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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Racial Profiling in the British Media

In my last blog I contrasted the United States of Europe with the United States of America. Now I will examine how the British media stigmatizes and perpetuates stereotypes.

The British thinking classes are uncomfortable within their own skin. They are obsessed by history and its concomitant tales of dishonour and betrayal.  The slave trade and the class system were an abomination but we overcame both of them. We have successfully exported the slave trade to the sweat shops of China and Africa and we pretend that the widening social gap has nothing to do with an entrenched class system.

We afflict ourselves with sack-cloth and ash over a past we cannot leave behind.  We salve our consciences with liberal values and a mode of speech that has been reviewed and passed by modern day commissars of thought by means of clichéd words and phrases.

We would never question the victimhood of our immigrants or the bigotry of our welfare recipients and we would certainly not judge the ethical failures of our newest British Subjects because to do so would be expressing a moral equivalence with which ‘we’ (as a society) are fundamentally opposed.

Moral relativism is used to describe the differences in moral judgements that are applied across separate cultures.  But it is the excuse amongst liberals and the Left everywhere that they make for ethnic cleansing and genocide when it is committed by regimes labelled as either developing nations or left-wing.  It is something ugly and immoral that excuses every heinous crime committed by the right kind of regime. We used to call them “The Third World”.   We now think this is condescending and prefer to use the term “The Developing World” to set apart and make an excuse for every nation whose crimes against humanity we want to excuse.  The Developing World bizarrely matches the wealthiest Muslim nations to the poorest countries on earth and it wholly dismisses all of their behaviour even when it would clearly be unacceptable to our consciences to accept it in our own homes.

But for some inexplicable reason, the British media is largely incapable of taking anything other than an unconscionable polemical stance when dealing with Jewish issues.  We may speculate that it takes its cue from those higher up that non-existent class pyramid.  There is a split along left / right lines which again, we could consider is based on history.  After World War 2 those people classified ‘right of centre’ had to confront their moral failures because, fascism was portrayed as exclusively right wing and therefore, it and it alone was responsible for the twentieth century’s atrocities. The left and its liberal allies never found the necessity to confront the bloodthirsty ideological underpinnings of Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot; they revered the insidious Malaysian racist Mahathir Mohamad and worshipped both Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.

We excused Bin Laden his devotion to a death cult because to describe him and his fellow Muslims as evil was to judge them by our standards and (in our relativistic moral universe) this, we could never contemplate.

In the USA, film has done more to break down barriers than any law enacted by our elected legislators.  Without the celluloid media, not even an army of police could have removed the obstructions raised by society to discriminate against black people and, let us not forget them, Jews as well.

The Jewish stereotype has been mostly discarded through sitcoms such as ‘Rhoda’, ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Friends’ which portray overtly Jewish characters within a mainstream American setting without denigrating them as religious oddities or ethnic curiosities. They are All-American schleps, schlemiels and shemozzles – which is why these last three words, have entered American vocabulary.

The barriers within British Society are the blind prejudice that our media celebrate and they do not encourage integration.  Some years ago a colleague was talking to me about a program he had viewed the previous night. It starred a famous Anglo-Jewish comedian. By my work associates comments I realised he was unaware of the comedian’s religious antecedents (which had never been a part of his stand-up routine). “A person has no right to hide behind someone else’s identity,” he cried out in disgust. It should not have come as a surprise to me.  It is the stereotypical response of an influential section of British society and it has been encouraged over many centuries. From Christopher Marlowe’s Jew of Malta, William Shakespeare’s Shylock and Charles Dickens's Fagan through to Caryl Churchill’s contemporary blood libel ‘Seven Jewish Children’, it is a recurrent theme of British theatre that what applies to Jews applies to no other people; or would not be permitted to apply to any other people.

Perhaps this explains the disproportionate focus on Zionism and Israel that a prejudiced liberal – left coalition conveys through its literature.  Jews are not supposed to fight back. They do not defend themselves against the angel of death. Fly on the Wall programs are gratuitously offensive because their entertainment value is shallow and they pit contestants against each other in a self-absorbed and vacuous exercise of cringe-worthy posturing. Seemingly innocuous programs like Channel 4’s current drivel “Jewish Mum of the Year” are one such kind of stereotypical programming offered by the ‘liberal’ British Press to perpetuate a rigid (monolithic) caricature of Judaism.

State Television and Radio remain effective means for teaching values as defined by society.  We should use them to discourage prejudice and educate against odium. Once more our British media betrays us.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The European Union

The European Union (EU) experiment is an essential requirement for a Europe that has viewed warfare as a noble and natural national expression of the human spirit and a process that gave us our vitality and our creativity.

