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Monday, October 27, 2008

MEMRI: New Iranian book denying Holocaust

MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, has released the following information about yet another Iranian Holocaust-denial initiative:
On September 26, 2008, the Iranian news channel IRINN reported on the publication, in Iran, of a 100-page book of cartoons on the Holocaust, which it billed as "tak[ing] a critical look at the great distortion of the historical event called the Holocaust, using the art of satire." The report included comments by an Iranian university chancellor, the book's cartoonist, and an Iranian cultural expert.

The news story also explained that the book "is an effort to expose the need to research the event of the Holocaust."

The following is the transcript of the report.

To view the clip, click here.

Voiceover: "The book Holocaust takes a critical look at the great distortion of the historical event called the Holocaust, using the art of satire. The book describes the history of the Holocaust and its obvious contradictions, by means of cartoons and satirical writing. It raises questions about the Zionist claims that six million Jews were murdered by the German Nazis during World War II."

Mohammad Saeed Jabalameli, chancellor of Iran University of Science and Technology: "In order to question the Holocaust, experts needed to conduct studies, but the important thing is that fundamental questions have arisen in recent years: If the Holocaust is indeed a historical event that really took place, why don’t they allow this issue to be investigated? Why don’t they let academic circles investigate this issue? This alone is an indication that it is a fabrication, with no historical validity."

Mazyar Bijani, the book's cartoonist: "[The book] contains 52 cartoons, accompanied by historical satirical writing, regarding the way the Holocaust issue arose and became connected to Palestine. The way they managed to link Palestine to the 'genocide' of the Jewish people in Europe constitutes, in our opinion, dark satire. There is no connection between them."


Voiceover: "The 100-page Holocaust book has been released in 7,000 copies."


Parvin Pour, Iranian cultural affairs expert: "Mr. Mazyar Bijani, our country’s talented cartoonist, drew the cartoons in the book, and the writing is by Mr. Omid Mehdinejad, one of our talented poets and satirist."

Voiceover: "The Holocaust is a pretext of the Zionists to occupy the land of the oppressed, fighting people of Palestine. The Holocaust book is an effort to expose the need to research the event of the Holocaust."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Become a Clergyman in the United States

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Would you like to become a minister of the Gospel ? Would you like to have a license to perform marriages ? Plus, perhaps, a Ph.D. to make it all more legit ? No problem, it seems. Google "ordination," and, with just a few more clicks on the computer (and the payment of suitable fees, it goes without saying) and voila, you are the Rev. SoAndSo. To get a Ph.D., in apparently any subject, google "Ph.D." There are plenty of businesses out there to help you. "Earn a degree in 7 days, pay in installments." What could be simpler, what could be more legit ?

The rabbinate is no more difficult to obtain than the Christian ministry. There is, to cite just one example, the Rabbinical Seminary International, which will ease you into that honor. The Seminary does, it seems, require a full day of "intensive" attendance; well, nothing is that easy.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, well known for his espousal of Good Causes and Palestinian demands, was ordained as follows, according his own website:

For ... nineteen years he pursued a course of study that intensified his knowledge of Jewish texts and Jewish mysticism, until he received rabbinic ordination in 1995 from a Beyt Din (a religious court) of 3 rabbis (each of whom had received orthodox smicha).

It would be interesting to interview those three rabbis, but their identities have never been disclosed, as far as I know.

Cyntia Ozick has examined the bona fides, or otherwise, of Rabbi Lerner. Her essay appeared in a pamphlet "Israel's Jewish Defamers," published by CAMERA just now. She has kindly made it available to our readers here.

UPDATE May 28, 2010: Rabbi Lerner bestows his Human Rights prize on (Israel is a war criminal; Hang Blacks) Richard Goldstone. Click here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ms. Cynthia McKinney

Here is Ms. Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman, now presidential candidate for the Green Party:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sabeel and Halper and Ellis

A group of Christian anti-Israel people, "Sabeel," has the support of two Jewish opponents of Israel in this video: Mr. Jeff Halper of Israel, and Mr. Marc Ellis of the United States. To hear Mr. Ellis's noteworthy oration, be sure to watch the video to its bitter end. For material on the American friends of Sabeel, see an earlier posting.

