Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 17, 2014

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.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 17, 2014

Forget “antisemitism”: call it what it is, “judeophobia”

Arab and Islamic apologists have in the past tried to claim that they cannot be anti-Semites, since they themselves are Semites. Of course, the word was originally coined by the German anti-Jewish agitator Wilheim Marr as a pseudoscientific-sounding alternative for “Judenhass” (Jew-hatred), when he founded his Antisemitenliga in 1879. Marr was only concerned with Jews and not at all with any other Semitic people, and in practice the word has never meant anything other than bigotry against Jews. 

I have always preferred the unambiguous alternative “judeophobia”. My daughter wondered if it was patterned on the word “homophobia”. In fact, the word “judeophobia” was first proposed in 1882 by the physician and proto-Zionist activist Leon Pinsker, in his pamphlet Selbstemanzipation (Auto-Emancipation):

A fear of the Jewish ghost has passed down the generations and the centuries. First a breeder of prejudice, later in conjunction with other forces we are about to discuss, it culminated in Judeophobia.[…]

Judeophobia is a psychic aberration. As a psychic aberration it is hereditary, and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable.

He goes on to explain the irrational character of judeophobia (a phobia, medically speaking, being exactly that: an irrational fear), its foundation on superstition, and the futility of any attempt to “cure” people of it by rational argument. He then goes on to make the same case as Theodor Herzl would so famously do fifteen years later.

Pinsker has been nearly forgotten outside Israel and well-read Zionist circles (as he never commanded the readership and contacts of Theodor Herzl) but he is remembered by the many Pinsker Streets in Israeli towns.




Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 16, 2014

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 document are Ruth’s most precious family position). 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”.


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.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

The Iron Lady left us today on April 8, 2013.

Stuart Varney singles out her most defining quote: “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

As it happens, she passed away on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day). The Tablet reminds readers that the very first foray of Margaret Hilda Roberts and her older sister was raising to help them bring over their Jewish penpal girl from Austria after the Anschluss. The girl survived: in later years the Iron Lady would remark that that, to her, was the most worthwhile thing she ever did.

Among the many articles that Winston Churchill, during his days in the political wilderness before WW II, proposed to write for the magazines that employed him was “will there ever be a female Prime Minister?” His editor dismissed the suggestion as ‘too fantastic’.

Thatcher, a chemist turned barrister (what the British call a lawyer licensed to plead in court) who grew up in a grocery store, brought middle class virtues and ideological conviction to the Tories, and all her life felt most comfortable among self-made men of modest origins, many of them Jewish. She was not the first Tory PM of modest origins — that would have been Edward Heath — but she, more than anybody else, was responsible for ending the grip of the squirearchy on the Conservative Party. When she eventually stepped down, her successor John Major was again not a “spare” son of some high nobleman nor some old money grandee, but a former circus performer’s son who became a banking executive despite having quit school at age 16.

The Telegraph gathers reactions to her demise (updated every 90 seconds).  [It misattributes to Chris Patten (!), however, the response of British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks: “I first got to know her early on in my life when she was the local MP. She was loved and admired by many in the Jewish community who will miss her deeply. Few people in my lifetime have left such a personal imprint on British life.”]

Thatcher was revered by some and reviled by others — some of us did both at various times of our lives. She left virtually none indifferent. She was an original — as much as she was Middle England. Of common birth with common-sense virtues, she was a noble soul. Here is a very English anthem for a noble soul.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 31, 2013

Economics explained while standing on one foot

There is a Talmudic legend about a pagan approaching Hillel the Elder, offering to convert to Judaism if Hillel could explain the Torah to him while standing on one foot. (In “an elevator speech” might be a modern idiom.)

Hillel answered: “That which is hateful unto you, do not do unto any other. That is the whole Torah: all the rest is commentary/corollary. Now go forth and study that.