The EU was never intended to mimic the United States of America. A United States of Europe was first and foremost an embrace between traditionally overinflated national egos. Its intent was to finally bring peace and reconciliation to Europe by inhibiting the propensity for intermittent and internecine hostilities between rival European nations that was characteristic of European civilisation.

It is also true that the greatest periods of innovation in human history ran concurrently with periods of human conflict; that necessity drives innovation while serenity fuels leisure.

To this day Europe remains deeply divided along class and ethnic lines. Each nation hides behind a mountain of EU regulation. But the European economic crisis has exposed divisions that were concealed by an income redistribution policy that created an illusion of prosperity built on corruption, lies and false hopes, all of which was beautifully wrapped in breath-taking amounts of Euros. The cost of administering the EU budget is approximately £100 billion per year ($160 billion).  This is in addition to individual state budgets.

The “Copenhagen criteria” specified that any European nation could join the Union if it possessed stable democratic government with its associated institutions and freedoms.  Additional criteria mandated the gradual harmonisation of national laws.   The accession process created the requirement for social, economic and political reform and it hugely accelerated many of those reforms. It was without a doubt the major trigger for the democratisation of Eastern, Central and Southern Europe.

Cultural identity is associated with sovereignty. It was the most sensitive issue on any international agenda and it continues to create controversy. Membership of the club was not made contingent upon easily verifiable progress towards cultural reform eliminating social tensions.

Europe has lots of issues it has failed to address: its discrimination against Romanies, violence in sport, popular intolerance towards Jews and black people – even its failure to address the underlying secessionist tensions between Flemish and Walloon, or Catalonia, are symptomatic of a reticence to address barriers standing in the way of  cultural normalisation. And now I can return to the difference between the United States of America and the Disunited States of Europe.  In the USA I can be Polish, Chinese, Italian or Spanish and celebrate my unique cultural background AS AN AMERICAN.  In the EU there has been no attempt to replicate this model for cultural diversity within a supranational environment. European ambivalence towards accelerated integration is based on long and culturally ingrained intolerance.

The sad fact is that for as long as the money continued to flood into regional coffers (needlessly enriching the bank accounts of special interest groups) defects in the unification model remained unimportant so that the occasional outbreak of bad news could be dismissed as no more than the aberrant behaviour of malcontents and not a national attitudinal pathology.

Individual nations remain committed to a twin track policy that simultaneously satisfies EU membership while pursuing unofficial national policies that are incompatible with that membership.  Regional sovereignty is central to European identity.  The principle of the sovereignty of nations in use today was established by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 which created a basis for national self-determination. It failed to prevent war in Europe but it gave people the right to an identity that few in Europe are willing to abrogate.

Germany may have tightly embraced France so that their historic enmity cannot erupt into anything violent but it has also enthusiastically embraced rapprochement with Russia which makes it geopolitically stronger than its neighbours. At the same time it reduces EU and NATO manoeuvrability when conflicts with Russia arise.

Certainly Sweden with its minute Jewish population and large Muslim population has failed to protect the former while politically, it actively encourages the latter towards violence and hate.

Principles and international statecraft may inevitably be oxymoronic but without principles, significant inconsistencies are liable to arise between nations. This provides the best reason extremists have for challenging the right of democracy to influence cultural integration.

The desire to join the EU is strong enough to agree to and accelerate internal political and economic reform even as lip service has been paid towards reforming the social contract in order to discourage prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion.  Because of this failure of will, it has not been possible to alter behaviour that encourages a culture of bigotry. Greece just needed austerity (albeit severe) in order to begin rioting and mass demonstrations of support for a neo-Nazi political party.  It did not take much for Turkey to begin killing Kurds again. Of course Turkey is also problematic because unlike Serbia which, took responsibility for its war crimes committed during the Yugoslav Wars (1991 - 1999) Turkey has never recognised its genocidal actions against Armenians and Kurds; it has refused to review its illegal invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and it continues its illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus.

It is not possible to have two entirely disparate models for integration into the European super state.

Common values, even similar cultural quirks reduce the differences that divide people and again, foster reconciliation and co-existence.

The European experiment has been bloodied because it assumed that it could throw money at its European partners while it failed to address the issues that were fundamental to what culturally divides the nations of Europe.

