Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yes, please tell me what to do

All right, I know I'm far from even-handed on the political thing, but I'd like to think I can usually refrain from ramming my opinions down other people's throats. I appreciate people that disagree with me, and actually don't mind having an intelligent discussion with those who think differently. (This, incidentally, is why I can't stand the fact that when I spend time with the conservative members of Abbot Yid's family he insists on bitching about Bush being an idiot and accusing his bothers of being racists. Both things might be true, but honestly, I'm a lot more interested in letting them speak for themselves so I can see how they feel about the issues.)

I'm not going to claim that everybody on the left, much less the Jewish left, sees things the way I do. Part of this is because I am emphatically not an activist. I don't live politics, I more saunter through it when I remember it's there. So clearly if MSNBC or Fox News or their online equivalents are your bible, you're going to take these discussions a whole lot more seriously.

But I have to say, I do find it a little irritating when the bozos at WorldNetDaily start lecturing me on how I had better share their politics if I want to be a good Jew.

Let's start with Dennis Prager. I mean, at least he's actually Jewish. Dennis' latest waste of pixels is the usual mix of unsubstantiated crap, along with (of course), various lists that show in excrutiating detail how right Dennis must be and how if you don't agree with him you're no better than a dirty Karaite.

For instance:
Most observers, right or left, pro-Israel or anti-Israel, would agree that Israeli-American relations are the worst they have been in memory.
Based on what? What about when Eisenhower put the screws to Ben Gurion and told him to get out of the Sinai or he'd institute sanctions against Israel? Or when Bush I and James Bakker started a long-standing feud with Shamir because he wouldn't stop building settlements and they wanted to tie Israel aid to their compliance? For a guy who's written so many books, you sure don't seem to bother reading much.

Among the many indications is that only 9 percent of Jewish Israelis think President Barack Obama's administration is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian...
Hey Dennis, why should the ideal perception be that Obama is biased in FAVOR of Israel? Incidentally, the Palestinians don't see him as being pro-Palestinian, either. Incidentally, as long as we're throwing around random polls, another recent one shows that 34 percent of Jewish Americans think Obama is a strong supporter of Israel. Does that make them all insane?

According to Dennis, sure. But most of his article isn't about why the left hates Israel, but rather why the right loves it. Here are the dumbest:

conservatives' values are closer to Israel's values than perhaps those of any other nation. As President Harry Truman said, "Israel is the embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization."

As usual, Dennis cannot be bothered to give even the slightest bit of evidence for this statement, which not only simplifies and dumbs down Israel's values (and there's a long way from Haredi anti-Zionism to Mafdal Zionism to secular democracy, just BTW), it also does the same for conservatism. Just for fun, here are a couple of huge differences between the Israeli status-quo and mainstream conservative values:

1- There is no civil marriage in Israel (so much for Libertarianism or personal choice/responsibility!)

2- Israel is officially bilingual, and has many government-run bilingual schools (there goes the English Only movement). Most Israelis speak at least two languages if not several others. For the record, as of the 2000 census, only about 21% of Americans were bilingual (and there's been a huge cultural backlash against introducing bilingualism into public schools by the right).

3- Gay soldiers can serve openly in the IDF. Nuff said.

4- In 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court required the government to recognize all same-sex marriages performed outside the country. (Whereas in the US, many conservatives are trying to ban SSM not only in individual states, but also refuse to recognize out-of-state marriages.)

In short, Dennis is once again full of crap. Oh, the surprise.

Finally, there is a fifth reason tens of millions of Americans, many conservative commentators, support Israel and worry about America if American support for Israel wanes.

To the left in America and around the world, this reason is dangerous nonsense. But for a vast number of America's Christians, many Jews and even many non-religious conservatives, it is deeper than any military or political reason. The reason is based on a verse in Genesis in which God, referring to the Jewish people, says to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you."

One need not be a Jew or Christian or even believe in God to appreciate that this verse is as accurate a prediction of the future as humanity has ever been given by the ancient world. The Jewish people have suffered longer and more horribly than any other living people. But they are still around. Their historic enemies are all gone. Those who cursed the Jews were indeed cursed.

Funny, last I checked there was still this little country called Egypt... oh, and there's the Catholic Church. And Communism seems to still be hanging on by a thread, at least if you buy the arguments made by the likes of Dennis and Glenn Beck.

Let's be honest, Dennis. Part of why you can make this claim is because the Jews changed over time. Some of their enemies did as well, but you're conveniently choosing to ignore that. The fact that Jewish society in 2010 looks nothing like Jewish society in 70 CE or 1492 doesn't stop you from still considering it as the same basic thing. Yet you're suggesting that because the Babylonian Empire or Nazi Germany no longer exist as specific cultures or nation-states (never mind their descendants still being around) constitutes some kind of deep proof of Godly power. Or something.

Sure, America has by and large been quite nice to the Jews, but why this obsession with declaring things "the most blessed?" What makes America "more blessed" than Canada? Is is political or economic power? Is it culture? For that matter, what measurable criteria do you have to determine that America has "blessed" its Jews more than Canada has, or Australia? Is it that there are more Jews IN America? Who knows? Dennis isn't talking. Presumably he also isn't interested in the fact that Jews were banned from living in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire until the 1690s, or that even in places where Jews were permitted to live, they often were not allowed to vote or hold public office. Hell, New Hampshire still had a law on the books requiring a Christian oath from officeholders until after the CIVIL WAR! That's not even getting into violent antisemitism. Yes, things have been much better in the US than in many other places. But let's have some perspective, please.

