Eric Cantor

My well is dry today, as you’ve probably noticed, but I can highly recommend this article about Rep. Eric Cantor.

Hat tip:  Soccer Dad, who isn’t blogging right now, but who is still paying attention.  (Once a political junkie, always a political junkie.)

Israel, American Jews, American Christians and a whole bunch of other stuff too

I struggled for a few minutes to find a clever title for this post that would convey the volume of information I’m about to download from my brain, but realized I couldn’t.  A laundry list description will just have to do.

You see, last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Hanukkah party that the NorCal chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted.  What wasn’t surprising was that conservative Jews attended the party.  What was surprising was that they came from all over the Bay Area. Apparently the opportunity to get together with fellow conservative Jews is a beguiling one, even if one has to travel a hundred miles or so to do it.

What was even more surprising, and was also tremendously heartening, was the number of non-Jews who attended out of a feeling of solidarity with Israel.  It was a reminder in the flesh of the fact that America’s tiny percentage of Jews, standing alone, cannot account for America’s (not the administration’s, but America’s) long-standing support for Israel.  That strong support comes about because America’s Christian population respects and believes in that small, democratic Jewish state, a nation surrounded by hostile forces inimical, not only to Israel, but to America as well.

Another draw for the party was the speaker:  syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray.  I’ve enjoyed Joel’s writing for years, and hoped that he’d be as delightful a speaker as he is a writer (some writers, sadly, do not translate well to the spoken word).  Happily, he exceeded my expectations.  He’s a charming speaker, offering everything you’d hope for:  pleasant voice and cadence, good sense of humor, a well-informed mind, and an easy verbal lucidity.

Joel spoke about the situation in Israel today and he was surprisingly optimistic.  He says that Israel is enjoying an extremely prosperous time right now, with a growing economy and a significant lack of terrorist violence.  The targeted killings in the West Bank and Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, and the Hezbollah War all served, temporarily at least, to quiet the terrorists and give Israelis a respite. Further, the setbacks to Iran’s nuclear program, especially Stuxnet, have given the Israelis (not to mention the Arab nations around them) some breathing room.

Israelis fully understand, though, that this is merely a respite, rather than a lasting peace.  A nuclear Iran is an impossible-to-contemplate game-changer, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world.  The Israelis are planning accordingly, both defensively and offensively.  In other words, they are being smart, rather than burying their heads in the sand.

Most of the questions in the room expressed concern about Iran and about President Obama’s manifest hostility to and disdain for Israel.  Joel believes (and I agree) that Obama will not go too far in undercutting Israel should the bombs start to fly.  He also believes (and I agree) that Americans will support Israel.  The other countries will huff and puff, in a very ugly way, but they too will be happy should Israel succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear pretensions.  As Joel pointed out, the situation in North Korea is a useful illustration of the impossible Hobson’s choice that arises when you have a rogue nation armed with nuclear weapons.

I asked Joel about American Jewish voting trends in the 2012 elections.  He said that, except for those implacably wed to liberalism, signs are good for a shift away from the Democratic party.  (To which I’ll add that we can only hope that American Jews finally start living up to their reputation for intelligence.)  It occurred to me that the recent attacks against Glenn Beck, charging him with antisemitism because he is going after George Soros, may be a preemptive attempt to keep the Jews on the Progressive reservation.

After Joel’s speech, I got the opportunity to talk to some old friends and some new ones.  One of my old friends asked me an excellent question:  What is it with the self-loathing Jews?  My response to him is that they are desperately trying to deflect attention from themselves.  “You say you hate Jews?  Well, so do I.  Heck, I hate them even more than you do.  So if you ever feel like attacking Jews, you can just ignore me.”

From that, we talked about how supportive American Christians are of Jews and Israel.  My friend opined, correctly I think, that part of the reason American Christians identify strongly with Jews is because American Christians are versed in both the Old and the New Testaments.  He pointed out that, in Europe, the Old Testament is virtually ignored.  Not only does that mean they hear only that part of the Bible hostile to Jews, it also deprives them of the ability to understand and appreciate the Jews’ rich history and their deep ties to the Holy Land.

Barbara Tuchman, incidentally, makes a similar point in her wonderful book, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, about the philosemitism that characterized the Jewish upper classes in the years leading to the Balfour declaration.  Because they were steeped in the Old Testament, the Brits, while they wouldn’t dream of dining with a Jew, thought it was a fine thing to reestablish a Jewish nation in the ancient homeland.  Nowadays, between oil and Leftism, it’s hard to imagine a Britain that doesn’t waiver between vicious and virulent antisemitism, but that wasn’t always the case.

It was truly a revitalizing evening.  Not only was Mowbray’s cautious optimism comforting, it was a very real pleasure to be in a room full of Jews and non-Jews alike, all of whom share a deep commitment to liberty and individual freedom, whether exercised in America or abroad.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Helping American Jews learn to give Sarah Palin the love she deserves

Israel has no greater friend than Sarah Palin.  She has shown repeatedly that she has a deep and abiding respect for the Jewish state, and that she understands the existential stresses under which it survives.  Benyamin Korn gets this and, despite incredible derision from Jewish Democrats, has begun working to build a Jewish coalition recognizing Sarah’s myriad virtues vis a vis Israel.

As part of Korn’s effort, he has started a blog site called Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin.  The website needs a bit of polishing, especially since the newest posts seem to be appearing at the bottom, not the top, which makes the site look stale, rather than vital.

That’s cosmetic stuff, though, and easily fixed.  What matters is the substance here, which is that Korn is trying to get American Jews past their superficial prejudices (“she’s from Alaska;” “she speaks funny;” “she didn’t go to an Ivy League college;” “she belongs to a fundamentalist Christian sect;” etc.) and instead to look at the woman’s substance.

I don’t know whether Sarah is ready to be president, whether she is electable (given how much the Left’s hatred permeates society, infecting people who are casual about their politics), or whether she is actually presidential material.  Only time will tell.  What I do know about Sarah is that she is a truly admirable American, many of whose values resonate with me and with most Americans (even those prejudiced Jews); that she is a bone-deep philosemite, whose appreciation for Jews extends to the state of Israel; and that she is a political powerhouse who cannot and should not be ignored.

So, please, check out Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin.  Help make it a vital, much-read website.  American Jews, how have long been on the receiving end of unthinking prejudice, need to expand their minds.  They need to leave behind a Left that is increasingly, and openly, antisemitic, and they need to look to their true friends.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

How Journolist and Oliver Stone each serve to highlight the other’s insanity

While the MSM would clearly like the whole Journolist discussion to vanish (as evidence by the fact that I haven’t found mention or, at least, prominent mention of it in any traditional print media), the fact  remains that it’s out there and it’s ugly.  The bits and pieces we’ve seen show major journalists and their academic counterparts to be petty, irrational, paranoid and illiterate, which really isn’t what you want in the journalist class of a healthy democracy.

While I’m sure that not all of the 400 participants necessary showed all, or any, of these behaviors at all, or any, times, it is sufficient that a critical mass showed these behaviors and personal failings at significant times — such as the times in 2008 that they were actively engaging in massaging the news to ensure that their chosen candidate had a clear path to the White House.

What’s also disturbing for me about the Journolist is the fact that so many of its members have Jewish names.  You’ll notice my careful phrasing there.  I don’t know if they’re actually Jewish or not.  I don’t know if those who are Jewish actually practice the religion.  And of those who practice the religion, I don’t know whether they practice the religion in a way that has traditional religious resonance, or is just the Jewish liberal bow to Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and the Sabbath candles.  As to the latter group, assuming it existed on the Journolist, it’s easy to claim religion when you just go through the rituals.  It’s a little harder when you try to align your Torah with the Democratic handbook and the Alinsky rules for living.

I mention the Jewish thing here, not because I want to feed the minute, but venomous, Patrick Buchanan wing of the conservative party, but because it’s such a perfect foil to the latest lunacy from Oliver Stone.  During an interview with London’s Sunday Times, Oliver Stone — who is planning a helpful miniseries to put Hitler and Stalin “in context” — let loose with some old-fashioned antisemitic venom (emphasis mine):

The 10-part documentary [which Stone is planning] will address Stalin and Hitler “in context”, he says. “Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.”

He also seeks to put his atrocities in proportion: “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30m.”

Why such a focus on the Holocaust then? “The Jewish domination of the media,” he says. “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f***** up United States foreign policy for years.”

Goebbels couldn’t have put it better.

What’s so funny, in a sick, sad way, is that, looking at the Journolist, it really does seem as if there is Jewish domination of the media — except that the Jews doing the so-called domination are completely in sync politically with Oliver Stone.  They’re all left, left and more left.  They’re just all too dumb to realize that, when you get as far Left as Stone, the antisemitism stops being coy little references to capitalism, Israeli imperialism and Palestinian victimhood.  Instead, it becomes the active antisemitism that travels from Chavez’s attacks on Jewish businesses, to Stalin’s periodic kangaroo court purges and suppression of religion, to Hitler’s final solution.  (And I mention those three Leftist antisemites here because Stone specifically speaks of them as either admirable or misunderstood, or both.)

If you want to get away from “Jewish domination” and get into a more balanced media, with representatives of all sectors in American society you have to go to the conservative media.  There, you’ll find as mixed a bunch of people as you can ever hope for:  Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Hindu, Jewish, Atheist, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim (a few), male, female, gay, straight, and some I know I’ve forgotten or haven’t even imagined.

These truly diverse voices part ways on some issues, especially social ones, but they remain remarkably unified on the core principles that have always defined America (whether not America has always been successful in practicing these principles):  small government, small taxes, maximum personal freedom, equal justice under the law for all American citizens, and strong national security.

Anyway, if you’d like more information about the journalists on the Journolist, I highly recommend this article on Noisy Room, which gives a clear indication of their media preeminence (and, therefore, their power to influence public opinion).

Calling out Obama on Israel

The fact that American Jews overwhelmingly support Obama tells us something:  American Jews no longer support Israel.  It’s that simple.

The soft life in America has sucked the brains out of American Jews *UPDATED*

American Jews supported Barack Obama in numbers second only to American Blacks.  They still support Obama.  This is because the soft life in America has sucked out their brains.  How else can one explain that they continue to support him despite things like this:

Washington’s unprecedented backing for a UN resolution for a nuclear-free Middle East that singles out Israel has both angered and deeply worried the Jewish state although officials are cagey about openly criticising their biggest ally.

The resolution adopted by the United Nations on Friday calls on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and urges it to open its facilities to inspection.

It also calls for a regional conference in 2012 to advance the goal of a nuclear-free Middle East.

Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with around 200 warheads, but has maintained a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its capabilities since the mid-1960s.

The document, which singles out Israel but makes no mention of Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, drew a furious reaction from the Jewish state who decried it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical.”

But it was US backing for the resolution which has caused the most consternation among Israeli officials and commentators, who interpreted the move as “a resounding slap around the face” which has dealt a very public blow to Israel’s long-accepted policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Publicly, the Israel government has not criticised the US position but privately, officials expressed deep disappointment over the resolution, which Washington backed despite intensive Israeli efforts to block it.

According to the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily, the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “furious with the Obama administration for having failed to prevent the resolution from passing… and for choosing to support it.”

Read the rest here.  I knew this was coming down the pike, but I’m still shocked to see it actually happening.  One wants to shake these foolish, ostensibly sophisticated American Jews and say, “Enough with your misplaced intellectual arrogance.  Bush may have said ‘nuculer,’ but Obama says ‘corpse-man’ — and, worse, much worse, he will destroy Israel despite the fake sophistication you keep pinning on a man with an empty brain and a Marxist, antisemitic heart.”

I continue to believe that Obama will be a one term president, but I’m hoping one term is short enough to keep him from destroying the Jewish nation.

UPDATE:  I guess Jews like this answer my rhetorical question about Jews’ willingness to support the American president who is trying to destroy Israel.

Meet Leftist, non-Jewish Jew: Marcy Winograd

A few days ago, I mentioned Robin of Berkeley’s American Thinker piece about the two different types of Jews in America:  the kind who are reflexively liberal and reflexively pro-Israel, and the kind who are reflexively Leftist and reflexively hostile to Israel.  Robin’s point was that the former do not understand that they have put themselves to bed with the latter, and that the latter own the White House.

I raise Robin’s point here again because Calif. Rep. Jane Harman, who is falls in the first category of Jews, is being challenged by Marcy Winograd, who is most aggressively in the second category of Jews.  Jeffrey Goldberg, who is also in the first category, interviews Winograd, and it’s very scary to look inside her mind.  What’s even more scary is that it’s possible she’ll win the Democratic primary.

