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The End of Competition

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The American Dream does not actually require a red, white and blue flag or a dream. What it requires is a willingness to accept messiness.

Messiness is another word for chaos. And no one likes chaos. Chaos means that in the richest country in the world some people will be illiterate, others will be homeless and some will accidentally set themselves on fire because the fireworks don’t come with enough safety warnings.

Those aren’t good things. They’re not things that governments and the squeaky wheels who make governments what they are think should be tolerated. They’re messy.

Messy is all those things that people say someone should do something about, by which they don’t mean themselves. What they really mean is that we should be living in a more orderly society. And an orderly society is one where things don’t just happen. You have to file eight forms, duck six committees and debate four non-profits to have any chance of getting things done. And even then you probably won’t.

Orderly societies have nailed down all the loose ends. There are fewer homeless people, mainly because they are now living in sixty thousand dollar per inmate shelters designed by progressive architects, but there are also fewer errand boys becoming Andrew Carnegie. What is really being lost is social mobility. The ladder up.

Meritocracy requires chaos. An orderly society isn’t chaotic, it’s stratified. The power has been parceled out to all the people who should have it. And there’s only so much to go around. Newness is a threat because new things are unpredictable. They’re chaotic. They disrupt the power structure.

The liberal argument is largely an argument for a society consolidated around government in service to progressive ideals. It’s a tidy world in which governments and non-profits consume an always increasing share of everything else until there isn’t anything else because it’s been consolidated. The end result of that process however isn’t progressive. It’s tribal.

Power naturally consolidates along personal lines, not political lines. A society may begin by consolidating power so that all the non-profits can help the homeless and the people who can’t read fireworks instructions, but, in a peculiar phenomenon, the homeless never seem to get helped much and fireworks accidents keep happening.

The phenomenon isn’t really peculiar at all. Humanitarian work is a job that exists to eliminate itself. The only way to keep a job dedicated to solving the problem is to perpetuate the problem. Or to redefine the problem on a larger scale. All that is familiar enough from any number of non-profits and government agencies that exist to remind people to care about a problem that they don’t care about.

Redefining the problem on a larger scale means more money, more power and more control. Any problem, whether it’s homelessness, illiteracy or crime is a social problem and can only be solved by taking a holistic approach to everything. A city, a country and a world become a giant puzzle that can only be solved by manipulating all the pieces into place in the right order. The only way to solve the problems that never get solved is through total control over every human being on earth.

Power can only be consolidated ideologically for so long. Both the Russian and Chinese Communist revolutions eventually collapsed into familial profiteering. China’s Princes and Russia’s KGB clans brought down Communism in both countries and resurrected it as profiteering oligarchies eager to live the good life.

To some measure, Capitalism beat Communism, but more accurately tribalism beat internationalism,  powerful men built systems that lock in privileges for their friends and families while tossing out the lefty ideologies that allowed their grandfathers to get close to those privileges. It’s an old story and it’s how the progressive experiments in the ideological consolidation of power will end here.

Power is personal. As is wealth. A system that consolidates enough power turns tribal as fathers look to pass on their privileges to their children until, like so many social services agencies, the system exists for the sake of the system.

Tribal systems are not meritocracies. They aren’t interested in talent, but in a sense of order that derives from the consolidation of power. Their idea of civilization does not lie in their arts or sciences, only in the orderliness of power. Only when chaos assails them, is talent released out into the wild where unpredictable things happen. But the chaotic period passes and the old patterns assert themselves again strangling the wildness and consolidating it.

Democracy is Not the Answer

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

To understand how we got to the point that spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support a government run by people who have been at war with us for almost a century is a policy that most foreign policy experts endorse, it helps to take a brief trip back in time.

In the last century, our big three wars, the two we fought and the one we didn’t, were against enemies who were seen as being distinguished by a lack of democracy, with the Kaiser, the Fuhrer and the Commissar embodying the antithesis of the American system.