Ellis is employed by Baylor University. He has descriptions of himself as professor there and also as provost. He has furnished yet another description for his post as Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. All stress his many accomplishments, and give details of the praise he has received from famous men like Noam Chomsky and Edward Said. There are also "downloadable publicity shots of Dr. Marc H. Ellis." A more critical appraisal of him is furnished by Steven Plaut.

Update, 9/9/09: Read Plaut's new material about Ellis, Tony Judt, etc.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Truths and Lies -- The Language of Hate, ct'd.

Pravda ['The Truth'], Central Organ, Communist Party of the Soviet Union

"Werner, you LIE," a gentleman screamed at me, at everyone, at a faculty meeting some years ago. The screamer was someone I had known for years, and our children were friends. But he was a leftist, and I was not, and he didn't like my opinions on an issue that he construed as political.

I must say that I was startled even though I knew then as I know now that to extremists anyone who disagrees tends to be a "liar." Professor Noam Chomsky has been pleased to call me a "liar" and a "pathological liar," both in print and in private correspondence. The accusation that an enemy is a "liar" is also commonplace in Nazi and Communist propaganda. Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf speaks of Jews as liars as if that is no more than to be expected (p. 324 in the Manheim translation). Vladimir Lenin, the founder of Bolshevik Communism in this respect as in so many others, speaks of the "renegade Kautsky" as not only stupid and venal but also, and not least, a liar. ("The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky," originally published in 1918, is available, for instance, in The Lenin Anthology, ed. by Robt. C. Tucker, 1975).

Seldom are there mistaken opinions in the world of extremism; opinions tend to be either "correct" or outright lies. In the current debates on the Iraq war, the Left has concluded that "Bush Lied, People Died." Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post has pointed out the factual difficulties with this proposition, but whatever the factual basis or lack thereof, complex political questions, to people who are not extremists, can seldom be reduced to a simple question of truth versus lie.

Martin Luther in 1520.
Portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Before Hitler and Lenin, even before Professor Noam Chomsky, it was Martin Luther who castigated those he hated as "liars;" Chomsky and these others can justly be considered latter-day Lutherans in this respect.

Luther's 1543 work "On the Jews and their Lies" is described as follows in Wikipedia:
In the treatise, Luther writes that the Jews are a "base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth."[1] They are full of the "devil's feces ... which they wallow in like swine,"[2] and the synagogue is an "incorrigible whore and an evil slut ..."[3] He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness,[4] afforded no legal protection,[5] and these "poisonous envenomed worms" should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.[6] He also seems to advocate their murder, writing "[w]e are at fault in not slaying them."[7]
Most later commentators have pointed to a continuity from Luther's thought to that of the Nazis and modern anti-Semitism, though there is, of course, a crucial difference: Luther did not not seem to have a concept of "race" in his animosity toward the Jews. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that there are anti-Semitic sites on the internet today that promote Luther's book and make it available to the public.

But whatever the genealogy of modern anti-Semitism, which is not our concern here, it would seem that Luther -- so influential in the development of modern Germanic languages -- must be counted as one of the fathers of today's use of "lie" and "truth" in the arsenal of vituperation.

This Lutheran use of the couplet "truth" and "lie" confounds two usages of the terms, both of which are common, but which are usually kept apart.

1. The most ordinary meaning of "truth -- lie" is descriptive. "The dog ate my homework," assuming he did not, is a lie. "I never did my homework," assuming that in fact I did not, is the truth. I will call this the secular-rational meaning.

2. The second meaning of the couplet comes to us from sacred scripture. A clear example is in John 14-6: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Here "truth" is not so much descriptive as it is an affirmation of faith. Jehovah's Witnesses, speaking to one another, might ask "how long have you been in the truth ?". This is their way of asking for the length of adherence to the JW organization. ( Lynn D. Newton has compiled a glossary of Jehovah's Witness in-speech.) Similarly, "lie" is not a statement that is contrary to fact but is rather an attribute of the devil:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof. (John 8-44)
This second meaning is religious, emotive, non-rational. There is no problem in understanding this usage in a religious context, which is its natural home. But the problem with the Marxists and other extremists is that they do not provide the context in their polemics to signal clearly their non-rational meanings in their use of "truth -- lie." It would seem that these polemicists and propagandists are not themselves aware of the confusion. Their world is made up of virtue and evil, as is that of the sacred scriptures, rather than of truth and untruth in any empirical sense. Such propagandists, even when professors at prestigious universities, seem to simply confound truth with virtue (as they see virtue), untruth with evil (as they construe evil). Their mental life is different from that of people who engage in rational debate.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

