Col. Richard Kemp CBE on Operation Protective Edge

The former British commander of ground forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp CBE, is in Israel. Watch this interview on Channel 1 (the interviewer is Yaakov Achimeir):

Some highlights (paraphrased from memory):

“Q: Is there any way to reduce civilian casualties?”

“A: [I have fought this kind of war for most of my career.] I cannot think of any way that the IDF isn’t already doing.”

“Q: But Cameron etc. say Israel should do more?”

“A: Yes, but they offer no suggestions how — because there aren’t any.”

“Q: Why do you support Israel?”

“A: Let’s see. On the one side you have a liberal democracy. On the other side a vile, proscribed terrorist organization. Which side should I be on?”

Here is an older Richard Kemp interview (on BBC) at the time of Operation Cast Lead.

 

Berlin imam calls for annihilation of the Jews in Friday sermon

A true disciple of that other imam and onetime Berlin resident, Haj Amin al-Husseini (y”sh)

Speaking of which, the last book by Barry Rubin z”l (with Wolfgang Schwanitz) was “Nazis, Islamists, and the making of the modern Middle East“. I cannot recommend it enough.

 

UNRWA disposes of found rockets by giving them to Hamas

UN-believable.

Or maybe they are technically speaking the truth in that they handed them to a competing terrorist gang …

Shall we call them the UN Rocket Warming Agency or the UN Racket Perpetuation Agency?

The creation of a separate refugee agency for the “Palestinians” (the UNHCR serves everybody else) basically guaranteed that the agency would have a vested interest in keeping the conflict alive forever. Of the many mistakes made by those creating the UN, this may well have been the most egregious one.

Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions. (Jurassic Park 3)

PLO head honcho in 1977: “Palestinian identity is just a tactical ploy”

There is an amusing story (probably apocryphal) about Zvi Yechezkeli, the Channel 10 Arab Affairs correspondent, giving a lecture at Bir-Zeit University in the West Bank. He starts off with a story (he speaks Arabic fluently) about Moses (“Mussa” for them) climbing on Har Nevo, seeing the Promised Land, and bathing in the Jordan. When he comes out his clothes were missing.

“And Moses said: The Palestinians have stolen my clothes!”

Students yell out in protest: “But there were no Palestinians then!”

Yechezkeli: “OK, now that we have established that, I can start my lecture.”

[…]

The truth of the matter is, the concept of a “Palestinian” national identity is a fairly recent one in Arab politics: I know older people in Israel who remember when the word just meant: a resident of the British Mandate of Palestine. (They were never able to sell Jews on that name: British coins from the era list the Hebrew acronym for Eretz Yisrael/Land of Israel next to “Palestine” in English and “Falasteen” in Arabic.)

The only other entity called “Palestine” that ever existed in the region was of course when the Romans, after the Second Jewish Revolt/Bar-Kochba Rebellion in 132-135 CE, punitively renamed the province of Judea as “Palestina” after the Philistines/Pelishtim, a Mediterranean seafaring people that used to live in the area of Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza. (Ashkelon, or Ascalion as the Romans called it, was a major port city in Roman times: an interesting archeological park in the city is well worth visiting.) Needless to say, the Philistines no longer existed then, and today’s “Palestinians” are unrelated. During the Ottoman Empire, the whole area — sparsely populated then, as Mark Twain relates in “Innocents Abroad” — wasn’t even a separate province but just part of the sanjak (Ottoman province) of Southern Syria.

When Israel was born, pan-Arabism was king. The “Palestinian Liberation Organization” (PLO) was only founded in 1964, with a flag that is basically the Jordanian flag with the 7-pointed star removed. (A variant was also the flag of the short-lived Hejaz kingdom that preceded Saudi Arabia.)

I have always suspected that the sudden stress on a nebulous “Palestinian” national identity was a propaganda ploy for marketing purposes. Several websites, however (e.g., this one), refer to a 1977 interview by Zuhair Mohsen, then the leader of one wing of the PLO, where he basically openly says so. The quote that is circulating on the Internet appears to be a roundtrip translation, but a Dutch-speaking friend sent me a scan of the original newspaper article [Trouw, March 31, 1977, “Wij zijn alleen Palestijn om politieke redenen”], accompanied by his English translation: being fluent in Dutch, I can vouch for the translation. Here goes, starting from the 4th column, and the heading “Geen volk” (not a people):

NOT A PEOPLE

According to Mohsen there is in fact no separate Palestinian people. “Between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese there are no differences. We are part of one people, the Arab nation. Look: I have family members with Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Syrian citizenship. We are one people. Only for political reasons we carefully stress our Palestinian identity. Namely, it is of national important for the [struggle of the] Arabs against Zionism to foster the existence of the Palestinians. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The foundation of a Palestinian state is a new means for continuing the struggle against Israel and for Arab unity.”
Mohsen’s logic is actually very simple: “Because Golda Meir states that there is no [such thing as a] Palestinian people, I say that there is a Palestinian people, distinct from Jordan.”
 
STRATEGY
 
Also the strategy Mohsen wants to follow is very simple: “A separate Palestinian entity should stand up for the national rights in the then remaining occupied territories. The Jordanian government cannot speak for Palestinians in Israel, Lebanon, or Syrian. Jordan is a state with defined border. It cannot lay claim to, for example, Haifa or Jaffa, Jerusalem, or Beersheba. Jordan can only speak on behalf of Jordanians and the Palestinians on Jordan. The Palestinian state would have the right to act on behalf of all Palestinians in the Arab world and elsewhere. Once we will have acquired our rights in all Palestine, we must not delay the reunification of Jordan and Palestine for a single moment.”
 
