The Roots of Anti-Israeli Attitudes: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 14, 2016— Israel is demonized and singled out by the media and international bodies.
Jews and the Global Tilt Coward Conservativism and Populism: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 23, 2016 — Since the emancipation of the eighteenth century, Jews traditionally supported liberal, reform and even revolutionary movements which, in most cases, paved the way for them to achieve equality.
Cultural Relativism Undermines Human Rights: Philip Carl Salzman, Daily Caller, Jan. 20, 2016— Anthropologists invented cultural relativism.
Grandson of Infamous Nazi Spends Lifetime Making Amends for Namesake's Atrocities: Tal Bashan, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 15, 2016 — I had to re-read the email I received from Masaryk University in Brno, the Czech Republic, to make sure I understood it correctly…
Herman Wouk: The Well-Adjusted American Jewish Writer: Perry J. Greenbaum, Jan. 20, 2016—An article, by Adam Kirsch, in Tablet looks at the latest book by Herman Wouk [born in 1915], who is an American Jewish writer; he is also religiously observant and content with his life.
Land for Peace in the Middle East?: Yoram Ettinger, The Ettinger Report, Jan. 22, 2016
Uncovering J-Street: Benjamin Gerstein, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2015
Amos Oz, BDS’s Man of the Year: Ben-Dror Yemini, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 10, 2015
The Challenge Facing Education Minister Naftali Bennett: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Jan. 20, 2016
Prof. Efraim Inbar
Arutz Sheva, Jan. 14, 2016
Israel is demonized and singled out by the media and international bodies. Israel is accused of excessive use of force, despite its great efforts to minimize collateral damage, while the massacres by the Assad regime or the heavy collateral damage resulting from Saudi attacks in Yemen are hardly mentioned. The EU decided to mark the products of the Israeli settlements beyond the “Green Line,” taking no similar action for the products in northern Cyprus (occupied by Turkey), or in Tibet (occupied by China), or in Western Sahara (occupied by Morocco). Israel, a democratic state, is accused of human rights violations, while the UN ignores the human rights violations of many of its members.
The reasons for the dislike of the Jewish state are numerous and often reinforce each other. First, there is a theological base for hatred towards the Jews and Israel. For the two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, comprising roughly half of the world population, Jews are problematic. Theological considerations have produced centuries of anti-Semitism. While not all Christians and Muslims are anti-Semitic, their cultures are permeated with anti-Semitic motifs.
Deicide is a main motif in the Christian tradition. However, the obstinate Jews have consistently across time rejected the Christian conditions for redemption. Similarly, Islam was conscious of the Jewish rejection of the prophet Muhammad. While Jews, as people of the book, are not considered infidels, they are still relegated to dhimmitude – second class citizens. We can detect attempts in Christianity to change internal attitudes towards the Jews. It remains to be seen how successful they are. In contrast, very few Muslim religious leaders have engaged in similar efforts. Furthermore, the rise of radical Islam is also hardening the attitudes towards Jews among Muslims and particularly Arabs.
Second, Israel’s unique story is not always easily accepted. Israel reflects an unprecedented journey of an ancient people in the diaspora back to their homeland. After 2000 years the Jews returned to reestablish their state. The juxtaposition of Israel’s Zionist story against the Palestinians’ is not always convincing. Often Zionists have to explain that a large proportion of the Arabs in Palestine have arrived in the 19th century. In addition, most of the world does not remember that the Arabs in Palestine have rejected all compromise proposals, and that attempts at co-existence were countered by rampant violence. Justifying Israel’s story needs prior knowledge when many people do not pay attention to historical details. Zionism is very different from the annals of national movements elsewhere. Jews are nowadays involved in a tragic struggle with a population that is seen by many as oppressed natives.
Part of the animosity toward Israel is the result of the activities of misguided Jews. Indeed, part of the West is displaying feelings of guilt for its colonial past, which is projected onto the Arab-Israeli conflict. The establishment of Israel is seen through a colonialist prism, according to which Western powers have implanted a Jewish state in the Middle East to enhance their control of this region. The Muslim world has largely embraced this outlook, which reinforces its religious hostility to the Jewish state. Israel is seen by the Arabs as a nation of modern crusaders that are doomed to disappear.
Third, we witness, particularly in the West, widespread post-nationalist attitudes that are critical of nationalist particularism. For example, young Europeans adopt transnational identities. They consider themselves Europeans rather than belonging to a particular nation. Such a new transnational identity is encouraged by the spread of the multi-cultural ethos. Multi-culturalism obfuscates particular national identities. In contrast, Israel is a nationalist phenomenon, when in certain circles, particularly on the left, nationalism has become more suspicious. Nationalism is often equated with jingoism and narrow minded conservatives. Furthermore, some reduce Judaism to constitute a religious phenomenon only, denying the legitimacy of its nationalist manifestation.
