Sunday, August 21, 2016

Surprise, surprise. JStreet U officer supports Black Lives Matter platform on Israel

Sar Shalom

{Also published at Jews Down Under.}

Tablet Magazine ran a few great takedowns of Black Lives Matter's platform as it concerns Israel. Unfortunately, they were followed by an article by Daniel May, a past Director of JStreet U, essentially saying that Israel's occupation policy is responsible for BLM's platform. While nearly every paragraph of May's deserves criticism, in particular his parroting of Haaretz's lies, I'd like to focus on his original sin. In the final paragraph, May writes:
Palestine will never advance so long as Jews deny the cost of Zionism. The Jewish nation’s independence was won only through the dispossession of another nation.
Everything in the case against "the Occupation" stems from the accusation the Jewish sovereignty was won by dispossessing another nation. From the dispossession narrative comes the "right to resist" which justifies Palestinian terror and, with such actions being justified, delegitimizes Israel's countermeasures. Hence we see the one-sided description from JStreet and their ilk.

To understand dispossession as it pertains to the "Palestinians," consider a counterfactual from American history. Suppose that when the Pilgrims came to Massachusetts (for simplicity, I will be using present-day names for places), the population of Indian tribes native to Massachusetts was small. However, just before then, a handful of tribes from Quebec had started migrating to Massachusetts and accelerated during the Pilgrims' lifetimes. Subsequently, the Pilgrims' descendants stopped the inflow from Quebec and imposed population controls on the Indian population in Massachusetts, affecting the Quebec tribes because they were the larger presence. Would such an action constitute dispossession for the Quebec tribes? Such is the case with the Palestinians.

While it is true that Arabs were the majority of the population of the southwest Levant before the advent of Zionism, it does not follow that all non-Jewish population change was the result of natural growth. In the decades before the first Aliya, the Ottomans started moving population from other parts of its empire to the southwest Levant. A larger impetus for immigration was the economic development created by the Zionists. The result is that as the Jewish population rose due to Zionist immigration, so did the Arab population due to Arab immigration. Neither the Ottomans nor the British attempted to document how many Arabs thus entered Palestine. Thus, we have no reliable numbers for how many entered or what percentage of those claiming to be Palestinian have actual ties to the southwest Levant from before the first Aliya. Thus, the dispossession narrative claims that denying sovereignty to immigrants from Arabia and Egypt is dispossessing those immigrants.

A larger flaw in the dispossession narrative is common accounts miss in how the conflict started, where "how the conflict started" means what changed from when there was relative calm. An example of the politically correct understanding of what changed between then and now comes from Vox's explanation of the conflict from back in January. According to the narrator of that clip, prior to 1870, the population was mostly Muslim and Christian with a small Jewish minority. Feathers were ruffled as Zionism, responding to issues in Europe, sent a large influx of European Jews to Palestine, fundamentally changing the nature of the land to those who had been living there previously.

The facts included in that narrative are accurate, however, it excludes other facts which are critical to understanding what changed. As mentioned above, one of those facts is Arab immigration. However, there is also the matter of relations between Jews and Muslims prior to the advent of Zionism. To understand this, it is necessary to go back to the 1830's when the Ottoman Empire sought European help to reclaim Palestine from Egypt. The condition for that help was an end to enforcing the Pact of Umar. After the Ottoman Empire regained Palestine, the Christians went about their lives ignoring the restrictions of the Pact, confident that Europe had their backs if the Ottomans would seek to impose consequences while the Jews voluntarily submitted because they had no major power backers. The Muslims thus loved the Jews because they gave the deference due to the master faith while hating the Christians for spurning the deference with impunity. A few decades later, Zionism introduced European and other Jews to the southwest Levant. The European Jews brought with them the ideals of the Enlightenment, ideals which they felt Europe failed to uphold towards them, and thus refused to abide by the humiliation engendered by the Pact. With that, any warm feelings the Muslims had for the Jews evaporated. While not all Arabs, or even all Muslim Arabs, in the Levant valued having the Jews display "proper deference" over economic opportunities, that began to change after the British appointed Amin al-Husseini as mufti of Jerusalem. Husseini used that position as a platform from which to promulgate that not doing so was treason to the Muslim umma, which combined with the honor-shame culture of the Arab world led to positions we see today.