Those who curse the Jews today seem to be cursed. The most benighted civilization today is the Arab world. One could make a plausible case that the Arab world's preoccupation with Jew hatred and destroying Israel is decisive in keeping the Arab world from progressing. The day the Arab world makes peace with the existence of the tiny Jewish state in its midst, the Arab world will begin its ascent.

So... Europe is doing fairly well these days because of how nice they were to us? Your faith must be really flexible to be able to do all these gymnastics, Dennis.

Israel shares America's values, such as liberty, an independent judiciary, a free press, freedom of religion, free speech and women's equality. The Arab and Muslim worlds have none of these.
Here's an idea, Dennis: go to Israel and ask some Reform Jews (or Messianic Jews) about freedom of religion there. Ask the Women of the Wall about women's equality. Ask Israeli Arabs, leftists, and rightists about free speech. Talk to Israeli journalists who operate under, and must always remember, Israel's formal military censor about free speech. Oh, and go ahead and ask all the American Jews who move to Israel and are then told that they, their spouse, or their kids aren't Jewish and are prevented from marrying, being buried in a Jewish cemetery, or converting under a rabbi of their choice. Oh, and there's that whole "Sixty years running and still no written Constitution" thing.

Yes, Israel's much better than Iran, but, again, you're spinning endless BS to inflate your argument. And not only is it getting old, it's actually kind of insulting. You don't need to whitewash Israel's real problems in order to explain why America should support it. When you do you actually undercut your own arguments. Dummy.

If you enjoyed Dennis' masturbation session on how glorious Israel and US conservatives are, you'll really love Pat Boone's call to action, which he so poetically (and Marx-esquely) entitled Christians, Jews, patriots: Arise, unite!

Pat starts by pointing out just how unhappy Jewish liberals have become with Obama. Why, Pat has all of two examples, one being the well-established fickle Ed Koch (who supported Bush II against Kerry, for, among other things, being more pro-Israel), and the other being an unnamed Jewish acquaintance, a doctor no less. A doctor, you say? Well, that's all the Jew-dentials I need.

Yes, it turns out Pat's two Jewish friends have concluded that Obama is actively demeaning and slandering Israel, and toadying up to the Arab states to try to push Israel towards a peace plan and to create an alliance against Iran.

But here's the funny thing- Israelis can't even agree on who to blame for the US-Israel settlement kerfluffle. Observe:

Haaretz: "How would you define PM Netanyahu's management of this episode - responsible or irresponsible?" Responsible-42 percent; Irresponsible-37 percent; Don't know-27 percent.

Yedioth: "Who is to blame for the crisis with the U.S.?" Israel-35 percent; U.S.-37percent.

Israel Radio: "Who contributed more to this crisis between the U.S. and Israel? Mainly Barack Obama-41 percent; mainly Benjamin Netanyahu-37 percent; both of them equally-7 percent

Israel Radio: "Do you think the American government's response toward Netanyahu and Israel was..."Justified and at a correct and appropriate level-17 percent; Justified but totally exaggerated-31 percent; Both unjustified and exaggerated-43 percent.

Haaretz: "Some say that Israel needs to stop building in Jerusalem until the conclusion of negotiations with the Palestinians, others say that Israel needs to continue building in all of the city even if the cost is tension with the United States. What is your position?" Keep building in all Jerusalem with cost vis U.S.-48 percent; Stop building in Jerusalem through negotiations-41 percent; Don't know-11 percent.

Yedioth: "Should the construction in East Jerusalem be frozen as well? Yes-46 percent; No-51 percent.

Yedioth: "Should Netanyahu extend the construction freeze in the settlements?" He should extend the freeze-44 percent; He should stop the freeze-46 percent.

Shocking, Israelis actually think their own leader might be capable of being as arrogant, pig-headed and combative as US conservatives accuse Obama of being? Wow, it's like they actually recognize that politicians can be douches regardless of what country they live in. How refreshing. (The same article also mentions a Haaretz poll which finds that 51% of responders think Obama is "fair" towards Israel. So much for Dennis' bitching.)

Back to Pat:
This great, unprecedented experiment in freedom and self-government we call America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Yes, right out of the Bible. As scholar David Barton has pointed out, in the 15,000 writings by our founders archived and studied by political science professors, there were 3,154 quotes, and 34 percent of them were straight out of the Bible, mostly from Deuteronomy.
David Barton? Dishonest asshat from Wallbuilders-dot-com David Barton? Personal hack friend of Glenn Beck David Barton? Hmm.

BTW, Pat- the fact that the founders quoted from the Bible... not really impressive. Especially not without any, you know, context. Nice numbers, though.
Simply and truly put, our whole system of law and government was based on Mosaic Law, given by God, and recognized as supreme and perfect by our founders.
Actually, no, because lots of the founders had no idea what Mosaic law even meant. You know, not unlike yourself. (Now, if they'd been willing to let Jews live in their colonies, maybe they could have ASKED them about these strange things called mitzvot and halacha...) BTW, you know who DIDN'T think Mosaic law was "perfect?" All the rabbis since the Pharisees.
We who believe in God and His word still are a large majority in this country.
Well sure, but a lot of that has to do with this being a super general statement. Kudos.

Our best and only hope to recover what we're rapidly losing is to rally and unite under one banner, ONE NATION UNDER GOD.

"If My people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

– 2 Chronicles 7:14

That's the health care we desperately need.

Yes, well, much luck curing your HPV with that one. I'll certainly be praying for you.

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