Fourth, the radical left, that has traditionally been hostile to Zionism, has become in many countries more influential. Such a shift we see in the socialist parties of Europe. For example, the new Labour leader in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, is far to the left and is of course anti-Israeli. President Barack Obama in the US is part of the left wing of the Democratic Party, which has been more critical of Israel’s policies than other elements in the American political spectrum. Fifth, we witness the tightening of the Red-Green alliance. Its main glue is anti-Americanism. The Reds (Marxists and Communists) and the Greens (Islamacists) don’t like America for what it stands for, and as Israel is rightly perceived as a staunch US ally, they by extension don’t like Israel. The Red-Green alliance is nowadays a stronger political force, particularly in Europe, where increasingly larger Muslim minorities are located.
Sixth, the memory of the Holocaust for non-Jews is becoming more distant. The feelings of sympathy for Jewish suffering are weaker today and cannot overcome deeply rooted cultural anti-Jewish dispositions. Unfortunately, such feelings are sometimes replaced with pervert sympathy for the Palestinians who are portrayed as victims of Israeli Nazi-type behavior. Furthermore, the Palestinians have capitalized on this with systematic propaganda to cultivate their perceived (and cherished) victimhood status. Seventh, part of the animosity toward Israel is the result of the activities of misguided Jews. Often, we hear critics of Israel saying: “I read this argument in Haaretz.” We have organizations such as “Jews for Justice in Palestine,” similarly to “Jews for Jesus.” In the US, the J-Street lobby joins in supporting anti-Israeli campaigns….
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, Dec. 23, 2015
Since the emancipation of the eighteenth century, Jews traditionally supported liberal, reform and even revolutionary movements which, in most cases, paved the way for them to achieve equality. This was not surprising as, by and large, the conservatives and especially the nationalist and radical right embraced anti-Semitism as a central part of their political world outlook. That was not deflected by the fact that many of the early socialists, even those of Jewish origin like Karl Marx, frequently also promoted anti-Semitism. This trend accelerated in the 1930s when many conservatives tolerated Nazism as a bulwark against Bolshevism.
As the global Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda onslaught mushroomed, it was primarily (but not exclusively) the socialists and liberals who spoke out. In countries where Jews found haven from the Nazis, the liberals and socialists tended to be more accommodating to the refugees than the frequently hostile conservatives.
In occupied Western Europe, it was parties on the Right, such as the French Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis. In Eastern Europe it was the traditional radical right-wing nationalists with a long tradition of instigating pogroms against Jews who often directly aided and abetted the Nazis in their Final Solution.
It is thus hardly surprising that in the postwar era, the Jews in the West largely supported, contributed and were overwhelmingly represented in liberal and labor parties, even when their own economic status would have inclined them toward the more conservative parties. Even at the turn of the century this applied, especially in the United States which absorbed large numbers of East European Bundist social democrats and where Jewish involvement with and support of the Democratic Party became part of their uniquely American DNA, at times superseding their Jewish cultural and religious background.
However, the past three decades have witnessed dramatic changes. Together with organizations purporting to promote human rights, the liberals and the left-wing political parties have distanced themselves from Israel and, at best, employed moral equivalence toward the Palestinian perpetrators of terrorism and the Israelis defending themselves. Throughout Western Europe they have become outrightly hostile to Israel.
The newly elected UK Labour Party leader is even on record praising Hamas. This has led increasingly to many committed Jews who had traditionally voted for parties on the Left to tilt toward more conservative parties. This applies to Europe, Canada and Australia.
The United States is an exception. Even following President Barack Obama’s vicious diplomatic onslaughts against Israel and the Republican Party’s committed support for Israel, the majority of American Jews remain Democratic supporters. Over the past two or three years, the emergence of populist parties on the far Right of the political scene has further complicated the political situation for Diaspora Jews. Of course the Hungarian Jobbik and Greek Golden Dawn are disgusting outright anti-Semitic Nazi parties which Jews abhor. But there are other populist parties which have grown dramatically in response to Arab terrorism and more recently in protest to the massive Syrian and other Muslim “refugee” influx…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Philip Carl Salzman
Daily Caller, Jan. 20, 2016
Anthropologists invented cultural relativism. Founding figures of American anthropology, Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict, the latter in her famous pre-war book Patterns of Culture, argued that you can only understand other peoples’ lives if you consider their cultures and their actions from their own points of view.