Similarly, if anybody were to ask Steven Levitt/Shlomo HaLevy to explain all of economics while standing on one foot, his answer might well be something like:

People respond to incentives. This is the essence of economics: all the rest follows from that. Now go forth and study it.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 31, 2013

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 mvement 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: 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.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 23, 2013

Israel votes, part 2: winners and losers [updated]

With now 99% of votes counted, here are the results, courtesy of Times of Israel:

  • 31 Likud – Israel Our Home cartel (center-right + Russian immigrant party)
  • 19 Yesh Atid (new centrist party)
  • 15 Labour (moderate left)
  • 11 Shas (ultra-Orthodox, Jews from Arab countries)
  • 11 Jewish Home (fusion of National Religious Party and other right-wing group)
  • 7 United Torah Judaism (ultra-Orthodox, Askhenazi)
  • 6 HaTnua/The Movement (effectively the Tzipi Livni Party)
  • 6 Meretz (looney-left)
  • 5 United Arab List
  • 4 Chadash (“former” communists, mostly Arab)
  • 3 Balad (Arab nationalists)
  • 2 Kadima (remnant of the old centrist party)

In Israel, who actually gets to sit in the Knesset/Assembly is totally determined by ranking on the party lists. At the website of the Central Elections Committee, here are partial lists in English, and full lists in Hebrew.

The clear winner: Yesh Atid, which was catapulted from nowhere to the second largest party. Ideologically, it is pro-market economically and centrist on the Arab-Israeli conflict, while advocating a new approach to synagogue-state relations. Sectorially speaking, it markets itself (with apparent success) as the voice of Israel’s middle class. In fact, in many regards it seems more like the moderate wing of the Likud than the “center-left” party some in the media claim it is. The Likud leader, outgoing PM (and PM-presumptive) Binyamin Netanyahu already reached out to their leader about coalition negotiations.

Said leader, veteran journalist and TV anchor Yair Lapid, is the son of the founder of another meteoric (albeit short-lived) centrist party, the late anticlerical firebrand Yosef “Tommy” Lapid. (In fact, Tommy’s “Shinui”/Change was the second party of that name, an earlier [Democratic Movement for] Change having merged into Meretz many years ago and consequently having faded into irrelevance.) In part in response to concerns about the “antireligious”  character of the slate, Lapid placed a fairly well-known modern-Orthodox rabbi (Shai Piron) as his number 2 and another (TImes of Israel blogger Dov Lipman) in a borderline electable position (which turned out to be electable after all). Others on the slate include mayors of various towns such as Herzliya’s Yael German, media commentators like Ofer Shelach, a former police chief (Michael “Mickey” Levy) and a former head of the Shin Bet (Israel’s domestic security/intelligence service), Yaacov Peri. Notably absent are national political figures: there may have been a “throw them all out” factor at work, even if only on a secondary level.

Clear loser #1: The main opposition party in the outgoing Knesset, Kadima/”Forward”, was originally founded by none other than Ariel Sharon (who is technically still alive but has been in a vegetative state following his 2005 massive cerebral hemorrhage) . It fell victim to, essentially, the inflated egos of party leader, onetime foreign minister Tzipporah “Tzipi” Livni and her rival, former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz. They went to the polls with rival slates, his retaining the Kadima name, hers marketed as both HaTnu`a/”The Movement” and “The Tzipi Livni Party”. Together they pulled a paltry fraction of Kadima’s old Knesset representation: 7 seats for HaTnua (including such decidedly noncentrist figures as longtime Haifa mayor, Amram Mitzna, Labour’s 2003 candidate for the prime ministership,  and former trade union leader and defense minister Amir “A-clown” Peretz), 2 for the remnant Kadima (Mofaz himself and former Likud MK Israel Hasson). The only reason why the joke named Amir Peretz was able to return from the political wilderness may have been the one good thing he did: while defense minister, he decided to fund the Iron Dome system against ‘expert’ advice. (Even this writer, who defers to none in his contempt for the Histadrut trade union, is willing to grant him that.)

