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Who Are Today’s Maccabees?

Our fearless leader HaRav George Dubya delivered the following shiur last night, in commemoration of the first night of Chanukah:

I send greetings to all those celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights. On the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, Jews around the world commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago.

During this time of darkness, the Temple had been seized, and Judaism had been outlawed. Judah Maccabee and his followers fought for three years for their freedom and successfully recaptured Jerusalem and the Temple.

Jewish tradition teaches that the Maccabees found only one small bottle of oil to be used for temple rituals, but that oil lasted eight days and nights. The miracle of this enduring light, remembered through the lighting of the Menorah, continues to symbolize the triumph of faith over tyranny.

The bravery of the Maccabees has provided inspiration through the ages. We must remain steadfast and courageous as we seek to spread peace and freedom throughout the world.

This holiday season, we give thanks to God, and we remember the brave men and women of our Armed Forces and their families. We also pray that all who live under oppression will see their day of freedom and that the light of faith will always shine through the darkness.

Laura joins me in wishing you a blessed and Happy Hanukkah.

I’m sorry. Am I the only one who finds it utterly ironic that Bush is comparing US imperial forces to the Maccabees, when the cold hard truth of the matter is, in this situation, the Iraqi insurgents are really the Maccabees? Think about it… They’re fighting off a Western occupier, they’re steadfast in their devotion to their god, and they’re willing to kill their own “Hellenized” people to push forward their agenda of religious fanatacism and (ahem) self-rule. If anything, the US are the Syrian-Greeks sacking the Temple (be it for Iraq’s own good, or not)!

Oh irony… If only Bush would stop raping your corpse. Perhaps your troubled soul might finally find peace.

64 thoughts on “Who Are Today’s Maccabees?

  1. You’re a glutton for punishment, Mobius. That said, you make an interesting point as it relates to the messianic mishigoss of our beloved president. But it can get muddied up in the complexities of current circumstances. Take Kurdistan for example. I doubt many Kurds would share your appreciation of Zarqawi & Co. as Maccabees. Of course, it’s all food for thought. Thanks for the nosh….

  2. Oh. Really?
    Are we killing people for practicing a different religion than ours?
    And oh yeah, If they were the Macabbes they would be winning.

  3. damn, guess my version of the bible is just plain inaccurate: it left off the part where the maccabeans targeted jewish children, rabbis, and other civiilians for murder; left out the part where judas sawed off the head of lots of women and men; left out the part where he took over jerusalem and killed all the women who wouldnt wear burkas…..mobius, you want to site the bible you are reading?

  4. Avi, guess you have a different Bible then me too. Because my version doesn’t contain the story of Judas at all.
    The holiday of Channukah, is an historical holiday, not a biblical holiday. People around the world celebrate it for different reasons. To me, the story of Channukah celebrates our people attempting to free ourselves from colonial subjugation from the Hellenizers. It is a story about people attempting to maintain culture, land, and liberty. They tried to “civilize” our culture as what was not Athenian to the Greeks, was barbaric and savage.
    I agree with Mobius that the “new” Maccabees are the Iraqi insurgents. And I think as Jews we have a duty to support liberation movements around the world, because we cannot be free, unless every person is free (this is my idea of Zion and Israel – a light unto other nations). But I also think Avi has a point that there are things about the Iraqi liberation that cannot go uncriticized. Everyone deserves to be held to the same standards. And it would be patronizing to not criticize (with the understanding that they are under attack from a brutal enemy) Iraqis, as it would be patronizing to not criticize Israelis, Palestineans, Cubans, and so on.
    On a different note, I think the story of Channukah has a lot to offer people around the world. I am part of an organization called the Black Mesa Water Coalition which fights Peabody Coal and other mining corporations to get off the Navajo and Hopi reservations. Similar to Arthur Waskow’s freedom ceder, I will be having a Channukah party on Friday night to celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people and indigenous peoples here in America. I will be asking people to come with empty stomachs (for I will be making Latkes and my ema’s morrocan lamb stew mmmm) and a story about liberation in their own lives – what they are willing to give everything for. There are many Indigenous Maccabees in America, who have been fighting for their culture, land, and freedom since the arrival of Columbus. Their genocide, was the foundation for ours, as Hitler was deeply inspired by the concentration camps the settling Americans setup for native peoples accross this continent. His push Eastward as part of the Lebensraum policies of Nazi germany was inspired by the Manifest Destiny policies of the United States. Many of my friends in the native movement are Jewish and Native. I call them Navajews or Heebajos for many of them are Dine (Navajo). And of course there has been intermarriage in other tribes (Wynona Laduke, former VP candidate with Nader is Jewish as well – and I hopefully will be having a ceder with her this year or the next). There are many similarities between our peoples history. And a lot to be proud of on both ends.
    With that, have a happy Channukah. Sorry if I wrote too much. Just got carried away.
    Yallah.
    Flagstaff, Az

