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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dark Ages’

Before Color Photographs

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Horses and buggies? Gas lights on streets? Did my mother grow up in the Dark Ages of History? She told me about living in buildings without elevators, where no apartment had its own bathroom. Years later I decided it was like my college dorm in the 1950′s when I had to climb stairs to my room on the 4th floor, and a bathroom with showers was at the end of each floor’s hallway; no big deal. She informed me there were no washing machines, dryers, refrigerators with freezers, and gas stoves had to be lit with a match; this didn’t seem to affect me as I wasn’t doing laundry or grocery shopping and cooking; being a young girl, my mother was responsible for all of my needs.

My mother spoke of her girlhood apartments with coin-operated heating devices; was she cold in the winter, I wondered, suddenly listening to what she was saying! My dad bought space heaters for us to use during World War II, and I always grabbed it first for my bedroom and warmed up my clothes before putting them on for school. But I just plugged it in; no coins were necessary. She mentioned that there were no electric sewing machines and she hand-made most of our childhood dresses; she taught me to sew when I was about nine years old.

The author's father outside their family home

The daily life she was describing, even that coin-space-heater, seemed as far back as hoopskirts, and I’d only thought those gowns were gorgeous and never about the wearer being restricted. My mother didn’t appear old but she certainly had to be since she’d been living “before” so much. I tried to imagine her sleeping on a fire escape in the summer because the tiny apartment was too hot, sharing a bed with her sister, even the 4 flights of stairs she walked up and down just to get to the street or school, and really couldn’t. My childhood in a big house with my own bedroom, streetlights, cars, radios, 78-rpm recordings, was “modern,” and I tended to “see” my mother in my world and not one before I was ever born.

“Did you grow up in black and white?” my granddaughter, Elaina asked; we were looking at some photos. They were all black and white. When did color film come out, and be inexpensive enough to put a roll in a camera, I wondered but kept that to myself? The question was cleverly put. Was she being diplomatic about age, or merely observant that photos were shades of grey? If I were to tell any of my grandchildren about my “black and white” days, might I then seem as ancient as my own mother had been because of the “lack of?”

I quickly remembered some of my early childhood before houses/cars/offices were air-conditioned, when music records were heavy 78-rpm and only one could be played at a time. We had a weighty black telephone with a personal phone number of only a few digits, and a real operator generated long distance calls, microwaves were not even imagined. My early hosiery had seams and were made of silk. All my elementary school classes were held in one room (except sewing for girls and shop for boys), taught by a single female teacher, and the desks had inkwells for liquid ink. There were no ballpoint pens.

Well, I could tell Elaina that my parents got our first television set in May 1948, the screen was very tiny, and there were almost no programs on anyway. Nah. She’d laugh. Hmm. We had no cell phones, x-boxes, computers, fax machines, eye contact lenses, automatic garage door openers, frost free refrigerators, self-cleaning ovens, disposable items, riding lawn mowers, cars with navigation systems and keyless operation, our cotton clothing required heavy starching via a solution to soak the items in…my mind was remembering things as if turning a rolladex and bringing up file cards. Now a hand-held device with a tiny memory chip takes the place of file cards and calendars. I can make a phone call to Israel and get an instant connection, and, with a computer or tablet, have a video call.

“Elaina, color photography didn’t exist, and a black and white portrait was hand colored in transparent oil paint.” I smiled as I remembered when I personally learned this process, enjoyed both making plain into magical visual with paint, and there was not the fading I eventually had when color film came out for my camera and captured color images. I paused. I did want to tell her about life before hand-held hair dryers, curling irons, and automatic ice machines in refrigerators, but decided to enjoy playing in raked leaves and sharing giggles and “young” things with her which I couldn’t do if I revealed “my days.” It would sound so old, just like my mother’s did for me. So, I merely answered, “Yes, Elaina, I was a very little girl during black and white.”

Time To Wake Up And Smell… The Blood

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

     There are many die-hard optimists who are actually Leftists. (I thought I would be generous in explaining why they are reality-challenged.) They need to stop dozing and listen to the global alarm clocks that are shrieking. They need to take the blinders off their eyes, remove the cotton from their nostrils and wake up and smell the blood – the red life-sustaining liquid that has been (and pretty much still is being) shed indiscriminately in Gaza, the West Bank and the rest of Israel, and in Egypt, Jordan, India, Sudan, and many other parts of the world.

