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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Politically’

Goodbye Columbus, Goodbye America

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Columbus may have outfoxed the Spanish court and his rivals, but he is falling victim to the court of political correctness.

The explorer who discovered America has become controversial because the very idea of America has become controversial.

There are counter-historical claims put forward by Muslim and Chinese scholars claiming that they discovered America first. And there are mobs of fake indigenous activists on every campus to whom the old Italian is as much of a villain as the bearded Uncle Sam.

Columbus Day parades are met with protests and some have been minimized or eliminated.

In California, Columbus Day became Indigenous People’s Day, which sounds like a Marxist terrorist group’s holiday. While it’s tempting to put that down to California political correctness, in South Dakota it was renamed Native American Day.

The shift from celebrating Columbus’ arrival in America to commemorating it as an American Nakba by focusing on the Indians, rather than the Americans, is a profound form of historical revisionism that hacks away at the origins of this country.

No American state has followed Venezuela’s lead in renaming it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Day of Indigenous Resistance, which actually is a Marxist terrorist group’s holiday, the whole notion of celebrating the discovery of America has come to be seen as somehow shameful and worst of all, politically incorrect.

Anti-Columbus Day protests are mounted by La Raza, whose members, despite their indigenous posturing, are actually mostly descended from Spanish colonists, but who know that most American liberals are too confused to rationally frame an objection to a protest by any minority group.

About the only thing sillier than a group of people emphasizing their collective identity as a Spanish speaking people, and denouncing Columbus as an imperialist exploiter is Ward Churchill, a fake Indian, who compared Columbus to Heinrich Himmler. Ward Churchill’s scholarship consists of comparing Americans in past history and current events to random Nazis. If he hasn’t yet compared Amerigo Vespucci or Daniel Boone to Ernst Röhm; it’s only a matter of time.

The absurdity of these attacks is only deepened by the linguistic and cultural ties between the Italian Columbus Day marchers and the Latino Anti-Columbus Day protesters with the latter set cynically exploiting white guilt to pretend that being the descendants of Southern European colonists makes them a minority.

If being descended from Southern Europeans makes you a minority, then Columbus, the parade marchers, the Greek restaurant owner nearby and even Rush Limbaugh are all “people of color.”

Italian-Americans are the only bulwark against political correctness still keeping Columbus on the calendar, and that has made mayors and governors in cities and states with large Italian-American communities wary of tossing the great explorer completely overboard. But while Ferdinand and Isabella may have brought Columbus back in chains, modern day political correctness has banished him to the darkened dungeon of non-personhood, erasing him from history and replacing him with a note reading, “I’m Sorry We Ever Landed Here.”

But this is about more than one single 15th century Genoan with a complicated life who was neither a monster nor a saint. It is about whether America really has any right to exist at all. Is there any argument against celebrating Columbus Day, that cannot similarly be applied to the Fourth of July?

If Columbus is to be stricken from the history books in favor of ideological thugs like Malcolm X or Caesar Chavez, then America must soon follow. Columbus’ crime is that he enabled European settlement of the continent.

If the settlement of non-Indians in North America is illegitimate, then any national state they created is also illegitimate.

It is easier to hack away at a nation’s history by beginning with the lower branches.

Columbus is an easier target than America itself, though La Raza considers both colonialist vermin. Americans are less likely to protest over the banishment of Columbus to the politically correct Gulag than over the banishing America itself, which was named after another one of those colonialist explorers, Amerigo Vespucci. First they came for Columbus Day and then for the Fourth of July.

The battles being fought over Columbus Day foreshadow the battles to be fought over the Fourth of July. As Columbus Day joins the list of banned holidays in more cities, one day there may not be a Fourth of July, just a day of Native Resistance to remember the atrocities of the colonists with PBS documentaries comparing George Washington to Hitler.

These documentaries already exist, they just haven’t gone mainstream. Yet.

We celebrate Columbus Day and the Fourth of July because history is written by the winners. Had the Aztecs, the Mayans or the Iroquois Confederation developed the necessary technology and skills to cross the Atlantic and begin colonizing Europe, the fate of its native inhabitants would have been far uglier. The different perspectives on history often depend on which side you happen to be on.

To Americans, the Alamo is a shining moment of heroism. To the Mexicans who are the heirs of a colonialist empire far more ruthless than anything to be found north of the Rio Grande, the war was a plot to conquer Mexican territory. And neither side is altogether wrong, but choosing which version of history to go by is the difference between being an American or a Mexican.