American Nazis

An American Nazi rally, with participation of the KKK, Lansing, Mich., 4/22/06

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hitler's Animal Attributions

We have seen (below) the use of animal attribution in the Stalinist vilification of enemies. Here are some examples of this device in Hitler's hate message against the Jews. All quotations are from Mein Kampf as translated by Ralph Manheim, Sentry Edition, 1962, pp. 300-327.

Their [Jewish] apparently great sense of solidarity is based on the very primitive herd instinct that is seen in many other living creatures... The same pack of wolves which has fallen on its prey together disintegrates when hunger abates ... The same is true of horses which try to defend themselves ... in a body, but scatter again ...

...the [Jewish] qualities of egoism come into their own, and in the twinling of an eye the united people truns into a horde of rats, fighting bloodily among themselves.

the Jew ... is mostly found in the art which seems to require least original invention, the art of acting. But even here, in reality, he is only a 'juggler,' or rather an ape;

he was never a nomad, but only and always a parasite in the body of other peoples.

His spreading is a typical phenomenon for all parasites; he always seeks a new feeding ground for his race.

His blood-sucking tyranny becomes so great ...

... the eternal blood-sucker ..

he adds to .. financial straits .. by crawling around ..

he has squeezed and sucked their blood again and again...

With satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles ..

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Language of Hate: 1. Animal Attribution

This series of postings will look at some rhetorical devices used in extremist propaganda. In this first installment, we will look at the use of animal imagery ("animal attribution") to characterize enemies. But first some introductory remarks.

Introductory Comments on the Language of Hate

Why do people hate ? Why do they hate so much ? Why do they seem to hate everywhere ? Why do they kill for this hatred ? I have no answer and will not attempt one. But first, I must call attention to a disturbing article by Jared Diamond of UCLA in the New Yorker of April 21, 2008, "Vengeance is Ours," which tells of the deeply-rooted tradition of deadly revenge killings in a non-literate culture in New Guinea. It is a story with which we are familiar, in its manifold variations, from Nazi Germany, from Ireland, from Bosnia, from all over Africa. But Diamond's account from a culture that has no connection to the familiar racial, religious, and ethnic hatreds of Europe and Africa gives a jolt. Does it point to some sort of universal human propensity ? I will not speculate.

Back to Europe and its hatreds.

In this occasional series of postings, I hope to discuss some of the peculiarities of the language that is used by those who incite hatred. I do not know enough about the Bible, or the Greek and Roman Classics, although I have been told that hatred can be found there. At some future time I may have something to say about the hate texts of Martin Luther, say his 1543 opus On the Jews and their Lies, but this is not for now. For some postings, at least, I intend to take a look at some of the details of the Communist and Nazi propaganda of the twentieth century.

The rhetorical devices of hate of these two movements differed in important ways, but had even more important similarities. Overall, there is the remarkable violence in this propaganda: the enemy is seen as being evil in all possible ways, with the implied and often express message that he should be physically eliminated. This is perhaps the most important distinction between these extremist movements and moderate opinion. The latter can muster respect, no matter how grudging, for a common humanity of the opponent while the former will make no such allowance.

Among the devices of hate used by both Communists and Nazis in the twentieth century, there is only one that I will describe today:

Animal Attribution

It is common in our colloquial language to express disapproval by way of attributing animal characteristics or even animal identities: 'he is a pig,' 'she is a bitch,' 'a louse,' 'a swine,' and so forth. But such expressions are generally taboo is formal discourse. Not so in the propaganda of extremist movements. Here is a recent statement by Hamas about Condoleeza Rice:
With the arrival of that black scorpion with a cobra's head, Condoleezza, I began to worry that she would use her venomous fangs and hiss to kill this initiative and new spirit that we should protect.
Both Nazi and Communist propaganda used the idea that an enemy is not at all human, that he is, in fact, a vicious or dangerous, or sometimes merely ridiculous animal. On the Communist side, the speeches by the prosecutor of the Moscow show trials of the 1930's, Andrey Y. Vyshinsky, form a handy source of Stalin-era Communist hate rhetoric. In particular, I have used Vyshinsky's 1936 and 1938 court summaries, to which I happened to have easy access.