The motivation behind membership is irrelevant. What is intrinsic to its success however is to understand its weaknesses and address them honestly, and with vigour. Principles do count. It is not naivety but appeasement and cowardice that fails to confront what divides us.  If our ethical behaviour is so different then we need to be able to agree on what we are able to accept and to confront what is unacceptable to us. Only then can the negotiation on how we reconcile or even whether it is possible to reconcile the two positions begin.

The US saw the EU as the panacea that would put a stop to European bloodletting but it failed to appreciate the forces of history that worked against its successful implementation. For as long as money was the only issue and cash continued to flow unimpeded, the cracks in the European experiment could be papered over.  Perhaps because the USA views itself as endowed with an ethic of Exceptionalism it could not appreciate the burden of history working against integration.  The dysfunctional family can lurch from crisis to crisis, its suppurating wounds may not kill it but the re-emergence of the contagion that is Europe’s legacy will continue to intermittently erupt if the importance of social integration is not recognised as at least, equal to economic prosperity.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why we should fear the fundamentalists and those that support them

Following on from the attempted assassination of Israel’s UK ambassador, Shlomo Argov (he never fully recovered from his wounds) Israel launched the First Lebanon War in 1982.  While no more than a pretext for war, its aims were legitimate. The first goal was to secure Israel’s northern border by expelling the PLO not just from the South but from Lebanon itself. The second aim successfully achieved, was to remove from Southern Lebanon the Syrian missile batteries which threatened all of Northern Israel.  Syrian control of the Bekaa meant the wildly profitable drugs trade provided much needed funds for Syria.  The loss of these funds would inhibit Syria from engaging in a proxy war with Israel via its numerous surrogates.  Other aims failed.

The presence of the PLO in the South had meant the PLO acted with impunity and made the life of those amongst whom they hid, precarious.  The first Israeli troop convoys were therefore greeted as liberators, by Muslims and Christians alike.

But the situation soon changed as both sides settled into a war of attrition.

Group Dynamic theory states that the only people who count in a group are fellow members. This is why people become gang or cult members.  Similarly, fundamentalist faith promotes a Manichean mentality of superiority, and paranoia fed by the fear of rejection. Group Dynamic theory also explains the ease with which acts of terror find their terrorists, their eager perpetrators and accomplices. A capacity to endure complexity and contradiction are the antithesis of fundamentalism. It is why intolerance is an inevitable by-product of the lifestyle.

I recently read an article which asked why so many Muslims love Osama bin Ladin and hate Barack Hussein Obama?

In his article Professor Barry Rubin continued:

“When solidarity along group lines takes priority and the line is that all of “us” must unite against the “other” no matter what truth, logic, or justice dictates then that means serious trouble.”

Of course that meant trouble for Israel in Lebanon and it means trouble for Israel in Europe.  And one day, when Islam has more adherents in the USA than Judaism does, it will mean trouble for Israel in North America.

We are already witness to the rewriting of history and the writing out of history of the Jewish connection to Israel.   The Consul Generals located in Jerusalem are an extraterritorial abomination that since Israel’s independence in 1948 has remained a thorn in Israel’s side. Its diplomats answer only to the UN and as a consequence are Pro-Arab and educated to contemptuously ignore all Israeli or Jewish liaisons.  On the 11th of October the French Consulate General in Jerusalem was reprimanded for remarks made by its Consul General Frédéric Desagneaux.  In a reception for Palestinian officials he emphasised the importance of sites both in Jerusalem and elsewhere as connecting to Palestinian history only. Those sites included Qumran and Masada, the former, caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls (historically important Jewish national treasures) were discovered and the latter, the site of a fortified palace that was witness to siege in the first Jewish-Roman War.  Today in Israel, Masada is pregnant with national symbolism.

All this encourages a renewed siege mentality within Israel’s Jewish population and therefore, an ‘us and them’ dynamic that cannot help to establish trust or to ease reluctant combatants into negotiations. To write both locations out of Jewish history was an act of cultural theft and ethnic cleansing.  Desagneaux should have been expelled from Israel.

His purpose was to undermine Israel by encouraging a Palestinian disinclination towards negotiation or flexibility. When bigotry knows that it has allies it can strive to create even greater chaos and that in turn enables the more powerful intermediary (in this case France) to have leverage over both sides in the conflict.

Not all Muslims are Islamists (fundamentalists) but the vote for what we in the West would label an extremist candidate does not make that person a moderate, even when they are representative of the mainstream.

