pageok
pageok
pageok
"Seven Jewish Children":

This, new short play opened in London recently, and it's hard to articulate how depraved it is without suggesting you first read the full dialogue. The essential "plot," if you can call it that, is to show how Israeli Jews, deranged by their suffering in the Holocaust, gradually turn into alter-egos of the Nazis.

Not surprisingly, the Guardian loved it. The Times did not. The Guardian also defends the play against charges of anti-Semitism, because, the author writes, "I cleave strongly to the view that it is possible to be critical of Israel without being antisemitic." Sure you can. But it's rather harder to make that defense when you start your play with parents trying to reassure children caught up in in the Holocaust, and end with this (including lines that evoke classic blood libels):

Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names why not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldn't she know? tell her there's dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she's got nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them, tell her I'm not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them, tell her we're the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can't talk suffering to us. Tell her we're the iron fist now, tell her it's the fog of war, tell her we won't stop killing them till we're safe, tell her I laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they're animals living in rubble now, tell her I wouldn't care if we wiped them out, the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I don't care if the world hates us, tell her we're better haters, tell her we're chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it's not her.

That said, whether or not the playwright is anti-Semitic is somewhat besides the point. The play has many defenders, and one is left to wonder: if a non-member of any other minority group had chosen to psychoanalyze that group, implicitly claiming its members deranged and bloodthirsty because of earlier historic traumas, that they resemble the Nazis, are indifferent to the death of babies, believe they are superior to everyone else, etc., would the reaction be remotely the same?

UPDATE: Just to be clear, though, I'm not saying the author is anti-Semitic, or even that the play is inherently anti-Semitic (it is inherently ignorant and appalling to claim that Israel is Nazi-like in its treatment of Palestinians, and that this is the result of Israelis' own historical demons, but while anti-Semites can be condemned as appalling ignoramuses, not all appalling ignoramuses are anti-Semites).

I am saying that the author took no care to eliminate references that could easily be construed as anti-Semitic, that at least one reference (to Jews thinking of themselves as the "chosen people", which does not, in Jewish tradition, have any implications of ethnic superiority*) is inexplicable at least without reference at least to others' anti-Semitism that the author has absorbed, and that if a playwright had been similarly cavalier with the history and "psychoanalyis" of other historically oppressed ethnic group, in the process of accusing that group of being dominated by bloodthirsty fascists, she would be condemned, not lauded, in London's "progressive" circles.

[*I concluded in a previous post: "So, as far as I can tell, being the 'chosen' simply means that Jews are in a particular contractual relationship with God that our ancestors made, one that is not always to our advantage, and that is without prejudice to the status of Gentiles before God."]

FURTHER UPDATE: Howard Jacobson lambastes those who defend the play, particularly one Jacqueline Rose:

In its unquestioning espousal of [Rose's] theory that the Holocaust traumatised the Jews into visiting back upon the Palestinians what the Nazis had visited on them -- a theory of dazzling psychological simplicity that turns Zionism (and never mind that Zionism long predates the Holocaust) into a nervous breakdown, and all subsequent events into the playing out of the Jews' psychic instability. By this reasoning, neither the Palestinians nor the Arab countries who have helped or hindered them are relevant. Jacqueline Rose spirits them away from the scene of the crime. They are redundant to the working of her theory, of no significance (whatever they have done), since the narrative of the Middle East is nothing but the narrative of the Jewish mind disintegrating.

What Jacqueline Rose seems not to have noticed is that this theory is a perfect illustration of the very Jewish arrogance she decries, assuming to itself responsibility for every deed.

Putting aside the content of Jacobson's piece, I wish I could write like that!

And Jacobson, it turns out, makes a similar point to mine: "Only imagine this as Seven Muslim Children and we know that the Royal Court would never have had the courage or the foolhardiness to stage it."

DG:
David,

I'm not sure why you would even give this crap any attention. The sad thing is that there seem to be a segment of the UK Jewish population who crave participation in this sort of thing, because it shows them to be "good Jews". That never worked at any other point in history, so I'm not sure why they thing it works now. Kapos.
2.27.2009 9:55am
hawkins:

other minority group had chosen to psychoanalyze that group, implicitly claiming its members deranged and bloodthirsty because of earlier historic traumas, that they resemble the Nazis, are indifferent to the death of babies, believe they are superior to everyone else, etc., would the reaction be remotely the same?


Depends which minority group you are referring to. I suspect there would be more condemnation for African Americans, but probably significantly less for Catholics.
2.27.2009 9:56am
neurodoc:
Professor Bernstein, you of course don't really wonder. Nor do I. The Jews/Israelis as Nazis trope is pure, unadulterated Evil. If there is any irony here, it is that this play is of a kind with what the Nazis churned out in furtherance of their genocidal efforts against Jews qua Jews, and that the Soviets subsequently continued the defamatory campaign, taking over for the Left what had previously been a largely Right thing. (When it was a Right thing, it was mostly "racial," that is true visceral hatred for Jews qua Jews; with the Left it is mostly "political," though not without some of the "racial" there too.)
2.27.2009 10:01am
Eric Muller (www):
David, Israel and anti-semitism aside for a moment, I have always found it intuitively sensible that some deeply traumatized people will themselves become victimizers. The well-known intergenerational replication of child abuse patterns tends to support the psychological insight.

So is it your view that the psychological idea that appears to underlie this play is theoretically groundless or empirically false? Or is it rather your view that the invocation of this psychological idea against Israelis must be anti-semitic?

I ask this in all good faith (and as a member of a family deeply touched and victimized by the Nazis).
2.27.2009 10:02am
wohjr (mail):
David-


Would it be jew-hating to ask WTF does this have to do with law and libertarianism? Why don't you get your own blog?
2.27.2009 10:03am
Eric Muller (www):
(I hasten to note, by the way, that the play appears to range far beyond the psychological insight I reference, to the extent that it depicts all Israelis as controlled by this psychological mechanism, or to the extent that it suggests that Israelis, by virtue of the Jews' mid-century trauma, would not care about the deaths of babies, etc.)
2.27.2009 10:04am
hawkins:

Would it be jew-hating to ask WTF does this have to do with law and libertarianism? Why don't you get your own blog?


Hasnt this question been asked and answered enough? Many bloggers post about things other than "law and libertarianism." They can post whatever they want!
2.27.2009 10:08am
neurodoc:
I recently encountered for the first time the acronym PEP, when looking at a Leftie Jewish blog which relentlessly criticizes Israel, while effectively giving the Palestinians and other Arabs a pass on just about everything. "PEP" stands for "progressive except Palestine," and is used to chide those who count themselves as "progressive" but fail to join fellow "progressives" in regularly condemning Israel. While I don't think condemning Israel was an expectation of "liberals," it seems that it is one for "progressives."
2.27.2009 10:12am
Professor Chaos:
wohjr, perhaps you should find a blog that's more to your liking. You have no standing to demand that the authors here address or avoid certains subjects.
2.27.2009 10:12am
Dave N (mail):
Would it be jew-hating to ask WTF does this have to do with law and libertarianism? Why don't you get your own blog?
I'm a different Dave, but nobody required you to read it. In fact, nothing stops you from starting your own blog, too.

If you don't like the VC content, don't let the door hit you on your way out.
2.27.2009 10:17am
wohjr (mail):
Chaos-

I demand nothing, merely a suggestion. Now back to your regularly scheduled anti-semetic outrage of the week!
2.27.2009 10:18am
neurodoc:
wohjr: Would it be jew-hating to ask WTF does this have to do with law and libertarianism? Why don't you get your own blog?
No, it wouldn't. It does beg the question, though, WTF you don't go elsewhere rather than call upon on of the VC to do so. It's easy enough to skip past the threads that Professor Bernstein starts, especially those that may readily be seen not to deal "with law and libertarianism." So, why do you jump in here, when surely there must be a great many other places for you to go?
2.27.2009 10:20am
salacious (mail):
"The essential "plot," if you can call it that, is to show how Israeli Jews, deranged by their suffering in the Holocaust, gradually turn into alter-egos of the Nazis."

From a quick skim of the play, it is about the moral tension between the history of persecution and the present of persecutor. Now, you can disagree with the playwright about whether Israel is persecuting the Palestinians, but, given that she thinks they are, it seems pretty natural to write about the relationship of that behavior to the Holocaust. So, is there any content to your vilification of this play other than a disagreement about the righteousness of Israeli policy?

Also, you are truly torturing the word "evoke" in your rush to stuff in an accusation of blood libel. Images of dead babies in anti-war writing? This is surely the lost postscript to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
2.27.2009 10:21am
hawkins:

Many? You mean, Kopel, Lindgren and Bernstein?


What exactly do Eugene's postings on language, Orin's postings on music or beer, Adler's postings on lyrics, and Ilya's postings on geeky literature have to do with "law and libertarianism?" Thats almost all of the bloggers.
2.27.2009 10:23am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Eric:

Some people who are traumatized by violence become violent; others become extremely sympathetic to others in similar circumstances.

But again, the author's intent here is somewhat besides the point. The play isn't exactly a deep look at the psychology of victimhood. But if an author had played fast and loose with the history of any other minority group for "artistic" purposes, and with the intent of libeling that minority group as deranged and violent because of its past history, whether motivated by distaste for that group or simply by a separate political agenda, I don't think the left-wing London intelligentsia would be bending over backwards to defend it.
2.27.2009 10:24am
fd457 (mail):
Honest question: can something be anti-Semitic if it necessarily applies only to Israelis?
2.27.2009 10:29am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Also, you are truly torturing the word "evoke" in your rush to stuff in an accusation of blood libel.
I'd agree with you, but it's not just the dead babies line, but the gratuitous "chosen people" reference later in the same paragraph, which has nothing to do with either the Holocaust (except for the fact that it's a standard part of anti-Semitic trope to claim that Jews think they're superior to everyone else, and was of course used by the Nazis in that regard), or the situation in Gaza. Anyone who actually knows anything about Judaism knows that "Chosen People" means chosen to obey the Torah and be a "light unto the Nations" by its behavior in obeying the ethical commands of the Torah, and does not suggest ethnic superiority. Throwing in the Chosen People shtick is about a good a sign of, at best, an ignorant willingness to rely on the anti-Semitic propaganda of others as truth. And the chosen people calumny is intimately tied up with blood libels.
2.27.2009 10:30am
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb:

Would it be jew-hating to ask WTF does this have to do with law and libertarianism? Why don't you get your own blog?

Wohjr, I post under this handle not because I wish to exclude DB, but rather because I grow so very tired of people like you. Type my handle into your web browser and watch what happens. And then, maybe, you could STFU.
2.27.2009 10:32am
Calderon:
Having quickly read through the play, I didn't quite get the same feeling of anti-semitism (though I'm not Jewish). Obviously, it's highly critical of Israel and its current policies, but that's not per se anti-semitic.

I wondered about DB's thought experiment at the end, and I think in large part the reactions would depend on the author (even though many educated liberals criticize intentionalism as a mean of statutory interpretation). For example, if someone wrote a play about black Americans enslaving whites, whipping whites, raping white women, etc., the reaction would depend a lot on who that "someone" was. If it was a white liberal, there'd probably be some unease but not too severe criticism; if it was a white conservative, there'd more likely be a firestorm.

A different example would be the reaction to someone arguing that black Americans who were a majority in a city were using laws to economically advantage themselves and disadvantage other racial groups. (Supposedly this was an undertone in Richmond v. J. A. Croson) I'd guess reactions to that argument would be polarized along political lines, with a lot of liberals claiming the argument was racist, while conservatives arguing that it was just reality, liberals are unwilling to see black racism, etc.

So, in short, I think the answer to DB's last question is that the reaction likely would be mixed with other groups, which is what seems to have happened with this play.
2.27.2009 10:34am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
If you want to explore the effect of massive trauma on a people, you do a paper. You do an essay. After you do research. You don't do a play. To do a play means skipping much or most of the relevant info. You can't put a research topic into a drama.
So when you do a play, you know you're misrepresenting the subject. In advance.
2.27.2009 10:34am
hawkins:

If you want to explore the effect of massive trauma on a people, you do a paper. You do an essay. After you do research. You don't do a play.


If you're a playwright you certainly do.
2.27.2009 10:37am
Duffy Pratt (mail):

So when you do a play, you know you're misrepresenting the subject. In advance.


Most likely a paper or an essay will not yield a perfect representation either. Picasso's Guernica may be, in some ways, a misrepresentation of the bombing, but that doesn't mean its worthless.
2.27.2009 10:42am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Just to be clear, though, I'm not saying the author is anti-Semitic, or even that the play is inherently anti-Semitic (it is inherently ignorant and appalling to claim that Israel is Nazi-like in its treatment of Palestinians, and that this is the result of Israelis' own historical demons).

I am saying that the author took no care to eliminate references that could easily be construed as anti-Semitic, that at least one reference (to the chosen people) is inexplicable at least without reference to others' anti-Semitism, and that if a playwright had been similarly cavalier with the history and "psychoanalyis" of other historically oppressed ethnic group, they would be condemned, not lauded, in London's "progressive" circles.
2.27.2009 10:43am
Houston Lawyer:
What is it with the "progressive's" infatuation with the "Palestinians"? I certainly don't see any such sympathies for others who were forced out of an area because they lost a war. Perhaps it's not antisemitism, but I don't see any other obvious explanation.
2.27.2009 10:48am
thegrandmudti (mail):
This must be the sequel to that rachel corrie smear against the Jews of a few years back.

All groups are celebrated for their desire for self- determination, except the Jews.
2.27.2009 10:56am
rbj:
Not having seen or read the play, my question is, does the play also deal with the fact that within hours of being created Israel was attacked by its neighbors and to this day only has peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (199?) with most of its neighbors refusing to recognize Israel's existence.

Now there are Israeli policies I disagree with (the settlements for example) but one can disagree about certain policies without indicting a whole nation or ignoring one half of the equation.
2.27.2009 11:00am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Sorry, I had accidentally deleted the chosen people line in my original block quote. It's there now.

RBJ, it only mentions that as an "excuse" for killing Palestinians. But you can read the play in about 10 minutes.
2.27.2009 11:03am
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
I frankly thought the most interesting part of the work was the "performance rights and copyright" portion, at the back; for those who didn't notice it:

The play can be read or performed anywhere, by any number
of people. Anyone who wishes to do it should contact the
author's agent (details below), who will license performances
free of charge provided that no admission fee is charged and
that a collection is taken at each performance for Medical Aid for Palestinians


Having noted that, the more interesting question is have any commenters actually SEEN this puppy presented? To call the script a "play", in any conventional sense is kind of a stretch; it's basically eight pages patches of monologue, with no stage direction.
What're the director and actor(s) actually DOING with this material?

BTW, it's about eight minutes long, and they're not charging admission for it. That, coupled with the odd "literary rights" policy, suggests that what we've got here is essentially a "theatrical advertisement"; the Royal Court would appear getting the noteriety generated by scandal("There's no bad publicity") in exchange.
2.27.2009 11:12am
Allan L. (mail):
Don't you all mean to say "anti-semantic"?
2.27.2009 11:13am
Andy Bolen (mail):
How revolting.

Side note: I appreciate your willingness to engage with commenters on your posts.
2.27.2009 11:17am
Volokh Groupie:
Jonathan Adler's lyrics posts often had little to do with libertarianism and law and nobody complained, i'm sure we can stomach DB's more substantive 'OT' posts.
2.27.2009 11:17am
smallrock:

"So, as far as I can tell, being the 'chosen' simply means that Jews are in a particular contractual relationship with God that our ancestors made, one that is not always to our advantage, and that is without prejudice to the status of Gentiles before God."

Some people might be forgiven for believing that an assertion by a particular ethnic/religious group that it has an exclusive contractual relationship with the creator of the universe emits a whiff of superiority.
2.27.2009 11:17am
corneille1640 (mail):
Mr. Bernstein,

Thanks for the update. I initially thought I disagreed with you, but now I have a better sense what you are arguing. Still, I don't know enough about London "progressive" circles to comment on whether a play similarly depicting others' experiences would be welcomed or derided.

I'll also say, in passing, that your posts on antisemitism and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict have convinced me to reconsider a lot of my views on what counts as antisemitism and the terms of that conflict. I probably disagree with you on some of these issues, but I appreciate hearing your side of the story.
2.27.2009 11:20am
Jacob C.:
Professor Bernstein:

Right after the unquestionably angry passage that you quote, this play ends with the following lines:

Don't tell her that.

Tell her we love her.

Don't frighten her.

I cannot see how this final image even arguably depicts Israeli Jews as having been transformed into anything remoely like quasi-Nazis. These characters are clearly struggling with complicated ideas and feelings. Life was not that complicated for the Nazis.

I appreciate and applaud your linking the whole play, but having read it must conclude that you have misstated its moral and emotional message.
2.27.2009 11:22am
Elliot123 (mail):
"I am saying that the author took no care to eliminate references that could easily be construed as anti-Semitic,..."

Eliminate references? He created them. He put them in the play. He typed them with his own fingers.
2.27.2009 11:25am
Steve H (mail):
When I read about "evoking" the blood libels, I thought there would be a lot of stuff about how the Jews killed Christ, etc. Instead, a lot of those bolded lines don't sound all that different from what several commenters were saying here a few weeks ago. And those were the ones in favor of Israel's bombardment and invasion of Gaza.

I don't think anyone here raised the "chosen people" line. But really, Professor, what evidence do you have that that line is "inexplicable at least without reference to others' anti-Semitism."

Based on many of your posts, it appears to me that you are hypersensitive to anti-Semitism (real and perceived). But not everyone else is. So while you may be looking at the play through a prism of anti-Semitism, you don't really know that the playwright was.