A nation’s mythology, its paragons and heroes, its founding legends and great deeds, are its soul. To replace them with another culture’s perspective on its history is to kill that soul.

That is the ultimate goal of political correctness, to kill America’s soul. To stick George Washington, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, James Bowie, Paul Revere, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and all the rest on a shelf in a back room somewhere, and replace them with timelier liberal heroes. Move over Washington, Caesar Chavez needs this space. No more American heroes need apply.

This is how it begins. And that is how it ends. Nations are not destroyed by atomic bombs or economic catastrophes; they are lost when they lose any reason to go on living. When they no longer have enough pride to go on fighting to survive.

The final note of politically correct lunacy comes from a headline in the Columbus Dispatch about the Columbus Day festival in the city of Columbus, Ohio. “Italian Festival honors controversial explorer with its own Columbus Day parade”.

Once the great discover of America, Columbus is now dubbed “controversial” by a newspaper named after him, in a city named after him .And if he is controversial, how can naming a city after him and a newspaper after the city not be equally controversial?

Can the day when USA Today has a headline reading, “Some cities still plan controversial 4th of July celebration of American independence” be far behind?

Israel’s Jewish Prime Minister

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Thirty years ago this month, when Menachem Begin resigned as prime minister of Israel, he was a broken man.

Politically, the 1982 invasion of southern Lebanon to expel the PLO, followed by the horrific massacre perpetrated by the Lebanese Christian militia at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, had undermined his leadership and provoked the first massive antiwar protest movement in Israel’s history. Personally, the death of his beloved wife Aliza two months later plunged Begin into severe depression.

On September 15, after six tumultuous years as prime minister, Begin officially resigned, isolating himself in his home for nearly a decade until his death in 1992. His close aide Yehuda Avner recently recalled: “He just walked away and disappeared into mysterious seclusion, a man of silence, distant and withdrawn.”

Rejecting a state funeral, he had insisted on adherence to Jewish tradition: “No lying in state, no military guard of honor, no official delegations, not even eulogies – just a shroud.” He was buried in the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem.

In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.

The trajectory of Begin’s life and political career is well known. Descended on his mother’s side from a line of distinguished rabbis, Begin received his religious Zionist education in Brest-Litovsk, a city filled with synagogues, Zionist youth groups, and a rich Jewish culture. A devoted disciple of Revisionist leader Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, he led the militant Irgun in the valiant struggle for statehood after his arrival in Palestine in 1942.

Along the way, he incurred the wrath of David Ben-Gurion and his secular socialist followers for the bombing of British military command headquarters at the King David Hotel; the massacre of Arab villagers in Deir Yassin; and, above all, for bringing desperately needed military weapons and fighters on board the Altalena during the first month of the independence war. Despite Haganah collaboration in planning the military attacks, and Ben-Gurion’s explicit approval for the arrival of the ship (which he then ordered shelled and sunk in a tragic outburst of Jewish brothers at war), Begin was dispatched into political exile, where he remained for nearly thirty years.

The Six-Day War fulfilled ancient Jewish dreams and created new Israeli possibilities. On his first visit to the Western Wall in 1967, Begin recited a prayer that he had composed, concluding: “Today we stand before the Western Wall, the relic of the House of our Glory, in Jerusalem, the Redeemed…and from the depths of our hearts there arises the prayer that the Temple may be rebuilt speedily in our days.”

Ten years later, on the election night when he finally became prime minister, Begin wore a kippah and recited Psalms as he faced exultant supporters. After he was asked to form a new government he visited Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, spiritual leader of the nascent settlement movement in Judea and Samaria, to receive his blessing before going to pray at the Western Wall. The new prime minister bowed in a gesture of respect with evident political overtones. “I felt that my heart was bursting within me,” said one of Rabbi Kook’s students who witnessed the momentous encounter.

When Begin assumed the reins of leadership from Yitzhak Rabin, the new prime minister confessed: “I have the feeling of the chazzan on the High Holy Days when he stands alone before the Holy Ark and he appeals to the Almighty in the name of the whole congregation, and he says to God, ‘I have come to plead before you on behalf of your people, Israel, who have made me their messenger, even though I am unworthy of the task. Therefore, I beseech you, O Lord, make my mission successful.’ ” From the back of the room someone called out “Amen!” Begin responded: “Ken yehi ratzon.

