Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Some Thoughts on the Middle East Situation

While I have been critical of Israel's "responses" in the past, this time it seems that Israel is doing almost everything right (although I have heard some disturbing news about Israel hitting civilian and NGO targets that are not serving in any way, shape or form as storehouses for bombs or hiding places for radicals -- Israel can't continue to say "oh we are waging war in a way to minimize civilian casualties ... what other country does X, Y & Z to minimize civilian casualties?" and then go on and target schools, etc., with no bombs or terrorists in them! that's completely disingenuous and wrong ... and Israel wonders about it's hasbara problem?).

Moreover, even when I have been critical of Israel, I have found the mindset of my fellow left-wing critics to be very disturbing. How can lefties, who have infinite empathy for any oppressed group suddenly decide that we Jews, who have been oppressed in Europe for so long, are tools of European colonialism and thus our narratives do not deserve to be listened to? How can lefties who so understand how the Palestinians could be driven to violence refuse to even give a hearing to the Israeli perspective? How do they think they would respond if they were in the position of the average Israeli -- having had the world turn its back on 6 million Jews being slaughtered and then, once a Jewish state is established, having the world complain about every single attempt at self-defense by that state? Are we Jews not allowed to be secure? Are we supposed to be living under siege forever? (that being said, Zionism is a failure: the state of Israel has not achieved normalization of the Jewish people -- and any religiously oriented Jew could have told you that from the get-go ... we Jews are not one of the "goyim", nations, but an "am hakodesh" -- a distinguished people, and c.f. the Song of the Suffering Servant ... so why and how did Zionism become the sine qua non of Jewish identity? vide infra for more complaining about this ...)

How can the international community, that does nothing when Jews are refugees, suddenly decide that our solution to our refugee problem is "violating rules" regarding refugees? How can that international community look the other way when sundry other nations violate "norms of the civilized world" and then accuse Israel of doing so? And those lefties and that international community wonder why we Jews are distrustful of them and view them as potentially anti-Semitic?

Still, the attitude of many of my fellow Jews also disturbs me. We are a people who have been persecuted for so long, who have been dispossessed for so long, we know how hateful it is. Yet we still glibly dismiss the Palestinians' situation as "the fault of those Arabs" and are happy to ignore how settlements, etc. are contributing to the plight of the Palestinians. We even ignore our own religion and the great sage Hillel who exhorted us "do not do unto others what is hateful to you".

We Jews refuse to see things from the perspective of the Palestinian Arabs: it's one thing for us to say "well, no matter what, Israel is in the right here", but it's an entirely different thing for us Jews, contra Hillel, to not think "how would we react if our land were taken away from us, etc. ... would we be reacting any differently than the Palestinians would under that situation?".

I am particularly disturbed by the Conservative/Masorti movement in which, religiously, I feel most at home. This movement, for some reason, was one of the first religiously (rather than secularly) oriented movements to embrace Zionism. And now a Zionist orientation is seen as the sine qua non of Jewish religious identity even as the Conservative/Masorti movement embraces (properly, IMHO) visions of Jewish chosen-ness that run contrary to everything Zionism takes Judaism to be. To make matters even more pathetic, that Jewish state that we are asked to support precisely because we are Jews (and anybody who asks me to support Israel for that reason cannot complain about accusations of "dual loyalties" ... because they themselves are promoting what should be a dismissible anti-Semitic canard: who is the real self-hating Jew -- a Satmar or a leftist with a real philosophical or theological beef with Zionism or a "reasonable, moderate" Jew who tells me to behave exactly as anti-Semites claim we Jews should behave) does not even recognize our religious stream as a form of Judaism nor does it recognize our conversions, our divorces, etc. And we Conservative/Masorti Jews are supposed to support a state because it is supposedly Jewish even as it does not recognize our Judaism as Jewish?