And is it really the author's responsibility to take care to "eliminate references that could easily be construed [by me] as anti-Semitic"?
2.27.2009 11:27am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Some people might be forgiven for believing that an assertion by a particular ethnic/religious group that it has an exclusive contractual relationship with the creator of the universe emits a whiff of superiority.
You mean like Christians who say that only people who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah can be "saved"? Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces, so by your standards, it's Christians, and not Jews, who more emit the "whiff of superiority."
2.27.2009 11:32am
Vanceone:
The thought experiment can be easily answered, David: Mormons are pretty well fair game by "liberal, tolerant leftists." Perhaps Evangelical Christians as well. Just look at the recent reaction and attacks (physical attacks as well as just rhetorical ones) on the LDS church by the left; and the constant evangelical Christian bashing that goes on. If you did a play that had some Mormon butchering a gay person, you'd be lauded up and down as a pioneer, most likely.
2.27.2009 11:32am
Tom S (mail):
David,

Would you say that Israel's world view is somehow not shaped by the Holocaust? Without the Holocaust, it is very likely Israel would not exist at all.

Only a country that still carries the trauma of the Holocaust deeply in its political fabric, could come up with the rationale that Hamas is an existential threat to the strongest military and most advanced economic power in the region, and adopt policies accordingly.

You would also do well to remember that when the Nazis took power in Germany, their goal was not to exterminate Jews, but to force them out of Germany (and later the countries that were conquered). It should not take an unusually acute observer of Israeli politics--and the settler movement in particular--to spot similar tendencies among certain elements of Israeli society. Israel as Nazi Germany? Not by a long shot, and not likely, either. On the other hand, stranger things have happened.
2.27.2009 11:33am
neurodoc:
Houston Lawyer: What is it with the "progressive's" infatuation with the "Palestinians"? I certainly don't see any such sympathies for others who were forced out of an area because they lost a war. Perhaps it's not antisemitism, but I don't see any other obvious explanation.
It's part weltanschauung, part stupidity/ignorance, and part antisemitism. The proportions of each of those will vary somewhat from individual to individual, with the first of them most of it for "progressives" collectively.

What Marx did for communism, Edward Said did for the current day version of progressivism's perspective on the Middle East conflict, and to a lesser but still signicant extent to conflicts elsewhere in the world, most especially those of greatest interest/concern to the United States. For progressives of the non-PEP type, there is the colonizing, exploitative West and the colonized, exploited rest of the world. Iran styles the US the Great Satan and Israel the Little Satan, and supports the Palestinians in opposition to both, with religion key, that is Muslims versus Jews and their Christian allies. Progressives, who have imbibed Said knowingly or unknowingly, are harshly critical of Israel not for religiously motivated reasons like Iran, but for secular ones, seeing Israel as an extentension of the United States, "colonizing" an indigenous people. It's a piece of their world view.

Stupidity/ignorance probably does as much or more to "inform" the opinions of many progressives about Israel and the Palestinians than antisemitism as such. If I had at hand the link to photos from a recent antiwar demonstration in San Franciso sponsored by ANSWER (significantly antisemtic organization), I would use it to argue for stupidity. What is to be said of those carrying signs identifying themselves as supporters of GLBT(?) causes, while denouncing Israel and proclaiming support for Hamas? Israel is as tolerant of gays as Western Europe and the US, while Hamas is as anti-gay as other fundamentalist Islami movements, yet these GLBT types are absolutely clueless marching under their rainbow banners. Being anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian is just part of the package for them, no matter that it is so internally inconsistent where they are concerned.
2.27.2009 11:44am
DavidBernstein (mail):
"could come up with the rationale that Hamas is an existential threat"

No one says that. They say Iran is an existential threat. Hamas is Iran's proxy, but no one says Hamas, per se, is an existential threat. Indeed, Israeli leaders typically say that if they could deal with Iran, they wouldn't worry about Hamas.

"You would also do well to remember that when the Nazis took power in Germany, their goal was not to exterminate Jews, but to force them out of Germany"

There's a rather significant difference here: the situation between Israel and the Palestinians is and has been one of war, and civil war, over a given piece of territories, with the Palestinians supported by the Arab states. And half the population of Israel was kicked out of other Arab states. The Jews of Germany, to say the least, had no territorial ambitions in Germany and served loyally in the German army in WWI. So if you want to analogize to, say, Turkey and Greece, or India and Pakistan, where (mutual) ethnic and religious territorial and other hostilities created movements for population exchanges and expulsions, I'll buy that as a something an "acute observer" might suggest. But Germany and the Jews? Not even close.
2.27.2009 11:45am
Preferred Customer:
Maybe it is just because I am a (newish) parent myself, but the first vignette in that story was haunting.

The rest I thought were quite heavy-handed; whatever your feelings about the politics of the piece (and I agree that it is heavily anti-Israel), I don't think as art that the conclusion lives up to the promise of the beginning.
2.27.2009 11:51am
neurodoc:
smallrock: Some people might be forgiven for believing that an assertion by a particular ethnic/religious group that it has an exclusive contractual relationship with the creator of the universe emits a whiff of superiority.
Do you have in mind Christians who believe that those who do not accept Jesus as their Savior will burn in Hell for eternity; or Muslims who believe that theirs is the successor religion to Judiasm and Christianity, and their Prophet was/is the channel to Allah? But then Christians and Muslims have not been cruelly persecuted and killed for centuries on account of any "superior" airs, have they? (BTW, which "superior" religion to you subscribe to? And for these purposes, atheism may be counted a religion of sorts, one that often projects superiority vis-a-vis believers.)
2.27.2009 11:51am
Steve H (mail):

You mean like Christians who say that only people who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah can be "saved"? Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces, so by your standards, it's Christians, and not Jews, who more emit the "whiff of superiority."


I hold no brief for the Christian claim that only those who accept their Messiah can be saved (and at times find it quite offensive). But I think there is a difference between Christian exclusivity and (perceived) Jewish exclusivity.

Part of the Christian message seems to be that anyone else who accepts their Messiah will also be saved. So there's not the same degree of exclusivity involved. The Jewish claim to be the Chosen People seems to be more based on who the Jews are (the descendants of Abraham, the twelve tribes, etc.), rather than what they believe. So membership in that group appears to be more exclusive.

Quite frankly, I don't think too many people are aware that "Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces."

So in the view of a lot of people, Jews are saying that "they" are chosen by God, and have a special covenant with God, while Christians are saying that everyone can have a special covenant with God if they so choose (by accepting the Messiah).

Whether or to what extent these perceptions are accurate is another question.
2.27.2009 11:53am
neurodoc:
Didn't see that DB had already said the same thing about other religions' "superior" beliefs.
2.27.2009 11:54am
Oren:
Children of abusive parents often fear passing that trait on to their children.

Being a second-generation survivor, I can say without doubt that the generation that survived the holocaust is profoundly traumatized in a way that makes moving forward impossible -- it has become a fixation. The more apt parallel (I agree, of course, that the play is facile at best, I won't say what at worst) is that of a rape victim that is unable to move past that experience.
2.27.2009 11:56am
smallrock:

You mean like Christians who say that only people who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah can be "saved"? Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces, so by your standards, it's Christians, and not Jews, who more emit the "whiff of superiority."

If you want to badmouth Christians, that's fine with me. It has nothing to do with my point though. Saying that B is worse than A doesn't exonerate A.
2.27.2009 11:56am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Quite frankly, I don't think too many people are aware that "Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces."

So in the view of a lot of people, Jews are saying that "they" are chosen by God, and have a special covenant with God, while Christians are saying that everyone can have a special covenant with God if they so choose (by accepting the Messiah).

Whether or to what extent these perceptions are accurate is another question.
The fact that people are ignorant hardly gives them an excuse to spread anti-Jewish calumnies without investigating the source of their ignorance. But yes, you can read the original post I link to, and just google "seven Noahide laws," and see that it's actually a lot easier for non-Jews than Jews to be in God's good graces according to Jewish tradition.

Moreover, the "Chosen people" line is from the Hebrew bible, which is part of the Christian Bible, making it rather odd for Christians to object to it.

Third, anyone can become Jewish, so it's not in that sense more exclusive than becoming Christian.

It's true that you can be born Jewish, but if you're born Jewish, your "choseness" just means you have a lot of obligations to fulfill, it's not an automatic ticket to heaven as believing in Jesus as savior is to some Christian denominations.

Finally, the great irony is that Judaism was starting to develop into a non-tribal, universalistic religion in Roman times, but eventually the Romans, influenced by the Christians, made it a capital crime to try to convert someone to Judaism, thus stifling any such move.
2.27.2009 12:01pm
Suzy (mail):
Comparing the Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism, as a psychological response to the trauma of the Holocaust, to the phenomenon of the abused becoming abusers is utterly wrongheaded on several levels. Beyond the most superficial level, when you consider the mechanisms at play, the analogy breaks down completely.

Anyway, I do consider the play anti-Semitic because it does not simply critique one set of Israeli policies or opinions, but makes a ham-handed effort to ascribe motives to an entire people based on their shared history as a people. Normally we call that racism, when it is also associated with the kinds of pejorative judgments of a whole people that are found here.
2.27.2009 12:01pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
You mean like Christians who say that only people who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah can be "saved"? Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces, so by your standards, it's Christians, and not Jews, who more emit the "whiff of superiority."


If you want to badmouth Christians, that's fine with me. It has nothing to do with my point though. Saying that B is worse than A doesn't exonerate A.
Logically, it does, given that (a) it's Christians who have mostly spread the myth about "choseness"; and (b) it's rare this side of Hitchens to find someone who criticizes Judaism on this score to be more, or even as, critical of the more extreme exclusivity claims of Christianity, Islam, etc.
2.27.2009 12:04pm
Sk (mail):
"Just to be clear, though, I'm not saying the author is anti-Semitic, or even that the play is inherently anti-Semitic...I am saying that the author took no care to eliminate references that could easily be construed as anti-Semitic."

This is the essence of your argument. Frankly, so what? You are saying that the author isn't anti-semitic, and the play isn't anti-semitic. Merely that someone, somewhere, could interpret it as anti-semitic? Someone, somewhere, could interpret anything as anti-semitic.

I personally agree with you politically, and in terms of the good guys and bad guys in the situation. But you need a stronger argument than this.

Sk
2.27.2009 12:04pm
Oren:

Quite frankly, I don't think too many people are aware that "Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces."

How is popular ignorance of a basic religious tenet relevant here?


So in the view of a lot of people, Jews are saying that "they" are chosen by God, and have a special covenant with God, while Christians are saying that everyone can have a special covenant with God if they so choose (by accepting the Messiah).

Generally speaking, the "special" covenant with God is a duty, not a privilege. It imposes a whole raft of requirements for your daily life in exchange for very little extra in addition to what a gentile who lives by the Noahide laws receives.
2.27.2009 12:04pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Maybe it is just because I am a (newish) parent myself, but the first vignette in that story was haunting.
Funny, you don't look Newish!
2.27.2009 12:06pm
Adam J:
Houston Lawyer- What war did the Palestinians lose?
2.27.2009 12:07pm
smallrock:

Logically, it does, given that (a) it's Christians who have mostly spread the myth about "choseness"; and (b) it's rare this side of Hitchens to find someone who criticizes Judaism on this score to be more, or even as, critical of the more extreme exclusivity claims of Christianity, Islam, etc.

Now you are talking about something else.

Let me walk you through your errors here.

I said that some might be forgiven for interpreting an assertion of an exclusive contract with God as a bit superior.

You retorted, Christians are worse because they think you can't get into heaven if you aren't saved.

I pointed out that saying that Christians are worse because of their beliefs doesn't exonerate anyone. That is illogical.

Now you are saying something different. Now you are saying that Christians spread the "myth about 'choseness'." That is something quite different.

Now that we have established the illogic of your "A is worse than B so B is exonerated" line of reasoning, let's look at what you are saying now. I don't know what "myth" of "choseness" you are talking about - it seems that you, yourself, free admit that a tenet of Jewish belief is that they are the chosen people, as defined by having an exclusive contract with God. What is the "myth" there?
2.27.2009 12:15pm
Tom S (mail):
David,

You and I know that the Jews were no threat to Germany, but, given the circumstances of the time--and the political situation in Germany--enough people in Germany believed it to be so.

You and I probably disagree on the nature of the threat that Palestinian militancy and attacks pose to Israel, but what we believe is less important than what Israelis believe.

If a proportion of Israelis believe that Palestinians are bestial savages (as do some of the posters here) who have the means to destroy Israel, and have no right to live near Israelis (either in Israel or the West Bank); and if these Israelis have the political power to at least paralyze attempts at a peace settlement, the situation where forcible peacetime removal of Palestinians may become a viable policy. If that comes to pass, Israel will have taken a giant step down a road that they should not go. Do you want to assure me that an Avigdor Leiberman in the political driver's seat might not take Israel in that direction?

As to Iran being an existential threat...another argument for another time; one which the next Iranian election might move to the back burner anyway.
2.27.2009 12:18pm
Steve H (mail):
@Oren, 12:04:

Someone brought up the fact that the popular perception that Jews consider themselves to be the Chosen People may lend itself to a whiff of superiority.

Prof. Bernstein responded that Christians are more guilty that Jews in this regard.

I simply pointed out that whether Christians are more guilty than Jews about this isn't really the point, since we are talking about perceptions, and the perceptions are what they are.

I'm certainly not qualified to debate whose actual religious beliefs are more demanding or more exclusive.

And Professor Bernstein, doesn't someone have to go through certain steps to "become" Jewish? My cousin converted to Judaism a few years ago (from Catholicism -- my straight-from-the-Old-Country Catholic relatives were none too pleased), and I seem to recall that she had to go through something of a process to do so.

As far as I understand, "accepting Jesus" requires little more than saying "Praise the Lord" and take a dunk in a pond. [/snark]
2.27.2009 12:21pm
smallrock:

As far as I understand, "accepting Jesus" requires little more than saying "Praise the Lord" and take a dunk in a pond

It's easier than that. I remember Oral Roberts telling me when I was a child that all I had to do was reach out and touch the television screen and accept Jesus as my saviour and that, from that moment on sin would roll off my back like water off a duck's back and I would be welcomed into the Kingdom. And who am I to doubt Mr. Roberts?
2.27.2009 12:28pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
This play looks offensive. Let's get that out of the way.

But prof. Bernstein's defense of the "chosen people" claim is unpersuasive. We are all grown-ups now, right? We know that an invisible man in the sky didn't make land grants and give other favors to one ethnic group, don't we? Whatever god may be, She is not a racist.

And yes, favoring people because of the accident of their birth is different than favoring people because of what they do. Christian and muslim claims of exclusivity are bad too, but at least they are about doing something to win god's favor rather than being entitled to some favor due to nothing more than a person's ethnicity.
2.27.2009 12:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And yes, favoring people because of the accident of their birth is different than favoring people because of what they do.
Dilan, you really need to read the original post I did on this, because you are completely missing the point. Jews are not "favored" under Jewish tradition because of the accident of their birth. They are provided with additional obligations to serve God because of the accident of their birth. I'm not a believer myself, but I went to Orthodox Jewish schools where I was taught by true believers, and that is precisely what they taught me.

And I do think that Christian and Muslim doctrine is worse, because it led to millions of deaths trying to convert nonbelievers. Jews would have no reason to do anything like that, because Judaism doesn't require, or even encourage, Gentiles to follow Judaism.
2.27.2009 12:35pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
as defined by having an exclusive contract with God
Actually, I don't know that there's anything in Judaism that makes this contract "exclusive," but that's complicated by the tribal origins and nonmontheistic origins of Judaism, as you can see if you read my original post.

And all Gentiles do have a contract with God under Jewish tradition, that God won't destroy the earth if the people obey the seven Noahide laws. The symbol of this contract is the rainbow, and it predates but survives the Jewish people's contract with god.
2.27.2009 12:39pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
When I read about "evoking" the blood libels, I thought there would be a lot of stuff about how the Jews killed Christ, etc. Instead, a lot of those bolded lines don't sound all that different from what several commenters were saying here a few weeks ago. And those were the ones in favor of Israel's bombardment and invasion of Gaza.
The "blood libel" is different than the deicide trope (although of course the former may stem from the latter.) The "blood libel" refers to the accusation that Jews kill gentiles -- often children -- as part of their rituals/beliefs. The most famous one is the claim that Jews use gentile children's blood to make matzoh. That one still pops up in the Arab world. Not surprisingly, these sorts of accusations generally led to pogroms.
2.27.2009 12:40pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And yes, favoring people because of the accident of their birth is different than favoring people because of what they do. Christian and muslim claims of exclusivity are bad too, but at least they are about doing something to win god's favor rather than being entitled to some favor due to nothing more than a person's ethnicity.
You're missing the point. The "Chosen people" has nothing to do with being "Favored. It's about obligations, not favor.

For Jews, non-Jews can be equally "favored" with a lot less effort.
2.27.2009 12:48pm
neurodoc:
Dilan, you really need to read the original post...
He should also read those original sources that are foundational to the original post, and much more.
2.27.2009 12:48pm
smallrock:

Actually, I don't know that there's anything in Judaism that makes this contract "exclusive," but that's complicated by the tribal origins and nonmontheistic origins of Judaism, as you can see if you read my original post.

I did read your original post. You stated: "So, as far as I can tell, being the 'chosen' simply means that Jews are in a particular contractual relationship with God that our ancestors made." It seems that now you are trying to pivot and say that the contract isn't exclusive. I don't quite see how that squares with your original post.


And all Gentiles do have a contract with God under Jewish tradition, that God won't destroy the earth if the people obey the seven Noahide laws. The symbol of this contract is the rainbow, and it predates but survives the Jewish people's contract with god.

Offer, acceptance, consideration? I don't recall the Gentiles ever entering into this contract. (And that also reinforces the "exclusivity" argument, too.)




It's been a few year
2.27.2009 12:50pm
neurodoc:
David M. Nieporent: You're missing the point. The "Chosen people" has nothing to do with being "Favored. It's about obligations, not favor.
You might have told Dilan Espar that if in fact anyone ever imagined it to mean "favored," they could not have continued to believe it for very long given the history of the Jews over the course of many centuries of persecution.
2.27.2009 12:56pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

And Jacobson, it turns out, makes a similar point to mine: "Only imagine this as Seven Muslim Children and we know that the Royal Court would never have had the courage or the foolhardiness to stage it."


