Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I have written an essay that I call "Prolegomena to the Study of Jews Who Hate Israel" that seeks, not easy answers, but answers nonetheless, but mostly tries to point to ways in which we could come to a better understanding of these interesting folks. Click on the link and let me know what you think, won't you.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The Arab name for Jerusalem is Al-Quds. Al-Quds Day, for example, is observed in Iran and some other countries as a day for denouncing Israel. And then there is an Al-Quds University (AQU) in Jerusalem which is dedicated to ... well, all kinds of things, but, in my interpretation of its website, primarily to pushing an anti-Israel political agenda.
But wait, is that a fair description ? AQU has influential and powerful connections to Western institutions which would seem to foreclose any crude or hateful stance on Israel or on peaceful solutions to the Israel-Arab conflict. For example, AQU has agreements of collaboration with the Jewish Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and also with Bard College in New York, under its Jewish president Leon Botstein. ( Bard's interest, I have been told, is in building bridges with the Palestinians, in helping to improve the education of Palestinians, etc. , all aims with which I find myself in full agreement. And I suppose Brandeis would have the same kind of objectives in mind when it shares its resources and lends its good name to the promotion of AQU.)
So what gives here ?
The AQU website, unfortunately, leaves no doubt about the strident political commitments of the institution. The site's central "General Information" is a lengthy, rambling history of Jerusalem from an anti-Israel point of view. The establishment of Israel in 1948 is described as "the 1948 Nakba," using the Palestinian nationalist term meaning "Catastrophe." Beyond that, there are references to various writers and scholars all of whom seem to say that the Jews have not had a historical connection to the land of Israel, that there was no such thing as King David, that the Western Wall could not have been related to a Jewish Temple, etc. etc. Obviously, one could make some sort of reasonable case for some of these assertions. But this General Information is a piece of special pleading; it is all tied together with propagandistic glue. Whatever writings fit the parti pris is carefully adduced; whatever scholarship tends in a different direction is carefully ignored.
About two years ago there was a controversy at Barnard College about an anthropologist, Nadia Abu El Haj, whose politically-inspired writings, similarly, held that Jews have no historic claim to the land of Israel. Professor Alan Segal, also of Barnard, is an expert on the relevant archaeology and wrote a trenchant criticism of Abu El Haj. This article can also serve as a criticism of AQU's scholarship.
Over and above AQU's unfortunate and unscholarly politicization of the history of Israel, I am also worried about how it might deal with certain other matters of Jewish history. In particular, what kind of teaching is done at AQU about the Holocaust ? It might be a problem for them, judging by how they treat the issue of Jerusalem. There is a revealing article by Mikael Tossavainen on the place of the Holocaust in Arab political thinking. It sheds a great deal of light on the matter at hand.
Has either Bard or Brandeis looked into any of this ? Has either of these institutions tried to restrain their protégé in any way ? Not as far as I was able to find out. On the contrary, both Bard and Brandeis, is their public pronouncements, have nothing but praise.
That seems curious considering what we must assume to be the ordinary, customary criteria for scholarship at these institutions. It would be insulting to think, and wrong, that anything less than a critical weighing of evidence and dispassionate scholarship can win acclaim at either Bard or Brandeis. Obviously no institution is perfect, and it would be naive to think that the ideals of scholarship are always attained even in our most elite institutions. But on the other hand, no, the propaganda-as-scholarship that emanates from AQU surely could not be tolerated in our best colleges and universities, and not at B & B, on any matter other than Al-Quds. So why, why, do both Bard and Brandeis "collaborate," as they say, with this sorry institution ?
The answer, I suggest, lies in the title of this posting: Radical Chic. Of course the reference is to Tom Wolfe's classic description of the relationship between Leonard Bernstein and the Black Panthers. Bernstein catered to people that he knew, or should have known, to be brutes. Why ? He did not, fundamentally, regard them as his equals, but he wished, in his vanity, to be associated with the frisson of Black Power. He obviously did not employ standards that he would employ for educated white people when he patronized the Black Panthers with his money, his connections, and his fawning condescension. Something like that, mutatis mutandis, I see as the heart of B & B's relationship to AQU.
