Friday, March 17, 2006

Stupid Soup

A Lubavitch commentator on Arutz Sheva apparently had a deadline due, but didn't have enough material. So she decided to play an old meme that's been circulating around the internet for quite a few years now.

The meme goes something like this:
  • Grab the book closest to you.
  • Open it to page X (let's say, 55).
  • Read/type the first paragraph you see. No cheating!
Yeah. It's not really that fun, particularly when you're surrounded by boring books on Judaica and history, as I so often am. Then again, who said US Weekly was so cool, anyway?

Anyway, Rebbetzin Karp decided, in a brilliant flash of insight, to create a whole column using this technique. The result is a piping-hot serving of stupid soup, or, if you're against alliteration, dumb-ass goulash.

She starts by quoting the Irgun's chief propagandist, author and playwright Ben Hecht. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against the Irgun per se (in fact, I rather think that some of its activists, particularly the Bergson Group, were pretty interesting), but she tosses Ben Hecht out there as if he's somehow authoritative about something. Sorry Ma'am, but no.

Karp starts by saying something extremely stupid. I feel kind of bad nit-picking it, because ultimately it has nothing to do with her point, but oh well.
The calamity at Amona could only have been carried out after the general public in Eretz Yisroel and in America had been convinced, to the point of being brainwashed, of the unlawfulness of the "extreme-right-fanatical-fringe-element", known as "settlers".
Wrong. Amona could have been carried out long before this because very few people care about the settlers anymore. This is just as much their fault as their detractors', and all this stupid talk by people like Aumann, Wolpe, Levanon and others of disengaging from Israel and establishing the "state of Judea", or becoming Satmar-Lite, hasn't helped. Israelis inside the Green Line see the settlers as selfish, chauvanistic, and entirely self-absorbed. Lawfulness is a part of this, but it's only one of a number of issues that the settlers' opponents have in their arsenal (and it's not like people needed Olmert to tell them that the settlers operate according to their own set of rules; anyone who's been paying attention over the past 30 years could have told you that. Just ask Rabbi Moshe "the bullet bounced
" Levinger.) One could also add the fact that after being shown that the state and (some of) its politicians (sometimes) mean what they say and will carry out threats against them, the settlers' response is to not try to see why the division occured, but rather to increase the gap, speaks volumes. I'm not saying they don't have a right to be upset, but this is where it leads- ideological civil war, between people who live in the physical, actual State of Israel, and those who have been spending the last 30 years inhabiting an ephemeral, quasi-messianic dreamtime, and now are getting pissy at having their nap disturbed. Well I'm sorry, sleepy-heads, but it's time to get up. No, you can't have another five minutes. Yes, you have to go to school. Eat your Corn Flakes.

Moving on...
In Perfidy, the establishment being discussed is the Jewish Agency of that time. Hecht explains that the British government founded the Jewish Agency and he refers to them as a "Jewish front for British policy in Palestine."
Of course he did. The Jewish Agency was full of (semi-)pragmatic, (mostly-)socialist, Haganah folks, and the Irgun despised them (and vice-versa). That doesn't mean that Ben Hecht's invective is necessarily correct. First of all, the Agency was founded by Palestinian Jews, not the British government. In fact, many higher-ups in the Agency were involved in various counter-government operations, including facilitating illegal immigration, and in supporting the illegal Haganah militia. During the British Operation Agatha in 1946, the the Jewish Agency and Haganah were specifically targetted. Agency offices were raided, and over 2,700 Haganah and Agency activists were either arrested or targetted for arrest, including Ben-Gurion, Haganah chief Moshe Sneh, Moshe Sharett, Palmach commander Yitzhak Sadeh, Yitzhak Gruenbaum (Israel's first Interior Minister), Dov Joseph (first Justice Minister), David Remez (Prez. of Vaad Leumi and later second Ed. Minister).

Interestingly, however, the Irgun (with Haganah complicity) later planned the King David Hotel attack as retaliation for Agatha, which had explicitly only gone after the Haganah. So much for the claim that the Agency was a tool of the British.

Karp then distorts the rivalry between the various militias as "proof" of the Agency being British lapdogs. This had nothing to do with Labor's supposed "allegiance" to Britain and everything to do with the fact that they and the Irgun HATED each other. The infamous (Hunting) "Season", in which the Haganah went after Irgun and Lehi activists and turned them over to the British, was about helping them consolidate their own position, both relative to the Irgun and the Brits, not about helping the Brits control Palestine. Was it self-serving? Of course, just like the Irgun and the Lehi were self-serving when it suited their interests, for instance, when they tried this.