  5. Daniel: Check out a recent article in Commentary (about 2-3 months ago) re the “genocide” of the American Indian population.
    Mobius: You having one of those bad days? Are you trying to tell us that the Iraqi “insurgents” are fighting for religious freedom as did the Maccabees? Are the Americans restricting religious freedom or promoting it? Do the “insurgents” intend to allow Iraqis to practice Islam in each Iraqi’s preferred way, or do they intend to force the population into observing only the “insurgent’s” narrow views? (And that’s not to mention the “bring back Saddam” types; Saddam didn’t even give people the freedom to determine how they would be raped.)
    You owe an apology to the Maccabees, the Jews, Americans, many Iraqis, and the readers of Jewschool.

  6. hi
    Mobius, it’s a grave error to equate the maccabbeees with the insurgent fighters in Iraq. The majority of Iraqis (and that begins with the 33% of Iraqis who are kurds and whose support of the US is near universal) do not support the insurgents, and if you parse the news headlines its Iraqis who are the prime targets of the insurgency.
    I suppose one could make the same analogy you did about the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and others. I gotta believe you are smarter and more thoughtful than that though, aren’t you?

  7. “the Iraqi insurgents are really the Maccabees”
    One need not show unqualified support for the poorly planned American enterprise in Iraq to know that the above statement is utterly ridiculous and disgusting.
    Does that mean al-Zarqawi is Judah?
    What’s more interesting to me is that we Jews celebrate the victory of ancient religous zealots by lighting candles whereas these Muslims in Iraq, living in the 20th century, celebrate their own religous zealotry by cutting off people’s heads.

  8. RB said “The majority of Iraqis (and that begins with the 33% of Iraqis who are kurds and whose support of the US is near universal) do not support the insurgents, and if you parse the news headlines its Iraqis who are the prime targets of the insurgency. ”
    No one was opinion polling at the time, but at least a substantial number of Jews didn’t support the Maccabees. They wanted to absorb and assimilate the Hellenistic culture. And the Maccabees’ most ferocious actions were taken against those Hellenized Jews.
    So whatever the rights and wrongs of the situations were and are, the parallels are unmistakable.

  9. My understanding of the Maccabee situation was that many of the Hellenized Jews were supportive of, and even assisted in the creation and enforcement of, the decrees banning Judaism. However, I may not be familiar with all of the sources regarding the evnts of those times. Anyone know what the sources are, apart from the Maccabee Megillas and the Chanukah piece in Mesechta Shabbat?

