Monday, November 17, 2014

Is Israel a Democracy?

The meaning of democracy is equality before the law.
How can Israel say that everyone is equal before the law – that you’re equal before the law – when the law defines Judaism as the cultural, national and legislative basis for the state?

These are the words of Yair Lapid, Israeli Finance Minister, as reported in a recent issue of The Jerusalem Post.

Israel isn't going to be a democratic what?

These are the words of American Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson.

I believe they are both saying similar things, though the tenor of the two quotes differs dramatically.  Adelson is rather blunt.  Lapid is more diplomatic.

Can Israel truly be regarded as a democracy?

Israel may be a democracy, but perhaps a "democracy" with certain provisos.  David Kretzmer, a law scholar at Hebrew University has pointed out the peculiarly Israeli dichotomy between nationhood and citizenship.  In Israel these are not interchangeable terms.   You can be an Israeli citizen, but, if not Jewish, you are not a member of the "nation-state of the Jewish people," which, after all, is how Israel defines itself.

Can you imagine a non-Jewish Prime Minister or President?  Could such an official deal with the religious laws and religious officials of the state?

Yes, one man, one vote - but a clearly defined difference among its citizens - some included in the nation-state, some not.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Klinghoffer Re-visited"

The Metropolitan Opera has posted the libretto of "Death of Klinghoffer" on it web site.  Here is a piece sung by one of the terrorists.  Do you really believe that these words are not anti-Semitic (though, admittedly, they are the ravings of an outraged, angry and hateful terrorist)?  If similar disparaging words had been used to denigrate blacks or Muslims - do you think an opera including such words would have been written, no less performed?

You are always complaining Of your suffering
But wherever poor men Are gathered they can

Find Jews getting fat.
You know how to cheat
The simple, exploit
the virgin, pollute
Where you have exploited, Defame those you cheated, And break your own law With idolatry.
Is one big Jew.
What did you say?
You are old and ugly.
Not for one day
Will your children miss you. I hear a belly growl;
The voice of your soul.
Go on then, kneel,
Beg me, beg me to permit You something to eat
And a chance for a piss.
I see you cross
Your swollen legs.
Nobody begs?
That was your last chance. Just this once
You can befoul yourselves. You are all wolves,
Wolves without teeth.
You should think of death, But you meditate
On dirty meat,
And your own unclean flesh. Are you English?
Your Balfour Declaration Led to the partition
And the dissolution
Of the Palestinian nation.

Where English is spoken You will find perversion And all kinds of filth Not practised by stealth Late at night,
But on the street
During the day.
You wink at sodomy. You laugh at blasphemy. You give no charity

To the oppressed.
What did your watch cost?
Is it solid gold?
How many mouths could be filled If this were sold.
Your wrists are thick
But I can make
Bigger ones crack.
There. You may have it back. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Considering a Sexual Encounter? - Bring Along the Required Documents

There has been much written about sexual harassment and rape accusations at colleges.  I thought it would be interesting to share portions of a 44-page document on sexual conduct and misconduct issued by California's Claremont College for its students (as reported in The Weekly Standard  Oct 20)

Effective consent consists of an affirmative, conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed upon (and the conditions of) sexual activity.  

The Essential Elements of Consent:
1.  Informed and Reciprocal
2.  Freely and Actively Given
3.  Mutually Understandable
4.  Not Indefinite
5.  Not Unlimited

All parties must demonstrate a clear and mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the act to which they are consenting, and a willingness to do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.

Withdrawal of Consent can be expressed 'no' or can be based on an outward demonstration that conveys that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain, or is no longer a mutual participant."

Don't forget to bring signed documents and lawyers along on your next date!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

There Is Only One Holocaust - Stop Making Comparisons!

Godwin's law is an observation made by attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1989.  It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." In other words, Godwin believes that given enough time, all online discussions end up being about Hitler and the Nazis.

In fact the Holocaust, to which these so-called comparisons relate, is, in fact, not subject to comparison.  It is "incomparable!"

Yes, there have been ethnic cleanings.  Yes, there have been mass killings.  Yes, there have been atrocities of significant magnitude throughout ancient and recent history.  Yes, there has been slavery.  Yes, there has been the forced movement of peoples from their traditional homes.  Yes, there have been outrageous examples of discrimination.  And even more.

But there has been only one Holocaust.  Unique.  Incomparable.  Defined by what it represented.

It is mass killings. It is ethnic cleansing.  It is slavery.  It is forced movement of peoples.  It is the utmost form of discrimination.  It is all of these and much more.  It is a cold, calculated, engineered affair.  It is extermination as a business, in part analogous to pest control, - efficient, cost-conscious, scientific, and yes open to competitive bidding.  It was unique in the evaluation and commercial uses of its byproducts.  Products of the ovens were converted to energy.  Corpses were provided to medical schools.  Gold from teeth was extracted and melted down.  Skin and hair was re-cycled.  People were used as human guinea pigs in medical research.  It is an atrocity of such magnitude that, without records or witnesses, it could be regarded as unbelievable propaganda (as it was by many political leaders of the time.)  It is an unequaled barbarity of major proportions - cold, logical, unemotional, efficient, effective and productive.

It is the industry of human extermination.

Time to render Godwin's Law obsolete.  Time for a new law.

The Holocaust is unique
No comparison to other atrocities applies

Friday, September 19, 2014

Holocaust Survivor - Are You Really Special?