One need not wonder why postmodern academics are often so enamored with the Palestinian cause, since they are so in love with “constructed” identities. (The acronym “conlang” for “constructed language” comes to mind ;))
Here (thanks to my daughter) is a more recent example: (Arabic TV clip, subtitles by MEMRI): a Hamas spokestool pleads with the Egyptians to donate more money, fuel, etc. and in trying to convince them, says:
We are your brothers. Half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half Saudis.
Mais bien sûr. It has never been about building a home for a constructed nation called “the Palestinians”: it has always been about delegitimizing, demonizing, and trying to destroy the only country in the region that is not under Islamic rule. Even the leftist academic, Camp David negotiator, and onetime foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami exasperatedly reached that conclusion (“End of the road”, Haaretz, September 14, 2001: English translation here):
 

But when all is said and done, after eight months of negotiations, I reach the conclusion that we are in a confrontation with a national movement in which there are serious pathological elements. It is a very sad movement, a very tragic movement, which at its core doesn’t have the ability to set itself positive goals.

“At the end of the process, it is impossible not to form the impression that the Palestinians don’t want a solution as much as they want to place Israel in the dock of the accused. More than they want a state of their own, they want to denounce our state. [Missing from translation: “In the deepest sense of the word, theirs is a negative ethos.”] That is why, contrary to the Zionist movement, they are incapable of compromising. Because they have no image of the future society that they want and for which it is worth compromising.

 

The three competing brands of totalitarian collectivism

On a German site I read about an anti-Israel demonstration where neo-Nazis, islamists, and communists protested all together.

What, you say? How can three opposites agree on something?

To me this question is like: how can Apple, Samsung, and Blackberry have anything in common?

Yes, Apple, Samsung, and Blackberry engage in fierce battles with each other — hysterically competing for customers in the same market space, marketing different flavors of the same basic product (smartphones) under their respective brands.

Similarly, in politics, there are three major “brands” being marketed of the same (toxic) stew named totalitarian collectivism. All three envisage “perfect” societies that will primarily benefit a small elite/inner party/Nomenklatura at the top and be living hell for everybody else; all three want to control people’s thoughts as well as behaviors (this is the very definition of totalitarianism as distinct from authoritarianism); all three approve of political violence for their cause;… and all three, of course, either openly hate all Jews (Nazism, islamism) or hide their hatred under a thin veneer of “anti-Zionism” while accepting some biological Jews as converts to the G-dless religion called communism.

And yes, I agree there are some fundamental philosophical differences between these three nefarious worldviews — just like there are some fundamental differences between the philosophies underlying the user interface and ecosystems of iOS, Android, and Blackberry X. At the end of the day, however, what those three have in common is much greater than what sets them apart — and the same goes for the “big three” of totalitarian collectivism.

A parable on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Picture this for a moment.

You have a group of men who live in a shared delusion that all women should fall at their feet and beg to be bedded by them, and that the whole world owes them tribute. Some women actually fall for them and become battered spouses, and some others are forced into concubinage. They also win over a number of men.

One woman, let’s call her Ruth, is not interested. She lives in one of 23 houses in the neighborhood, built with her own hands (and some money from friends). The men live in the other 22 houses. Despite hers being a small house, she worked very hard at it and it is now the most pleasant to live in the neighborhood.

One of the men says he just wants to live in Ruth’s house, which he claims is really his because it is built on “his stolen land” (which was passed from one large corporation to the next in a round of hostile mergers & acquisitions — but the ancient title documents are Ruth’s most precious family possession). She refuses, because she knows he has no intention of “just” living in her house. He breaks her windows, yells abuse and death threats into the phone at her at night, accuses her of racism,… The next time he trespasses, she slaps him across the face so hard he has to go to the infirmary. He files a complaint with the police for abuse. The police tell her she has a right to defend herself but should be more careful not to hit him so hard next time.

The self-appointed sages of the next neighborhood over claim that Ruth should just accept to live with him so the neighborhood will be quiet.

Now Culojamon, another man of the group, comes along, and tells her in so many words he wants to rape and then kill her. In fact, he even posts a manifesto on the Internet explicitly stating that is his goal. He shoots 1000 bullets at her: they miss because he cannot see well, she installed bulletproof glass and is wearing body armor — which is annoying as it weighs a ton, but does the job.

Eventually she sees him trying to dig a tunnel into her yard and pours cement down the tunnel. He sues in court claiming he is only digging the tunnel because he is hungry.

The social worker gives him money to buy food— which he promptly spends on bullets on the black market.

Then he fires special armor-piercing bullets he bought on the black market. The woman now realizes this will never stop unless she makes a stand: she walks over to him and punches him in the private parts. When he still doesn’t get it, she gives him two black eyes.

He goes to court claiming he is the victim, and that she is a criminal who should be locked up.

The sage of Coeur-Saignant agrees that what the bully is doing isn’t nice, but he’s only doing what he has to do because she is oppressing him.

Two other neighbors, Arbusto and Arpador, say Culojamon’s behavior is beyond outrageous and he should be stopped. Coeur-Saignant and his entourage scream at him for being intolerant, xenophobic, anasophobic,…

Some of the local men actually aid and abet Culojamon. Others secretly fear and loathe him and are afraid he will take over their houses (and wives) too, but loudly attack her for violating his “rights”.

IF THIS LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING YOU RECOGNIZE…

Every bleeding heart “liberal” would side with the woman in this situation. So…?

Paraphrasing Günter Walraff: any similarity to the plight of Israel (Ruth) is neither accidental nor purposeful, but simply unavoidable.

On “Protestant” and “Catholic” Jews

An American Jewish visitor to our Israeli (NCT Base East) home wondered why, if there are so many non-Orthodox Jews in Israel, there are so few Reform ‘temples’ (sigh).

In fact, an immigrant from Antwerp came up with the best response: “American Jews are protestant Jews — Israeli Jews are Catholic Jews”.

What?! You say. No, his response made perfect sense. Allow me to elaborate.

