Category: Israel

The triumph of fundamentalism

The Hypocrisy of Hanukkah

By Michael David Lukas, Dec. 1, 2018

 

It’s the question that Jewish parents instinctively dread.

A few months ago, I was sitting on the couch with my 3-year-old daughter, watching YouTube videos about animals in space, when out of nowhere she looked up at me and asked:

“Dada, can we celebrate Christmas?”

“We don’t celebrate Christmas,” I told her, putting on my serious voice. “We celebrate Hanukkah.”

Like generations of Jewish parents before me, I did my best to sell her on the relative merits of Hanukkah. True, Christmas might have those sparkly trees, ornaments and fruitcake. But we have latkes, jelly doughnuts and eight nights of presents.

“Do we have Santa?” she asked, hopefully.

“No,” I said, and her face dropped. “They do.”

I tried to reiterate the part about the jelly doughnuts and the eight nights of presents. But she wasn’t having any of it. I can’t say I blame her. During the rest of the year, the Jewish holidays we celebrate are like special, bonus celebrations we get to have on top of everything else going on in the calendar.

With Hanukkah and Christmas, however, it’s a zero-sum game.

Most of the year, it isn’t hard for our family to feel both American and Jewish. But in December — when there are wreaths and Peppa Pig Christmas specials and inflatable Santas everywhere you look — that dual identity becomes more of a question. Which is why Hanukkah is a big deal for mostly assimilated Jews like myself.

The only trouble is the actual holiday. Not the latkes and the dreidels, but the story of Hanukkah, which at its heart is an eight-night-long celebration of religious fundamentalism and violence.

For most of the past 2000 years, Hanukkah was an afterthought on the Jewish calendar, a wintertime festival of lights during which people spun tops and ate greasy food to commemorate what has to be one of God’s least impressive miracles — a small container of oil lasted for eight nights! More recently, as Jews have become assimilated into American society, the holiday has evolved into a kind of Semitic sidekick for Christmas, a minor festival pumped up into something it was never meant to be so that Jewish kids won’t feel bad about not having a tree.

This is the version of Hanukkah that I grew up with: presents and chocolate gelt; latkes with sour cream and applesauce; a few somber, off-key songs that no one fully remembered, about Judah Maccabee. This is the version of Hanukkah I had in mind when my daughter and I walked down to our local branch of the Oakland Public Library to check out a stack of books about the holiday.

Most of the books we found presented a familiar narrative — dreidels and menorahs and pious Maccabees doing battle against their enemies — but between the lines, there were some hints at a darker story, enough to send me to Wikipedia and the Books of Maccabees on the (definitely not Jewish but very helpful) Bible Gateway website, which led me back to the library for another stack of books, this one for myself.

According to most modern scholars — and a few rabbis I called on to help me out — the story of Hanukkah is based on a historical conflict between the Maccabees and the Hellenized Jews, the former being religious zealots who lived in the hills of Judea and practiced an ancient form of guerrilla warfare, the latter being mostly city-dwelling assimilationists who ate pork, didn’t circumcise their male children and made the occasional sacrificial offering to pagan gods.

Some of the details are up for debate, depending on which texts you consult. But everyone agrees that the Maccabees won out in the end and imposed their version of Judaism on the formerly Hellenized Jews. So Hanukkah, in essence, commemorates the triumph of fundamentalism over cosmopolitanism. Our assimilationist answer to Christmas is really a holiday about subjugating assimilated Jews.

The more I thought about all this, the more it disturbed me. For what am I if not a Hellenized Jew? (O.K., an Americanized Jew, but what’s the difference, really?) I eat pork every so often. Before having children, my wife and I agonized over the question of circumcision. And while I’ve never offered burned sacrifices to Zeus, I do go to yoga occasionally. When it comes down to it, it’s pretty clear that the Maccabees would have hated me. They would have hated me because I’m assimilated and because I’m the product of intermarriage. And while I can’t say for certain what the Maccabees would have thought about my fondness for Bernie Sanders or my practice of Reconstructionist Judaism, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have liked those things either.

Given all this, there’s a part of me that wants to skip out on Hanukkah altogether. Why should I light candles and sing songs to celebrate a group of violent fundamentalists?

The answer, frankly, is that it’s not my choice. With my daughter ready to sign up for Team Santa, we have to celebrate something, and I’m not quite Hellenized enough to get a Christmas tree.

So this year, for lack of a better alternative, I’m going to try to embrace Hanukkah in all its contradictions. When I light the candles, I’m going to celebrate the possibility of light in dark times, the importance of even the smallest miracles. And when everyone else is singing about the Maccabees, I’ll be saying a prayer for the Hellenized Jews and for the “renegade Jews” of our day.

Then I’m going to sneak my daughter an extra piece of chocolate gelt and break out the presents. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about beating Santa.

Michael David Lukas is the author of the novel “The Last Watchman of Old Cairo.”

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/01/opinion/sunday/the-hypocrisy-of-hanukkah.html

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/12/08/the-triumph-of-fundamentalism/

Well-orchestrated hysteria

In U.S. Media, Israel Is Untouchable

By Gideon Levy, Dec 02, 2018 4:01 AM

 

Marc Lamont Hill is an American writer and lecturer in communications at Temple University in Philadelphia, and also an analyst with CNN. In a speech last week at a United Nations conference he called for “international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

In a matter of hours, the skies collapsed into well-orchestrated hysteria. Seth Mandel, editor of the Washington Examiner, accused Hill of having called for Jewish genocide; Ben Shapiro, an analyst on Fox News, called it an anti-Semitic speech; Consul Dani Dayan tweeted that Hill’s remarks were like a “swastika painted in red,” the Anti-Defamation League said they were tantamount to calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. The inevitable outcome was not long in coming and CNN fired the rebel analyst on the very same day.

How dare he? What was he thinking? Where did he think he’s living, in a democracy with free speech or a country where dialogue about Israel is under the serious censorship of the Jewish establishment and Israeli propaganda? Hill tried to claim that he’s opposed to racism and anti-Semitism and his remarks were intended to support the establishment of a binational, secular and democratic state. But he didn’t stand a chance.

In the heavy-handed reality that has seized control over dialogue in the United States, there’s no room for expressions that may offend the Israeli occupation. On a liberal day it’s permissible to say “two states” as long as you do it in a whisper.

What would have happened if Hill had called for the establishment of a Jewish state between the Jordan and the sea? He would have safely continued holding down his job. Rick Santorum, the former senator, said in 2012 that “no Palestinian” lives in the West Bank. Nobody thought of firing him. Even Hill’s critic, Shapiro, has called in the past for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the territories (he backtracked on it a few years later) and nothing happened to him.

You can attack the Palestinians in America uninterrupted, call to expel them and deny their existence. Only don’t dare to touch Israel, the holy of holies, the country that exists above suspicion. And the height of chutzpah? Israel and the Jewish establishment keep on accusing the media, including CNN, of being slanderers of Israel. There’s no worse joke than that. Try to publish a critical article about Israel in a mainstream newspaper in the West – it’s getting more and more difficult, more often than not, impossible. But nothing will satisfy the lion’s hunger: The more he complains, the stronger he gets.

The key word of course is anti-Semitism. A lot has been written about the use Israel and its supporters make of anti-Semitism. And it works wondrously, it’s a magic word that silences people. There has not yet been a single critique of occupation that isn’t tagged as anti-Semitism. Everything is anti-Semitism: Hill is anti-Semitic because he favors a one-state solution, Roger Waters is an anti-Semite because that’s how Gilad Erdan described him at a conference last week about propaganda in Germany, UNRWA is anti-Semitic, and of course, BDS. The whole world is against us.

