“Written to enlighten, guaranteed to offend”
A Publication of Seth J. Frantzman
Note from the editor: Apologies for the lateness of this issue it was due to the holidays here.
April 18th, 2009
1) Topics in Jewish self hate?: During the recent Gaza war a woman in Jewish Argentina held up a sign declaring “soy Judia, no maten en mi nombre’ (I’m a Jewess don’t kill my name”). What was she talking about? How could her name be killed by a war in a far off country? What she meant is that she truly believed that her name, as a “good Jew” good be ‘murdered’ by the behavior of Israel. Can anyone imagine a Muslim protesting in such a manner because of the outlandish behavior of other Muslims. No. Her response is uniquely Jewish and points to two types of Judaisms, the one of the self hate, the one that imagines what a “Jew” is and the other of people who are Jewish.
2) Re-writing the history of the War of 1812: A new documentary by a Canadian director paints the war of 1812 as a war between an imperialistic America and a free Canada with a “constitution” with her people fighting alongside the “first peoples’ to resist American aggression. Perhaps modern Canadians have forgotten that in 1812 they were part of the British empire and the First Nations are an imaginary concept of leftist modern people.
3) The country is dying and the leader is laughing: Barack Obama likes to joke a lot. Perhaps it is time to realize the situation we face is not a laughing matter. Obama wants to believe he is like FDR and Lincoln. But did they tell jokes and talk about their “picks” for some football match in times of crises. The White House and its cabinet of boy heroes like Tim Geither could use a little maturity.
Is Self-Hate a god of the Jews?
Seth J. Frantzman
April 7th, 2009
Four recent articles, in quick succession, made me ponder Karl Marx’s old maxim that “money” is the God of the Jews. If in Marx’s time he saw Jews who god was money perhaps in today’s world there are some Jews whose god is that of self hate. Or perhaps what Marx misunderstood and what is understandable today is that there are in fact two Judaisms, one of Jews and the other of ‘the Jews’. One of people who are actually Jewish and actually practice a religion called Judaism and another of people who talk about “being Jewish” and what it means to “be Jewish” and what “Jews should do.” Consider the Jewish woman from Argentina who, during the war in Gaza, held a placard around her body that said “End the genocide in Gaza…don’t murder my name.” What she meant was her name as a “Jew.” But was she a Jew or a “Jew”. Which tribe did she belong to?
Lets consider four articles. Adina Hoffman’s biography of an Israei-Arab named Mohamed Taha entitled My Happiness bears no relation to Happiness: a Poets life in the Palestinians Century. Could anyone but a Jew create something as arrogant as a ‘Palestinian century’. Even the Palestinians, who think of little besides themselves and their ‘struggle’ and ‘suffering’, don’t believe they should have a whole century devoted to them. But Hoffman can conceive of such a thing. She can’t conceive of a “Jewish century” but a Palestinian one. She and Joel S. Migdal and Baruch Kimmerling, the two authors of The Palestinians, a seminal work on the history of those people whose century it was, a book written by Jews about a people, the Palestinians, they imagined and created. Then there is Joel Kovel, author of Overcoming Zionism or Norman Finkelsteins book on the Holocaust Industry or Avraham Burg’s book on how the “Jews manipulate” the Holocaust.
But let’s move on from those people. There is the story of the Jewish American protestors in Jerusalem protesting the Museum of Tolerance, claiming it is built on a Muslim graveyard. They are joined by the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal arm of the Reform movement in Israel (this legal organization’s website claims to be about helping Israelis but isn’t even in Hebrew). That’s right, reform Judaism has backed Muslims who claim a museum built by the Simon Wiesenthal center is built on a graveyard, which it is not. But the Hartman institute, another Jewish organization in Jerusalem, goes further, claiming the “most important” cause of Jews should be “Arab minority rights in Israel.” And where was the field trip of Jewish charities from the U.S two years ago in Israel? Umm al Fahm, an Arab town, where they also declared that the “rights of Arabs in Israel” is one of their “central goals.” Such is the aim of the New Israel Fund, a Jewish charity which works to funnel money only to Arab and primarily Muslim causes in Israel.