When, soon after the murder in London of 52 innocents by Muslim terrorists on the 7th of July 2005 (and over 700 others were wounded) a poll of British Muslims was taken.  40% of Muslims in the UK voted, without reservation, to support terrorist actions including the 7/7 atrocity. This vote, while frightening and immoral, did not mean that all UK Muslims hold extreme views, nevertheless it did highlight a fundamental difference in the way we think.  Similarly, I worked with a ‘high-flying’ manager at BT’s corporate headquarters (opposite St Paul’s Cathedral).  One pre-Xmas eve we were the only two people working on the entire floor of the building.  This religious Muslim man, educated throughout his life in Britain, had no issue with human slavery or any of the other highly discriminatory ‘values’ that make Dhimma an important plank of Islamic thought. It declares its supporters to be opposed to Democracy.

Educated and secular British Muslims are as likely to be surprised by the above paragraph as I have been.  Nevertheless they are equally as likely to believe some of the more repugnant conspiracy theories that abound on the Internet or in print.  Prejudices are tribal, even in the world of the secular hedonist.

The issue is not that many Muslims oppose revolutionary Islamism but that many are advocates of totalitarianism.

We tend to forget that Hitler rose to power with 37.3% of the popular vote and that Lenin and Trotsky were simply the leaders of one minor but radical party amongst many in the Menshevik and Social Revolutionary dominated Provisional Government. 

Malcolm Gladwell discusses the power of context in ‘The Tipping Point’. He says that we look at situations and over-estimate human traits while under-estimating the importance of situation and context. In the fabulously wealthy Muslim world extraordinary wealth co-exists alongside of egregious poverty.  Hopelessness and despair did not make the Arab Spring. Rather, it was a failure to share the spoils of corruption that doomed the Arab world’s oligarchies.  Context in an Islamic sense decrees that everyone who is not ‘one of us’ must be inferior because they have chosen not to be Muslims.  The disconnect between religious-political self-perception and an existence that is at variance with the ideal can only create stresses whose alleviation will be expressed through violence, or, a conspiracy laden attribution that explains away all failures.

If common sense is, as Albert Einstein claimed, no more than the prejudices we have acquired by our 18th birthday then what may seem to us illogical and frighteningly counter-intuitive becomes no more than the pedestrian considerations of the prejudiced environment in which we are raised. Hubris blinds the zealot to the humanity of their opponent.  Common sense becomes no more than a poisoned vessel which inevitably leads to catastrophe.

The point I have attempted to make here is that we should not be blinded to the danger of fundamentalism. Numerically, any number of fundamentalists or their supporters remains a threat to society.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Liberal Democracy and Simon Hughes

The Liberal Democrats have a problem.  The Party appears to possess an inordinate number of political hypocrites and while the political animal may, as a species, not be worthy of ethical admiration what I find curious, even disconcerting about them is not the Janus faced sophistication which is a common trait amongst all politicians but the venom masked as humanity that seems so salient a feature of the Party of illiberal thought.

Perhaps it is my failure to understand the high minded and internationalist liberalism of the LibDem world-view that is at fault but first I must consider the prejudice that seems immune to logic or to history.

The Liberals grew out of the Whig party in 1859 and enjoyed success through leaders such as Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George but by the 1920’s had been permanently replaced as the largest opponent to the Conservative Party.   They declined until the 1950’s, when in alliance with the Social Democrats began a resurgence in their appeal. In 1988 the two parties formally merged into the Liberal Democrats (LibDems).

To quote Jonah Goldberg (“Liberal Fascism”) H.G. Wells delivered a major speech at Oxford University where he called for a “ ‘Phoenix Rebirth’ of Liberalism” under the banner of “Liberal Fascism.” Wells continued by explaining that “Fabian socialism had failed because it hadn’t grasped the need for a truly ‘revolutionary’ effort aimed at the total transformation of society….they (the socialists) were just ‘too nice’.”  Wells said “I am asking for a Liberal Fascisti, for enlightened Nazis.”

Post Shoah, H.G Wells came out in support of a Jewish State. But to quote Bryan Cheyette (Lecturer at the School of English, University of Leeds) “In H. G. Wells' vision of a Utopian world state, a separate Jewish culture represented a corrupt and reactionary impediment to progress and order. Wells stopped short of advocating annihilation but he blamed the existence of anti-Semitism on the Jew's failure to assimilate to the Universalist mainstream.” Of course by this he meant the ‘predominant’ English mainstream.  This is not that different from what the LibDems believe today.

As I stated in an earlier blog “The Middle Classes in Crisis”:

“the Liberal Democrats are the political party of fashionable prejudice, its ideas and ideals shaped by intellectual currents rather than by ethical principles; this protean political force attempts to transect differences by sanctimonious and tendentious political posturing that leaves them hovering indiscriminately between Left and Right.