In Catholic countries, there is one church — the Roman Catholic (literal meaning: universal) church. There is no competing ‘Liberal Catholic Church’ (okay, on the other side of the spectrum there are small traditionalist breakaway groups you could compare to the chareidim). The population spans a spectrum in observance from those who piously and diligently attend to every daily and weekly observance, via those who come to church once a week and otherwise may say some prayers, via those who come on a semi-regular basis, to the “twice-a-year Catholics” (Christmas and Easter), to those who only show up for life-cycle events. All of them are considered ‘Catholics’, good, bad, or indifferent.

In Protestant countries, if you had a fundamental disagreement with the established church (C of E, Lutheran,… depending on the country) and you found enough people who agreed with you the default option was to start a new prayer house of your own, which might grow into another denomination. At one level, this ‘unity in diversity’ has been a fount of strength for protestantism; at another level, it has been a source of fragmentation.

About half of the Jews in Israel (or their immediate ancestors) immigrated from Muslim countries. (They are often misleadingly named ‘Sephardic’ — as many of these communities are closer in ritual to the Jews of the Spanish Expulsion than to Ashkenazi Jews’ — but a more accurate term would be Yehudei Artzot haIslam [Jews from Muslim Countries].) These communities always operated on the ‘Catholic’ model: there was one  ‘denomination’, it was religiously Orthodox, but was very tolerant of less-than-perfect observance on a personal level. As long as you respected the rabbi and the community elders, driving to the soccer game after Saturday synagogue services was/is no big deal — but nobody would think of packaging this as a new form of Judaism. Tell Jews like that about Reform Judaism — be it in Israel or in France — and the response will be basically ‘huh?’

In contrast, the birthplace of Reform Judaism was a very different country: Germany. It arose there in the early 19th Century as one response to a phenomenon that largely passed by the Islamic countries: the Enlightenment and its (mostly Ashkenazi-)Jewish counterpart, the Haskala. In response to its perceived early excesses, two new movements arose: on the one hand, modern-Orthodoxy — which combines Torah Judaism with an openness to secular learning — and on the other hand, Conservative Judaism, which as a movement tries to steer a middle course between Reform and Orthodoxy. While Reform- and Conservative-like congregations sprang up in other countries (e.g. the Neolog movement in Hungary, which in Israel would be called Masorti, see below), by far their biggest success story was the United States. Why? The first major Jewish immigration wave (post-1848) came from German-speaking lands, and thus (although a few Orthodox synagogues have existed in the USA since Colonial days) the “establishment” congregations became first Reform, later a mix of Reform and Conservative. When the Great Jewish Migration from Eastern Europe hit American shores 30-40 years later, the newcomers did set up their own Orthodox and chasidic congregations, but especially the Conservative ones quickly gained a following among immigrants eager to acculturate.

In other words, just as the US diaspora is a sui generis  success story, so is the blossoming of Reform and Conservative Judaism in the USA a unique success story born out of circumstances and ‘being in the right place at the right time’. But just like the predominant non-Jewish religion in the USA, protestantism, American Judaism is a multidenominational affair, even though the differences between Jewish denominations are more about observance than about points of theology.

There is a flip side to the phenomenon of non-Orthodox denominations. In countries where these were strong,  Orthodox communities felt conflicting impulses: ‘go with the flow’ to keep their flock, or rather become more rigid to offer a clear alternative? By and large, the second won out, and typically American Orthodox congregations will expect you to actually be observant at their level to join, or make a good-faith effort to be so. Even in the age of the ba’al teshuva (‘born-again Jews’) movement, the latitudinarian approach of a Moroccan- or Algerian-born Orthodox rabbi (mixing fairly strict ‘official’ doctrine with great personal indulgence) will typically not be theirs. Which is only natural: after all, if people want to live as Reform or Conservative Jews, they have those other places to go to?

Back to Israel now. So we have a bit under half the Jewish population that  was either born in, or descended from, Islamic countries with a ‘Catholic’ Jewish community. Most of the recent Russian immigrants had no religious exposure at all (and a purely ethnic/cultural conception of Jewishness). Israel’s “founding fathers” by and large all immigrated from the former Pale of Settlement (spread over present-day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, …) — places where effectively religious pluralism was not between Reform and Orthodox, but between competing streams of Orthodoxy. The “yekkes” (German Jews) and “anglo” immigrants were the only two major(-ish) groups that came out of a ‘Protestant’ Jewish ambit.

As a result, Jewish religious life in Israel quickly acquired its ‘Catholic’ character: denominationally orthodox, in varied shades of observance. Significantly, an Orthodox Jew is not said to be ortodoksi (a loan word to begin with) but dati (religious) or shomer mitzvot (observing the commandments), with chareidi (lit: “trembling” [in awe of G-d]) reserved for the ultra-Orthodox (“blackhats”). A Jew who mostly keeps the ritual commandments but not all the way will self-identify as masorti  (“traditional”): in practice, in an Israeli context (with often still a 1-day weekend), that means somebody who keeps the dietary laws quite strictly (at least at home) but may engage in recreational use of electronics and motor vehicles on the Sabbath. But even somebody who self-identifies as chiloni (secular) may in practice still be more observant of Jewish law than 90% of US Reform Jews: they just may never set foot in a synagogue except for a family event. As an Orthodox wag had it: tell an Israeli secularist to come to an Orthodox synagogue, and he’ll say ‘no!’; tell him to come to the Reform synagogue, to the Russian Orthodox Church, or to a Hare Krishna center, and the answers will be the same: ‘huh?’.

The first Reform congregation (Har-El in Jerusalem) was founded in 1958, and despite massive efforts by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (the Reform federation), Reform has remained a marginal movement in Israel that is (among those who even know it exists) widely regarded as a foreign import.  The degree to which the Israeli Reform movement has allowed itself  to be politically identified with the far-left Meretz party (which represents mainly the Haaretz readership, enough said) does not exactly help matters. From what I have seen of Reform services in Israeli, they are more traditional than US ones (admittedly a very low standard).