But moving on let’s consider something else. There is the hosting of the play “Seven Jewish Children” at the Washington Jewish Communist Center where one viewer said that the audience felt its “guts had been torn out”. They listened to this play which speaks of a wealthy Israel composed entirely of lily white Holocaust survivors relaxing at their pools built atop some Palestinians home. J Street, an American Jewish lobbying organization has even support the play. Would any group in the world except Jews support a play in which they are accused of being victims of Nazism who become blood thirsty Nazis themselves?
But that is joined today with an editorial by Alex Sinclair entitled ‘This Seder night, spill some wine for Gaza’s dead’. And like those Jews who claim the central theme of their religion is ‘Tikkun Olam’ or ‘fixing the entire world’ this person claims that the main message of Passover is to “commemorates the tragedy that befell the Egyptians. As we recount the ten plagues that decimated Egyptian society, we spill a drop of wine for each plague, to remind us of the Egyptian blood that was spilt. The act of spilling the wine compels us to retain our humanity when we might understandably forget it… we are commanded to feel sad at the loss of human life amongst our enemies… This segment of the Seder, teaching generations of Jews that Schadenfreude is the most un-Jewish of emotions, is one of Judaism's finest hours… To my mind, when we consider recent events in Gaza, we have no option but to transform the spilling of the wine from ancient ritual to contemporary commentary… But the spilling of wine for Gazan life may help save our own humanity. Recent revelations about soldiers' T-shirt slogans that show utter contempt for Palestinian life show just how far we have to go to re-educate ourselves… and spill a drop of wine to mourn the Palestinian blood that we have spilled in order to keep ourselves free. Our humanity and our Judaism demand nothing less” For her Judaism’s central message is the Palestinians.
That leads me to the conclusion that there are two Judaisms. There is one Judaism centered around wealthy Reform Jews and other leftist Jews that centers around Palestinians and ‘saving the world’. This is the Judaism of the ‘cause’, the Judaism of the endless complaining about obscure minorities and the Judaism that endlessly tells us that the “Jews suffered so now we Jews must be the beacon of hope in the world, Jews must sound the alarm…its is the duty of Jews to be a moral…” This is the Judaism of extremism, the Jews who led Bolshevism, the Jews who led the riots in 1968 in France, the Jews who compare everything they hate to Hitler and Nazism, an accusation that usually ends with their fellow Jews being described this way. This is the Judaism of Judah Leib Magnes, American head of the Hebrew University in the 1940s, who agreed to stymie Jewish immigration to Palestine in the 1930s in order to bolster the Arab support for his Brit-Shalom movement, his Judaism that would have condemned the European Jews to Hitler’s grasp so he could have his ‘bi-national state’. This is the Judaism of ‘don’t kill my name’ of Tony Judt, German-Jewish European writer, who complains that the existence of Israel causes anti-semitism which might harm him and that therefore Israel must be ended so he can resume his position as ‘the Jew’ in Europe, the classic other. This is the Judaism of Hannah Arnedt who blamed the Jews for ‘collaborating’ with Nazism but called the Nazis ‘banal’. This is the Judaism of those, such as Martin Buber, who whined and hemmed and hawed about the ‘morality’ of killing Eichman.
Then there is the actual Judaism. The Judaism of curses and of sanctifying God’s name (Kiddush HaShem). Lets recall this Judaism. In this Judaism the Talmud teaches that “if one comes to kill you, rise up [in the night], and kill him first [before he wakes].” Religious scholars go further however; “Even where the assailant does not directly threaten one's life, as with a burglar or armed robber, he may be killed in self-defense, where it may be assumed that he will kill if provoked. The Torah says, “if a burglar is caught in the act of breaking in, and is struck and killed, it is not considered an act of murder" (Exodus 22:1). We derive all cases of self-defense from this case.
Consider some others cases of this Judaism; “Just as one may kill in self-defense, so it is required to kill one who is pursuing or attacking another with murderous intent. Of course, if it is possible, one must save the person being pursued by injuring the attacker. Only when this cannot be done must we have no pity and kill the attacker. Similarly, any assailant who might kill when provoked, such as a burglar or armed robber, must be killed by any passer-by to save the victim. We are taught that rape is equivalent to murder. Therefore, if one is attacking a woman with the intent of raping her, he may be killed to save her as long as he has not completed the act. Regarding a woman being sexually attacked, the Torah states, "Only the rapist shall be put to death... Since he attacked the betrothed girl in the field, even if she had cried out, there would have been no one to come to her aid" (Deut. 22:25, 27), which implies that if a rescuer is present, he may use any means to save her, even if it means killing the attacker. One may similarly save a man from homosexual attack. An informer who denounces a fellow Jew to the government to be killed, imprisoned, or even fined is likened to an assailant, since being arrested can be a dangerous and traumatic experience.”