A short but notorious list of recent LibDem grandees would include Baroness Dr Jenny Tongue and in addition to its most infamous bigot, the following:

Lord Wallace (academic, writer and senior LibDem) told the Board (the UK’s main representative Jewish body) that Israeli policy towards the Palestinians was "mistaken" and that, as a democracy, Israel should be held to higher standards than Saudi Arabia.  This may be the expression of a logical mind but not of a moral one. The prejudice that underlies Lord Wallace’s moral destitution is so appalling I find any emotions beyond contempt and shame to be unworthy.

Lord Phillips (Andrew Wyndham Phillips), another LibDem bigot kicked upstairs to the unelected House of Lords (in gratitude for his contribution to the party) stated that “many” Jews are “deeply prejudiced” although “not lacking in intelligence” according to the JC of 25/2/2011.

It would be patronizing and condescending were I to pontificate on the superior intellect of the Liberal Democrats. It could be pointed out however that because they are unlikely to contribute anything positive to British politics they should be disbanded as a party.  This is particularly relevant in light of what seems to be their incurable predilection towards sweeping statements, generalizations and prejudice.  An incapacity to present a nuanced analysis of the modern world without resorting to cliché and sophism is not of course restricted to LibDems but it does appear to be a characteristic of LibDem leadership.

North West Euro-MP Chris Davies was forced to resign as leader of the British Liberal Democrat MEP's (he remains a LibDem member of the European Parliament) after he told a Jewish constituent (amongst other disgraceful and deeply offensive statements) that “I hope you enjoy wallowing in your own filth." This was an unsolicited comment and while an extreme example, it underlines the visceral reaction of the LibDem leadership to any interaction with people of Jewish faith who fail to provide obsequious cover for the party’s prejudice. I cannot imagine any British political party apart from perhaps the extreme left or extreme right using such ugly language.

Any war may be played out over a number of canvases – there is the propaganda war, the surrogate war (fought by intermediaries), and the economic war (played out as part of the first two above) and yes, there is hot war, with lots of death and destruction. Israel has faced conflict with Britain since long before its modern foundation. By allowing the free migration of Arabs to Palestine while actively preventing Jews from exercising the same right to immigration, Britain signed the death warrant for European Jewry. By arming and controlling an Arab army it was actively complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem’s Jews and the Arab rape of east Jerusalem.  Many of its politicians have waged a propaganda war against the State of Israel by financially supporting its enemies. Britain today pushes for the containment of Israel within defenseless borders while it subverts the state within the UN as elsewhere through its active support for Israel’s enemies.

One could argue that not all of Britain’s politicians are as morally indigent or incoherent in their approach to Islamic extremism as the LibDems are but it does seem curious that it is the LibDems who too often link Jewish self-determination to all that is wrong with the world.

International economic and cultural harmonization is a Utopian ideal.  It is undesirable when it is predicated on the extinction of the rights of one group for the greater good; that is another marker for what constitutes ‘liberal fascism’. What David Remnick, editor of New Yorker Magazine called “pandering, married to ignorance” is the LibDem justification for prejudice against the Jewish State and it seems, Jews.

We could be generous. We could say that the Liberal Democrat Party, in spite of its top tier university educated parliamentary representation is not prejudiced at all. It is simply, linguistically challenged. And I will explain why.

In any discussion we should always be cognizant of the need for semantic precision in our narrative. For example, the Jewish community is fragmented, disorganized and fiercely jealous of its individuality and independence (which every Jewish group will defend against every other Jewish group). And yet, we use terms such as ‘world Jewry’ and ‘the Jewish people’ and then interpret this grouping of words as if Judaism is a monolithic, hegemonic, all-controlling, hermetically sealed bloc.  But when we talk about the Muslim world or the Christian world we do not similarly convey a vision of overbearing or controlling conspirators.  This may in part be due to a missionary legacy that needs to justify the same negative characteristics that are then superimposed on its victims.  Or perhaps an Arabist foreign policy is so deeply ingrained within British society that it is not possible to repair the damage within the ruling racist bureaucratic psyche?

Mohammed Asif, Chief executive of ‘i-Engage’ (a British and Muslim PAC) wrote that “Zionism is not part of the Jewish faith; it is a political ideology that has advanced the idea of a national struggle to establish a homeland for the Jews in the modern era.” ‘i-Engage’ defended the right of radical Islamists to preach in Britain and encouraged the activities of antisemitic Muslim groups on British university campuses.

