Friday, August 26, 2016

the wing of small magellanic cloud



Dershowitz Awakens

Michael Lumish

I actually do not mean to give him too much of a hard time - not that he would notice, anyway - but in his most recent bit, published in The Algemeiner and G-d knows wherever else, Alan writes:
eyeOver the past several years, progressive Jews and supporters of Israel have had to come to terms with the reality that those who do not reject Israel and accept the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s unique brand of bigotry are no longer welcome in some progressive circles. And while both the Democratic and Republican parties have embraced the importance of the U.S. alliance with Israel, that dynamic is under threat more so than at any point in my lifetime.
No!

You don't say!

The progressive-left and the Democratic Party have been increasingly pissing on the Jews of the Middle East since they had the temerity to win the 6 Day War in 1967. That was the year that "David" became "Goliath" in the entirely unoriginal progressive-left imagination.

But Dershowitz knows this.

He speaks as if this is some sort-of recent revelation.

It isn't.

Those of us, like the good professor, who follow the haranguing of Israel on a daily basis have known about this progressive-left tendency for decades, now.

The only real question is just what the hell we want to do about it?

My suggestion, as an American Jew, has been to tell the progressive-left, and the Democratic Party, to go screw. I know that is rather crude, and I have friends from Hebron to Sydney that would not approve of such language, but the point stands.
The self-described “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party — represented by radical and often repressive organizations such as MoveOn, CodePink, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) — has become openly opposed to the nation state of the Jewish people.
Well, thank Christ someone who matters noticed.

For decades, practically, I thought it was just me.

In any number of venues, for years now, I was saying, "Hey, if you continue to kick the crap out of the Jews we're likely to take off." And then, y'know, they would call me a racist and I would shake my little fist and leave.

What continues to astonish me, however, is the tenacity with which American Jews continue to grasp at the Democratic Party. I have never seen a people so kicked around who continue to kiss the feet of their abusers.

It's disgusting, really.
Using the pretext of intersectionality — a pseudo-academic theory which insists that all social justice movements, except those supportive of Jews or Israel, are inexorably linked — anti-Israel activists have successfully made opposition to Israel and support for BDS a litmus test, especially for Jews, to belong to “progressive” movements focused on a wide range of issues.
Ayup.

I will never forget the surreal moment of passing by the Malcolm X Student Plaza at San Francisco State University as a graduate student in the Department of History and seeing a bunch of black students on a platform featuring an American flag with 50 little Stars of David.

That was interesting, I have to say.

It certainly made an impression.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On acknowledging the enemy

Sar Shalom

One of the images from the Rio Olympics that captured international attention was that of a North Korean and a South Korean gymnast posing for a selfie. It is truly the spirit of the Olympics in which athletes disregard the fact the leader of a fellow athlete's leader regularly threatens to incinerate one's home country, or from the other side embracing the embodiment of American imperialism. According to the BBC, some viewers have asked whether the North Korean gymnast will face consequences from her government when she returns home. The answer, according to the BBC, is that North Korea views such events present "one of the few avenues of public affairs diplomacy available to it," and actually encourages such actions.

This raises the question of why people could think such notions to begin with. Could it have something to do with Arab reactions to Team Israel, such as Lebanon refusing to let the Israelis on the bus it was riding or the Egyptian snubbing of the Israeli judoka's offer of a handshake? In the Egyptian case, if there was any censure at home for the Egyptian judoka, it was for participating in the match against the Israeli at all rather than forfeiting as has so often been done by Arab athletes.

This raises the question as to what is different in the dynamic between the Arabs/Muslims and Israel from that between North and South Korea. It would seem that the difference is in such interactions representing a rare "avenue of public affairs diplomacy" for North Korea whereas the Arabs/Muslims enjoy 24/7 a coddle, coddle, coddle approach all over the world. Perhaps if the Arabs were ostracized like North Korea for their judeophobia, they wouldn't be so punctilious about conforming to that stereotype. Would the Global Progressive Left give that a try? Doubt it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Raw Material Podcasts # 1: Sar Shalom

Michael Lumish


The Raw Material

Heya guys,

this is Michael Lumish talking to you from high atop my mountainous perch in the Oakland hills.

It is cloudy and cool again this morning, tuesday august 24, 2016.

Sar Shalom, at Israel Thrives, I am proud to say, wrote a very interesting and well-received piece entitled Surprise, surprise. JStreet U officer supports Black Lives Matter platform on Israel

Indeed, I'm shocked

Ian, at the Elder of Ziyon noted it in his daily list of links and Shirlee of Jews Down Under fame republished it, as did my friend, Yosef, at Love of the Land out of Hebron.

I want to take a few moments to discuss it because I think that it's central theme matters.

Sar Shalom is, in my terminology, acknowledging the obvious.

And that's not always easy to do.

Sometimes the obvious is the very last thing that people want to receive.