Actually, if it was seven Muslim children who turn into Hamas militants because their families were obliterated in an Israeli airstrike then yeah, I can see somebody making that. And it would make the same point.
2.27.2009 12:57pm
Steve H (mail):

The "blood libel" is different than the deicide trope (although of course the former may stem from the latter.) The "blood libel" refers to the accusation that Jews kill gentiles -- often children -- as part of their rituals/beliefs. The most famous one is the claim that Jews use gentile children's blood to make matzoh. That one still pops up in the Arab world. Not surprisingly, these sorts of accusations generally led to pogroms.


Thanks for the correction.

Either way, I didn't see too many references in the quoted passages to using gentile blood for matzoh.
2.27.2009 12:57pm
neurodoc:
smallrock, you seem to think your logic is ineluctable. Let me tell you it ain't, notwithstanding your self-congratulatory QEDs.
2.27.2009 1:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
1. Being "chosen" by god is, at bottom, a claim that those of jewish ancestry were more important. Saying that they were chosen to do something doesn't alter that a claim is being made that jews are in some sense more important to god than others.

2. Your view is clearly not shared by all jews. Certainly the more fanatic of jewish settlers on the west bank, for instance, seem to believe that god is in the land grant business and is a racist. They have plenty of supporters as well.

3. You are surely right that christian and muslim exclusivity has killed more pweople. But given the extent to which settlers and their supporters obstruct peace and sow the arab-israeli and arab-us conflicts, the chosen people line of thinking has probably caused more than a few deaths itself.

To be clear, none of this justifies the deployment of this trope by anti-semites. But claims that jews were chosen are indeed offensive and unhelpful in the modern world.
2.27.2009 1:01pm
Jacob C.:
David Nieroporent:

You are right that Jews have a lot more laws to obey than non-Jews. And it is true that non-Jews can gain a portion of the World to Come. But in Jewish tradition, Jews have the advantage of a presumed portion. This is most famously laid out in the opening staement od the tenth chapter of the Mishnah of The tractate Sanhedrin. The chapter is known by the short-title Chelek" (portion), and appears in the transposed eleventh chapter of the Babylonian Talmud: "All of Israel has a portion in the World to Come." Most of the chapter lays out execeptions to that rule. The presumption does come from being "chosen."
2.27.2009 1:01pm
smallrock:

smallrock, you seem to think your logic is ineluctable. Let me tell you it ain't, notwithstanding your self-congratulatory QEDs.

If you had the ability to articulate any flaws in my logic, I imagine that you would have done so instead of offering up such a flaccid little insult. Feel free to prove me wrong.
2.27.2009 1:07pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I did read your original post. You stated: "So, as far as I can tell, being the 'chosen' simply means that Jews are in a particular contractual relationship with God that our ancestors made." It seems that now you are trying to pivot and say that the contract isn't exclusive. I don't quite see how that squares with your original post.
Now you're just being tendentious, because "particular" is not a synonym for "exclusive."

"doesn't alter that a claim is being made that jews are in some sense more important to god than others"
Just about all religions think their adherents are more important to god than others. Judaism, as I pointed out, is far less extreme than (much of) Christianity and many other religions in this regard, because one does not have to be a member of the religion to go to heaven. The big sticking piont is that Judaism is a tribal religion in origin, Christianity isn't, so Christians naturally use their set of beliefs as the normative standard.

Certainly the more fanatic of jewish settlers on the west bank, for instance, seem to believe that god is in the land grant business and is a racist.
2.27.2009 1:10pm
Jacob C.:
Much of this converstaion reminds me of the old joke about a Russian Jew who has survived a pogrom. Looking out over the ruins of his village, he raises his eyes and his hands to the heavens and exclaims: "Dear God. For two thousand years we have been your chosen people. Do us a favor. Choose someone else."
2.27.2009 1:11pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
It's art. It's supposed to make you think. It's supposed to make you question your beliefs: have the Jews taken on qualities of Nazism in the aftermath of the Holocaust? Why or why not?

Art does not have to be accurate to induce thought.

My synagogue once started a fund for the homeless. I contributed heavily to it, having been homeless myself in the past, and understanding all too well what a hardship it really is. And during a meeting about the fund, someone stood up and said the most appalling thing I have ever heard come out of a Jew's mouth.

"The most important question," he said, "is how to make sure this fund is used to help homeless Jewish families."

For the next hour or so, I was more ashamed to be a Jew than ever before. I heard loud, vicious bickering over whether an intermarried couple was Jewish. The consensus they appeared to be reaching was that an intermarried couple was Jewish if and only if the woman was Jewish and there were children; they would help the family for the sake of the Jewish children.

And then someone (sadly, not myself; I lacked the courage) stood up and said "how, exactly, can we look one another in the eye after we tell a family in need that we will not help them because they are not Jewish?"

And after another ten or fifteen minutes of much quieter discussion, it was decided that the fund should be for any and all homeless families who were in need.

But the question must be asked: what the hell possessed us to debate any other policy?

The play exaggerates a similar scenario, to make us think, to make us consider. If it is wrong, we may rest comfortably in the knowledge that it is wrong. But if it is right, even partially, perhaps we will change ourselves and encourage others to change.

But we must first know, in our heart of hearts, whether we truly believe this play is wrong. And that demands we entertain, if only for the sake of comparison, the idea that it may perhaps be right.
2.27.2009 1:13pm
Frater Plotter:
Some Zionists -- particularly Christian Zionists, from what I've been able to tell -- are such because they believe that God specially gave the land of Israel to the Jews, over and against any prior claims to it. And some progressives, having heard that, may confuse that notion with the "chosen people" notion.

It's an easy mistake to make, like non-Catholics who think the "Immaculate Conception" refers to the conception of Jesus. And it dovetails closely with a common anti-Zionist stereotype of Zionism as an irascible but guilty stubbornness: "It's ours, it's always been ours, we don't have to share! Why? Um ... God says so! Yeah! We stole it fair and square!"

In specific, some conservative Christians support Zionism precisely as a moral struggle of good Jews and Christians versus evil infidels -- who are evil not because of their individual acts, but rather corrupt as a culture because they aren't Jews and Christians. They identify the Palestinians with the ancient Canaanites and Philistines of the Bible, with reference to Moloch and Ba'al as demonic gods of those peoples. Some have argued that the Palestinians are the Amalekites, drawing in a Biblical story that many have described as genocidal.

Likewise progressives are generally critical of historical movements such as the Spanish colonization of the New World, and the Manifest Destiny period of American history -- under both of which an arguably genocidal conqueror asserted that God had given them the land. They are likely to see these, as well as Western "colonialism" in general and the Nazi Lebensraum notion, as symptoms of the same underlying disease: "God gave us this land; our people deserve this land; anyone who stands in our way deserves to be slaughtered."

It is surely the case that the vast bulk of supporters of Israel do not believe that. But it is likewise surely the case that it is a catchy story and readily believable to those who see the things going on in Gaza and the West Bank, and who hear the rhetoric of religious conservatives, and long for an historical explanation.
2.27.2009 1:13pm
neurodoc:
Steve H: Either way, I didn't see too many references in the quoted passages to using gentile blood for matzoh.
Your understanding of "blood libel" is too crimped. That was its literal meaning back in the time of the Crusades, when great numbers of Jews were slaughtered by the Crusaders on their way to fight in the Holy Land. And the same literal belief in the "blood libel," with variations like Jews as poisoners of communal wells, animated pograms against Jews even in the 19th and 20th century, there aren't too many people these days who believe that Jews kill Christian children in order to use their blood to make matzoh, except in the Arab world, e.g., Syria, where such stuff is still part of the antisemitic fare. (BTW, it is plausible to see the "blood libel" as a projection unto Jews by Christians, who make so much of the blood of Jesus, even holding that saramental wine is transsubtantiate into his blood during the mass, just as the wafer becomes his body. Passover, when Jews eat matzoh in remembrance of their exile in the desert, falls close to Easter, the celebration of Christ's Resurrection, with much focus on his blood at that time.)

These days, the "blood libel" finds more subtle, insinuative expression that the outlandish, literal one. Patently antisemitic fantasies like the notorious Cheka forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, may be seen as akin to the "blood libel.
2.27.2009 1:13pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Posted before I responded to Dilan's point above beginning with "certainly."

All believing Jews believe that in some sense God promised the Land of Israel to the Jews. What that means in practice and especially for modern politics is a matter of interpretation, and generally results from someone arguing backwards from preconceived political positions. I had a post a while back where I pointed out that it's unfair to blame "Islam" for the human interpreters decision to interpret contested doctrines a certain way, and it's equally unfair to blame "Judaism" for the fact that some individuals will interpret contested doctrines in a certain way. In other words, the "religion", per se, gives absolutely no answers as to how Israel should or should not settle the West Bank, but human political actors "interpret" the religion to support their own goals.
2.27.2009 1:14pm
smallrock:

Now you're just being tendentious, because "particular" is not a synonym for "exclusive."

Actually, I think the "exclusive" springs more from the fact that you said in your original post that the contract was made with "our" ancestors.

Unless by "our" you meant the ancestors of everyone on the world. But you didn't, did you?

And I notice that you don't have any defense of your claim that God somehow has a unilateral contract with everyone.
2.27.2009 1:17pm
TEvanFisher (mail):
As a student of Theatre, I think that the psychological effects of Nazi atrocities upon individual Jews (whether or not they were direct victims) can make an excellent theme for a play (see Arthur Miller's Broken Glass.

This play, however, seems to be offensive tripe with little literary or political merit. having not witnessed a performance, i will simply assert that I would be surprised if such a script could create compelling theatre.

As a student of law, I love DB's posts on issues like this, even if they are not directly related to issues of international law or freedom of speech. Consider, however, that one question was aptly raised - how would the play be received if it referred to Muslims? How would it be treated under the law of more restrictive Islamic governments?

Keep up the good blogging - it is a pleasure to read.
2.27.2009 1:18pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

it's highly critical of Israel and its current policies, but that's not per se anti-semitic


Only in theory. In the real world we live in, sctatch a person who is highly critical of Israel, find an anti-semitic.

Plenty of examples right here.

BTW, AdamJ, Palestinians were on the losing side of the War of Israeli Independence and, especially, the Six Day War. They were citizens of Egypt and Jordon then. Of course you knew this already.
2.27.2009 1:19pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And I notice that you don't have any defense of your claim that God somehow has a unilateral contract with everyone.
I said that Judaism teaches that God made this covenant. He did so with Noah and his children. They were supposedly the only people left on earth, so everyone has inherited this contract. I'm only pointing out what Judaism has traditionally taught, not claiming there is really any such contract, any more than I am claiming that God actually entered into a covenant with Abraham, or gave the Torah to Moses. But since the claim seems to be that Judaism teaches that Jews, and only Jews, have any relationship with God, I am pointing out the falsity of that. And from what I was taught by my Orthodox teachers in school, believing Christians and Muslims are quite cool with God.
2.27.2009 1:26pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I had a post a while back where I pointed out that it's unfair to blame "Islam" for the human interpreters decision to interpret contested doctrines a certain way, and it's equally unfair to blame "Judaism" for the fact that some individuals will interpret contested doctrines in a certain way. In other words, the "religion", per se, gives absolutely no answers as to how Israel should or should not settle the West Bank, but human political actors "interpret" the religion to support their own goals.

Well, Professor Bernstein, I don't blame Jews as a group or Judaism as a faith for any of this. Indeed, one of the reasons these issues are so difficult to talk about is that there are a whole bunch of anti-semites out there who just want to come up with excuses to blame "the Jews", as a group, for whatever ills in the world they are talking about.

I do, however, blame the leaders of those sects within Judaism who push the "God gave Israel to the Jews" and "chosen people" narratives as important parts of their faith. That, in fact, is my entire point. In a modern world where intelligent and educated people shouldn't be believing that God is up there making land grants to ethnic groups that humans are bound to respect, having significant segments of the population (both in conservative Christian communities as well as some Jewish ones, I might add) is really not helpful. The middle east has enough problems as it is.

If I can draw an analogy, though an imperfect one. Eventually, the leadership of the Mormon Church figured out that having a religious doctrine that barred blacks from the priesthood on the grounds that those of African descent received a mark of Cain for some sin of their ancestors was a pretty pernicious thing to believe and espouse in modern society. Of course, Mormonism is a top-down religion, so the authorities in Salt Lake were able to simply order that change. But it was a good change to make. Similarly, it would help things if some Jewish and Christian religious leaders would back off the claims that Jews, as a matter of ethnicity, can claim a special relationship with God.
2.27.2009 1:26pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Only in theory. In the real world we live in, sctatch a person who is highly critical of Israel, find an anti-semit[e].
I wouldn't go that far, but Jacobson had a great line. "You don't need to be anti-Semitic to be anti-Israel. It just so happens that you are."
2.27.2009 1:28pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
Thanks for the link on the chosen people thing - that's something I've often heard bandied about and really knew nothing about.

And yeah, this play seems really, really uncool.
2.27.2009 1:34pm
Steve H (mail):

Only in theory. In the real world we live in, sctatch a person who is highly critical of Israel, find an anti-semitic.

Plenty of examples right here.



That's such bullshit.

Are you old enough to remember the protests against South African apartheid? I am. And in my view, there is very little difference between today's protests against Israeli actions toward the Palestinians and white South Africa's treatment of its black majority.

Except that people who supported South Africa didn't regularly lob highly offensive and unjustified accusations of the protestors as racists or bigots.

This isn't about anti-Semitism, it's about holding Western and Western-supported countries to a particular (maybe not entirely realistic) standard of behavior.
2.27.2009 1:35pm
hawkins:

Only in theory. In the real world we live in, sctatch a person who is highly critical of Israel, find an anti-semitic.


Only anti-semites are highly critical of Israel? that's ridiculous.
2.27.2009 1:40pm
smallrock:

I'm only pointing out what Judaism has traditionally taught,

So when you said this in your original post:

So, as far as I can tell, being the 'chosen' simply means that Jews are in a particular contractual relationship with God that our ancestors made,

did the "our" refer to everyone in the world?
2.27.2009 1:40pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Now you're just being tendentious, because "particular" is not a synonym for "exclusive."

Actually, I think the "exclusive" springs more from the fact that you said in your original post that the contract was made with "our" ancestors.

Unless by "our" you meant the ancestors of everyone on the world. But you didn't, did you?
No, he didn't, but that doesn't make your argument make any more sense. This particular contract was made with the Jews. OTHER contracts may have been made with other people. Therefore, the particular contract with the Jews is not exclusive.


And I notice that you don't have any defense of your claim that God somehow has a unilateral contract with everyone.
Why does it need a defense? If God wants to make a contract, who's going to stop him? It's not a legal "contract," any more than Rousseau's "Social Contract" is a legal contract.
2.27.2009 1:42pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Are you old enough to remember the protests against South African apartheid? I am. And in my view, there is very little difference between today's protests against Israeli actions toward the Palestinians and white South Africa's treatment of its black majority.

There are a couple of huge differences, actually. First, while there was certainly some violent resistance to Apartheid in South Africa, South Africa's responses were entirely disproportionate. While I won't defend everything Israel has done to fight terrorism, they have a smaller country than South Africa, face a greater threat of terrorism, and are much more careful to keep their responses proportional.

Second, Israel still affords Arab citizens substantial political rights. South Africa not only exiled many blacks to "homelands" (a policy that you can at least argue has a slight resemblance to what is happening on the West Bank) but denied those blacks in the white-dominated cities any meaningful political, economic, or cultural rights. In contrast, for all Israel's faults, if you are an Arab living in Haifa, you probably have more rights than most Arabs have living in Arab countries.

Look, I believe with all my heart that eventually there is going to have to be a two-state solution that involves kicking the settlers out and creating an independent Palestine with a governable and economically viable territory. But that's not going to happen as long as Hamas keeps on launching periodic attacks against Israeli civilians. And in the meantime, Israel is in a real box in terms of its policy-- whereas South Africa's troubles were all of the white government's own making.
2.27.2009 1:43pm
Oren:

This isn't about anti-Semitism, it's about holding Western and Western-supported countries to a particular (maybe not entirely realistic) standard of behavior.

Because Palestinians are subject to a different moral code?
2.27.2009 1:44pm
smallrock:

No, he didn't, but that doesn't make your argument make any more sense. This particular contract was made with the Jews. OTHER contracts may have been made with other people. Therefore, the particular contract with the Jews is not exclusive.

That's self-refuting.
2.27.2009 1:44pm
Yankev (mail):

Obviously, it's highly critical of Israel and its current imagined policies, which the playwright assumes to be the result of Jewish history and religious belief, both of which she distorts, all resulting in the Jews' loss of the collective grace they had earned by virtue of the Holocaust, but that's not per se anti-semitic.
2.27.2009 1:51pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Part of the Christian message seems to be that anyone else who accepts their Messiah will also be saved."

There is no universal Christian message regarding salvation. A great many (not all) Chistian denominations hold that God determined who is saved and who is not saved before the creation of the universe. So, accepting the Messiah has nothing to do with it. Salvation can't be earned. However, they will note that the saved group will naturally gravitate to belief in their Messiah, therebey including themselves and the other folks in the pews in the group chosen for salvation.

Under this scheme, one group is chosen to be saved, and another is chosen to burn in hell forever.
2.27.2009 1:54pm
smallrock:

You mean like Christians who say that only people who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah can be "saved"? Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces, so by your standards, it's Christians, and not Jews, who more emit the "whiff of superiority.

