongst Fascism's proudest supporters.
Of greater evil, the Israel-Arab conflict has its roots in Muslim attempts to deny its minorities, self-determination. Fundamentalist Islam believes that any area once conquered or achieving Muslim majority becomes part of a holy Arab (Muslim) endowment which must never be relinquished to the infidel. It explains the intransigence of Iran and it explains the outpourings of HAMAS. It is a war that is religiously dictated by Islamic injunction which will see Islam’s glorious fighters joyfully murder, down to the last baby, every Jew in the Holy land; another injunction from what we are so often told is the “Religion of Peace.”
The difference between the Hard Left, many sharing the Islamic faith and the extreme right is that the latter admit their prejudice while neither the Hard Left nor Islam have ever had to come to terms with the hatred and the bigotry that is the original sin of their birth and which crucially, continues to drive so many of them.
This is the war being increasingly fought throughout the Western world against Israel and against its supporters. If there is any question of why so many Jews feel that conditions today are increasingly similar to what they were in 1923 (when Hitler and his ilk began their ascent to power) we have the NUT and Edukit to inadvertently remind us.