With respect to M. Asif the yearning for Zion is spiritually central to Jewish faith. We do not require a physical pilgrimage or Hajj to substantiate our identity as Jews.  As a basic interpretation of what Zionism is, the right to Israeli self-determination, irrespective of religious identity, is fundamental to reconciling the Arab / Muslim world to Israel.

Simon Hughes was formerly President of and is current Deputy Leader of the LibDems.  He fully supported the hiring of ‘i-Engage’ which in June 2010 wrote to the Education Secretary to express its opposition to Zionism being taught in Jewish Schools).

The problem with ‘i-Engage’s’ line of thinking was that just as they had the right to express their opposition to Zionism (or any other ‘ism’), equally, I could demand a ban on the Koran being placed in any British schools and not just those independent Muslim schools that receive state funding.  The Koran does not acknowledge a separation between religion and political engagement and says some rather unpleasant things about non-Muslims that could be interpreted as providing sanction to incitement against anyone with whom they disagree.

On one LibDem site I noted the insidious claim that the Arab world is incapable of antisemitism because the Arabs are Semites.

This canard is false on two levels. First: a jingoistic, fantasist theological narrative declares the Arab race to be Gods’ sole legatee from the beginning of time through to the current age.  It is therefore unsurprising that the Arab world tends to be racist in its self-identification when the Arab ‘race’ is gloriously unique in history. Secondly: antisemitism is specifically meant to denote hatred of Jews. To quote Wikipedia:

“While the term's etymology might suggest that anti-Semitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, the term was coined in the late 19th century in Germany as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass ("Jew-hatred"), and that has been its normal use since then.”

Antisemitism is much more simply defined than this. It is present when one is incapable of transferring ones prejudice against Jews to any other group or individual.

And so finally, it was reported that Simon Hughes believes the time has come to consider a “one state solution” to Israel-Palestine.  To quote the Jewish Chronicle of 21st September 2012 “a single federated state in which Muslims, Jews and Christians had separate constitutional rights may now be the best solution.” This angers me.  Perhaps Simon Hughes meant to say the final solution to the problem, after all, there is not a single Muslim state that is capable of guaranteeing the right to self-determination of its own minorities nor one that is able to respect its citizens rights.  For a human rights lawyer as Mr. Hughes is to propose this, is to display at best inexplicable ignorance of Muslim society.  Mr. Hughes continued “JC readers needed to understand the genuine feelings of anger and frustration felt by his colleagues over Israeli government policy.” Damn it, we Jews just don’t listen when our betters tell us what to do.

I would not say that the LibDems are guilty of wholesale duplicity, deception and dishonesty in their constancy of anti-Zionist propaganda but I do question the frequency with which they seem to attract attention to themselves by employing antisemitic arguments.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Koran. War and Peace

Ridicule and derision are common tools of missionary faith but Judaism is not a missionary religion and Christianity has, for the most part, albeit reluctantly, recognised this theologically toxic legacy.  That leaves Islam as the driving revolutionary force behind theological agitation for proselytizing around the world.

Samuel P. Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order) wrote that there was a clash of civilisations between the West and the Islamic world. While the Left as an institution, and many of our leaders in government, panicked and were desperate then, as they are today, to disprove his thesis, they continue to make every excuse to justify violence and terror committed in the name of Islam. This propensity towards violence is a tragically common response to every slight or perceived insult that befalls the Muslim faithful. 

It is certainly undeniable that the Koran constrains the fundamentalist from engagement in a dialogue of equals while anyone who reads the Koran without questioning it, must be left with a feeling of superiority and disdain towards both Christians and Jews.  At best, those that read the Koran are vicariously acculturated to ridicule and mistrust of the non-Muslim.  Even at a superficial level it cannot but encourage disinclination towards integration into Western Society. A recent study revealed that the fourth generation of Muslims living in the West is less likely to be integrated into the society than any other group in history. The Koran and the Hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) are problematic for their subversive theological opposition to modern democracy.

Islam believes Muhammad to be the most righteous man who ever lived (it could not possibly be a woman). “Let us now use our reason: how can a mortal woman give birth to God?” (A Muslim missionary booklet titled “Muslim-Christian Dialogue” by HM Baagil M.D.)  Every word was transmitted by the Muslim God Allah, and therefore, it must all be true, correct, unalterable and unquestionable. “We use the Koran as the standard to correct man-made changes in previously revealed scriptures.” i.e. Christianity and Judaism. (Ibid)

If we are already perfected, then in the pursuit of ‘righteousness’ or the ‘ideal’ we can do no wrong.  That warped mindset led humanity to the mobile killing squads, to Auschwitz and to the gas chambers.  The Holocaust denial industry is an important part of contemporary Islamic thought because it assumes a perfection marred only by the opposition of the infidel.