There are people who try to pretend to be members of both these Jewish peoples. This includes the Neturei Karta and people like Rabbi Michael Lerner who edits Tikkun magazine and is an outspoken leftist American critic of Israel. He writes that “The climate of hostility toward dissenters in the Jewish world has risen to new levels of verbal abuse. Tikkun is the only nationally distributed Jewish magazine to challenge the assumptions of the occupation, to urge dismantling of the settlements in the West Bank and to insist that Israel must acknowledge some (not total) responsibility for Palestinian refugees. Just as we in the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s saw our opposition as flowing from the highest values of American democracy, so we in the Jewish peace movement insist that it is Jewish values that lead us to insist that every human being is created in the image of God and that the brutality done to the Palestinian people is as much a tragedy as the brutality being done by Palestinian terrorists to Israelis.” But Lerner is rational, his belief that Judaism must be harnessed to all sorts of secular causes, such as opposing the Vietnam war, and that there is some connection between Judaism and what is done to the “Palestinian people” clearly paint him as a member of the former movement of the ‘not in my name’ Jews.
Marx asked; “What is the object of the Jew's worship in this world? Usury. What is his worldly god? Money. . . What is the foundation of the Jew in this world? Practical necessity, private advantage. . . . The bill of exchange is the Jew's real God. His God is the illusory bill of exchange.” A lot of Jews throughout Europe liked this Marxism. Millions perhaps embraced it from 1900 to 1968. Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kameniev, Rosa Luxemburg, Danny the Red. True some embraced it as a reaction to a conservative European society that rejected their membership in the nation and Communism offered them a road to assimilation and acceptance. But they loved this anti-semitic movement nonetheless. Winston Churchill understood this problem in his article ‘Zionism versus Bolshevism: a struggle for the soul of the Jewish people’ published on February 8th, 1920 in the Illustrated Sunday Herald.
We might quote liberally from this for he says something important. He noted that “some people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world... The conflict between good and evil which proceeds unceasingly in the breast of man nowhere reaches such an intensity as in the Jewish race…. this same astounding race may at the present time be in the actual process of producing another system of morals and philosophy, as malevolent as Christianity was benevolent, which, if not arrested, would shatter irretrievably all that Christianity has rendered possible…. In a people of peculiar genius like the Jews, contrasts are more vivid, the extremes are more widely separated, the resulting consequences are more decisive. [There are three types of Jews;] First there are the Jews who, dwelling in every country throughout the world, identify themselves with that country, enter into its national life… In violent opposition to all this sphere of Jewish effort rise the schemes of the International Jews. The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. Most, if not all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world… this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing… There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution, by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews… Zionism offers the third sphere to the political conceptions of the Jewish race. In violent contrast to international communism, it presents to the Jew a national idea of a commanding character… The struggle which is now beginning between the Zionist and Bolshevik Jews is little less than a struggle for the soul of the Jewish people.” Churchill furthermore argued that the “National Jews should come forward on every occasion, as many of them in England have already done, and take a prominent part in every measure for combating the Bolshevik conspiracy.”
This ‘struggle for the soul’ of the Jews brings to mind Yoram Hazony’s The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s soul. The use by Churchill of the word ‘International Jews’ may bring to mind Henry Ford’s International Jew, widely regarded as a re-statement of the Elders of Zion. So how do we understand this? How do we understand Marx’s ‘God of the Jews’ and the struggle for the soul of Jews found in Hazony and Churchill? How do we understand the problem of the ‘not in my name’ Jews and the ‘Tikkun Olam’ Jews who want to subjugate the religion so that the central duty of Jews is always t save starving African children but not care about their own Jewish brethren. How can one reconcile the Jews at the Washington Jewish Community Center having heir ‘guts torn out’ by the ‘Seven Jewish Children’ play and the Jews who create Palestinian history and create even a ‘Palestinian century’? How can we understand the two Judaism’s we are confronted with just as Churchill was confronted with what he described as three Judaisms?