The Democratic Party, which stood at the helm during both hot wars, was able to link its brand to the wars by defining them as struggles for democracy. The process of de-nationalizing war from a conflict between nations and ethnic groups was only partly realized in WWI, where invective against the “Huns” still simmered, but was largely achieved in WWII; with some exceptions made for Japan.

This idealization of war made post-war reconstruction and alliance easier. National and ethnic grudges were set aside and replaced by ideological platforms. If the trouble was a lack of democracy, then all we needed to do was defeat the tyrant’s armies, inject democracy and stand back. Focusing on democracy made it possible to rebuild Germany and Japan as quasi-pacifist entities expressing their grievances toward the Allies from the pacifistic stance of the moral high ground, rather than  through  military rearmament and revenge.

The United States had traded Hitler for Gunter Grass and while both hated the United States, Gunter Grass would write nasty essays about it, instead of declaring war on it.

And democracy made it easier to turn liberals against the Soviet Union, which had tossed aside every pretense of being a bottom-up system for what was clearly a top-down tyranny. The liberals who had believed in a war for democracy in Europe had difficulty tossing it aside after the war was over. And that emphasis on democracy helped make a national defense coalition between conservatives and liberals possible. Both might have fundamental disagreements, but they agreed that democracy was better than tyranny. And if that was true, then America was better than the USSR.

This strategy was effective enough against existing totalitarian systems. It however had a major weakness. It could not account for keeping a totalitarian ideology from taking power through the ballot box.

The assumption that because the Nazis and the Communists rejected open elections that they could not win open elections was wrong. Democracy of that kind is populism and totalitarian movements can be quite popular. The Nazis did fairly well in the 1932 elections and the radical left gobbled up much of the Russian First Duma. The modern Russian Communist Party is the second largest party in the Duma today.

Democratic elections do not necessarily lead to democratic outcomes, but the linkage of democracy to progress made that hard to see. The assumption that democracy is progressive and leads to more progress had been adopted even by many conservatives. That fixed notion of history led to trouble in Latin America and Asia. And it led to total disaster in the Arab Spring.

Cold War America knew better than to endorse universal democracy. Open elections everywhere would have given the Soviet Union more allies than the United States. The left attacked Eisenhower and Kennedy as hypocrites, but both men were correct in understanding that there was no virtue in overthrowing an authoritarian government only to replace it with an even more authoritarian government; whether through violence or the ballot box.

As time went on, Americans were assailed with two interrelated arguments. The left warned that the denial of democracy was fueling Third World rage against the United States. By supporting tyrants, we were conducting an occupation by proxy. And on the right we heard that tyranny was warping Third World societies into malignant forms. The left’s version of the argument directed more blame at America, but both versions of the argument treated democracy as a cure for hostility.

September 11 appeared to confirm one or both of the arguments as policymakers and pundits found themselves confronted with an unexpected wave of hostility from countries that they had not spent much time thinking about.

Someone Else Will Pay

Friday, December 28th, 2012

From 1977 to 1980, BBC One ran “Citizen Smith,” a TV comedy about an aspiring young revolutionary who wore a beret and a Che T-Shirt and did his best to create a Communist Britain while heading up the Tooting Popular Front, consisting of six members, by virtue of shouting “Power to the People” and making up lists of the people he would put up against the wall on the day of the glorious revolution.

This is finally Citizen Smith’s time where the lazy and cowardly aspiring revolutionary can create his own Tooting Popular Front, camp out in a public park for a few months, and earn generous media coverage. And for those too lazy to camp out in the spring and summer, there’s always hacktivism, the truly lazy man’s revolution, download a denial of service program, aim it at a site and watch it go down for a minute, an hour, or perhaps even a day or two.

Social media is full of Citizen Smiths, dressing up in Che avatars and shouting their “Power to the People” slogans in 140 characters or less. And these Citizen Smiths are taken seriously by their older peers in the media who have had their own days of pretending to be Che and now just pretend to be journalists. While the Citizen Smiths create their fake revolution, the grown-up Citizen Smiths show up to cover it, in the great battle for a Communist Britain, America, Australia and also all the rest.

