Friday, May 29, 2009

Something a little different

"Burning Bright" by Shinedown

I feel like there is no need for conversation
Some questions are better left without a reason
And I would rather reveal myself than my situation
Now and then I consider, my hesitation
The more the light shines through me
I pretend to close my eyes
The more the dark consumes me
I pretend I'm burning, burning bright

I wonder if the things I did were just to be different
To spare myself of the constant shame of my existence
And I would surely redeem myself in my desperation
Here and now I'll express, my situation

[CHORUS (2)]

There's nothing ever wrong but nothing's ever right
Such a cruel contradiction
I know I cross the lines its not easy to define
I'm born to indecision
There's always something new some path I'm supposed to choose
With no particular rhyme or reason

[CHORUS (2)]

Monday, May 18, 2009

Reading ...

It's been awhile.

1. Excellent article posted on normblog - Therapists to the Jews: Psychologizing the 'Jewish Question' (by Shalom Lappin).

2. JPost blog post- An Iranian in Tel-Aviv.

3. NYTimes article - On Fiery Birth of Israel, Memories of 2 Sides Speak.

4. Israeli launches on-line tuition-free university.

5. Arabs in the IDF, conflict of identity.

6. The excellent Khaled Abu Toameh on the failure of Oslo and Western intervention on behalf of the Palestinians, and the terrible state of Palestinian politics.

Update: 7. Hinduism, just like Zionism?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In the news

Fadi Eyadat of Haaretz reports:

Some 40.5 percent of Israeli Arabs believe the Holocaust never occurred, according to the results of a University of Haifa poll released Sunday.

The survey shows that Holocaust denial among Israeli Arabs has become more prevalent in recent years. In 2006, 28 percent of Israeli Arabs polled denied that the Holocaust occurred.

The annual poll of Jewish-Arab relations, which was conducted by Professor Sami Samuha, also found that only 41 percent of Israel's Arab minority recognize the country's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, as opposed to 65.6 percent in 2003.

Moreover, only 53.7 percent of the Israeli Arab public believe Israel has a right to exist just as an independent country, according to the poll, down from 81.1 percent in 2003.

"This radicalization in the positions of Arabs was caused by a series of factors such as the Second Lebanon War, the stalemate in the negotiations with the Palestinians, the failure to implement the conclusions of the Or committee, closing the case against the Border Police troops who shot dead the Israeli Arab protesters in October 2000, and more," Samuha said.

700 Israeli Arab men and women participated in the survey, which will be published in its entirety on Monday.

Last week I wrote about the evolving Zionist narrative accepting certain parts of the Palestinian narrative.

Stupidity and the dumbing down of the populace is prevalent in politics everywhere. Changing that will bring peace.

Are neoconservatives ahead of their time?

I'm listening to the NPR program on the Star Trek franchise. The program notes that as much as neoconservatism has gotten a bad rap in the last 8 years, Gene Roddenerry's (the creator of Star Trek) vision of the future is neoconservative where a Federation of Planets, a "coalition of the willing" if you will, is socially liberal and interventionist. In the new movie, Captain Peko calls it a "humanitarian and peace-keeping armada."

Star Trek is liberal and progressive. Nichelle Nicholes was perhaps the first black woman to be featured in a major television series not playing a maid. The franchise series regularly portray women as major shapers in human history, such as having women captains and admirals (Condi?). It also portrays other races, or species in this case, as equals and allies in the progressive development of the world or galaxy. Captain Kirk, played by the Jewish William Shatner, regularly kisses characters of other specie and race.

Star Trek, Israel, and Palestine

[Spoiler Alert! This post will discuss some of the movie's plot so don't read this till after you watch the movie, unless you don't care or don't plan to watch the movie.]

I watched JJ Abram's new Star Trek movie yesterday. It was pretty good, not excellent. I think it was made with the goal of expanding the appeal of the franchise to a wider audience instead of recreating the old appeal the franchise has to the usual fans such as myself. Yes, I love Star Trek, but in a cheap Jewish way, meaning I don't buy anything. You couldn't tell what movies I like by looking at the walls of my rooms.

Anyway, the reason I want to talk about this movie is because the narrative reminded me of the narrative of Jews and Palestinian Arabs. In the movie, two races lose their homeworlds, sort of. Nero of Ramulus, the villian, loses his homeworld but subsequently goes back in time. He hunts Spock of Vulcan, the hero, was supposed to save Ramulus but failed because of no fault of his own. Nero, seeking retribution, makes Spock watch the destruction of Vulcan instead of working to prevent the destruction of Ramulus in the future.

Like Nero, Zionists partially blame Palestinians for the Holocaust and dispossed the majority of them. Unlike Spoke, the Palestinians in the 30's and 40's fought hard against what could have saved millions of Jews, as evident by the White Paper. Like Nero, the Palestinians fought for the destruction of their enemy's homeland, Israel, instead of trying to build a new one. Like Spoke, after the Holocaust Zionists built a place to perserve the Jews.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New interest in legal/philosophical theories and principles

Today is the second time in the last couple of weeks I found my self going through dozens wikipedia pages and online articles regarding legal and philosphopical theories and principles. I like to apply thought from these ideas to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since there are so many, I'll try to discuss a limited amount of them and what its analytical application to the conflict might produce and my critic of all this. It will be hard to limit how much I discuss each day because they are all related.

