Archive for July, 2011

Stand with reason, not nationalism!

July 25, 2011

Modern life poses a lot of unconventional questions, which we can address or choose to ignore.
One of them:  Are Christian Zionist extremists as potentially dangerous as, say, Muslim extremists?
According to Daniel Levitas, “More than a century after William Hechler paid his first
 visit to Theodor Herzl in Vienna, Christian Zionists are still
 zealous supporters of Israel.
The stakes of this evangelical-Jewish alliance are high, as
 Christians who want to hasten the Apocalypse have mobilized to
support policies that are likely to exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian
 conflict to the point of possibly bringing Jews and Arabs
closer to a smaller-scale version of Armageddon.
 And while the American Jewish establishment has not wavered in
opposing the religious right on domestic issues, its embrace of
Christian Zionists, however reluctant, may strengthen the hand of conservatives
 in the next election and beyond.
But regardless of whether or not more Jews can be
 persuaded to vote for the GOP, one thing is certain:
 Christian conservatives certainly will be better prepared to deflect charges
 of antisemitism with Israeli leaders like Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu,
 and Ehud Olmert standing at their side.” (1)

When addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it seems relevant to keep that question in mind.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not have magic solutions.
It’s even safe to say that, on the present course,
nothing will likely be solved.
Any military option could backfire, and probably will.
 Nor can the problems be “invested” away, or solved by
 attorneys. 
But Israeli Prime Minister Rabin inadvertently stumbled upon a problem of logic for
 Israel.
In 1993 he mentioned how, “These groups”  — meaning Palestinian extremist
organizations — “are ideologically opposed to the mere existence of the
State of Israel, let alone to peace with it.” (2)

The conundrum is simple:  Any sensible person could oppose “the
mere existence” of the state of Israel, or any other
 state.
One could have never set foot in the state of
 Israel and still oppose it, based on general principle.
For example, King Hussein exercised Rabin-like logic in 1965, claiming that
 “Palestine has become Jordan, and Jordan Palestine,” and that “organizations
 which seek to differentiate between Palestinians and Jordanians are traitors.” (3)
The logic is virtually identical, at leats to an unbiased observer.

What were both King Hussein and Rabin trying to say? 
The fundamental impression is that certain distinctions and criticisms are
 forms of treason, or heresy, while other distinctions and criticisms must stand,
and be protected.  
Of course, it’s hard to engage in discussion with people who assume this.
For example, if criticizing Israel means supporting Palestinian extremists, or those
 who bombed the World Trade Center, what can one say? 

The US has its own logic for being involved in this ideology.
John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt elaborated on how,
 “especially after 9/11, U.S. support for Israel has been justified
 by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist
 groups originating in the Arab or Muslim world, and by
 a set of ‘rogue states’ that back these groups and
 seek WMD.
This rationale implies that Washington should give Israel a free
 hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press Israel
 to make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or
 dead.” (4)

Of course, by totalitarian logic, all Palestinians can be punished
for being potential terrorists.
On the other hand, some devout Muslims truly can become a dangerous, zealous
group — even outside of their particular “regimes.”
 A dramatic example is when one tried to murder a
Danish cartoonist for his role in creating “12 drawings of
 the Prophet Muhammad which angered Muslims around the world.”
Also, “Three Danish embassies were attacked and at least 50
 people were killed in rioting in 2006 in the Middle
 East, Africa and Asia.
Several young Muslims have since been convicted in Denmark of
planning bomb attacks, partly in protest at the cartoons.”(5)

It’s clear that, to some, any perceived “holy” end justifies any
 means.  The danger is obvious. 
If we were to all live by such standards, the world would quickly be
enslaved by competing camos, and it would be a particularly unworkable
 form of slavery.
The solution, as best I can tell is this: 
  All of these problems come from the past, and discussions
 dead-end fairly quickly if we cling to these ancient beliefs.
We need to stop believing in so much, and instead look
 to what is really there. 
We need less faith.  We need to see. 
 When you need to “see” something to believe it, it is
actually a lack of faith, a lack of belief.
 It is the pursuit of evidence and reason.     
 
Only this pursuit can prevent the deaths of Jews and
 Israelis, as well as the terror campaigns by Israel and
the United States.
The problem here is one of perception, of ideology.
At this point, all sides need to stop blaming their
 victims.
This includes any Americans who blame Iraq for the Iraq
 War.
  To some Americans, it’s easy to forget it was the
United States that launched the Iraq invasion, not Saddam.
  However, ideological loyalty deflects responsibility for America’s actions.
In stark contrast to the conventional cowardice, Kathryn Casa wrote the
follwing about the ongoing attacks:  “In the Islamic world,
 much of which suffers from poverty and animosity institutionalized by
 years of lopsided U.S. foreign policy, this illogical war will
 burn hatred and a thirst for revenge into generations of
 Muslims.
And because Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the
United States, Americans will re-learn and re-live still
more bigotry, prejudice and fear.” (6)

Of course, this doesn’t mean all who convert to
Islam are guaranteed to hate or attack the United States.
But the prospect is there, and growing.
In turn, America’s own bigotry, prejudices and fears may increase,
especially among religious fanatics.
Some doubt the extent and tenacity of American fundamentalist Christianity.
  But consider, for example, the case of Mikey Weinstein, a
Jewish Republican attorney, and a 1977 Honor Graduate of the Air Force
 Academy and creator of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
 He has been “locked in mortal combat with Fundamentalist Christians,”
claiming America “is a two-inch Tiger Woods putt from
being changed to the United Fundamentalist States of America.”
Weinstein alleges that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cadets
 and midshipmen at the Air Force and Naval academies at
home, are pressured to convert to evangelical Christianity by those
with “a virulent desire to subordinate the Constitution …
to…the weaponized gospel of Jesus Christ.”(7)
 