The two types of Jews — and their support for Obama

Robin of Berkeley hits a home run — actually, she hits it right out of the park — in this post explaining the two different types of Jews who support Barack Obama.  One type is the type I used to be, an unthinking liberal, who actually loves America and strongly supports Israel.  The other type of Jews is a hardcore Leftist who is Jewish in Name Only (a JINO?).  It is important to understand the distinction, so that you can understand who and what Obama is, and where “Jews” or, rather JINOs, fit in the grand scheme of things.

Coughing up the Kool-Aid

Sometimes, things just come together.  After shamefully neglecting my facebook, I checked in today and got a letter from a friend, asking why non-Jewish Americans should still support Israel when both American and Israeli Jews have so consistently made bad choices in support of that nation.  It’s a good question, and one that deserves an answer.

Interestingly, I had at my fingertips some answers to the question about poor Jewish and Israeli choices, since it was a big topic at a gathering of Marin conservatives that I attended last night, many of whom were Jewish and some of whom were Israelis.  The bad choices have truly come back to haunt Jews and Israelis, and it’s worth analyzing them in the hope that we can shift this poisonous paradigm back to rationality before it’s too late.

So, I offer to you the ideas party guests advanced regarding the abysmal policy and ideological failures American and Israeli Jews have supported in the last 20 or so years.  (By the way, idea numbers one and two came from Neocon Hippie, a frequent visitor to this blog.  He had a third, equally good idea, but I simply can’t remember what it was as I sit here now.)

1.  American Jews, like most Americans, wrongly believe Hitler was a right winger, rather than a totalitarian.  They’re therefore scared of right wingers.

2.  American Jews, like most Americans, wrongly believe Hitler was backed by the church.  They’re therefore scared of Christians.

3.  American Jews, like most Americans, have fed too long at the trough of moral relativism.  They are hampered by the fact that they cannot understand that fighting for evil is different from fighting for good.  To them, fighting is fighting.  Likewise, to them, peace is peace, even if it’s the Roman desert version.

4.  American Jews, like most Americans, believe that people are rational actors and that, if you just talk nicely to them, and explain why their behavior is wrong, they’ll get in line behind you.  They cannot understand fanaticism.

5.  American Jews attend college in disproportionate numbers compared to the rest of the population.  American colleges and universities are true cesspools of ideological thinking and factual misinformation.  In other words, Jews are more, rather than less, likely to be entirely misinformed about the situation in the Middle East.  (This might actually have been Neocon Hippie’s third idea.)

Israeli Jews have, of course, suffered from precisely the same line of loopy liberal thinking (including the perverted university education), a situation even worse by the fact that the nation was founded as a socialist experiment.

Nevertheless, as the last election in Israel showed, staring death in the face is starting to shake up Israeli Jews.  I’m very optimistic about the fact that Bibi, who is a hard headed realist, and a terrorism expert, is going to lead the government.  I’m also, in a weird way, optimistic about the fact that Obama is appointing more and more fiercely anti-Israel people in his administration.  Israel is going to start thinking about her survival in a very clinical fashion, unhindered by an administration that was theoretically friendly to Israel but that, guided by Condi Rice, was incapable of following through on that support.  The collective political intellect, dulled by American protection, is going to toughen up, and that’s probably a good thing.

The bottom line for me is that the current situation will force both American and Israeli Jews to finally start regurgitating the poisonous, ill-informed, multicultural, morally relativistic Kool-Aid they’ve been drinking for so many decades.

So don’t give up on them yet.  There’s still hope.

Remembering when Jews were popular

One of the things that was most obvious about the Mumbai massacre was the extraordinary effort the attackers — who were ostensibly upset about the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir — made to kill Jews.  Not only did they seek out Jews in the hotels, they planned carefully and in advance to attack the single Jewish outpost (Chabad house) in that entire city of 20 million people.  Then, once they got their hands on those Jews, they subjected them to torture so horrible, even doctors hardened to death and suffering found it indescribable.  For more on the manifestly deliberate attack against the Jews, you might want to read this Dennis Prager column, which spells out the evidence that the terrorists specifically targeted Jews, and seeks to find a reason for that tactic.

What many have noticed in the wake of the Mumbai horror is the way in which the mainstream media has been downplaying two things:  First, the Islamist nature of the attack, to the point at which media writers got incredibly excited by the fact that one — yes, folks, one — of those involved was actually Indian and not Pakistani.  I think that this raises the faint hope in media minds that the guy was Hindu (pardon me while I giggle incredulously here) and not Muslim.  Second, the media has been trying very hard to pretend that Jews were not a deliberate major target in this attack on a city of 20 million Indians and 50 Jews.  The media prefers that Americans don’t notice that the killers were trying for their own little Holocaust, wiping the Jews off the Mumbai map.

In an interesting rumination on this last point, Mladen Andrijasevic wonders if the New York Times, which led the charge for this “Jews, what Jews?” idiocy, is underestimating or correctly gauging New Yorkers’ Juda-philism or Juda-phobism:

Has The New York Times got it right? Has the feeling of being in the center of the universe on a late Saturday evening in the West Village or Upper West Side near ZABAR’S, cleaning up the various unwanted sections of the just arrived Sunday edition, has this feeling of being alive made all New Yorkers insensitive and inhuman? How is it possible that millions of New Yorkers read this obvious lie and did not react? Is it ignorance, is it habit, is it stupidity or is it just cowardice? How spineless can you be?

At least the New York Times has a certain bizarre subtlety to its “who cares about the Jews” approach.  Not so the UN, which is gearing up for its annual hate-fest against the Jews, an exercise that attracts increasingly lower levels of attention from around the world.  Not only has it gotten rote (“yeah, yeah, the UN hates the Jews”), but many nations like to nod their heads in agreement (“well, of course they’re hated, because their an evil, apartheid, imperialistic Nazi state”).  All of which makes me a little bit nostalgic for my youth in the late 1960s and 1970s.

If you were around in those decades, you’ll remember a time when America was in love with all things Jewish. Popular culture was awash in hugely successful books, songs, and shows that reflected favorably on American Jewish culture. For example, when I was a kid, everyone read and quoted from Dan Greenberg’s incredibly funny book, How to be a Jewish Mother. I had a friend who would just double over with laughter every time she thought of the appropriate Jewish mother response if she comes into the living room and finds her daughter necking on the couch with a boy: “Leave this house and don’t come back until you’re a virgin again.”

Another great (hugely) popular Jewish book of the 1960s was Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish, a book that is a dictionary, a joke book, a cultural history, and a religious history book all rolled into one. (If you haven’t read it yet, you should.)

Anyone over forty also remembers Allan Sherman, the guy who became famous singing “Hello, Muddah; Hello, Faddah” and other ridiculous lyrics to familiar music? His records are still available, but in the 1960s they were a cultural phenomenom.

Certainly, no one needs to be reminded of what an enormous hit Fiddler on the Roof was: smash Broadway show, hit movie, and revival after revival. It still does get revived periodically (as was the case in 2004 in New York), but can you imagine it opening as a first run show now, in the same world that lauds a show about Rachel Corrie?  I certainly can’t.

So much of the entertainment world generally had a Jewish gloss, with the popular entertainers of the 1920s still held in some degree of reverence during my childhood and youth. Tin Pan Alley, and Broadway, after all, were heavily Jewish (Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rogers, the Gershwin brothers, Moss Hart, George Kaufman, Lerner and Loewe, and on and on and on).  Indeed, just today I heard Tommy Dorsey’s “And the Angel’s Sing,” and was reminded of the wonderful Klezmer influence on Big Band music.

Pop culture comes and goes, and I certainly don’t mind — indeed, I think it’s a good thing — that other cultures are getting their moment in the pop culture sun. What I do mind, dreadfully, is how hostile so much of the world is now to things Jewish. Rachel Corrie is a martyr, anti-Semitism is popping up all over, churches boycott Israel, and the New York Times pretends that it was mere coincidence that the lone Jewish enclave in Mumbai was singled out for an attack that surpassed all the others in sheer brutality.  I miss the time when the Jews were a beloved people, and their culture a thing to be enjoyed and admired.

I also miss the fact that Western culture, especially America, once looked fondly on Israel too.  Israel was not then an evil, imperialist, apartheid, Nazi state.  Instead, it was viewed as a plucky democratic nation, made up of survivors from Pogroms, the Holocaust and refugee camps, that had bravely beaten back the nationalist Arab bully boys. Israel was David to the Arab world’s Goliath. Israel was also tremendously admired for turning a blighted desert into the land of milk and honey, for its successful socialist experiments (in the form of the Kibbutzim), and for its sponge-like ability to absorb Jews who were still being harassed and murdered in the Arab world.

Still, speaking of Israel, I am reminded that the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish poison has been seeping into our culture for a long, long time now.  Back in 1974/75, Ephraim Kishon, an Israeli humorist (and Holocaust and Communist survivor), wrote a very funny short story called “Unfair to Goliath” (contained in a book of the same name). I can’t find my copy right now but, if I remember correctly, Kishon used the David and Goliath analogy that was so frequently popping up then in reference to Israel, and blended it with the murmurings about how Israel somehow had an unfair advantage over those poor, densely populated, oil rich Arab nations that were perpetually attacking her. It’s a funny story, but sadly prescient.

American Jews

Contentions blog has a short post about the Jewish vote for Obama.  I wrote a comment to that post, and share it with you here:

American Jews aren’t really Jewish anymore.  With regard to Prop. 8’s success in California (preserving male/female marriage), I told a disappointed Jewish acquaintance, who was blaming “fanatic” Christians, that most religions had male/female marriage as a fundamental tenet of the religion.  “Not my religion,” he said.  Who knew that Moses came down from the Mountain with a commandment mandating gay marriage?

In the same vein, another liberal Jew of my acquaintance, when I expressed concern that gay marriage could be used as a wedge for polygamy, assured me that this was no problem because “we always had polygamy until it became illegal.”  He was taken aback when I pointed out that the last legal polygamy in Judeo-Christian culture was at the time of the Biblical Patriarchs.

As I said, whatever American Jews are, they’re not really Jewish.

Americans hire Palestinian textbook authors

The title of my post is not true.  But it could be, which is really, really sad:

American elementary and high school textbooks contain many “gross misrepresentations” of Judaism, Christianity and Israel, according to a book-length study released this week by the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

“It is shocking to discover that history and geography textbooks widely used in America’s elementary and secondary classrooms contain some of the very same inaccuracies about Christianity, Judaism and the Middle East as those [used] in Iran,” the IJCR said in a summary of the findings of the five-year study.


Among the “outrageous misrepresentations” the study found was “a denial of the Jewish roots of Jesus,” as when the textbook The World relates that “Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus.”

“Textbooks include negative stereotypes of Jews, Judaism and Israel,” the authors write. “For example, textbooks tend to discredit the ties between Jews and the land of Israel.”

According to Tobin, “you’re much more likely to learn about Jewish terrorism before the founding of Israel [in the textbooks] than about terrorism against Israel since that time.”

Among the claims made about Israel in some of the textbooks are that Arab countries never initiated wars against Israel, Arab nations desire peace while Israel does not and that it was Israel that placed Palestinians in refugee camps in Arab lands, not Arab governments. No mention whatsoever was found relating to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were forced out after the establishment of Israel.

In their treatment of Judaism, too, the textbooks showed a negative bias, according to the study. They often expressed a view that “Jews and Judaism are legalistic,” and that “Jews care only about the letter of the law and ignore its spirit,” the study found. The Jewish God is presented as “stern and warlike,” and not compassionate, as is highlighted in other religions. In some instances, Jews are charged with deicide in the killing of Jesus.

Not all religions are treated equally, of course. Guess which religion comes in for special reverence?

“Textbook publishers often defer completely to Muslim groups for their content [on Islam] because they want to be sensitive to Muslim concerns,” he explained. “So they write that Mohammed is a prophet of God, without the qualifier you should have in a public school that shows you’re teaching about religion, rather than teaching religion.”

One example among the many cited in the study is in World History: Continuity and Change, in which a glossary entry on the Ten Commandments describes them as “Moral laws Moses claimed to have received from the Hebrew God Yahweh on Mount Sinai.”

The same glossary describes the Koran as a “Holy Book of Islam containing revelations received by Muhammad from God” – without a conditional qualifier.

This makes me heartsick.

