Our Children Are The Guarantors

Defending Zionism from its detractors. Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism. Let the other side apologize for a change.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Waking Up and Smelling Carter’s Coffee

On the news of the resignation of 14 members of the advisory board of the Carter Center (hat tip: Solomonia), the folks at the Daily Kos expressed the hunch that the only reason for their resignation was their being Jewish, and that this was hinted by their last names. Commenter Joanne (on the linked Solomonia post) had this to say:

Quite frankly, most of the names of those who quit do appear to be Jewish. Not all, but most. I am afraid that the quittings would've made a bigger impression if more of the names weren't Jewish. I hate to say this, but the thought that "it's because they're Jewish" occurred to me, too, even though I'm sympathetic to them.

I was about to reply that a Jewish-sounding last name wasn’t a sure-fire proof of being Jewish, that the resignations were motivated by real disgust with Carter’s bias and not identity politics, and so on, but then I said to myself: we can’t really know (not yet, anyway) and, if it’s the truth that they were Jews and motivated by Jewish solidarity, then it’s the truth, and that’s that. Going further with the assumption that the resignation was of Jews and for Jewish reasons, I realized a good lesson could be made out of it nonetheless. Those left-leaning Jews had woken up and smelled the coffee Carter had made them.

One of the regular commenters on Daily Kos is one D. Honig (username “dhonig”), who has a political cartoon blog called Hypnocrites. I don’t know exactly where his political stances lie—a lot of his cartoons are left-leaning, but there are some that are critical of the Left, and his comments on DKos too would challenge both sides (UPDATE: it seems to me he is an Old Left holdover or revivalist). There’s one cartoon of his, dating from July 21, 2006 (that was during the Lebanon War), titled “Single-Issue Jew”, which I recalled on this occasion. I reproduce it here with his kind permission:

Cartoon: "Single-Issue Jew". Panels: (1) American non-Jewish worker holding a sign, "American Federation of Labor"; American Jew holding a sign, "Industrial Workers of the World"; both in clothes of the beginning of the 20th century. (2) black American non-Jew holding a sign, "Voting Rights Now"; American Jew holding a sign, "End Segregation Now". (3) American non-Jewish woman holding a sign, "ERA" (Equal Rights Amendment); American Jew holding the same kind of sign. (4) American non-Jew holding a sign, "Death to Israel"; American Jew holding nothing, looking wide-eyed at the non-Jew.

If the last names are anything to go by, then there were at least 14 Jews working at the Carter Center. 14 Jews who had spent some time on helping him and furthering his goals, out of a shared belief in them. 14 Jews who had done all that until, one day, the man they had helped was starting to sound like Charles Lindbergh.

The majority of American Jews still vote Democrat. They see that party, and left-wing ideals in general, as matching Jewish ideals, or what they perceive to be Jewish ideals. They’re partly right, but also partly wrong, not only in their beliefs as to what Jewish ideals are, but also in their thought that the Western Left of today still stands for its past ideals.

Let us begin with the ideal of tikun olam. Is it not a Jewish ideal? On a certain blog that bears that name, a blog that has scarcely a single word to say in Israel’s favor, and tons of apologetics for “Palestinian” terrorism, it is translated as, “Make the World a Better Place”. That translation is part of the problem. It’s the sort of translation I’d make before I got religion. “Tikun” in modern Israeli Hebrew has the meaning of, “repairing”; but in the Hebrew of the Talmud, it has that meaning plus another one: “preparing”. When Rabbi Akiva says (Ethics of the Fathers 3:19), “Hakol metukan lis’udah”, he doesn’t mean, ”Everything is repaired for a meal”, he means, “Everything is prepared for a meal”. The full phrase is tikun olam b’malchut Sh-ddai, which means, “preparing the world [to be] in the Kingdom of G-d”.