Monday, December 21, 2009
For the Left in France, both traditional and new, there is a bit of a dilemma: one the one hand, its politics have historically been defined by a strict secularism (religion being the opiate of the people, and all that). But on the other hand, at least since 1967, the Left (except perhaps for some groups within the Socialist Party) has also been pledged to work against Israel. Now the most anti-Israel political force of them all is that of the religious, militant Islamists. What is there for a poor leftist do: make common cause with the Islamists and be considered soft on secularism ? Or denounce the militant Islamists and be considered soft on Zionism ?
Obviously, this being a French matter, and more particularly a matter for the much-fissured French Left, there have been a number of ways in which the dilemma has been faced. A very revealing article by Jean-Yves Camus, The French Left and Political Islam: Secularism Versus the Temptation of an Alliance, surveys the field.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Americans, in their national anthem, seem to worry most of all whether their flag is "yet" to be seen. The English hope that their Queen will be "happy" (and, of course, glorious). But the French, the French, they sing about bloody banners, about throats being slit, and, most dramatically, they hope that the "impure" blood of (unnamed) enemies will fertilize their countryside.
This is what I find puzzling: the French, judged in any other way, have as humane, as liberal, as tolerant a public life as any country on earth. But how did these bloody, anachronistic, sadistic sentiments remain in their official national anthem over the centuries ?
It isn't that the gore has been unnoticed. More than a hundred years ago, Jean Jaurès, father of the French Left, protested against it. But now in 2009 the text is still with us, an official monument to ancient hatreds and ancient rancor. Why ?
Allons enfants de la Patrie, Come, children of the Fatherland, Le jour de gloire est arrivé ! The day of glory has arrived! Contre nous de la tyrannie, Against us, tyranny's L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis) Bloody banner is raised, (repeat) Entendez-vous dans les campagnes Do you hear in the countryside Mugir ces féroces soldats ? Those ferocious soldiers roaring? Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras They come up to your arms Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes ! To slit the throats of your sons and wives! Aux armes, citoyens, To arms, citizens, Formez vos bataillons, Form your battalions, Marchons, marchons ! Let's march, let's march! Qu'un sang impur May an impure blood Abreuve nos sillons ! Water our furrows!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Ya'ase Shalom, a wonderful rendition by Angelica Primero, apparently a Mexican Christian
Abide With Me
Amazing Grace (by Mahalia Jackson)
Onward Christian Soldiers
In The Sweet Bye and Bye
The Old Rugged Cross
Last, but best (strictly musically, I mean): J. Bach (& Martin Luther), Ein' Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott
Horst Wessel Song:
God Bless America !
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I have just discovered this fascinating video.
It's sort of long, but what an experience !
Earl Browder was the boss of the American Communist Party for fifteen years prior to his sudden expulsion in 1945. Why and how did this take place ? The issue is explored by John Earl Haynes: Moscow was displeased by some independent thinking on the part of Browder. He was warned by the Kremlin, ignored the warning, and was then unceremoniously kicked out.
Friday, September 11, 2009
And here, in a second video, Pastörs can be seen at greater length:
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Professor Noam Chomsky has very enthusiastic fans, and also detractors. A great deal is written about him, a very great deal. But in all this material, it is his enthusiastic endorsements that reveal the most about him. Here I mention but three such cases: Churchill, Finkelstein, and, most important, Shahak.
