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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘values’

The Progressive-Traditionalist War

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/progressive-traditionalist-war.html

The main weapon that progressives wield against traditionalists is their ability to break down the values that make up their worldview by challenging norms of behavior and thought, with the goal of using cultural friction to slowly replace traditional values and mores with their own.

This is a weapon that progressives have explicitly disavowed using against Islam. In Europe there are some hesitant attempts at promoting integration, but it’s a fitful self-doubting effort that consists of the authorities telling everyone who listens that integration is moving along smoothly, while the No-Go Zones grow, black ghosts haunt the alleyways of major cities and the mosques go on crying Jihad from minaret loudspeakers rising above European capitals.

There is the occasional burqa ban, a nervous ban placed on the most extreme of the extreme clerics, an occasional investigation of a school that teaches that infidels are animals to be killed, and a cautious warning from some putatively conservative politician to the Muslim community that things have to change. But none of them adds up to anything.

The left, which excels at attacking traditional values, has signed a pact with Islam. Not only does it refuse to undermine its religion and traditional values the way that it undermines those of everyone else, but it actively promotes Islamic values and traditions as morally superior to those of its own society.

The reason for this is simple strategy. The progressives of the left in each society are at war with their own traditionalists. American liberals are at war with American conservatives. European liberals are at war with European conservatives. Liberal Christians are at war with Conservative Christians and Progressive Jews are at war with Traditional Jews.

This war isn’t always as overt as it was in the Soviet Union, or as it is in Cuba or Sweden. It’s a quiet war marked by “artistic statements,” by the school curriculum and the late-night newscast, by laws that transform public spaces into government spaces and private spaces into public spaces, and put the whole thing under government regulation whose overriding purpose is behavior modification.

Despite their many victories, the progressives have numerous disadvantages in this war. They are a minority dependent on front groups and divide-and-conquer politics. Rarely are they able to openly state their agendas and beliefs, because, if they did, they would be stoned on the spot. Instead, they have to worm their way in, presenting a false front of moderation, and slowly move their agenda through its outer stages to its inner core.

The left is up against common sense, which is just shorthand for the traditional way of thinking. And traditions exist because they are natural; right or wrong, they are organic, embedded in human nature and the way that people live their lives and draw their conclusions. Its utopian schemes put it up against the human animal, so that the left has to ride the body politic like a bronco buster fighting to stay on a mutinous steed. Much of its rank and file doesn’t know this, but its leaders and planners are well aware of how precarious their position is.

But there is also a more practical angle. Demographics. The progressives tend to have a lower birth rate than traditionalists. If values were transmitted on a generational basis, by now they would be deader than Disco. To compensate for their demographic disadvantage, the left reproduces by insinuating itself into the educational system. The Cuckoo’s reproductive strategy is to plant its eggs in the nests of other birds to be raised by those birds, but the reproductive strategy of progressives is to raise someone else’s young as a member of their species, while getting paid for it by the taxpayers.

This demographic disadvantage makes it vital for progressives to attack tradition, because it is also the only way that they can reproduce. Their reproductive strategy is entirely dependent on disrupting the ability of fertile groups to pass on their values to their offspring.

There are parallels in biology to this behavior. A number of species compete for territory by interfering with the reproduction of another species. The fertility limitations of liberals make it an ideological imperative to disrupt the reproduction of more traditional species.

Daniel Greenfield

The Great Identity Crisis

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/great-identity-crisis.html

A moral crisis tends to go hand in hand with an identity crisis. It’s when you don’t know who you are that you’re most likely to take refuge in a political or ethical identity that provides you with the comfort of a false sense of superiority. When all other identities fall apart, you can always rely on being the better man, the better nation and the empty space with the moral high ground.

Societies that go multicultural tend to experience identity drift and take refuge in a self-definition based on values. Who are Americans? As generations of presidents on the left and right have told us, they are people who believe in American values. What are American values? They’re the values that Americans are told they need to believe in, in order to be Americans. Like tolerance, immigration, free trade, and respecting the right of anyone to be a member of the Communist Party or the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a time of crisis, nations and peoples have to choose to survive. But what is survival? Proponents of a values-based identity have argued that survival means the survival of our values. If we take Measure X against an enemy, whether it’s outlawing the Communist Party or waterboarding Islamic terrorists, then we have “killed our values” and we are no longer Americans. It doesn’t matter then whether an act saves millions of American lives, if it means we destroy our values, then we have killed the only worthwhile thing about us.