Clearly this is far removed from the utopian ideals of the 1960’s New Left. But those ideals are contagious today, having absorbed not only Jewish but also other religious traditions. For example, in Christianity, people who can’t abide by the traditional religion of faith and demands replace it with Marxist activities, and Westerners who embrace Buddhism today tend less to construe its teachings of non-violence as roads toward freedom from the Wheel of Reincarnation and more as banners to rally under in every anti-American, anti-war (i.e. pro-Islam, pro-terrorism) rally. So Jews of today who are not into the traditional religion lineally descended from that which G-d established at Sinai express their Judaism through activities which they believe to embody good Jewish ideals. In sanegoria of those Jews, I must say their attempts to find something to express their Jewishness with means they’re not self-hating, that they have that Jewish point in them. However, many of those ideals are not Jewish at all.

The goal of the Jewish people from its very birth has always been: to crown G-d as King of All. There has never been any other goal, and all Jewish ideals are offshoots of that. Atheists complain of evidences of G-d that they are invariably things that happened in a long-past age; the Jewish nation is the ever-present proof of G-d’s work in this very age. Being good people toward one another is, without argument, a Jewish ideal, but it is only the prerequisite; the goal is to be holy. Judaism is not a collection of universal human ideals. If the good behavior of Jews toward one another sets an example for non-Jews to copy, then well and good, but it must be understood, and cannot be overstated, that even the ideas of goodness, let alone holiness, cannot be divorced from G-d’s standard. As the wisest of all humans said—proof of which is available in our age on a daily basis—“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

The Jewish view has never been that humans by their efforts alone put an end to the evils of the world. True, Judaism does not go so far as Christianity does in saying humans are incapable of standing up to their own evil inclinations, yet what hippified Jews forget is that Judaism isn’t a panacea, nor was it ever peddled as such. Judaism does not preach fleeing from the material world like Gnosticism does, but it is not a prescription for humans to cure all materials ills either. The Jews do their work as servants of HaShem, preparing (“tikun”) everything for that final ceremony in which He will declare Himself King of All (that’s the summary of the Aleinu, the piece at the end of each daily prayer). Since He was the one who instituted all the evils of the world (Isaiah 45:7), He is the only one who can put an end to them. Utopian ideologies like Communism, though their adherents are able to quote scripture to bolster their case, are usurpers of G-d in that they aim to achieve by human means what only He can do.

The ideals of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, then, are both Jewish and universal, but they are not Jewish because they are universal, they are Jewish because G-d sets them forth in His Torah. In that, they are on the same level as separating milk and meat, circumcising boys on their eighth day and—this will have the Sixties Hippies in fits—ridding the Land of Israel of its indigenous Canaanite baby-sacrificers. But the Left of today stands even for the universal ideals selectively, as witnessed by, for example, Cindy Sheehan’s refusal to see Castro’s detainees in Cuba while rushing to Guantánamo, an American prison where Muslim terrorists are held in five-star conditions, for the sake of showing “America’s injustices”. Gone are the days of the purity of standing up for (I’m running through Honig’s cartoon) fair conditions for workers, an end for real racial discrimination and pushing for women’s rights; nowadays the Left has precious little to say about the exploitative labor in Venezuela, or about Arab Muslims massacring black Muslims in Sudan, or about the execution of women after being raped in Iran. It is bent on banning Christian jewelry from schoolgirls, pontificating on “Rules of Engagement” for US troops in Iraq and, of course, fighting that Great Monstrous Zionist Empire of Evil®, Israel, and its AIPAC tentacles gripping the USA.

So there we have 14 Jews abruptly woken up from their Leftist-Utopian slumber by a book by an ex-president of their own party in which the only Jewish state in the world is accused of being as evil—and, by implication, as unworthy of continuing to exist—as South Africa before the days of De Klerk; and by his subsequent putting down of any criticism of his book as stemming from “the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee”. “No war against Iran for Israel!” is another growing voice in American Democrat circles. It’s still not mainstream yet—Pelosi, for example, has been careful not to be swept by those sentiments, and even the proprietor and namesake of Daily Kos avoids the issues—but the day will not be long before Democrat-voting Jews will find themselves in the exact situation as in the last panel of Honig’s cartoon. And then what?