Hat tip:  Richard Baehr

McCainiacs thinking outside of the box

In 1980 (and again in 1984), Ronald Reagan won in significant part because traditionally Democratic voters abandoned their party to vote for him. Those same “Reagan Democrats” have shown up frequently in the news today.  Indeed, McCain is specifically targeting those same people and demographics.  US News & World Report explained back in May:

As the Democrats struggle to select their nominee, John McCain is quietly finalizing his fall strategy. One of his goals will be to attract white working-class and culturally conservative Democrats who supported Ronald Reagan and now have their doubts about the Democratic presidential candidates, especially Barack Obama. This trend was particularly clear in the May 13 primary in West Virginia, where Obama did poorly among such voters. “The Reagan Democrats are in play more than they’ve been in a long time,” says Frank Donatelli, a senior official at the Republican National Committee and former White House political director for Reagan.

I have my doubts, though, about McCain being able to replicate precisely the same Reagan Democrat trend that occurred in the 1980s.  Don’t get me wrong — I think this is another election that will see renegade Democrats tilt the balance in favor of the Republican candidate (color me hopeful).  I just don’t think it will play out on precisely the same lines as before.

For one thing, back in 1980, the Democrat in question had a record on which to run and, boy, was it a depressing one.  Carter’s ineffectual waffling almost certainly aided the Shah of Iran’s downfall, and his manifest weakness when it came to the situation in Iran was a green light for the Revolutionaries to seize American hostages and to lord that fact over the former super power of the world.  Old-time northern Democrats may have liked their unions, but they liked American strength and security even more, and they weren’t about to put their faith in this pathetic American leader a second time.

The economy also suffered mightily under Carter’s tender economic ministrations, which relied heavily on high taxes and high government spending.  Even long-time Democrats who believed in an expanded and strong central government could see that this approach wasn’t working.

Carter was also so damn equivocal.  He seemed to have no fixed principles whatsoever.  A friend of mine  once tried to explain his waffling away by saying that Carter was an engineer and that he constantly recalculated things every time a new piece of data came along, thereby rendering himself completely ineffectual.  That explanation sounded plausible back then, but I’ve come to believe that, in fact, Carter actually doesn’t now and didn’t then have any fixed principles.  Be that as it may, Ronald Reagan, with his cheerful personality and his strong moral and political beliefs, was a welcome antidote to the vacillating, weak, grim boob occupying the White House.

Obama, unlike Carter, has virtually no record whatsoever on which to run — and this means virtually no highly visible political record that is repugnant to voters.  It’s only by the most diligent digging that people who care have managed to find out information about his politics.  And the sorry fact is that too many people don’t care.  We who peruse blogs believe that all other Americans share our heightened interest in politics.

I suspect that the opposite is true.  Most people are headline readers:  They might scan Drudge, but their news major intake may be limited to reading the cover and back page of Time Magazine while waiting in the checkout stand at the grocery store.  And, perhaps, they watch the first 5 or 10 minutes of the nightly news.  If those are indeed their sole news sources, they keep hearing that Obama is fresh, that he’s brilliant, that he’ll change things — and since things don’t seem so hot right now, and since Bush is not an overwhelmingly popular President — change can only be for the better.

It is true that people are beginning to figure out that all is not as it seems in Obama-land.  He’s pompous, he’s egotistical, his affiliations range from the silly to the scary, he’s ill-informed, he is an unprincipled vacillater, he’s hostile to many traditional American values, his politics come from the far Left end of the political spectrum, he misspeaks with almost unusual frequency, etc.  But again, that news is only slowly trickling into the awareness of the average voter, especially since the mainstream media is assiduously working overtime to protect Americans from Obama’s less savory and flattering aspects.

All of the above is McCain’s first problem in courting conservative Democrats:  Obama is a cipher and, while that’s not good, it’s better than being one of the worst Presidents ever.  In other words, Reagan got lucky that he was running against Carter.

The second problem, and one that I think is even more serious than the first, is the fact that, in many communities, conservatives have been run underground in a way that was inconceivable even in the politically polarized 60s and 70s.  Those decades were still transitional periods, during which traditional values, which still held sway in such cultural markers as the media and schools, were being given a good run for the money by the new Leftists, and were also starting to appear in the media and in schools.  This meant that a lot of the old time Democrats were rethinking their political allegiance in the face of new Democratic politics that, increasingly, had little to do with FDR’s New Deal, and a lot more with Moscow’s old deal.  There was, therefore, a great deal of fluidity that we don’t have now.  This fluidity meant that there was room for open public debate within people’s own communities.  This flux and freedom allowed for political movement.

Things are different now.  Conservatives slink around, afraid of public attacks and social isolation (something I’ve blogged about here and here).  In Hollywood, which has the most visible, vocal liberal community in America, departing from the prevailing liberal orthodoxy can spell career death.  (See here, here and here for articles spelling out what’s going on in Hollywood.)  Liberals speak with increasing frequency of prosecuting political speech with which they disagree, and have resorted to thuggish tactics to suppress donations to conservative causes.  If you’re reading this, I probably don’t have to remind you of the way in which conservative speakers are either barred entirely from America’s campuses or are harassed and attacked.  This is not a fluid time politically.  It’s one that is very fixed.

What all of this means is that people who have historically self-identified as liberal, and who live and work in liberal communities, are very isolated.  They don’t feel as if they’re part of a movement.  The younger ones are especially hampered by a culturally dominant belief that Republicans are hate-filled old fogies who want to suck money away from poor people in America and who keep KKK hoods hidden in the back of their closets.

The problem, then, in true Blue Communities is to give conservatives positive visibility.  In this way, the ones who waver can look around and think, “Hey, I didn’t realize What’s His Name was also thinking of voting for McCain.  We ought to get together and talk.”  There’s really a heady rush that goes along with discovering that you’re not alone, especially if you’ve made a rather painful journey from one end of the political spectrum to another.

I discovered I wasn’t alone in Marin when I bravely journeyed out to my first Marin for McCain meeting.  I learned at this meeting that at least half the people there were former Democrats and that, of those, half of them are scared to let anyone know about their political transformation.  Significant parts of the organizational meetings, therefore, are given over to brainstorming ways to convince Marin’s shy neo-cons (or anti-Obamites) that it’s okay to be a conservative.  I wanted to share with you some of the thinking outside of the box that goes on at these meetings as we work to break through the monolithic liberal attitude that pervades Marin, and other Blue communities.

My favorite suggestion, and one that I think will play well all over America, is to co-opt the concept of Flash Mobbing.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, here’s the Wikipedia definition:  “A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse.”  The idea is a good one right off the bat since the flash mob concept is closely tied to emails and text messaging — it therefore has a young feel to it.

A conservative flash mob could work this way:  Politically active conservatives would agree to show up at some agreed-upon location (a mall or a farmer’s market) wearing their McCain t-shirts.  There’s wouldn’t be anything threatening about these appearances.  That is, the conservatives wouldn’t group together or do cheers.  Instead, they’d just be there, at the mall or the farmer’s market, in their McCain shirts, showing local residents that McCain voters actually exist.  Someone would then take photos of these McCainiacs wandering through the mall or mulling over the fresh fruits and vegetables, and send these photos to a website — providing further proof that conservatives exist in Blue regions.  For the conservatives who show up, there would be a wonderful feeling of camaraderie.  And for those who hear about it and see the pictures, there would suddenly be a visible reminder that they are not alone.

Other ideas for enabling conservative Democrats to become McCain Democrats include using bloggers like me, with stories of breaking away from the computer and working for the McCain campaign; making the McCain headquarters a welcoming place for police and firefighters by offering food, drink and toilet facilities for them; finding local conservative musicians (they do exist), to liven up the campaign headquarters; taking out silly ads in local newspapers (with the latest idea for our dog crazy community being an ad showing dogs in McCain way); and handing out free M&Ms to remind people that Marin is for McCain.

As I said near the start of this post, I believe quite strongly that, as the election draws near, more and more people will be become frightened of Obama and back away from him.  (Or if Hillary comes back, enough people are already frightened of her to render that avoidance prophecy true.)  The challenge is to get these frightened people to take an affirmative step.  They shouldn’t just avoid voting for Obama; they must vote for McCain.  And its our job in the coming months to make that, for them, very big step, as easy and fun as possible.

If you have ideas that can entice those old Reagan Democrats into becoming McCain Democrats, let the active McCain supporters know.  You can email me at Bookwormroom*at*, or just contact your local Republican or McCain headquarters.  Don’t be shy.  It’s fun!  And it’s for an awfully good ’cause if you don’t want to see a scary repeat of the Carter era.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Barack Obama’s antisemitic buddies *UPDATED*

I’m sure you won’t be surprised that many Obama supporters are new-fashioned Moonbat, Leftist antisemites. What you may be surprised to learn is that Obama’s official blog (not some sycophantic blog that an Obama groupie sets up on his own initiative) plays host to some of the worst antisemitic canards out there. LGF provides just one specific example, but discovered that this example is anything but unique. Charles Johnson also quickly bats down the idea that Obama can’t be held responsible for his more loony-toons admirers:

By the way, it is absolutely no excuse to say that “anyone can post a blog there.” Barack Obama isn’t running a Blogspot blog, he’s running for president of the United States, and his official web site is full of hatred and antisemitism.

Incidentally, what do you bet that, by tonight, Obama’s minions will have scoured the website and erased all these hate-filled rants? Considering that these rants apparently have had a long and “honorable” existence at the site, this erasure will arise, not because Team Obama thinks they are wrong (in which case they would have erased them sooner), but simply because of the bad publicity. And of course, if Obama is asked about them, you know what he’ll say, right? “These are not the supporters I thought I knew.”

In the face of Obama’s well-scripted perplexity, people ought to be asking this question: What is it about your message that makes these people think (correctly) that, until caught red-handed, you and your team will be untroubled by this hate-filled garbage? Could it be the antisemitic Pastor, affiliated with an antisemitic church? Could it be the legion of advisers, each jettisoned once scrutiny got too intense, each of whom chose the wrong side in a completely binary, existential debate about Israel’s fundamental right to exist? Or could it be something even bigger, which is the fact that, once you become a member of the far, far Left, the loonies are going to hunt you down and attach themselves to you?

Who knows? All I know is that Obama has a Jewish problem because his mentors, advisers and followers have a problem with Jews.

UPDATE: Hah! Less than two hours since I wrote my prediction above, and Obama’s campaign has activated the memory hole. And just in case, they’re making the memory hole a permanent feature:

They’re also now blocking Google’s cache from saving their pages. And they’ve also removed their pages from the Internet Archive and the Coral archives.

They’re running scared, and they’re trying to make sure that when they throw a post down the memory hole, it stays there.

UPDATE II: Charles Johnson is smoking today. Turns out that Jemaah Islamiyah is also a proud Obama supporter, and has used Obama’s official website to tout that fact. Johnson has started the memory hole countdown on this one too.

UPDATE III: Okay, Johnson isn’t just smoking. He’s on fire. Within the seconds since my last post, he’s come up with another post on Obama’s own website discussing the fact that Israel was, in fact, behind 9/11. (It’s really impressive, when one thinks of it, how Israel got 20 fanatic Muslims from Saudi Arabia to cooperate with it, but you know those sneaky Joos, right?)

UPDATE IV: Turns out that, as Johnson suspected, the Jemaah Islamiyah post was a spoof. However, it revealed something interesting: the powers that be in Obama blog-world were monitoring submissions as they came in. Some — such as Jews Against Obama, which was the spoofers first try — got rejected. Apparently all the other stuff, though, including one that could have been from Jemaah Islamiyah, was okay with them.

UPDATE V: see-dubya, writing at Michelle Malkin, sees the same thing I do: Obama, like a fruit-fly riddled with pheromones, sends out strong signals attracting these loony tunes. It’s also interesting, as see-dubya points out that, at the very least, this “young, savvy” political operative hires technical incompetents who allowed this to happen.

UPDATE VIPosts are not moderated; groups are.  Some of the groups let in were pretty nasty.  All have been purged — purged not because they were nasty to begin with but because, the ordinary, unenlightened, non-groupies, discovered their existence.

Israel, Jews and Obama

Mona Charen provides ample evidence proving that the 61% of American Jews who claim to support both Israel and Obama are suffering from dangerous cognitive dissonance — and she didn’t even include the mere 24 hours it took for Obama to flip-flop on Jerusalem.

Ch-ch-ch-changes come again to England

It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything this sad. It comes from the Church of England’s own newspaper:

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims. Perhaps most importantly the government has chosen to allow hard-liners to act as representing all Muslims, and more liberal Muslims have almost completely failed to produce any leadership voices to compete, leading many Britons to wonder if there are indeed many liberal Muslims at all, surely a mistake.