There is a great deal of hard work ahead, such as deciding who to put up against the wall first. Everyone has agreed on the rich, the dreaded 1 percent, except presumably for those 1 percenters funding the revolution and paying the Citizen Smiths who work for NGOs and come up with new social media engagement strategies to tackle economic disparities and that sort of thing.

The Citizen Smiths who speak on behalf of the 99 percent of Tooting have won their great victory in the last election through the wallets of such champions of the working class as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, George Soros and several thousand other billionaires and millionaires, quite a few of whom also fancy being Wolfie Smith more than they want to play the top hat guy from Monopoly. They have struck a blow against the influence of money on politics from some billionaires on behalf of the influence of money on politics from other billionaires.

And with the 1 percent safely disposed of, at least aside from the 1 percent that is running the show and turning the Citizen Smiths from clowns smoking on their girlfriend’s couch while drawing up plans for revolution, into men and women sitting in posh offices in corporate towers delegating the drawing up of those plans to subordinates who can actually draw, the revolution marches on.

In Austria, an Australian Professor teaching Musicology, put up his own list of who to bop bop bop when the day of the glorious revolution comes.

“Right now, in the year 2012, these ideas will seem quite crazy to most people. People will be saying that Parncutt has finally lost it,” Professor Parncutt wrote, “If someone found this document in the year 2050 and published it, it would find general support and admiration. People would say I was courageous to write the truth, for a change. Who knows, perhaps the Pope would even turn me into a saint.”

Parncutt’s sainthood may prove somewhat difficult to achieve considering that the people he proposed to put up against the wall on the glorious day include the Pope and his closest advisors, along with prominent critics of Global Warming, who will be put on trial before an international tribunal of qualified scientists, and then be given an opportunity to recant and have their sentence reduced to life in prison. Some modern heretics however would, in Parncutt’s words, “would never admit their mistake and as a result they would be executed.”

It’s easy to laugh at Citizen Parncutt’s proposal to bring back heresy trials staffed with modern scientists, but who knows by 2050, when scavengers digging through the rubble around what used to be London, come across a copy of Parncutt’s brilliant manifesto, they will hop on their donkeys and deliver it immediately to the Eco-Pope who will proclaim Parncutt a saint right before the Saracens storm through the barricades.

Even now the difference between Parncutt and a lunatic is that much of the infrastructure to make Citizen Parncutt’s dreams a reality already exists. There are international tribunals and an entire political and media frenzy declaring that global warming is the greatest threat of our age. We snicker at fools who took the Mayan apocalypse seriously, but people who would never hide out in a basement because of some ancient prophecy listen to media buffoons drawing up lists of what parts of the world will be underwater in ten years or twenty and take the whole ridiculous thing seriously.

Parncutt wants you to know that he is not by any means a monster. He opposes the death penalty for murderers, even those like Breivik. It does no good to kill the people who have already killed, our Citizen Parncutt explains, what he would like to do is kill the people who have yet to kill but whose ideas the moral musicologist has decided are deadly.

Such is the humanitarianism of the true progressive who will not kill a serial killer, but will kill those who are truly dangerous. “The death penalty is barbaric, racist, expensive,” Parncutt explains, and he will have no truck with barbarically expensive racist death penalties, the only people who truly deserve to be killed according to him are those who, like the Pope and Global Warming skeptics, whose views differ from his own so dramatically that they must be killed to save lives.

“The death penalty is an appropriate punishment for Global Warming deniers who are so influential that one million future deaths can with high probability be traced to their personal actions,” Parncutt writes. “Please note also that I am only talking about prevention of future deaths – not punishment or revenge after the event.” Naturally. Citizen Parncutt is not motivated by such petty emotions. His revolutionary will-to-kill is as pure as the driven snow.

The good thing about a number as high as one million is that you can kill any number of people if you set the number of people you want to save high enough. If Parncutt were to kill 999,999 people to save 1,000,000, he would still have saved net one person and be ahead of the saint game. And then in 2050 when historians wondered why the Parncutt Popular Front was allowed to pile up all those corpses, the response will be that it was a matter of numbers. They started small and then kept going because they had so much room to spare with all those zeroes and before they knew it  they were only a few corpses shot of the big one million. But luckily they stopped with one man to spare and are considered heroes.