Mr. Calvin might also have some quibble with this understanding of Christian doctrine.
2.27.2009 1:57pm
Yankev (mail):

Part of the Christian message seems to be that anyone else who accepts their Messiah will also be saved. So there's not the same degree of exclusivity involved. The Jewish claim to be the Chosen People seems to be more based on who the Jews are (the descendants of Abraham, the twelve tribes, etc.), rather than what they believe. So membership in that group appears to be more exclusive.
Except that, as has been pointed out, anyone can choose to become Jewish. Yes, it does require study and commitment, because it has to be an intelligent and informed choice to take on the obligations and purpose of the Jewish people. Once that conversion is complete, the Jewish religion considers that person to be a Jew, and any children born to the convert after conversion are considered to have been born Jewish. So your assumptions about Abrahamic descent are erroneous.


Quite frankly, I don't think too many people are aware that "Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces."
So that makes it okay for them to resent Jews on that basis, right? Let me fix that for you.

Quite frankly, I don't think too many people are aware that "Judaism doesn't require anyone to be Jewish to be in God's good graces murder gentile children and use their blood in making matzo and to poison wells, nor that Jews did not murder Our Lord."
2.27.2009 1:59pm
Yankev (mail):

Mr. Calvin might also have some quibble with this understanding of Christian doctrine.
As taught by my 10th and 12 grade Western Civ teacher (a staunch Dutch Reformed Church member) in our unit on the Reformation:

Total depravity (of mankind)
Unconditional election
Limited Atonement
Irresistable grace
Perserverance of the saints

Unconditional election of only part of mankind -- only part of Christendom -- and in fact only part of the Church. Everyone else condemned to eternal damnation. Now I understand why those Dutch are so hated wherever they go, right, smallrock?
2.27.2009 2:05pm
Steve H (mail):

There are a couple of huge differences, actually. First, while there was certainly some violent resistance to Apartheid in South Africa, South Africa's responses were entirely disproportionate. While I won't defend everything Israel has done to fight terrorism, they have a smaller country than South Africa, face a greater threat of terrorism, and are much more careful to keep their responses proportional.


Oh sure, there were significant differences between Israel and South Africa. But that's not my point. I'm not talking about Israel vs. South Africa, but rather comparing Americans who protested apartheid with Americans who now protest Israel.

I firmly believe, based on my own experience, that the protests are quite similar, both in terms of the groups of people involved and the motivations. Accordingly, protests against Israel are no more motivated by anti-Semitism than protests against South Africa were motivated by anti-Boerism.


Because Palestinians are subject to a different moral code?


Actually, yes. (Not that they are subject to a different moral code, but that they are held by certain groups of people in the West to different moral standards.)

I think we (or most of us) feel more responsible for "our own." For example, I hold my own kids to a higher standard of behavior than I hold my neighbor's. And I think this dynamic is in play when it comes to Israel (and South Africa back in the day). There are a couple of reasons for this -- one is that the US funds and supports Israel, and therefore Americans are more responsible. A less attractive explanation is that we see Israel as a sophisticated western (and white) country, just like "us", so we expect more out of them.

These views (particularly the last one) may certainly be considered racist. But they are what they are, and I do believe that they are at least subconsciously held by a substantial number of people. And they are certainly not evidence of anti-Semitism.
2.27.2009 2:08pm
Steve H (mail):

So that makes it okay for them to resent Jews on that basis, right?


Hey, don't put words in my mouth. I have never said that it was okay for anyone to resent Jews based on the Chosen People claim (or for any other reason).
2.27.2009 2:11pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Steve H:

Don't you find it a bit ironic that you are defending people aginst anti-semitism charges by comparing Jews to South African White Supremicists?
2.27.2009 2:14pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
No, he didn't, but that doesn't make your argument make any more sense. This particular contract was made with the Jews. OTHER contracts may have been made with other people. Therefore, the particular contract with the Jews is not exclusive.

That's self-refuting.
Uh, no, it isn't.

For instance, I may have a contract with Rolex giving me the exclusive right to distribute Rolex watches in North America. This would be an exclusive contract; no other individual would have that right.

Or, I may simply have a contract to be a Rolex distributor in North America. This would not be an exclusive contract; other individuals can also have contracts to distribute Rolexes in North America.

See the difference? If I'm the only one who can be party to such a contract, then it's exclusive; if other people can also be parties to similar contracts, then it isn't.

See the analogy? If Jews were the only people who could have a contract with God, then it would be exclusive. If other peoples can also be parties to contracts with God, then it's not exclusive. As it turns out, the latter is the case.
2.27.2009 2:20pm
Steve H (mail):

Don't you find it a bit ironic that you are defending people aginst anti-semitism charges by comparing Jews to South African White Supremicists?


Um, no.

But I can see how "I'm not talking about Israel vs. South Africa" can confuse you.
2.27.2009 2:20pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oren

"Because Palestinians are subject to a different moral code?"

Yeah, because little brown people don't know no better and it would be mean to expect them to. Also they've been colonized. Except there was no "they" until recently and some of the colonizers have been, say, Jordan, and if there were a "they" the longest colonizer would have been the Sublime Porte. But if you're colonized by somebody--a certain somebody, anyway--you aren't expected to be up with us superior people. And that gives you an excuse to kill Jews, which is cool with some of the superior people.

Over on LGF, they're laughing their collective patooty into the middle of the next decade at the discovery by various Jews that Hillary and Chas Freeman and Samantha Power are about to throw Israel under the bus. Who could ever have guessed it. Wow. What a surprise. Gee.
Anyway, one excuse is the GOP didn't do a good enough job of keeping Pat Robertson from firing missiles into syangogues. You know, keeping the Christian Right at bay is the primary survival issue right now.
Achhh.
It's the fundies. Easy to claim to be scared of them because they're not actually scary like the Islamowhackos. Better just not think about the the whack jobs.
2.27.2009 2:37pm
smallrock:

For instance, I may have a contract with Rolex giving me the exclusive right to distribute Rolex watches in North America. This would be an exclusive contract; no other individual would have that right.

Go tell it on the mountain top, we is all the chosen people!
2.27.2009 2:59pm
smallrock:

Unconditional election of only part of mankind -- only part of Christendom -- and in fact only part of the Church. Everyone else condemned to eternal damnation. Now I understand why those Dutch are so hated wherever they go, right, smallrock

I know it is probably unintentional on your part, but thank you for making my point.
2.27.2009 3:02pm
Ken Arromdee:
I firmly believe, based on my own experience, that the protests are quite similar, both in terms of the groups of people involved and the motivations. Accordingly, protests against Israel are no more motivated by anti-Semitism than protests against South Africa were motivated by anti-Boerism.

The problem with saying "the situations may be different but the protestors are similar" is that, because the situations are different, a protestor against one has to go through all sorts of mental contortions that a protestor against the other doesn't. These mental contortions are difficult to make in the absence of some degree of anti-Semitism.
2.27.2009 3:05pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb:

It's an easy mistake to make, like non-Catholics who think the "Immaculate Conception" refers to the conception of Jesus.

In my experience, a surprising number of Catholics seem to think this, as well.

But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that people are confused by supernatural gibberish like this.
2.27.2009 3:23pm
Steve H (mail):

These mental contortions are difficult to make in the absence of some degree of anti-Semitism.


How so? In both cases, we have a "western" country doing things that "we" don't think are right, and protesting it.

For forty years, Israel has maintained a situation where the Palestinians are kept in limbo, not allowed to govern themselves independently, yet also not allowed to participate in government as Israeli citizens.

I believe that Israel's maintaining such a situation for forty years is a bad thing. (You may, of course, disagree, or contend that while bad, it is necessary.)

Therefore, I oppose and protest this bad thing.

Which of these contortions is difficult to make in the absence of anti-Semitism?

Usually when people argue that "anti-Israel" protestors are anti-Semitic, they point to the fact that there are lots of countries in the world doing far more horrible things than the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians, and people aren't protesting them. I believe -- though I am not certain -- that DB and a few commenters have made similar arguments here.

My point is simply that choosing to protest Israel while not protesting Sri Lanka is not evidence of anti-Semitism, but rather evidence that some of us care more about what our tax dollars and policies support. Or that some of us care more about what sophisticated white Westerners do than we care about what Sri Lankans do. And as another example of this kind of mental approach, I pointed to protests against South Africa. Back in the 1980s, there were a lot of countries doing far worse things to their people than South Africa was doing. But I don't recall any candlelight vigils on my college campus asking for divestment from Uganda, and I don't remember too many songs about the Timor equivalent of Steven Biko or Nelson Mandela.

This doesn't require one to believe that South Africa and Israel are equally bad. It merely requires one to believe that both South Africa and Israel are/were doing bad things.
2.27.2009 3:28pm
Yankev (mail):

Usually when people argue that "anti-Israel" protestors are anti-Semitic, they point to the fact that there are lots of countries in the world doing far more horrible things than the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians, and people aren't protesting them. I believe -- though I am not certain -- that DB and a few commenters have made similar arguments here.
After all, what's anti-Semitic about chanting "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas?"
2.27.2009 3:34pm
Ariel:
I'm curious about how people who are so opposed to the settlers can not see that the Palestinians are not so different:

- The Palestinians make a religious claim to Al Aqsa, saying that it must be managed by the Waqf [Islamic trust], and that they must consequently have part (or all) of Al Quds [Jerusalem] as their capital. Contrast this with Israeli settler claims that God is in the land grant business, w/r/t Judea and Samaria.
- Most Palestinians have little personal tie to the land, with most having been recent immigrants (~1946-1948 for the very vast majority). You may recall that Palestinians are defined by the UNRWA as people who have lived in Palestine for as little as two years before 1948, and their descendants, uniquely among all refugees. If not on the basis of religion, what is their tie to the land? Is their "land grant" unassailable because they're brown?
- In much Islamic thought, there is a notion that once land was conquered by Islam, it must always revert to Islamic control. For example, one of AQ's concerns has always been the return of Al Andalus [Spain and Portugal] to the Islamic fold. This is a notion of a "land grant" that is not tied to one particular area, but in fact grows and can never be allowed to shrink. This motivates the religious strains of Palestinian resistance, Hamas [Islamic Resistance Movement], Islamic Jihad [Islamic Holy War], and increasingly Fatah [Conquest] - you may recall Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [referring to the mosque in Jerusalem].

Given all of this, once again, like with the chosen people discussion above, it seems to me that worries about God being in the "land grant" business w/r/t Jews are misdirected at best.
2.27.2009 3:43pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Ariel:

1. Palestinian religious claims to the land are just as intellectually bankrupt, anti-modern, and illegitimate as Jewish ones. God didn't "give" any part of the Middle East to any ethnic group, and ALL of the religious figures who make such arguments need to cool it.

2. Many of the Palestinian Arabs who were displaced in 1948 were people whose families had lived in what is now Israel for hundreds of years.

That said, the foundation of Israel and the displacement of Palestinians in 1948 happened, and at least the former happened for a very good reason-- the continuing anti-semitism in the world is testament of the need for a Jewish homeland. (In retrospect, it would have been better not to put it in a place where there were so many Muslims already living there and right next to land (Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria) that Israel was inevitably going to covet and find a rationale to seize. But that's water under the bridge.)

But the resolution of the Arab-Israeli problem entails a recognition that there are two groups of people who have valid claims to live in one space. We have to separate them, while also recognizing both groups' right to be there. It's a difficult needle to thread-- and it is made more difficult both by settlers and by Arab terrorism.

3. Way too much is made of the claim of some (far from all) Muslim clerics that all Muslim lands must someday be reconquered. Spain is a prosperous strong NATO country and nobody's taking back Andalusia, now or at any time into the future. Nor is Israel, with its nuclear weapons, going to be conquered. (The real threat to Israel is the threat that without a 2 state solution, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs will start agitating for a one-state solution with an equal franchise for all.)

Indeed, most Muslims and certainly the leaders of most Muslim countries are quite aware of this fact. In fact, even someone like Bin Laden, if he is still alive, is aware of this. Sporadic terrorist acts are not going to restore the caliphate, and nobody thinks otherwise. That doesn't mean we should underestimate the danger of sporadic terrorist attacks, but we shouldn't pretend that they are more than they are either.

4. In any event, the fact that there is a danger from Muslim terrorism and Islamic clerics teaching grandiose claims about God granting land to Muslims seems to me to be a deliberate deflection.

Indeed, one of the real problems with this debate is that a lot of people won't do what Professor Bernstein honestly did upthread. They won't admit their own position about whether God made a land grant to the Jewish people. Changing the subject to Muslims is a nice way of not having to either admit that (1) this is a stupid and crazy belief that should be repudiated or (2) that you in fact hold that belief.
2.27.2009 4:08pm
Lucius Cornelius:
When asked if the Israelis were acting like NAZIs in the way they treated the Palestinians, writer Elie Weisel answered, "The NAZIs should have been so kind."
2.27.2009 4:38pm
Steve H (mail):

When asked if the Israelis were acting like NAZIs in the way they treated the Palestinians, writer Elie Weisel answered, "The NAZIs should have been so kind."


Well, yeah. Anyone who suggests that the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is anything like the Nazi "treatment" of the Jews is just nuts.
2.27.2009 4:55pm
Yankev (mail):

As if Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were not German Jews, Germany had not had socialist revolutionary movements since the 1840's,
As if Marx had been raised Jewish. As if Marx did not hate Judaism. As if Marx had any sense of belonging to a Jewish people.

or the Nazis did not consider socialism and the Soviet Union existential threats to Germany.
As if most Jews were Marxist, or Jews considered themselves Marxists. As if Jews had any designs-- as Jews -- to destroy Germany and exterminate the German people.

Or as if Germany, Poland, and Russia didn't have a long history of conflicts going back hundreds of years, including the immediate aftermath of WW1.
As if German Jews were Polish or Russian and not German.

All you are proving here is your own prejudice and double standards.
The technical name for the nonsense you are spouting is "projection."
2.27.2009 5:03pm
Tom S (mail):
Lucius Cornelius:

While Weisel was living under what ever fascist prime minister was ruling Romania at the time, Germany was depriving its Jews of their civil rights, stripping them of their property, subjecting them to arbitrary arrest, violence and humiliation, economic boycotts, and even using terrorist attacks as an excuse to impose collective punishment (Rath assassination and Kristallnacht anyone?)

Given the obvious moral an ideological differences between Nazism and Zionism (please don't force me or Professor Bernstein to explain them...), it concerns me as a Jew, and it should concern Elie Weisel as well, that there are increasingly powerful elements in the Israeli polity whose ideology, if taken to its logical extreme, could set Israel down the path that Nazi Germany ended up taking.
2.27.2009 5:09pm
Suzy (mail):
Way too much distorted weight is being placed on the word "Chosen" here, with very little sincere effort to understand. Moses was "Chosen" by God, too, as most Christian churches agree. It was a pretty onerous burden at times, and all sorts of horrifying things happened along the way. Any exclusivity that might have come along with that choice was quite mysterious and was not the sort of thing one would brag about, as if being "Chosen" were like winning a popularity contest or inheriting an estate. Mary was "Chosen" too, according to the story. Was this the sort of thing that gives a person airs?

Really, I mean, can we step back and differentiate the theology from current fights about lines on the map? Because that's what we're asking others to do too, right? Let's ALL do it together, then.
2.27.2009 5:11pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I don't know if you can do this anymore, but I once went on top of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and into the Dome of the Rock. There it was, the Jewish/Muslim conflict in a nutshell.

The Dome coves a large rock. You can touch it. Tradition claims this is the very rock Abraham used as an altar when he was about to sacrifice Isaac. Tradition also claims Mohamed climbed up on the rock and then into heaven. The Jews built a temple over it, the Muslims built a mosque over it. The same rock.
2.27.2009 5:18pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Suzy:

The question isn't what "chosen" means to some rabbinical council somewhere. The question is how a group saying that they are "chosen" is going to be taken by others.

As I indicated in my original comment, we all have to grow up here. Clearly, God, whatever She may be, is obviously smart enough not to make broad-brush pronouncements about particular ethnic groups. In no sense is there any such thing as a "chosen people", whether Jews or anyone else.

So we aren't talking about anything that actually happened here. Rather, we are talking about a claim that some Jews make about themselves (and some Christians make about Jews). And that is that Jews are some how "special" in the eyes of God, more important to God than other people, etc.

And that's a divisive, sectarian claim (indeed, in a sense, a claim that God is a racist) that is almost inevitably going to give ammunition to anti-semites.

So it would be a really good idea for people to stop teaching it, especially since, you know, it isn't true anyway.

And as I note, it is also closely related to the claim that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, which is an extremely pernicious claim that is one of the (unfortunately) many obstacles to peace in the middle east.
2.27.2009 5:22pm
gwinje:
Speaking of that rock:

Cancer Jun 22 - Jul 22

Stealing the opposing team's mascot is a time-honored tradition, but it turns out the Muslims think of that big black rock as more than just a mascot
2.27.2009 5:30pm
Stash:
Steven H:


I firmly believe, based on my own experience that the protests are quite similar, both in terms of the groups of people involved and the motivations. Accordingly, protests against Israel are no more motivated by anti-Semitism than protests against South Africa were motivated by anti-Boerism.


Er, not so at all. Protests against apartheid did not include calls to kill all white people, or even all Boers. Compare "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas" or "We are all Hezbollah" or "We are all Hamas" both of which organizations have the express, though unlikely goal of killing all Jews. The ANC did not claim the right to, nor threaten, nor carry out attacks against white communities throughout the world.

It seems to me that if you believe that "Chosen People" inevitably creates and somewhat justifies a perception of a claimed superiority, you must also logically conclude that such expressions more than justify those who have the "perception" that anti-zionism is nothing more than rank anti-semitism. And, no matter how many times Prof. Bernstein's anti-zionist counterparts patiently explain that is not the case, anti-zionism will inevitably always retain a "whiff" of anti-semitism, no matter how pure of heart such an anti-zionist might be. Or at least so says your logic.