At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland’s aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

While men-only gentlemen’s clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging ‘Muslim women only’ sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day — a Monty Pythonesque scenario of lunacy, but astonishingly true. Prisons are replete with imams who are keen to inculcate conservative Islam in any inmates who are deemed to be culturally ‘Muslim’: the Prison service in effect treats such prisoners as a cultural block to be preached to by imams at will. Would the Prison service send all those with ‘C of E’ on their papers to confirmation classes with the chaplain?! We could go on.

The point is that Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast, at the same time as demography is showing very high birthrates. Charles Taylor’s new and classic work on the Secular Age charts the rise of the secular mindset and what he calls the ‘excarnation’ of Christianity as it is levered out of state policy and structures. Christianity is now regarded as bad news, the liberal elite’s attack developed in the 1960s took root in the educationalist empire, and to some extent even in areas of the church.

Today the Christian story is fading from public imagination, while Islam grows apace. There needs to be some fresh thinking in this area where the claims of Christ are sensitively explained. Our church leaders must develop ways of explaining this, as our feature on mission and evangelism this week demonstrates.

Thirty years is a long time and things can still turn around – but the combination in England of inertia and hostility to the old establishment are so strong that it’s unlikely that any one will have the energy to make the change.

England once was pagan (Celtic and Roman), then Christian (early Christians), then pagan again (those Vikings and Danes pushing against the nascent Christian movement), and then well-and-truly Christian, a status that lasted more than a thousand years.

England’s Christianity was extremely significant to the entire Western world. Its empire — and its Christian values — touched everything. Indeed, its Christian values are the genesis of the United States of America, both because of the influx of disaffected British Christians who came here (bringing their dissident, but still very British beliefs) and because of the way the Founders interpreted their British-inspired religious beliefs.

Now, it looks as if England will be newly incarnated as a Muslim nation. I fear that this new religious identity will also shape our Western World.

One last thought on the subject: I suggest that Britain’s Jews get the Hell out of Dodge while they can still do it on their own terms. Otherwise, they may find themselves either quite dead, or forced out with the clothes on their back, as already happened to 20th Century Jews who were unlucky enough to live in Muslim-dominated countries after the fall of the British Empire.

Hat tip: LGF

Words — meaningless words

Alan J. Lerner said it best:  “Words, words, words!  I’m so sick of words.  I get words all day through, first from him now from you.  Is that all you blighters can do?”

When it comes to Jews, Ed Lasky shows just how hollow Obama’s words of love are:

Barack Obama has also said that “…nobody has spoken out more fiercely on the issue of anti-Semitism than I have”. To which, ABC News journalist Jake Tapper asked “Really? No one? Elie Wiesel? Simon Wiesenthal? Alan Dershowitz? No one? Wow.” we find any evidence of this in Barack Obama’s past? Did he try to dissuade Pastor Wright from bestowing an award on Louis Farrakhan, one of the most notorious anti-Semites in America? Has he shown any movement in the Senate to deal with the issue of foreign aid to the Palestinians, whose texbooks and media regularly espouse anti-Semitism? The Muslim world is rife with anti-Semitism and petrocrats and theocrats are using billions of dollars to promote and spread that virus.

Yet Barack Obama has also made promises to them. To convene a summit, to listen to their “grievances”. Apparently, one of their grievances is not just the existence of Israel, but also the existence of Jews (and Christians and Hindus). He wants to, to use the vernacualr, hear them out.   He has also indicated that he has served as a bridge to reconcile the Jewish and African-American communities and that he hopes, as President, he can facilitate such a rapprochement, that he has been the foxholes with his Jewish friends, presumably fighting anti-Semitism.

Have we seen any evidence that he has ever attempted to do so in his past 20 years of activism? There are myriad organizations that have attempted to heal the wounds, to abolish the friction, to close the chasm that has too long existed between the African-American and Jewish communities. Has he been a member of any such organizations, an active member? URLs, please-not just assertions from Chicago campaign supporters. Conversely, there has been an abundance of news item highlighting his ties to the Pro-palestinian, and anti-Israel,  community over the years.

It’s true.  The media blithely reported — nay, chided the Jews for not accepting — Obama’s love letter to the American Jewish community.  But so far as I know, with the apparent exception of Jake Tapper in his own little ABC blog, not one single MSM outlet has asked the questions Lasky is asking:  Aside from professing endless love today, Sen. Obama, what precisely have you done to bridge the chasm between Jews and Blacks?  What precisely have you done to fight antisemitism?  What precisely have you done to ensure that Israel is not utterly destroyed by the 250 million Arabs surrounding her?  And if you can give an answer to each of the preceding “what” questions, Mr. Obama, please go on to explain the whens, wheres, and hows.

As I indicated above, reporters used to be taught as a fundamental of journalism that every journalist, in reporting on a story, should ask and answer several compelling questions:  What?  When?  Why?  How?  Where?  When it comes to Obama, however, reporters have reduced their whole profession to just one question.  When Obama says jump, they ask “How high?”

Obama and the Jews

I read an interesting pair of articles today — bookends, if you will — that discuss Obama’s increasingly tortured relationship with American Jews.

The first, by Sabrina Leigh Schaeffer, notes two things:  first, Obama’s Israel-friendly rhetoric and, second, his numerous associations with people who are openly antisemitic and actively hostile to Israel. What thinking people have realized is that, because he has no Senate record to speak of, his rhetoric is just that — talk. However, his associations are actions. These are the people with whom he has chosen to spend time, from whom he has sought advice, and they represent the intellectual area in which he feels comfortable. From a Jewish perspective, they are not nice people:

While Reverend Wright’s anti-American and anti-Semitic ravings captured the attention of the public for weeks, it’s simply his theatrics that appear to make him the most repellant of Obama’s friends. The senator has tried to dismiss Wright as a “crazy uncle,” but if you take a closer look at the crowd the senator runs with, it appears he has a whole lot of crazy relatives to disinvite from dinner.

It was widely circulated that Wright supported — and even publicly commended — radical black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan. Yet little has been said about Sen. Obama’s relationship with Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Catholic pastor at St. Sabina, also on the South Side of Chicago. In 2004, Obama told the Chicago Sun Times that Pfleger was one of his three spiritual mentors.

Pfleger’s name became more widely recognizable two years ago when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed a Farrakhan aide to serve on a hate-crimes commission. When the appointee, Sister Claudette, refused to denounce Farrakhan’s racist and anti-Semitic remarks, three Jewish members on the commission resigned — a situation that prompted Pfleger to respond, “good riddance.”

No less reprehensible than Reverends Wright and Pfleger is the Obama campaign’s national co-chairman, retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, who has made numerous anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments. While the general has a long blame-Israel-first record, the most repugnant remark came during a 2003 interview, when he blamed the Jewish-American community for the failure of the peace process between Israel and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.Despite calls on Senator Obama to remove McPeak as a key adviser, the general continues to serve on the campaign.

Obama’s support among radicals in the Palestinian community — and even from Ahmed Yousef of Hamas — has not gone unnoticed. In fact, in 2003 Obama helped honor Rashid Khalidi, a well-known critic of Israel and advocate of Palestinian rights, at a celebration where anti-Israel poetry was read and the United States was sharply criticized.


Last month, another concerning relationship came to light between the Obamas and Hatem El-Hady, former chairman of the Toledo-based Islamic organization Kindhearts for Charitable Human Development — a group shut down in 2006 for raising money for Hamas. Until recently, El-Hady had a personal website on the official Obama campaign site and Michelle Obama was listed as one of El-Hady’s three “friends.”

What’s really impressive is that the above list is incomplete. It neglects others such as Robert Malley, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samantha Power, to name just a few more off the top of my head.  In other words, once you ignore what Obama is saying — and these words are not backed by any history or action — and start looking at what he’s doing, you see that he hangs with and seeks advice from people who are antisemitic and actively hostile to the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

That was one article.

The second article was one in the New York Times and it’s very different.  It’s entitled Many Florida Jews Express Doubts on Obama, and it makes clear that the problem isn’t Obama, it’s the Jews.  The article talks about how many of the Jews won’t vote for him because he’s black, it talks about the silly rumors that some Jews raise, it talks about Obama’s nice speeches on Israel, and it glosses over Jeremiah Wright entirely.  It mentions Jesse Jackson as an example of a black man who is antisemitic.  However, the one thing the article assiduously ignores is Mr. Obama’s apparently compelling need to surround himself with people who hate Jews.  While the article’s phrasing is friendly, folksie even, it is, in fact, a nasty swipe at Florida’s elderly Jewish community and a puff piece aimed at resurrecting Obama’s reputation with Jews who are seriously concerned about a man who talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk.

What the New York Times has written doesn’t come close to being journalism.  It’s a mean little piece of propaganda aimed at deodorizing a nasty smell that just keeps wafting up from its chosen candidate.

Disingenuous Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman, man of the New York Times, writes to assure American Jews that Obama is no threat whatsoever to Israel’s security.  His column is a nasty little piece of work, not for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say.  It opens with a series of scare quotations purported from Barack Obama, all about the tragedy of the Palestinians, the two state solution and the need for Israel to turn over the territories it captured in the 1967 War.  Then Friedman says, “Surprise!  George Bush really said all that.”  If you love George Bush, he implies, you’re going to love Obama.

Friedman also draws a few overarching conclusions from those Bush scare quotes, all of which are wrong to one degree or another:

What does that tell you? It tells me several things. The first is that America today has — rightly — a bipartisan approach to Arab-Israeli peace that is not going to change no matter who becomes our next president.  [Well, it’s going to have to change because the history of the last eight years — no, make that the last 16 years — has shown that the bipartisan approach doesn’t work.  The parties’ goals are too different.  Israel wants peace and a two-party state (if the latter will get that piece); the Arabs want the destruction of the Jewish state and the death of all Jews.  Not a lot of negotiating room between those two poles.] America, whether under a Republican or Democratic administration, is now committed to a two-state solution in which the Palestinians get back the West Bank, Gaza and Arab parts of East Jerusalem, and Israel gives back most of the settlements in the West Bank, offsetting those it does not evacuate with land from Israel.  [See my comment above.  The two-state solution was tried in the 20s when the League of Nations created Tran-Jordan, which was to be the Arab State.  It was tried in the 40s, when the UN took the Jewish half of that 1920s effort and halved it again.  Apparently the two state solution means that you constantly cut the Jewish state in half until it doesn’t exist any more.]

Of course, the above blather is just Friedman’s throat clearing.  The real reason Obama will be better for Israel is that Arabs will like him and be more inclined to bargain with him:

But what matters a lot more is that under Mr. Bush, America today is neither feared nor respected nor liked in the Middle East, and that his lack of an energy policy for seven years has left Israel’s enemies and America’s enemies — the petro-dictators and the terrorists they support — stronger than ever. The rise of Iran as a threat to Israel today is directly related to Mr. Bush’s failure to succeed in Iraq and to develop alternatives to oil.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Friedman that Arabs like Obama better because they think he’ll give them a better deal than they’ve gotten so far.  That is, it’s not about respect, it’s about the perception that he’s a pushover.  I wonder what could have given them that idea?

Could it be that Jeremiah Wright, his now-jettisoned spiritual adviser, is openly antisemitic?  Could it be that Samantha Power, his now-jettisoned foreign policy adviser, was openly hostile to Israel?  Could it be because Robert Malley, another now-jettisoned foreign policy adviser, engaged in talks with Hamas, a group dedicated to Israel’s complete and total destruction?  Could it be because Obama thinks it’s totally okay for the U.S. President to put his prestige on the line to talk to Ahmadinejad without preconditions, even though that puts a U.S. imprimatur on Ahmadinejad’s domestic and foreign policies, legitimizes someone whose primary dream is the nuclear destruction of Israel, and raises the distinct possibility that Obama will be forced into some very unpleasant concessions to save face?  Could it be because Obama has shown himself to be singularly uninformed about history and the nature of interactions with tyrants?  Could it be because Obama, with his statement about Iran’s “small” size, has shown himself to be profoundly unaware of the nature of asymmetrical warfare?  He seems unclear on the concept that, if airplanes into the Twin Towers really upset Americans, a nuclear bomb in Seattle will upset them even more.

Somehow Friedman never answers those questions.  Heck, he never even asks those questions.  The one thing Friedman does is imply that Jews who care about Israel’s security are un-American:

Personally, as an American Jew, I don’t vote for president on the basis of who will be the strongest supporter of Israel. I vote for who will make America strongest. It’s not only because this is my country, first and always, but because the single greatest source of support and protection for Israel is an America that is financially and militarily strong, and globally respected. Nothing would imperil Israel more than an enfeebled, isolated America.