In the so-called Moscow Trials of 1936, 1937, and 1938, the Stalin government accused high-ranking members of the Communist Party of treason and disloyalty to the Soviet government. Almost the entire top level Bolshevist leadership was eventually killed by Stalin and his collaborators. Vyshinsky was the chief prosecutor at these trials (later he would represent the Soviet government at the Nuremberg trials). No serious historian today gives credence to Vyshinsky's wild accusations against his erstwhile comrades.

The trial of 1936 had Zinoviev and Kamenev as the chief defendants. Both had been top Communist leaders under Stalin. All sixteen defendants were sentenced to death and executed. Vyshinsky's prosecution summary , in English translation, is available on line.

The trial of 1937 had seventeen defendants, including the old Bolshevik Karl Radek. Thirteen of the defendants were shot, but Radek escaped with imprisonment in a labor camp.

The trial of 1938 had twenty-one defendants, all of whom were eventually killed by the Stalin government. I happen to own the 1938 English-language, official Soviet publication "Anti-Soviet 'Bloc of Rights [sic] and Trotskyites'," which contains Vyshinsky's summation for the prosecution.

Vyshinsky's conclusion in the 1936 trial was as follows:

"I demand that dogs gone mad should be shot -- everyone of them !"

As we have seen, the court obliged, and, indeed, all sixteen defendants were executed. Rarely does hate speech have such immediate effect.

Here are some other excerpts from the 1936 document:

"These mad dogs of capitalism tried to tear limb from limb the best of our Soviet land."

"Liars and clowns, insignificant pigmies, little dogs snarling at an elephant, this is what this gang represents !"

"All their bestial rage and hatred were directed against the leaders of our Party...against Comrade Stalin, against his glorious comrades-in-arms."

"We will now pass to Kamenev, the second pillar of the so-called Zinovievite group, this hypocrite 'in an ass's skin,' as he himself expressed it ..."

Here are excerpts from the 1938 document:

"And Bukharin -- that damnable cross of a fox and a swine -- ..."

"Our whole country, from young to old, is awaiting and demanding one thing: the traitors and spies who were selling our country to the enemy must be shot like dirty dogs !

Our people are demanding one thing: crush the accursed reptile"

I will seek to demonstrate the Nazi use of animal attribution in a future posting.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Comrades !

Robert Service

"Comrades ! A History of World Communism," by Robert Service, Harvard U.P., 2007

Here is a book that, at first blush, has it all: an overall treatment of Communism, written by a professor at one of the world's great universities (Oxford), published by the press of another great university (Harvard), and having an overall point of view that I share (anti-Communism).

So, what went wrong ? In a word, Professor Service's work is superficial and riddled with errors.

I enjoyed Professor Service's taking-down of the likes of Beatrice and Sidney Webb, and other fellow-travelers. In retrospect, and not only in retrospect, these cultured products of the West were more harmful to liberty than regiments of Soviet troops. But even when Professor Service is so obviously right, he goes wrong. "What inspired [the Webbs] to speak for Stalin ? .... They believed in central and state planning...." (P. 207) If only things were that simple !

I assume that the author's treatment of the Soviet Union is competent, but this cannot be said of what he has to say of the Communist parties in Western Europe and America. A seemingly small error is indicative of much that went wrong with this book.

Speaking of the famous African-American baritone Paul Robeson, Professor Service tells us (p. 278), without benefit of footnotes of any kind: "He never joined the Communist Party of the USA. (Not that this saved him from investigation by Joe McCarthy.)"

The first thing that is curious here is that Professor Service gives a nod to those -- unlike himself -- who think that the late Senator McCarthy was a far greater threat to humanity than the late Joseph Stalin. Coming from a staunch anti-Communist like Professor Service, this is a false note.