So here is my first attempt at the task I mentioned above.

Many activists critical of Israel cite numerous UN resolutions and "international law." I and many Israelis have come to the conclusion that the UN and the many of the bodies within are not worthy of the conformity of individuals and the governments that represent them. Here is why:
  1. The United Nations is a collection of governments. Such organization has its strengths and its weaknesses. One of these weaknesses is that not every member is truly represenatitive of the people residing under its sovereignty. In simpler terms, they are not democratic.
  2. In order for me to respect the UN as an authority, I must see some proof that this "social contract" will provide social and political order. I have not seen the UN attempt to secure these things sufficiently in all member states.
  3. The UN uses language of rights to cloak political goals giving them positive connotations. For example, the UN Human Rights Council and Anti-Racism confrences where human rights violations and racism were not condemned but were displayed front and center.
I haven't cited any specific theories yet but the last two points above come from my reading of this wikipedia article (regarding point 2) and this wikipedia article(regarding piont 3).

My diagnosis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Dissocial personality disorder (as described by WHO) - personality disorder characterized by disregard for social obligations, and callous unconcern for the feelings of others. There is gross disparity between behavior and the prevailing social norms. Behavior is not readily modifiable by adverse experience, including punishment. There is a low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; there is a tendency to blame others, or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the patient into conflict with society.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Two Nazi soldiers arrested for stealing credit card from a Jew in Warsaw Ghetto

Anshel Pfeffer of Haaretz reports:
Two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were arrested for allegedly looting the home of a Palestinian in Gaza during the army's offensive against Hamas earlier this year.

The soldiers, who serve in the patrol battalion of the Givati infantry brigade, are suspected of stealing a credit card belonging to a Palestinian whose home they entered during the fighting.

The two soldiers are alleged to have used the card to purchase goods worth thousands of shekels.
The army's police investigative unit launched a probe into the allegations last month after receiving a complaint. A Palestinian residing in the northern Gaza Strip claimed his credit card was stolen during Operation Cast Lead. A short time later, his credit card statement revealed that a number of products were purchased in Israel.

As per the orders of a military judge, authorities have yet to release details of the investigation so as not to prejudice the outcome. The two soldiers have been ordered to remain in military jail for fear that they would try to tamper with evidence. A hearing in the matter is scheduled for Wednesday.

"Recently the Military Advocate General has received a small number of complaints from human rights organizations and private attorneys, including claims that private property belonging to Gaza Strip residents was taken during Operation Cast Lead," the IDF spokesperson's office said. "Given the credibility of the complaint military prosecutors ordered the military police to open an investigation during which testimony will be heard for purposes of examining the claims."
If you are still confused by my title, it is a joke on how people compare Israel to Nazi Germany.

The Evolving Zionist Narrative

"Poll: many Israelis no longer accept key part of the Zionist narrative" - That's the title the blogger of Realistic Dove gave to the post about this study.

A total of 47 percent of Israeli Jews believe that Palestinians were expelled from Israel during the 1948 war, with 39 percent saying that "The refugees left due to fear, calls of leaders and expulsion by the Jews," and another 8 percent saying the refugees left due only to expulsion by the Jews. Another 41 percent said that the refugees left "due to fear and calls of leaders to leave," the traditional "Zionist narrative."

Some 46 percent believe that Israel and the Palestinians are equally responsible for the outbreak and continuation of the conflict, while 4 percent blame only the Jews. Some 43 percent primarily blame the Palestinians.

In a question about who bears responsibility for the outbreak of the 1987 intafada, 23.6 percent of respondents said it was "Mainly natural hatred towards Israel," and another 17.2 percent said it was "somewhat due to hatred." Some 32 percent responded that the 1987 intifada was caused "More or less equally due to hatred and other reasons (such as unwillingness to be controlled and harsh treatment by Israel)."

I don't think that many Israeli Jews no longer believe in a key part of the Zionist narrative. It is just that the Zionist narrative has evolved to better reflect historical research.

Let's not forget that there are many different kinds of Zionism, each providing its own perspective on history. The study is a reflection of that.

When historians go through historical archives, interview people, or gather any kind of evidence, they choose what is relevant and what is not. Journalists do the same and they are at their best when they are objective. But of course, journalists and historians are still human and will never be objective in everything that they do.

The first time I heard about the "conflict of narratives", it was during my high school trip to Israel. The speaker was a smart American-born historian with a best seller book about the 1967 war. I am of course talking about Michael Oren who is now the new ambassador to the US.

I believe that the Zionist narrative's greatest strength, as compared to the Arab Palestinian narrative, is that its a lot more open to discourse and debate. This of course, comes from the environment the observers live in. Anti-Zionists and critics of Israel hold the faith or nationality of their spokespersons front and center when they are Jewish or Israeli. The implication is that since some of the other side believe in their narrative, it must have merit over the other. But as my psychology teacher said, "correlation does not imply causation." I am implying that the society of many anti-Zionists (i.e. the Arab and Muslim world) is totalitarian to an extent as this report about 88% of Palestinians in Palestinian jails being held with out trial indicates. But I might fall to my own biases and correlate without looking at the causation.