Last week there was a lot of fuss over a world survey of anti-Semitism conducted by CNN. It turns out that the Jews are not as hated as Israel would like: Only 10 percent said they had any negative feelings about them. Nearly four times as many people said they don’t like Muslims. Along with its worrisome aspects, the survey points up more than a few truths you can’t deny. Twenty-eight percent of those questioned said that anti-Semitism in their countries is a result of Israeli policy. A third believe that Israel takes advantage of the Holocaust to advance its positions. One in five thought the Jews have too much influence in the media.

Fire more analysts who dare to criticize Israel or suggest just solutions to the occupation – and more people surveyed will say what everyone knows: The Jews and Israel have an incredible degree of influence in Western media. Now you can call me an anti-Semite, as well.

 

https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-cnn-firing-marc-lamont-hill-proves-israel-is-untouchable-in-u-s-media-1.6702572

Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIIGuRuD7aY

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/12/02/well-orchestrated-hysteria/

Suffering Fools

Selections from a recent Facebook conversation.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent, the willfully ignorant, the woefully beguiled, and the morally repugnant (see fundie #5).  Due to the branching nature of such conversations on social media, this is stitched together from various, sometimes parallel/simultaneous narratives and is therefore only a linear approximation of a non-linear medium.  Grammar and spelling have been only rarely altered so as to preserve the intellectual intensity and profundity (and inanity) of the comments that ensue…

— Monsieur d’Nalgar, Samedi 26 mai 2018 Ere Commune

 

Last week…

Doc:  Fifty people died today in Palestine, with thousands….think about that, thousands wounded. The Israelis are treating the Palestinians the way our country treated Native tribes. Educate yourself and ask yourself #WWJD. I’m thinking Jesus will come back when He’s ready.

Fundie #1:   Yes, Jesus will come back and I think it is going to be sonner.then we think

Fundie #2:  Read the Bible as the answer to your question is in there. Israel has always been and forever will be The Apple of God’s Eye and He never changes. He promised to protect Israel and He will…Two days ago they were firing missiles at Israel which started this. If North Korea was firing at us what do you think Jesus would have us do, as we have many of God’s people in our nation as well?

Doc’s friend #1:  I’ve read the Bible a few times, and if you think snipers killing kids is somehow a justifiable act condoned by God, you might want to open it again.

Fundie #2:  Exactly and how many Americans died in 9/11…there are and always have been senseless killings and it’s not going to stop until the Prince of Peace returns!
I hate that any children died today, Doc but how many die yearly here in the USA by abortions? And how many folks seem to be okay with it? Really!

Doc:  Fundie #2 going to the “abortion” issue is a cop out…btw, the Jewish tradition states life begins at the first breath…so, can’t we agree snipers shooting innocent people is wrong?

Fundie #3:  Hamas is also using innocent civilians to envoke violence.. So is it really Israel’s fault for defending themselves as a terrorist organization is provoking the violence.. Hamas’ actions are getting innocent folks killed.. Its sad that any lives are lost…

Fundie #2:  I stand with Israel and have never thought or said that any of this is Israel’s fault. They are a small country totally surrounded by enemies. I study our Torah and God gave them that land, every inch of it, it is written! I thank God that the USA/Trump/Pence, have moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem. The plan of Almighty God unfolding before our eyes. The protesting has become far from peaceful protesting, not only in Israel but here in the US and around the world, and has been the cause of much bloodshed. As the Bible says, I watch therefore, and pray.

Moi:  Today is Nakba Day. If you don’t know what that is, it’s probably because you don’t want to know. For those of you who think God “is in this” and the Israelis are God’s “chosen people” – I offer you this opportunity to educate yourselves…

A concise defense of Palestinians:

Leaving aside the moral arguments for ending a festering, 70-year injustice, leaving aside the comparisons to South Africa’s systemic apartheid racism, and even leaving aside the ultimate irony of obvious parallels to Nazi Germany’s millennial dreams (Godwin’s Law be damned)…

First of all, archaeological evidence suggests ancient Israelites were just another tribe, one of many, in Canaan (today’s Palestine). Their particular deity was Yahweh, although artifacts from this time show that these people were hardly monotheistic – neighboring gods (especially fertility goddesses) were routinely incorporated into their religious practices. As these tribes jockeyed for power, the Israelites eventually emerged as the region’s dominant tribe, more through gradual assimilation and population growth (maybe those fertility goddesses really worked) than from bloody smiting and conquest (despite the tall tales of the Old Testament’s PR priests and poets).

Israelites’ self-rule typically only lasted as long as they were overlooked or ignored by nearby superpowers. When the big boys from back East showed up, Jewish kingdoms quickly collapsed and their aristocrats were killed or taken away as captive (albeit well-treated) hostages. It was hardly total ethnic cleansing – peasants, mostly agrarian, were left behind. Once the rich folk returned from exile, they discovered these peasants had gotten uppity and “moved on up” – they had become the new establishment. Just in the nick of time to re-establish the old order, these returning refugees magically, deliciously “discovered” their creation/origination myths (for which there is not a shred of evidence – see below), the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch), in the ruins of Jerusalem’s destroyed temple. What a coinky-dinky! God was mandating a return to the old pecking order and peasants were forced to shuffle back to their fields of labor. The old sheriff, the aristocracy and particularly the hereditary priesthood, was back in town…

Now let’s look at the science of the “we were here first” argument. Sephardic Jews (especially the Mizrahi) and Palestinian Arabs have practically identical DNA while Ashkenazi DNA indicates medieval origins in eastern Europe… Israel shut down DNA research several years ago because the findings were so awkward (and antithetical to their notions of ancient racial/ethnic purity).

On top of that, once modern historians began re-examining the long-held idea that the Roman Empire completely emptied Palestine in 70 AD, they soon concluded that the ludicrous logistical requirements rendered the Jewish Diaspora as nothing but myth. And not for the first time. The non-existence of ANY archaeological evidence suggests the story of a much earlier Jewish exodus from Egypt to Canaan was also a myth. If it happened at all, it could just as easily happened along the western coasts of Yemen and Arabia.

The truth of the matter is that a Jewish diaspora had already largely
happened by the time an itinerant rabbi named Jesus got himself killed for upending the cozy relationship the Jewish muckety-mucks had worked out with their military occupiers. The majority of Jews were already living beyond Palestine and, except for diehard zealots and anti-Roman terrorists, even Jerusalem was fading in importance for Judaism.

In other words, today’s Palestinians are direct descendants of those same Jews and pagans and pilgrims and assorted mystics who lived in Palestine while Jesus was among them. They didn’t go anywhere – a few clung to their Judaism, but most became Christians and later, Muslims. Notions of racial purity here are a fool’s fantasy. The blood-soaked “holy land” is the world’s genetics kitchen blender. Waves of conquerors have marauded through the Levant since the dawn of human history. Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs, and even French, British, and now Ashkenazi Jews have all added their cultural and genetic flavors, often with violence, to the recipe of Palestine’s people.

Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, accepted it as late as 1929, the year of the great Palestinian revolt. Both stated on several occasions that the peasants of Palestine were the descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Judea. (See link below)

Today, too many foolish fundamentalist (a tautology) Christians (and many Jews) are beguiled by their hypocritical leaders and Israel’s massive hasbara propaganda apparatus. As an antidote, I heartily recommend Gary Burge’s book – Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to “Holy Land” Theology.

http://mondoweiss.net/…/israeli-historian-palestinians…/

Fundie #2:  Nope! Not buying into that. You will be successful in getting lots to believe this though wow!