  10. I doubt many Kurds would share your appreciation of Zarqawi & Co. as Maccabees. — Zionista
    appreciation? i think they’re maniacs.
    ***
    Are we killing people for practicing a different religion than ours? And oh yeah, If they were the Macabbes they would be winning. — Prodly
    um, yes, we are killing people for practicing a different religion than ours, but that’s an aside. the syrian greeks weren’t exactly killing us for practicing a different religion. they were occupying israel because it’s a major trade route from europe to asia. just like we’re occupying iraq because it’s one of the largest oil producers in the middle east.
    and uh, btw, the insurgents are winning.
    ***
    damn, guess my version of the bible is just plain inaccurate: it left off the part where the maccabeans targeted jewish children, rabbis, and other civiilians for murder; left out the part where judas sawed off the head of lots of women and men; left out the part where he took over jerusalem and killed all the women who wouldnt wear burkas…..mobius, you want to site the bible you are reading? — Avi Green
    uh, hello, the maccabees slaughtered countless numbers of hellenized jews and syrian greeks. did they chop people’s heads off? it’s hard to know — they didn’t have streaming video back then. but considering hasidim throw rocks at women in short sleeved shirts walking through mea shearim, it’s not too hard to believe they did worse to women back then as well.
    ***
    Are you trying to tell us that the Iraqi “insurgents” are fighting for religious freedom as did the Maccabees? — J
    uh, didn’t seem like the maccabees upheld the religious freedom of hellenized jews, did they? they deemed them apostates and put them to death. so what the hell are you talking about? the maccabees fought for the proliferation of their strain of jewish religious practice and said fuck all to everyone who differed.
    ***
    You owe an apology to the Maccabees, the Jews, Americans, many Iraqis, and the readers of Jewschool. — J
    oh please. you’re such a drama queen.
    ***
    The majority of Iraqis (and that begins with the 33% of Iraqis who are kurds and whose support of the US is near universal) do not support the insurgents, and if you parse the news headlines its Iraqis who are the prime targets of the insurgency. — RB
    it’s a damn shame we don’t have polling figures from back in the day, huh — cuz it’d be damn interesting to know what percentage of the jewish population identified with the maccabees and what percentage did the hellenists. i bet you the figures are comparable to the number of iraqis supporting the insurgents. and hi, once again, the maccabean revolt wasn’t solely against the syrian greeks, it was also directed against hellenized jews who were the ruling majority.
    ***
    What’s more interesting to me is that we Jews celebrate the victory of ancient religous zealots by lighting candles whereas these Muslims in Iraq, living in the 20th century, celebrate their own religous zealotry by cutting off people’s heads. — Philip
    sure, by lighting candles … and mowing down palestinians. and throwing rocks at women singing at the kotel. and calling people race traitors. and dot dot dot.

  11. “I agree with Mobius that the “new” Maccabees are the Iraqi insurgents”: so every insurgency is the equivalent of the maccabees? guess you would have supported the south as they “insurged” against the north in order to maintain slavery; guess you would have supported the kkk as they insurged against the federal governments efforts in the post civil war south; guess you would have supported terry mcvey as he insurged against the federal government by murdering 100+ oklahomans; guess you would have supported the 19 who insurged against us interference in their homelands by murdering 3000 americans. yes indeed, all insurgents require our firm active support, i think at my seder ill invite david duke, ossama, jerry adams. semiserious question based on mobius and friends views: is america and the west and jews doomed?

  12. I’m with Mobius on this one. Anyone with doubts should read pp.104-111 of Paul Johnson’s History of the Jews.
    By the way, what’s the pathology of insisting that we Jews have been absolutely perfect in everything that we’ve done from Abraham onward? The Tanakh is full of examples of how we’ve failed to live up to the strict standards G-d set for us. Yes, Chanukah’s a simple & beautiful holiday if you stick to the pablum about lights & rededication & stuff, but it’s also an ideal moment to reflect on the perils of religious fanaticism (and, yes, anti-religious fanaticism) in any age. There’s a reason Baruch Goldstein did his dirty work on Purim, folks, and it doesn’t have much to do with costumes & groggers. As for this holiday, we’re all just lucky that so far no-one in the modern age (other than Iraqi & Saudi insurgents) has picked up on Matityahu’s zeal to kill collaborators.
    For anyone in Los Angeles who’s interested I’m teaching a “young professionals” workshop this Sunday entitled, “When a Candle Becomes a Wildfire: Religious Fundamentalism from the Maccabees to the Modern World.” (“Across the globe, religious fundamentalists are in the news almost every day. What is ‘fundamentalism’ and why is it so popular among adherents of all religions?”) Details at http://www.6quarks.com/clients/uj/aij2/aij2.pdf .
    Thanks for a great example with which to shock & awe LA hipsters.