“The fact is that Socialism, in the form in which it is now presented, appeals chiefly to unsatisfactory or even inhuman types,” George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier, essays meant to be a defense of Socialism, but showing the strains that would eventually lead him to transform Ingsoc, or English Socialism, into the greatest fictional tyranny in modern literature, “all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat.”

There are more cats and bluebottles than ever. Orwell’s description of the Socialist crank now describes the mainstream leadership and a sizable portion of the base of every ruling lefty party you can think of, including the one ensconced in the White House, while shouting about class warfare and power to the people, while pocketing the allowance money from billionaires that allows them to win elections.

Economic crises and crises of all sorts bring their sort out to play more than ever. The children of the 1 percent wear buttons boasting that they are the 99 percent. Every global problem from terrorism to ethnic cleansing is explained purely in economic or environmental terms. And the people playing Citizen Smith and drawing up their lists of who to plant up against the wall are, as Orwell wrote, are not out to join “a movement of the masses”, but to enact “a set of reforms which ‘we’, the clever ones, are going to impose upon ‘them’.”

The “hypertrophied sense of order” from Orwell’s Socialist “with his pullover, his fuzzy hair, and his Marxian quotation” can be found just as easily in Citizen Parncutt as in Citizen Smith or Citizen Obama. It should not be confused with competence or practical skill, the only area the Smiths ever achieve any skill in is yelling from stepladders about a revolution until they find enough sheep to drive ahead of them to the polls or the battlefields, but with the sort of half-grown men who draw up lists of all the people they’ll kill to make the world a better place.

Their sense of order does not extend to actually making the world a better place, but of matching up their inflated sense of self-importance with the power to impose their own whims on the world for their own emotional satisfaction.

“I would just like my grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the human race in general, to enjoy the world that I have enjoyed, as much as I have enjoyed it,” Professor Parncutt writes. “And to achieve that goal I think it is justified for a few heads to roll. Does that make me crazy?” And just to make certain that you give the right answer, he adds, “I don’t think so.”

Crazy is a judgement call. In 1956 drawing up plans to have some international body execute scientists for questioning the interpretation of global temperature readings would have been crazy, but in the age of Citizen Smith it may no longer be. Hitler and Goebbels were both completely insane, and yet they were perfectly adapted to their time and place. They were lunatics, but it was a time when sane men wanted lunatics to tell them what to do and who to kill.

At the tail end of the ’70s, Citizen Smith was a joke, but at the dawn of the 2010s, he is an institution, the head of an NGO, a member of the board of a dozen foundations for social and environmental justice, and perhaps even a cabinet minister. Joschka Fischer went from Citizen Smith in the 70s, clubbing police officers and consorting with terrorists, to the Vice-Chancellor of Germany in the oughts. Obama went from Community Organizer Smith in the 90s to the White House in even less time.

This is the age of Citizen Smith. The age of the lazy, egotistical, cowardly, spiteful and petty man of the people, who prefers to avoid the people. This is the age of the 1 percent revolutionary playing the 99 percenter. This is the age of the enemies list, when their work within the system has paid off and it’s time to make someone else pay.

“On these streets of no solution/Where the gutters run with tears/I will lead my revolution/I’ve been revolting here for years/‘Cos I’m a people’s man,” went the words to the closing song of Citizen Smith, “On the glorious day/Someone else will pay/On the glorious day.”