Doc:  It is their life that is at stake. So if I protest, I can get shot by a sniper and that’s ok?

Doc’s friend #1:  It killed 50 people today…for what? It wasn’t violent…so your basically saying its there own fault for protesting. I’m going to try and be civil and suggest sometimes its better to talk a moral high ground that win an argument…especially with an asshole like me…

Doc’s friend #1:  Jesus would tell Israel to “love thy neighbor”

Doc’s friend #1:  He would care less about the petty BS we argue about, and care about people getting killed for no reason. He would espouse love over violence…

Doc’s friend #1:  So this is what Israel is doing by having snipers shoot people?

Mon amie:  my dad/his family still living in Nazareth and our diaspora are Christians. Palestinians remain one of the largest populations of Christian Arabs in the world, so I must regretfully inform you that Israel has and continues to persecute, dehumanize, occupy, imprison without charges, torture and murder the indigenous Christian population of Palestinians💔. You would be horrified by the unspeakable acts committed by Zionist terrorist groups and the Israeli army during the “clearing of the cities” in 1947 and 1948.

Fundie #2:  Rape n incest ect… 650,000 to 750,000 abortions a yr in the U.S… 55 today in Palestine.. I think that no loss of life is good.. Does that amount not offend any of you!!

Doc:  Glad you are expressing your outrage at the loss of life in Palestine ..because….killing is killing

Doc’s friend #1:  I’m more offended by your moral equivalence…so there is that…but hey, at least we’re talking…

Doc’s friend #1:  Glad you are expressing your outrage at the loss of life in Palestine ..because….killing is killing

Doc’s friend #1:  I don’t call people names…and wether you recognize it or not, allow people to “hash it out”. We ain’t got to always agree, but talking helps….

Doc’s friend #1:  So, you’re outraged at the loss of life in Palestine?

Doc’s friend #1:  #sad Too bad people can’t realize that “those people” could be them. Jesus loves everyone….and that’s really hard at times..

Doc’s friend #2:  Of course the Bible says the Jews are the chosen people…They wrote the book, after all…I’d just like to get a third party verification, if you don’t mind…

Doc’s friend #1:  So yet another night solving the world’s problems on social media. I pray we can never post anything we wouldn’t say to someone’s face. I pray we at least think. I pray that although we don’t always agree, we will remain accountable for our world view. Most of all, I pray for the lives lost in Palestine. I pray we have a new respect for the ability to protest without getting shot by a sniper. I pray we can disagree, but be good neighbors. Good night, and God Bless everyone..

Doc’s friend #2:  Jesus never told his followers that they had to stand with the Jews to get to Heaven…He said that he was bringing a new way and a new light…And Paul never preached any of what you are saying in any of his many books in the Bible…Jesus stood for love, not war and killing unarmed protesters…I believe Jesus would’ve had more sympathy for the innocent Palestinians killed, than for the Israelis today… Please show me where in the Bible it says we have to unconditionally, uncritically, support Israel, to get to Heaven, because I must have missed that part…

Fundie #3:  You don’t know The Scriptures or you would understand. That land was given, not really, THEY had to kill the inhabitants to lay claim to it. God promised Abraham this land thousands of years before it happened. The Palestinians took over their land while they were in captivity. Read The Old Testament for details. THE COUNTRY OF ISRAEL BELONGS TO THE ISRAELITES, DUH! Hence the Name! I mentioned last week , if you want to know what’s happening or going to happen – WATCH ISRAEL. We are getting for THE LAST & FINAL WAR ON EARTH. Read The Book Of Revelations, slowly. It tells where we are at this point. The WHOLE world, except U.S.A. is the only country to stand with Israel. Not every American loves Israel & the world will answer on The Great Judgement Day! Read your Bible daily to learn how to be ready for THE GLORIOUS COMING OF OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST.
I once was young but now I’m old – I say this in love so you will be ready. Things are speeding ip.

Moi:  I wish I had a hairball to cough up. Sigh.

Fundie #4:  Educate yourself and realize that you will always and only hear about Israel defending itself from being attacked. Making it always sound like they just starting shooting Palestine for no Reason !
Jerusalem has and will always be the capitol of Israel

Doc’s friend #2:  Yeah, they pretty much did start shooting Palestinians for no reason…And Jews own the media, so they always spin the news in Israel’s favor, not the other way around…Do you really think Jesus would be on the side of Israel in these mismatched confrontations Because you must be reading a different Bible than me…

Doc’s friend #2:  What planet are you living on? Not a single one of our elected officials dares ever criticize Israel, because of the Jewish Lobby! I say educate yourself!

Doc’s friend #2:  They killed unarmed people! You just can’t spin that any good way, so you shouldn’t even try…

Doc’s friend #2:  I’m sorry, but Jesus was not a war monger, like so many of today’s American Christians! So I’m afraid you’re following the Anti-Christ, instead of all loving Jesus Christ…Behind me, Satan!!

Fundie #4:  the Palestinians were warned not to go near the border fence, they were not innocent victims here, they were rioting, lighting tires on fire to create a smoke screen and throwing things at the Israeli soldiers, Irael, like every country, has a right to defend its borders period.

Doc’s friend #2:  Non lethal measures would’ve been more than sufficient…You can’t justify what they did, no matter how you try and spin it!

Fundie #4:  Not when one is dealing with a group of people whose stated purpose is to destroy the couintry, which is what the stated purpose of the Palestinian Authority. They do not want peace, they want Israel gone and will do anything they can to make it happen. The PA pays people who kill Israeli citizens, and are the ones who bussed in the protesters to the border fence, there is no question that lethal force was justified.

Doc’s friend #2:  No, their stated purpose is to take back their land from a bunch of thieving European Gypsys, who converted to Judaism around 800 years ago!

Fundie #4:  it was never the palestinians land to begin with the land belongs to the children of Israel. Not to mention the Balfour document, ratified by both the league of natiions and the united nations promising to give the land to the children of Israel. add that 1. there is no such race as a palestinian and 2. look at pictures of the area from the late 1800s and early 1900s, no one lived there, it was a barren wasteland until the children of Israel moved back home and built it. so no, they are not trying to take back their land, they are trying to take the land from its rightful owners. the stated purpose of hamas and the palestinian authority is to dsstroy israel they clearly state this in their charters.

Doc’s friend #2:  Sorry, you can’t just come in after a 2,000 year absence, and just take people’s land based on your own Holy Book…And the Balfour Declaration was just a “British statement of support for a Jewish homeland”, hardly a legally binding document…And since Jerusalem’s founding 5,000 years ago, the Hebrews or Jews have only controlled it for about 100 years, before the modern era…So, sorry if it conflicts with their religious texts, but since God didn’t tell it to anyone else in the entire world, we have no way to verify it…And most of the Jews causing all the problems are Europeans who converted around 800 years ago, and have zero historical connection to the region, at all…None whatever!