I am no authority to say who is a good historian and who is not. I didn't read Oren's book on the 6 Day War but I did read his other book on America in the Middle East, "Power, Faith, and Fantasy...", a book I highly recommend.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rabbi Reuven Firestone: An Introduction to Islam for Jews

A friend pointed me to this very interesting video.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Progressive except Palestine

Progressive Except on Palestine (PEP) is a phrase and acronym coined by blogger Philip Weiss. People of Weiss' crowd use this term or acronym to refer to liberals, especially Jewish American liberals, who hold "progressive" positions on every issue except on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It stands for people who usually raise their voices, something that Jews do best, for causes for freedom and justice, but are unwilling to criticize Israel when it becomes aggressive towards Palestinians and its neighbors. I'm bringing this up because I think this expression is narrow minded.

PEP is what they would call me. I am a liberal Jewish American (though I lived much of my youth in Israel) who doesn't confrom to their "assimilationist" hard left. Over the last two years, I have become aware of certain faults of the Left of which I still identify as. But I still disagree with many of right-wing people on Israel and other issues. I am very much against the settler movement.

Foreign critics of Israel complain about the most insignificant things. I accept criticism of the settlements, but when they start talking about Israeli immigration policy and marriage laws, it starts to become hate. People who use the term PEP become PEP. They don't think Arabs can, or at least don't have to, become progressive.

Double-standard, everybody uses that term in regards to Israel. Israel activists say that critics of Israel hold Israel to a standard that they themselves don't follow and definetly don't hold that standard to Israel's enemies. Palestinian activists say that the West lets Israel regress punishing the Arabs while holding them to a harder standard. But if the UN is any guide, the latter faults.

Bret Stephens in the WSJ shows how bad the Left's coverage and perception of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become. It's selective moral outrage. Instead of loving Israel for being progressive and for its potential, people hate her for being old fashioned, using Western models such as nationalism and nation-state. Perhaps that is why liberals gravitate to this conflict. In the West, that's what liberals do, change, fix, destory, remold, and reform the state. They view Israel as a Western expression. Unfortunately, the West doesn't have a very good history with those of the Jewish character.

Zionism isn't like the 1960's civil rights movement in the US. That movement encompassed all of America. Zionism on the other hand is exclusive. It is specific for the Jewish people. But in its own rights it has given Israel's Arab citizens rights and freedoms like none other in the Middle East. But by not striving to help Arabs seek their own freedom and security, it has failed to show the Arabs the attributes of the movement. There were other forces at play. Pan-Arab nationalism was headed by dictators, and Islamist movements followed. The political freedom activist just hasn't been able to operate in the region.

Many lefties are now calling for a one-state, to encompass all Jews and Arabs from the river to the sea. But why only there? They say it is the only way to ensure freedom for all. If the Lebanon, Yugoslavia, and India-Pakistan is any guide, it is doomed to fail. I know that they advocate for this because it would mean Israel's destruction. These people hate exceptionalism. If one person loses, everybody loses. That's basic liberal ideology. Welfare, that's one issue I moved more to the center. We have to show everybody the path to succeed, but artificially lifting those that can't at the expense of others is wrong. Like I mentioned earlier, Zionism didn't show Arabs the path to gain their own freedom and security. And a one-state solution won't either. The West would have to be exteremely hostile towards Israel and the Jews to implement this, and with the already hostile environment, it is a receipy for disaster.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Secular Haredism

Gideon Levy had another one of his anti-occupation anti-war rants. I call it a rant because he uses every spin in the book to make his argument. He is so detached from reality I don't know where to start.

Someone that goes by the name of Mike left this comment on the online version of the rant:
The imagination that one should not respond to lethal attacks in their country against fellow civilians because of morality is distorted thinking.
This is the secular version of Haredism where one seeks purity through separation from reality.
Cheap spirituality at the expense of others
I couldn't say it any better.

The week that was

I went to a Lutheran Church with my father and grandmother this afternoon for a concert of Bach's Mass in b-minor. There was a lecture in the beginning given by Prof. Wolf who teaches at Harvard and speaks with a German accent. Even though the church wasn't even 60 years old, it still had that church feeling with the color-stained windows depicting biblical scenes and the massive organs. Surprisingly, there wasn't a massive cross with a carved dead Jesus on it. Maybe because it was Lutheran. But it was still one of those places that you don't feel comfortable till you hear two people with Jewish accents talk about Tanakh behind you. Yup, the cantor of a local synagogue and his family were there as well. The only thing that would have topped it was if the choir sang "Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh" instead of "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus".

The concert was all my father and grandmother hyped it to be. I am familiar with Bach but this "Mass" was very good, with 4 soloists, a full choir, and a small orchestra. Sure, I closed my eyes a few times, and it took them forever to go through just four words, but I was awake when it counted.

On another matter, I volunteered at a local community playground construction. You can read the Jewish Times article about it here. It's amazing what a shovel and some dirt can do to the soul sometimes.