I have the benefit of earlier experience—I mean having been confronted with the situation earlier than the 14 resigners. I too had taken up a cause that resonated with me, only to be dismayed later by seeing it dominated by people spewing lies on Israel and standing for the “Palestinians”. I pondered three options, options which I think are the ones any Jew confronted with that situation ponders:

The first is to swim with the current in Israel-bashing and apologetics for the “Palestinians”, as the proprietor of the aforementioned blog Tikun Olam does. He and the likes of him, like David Grossman, still call themselves Zionists while bashing “Israel’s policies”; Jonathan Cook, sitting from his vantage point in Nazareth, inside “that horrible state that’s responsible for all the troubles of the world”, says that’s their fundamental flaw, and adds that unless they denounce Zionism—for it is “a racist ideology at its core”—they’re hypocrites. Gilead Atzmon has done just that, and from his armchair in London he denounces Judaism as well as Zionism. As for the end of that way, I wrote of it relatively long ago, right near the beginning of my blog, on August 9, 2006.

The second option is to try to be even-handed: to counter the accusations and libels against Israel and to uphold the rightness of Israel, together with agreeing to listen to “the grievances of the Palestinians”. In this position, suicide terrorism can never be justified (so far so good), but Israel deserves the animosity it gets until it makes all the territories taken in 1967 judenrein. The belief is that the 1949 Armistice territories of Israel are justly Israel’s, while the 1967 acquisitions are unjustly held now and, once given to the other side, will end all their legitimate grievances. What about the question of the 1947–9 refugees? Or of Jerusalem? Nagia el ha-gesher v’na’avor oto is the usual answer—“When we reach the bridge, we’ll pass it” (“All in good time”, in other words).

The third option is to recognize that all these affairs make up a big picture. To recognize that there is not an Israeli Goliath and a Palestinian David, but an Israeli David and an Islamic Goliath, of which the “Palestinian nation” constitutes its anti-Zionist arm. To recognize that there is an ideological continuity between a suicide bombing in Netanya (G-d forbid) and a shooting of monks in Yala, Thailand (G-d forbid). To realize that it isn’t, and never has been, about any sort of nationalist struggle for independence, but about real, starkly real, colonial expansion and imperialistic subjugation of the whole world, by any means possible, including using the West’s post-colonial guilt against it, and including staging or faking photographs, and including raising one’s own offspring on the heritage of suicide bombing and encouraging them to take that route. To understand that before us is true evil. Yes, that “ancient type of thinking” that, among others, G-d promotes in His Torah, no matter how many people think we’ve “progressed beyond it”.

Then, from the third option, the only option which the contemplation of the dire straits of our age allows, there comes the realization that all the utopian movements of all time have brought the greatest suffering to the world. You realize Nazism and Communism were both attempts by humans, in “a way which seemeth right” to them, to cure all the ills of the world, and because of that were doomed to fail. And then you realize that Islam, although it comes as theistic religion, is the same, for it is like the other two about human efforts, according to a “human, all too human” plan, to make the world a better place. At the end of all this, you come to the conclusion that, although it’s not up to you to cure all the world’s ills, it is up to you to prevent others from making the world a worse place by sympathizing with, or acquiescing to, an ideology that leads to the chains of tomorrow.

You don’t want to be the Loser Generation of Vietnam (I mean the hippies who protested it). You want to be the Greatest Generation of World War II. This is your chance.

Updated on Wednesday, January 24, 2007, 08:20, following a comment by “dhonig” on another post.



Blogger kahaneloyalist said...

the saddest players in this entire tragedy are the Arab nationalists who often engaged in the most vile and evil actions in the support of Muslim imperialism, but have always been betrayed by their erstwhile allies. Though few Arab nationalists remain, they were once among the most active of terrorist groups, and to this day much of the Muslim philosphy which supports their wars, was generated by Arab intellectuals. Edward Saiid being the most famous example.

January 14, 2007 2:29 AM  
Blogger Bloodstomper Barbie said...

You done gone and wroted:

"...if it’s the truth that they were Jews and motivated by Jewish solidarity, then it’s the truth, and that’s that."

I haven't read Carter's book--I don't have to--and I haven't read very much of the two-bits generated by people such as your own bad self. All I know is, Carter is entitled to his opinions and so are you.

For those who don't know, the Carter Center Board of Councilors membership consists of "more than two hundred" board members. When fourteen of them quit, for whatever reason, well....