The important takeaway is what George Orwell taught decades ago, "He who controls the past controls the future." If we ignore insinuations that Israel was created through the dispossession of the Palestinians, then we are ceding control of the past to the post-Zionists and the Palestinianists, and therefore we cede to them the future, that is the litany of "Occupation" perpetuating the dispossession from a century ago.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Big O (Updated)

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Elder of Ziyon.}

big oJeffwithaJ mentioned The Big O over at Israel Thrives in reference to a Tablet article written by Daniel May, a doctoral candidate in Religion, Ethics and Politics at Princeton University and a former director of J Street U entitled, "The Problem Isn’t Black Lives Matter. It’s the Occupation."

I responded as follows:

"The Occupation with the Big O.
What is the significance of the Big O?

It is the Big Daddy of all Occupations.

It is the means by which some Jews, particularly in diaspora, make themselves feel superior to Arabs and Muslims.

After all, if 6 million Jews in the Middle East can defeat the Palestinian-Arabs, via the Big O, despite the serious objections of 400 million Arabs and 1.5 billion Muslims, what does that say about Jewish strength?

It says that, # 1, Jews kick ass and, # 2, we're humble enough to regret it. 
It's a means by which goodhearted and intellectually-inclined Jewish boys and girls get, on the one hand, to feel powerful even while, on the other hand, they burnish moral credentials. There is a kind-of arrogance to the use of the Big O by Jews when discussing those few of us who choose to live in the lands of our heritage. 
It raises us and diminishes us, both, at the same time."
The first time that I came across the term was in a children's book by Shel Silverstein called The Missing Piece Meets the Big O... which, although it has been awhile since I read it, I am pretty sure had something to do with sex.

(Update: According to a highly respected reader the above claim, that the book has something to do with sexuality, is false. I suspect he may be reading this little book a bit too narrowly, but certainly anyone unfamiliar with Shel Silverstein should know that his work is perfectly innocent. )

Today, however, when I think of The Big O, sadly, I tend to think of the capitalized word "Occupation."

As any linguist - including Noam Chomsky - will tell you, the terminology within which we discuss any topic, particularly highly charged topics, like political topics, gives away our biases. When people use "The Big O" to discuss the presence of Jewish people in Judea (and Samaria) it indicates something more than disdain for Jews.

It indicates an off-handed contempt for the Arabs, who are wrongly thought of as weak, and a true dislike for the Jews of Israel who are thought of as racist imperialists.

The very first thing that must be acknowledged is that Jews cannot "illegally occupy" the very land where Jews come from. It is as if they want to bring us back to Medieval wandering status. The Wandering Jew. 

Jews occupy the Land of Israel in the ways that the French occupy France or the ways in which Czech's occupy the Czech Republic.

Arabs, and many Muslims, may despise Jews for traditional religious reasons - embedded in fourteen centuries of hostile Islamic theocratic doctrine and dogma - but that does not mean that we are going to surrender the only small place that we have, as our own, on this planet.

The problem, however, is not just the Arabs.

It is the Jews who swing around The Big O.

Progressive-left, Democratic-Party-Leaning, navel-gazing, guilt-ridden, white-western, upwardly-mobile, American and European Jews, are so riddled with humanitarian racism that they cannot even begin to imagine that non-Jews "of color" have agency. It seldom occurs to them that non-white people should not be reduced to mere victims of the progressive-left imagination. It seldom occurs to them that by insisting that people "of color" are merely victims of Whitey that they are robbing these people of their dignity.

In the meantime, many will point the trembling finger of blame toward their fellow Jews on the other side of the planet and accuse them of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and The Big O.

Is This the New Europe?

Michael L.

So, what we see in this clip - uploaded to Youtube on August 17 of this year and beginning around the 30 second mark - is apparently a gang of young Muslim immigrants, possibly on their way to Germany and Sweden, robbing and vandalizing a restaurant somewhere in Italy.

You know, I grew up with dogs.

From the moment of my birth in the mid-60s to the present I've almost always had pooches. I love dogs despite the fact that mine defecate on my lawn and drool on my pillows.

It's disgusting!

Would you allow a friend into your home knowing that he is going to defecate on your lawn, in front of the entire neighborhood, and will then come into your house, crawl into your bed, and start salivating?

I do not think so.

The difference, of course, is that no friend of yours would ever do any such thing. In fact, even your worst enemies would never do any such thing, if only to maintain their personal dignity. But dogs, of course, are cute and loyal and perform a host of jobs for their human companions because, indeed, they are "man's best friend."

What is the excuse, I wonder, of the violent idiots in the video?

By the way, my favorite comment under the video is this:
OctoB 5 hours ago

they didn't even leave a tip

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Arab-Israel Conflict in a Nutshell

Michael L.