In fact, nothing would enfeeble America more than to treat as an equal partner the worst kind of genocidal tyrant — a man who has blood on his hands from 29 years ago, who is overseeing the development of nuclear weapons, who has threatened the complete destruction of another nation state, and who is imprisoning his own people in a theocratic Hell.

I used to read these types of articles in the Times and think the writers were foolish or naive.  I simply can’t hold to that view any more.  These are people who are deliberately twisting and hiding the truth to advance an agenda that would destroy the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East and advance the spread and agenda of religious tyrannies whose words and actions make absolutely clear their intent to seek world domination, one Jewish and/or American body at a time (although it would be better if they could use the bomb and do it by the hundreds of thousands).  That can’t possibly be in America’s interests.  (And as better writers than I have carefully pointed out, if Israel were to go away, the jihadists would still be at our throat, only with renewed vigor, since we’d have shown that we’re weak enough to be destroyed.)

Jews don’t vote Republican

When I was growing up, my best friend had the most wonderful grandparents. They were an incredibly flamboyant Polish couple who escaped the Holocaust because the woman was so charming she was able to talk the Nazis into letting them leave (with the help of some diamonds as bribes). He was pretty charming too, not to mention a dynamo.  He made fortunes for the thrill of it. He’d start with nothing in one industry or another, turn it into a million dollar concern in a few years, and then sell it off so he could have the fun of starting all over again.

Still, no matter how wonderful people are, age is going to creep up on them. These two got older and deafer and a little more confused with every passing year. Their digestive systems, too, started wearing out. The doctor recommended that they increase the fiber in their diet. He further recommended that, to do so, they start eating more vegetables. I’ll never forget the grandmother’s response to this suggestion, delivered in her rich Polish accent: “Ve’re Jews, Dahlink. Ve don’t eat vegetables!” It was incredibly funny, but it was also foolish.  There is, in fact, no predetermined correlation between being Jewish and eating (or not eating) vegetables.

I often think of that lovely old lady when I hear Jews says, essentially, “We’re Jews. We don’t vote Republican.” As with her statement about vegetables, there is no predetermined correlation between Jews and being conservatism. There’s nothing in the Bible that states “Thou shalt not vote for a Republican.” Nor has any rabbinical Biblical interpretation ever envisioned that God mandates Jewish allegiance to the Democrats. This is nothing more than a 60 year political preference that got locked in with Roosevelt.

Things may finally be changing, though, and, funnily enough, someone viewed as something of a Messiah is bringing about this religious transformation. Thoughtful Jews are becoming dismayed by Obama’s predelection for Iran, and the nasty habit he has of choosing advisers who run the gauntlet from being reflexively anti-Israel to being almost overtly antisemitic.

Richard Baehr, that insightful observer of the political scene, has this to say about a possible sea change in Jewish voter identification:

Jews who care about Israel have many reasons to have concerns about Barack Obama, pretty much all of which have been laid out in the American Thinker in a series of exhaustively researched articles by Ed Lasky.every national survey that has been taken comparing the parties on this issue. Of course, some Jews do not care about Israel very much, and those Jews can find a comfortable home in the Democratic Party, where support for Israel is far lower than among Republicans overall in

In any case, with Obama a risk on Israel and untested in matters of national security and foreign policy, and with the Republicans offering John McCain, a long time strong supporter of the US-Israel relationship and a man, whose entire career provides a definition of the words “tested” and “experienced”, it is no wonder that those Jews who choose this year to finally vote Republican will have a lot more company than they might have in the past.

You can read the rest of his excellent analysis here (complete with some pretty fascinating poll numbers).

Praying for the Jews

Perhaps it’s because I’m not very religious, but I’m completely unoffended by the Pope including this language in his Good Friday prayer: “Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.” As long as it doesn’t become coercive, I have no problems with the Christian and Mormon impulse to have others share their version of their Good News. Indeed, I find it a very generous impulse.

Of course, if the Pope had said “Let us all round up and torture the Jews until they convert” or “Let us all deprive Jews of any civil rights and liberties until they die or convert” (both of which are the very old-fashioned Christian approach and the current Muslim approach), I might be screeching a different tune. As it is, while I appreciate the prayers to try to save my soul, I’ll politely decline the implied offer to convert and say, instead, that I’ll continue on my Jewish way and take my chances before God himself at the end of days.

But we stood by them in Selma!

My post title imagines what I bet a lot of the older generation of Jewish Americans will think when they learn about the latest campaign tactics from the party that knows how to do identity politics. Steve Cohen, whose name is a giveaway as to his Jewishness, is running for reelection in Tennessee’s 9th District. His opponent is Nikki Tinker, whose name is not a dead giveaway but who is in fact black. An African-American minister who does not reside in the 9th District has decided to become involved in the campaign. Here’s his campaign poster, a copy of which ended up mailed to Cohen himself:

Truly, I don’t think either Hitler or Torquemada or the Mufti of Jerusalem or Father Coughlin could have done any better than that in terms of sheer, old-fashioned appeals to antisemitism as a way to manipulate the masses. It is a disgusting piece of work. More than that, Tinker, who is clearly no belle, isn’t lifting a finger to disassociate herself from this vile garbage:

What does Nikki Tinker think about anti-Semitic literature being circulated that might help her unseat 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen in the Democratic primary next August?

A fair question, which Tinker declined to answer this week after a flier stating that “Steve Cohen and the Jews Hate Jesus” began circulating in Memphis.

The question goes to the character of the woman who wants to represent the 9th District, and 9th District voters deserve an answer. But Tinker declined to return a phone call about the flier.

“Of course we wouldn’t have anything to do with that,” said Tinker spokesman Cornell Belcher, referring to a flier that has been denounced by the Anti-Defamation League.

” … We’d be interested in denouncing this sort of nonsense as well but, again, we haven’t seen it.”

That’s a great excuse, isn’t it? “I can’t comment on antisemitism as a tool in the political race because I haven’t actually touched the piece of paper on which the antisemitic sentiments are written.” Clearly, this is a woman who takes personal responsibility seriously (and that was meant to be snide, not straight).

This same editorial notes that this is not the first time that Cohen’s not-blackness has been used against him, although it is the first time the antisemitic card has been played in this way:

Inciting tension between African-Americans and Cohen was the aim of several members of the Black Baptist Ministerial Association who took Cohen to task last summer for his support of federal hate crimes legislation. The real motive behind the attack was revealed in later comments by at least one of those involved.

“He’s not black,” said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, “and he can’t represent me, that’s just the bottom line.”

My first thought when reading this, which is reflected in my post’s title, is that when I was growing up, Jews took very personally the antisemitic sentiments that, I am sorry to say, have long permeated large segments of the African-American community. And they take it very personally for a specific reason, and it’s not because all of us (blacks and Jews alike) are minorities together. It’s because Jews feel that, when blacks began to agitate against Jim Crow, once one got outside of the black Christian communities, it was Jews who took up that banner just about as aggressively as anyone could. Jews threw themselves into the Civil Rights movement and it pains them beyond belief that those whom they view as the beneficiaries of their efforts and sacrifices have turned on them in such an exceptionally nasty way.

Aside from being visible evidence of the black/Jewish schism in American, one that continues to mystify Jews, the flyer also shows the reductio ad absurdem of identity politics. Although we do not live in a theocracy or a race-ocracy, that’s precisely how this Democratic race is being played out. If you’re black, don’t bother your pretty little head with difficult thoughts about Tinker’s politics, beliefs and capabilities, as opposed to Cohen’s. Instead, rest easy and vote for Tinker because she’s black and Christian and against Cohen because he’s white and Jewish.

This type of electioneering tactic is not only disgusting, it’s demeaning to the African-Americans who are the intended recipients of this type of garbage, since it circumvents any appeals to their higher reasoning. It’s also unsurprising and, in that regard, the Captain sums it up about as well as can be said:

Once again, the Democrats find themselves in the position of playing racial, ethnic, and now anti-Semitic politics. We have seen it at the grassroots level now, and at the highest levels of the party, especially from the Clinton campaign. Small wonder that a relatively low-level officeseeker feels comfortable in using these tactics in 2008, given the example Bill Clinton has provided already this year.

We’ve [meaning “conservatives” listened to insults from Democrats for years for far less than this.

What I have to say is that, if you select chickens solely by the color of their feathers, and without regard to their egg-laying capabilities, when those chickens come home to roost, you’re going to end up with a visually impressive coop that produces nothing but chicken poop.

Obama, Israel and the Jews

If you’re a liberal Jewish voter, and tremendously excited about Obama’s candidacy as the fulfillment of the civil rights movement, slow down, Pardner.  Jews have always assumed that, because they supported the civil rights movement with enthusiasm and hard work, there would be a quid pro quo by which blacks, recognizing Jews as fellow victims, would be equally supportive of Jewish issues.  Jews have held to this viewpoint despite regularly occurring proof of the fact that African-Americans, perhaps resentful of having to share the “victim” limelight with the Jews, are not supportive of Jews or Jewish causes.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in Obama himself, a man who has aligned himself with anti-Semitic churches and causes his entire adult life.  If you think this will change when he reaches the White House, I would suggest that you think again.  And if you believe that Israel, a small island of democracy surrounded by hostile tyrannical nations should exist without anyone questioning her legitimacy, you may not want to vote for Obama.  (Of course, if Israel’s security matters to you, you also might want to rethink any vote for Hillary, either — not just because she mouths the usual liberal pieties about a Palestinian state, but because she kissed Suha Arafat immediately after the latter spouted vicious antisemitic lies.)

Judeo-Christian doctrine and moral freedom

I did a post yesterday in which I quoted from an interview with Michael Cappi regarding the fact that Islam, unlike Judaism or Christianity, is not a religion that concerns itself with broader moral issues that rise above mere tribal law. I’d actually made precisely the same point in an earlier post, here. In connection with this most recent post, however, I got the following comment, which I reprint here verbatim, and which I thought was absolutely fascinating:

this person became interested in islam for what ? to embrace it or to pick, and nick and misquate,and then on top pour all the filth on islam with the likes of Rushdie, Ali Sana,Ali Hersi etc the so called humanists who have nothing to offer but nothingness,while islam comes with the full package, and answers for all your problums and they can not stomach it.they know that islam has tasted rule and one who tastes it wants it at any cast,and these poor humanist and winging liberals will be the loosers. their ways and rules have every one in mess , the biggest problum man faces is , alcaholism,the answer is in islam,gambling, again the answer is in islam,pornography,and degrading of your sisters and mothers,the answer is islam,rape ,every year over 20000 your sisters are raped in Amercia just alone,you aply the islamic law and the rate will be 0.01%,while on the other hand the law of these human wishy woshers allow the rapest to get a few years in jail where he fed and made even stronger so when he gets out he goesand rapes the other sister. shame on you ,keep listening to these devils and you will loose your daughters wholesale. so come on people look at islam your self and avoid these wingers and scare mongers. (Emphasis mine.)

As you can see, the part that really intrigued me was the bit in the second half about rape, since it seemed to highlight the way in which both Islamists and the Left view people, and may go a long way to explaining why people professing these radically different ideologies (Leftism and Islamism) can work so well together. The fact is that, although they devise different (or no punishments) for whatever crime is before them, neither believes in free will or in man’s ability to make moral decisions independent of his immediate circumstances.

Let me start with Islam’s view of free will. Actually, considering that “Islam” means “submission,” I probably don’t have to do this discussion at all, since the name tends to be a giveaway about the religion’s approach to free will. Nevertheless, I’ll still give you my little analysis explaining why I think that Islam denies that man has a moral capacity that can override his animal instincts.

It’s obvious that Islam is misogynistic. What’s less obvious is its misanthropy. The blatant misogyny is, of course, known to all of you and tends to fall into the three categories: (1) the restrictions placed on and abuses against women’s bodies and their brains, (2) the horrible punishments enacted against them for deviating from Muslim norms, and (3) the honor killings that reflect their chattel status within a male dominated culture.

The misanthropy is less overt, but it actually lies behind all these horrors visited against Muslim women: In Islam, men are viewed as so weak and animal-like that they cannot be expected to resist women’s lures. That is, a man who sees a woman uncovered or unaccompanied cannot be expected to resist taking her sexually. He is helpless.