Physical identity and values-based identity are in conflict in a time of crisis when the question is asked, do we want to survive or do we want to be morally pure. A values-based identity appears to be superior, but it is actually the product of an identity crisis. And a nation or a people with an identity crisis is vulnerable because they no longer know who they are. Their identity has been replaced with an identity based on their superior values, values that require them to die rather than give up those values. And if they have forgotten who they are, then they are too afraid to risk their values-based identity by fighting back.

The problem is not a unique one. For example, Jewish assimilation dropped the ‘peoplehood’ aspect leaving behind a values-based identity. When liberal Jews express their identity, it is values-based, built around “Tikkun Olam”, or “Social Justice”. That opens up a hole for someone like Peter Beinart to crawl in with a crisis of Liberal Zionism, a conflict between values-based identity and Jewish survival.

Would you rather live as Jews or die as liberals? The determining factor here is whether you have a Jewish identity. Without a Jewish identity, there is only the posturing of values-based identity, and giving up the high “ethics” of bending over backward for the bad guys seems a lot like the death of the only identity such miserable people have. If all that matters about Jews is their “ethical values”, then to step down from the moral high ground by bombing a terrorist stronghold is suicide.

The first question is; “Who are you?” That’s a question that is asked to individuals and to nations. It’s asked directly in the form of a national dialogue, and it’s asked indirectly in the choices that are made in a time of crisis.

The second question is; “What do you live for?” The answer to this question is determined by the first question. What we live for derives from who we are. Self-knowledge gives purpose, and purpose gives self-knowledge. A lack of identity is also a lack of purpose. And a lack of purpose betrays a lack of identity. A nation adrift has lost its identity; it lacks direction because it has no starting point.

A thing that does not exist for its own sake has no existence. It has no existence, because it is not survival-based. It is well and good to dedicate yourself to higher causes and beliefs, but if they do not begin with your own existence, then they have no more substance than you do. You can volunteer for a thousand causes, but if you don’t care whether you live or die– then you have nothing to contribute to them.

Daniel Greenfield

Obama Celebrates Jewish Petitioning of Government

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

President Obama celebrated the values of communities petitioning government at a White House reception honoring Jewish American Heritage Month.

“We don’t just celebrate all that American Jews have done for our country; we also look toward the future,” he said. “And as we do, I know that those of you in this room, but folks all across this country will continue to help perfect our union; and for that, I am extraordinarily grateful.”

Obama focused a large portion of his remarks on the 150th anniversary of an order that was issued by General Ulysses Grant, which expelled Jews “as a class” from the military department of Tennessee.

“It was wrong. Even if it was 1862, even if official acts of anti-Semitism were all too common around the world, it was wrong and indicative of an ugly strain of thought,” Obama said.

He went on to note that American Jews protested the order.

“What happened next could have only taken place in America,” he said. “Groups of American Jews protested General Grant’s decision.”

He described how a Jewish merchant from Kentucky who met with President Abraham Lincoln and following the meeting, the order was revoked.

“Like so many groups, Jews have had to fight for their piece of the American dream,” Obama said. “But this country holds a special promise: that if we stand up for the traditions we believe in and in the values we share, then our wrongs can be made right; our union can be made more perfect and our world can be repaired.”

The order by Lincoln to revoke Grant’s order was on display during the reception, as were letters from two Jewish groups asking for the revocation.

Years later, as president, Grant stated that he recognized his mistake and would apologize for the order, and a receipt for contribution to the Adas Israel congregation – which still exists – after attending an 1876 service was also on display.

President Obama opened his remarks by thanking Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for “his work representing our great friend, the state of Israel” before emphasizing the significance of the U.S. commitment to Israel.

“Beyond our borders, we have to stand alongside our friends who share our commitment to freedom and democracy and universal rights; and that includes, of course, our unwavering commitment to the State of Israel and its security and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace,” Obama said in his remarks.