Livni has been running a hysterical campaign claiming that only she (a onetime Mossad agent) can save Israel from international isolation and  worse. If she had any sense of reality, she would retire from politics at this point; of course, the next one in line  (Mitzna) might well take part of his faction back to Labor.

The failed gamble: When Netanyahu decided to merge his list with the (mostly) Russian-immigrant list of outgoing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman,  my first thought was “what are they thinking”? It was obvious to me that a merger would actually drive people away rather than draw people, but perhaps these two men knew something I didn’t. Lieberman is a complex figure: a mix of right-wing posturing with some genuinely out-of-the-box ideas that defy conventional left-right classification (such as a land swap between settlements and the Arab Triangle in the Galilee — an idea originally proposed by geographer Arnon Sofer), but who has never shed the “shtarker” image from his days as Netanyahu’s bureau chief, and has several past and pending (possibly politically motivated) corruption investigations against him. To Russian immigrants he (an immigrant from Moldova) was an electoral magnet, to many veteran Likudniks a turnoff. My guess is Netanyahu handed Yesh Atid votes on a silver plate with this merger. Then again, cunning politician as he is, he may have planned exactly that in the hope of pulling Yesh Atid into his coalition as a counterweight against the increasingly vocal radical faction within his party. And who knows, Lieberman (his onetime protégé) may have been a willing partner in this.

High hopes: The Jewish Home list, heir to the National Religious Party (modern-Orthodox and pro-settlements) of old, as well as newer nationalist elements, did well (increasing their representation from a combined 7 seats to 11), but not nearly as well as they has hoped — indeed, it was widely expected to emerge as either the 2nd or 3rd largest party, and ends up as fifth. Some FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) propaganda on the part of the Likud may have contributed to this result, although this tarnished the Likud probably as much as it hurt the Jewish Home. An even more radical breakaway faction Otzma leYisrael/”Strength to Israel” led by right-wing veteran Aryeh Eldad MD did not make the electoral threshold.

Otherwise: Of the ultra-Orthodox lists, Shas held steady (which they tried to spin into a “victory”) while UTJ somewhat surprisingly gained two seats. Why ‘surprisingly’? Shas, through playing the ‘ethnic card’ on behalf of Jews of non-Ashkenazi origin, has an electoral base outside the ultra-Orthodox community, while the Ashkenazi UTJ’s following outside the ultra-Orthodox community could probably comfortably meet in my living room ;-) Perhaps — but this is speculation — some chareidim that voted for other parties in the past or did not bother to vote may have been motivated by the ‘threat’ of having to serve their country like everybody else. Rabbi Chaim Amsalem, a Shas maverick who was ousted from his party for daring to say something blatantly obvious (namely, that chareidim need to go to the army or perform alternative civilian national service, then work for a living like everybody else rather than be supported by the taxpayer), ran on his own ticket but did not make the electoral threshold. Which is a pity — his presence in the Knesset might have been the beginning of an adult dialogue with the chareidi community.

The looney-left Meretz had hit rock-bottom in the last elections, barely making the electoral threshold. Now they pulled six seats, which the insufferable Zehava Gal-On has of course been crowing about. The last more or less sane person on their list, kibbutznik and Knesset veteran Avshalom Vilan, will not be around this Knesset, as he was seventh on the list.

The “former” Communists of Chadash (“New”, but also Hebrew letterword for Democratic Front for Equality — heirs to the Israel Communist List) is functionally an Arab party, even though they have one technically Jewish MK (Dov Khenin). It pulls its usual 3-4 seats, with another four going to the United Arab List and two to the utterly despicable Balad — whose founder fled abroad following credible accusations of treason and espionage.