 

      I heard today of the suicide bomber who blew himself up at a Shi’ite funeral in Iraq, killing 32 people. Many others were seriously wounded, some with life-altering injuries such as blindness and loss of limbs.

 

      This deliberate butchering of innocent people at a place where they would be most vulnerable – a funeral – is not an isolated incident in Iraq and across the Middle East. Men, women and children have been blown up by suicide/homicide bombers as they exited mosques, as they played ball in soccer fields, and as they shopped in outdoor markets.

 

      It seems that to these Islamic terrorists, there are no borders, no boundaries, and no places or times that are off limits. Babies, children, women and unarmed men are all targets for their pathological bloodlust, all of which is justified in their eyes – the main excuse being that their victims’ version of Islam is treif.

 

      The fact that there are Muslim religious fanatics willing to commit murder at places of worship and at holy shrines should be an eye-opening “red flag” to all civilized people, as to what they are dealing with in terms of trying to negotiate or make concessions. Even in the barbaric Dark Ages – where young and old were hanged or boiled in oil for relatively minor “crimes” like stealing a chicken when they were starving – no one could be touched if he ran into a church. Any mob chasing a criminal or stranger, or anyone they felt deserved to be hurt or killed, had to stop at the church door. It was universally recognized by Christians across Europe that a church could not be touched by violence. Entering one immediately conveyed safety and sanctuary. (Perhaps this is where the current word sanctuary – in describing a place of worship – originally came from).

 

      And if they are targeting their fellow Muslims – people who are not dhimmis,inferior non-believers viewed as being just a little better than animals – that is even a bigger red flag. If they can annihilate fellow co-religionists without even blinking, if they can blow into smithereens men, women and youngsters of their own faith (though they have slight differences), how will they behave toward Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, etc. who they view as being inferior and on the level of garbage?

 

      The Nazis, many of whom were young fathers, used Jewish babies as targets to practice their shooting, or beat others to death because they had dehumanized the Jews. In their sick eyes, these Jewish babies were not children but vermin to be destroyed. Just as people can swat a fly or step on a cockroach to rid themselves of their unwanted presence, so to the Nazis were able to – without a second thought – kill Jewish infants and adults.

 

      It can be argued that most Muslims are peaceful individuals who want to live quiet lives with their families. However they, out of fear, have become a silent majority – perhaps the way many Germans, who had no real beef with the Jews (or with anyone else, for that matter) also said and did nothing, not wanting to bring on themselves the attention of irrational fanatics. Their “invisibility” allowed the rise to power of the murderous Nazis. So, too, there is the danger that hate-filled Islamists – bent on annihilating Israel and by extension the West – will become leaders of their governments, “legitimately.” One need only look to Iran for proof of that.

 

      Leftists must understand that “making nice” is not going to change adherents of an ideology who advocate murdering those who think differently than them – even slightly differently. This can be seen by the non-stop carnage launched on one another by intolerant Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.

 

      You can’t negotiate with cancer! Nor can you compromise and “work out a deal.” You can’t say, “Hey, why don’t you ‘occupy’ this lung and let us keep the other one.” When dealing with pathological elements, there is only one way to act – stopping it in its tracks. This must be done with everything in your arsenal – starting with facing reality.

Five Years Later: The Roots Of 9/11

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

The roots of 9/11 lie deeply embedded in civilizational hostility – in its distinctly partial – but nonetheless – primal Islamic hatred for western modernity. This fixed and growing hatred extends to other major religions, especially Judaism, but also to certain elements of Christianity. And although it is true that the greatest portion of Muslims rejects terror violence as a means of fulfilling presumed Islamic expectations, the remaining portion is not statistically insignificant. This group numbers (at least) in the tens-of-millions.

Several million Muslims who accept the current Jihad are fully prepared to enter “paradise” at a moment’s notice by becoming “martyrs.” This means that the current “war on terror” should not be based upon traditional military operations or on the corollary eradication of extremists. Rather, it must be founded upon the undiluted understanding that, for the most part, Islamic terror is plainly the most visible and dangerous expression of an entire civilization in desperation and regression.