In his inaugural speech as prime minister to the Knesset he boldly proclaimed: “There are those who question our right to our ancient homeland, and even our right to exist within its sacred boundaries. How dare they?… Let the world know that we were granted our right to exist by the God of our fathers at the glimmer of the dawn of human civilization 4,000 years ago. The Jewish people have a historic, eternal and inalienable right to the whole of the land of our forefathers.”

Subsequently asked by The New York Times whether he intended to annex the West Bank, he responded sharply: “You annex foreign territories, not your own country whose territories have been liberated. A Jew has every right to settle in the liberated territories of our Jewish homeland.”

Begin made a point of visiting Elon Moreh, the site of two years of unrelenting struggle to establish the first settlement in Samaria, in the biblical place where God had told Abraham: “To your descendants will I give this land” (Genesis 12:6). Standing between Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the founding father of the settlement movement, and Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, who would soon seed Judea and Samaria with new communities, Begin held a Torah scroll and declared that there would be “many more Elon Morehs.” So there were.

Addressing his Labor Zionist opponents in the Knesset, he had asked: “Settlement. . .almost 100 years ago, in areas of the Land of Israel populated by Arabs and sometimes solely by Arabs – was it moral or immoral? Permitted or forbidden?. . .If that decision was moral, and we all boast of 100 years of settlement, then today’s settlement. . .is moral. Or do you have a double standard?”

Begin’s courageous decision to authorize the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear facilities at Osirak displayed his unyielding determination to save the Jewish people from another Holocaust. Begin knew the consequences of appeasement all too painfully from his family’s experiences in wartime Poland, where his parents and brother were murdered. Yet he also was a peacemaker, sharing the Nobel Prize with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat for the breakthrough agreement that ended thirty years of Israeli encirclement by hostile Arab states dedicated to its annihilation.

On the first day of his official visit to the United States to meet with President Jimmy Carter, Begin first met with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, head of the Yeshiva University rabbinical seminary, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Refusing to negotiate the future of Jerusalem, he reminded the president of Psalm 137: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem. . .“

Menachem Begin was Israel’s first, and until now only, self-consciously and proudly Jewish prime minister. None before or since has spoken the language of Judaism, observed Jewish ritual, or supported the right of Jews to inhabit their biblical homeland as Begin did. His instant response to the success of the highly risky Osirak bombing mission was “Baruch Hashem.” Addressing a tank crew near Nablus, he reminded them that the IDF must live by “a Jewish code of ethics…. We shall, with the help of the Almighty, vanquish those who seek our destruction.” Asked whether he believed in “Elokei Yisrael, the God of Israel,” he responded: “The answer is a categorical yes.” Begin conceded: “I’m obsessed with hadar – national dignity and Jewish honor.”

In his Saturday evening Bible study group with Nechama Leibowitz, Harold Fisch and other religious scholars, Begin delighted in explicating the meaning of “a people that dwells alone.” Demanding the Shabbat shutdown of El Al, he responded to Knesset hecklers on the left: “Let me tell you something, my dear socialist friends: Shabbat enshrines a social-ethical principle without peer. Shabbat is one of the loftiest values in all humanity. It originated with us, the Jews. It is all ours. . . . One nation alone sanctified the Shabbat, a small nation, the nation that heard the voice at Sinai.”

When Begin became prime minister in May 1977, Time magazine memorably – and despicably – instructed readers: “Begin rhymes with Fagin” – the iconic loathsome Jew in Dickens’s Oliver Twist. He was excoriated by Israelis on the political left and by foreigners who despised the Jewish state. American Jews were frightened of guilt by association with an Israeli prime minister who did not resemble their beloved Franklin D. Roosevelt. Begin, after all, was the Israeli pariah who challenged their Diaspora conceit that New Deal liberalism was the updated version of ancient Hebrew prophecy.

Some years later, when a reporter asked Begin how he would like to be remembered, he responded: “As a decent human being, and a proud Jew.” He understood what still eludes a majority of Israeli and Diaspora Jews: the unity of religion and nationalism, Judaism and Zionism. His unyielding determination to unite the State of Israel with the Land of Israel earned Menachem Begin his unique place of distinction in Jewish and Israeli history.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israels-jewish-prime-minister/2013/09/13/

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