Friday, February 27, 2015



Obama's choice 

The arguments furnished by Obama's ideological lackeys presented thusly the rationale underlying Obama's Iran deal in this way:
"The argument was that a nuclear agreement that lifts sanctions and reduces tensions with Iran will advantage the moderates and make it more likely that in the period of the agreement Iran will become a status quo power and be less interested in developing nuclear weapons,"
Thanks to Peter Beinart's fabled acumen, we learned a few years ago that Barack Obama was America's First Jewish President". 

Recent events have cast some grave doubts upon Beinart's political perspicacities when it comes to Obama and the Jews. However, in the emerging deal with Iran -Obama's ideological baby legacy- we are witnessing the workings of a mind, reminiscent of a type of Shtetl Jewish thinking. I wondered how best to illustrate the despair and profligate optimism encapsulated within this  kind of vision and thought this tale might serve to illustrate my point. I heard this Yiddish folktale once on the radio and have recreated it here from memory. So the details may not be accurate but the gist remains.

***
A poritz is the name by which East European Jews referred to a Polish grandee, and more generically to any gentile landowners on whose land they resided and upon whose benevolence they depended, for the poritz had the power of life and death over them.

***
The Poritz, the Jew and the Talking Horse

So the story goes:

One day the poritz caught a Jew stealing some carrots from his vegetable garden. He determined that the Jew should die, to serve as an example to other hungry Jews not to try to steal the poritz’s carrots. The community’s entreaties on behalf of their poor brother fell on deaf ears. You Jews, said the poritz, will never learn unless we teach you a lesson you cannot forget.

So the day of the execution the Jew is brought before the poritz to make a final plea. The poritz was mounted on his favourite horse as the Jew, facing him, was trying to think what could possibly dissuade the poritz from carrying out the verdict. As he watched  he noted how fondly the poritz  caressed his horse’s mane. He had an idea.

-If you let me live for one more year, I will teach your horse to speak, he volunteered.

The poritz doubted the Jew’s proposal but he loved his horse so much that he couldn’t bring himself to pass over the possibility that he might actually have a proper conversation with the beast. And anyway, it was only a postponement, not an annulment of the death sentence. So he agreed to the deal and let the Jew go.

The other Jews, who had come to accompany the convict on his last journey, were dismayed.

-What are you doing?  How can you teach a horse to speak?

-A year, said the newly liberated Jew, is a long time. Anything can happen in a year. I could die. The poritz could die. Or the horse could die.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 Everyone has his decent Jew


On selecting which Jews to befriend, Heinrich Himmler said it in the clearest, least ambiguous manner: 

It is one of those things which is easy to say. 'The Jewish race is to be exterminated,' says every Party member. 'That's clear, it's part of our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, right, we'll do it.'


And then they all come along, the eighty million good Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. Of course the others are swine, but this one is a first-class Jew. (some laughter) Of all those who talk like this, not one has watched, not one has stood up to it. Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand. To have gone through this and yet – apart from a few exceptions, examples of human weakness – to have remained decent fellows, this is what has made us hard. This is a glorious page in our history that has never been written and shall never be written.

Thursday, February 05, 2015



“Every other Wednesday, except for festivals and High Holy-days, an anti-Zionist group called ASHamed Jews meets in an upstairs room in the Groucho Club in Soho to dissociate itself from Israel, urge the boycotting of Israeli goods, and otherwise demonstrate a humanity in which they consider Jews who are not ASHamed to be deficient.  ASHamed Jews came about as a consequence of the famous Jewish media philosopher Sam Finkler’s avowal of his own shame on Desert Island Discs.”

“My Jewishness has always been a source of pride and solace to me,” he told Radio Four’s listeners, not quite candidly, “but in the matter of the dispossession of the Palestinians I am, as a Jew, profoundly ashamed.”

“Profoundly self-regarding,” you mean, was his wife’s response. But then she wasn’t Jewish and so couldn’t understand just how ashamed in his Jewishness an ashamed Jew could be.”


A Racism that dares not speak its name ...

Yesterday Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was the only one (that I heard) to express his distaste for the accelerated execution of the two Al-Qaeda convicts by Jordanian Justice system as an act of sheer revenge and a move to appease the needs of the howling mobs for fresh blood. To report this development, as most TV news outlets did, as though it were a sign of Jordan's resolve to defeat ISIS and Islamic extremism is deceptive and frankly, psychotically delusional. The Jordanian response was cut from the same cloth as the atrocity that triggered it. And yet, not a word of reproach from the White House or any of its lackey journalists about it. 

