29 April 2015

Left, right and Christian

I was reading a ToI blog post by Ben Gladstone, who is "a liberal Zionist teenager from Boston, MA and a first-year undergraduate student at Brown University". The post is titled The Zionist movement should never depend on the Christian right. Eloquently written, with its rousing references to Yom HaShoah, to the timeless quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller etc, the article cautions us to be aware of "Christian right, as it creeps insidiously into the Zionist movement."

While eloquent, the article made me a bit dizzy in a sense. The author sometimes goes into amazing resolution level*, only to zoom out suddenly when defining other terms like "Christian right"** or "true Zionism, with its leftist, secularist, socialist history". Not being an expert on the subject of American Christians, I still find it hard to believe that millions and millions of US Christians that support Israel all espouse antisemitic views like those described by Ben. Like I find it quite hard to believe that all of them were members of Ku Klux Klan and/or unrepentant haters of folks with different lifestyle. And I definitely disagree with broad-brushing of "true Zionism": far from all of it was leftist, secularist and socialist, like Ben would like you to believe. The two movements are wrongly presented as some monolithic entities, while Ben himself strongly objects to, for instance, presentation of American Islam as a monolithic entity later on.

This arbitrary zooming in and out could be deceptive, as it is in the case of this article.

Not being a part of a Zionist movement, the movement part being over for me, since I and mine are here (see article 8 of our Charter), I have to look at the warning rather as a citizen of Israel. And I have to say that the view I see differs from the black and white picture drawn by Ben. Being a part of this world, Israel maintains diplomatic relationships with a lot of countries and a lot of different regimes, some (many) of them reprehensible. Israel engages in trade with a lot of them, quite a few reprehensible ones included. Israel shares the UN General Assembly forum with tens of revolting and inhuman dictatorships. In all that Israel behaves like any other country, including the most enlightened democracies out there.

So what do I have to say on the subject of out relationships with American Christians? Yes, a small part of them may be antisemitic (not a big surprise) and a rather larger part of them may believe that the Jews should all gather here for the rather distant purpose of the second coming of Jesus (which expectation doesn't bother me a lot: we are a frisky gang and collecting us all in one place is a tall job). Yes, some of the American Christians were members of KKK and some were persecuting gay folks - but rather a smallish number of them persists in these two pastimes.

If you follow Ben's logic from here on consistently, we (Israel) should not only disconnect from the American Christians, but also abandon many (if not most) of our diplomatic and trade ties, leave the dictators club that calls itself UN etc. Actually, if we base our decisions about international ties on the existence of anti-Semites in a nation, I feel safe to say that we should simply fire all our Foreign Ministry staff and be done with it, not to mention closing down all the foreign trade - related outfits.

I strongly feel that Ben's rather politicized (to the left) worldview (not that I am going to argue with it here) and his youthful appetite for over-simplification had a strong impact on the article, denying it a sufficient measure of logic.

All in all - nope. Doesn't work for me, Ben.

(*) In this sentence, for instance:

I thought about how they have already come for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex, asexual/aromantic, and otherwise non-heterosexual/non-cisgender (LGBTQIA+) community.
Some of the (hardly necessary) terms, like "aromantic" will provide me with some future study for sure.

(**) The definition of which, presented at the end of the article, is also somewhat flimsy. Is, for instance, Presbyterian Church of US, which is largely anti-Israel and quite antisemitic, to be considered left of right? 

28 April 2015

Iran's military 'fires at and seizes US cargo ship'

British Independent, referring to Tehran semi-official Fars News, reports:

Iranian forces have reportedly fired at and seized a US cargo ship with 34 sailors on board, according to Saudi Arabian state TV.

The vessel has been directed to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the southern coast, Al-Arabiya has reported.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency suggested that the ship was trespassing in the Persian Gulf.
So far no similar reports surfaced in US press.

Update: Nope, apparently not a US ship, after all.
Iran seized a Marshall Island-flagged cargo ship on Tuesday in Iranian waters in the Strait of Hormuz, Defense officials said Tuesday.

There were no Americans aboard the Maersk Tigris, though the United States has security responsibilities with regard to the Marshall Islands.

Pentagon spokesman Brent Colburn sent a tweet that said the Navy "is communicating with representatives of the shipping company and continue to monitor the situation.

Israeli assistance to Nepal and the usual responses

Every single time that a catastrophe like this happens, when Israel sends its rescue teams and medics, the usual crowd of little shits wakes up with their knee-jerk responses:

Now, imagine the same crowd responses if Israel didn't send assistance...

Via FB user Mark Lott, with thanks.

26 April 2015

Gideon Levy and the Other Side

Gideon Levy, the self-appointed Moral Compass of Israel and appointed by others Baron of deceit industry, is a topic that is guaranteed to get me some heartburn. More than enough has been written about this strange critter on these pages.