Or Sasson
I am astonished, and vaguely disgusted, to find myself in praise of Ha'aretz.

Given the prominence of anti-Zionist Jewish journalists on the payroll, such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, it is not very often that I drop into that little neck of the universe.


There it was.

A pro-Israel / pro-Jewish article in Ha'aretz - of all places - discussing anti-Jewish Arab racism in the Olympics.

As anyone who follows the Long Arab War Against the Jews knows, the basis of the conflict is centuries' long, Koranically-based Arab-Muslim contempt for the Jewish people.

And just a little bit of that contempt was expressed by Egyptian judoka, Islam el-Shehaby, when he refused to shake the hand of the victor in his match, Israeli-Jewish judoka, Or Sasson, or even bow to him at the beginning of the match.

Here it is:

Writing in Ha'aretz, David Rosenberg tells us:
For the IOC, Shehaby's bad behavior was “contrary to the rules of fair play and against the spirit of friendship embodied in the Olympic Values,” but nothing more. For the media, the affair was another instance of Middle East tensions boiling over into the Olympics, like the Lebanese team refusing to let Israeli athletes board the same bus, and unconfirmed reports that Saudi judoka Joud Fahmy forfeited a match to avoid fighting an Israeli in the next round...

a search of Olympic snubs comes up with zero incidents apart from Arabs dissing Israelis... 
There are no cases of Israelis dissing Arabs, and none of Yemenis insulting the Saudis who are bombing their country. There are no protests against the Syrians who are, with the help of their Arab brothers, slaughtering each other. Nor are there incidents between Iran or Russia, who are both playing a key role in the Syrian bloodbath, with anyone in the Arab world.
The Egyptians, the Lebanese, and probably the Saudi athlete, as well.

People seem to believe that the grounding of the conflict between Arabs and Jews (or is it Muslims and Jews?) is due to Jewish misbehavior toward Arabs within, and around, Israel.

This is false.

A single honest glance of the history of the Jewish minority under thirteen centuries of Arab-Muslim imperial rule in the Middle East would automatically rule out such a conclusion by any fair interlocutor.

This Week on Nothing Left (August 16, 2016)

These guys are a breath of fresh air.

Nothing Left - Episode 112 - 8/16/16

Rev Willem Glashouwer & Andrew Tucker (Christians for Israel)

Aussie Dave (Israellycool)

Julie Nathan (Executive Council of Australian Jewry)

Michael Kuttner (The Israel Resource News Agency)

 Isi Leibler (Jerusalem Post)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Podcast: the Demonization of Israel

The Raw Material

Heya guys, this is Michael Lumish coming to you from Oakland California, the land of Mexican food trucks, the Hells Angels and medical cannabis.

Y'know, the guys over at J-AIRs Nothing Left, Michael Burd and Alan Freedman, were kind enough to allow me to express myself on their venue and I appreciate it very much. It all goes back to Shirlee Finn of Jews Down Under. Were it not for Shirlee Michael and I would never have met.

So, what I think that I want to do are regular podcasts - once a week - maybe five minutes or so.

My previous bits were under the heading of quote The Failure of Progressive Left Zionism unqote. And I ran through my critisms on that topic over at Nothing Left with the felahs in Melbourne. And, of course, its on the right sidebar here at Israel Thrives.

And, I have to tell ya, when a number of years ago I first drew up that list it seemed to me that these were criticisms very much in need of making. I knew that it would piss off certain people and it did. And the thing of it is is that this is not scholarly material, this is not academic work, these are merely my impressions and understandings put forward in a casual manner about a topic - the Arab-Israel conflict - that is important to me.

And the only reason that you would even be listening to this is because it is important to you, as well. I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone else would listen to this stuff. Can you???

So this format - podcast - or whatever the hell it is - is a kind of new start. And, I have to tell ya, that I am not the least bit comfortable with it. I am someone comfortable with producing text, not audio.

I think, tho, that my core message is that the demonization of Israel by so many on the progressive left is both unjust and a betrayal of the Jewish people and that Jews who care about the well-being of their fellow Jews should object!

Stand up.

Fight back.

Y'kno, this weird historical inversion that is so often employed wherein Jews are the New Nazis and Palestinian-Arabs are the New Jews is an ideological club used by anti-Jewish racists to smack the holy crap out of the Jewish people employing the very worst catastrophe that has ever happened to us.

In other words, progressive-left anti-Semites use the Holocaust as a bludgeon upon contemporary Jews.

And these are the people who think of themselves as anti-racist!

The hypocrisy is profound.