Fundie #5:  First off, there never was a country called Palestine for there to be such as thing as a Paelstinian. The region, while under the Roman empire called Judea, referring to Jerusalem and the territory of the Jews, was renamed Palestine by the Romans in 70AD following a perceived rebellion, which caused Rome to destroy Jerusalem and rename the territory to erradicate reference to the Jews. Palestine simply means occupied land, it is not a true name. Second, the area was unihabitied, again, look at pictures of it from the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was a barren wasteland, no houses, no cities, no villages, so any claim of ancetral homeland by the so called “Palestinains” is false, no one lived there. Third, the Balfour document is relevant in that, it was written in 1917, not long after World War I, when the allies, who had defeated the Ottoman empire that had controled the land for almost 800 years (basically following the collapse of the Roman empire), were dividing the land into the countries that now exist in the middle east. Those countries did not exist before the 1900s and were create by the western nations. England was in control of the Ottoman empire’s land, they were in a large part responsible for helping form the new countries, including, setting aside land for the creation of a Jewish state, now known as Israel. The Balfour document set the stage for htis to happen and to establish the boundaries of that land. The League of Nations ratified the Balfour document and the plan before is disolved. The plans were put on hold due to the depression, then World War II, following WWII, the United Nations again ratified the pland, England pulled out of the area, leaving the countries, though with new borders resulting from WWII and who supported the allies during the war (they gotr more land), tro form the counrties, in 1948, Israel declared itself a country, was recognized by the United States, then by the United Nations as such. iIn 1967, during the six days war, Israel won the war and traded the land once belonging to Syria, and Jordan known as the old city of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank in exchange for cessation of hostilities. When ISrael was founded, their original declaration stated they would extend citizenship to all arabs living in the aream but, the arab nations around them told those arabs to get out, so they could get in and started a war with Israel, which Israel won. Those who left had gone to the lands Israel received at the end of the six days war, the host countries, Syria and Jordan would not let them into their countries, instead, they were left straded there in the land that now belongs to Israel. So yes, the Balfour document is relevant, and the land belongs to Israel, not the so called “Paelestinans”. They had moved into the land when Israel started building cities and farming the land, looking for jobs, and ended up left behind by their own countrymen following the war, pure and simple.

Doc’s friend #2:  I call bullshit! These Palestinian homes that are being confiscated, have been in those families for generations…And Israel is currently a war criminal nation, which every other country, except the Israel ass kissing USA, agrees with!! And the Romans first used the term Syria Palestina in the 2nd centurty, so that kind of blows that lie out of the water too!!

Doc’s friend #2:  you chauvinists who try and dehumanize these people are the real problem!!

Fundie #5:  I said Rome had renamed the area. no those homes have not been in families for generations, again look at the old photos of the area nothing was there. learn your history

Fundie #5:  I am to dehumanizing anyone just pointing out the land belongs to Israel. the alleged palestinians are in fact jordaians or syrians there was never a country of palestine.

Mon amie:  you may want to sit down for this 😬:

500+ = # of years my family has lived in Nazareth 🇵🇸 (yes, we have proof)

70 = # of years Israel has been in existence (They just celebrated their birthday on Monday 🎉🇮🇱

242 in July = # of years since America’s Independence was declared/established 🇺🇸

Conclusion: If you’re implying that Palestinians don’t exist, then you’re also implying that AMERICANS don’t exist, because my family has lived in Nazareth more than TWICE as long as our country has been in existence.
How does that make you feel 🤔???

 

Five days ago…

Fundie #5:  there never was a country or tribe called palestine for there to be palestinians, those living in the region are syrian, jordanian, arab, or egyptian.

Doc’s friend #2:  And all those Jews there are Europeans with ZERO connection to the area whatever! And Christi already told you her family goes back at least 500 years in Nasareth! So explain to me once again how a bunch of Europeans, who converted to Judaism 800 years ago, are entitled to ANY of that land..And don’t bring up the Balfour declaration again…You’ve already worn out that argument!!

Mon amie:  I appreciate your efforts, but since Fundie is sticking to the “Hasbara Handbook”, he’s just wasting our time. He’s argued with my friend  about things he knows nothing about. One would think that Fundie would pause and think about the fact that Jews like my friend don’t just spend a lot of time defending Palestinians and other Arabs via social media and in person, they organize, protest in the US, Gaza & West Bank with their Palestinian brothers and sisters. Why would they go to all of that trouble if Palestinians didn’t exist? Since Fundie literally argued with a Jewish person about this, I’m not exactly optimistic about the chances he’ll be swayed by my nonexistent arse 😁. But the good news is there’s nothing Fundie can do about the growing support and advocacy for Palestinians. Our movement has never been stronger, and every crime committed by Israel’s racist government only adds more supporters 💪🏼✌🏼💕.

 

Four days ago…

Moi:  Fundie, sorry, but that is hasbara spin. You recite it very well, but none of it is true.

Fundie #5:  Jacques d’Nalgar what is untrue? That there never was a tribe or country called palestine, that part is historical fact, the land of Judea was renamed palestine by the romans, palestine means occipied land and does not refer to any particular people or tribe. Thus there is no such thing as a palestinian. The fact that the land was for the most part barren is also true, look at old pictures from the late 1800s and early 1900s of the area, there is almost literally nothing there, mostly because there is no fresh water and little vegetation to survive. People travelled through there but not many lived there.

Moi:  Fundie, every bit of it. It’s all hasbara bullshit.

https://www.independent.co.uk/…/gaza-palestine-israel…

Fundie #5:  It is historical fact not a spin. I have seen the pictures, and read historical documentation, that was peer reviewed as part of a research project.

Moi:  Fundie,  if I showed you the official Palestinian agriculture exports records from the 1800s would it make any difference? I suspect not, but figured I’d ask anyway. I would very much like to see/read your peer-reviewed research project… And have you now read Mr. Fisk’s most recent article? If so, what particulars did you find most objectionable? Have you read anything by Israel’s “new historians”? If so, what are your objections based on?

Fundie #5:  I posted many, though not all of the articles in response to another question, that were used in my research. As for the “Palestinian” argriculture reports, what area are they from, as what was called Palestine encompassed a rather large area? The photographs I saw were mostly from the area around Jerusalem, Rachel’s tomb, etc. Also, in the 1800s, this area was owned by and part of the Ottoman Empire, not an independent country, which again goes to the fact that there never was a country of Palestine, an area named Palestine, yes, but not a country.

Moi:  Here’s an 1851 map of “Modern Palestine” – zoom in and see for yourself how many towns, villages, and cities there were (Zionists have been busy destroying all traces of as many of these as they can). Unless you think the map is Ottoman “fake news” in which case it is pointless to continue this conversation. I’ve noticed your argument has now switched from “there were no people there when the Zionists showed up” to “yeah, well Palestine was never a REAL country, so there!” Sorry, but this becoming ludicrous. Facts and history do not mesh with your hasbara/eschatological fantasies…
https://upload.wikimedia.org/…/Modern_Palestine%2C…

 

Three days ago…

Moi:  Source: McCarthy, Justin, The Population of Palestine, Columbia University Press: New York, 1990, pp. 10, 35.

Fundie #5:  A., it was not a country, it was a territory, B. Palestine simply means occupied land and is not the name of a country or people, C. It is a large area, so there may have been people scattered about, but the specific areas e.g. around Jerusalem, Rachel’s tomb, etc. as of the late 1800s, early 1900s had nothing there. Pictures taken at the time do not lie. They show barren land and little else.

Moi:  Oh, and now it been turned green by the magic of Zionism and ethnic cleansing?! By the way, pictures lie – all the time…

Moi:  A detailed accounting of the agricultural production in Palestine for the season of 1944-1945, by the British Mandate for the United Nations in 1946-7.

Source: Survey of Palestine, prepared by the British Mandate for the United Nations, p. 323-327. Notes:

* Value in Palestinian Pound.

** Non-citrus fruits. Note Citrus production=248,274 dunums of which 120,897 dunums were Jewish owned (Supplement to Survey of Palestine, p. 37).