Masorti Judaism (which is what Conservative Judaism calls itself in Israel) has had somewhat greater success attracting “native” Israeli congregants. In part this is due to (deliberate?) semantical confusion with the broader meaning of masorti (see above), but another main factor is its indeed decidedly traditional orientation. By US standards, the Israeli Masorti movement would be ‘conservadox’, and at least one such synagogue which I attended semi-regularly was using the mainline Orthodox prayer book (Siddur Rinat Israel) as recently as 10 years ago, and the corresponding High Holiday prayer books as recently as last year. Masorti Judaism has some following among Israelis who seek a more (gender-)egalitarian experience than is possible in a mainline Orthodox congregation (a few experimental congregations like Shira Hadasha in Jerusalem aside). Still, it has shown no signs of ever becoming anything other than a niche player here.

As an aside, it should be remarked that both the Hebrew Union College (Reform) and Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative) maintain satellite campuses in Jerusalem where they expect their rabbinical students to spend at least one year.

Finally, there is a native-grown “secular yeshiva” movement where secular Jews meet in groups that study biblical and rabbinical source texts together. While a parallel can be seen to the havura phenomenon in the USA, it also reminds me of groups at the edge of the established  church in some historically Catholic European countries.

So, are Israeli Jews setting up altars and burning candles to saints? Heck no! But are they, sociologically more similar to the observance continuum in Catholic countries than to the denominational quilt of the USA or Canada? Sure, I’d say so.

Thoughts on Chuck Hagel and the Jewish vote

As expected, 0bama has nominated one of his narcissist “enablers”, the Republican Chuck Hagel, as Secretary of Defense.

Hagel, while a Vietnam veteran, is not exactly known as a bright light on the defense firnament, and cleaves to some truly dangerous foreign policy notions, notably his softness concerning Iran in particular and islamofascism in general. That in itself should have Americans worried.

A number of Jewish organizations have raised concerns about Hagel being a cold fish about Israel at best, and harboring antisemitic prejudices at worst.In response, some of the usual D party ‘court Jews’ have started spinning that what appears black is really white, while a number of the usual suspects have been claiming the usual canard that ‘Jewish voters do not care about US interests, but only about Israel’. More about this in a moment.

But it is actually peculiar that 0bama would support a candidate with so much ballast unless he stood for what 0bama himself stands for. This becomes even more intriguing once you consider that Hagel has major baggage from a left-lib point of view as well: not only has he made a number of statements about homosexuality that would immediately get you ostracized in such circles, but he was actually instrumental in scuttling US adoption of the Kyoto protocol — which is the lib-left equivalent of not only having slaughtered a sacred cow but having first cooked it alive in its mother’s milk.

Back to the voting canard. I will shock you by saying the truth is not as bad: it is worse. And in fact, there is nothing Jewish about it. Allow me to explain.

Half a lifetime’s experience in a stereotypical New Class profession, and interaction with a great many  Jewish (and non-Jewish) academics, lawyers, government bureaucrats, people in the “helping” professions, and journoscribblers  has convinced me of one thing: members of the New Class tend to vote the short-term interest of the New Class, regardless of whether they are nominally Jewish, Episcopalian, or Buddhist. If you are a govenment bureaucrat, you are likely to vote for the party that stands for an ever bigger and more bloated government — even if this in the long run will bankrupt everybody including you. If you are a university professor or administrator, you will tend to vote not only for those promising more goverment funding of higher education and research but also for an administration that encourages everybody to go to college whether they belong there or not and whether there is any demand for more degrees in precious snowflake studies. (There is still robust demand in the STEM fields but, as they demand not only IQs well above average but actual work that increasingly fewer “native” students are willing to put in, their benches are increasingly populated by first-generation immigrants.

And if you are a tort lawyer or regulatory compliance officer: need I say more? Or somebody who makes their living off “bilingual education”?

From that perspective, the only thing “typically Jewish” about that voting pattern flows from the fact that a disproportionately high percentage of American Jews works in typical “New Class” professions. Many members of the New Class tend to project their own class desires and sensibilities onto others to such a degree that they may indeed believe that policies that further their narrow sectorial interests and prestige are actually in the best interests of the country. Others simply suffer from such a collective superiority complex that they believe they, as a class, are ipso facto entitled to substitute their superior wisdom as the ‘educated elite’ (in fact, more a credentialed gentry) for individual policy preferences of the rest of us. Yet others, the more cynical ones, may actually realize they are killing off the host in the long term, but persist anyway as they perceive the system to be in pre-collapse mode. (I was told this is a well-known phenomenon in game theory that people in such situations ‘catch what they can while they can’.)

The gods of the copybook headings, however, eventually request their due, if not sooner then later. That which cannot go on forever, won’t.

Authoritarian vs. totalitarian regimes in the Middle East

Daniel Pipes today discusses the mess in Egypt, and argues that continued rule of the dictator Mubarak would have been preferable over the ‘elected’ Islamosupremacist Morsi. This isn’t so much out of any love or sympathy for Mubarak, but as a choice ‘entre le mal et le pire’ (between bad and worse).

In just three months, Morsi has shown that he aspires to dictatorial powers greater than Mubarak’s and that his rule portends to be an evengreater calamity for Egypt than was Mubarak’s. He has neatly vindicated [Zuhdi] Jasser’s and my point: better dictators than elected Islamists. As I noted in the debate, Westerners should slam the door hard on ideological dictators like Islamists while pressuring greedy dictators to allow civil society. That offer the only exit from the false choice of two forms of tyranny.

Read the whole thing. Effectively, however, and without a name-check, Pipes is restating the Kirkpatrick Doctrine here. Then-US ambassador to the United Nebbich, Jeane Kirkpatrick, made a crucial distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Authoritarian regimes, she argued, only seek to control their subjects’ behavior, while totalitarian regimes also seek to control their subjects’ thoughts and minds. Also, authoritarian regimes typically allow grassroots civil structures to functionThe former type of regime — be it a Latin-American junta or an Egyptian strongman — can be worked with up to a point, pressured toward allowing freedoms, and eventually (given enough pressure) be induced to transition to democracy. No such hope exists for the latter type of regime — be it Nazi, Stalinist, or Islamist — and no realistic room for “engagement” exists.