The glorious day of the inglorious man is here. And someone else is paying. Any someone else who isn’t him.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

So What To Do? A Year After the Fogel Family Massacre

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Just over a year ago two Arab men broke into a settlement called Itamar and slaughtered the Fogel family. Among those slaughtered there was an eleven month old girl. As is the custom in Israel, a group of volunteers from “ZAKA” was called to the place of the incident. An explanation for those unfamiliar with ZAKA: It is an organization that has committed itself “to rescue when it is possible to rescue and to pay the last homage when it is impossible to rescue,” as its motto proudly declares. Almost all ZAKA members are observant Jews, which makes sense: the need to rescue is quite rational, while the need to collect all body parts of those killed is not. When I was a boy I used to spend hours at a huge wasteland plot in Kharkov with my friends, and we often stumbled upon the unburied remains of World War II combatants and victims. I would venture a guess that they have not been identified and buried up till now, for the Soviet power abolished both God and respect for the dead. But I digress. Among the ZAKA volunteers at the scene in Itamar was a friend of mine, Professor Firer, Head of Department of Chemical Technology. Michael Firer is a battle-hardened soldier and no novice in ZAKA, a man with a lot of nerve. But what he saw in Itamar plunged him into a deep depression – the bestiality of what happened in Itamar was more than a human mind can take. The assassins were arrested and today their lawyer claims in Israeli court that they are victims of Israeli occupation.

My employer, which somewhat bombastically calls itself the Ariel University Center, is situated mere kilometers off the site of the tragedy. Quite a few people knew the Fogel family – they were charming people who devoted all their spare time to their children, as becomes a true Jewish family. I also knew the Fogels – my daughter went to school with one of the girls who survived by miracle. The next day, children in Gaza got candy “in honor of the great victory of the Palestine Liberation Movement.” For my part, I was scrutinizing the reactions of the Jewish students – there was not even one incident of an outburst of hatred towards their Arab classmates, who made up quite a noticeable part of my students’ body. Had such an incident happened, the college management would have suppressed it without mercy.

The Tolstovian title of the article may seem a mockery in the context of the story I have told, though I am not intending “to pummel Leo Tolstoy’s dead body,” as Merab Mamardashvilly used to say, but nevertheless, this title was not a random choice. Had Tolstoy heard about this insanity, he would have advised to forgive the murderers, as a good Christian should, and let them go. Being neither a Tolstovian nor even a Christian, I do not find it possible to agree with this solution. As I see it, absence of hate is the highest virtue that can be demanded of a human being in these circumstances. It seems incredible, but it is true: there is little hate towards Arabs in Israel, and if xenophobia bursts out into the surface, it is harshly condemned. Arabs walk about in Ariel and on the campus feeling perfectly safe, while my visit to a neighboring Arab village would be without any doubt my end, and in the best case, I would be neatly wrapped in plastic bags and thrown over Ariel’s fence. Lack of symmetry is clearly evident.

OK, I am an occupier living “over the green line,” but even Israeli police (!) are afraid to enter the Arab villages within the 1967 borders, so what can be said about ordinary Israelis? Everyone, including those who deny it, knows it. Not long ago a naïve Israeli bought a house in an Arab village, assuming, not without grounds, that the law in a democratic country would protect him from his neighbors’ possible assaults. Well, it did not. He could not safely and peaceably live in the Arab village and he did not get his money back.

An even more surprising fact is the absence of hate towards Russia. Russia has stuffed the most abhorrent Arab regimes with modern weapons that have killed thousands of Israelis. There has not been an anti-Israeli UN resolution that Russia has not signed with enthusiasm. Russia remains Arab countries’ best friend under both socialism and capitalism, or whatever the brand of “-ism” that has grown there should be called. This is a political world, constant, as in physics. It would be logical to expect anti-Russian moods in Israel, but there are none. And I believe that the reasons for this are very deep. Judaism has always been a tribal, even a family religion. Israel is actually Jacob’s enlarged family. Judaism has never recruited proselytes nor has it claimed to be a universal religion. Jews always looked with some compassion and disbelief at their neighbors who did not know the true God and were able to be consumed by something outside true faith. Hatred, on the other hand, when put at the corner stone, forms a stable and pernicious symbiosis with the world rule idea. This idea is like cancer: the tumors of National Socialism and world revolution can be resected, but then the metastasis of Islamic globalism spreads. Even though we have never sought either Christian infants’ blood or world dominion, this is what we have always been suspected of.