1) Professor Ward Churchill has been fired from the University of Colorado for a variety of misdemeanors, most conspicuously intellectual fraud. Vincent Carroll of the Denver Post gives a good outline of what needs to be known about Churchill. With all that, Professor Churchill enjoys the full support, albeit couched in Chomsky-speak, of Noam Chomsky (as reported on Churchill's website):
Without reservations, I support Churchill’s right to free speech and2. Dr. Norman Finkelstein's academic record roughly parallels that of Professor Churchill: fired for academic incompetence and for confounding extremist rhetoric with scholarship. (Click here for Paul Bogdanor's review of one of his books; click here for CAMERA's review.) But here is Noam Chomsky, calling Finkelstein "an outstanding scholar":
academic freedom, and regard the attack on him as scurrilous - and by
now craven cowardice as well, as the state authorities and other critics
pretend that the issue is (suddenly) his academic credentials and ethnic
origins. That’s a real disgrace.
As for his work, I’ve never read this article [on 9/11] and have no
interest in doing so–in fact, would not do so as a matter of principle in the present context, for reasons that go back to the Enlightenment origins of defense of freedom of speech. I was interviewed by Colorado
newspapers, and told them basically what I’ve just written. I was then
asked what I thought of his earlier work, and told the truth: that I found it serious and important, stressing again that these comments have
precisely nothing to do with the outrageous events now underway.
I have no idea what the plagiarism and other issues are, [but] if the
charges were serious, they would have been brought up before. For what it’s worth, there’s no indication of that in anything of his I read–that is, nothing more than is standard in scholarship. . . . . Such matters are sometimes raised in the context of political persecution, by cowards who are desperately seeking to conceal what they are really doing. Seems pretty transparent in this case. Why now and not before?
3. Finkelstein and Churchill are familiar to American newspaper readers. Not so Israel Shahak (1933-2001). By himself, Shahak would not at all be notable. He was an obscure instructor of chemistry in Israel, a Holocaust survivor, who, nevertheless, took it into his head that it was the Jews in history who were responsible for most of the calamities that have befallen the human race. I have reviewed his major opus "Jewish History, Jewish Religion, The Weight of Three Thousand Years some years ago; click here for this review. While some of Shahak's assertions are just funny ("Jewish children are actually taught" to utter a ritual curse when passing a non-Jewish cemetery; "both before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his hands....On one of these two occasions he is worshiping God... but on the other he is worshiping Satan..."), the bulk of his book is viciously anti-Semitic, no less virulent than the Nazis. And, indeed, all the major anti-Semitic crackpots of our day have taken him up as one of their heroes, the only truly good Jew that they can find.
And Professor Chomsky ? "Shahak is an outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value." Noam Chomsky. Whatever else there is to be known about Noam Chomsky (there is a lot), this endorsement of Shahak is, to my mind, the most revealing.
Read "The Jews Are Bad," my review of Shahak.
Monday, June 29, 2009
but Hamas itself has a different view: please see the video on my posting just below.
So it would seem that Professor Chomsky, at least on this particular issue, is mistaken. Well, nobody, not even at MIT, can be 100% right all the time.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Members of this sect have been in New York City within the last week, picketing Jewish synagogues, among other places, declaring that "Jews Killed Jesus," "God Hates Israel," etc.
About a year ago the BBC had its film maker Luis Theroux go to Topeka to do this hour-long documentary on these folk.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
"Derg" is a Ge'ez word meaning committee, and was used by Ethiopian Marxists to describe their regime, some twenty years ago. But more than Karl Marx, it was Norbert Wiener (seen here in a portrait by Alfred Eisenstaedt) who inspired the characters in this story.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
It is notoriously easy to claim to be "for peace." Adolf Hitler himself made this claim, but not many today give it credence. On the other hand there does seem to be a market for a claim scarcely more credible, viz. that the random killing of civilians can be an instrument not only of peace but of a "just peace."
In the city of Vancouver on the west coast of Canada, a place where I lived for more than thirty years, a small group of people call themselves "Jews for a Just Peace." Some of these people are personally known to me. Some of them are indeed Jews but others are clearly not. At any rate, this JJP grouplet is devoted to denouncing Israel and praising those Arabs who make war on Israel. All that is fair enough if it weren't for the group's truly remarkable endorsement of random killings of Israeli Jews.