 

Why the Czechs voted with Israel against “Palestinian” UN status upgrade

I’ve seen a number of people wondering why — aside from the USA, Canada, and the small Pacific Island nations that usually vote with the USA — the Czech Republic voted with Israel against upgrading the “Palestinian” representation at the United Nebbich. (Incidentally, “nebbich” itself comes from a Czech word.)

But seriously, this vote is no mystery at all for anybody who knows the history of the area around WW II: the Czechs have been in this movie themselves before. Consider the following:

  • suppose you have a big bully with a supremacist ideology
  • you have a minority in your country that is ethnically and linguistically related to the big bully, part having settled in your country in the Middle Ages, part later
  • the loudest voice of that minority is a party directly in the pay of the bully
  • lots of harassment, claims of “oppression” and “discrimination”, and specious claims of “atrocities” ensue
  • the bully demands to “liberate” his oppressed kinsfolk (numbers of whom are themselves lukewarm at best to the idea)
  • in the name of “preserving peace in our time“, the big powers of the day force your hand to give up those territories
  • [here the parallel ends, thus far] eventually the big bully gobbles up what’s left of your country anyway and declares it a “protectorate” (which is what “dhimmi” status literally means).

In the above, substitute either “Palestinians” or “Sudeten Germans” for the minority. Can the parallels be any clearer?

Now guess what happened after WW II: the Czechs, having no desire to go through such a thing twice, decided to expel virtually the entire Sudeten German population (about 1.6 million people) across the border to the American occupation zone of Germany. (Note that this was not a peaceful process: a joint German-Czech commission in 1995 reached an estimate of 15,000-30,000 dead out of about 1.6 million expellees/deportees.)

Summing up: if anybody understands the predicament of the Israelis — and understands that Israel is acting with an almost superhuman level of restraint that they themselves (understandably, after “the butcher of Prague” and his successors) were unable to exercise in the past — it would be the Czechs.

Focusing on marginal hate speech as a form of ‘displacement’

Laura Rosen Cohen reflects on a recent incident in Canada:

A Quebec broadcaster let someone on his show and “Maria” proceeded to call Israelis dogs, and talk about how the Holocaust was the best thing to have ever happened, and say all kinds of other things about Jews.

The host warned her that one must be careful about saying things about Jews because the conversation can easily get shut down, that’s it’s a sensitive topic.

Well first of all, the person trying to insult me by calling me a dog needs to work a little harder, since I can think of quite a few categories of humans that make dogs look excellent in comparison — such as  antisemites, apologists for islamofascism, fascist sympathizers (whether their favorite color of fascism be black, brown, red, or green), and of course Chicago Machine hacks. My answer to the kook and her host would probably be something along these lines (NSFW, especially in Italy).

Laura bemoans the excessive amount of attention devoted by Canada’s establishment (and left-leaning) Jewish organizations to combating a few marginal antisemitic kooks, to the detriment of fighting much greater, clearer, and more present dangers elsewhere. While I quibble with some of the language and specifics of her post, her general points — including that the answer to ‘hate speech’ is not ‘hate speech laws’ but better counterspeech — are well taken.

But I believe something else is at work, namely the psychological defense mechanism known as displacement:

an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind redirects affects from an object felt to be dangerous or unacceptable to an object felt to be safe or acceptable.[1] The term originated with Sigmund Freud.[2]

A special case of displacement I have discussed on these pages: incompetent managers, when faced with problems that are clearly too big for them,  single out some small, insignificant aspect of the problem, redefine that as “the” problem, attack that, and declare success.

In this case, the establishment Jewish community organizations are afraid to tackle the really serious problems — because that would, inter alia, make them no longer salonfähig among the cocktail party set, or cause a confrontation with a type of imported fascist that may actually try to kill you. Or, for those deeply invested in left-wing world views,  it may entail a reassessment of values and realignment of loyalties more comprehensive than they can handle. Much simpler to ‘displace’ onto a few marginal remnants of the “ancient enemy” (which command no public sympathy) than to try and face the “new enemy” which all too many consider the wave of the future…

Ayatollah Ghilmeini on “Pillar of Cloud and Pillar of Fire”

At Correspondence Committee, commenter “Ayatollah Ghilmeini” has some reflections on mivtza amud anan/Operation Pillar of Cloud (a.k.a. Operation Pillar of Defense) that need sharing:

I had wondered how many more rockets were going to hit Israel before there would be response.  It was clear the recent escalation, right after Obama was elected, stemmed from multiple needs of the people shooting rockets: Iran and Syria needed international community pressure off of them while they murder the Syrian people into submission, the radical Islamists in Egypt and Gaza, flush with the belief that Obama would protect them wanted to get the shooting started, lastly, and most importantly, all of these radical organizations and governments are committed to jihad against the Jewish people.  The jihadis are in political ascendancy throughout the region and they only know one way, permanent war until victory.

In blessing the rocket assault the triggered this war, they made one supreme political miscalculation.  They believed, that the Israeli government going into elections would be afraid to respond for fear that there be political backlash at the polls.  This fundamental misreading of the Israeli body politic is the reason for this war.  When Israeli political leaders acknowledged that 1 million Israelis were within missile range of Gaza, it was clear to me that any politician wishing to get elected that did not speak to this continuing and unacceptable situation faced certain defeat at the polls.