Alvin Rosenfeld, in the Jewish Daily Forward (Sep 12) quotes Hans Frank, one of Hitlers top aides and the Nazi commander in Poland, as remembering his "boss" saying:  "I am an innocent lamb compared to revelations by Jews about Jews......these instincts and.....character traits. It is not I who say this, it is the Jews themselves......."

This was used as an introduction to Rosenfeld's comments on a recent NY Times advertisement by  something called the International Jewish Solidarity Network which proclaimed that Holocaust survivors condemn Israel.  "Jewish Survivors and Descendants of Survivors and Victims of Nazi Genocide Condemn the Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza," screamed the headline!

There is no question, and it is only right, that differences between Jews exist  regarding the recent Gaza War.  Jews, whether Holocaust Survivors or not, have the right to opinions.  Rosenfeld goes on to define the signers of the document as  "relative of a survivor" as cousins, friends, distant relatives, grand children and great grandchildren of refugees.  One identified herself as "a great niece of an uncle who shot himself," another as a "third cousin of Anne Frank."

It is generally agreed that the definition of  a Holocaust survivor is: any Jew who lived for any period of time in a country that was ruled by the Nazis or their allies is called a Holocaust survivor or a Nazi victim.  (There is no clear definition of who has status as a "distant relative.")

I am, by that definition, clearly a survivor - I was there from 1937-1939.  Though I was a mere babe, my parents clearly were "adult" survivors whose lives were permanently altered.  My mother never could forget or disregard the great life and rather good social position she had in her beloved community.  My father had been one of the men rounded up on Kristallnacht and sent to Dachau.  Fortunately he survived, was released, and we were able to emigrate.

My mother never called herself a "survivor." She, and my father, never felt that they had special rights to special opinions because of their deplorable and disruptive history.  To them the Holocaust was, and should always remain a personal experience, not exploited, not memorialized with museums, and certainly not to be used as a cudgel by persons who feel "special" because of their victimhood.

They would condemn the rising "Holocaust Industry" which purports to grant survivors, and apparently even the survivors' third cousins and great nieces, special rights to special opinions on special aspects of victimhood.

The Holocaust was unique in Jewish history - in world history.  It cannot be compared to any other form of repression and slaughter.  To even write words that tend to compare this unique event that has no defining adjectives that I believe appropriate, is to do a major disservice to the Jewish People and their history - to then go on and actually compare it to what is termed Palestinian genocide is an atrocity.

There are fewer and fewer real survivors and their distant relatives and friends hardly qualify as experts.  I am certainly no expert.  But these Holocaust bloviators, who feel special because of their suffering, must come to realize that their suffering, especially their suffering, was unique to them and should never be regarded as a special right or privilege.  Holocaust third cousin once removed - express your opinion, but don't feel your distant relationship to victimhood is some sort of privilege.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

American Action or Inaction - We Lose

The New York Times ("U.S. Actions in Iraq Fueled Rise of a Rebel," Aug 11) reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated "caliph"of the Islamic world, and the leader of of ISIS, owes his rise to power to U.S. involvement in Iraq.  "Political changes that fueled his fight, or led to his promotion, were born directly from some American action."

The story goes on to enumerate the following "direct" American actions (and inactions):
1.  He allegedly spent five years in an American detention facility.  (The Pentagon maintains, however, that following his arrest in early 2004, he was released that December.)
2.  The American operation that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006, led to Baghdadi's chance to take power.
3.  The American ouster of Saddam Hussein (Iraq's brutal dictator) opened the lid that had suppressed extremist Islamist movements in Iraq, allowing Baghdadi "the freedom for his radical views to flourish."
4.  The inaction of the U.S. early in the Syrian revolution my have led to the growth of ISIS, according to Rep. Elliot L. Engel (D-NY).

So are we to blame for the turmoil in Iraq and Syria?  Are we largely responsible for the slaughter that is being inflicted on Kurds and Shiites in Iraq by Baghdadi?  So it's  really all our fault?

We seem to be held responsible for the ills of the world whether by our action or our inaction.  We can't win!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What are Israel's Motives in Gaza?

Why is Israel involved in Gaza?  Why is Israel concerned about border crossings?  Why is Israel engaged in controlling access to Gaza from the sea? Why has Israel constructed walls along its borders with Gaza and the West Bank?  Why is Israel expending financial, political, and human capital on these issues?

Is it because Israel is interested in dominating the Middle East, beginning with the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza (with their 4 million Arabs, resulting in a possible Arab majority within the new state?) Is it because Israel is a war-obsessed anti-Arab country with an overwhelming determination to drive all Arabs "into the sea," and to annihilate the Arab population of Gaza and the West Bank?  Is it because Israel is, at its roots, a violently anti-Muslim country?  Is it because the Judaism, as a religion, demands that other beliefs be eliminated and that Judaism is the only way to the truth and to salvation?  Is it because the Jews want to conquer and enslave the Palestinian world?  Is it that Jews are dedicated to the slaughter and starvation of Arab civilians, especially children?  Is it because Jews are an inherently evil people who  want to "rule the world" - the first step being the "taking over" of Gaza and the West Bank?

Or is it because:

Israel is a recognized country, a member of the United Nations, whose borders have been constantly violated, whose land has been threatened repeatedly from its very beginnings, whose inhabitants (both adults and children) have been slaughtered by suicide bombers entering from Gaza and the West Bank, whose population is under constant threat from missiles launched from Gaza as well as from Lebanon, whose neighbors have charters which include destruction of the State of Israel amongst their articles - Israel has a government whose first and foremost dedication is to the protection of its people from constant threats to its very survival?

What do you think?