  13. Question Avi: Was the illegal invasion on Iraq and the murdering of innocent men, women, and chilren conducive to Jewish values? If so, where does it say in the Torah that you kill people in order to steal their oil.
    And of course, you would probably say, that I like Saddam Hussein (using your absurd). This of course is not true. As is of course, that I support the above mentioned “hate groups”. But I don’t think its America’s job to impose their form of liberation i.e. bombing the shit out of you, on peoples around the world. If they were truly concerned with Iraqi liberation, they would have supported them in their movements against Saddam in the early 90s. As opposed to starving them with sanctions and dropping bombs. It is absolutely absurd to think that the US had any interest in liberating the Iraqi people, because for the past 15 years they have been committing genocide (under Clinton as well, so I’m not excusing liberals as well).
    In the end, I think what Bush did might have been better than Clinton. At least it was overt. Clinton, that slimy scum bag, killed them through cold policies that most Americans were not aware of.
    In the end, it is not really about either of the Presidents who oversaw genocide. It is about the fact that US corporations dictate who we go to war with.
    So to add to your list of “hate” groups that we should have at our ceder, I propose to invite – Haliburton, Lockheed Martin, Lehman Brothers, Bechtel, FBI, CIA, Likud, Kerry, Bush, Clinton, and some members of the Israeli cabinet for being the US’s bitch on policies on the Mideast and allowing. Oh, and I guess we will need to have some token women and black people to make it a truly Jewish event these days. If we truly had a sense of national and historic pride, we would be fighting side by side with our Semitic Palestinian brothers and sisters in the fight for our homelands that Empires have beseeched and played with like marbles for hte past 2000 years.

  14. A terrible backsliding day for Mobius. Too many latkes, I bet.
    “um, yes, we are killing people for practicing a different religion than ours, but that’s an aside.”
    Aside or not, care to explain?
    “the syrian greeks weren’t exactly killing us for practicing a different religion. they were occupying israel because it’s a major trade route from europe to asia.”
    This doesn’t explain the Judaism-banning decrees of Antiochus. If domination of a trde route were the whole story, the Seleucid regime would have wanted to avoid antagonizing their generally law-abiding subjects.
    “just like we’re occupying iraq because it’s one of the largest oil producers in the middle east.”
    Yeah, I’m still waiting for my dividend check from the Iraqi oil plunderings.
    “and uh, btw, the insurgents are winning. ”
    Never confuse your own wishful thinking with an objective assessment of the facts.
    “uh, hello, the maccabees slaughtered countless numbers of hellenized jews and syrian greeks. ”
    Did you read your own link to myjewishlearning.com? It’s highly possible that the Hellenized Jews were killed by the Maccabees for their connivance and assistance in promulgating the Judaism-banning decrees. (Hellenized Jews: self-haters or misunderstood reformers? You decide.)
    “but considering hasidim throw rocks at women in short sleeved shirts walking through mea shearim, it’s not too hard to believe they did worse to women back then as well.”
    Amazing. You really showed your hand on this one. Yes, if hasidim (all? most? some?) throw rocks in 2004, their ancestors 2170 years ago must have done worse. Quite a connection. Did Judah Maccabee have payos?
    Allow me. If Palestinians indiscriminately murder small children, it’s not too hard to believe….
    “uh, didn’t seem like the maccabees upheld the religious freedom of hellenized jews, did they? they deemed them apostates and put them to death. so what the hell are you talking about? the maccabees fought for the proliferation of their strain of jewish religious practice and said fuck all to everyone who differed.”
    Maybe, maybe not. But the Hellenized Jews didn’t exactly leave the traditional ones be either, did they?
    “You owe an apology to the Maccabees, the Jews, Americans, many Iraqis, and the readers of Jewschool. — J
    “oh please. you’re such a drama queen.”
    I’ll leave it for everyone else to decide whose rhetoric is more overheated. And you still owe the apology.
    “sure, by lighting candles … and mowing down palestinians. and throwing rocks at women singing at the kotel. and calling people race traitors. and dot dot dot.”
    You know, maybe you’re right. Maybe the Jewish way in handling these matters isn’t right. So from here on, let’s do it the Arab way. Palestinians should henceforth be treated as would a Jewish minority in an Arab country that blew up Arabs on buses and in restaurants, then celebrated in the streets following the attack. No more sporadic rock throwing – we’ll let sharia deal with the heretics. And no more name calling about race traitors – except to call them the “recently deceased”.
    Avi: can I come to your Seder?