*** One Dunum = 1,000 sq. meters.

Fundie #5:  The concept of there not being a Palestinian people or country had been part of my point all along, it was not a switch. And yes, there were small enclaves here and there, but not like what they are trying to claim, and most of the key areas they are trying to claim were vacant I refer to the pictures taken in the 1890s to 1910 or so which show these areas devoid of anytrhing.

Moi:  Fundie, so the population counts I showed you are bogus? If you know anything at all about agrarian society in the Levant (and I have my suspicions), “enclaves” have been the norm for millennia. Everything else is farmland or for grazing or too inhospitable for anything but wandering or self-discovery. “Enclaves” are not an open invitation for land theft and ethnic cleansing. Your continued attempts to justify Zionism are pathetic…

Moi:  Mon amie, I think we’re probably wasting our time…

Mon amie:  Agreed

 

Two days ago…

Moi:  Mon amie, not sure if you’re familiar with the Arabic word “tel” (it’s the same in Hebrew). Means “hill” or “small mountain” – in archeology, they’re artificial mounds left after successive communities (enclaves to some) built over the ruins and rubble of earlier ones. They’re all over the Levant (Al Mashriq) – arable Land was to precious for modern phenomena of urban sprawl. That’s another cultural indicator that European and American Jews are strangers in a strange land. They seem to think “their” Eretz Israel is supposed to be a giant suburb…

Fundie #5:  The areas in the photos were inhospitable as you call it then. And yes, as a Christian, I believe the land eternally belongs to the children of Israel. God promised them a return and they have. Also the Mosque on op of the temple mount is meaningless as Mohammed and his horse were never in jerusalem. So, the temple mount should be restored as well.

Moi:  Fundie, as a Christian, I respectfully disagree. Your ideas are hasbara horseshit peddled on a shaky foundation of piss-poor exegesis that was fabricated by a bunch of flim-flam grifters pretending to be fundamentalist preachers. These eminently un-Christian (dare I say anti-Christian) ideas are only a few hundred years old and didn’t reach their present rabid fever pitch until 1948. Go read a book or two. And not the “Left Behind” apocalypse porn. I’d suggest starting with the book below. Oh, and if you’re suggesting tearing down an ancient building (an architectural masterpiece, actually) just because it doesn’t fit your shallow theology, then you’re just a Christianist-Zionist barbarian – no different than the Taliban or ISIS…

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Land-Testament…/dp/0801038987

Fundie #5:  I never read the left behind series, plus I disagree with the false teaching in them that Christ comes before the 7 years tribulation, the Bible is very clear, his return is after the 7 years.

Fundie #5:  But the book I do read is the Bible, which promises the children of Israel will return to their land, found in Ezekiel.

Moi:  Why don’t you spend about 8 minutes watching this and then get back to me? Good to know you’re able to decipher the Bible without any help…

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=CQoxoZn3EpI

Moi:  And before you tear down a 1300-year old treasure in your bizarre belief that it will force Jesus to come get you for your magic rapture bus ride outa here, why not see what you and your fellow Christianist-Zionist terrorists are so desperate to destroy:

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/…/al-aqsa…/index.html

Moi:  I don’t know what Bible you read, but mine is a sprawling 66-book library, written over thousands of years by dozens of authors in multiple languages—professing to speak of the deepest truths about the creation of all matter, the beginning and end of life on the planet as well as beyond it, and about the Maker of everything and everyone. We’d better have some ambiguity about it all—or we’ve discovered a God who is small enough to fit entirely inside our three-pound brains or our current belief system.

Wish I could take credit for writing that, but it’s from John Pavlovitz, another Christian who probably thinks you’re bonkers:

https://johnpavlovitz.com/…/christians-need-stop…/

 

Yesterday…

Fundie #5:  I read the same Bible as you then.

Fundie #5:  I am familiar with the complex, however, it is built upon a false premise and had no real religious importance, the concept of Mohammed ever being in Jerusalem is ridiculous, he was never there, period.

Moi:  Fundie, you are no different than a hasbara troll, and a barbarian. How much archaeological evidence is there in your precious Israel that most of the stories about its many revered relics are anything but myth? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way…

Fundie #5:  There is considerable evidence of the truch of the Bible in the archeological history of the land there

Moi:  Fundie, most “biblical archaeology” is unscientific research intended to support a foregone conclusion. So no, there is not considerable evidence. Your response is bullshit.

Fundie #5:  archeological evidence is ar heological evidence there is no Biblical versus nonBiblical archeology. Unless you mean just because it does not match your ideology that the Bible is not true it is wrong If you do not believe it, why read it or be a Chtistian to begin with

Moi:  Because something deeper and more profound than a literalist reading of a supposedly inerrant Bible compels me to be a Christian.

Moi:  By the way, I used to be a strict literalist with an elaborate eschatology. I regret the years wasted in that intellectual/spiritual straight jacket…

 

Today…

Fundie #5:  Never said I am a strict literalist.

Moi:  Fundie, no need to: “…the false teaching in them that Christ comes before the 7 years tribulation, the Bible is very clear, his return is after the 7 years.”

Fundie #5:  yes, he comes after the 7 years, which Jesus himself taught as in Matthew and Mark, however he does not return to whisk the believers aways, instead it is to set up the mellinial reign on Earth.

 

Photograph of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, by Berthold Werner, 10 November 2008.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jerusalem_Dome_of_the_rock_BW_3.JPG or http://bit.ly/HGOQdS

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2018/05/28/suffering-fools/

Memory is stubborn

Invention of the Mizrahim

By Susan Abulhawa, 20 Sept 2017

 

The State of Israel was conceived at the turn of the 20th century in Eastern Europe by a group of elite European Jews who launched a movement called Zionism that sought to establish a physical nation state exclusive to Jews. It was a typical settler colonial enterprise, complete with the narrative of a divine mandate and a non-existent or savage indigenous population, central to which was the myth that Jews of the world formed a singular people, favored by God, who were returning to their singular place of origin – Palestine – after a three thousand year absence.

Although it was a project conceived in Europe by Europeans and for European Jews, they lacked sufficient numbers to build a population large enough to conquer the indigenous Palestinian population. Thus, recruitment of Jews from the surrounding Arab world was a necessary inconvenience. They did so through propaganda and by creating false flag terror incidents (bombing of synagogues or Jewish centres) in order provoke an exodus of Arab Jews. A prime example of this happened in Iraq, where the oldest Jewish community in the world had lived for millennia as contributing members of Iraqi society, and who prospered, contributed to the arts and the economy, and participated in government.

But these Jews were not embraced as brethren by European Zionists. Zionism was decidedly colonial, and that meant that Jews of the Arab world were seen as incomplete, barbaric, dirty, uncivilised. Za’ev Jabotinsky, one of the forefathers of Zionism said, “We Jews have nothing in common with what is called the Orient, thank God. To the extent that our uneducated masses [Arab Jews] have ancient spiritual traditions and laws that call the Orient, they must be weaned away from them, and this is in fact what we are doing in every decent school, what life itself is doing with great success. We are going in Palestine, first for our national convenience, [second] to sweep out thoroughly all traces of the Oriental soul.”

A multitude of programs and protocols were implemented towards this goal. One of the most egregious was a large initiative of stealing the babies of Arab Jews and giving them to be raised by European Jews. But the larger efforts were simple propaganda campaigns that were implemented in schools, communities, and national projects.

The word Mizrahim, from the Hebrew and Arabic words meaning “those of the East,” was popularised to lump all of these peoples of different nations into a single miscellaneous category that erased their individual ancient histories and cultures that spanned thousands of years of life and tradition, replete with countless and invaluable achievements in their respective nations.