How the mighty have fallen: Labour’s ancestor parties, the Eretz Israel Laborers Party of Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion and the Unity of Labour faction with which Yitzhak Rabin z”l was later associated, basically ran the country continuously from 1948 until the Great Upheaval of 1977. In the last elections, an increasingly rudderless and out-of-touch Labour hit a historical nadir of 8 seats, to which arguably the 5 seats of former Labour PM and outgoing defense minister Ehud Barak’s “Independence” list should be added. Barak is leaving politics after a militarily very distinguished but politically mixed career: his one political achievement, which nobody can gainsay him, was tearing the mask off Yasser Arafilth during the Camp David negotiations.

Labour went into the elections led by former state-run media “journalist” Shelly Yechimovich, ran a campaign nearly as hysterical as Tzipi Livni’s, and is now trying to spin an increase from 13 to 15 seats into some sort of mandate to replace Bibi. Somewhere in the Negev desert town of Sde Boker (Morning Field), David Ben-Gurion is spinning in his grave.


Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 22, 2013

Elections in Israel, part 1

Today I voted – in Israel. Having lived there part-time for a long time as a temporary work gig turned into a quasi-permanent one, eventually I became a dual citizen.

There is no need for a campaign to motivate people to vote here — voter turnouts are generally quite high. Ascribe it to the argumentative character of the Jewish people (yours truly included), or to the “something for everybody” slate of over 30 parties, or to the inability to “take a vacation from reality” in a country that still cannot take its very existence for granted — Israelis vote, even as they grumble.

But while the voter turnouts might be a Deemocrat [sic] ward-heeler’s dream, the vote integrity measures would be his nightmare. We showed up with our blue national ID cards and our individual official voter’s summons, at the designated polling station indicated there. There, our faces were checked against out ID cards and our names and ID numbers against the roster of voters — then, as we were handed our ballot envelopes, the entries struck through to indicate that we voted.

Despite Israel being an early-adopter country, generally speaking, when it comes to technology, the voting procedure is decidedly old-fashioned. The voter is directed to a booth which has piles of printed slips with the various party’s ballot letters (in huge print) and full names (in still-large print). One picks the one for the party of one’s choice, inserts it in the envelope, and seals it — then, again in full view, deposits the sealed envelope in the ballot box.

The system is not fully bullet-proof. Some fraud is known to exist — typically in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors where identity cards of deceased people are sometimes not returned but recycled by voters that, to an outsider’s eye, “all look the same”. Also, a person that cannot read the country’s two official ballot languages (Hebrew and Arabic) and/or is not “all there” can be manipulated by giving them preprinted slips of a party and telling them to put those in the ballot envelope. Furthermore, people who read Hebrew haltingly may get confused between the about three dozen different letter codes — this is one reason why all parties display theirs very prominently on all their campaign materials. A number of the veteran parties have de facto permanent codes: אמת for Labour (although שקר or כזבwould be more apt ;-)), מחל for the Likud, ג for United Torah Judaism, and the like. 

Yet, on balance, the vote in this country reaches a level of integrity that US elections can only dream of. 

THere is no longer a direct election of the prime minister, who is the head of government here — the president’s position, as head of state only, is largely ceremonial. Typically the head of the largest party becomes the prime minister if (s)he can cobble together a coalition that can muster a majority in the Knesset. THere is no realistic chance, for better or worse, that the next prime minister will be anybody other than Binyamin Netanyahu.

And “coalition” — aye, there’s the rub. Israel has  full proportional representation and no electoral districts of any kind, and only very recently was an electoral threshold of 2 (two) percent introduced. This means in practice a highly fragmented parliament, as well as that the kind of lobbying and horse-trading by special interests that goes on inside the two major parties in the US here takes place right in the open, between competing sectorial parties. 

Yet a smorgasbord of options still does not guarantee a party that truly fits. The last US elections offered a stark choice that, somehow, is absent here. Leaving the far-left, far-right, and sectorial parties aside, all of the options had one fatal flaw or another for me. The option of putting in a blank slip with “mihu John Galt?” written on it sounded appealing, but struck me as an act of self-defeating electoral self-gratification. In the end, as no “Tea Party of Israel” was running, I ended up voting for the least bad fit with my own beliefs.