[…]Looking back over the last few days it was clear that the silence coming from the Israeli government as it checked its fire and the enemy kept shooting rockets was the implementation of the modern war plan.  The operation is currently called Pillar Of Cloud, and anyone who remembers their Bible, remembers that with the pillar of cloud [by day], there was also a pillar of fire [at night].  It is my belief that, unless the rocket fire diminishes immediately, Israel will shortly begin ground operations in Gaza on a major and significant scale.  Unlike the inconclusive war 2006, this time, they will go all the way.

[…] If a bunch of New Jersey separatists were firing rockets into New York demanding back Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty because they are part of the sacred religious property of the New Jersey people, the people of New York, and the United States for that matter, would shut that crap down in about a day.  But in the bizarre double standards of the modern world, Israel is expected to tolerate this. When the situation finally got so unbearable that they had to act, Israel’s leaders finally acted.  […]

I pray for her soldiers and people […] I also pray for the Palestinian people to be freed from the tyranny of the bunch of psychotic religious terrorist maniacs.  May this war be short and end in a complete and total Israeli victory. Am Yisroel Chai!

Amen. Go read the whole thing.

UPDATE: “Anne in Petach Tikva” has updates from the scene here and here. The named of the town in central Israel where she lives, fittingly, means Gate of Hope.

Bibi gives 0bama a Mideast history lesson (video)

Must-see (via Gateway Pundit):

On the other hand, Walter Russell Mead analyzes the non-Israel parts of 0bama’s speech, and says he’s (however reluctantly) embracing the Bush doctrine. (Here is a roundup of more reactions.)

Just minutes ago I got an Email from a Washington acquaintance (and Jewish 0bama supporter) who appears to be even more confused than I am. Is 0bama really throwing Israel under the bus, or did he seriously think he could bully Netanyahu (no slouch at dirty politics himself) into doing his bidding? Or do both sides know that a return to 1967 borders (read: pre-Six Day War borders, since I assume for Israel to reoccupy the Sinai is not the idea ;-)) is not realistic, but staged the disagreement just for show?

In any case, Netanyahu, whatever my misgivings about him as an actual leader are, has always been an impressive spokesman for his people, and together put in possibly the best performance of his career. Without benefit of teleprompters, may I add.

Richard Goldstone retracts Israel genocide accusation after damage done

Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic reports that Richard Goldstone has retracted his accusations against Israel (emphases mine):

This is as shocking as it is unexpected: the South African Jewish judge Richard Goldstone, who excoriated Israel for allegedly committing premeditated crimes against civilians in Gaza — contributing, more than any other individual, to the delegitimization and demonization of the Jewish state —  now says, well, Israel didn’t actually set out to target Palestinian civilians, unllike Hamas, whose plainly-apparent goal was to murder Israeli civilians.

It is not clear, reading Goldstone’s mea culpa in The Washington Post, that he fully understands the consequences of his work:

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy.

Well, I’m glad he’s cleared that up. Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to retract a blood libel, once it has been broadcast across the world.

This is, indeed, roughly the judicial equivalent of the New York Times making an outrageous accusation on the front page above the fold, then running a correction/retraction on page A20 months later. The damage is done and can never be wholly undone.

His retraction now may be rank opportunism or the beginning of teshuvah (repentance). Repentance (as Jews understand the concept) has three steps (actually four): (1) recognizing the transgression or iniquity; (2a) expressing remorse and (2b) trying to undo the damage insofar as possible; (3) taking steps to ensure it can never happen again. If Goldstone’s step is genuine, it is only a baby step and it now falls upon him to go out and speak everywhere with a loud, clear voice.

NPR director caught showing true colors in sting operation

Unbelievable. James O’Keefe’s latest sting, he set up a fake Muslim Brotherhood front group, and had somebody posing as one of its directory approach senior exec Ron Schiller of NPR (National Public Radio, a.k.a. New-class Preening Radio). Video can be seen here.

A man who appears to be a National Public Radio senior executive, Ron Schiller [no relation to CEO Vivian Schiller], has been captured on camera savaging conservatives and the Tea Party movement.

“The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian – I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of move,” declared Schiller, the head of NPR’s nonprofit foundation, who last week announced his departure for the Aspen Institute.

In a new video released Tuesday morning by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who, unbeknownst to the NPR executives, are posing as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The men, who identified themselves as Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik from the fictitious Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust, met with Schiller and Liley at Café Milano, a well-known Georgetown restaurant, and explained their desire to give up to $5 million to NPR because, “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.”

On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

[…] Schiller doesn’t blink [when the interlocutor “reveals” his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood]. Instead, he assumes the role of fan. “I think what we all believe is if we don’t have Muslim voices in our schools, on the air,” Schiller says, “it’s the same thing we faced as a nation when we didn’t have female voices.”

When O’Keefe’s two associates pressed him into the topic, Schiller decried U.S. media coverage of Egypt’s uprising against former dictator Hosni Mubarak, especially talk of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence on the protests and future of Egypt. Schiller said that is what he is “most disappointed by in this country, which is that the educated, so-called elite in this country is too small a percentage of the population, so that you have this very large un-educated part of the population that carries these ideas.”

When the man pretending to be Kasaam suggests to Schiller that “Jews do kind of control the media or, I mean, certainly the Zionists and the people who have the interests in swaying media coverage toward a favorable direction of Israel,” Schiller does not rebut him or stop eating. He just nods his head slightly.

The man posing as Kasaam then joked that his friends call NPR, “National Palestinian Radio,” because, according to him, NPR is the only media outlet that covers Palestinians’ perspective. Schiller laughed.

When the ersatz Islamists declare they’re “not too upset about maybe a little bit less Jew influence of money into NPR,” Schiller responds by saying he doesn’t find “Zionist or pro-Israel” ideas at NPR, “even among funders. I mean it’s there in those who own newspapers, obviously, but no one owns NPR.”

Response in the blogosphere to Ron Schiller being caught shilling on camera, predictably, fast and furious. (H/t to Insty for most links.)