In essence, it was a project to strip ancient peoples of their identities, which was not unlike what they tried to do to Palestinians. Zionists were trying to create a new nation with a unified people. So, they could not abide allowing parts of this population to continue to identify as Iraqi, Moroccan, Persian, Tunisian, and so on, and certainly not as Arab Jews. At the same time, the racist impulses of colonialism could not abide putting these people on par with Jews of Europe. They could not simply be Jews in the new Jewish state.

Thus, the word Mizrahim, from the Hebrew and Arabic words meaning “those of the East,” was popularised to lump all of these peoples of different nations into a single miscellaneous category that erased their individual ancient histories and cultures that spanned thousands of years of life and tradition, replete with countless and invaluable achievements in their respective nations.

Before Israel, Jews of Iraq identified as Iraqi, of Morocco as Moroccan, of Tunisia as Tunisian, of Iran as Persian, of Syria as Syrian, of Egypt as Egyptian, and of Palestine as Palestinian. They spoke Arabic, ate the same foods as their Christian and Muslim compatriots, celebrated and partook in the same national events and traditions, lived by the same social protocols, and moved through their respective cultures as other natives did. And despite the similarities of their cultures, Tunisians were distinct from Egyptians, who were both distinct from Iraqis, who were distinct from Moroccans, etc. But Israel collapsed them all under a single identity, which was to be distinguished only from Ashkenazis, European Jews, who were higher up on the social order, and, of course, from non-Jewish Palestinians and Arabs, who were to be despised. The level of their resulting self-hate can be measured in the heightened cruelty they practise against Palestinians.

However, as Zionists would learn from Palestinians, erasing the identity of others is not an easy task. Memory is stubborn, and roots will continue to tug at humans long after they’ve been uprooted. Arab Jews continued to speak Arabic at home, to dance to Arabic music, eat Arab food, and dream of once again seeing the mountains, rivers, architecture, libraries, and colours of Persia, Babylon, North Africa and the Levant.

Israel has moved away slightly from early Zionism’s contempt for our part of the world. And while it remains a colonial project, bent on erasing the native Palestinian presence, their social efforts are more focused on “indigenising” themselves to the land. The obstinacy of Arab Jews in clinging to their cultural roots has provided a convenient avenue to lay claim to regional indigenous culture. So now, Arab foods (like falafel, hummus, shakshouka), traditional Arab clothing (like tatreez, galabiyas, keffiyehs), and Arab folkloric dances are all being rebranded as “Israeli,” yet another phase of colonial renaming, and they use the rebranded Arab Jews to justify their claim.

Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian writer and the author of the international bestselling novel, Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury 2010). She is also the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, an NGO for children. Her latest novel The Blue Between Sky and Water has been translated into 26 languages.

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/invention-mizrahim-170920103701750.html

Photograph of three Mizrahi Jews reading a copy of the Hebrew Bible at a Jewish refugee camp, March 3, 1949 [AP].

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/11/20/memory-is-stubborn/

Hands-off relationship with the truth

Sebastian Gorka, the West Wing’s Phony Foreign-Policy Guru

By Bob Dreyfuss, August 10, 2017

 

The Breitbart News headline, back in November 2014, rang like a five-alarm fire bell: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD OVERRUNS NATIONAL CATHEDRAL IN DC. Its author, Breitbart’s national-security editor, was Dr. Sebastian L. v. Gorka, who currently occupies a top White House post as “deputy assistant” to President Donald Trump. And like just about anything Gorka has said or written, the Breitbart headline was wrong in every way. It wasn’t the Muslim Brotherhood at all, and no one overran anything. Despite his characteristic hyperventilation, the event in question was a dignified, interfaith prayer service organized jointly by the leaders of Washington National Cathedral and five mainstream Muslim organizations seeking to unite “voices of moderation.”

But critics charge that Gorka’s hyperbole and his hands-off relationship with the truth have lately sent his stock skyrocketing with the president. Renowned for his disdain for the media and his blithe readiness to defend Trump to the last tweet, Gorka – who apparently tools around Washington in a Mustang with a license plate that reads ART [OF] WAR – has become a nearly ubiquitous presence on television and radio as a spokesman for the White House. “Did you see Gorka?” Trump reportedly said after Gorka took part in figurative fisticuffs on CNN. “So great. I mean, really, truly great!”

Gorka views himself as a “utility infielder, especially in the field of counterterrorism,” and claims to provide behind-the-scenes advice to Trump on how to fight terrorism, while serving under the wing of Steve Bannon, his former boss at Breitbart. “It’s surreal and quite horrifying that someone who’s such an amateur has reached such heights,” says David Ucko, associate professor in the Department of War and Conflict Studies at National Defense University. Adds Michael S. Smith II, a veteran terrorism analyst who’s had unpleasant run-ins with Gorka, “This is not somebody who should be working anywhere near the White House.” Even more bluntly, a colleague of Smith’s, Cindy Storer, an ex-CIA terrorism analyst, said, “He’s nuts.”

It’s not easy to find out exactly what Gorka does in the White House for his $155,000 salary. In terms of policy, according to The New York Times, Trump’s recent pro-Saudi Arabia tilt was “driven by two advisers, Stephen K. Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.” But a former top White House official tells Rolling Stone, “His only job appears to be to go on talk radio or Fox News to defend the indefensible.” That he does constantly, spinning the administration’s confused, roller-coaster ride of a foreign policy; slamming “the fake-news industrial complex,” on CNN; supporting a Supreme Court decision as “a slap in the face” to critics of Trump’s Muslim travel ban, on talk radio; and, on MSNBC, explaining Donald Trump Jr.’s secret meeting with a team of Russians peddling dirt as “a massive nothingburger.”

Early this year, his wife and partner, Katharine Cornell Gorka, took up a post at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where she is now an adviser to the department’s policy office. Almost as soon as they entered the Trump administration, the Gorkas absorbed withering incoming fire from national-security experts and in a series of exposés in LobeLog.com and The Forward, a progressive Jewish periodical. By late April, White House sources told The New York Times and The Washington Post that Gorka was on the way out. Yet so far – likely thanks to support from Bannon – both Gorkas have defiantly stayed in place. According to one insider, Gorka’s dubious qualifications may have saved him. “The White House tried to find him a job at another agency,” says the source. But no luck: “Nobody wanted him.”

In person, Gorka is always nattily attired, sporting a distinguished-looking splash of facial hair to go with his precise, deep-baritone, British-accented English. Insisting everywhere that he be referred to as “doctor,” Gorka began his rise with a 2008 Ph.D. awarded by little-known Corvinus University of Budapest, an institution that several scholars who spoke to Rolling Stone described as having a questionable reputation. “Corvinus is pretty low-tier, maybe third- or fourth-tier,” says Daniel Nexon, a scholar at Georgetown University who has reviewed Gorka’s dissertation. “He might as well have mail-ordered his Ph.D.” Nexon ran its text through plagiarism software and found that portions of it were “repurposed.”

“Gorka’s thesis is about as legitimate as if he had been awarded it by Trump University,” says Andrew Reynolds, a professor at the University of North Carolina who looked into Gorka’s background. He says that of the three people who served as endorsers of Gorka’s Ph.D., two didn’t have any academic credentials whatsoever, and a third was György Schöpflin, a right-wing Hungarian politician who, Reynolds adds, was a Gorka family friend and once suggested studding a Hungarian border fence with pig heads to send a message to Muslim refugees. (Gorka said later that Schöpflin was “making a joke”; Gorka, whom Rolling Stone reached out to repeatedly, declined to comment for this article.)

Perhaps even more worrisome, Gorka’s thesis proposed a dramatic restructuring of the national-security apparatus to create a police state. He suggests a radical reform of “internal barriers between the police force, the army and various intelligence services.” This could also be seen as the start of a Gestapo-like, all-powerful national system of repression. “That’s about as Nazi Germany- or Soviet Union-like a proposal as I’ve ever heard,” says Patrick Eddington of the conservative Cato Institute. “The net effect would be to suspend the Bill of Rights, if his proposal ever saw the light of day.”

During the decade and a half Gorka spent in Hungary, he was enmeshed in a web of ultraright, anti-Semitic and even Nazi-like parties, politicians and media outlets. For most of the 2000s, the Gorkas ran a think tank in Budapest called the Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security (ITDIS). For funding, Gorka received at least $27,650 in U.S. federal grants, according to government records. “We worked for ourselves,” Katharine Gorka tells Rolling Stone.

In the mid-2000s, Hungary’s left-leaning government found itself besieged by right-wing street protests. Many of the protesters were affiliated with ultranationalist leader Viktor Orbán, who’s been called a “neo-fascist dictator” by Sen. John McCain, and who leads Hungary today. Gorka served as adviser to Orbán, and later wrote for an overtly anti-Semitic newspaper, Magyar Demokrata. By all accounts, Gorka’s own writing and statements at the time included no anti-Semitic comments, and neither The Forward nor other reporters who’ve investigated his background in Hungary have turned up any evidence that Gorka himself participated in anything that could be called anti-Jewish. “What you can say for sure is that he was allied with people who have very extremist views,” says Péter Krekó of the Political Capital Institute in Hungary. “He was an opportunist, and he cooperated with figures who were very marginal.”

For his part, Gorka denies any knowledge of the anti-Semitic backgrounds of his colleagues. Katharine Gorka says that all of the charges about her husband’s years in Hungary have been debunked. “He has never in any way been associated with the far right,” she says. “One of the reasons why we left Hungary was because of Sebastian’s discomfort with the far right.”

Yet these denials are hard to square with Gorka’s family background. Having fled Hungary for London after 1956, Gorka’s parents joined a raucous mix of anti-Communist, right-wing exiles, including those who belonged to the Order of Knights (Vitézi Rend), an organization with an unsavory past. Vitézi Rend was created by the Nazi-backed ruler of Hungary, and many of its members were involved in the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust. Today, members of the Order fall under an immigration watch by the State Department on groups that have violated human rights. Gorka and his father were reported to have joined (Katharine says this is false). And in photographs, Gorka has been spotted sporting a Vitézi Rend medal that, he insisted, he wore only to honor his father.

 

Since this affiliation was exposed by The Forward, Gorka has been engulfed in a storm of criticism, with members of Congress writing the White House to demand that he be fired. “Our main concern is that Dr. Gorka is a member of certain anti-Semitic Nazi groups such as Vitézi Rend,” says Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat. “There’s a lot of evidence that he was a member: He swore a lifelong loyalty, he’s used the honorific initial v., he’s been photographed with some of their insignia.” So far, Nadler and his colleagues haven’t heard back from the White House.

In 2008, the Gorkas moved to the United States. They established a network of organizations in the Virginia area: the Westminster Institute, the Council on Global Security, the Threat Knowledge Group and TheGorkaBriefing.com. According to Katharine Gorka, the council was a nonprofit “doing work on extremism,” and the Threat Knowledge Group was a business “providing training to law enforcement and the military.” Katharine founded the Westminster Institute as a think tank to do research “on the rise of radical Islam.”

In his published biographies, Gorka provides a long list of places where he peddled his views, including the FBI, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the National Counterterrorism Center, West Point and more. Gorka’s most-touted position was a two-year stint at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. James Joyner, a retired Army officer and associate professor of strategic studies at MCU, who saw Gorka in action, wasn’t impressed, saying that Gorka was hardly an academic: “He’s kind of the guy you see on TV. He’s bombastic.” Gorka’s views, adds Joyner, were well out of the mainstream. “To the Bush administration’s credit, one thing that they got right was, they said, ‘This is not a war against Islam.’ But Gorka is like, ‘No, these people are very dominant within the religion, their religion leads this way, and even though most Muslims aren’t terrorists, they at least lean that way.’ And that’s wrong.”

In many lectures, Gorka lumps together Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Iran’s clerical rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood in one box: as proponents of a world-dominating Muslim caliphate that must be crushed. Even the differences between Sunnis and Shiites don’t faze him. “Today, the Global Jihad has two brands,” he wrote for Breitbart. “It is a war of the ‘Sunni Coke’ versus the ‘Shia Pepsi.’ ” Gorka insists that everyone in Washington is wrong, and only he understands the fearsome nature of the enemy. “He is speaking the truth, and if you disagree with it,” Joyner says, “you’re an idiot.”

Mia Bloom, a widely published expert on terrorism and a professor at Georgia State University, recalls an encounter with Gorka on a terrorism panel at the Defense Intelligence Agency. “Gorka knows virtually nothing,” she says. “His views are a mixture of Islamophobia and racism. We’d been given questions in advance, we were paid for our appearance, and he just bullshitted his way through it – and he brought books to sell!” All of which is why Paul Pillar, a former national intelligence officer for the Middle East, says Gorka is too dangerous to be allowed to remain in the White House: “Gorka represents an intolerance that offends American values and is likely to gain the United States more enemies than friends.”

 

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/sebastian-gorka-the-west-wings-phony-foreign-policy-guru-w496912

Photograph (modified) of Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to President Trump, talking with people in the Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, during a ceremony commemorating Israeli Independence Day (by Susan Walsh, AP). https://thinkprogress.org/white-house-defends-silence-on-mosque-bombing-says-it-might-have-been-faked-by-liberals-718226415223/

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/08/11/hands-off-relationship-with-the-truth/

Fundamentalist religiosity

Why Religious Zionism Is Growing Darker

By Tomer Persico, May 16, 2017 5:41 PM

 

At a gathering of religious Zionist public figures two weeks ago, Deputy Knesset Speaker Betzalel Smotrich talked about his diplomatic plan, which he dubbed “The subjugation plan.” The purpose of the plan, he said, was “to erase all Palestinian national hope.”

Under the plan, the Palestinians will be given three choices – to leave the country; to live in Israel with the status of “resident alien,” because, as Smotrich made sure to note, “according to Jewish law there must always be some inferiority,” or to resist, “and then the Israel Defense Forces will know what to do.” When the deputy Knesset speaker was asked if he intended to wipe out whole families, including women and children, Smotrich replied, “In war, as in war.”

Smotrich presented the Book of Joshua as the source for his remarks. According to the Midrash, Joshua sent the residents of the land of Canaan three letters in which he set out the three aforementioned conditions. Maimonides explains that if the non-Jews do not flee, they must have limitations imposed on them “so they should be despised and lowly, and not raise their heads in Israel.” If they resist, he says, “not a soul must be left among them” – in other words, kill them all.

How many of those who sat and listened to these horrible things – learned men and women, Torah scholars and community leaders – agreed with him? It’s impossible to know. There were protests raised during the question period, in which some of those in attendance expressed shock. But not everyone was shocked.

I thought back to the op-ed by Yossi Klein last month that raised such a storm. Does “religious Zionism” want to “seize control of the state and cleanse it of Arabs,” as he wrote? No, definitely not. Are there people in that community who indeed want to do this? Yes, absolutely. The question is how numerous they are, or, in other words, where to place Smotrich. Is he on the margins, part of an extremist, fundamentalist and zealous minority, who isn’t taken too seriously – or in the center, a future leader of a large public?