Those that deny the Shoah are just as likely to embrace it a second time round.

In an exquisite, even brilliant double bind we are informed that to question the Koran is to insult all Muslims and therefore to encourage violence. But to not question is to acquiesce by our silence to a manuscript that is unremittingly hateful and disparaging both of our respective cultures and of our shared civilisation. Every act of kindness in recorded history, every good idea, every positive act of creation is theologically Islamic. This is saying that early Islamic writings are not the mythic creation story (and later exegesis) of some desert tribal leader living towards the end of the 6th Century CE. Instead Islam ‘represents’ the one and only legitimate faith with an unbroken lineage of wisdom dating back to the beginning of history. Abraham, Moses and Jesus are Muslims, their thoughts and acts are a precious Islamic heritage. Cultural theft, plagiarism and the wholesale rape of entire civilisations is justified as no more than successive rebranding exercises carried out by the faithful of Allah.  Our lands and everything we own, our cultural heritage and our past are all obliterated as a logical consequence of our flawed and theologically redundant existence.  You and me?  We are followers of an imperfect and corrupted system; our religious beliefs, a lie and a deceit.

If we question Islamic logic we are blind to perfection – but then this is also written in the Koran. The faithful are warned to be aware of our kind.

In Medieval times, Jews were sometimes forced to dispute with the local bishop on a point of canon law.  If the Rabbi won, he was put to death and his entire community expelled. If he lost, the community was forced to convert to Christianity.  Islam plays by different rules but by stealing our collective past it has no need to debate any of its actions either in the past or in the present.  More ominously, it has no need to consider the ethical validity of any of its planned and future activities.

All fundamentalist faith is retrogressive but Islam has not moved on from Muhammad’s genocide of the Jewish tribes and pagan peoples of Arabia of the 6th Century CE.  Islam is almost 400 years late in learning the lessons of the Age of Reason. And while the Enlightenment began to percolate into scholars’ minds considerably earlier than the 17th Century, the darkness in the heart of Islam is an ongoing tragedy that can only worsen as we appease the bigots.  And from our side, the reaction will cause much greater friction between our civilisations even as some Muslim scholars beseech their compatriots to exercise self-control.   

Even then, the righteous Muslim is an insignificant minority whose protestations are inevitably after the fact and only heard, once we infidel have been thoroughly and righteously horse-whipped for our insolence.

One of the arguments for the authenticity of the Koran is that Muhammad was illiterate; therefore he could not have known the sayings and teachings of either Judaism or of Christianity (because he grew up in pagan Mecca). When the Jews of Muhammad’s time refused to accept his new faith he slaughtered them without mercy. His genocide of the Jewish tribes was legitimised by their refusal to embrace his wholesale cultural theft of their religious heritage.  'Religious' Muslims view Judaism as a racial ideology while the secularists cover the other side of the debate by recognising Jews as a religious group.  Both sides in the Islamic world can then explain and justify the reason for excluding Jews from the Near-East: As a racial group Jews have no religious right to reside anywhere but particularly not in the Holy Land; as a religious group Jews have no racial right of residence because their history is ‘manufactured’.  As a consequence they are a foreign and wholly incompatible implant that does not belong in the region. Listen to the words of Mahmud Ahmadinejad and weep for the ethical failure that prevents us from challenging the holy racism and religious demagoguery of this evil man and his multitude of followers.

As propaganda this narrative of hate has something for every bigot – including the hegemonic left-wing and liberal Western elite.

Muslims believe that God’s first command to Muhammad was ‘Iqra’ (read) an interesting thought if it is true that he was illiterate. But if reading is confined to the Koran and Hadith (the ‘collected’ sayings of the Prophets – produced in the 8th and 9th Century, some 120 -260 years after he is alleged to have died) then there can only be one interpretation of history and it is one that denies the legitimacy of any and all other narratives that do not demonstrate the superiority of the Muslim view of history.

In this time of appeasing the Islamic faithful, instead of asking what we achieve by our tolerance we should be demanding to know what we receive in return for our sacrifice.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Some Thoughts on Yom Kippur

This is my one hundredth article. I would like to thank every one who has continued to read me.

Yom Kippur has just passed. As the holiest day of the Jewish Year there is much to contemplate and the prayer book provides many opportunities for reflexion.  I have taken a number of sayings from the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Service to which I have added my thoughts for your consideration.  All quotes are copied from the British Prayer book “Reform Prayers for the High Holydays 1985.”