  • Roger Simon on Pajamas Media: The Protocols Of The Elders of NPR. “What this video reveals most of all is the cultural and ideological ignorance of modern liberalism.”
  • Claire Berllinski on Ricochet: The Utter, Craven Ignominy of NPR. “I cannot believe this. I can’t believe what I just read and watched.” Neither can I — if this had been a scene in a novcl I was writing I would have thrown it out as too cartoonish. ” . . . I would say I’m at a loss for words, but I’m not lost for them at all. They’re right on the tip of my tongue. I just can’t use them on Ricochet.”
  • Byron York at National Review: GOP leader amazed at ‘condescension and arrogance’ in NPR video, calls on Dems to support defunding. As one who routinely spends time among NPR types and often sees depressing displays of patronizing gentryism/elitism, I am amazed that he is even surprised.
  • NPR “Appalled” By Executive’s Comments.“I am shocked, shocked, to hear that gambling is going on in this establishment.” Or in case the revulsion is genuine, NPR should look at the “root cause” (as they are fond of lecturing us to do). In this case, the echo chamber created by New Class liberal groupthink in which ideas such as those expressed are not even exceptional.
  • UPDATE: ZOA calls upon Jews to write to their congressmen to defund NPR.
  • UPDATE: House majority leader Eric Cantor : “As we continue to identify ways to cut spending and save valuable resources, this disturbing video makes clear that taxpayer dollars should no longer be appropriated to NPR […] At a time when our government borrows 40 cents of every dollar that it spends, we must find ways to cut spending and live within our means […] This video [in which Schiller was also heard saying that NPR does not need public funding, Ed.] clearly highlights the fact that public broadcasting doesn’t need taxpayer funding to thrive, and I hope that admission will lead to a bipartisan consensus to end these unnecessary federal subsidies.”
  • UPDATE 2: Ed Driscoll weighs in, and singles out a pathetic attempt at damage control.
  • UPDATE 3: the Shiller also said he was proud of the way their token black commentator Juan Williams had been fired, which is not what NPR has been saying to the outside world. Williams himself, now enjoying a comfortable perch at “intolerant” archrival Fox News despite his conventionally liberal views, can barely contain his schadenfreude: “They prostitute themselves for money”. Tonight on Fox at 9 PM Eastern.

I will leave the last word to Roger Simon:

Is the explanation for this, as some have suggested, that they were just trying to raise funds at any cost? That journalistic trope goes pretty thin. I will suggest another explanation:[…] Lost in a delusional world of political correctness, the elders of NPR have forfeited the ability to think critically. They simply can’t see the facts anymore — or don’t care to. It’s too threatening to their limited weltanschauung. Hence, you get idiotic projections such as Schiller’s statement of how dumb Republicans are and how what America needs is more educated elites.

That they all sat there through the worst kind of anti-Semitic bilge that would make even George Soros and Pat Buchanan blush is as predictable as it is sickening.

What is needed now is not just the defunding of NPR, but also its marginalization. And one of the best ways to marginalize is through well-deserved ridicule. The authors of this video at Project Veritas are thus greatly to be praised. Yes, what they have done is a form of entrapment, but the fools who were trapped deserve it as much as any knave in a Moliere play. NPR and its clones are the true reactionaries of our time. They are no more liberal than Boss Tweed. Taking off their masks is a public service.

Paul Berman on “The flight of the intellectuals”

Michael Totten has a long, fascinating interview with Paul Berman entitled “The flight of the intellectuals”. (The title is a nod to the book La trahison des clercs/”The treason of the intellectuals” by Julien Benda.)

Much of the interview focuses on the mental contortions of the modern intellectual left that dismiss Arab liberals while they regard a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” like Tariq Ramadan as an authentic moderate.

The interview should be read in its entirety, but let me quote a few passages that stand out:

In regard to the Soviet dissidents of the past, at least nowadays there is a consensus of opinion that, yes, the dissidents were correct and we should have listened to them. So why didn’t we? When I say “we,” I mean the intellectual community as a whole in the Western countries. And it’s for a whole set of reasons.An outright sympathy for communism and the Soviet Union itself was only one of those reasons. This only accounted for one set of people.

There were other people who dismissed the dissidents for what you might call conservative reasons. They wanted to assume the Slavic world was hopelessly steeped in traditions of autocracy and ignorance and habits of obedience and deference — the traditions of tsarism. They could see very well that communism in the Soviet Union had replicated the whole tsarist system, in a new version. There was a leader at the top whose rule was uncontestable. There were the masses at the bottom who had to proclaim the wisdom of the leader at the top. And a lot of people looked at this and said, yes, this is what the Slavic world is supposed to be. This is the authentic thing. Slavs are inherently inferior to Westerners. They aren’t capable of being free people. They aren’t capable of thinking for themselves.

So when the dissidents rushed out and told us that the Soviet Union is crushing individual liberty or doing other oppressive things, our response to them was to pat them on the head and say, well, it’s nice that you got out, and you are welcome to stay, but you’re not talking about the real world. The real world is one where Slavs are destined to remain forever victims of oppressive tyrants, and this is because Slavs enjoy being victims, so we’re not going to take people like you, the dissidents, all that seriously.

The logic behind that kind of thinking is very appealing, to some people. It pictures a world that is dominated by cultures that we like to regard as authentic — cultures with unchanging deep qualities that go back thousands of years, and may be rich with cultural jewels, but will never produce anything more progressive and will certainly never embrace the kinds of freedoms and advantages and dynamism that we celebrate in our own culture. So that’s one idea.

Then there’s another idea that appeals to many people, which is based not on our own feeling of superiority, but on our own inferiority. We look at ourselves in the Western countries and we say that, if we are rich, relatively speaking, as a society, it is because we have plundered our wealth from other people. Our wealth is a sign of our guilt. If we are powerful, compared with the rest of the world, it is because we treat people in other parts of the world in oppressive and morally objectionable ways. Our privileged position in the world is actually a sign of how racist we are and how imperialistic and exploitative we are. All the wonderful successes of our society are actually the signs of how morally inferior we are, and we have much to regret and feel guilty about. So when we look at the world, we should look at it in a spirit of humility and remorse, and we should recognize that other people have been unfairly treated.

