Monday, August 03, 2009


Questions Occasioned by Lingering News

Some questions in my mind as the Gates' arrest story, the Kirchik (sp?) hit piece and Obama-care sink in:

(1) Where is the right on the Gates' arrest story? In particular why aren't they concerned that, whatever the context, someone was effectively arrested because he did not immediately comply with an order to produce his ID card? Indeed, many on the right are saying he should have produced such a card ...

Why is this a kasha? Because not so long ago (i.e. before "9/11 changed everything"(TM)) one of the big fears of the right (that even trumped fear of immigrants) was the issue of ID cards, etc. Anti-communists and right-libertarians feared us turning into a Yurpean-style police state in which anyone anywhere could be asked "where are your papers?". Pre-millennialists feared that an ID card would be a "sign of the beast". And yet these groups are now so silent about the issue of having to produce an ID everywhere and for everything? Why? Because "9/11 changed everything"(TM)? Do they not see that if some Commie or Satan (or the Monsters due of Maple Street) wanted to take over then all they would need to do is engineer a 9/11 style plot (Hashem forbid) and then they have their way? Hofstadter (sp?) warned of the paranoid style of American politics -- but now we see that sometimes the most paranoid suddenly also develop blind-spots and become the most easily duped (c.f. how certain Jews paranoid about anti-Semitism thus get into bed politically with theological anti-Semites because said anti-Semites "support" Israel)

(2) Speaking of issues in re. Israel (and thus the Kirchick piece): from a Zionist perspective why should American Jews be any more supportive of Israel than say American Greek Orthodox of Greek extraction should be particularly supportive of Greece? If an American Greek Orthodox Christian of Greek extraction spoke out against some action of Greece, would that make said person a self-hating Greek? If a WASP spoke out about something the Brits did, would such a person be a self-hating WASP?

Isn't the whole point of Zionism that we Jews should be just another nation? We should have a state like all the goyisher ethnic groups were supposed to get as well? Nu? So why should, from a strictly Zionist point of view, any American Jew be any more supportive of Israel than any other ethnic American (belonging to an "ethnic religion") be supportive of his/her ancestral homeland? Can't one argue that people like Kirchick, far from "supporting" Israel are in fact "objectively anti-Zionist" to use a phrase that Commies and their spiritual descendants on the right, the neo-cons would use?

OTOH, of course we Jews do have an obligation to our fellow Jews (although I suspect those quoting Gemarah to say that Jews shouldn't turn in other Jews to secular authorities are missing some important context, e.g. the difference between Rome and Parthia on the one hand and the US on the other!). Thus we have an obligation to support measures that maintain the security of the people of Israel (and also Jewish access to our holy sites). At this point, this means "supporting" the state of Israel (and also a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that places Jews in harm's way -- including opposition to counter-productive Israeli activities like booting out Palestinians from homes even if "we purchased those apartments fair and square" -- such arguments merely strengthen anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money that we should be trying to break, not strengthen). But support for some abstract state of Israel, whose founding ideology directly opposes the central Jewish notion of being an "am ha-kodesh", is hardly a Jewish thing to do -- although you wouldn't know it stepping into a synagogue nowadays.

BTW -- one issue about Jewish "support" from Israel is that it does blind our eyes to the specter of the religious right, which is hardly really supportive of Judaism in a real sense (as opposed to their "support" of Israel) ... c.f. my comments on a semi-recent thread on Pandagon where I otherwise am concerned primarily with the "New Atheists".

(3) Obama-care: it looks like the Dems. are going to push through a bill that regulates health insurance companies, but in a way (especially if the public option is limited access) that will raise health insurance premiums and cause people to be dropped from health insurance. Is this really what we want to have identified as our "health care reform plan"? Even if the worst fears I mention don't come to pass, given the "compromises" Dems. seem to be willing to make, this is how the health care plan can and will be demagogued. Note to the Democrats: if you want health care reform you need to either catch it like a football or get out of the way. Too many Democrats, as I keep saying, seem like people who've never played catch with a football: if you try to catch the football in a half-assed manner with the tip of your fingers, you'll drop the ball and break your fingers. You either have to catch the ball or get out of the way.

Similarly with health care (and so many things): the Dems. need to either push for real reform or just get out of the way and stop this fight. If they push through some compromise which doesn't go far enough, all that will happen is health insurance companies will start raising premiums, health care will be even less affordable and it will be blamed on the Democrats for pushing through the regulations they did push through. And even the specter of this happening is enough (as it has been in the past) for the GOP to make political hay of the situation.

Anything else I should be questioning while I'm at it?

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