Applying your suggestion about eliminating Chosen People from Jewish belief, might be better applied to the anti-zionist/pro-palestinian movement's refusal to condemn and acceptance of support from anti-semites. As what I suppose could be described as a PEP, I was reading the Nation where the issue of anti-semitism was supposedly "confronted." An ANSWR organizer was asked what they do when someone shows up at an event with an anti-semitic sign or shouts such slogans. The answer was that they take them aside and say, "Hey, we're not about that." Wrong answer. Right answer: "Go home. We are against that. We do not want your support."

In my view, the sad thing about anti-zionism is its undermining of the left. To me, it is reminiscent of the pro-western democracy liberal vs Stalinist split, with the same "types" falling into each category, which is now "PEP's" vs anti-zionists. This is because, more often than not, "anti-zionists" apologize for, excuse and minimize the anti-semitism and anti-semites in the "movement" just as the pro-Soviet Union lefties excused and minimized Stalin's "excesses" for the greater good.

I would happily go to any protest against the settlements in the West Bank, or in support of a peace agreement, if such limited purpose events existed, but I will never, ever lend my support to a demonstration or movement that includes a Hamas or Hezbollah flag, the chant of "From the river to the sea..." folks dressed up as Palestinian gunmen, or any other expression of solidarity with aspirations of murder and genocide. To me, these occasions have more of a "stench" than a "whiff".

So as you say, we are just talking about unavoidable "perceptions" here that anti-zionists should really do something about if they seriously want to dispel them.
2.27.2009 5:59pm
Pendulum (mail):
It's a blind spot to deny that many Jews see the "chosen people" phenomenon as a mark of specialness and superiority, regardless of what the Talmud or any other purported textual authority states. Many don't, but sufficient numbers do to provide a measure of tribalism that I find distateful and incompatible with liberal democracy.

There's always a good bit of glee amongst this lot in discussing Jewish mean IQ contrasted with the general population, or Jewish over-representation in professional and artistic success.

I'm Jewish, BTW. And, if we're reducing things to the binary, I'm "pro-Israel".
2.27.2009 6:01pm
smallrock:

It's a blind spot to deny that many Jews see the "chosen people" phenomenon as a mark of specialness and superiority, regardless of what the Talmud or any other purported textual authority states.

Aww, darn it. Mssrs. Bernstein and Niporent almost had me convinced that we were all the chosen people.
2.27.2009 6:05pm
Steve H (mail):

Protests against apartheid did not include calls to kill all white people, or even all Boers. Compare "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas" or "We are all Hezbollah" or "We are all Hamas" both of which organizations have the express, though unlikely goal of killing all Jews. The ANC did not claim the right to, nor threaten, nor carry out attacks against white communities throughout the world.


This may be true, but I think there's a logical fallacy. I'm not saying that no one who protests Israeli actions is an anti-Semite. I'm saying that merely because one protests Israeli actions is not evidence that that person is an anti-Semite.

This whole thing got started in response to Bob from Ohio's statement at 1:19:


Only in theory. In the real world we live in, sctatch a person who is highly critical of Israel, find an anti-semitic.

Plenty of examples right here.


Certainly not all people who protested Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza were claiming "We are all Hamas" or other nonsense. In fact, I would bet that only a tiny fraction of the protesters were doing that -- I certainly don't remember anyone "right here" saying that.

The rest of your post seems to be directed at me, but I think it should be directed somewhere else. I'm not suggesting that Judaism drop the "chosen people" meme from their religion.
2.27.2009 6:35pm
Ariel:
Dilan Esper,

1. Palestinian religious claims to the land are just as intellectually bankrupt, anti-modern, and illegitimate as Jewish ones. God didn't "give" any part of the Middle East to any ethnic group, and ALL of the religious figures who make such arguments need to cool it.

FWIW, I actually agree wholeheartedly. I was just trying to point out that the notion of a "land grant" is not something confined to settlers. Many people might think otherwise, even by reading your previous comments.

I think there is a purely secular basis for Israel to have Judea and Samaria - the Palestinians started a war and lost it. Losing wars often comes with losing territory, see, e.g., Alzace, India vs. China, etc.

2. Many of the Palestinian Arabs who were displaced in 1948 were people whose families had lived in what is now Israel for hundreds of years.

While it is true that there were some, it was not quite that many. And the total number of Israelis forcibly displaced from Arab countries (including my family) is comparable to the total number of Palestinians - so, while we (among the vast majority) had lived in Arab-colonized lands for hundreds of years, the vast majority of Palestinians were relatively new immigrants to Mandatory Palestine.

(In retrospect, it would have been better not to put it in a place where there were so many Muslims already living there and right next to land (Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria) that Israel was inevitably going to covet and find a rationale to seize. But that's water under the bridge.)

The same problem would have happened anywhere in the world. You can't displace indigenous people and expect them not to notice. In that sense, Israel was the best place to put Israel - Israelis are the indigenous people, while Arabs were the colonists.

It's a difficult needle to thread-- and it is made more difficult both by settlers and by Arab terrorism.

I wouldn't be so comfortable with such a juxtaposition. Ultimately, building a house on (at best, arguably, someone else's) land does not kill them.

Peace is certainly possible. But land for peace has not been the way most border conflicts have been resolved. See, e.g., India/Pakistan.

3. Way too much is made of the claim of some (far from all) Muslim clerics that all Muslim lands must someday be reconquered.

While it is indeed some clerics - I would never claim all - it is a part of their theology. Some may reject that theology, and more power to them, but that does not mean that it is not there.

That doesn't mean we should underestimate the danger of sporadic terrorist attacks, but we shouldn't pretend that they are more than they are either.

The terrorist attacks are not, in fact, sporadic. We only hear about the successful ones. The very vast majority - I believe over 90% - are stopped by the Israeli security forces and are not on the news. The number of rockets is ridiculous, and likewise, we only hear about them if they kill someone. Never mind that the rockets are filled with ball bearings, to maximize civilian injury, or rat poison, to make injuries hard to heal.

The goals of the terrorist attacks are not so minor either:
- To make it so hard to live in Israel that Israeli Jews emigrate.
- To kill women and children, to prevent them from having more children - and thereby fighting a long game in the demographic war
- Ultimately, to have a Palestinian entity, probably an extension of the Iranian state, on the Mediterranean

Now - is the third likely? Maybe not immediately. But they are playing a long game, and us not recognizing that is part of their game. That is why a peace "process" that allows the supposedly minor, sporadic, whatever terrorist attacks to continue is exactly the wrong strategy - and exactly what we've pursued for 20 years.

4. In any event, the fact that there is a danger from Muslim terrorism and Islamic clerics teaching grandiose claims about God granting land to Muslims seems to me to be a deliberate deflection.

You are right that it is of the nature of a tu quoque argument. But it is not a deliberate deflection. If we are talking about antisemitism, and we are talking about "land grants", maybe we should talk about both sides making these claims?

Indeed, one of the real problems with this debate is that a lot of people won't do what Professor Bernstein honestly did upthread. They won't admit their own position about whether God made a land grant to the Jewish people. Changing the subject to Muslims is a nice way of not having to either admit that (1) this is a stupid and crazy belief that should be repudiated or (2) that you in fact hold that belief.

As a matter of fact, I do hold the belief that God granted the land to the Jews. But times change, things change, so I would not use that as an argument for why Israel has a right to the land. Ultimately, every group can make an argument about why God gave x, God gave y, and they're all irrefutable. So I wouldn't use that argument.

Instead, I think there is a completely secular basis for Israel having the land - it needs the land for security, and it won the land in a defensive war. If you don't like losing land, don't start and lose wars. Simple, really.

I think you've made a false dichotomy in your two choices - I can believe that Israel has a right to the land, via the Bible, but I can also believe that it is not crazy, but instead there is a secular basis for reasonably having the land.
2.27.2009 7:51pm
Stash:
Steve H:

My apologies, it was not you who made the suggestion about dropping the "chosen people" tenet. Nor am I suggesting at all, that anti-zionists are anti-semites.

My point was two-fold: first that unlike the issue of apartheid, the zionist issue divides rather than unites the left. This demonstrates that however cut and dried either side of the issue suggests it is, it far more complex morally and from the standpoint of "progressive" values than the South African situation. It is instead, more analogous to the rift between the anti-communist and pro-communist left. A whole large segment of people who worked against apartheid are missing from and do not support the pro-palestinian movement. Hence, there is a distinct dissimilarity between the people who protested the different issues. And, while no one "here" states anything in that vein, I have yet to see a pro-palestinian demonstration that did not contain some of the objectionable elements I outlined. In short, the people protesting now differ from those in the anti-apartheid movement in that they tolerate (but do not necessarily subscribe to) the intolerance of what may only be a minority of their co-protestors.

Seoond, the presence of some pretty odious people and slogans have been an endemic part of anti-zionist demonstrations and events. Whether or not representative of the majority, this inevitably creates the "perception' that anti-zionism is no different than anti-semitism. You did post on the "chosen people" meme, though you did not suggest that it be excised from the religion. But to the extent you defend or explain the "perception" of Jews on this issue, it is certainly doubly applicable to the "perception" that anti-zionism is not different from anti-semitism. Neither, or course, is true. My objection was that you seemed to be privileging one misperception over the other as justifiable. But, since we are talking about perceptions "they are what they are."
2.27.2009 8:01pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The same problem would have happened anywhere in the world. You can't displace indigenous people and expect them not to notice. In that sense, Israel was the best place to put Israel - Israelis are the indigenous people, while Arabs were the colonists.

Only in the sense that all of us are indigenous Africans. The fact that ancestors to modern Jews lived on that land thousands of years ago doesn't establish that Jews had a right to come back there and resettle it in the 20th Century.

But as I said, it's water under the bridge. The Israelis have a perfect right to be there because they have lived there for over 60 years.

I wouldn't be so comfortable with such a juxtaposition. Ultimately, building a house on (at best, arguably, someone else's) land does not kill them.

Settlement is more than simply "building a house". It's a deliberate population strategy. It's a political act. It's a claim about God giving the land to the Jews, which Muslims aren't required to respect. It is (as you concede) a property rights violation.

Most importantly, though, it is an expression of the subordinate status of Muslims, because settlers get subsidies, exemptions from the law, good roads, good schools, favorable water rights, etc., while neighboring Arabs get none of that.

And, of course, it is an obstacle to peace. Indeed, the whole point of the policy is to try and prevent the settled land from being given away to the Arabs.

So while I don't equate it with Arab terrorism, settlement and terrorism are the two major obstacles to the peace process, and they both are big obstacles.

While it is indeed some clerics - I would never claim all - it is a part of their theology.

That's begging the question. Lots of Muslims don't seem to think that it is an important part of their religion-- or part of their religion at all-- that the Caliphate should be restored. Those few Muslims who do believe that would believe it whether or not they thought it was in their religion.

The goals of the terrorist attacks are not so minor either:- To make it so hard to live in Israel that Israeli Jews emigrate.- To kill women and children, to prevent them from having more children - and thereby fighting a long game in the demographic war- Ultimately, to have a Palestinian entity, probably an extension of the Iranian state, on the Mediterranean

And all those terrorist attacks and $4 will buy the terrorists a cup of coffee at the Starbucks at Tel Aviv. Intentions don't matter in the absence of capabilities. Indeed, this is a common offense of neocons when talking about Israel. They will talk about, e.g., Ahmadinejad wanting to wipe Israel off the map, while ignoring that he has no chance in hell of actually doing so.

Similarly, Israel isn't going anywhere. The Israeli people are steadfast and resiliant. So why are so many folks so willing to portray things as if the terrorists are going to win the war? Of course they aren't! Hamas doesn't have a chance in hell of destroying Israel. The fact that they might want to, therefore, is of little import.

The only chance the Palestinians have of destroying Israel is if Israel does not make peace with the Palestinians and the Palestinians start demanding one state with equal rights.

Instead, I think there is a completely secular basis for Israel having the land - it needs the land for security, and it won the land in a defensive war.

Israel does not need the West Bank for security, except, perhaps, the Jordan Valley. And the settlements compromise security by diverting the IDF to protecting far-flung settlers instead of protecting Israel.

I do think a lot of people put too much stock in the "defensive war" argument. First, the six day war wasn't EXACTLY defensive. It's a little more complicated than that-- and you could call it preemptive. But second, and more importantly, lots of times territory is won in a defensive war and is nonetheless later given back. Indeed, Israel has done this in the past. Just because you win territory in a defensive war doesn't mean you NECESSARILY keep it. And given that Israel faces a demographic time bomb if it keeps this land, I would think it is in its interest to give it up.

Unfortunately, that can't happen as long as the Palestinians are wedded to terrorism.

And finally-- you're a grown-up, intelligent person, and you really believe in the BS in the Old Tetament??!??!??!???
2.27.2009 8:07pm
Stash:
C. Gittings:

Just to clarify what you are saying.

Are you contending that the Nazi's had genuine security concerns about Jews, i.e.: that Jews living their midst had "stabbed Germany in the back" and caused Germany to lose WWI? That an international conspiracy of Jews was out to destroy the German polity? Or perhaps the notion that Jews were intrinsically evil and inferior?

Just checking.


know they had their reasons for committing them,
2.27.2009 8:27pm
hattio1:
Professor Bernstein says;

Anyone who actually knows anything about Judaism knows that "Chosen People" means chosen to obey the Torah and be a "light unto the Nations" by its behavior in obeying the ethical commands of the Torah, and does not suggest ethnic superiority


It also means chosen to be given the Land of Canaan. I haven't read the entire play, and probably won't. But you're assumption of the writer's intent, is clouding the possible readings of the importance of this phrase. Whether you agree or not, a lot of people see in Israel's treatment of the Palestinians a desire to control more land. It's not anti-Semitic to comment on that.

I also find it interesting that you say;

But again, the author's intent here is somewhat besides the point. The play isn't exactly a deep look at the psychology of victimhood. But if an author had played fast and loose with the history of any other minority group for "artistic" purposes, and with the intent of libeling that minority group as deranged and violent because of its past history, whether motivated by distaste for that group or simply by a separate political agenda, I don't think the left-wing London intelligentsia would be bending over backwards to defend it


So, the author's intent isn't important, rather you are interested in whether the London intellegentsia would be bending over backward to defend another play about a different minority group with the same intent of libeling that group as deranged. Doesn't that sort of imply that you have to accept your definition of the author's intent?
2.27.2009 9:56pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
fd457 asks: 'Honest question: can something be anti-Semitic if it necessarily applies only to Israelis?'

In principal, yes. In real life, it never, ever works out that way.
2.27.2009 10:30pm
Ariel:
Dilan Esper,

And, of course, it is an obstacle to peace. Indeed, the whole point of the policy is to try and prevent the settled land from being given away to the Arabs... [Palestinian] [i]ntentions don't matter in the absence of capabilities...Unfortunately, that can't happen as long as the Palestinians are wedded to terrorism.

I wanted to juxtapose these statements you made in that post. When you are discussing an "obstacle to peace," you assume that there are two parties that seek to make peace. But when you discuss Palestinian (I assume you meant Palestinian) intentions, you are clear that they have no intention to make peace, and later, are wedded to terrorism. It only takes one party to make war, but it takes two to make peace. If the Palestinians have the intention to make war, which you have already conceded they do, settlement won't make a difference.

The Palestinians, FWIW, are not making war b/c of the settlements, unless you mean Tel Aviv as well as Ariel. As I'm sure you know, the PLO was founded before 67.

So while I don't equate it with Arab terrorism, settlement and terrorism are the two major obstacles to the peace process, and they both are big obstacles.

There's still a huge difference between a political act and murder. But more importantly, contrary to the settler's desired intention, that political act can, and has been transitory. When Israel demanded, earlier rounds of settlers upped and went from Sinai or Aza. There's nothing to suggest that won't be the case again, if the Palestinians ever seek to make peace. Ha!

The chances of Israel uprooting the settlers in Judea and Samaria are now close to nil, thanks to the rockets raining down on Israelis from Gaza. Those rockets really didn't predate the settlement evacuation. So the withdrawal from J&S will not happen, precisely for security reasons - the one international airport in Israel is within easy rocket distance, as is Tel Aviv. The only population center outside of Palestinian or Hezb'Allah rocket range would be Eilat.

This also gets to your point about the purported exaggerations of the neocons and what parts of J&S are needed. The point isn't just what will happen now, but will happen if we follow the supposedly desirable policy of getting rid of the settlements.

The only chance the Palestinians have of destroying Israel is if Israel does not make peace with the Palestinians and the Palestinians start demanding one state with equal rights.

This threat of a one state solution is nonsense, and everyone involved knows it. The Palestinians demand Judenrein territories, when they get territory ceded to them - no settlers, remember - and a Judenrein Israel is not something Israel can really agree to. Nor is it something morally that it should accede to.

Finally, you could call 67 a preemptive war, but only if you meant it in the sense pre-Iraq war, which has enlarged the meaning of the word preemptive. When armies are massing on your borders, and conducting acts of war (shutting down the Straits of Tiaran), sure, it might be a preemptive strike if you shoot first, but it's not exactly Iraq-preemptive, where the danger was more distal.

As to the last point, my beliefs as to the Jewish Scriptures, what you might call the Old Testament, are yes, beliefs. I would not make arguments based on them, because I recognize that they are not shared beliefs. But I do not think they are contradictory with being grown-up, or what intelligence I have. Einstein, for example, though quantum physics was bunk b/c God does not play dice with the universe. In his case, his religiousity held him back - but in many other cases, as Einstein himself noted, smart people can have two contradictory beliefs at the same time - no problem. I don't claim to be in his league, not at all, but merely to point out that religion (and associated irrational beliefs) are not impossible to hold alongside rational beliefs.
2.27.2009 10:30pm
Suzy (mail):
Dilan, your argument seems to be that since most people will misinterpret the phrase "Chosen people", it is pernicious slogan that should be abandoned. In addition, since the whole idea is bunk, why not toss it? Problem is, people honestly believe in this idea, and it doesn't mean what you claim it does. In other words, you may not think God has a chosen people, but many Jewish and Christian people believe it, and there's no special reason why they should toss out this idea just because other people get the wrong notion of what it means.