“There is no righteous person on earth whose deeds are good and who sins not.” Kohelet 7:20 (Ecclesiastes - The Speaker or Preacher). Contemporary scholarship suggests a date for its composition no later than about 200 BCE).

If we are already perfected, then in the pursuit of ‘righteousness’ or the ‘ideal’ we can do no wrong. The beauty of the Bible is that it shows us our imperfections and reminds us that without deference to class or rank in society there are consequences for our failures. The parables strive to make us better human beings.

“I did great things. I built mansions and planted vineyards.  I laid out gardens and parks….I amassed silver and gold, the treasure of kings and princes….I grew great…I denied my eyes nothing they desired, refused my heart no pleasure – for my heart rejoiced in all my labour, and that was my reward for all my labour. Then I took a long look at all my hands had achieved, at all the effort I had put into its achieving – and all of it was vanity and chasing the wind; nothing really gained under the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 2:4-11

The vanity of our age has taken us from public endowment that promotes good for everyone to the age of the individual and the accumulation of private wealth that benefit’s no-one but the self obsessed egotist. It is not that we have forgotten the art of giving but in coming to the realisation that anything is possible we have lost the ability to discern between what is realisable and what is fair.

“Therefore, Lord our God, we put our hope in you. Soon let us witness the glory of your power; when the worship of material things shall pass away from the earth, and prejudice and superstition shall at last be cut off.” Second Paragraph of ‘The Aleinu’ - a prayer from the Jewish prayer book. (The earliest known mention is the 2nd Century CE).

Judaism does not forbid us the opportunity to amass wealth.  It is naïve and unreasonable to demand that altruism govern our daily lives, but if our raison d’être is resolute dedication to personal gratification we are unlikely to behave in a manner that promotes well being on a communal or even a familial level.

There is a passage in the Bible that excoriates the rich for the fashion of beautifying the walls of their homes with carved ivory strips because this elaborate decoration came at the expense of the poor.  They lived in a world that was very small; their knowledge of the plight of other nations was at best restricted and usually non-existent. We forget that communication was not by phone but by horse and messenger or itinerant scholars who travelled from town to town. 

Today, there is no place on earth that is further away than one day by air transport. We can instantly view the starving child whose dying image is transmitted to our mobile phone or as large as life, onto our flat screen TV.

And yet, we cannot solve the problems of the world by throwing all of our wealth at them.  Sack cloth and ashes are not required of each and every one of us but the Biblical passage remains as relevant today as it did 1,800 years ago. When we worship the material world we exclude the spiritual; when we live with prejudice and superstition, we entomb ourselves in fear and create barriers that only perpetuate and exacerbate those fears.

“For all ….who perish by fire or water, by the violence of man or the beast, by hunger or thirst, by disaster, plague or execution; for those who rest and those who wander, for the secure and the tormented, for those who become poor and those who become rich, for the failures and the famous.” Yom Kippur Service – fragments of it first appeared in the Cairo Geniza, dated to the 8th Century it is however, widely believed to have been written much earlier).

In Biblical times most of us would have been ‘fortunate’ to have lived to 30 years of age.  The rich and powerful would live longer but only if they escaped disease, armed conflict and natural disaster.  For the ordinary man, woman, or child, starvation, wild animals, an infected cut or the capricious nature of violent confrontation fed our fears and superstitions as they shortened our existence without warning. Life fostered an inherent insecurity that was never far away.  This reflection on the unpredictability of our collective fate still has relevance.  Although wild animals may be rare (because we as a species have wiped out most of their habitat) disease still strikes us with terror (at least then we were ignorant of what killed us) and we still fear the mugger and the tax man! Insecurity stalks us. Prosperity has its limitations and fear of growing old pursues every person because our dependence on others is also inextricably linked to the benevolent nature of our family or our carers.

“My God, keep my tongue from causing harm and my lips from telling lies.  Let me be silent if people curse me, my soul still humble and at peace with all.” Meditation that comes at the end of the Amidah prayer, which is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. (written about 70 CE)

This prayer always causes me uneasiness.  It is a beautifully expressed desire for virtue but being silent when others curse us is only constructive when we have no other choice. Those who ‘turn the other cheek’ inevitably find that violence intoxicates the weak as well as the strong.  It spurns the Initiate to greater levels of destruction.

In this time of reflection and celebration, it is only right that we examine our thoughts and actions and review our motives but we should also take stock of our achievements and ask whether, what we receive in return, promotes justice and a better world.