A number of Jewish members of Congress were present at the reception, including Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Shelley Berkley (D-N.V.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

JTA

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: An Open Letter to Congressmen Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Dear Steve and Bill,

Many of us have watched with amazement and dismay the increasingly bitter primary battle ensuing between you. You were once close friends and allies. Now that you are contesting the same Congressional seat, the natural affection that once bound you has come undone.

This is a shame, both personally and collectively. Personally, because friendship is one of life’s greatest blessings, and collectively, because Americans are sick and tired of rancorous, scorched-earth politics, which has given Congress a nine percent approval rating.

Let me be clear that I am not passing judgment. I recognize the stakes are high in your primary as they are in the current Republican primary. But I am saying that there is a better way, a more magnanimous manner in which to run for office, where personalities are kept out of the race and where issues are the focus.

Congressman Rothman, was it really necessary to put out a mailer that said of Pascrell, “With friends like this, who needs enemies?” Was it essential to say of your fellow Democrat that he is guilty of peddling “UGLY… BASELESS… CRAP” (Your own emphasis).

Congressman Pascrell, did you really have to say of your fellow Democrat, “I lived in Paterson all my life. I didn’t have to move. You moved twice. If you’re such a progressive, why didn’t you take on the leader of the Tea Party instead of your ‘friend’ Bill Pascrell.”

Come on, guys! You’re in the same party. And you’re both elected officials representing New Jersey and the nation. While that doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, it does mean that you should be according each other some basic civility.

I know something about this because I do family conflict resolution for a living. My TV show on TLC, Shalom in the Home, had me living with families across America for up to a week to try and get husbands and wives to stop fighting, parents and kids to stop arguing, and brothers and sisters to stop squabbling.

The ABCs of conflict resolution involve human empathy – an ability to see the matter from the other person’s point of view. Surely you can both appreciate that after spending sixteen odd years in Congress.

Winning is great, but not at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of your integrity. While I disagree with both of you substantially on the issues, I do not question that you are both devoted public servants and it’s for this reason that the increasingly bitter tone of your race doesn’t accord with your own values. You’re both better than this.

Imagine two good friends at High School who do everything together but then begin to fight over the same girl. Surely, as they abuse and taunt each other in her presence, they will not only fail to win her hand but will instead alienate her completely. That’s what’s happening with the electorate as they watch the two of you assail each other.

Even the Star Ledger Editorial Board has commented on the vitriolic nature of the campaign by stating “it is particularly appalling to see Rothman take such cheap shots at Pascrell” and “a pity that he’s (Rothman) choosing to tarnish his long-standing reputation for integrity by running a campaign like this.”

Look, I shouldn’t be saying this. The two of you bludgeoning each other works to my advantage. I hope to win the Republican nomination for Congress on the very same day – June 5th – that you hope to win the Democratic nomination. And when people see what you’re doing to each other, they might just decide to give the other party the chance to represent them in Congress with values they can respect. But I don’t want to win this way. I don’t want to get votes because the Democratic primary has become a fratricidal war of Cain and Abel in a duel to the death. I don’t want to win based on something like The Hunger Games. Rather, I want to win based on the issues and on values.

It is my belief that my ideas and policies are better for America than yours. I may be wrong. That’s why elections exist, for the electorate to determine whose ideas will best steer the country. But we have to take personality, bitterness, and bile out of the equation and make this a policy-based dispute.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Farmers to Scholars – The Journey of Adiso and Yonatan Jambar

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Sitting with these two youths in Jerusalem, it is hard to believe their story is true. The two brothers, Adiso and Yonatan Jambar, aged eighteen and sixteen, emigrated from the village of Achfar in Ethiopia five years ago.