(to be continued)

Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 13, 2013

On why we don’t learn from history

A commenter on Powerline had the following priceless comment:

What is driving us to ignore history and repeat these same mistakes?

  • Lesser Hubris: We could probably make it work this time.
  • Greater Hubris: Only our genius holds chaos at bay.
  • Complacency: Hey, it kind of works, and the pay and perks are good.
  • Cynicism: It’s going to blow up eventually anyway, might as well get something out of it.
  • Simple Greed: There’s always a way to pluck the pigeons.
  • Machiavellian Design: There are paths to great power through chaos.

I suspect that it is mostly lesser and greater hubris followed by complacency, then cynicism, simple greed, and least of all by Machiavellian design.

It would behoove us all to remember not just Santayana’s Law, but indeed, Antonov’s Observation on Santayana’s Law.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 11, 2013

On Yes (the band), technological evolution, and not missing the bus

While I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, I’ve been on a Yes re-listening binge lately (I literally wore out my copy of “Close to the Edge” while a teenager), and I am stunned at how fresh their classic albums still sound.

In my day job I recently dealt with something where the history of the band offers an interesting object lesson. Their first keyboardist, Tony Kaye, was a pretty talented musician in his own right, and I actually like his playing on the two first Yes albums a lot. However, even as the music of the band took on an ever more pronounced symphonic character, he resisted all pressure from the rest of the band to add synthesizers and other electronic keyboards to his rig (and the band’s sonic palette), stubbornly sticking with his Hammond organ and a piano. It is very obvious on The Yes Album (their 3rd) — virtually all of which is still in their setlist to this day — that Kaye’s sound just needs that extra something. 

A (likewise classically trained) session musician of their acquaintance called Rick Wakeman not only had no such qualms but enthusiastically tried out every new instrument he could lay his hands on, and after they heard him in concert with The Strawbs, he got a “3 AM phone call” (ahem) if he would like to join the band. He hung up citing a 7 AM recording session, but eventually agreed to come to their rehearsal studio, and on the very first day the band wrote rough versions of two Yes classics, “Roundabout” and “Heart of the Sunrise”. The rest is history, as the “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge” albums became defining ones of the entire progressive rock genre.

Wakeman of course did not neglect his piano or Hammond organ, but M&Ms became a bedrock of his keyboard sound — the Minimoog synthesizer for lead lines and a pioneering tape-based sampler called the Mellotron for string and choir parts. Eventually he would leave the band (following disenchantment with the grandiosity and unfocused writing process of the next album Tales of Topographic Oceans) to focus on a then very successful solo career as an instrumental rock composer, but his legacy was assured — both as a part of Yes’s most creative incarnation and (together with ELP’s Keith Emerson and Genesis’ Tony Banks) as a pioneering rock multi-keyboardist.

Eventually Tony Kaye caught up with the times for lack of an alternative, but by that time he was just one of many good synthesizer players, and the best he was able to do later was appear as a hired hand with Yes during their 90125 tour. (While he’s credited on the album, essentially all the actually recorded parts were played by one of the two Trevors — producer Horn and then-guitarist Rabin.) He could still deliver the goods live but, as a creative force, time had passed him by.

Another musician around that time did adopt emerging keyboard technology piecemeal but always centered on the Hammond organ: this is of course Deep Purple’s Jon Lord. Lord had, however, something that nobody else had: a clue on how to effectively fit keyboards into a hard rock sound, even if it meant modding the organ guitar amp outputs so he could produce a crunchy, distorted, quasi-rhythm guitar sound when called for. 

What is the moral of the story? Fighting technological change, or being in denial about it, is ultimately a career-killing move. Adopt, adapt, or co-opt — or by the time you have made peace with the inevitable it will be too late.