  15. “sure, by lighting candles … and mowing down palestinians. and throwing rocks at women singing at the kotel. and calling people race traitors. and dot dot dot.”
    I officialy have no problem with Mobius comparing the Maccabis to Al Queda, The Baathists, the Nazis or any other fascist, or neofascist movement that has ever violently defended the purity of thier own particular version of an idealized Ur-myth from all the nasty colonizing or modernizing forces posing a threat from outside or within. It’s all the same really and every racist, nationalist movemement needs an enemy to demonize. The Maccabis had the Hellenists; Nazis the Jews; the Baathists the Jews; Al Queda the Jews;
    Thank Hashem, Israel, according to Mobius, has the Palestinians to mow down with such pleasure on Chanuka. It is our gift for thousands of years of intense suffering.

  16. Its really incredible that you would make these accusation on Mobius. I hope you are joking. Daniel sounds like to me that he contributes many, many, hours to the Jewish Movement around the world and I think he deserves much more respect than un-intellectual, and just plain stupid, accusations.
    My Safta used to tell me that the most important thing is to speak up for what you believe in, even if it left with you only a few friends.
    Inshallah – Allahu Ahad – Adonai Achad

  17. “um, yes, we are killing people for practicing a different religion than ours, but that’s an aside.” Aside or not, care to explain?
    we are engaged in a war against radical islam. if these people were not muslim fundamentalists acting on their religious beliefs, we wouldn’t be at war with them. that’s not to say that their religious beliefs are just or necessarily defensible (though i do recognize the circumstances which gave rise to such beliefs). only that it is precisely due to their religious conviction that we are killing them.
    This doesn’t explain the Judaism-banning decrees of Antiochus. If domination of a trde route were the whole story, the Seleucid regime would have wanted to avoid antagonizing their generally law-abiding subjects.
    not necessarily. jews have an indominable spirit and are known for being resistant to outside influence. the belief is that in order to break our spirit you must forbid our religious practice. this was the same technique employed by white colonialists in africa — they broke up the tribal order and substituted tribal religions with christianity, thus breaking the african spirit and making them more easily dominated.
    Yeah, I’m still waiting for my dividend check from the Iraqi oil plunderings.
    call halliburton to collect.
    Did you read your own link to myjewishlearning.com? It’s highly possible that the Hellenized Jews were killed by the Maccabees for their connivance and assistance in promulgating the Judaism-banning decrees. (Hellenized Jews: self-haters or misunderstood reformers? You decide.)
    hey, i’m not saying that isn’t the case. but if you’re talking about religious freedom, you don’t set an example by employing the tactic of your oppressor and killing those of diverging beliefs, but rather by demonstrating the path of tolerance and coexistence.
    Amazing. You really showed your hand on this one. Yes, if hasidim (all? most? some?) throw rocks in 2004, their ancestors 2170 years ago must have done worse. Quite a connection. Did Judah Maccabee have payos? Allow me. If Palestinians indiscriminately murder small children, it’s not too hard to believe….
    i’m sure 2170 years ago the ancestors of the palestinian people, in so much as the jewish people, were infinitely more barbaric than today, as was the case for all civilizations throughout the world. case in point: in biblical times, we’d drop a boulder on top of an adulteress. today, we’d give ‘er a divorce and she’d walk away with alimony.
    But the Hellenized Jews didn’t exactly leave the traditional ones be either, did they?
    did i say anywhere that the hellenists were defending religious freedom? but let us not be confused … the majority of jews were hellenizing. the minority of jews were at the top of the foodchain imposing these restrictions. the maccabees, however, didn’t make a distinction.
    i do believe that you have to draw the line where another’s religious practice begins to ill-effect your ability to practice freely, which, in a way, justifies the maccabean revolt, and in another way, justifies u.s. and israeli response to islamic terrorism. however, if religious freedom is your ideal, than it’s an ideal you must uphold for everyone, not just for yourself.
    You know, maybe you’re right. Maybe the Jewish way in handling these matters isn’t right. So from here on, let’s do it the Arab way. Palestinians should henceforth be treated as would a Jewish minority in an Arab country that blew up Arabs on buses and in restaurants, then celebrated in the streets following the attack. No more sporadic rock throwing – we’ll let sharia deal with the heretics. And no more name calling about race traitors – except to call them the “recently deceased”.
    yes, i see. let’s pat ourselves on the backs for being “better than the arabs” and ignore the fact that there’s still a higher ideal to strive for regardless of how much “better” we are. you are such a dispicable racist it’s discomforting to converse with you.