No good Chabadnik worth their salt would ever offer an opinion without the personal seal of the rebbe to rubber-stamp it, and Karp doesn't disappoint. For, you see, the Rebbe once said something-that-was-vaguely-like-this-sort-of!
Speaking on Purim of 5747 (1987), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, said, "G-d does everything for the good; what could be positive in this development of extremes, when there are also extremely negative results? The reason is that when evil remains concealed, it cannot be repaired. In fact, the person might even be unaware of its existence. Once this evil is revealed, however, it becomes possible to improve and elevate it."
Now, the more, say, frei among you might be scratching underneath your invisible yarmulkes and be saying, "Huh?" Here's the cheat: Bad things are ultimately good because they allow you to see that they're bad, and then you can try and make them good. AH! No circular argument there at all. Yeah, it's a damn good thing we had Auschwitz, otherwise Hitler might have been able to convince some people that he wasn't such a bad guy. (Who? Well, maybe some Martians... hiding in underground tunnels... with corn cobs in their ears.)

Anyway, clearly we can see why this is relevant. It's good ol' theodicy 101. God allowed Amona to happen (thanks, big guy!) so that Olmert could show everyone what a bastard he was. Good one, G-dog. Now the settlers will be sure not to vote for him. That was close.
...the attack on Amona has been widely publicized through pictures and videos. Breaking through the layers of conditioning that the unprotected settlers deserved to be beaten will not be easy, but an effort has to be made to convince people that what happened at Amona is, in fact, evil.
And there is no problem condemning this, Mrs. Karp- when you start from the position that police brutality is BAD, regardless of who it's directed against. You only start getting into trouble when, like, um... well, let's say the settlers, for instance, only make selective condemnations of brutality. Specifically, when it's against them.

That's the real problem. Aryeh Eldad wasn't mad that policemen assaulted an MK (Arab MKs have gotten hurt before), he was mad that they had the audacity to go after a JEWISH MK!!

There's a word for that, Karp: crap.
In order to do this, the right-wing camp has to be careful not to reinforce the stigma placed upon it by submitting to it. Right-wingers are afraid to be labeled "extremists". Self-incrimination by the Right led to many reports marginalizing the rock-throwing by protesters at Amona. The Right should not be on the defensive. They are the victims, not the aggressors; even when rocks are being thrown. A few thrown rocks do not justify trampling and savagely beating hundreds of unprotected, unarmed protestors.
Let's see if you remember this the next time we hear about IDF shooting Palestinian eight-year-olds dead because they were throwing stones. Brutality is a two-way-street, lady.

Not content with her earlier goulash, Karp decides to heap some more on- the sour cream of imbecility, if you will. Yes, that's right, since it's Purim, she must be talking about...

Mordechai! (What a guy...)

Good ol' uncle Mordy. Let's see what crazy adventures she's co-opted him into doing today.

This is clear from Jewish history. The right-wing is in the position of being the "Jew of the Jews". When Jews attempt to deny their true identity and present themselves as cosmopolitan, moderate, even-handed and open-minded, they are eventually mistreated. When a Jew stands proud, he is respected.
That's right, because everone knows that all the be-spodiked Hasidim survived the Holocaust (not to mention a myriad other persecutions) entirely unscathed, right?

Mordechai HaYehudi (the Jew) – the "right-wing-extreme-fanatical-fringe-element" of his time - would not bow down to Haman. When Mordechai is first introduced in the story of Purim, he is referred to as "ish yemini". Although this is generally translated as "a man from the tribe of Benjamin," the literal meaning is "man of the right". The commentary Tiferes Shlomo explains that to mean that Mordechai never swerved to the left.
First off, even I, the non-Hebrew speaker, know you're fudging here. Some say yemin means "right hand", but others associate it with "the south" (Mordechai was from the Negev?). In any event, saying Mordechai is a "man of the right" and saying he never "swerved" to the left has more to do with nutty Kabbalistic cosmology, in which the "left side" (don't ask of what) was associated with demons and the like. It's got NOTHING to do with contemporary left-right politics, as Karp is insinuating.

Yes, that's right, according to Karp, Mordechai was a right-wing lunatic who voted Likud. (Actually, probably National Union.) Either way, the moral of the story is this: Olmert is most certainly not Mordechai. I'm so glad I have these bright Chabadniks to give such good drashes.

And that, my friends, is how one makes stupid soup.

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