As Stephen Rose put it:  “The United States of America
 cannot hope any longer to successfully deal with the rest
of the world, politically, economically or socially, as long as
 it continues to be a nation divided by its own
 denial, fears and prejudices.” (8)

The Iraq war isn’t only the fault of Bush and
 his advisers, but the fault of our nations, our societies.
We make the world crazy.
There are so many opportunistic, paranoid political movements out there, ever ready to
 propagandize against another “race” while propping up their own.
Even stupid Nazism could have a big comeback.
It still has proponents.   
Consider the following quote, sometimes used on the internet by anti-Jewish groups:
“The Bolshevik revolution in Russia was the work of Jewish
 brains, of Jewish dissatisfaction, of Jewish planning, whose goal is
 to create a new order in the world.
 What was performed in so excellent a way in Russia,
 thanks to Jewish brains, and because of Jewish dissatisfaction and
by Jewish planning, shall also, through the same Jewish mental
 an physical forces, become a reality all over the world.
(The American Hebrew, September 10, 1920).”
Surprisingly, the original source apparently exists.
However, according to Jacob Minsky, “this is not a quote at all, but at the most an
 extremely tendentious paraphrase, and the second sentence is a complete invention.
Second, this particular issue – actually, it is a color supplement to the magazine – is
 devoted to the topic of ‘non-Jewish opinions about Jews.’ To that end, it consists of
 articles by various non-Jewish guest commentators; e.g. it has an article by Georges
 Clemenceau. The opinions in the quote above are contained (but not in such extreme form, or
 in those words) in an article by one Tsvetan Tonjoroff, of whom I have never heard (and,
 more tellingly, neither have any biographical references that I’ve been able to search).
 So I really can’t say why he was invited to submit an article.
There is not the slightest indication that his opinion is shared by the staff of American
Hebrew, any Jews, or what have you. In fact, this issue – and many of the previous ones –
 contain articles that debunk the usual antisemitic lie that Bolshevism is Jewish, discuss
 the serious situation of Jews in early Soviet Russia, quote from respected sources (e.g.
 General Kolchak, if I recall), and so on.” (9)

But paranoid hatred is difficult to combat, given its very nature.  
Because social organization present such vast, humanity-wide issues, workable solutions cannot be
 nationalistic or racist.
People are what they are.
If a view or project is not acceptable, we generally shouldn’t
 have to participate in their vision.
If something happens that’s totally awful, then people may have
 to defend themselves against it by the means deemed necessary.
 It’s not all that complicated, once the superstitions and blind
 obediences to authority are removed.
Where people are free to do things for their own
 sake, based on logic and not on lies, they are
less like machines and more apt to create an intelligent
 society.
 There are tendencies in this direction right now, even though
corrupt politicians, corporate monopolists and religious loons still have significant
 sway over world affairs.
Many authoritarians doubt you have an ounce of original thinking in your body.
They count on it.  
Brainwashing is very real, though today it’s commonly called “public relations.”
Don’t believe me? 
Consider the following report by Newsweek online (yes, none other than Newsweek):
“In 2003, [then-US Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld issued a secret Information
 Operations Roadmap setting out a plan for public affairs and psychological operations to
 work together.
It noted that with a global media, the military should
 expect and accept that psychological operations will reach the U.S.
public.
‘I can tell you there wouldn’t be a single American
 disappointed with anything that we’ve done that might be out
 there, that they don’t know about,’ says Col. Curtis Boyd,
commander of the 4th PSYOP Group, the largest unit of
its kind.
‘Frankly, they probably wouldn’t care because maybe they are safer
 as a result of it.’
In January 2008, a report by the Defense Science Board
recommended resurrecting the Office of Strategic Influence as the Office
of Strategic Communications.
But Congress refused to fund the program.”(10)

May the program go unfunded, and may we see beyond the program altogether.

SOURCES: 
    1.  Daniel Levitas, “A MARRIAGE MADE FOR HEAVEN,” Reform Judaism Magazine,
SUMMER 2003 Vol. 31, No. 4:
http://reformjudaismmag.net/03summer/focus.shtml

2.  Address by Prime Minister Rabin to the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations, Montreal, 18 November 1993:
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign%20Relations/Israels%20Foreign%20Relations%20since%201947/1992-1994/138%20Address%20by%20Prime%20Minister%20Rabin%20to%20the%20General)

3.  Quoted at:  http://www.danielpipes.org/article/298

4.  John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” Antiwar.com, August 22, 2006:
http://www.antiwar.com/orig/mearwalt.php?articleid=9573

5.  “Major Danish newspapers republish Muhammad cartoon,”:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3506256,00.html

6.  “Just Say No,” Kathryn Casa The Brattleboro Reformer, Sept. 23, 2002, or “Invasion of Iraq,” Gary Girdhari:  http://www.guyanajournal.com/iraq.html

7.  “War against soldiers of Christ,” John Colson, The Aspen Times,  March 23, 2008

8.  “Wow!!! There’s Racism in America!?!,”  Stephen Rose, March 28, 2008:
http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/13746

9.  “Response to ‘1000 Quotes by and about Jews,'” David S. Maddison:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Cyprus/8815/1000quote.html

10.  “AP Impact: Pentagon ups public relations spending,” Chris
Tomlinson, Associated Press Writer:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/183372/output/print

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