For some four years now, and despite repeated complaints, these self-styled proponents of a "just peace" have called for random, terrorist attacks in the streets of Israel.
In an "Open letter to Jews in Palestine" (their term for Israel), signed Khalid Amayreh, JJP warns that all Jewish civilians deserve death; in particular, they maintain, there is no such thing as a "personally innocent" Jew who lives in "Palestine" (i.e. Israel).
You, the Jews or Zionists (whatever you like to be called) have narrowed our horizons so much that you have made us feel that only two "choices" are available to us; either to die as suicide bombers or be slaughtered as sheep.
Therefore, I can dare say that blood of the "personally innocent victims" of the bombing is primarily on the hands of Sharon, Benalizer, Peres and other members of your diabolic government of assassins and war criminals
I won't give you the benefit of the doubt. I would be an idiot if I did.
This "Letter" is emblazoned with JJP's logo: a stylized dove of peace. A picture of the pigeon of death would be more truthful.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Times of London
Now Michelie Renouf has hired the Australian Holocaust-denying lawyer Frederick Toben to represent The Most Reverend Williamson in his various legal and ecclesiastic travails. Ms. Renouf and Dr. Toben were members of the renowned Fact-Finding Committee On The Holocaust, appointed by the 2006 Iranian conference that found that the Holocaust never happened.
Now, don't misunderstand this arrangement. It is definitely not true that all these nice folks are anti-Semites. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ms. Renouf, for example, has said that she is definitely not anti-Semitic, no way, but she does allow that Judaism is a "repugnant and hate-filled religion."
Read more in the Times of London
Read the e-mail correspondence between Davie Irving and Richie Williamson
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
These are the seven whose statements I have seen so far:
1) Cardinal Karl Lehmann (Mainz)
2) Archbishop Reinhard Marx (Munich)
3) Archbishop Werner Thissen (Hamburg)
4) Bishop Joachim Reinelt (Dresden-Meissen)
5) Bishop Franz-Josef Bode (Osnabrueck)
6) Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke (Hamburg)
7) Bishop Gebhard Fürst (Rottenburg-Stuttgart)
The German news service Tagesschau carries most of the details. The particularly strong statement by Cardinal Lehmann, demanding an apology from the Vatican, is reported by swr.de.
The Europeans are up in arms about the Vatican's rapprochement with the Catholic anti-Semites of the SPXX. Not so the Americans.
The New York Times's expert on religious affairs, Peter Steinfels, reports that American bishops have kept mum on that SSPX affair, in which Pope Benedict has revoked the excommunication by his predecessors of the] SSPX sect (see NYT, 1/30/09).
In sharp contrast, European bishops, at least one cardinal, and many lay Catholics and Catholic publications have sharply criticized this Vatican rapprochement with the SSPX. And not only Catholics. Europe's most famous daughter of a Protestant pastor, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has weighed in courageously.
The French and German press brings more details and commentaries on a daily basis. Since I read only German and French, I cannot comment on what the press of Italy, Spain, etc. may contain. But from what I see in Le Monde of France and Tagesschau of Germany, it appears that many prelates in Europe were moved to distance themselves from the Vatican and to reaffirm their solidarity with the Jewish community. The liberal press in these countries, which is often highly critical of Israel, nevertheless seems unanimous not only in condemning the old-fashioned anti-Semitism of the SSPX crowd, but also in expressing surprise that the Vatican has taken this startling initiative to placate SSPX.
These European liberals, obviously, have agendas of their own. In France, for instance, some of the SSPX folks were found among the ultra-right Front National; historically, the sect has been identified with the Petainist right wing in French politics. Moreover, the Vatican has annoyed the liberals again this week by appointing a right-wing auxiliary bishop in Austria, a certain Gerhard Maria Wagner, apparently against the wishes of the Austrian hierarchy. European commentators also point out that Benedict, while showing great indul;gence toward his right-wing, remains resolutely hostile toward the liberal and left-wing forces in his Church. English-only readers may wish to consult the English-language version of Der Spiegel, which recently featured a background article.