But what about the substance of the claim that Robeson never was a Party member ? How does Professor Service know that this is so ? True, Robeson always claimed, throughout his life, that he was not a member. But those who know about the American CP -- this is the main point -- also know that there always were secret members in addition to the open ones. Robeson's unfailing support of every twist of the Party line, including his support of the Stalin-Hitler pact, always led to the strong suspicion, among those who understood the Party, that he most probably was under Party discipline, i.e. that he was a member. If Professor Service has no such suspicion, I would say that he knows little about American communism.

Of course, in the case of Robeson, we can go beyond suspicion. We have evidence, from the very mouth of one of the horses, that he was a Party member: "My own most precious moments with Paul were when I met with him to accept his dues and renew his yearly membership in the CPUSA. I and other Communist leaders like Henry Winston, the Party's late, beloved national chair, met with Paul to brief him on politics and Party policies and to discuss his work and struggles." (Gus Hall, "Paul Robeson: An American Communist," published by CPUSA, 1988.)

The Robeson matter by itself is a detail. But Professor Service's complete misunderstanding of the political alignments of the 1930's is more than a detail: "But undoubtedly it was the socialists in Europe and North America who bowed lowest in their admiration of Stalin." This goes with Professor Service's ignoring of the profound anti-Stalinism of the Weimar-era SPD in Germany, of the inter-war SFIO of France (think Leon Blum !), of the anti-Bolshevism of British Labour, of the anti-Communist struggles of the CCF in Canada and the Socialist Party of the US (think Norman Thomas !).

A reader looking for further reading about, say, the French or German Communist parties will find no help at all in Professor Service's sparse footnotes. Take the rich historiography on the French CP. It seems that Professor Service is completely innocent of any knowledge here. The important "Histoire" by Courteois and Lazar is not on the bibliography. There is no title by Annie Kriegel. There is no mention of Robrieux. And, as far as Professor Service is concerned, the German scholars who spent so many years studying the KPD (Ossip Flechtheim, Hermann Weber, etc.) might as well have saved their trouble.

In short, no, this book is simply not good enough.

Monday, April 14, 2008


A place you need to see in Berlin. Even if you hadn't planned a trip there at all, you need to pick yourself up and go there, soon.

I spent six days in Germany last month. I went to witness the neo-Nazis' ("Nationaldemokratische Partei") participation in the provincial legislature in Schwerin, capital of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It was worth the trip. The six neo-Nazi members of the legislature performed right on cew, denouncing foreigners in Germany and what they thought were signs of German regret for the Holocaust. But most of all they denounced all the other political parties, who, they maintained (as their Nazi precursors had done in the Weimar period), were part of a vast conspiracy of "the system." It was my impression, as it had been before I made the visit, that the other parties are behaving well in resisting any sort of collaboration with this NPD.

But the highlight of my visit, by any measure, was my visit to Hohenschönhausen in Berlin. It is the site of the former interrogation prison of the Stasi, the secret police of the former East German communist regime. The installation had originally been built in the Nazi period as a food preparation center for the Strength Through Joy organization. After the war the Soviet secret police turned it into a detention center for political prisoners and then turned it over to its East German counterpart, the Stasi, which ran it as its notorious central interrogation center. After the Communist regime ended in 1989, former inmates began to turn the place into a memorial site and to conduct tours. (Most tours are of course conducted in German, but it is possible to arrange one in English. Click on the link above for details.)

The West has known about the horrors of Soviet interrogation techniques at least since the publication of Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" in 1940. I read that, and many other accounts since, but nothing prepared me for the immediacy of the experience of my visit to Hohenschönhausen: seeing the interrogation cells, I could feel the psychological sadism of the interrogators (who worked only at night, every night), the terror of the solitary confinement that lasted for years in some cases, the degradation of man by man. It was a life-changing experience for me to visit this site.

Last year the German film maker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck released, to great acclaim, his movie "The Lives of Others." The movie revolves around Stasi's spying on its citizens in the former East Germany. All those of my friends who saw the movie were greatly impressed. I thought that it was good, but I also thought that parts of the plot were contrived. Now that I watched some clips from it (see below), I notice that Hohenschönhausen gets a mention in the movie. The movie is in some ways unsparingly realistic, but it is of course fiction. My guide at Hohenschönhausen pointed out that one aspect of the movie is completely counter-factual: not a single case has come to light in which a Stasi operative attempted to aid a victim of the regime.