And when we raise these questions, we are told "these are good questions ... but now is not the time to raise them". Of course we Jews should support each other. To slightly adapt another famous saying of Hillel's, "if we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?" Israel is in the right here and we shouldn't let our political allies or our very real concerns regarding Israel and Zionism convince us otherwise. OTOH, that saying as slightly adapted would continue "if we are for ourselves alone, what are we?". If we Jews ignore Hillel's version of the Golden Rule and fail to even understand the origins of that Palestinian anger that enables Hamas to kill innocent Jewish civilians, not only have we made ourselves powerless to do anything to alleviate that anger (which alleviation is, in the long run, the only way to ensure Israel is at peace and achieves the Zionist goal of being a normal state) but we also have made ourselves as inhuman as the Palestinians have made themselves by their behavior -- we have sunk to the very level at which anti-Semites imagine us ... thus granting Hitler a posthumous victory (perhaps, though, this sinking is not surprising as the Zionist definition of Jewish nationhood is very much similar to how anti-Semites conceive us Jews), etc.

And as to the issue of "now not being a good time to raise these questions" ... remember the completion of Hillel's three part dictum: "if not now, when?"

I have a template ready just in case any morons decide to cry about those terrorists. I used it to shut up a terrorist defending fool on facebook and im just going to cut and paste it on blogspot too.

By the way, did you get my email about that virus site?? I might to the Hamas defender websites and post a comment to use those fantastic new skins!!
(Hopefully not too incomprehensible as I am writing while awake in the wee hours with insomnia)

But Nate, make sure that when you post to the Hamas defender website, you make sure to avoid targeting the other websites ... Hamas has this habit of surrounding its websites by computer shields.

Nu? What's your template? I'm curious. I'll either love it and use it myself (with appropriate citation of course ... I am not Joe Biden nor am I Maureen Dowd doing an expose of Joe Biden ;) ), or I'll find arguments against it (I have, as Boswell might have said about Johnson, the spirit of contradiction in me) ... actually this probably isn't an either/or thing but a both/and thing.
And thank you for the warning ... I did get the e-mail!
FWIW, it's amazing how people I would otherwise agree with 100% on political issues (and even sometimes on Israel ... I am a dirty hippy after all) are just so stubborn in their residual anti-Semitism.

It's also amazing what is found contraversial in some circles: can you figure out what is so contraversial about this? Or for that matter any of my arguments on that thread? And yet some of the people there cannot even see their own biases even as they are so very good at finding the biases in others ...
This is my answer to morons:

But let's get back to that original comment that it "is not ok from either side".

There is a saying... "we don't negotiate with terrorists"... Hamas is a terrorist organization - read their charter to educate yourself about Hamas's intentions. Yet Israel did negotiate a peace treaty with Hamas and what did Hamas do? They violated it by launching rockets into Israel.

If you make such a comment that "it is not ok from either side", what is your educated solution to this? Negotiate with terrorists who use school children as human sheilds? Or just let them cotinue to terrorize inncoent Israelis?

Believe me, if terrorists were launching rockets into the US, and we fought back to protect our citizens, I doubt anybody would be standing on a soapbox criticizing the US.
Just two comments (for now at least):

(1) we negotiate with terrorists all the time. if it works (which it does not seem to with Hamas, so maybe we shouldn't negotiate with them) and doesn't create too much blowback or embolden terrorists too much, then why not do what you have to do to save lives?

(2) Israel arguably violated the various peace treaties too by not ceasing settlement related activities. Israel is not being entirely as angelic as it claims to be (e.g. it shouldn't be bombing UN tanks unless it has good evidence that those tanks are being used for cover for something else ... in which case it should vocally present that evidence ... even if nobody listens, Israel shouldn't complain about its hasbarah problem if it doesn't even try). At the very least, you say (and I agree with you) -- how would we in the US feel if we were under attack like Israel is.

I would challenge you to ask yourself, how would you feel if you were kicked out of your home by a group of people from Europe claiming (at least spiritual) ancestry from the local native tribes in order to establish a "Native American State". I betcha wouldn't be too happy about that, would you?
I'll address those questions in my next blog columns.... it will probably be up on sunday.

As for the last question? First of all they were not kicked out of their home in 48. They were part of a plot where they left Israel because they were informed by their Arab brethren that Israel would be attacked within days after becoming a state. Israel defended itself from that attack and and then these people wanted to come home again.

In America we imprison terrorists and execute treasonists.
My blog is updated at

Maybe some of your liberal fans might learn something!
And we Conservative/Masorti Jews are supposed to support a state because it is supposedly Jewish even as it does not recognize our Judaism as Jewish?

Yeah, this. It's kind of ridiculous.

Good post. I'm relieved others share my ambivalence.
You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?