In the latter decades of the 20th century, the idea of cultural relativism was expanded to moral or ethical relativism. As we have our own values, and other people have different ones, no one being on neutral ground, the argument goes, on what basis can we pass judgement on the beliefs or actions of those in another culture? Every judgement is cultural. From this perspective, ethical judgement being culturally-based and thus inapplicable cross-culturally, every value or practice must be seen as good as every other practice. There is no way that we can judge some better or worse. Judgement of other cultures and those in them must be suspended entirely. There are no objective, non-cultural criteria to allow us to decide whether giving a widow a pension is better or worse than burning her alive on the pyre of her dead husband.
Cultural relativism has been built into public policy through “multiculturalism,” the official policy of Canada and the unofficial policy of many European countries. Multiculturalism is often thought of as the opposite of assimilation; that is, multiculturalism allows immigrants to live in their own culture, with their own values, rules, and customs. Cultural communities, rather than individual citizens, would be the operative units of society. The shift from individuals to collectivities is a major transformation of Western political philosophy, with people being judged not on their individual merits, but on the characteristics of their community. However, there is an alternative, assimilationist understanding of multiculturalism, one that is held, according to repeated polls, by a large majority of the Canadian population: we welcome people from all cultures to come to Canada and adopt Canadian ways.
In the case of multiculturalism, Canadian common sense is on firmer ground than collectivist multicultural political philosophers, for multiculturalism is an incoherent concept. A culture is a distinct way of life; different cultures are distinct ways of life. For people to live together in society, they must at least to a degree share a common culture. An obvious example is language; people must be able to communicate in a common language. The previous Conservative Government of Canada advised immigrants that, whatever the laws, customs, and practices of their countries and cultures of origin, they must obey Canadian law. For example, “honour” killings of family members, regarded as proper in cultures of the Middle East and South Asia, are not acceptable in Canada. Three members of the Afghan Shafia family of Montreal were recently convicted of murdering four female family members who they deemed to have been insufficiently modest, or too Canadian.
We are urged by champions of multiculturalism to acknowledge that each immigrant cultural community has a right to pursue its vision, values, customs, and practices. So increasingly public institutions, such as the Toronto schools, are providing space and time for Friday prayers, with girls required to sit in the back, and menstruating girls excluded altogether. Demands in Ontario for Sharia family courts enforced by the state were almost instituted by the provincial government, but for a clamorous public opposition by an informal group of young Muslim women. Should we recognize the right of South Asian families to force marriages to insure that the caste hierarchy is respected? Recently two South Asians in British Columbia were convicted of murder of the daughter of one of them, having killed in retaliation for marriage to a man of an “inappropriate” caste. Is forced marriage acceptable as the custom of a cultural community? Are hierarchies of purity, as in the caste system, acceptable in North America?…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 15, 2016
I had to re-read the email I received from Masaryk University in Brno, the Czech Republic, to make sure I understood it correctly: “In commemoration of International Students’ Day, which falls on November 17 – the day the Nazis closed down all the universities in the Czech Republic in 1939, and the day students in Prague protested against the Communist regime in 1989 – we are holding a major event and we would like to invite you to be one of two keynote speakers on a panel titled ‘Humanity and Barbarism in the Holocaust and in Europe today.’” I was okay with everything up until the next point in the email. “The other keynote speaker will be Mr. Rainer Höss, the grandson of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Höss, who, like you, also has a family connection with Auschwitz.”
Rudolf Höss? As in the commandant of Auschwitz – the chief commanding position within the SS service of a Nazi concentration camp? His grandson? No way. I was freaked out and closed the email, the instinctual reaction to that name by a child of Holocaust survivors. The next thing I did was call my 92-year-old mother, who survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. “I don’t see what the problem is,” my mother told me in her matter-of-fact Czech. “Rainer is his grandson. He hadn’t even been born yet when all of this took place.” That’s true, I responded.
In the days leading up to my trip, I obsessively read everything I could find on radicalization and racism in Europe, about Höss the grandfather, who was responsible for killing at least 500,000 Jews, and about Höss the grandson, who is active in Holocaust education and preaches tolerance. There is nothing like a dialogue between the descendants of the victims with those of the perpetrators, so long as the latter want to make amends.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16. The Old Town Square in Brno is full of candles for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks. Someone has hung up Lebanese and Turkish flags – there were victims there, too, a passerby mentions. Brno, the capital of Moravia, is a three-hour drive from Prague. It used to be ethnically German, and tens of thousands of Germans who lived there before World War II were deported en masse in 1945. In short, this is an appropriate place for my first meeting with Höss the grandson. We meet at a local café and drink Czech beer.