On the contrary, some of these former Stasi members are now engaged in a campaign of vilification against the memorial effort at their former torture site. The site is an official government installation and receives Berlin city subsidies. But for some years the city Senator in charge of museums, and thus of Hohenschönhausen, was a member of The Left, the successor to the East-German ruling party. His name is Thomas Flierl, and, if we trust German press reports about him, he cannot quite make up his mind whether he is in sympathy with the former Stasi or their victims.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Professor Norman Finkelstein: All Honor to Hizbullah !

Professor Norman Finkelstein advises the Lebanese to wage war against Israel. His Lebanese interviewer demurs. But Professor F. has the solution for her country: "Israel has to suffer a defeat !" Hizbullah fights Israel, unlike so many other Arabs, so it, but not the other Lebanese, is following Professor F.'s advice. It, Hizbullah, but not the other Lebanese, deserves high grades from the Professor.

Professor Finkelstein's argument for praising Hizbullah is one of analogy. He states that while he does not know much about the movement, he must nevertheless honor it for fighting Israel. Why ? Because when the Soviet Union ("no bed of roses," according to Prof. F.) resisted the Nazis during the second World War, people honored it for resisting. So now, he argues, it is Hizbullah that resists, hence it must be honored. Those who resist must be honored. Q.E.D., as they say in these Professorial circles.

What about those who resisted the Soviets ? What about those who today resist the Syrians in Lebanon ? Let me attempt to formulate a Finkelsteinian answer to such quibbling (taken, in fact, from one of his speeches): "Drop dead !"

(revised 2/21/08)

UPDATE April 2011:

Alan Dershowitz reports on new outrages: "Finkelstein advised his Palestinian admirers that terrorist groups like Hezbollah, and presumably Hamas and Islamic Jihad "has the right to target Israeli civilians…""

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who is a Rabbi, and Who is a Nun ? Caveat Emptor.

Sister Elaine Kelley

We live in a free country, and anyone is legally entitled to call himself a Rabbi, a "Reverend," a priest, a minister. All such titles and degrees are available by mail order, for little money. But who needs to buy through the mails ? You want to be, say, a priest of the Very Catholic Diocese of Utopia, be my guest. Print your cards. On the computer.

All that is well known and generally discounted by the discerning public. So it should come as no surprise -- but it did -- that being a nun, sort of, is as easily accomplished.

Out in the state of Oregon, there is a support group for anti-Israel Palestinian Christians that calls itself Friends of Sabeel. What does Sabeel mean ? Well, never mind. But it so happens that when I wrote to this group to exchange some views regarding the legitimacy of Israel, the person charged with answering my mail was Sister Elaine Kelley, SFCC. What does SFCC mean ? "Sisters for Christian Community." The Sabeel site tells us that Sr. Kelley is a Roman Catholic. But who or what is SFCC ? The Catholic Church does not recognize this group. It's strictly a home-made, self-made ploy, well, to mislead. Two items in the New York Times (1, 2) tell much of the story. OK, nothing new in this. As ever, please, caveat emptor.

Addendum, February 23: The mainline Christian group Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East has condemned Sabeel's message as anti-Semitic.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The New Nazis Speak

In this year of the 75th anniversary of Hitler's seizure of power in Germany, the new German Nazis -- "National Democratic Party of Germany," NPD -- seem well established in at least two of the provincial legislatures of the German Federal Republic: Sachsen and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MVP). Both of these provinces were part of the former East Germany. In Sachsen, the NPD received 9.2% of the vote in the elections of 2004, and in MVP it received 7.3% in 2006. The NPD has seats in both of these legislatures and uses them with very considerable skill to advance its shrill xenophobic campaign.