But what about technologies that look promising but eventually don’t deliver the goods? Here too, Rick Wakeman offers an object lesson. The Mellotron being a notoriously difficult instrument to handle live (being both very heavy and delicate) and having some limitations (such as the play-and-return tape mechanism’s inability to deal with rapid-fire playing, mostly limiting its uses to quasi-orchestral chording or lyrical melodies), Wakeman was eager to adopt a new instrument called the Birotron, which was based on endless-loop 8-track tapes, and in fact so eager that he sank nearly his whole net worth into the company. The Birotron never worked well enough, and while the designers tried to work out the kinks, the arrival of the first digital samplers (Fairlight, E-mu) made the Birotron obsolete overnight, and bankrupted its chief investor. Fairlight itself went under later due to production cost scalability issues, but evolved versions of their technology (thanks especially to Raymond Kurzweil) are now part and parcel of virtually all modern keyboard instruments.


Posted by: New Class Traitor | January 8, 2013

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.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook massacre and the ASD canard

[On screen] One Adam Lanza, age 20, shot and killed his mother, and then went to the Connecticut grade school where she taught and gunned down over two dozen more people, 20 of them children. He subsequently took his own life. No manifesto, no suicide note, no obvious motive.

Note that no “assault weapons” were involved: he used two handguns, and left a third weapon (a .223 rifle) unused in the car.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the bereaved and we wish a speedy and full recovery to the wounded.

Ace is all over the story. The usual predictable politicization by gun control advocates (and the power and control freaks posing as same) he masterfully rebutted with stories about a 2009 school slaughter in Leipzig, Germany (despite extremely tough gun control laws) and of a knife-wielding maniac slashing 22 students in China.

But also he left a prescient comment: he notes that the surviving brother told authorities the shooter “is autistic or has Asperger syndr0me”, and mentions “Which, of course, will hopefully not demean other people with autism or Asperger’s.”

The comment was prescient, in that the usual airheaded mediots (but I repeat myself) are starting to blame it on, you guessed it, Asperger’s. The pseudonymous “Elise Ronan”, who has two sons with Asperger’s and blogs extensively about it, has some choice comments on her twitter timeline.

Obviously, by the inane “logic” of Piers Morgan, I could “prove” that CNN journalists are likely to go on “Dick Quest” in Central Park with meth in their pockets and ropes tied around their other heads, but let’s get a little more serious.

This isn’t the first time this type of claim about ASD was made: last time I can recall was about the Amy Bishop “Tenure denial massacre” which we covered here at length (see sidebar). In fact, hers was almost a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder, probably with some other cluster B disorders thrown in.

I would not categorically exclude that she is also on the “autistic spectrum” (which runs left of “neurotypical” from “geek” over “Asperger’s” to autism), for the simple reason that science academia is probably the single most congenial environment for people with ASDs.

Elise reports that on Good Morning America, somebody claimed that people with Asperger’s “lack empathy”. This is a very common misunderstanding among laymen. To use a musical analogy: a person with Asperger’s may be as musical as anybody but is hard of hearing. A person who truly “lacks empathy” would have no concept of music. And yes, I would not want to feed all the musicians who have gotten hard of hearing (including, sadly, my other half). But nobody would seriously argue that Beethoven’s late works were “amusical” because he was stone deaf at the time he wrote them?!

To put it another way (I, sadly, have personal experience in these matters). To a sociopath, other people’s concerns simply do not exist, other than perhaps as potential levers for manipulation for their own benefit. To a narcissist, other people only exist as potential sources of ‘narcissistic supply’ or competitors for same. To an “aspie”, the emotions of others are as real as for a “neurotypical”, but opaque. They have no trouble identifying (with) abstract concerns or specific material needs of others, but have extreme difficulty “reading” the emotions of others, not even at the level a neurotypical is able to. It is like the difference between having trouble reading a book because of poor eyesight, and being utterly uninterested in any book.