We should recognize the superiority of those other people over ourselves. Money-wise, we may be richer. But, morally, the other people are richer. And so, we should despise ourselves, and we should love the other people — the people who possess qualities so superior to our own as barely to be human. And then, filled with those very peculiar ideas, we set about looking for messianic figures who might express the superior culture of the other people, and might lead the human race to a higher stage of development. And if someone objects to this analysis, we say, oh, we inferior Westerners are incapable of understanding the mysterious thought-patterns of those other people, so who are you to judge?

MJT: I think you have it pretty well worked out.

Paul Berman: I assure you, I don’t.

MJT: This all sounds right to me. You just described two very different, even opposite tendencies, one which you’ve described as conservative, the other which could only be described as leftist. Lately, though, it seems what you describe as the conservative view of the Slavic world is now, in some ways, a left-wing view of the Arab world.

Patronizing and condescendence, thy name is leftism.

BREAKING: Mubarak to step down, xfer power to military junta. UPDATE: xferring authority but staying on until September

Fox News reports:

President Hosni Mubarak will step down shortly and transfer authority to the Egyptian Higher Council of the Armed Forces, a senior Egyptian official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.

The group is comprised of the minister of defense, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi — who stands atop the military hierarchy — along with the military’s chief of staff, the chief of operations, and commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Air Defenses.

The source pointed out that the transfer of power will occur “outside of the constitutional framework” because under the Egyptian constitution, Mubarak’s resignation ordinarily would mean that the speaker of the house would become president and elections would be held within 60 days. […] The source did not know how long the military would reign nor what mechanism or timetable would be put in place to end the military’s administration of power, but said that “when (the transfer of power from Mubarak) does happen, they will presumably indicate the direction of the country.”

The source drew parallels with the Army coup of 1952, and the removal of King Faroukh, noting that it took six months before the monarchy was dissolved and the modern republic formed.

[…] The source predicted, without certainty, that Mubarak will retire to Sharm el-Sheikh and lead an “isolated” existence.

The official also expressed criticism of the Obama administration and the American press for short-changing the reform process that Mubarak and Suleiman had begun to put in place, and which the official claimed had been moving along “fine” in “very rapid” fashion.

As a case in point, the official cited the committee to amend the constitution that had been formed, including with opposition membership, and which he said had agreed swiftly on the six article[s] of the constitution to be reformed.

The official said the “constant requests for more measures, to be undertaken more quickly, more rapidly … the constant push” and “lack of recognition” for the reform measures being undertaken in good faith all conspired to create a “national consensus” in Egypt that forced Mubarak’s ouster.

“They did not give too much room for the (reform) process to move forward,” the official said of the Obama administration.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Mubarak announced that, while he is transferring authority to his newly-minted VP Omar Suleiman, he will remain president until September.

Jerry Pournelle on Egypt

Jerry Pournelle:

It’s getting more clear: the Egyptian Army is waiting things out. The US official policy is idealism: the US supports democracy and freedom, and opposes oppression, and —

The realistic appraisal is a bit different. And exactly what is democracy? The Egyptian middle class doesn’t think that a modern country chases a President into exile at the demands of a mob. Neither does the Army. The Army doesn’t want to fire on the populace. The silly test of crowd resolve, a bunch of civil servants and tourist guide union people “armed” with riding corps riding into the square, showed that the crowd wouldn’t disperse without serious action by the Army. Having the cops shoot people wasn’t in the cards. The Army told Mubarak to retire, with honor, and he has agreed to; luckily for all his term ends shortly anyway. The mob refuses to disperse; the Army waits. It hasn’t yet said it is time to go home, but many Egyptians would like to have an economy again. The feeling among many of the middle class is “He will retire, his son won’t run for office, well have a technocrat as the next President. What more do we want? We don’t like the Jews, but we don’t want another war either.”

There will be elements who want to provoke the Army, and there are reports of shooting at the bridges.

The Al Jazeera footage shows night fighting with night sights on weapons; that’s probably the police. It wasn’t indiscriminate firing. Unlikely to be the Army.

Assuming that things don’t boil, Mubarak will leave in the fall. With military honors, and he will take up residence somewhere near government house, probably with a role much like Clinton has.

That will be in Fall. There is enough time to have some organization of a “loyal opposition” and that will probably happen. Meanwhile there are food riots across the Arab world, and the US continues to subsidize burning corn in automobiles so we can avoid importing oil from countries that pay for wheat and maize.

Read also his earlier entries on the same page. But do not worry. The country is in the very best of hands.

UPDATE: Clarice Feldman (via Insty): The Incredible Lightness of Obama.

The Egyptian, an 82-year-old with terminal cancer, easily bested the community organizer, the man elected by people who quite clearly confused the last presidential election with an American idol contest. While many who elected the American president probably do not yet realize it, it is lucky for them that he lost the showdown, for had he not, the results would have created worldwide havoc and devastation.

And also:

The man who in 2009 in Cairo said, “So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed on one nation by any other” was now dictating to Mubarak the kind of government Egypt should have and when it should have it.  Mubarak noted only the obvious: that if he stepped down immediately, the situation would devolve into chaos.  The rulers of Egypt have a stake in its continued existence which supersedes Obama’s adolescent moral preening.  Had Obama any real interest in democracy in Egypt, he would have followed Bush’s lead and done something to help bring that about before this.[…]

I think it’s a good rule of thumb that whenever Obama begins a statement with “Let me be clear,” he means quite the opposite of whatever follows.  And someone might whisper in his ear that if you run around the world bowing deeply before foreign rulers and undermining your country’s moral position and standing in the world, you cannot expect to have your imperious demands be taken seriously abroad.

Ouch.