Since I'm a Christian, I do believe we are talking about things that "actually happened" here. However, if you want me to throw out the idea that God chose certain people and certain groups of people for significant roles in history, you might as well just ask me to throw out my entire Christian faith. I used the example of Moses being Chosen above to illustrate that it in no way means being "better" than other people. Moses himself didn't know what God was thinking, choosing him! He wasn't exactly a great communicator or even semi-popular with his own people, and he did a lot of questionable things. You could just as easily use the example of Jesus, with respect to Christians. If Jesus Christ is going to be born a human, then inevitably any of the particularities of his birth--where, when, to whom, among whom, in what religious tradition--are going to be specially important. That doesn't mean that Jewish people are better than any other (and as some have pointed out above, in ancestry that "special" group technically is supposed to encompass ALL people who are alive today!)--it just means that it had to happen somewhere.

You could make the same point about Islam. Wasn't Mohammed "Chosen" by God in a special way? Isn't special historical significance ascribed to the historical context that surrounds his life? Yet we aren't demanding that those claims be abandoned because they are bunk and destructive--rather, we can simply respect that people have different ideas about these things, and try to co-exist without killing each other.
2.27.2009 11:59pm
Ken Arromdee:
And all those terrorist attacks and $4 will buy the terrorists a cup of coffee at the Starbucks at Tel Aviv. Intentions don't matter in the absence of capabilities. Indeed, this is a common offense of neocons when talking about Israel. They will talk about, e.g., Ahmadinejad wanting to wipe Israel off the map, while ignoring that he has no chance in hell of actually doing so.

If he gets a nuclear bomb he may manage it.
2.28.2009 12:17am
Hinton:
To Caryl Churchill, Israelis are Nazis. Why Nazis? Someone needs to ask her, have her explain it some time, why Nazis?

Does she mean to pay the Nazis such a compliment as this? Why so nice to the Nazis? Why downplay what they did?

She's defining genocide down. The death pits across Europe? No worse than the shelling she sees on TV.

The death pits are props. Gassing Jews in sealed trucks? To Caryl Churchill, a good way to score points. How to insult living Jews.

The Israelis are Nazis because Israelis are Jews. Caryl Churchill won't say so, but she wants it to hurt. Insult the Israelis. Make the Shoah their fault.

But the SS was worse than the IDF is. Hitler was worse than Netanyahu is. Caryl Churchill can't see it, but the Nazis were worse.
2.28.2009 1:01am
trad and anon (mail):
In my experience, you can trust just about anything DavidB says about Israel to be slanted in the most "pro-Israel" direction possible (square quotes because I hate the tendency to conflate a nation-state with its government's policies). And since I haven't read or seen the play, I assume it's not as bad as he presents it, but even so that sounds pretty bad.
My point is simply that choosing to protest Israel while not protesting Sri Lanka is not evidence of anti-Semitism, but rather evidence that some of us care more about what our tax dollars and policies support. Or that some of us care more about what sophisticated white Westerners do than we care about what Sri Lankans do.
I think this is it. Americans' criticism of Israeli policy on this score is principally the result of Americans caring a lot more about events involving white people that they do about similar events not involving white people. Of course there is some anti-Semitism mixed in.
Only in the sense that all of us are indigenous Africans. The fact that ancestors to modern Jews lived on that land thousands of years ago doesn't establish that Jews had a right to come back there and resettle it in the 20th Century.
Especially since if you go back that far (virtually?) everyone with any Eurasian ancestry from that period is descended from everyone who was alive in Eurasia at that time and had descendants. Pureblooded descendants of the native peoples of the Americas won't, but there are (virtually?) none of those.
2.28.2009 5:29am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Stash.
Rationlizing stuff is a help. Gives you some manuvering room.
2.28.2009 9:42am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Settlement is more than simply "building a house". It's a deliberate population strategy. It's a political act. It's a claim about God giving the land to the Jews, which Muslims aren't required to respect. It is (as you concede) a property rights violation.
The vast majority of so-called "settlers" have no "strategy," any more than the residents of Morris County are "settlers" from NYC trying to strategically populate New Jersey. There are some ideological (religious or secular) settlers; many are just looking for a place to live.

And it's only a "property rights violation" if someone else owned the land. Don't confuse the phrase "Palestinian land" meaning "land owned by a Palestinian" with the phrase "Palestinian land" meaning "land within the borders of a future Palestinian state."

Oh, and as for the "good roads," anybody who was in the territories before 1988 can tell you that everyone had the same roads -- until the "Intifada," when the residents of the territories escalated their violence.


And finally-- you're a grown-up, intelligent person, and you really believe in the BS in the Old Tetament??!??!??!???
And this is why you -- and much of those left-of-center generally -- don't take the threat to Israel seriously. You just don't believe, deep down, that some people really do take their religion seriously. So, deep down, you treat this as just a conflict over land between two neighboring ethnic groups, and assume that they really just want an equitable division of that land and then the conflict will end.
2.28.2009 11:25am
David M. Nieporent (www):
There isn't any doubt that Germany had legitimate national security concerns in the 1930's, especially after 1939.
Actually, there is. And in fact, no "national security concerns" that Germany may have had "after 1939" would be "legitimate."

And none of that has anything to do with Jews. But I await more of your "wisdom" on how Marx was "Jewish."
2.28.2009 11:28am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
David,

That's simply not true: a war is a war once it starts, and nobody fights a war to lose. All you're doing is applying a double standard.
2.28.2009 12:05pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'it's just silly for the United States to even be treating them as an enemy in the first place.'

Well, Iran has been making war against the US since 1979. What's silly is that the US Congress has not recognized that a state of war has existed for 30 years.

Note to fd: see posts of Gittings for confirmation of my response to your question.
2.28.2009 12:35pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
EDITOR'S NOTE: Gittings has been banned, and knows he's been banned, for good reason. Please to not respond to his provocations. If he circumvents the ban, I will continue to delete his comments.
2.28.2009 1:19pm
neurodoc:
C. Gittings: I'm not anti-Semitic in the least, and your insinuation to the contrary is pure slander. In fact, I dislike bigotry of any sort, be it religious, ethnic, cultural, whatever -- everyone is just a human being to me.
Meanwhile, Prof. Bernstein, coward and hypocrite that he is, has once again banned me and deleted my comments for expressing facts and opinions which he is unable to answer honestly.
The deleted comment must have been the one in which the self-proclaimed enemy of all bigotry C. Gittings rationalized at length the Nazis "fear" of Jews on "national security" grounds and admonished us not to forget that the Nazis were themselves "human beings."
2.28.2009 3:29pm
neurodoc:
According to C. Gittings,"There isn't any doubt that Germany had legitimate national security concerns..., especially after 1939." (italics added) But if the Germans' national security concerns after launching their all out war of aggression in 1939 were legitimate, then one might wonder if any country could ever have illegitimate nationl security ones. Well, it seems illegitimate national security concerns are indeed possible, since C. Gittings, along with Dilan Espar, tell us that some countries, most especially the US and Israel, do indeed have illegitimate ones:
C. Gittings: The chance that Iran would launch a first-strike on Israel with a nuclear weapon is exactly zero. Do you have any idea how vulnerable Iran is to a nuclear counter-attack?

The only reason they have for wanting a nuclear weapon is to deter Israel and the United States from attacking them, and it's just silly for the United States to even be treating them as an enemy in the first place.
Dilan Esper: Spain is a prosperous strong NATO country and nobody's taking back Andalusia, now or at any time into the future. Nor is Israel, with its nuclear weapons, going to be conquered.
2.28.2009 3:49pm
neurodoc:
Oh, I see the Holocaust denier/"revisionist" Larry Fafarman just slipped in! Must be curtain time now.
2.28.2009 3:53pm
Stephanie:

And Professor Bernstein, doesn't someone have to go through certain steps to "become" Jewish? My cousin converted to Judaism a few years ago (from Catholicism — my straight-from-the-Old-Country Catholic relatives were none too pleased), and I seem to recall that she had to go through something of a process to do so.

As far as I understand, "accepting Jesus" requires little more than saying "Praise the Lord" and take a dunk in a pond. [/snark]


FYI: Becoming a Roman Catholic is something of an involved process, too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCIA
2.28.2009 4:45pm
Larry Fafarman (mail):
EDITOR'S NOTE: Farfaman has been banned, and knows he's been banned, for good reason. Please to not respond to his provocations. If he circumvents the ban, I will continue to delete his comments.
2.28.2009 5:09pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
EDITOR'S NOTE: Gittings has been banned, and knows he's been banned, for good reason. Please to not respond to his provocations. If he circumvents the ban, I will continue to delete his comments.
2.28.2009 5:33pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):

Neurodoc:

"The deleted comment must have been the one in which the self-proclaimed enemy of all bigotry C. Gittings rationalized at length the Nazis "fear" of Jews on "national security" grounds and admonished us not to forget that the Nazis were themselves "human beings.""

Well the Nazis were human beings -- that's just biology -- but you're misrepresenting what I said. I don't think of the Nazis' crimes as anything other than crimes, and there isn't any reason that could justify such crimes.

Which is exactly the point.

David Bernstein:

"EDITOR'S NOTE: Gittings has been banned, and knows he's been banned, for good reason. Please to not respond to his provocations. If he circumvents the ban, I will continue to delete his comments. We have learned one thing from his posts, though--that this "critic of Israel" thinks the Nazis had rational reasons for murdering six million Jews. But, mind you, he's not anti- Semitic."



What good reason would that be Prof. Bernstein? So you can propagate malicious slander like this without a reply?

How typical of you: the only real reason is your own dishonesty.

Pray tell: why exactly do you think the Nazis committed their crimes?

For that matter, why do you suppose people rob banks?
2.28.2009 7:01pm
cubanbob (mail):
I have yet to see a case made why their should be a Palestinian State at all. There are already 21 Arab States and over 50 Muslim States, there is no need for another of either. Arabs ought to first practice what they preach and quit the lands they are illegally occupying then perhaps they may have a case. Really don't all of these pro-Palestinian anti-Zionist ever see the irony of their viewpoint; siting comfortably in someone else's homeland bemoaning the plight of the Palestinians; decrying Zionism but quite comfortable with Arabism and Islamacism. Can anyone make a case why an utterly worthless country like Saudi Arabia exist? What has Saudi Arabia ever contributed to humanity? Do they actually contribute anything at all to the advance of science, medicine, art? Of any measure of civilization advancement? Yet Israel is illegitimate and has to make a case for its existence, something no other country has to make.

The whole 'peace process' is a fraud. What is there to discuss? What are the Israeli's being offered that any another country in the same situation would ever accept? Nothing. Israel should behave like European and Arabs, expel the Palestinians and call it a day.
2.28.2009 8:55pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Wow! Just Wow!
2.28.2009 9:19pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
What Bob said -- you couldn't make this stuff up.
2.28.2009 10:12pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Ariel, Suzy, and David:

I certainly understand that rational intelligent people can believe in a supreme being, and I don't particularly have any opinion on that or even any reason to think they are incorrect to do so.

I don't believe, however, that rational intelligent people actually believe that the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament accurately depicts events or that God really did the things that She is alleged to have done in that volume. There are all sorts of reasons why one might convince oneself to believe in those things, but they are, in the end, rationalizations. These things didn't happen in the way they are portrayed, and every grown-up knows it, just like every grown-up knows the truth about Santa Claus.

The fact that lots of intelligent people claim to believe something does not, when it comes to religion, mean that they actually believe it. Wishful thinking is not the same thing as conviction.
2.28.2009 10:30pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Harry,

The CIA overthrew the government of Iran back in the 1950's, and if there is a state of war it's only because we started it. But we aren't actually at war with Iran, and it's nutty to think there is any reason to be a war with Iran. Like the the world economy isn't far enough down the toilet already?

I repeat: it's silly. A waste of time, energy, and money, just like so many of our other diplomatic and military misadventures over the last eight years, especially the Rape of Iraq and the idiotic Global War on Everything in General and Nothing in Particular. The cluelessness of it all is simply astonishing.

PS:

I'm not anti-Semitic in the least, and your insinuation to the contrary is pure slander. In fact, I dislike bigotry of any sort, be it religious, racial, cultural, whatever -- everyone is just a human being to me.
2.28.2009 10:43pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
This play is nothing more than the result of Capitalist impulses. Since Londonistan is full of Muslims these days, there is a significant audience for the play.
2.28.2009 10:59pm
Suzy (mail):

These things didn't happen in the way they are portrayed, and every grown-up knows it, just like every grown-up knows the truth about Santa Claus.

This really isn't helpful. If you find all of these religious beliefs ridiculous, that's fine, but then don't pretend that you have the slightest notion what it meant for God to "choose" people, since you think the whole thing is bunkum.

I also don't have to be a literalist about the Bible to have true conviction that God's actions were described in the OT. We may have to carefully study the historical context and the language and consider whether metaphor or other literary language is being used for some reason, so we may not easily agree about what the text actually says or means. However, that doesn't mean the whole thing is like Santa Claus and unworthy of sincere belief. It's a really insulting attitude--FAR MORE insulting than any of the ideas that have been offered above to explain what might be meant by "chosen people".
3.1.2009 12:17am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
What's insulting about it Suzy?

There are 6.7 billion people on the planet and no two of them have exactly the same understanding of god. Whatever value any of it has is personal. You understanding of what the old testament means isn't of any significance to me legally, politically, or morally, because what I believe about god is between me and god, and god doesn't need a police force.

Now the play is a work of art, whether a good or bad one. It's all about feelings and attitudes, and being expressive, it isn't really subject to a static interpretation -- it's meaning at a given moment is a function of the interaction between the artist and the audience.

I mean gee, what a surprise huh?

Some people have a different understanding of the bible than some others do. Who would have guessed that?
3.1.2009 12:42am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't believe, however, that rational intelligent people actually believe that the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament accurately depicts events or that God really did the things that She is alleged to have done in that volume. There are all sorts of reasons why one might convince oneself to believe in those things, but they are, in the end, rationalizations. These things didn't happen in the way they are portrayed, and every grown-up knows it, just like every grown-up knows the truth about Santa Claus.

The fact that lots of intelligent people claim to believe something does not, when it comes to religion, mean that they actually believe it. Wishful thinking is not the same thing as conviction.
See what I mean? You just, deep down, can't accept that people really believe these things. But they do.
3.1.2009 4:29am
neurodoc:
see DB at 5:33PM on yesterday (2/28/09)
3.1.2009 9:25am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Neurodoc,

"see DB at 5:33PM on yesterday (2/28/09)"


Translation: you got caught being a malicious hypocrite just like Bernstein.
3.1.2009 11:17am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
ref last graf: "Only imagine...Seven Muslim Children...."
Hell, we're told frequently that the trauma of Israeli oppression causes these kids to become suicide bombers.
So, strictly speaking, there'd be nothing wrong with "Seven Muslm Children".
Somebody, with money to burn, should try producing it.
3.1.2009 11:38am
Yankev (mail):

I know it is probably unintentional on your part, but thank you for making my point.
And thank you for making mine. Every government since Israel's founding has been led by non-religious (and at times anti-religious) Jews. Aseerting that Israel's security or foreing policy is based on some Jewish religious belief defies reality. Taking the occassion to ridicule the belief -- after first distorting it and persisting in the distortions after being corrected as to what the belief actually is -- goes beyond absurd into something else.
3.1.2009 2:02pm
Yankev (mail):

And that's a divisive, sectarian claim (indeed, in a sense, a claim that God is a racist) that is almost inevitably going to give ammunition to anti-semites.



So it would be a really good idea for people to stop teaching it, especially since, you know, it isn't true anyway.
Dilan, more than a 150 years ago, the reform movement -- which begain in Germanu -- stopped teaching it, citing both of your reasons. Reform in fact was the major approach to Judaism in Germany. We can see how well dropping that doctrine worked.
3.1.2009 2:06pm
Yankev (mail):

Protests against apartheid did not include calls to kill all white people, or even all Boers. Compare "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas" or "We are all Hezbollah" or "We are all Hamas" both of which organizations have the express, though unlikely goal of killing all Jews. The ANC did not claim the right to, nor threaten, nor carry out attacks against white communities throughout the world.
There were also perhaps a few differences between the history of the Boers and of the Jews over the past several millennia, up to and including the time of the protests.
3.1.2009 2:09pm
neurodoc:
Yankev: There were also perhaps a few differences between the history of the Boers and of the Jews over the past several millennia, up to and including the time of the protests.
There are no written records, oral traditions, or ancient archaeologic traces that put the Boers in South Africa thousands of years ago? Boers were not conquered by the Romans and forcibly expelled from whence they came, after which they prayed daily to return? Notwithstanding the expulsion of most of them, Boers haven't continuously inhabited those parts and surrounds ever since their ancient beginnings? The Boers had at a minimum colorable claim to the land they emigrated to, either because they bought it from those who possessed it when they arrived in South Africa or they succeeded to that of prior governments that had possessed it for hundreds of years? Geez, who knew that there was not an almost perfect identity between the Boers in South Africa and the Jews in the Holy Land.

(BTW, are you comforted by Dilan Esper's sanguine assurances that Israel's fears of Hamas and Iran, along with those of the West generally vis-a-vis the Islamofascists, are vastly overblown and ought not be taken seriously? And you do respect Dilan Esper and his views, don't you, though he wonders if "you're a grown-up, intelligent person, and you really believe in the BS in the Old Tetament (sic) ??!??!??!???.")
3.1.2009 3:53pm
Ben Ami (mail):
There's a great discussion of Churchill's "play", in today's Jerusalem Post online.

As for the first comment on this thread about a segment of UK Jews who support this kind of stuff, that segment is small -- very small. But noisy. Many of them are the type who believe in feeding their own people to the alligators in the hope that they themselves will be eaten last.
3.1.2009 4:42pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Neurodoc,

I think we can all agree that the ancestors of the Boers, Jews, Palestinians, Chinese, English, etc, etc, all lived right here on Earth 2,000 years ago. Or were you trying to suggest they came from outer space?