You seem to think you know a lot about God, or G-d. Before you climb up on your great big Zionist throne, you might remember that Carter has built an awful lot of houses for the homeless and if we had more "hands-on" people like him and less "hands-off" people like your own bad self, we might have a little peace in the world.

January 14, 2007 5:54 AM  
Blogger kahaneloyalist said...

And Stalin had houses built for the poor of Moscow.....

January 14, 2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Kudos to Carter for his Habitat for Humanity work. If he'd stuck wtih that, he'd've left a good legacy. As it is, he's decided to place the blame for all the world's ills on the Jews. Oh lovely, isn't it?

I'll take door number 3, please. It's why I moved to Israel in the first place.

January 14, 2007 2:27 PM  
Blogger ZionistYoungster said...

I saw that comment when I checked the post in the morning, but then it was off to work for me. Thanks for filling up for me, KL and Michael, but now for my turn:

Bloodstomper Barbie,

You said: "You seem to think you know a lot about [...] or G-d."

I reply: I don't seem to think, I just take Him at His word. I realize it's very fashionable nowadays to go the New Age way of saying, "No one knows anything about G-d, you can only know through your personal journey", but I'll pass that trendiness, thank you, and go for what He says about Himself, in the Torah.

You said: "[...] you might remember that Carter has built an awful lot of houses for the homeless [...]"

I reply: This is certainly a good deed which will count in his favor when he stands before the Judge. However, it does not give him any kind of absolute moral authority; his words are to be scrutinized just like those of any other person, without regard to his works of charity. He does right in building houses for the homeless; he is wrong in thinking Israel is a colonialist land-grab responsible for all the Islamic terrorism going on in our time, and he does wrong in disparaging the only state in this region which is guaranteed to stay at the USA's side (in contrast to, for example, Iran, with which he has, um, some experience).

You said: "[...] and if we had more 'hands-on' people like him and less 'hands-off' people like your own bad self, we might have a little peace in the world."

I reply: I confess not to understand what you mean by "hands-on" and "hands-off". I would hazard a guess you mean to contrast between his actions and my words. If so, then I should point out, that since you don't know what activities I carry out in real-life, your accusation of me as being "hands-off" is based on incomplete information; and this post of mine is about Carter's "hands-off" activity, namely his book, which is in essence no different from my blog. I'd say, if we didn't have all that "hands-off" activity from Carter, Walt and Mearsheimer, Chomsky, Pappe and the rest of them, we might have a little peace in the world.

January 14, 2007 7:39 PM  
Anonymous David Drake said...

Barbie's vapid comment:

"...I haven't read Carter's book--I don't have to- ..."

Liberal ignorance sure is bliss, ain't it Barb? Your political slant is so obviously skewed and illogical it'd be humorous if it were not so ill.

As far as saying if we had more Jimmy Cater's we might have more peace, you couldn't be more incorrect if you tired.

It appears you are a full believer in appeasment policy. Try that "appeasement" mentality if you are robbed at gunpoint, or physcially threatened.

You talk out of your butt, but I expect nothing less from a Liberal like you.

February 10, 2007 1:27 AM  
Blogger ZionistYoungster said...

Thanks, David. G-d bless.

February 11, 2007 8:55 PM  
Blogger richards1052 said...

"On a certain blog that bears that name, a blog that has scarcely a single word to say in Israel’s favor, and tons of apologetics for “Palestinian” terrorism, it is translated as, “Make the World a Better Place”. That translation is part of the problem."

First, I don't apologize for Palestinian terror. I criticize it when it happens. I criticize both sides. That's where your problem arises w. me. FOr you believe only one side is at fault. And that flies in the face of reality unless you're a die hard ideologue.

You can either can't read, don't understand what you read, or simply don't bother to read those you attack here. Where on my blog does it say that "make the world a better place" is the TRANSLATION of the phrase tikun olam? Pls. do provide me some evidence of that. If you bother to look at my About pg you will see an accurate translation of the phrase. I'm a fluent Hebrew speaker. I know the difference bet. the literal translation and the subtitle of my blog. "Make the world a better place" is a SUBTITLE. You do understand that a subtitle is not an exact duplication of a TITLE, don't you?