To be effective, the war on terror must now confront a far-reaching Islamic effort to usher in a new Dark Ages, a determinedly titanic struggle in which resurgent medievalism seeks to bring fear, paralysis and death to legions of “infidels” and “unbelievers.” Moreover, in the next several years, the preferred terrorism tactic in this distinctly unholy war is likely to involve chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. The stakes are now extremely high, and the western imperative to achieve victory is now overwhelming.

Our truest war, therefore, is not against Osama Bin Laden or Hassan Nasrallah or even the particular Islamic states that nurture and encourage their generally unhidden programs for mass murder. Even if Bin Laden and Nasrallah and every other identifiably major terrorist were apprehended and prosecuted in authoritative courts of justice, millions of others in the Islamic world would not cease their impassioned destruction of “those whose blood lack sanctity” – that is, of all non-Muslims. Naturally these millions, like the zealots who destroyed the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon, and more recently sent thousands of razor-filled bombs to Israeli schools and hospitals from Lebanon, would never intend to do evil. On the contrary, they would choose to mete out death and injury to innocents as an expression of faith. Sanctified killers, these millions would gleefully generate an incessant search for more “godless” victims. Though mired in blood, their search would always be tranquil and self-assured, born of the endlessly reinforced knowledge that their “God-fearing vicars” were neither evil nor infamous, but heroic and “sacrificial.”

Let us be clear. For those millions engaged in an Islamic war against the West, violence and the sacred are always inseparable. To understand the rationale and operation of previous and still-planned terrorism, it is first necessary to understand these conceptions of the sacred. Then, and only then, will it become clear, that Islamic terror is, at its heart, a grotesque manifestation of religious worship known in cultural anthropology as “sacrifice.”

This is the truest meaning of Islamic terrorism, and the root meaning of 9/11. It is a form of sacred violence oriented toward the sacrifice of both enemies and “martyrs.” It is through the ritualistic killing of Americans, Jews and certain others – including Christians – that the “holy warrior” embarked upon Jihad, can buy himself free from the penalty of dying. It is only through such murder, and not through diplomacy, that “allah’s will” may be done.

Ironically, the suicide-bomber fears death much more keenly than do normal human beings. It is precisely because of this acute fear that he or she is willing to commit “suicide.” The apparent paradox is easy to understand, as the planned suicide/homicide is merely a small annoyance. After all, it is only a momentary inconvenience on the explosive path to eternal life.

When we have finally understood that terrorism is only a tactic, and that it is a method related to certain religious patterns of Islamic sacrifice, will we then be able to confront our uniquely lethal enemy. Soon-to-be armed with weapons of mass destruction, quite likely through the “good offices” of the expressly genocidal president of Iran, Islamic terrorists may shortly have within their capabilities the unprecedented capacity to kill hundreds of thousands or even millions of men, women and children. Until now, the fusion of terror with religious sacrifice is an understanding that has lent itself to insubstantial theorizing. Now, however, it is time for greater sophistication. Now, it is time that Islamic terrorism is recognized, at least in part, as a bloody and sacred act of mediation between millions of death-worshipping believers and their deity.

America is now routinely characterized as a malignancy in the Islamic world. An article, several weeks ago in an Egyptian newspaper, spoke of “the cancer, the malignant wound, in the body of Arabism, for which there is no cure but eradication.” Such references are far more than a vile metaphor. They are profoundly theological descriptions of a despised enemy that must be excised; that is, “liquidated.” Where this “liquidation” would be accomplished by self-sacrifice, possibly even terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, it would be life-affirming for the killers. Naturally, some Islamic governments and movements would deny such end-of-the-world thinking, but it operates nonetheless.

What is to be done? The truth of the terrorist threat to the United States and the West is vastly more serious than is commonly understood. We face suicidal mass killings with unconventional weapons in the future, not because there exists a small and identifiable number of pathological terrorist murderers, but because we are embroiled – albeit unwittingly – in an authentic clash of civilizations. While we all wish it weren’t so, wringing our hands will get us nowhere. Our only hope is to acknowledge the true religious source of our now existential danger – the spreading roots of September 11 – and proceed to fight the real war from there.

Copyright, The Jewish Press, October 6, 2006. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is author of many books and articles dealing with terrorism and war. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/five-years-later-the-roots-of-911/2006/10/04/

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