This view of men, as utterly unable to overcome their basic instincts is, to my mind, a pathetic view that denies the possibility of free will, moral calculation or strength of character. All men are animals, controlled by their lust, and all women are mere sexual objects who must be erased for men’s protection. The Sharia laws reflect this debased view of human kind in the its punishments are extreme and violent.  They assume that men (and women) will be dissuaded from wrongful acts only if they are subject to death, dismemberment or whipping.  The concept of redemptive punishment for crimes less than intentional murder — the type of punishment that sees you lose freedom, time and dignity, but that is not a brutal physical assault against you, and that holds out the possibility of starting fresh — is alien in this world view.  In Islam, men cannot be trusted to make good decisions at the front end, nor can they be trusted to learn from bad experiences at the back end — only the most violent dissuasion will work against them.

Things on the Left aren’t much better, although the Left’s degraded view of mankind is a little bit less obvious. It starts with the Leftist principle that all people are controlled by their environment. If you’re poor; if you’re black; if you’re Hispanic; if you’re female; if you’re the victim of spousal, parental or sexual abuse; if you live in the Third World; if you’re in a former colony — all of these factors mean that, if your conduct is violent and antisocial, you get a pass. You cannot be held responsible for your actions.

The above paragraph is fairly abstract, so let me reduce it to more concrete terms. The view that environmental factors are so strong that people are incapable of exerting self-control or making moral choices appears most clearly in the way liberals view African Americans. My default example is Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots. Although there was no doubt that he had tried to kill Denny, Williams was still acquitted.

In a newspaper interview, Williams explained away his conduct by saying that he was “caught up in the rapture.” Indeed, as the New York Times reported at the time, “Mr. Williams, a 20-year-old black man, was acquitted in October of most charges against him by a sympathetic jury.” I believe that, had Williams been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement and the verdict that preceded it would have been held up by the liberal establishment as disgusting, horrific and vile. As it was, my memory (and I’m open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man’s head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place. No one seemed concerned that a young man, a human being, had behaved like an animal, and no one seemed to expect better from him.

The next obvious example of this kind of liberal nihilism regarding man’s moral capacity is, of course, the reporting about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Within days of the hurricane, Randall Robinson, a prominent black activist, was stating that African-American hurricane victims were cannibalizing each other. He eventually had to retract that claim.

Although the cannibalism assertion was patently ridiculous to anyone who thought about it (it had only been three days since the Hurricane, for goodness sake), it got a lot of press, probably because the media was perfectly ready, with the best intentions in the world, to think the worst of the African-American hurricane victims. Why else would they instantly have begun reporting lurid stories of murder, rape, and suicide? (Here’s one example: “Stories of rape, murder and suicide have emerged.”)

Ultimately, it turned out that one man alone was responsible for widely spread and credulously accepted reports to the effect that, during his stay in the Superdome, a man was murdered, a woman was raped and stabbed, and a man jumped from a balcony. The media ate it up. Other reports had murder in the streets, widespread looting, and rape all over New Orleans. (This story from England is a good example.)

Almost without exception, the above stories about base black behavior were untrue. Shortly after the media had everyone a’twitter with this hysterical reporting, it emerged that almost none of the anarchy alleged had actually happened. Even the World Socialist Website attacked the completely inaccurate reporting emerging from Katrina, although it predictably saw the rumors as part of a government plot.

Both of these examples, whether dealing with actual fact (Williams really did try to kill someone) or rumor (the Katrina reports), operate on the same basic premise: blacks are economic/racial victims and are therefore incapable of controlling themselves under circumstances in which we could expect more from people of other (read:  white) races.

As I said, this kind of thinking isn’t limited to blacks, of course. It’s part of the whole Marxist/Freudian soup that hit mainstream America big time in the 1950s. West Side Story is a frivolous paradigm of both this belief system and of a moment in time when liberal American was still capable of taking a step back from, and laughing at, these Marxist belief systems about race, economics and class. Mr. Bookworm recently screened the movie for the kids and, watching it, I was struck, as always, by the utterly shallow thinking about race and economics that lies behind it. I’m not discounting the fact that there were racial tensions in all emerging immigrant neighborhoods, as there still are, but this musical makes very clear that the real issue lies with the doctrine that was to take over in America — it’s not the malfeasor’s fault, it’s our fault because he is poor.

As I said, West Side Story is an early example of this now pervasive thinking, so liberals were still able to recognize the problems it could create when it came to assigning blame for wrongdoing — as demonstrated by Stephen Sondheim’s patter song “Gee, Officer Krupke“:

Dear kindly Judge, your Honor,
My parents treat me rough.
With all their marijuana,
They won’t give me a puff.
They didn’t wanna have me,
But somehow I was had.
Leapin’ lizards! That’s why I’m so bad!


Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!


DIESEL: (Spoken, as Judge) In the opinion on this court, this child is depraved on account he ain’t had a normal home.

ACTION: (Spoken) Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.

DIESEL: So take him to a headshrinker.

ACTION (Sings)
My father is a bastard,
My ma’s an S.O.B.
My grandpa’s always plastered,
My grandma pushes tea.
My sister wears a mustache,
My brother wears a dress.
Goodness gracious, that’s why I’m a mess!

A-RAB: (As Psychiatrist) Yes!
Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
Society’s played him a terrible trick,
And sociologic’ly he’s sick!


A-RAB: In my opinion, this child don’t need to have his head shrunk at all. Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease!

ACTION: Hey, I got a social disease!

A-RAB: So take him to a social worker!

Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a soda jerker,
Which means like be a schumck.
It’s not I’m anti-social,
I’m only anti-work.
Gloryosky! That’s why I’m a jerk!

BABY JOHN: (As Female Social Worker)
Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again.
This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen.
It ain’t just a question of misunderstood;
Deep down inside him, he’s no good!


DIESEL (As Judge)
The trouble is he’s crazy.

A-RAB (As Psychiatrist)
The trouble is he drinks.

BABY JOHN (As Female Social Worker)
The trouble is he’s lazy.

The trouble is he stinks.

The trouble is he’s growing.

The trouble is he’s grown.

Krupke, we got troubles of our own!

Gee, Officer Krupke,
We’re down on our knees,
‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
Gee, Officer Krupke,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Krupke,
Krup you!

I’m no Sondheim fan, but that is a brilliant song that exposes all the excuses inherent in liberal thinking about crime and punishment.  No one actually commits a crime, because no one exercises the “free will” that underlies the American system of crime, with its focus on malicious intent (as opposed to negligence).  If if people cannot be held responsible for their crime, they certainly cannot be punished.  Or at least, the actor cannot be punished.

As Dennis Prager has pointed out more than once, failing to punish the actor often means that it’s the innocent who suffer.  What this means is that, in some ways, the Left is even worse than Islam.  Both deny man free will and conscience, but Sharia law at least has the decency to punish the wrongdoing (although the moral balancing that sees a woman designated as the wrong-doer for being raped leaves something to be desired).  The Left, however, which also gives man the moral weight of an animal is too softhearted to punish that wild animal, with the sad result that, as the murderous lion is allowed to walk free, the innocent lamb is often eaten.

So, we have two apparently antithetical doctrines that share a common thread in their belief that man is enslaved to his environment and his animal lusts, and is incapable of moral decision-making and self-control. That the responses are different — violent punishment versus no punishment at all — doesn’t subtract from the nihilistic core underlying both.  Give me good old Judeo-Christian thought any day, which holds that man is a rational, moral creature who can control himself, who is capable of making moral decisions despite difficult situations, and who if he commits crimes short of the most heinous ones (intentional murder topping the list), should be punished in a way that is meaningful, but leaves the possibility of redemption.

Footage of Jewish history

Here you will find amazing film clips from almost one hundred years of 20th Century Jewish history, including images and testimony from Eichmann’s trial. It is a reminder that, while the Jews wanted Israel as an escape from bloodshed and tyranny, the Palestinians joyfully imagine their lands awash in a sea of blood.

Hat tip: Crossing the Rubicon

UPDATE: More on the blood Palestinians long to have on their hands. And if you click over to this last link, remember Golda Meir: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

And now a few words on Islam

The teddy bear scandal put Islam on the front pages again as a religion whose practitioners are so insecure that they cannot accept anything that they might perceive as critical or demeaning. As have most conservative bloggers, I’ve written periodically about Islam’s misogyny, its cultural insecurity, its intolerance, etc. I’ve quoted my cousin the prison chaplain, who says that Islam is a huge sell in prisons because it doesn’t demand of the converts any change in behaviors. Instead, it allows them to justify and continue with their original criminal behaviors on the ground that they are appropriate acts towards non-Muslims.

I’ve also slowly been coming to the conclusion that Islam is not a moral religion as we in the Judeo-Christian West understand religion-based morality. The Old Testament is both a history stretching back to prehistoric times (since most Biblical scholars believe, for example, that the Bible’s telling of Noah’s Ark is the last act in an oral history stretching back hundreds, if not thousands, of years), and it is also a book of moral precepts that dictate man’s behavior towards other men. There is no doubt that men in the Bible slipped from the path God set before them, there is no doubt that some of God’s commands were frightening and violent (so much so that we still struggle with them today), and there is no doubt that many since the Bible have used the Bible to justify base behavior, not best behavior. The same holds true for the New Testament. While Jesus’ message is overwhelmingly one of love and compassion, there was certainly enough in it for those who sought a militant, aggressive Christianity to use the New Testament as their guide.

Nevertheless, almost from the moment the Bible, both Old Testament and New, became fixed, Christians and Jews of good will have struggled to analyze the morally questionable parts of the Bible in light of the overwhelmingly moral parts. (See, for example, the link I gave in the preceding paragraph, as well as this link.) As we move further forward in time, both Jews and Christians try ever more to tone down the passages that, instead of stating abstract moral principles, insist upon certain now-antiquated aspects of tribal law (such as killing witches or gays).

It’s been different since the very beginning with the Koran. As I pointed out in this post, the nature of the man behind the Koran is very different from the nature of the men behind the Bible. Moses sought freedom for his people; Jesus sought salvation for man kind. And Mohammad — well, Mohammad sought converts and tribal control. The Koran also shows someone very, very sensitive to rejection. More significantly, contrary to the Bible, Mohammad’s personal feelings on a given subject did not end up merely as narrative, they ended up as controlling doctrine.

What I just said is very abstract, so let me make in more concrete by talking about one of the Koranic stories and wrapping up with Robert Spencer’s conclusion about the larger implications of that story.

The story, as retold in Spencer’s masterful The Truth About Muhammad, is that of the Nakhla raid, which took place when Muhammad felt he had enough military power to take on his old enemies the Quraysh (who were enemies because they would not convert to Islam). Preliminarily, in connection with the Quraysh, it’s worthwhile remembering that it was as to them that Muhammad announced that the women and children of enemy tribes were to be defined by their tribal status, not their youth or sex, making them fair game for slaughter. As Spencer says (p. 98) “[f]rom then on, innocent non-Muslim women and children could legitimately suffer the fate of male unbelievers.”

As for the Nakhla raid itself, Muhammad did not participate. Instead, he instructed a lieutenant to spy on the Quraysh. Once the lieutenant got within range of the Quraysh, however, and decided it would be a shame not to kill as many of them as possible, despite the fact that any slaughter would occur on the last day of a holy period during which there was not supposed to be any killing. So, the Muslims killed and robbed.

Once the slaughter was complete, the lieutenant and his band headed home with their booty, having specifically reserved a fifth part for Muhammad himself. Muhammad was at first upset, both because he had not ordered a killing during the sacred month and because other Quraysh were pointing out that Muhammad’s prophecies seemed mostly geared to justifying banditry. However, as Spencer explains, when confronted by this discomforts, “another helpful revelation came from Allah,” this time saying that the Quraysh were so offensive in God’s eyes, that this trumped the holy month. Having received this useful ex post facto revelation, Muhammad was free to take the booty reserved for him.

Spencer’s take on the subject (p. 99) wraps back around to the point I made at the beginning of this post:

This was a momentous incident, for it would set a pattern: good became identified with anything that redounded to the benefit of Muslims, and evil with anything that harmed them, without reference to any larger moral standard. Moral absolutes were swept aside in favor of the overarching principle of expediency.

I am not saying, incidentally, that there are not millions of Muslims who behave morally in the way that we, living in the Judeo-Christian faith, understand morality. Whether they pull that morality from the Koran, from Judeo-Christian influences, or from their innate goodness and humanity, I do not know. I just know that there are enormous numbers of good people out there. However, unlike other religions, Islam encourages behavior that both the Bible, and Bibilical scholars, have tried to quash. And unlike other religions, Islam seems to have fewer scholars trying to explain or defend those passages in the Koran that seem to demand or justify immoral, rather than moral behavior (if moral behavior is understood as demanding the highest and best from man, towards himself and towards others).

