Monday, November 30, 2015

We must change the narrative. What are we going to do in order to do so?

Sar Shalom

This past week, Malanie Phillips wrote an article on the need to change the narrative surrounding the conflict over Israel (h/t Elder). Those who have followed my writings for some time should not be surprised that I find Phillips to be absolutely correct. The issue is, what should be done in order to address the narrative.

The first step in addressing the narrative is to identify it. To paraphrase Phillips, the root of the western narrative
is that the "Palestinian people" are the original inhabitants of the land. Whatever justification Europe's behavior towards its Jews, most notably during the Holocaust, created, the Zionists displaced those original inhabitants in creating their state. As such, their rights are limited to a portion of the land and the "Palestinians" are merely "resisting" to reclaim what the Zionists took beyond their entitlement.
Further statements are derivatives of this root narrative. Examples include John Kerry saying
There’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing.
and the equation of the deaths of Palestinian terrorists killed in the act of perpetrating terror with those of their victims.

To analogize, the root narrative is like rotting vegetables, the derivative narratives are like vermin, and activities like BDS are like the diseases that the vermin carry. No matter how often you call the exterminator, if rotting vegetables are strewn about, the vermin will come back and come back and spread whatever diseases they carry. Similarly, if the Jews did steal the land from the native Palestinians, then it is truthy that Israel is gobbling up land for settlements. And if Israel is gobbling up land and no appeals to moral conscience are inducing a change, then BDS may be necessary to push Israel's hand. However much we knock down the BDS efforts, if it is truthy that Israel is gobbling up land, the BDSholes will find fertile ground with the public and as long as the public believes that Jews are not indigenous to the southwest Levant while the Palestinians are, Israel's gobbling up land will be truthy.

One observation about supplanting the current western narrative is that doing so will require repeated airing of a counter-narrative. One means of doing so would be for someone who is sympathetic to Israel and has a position in the major media to write regularly about the history of the Jews of Palestine. An alternative approach would be for a public official to push information that challenges this narrative, which the media would be forced to cover. As of now, this is unlikely because no politician faces any pressure to do so. This is because currently the pro-Israel community's definition of a friend of Israel is one who is at least non-belligerent about the "settlements," a measure by which Obama is notably poor, or who supports providing arms to Israel, by which Obama is imperfect but reasonably good. Those two objectives are altogether appropriate objectives, focusing on them ignores what drives the constant challenges on those fronts. The message we have to tell our lobbyists who press our case to the politicians and decide whom to support is "It's the narrative stupid!"

If we were to evaluate politicians based on their contributions to the narrative, the question becomes what contribution we should demand from those wishing to be viewed as friends of Israel. There are two general categories of what we should wish to see promoted. One is the general history of the Jews of the southwest Levant. Critical topics would be Jewish history of the region in all major time periods and connections maintained between the diaspora and the Land of Israel. A supplement to this would be that the Arabs have no record of any kind showing any sort of connection to the southwest Levant. The second is the social order between Jews and Muslims in 19th century Palestine. These two categories provide a one-two punch against the prevailing western narrative. The former demonstrates that long before anyone migrated from Arabia to the southwest Levant, Jews were building there culture there and that they never fully vacated the region. The latter sets up a counterclaim regarding the reasons for Palestinian "resistance." Our goal should be that instead of seeing such "resistance" being based on "statelessness," that it is based on irredentism for the 19th century social order. In order to make that claim, it is necessary to describe what the Palestinians are irredentist for. The history of the 19th century provides that.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Brief Note: The NATO-Russia Proxy Fight in Syria

Michael L.

briefnotesWhatever else the chaos is in Syria, it is also a proxy fight between NATO and Russia over the Assad regime.

This situation is broadly reflective of the Cold War alliances and the proxy wars (Korea, Vietnam) between the United States and the Soviet Union that took place during the mid-late twentieth-century.  

This is an important context to put the current Russia-Turkey dispute within, if you wish to understand it.

Turkey is a member of NATO as, of course, is the United States.  Russia is not.  Russia is endeavoring to prop up Syria's Assad, whereas the US and NATO are opposed to that regime.  In the mean time, everyone agrees that the heinous Islamic State needs to go away, but nobody wants to put boots on the ground and Russia is more interested in defending its ally then going after ISIS.  This means that Syria is a land wherein numerous sovereign countries exercise their rights to bomb whatever the hell they want.

Since Putin backs Assad this means, naturally, that Russia bombs the rebels.

But NATO and the US back the rebels and this is why, essentially, we are looking at a proxy fight between NATO and Russia in Syria.  It should also be noted that the anti-Assad rebels are also mainly, if not entirely, Jihadis, thus US foreign policy in the region remains consistent with Obama's egregious pro-Islamist tendencies.