Perhaps there have always been more than one “Jews”. The Jews of the imagination who the gentiles imagined and the real Jews. But what is extraordinary is that today’s split in the Jewish people is primarily between a Jew imagined by some who call themselves Jews and the Jews who are just Jews. The God of the former is self-hatred at the same time as it is radical in its self-obsession, its idea that the Jews must ‘fix the world’. Who would place such a burden on one people? What kind of person, upon seeing some far off country bombing some other country, wears a placard on the street saying ‘don’t kill my name’? Could anyone imagine a Muslim doing something so ridiculous? No.
There are two Jewish peoples. There are the Jews, not always pleasant but at least honest, who do things that are not necessarily “Jewish” but preserve something of their Judaism. These are the Jews who see the Holocaust as primarily a crime against the Jews. Then there are the Jews who speak a lot about doing things that are “Jewish” and defining every cause as a ‘duty’ of Jews and who ceaselessly heap scorn and hate on other Jews because they believe those Jews reflect badly on them. These are the people whose god is the exile and the minority status of the other and the people who really believe their “name” can be murdered. What name? The name of human rights and gay rights and rights for all sorts of obscure peoples, the cause, the endless causes of the bourgouise with too much time on their hands?
Too bad for them. I prefer the Judaism of “if one comes to kill you, rise up [in the night], and kill him first [before he wakes].” This is described as a positive commandment. This is in direct contrast to other Jews who respond to what they see as a “killing of their name” by rising up with their ugly faces and their unkempt, unwashed hair, their droopy flaccid bodies and their scarves and dirty baggy unflattering clothing and hold placards on streets.
Re-writing the history of the War of 1812
Seth J. Frantzman
April 4th, 2009
Modern man, scholars and simpletons alike, have an odd inability to imagine things in history that are different than the prevailing conditions of the present. History is thus judged from the false lense, rather than being rendered from the past to the present it is all imagined from the present. A new documentary on the War of 1812 directed by Canadian filmmaker Brian McKenna proves this point. It speaks of an America searching for empire that required Canada for her resources. This was 1812 and America was seeking manifest destiny in that northern province of the British Empire. But the word Empire should stick in the throat.
The documentary speaks of the “people of the first nations, British subjects and exiles from the American revolution.” It speaks of an expansive U.S of “7.5 million strong…expanding rapidly.” It is a militant nation run by “young military officers.” But England, and her empire are of course tied down by war, the war against Napoleon. The documentary claims that “one advantage England has is her domination of the sea.”
From the beginning this is almost a propaganda film directed at the current role of America in the world. It changes history to speak of a Canadian people “free citizens” who “cannot be conquered” and who are loyal to a “constitution and King.” In 1812? What constitution of Canada? It speaks of ‘aboriginal’ “first nations” in Canada fighting alongside “American exiles” to drive out the Yankee invader. Perhaps it forgets that Canada was a part of the British empire and that rather than America invading Canada to achieve an ‘empire’ she was very much the weaker of the two warring parties and that the war, until recently, was known in America as the “second war of independence.” Perhaps the present state of England, a small nation with a on-again-off-again economy is not the England of old.
The film speaks of Mohawk chieftans attending colleges in Scotland and keeping diaries, painting the ‘first nations’ as if they were truly a part of Canada, an equal and normal part of the country when in fact they were anything but in a nation that at the time was not a nation and whose use of a Maple Leaf on her flag today even calls into question the existence of such a nation. The documentary wants us to believe that the ‘First Nations’, a new fangled word for what were then Indian tribes were loved and respected then as they are today rather than recruited as allies, as they had been in the French and Indian War (the Seven Years War in Europe) or the American Revolution to serve alongside the British as irregular auxileries, adept at guerilla warfare.