A commenter at “Ace” has a much more plausible theory.

criminologist & behavioral analyst
casey jordan

– will continue to be called a school shooting, but that is not what it was

murderer known as: a family annihilator
(wants to destroy those they love)
– school was a theater for his massacre because it was his mothers workplace
– but, not direct connection to the school
– the rest of the killing is to get attention
– and, he wants everyone to know, if he is going to die, that everyone knows his name and how upset and how disgruntled he was

UPDATE: Elise Ronan takes no prisoners: “And so it begins, blood-libeling those with autism [spectrum disorders]”

Posted by: New Class Traitor | December 11, 2012

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.


Posted by: New Class Traitor | December 9, 2012

New Class Traitor:

Robert Samuelson: higher marginal tax rates means more incentive for corruption and influence peddling (lfor loopholes, special tax breaks,…). And of that which you incentivize you get more,,,

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’ve been very critical of Obama’s class-warfare ideology because it leads to bad fiscal policy. But perhaps it is time to give some attention to other arguments against high tax rates.

Robert Samuelson, a columnist for the Washington Post, has a very important insight about tax rates and sleaze in Washington.

His column is mostly about Obama’s anti-tax reform agenda, but it includes this very important passage.

…many politicians support tax breaks for favored groups (the elderly, the poor, small business) and causes (homeownership, attending college, “green” industries). This enhances their power. The man who really pronounced the death sentence for the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was Bill Clinton, who increased the top rate to 39.6 percent rather than broadening the base. As the top rate rose, so did the value of generating new tax breaks. Ironically, many of the people who complain the loudest about Washington influence-peddling and…

View original 480 more words

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.

The front page of the Yediot Achronot had a story (sensationalist as is the wont of that paper) about a family tragedy.

Briefly: The head of the hematology department of a large hospital (I will not spell out his name out of concern for the privacy of the family — bad enough that the gutter press chose to do otherwise) was faced with a 34-year old daughter (he himself was 66) who struggled with cancer for over 3 years. Eventually she gave up and insisted that he put her out of her misery, which he did, and subsequently committed suicide, leaving a wife and two more children behind.

It is written “do not judge your fellowman until you have stood in his place” (Avot 2:4). I have not (G-d spare me) stood in this doctor’s place but have been in a closely related situation, which made me lose all respect for the (euthanasia-happy) medical establishment of the European country involved. (For the political establishment of said country, I lost none since I had none left to lose by then ;-)) Suffice to say that the participants in this “Greek tragedy” have suffered, and continue to suffer, enough without me shooting off my mouth on this specific case.

However, now the usual suspects (hyper-secularists, as well as those emoting rather than thinking) are calling for a law permitting active euthanasia — notwithstanding that Israel calls itself ‘a Jewish state’ last time I checked, that Jewish law prohibits active euthanasia in the strongest terms, and that it is also utterly incompatible not just with the Hippocratic Oath but with the Jewish versions thereof. (The situation regarding passive euthanasia is rather more complex, as has been recognized by a 2005 law.)

There is a well-known legal maxim in English: “terrible cases make for bad law”. Sometimes, moved to pity from a few individual heart-rending cases, lawmakers create laws, or judges legal precedents, that would have addressed these specific cases but have unintended consequences hundreds or thousands of times greater in magnitude for years or even centuries to come. Furthermore, dark forces can manipulate public sentiment on a few such terrible cases to generate public pressure for a change of law that suits their nefarious ends  — in this manner, somewhere in Europe, a nation was made to set the first steps on a slippery slope that led first to mass euthanasia of the mentally ill and special-needs children as having “lives not worth living” and “being too great a burden on those caring for them”, which then turned out to be the dress rehearsal for the murder of one-third of my people (plus an even larger percentage of Roma gypsies, as well as millions of Slavs).