Rubin Reports: The Government is Not a Magic Box

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/03/27/the-government-is-not-a-magic-box/

 

One of today’s biggest political and intellectual problems is the concept of “government” as an institution beyond human logic, society, and reality. We are told that more power to the government is a solution; that more money to the government is an absolute good; that more regulation from the government is a font of virtue; and that the government is a knight in shining honor and protector of the downtrodden.

It is possible to show the flaw in this argument within sixty seconds. A number of great philosophers—including the founders of the United States—have done so. Here is the single paragraph necessary to understand the  issue:

“Government” is comprised of people. These human beings are oftentimes no better – and often worse – than average people. Government and its specific agencies have their own goals, and their way of functioning have built-in shortcomings (bureaucratic rigidity, indifference to the money and lives of others, lust for the accumulation of power, etc.). Thus, to say that government as a whole and in its parts have no interests of their own is not true. The government is not a solution to all things — a kind of secular god – but an entity with its own selfishness, goals, and negative aspects. Consequently, citizens must guard against its usurpation of their liberty, wealth, and objectives.

This issue is so important, yet does not receive the attention it deserves. Children are being systematically educated in ignorance on this point; about half the population never hears it nowadays.

The government is made up of people. Human beings are imperfect. They are subject to a range of behavior that includes ambition, arrogance, bullying, corruption, cravenness, dictatorial tendencies, greed, inability to understand others’ needs or viewpoints, lack of imagination, being controlled by a specific caste for that group’s own selfish interests, among many other traits.

Once when Lucy van Pelt handed Charlie Brown, of the “Peanuts” comic strip, a long list of his faults, Charlie replied, “These aren’t faults, this is my personality,” or something to that effect.

Government, then, is not a referee but just another special-interest group.

When people accumulate power and money they filter the resulting ability to shape events and force others to comply through these factors in their personalities.  The more powerful the government and the less answerable it is to others, the more the traits of those who run it are imposed on the people. When the personality of one human controls government, we call it a dictatorship. When the personality of a caste does so, the government becomes their instrument.

Yes, the same is true of any human institution. That’s why institutions should be in balance. But, of course, government controls the laws and so can compel the action of others to an extent that no one else can.  It has a monopoly on force and power to an extent far beyond any other institution. The Mafia can try to compel obedience but citizens can seek the protection of the law. In contrast, government makes the laws and sets the rules. It is like the casino in Las Vegas. To whom can a citizen flee against a government that is too powerful?

There’s more. The kinds of people who become politicians and government bureaucrats have specific and especially developed character traits. They are people who crave power—I know this first-hand from growing up and living in Washington DC in these circles—and who are prone to arrogance once they achieve that status. They do not like to be criticized and they are even more prone than most mortals to believe that they cannot be wrong.

Isolated largely in a single city, and even isolated within that city, they lose contact with ordinary people. Indeed, those contacts reinforce their sense of their own superiority. As revealed occasionally when a politician shoots off his mouth unwisely (Senator Harry Reid on how tourists “stink”), they have contempt for the actual people they rule, just as in some old European monarchy’s court.

They can’t help it. The disease is incurable but the patients must be restrained.

The more they talk about standing up for the little guy and promulgating social justice, the more likely these things are to be cynically manipulated instruments for their own empowerment.  They get more money to disperse, too.

Even when they are virtuous—and many originally take up their political or bureaucratic careers out of a belief they want to help others—they are limited by their own lack of knowledge and experience. They have followed very specific courses in life, nowadays mainly a long period of formal education followed by either government service or law; concentration in a relatively few geographical locations; and socializing with each other.

They honestly don’t know much about the real lives of those they rule.  Their desire to help often becomes harmful. And even beyond this, they are focused on a narrow sliver of reality. If your job is to save endangered species or environmental purity, you don’t think too much about how fanatical focus on the issue impacts other people’s livelihoods.

The World’s Oldest Hatred

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Anti-Semitism is the planet’s oldest hatred. Yet it is a prejudice I had thought the world was moving past. Clearly, however, as demonstrated by the endless vitriol directed at Israel, it is alive and well.
 