As to the bad behavior that seems to be an inherent part of Islam, I’d like to give the last words in this post to Ian O’Doherty, writing for an Irish paper. (H/t: RD.) After giving a laundry list of Muslim outrage which has morphed into outrageous behavior, O’Doherty states a declaration of independence for those of us classified as Islamophobes:

And, of course, anyone who writes about this [“this” being the laundry list to which I referred] is immediately accused of being Islamophobic and racist.

Well, I am Islamophobic in the sense that I’m phobic towards the notion of treating women as third-class citizens, flogging people and killing them for having an independent thought.

I’m phobic towards the idea of killing Theo Van Gogh because he made a movie they didn’t like. I’m phobic towards killing a Japanese translator because he worked on the Satanic Verses.

I’m also rather phobic to the notion that the Muslim world has the right to riot and kill each other because of a few unfunny cartoons in an obscure Danish publication.

As regards the spurious accusation of racism which is bandied about against anyone who criticises Islam, let me make this clear — you cannot change the colour of your skin. Pigmentation is irrelevant. But you can dislike someone’s superstition and in Islam’s case, even among other superstitions, they are particularly horrible.

No, my Muslim friend, it’s your religion and your Sharia law I am criticising. It has nothing to do with the colour of your skin. And you know what? In a free democracy we still have the right to say things like that.

Community building, Leftist style

San Francisco’s Mission District is, demographically, a primarily Hispanic district (about 50%), with the remainder of the population being White and Asian. Traditionally, it’s been a mixture of immigrants (legal and illegal), poor, working-class, and artsy-funky. It’s in the news today because the District used a $34,000 City-funded grant to paint a mural that shows joyful Palestinians overtaking Israel:

An emotional battle over a new mural in San Francisco’s Mission district that depicts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been squelched after the supporting organization had its funding stalled and agreed to alter the controversial image.

At issue is a large mural in a parking lot on the corner of 24th and Capp streets, designed by local artist Eric Norberg and painted during the summer by more than 200 Mission district community members with an overall theme of breaking down physical and social walls.

One panel of the 117-foot wide and 10-foot tall mural, depicting Palestinians breaking through a crack in the Israeli security barrier, angered members of San Francisco’s Jewish community who said the image only portrays one side of the centuries-old conflict. The crack in the barrier is also shaped like Israel, and one Palestinian busting through wears a headscarf covering her face.

“The imagery took a radical position on a complex geopolitical issue that was out of touch with the international community, San Francisco and the overwhelming majority of Jews,” said Abby Michelson Porth, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which raised the issue.

Frankly, this is the standard stuff one expects to come out of San Francisco and, while I’m disgusted, I’m too worn about this chronic bias to be incensed.

Something about this story, though, did pique my interest, because it’s a new twist on the whole pro-Palestinian view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Apparently creating a pro-Palestinian mural is a “community building” activity in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood:

HOMEY, the organization that received a city grant to create two murals, said the mural was meant to unite the Mission district.

On its face, that it is an appalling statement — you unite a Hispanic neighborhood by showing approvingly a group of people bent on genocide (that would be the Palestinians, who are never coy about their ultimate goal) overrunning the nation that they intend to exterminate (Israel, of course).

But just so you’re really clear about HOMEY’s goal — and just so you understand that it is a Leftist group aimed at dethroning the two countries that are the most frequent targets of Leftist animus — the HOMEY representative keeps on talking:

“Our intention was to draw parallels between the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Israeli-Palestinian security barrier,” said Nancy Hernandez, youth program coordinator at HOMEY. “We consider this section … to be a statement of solidarity between the residents of the San Francisco Mission district and global movements for oppressed peoples to gain self-determination.”

And that’s why the Left supports the Palestinians. It has nothing to do with history, morality, international law, decency, saving lives, preventing genocide, etc. Instead, just part of the ever-popular Leftist scenario in which anyone who feels, however justifiably or not, “oppressed” Israel or America, is your brother in arms. It’s the old class war, updated, and it goes a long way to explain the chronic immorality of these fellow travelers, who will support any regime or political group, no matter how grotesque, if that regime or group announces that it is the enemy of the United States and Israel.

And I just have to ask again, as I’ve asked for many years now, how can American Jews justify their apparently mindless decision to cling to the Lefter side of the political spectrum?

The delusional paranoia of anti-Semitism

A reader sent me a truly excellent article by Alan Caruba, writing at Canada Free Press, that tackles the resurgence of an obsession with Jews as “the other,” bent in some unnamable way on world domination or destruction:

With the advent of the two most holy days of the Jewish lunar calendar, Rosh Hashanah, the “New Year”, followed in ten days by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it’s a good time to visit the subject of why Jews are universally the subject of hatred and fear.

A recent issue of The Economist had an article titled “Taming Leviathan” that purported to say the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) wielded such power politically in Washington that it lives “up to their critic’s darkest fears.”

Do these “darkest fears” merely reflect the growing anti-Semitism in Great Britain where the editorial offices of the magazine are located? Or are these the same dark fears that 300 million Arabs in 22 nations have of six million Israeli Jews because they have the temerity to want to live in a land their ancestors called home more than three millennia ago?

The world’s obsession with this minority, reduced by six million in Europe in the last century’s Nazi genocide, defies any rational explanation and is buried deep in the collective psyche of other religions.

Read the rest here.  Incidentally, the “other religions” to which Caruba refers boil down to one:  Islam.

Why is this Holocaust different from all other Holocausts?

My friend Patrick, who blogs at The Paragraph Farmer, tackles a very difficult question in today’s American Spectator:  Why, in a world that daily reminds us of man’s inhumanity to man, does the Holocaust still stands as the ne plus ultra of the human ability to kill?  It’s a thoughtful article, and one I urge you to read.  In addition to the points Patrick made, I want to add a few things that make the Holocaust unique amongst the atrocities man has always been capable of visiting against his fellow man.  In no particular order:

1.  Culture.  One of the things that made the Holocaust particularly horrible was the culture from which it sprang.  In the annals of Western Civilization, Germany had ascended to the highest peak:  it’s art, literature, music and science were the envy of the world.  That this culture, this culture of all cultures, could do what it did spells out something particularly horrible about the human capacity for evil.  We expect “less civilized” cultures to commit atrocities because we can then distance ourselves from those acts.  When a culture to which we compare ourselves or to which we aspire commits those same atrocities, it reminds us that none of us are safe from the evil that lurks within us.

2.  Science and method.  Consistent with it’s sophisticated culture, the Germans engaged in murder with a single minded scientific fervor that’s never been equaled.  Other cultures engage in mass slaughter in a blunt, almost animalistic way, crudely starving or executing those under their aegis (I’m thinking Communists here, both Soviet and Asian, or the machetes of the Hutus).  The Germans, however, engaged in mass death scientifically, working their way through a variety of methods until they found the most efficient way to kill the most people — and then carefully, scientifically recorded their work with detailed records, including the names of most of their victims.  They also enshrined their “scientific” progress with boastful photographs.  Those same photos reveal another side of the Holocaust, which is that the Germans reveled in killing.  While the Communists as part of their grand socialization plans managed to starve millions and millions of people in Russia, China and Cambodia, they didn’t have people gleefully skinning their victims to make lamp shades, or subjecting them to gruesome scientific experiences as part of the “fun of it all.”

3.  Geography.  Patrick makes a point about localization, namely that the German nation was one killer, and it’s easy to identify and blame one killer, while Communism, an ideology, kills all over.  This is a good point, but I think there’s a different localization point to be made, and that is the fact that Germans went beyond their locality, not in pursuit of a political ideology, a la the Communists, put in pursuit of their genocidal killing strategy.  All other mass murders have been aimed at people within the killing culture.  Hutus killed their resident Tutsis, Turks their resident Armenians, Serbs their resident Bosnians, Light skinned Muslim Sudanese their resident Christians and dark skinned Muslims, Communists of whatever nation killed “state enemies” within their own borders, and so on and so on.  Only the Nazis went on an actual hunt for their victims, trolling through country after country to gather and destroy them.  This too makes the Nazis different from any other mass murderers in world history.

4.  Deniability or the lack thereof.  Most other mass murderers engage in the “deny, deny, deny” approach to mass murder.  As I noted above, the Germans were incredibly proud of what they were doing, and carefully documented everything.  The insanity of the Holocaust deniers aside, there is too much evidence for there ever to be plausible deniability.

5.  The nature of the victims.  The Jews are the people of the Book.  They are verbal people.  In other, non-literate or less literate cultures, the stories of the horrors visited on them quickly devolve into little more than an oral myth, that has no traction.  Jews, by talking, by writing books, etc., keep the story alive.

6.  There were witnesses.  As Patrick pointed out, the hardened Patton was vomiting with the horror of what he saw.  Americans walked into those camps and came out telling the stories.  Communist victims just vanished within the maw of communist countries.  Today, in Africa, while reporters and  NGOs may venture in, there is no big war, that ends with a big discovery.  Those poor dead just dribble way, vanishing into the soil beneath them.
7.  Israel.  Unlike other survivors of mass slaughter who eventually merge into other cultures, taking their memories with them, the Jews have Israel.  Israel, of course, was a community long before the war, but it came into being as a nation in part because of the world’s response to the Holocaust.  I have long thought that Europe’s burgeoning anti-Israeli sentiment has its roots in the fact that Israel is a living reproach to Europe, and the Europeans feel better about themselves if they can denigrate Israel:  “See, the Jews are no better than we are.”  With this psychological need to make themselves feel better, it doesn’t matter to them that the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, a very complex situation indeed, is entirely different from that of Jews on the receiving end of the Nazis single-minded focus on mass race slaughter.

8.  Guilt.  Past genocides mostly took place at times when, sadly, the world hadn’t yet developed the moral capacity to care.  For example, the killing and marginalization of the Native Americans occurred during a time when the whole Western World didn’t have much of a problem with taking land from indigenous people or “killing them before they kill us.”  Likewise, slavery, that other famous form of Western, and especially American, oppression, had been a fixture in the world since time immemorial.  Indeed, there is still slavery all over the Muslim world.  Also, Americans engaged in that mass act of self-sacrifice known as the Civil War in part to purge themselves of slavery.  In this they differed from the Nazis who did not use War to purify themselves of a moral evil but, instead, used war to embrace that evil.  And the sad fact is that the morally developed Western World knew what was going on:  It knew in 1933 when Hitler started enacting the race laws.  It knew in 1938 with Kristallnacht.  It knew when panicked Jews began banging on Western doors begging for escape.  It knew when reports started circulating (only to be quashed by the Times), that in all countries the Nazis entered, Jews were being slaughtered in situ, or being rounded up and transported to death camps.  The world knew and it closed its eyes and plugged its ears.  There are still people living who knew what was going on or who should have known, and who did nothing.  They are a reminder to us of the power of passivity, not for good but for evil.

9.  Jews a perpetual victims.  This is a point Patrick made in his article, but I think it deserves repeating here.  The Holocaust hits us in the face because, at the time, it seemed to be the culmination of centuries of persecution.  Even as Western Christians finally seemed to be shaking off the yoke of anti-Semitism, the Russians began engaging in it wholeheartedly, not so much as a religious imperative but more as a cultural imperative.  That too seemed to be dying away (thanks, in significant part, to the safety valve of America), only to have the Holocaust come along, bringing anti-Semitism to a ferocious height no one in the past could have imagined.  That should have been the end of it all, but it isn’t.  The Arab world, which enthusiastically supported Hitler, is making the same noises again that Hitler did then, is killing people because they are Jews, and is talking about annihilation, just as Hitler talked and then attempted.  The Holocaust won’t go away because very evil people keep making sure it sticks around.

Those are my nine ideas about the Holocaust’s preeminence, despite the fact that both the 20th and (so far) the 21st Century have seen other, and even bigger, acts of mass slaughter.  If you have anything to add, please do so.  I know that you, my readers, will keep any comments on this sensitive subject polite and thoughtful.

L’shanah tovah!

Did you know that Rosh Hashanah, along with Yom Kippur, of course, is one of the oldest continuously celebrated holidays in the world? It got its start in Leviticus:

23:23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
23:24 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first [day] of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
23:25 Ye shall do no servile work [in it]; but ye shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.

Leviticus itself dates back about 3,500 years ago. On the Jewish calendar, which is a lunar, not a solar calendar, it has an even longer time line, since we inaugurate this night Jewish Year 5768.

To all my friends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, L’shanah tovah. May this be a happy year, one of hope, renewal, safety, and good things for those people, places, and ideas we value.

L’shanah tovah!