If that were not the case then people throughout the US and Europe and Australia and New Zealand (sorry, we tend to forget you guys - despite the lord of the rings) would stand up and say no to the Arab and Muslim re-creations of Jewish history

Sar Shalom writes,

"The important takeaway is what George Orwell taught decades ago, quote "He who controls the past controls the future." unquote.

That's absolutely correct.

I've been beating that drum for years, but we need intelligent and caring people like the guy who goes under the moniker, Sar Shalom, to stand up whatever their circumstances and whereever they may be.

In a certain kind of way I see people such as myself and Sar Shalom and all the men and women at Israel Thrives, like Trudy and Geoff from Australia and Jeff from the US and k - who is apparently on sabbatical - and oldschool26 who have great respect for, not to mention doodad who goes back farther than probably anyone else, from the old hideous Daily Kos day,

and Shirlee, the Elder of Ziyon and Ted Belman (of Israpundit) and Aussie Dave of Israellycool - a terrific blog that also features Ryan Bellerose.

I don't know what Bellerose thinks of me, but I love the guy.

I mean, look at this individual.

He's a big strong intelligent football playing Canadian native American Metis zionist.

How many people can say that?

I think that he is the only one in the universe!

But the point is that we have a small on-line community of people from throughout the world that care about the survival of the Jewish people and we need to connect with one another in a spirit of friendship, tactics, and coordination.

The new small vital groups include Stand With Us and I have had the priviledge of sitting on two panel discussions with my neighbor, Michael Harris, of that organization with Jon Segall who is a passionate advocate for Jewish rights to self-determination and self-defense, as well as a student and teacher of krav maga.

There are ladies and gentleman over at CAMERA and the algemeiner and the times of israel who are standing up

Professor Richard Landes of Boston University and the Augean Stables blog does so.

Professor Andrew Pessin who wrote The God Question: what famous thinkers from plato to dawkins have said about the divine

and my sincerest apologies to all you folk who are part of this fight, that I failed to mention

like Laurie, for example

At the end of the day, the purpose of pro-Israel / pro-Jewish advocacy is to defend the well-earned rights of the Jewish people going forward into the future and into the world.

This does not mean that we should neglect our friends in other communities, such as the African-American or Latino communities, but I do very definitely think that we should defend ourselves.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Surprise, surprise. JStreet U officer supports Black Lives Matter platform on Israel

Sar Shalom

{Also published at Jews Down Under.}

Tablet Magazine ran a few great takedowns of Black Lives Matter's platform as it concerns Israel. Unfortunately, they were followed by an article by Daniel May, a past Director of JStreet U, essentially saying that Israel's occupation policy is responsible for BLM's platform. While nearly every paragraph of May's deserves criticism, in particular his parroting of Haaretz's lies, I'd like to focus on his original sin. In the final paragraph, May writes:
Palestine will never advance so long as Jews deny the cost of Zionism. The Jewish nation’s independence was won only through the dispossession of another nation.
Everything in the case against "the Occupation" stems from the accusation the Jewish sovereignty was won by dispossessing another nation. From the dispossession narrative comes the "right to resist" which justifies Palestinian terror and, with such actions being justified, delegitimizes Israel's countermeasures. Hence we see the one-sided description from JStreet and their ilk.

To understand dispossession as it pertains to the "Palestinians," consider a counterfactual from American history. Suppose that when the Pilgrims came to Massachusetts (for simplicity, I will be using present-day names for places), the population of Indian tribes native to Massachusetts was small. However, just before then, a handful of tribes from Quebec had started migrating to Massachusetts and accelerated during the Pilgrims' lifetimes. Subsequently, the Pilgrims' descendants stopped the inflow from Quebec and imposed population controls on the Indian population in Massachusetts, affecting the Quebec tribes because they were the larger presence. Would such an action constitute dispossession for the Quebec tribes? Such is the case with the Palestinians.

While it is true that Arabs were the majority of the population of the southwest Levant before the advent of Zionism, it does not follow that all non-Jewish population change was the result of natural growth. In the decades before the first Aliya, the Ottomans started moving population from other parts of its empire to the southwest Levant. A larger impetus for immigration was the economic development created by the Zionists. The result is that as the Jewish population rose due to Zionist immigration, so did the Arab population due to Arab immigration. Neither the Ottomans nor the British attempted to document how many Arabs thus entered Palestine. Thus, we have no reliable numbers for how many entered or what percentage of those claiming to be Palestinian have actual ties to the southwest Levant from before the first Aliya. Thus, the dispossession narrative claims that denying sovereignty to immigrants from Arabia and Egypt is dispossessing those immigrants.

A larger flaw in the dispossession narrative is common accounts miss in how the conflict started, where "how the conflict started" means what changed from when there was relative calm. An example of the politically correct understanding of what changed between then and now comes from Vox's explanation of the conflict from back in January. According to the narrator of that clip, prior to 1870, the population was mostly Muslim and Christian with a small Jewish minority. Feathers were ruffled as Zionism, responding to issues in Europe, sent a large influx of European Jews to Palestine, fundamentally changing the nature of the land to those who had been living there previously.