The linked clip, however, offers the watcher/reader a hitherto undisclosed angle on the workings of Mr Levy's brain and the resulting tunnel vision of the world espoused by the gentleman. The clip in question is a part of a Israeli Hot TV Channel 3 Mehubarim series, recorded in 2012. The circumstances of the recording: Gideon Levy (driving) and his spouse, with their son Uri (a soldier at the time) and his partner drive to Maale Adumim (a "settlement" township near Jerusalem), when a heated political discussion develops.

Transcript of the clip (G - Gideon L., U - Uri L.):

G: Yesterday I had a great experience: a youngster approached me, while I was eating. He is a member of Maale Adumim town council. I told him that tomorrow I'll be again in Maale Adumim and he almost fainted. He couldn't believe that I am coming to a settlement on Rosh Ha Shana [Jewish New Year Eve]. I find it hard to believe too... A minute later, when the... er... things... got a bit heated, I called him a war criminal. And thus I was left to finish my shawarma in peace.
U: You are over the top...
G: Why over the top?
U: Don't you think that your opinions are too extremist?
G: I don't think that my opinions are too extremist. Why do you think they are too extremist?
U:  Because your mind is locked. Because you say "that's it". Because you think that there is no other way... no way, in your opinion.
G: Right.
U: You are not listening, you are not... You are... your opinion is sacred and you can't be moved [from it]. But first you should listen to the other side.
G: But I am listening. The other side says: "Kill Arabs, be strong, live by the sword, murder Arabs"...
U: Do you agree with me that the Arab that launches Qassams deserves to die?
G: Yes, but...
U: Fine, now...
[a few seconds of both parties trying to get the upper hand in the dialog]
U: No, no, no, just answer me.
G: So?
U: Yes or no, simple, without "buts"?
G: Yes.
U: Fine, we have made half of the distance. So write once an article in favor of Israel. Write once that you are happy with the soldiers. That you son is a soldier. Write at least once, what could happen? What - you will get off your mountain?
G: Uri, take a look to your right. Do you see the roadblock, the fence?
U: OK.
G: Behind the fence there are people living there. These are people who sit behind the fence in a prison. These people live like dogs. And while they live like dogs, we'll not fare well.
U: This is what you say...
G: It will be no good for us...
U: Heck, only the last week a Qassam fell on Sderot. Fuck it! What? I know how to shout too! This is what the other side will say: I don't care! Fuck it! Let them live like dogs and let them all die! Why should I care? Fine, you see - everyone can shout, can come and say... Just listen to the other side.
G: Who is the other side?
U: "Who is the other side?" Here, you see? You are not listening, oh God... "Who is the other side"... you are simply locked in your worldview, that's it.
G: I am very locked.
U: The other side is not of interest to you. Tell me I am not right, and I shall slap you. Because you are wrong. You don't care what I am saying.

Yes, the dialog (oh well...) is sometimes incoherent. And yes, I believe that every son (mine included) had this urge to slap his dad a few from time to time (sometimes deservedly), so I am not gloating at this angle of the conversation at all. But the main point for me (the one I have helpfully emphasized in the transcript) is that "other side" view by Mr Levy.

Apparently, according to this view, aside of Gideon Levy, the "other side", meaning 6.5 million non-Gideon-Levy Israelis is a uniformly hateful gang of bloodthirsty murderers, having only one goal: to kill the Arabs. And only one way of living - by the sword.

That's it, ladies and gentlemen. I don't know about you, as far as I am concerned, the case of the Israeli Moral Compass is closed. Enough said.

But: don't forget the following (by Ben Dror Yemini):
...earlier this week I was asked by a young Israeli I do not know personally, how can I sit in a television studio with Gideon Levy, and not boil from indignation. I assured him I was proud to live in a country where there is a Gideon Levy, who writes and kicks freely. Any other option will be worse.

24 April 2015

Mary Harf: so young and already in history. Did you harf today, my dear?

Even after a long disconnect from the virtual reality and an overwhelming amount of mess to be cleaned up after a long absence, one cannot pass such a monumental addition to the dictionary unnoticed.
To say or assert something so patently stupid and preposterous as to generate widespread mockery. Named in honor of State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf.
The State Department Spokesperson was harfing on about how Islamic State jihadists only needed job opportunities in order to give up their evil ways.
So, if your wife (or husband or, to be politically correct, any other kind of partner) asks you that question after a long and tiring day - take it easy, it is not like "barfing".

Well, but pretty close, come to think of it.

P.S. Still, let's not forget that Ms Harf is not, strictly speaking, an owner of her tongue. Someone else, much higher up, should have at least a share of the glory.

Hat tip: American Thinker.