No, of course not... you were just trying to blow some smoke to support your drooling neo-fascist hypocrisy and hate-mongering.
3.1.2009 5:34pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
If you find all of these religious beliefs ridiculous, that's fine, but then don't pretend that you have the slightest notion what it meant for God to "choose" people, since you think the whole thing is bunkum.

It's not that I don't have the slightest notion. It's that anyone who says they are "chosen" by God is both delusional and egotistical. And therefore it is a really, really, really good idea to throw such beliefs into the dustbin of history rather than to give the haters and bigots any ammunition.
3.1.2009 8:53pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Dilan, more than a 150 years ago, the reform movement -- which begain in Germanu -- stopped teaching it, citing both of your reasons. Reform in fact was the major approach to Judaism in Germany. We can see how well dropping that doctrine worked.

Post hoc ergo proper hoc.
3.1.2009 8:54pm
ddearborn (mail):
"it is inherently ignorant and appalling to claim that Israel is Nazi-like in its treatment of Palestinians,"

Hmm... Really? I guess forcing 3/4 of a million people off their land (and then stealing it) and forcing them into an open air prison(Gaza)and then destroying the infrastructure required for their basic subsistence including hospitals, schools, water supplies, power stations, etc. really is entirely different from the Nazis. Your absolutely right.
3.1.2009 10:25pm
neurodoc:
It was reported today that Bishop Williamson, trying to make amends with the Vatican for the great embarrassment he has caused the Church, is turning to renowned Holocaust Denier David Irving to tell him whether in fact millions of Jews were put to death in Nazi concentration camps or not.

Also today, I-am-not-an-antisemite-I-am-an-enemy-of-all-bigotry (x2) C. Gittings has declared that "the ancestors of the Boers, Jews, Palestinians, Chinese, English, etc, etc, all lived right here on Earth 2,000 years ago." That presumably follows from the fact that everyone is a human being, biologically speaking, including the Nazis as IANAAIAAEOAB C. Gittings reminds us ("Well the Nazis were human beings -- that's just biology". [Note: Those are/were the same Nazis who IANAAIAAEOAB C. Gittings maintains had their reasons to fear Jews and who it must be allowed had "legitimate national security concerns" after 1939.] Anyone who would contradict IANAAIAAAEOAB C. Gittings is "just trying to blow some smoke to support (their) drooling neo-fascist hypocrisy and hate-mongering."
3.2.2009 12:03am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Neurodoc,

Well gee, there's a whole lot drool there but no substance at all. I especially don't see any answer to the question I asked both you and Bernstein:

Why exactly do YOU think the Nazis committed their crimes?

You can lie / barf about me all you want, but facts are just facts, and that's your problem, not mine. Now do you suppose you could STOP trying to misrepresent me and just speak for yourself?
3.2.2009 1:24am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gittings.
Once we find out why the Nazis did what they did, what's next?
Or do you have a couple of reasons which are allowed and all the rest are illegitimate?
3.2.2009 8:29am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Richard,

Gee, that might depends on the answers. The unitial object is simply to determine if you folks have some actual understanding of reality, and beyond that, if in fact you have soem actual disagreement with me about the moral status of the Nazis crimes.

Beyond that, I'll be looking to establish a coherent framework for evaluating posts like yours at 2.27.2009 2:37pm, to determine if there's some rational basis for anything you.

It's pretty simple really: if you folks are going to make hostile statements about what I believe, you ought to be able to expalin how what you beilieve differs and what basis there might be for evaluating the truth of the matter.

So far, all I'm hearing is that you all think it's a really good idea to prevent me from saying anything at all, and / or shout me down with an endless barrage of pure nonsense and silly questions.

Why do YOU ask questions Richard?

I ask them to find out what the answer are, and you can try answering the same questions I asked Neurdoc and Bernstein.

There's no mystery about where I'm going with any of this, I already stated the punchline -- you neo-fascists would scream bloody murder if anyone did to you what Israel has done to the Palestinians.
3.2.2009 9:42am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gittings.
In reverse order, if we had done to Israel what the Arabs have done to Israel, we'd deserve considerably more than the Pals have gotten. And, being on the receiving end of justice, of course we'd scream bloody murder. Among other things, it's good PR for guys like you. And it's natural to be upset at receiving one's just desserts.

As to why the Nazis did what they did? Because they flat liked to do it.
Thought it was a good idea.
And they had a lot of help in the conquered countries, too. The French have recently said that no more reparations for Jews whose relations were shipped off by the French, for example.
Almost every conquered country provided recruits for a Waffen SS division.
And, at the end of the day, when they needed every man and truck and gallon of gasoline and bullet and railroad car for the purposes of holding off the Allies, they still put a substantial number of them at the service of the Final Solution.
Because they liked to do that stuff.
My father's division pulled all Jews out of the line companies after they found some who'd been captured. "Completed the circumcision" is all my father will say about it. He thinks it was the entire Army in Europe, but is not sure. I haven't checked. But it was true in his division.
This is local effort by the Wehrmacht guys, not some Party-organized operation.
And the Eighth Air Force provided Aryan/Wasp ID to their Jewish air crew.
So it was not entirely about cleaning out a continent.
It was every Jew they could get their hands on.
After VE Day, my father's company was put to wandering the back roads looking for concentration camp escapees who had died of exposure or starvation or disease. The drill was to put them on a stretcher and mark the spot on a map. "Used up every stretcher in the Third Army" said my father. These guys were not, apparently, escapees, but fallout from the columns of Jews taken from the camps in danger of being overrrun by the Allies and in search of more stable crematoria.
There was some serious interest in the project at all levels, which is a matter of the European personality at the time, and, it seems possibly now in a different form.
3.2.2009 11:17am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
"...if we had done to Israel what the Arabs have done to Israel..."??

Where do you get this stuff?

We can sit and argue about who did what to whom all day, starting with what we did to Native Americans and Black slaves, but it's not going to prove the Arabs are any less human or deserving of fair treatment than the Jews.

And it isn't going to prove that the Jews have any superior right to the land in Palestine or that Israel is a legitimate nation either. What it mostly proves is your own prejudice, hypocrisy, and bigotry.

As for the Nazis, it sounds like you actually agree with me -- they had their reasons, lots of them, and they mostly revolved around stuff they thought was a "good idea", like for example "lebensraum" in places like Poland, or the purification of the German race according to their crackpot notions of eugenics (which weren't exactly unknown here in the states IRT blacks, Asians, natives, or indeed, Jews or Irish, etc.)
3.2.2009 12:00pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Gittings.
Of course Arabs are human. They are treated as human. As in, eff with me and I'll kill you. Standard behavior for millenia. Except the Israelis have been, by historical standards, extraordinarily merciful.

Of course the Nazis had reasons for doing what they did. Wrong reasons, but you can't do anything without a reason, so having a reason means what, exactly?
3.2.2009 12:48pm
neurodoc:
Perhaps Bishop Williamson will show up here to object to my lumping him with C. Gittings. After all, the bishop is only on record as denying that millions of Jews were murdered by the Nazis in an effort to exterminate every last one of them. He has not, to my knowledge at least, argued that the Nazis had reason to fear Jews as a disloyal Fifth Column, nor asserted that it is indisputable that the Nazis had "legitimate national security concerns," especially after 1939; nor made a point of saying that the Nazis were "human beings;" nor signaled agreement with the Israelis-as-reincarnated-Nazis meme; etc.*

While objectionable, IANAAIAAEOAB C. Gittings does serve a purpose, that being to demonstrate one type with whom the Israelis-as-reincarnated-Nazis meme resonates.It's also instructive to see what a self-proclaimed not antisemitic, enemy of all bigotry looks like.

As for IANAAIAAEOAB C. Gittings's "Why exactly do YOU think the Nazis committed their crimes?," we will direct him and other like-minded individuals to a library, like the one at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, where there are thousands of books on the subject. Or if library access is a problem for him and his ilk, there is Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and many other places to turn for books that delve into the Nazi mind. For example, in The Nazi Doctors, Robert Jay Lifton, who interviewed concentration camp doctors, provides a psychiatrist's perspective on the psychopathology. For a better understanding of assaults on the truth about the Holocaust, IANAAIAAEOAB C. Gittings might consult Deborah Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust. Should he want help with "Holocaust rationalization," he might consult Pat Buchanan (Churchill, Hitler and "The Unnecessary War"). And if he is after novel Holocaust "revisionism," he can talk to Larry Fafarman, who will explain why a "systematic" Holocaust was not possible.


*Bishop Williamson does believe Jews are collectively guilty of deicide. So, he may think that a Holocaust would not have been undeserved, but he hasn't come out and said as much.
3.2.2009 12:54pm
Yankev (mail):

Perhaps Bishop Williamson will show up here to object to my lumping him with C. Gittings. After all, the bishop is only on record as denying that millions of Jews were murdered by the Nazis in an effort to exterminate every last one of them. He has not, to my knowledge at least, argued that the Nazis had reason to fear Jews as a disloyal Fifth Column, nor asserted that it is indisputable that the Nazis had "legitimate national security concerns," especially after 1939; nor made a point of saying that the Nazis were "human beings;" nor signaled agreement with the Israelis-as-reincarnated-Nazis meme; etc.*
Actually, neurodoc, in addition to the Deicide belief that you have noted, the good Bishop has also expressed a few other charming beliefs, according to today's issue of the Catholic Herald:

A senior bishop of the Lefebvrist Society of St Pius X (SSPX) has endorsed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery that enjoys widespread currency in neo-Nazi circles.


Richard Williamson, one of four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, told The Catholic Herald that the document - which supposedly reveals a Jewish plot to dominate the world - was authentic.

He is also on record as saying that the Jews are fighting for world domination "to prepare the Anti-Christ's throne in Jerusalem"
3.2.2009 2:13pm
Yankev (mail):

Really? I guess forcing 3/4 of a million people off their land (and then stealing it) and forcing them into an open air prison(Gaza)and then destroying the infrastructure required for their basic subsistence including hospitals, schools, water supplies, power stations, etc. really is entirely different from the Nazis. Your absolutely right.

So you are telling me that the Nazis expelled Jews because the Jews began a war designed to eliminate the German state, with the announced goal of killing every German they found? And that there is no way out of Gaza except through Israel? And that Israel does not supply Gaza with electricity and aid even while Gaza is launching attacks on Israeli civilians? And that the Jews sent thousands of missiles indiscriminately, shutting down large portions of the German country, built and timed so as to maximize civilian casualties? And that Gazans are worked to death in salve labor camps on inadequate rations, then brutally beaten to death when they are unable to keep up? And that they are not treated (usually free of charge) alongside Jews in Israeli hospitals, but are used in brutal, gruesome and inhumane "medical experiments"? And are forced on a regular basis to surrender shipments of people to be exterminated at death camps? And cannot be found outside of Gaza on pain of being shot on sight or tortured to death (and yes, I realize that they can be shot if they infiltrate secured areas or try to run a border crossing. Try that in most of Europe or Asia and see what happens.)Or that their goods and land are confiscated and given to Israeli Jews (by the way, are you aware that when Israel DOES take Arab land, it does so by eminent domain and pays compensation to the owners? No, I didn't think you knew that.) Or that it is illegal for Arabs to live among Jews (actually, both Israel and the PA make it illegal for Jews to live among Arabs, so as not to offend Arab sensibilities.) Or that Jews routinely strapped themselves to bombs packed with shrapnel and rat poison and exploded themselves in restuarants, churches, buses and street corners packed with German women and children? And that Jews voted they did not want to be German and elected a government dedicated to the use of violence against German civilians and the extermination of all Germans whereever they may be? Or that there was little or no interefence with the Jewish travel, living arragmennts and economy until Jews did these things? pretty much had were not rounded up until they did these things? Or that Israel sends it troops all over the world to round up and exterminate Arabs, just as the Waffen SS did with Jews?


Yeah, lots of paralells. Like the old riddle "What's green, hangs on the wall, and whistles? -- A Herring!"

"But a herring doesn't hang on the wall."
"Who's stopping you from hanging it on the wall?"

"But a herring isn't green."
"Yeah, but you could paint it green!"

"But a herring doesn't whistle."
"All right, so it doesn't whistle."

Apart from not whistling, your paralell is right on point.
3.2.2009 2:30pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
What's green, grows all around the house, and has wheels?
Grass.
GRASS???
I lied about the wheels.
Yeah, other than about forty-'leven versions of wheels, Gittings is right. Sort of.
But, you know, when you get right down to it, Gittings' rationalizations support the internment of Japanese Americans, which happened, and of Muslim Americans, which hasn't.
3.2.2009 3:06pm
Yankev (mail):

Yeah, other than about forty-'leven versions of wheels, Gittings is right. Sort of.
The herring example was in response to ddearborn, not Gittings, but other than that, yeah, I agree.

Some years ago I told the herring story to a friend who taught philosophy at a local college, and he started using it in his Intro course because -- as he explained to me -- it illustrates an important philosophical principle. (Who knew?) What is the principle? At some point your misconceptions about an object (or an idea, or what have you) so outweigh the amount of your accurate knowledge about the object that when you think you are discussing the object, what you are really discussing is your own misconceptions. Which of course is what both C. Gittings and ddearborn are doing. (Is this epistemology? And whether it is or not, anyone care to tell me the name of the concept he was describing?)

Or to put it another way, the extent of ddearborn's accurate information about Gaza appears to be roughly equal to what he knows about Nazi actions in Europe, and to what I know about the ancient Sanskrit version of hopscotch. Which is squat.
3.2.2009 4:12pm
Yankev (mail):

BTW, are you comforted by Dilan Esper's sanguine assurances that Israel's fears of Hamas and Iran, along with those of the West generally vis-a-vis the Islamofascists, are vastly overblown and ought not be taken seriously? And you do respect Dilan Esper and his views, don't you, though he wonders if "you're a grown-up, intelligent person, and you really believe in the BS in the Old Tetament (sic) ??!??!??!???."
Is this your way of telling me "Let's you and him fight?"
3.2.2009 4:15pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Yankev.
You can also use that tactic to create, probably poorly, humor.
"Why", says the Edwardian rich person to his butler, "are you drinking my port?"
"Sir," says the butler, "your choice in sherry is poor."
3.2.2009 4:36pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
I repeat: where do you people get this nonsense??

You just show me where I have EVER denied the holocaust, or claimed that ANY of the Nazis reasons for committing their crimes actually justified those crimes. I've been studying history since I was nine years old, I'm fairly expert on both the laws of war and the Nuremberg trials, and I'm well aware that the Shoah was just as real as real gets.

The only thing that any of you are proving with that kind of lying BS is that you're willing to slander and smear anyone who disagrees with your dishonest political views ---- just like the Nazis themselves used to do.

The only real problem here is that your excuses for the crimes of Israel don't justify those crimes any more than the Nazis excuses justified theirs. That's exactly why all of you are so ready to resort to smears and slander.
3.2.2009 5:14pm
Yankev (mail):

"Why", says the Edwardian rich person to his butler, "are you drinking my port?"
"Sir," says the butler, "your choice in sherry is poor."
Wait a minute; he can afford port AND sherry (not to mention a butler) and I'm supposed to feel sorry for him? Do you know how rare it is here in central Ohio for someone to afford a butler? Why hasn't the government balanced the budget by taxing his sherry, his butler, his port and his house?
3.2.2009 7:10pm
Yankev (mail):

I've been studying history since I was nine years old,
And those studies have convinced you that there was an organized plot by Jewish socialists to do away with Germany and Germans? Just trying to understand your paralellism here.
3.2.2009 7:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Yankev. Edwardian rich persons would never be in Ohio.
Never.
3.2.2009 8:42pm
cognitis:
Gittings:

You assume as precept all humans to be of the same genus, while your opponents here assume Jews to be sui generis; these various precepts render argument between you and your opponents incomprehensible just as various counting systems render argument of algebra incomprehensible; this defect in comprehension frustrates your intelligent disputation. Norman Mailer, in discussing his recent book "The Castle in the Forest" estimated Slavs' millions of deaths in WWII to be a normal human event but estimated the Holocaust[sic] to be an act against God. Mailer, typical Neocon and Jewish Establishment member, along with others of his genus credit Jews to be superior to other humans in spirit and proximate to God himself. Comprehend this Jews' estimate of themselves and Jews' once inconsistent gestures and insults clarify and consist.
3.2.2009 9:30pm
neurodoc:
Yankev: And those studies have convinced you that there was an organized plot by Jewish socialists to do away with Germany and Germans? Just trying to understand your paralellism here.
Be advised that Professor Bernstein took down some of IANAAIAAEOAB Charles B. Gittings Jr's more fantastical early utterances, including those about how Nazis were reacting out of fear of Jewish socialists; how the Nazis had "legitimate national security concerns in the 1930's, especially after 1939;" how we should not lose sight of the fact that the Nazis were "human beings;" etc. Unfortunately, Professor Bernstein, who CBG Jr has attacked as a "coward," "dishonest," "malicious hypocrite," etc., has left his less outrageous posts up. The result may be that latecomers to this thread will not understand all that is being said now, and CBG Jr may come across as more rational than he showed himself to be earlier in this thread. (It is helpful that some unexpurgated CBG Jr can still be found in the snippets you quoted in your 2/27/09 post at 5:03 PM above.)

Yankev, to get a better sense of your interlocutor, have a look at CBG Jr's website. There is a bio ("I'm currently unemployed, having been laid off in July 2002."); a picture of his cat Lulu Mao, who died less than a month ago; and an elaboration of political views: "On 9/11/2001, it was immediately obvious to me the world was facing a crisis on the order of 1914 or 1939, and that the greatest danger by far was the Bush administration ...When Camp X-Ray started operating, the Bush administration's policies stopped being just bad ideas and started being violations of the Geneva Conventions...My thinking was: the US government is committing flagrant war crimes—...I decided to pursue a criminal case intending to defend the Geneva Conventions by a direct prosecution of the crimes ...and my news gathering effort became a criminal investigation—...And I am now working to bring the matter forward in the courts." (italics added) [Cuculus canorus?]