Complicating matters is the fact that Syria and Turkey have a long-standing border dispute in the region wherein Turkey took down that Russian warplane last Tuesday.  As far as Russia was concerned, Syria being its ally, they were still within Syrian airspace.

Turkey, obviously, disagreed.

Now we are seeing Putin place a raft of economic sanctions on Turkey.

Reuters tells us:
The decree, which entered into force immediately, said charter flights from Russia to Turkey would be banned, that tour firms would be told not to sell any holidays there, and that unspecified Turkish imports would be outlawed, and Turkish firms and nationals have their economic activities halted or curbed.

"The circumstances are unprecedented. The gauntlet thrown down to Russia is unprecedented. So naturally the reaction is in line with this threat," Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said hours before the decree was published.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters the sanctions would only worsen the standoff between Moscow and Ankara. 
So, boys and girls, from an international crisis perspective, Europe is beginning to contend with the Middle East for the Grand Prize.

When you add the NATO - Russia fight in Syria to the amazingly ill-considered open-door policies of Germany, Sweden, and the EU to the immigration crisis, you get the sense that Europe is beginning to swing around like a yo-yo in the hands of an Arabic six year old.

The "TV Dinner" Model of National Ethnic Non-Integration

Michael L.

{Also published at the Elder of ZiyonThe Jewish Press and Jews Down Under.}

Europe is in chaos due to the raw fact of millions of Arabs pouring onto the continent, heading for Germany and Sweden.

The United States is also very familiar with large waves of immigrants pouring into the country at an alarming rate for a great many citizens... and a great many nativists.

With the waves of mid-late nineteenth-century immigration into the United States from Eastern and Southern Europe the notion of a "melting pot" emerged.

The United States would welcome the strange-sounding, strange-looking, allegedly criminal, foreigners washing onto our shores - even Jews - if they assimilated.  Some American manufacturers hiring these immigrants went so far as to offer their employees free instruction on how to be American.

{Quite often baseball was involved.}

After World War II, and after the transition from economic liberalism in the United States to what is sometimes call "rights liberalism" - women's rights, gay rights, ethnic rights, and so forth - the "melting pot" notion gave way to the "salad bowl" notion.  No longer were ethnic minorities expected to dissolve themselves into American culture as developed by the Anglo settlers of the seventeenth-century.  By the middle of the 1960s, and the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left, a multicultural ideal developed and Americans began recognize the value of distinctions between cultures.

The fundamental idea, of course, was that the various ethnicities should not melt into a sort-of homogeneous, Wonder Bread, Leave It To Beaver culture, but would remain distinct while integrated into the whole.

The enormous current wave of Arabs into Europe fits neither model, which is hardly surprising since these are not Europeans and they are not migrating into America.  It is, rather, what I call the "TV Dinner" model of national ethnic non-integration.  If we have learned nothing else over the course of recent decades it is that large segments of the Arab immigrants into Europe have no intention whatsoever of integrating.  Many will insist upon maintaining traditional, and separate, societies within the host countries.

The difference between the American immigrant experience and the European immigrant experience is that in the United States there is a blending of cultures, while distinctions are still maintained.  Individuals may fully integrate but cultural presences in the form of cuisine, culture, and politics remain as part of a larger interconnected cultural landscape.  Arabs in Europe, on the other hand, are quite often finding it difficult to reconcile the old country with the new and this is causing major problems throughout Europe and it is likely that in the coming years the growing Arab immigrant population is going to exacerbate those problems..  They are not living side-by-side, but together, with their neighbors in Europe.  Many are living side-by-side, but separate, from their neighbors.  They do so while maintaining an often violent malice toward European morality and culture alongside an irrational, Koranically-based hatred toward the Jewish people.

David Crouch, writing in the Guardian tells us:
Sweden needs “respite” from the tens of thousands of refugees knocking at its door, the government has said, announcing tough measures to deter asylum seekers in a sharp reversal of its open-door policy towards people fleeing war and persecution.

The country’s generous asylum regime would revert to the “EU minimum”, Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said on Tuesday, revealing that most refugees would receive only temporary residence permits from April.

Identity checks would be imposed on all modes of transport, and the right to bring families to Sweden would be severely restricted, he said.
Sweden is awakening to the fact that it made an exceedingly dangerous foreign policy mistake vis-à-vis Arab immigrants.