"Making the world a better place" is the purpose of my blog, not a literal translation of the phrase. But the phrase actually is an attempt in Kabbalistic Judaism to make the world a place in which the broken vessels may be repaired (through mitzvot in the original sense), hence making the world a better place is wholly consonant w. the phrase tikun olam.

February 12, 2007 2:28 AM  
Blogger ZionistYoungster said...

Hi Richard Silverstein,

Neither do the posters on Daily Kos apologize for "Palestinian" terror, if, by that, open support and encouragement for it is meant (it's still taboo, but I wouldn't bet on it staying so for long). But you show a lot of, um, understanding toward it, toward "what drives it".

Yes, you criticize the "Palestinians" sometimes, but only when a far-out extremist like Amin Nusseibeh or Leila Khan says, outright, something like "You can have Israel or you can have peace". You assume they're a minority; you think those who don't say so don't think so. But reality is that any "Palestinian" who talks against a full application of the "Right of Return" puts himself in mortal danger.

As for the fault of the two sides--assuming both are at fault, why is that Israel's faults justify terrorism and marginalization, while the "Palestinians" are deserving of a state no matter what they do? People have a habit of focusing on Jewish anti-British terrorism such as the King David Hotel explosion, but they neglect to observe that those were singular events, engulfed by a flurry of state-building and making the desert bloom; while, in contrast, the "Palestinians" have done little to build their state with all the millions given in them in foreign aid, opting instead to purchase weaponry, and when given a totally Jew-free strip of land as a start of building their state, they destroyed the greenhouses and used the evacuated lands as launching grounds for Kassam rockets. For much less than that, people say Israel is worthy of being dismantled (G-d forbid), while the "Palestinians" are still deemed "an oppressed, humiliated people needing a state of their own". It's not the question of who is to blame, it's the question of who can be trusted to be for life and culture and who cannot.

You call me an ideologue. We all are. But I used to hold the same opinions as you do regarding this conflict, but changed my mind after seeing facts that didn't fit with them. On that point, I wrote, just over four months ago, a post just for you, with the purposely bombastic title, "Antiunfalsifiabilitarianism". Then as now, I wonder what, just what, could serve as falsifier for your conviction that the "Palestinians" desire a state just like us.

As for the title:

First off, I have to say I observe the ban on learning Kabbalah to those under the age of 40, so there's not much I can do to find out if the Zohar really says such and such or not. But I see on your About page, "Tikun Olam is a Kabbalistic term meaning 'repair [or mend] the world.'", meaning the subtitle of your blog isn't all that far removed from that interpretation. "Repair the world" and "Make the World a Better Place" are about the same thing. As I said in this very post, it's not that there is no goal of "repairing the world" and "making it a better place" in the observance of the mitzvot; but, again as I said here, "social-utopia-gospel" New Agism has subsumed a great number of religious traditions under its ideals. It makes humanity the actor of all efforts of repairing the world and leaves G-d nothing. This is quite the thought of, "Kochi ve-otzem yadi asu li et ha-chayil ha-zeh" (Deuteronomy 8:17). The view of Orthodox Judaism is that our concern is to do as G-d tells us in His Torah, and leave the reparation of the world to Him. We are expected to work on ourselves; we are not, and should not be, expected to work on others who have chosen to be wicked. The robber is to be given a penalty, not to be accorded "understanding of his difficult circumstances"; likewise, the Muslim enemy is to be fought, resisted, not to be appeased with concessions of our (yes, our!) land, especially not when that enemy has given all evidence you could ask as to his intent of taking all our land and not just part of it (see the bit about the Kassam rockets again).

I wish to say, in closing, that not for a moment do I consider you to be outside of Klal Yisrael; however, I believe you are wrong, and my hard words are because I see writings such as yours quoted on anti-Zionist sites as justification for terrorism and the dismantling of the Jewish state (G-d forbid). As for the other side, I would support them if my experience of this conflict were a blank slate; as things are, the trust I gave them for the whole of the 1990's (and a little beyond) has been squandered by them, and the ball is on their court to build it up again. I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks for the comment. HaShem bless His nation with (true) peace.

P.S. See also this post (from December 2006) concerning your "Palestinian" commenters.

February 12, 2007 11:53 AM  

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