It may be seen that though unemployed for the past 8+ years, CBG Jr has not been idle. See for example his amicus brief in Hamdi v Rumsfeld http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/supreme_court/briefs
/03-6696/03-6696.mer.ami.gittings.pdf

And, CBG Jr in a VC thread back on 2/10/09, "The Bush administration murdered more people over the last eight years than Al Qaeda did. The invasion of Iraq was a crime against peace in exactly the same way the German invasion of Poland was."
3.2.2009 9:36pm
neurodoc:
Richard Aubrey: Edwardian rich persons would never be in Ohio.
Never.
You shouldn't be so categoric, at least not on this. At the end of the 19th century, Euclid Avenue in Cleveland was the epicenter of wealth in the United States, with the titans of American industry like Rockefeller living in grand mansions there. It wasn't the "Rust Belt" then.
3.2.2009 9:58pm
neurodoc:
Fafarman, cognitis, C. Gittings...Culculi canorus
3.2.2009 10:02pm
cognitis:
neurodoc:

Gittings resides in CA Bay Area, highest rent region in US, and his family's resided in US for over 300 years; few persons could prosecute a case against federal government while unemployed in the most opulent region of the US; might Gittings have inherited money?
3.2.2009 10:07pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
neuro.
I should have said "British" Edwardian rich folks.
As in The Importance of Being Ernest".
I suspect you have some idea of how they regarded their nouveau riche Yankee cousins.
Who were, by God, in TRADE. It is not to be contemplated.
If Chives has drunk all the port, at least I have some sherry to help me get over the very idea that Americans could be Edwardian gentlemen.
3.2.2009 11:00pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Neurodoc,

The invasion of Iraq was a crime against peace in the same sense the Nazi
invasion of Poland was. The only difference is that Poland was a lot more of a
military threat to Germany than Iraq was to the United States, which is not to
say the Nazis were justified -- it's just another obvious fact that liars like you don't bother to notice because you're too busy foaming at the mouth.

Germany, in case you didn't know, was and is a major power in Europe, and all major powers have borders, armies, navies, etc, which involve legitimate national security concerns regardless of what hypocrites like YOU happen to think about their governments. After 1939 they were involved in the greatest war in human history, and national security concerns don't get more serious than that.

And you can take your idiotic neo-fascist BS and shove it.


PS to Bernstein:

Facts are just facts. If you want to ban someone, you should ban all these vicious neo-fascist slanderers you attract with your vicious neo-fascist hate-mongering, you disgraceful hypocrite.

It's amazing that anyone whould give a lair like
3.2.2009 11:07pm
neurodoc:
Poland a military threat to Germany in 1939? That's why the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? And after the Gleiwitz "incident" a week later, the Nazis had no choice but to invade its neighbor, which meant Germany was then "involved in the greatest war in human history, and national security concerns don't get more serious than that"? Only "vicious neo-fascist slanderers" would say otherwise?
3.3.2009 1:18am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
I guess the lying just gets to be a reflex after a while. It seems to be the only thing you know how to do Neurodoc.

Poland was a stronger military power relative to Germany than Iraq was relative to the United States -- in fact, Iraq was virtually defenseless, while the United States is the strongest military power ever. Both invasions were wanton crimes against peace without any legitimate cause.

And you can lie about it all you want, but George Bush murdered everyone who died in Iraq on both sides. He murdered his own soldiers to commit a despicable crime.
The Nazis were Germans, but you disgraceful traitors to human reason itself are Americans -- this nation has no worse enemies.
3.3.2009 1:45am
neurodoc:
So just to be clear, Charles B. Gittings Jr. believes:

a) Poland was a military threat to Germany in 1939.
b) Hitler entered into the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact because he feared Poland.
c) After the Gleiwitz "incident" a week later, the Nazis had cause to invade its neighbor.
d) Nazi Germany then found itself "involved in the greatest war in human history."
e) The Nazis' "national security concerns" were then "legitimate," since national security concerns "don't get more serious than..." when a country finds itself at war against a coalition of forces.
f) Hitler, Goering, et al. were no more and no less "human beings" than were Stalin, Mao, Kim il-sung and Kim jong-il, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Saddam Husein, Idi Amin, Bokassa, etc., having not come from outer space and it being a matter of "biology."
g) Only "vicious neo-fascist slanderers" would dispute him on a) through g).
3.3.2009 2:07am
Yankev (mail):
neurodoc, thanks for the background.

to get a better sense of your interlocutor, have a look at CBG Jr's website. There is a bio ("I'm currently unemployed, having been laid off in July 2002."); a picture of his cat Lulu Mao, who died less than a month ago; and an elaboration of political views
Wow. And I thought I had a sense of him from his (now deleted) fantasies about the security threat that Jews posed toward Germany. And in case there was any doubt, his posts from last night and this morning removed it.
Only "vicious neo-fascist slanderers" would dispute him on a) through g).
I'll agree with him on (f), if by human being he means a homo sapiens. Human beings who behaved disgracefully and worse than animals, of course, but homo sapiens nonetheless. If they were not human beings, they could not be held morally accountable. Now if we equivocate and use human being to mean a mentsch, a ben adam, a credit to the human race, I disagree, but it's prettuy clear that Cbg Jr. is using "human being" to mean the former, not the latter.

Prof. Bernstein: Recognizing that the comment policy is at your discretion, I call the following CBG,Jr. comments to your attention:

And you can take your idiotic neo-fascist BS and shove it.
PS to Bernstein:
Facts are just facts. If you want to ban someone, you should ban all these vicious neo-fascist slanderers you attract with your vicious neo-fascist hate-mongering, you disgraceful hypocrite.


I guess the lying just gets to be a reflex after a while. It seems to be the only thing you know how to do Neurodoc.

And you can lie about it all you want, but . . . [ellipsis mine, i.e. Yankev's]

Schoen genough already.
3.3.2009 9:47am
Yankev (mail):
Neurodoc
Culculi canorus
Translation, please, for the undereducated? I can tell that the first word is plural, but my Latin ends with de gustibus non disputandum est (from Pogo's So-So Stories, "Little Red Robbing Hood") and Res ipsa loquitor (from first year torts class).

At one time I knew how to say that the "trespass was committed with force and violence on account of the defendant broke through the fence and trampled the grass under foot," but now I know it's better not to. Thanks.
3.3.2009 9:54am
Yankev (mail):
C. Gittings,

They are both habitual and malicious liars, and like I said, they aren't as bad as the Nazis, they're worse, because they are Americans -- a coin-toss is fifty percent smarter than such fanatics.
While I generally hesitate to dignify such ravings and calumny by responding to it, you have not shown me any instances of lying on the part of neurodoc or on the part of Prof. Bernstein. You have shown me instances where they disagree with you. Some of the things that you accept as incontrovertable fact lead me to question most of your other assumptions.
3.3.2009 10:34am
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Yankev,

That's nonsense -- virtully every post neurodoc has directed at me contained deliberate lies. For example, he says:

So just to be clear, Charles B. Gittings Jr. believes:

b) Hitler entered into the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact because he feared Poland.

c) After the Gleiwitz "incident" a week later, the Nazis had cause to invade its neighbor.


I've never said any such thing and don't believe any such thing. Even where he says something based on what I actually have said -- "The Nazis' "national security concerns" were then "legitimate," " -- he's twisting what was said. I did not say such concerns "were then legitimate"; such concerns are a given for any nation just as basic security against robbery, fire, or termites is a concern for any home owner.

The only way you don't know that Neurodoc is liar is that you aren't actually paying attention to what he says, mostly because you don't want to. As for Bernstein, you might recall he said I had been banned for "good cause" when in fact he's never stated any cause in public and the cause he's stated in private is not good: I stated a fact.

But you folks are allergic to facts, which is why you all barf so much when anyone dares to mention them.
3.3.2009 11:03am
neurodoc:
Yankev: Neurodoc,
Culculi canorus
Translation, please, for the undereducated?
Oops, sorry, my typo, not undereducation on your part. I was trying to give a colloquial, non-DSM-IV "diagnosis," that is:
The Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) (formerly European Cuckoo) is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes...
(Had I not been trying to affect erudition, I might have said "bats in the belfry.")

I'm still at a loss to understand the "thinking" behind Charles B. Gittings Jr's remarks about Jews as a threat, real or imagined, to Germany; Poland as a threat to Nazi Germany; Hitler, Goering, Goebels, et al. as "human beings;" the US invasion of Iraq as the Nazi invasion of Poland redux, or worse; etc. More importantly, though, I think we now have a sense of CBG Jr's "thinking" generally, and that of some of the other Cuculiformes who flock to DB's Israel-related threads.

[BTW, did you know that in addition to Israelis/Jews = Nazis, Jews = neocons? Thus, Norman Mailer, who was born to Jewish parents and thus would have qualified as a Jew for the Nazis' genocidal purposes, was a "typical Neocon and Jewish Establishment member" in cognitis's book, though speaking of Iraq Mailer said things like, "So that idiocy -- the willful blindness of the neocons -- was unforgiveable." Another of the Cuculiformes.]
3.3.2009 12:23pm
Yankev (mail):

he's twisting what was said. I did not say such concerns "were then legitimate"; such concerns are a given for any nation just as basic security against robbery, fire, or termites is a concern for any home owner.
Okay, but in the post that was removed, you suggested that the security concerns included the threat from socialism and Marxism, and posited that Germany's antipathy toward Jews was based at least in part on their prevalance withing the Socialist movement. If a homeowner is worried about termites and decides that as a result he needs to kill anyone who uses flouridated water, we would not treat his concern as either legitimate or factual. German Jews (with the exception of the small number who may have been Marxist) were among the most loyal in Europe, many of them having been veterans -- and decorated veterans -- of Germany's forces in the World War. (No one was calling it the First World War at that time, as few outside the Nazi party could conceive of a second one.) When you treat their "Security" concerns with Jews as having any rational basis, or as being based on anything but paranoid fantasy or ethnic and religious hatred, you open yourself up to the charge that you consider the concerns legitimate. To put it another way, it is very difficult for me to distinguish between your saying Germany's security concerns with Jews were "real" and Neurodoc's characterization that you consider the concerns legitimate.
The only way you don't know that Neurodoc is liar is that you aren't actually paying attention to what he says, mostly because you don't want to.
Or becaue you are taking what most would consider to be a distinction without a difference and calling it a lie when he treats them as equivalent.
As for Bernstein, you might recall he said I had been banned for "good cause" when in fact he's never stated any cause in public and the cause he's stated in private is not good: I stated a fact.
I don't know what he told you in private, but if you consider it a fact that the presence of Jews among socialist movements in Europe justified Germany in viewing all Jews as a security risk (and please note I acknowledge that you did not say it justified germany's TREATMENT and EXTERMINATION of Jews, so please don't accuse me of having attributed that view to you) then what you posted was not a fact but at best a delusion and a worst much worse.
But you folks are allergic to facts, which is why you all barf so much when anyone dares to mention them.
3.3.2009 3:27pm
Yankev (mail):
Once again, I clicked on Post Comment when I meant to post on Block Quote.
But you folks are allergic to facts, which is why you all barf so much when anyone dares to mention them.
Was not my sentiment but CBGittings, and I had intended to set in as a blocked quote and respond as follows:

So much for your sentiment that civility is a two way street. This is offensive, though not nearly as offensive as your now-deleted post about Jewish socialists and Marx's Jewish ancestry making Jews a threat to Germany, notwithstanding your disapproval of the way that Germany dealt with the "threat". If I have misread (or misremembered) your now-deleted post, please set me straight. If I have not, then the word "contempt" does not even begin to cover my opinion.
3.3.2009 3:36pm
Yankev (mail):
[

BTW, did you know that in addition to Israelis/Jews = Nazis, Jews = neocons? Thus, Norman Mailer, who was born to Jewish parents and thus would have qualified as a Jew for the Nazis' genocidal purposes, was a "typical Neocon and Jewish Establishment member" in cognitis's book, though speaking of Iraq Mailer said things like, "So that idiocy -- the willful blindness of the neocons -- was unforgiveable."
I seem to recall some threads on that very topic. Then again, we all know that "anti-semitism" is only a non-existent canard that Jews, Christkillers and spreaders of AIDS, pornography and Black Death neocons and Zionists use to stifle debate by intimidating their critics.
3.3.2009 3:39pm
Suzy (mail):

It's not that I don't have the slightest notion. It's that anyone who says they are "chosen" by God is both delusional and egotistical. And therefore it is a really, really, really good idea to throw such beliefs into the dustbin of history rather than to give the haters and bigots any ammunition.


In other words, what you're saying is that we should throw ALL religious beliefs into the dustbin. Alas, even if you were right about it being a good idea, it's not going to happen. So, unless you want to go on simply hating on all religious claims, we might begin by trying to understand what people mean by terms like "chosen", rather than assuming erroneously that it's an "egotistical" statement.

I might add for the benefit of other commenters above that just because a text might be interpreted in different ways, that does not mean each way is equally good. Of course, I am not at all surprised that some of these commenters are such relativists. It's interesting to note where it gets them, in terms of historical interpretation and moral values.
3.3.2009 4:23pm
C. Gittings (mail) (www):
Yankev,

"Okay, but in the post that was removed, you suggested that the security concerns included the threat from socialism and Marxism, and posited that Germany's antipathy toward Jews was based at least in part on their prevalance withing the Socialist movement. If a homeowner is worried about termites and decides that as a result he needs to kill anyone who uses flouridated water, we would not treat his concern as either legitimate or factual."

Well maybe you just aren't very familiar with the history. The first socialist revolutions in Germany occurred in 1848. The Russian Revolution and Civil War, the political upheavals in Germany and Poland after WW1, and the Spanish Civil War were hardly imaginary figments. The Nazis use of such factual material as grist for their propaganda is just a documented fact, as is the hostility between the Nazis and the Soviets.

You folks keep trying to pretend that I'm endorsing the Nazis but I'm not -- I'm just pointing out that the Bush administration and Israel employ the same kinds of phony excuses for their crimes that the Nazis did, and that their excuses are often less plausible than the Nazis' were. Aqll good propaganda contains elements of truth -- the lies are mostly in the logic.


"When you treat their "Security" concerns with Jews as having any rational basis, or as being based on anything but paranoid fantasy or ethnic and religious hatred, you open yourself up to the charge that you consider the concerns legitimate."

NO -- I'm simply stating the documented fact that the Nazis said such things about the Jews. The point is that there are folks now who say such things about Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians, and 'Islamofascists', etc.

This is very simple Yankev:

* I don't think the Nazis' invasion of Poland was justified by their excuses.

* I don't think the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq was justified by their excuses.

* I don't think Israel's occupation of Palestine is justified by their excuses.

* I think the excuses are similar in all three cases.


"To put it another way, it is very difficult for me to distinguish between your saying Germany's security concerns with Jews were "real" and Neurodoc's characterization that you consider the concerns legitimate."

Well facts are just facts, but 1 + 1 = 2, not 0 or 3. I've stated plainly that the Nazis' excuses do NOT justify their crimes. The point is that their excuses often contained more truth than the Bush administration's or Israel's. That doesn't make the Nazis right, it makes you neo-fascists wrong.


"Or because you are taking what most would consider to be a distinction without a difference and calling it a lie when he treats them as equivalent."

Oh baloney. I quoted him saying something that was flatly untrue. He doesn't get to "disagree" about what I say, I can speak for myself. He is dishonestly and maliciously misrepresenting me.
3.3.2009 9:23pm
neurodoc:
Charles B. Gittings Jr. in his own words:
On 9/11/2001, it was immediately obvious to me the world was facing a crisis on the order of 1914 or 1939, and that the greatest danger by far was the Bush administration. [CBG Jr.'s website]
The Bush administration murdered more people over the last eight years than Al Qaeda did. The invasion of Iraq was a crime against peace in exactly the same way the German invasion of Poland was. [2/10/09 VC post]
I'm just pointing out that the Bush administration and Israel employ the same kinds of phony excuses for their crimes that the Nazis did, and that their excuses are often less plausible than the Nazis' were. [3/3/09 this thread]
it isn't going to prove that the Jews have any superior right to the land in Palestine or that Israel is a legitimate nation either. [3/2/09 this thread]
I'm not anti-Semitic in the least... [2/28/09 this thread]
And as Charles B. Gittings Jr. allows, and I would agree,
1 + 1 = 2
3.3.2009 10:31pm
cognitis:
Gittings:

I'd cited neurodoc's strawmen repeatedly on this site; arguing with a troll who perverts other disputants' arguments or constructs strawmen is as unintelligible as proving theorems to a troll who rejects a decimal counting system.
3.3.2009 10:57pm
neurodoc:
C'mon guys, you're not saying that was all "drooling neo-fascist hypocrisy and hate-mongering" at 10:31pm, except of course for the "1 + 1 = 2," are you?
3.4.2009 12:08am
neurodoc:
cognitis and Charles B. Gittings Jr., if you can get Larry Fafarman back here, we will take a group picture of the three of you together.
3.4.2009 12:11am
cognitis:
neurodoc:

You post with the security of a sock puppet.
3.4.2009 1:22am
Yankev (mail):

I don't think Israel's occupation of Palestine is justified by their excuses.
Then I think that you have not been paying attention -- to what "Palestine" is, and to the actions of the Arabs in the region, both before and after 1948. If you think Israel has often made mistakes and will make mistakes in the future, I agree with you, though we may differ as to what those mistakes are.

But if you think there is the slightest comparison between Israel's legitimate concern with what the Arabs have actually done (and have tried to do, threaten to do and continue to try to do) and Germany's fantasies about Jews, then, as you say, words are not adequate to express my contempt.
3.4.2009 9:19am