The organizers of the event are walking around us on eggshells, a little nervous about how the program will turn out. Rainer Höss is tall, athletic and has a chiseled face (“I’ve been told a number of times that I look like my grandfather. It’s not pleasant to hear, but there’s not much I can do about it.”). He’s used to meeting with survivors, as well as children of survivors, and he speaks freely with me. I, for one, am still keeping my distance. To me, he’s first and foremost the grandson of the man who commanded Auschwitz-Birkenau, the hell my mother was sent into in September 1943. Every once in a while I remind myself that Rainer was born in 1964, and that he isn’t responsible for his family’s horrific past. The first question I ask him is why didn’t he change his name? “Before he was hanged, my grandfather wrote to my grandmother that she should change her name,” Rainer explains.
“Both my grandmother and my father were in complete denial of his crimes, and so they adamantly refused to change their names. ‘Höss will remain Höss,’ my grandmother would say. I decided that if I kept the name, this would enable me to do my part in repenting in my grandfather’s name. It’s not so simple, of course – you need to always be careful about everything you say, because people are judging you. Sometimes people curse me on the Internet and neo-Nazis are always trying to contact me. Ultimately, the name Höss is connected with Auschwitz, where millions of people were murdered.”
For years, Rainer engaged obsessively in rehabilitating his family name. He researched his grandfather’s and others’ crimes, spent hours in archives, has had talks with groups of teenagers about tolerance and fighting racism, and he gives (self-financed) guided tours of Auschwitz. He’s active in an organization called Footsteps, which was founded so that people can not only learn about what happened in history, but also so that history doesn’t repeat itself. Rainer also works with Khubaib Ali Mohammed, a German- Muslim attorney, to bring to justice other Nazi war criminals who are still alive. “We work together – Christians, Muslims and Jews – and I’m very proud of that.”
RAINER, 51, lives in Munich, is divorced and is the father of three children. He is a chef by profession. At the age of 15, when he found out who his paternal grandfather was, he ran away from home. By 18, he was already married with a baby. Today, his eldest granddaughter is 15 years old. One of his daughters is married to a Bosnian Muslim, “and I’m so happy for her – I’m in favor of pluralism,” he says. At the age of 21, Rainer cut off all contact with his family – his father, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. His mother, who divorced his father in 1983, is the only person he’s still in contact with…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Perry J. Greenbaum
Perry J. Greenbaum, Jan. 20, 2016
An article, by Adam Kirsch, in Tablet looks at the latest book by Herman Wouk [born in 1915], who is an American Jewish writer; he is also religiously observant and content with his life. There is no evidence of alienation or existential angst, no deep inner agonies present in his work. This makes him a rarity among Jewish writers, notably his endorsement of happiness and contentment. He has has achieved longevity, both as a writer and as a human being. Wouk turned 100 in May; his latest book, his 17th, Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author, was released in January 2016. It is a slim volume of 138 pages…
Like many millions of others, I read This is My God (1959), first as a teenager and later in middle age, where I posted a few thoughts. Wouk is on record as saying that his maternal grandfather (Mendel Leib Levine from Minsk, Belarus,) who took charge of his Jewish education, and his military service during the Second World War in the U.S. Navy were the two most important influences in his life. One had an effect at home in his years as a child; the other away from home in his years as an adult. The former strengthened his Jewish identity, his sense of self; the latter directed his sense of purpose onto a wider stream of life, which in Wouk’s case was an openness to American culture and what it both represented and offered.
This in many respects defines modern Orthodoxy; observe the rules of Judaism (Shabbat, kashrut, etc.), but do not deny the reality and significance of the surrounding culture. What Wouk says in so many words is that you can be a doctor, lawyer, professor or writer and follow the traditional laws of Judaism while moving around freely in the great and large secular culture, which does have much to offer. This includes success and happiness, If there was a conflict between the two, it was not great or apparent in Wouk’s case, as it was in Bellow or Roth or, to a lesser extent, Potok. (Malamud belongs in a different category, one closer to my heart.) If misery begins at home, then so does happiness.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Land for Peace in the Middle East?: Yoram Ettinger, The Ettinger Report, Jan. 22, 2016—US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro believes in “Land for Peace” and echoes the US Administration pressure on Israel to retreat to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines: an 8-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, towered over by the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria.
Uncovering J-Street: Benjamin Gerstein, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 18, 2015—With J-Street announcing that they will be allocating funds to oust two prominent pro-Israel Senators, Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), I believe that it is important to examine J-Street, their motives, and their past.
Amos Oz, BDS’s Man of the Year: Ben-Dror Yemini, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 10, 2015 —Amos Oz will win the BDS campaign’s man of the year award. It’s strange, because the Israeli author is against the BDS movement. But he recently announced that he would boycott state-sponsored events around the world.
The Challenge Facing Education Minister Naftali Bennett: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Jan. 20, 2016—Anyone following the leftist media in Israel could be forgiven for believing that Israel is undergoing a Kulturkampf and that a desperate struggle is taking place in the secular school stream to retain freedom of expression from an extremist government seeking to subvert democracy and promote fascism.