A family of eight children, they were the only Jews in the village. Their father made a living as a farmer and as an agricultural tools merchant. Yonatan can’t forget the Anti-Semitic attacks they suffered. The family was aware of their Judaism, but did not really lead a Jewish life. Their uncle was a well established land dealer. At some point he ran into difficulties, his house was burned and he was forced to leave the village. The rest of the family was forced to follow suit, selling their possessions at a very low price. They had to walk to the city of Gondar, seven hours away. Here, they attended a Jewish school, still suffering from various Anti-Semitic attacks. Yonatan remembers one incident when he was playing soccer with other boys, and they began to ridicule him for being a Jew. On the way back from school, he was attacked. The family lived in Gondar for five years, and them decided to make Aliya – to move to Israel. The family’s grandfather had already moved to Israel, and they joined him in 2007. Yonatan tells of a certain sense of shock when first arriving in Israel, but the family quickly adjusted to their new lives.

They first stayed at an absorption center, and later moved to Kiryat Yam in Northern Israel. After only half a year, they had a good command of the Hebrew language. The two brothers began to study at a Yeshiva-high school. “After learning Hebrew, we joined the regular class and there we found friends, good friends.” Yonatan began at a fifth grade level, but rapidly progressed and was moved into the seventh grade. While he was in the seventh grade, their family became closer to the Jewish tradition and began to lead a religious life. In Israel, they felt more secure about their Judaism and their bond to Jewish values and heritage became more prominent in their life. After two years in the Haifa area, the family decided to move to Ma’aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem.

The parents did not have an easy time finding a source of income, having to work at difficult jobs; but they constantly had their children’s education in mind. Today, the boys study at Ma’aleh Adumim Yeshiva-high School, Adiso in the twelfth grade and Yonatan in the tenth. They spend much of their time studying for the matriculation exams. Both have achieved impressive results, an outcome of difficult and prolonged efforts on their part, as well as special attention given by the school staff. Their day is long and crammed, starting at eight in the morning, and ending at six or seven o’clock at night. Their program is very intensive, including religious studies, math, English, physics, biology, technology and electronics, history. One of their teachers, Itamar Golan, said, “Today, they are first rate students in the Yeshiva. Studies at the Yeshiva are intensive and grueling. With the close accompaniment of the staff, they are both very successful, despite all the obstacles they have encountered.”

Their parents constantly encourage them, pushing them to fulfill their potential. They want Yonatan to become a doctor. He excels in biology, and hopes to become a vet. His grades are high, but he would rather not talk about himself. He believes one should be judged by their values, identity and personality; not grades.

Adiso, a top notch student as well, believes in influencing and contributing through social activities. He joined the Ariel youth group a short time after joining the Yeshiva. He became a leader in the group, and his dream is to influence Israeli society, generating a positive change. Yonatan joined the youth group with Adiso, becoming a youth leader as well. They are both involved in youth activities, educating the members of their group on the values of mutual accountability. They believe they have the power to minimize and even eliminate violence among youth. Through activities and games, they teach proper methods of communication between the youth, showing that violence is not necessary.

The brothers believe more can be done to further promote and assist the Ethiopian community in Israel. Today, the younger generation of Ethiopian immigrants serves as a guide to the older generation, helping them to integrate. Yonatan and Adiso have encountered some prejudice, but don’t dwell on them, preferring to look to the future.

Yonatan has fond memories of Achfar, but believes his life is better today, in Israel. His way of life and religious values are important to him, as well as his sense of belonging to the Jewish Nation, which he feels in Israel, and the security the Ethiopian immigrants feel. “In Israel, when I compare my life to the one I had in Ethiopia – it is better here. Our basic needs are the sense of security and the feeling of a belonging to an entity we believe in, leading the life the way we want. We find these basic needs met in Israel.”

Assaf Yair, Tazpit News Agency

Why A Jew?

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Different people in my life have different reactions to me becoming a Jew.

The secularists and atheists in my life don’t know enough about Judaism to know how big of deal this is, so they tend to look at my journey as a mildly exotic lifestyle choice – like a phase Madonna might go through – before they focus on the real issue at hand: circumcision.

Hardcore evangelicals (whom I love dearly) tend to love Jews and Israel more than just about anyone (there are more Christian Zionists in America than there are Jews in the entire world). They view my pending conversion with a great deal of respect and admiration. The way one might view a friend who has decided to become a full-time priest or pastor.

The Jews in my life?  From them, I get one reaction only:

“Don’t you have enough trouble already?”