One of the characteristics of fundamentalist religiosity is the reduction of religious tradition into a rigid and simplistic framework of principles. It’s generally joined by a monolithic perception of history, as if all eras are identical and what was true 2,000 years ago is still valid today, and a strong desire to renew our days as of old, i.e., to bring the past into the present. All these together create a one-dimensional surrender to the authority of Scripture. This is generally done in a very unconventional manner, since fundamentalist obedience hews closely to the literal meaning of the text, while non-fundamental religiosity recognizes that religious truth is complex (“There are 70 faces to the Torah”), provides interpretations of Scripture, and integrates other considerations into its approach to faith.

Religious Zionism is not fundamentalist. Most of the community leads a traditional religious life of interpretation and flexibility. Most live in the center of the country, in Jerusalem and Petah Tikva, Kfar Sava and Ra’anana. We’re talking about a middle-class, solid, bourgeois, satisfied community. Judaism for them is a deep identity and a way of life, but they don’t dream at night about rebuilding the Temple and they are pleased to live in a democracy.

Hard for democracy to win out over nationalism

But Smotrich understood something when he spoke with this community’s representatives. Because he was speaking to a totally observant audience, he allowed himself to expose the religious-mythic underpinnings of his ideas. He hoped that speaking about Jewish law and the Book of Joshua would lead to an automatic identification with his remarks that would be reinforced by the dormant foundations of a deeply rooted tradition. He hoped that his religious language would make his ideas much harder to oppose. Unfortunately, that hope is not unfounded.

Democracy, like liberalism, is an ethos. Religious tradition, like nationalism, is the foundation of identity and narrative perception. In a contest between them, it’s very difficult for the former to triumph. If during the 20th century Western nationalism substantively included democracy and liberalism (and thus also moderated religion), in recent decades there’s been a gap emerging between them. As we can see from the refugee crisis in Europe and the Brexit vote, when the masses feel that liberalism is undermining the foundations of nationalism, the response is to boost nationalism at the expense of liberalism. Narrative and identity trump ethos.

Certain people in the religious-Zionist camp, Smotrich among them, turn to Jewish identity and use a mythic narrative to enlist support for anti-liberal ideas. In a situation in which liberalism is perceived as opposing identity, or in a situation in which there is no answer defending liberalism that’s based on identity, they will succeed in drawing many after them, first and foremost those who are deeply connected to tradition. Only a position that emerges from one’s identity toward liberalism, that reunites nationalism and liberalism (and even religion and democracy), can prevent many religious Zionists and others from being drawn to the insane ideas of Smotrich and his ilk.

The fact that Smotrich is a dangerous fundamentalist who seeks to give the Palestinians a choice between transfer, apartheid or genocide is horrifying. It’s hard to complain to the Palestinian Authority about their encouragement of terror when the deputy Knesset speaker of the State of Israel supports this type of “subjugation plan.” He should be removed from his post and thrown out of the Knesset.

But even if this were to happen, the important question is what kind of response we, the religious and secular Zionists, proffer to his ideas. Until there is such an answer, he will continue to move from the margins to the center.

Dr. Persico is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman institute and a lecturer in the Department of Comparative Religion at Tel Aviv University.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.789226

Photograph (modified) of MK Bezalel Smotrich at the illegal Amona outpost in the West Bank, February 1, 2017, by Olivier Fitoussi. http://www.haaretz.com/polopoly_fs/1.768962.1494831447!/image/791655587.jpg_gen/derivatives/headline_1714x964/791655587.jpg

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/05/17/fundamentalist-religiosity/

Rights are not bestowed by an oppressor

Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons

By Marwan_Barghouti, April 16, 2017

 

HADARIM PRISON, Israel — Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.

Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.

Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions. It has committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against the Palestinian people; the prisoners, including men, women and children, are no exception.

I was only 15 when I was first imprisoned. I was barely 18 when an Israeli interrogator forced me to spread my legs while I stood naked in the interrogation room, before hitting my genitals. I passed out from the pain, and the resulting fall left an everlasting scar on my forehead. The interrogator mocked me afterward, saying that I would never procreate because people like me give birth only to terrorists and murderers.

A few years later, I was again in an Israeli prison, leading a hunger strike, when my first son was born. Instead of the sweets we usually distribute to celebrate such news, I handed out salt to the other prisoners. When he was barely 18, he in turn was arrested and spent four years in Israeli prisons.

The eldest of my four children is now a man of 31. Yet here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom along with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world. What is it with the arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers that makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.

Israel has built nearly all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territory. In doing so, it has unlawfully and forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians into captivity, and has used this situation to restrict family visits and to inflict suffering on prisoners through long transports under cruel conditions. It turned basic rights that should be guaranteed under international law — including some painfully secured through previous hunger strikes — into privileges its prison service decides to grant us or deprive us of.

Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence. Some have been killed while in detention. According to the latest count from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, about 200 Palestinian prisoners have died since 1967 because of such actions. Palestinian prisoners and their families also remain a primary target of Israel’s policy of imposing collective punishments.

Through our hunger strike, we seek an end to these abuses.

Over the past five decades, according to the human rights group Addameer, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or detained by Israel — equivalent to about 40 percent of the Palestinian territory’s male population. Today, about 6,500 are still imprisoned, among them some who have the dismal distinction of holding world records for the longest periods in detention of political prisoners. There is hardly a single family in Palestine that has not endured the suffering caused by the imprisonment of one or several of its members.

How to account for this unbelievable state of affairs?

Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. Israel’s courts are a charade of justice, clearly instruments of colonial, military occupation. According to the State Department, the conviction rate for Palestinians in the military courts is nearly 90 percent.

Among the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians whom Israel has taken captive are children, women, parliamentarians, activists, journalists, human rights defenders, academics, political figures, militants, bystanders, family members of prisoners. And all with one aim: to bury the legitimate aspirations of an entire nation.

Instead, though, Israel’s prisons have become the cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination. This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners’ movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom.

Israel has tried to brand us all as terrorists to legitimize its violations, including mass arbitrary arrests, torture, punitive measures and severe restrictions. As part of Israel’s effort to undermine the Palestinian struggle for freedom, an Israeli court sentenced me to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by international observers.

Israel is not the first occupying or colonial power to resort to such expedients. Every national liberation movement in history can recall similar practices. This is why so many people who have fought against oppression, colonialism and apartheid stand with us. The International Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouti and All Palestinian Prisoners that the anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada and my wife, Fadwa, inaugurated in 2013 from Nelson Mandela’s former cell on Robben Island has enjoyed the support of eight Nobel Peace Prize laureates, 120 governments and hundreds of leaders, parliamentarians, artists and academics around the world.

Their solidarity exposes Israel’s moral and political failure. Rights are not bestowed by an oppressor. Freedom and dignity are universal rights that are inherent in humanity, to be enjoyed by every nation and all human beings. Palestinians will not be an exception. Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace.

Editors’ Note: April 17, 2017

This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. (Jacques d’Nalgar’s comment:  did the NYT’s editors also feel compelled to add similar notes whenever Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote?) They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.

Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/opinion/palestinian-hunger-strike-prisoners-call-for-justice.html

Photograph of graffiti supporting Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, on the “Palestinian side” of the Israeli West Bank barrier wall, near the Qalandia checkpoint north to Jerusalem, by Eman, 15 April 2007. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marwan_Barghouti#/media/File:QalandiaWallBarghouti.JPG

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