The facts included in that narrative are accurate, however, it excludes other facts which are critical to understanding what changed. As mentioned above, one of those facts is Arab immigration. However, there is also the matter of relations between Jews and Muslims prior to the advent of Zionism. To understand this, it is necessary to go back to the 1830's when the Ottoman Empire sought European help to reclaim Palestine from Egypt. The condition for that help was an end to enforcing the Pact of Umar. After the Ottoman Empire regained Palestine, the Christians went about their lives ignoring the restrictions of the Pact, confident that Europe had their backs if the Ottomans would seek to impose consequences while the Jews voluntarily submitted because they had no major power backers. The Muslims thus loved the Jews because they gave the deference due to the master faith while hating the Christians for spurning the deference with impunity. A few decades later, Zionism introduced European and other Jews to the southwest Levant. The European Jews brought with them the ideals of the Enlightenment, ideals which they felt Europe failed to uphold towards them, and thus refused to abide by the humiliation engendered by the Pact. With that, any warm feelings the Muslims had for the Jews evaporated. While not all Arabs, or even all Muslim Arabs, in the Levant valued having the Jews display "proper deference" over economic opportunities, that began to change after the British appointed Amin al-Husseini as mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini used that position as a platform from which to promulgate that not doing so was treason to the Muslim umma, which combined with the honor-shame culture of the Arab world led to positions we see today.

The important takeaway is what George Orwell taught decades ago, "He who controls the past controls the future." If we ignore insinuations that Israel was created through the dispossession of the Palestinians, then we are ceding control of the past to the post-Zionists and the Palestinianists, and therefore we cede to them the future, that is the litany of "Occupation" perpetuating the dispossession from a century ago.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Big O (Updated)

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Elder of Ziyon.}

big oJeffwithaJ mentioned The Big O over at Israel Thrives in reference to a Tablet article written by Daniel May, a doctoral candidate in Religion, Ethics and Politics at Princeton University and a former director of J Street U entitled, "The Problem Isn’t Black Lives Matter. It’s the Occupation."

I responded as follows:

"The Occupation with the Big O.
What is the significance of the Big O?

It is the Big Daddy of all Occupations.

It is the means by which some Jews, particularly in diaspora, make themselves feel superior to Arabs and Muslims.

After all, if 6 million Jews in the Middle East can defeat the Palestinian-Arabs, via the Big O, despite the serious objections of 400 million Arabs and 1.5 billion Muslims, what does that say about Jewish strength?

It says that, # 1, Jews kick ass and, # 2, we're humble enough to regret it. 
It's a means by which goodhearted and intellectually-inclined Jewish boys and girls get, on the one hand, to feel powerful even while, on the other hand, they burnish moral credentials. There is a kind-of arrogance to the use of the Big O by Jews when discussing those few of us who choose to live in the lands of our heritage. 
It raises us and diminishes us, both, at the same time."
The first time that I came across the term was in a children's book by Shel Silverstein called The Missing Piece Meets the Big O... which, although it has been awhile since I read it, I am pretty sure had something to do with sex.

(Update: According to a highly respected reader the above claim, that the book has something to do with sexuality, is false. I suspect he may be reading this little book a bit too narrowly, but certainly anyone unfamiliar with Shel Silverstein should know that his work is perfectly innocent. )

Today, however, when I think of The Big O, sadly, I tend to think of the capitalized word "Occupation."

As any linguist - including Noam Chomsky - will tell you, the terminology within which we discuss any topic, particularly highly charged topics, like political topics, gives away our biases. When people use "The Big O" to discuss the presence of Jewish people in Judea (and Samaria) it indicates something more than disdain for Jews.

It indicates an off-handed contempt for the Arabs, who are wrongly thought of as weak, and a true dislike for the Jews of Israel who are thought of as racist imperialists.

The very first thing that must be acknowledged is that Jews cannot "illegally occupy" the very land where Jews come from. It is as if they want to bring us back to Medieval wandering status. The Wandering Jew. 

Jews occupy the Land of Israel in the ways that the French occupy France or the ways in which Czech's occupy the Czech Republic.

Arabs, and many Muslims, may despise Jews for traditional religious reasons - embedded in fourteen centuries of hostile Islamic theocratic doctrine and dogma - but that does not mean that we are going to surrender the only small place that we have, as our own, on this planet.

The problem, however, is not just the Arabs.

It is the Jews who swing around The Big O.

Progressive-left, Democratic-Party-Leaning, navel-gazing, guilt-ridden, white-western, upwardly-mobile, American and European Jews, are so riddled with humanitarian racism that they cannot even begin to imagine that non-Jews "of color" have agency. It seldom occurs to them that non-white people should not be reduced to mere victims of the progressive-left imagination. It seldom occurs to them that by insisting that people "of color" are merely victims of Whitey that they are robbing these people of their dignity.

In the meantime, many will point the trembling finger of blame toward their fellow Jews on the other side of the planet and accuse them of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and The Big O.