What’s that? Hatred of Israel is not motivated by anti-Semitism? I thought so too. I was even na?ve enough to write columns admonishing my fellow Jews not to jump to such simplistic conclusions. Surely hatred of Israel was due to the Jewish state being terrible at PR; surely Israel, a lone democracy in a sea of tyranny, assumed the justice of its cause was so self-evident as to require no explanation. The only thing Israel needed to fix its image, I thought, was a renewed PR effort.
 
Or maybe the endless and unjust criticism of Israel was simply a manifestation of the world’s natural proclivity to champion the underdog. The Arabs, numbering in the hundreds of millions, have somehow successfully positioned themselves as being oppressed by six million Israeli Jews. Perhaps this could account for why Israel, a thriving democracy where one million Israeli Arabs vote and have robust representation in the Knesset, is hated while its tyrannical, terrorist neighbors escape censure.
 
I now know that none of this is true, and that the demonization of Israel is just another manifestation of the world’s oldest hatred.
 
It pains me to write this. It represents a fundamental defeat for my Jewish universalist worldview. I believe with every fiber of my being that we are all God’s children, part of an indivisible human family; that Arabs and Jews are equal before God and that we are all brothers. And the knowledge that, due to a deep-seated hostility to my people, I will never be fully included in that family is devastating beyond words.
 
But what else are we to conclude? Why would British academics ban their Israeli counterparts and not, say, the Chinese whose human rights abuses and slaughter of innocent civilians at Tiananmen Square took place before the whole world?
 
The Turks bomb Kurdish independence fighters on a regular basis and continue to deny their genocide of more than a million helpless Armenians. Yet their condemnation of Israel over the Gaza flotilla gains international currency.
 
Hugo Chavez brutally dismantles Venezuelan democracy, imprisons his political opponents, locks up judges, and persecutes a free press that criticizes him. But his condemnation of a genocidal Israel is lauded by countries throughout the world.
 
And the UN censures Israel on a monthly basis while countries like Libya sit on its Human Rights Council. If that isn’t rank anti-Semitism, the word has no meaning.
 
Israel’s obviously not perfect. Like any moral democracy fighting for its very life, it is going to make mistakes. But compared to Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and so many other of its neighbors, it is positively angelic. Disagree? Well, rather than engage in useless and endless debate let’s employ John F. Kennedy’s famous argument delivered in the summer of 1963 in his memorable Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech.
 
Kennedy addressed the two world systems that were in mortal conflict, capitalism and communism. Each said its side was right. Each brought endless facts to make its case.
 
“There are many people in the world,” Kennedy said, “who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the communist world . There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future . And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the communists .”
 
A major dilemma. Two world systems, each claiming to be righteous and asserting the other to be evil. How to adjudicate between them? Kennedy did so with memorable eloquence:
 
Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us.
 
If Israel really is so terrible, if its government is so evil, then let’s put it to the Kennedy test. If Israel’s most rabid critics were forced make a choice between living in Israel or living under Hamas in Gaza or Assad in Syria or Ahmadinejad in Iran or Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, or even in communist China, which would they choose?
 
In Israel, they would have the freedom to mercilessly assail their government on radio, in print, and in public squares. In any of those other countries they would be locked up or killed midway through their inaugural speech.
 
In Israel, if they were female or gay they would enjoy absolutely full rights and equal protection under the law. In Iran or Saudi Arabia, if female they would be severely punished for not adhering to a certain dress code, and if openly gay they would be lucky to escape with their lives.
 
Yet it is Israel the world hates.
 
Go figure.
 

Or perhaps there is no need. This kind of hatred has a long and cruel precedent. It comes in many guises. Today it targets Israel, but at its root it’s just old-fashioned, unbridled, unapologetic Jew-hatred. Ecclesiastes had it right. There is nothing new under the sun.

 

 

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach hosts “The Shmuley Show” on WABC, 77 AM in New York City and is the author, most recently, of “Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.” His website is www.shmuley.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-worlds-oldest-hatred/2010/06/30/

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