Did you know that Rosh Hashanah, along with Yom Kippur, of course, is one of the oldest continuously celebrated holidays in the world? It got its start in Leviticus:

23:23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
23:24 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first [day] of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
23:25 Ye shall do no servile work [in it]; but ye shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.

Leviticus itself dates back about 3,500 years ago. On the Jewish calendar, which is a lunar, not a solar calendar, it has an even longer time line, since we inaugurate this night Jewish Year 5768.

To all my friends, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, L’shanah tovah. May this be a happy year, one of hope, renewal, safety, and good things for those people, places, and ideas we value.

This is how they decide to celebrate the High Holy Days?

Through a reader, I just got wind of the shenanigans (or, should I say, the Sheehan-igans) going on at Beyt Tikkun, the ultra Left wing synagogue in Berkeley. It turns out that the special guest at this year’s High Holy Days is going to be none other than Cindy “get Israel out of Palestine!” Sheehan.

Let me backtrack a little so that you can see what a travesty this whole thing is, and how (to my mind) it really shockingly mixes religion and politics — or, should I say, uses politics to destroy religion.

First, let’s talk about the High Holy Days. As the name implies, these are not little holidays in the Jewish calendar. In the middle and at the end of September we’re coming up to the big ones: Rosh Hashanna, or Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. One Jewish website neatly summarizes their importance:

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important of all Jewish Holidays and the only holidays that are purely religious, as they are not related to any historical or natural event.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is celebrated the first and second days of Tishri. It is a time of family gatherings, special meals and sweet tasting foods.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day of the Jewish year and is observed on the tenth day of Tishri. It is a day of fasting, reflection and prayers.

Thus, while American merchants in December are kind enough to decorate their stores with Menorahs, all of which remind us of a great military victory (that would be Chanukah), it’s these Fall holidays that are the real deal for even the most marginally observant Jew.

Second, let’s talk about Michael Lerner, a man who is both a far Leftist and (at least in his own mind) a rabbi. Lerner has long been a well-known figure on the Left, especially since he always favored highly wrought symbolic acts to make his various political points:

A former 1960s Berkeley radical, Michael Lerner (b. 1943) is the founder of Tikkun magazine, a publication whose philosophy is an admixture of Old Testament teachings, medieval cabala mysticism, and 1960s-style campus Marxism. Though Lerner identifies himself as a duly ordained rabbi, many of his critics dispute that claim – on grounds that he was given a controversial private rabbinic ordination by “Jewish Renewal” rabbis, whose ordinations are recognized only by those within the Jewish Renewal community and Reconstructionist Judaism. Orthodox Judaism, the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly all consider such ordinations invalid.

Lerner’s radical politics and counterculture mindset were nourished during his years at Berkeley and have remained with him ever since. At his wedding reception, the wedding cake was inscribed with the words, “Smash Monogomy,” a slogan popularized by the Weathermen terrorist group that rose to prominence in 1969. During the marriage ceremony itself, Lerner and his bride exchanged rings fashioned out of metal extracted from a downed U.S. military aircraft. Shortly after the birth of the Lerners’ first child, the couple separated – the mother and son going to live in Boston, and Mr. Lerner returning to Berkeley. When asked why he had chosen to move so far from his young son, he answered without hesitation, “You don’t understand. I have to be here. Berkeley is the center of the world-historical spirit.” (Sha’i Ben Tekoa Israel National News – “Deprogram Program” June 4, 2001).

Lerner might have remained a fringe figure, running the Berkeley beat, if it weren’t for the fact that, during the 1990s, he sprang into the public view as the Clintons’ rabbi friend:

For some time, Lerner had a warm relationship with Hillary Clinton – and, by extension, with Bill Clinton also. Lerner’s 1997 book titled The Politics of Meaning was the source of Mrs. Clinton’s widely publicized use of that phrase. In a spirit reminiscent of the inscription atop Lerner’s wedding cake, one of his book’s chapters is entitled “The Tyranny of Couples.” In Hell To Pay, her biography of Hillary Clinton, author Barbara Olson reports that Lerner, during his years of friendship with Mrs. Clinton, liked to frequently invoke the phrase, “Hillary and I believe” as a prelude to identifying points of agreement he shared with her. However, as the Clinton presidency progressed, Lerner, a devoted far-leftist, lost interest in Bill and Hillary when he saw that polling data and focus groups were leading the administration toward moderation on such issues as welfare reform and social welfare spending.

Of course, in the 1990s, when the media was fawning over him, we never heard about (or we heard little about) Lerner’s Marxist politics and anti-American animus. Instead, we read fawning articles about his deep spirituality and his amazing ability to renew Jewish thinking amongst yuppies searching for meaning in their lives. And when he tired of the Clintons, the press ignored him and he just faded away.

Because Marxism always triumphs over all other religions, Lerner’s nominal role of a rabbi is always going to be subordinate to his political beliefs. Thus, while most Jews support Israel in her life and death struggle with the Palestinians (even Jews who acknowledge that Israel hasn’t always made the right practical or legal decisions over the years), Lerner, based upon Marxist misreadings of history, would see Israel destroyed entirely on the ground that she’s an imperialist U.S. puppet:

With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of recent decades, Lerner has consistently aligned himself with the Palestinian side. He characterizes Israel as a nation whose “repressive” and “fascistic” leadership uses “disproportionate force to repress an essentially unarmed population.” He exhorts Jews everywhere to “allow themselves to hear the cries of pain of the Palestinian people” – as a first step toward atonement for their own transgressions. When asked about a barbaric October 2000 lynching of two Israeli reservists by Palestinian police in Ramallah, he replied that he understood “how Israel’s occupation can lead to such violence.”

“I believe,” says Lerner, “that the Israeli people will never be safe until the Occupation ends and a new spirit of repentance and generosity spreads through the Jewish people” He urges Jews “to atone for the pain we have inflicted on the Palestinian people in [many] years of brutal occupation, and in forcing so many Palestinians out of their home and not allowing them to return in 1948-49.” “Israel needs an atonement for what it has done,” he adds, “for the way it has failed to recognize the humanity, the sanctity of life, of Palestinians.” He lists, among Israeli transgressions, their responsibility “for expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians during the War of Independence in 1948”; “for not having fulfilled the terms of the Oslo Accord, which envisioned granting Palestinians an independent state several years ago”; “for not being able to recognize themselves as the superior force with the greater responsibility to compromise and respect the needs of the less powerful”; and for “the deep racism in their society.”

Notably, Lerner does believe that the obligation to pay restitution to victims of injustice is a two-way street. Thus, while calling for Israel to provide “significant compensation for the families of Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes in 1948,” he similarly advocates a “corresponding compensation from Arab lands for Jews who fled Arab oppression in 1948-1954.”

Given all this, would it surprise you to know that the guest of honor at Beyt Tikkun’s High Holy Day services this year is going to be Cindy Sheehan, who is also completely hostile to Israel? At Free Republic, someone who is on a mailing list received this invitation to Beyt Tikkun’s services:

You may not live in the SF Bay Area, but there is a very good chance you know someone who does and who would love the High Holiday services conducted by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Cindy Sheehan will speak on Yom Kippur.

This year, all of America needs repentance and atonement, not just Jews. The failure of Americans to give an unequivocal message to their elected representatives that they must immediately cut off fund for the war, prevent a US attack on Iran, reverse the decision to expand the President’s power to tap our phones and invade our privacy, and stop the assault on immigrants provide an immediate focus for repentance, but the larger context of materialism, self-centeredness and environmental irresponsibility add dimensionality.

You don’t have to be Jewish to use the repentance and atonement traditions of the Jewish High Holy Days this year. So even if you can’t come to Rabbi Lerner’s High Holiday services, you can still use some fo the resources below, and you can tell people you know in the Bay Area about the services and expose them to a spiritual progressive version of religion. This is a Judaism of love, generosity, kindness, social justice, environmental sanity and peace. Rosh Hashanah is the evening of Sept. 12th and then Sept 13 & 14th. Yom Kippur is eve of Sept. 21 and all day Sept 22nd. Also note the course on A Judaism of Love being offered by Rabbi Lerner the weekend of Nov.9-11 (see below).

To get a better sense of what Jewish High Holidays are about, and how they can provide a spiritual practice even for people who don’t believe that there is such a thing as “spiritual” (much less God), please go to this website and download the High Holiday Guide (which also appears in Tikkun Magazine between pages 16-17.

Information and registration at Take it from us, it’s a life changing experience for those who come to all the services and then use the High Holiday Guide above during the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (which is why some people have flown to our services from Miami, NY, Boston, Minneapolis, San Diego and Chicago?and were happy they did! So, let your friends in this area know about the services by urging them to go to They do NOT have to be Jewish to get a huge amount out of this practice.

It’s worth traveling for!

The one bummer: we have to charge for this. We believe all religious services should be free, as should health care, higher education, utilities, the internet, public transportation and legal costs. Unfortunately, we aren’t there yet, and in order to pay our yearly expenses we have to charge (sliding fee scale). In exchange for some volunteer work and commitment to attend the Global Judaism of Love course in Nov (but see for all conditions), people 21-34 can become a member of Beyt Tikkun for free and then don’t have to pay to go to services at all.

Mearsheimer and Walt Speak on The Israel Lobby for Beyt Tikkun and the NSP

(I hope you caught that bit at the end, which has Beyt Tikkun avidly supporting Walt & Mearsheimer’s repackaged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)

Is it just me or does this announcement have absolutely nothing to do with religion? As I read it, it’s the usual Leftist/Progressive anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Administration blather with a thin coating of religion painted over it. Why do these people even bother with the religious veneer? This is politics, pure and simple. It reminds me of the way in which the former Soviet Union used to pretend it had a Russian Orthodox Church by propping up a few old churches, and staffing them with KGB clergy.

There are a lot of people who hate Israel and who hate Jews but it always seems to me that some of the worst (sadly) are Jews themselves.

Reform Jews embrace non-religion

I was not raised as a religious Jew, but I’ve still managed to be a bit disdainful of reform Jews. Back in the 1970s, I figured out that almost nothing distinguished reform Judaism from a sing along folk festival, right down to the obligatory long haired guitar player who always showed up at reform services. My feeling was that, while I’m not religious, if I were religious, I’d want to attend a synagogue that made me feel as if I was actually doing something connected with religion. A feel good hippie celebration didn’t do it for me.

It’s beginning to look, though, as if the 1970s was a high mark in deep religious feelings amongst the Reformed Jews. They’ve just churned out a new prayer book that it so inclusive it seems to leech all the Jewish-ness and Biblical-ness completely out of Judaism:

Traditional touches coexist with a text that sometimes departs from tradition by omitting or modifying some prayers and by using language that is gender-neutral. References to God as “He” have been removed, and whenever Jewish patriarchs are named — like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so are the matriarchs — like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. The prayer book took more than 20 years to develop and was tested in about 300 congregations. Its release has been delayed for a year because the initial printed product was shoddy, said people involved with the project. But the book is expected to be released in about a month — too late, however, for the High Holy Days, which begin Sept. 13.

“It reflects a recognition of diversity within our community,” said Rabbi Elyse D. Frishman, the editor of the prayer book. “We have interfaith families. We have so many visitors at b’nai mitzvah ceremonies that I could have a service on Shabbat morning where a majority of people there aren’t Jewish,” she said, referring to bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies on Saturday mornings.

It seems to me that Reform Jews really need to sit down and figure out which community they represent: people who are Jewish or people who are spectators.

Having said that, the new prayer book does have some nice touches that make traditional ideas more accessible for Jews who don’t speak or read Hebrew:

There are four versions of each prayer laid out on a typical two-page spread. (Since the book is read back to front, the right page is read before the left one). On the right page is the prayer in Hebrew, the transliteration of the Hebrew prayer into phonetical English, and a more literal translation. On the left-hand page is a more poetic translation of the prayer, followed by a metaphorical or meditative passage reflecting on the prayer, sometimes by a well-known writer like Langston Hughes or Yehuda Amichai.

Rabbis who prefer to lead a more traditional service can choose a prayer from the right-hand side of the page, while those who prefer a more alternative approach can choose from the left side.

It would just be nice if that practical accessibility was a way to lead Jews into Judaism and not into some weird, non-Biblical, non-Sexist, non-God ecumenicalism.

I know I’m the last person who should be commenting here, since I don’t practice religion at all, but it’s looking to me as if the Reform Jews aren’t doing much of that either. If religion simply reflects current pop culture and social mores, without any strong ties to tradition, the Bible, and the great Jewish thinkers, you’ve really got nothing more than a Jewish themed book of the month club, do you?