The director of this charade is a filmmaker who has waded into controversy before. Brian Mckenna was involved in making the documentary ‘The Valour and the Horror’ after which “Canadian veterans, outraged by what they considered an inaccurate and highly biased account of the war, sued Brian and Terrance McKenna, the series directors, for libel.” The three-part 1992 documentary deals with Canadian participation in the Second World War and, true to its contemporary time, is one critique and self-hating episode after another. Its first episode deals with Canadians stationed in Hong Kong who surrender to the Japanese and are treated savgely. Here Mckenna can be sympathetic because he only portrays Canadians and prisoners of war. But in his second episode he details the role of the Canadians in the bombing of Germany and blames them for the firebombing of Dresden which he claims had no impact on the war and was thus, not in his words but which can be inferred, a war crime. the third episode, deals primarily with the massive loss Of Canadian troops at Verrieres Ridge during the assault on Normandy, “citing the incompetence and inexperience of Canadian military leadership as the cause for the high casualty rate.” According to reports “The McKennas have argued, in the tradition of investigative journalism, that they wished to set aside the official account of the war and examine events from the point or view of the participants.”
In producing a documentary on the War of 1812 McKenna has now turned his revisionism towards that episode casting America as a “great power” interested in ‘living space’ and ‘resources’ in Canada. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The country is dying and the leader is laughing
Seth J. Frantzman
April 3rd, 2009
It’s all just a joke. Whether it is giving Gordon Brown a boxed set of Wal-Mart purchased DVDs of Hollywood movies or pretending to speak a word of Russian it is all just a joke for America’s president and his team. First it was Hilary Clinton with the misspelled ‘reset’ (peregruzka not perezagruzka) button now the White House is bumbling about learning ‘Brivyet’. But it’s all a joke. Every press conference is levity. Every photo up is thumbs up and smiles.
And yet the rhetoric is about the ‘worst crises’ and ‘terrible’ economic conditions. So which is it? Are we living the high life of good time where we can joke or are we facing terrible challenges at home and abroad. And if it is the latter then why can’t the President of the United States refrain from breaking out in smiles and guffaws at every opportunity. Does Obama think that by joking with the people that the crises will be forgotten? Is this his version of ‘freedom from fear’?
There was a time when President’s and their teams took their jobs seriously. If they hammed it up with world leaders they did so in private. We know that Richard Nixon joked with Mao Tse Tung and with Golda Meir. But we know he did it in private and it was only revealed from taped transcripts of the meetings. Stalin used to get drunk with the leaders of the USSR at his dacha and the nights included antics such as putting tomatoes in people’s pockets only to watch them accidentally squish them later while they were being humiliated and asked to dance some traditional Ukrainian or Georgian dance. But no one pretended this was something that should be revealed to the press and certainly not something anyone was proud of as part of ‘policy’. But the policy of the Obama administration is just a joke, literally and figuratively.
One gets the feeling that Obama is over his head. We all made fun of George Bush’s English but at least Bush was confident in himself. We all thought Bush was stupid but with Obama, when he is not being scripted by an army of advisors and a teleprompter, he doesn’t seem to be able to say anything except for a few jokes and then small talk. Policy speeches are contrived by others. All that ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’ talk heard on the campaign trail that Americans craved and felt was a ‘breath of fresh air’ has evaporated.
Obama is at the G20 meeting in England at a time of international economic crises. ABC’s headline was ‘Obama jokes around at G20’. The media was happy to see “the American and Russian presidents joking around.” ABC claimed that “there was at least one lighter moment.” One? It was all light moments apparently.
At another G20 news conference with Gordon Brown a reporter prompted Obama with a question about soccer picks. Obama launched into a long discussion about how he has had “enough trouble back home picking my brackets for college basketball…[my picks for] March Madness stirred up all kinds of controversy…” At a March 13th meeting with Brazilian president Lula da Silva, Obama said he would like to visit Brazil and that Republicans would like him to get lost in the Amazon.
There is a time for levity. There is a time to break the ice. But now, on television, in front of the world, is not that time. Now is the time to get to work and to be serious. If the crises is as bad as we are continuously told then it is no laughing matter. If the President of the United States thinks it is a laughing matter and not a Churchillian or FDR moment of seriousness and ‘blood, sweat and tears’, then it means he is not only out of touch and in over his head but it may mean he simply has contempt for all of us. It seems clear that the White House and cabinet are enjoying their time making ‘reset’ buttons for the Russians and beginning the Iranians to open up, but it’s time to be serious and act presidential. If it’s all just a joke then the joke is on us, the voters, who were duped into voting for this elitist team who think that suffering is something to be laughed at. People called George Bush a frat boy, but at least he took his job seriously. That’s more than can be said for the ‘community organizer’ in the Oval office now.