It is, incidentally, interesting that the “T4-Aktion” (as the Nazi euthanasia program was known after the address of the headquarters of the program, Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin) stands alone in the history of the Third Reich as an example where a widespread public outcry (backed, admittedly, by some prominent Catholic and Lutheran clergy) forced the regime to back down and discontinue it at least publicly.

It would be a tragedy on a cosmic scale if, moved by the Greek tragedy of a few individual families, the Jewish state of all countries would set the first steps down this “road to Hell paved with good intentions”. Fortunately, I would imagine that public support for such a law is mostly limited to the ‘Haaretz readers’ audience among the secular public, close to zero among the traditional public and the minority religions, and zero full stop among the Orthodox public.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | December 2, 2012

The hideous face of state-run medicine in the UK

New Class Traitor:

At the risk of going full Godwin, this is an updated version of Pfannmüller’s “natural method” during the Third Reich:
Behold the truly hideous endgame of state-run medicine.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I’m not easily grossed out or nauseated. Heck, I’m on email lists for a half-dozen softball teams and you can only imagine the strange/filthy/nasty things that guys send to each other.

But I read a story about the death panels in the United Kingdom that left me discombobulated. I can’t even begin to describe how I feel.

Here’s the intro of a disturbing report in the Daily Mail.

Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’. Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults. But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

And here are some of the horrifying details. Read at your own risk.

One doctor…

View original 502 more words

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 29, 2012

Can one be both socially conservative and libertarian? Answer: yes

Roger Simon discusses something I had been meaning to write about. His post touches on the tension between social conservatism and the libertarian impulse.

I myself identify as both a social conservative and a small-l libertarian. The contradiction, in fact, is only an apparent one. Allow me to explain.

First of all, there is a fundamental difference between libertarianism and libertinism. Libertinism seeks not liberty but license — the license to ‘do as thou wilst’ while being fully insulated from the consequences of irresponsible behavior. Libertarianism, on the other hand, seeks to get the state out of one’s wallet and bedroom to the extent practically possible, but by definition rejects the concept of the state insulating one from consequences of one’s own irresponsible behavior.

Yes, I believe deeply in a number of values that are generally considered socially conservative, and believe society would benefit greatly if more people would strive to live by these time-proven values. But I believe in furthering them by persuasion and personal example, not by state coercion with its reverse Midas touch.

The answer of every GOP candidate when asked about social issues (other than work ethic and self-reliance, which were still considered social issues when I was young) should be this: “My beliefs are well known, but I do not believe it is the government’s task to enforce them. Now, about the federal deficit and the economy…”

Of course, here’s the flipside: if you don’t want public resources to be used to enforce your beliefs, neither should they be used to enforce those of the other side (no subsidized abortions or s3x changes, no creating a ‘protected/privileged class’ out of a s3xual preference,…). And if you want to engage in risk behaviors (be they nutritional, sexual, smoking,…) do not seek to simultaneously deny us the right to criticize these behaviors yet tax us to foot the bill for them.

And the flip side of rejecting state coercion in “family values” matters is, what ‘cousin Dave’ calls, “get[ting] government out of the business of rearranging society with its offerings of perverse incentives. ”

“Bring the state back to basics.” Even if you do believe that the state should do some stuff beyond what I call “night-watchman duties” (national defense, public law and order, border protection, international relations), as long as it cannot handle the essentials properly it should not concern itself with peripherals. One does not argue about interior decoration while the house is on fire.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 29, 2012

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…

Posted by: New Class Traitor | November 24, 2012

Saturday beauty: Jon Schmidt, “All of me”

I owe y’all a post on what the cease-fire in Israel means but am swamped with work. Meanwhile, here is a piano piece that I instantly fell in love with, played by the composer (Jon Schmidt). Some would call the style New Age piano, others neo-roots music, I might call it ‘neoclassical': by any other name, after a brief intro, you get three minutes of sheer exuberance. (For the  pianists among us, here you can view sheet music and here you can buy it.) Enjoy!


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 823 other followers

%d bloggers like this: