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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hasbara & Israel's Original Sin

When the leader of the Palestinian people is a racist whose educational qualifications are based on a paper denying the Holocaust and attributing Zionist success on collaboration with the Nazis, Israel has a problem.

The Left finds comfort in the Islamic narrative because it reinforces its own prejudices. Today the Left rejoices in finding equivalence between Judaism and Nazism even though the latter negated the former; and between Israelism (Zionism) and Nazism even though the former is based on national self-determination within geographically limited boundaries and the latter, like Islamism is predicated on an absolutist paradigm of global conquest indelibly mixed with a concomitant intolerance of all non-believers.

Jewish history should have taught all of us, Left and Right, that dancing with the devil does not bring positive benefits. President Abbas of East Palestine, like his recently reconciled but ultimately murderous partners in West Palestine (the Islamic ‘Resistance’ movement also known as ‘Hamas’), is racist. Mahmoud Abbas, religiously chauvinistic is inspired by contempt that is excused in the West because it is historically ‘justified’ by theological discrimination. And this prejudice has turned to hatred because we no longer turn the other cheek.  We are the living proof that prejudice can be overcome.

If we are not for ourselves, why, should anyone else be ‘for us’? The time has long past to understand this point.

The time has come to regroup and to launch a global information offensive.

The most serious error the Israeli Right ever made was ignoring the importance of asserting Jewish sovereignty; of justifying our excision from Arab / Turkish rule as a prerequisite for Jewish self-determination. By dwelling on the trauma of the Shoah the Right gave Israel’s enemies a gift that prescribes how to deny Israel a right to exist.

And the Left has failed to internalise Jewish history. Because of its antipathy towards religion it could not accept that Israel also had and has a right to history based on its own myths.

Much of the ideological foundation for opposition to Israel today is centred on a mythology of Islamic victimhood. But colonialism has always been of greater importance to the Arab world than it was in the past to the West. Yet while we suffer pangs of conscience for our own past colonial abuses, Islam and the Arab world theologically continue to justify the abuses of their colonial past to this day and their current crimes against humanity.

Islam is a colonial faith and therefore hegemonic in its ambitions.  This is why there have been Muslim wars since the creation of the faith by Muhammad in the early 7th Century of the Common Era (AD).

“The Koran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers. Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.
Unlike nearly all biblical violence most of the verses of violence in the Koran are open-ended, meaning that the historical context is not embedded within the surrounding text.  They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subjective as anything else in the Koran” (some wording omitted).

From the Gates of Vienna across to Asia, from the Russian Caucasian mountains in the North down to Africa, Islam has always been a colonial power.  It is based on a limitless theologically driven ambition for global domination fuelled by open contempt for the faiths that it is intended to supplant. This intolerance has a purpose. Denigration creates a balance between the superiority of one and the demonstrable inferiority of the other.

The economic benefit is clearly understood, but in its failure to deliver tangible gains will often create a desperate need for blind introspection.  Israel has become the scapegoat for both sides of this international game of one-upmanship.  Losing a colony (Israel) is theologically viewed as an existential threat to the Colonial narrative of a leviathan that should be unstoppable.

In Israel today the Left has been sidelined politically because it has lost any creditability it once enjoyed. It has accepted many of the myths of Israel’s enemies; its own identity is based on self denial and self abasement.  The Left has ignored its own Near-Eastern history in deference to propaganda and prejudice.

The Right, traumatized by the Holocaust and demeaned by history emphasised Jewish helplessness in Europe. But the reality is more complex. Islamic and specifically Arab ethnic bigotry combined with 1,400 years of Muslim / Arab ethnic cleansing made Palestinian Jewish independence an absolute necessity for survival in the Near-East  long before the great Jewish Nakba in Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

The Palestinian Arabs (as opposed to Palestinian Jews) had their chance at independence in 1948 and they squandered it as they have continued to squander it on their hate and their national, racial contempt for us. The theological disgust that informs Muslim notions of superiority are their greatest weakness even as in paradox they have been the Islamic worlds’ greatest strength, supplying an unending army of brutal foot soldiers intent on global conquest.

Today as in the past they refuse to acknowledge our history in Israel, they refuse to acknowledge our religious rights and they have experienced no feelings of shame for their past enslavement of our people.

Israel exists by right. We have nothing for which to apologize.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The BBC - The Big Question

On Sunday Morning I watched “The Big Question” the BBC program fronted by its compare, Mr. Nicky Campbell; it purports to present discussion on the moral questions that impact our lives. Four ‘experts’ gave their opinions (one tried to – if the compare permitted her to speak – but more about that later) while the studio audience with specialists sitting in the front rows added their voices to the discussion.

The format is usually to present three separate sessions on different topics but this time it was just the one item about whether the Bible is still relevant.

Richard Dawkins, the militant atheist is particularly abusive in his criticism of the Torah (or Hebrew Bible). He may indeed be a professor of something but like many academics throughout history his myopic intellectual vision is incapable of seeing past his own narrowly  prejudiced world view. He is unable to accept either the complex realities of ancient literature or, by exegesis of the relevant texts to accept that judging ancient history literally, is by modern standards intellectually incorrigible.  It is as if we were to uncritically embrace Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice,” in the pursuit of a bigoted literary enjoyment, failing to contemplate at all, its venal and ancient prejudice. For the narrow minded scholar there can only ever be one possible narrative.

To Jonah Goldberg, ‘fascist’ is “a modern word for heretic,” and for me, fascism is the modern orthodoxy that places everything else outside of the sphere of the acceptable (including opinions and thoughts).

With every new generation the Hebrew Bible is critically re-examined. Given that hundreds of millions of lines of exegesis surround it, to dismiss our relationship to this book by applying a superficial analysis of its contents is unbefitting of either an intellectual or a teacher. 

When the good rabbi did in fact point out that the Hebrew bible, was ancient but was also continuously being reappraised and reinterpreted, explaining or contextualizing both the arcane and the common to provide meaning to the ancient texts – her comments were dismissed by Mr. Campbell.

Albert Camus in ‘The Rebel’ says that “Fascism is an act of contempt.” In fact fascism is an act of contempt that is unmoved by persuasion, debate or history.

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali spoke on behalf of the Bible as did Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner. A fourth participant, an archaeologist, adept at self promotion had proclaimed herself a radical reinterpreter of the ‘Old Testament’ (but her views have been commonly enunciated by other certainly more eminent archaeologists, working in the field, in Israel, for many years before her).  Admitting to enjoying a militantly rejectionist view of the Hebrew Bible she volunteered the opinion  that the “New” Testament was wholly historical in its compilation and therefore provided the skeptical but kosher critique of ‘Old Testament’ (only) history as myth. Even she however, corrected the Compare when she said that the correct term was to call the Old Testament the Hebrew Bible. (Nicky Campbell, with condescension, dismissed this as “PC”).

The audience included a lay member of the ruling Synod of the Church of England who as anticipated, did not compare but did contrast the Old with the New, the negative (of the Old) to the mercy of the New. There was much made of Old Testament cruelty and revenge juxtaposed with New Testament mercy.

On another occasion a Jewishly relevant comment was made and the natural response would have been to have deferred to the Rabbi for an answer.  But by this stage it had become clear that Rabbi Janner-Klausner was there to provide window dressing only; a return to medieval humiliation and degradation in active demonstration of the superiority of the dominant faith.  The Rabbi found it difficult to respond to anything because our unbiased BBC compare would not let her speak.  She began putting up her hand in an obvious attempt to speak! In the end she had to leap into the conversation with comments as it appeared to be the only way she would be allowed to talk in defense of any Jewish religious position.  Nicky Campbell was dismissive.

The program was unashamedly biased as one has come to expect of the BBC.  Both Rabbi Janner-Klausner and Bishop Nazir-Ali did well to confront the intolerance and prejudice of the ethnocentric Mr. Campbell.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Voting Reform

The British national elections in 2010 unfolded and then the ritual recriminations, as the specialists expectations failed to deliver bloodied scalps onto the political altar.  The media blamed both politicians and citizens alike, and the reaction, primarily liberal/left was that at least it was not 'their' fault for the failure of a conclusive outcome.

From the last election in 2005 the Conservative Party increased its share of the seats in the House of Commons from 198 to 306, 36% of the popular vote (up from 32%), but an increase of about 50% in its representation in Westminster.  The Lib Dems (liberal democrats) lost 5 seats, 62 down to 57 or 23% of the national vote (up from 22% ! ) and Labour lost 98 seats (356 down to 258) and retained only 29% of the vote (down from 35%).

The Liberal Democrats wanted electoral reform, and from the results it is easy to understand why, but by making a principled issue of electoral reform to the exclusion of almost anything of credible substance they remained credible, but unelectable. People realistically understood that in a time of national crisis you need a team that can deliver results.  The lib dems had and have much to say about foreign policy, particularly about Israel, and Jews too, immigration and the EU, but when unemployment, economic crisis, poverty and yes, immigration are so fundamental to the electorates concerns about their individual personal futures; when schools, hospitals and crime are rarely absent from peoples awareness the only thing that counted was whether or not the party was going to do something about it. The rest, all that foreign stuff, was (and is) irrelevant, at least until it costs us in ways we can tangibly feel, and more important than that, all that idealistic stuff, became an irritating distraction.

The reaction from political pundits was not that people had voted with intelligence but that people had got it wrong.  As the variables in the political equation multiplied we were told that we got what we had voted for as if we had been slightly unhinged when we had cast our vote.  The main parties reacted with gently articulated contempt for the democratic vote. It was demanded that the incumbent should immediately quit Downing Street. Labour protested that the Conservatives had really not done so very well, and by not receiving an absolute majority they had not received an absolute mandate to govern.  And the lib dems tirelessly complained of their failure to make headway with the British people as if the blame was not theirs to start with.

So we need to begin with a bit of history.  Less than 100 years ago Britain was The Superpower in a similar place to where the USA is today.  It was equally hated, feared and admired across the Globe.  Like all empires, its imperial base was spread far and wide, way past its natural borders and with control radiating out from the center. London first and England second were the epicenter of British global power.  Like all empires, the fall began with dissent from the peripheries and spread in waves that came ever closer to home.  Unlike other empires, the English center still has control of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.  It may be because of a common mother tongue that the last remnants of empire have not been liquidated but what is perhaps not surprising is that even today the cultural, economic and political center remains in London and radiates out from there. Wealth is dispensed, from its capital city and likewise diminishes in concentric circles as we increase in distance from London.

We are living through a period of mediocrity chasing past glories.  If Britain were to adopt a bicameral system of government then the infrastructure is already in place to receive it.  Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have regional assemblies. They should be replaced by state governments.  Adding England and London as separate self-governing entities would complete the National picture.  Finally the national government must ensure the equality of each legally governing entity, put in place regional elections for both London and England, and, replace The House of Lords with a Senate where equal representation to each independent entity is guaranteed and the Prime Minster is the leader of the largest party.

Proportional representation only works as a foil to corruption or chaos when a plurality of interests is able to work together for the common good. Over an extended period of time the chances for this diminish.  A third party becomes little better than a protest vote.

The Israeli example ably proves the reason that proportional representation is a failed system. In Israeli politics it is a means by which dissatisfaction can be bled away without altering the essential power base of the ruling elite.  This is why it is also ineffective, because the energies that are spilled out dissipate potentially violent frustration while imperceptibly dispersing any momentum for change.  Government becomes the art of holding onto power without actually achieving anything of lasting value.

First past the post voting is inherently undemocratic in a three party (or greater) system. Pure proportional representation creates a multiplicity of parties that ultimately destabilizes the institution of democracy.  As is often the case, an imaginative compromise solution is required in order to prevent a failure of the democratic vote.

That no national newspaper could be relied on to put into the public domain an honest discussion of political reform or even, of the advantages of Lib Dem participation in government; and that the press came out against we, The People, in its analysis of the 2010 election results is an indicator of a moral failure in national thinking.  We should ask why.