Imagine, just imagine, I mean, try to imagine, the outrage that would ensue had Israel's justice system responded to some of the gorier murders of its citizens or soldiers in a similar manner ...

It seems to me nobody expects any better, more rational response from an Arab society; therefore, there is this astonishing silence and embarrassed averting of the eyes. This is not the "soft racism of low expectations"  This phenomenon of ACCEPTING certain cultures' innate violence as a force of nature, has no fitting name yet.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

"In the minds of the privileged Jews such measures taken by the state appeared to be the workings of a sort of heavenly tribunal, by whom the virtuous - who had more than a certain income - were rewarded with human rights, and the unworthy - living in mass concentration in the eastern provinces - were punished as pariahs. Since that time it has become a mark of assimilated Jews to be unable to distinguish between friend and enemy, between compliment and insult, and to feel flattered when an antisemite assures them that he does not mean them, that they, are exceptions - exceptional Jews. The events of recent years have proved that the "excepted Jew" is more the Jew than the exception; no Jew feels quite happy any more about being assured that he is an exception. "  (The Jewish Writings, by Hannah Arendt p. 313)


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The dialectic of culture and barbarism

Theodor Adorno in "Cultural Criticism and Society,":

  The more total society becomes, the greater the reification of the mind and the more paradoxical its effort to escape reification on its own. Even the most extreme consciousness of doom threatens to degenerate into idle chatter. Cultural criticism finds itself faced with the final stage of the dialectic of culture and barbarism. To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. And this corrodes even the knowledge of why it has become impossible to write poetry today. Absolute reification, which presupposed intellectual progress as one of its elements, is now preparing to absorb the mind entirely. Critical intelligence cannot be equal to this challenge as long as it confines itself to self-satisfied contemplation. (Prisms, 34)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sartre, on defeating anti-Semitism:

“The cause of the Jews would be half won if only their friends brought to their defense a little of the passion and the perseverance their enemies use to bring them down. In order to waken this passion, what is needed is not to appeal to the generosity of the Aryans- with even the best of them, that virtue is in eclipse. What must be done is to point out to each one that the fate of the Jews is his fate. Not one Frenchman will be free so long as the Jews do not enjoy the fullness of their rights. Not one Frenchman will be secure so long as a single Jew – in France or in the world at large – can fear for his life”

Finally, a Frenchman who answers that call in no uncertain voice:

Friday, January 09, 2015

Beinart's impaired sense of irony


Peter Beinart's tweeted complaint:

"Watching @FoxNews you would literally think rest of American media is portraying Charlie Hedbo killers as victimized + misunderstood".

Peter Beinart's first response to Paris murders (a few minutes after news of the massacre broke out):

"... France has a very large Muslim population, larger proportionally and in raw numbers than its neighbors. It's also done a relatively poor job of integrating its Muslim population into the larger society. There were riots several years ago in largely Muslim and immigrant areas around Paris.
So you have this combustible mix of this very toxic global Salafi jihadist ideology, with a lot of people who just have the same kind of resentment that people who are poor, unemployed, maybe [f]eel some degree of racism. "


From an interview with Andrew Bostom: 

[Q] Which are the most important antisemitic motifs in the foundational texts, as you see it?

[A] I think 5:82 is an important motif but it is hardly the most important. The central anti-Jewish motif in the Koran is found in verse 2:61, repeated at verse 3:112. This is where the Jews are accused of slaying the Prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah, and so they are condemned and cursed eternally. Verse 2.61 says ‘shame and misery’ are ‘stamped upon them.’ And this verse is coupled to verses like 5:60, and other verses about the Jews being transformed into apes and pigs, which is part of their curse. Verse 5:78 describes the curse upon the Jews by David and Jesus, Mary’s son. There is a related verse, 5:64, which accuses the Jews of being spreaders of war and corruption, a sort of ancient antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas cited this verse during a diatribe against the Jews of Israel, in 2007.) More generally, the Koran’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process.
 

[Q] Some would say the seventh century is a long time ago.
[A] These central motifs are still being taught. That’s the point