The EU flung open the doors of Europe and both Germany and Sweden went entirely supine... for awhile.  The European response was motivated largely by compassion.  There is no doubt, however, that when the historians dig into this vital moment they will uncover who benefited financially and who benefited politically.  Nonetheless, it is only the crassest of cynics who would refuse to acknowledge the humanitarianism behind the willingness to take in so many Arab immigrants.  Yet, the recent influx of millions of Arab and African Muslims into Europe is going to have long lasting effects on the nature of European culture and society.

As the immigrant population increases, and flexes its political muscle, there will be a decline in the rights and well-being of women, a decline in the rights and well-being of Gay people, and a decline in the rights and well-being of Jews.   Concurrently there will be an increase in crime and an increase in terrorist activity, as we just saw in Paris.

Saying so should not be controversial, but acknowledged as obvious.

Europe, North America, and Australia are open and diverse societies.  We welcome immigrants.  We enjoy diversity.  The problem in Europe, however, is that the immigrant population is interested in neither the "melting pot" notion, nor the "salad bowl" notion, but the "TV dinner" notion. They are not only fleeing the war-torn Arab-Muslim Middle East, but they are bringing the war-torn Arab-Muslim Middle East with them and, if recent European history is any guide, a very large segment of these immigrants will refuse to integrate or even really associate themselves with the larger society.

They will maintain their separate neighborhoods and separate cultures and many of the green beans will refuse to fraternize with the salisbury steak.

And some, unfortunately, will seek to murder the mashed potatoes.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Brief Note: The Jewish Mood is Turning Ugly... or is it just me?

Michael L.

briefnotesI think that there can be little doubt at this point that the mood of the Jewish community, both Israeli and diaspora, is turning ugly.

Feelings of insecurity, frustration, and anger are growing.  The Netanyahu government is beginning to take measures designed to crack-down on domestic Arab terrorism and there is even now talk of deporting the families of terrorists.  Further, they have resurrected the bulldozing of terrorist homes policy of years past.

French Jews are on the run and the rest of European Jewry is nervous.  The United Nations is an outright enemy to the state of Israel and, thus, to the Jewish people.  The European Union is hostile and the US administration under Barack Obama is unfriendly.  In the United States we have college students chanting, "Intifada!  Intifada! Long live Intifada!"... thereby, in the name of social justice - amazingly enough - demonstrating their support of Arabs who wish to murder Jewish people through stabbing us in the streets or running us down with automobiles.

This is making many thoughtful Jews begin to feel like we are being collectively backed into a corner and it is starting to really piss many people off.  So many westerners, particularly on the Left, honestly believe that the Jews of the Middle East, in the form of Israel, are the aggressors and that the Arabs are the indigenous party and the innocent party within the conflict.  No matter how many concessions Israel makes, no matter how many murderers of Jews it releases from its prisons as a gesture to dictator Abbas, no matter how often Israel agrees to a Palestinian-Arab state smack in the middle of that tiny bit of historically Jewish land, and no matter how many times Palestinian-Arab leadership rejects a Palestinian-Arab state and screams to the hillsides for Jewish blood to run in the streets, the West still blames the Jews in Israel for the hostility against them.

If it is true - and I believe that it is - that anger is rising within the international Jewish community, I say that we have every right to that anger.  Muslims kill Christians in Paris and high level Swedish government officials blame the Jews?  That's just not right and we should not have to stand for it.

Jews, as a people, are not real big on collective demonstrations of anger.  We are not of the rioting sort.  We are more the writing a strongly worded letter-to-the-editor kind of people.  And that is as it should be, I suppose.

But I would dearly love for the government of Israel to, in the most friendly and diplomatic manner possible, tell the Obama administration to go screw itself.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Shirlee and Dr. Mike on Mighty J-AIR!

Michael L.

jairOur friends, Shirlee Finn of Jews Down Under and Dr. Michael Harris of Stand With Us, are on Michael Burd and Alan Freedman's radio show today, Nothing Left out of Melbourne, Australia.

Shirlee, of course, is an old friend of this blog and is partly responsible for my own interviews with Michael Burd.

Dr. Mike has been active in the Bay Area pro-Israel community for many years and we have, along with Jon Segall, conducted two panel discussions concerning Israel and the conflict.  The second one, held in a Berkeley synagogue, was primarily concerned with whether or not to re-elect Barack Obama.

I sat on the right, Segall sat on the left, and Dr. Mike sat between us.  At the end of the day, Harris came down in favor of a second Obama term.  However, given his recent publication of Winning a Debate with an Israel Hater, I think that he can be forgiven.

Here is my review of the book.

Harris's segment begins at about the 35 minute mark and Shirlee's at the 56 minute mark.

I would very much encourage you guys to check it out.