In my book, there is no such thing as “enough trouble.” Picking fights with the world’s bad people is my business, and business is good. But I am not becoming a Jew to bring more trouble into my life. If more trouble comes, I’ll face it. But I’m not a masochist.  I’m an ethical monotheist.

After my Jewish friends are done trying to talk me out of their tribe, they admit, “you’re pretty much a Jew already,” or “you’re more Jewish than most Jews I know.” They’re right in one sense. They’re talking about Jewish values and ethics. And, if ethics and values were all it took to become a Jew, I could put on a kippah, walk into the end-zone, and join God’s chosen people right now.

Jewish values and ethics are what brought me here. Flipping through Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s Book of Jewish Values or his Code of Jewish Ethics, for me, is like a kid flipping through a friend’s baseball cards in a playground – “got it, got it, need it, got it” – with a whole lot more “got its” than “need its.”

The hard part for me is learning the Hebrew and rituals, mainly because I have a hard time memorizing. So that’s what I’m focusing on now. A friend of mine, who converted to Judaism, said that I’ll always feel like I’m struggling to catch up to the Jews who grew up immersed in Hebrew and rituals.

Which is fine by me. Because, even though I came to the Torah with more “got its” than “need its,” I still feel like a child who has a world of learning ahead of me. Like a wall that gets bigger the closer you get to it. Even should I live to 120 (God willing) I’ll never reach the end of this journey.

Which is a good reason to start this journey now.

http://notajew-jew.com/?p=58

Not a Jew -> Jew

Canadian Foreign Minister: ‘We’re Israel’s Best Friend’

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

At the end of a week in which the United Church of Canada, that country’s largest Protestant denomination called for a boycott of goods produced in “illegal” Israeli settlements, including East Jerusalem, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird declared that “Israel has no greater friend in the world today than Canada.”

The foreign minister was addressing the American Jewish Committee World Leaders Plenary, attended by an audience of more than 1,500, including many ambassadors in Washington, D.C. The foreign ministers of Cyprus and Germany also spoke at that Global Forum session.

“Our strong support for Israel is not about politics at home, and certainly not about winning popularity contests at the United Nations. Canada certainly has the scars to show for it,” Baird said. “It’s about values.”

Canada’s pro-Israel position, he said, was a matter of principle, based on the values of “freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law” that Canada shares with Israel and the U.S.

“At the UN and elsewhere, we make it clear that Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable. We vote against one-sided and unfair resolutions,” he said.

Canada has not always been so friendly to Israel, said Baird, who recalled two incidents in his own career when his suggestions to speak up for the Jewish state were rebuffed as naive and politically unrealistic.

“That is no longer how Canada operates,” he declared, “Not under this Foreign Minister. And not under this Prime Minister.” Baird’s speech was interrupted by frequent applause.

The current Canadian government “rejects the concept of moral relativism in international relations,” said Baird, adding that in Canada’s view “liberal democracies and international terrorist groups are not equal.”

Baird remarked that over the decades Canada has “paid a high toll for the principles that guide us” in fighting against hatred and intolerance, and in defense of freedom, democracy and dignity in two world wars and other conflicts around the world.

“In Afghanistan, we have invested billions of dollars and sacrificed more than 150 lives to ensure that country never again becomes a haven for terrorism,” said Baird.

Baird also expressed his country’s commitment to human rights, specifically denouncing Iran for its persecution of women, Christians and Baha’i; China for driving Christianity underground; and Egypt for its treatment of Coptic Christians.

And he pointed out that AJC, similarly, “does important advocacy work” not just for Jews but supports “dignity and respect for all peoples.”

The Foreign Minister also stressed the importance of economic prosperity for areas of the world that are beset with unrest and violence. He described his government’s success in providing “jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity.”

Noting that Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world, Baird spoke of the potential benefits to his country and the U.S. of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which AJC strongly supports.

Incidentally, the United Church of Canada report will be considered by the Church’s General Council, which meets in Ottawa in August. Until then, the report is not yet official Church policy.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/canadian-foreign-minister-were-israels-best-friend/2012/05/05/

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