But, as is the case with Chancellor Merkel, European reaction cannot be reduced to political or theological liberalism. She is, remember, head of the CDU, the conservative party of her country. Hers is now the most conspicuous criticism of the Pope. She has publicly demanded from Benedict XVI that he explain clearly: is it or is it not acceptable, to deny the Holocaust ? According to Tagesschau, the Vatican has responded as follows: we have nothing to explain.
Now President Obama --- has he said anything ? I actually don't know.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Catholic Culture describes his charming opinions:
In an interview with an Italian newspaper yesterday, Father Floriano Abrahamowicz, spokesman for the Society of St. Pius X in northeastern Italy, called the Jews “the people of deicide.” Insisting that the Society is not anti-Semitic-- “it’s truly impossible,” he said, “for a Catholic Christian to be anti-Semitic”-- Father Abrahamowicz nonetheless came to the defense of Bishop Richard Williamson’s “imprudent” comments on the Holocaust. Father Abrahamowicz added that he does not know how many Jews died in the Holocaust and whether the gas chambers were used for purposes other than disinfection.
The priest added, “If Bishop Williamson had gone on television to deny the genocide of 1.2 million Armenians by the Turks, I don’t think that all the newspapers would have talked about his statements in the same terms they’re using now. Who has ever talked about the Anglo-American genocide in the bombing of German cities? … And the Israelis certainly can’t tell me that the genocide they suffered from the Nazis is less serious than that of Gaza, simply because they’ve taken out a few thousand persons, while the Nazis took out six million. This is where I fault Judaism, which exasperates rather than honoring the victims of genocide decently. It’s as if there were only one genocide in history, that of the Jews during the Second World War.” The Jews, he added, are “the people of deicide.”
What does the Pope think ? The Jesuit magazine America carries a disquieting article. It suggests that the Pope is preparing a full-fledged rehabilitation of the SSPX people, essentially on their terms. Its seems that the notorious anti-Semitism of the SSPX seems to bother the Pope less than their ultra-conservatism pleases him.
Read also: Deborah Lipstadt's coverage of the SSPX story
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Mit dem Kreuzestod Christi ist der Vorhang des Tempels zerrissen, der Alte Bund abgeschafft, wird die Kirche, die alle Völker, Kulturen, Rassen und sozialen Unterschiede umfasst, aus der durchbohrten Seite des Erlösers geboren. Damit sind aber die Juden unserer Tage nicht nur nicht unsere älteren Brüder im Glauben, wie der Papst bei seinem Synagogenbesuch in Rom 1986 behauptete; sie sind vielmehr des Gottesmordes mitschuldig, so lange sie sich nicht durch das Bekenntnis der Gottheit Christi und die Taufe von der Schuld ihrer Vorväter distanzieren. Im Gegensatz dazu behauptet das II. Vatikanum, man könne die Ereignisse des Leidens Christi weder allen damals lebenden Juden ohne Unterschied noch den heutigen Juden zur Last legen (§ 4).This is an excerpt from a letter sent by Fr. Franz Schmidberger to the Roman Catholic bishops of Germany in October 2008. Fr. Schmidberger is the German head of that very Society of St. Pius X (SSPX -- see previous posting) whose members have now been re-admitted to full communion in the Roman Catholic church by Pope Benedict.
With the death of Jesus on the cross, the old covenant is abolished. The Church now encompasses all peoples, cultures, races, social classes. With that, not only are the Jews of our days not "our elder brethren in faith," as the Pope maintained in a visit to a Rome synagogue in 1986. They are, rather, guilty of the murder of God, insofar as they do not embrace the divinity of Christ and accept baptism, the only actions that would distance them from the guilt of their forebears. But Vatican II maintains, wrongfully, that the sufferings of Jesus cannot be attributed either to the Jews of His days nor to the Jews of our days (§ 4).