The remarkable video below (in German only) was taken on January 31 in the legislature of MVP in the city of Schwerin. Its shows the NPD leader Udo Pastörs deliver a harangue against foreigners in Germany. He has it in mostly for the Turkish residents of Germany, but he also pays particular attention to Jews, their synagogues, and those who pretend to be Jews in order to benefit from German social programs. His biggest enemies, for all that, are the democratic parties (as they call themselves in this context) that form the majorities in both federal and provincial legislatures. The video should be studied not only for its particular content but also, at least as much, for the oratorical style of these new Nazis and also that of their enemies.

The democratic parties, it would seem, have done a good job at keeping these new Nazis at bay. In this video, we see Peter Ritter of the Left party, and, more tellingly, Sylvia Bretschneider of the Social Democrats (who is the president of the provincial parliament) deliver strong and effective rebukes to Pastörs and his message of hate.

[addendum, 2/11/08: The original video here, which had Pastörs speaking to the legislature in Jan. of 2008, with responses from the president of the chamber, no longer seems to be available. I have substituted another video, which has Pastörs speaking a few days later, to his party comrades, at another venue. Additional videos with this gentleman are available on YouTube.]

[addendum, 2/26/08: Here is another video. This is a revealing reportage by the German "heute-journal" ( Sept. 19, 2006) of the 2006 neo-Nazi victory in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Sorry, it's all in German.]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

All the Jews Will Be Killed

All the Jews in the world, of whatever country, will be killed when Islam rules the planet. And, as is explained in a separate sermon, not by gunshot but by torture. This cheerful proposal comes to us from Sheich Ibrahim Mudeiris, speaking on the TV station of the Palestinian Authority on May 13, 2005. There are a number of his sermons that you can find on YouTube, but this one is the nicest that I found. He has a truly beautiful singing voice. Of course I have never heard an Islamic sermon before, so I cannot tell how this once compares. But the delivery here, at least, is beautiful.

Why does the Sheich talk like that ? The sermon, I was told by an American Arab, is of course hateful. But it is the "inevitable" result of Israeli policy in Gaza.

Addendum: The New York Times of April 1, 2008, carries a revealing, front-page article about the virulent anti-Semitism of Hamas.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the IFCJ

Among the more persistent intruders into my e-mail inbox there is a frequent missive from IFCJ, which I have taken to call IFcich but which its senders insist stands for an International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The missive is always signed by, or makes reference to, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. The prose, to this student of the sociology of religion, is reminiscent of Evangelical Christianity. The message invariably asks for money, and seems to insist, for reasons I cannot fathom, that I have a Christian duty to help Israel. For those who are not fortunate enough to be on the rabbi's e-mail list, the IFCJ also maintains a blog.

Who is Rabbi Eckstein ? A left-wing Israeli member of Knesset, Ran Cohen, quoted by the Jewish Week, seems to think that Eckstein is a convert to Judaism, but that is almost certainly incorrect. A New York Times writer thinks that Eckstein is the son of a "Chief Rabbi of Canada," but since I never heard of such a position in my 31 years of residence in that country as a practicing Jew, this latter press report, like the former, seems, well, spurious.

What does seem well established is that Rabbi Eckstein has quite a bona fide ordination from Yeshiva University but that he has angered many other orthodox rabbis by his inordinate communing with Evangelical Christians. On the other hand, Rabbi Eckstein has molded his IF organization into a major fund-raising group for Israeli charity. The funds seem to be mostly raised from Christians and the benefits seem to go mostly to Israel and needy people in Israel. And the big news now -- top item in the December 28, 2007 issue of the Jewish Week -- is that in return for a donation $45 million over the next three years from IF, the Jewish Agency has agreed to give Rabbi Eckstein a seat on its Executive Board. The Jewish News suggests that this deal means that Evangelical Christians and their agenda now have a say in the top councils of Zionism.

The Israeli writer Zev Chafets, writing in the New York Times Magazine of July 24, 2005, gave an informative and amusing account of the IF rabbi, although, to this reader, the article could have been stronger with a little less sneering.

There is also a quite informative piece by Marvin Schick about Eckstein. Schick is a free-lance columnist who contributes (apparently unpaid) advertisements of his pieces to the Jewish Week, and now also runs a blog.

Addendum, Feb. 18, 2008: David Brog has written a very informative book-length description of the Christian Evangelical support for Israel, together with an insightful analysis of the various Jewish responses to this effort.