  18. “yes, i see. let’s pat ourselves on the backs for being “better than the arabs” and ignore the fact that there’s still a higher ideal to strive for regardless of how much “better” we are. you are such a dispicable racist it’s discomforting to converse with you.”
    That’s rich. You say, Jews are “better than the arabs” and J is a racist! What is this “higher ideal”? Being “even better than the arabs”? Holy shit that’s funny.

  19. Ah, sarcasm…are you scared to say what you really think or just incapable? (And I think J was probably being a little sarcastic when he suggested Israel become a Sharia state…that was when you called him a racist, right?)
    And see, you didn’t put ironic scare quotes around the concept of a higher ideal…if it’s not possible for you to say that one culture is “better” than another how can you say that some ideals are “higher” than others?

  20. “you are such a dispicable racist it’s discomforting to converse with you.”
    Yeah Mobius, and you’re one with the fucking people. Jesus. And I’ve seen this before. Take some spoiled brat (or wigger…it’s your call Mobius) from the states, throw him into one of those “Aish” type Yeshiva’s and generally two things happen:
    1) S/he becomes enchanted with Judaism, and begins to read, study, practice, etc.. etc.
    2) S/he gets this ethnocentric guilt about all this talk about “uniqueness” and higher moral imperatives. So they over identify with anything that is “other” to their institution of learning i.e. Yeshiva. Some of this is the fault of the Yeshivas – too much proselytizing – and other times, it’s the “brat” trying very hard to hold onto his/her Jewish roots while keeping friends in the post-modern, secular and very anti-Israel world of the hip.

  21. Mobius:
    I doubt many Kurds would share your appreciation of Zarqawi & Co. as Maccabees. — Zionista
    “appreciation? i think they’re maniacs.”
    Nu? Appreciate them as the maniacs they are then. (You really are a glutton for punishment, huh?)

  22. And see, you didn’t put ironic scare quotes around the concept of a higher ideal…if it’s not possible for you to say that one culture is “better” than another how can you say that some ideals are “higher” than others? — Philip
    The issue, Phil, is that I agree with J that those actions are barbaric and apalling and definitely “lower” than the place we’re at currently. However, I refuse to label those actions as being “Arab” behaviors. All people are capable of committing such attrocities. We’re just seeing a lot more of it from the Muslim world right now. That doesn’t mean we haven’t seen it elsewhere before, or that we’ll see it elsewhere again.
    ***
    Yeah Mobius, and you’re one with the fucking people. […] it’s the “brat” trying very hard to hold onto his/her Jewish roots while keeping friends in the post-modern, secular and very anti-Israel world of the hip.
    you think you’re so fucking astute and clever don’t you. you think you have me all summed up and all figured out. you know what, i’ll admit, maybe there are shades of truth in what you say… but there’s also a lot of falsehood which stems squarely out of one hard fact: you don’t know me from a fucking hole in the wall.
    how do you know me? from my comments on these threads? listen — every day i turn on my computer and there are a bunch of strangers talking shit to me, calling me a race traitor, baiting me, and antagonizing me. so if i seem flip, and agitated, and i get short with people, and i fly off the handle before i take time to think, consider the fact that every day of the week, i’ve got at least a dozen of you assholes crawling down my throat because it makes ’em feel good to shit on people.
    it’s mobius against the world, particularly today. not because i choose for it to be that way, but because no one enters civilized discourse with me saying, “hm, i can see why you feel the way you do, coming from your perspective and with the information you’re privy too. i think there’s another way to consider this subject… bear with me, perhaps you’ll see where i’m coming from.” no — it’s “you’re a fucking idiot! you’re no better than the kkk! you’re a nazi! you hate your own people! you’d take the arabs over your own grandparents!”
    well guess what…until you approach me as an individual with a tone of respect and appreciation in your voice, as opposed to antagonism and condecension, i could give a fuck what you think about me.

  23. Actually Mobius, and I mean this with total sincerity, it would be a hoot to sit down and chat with you. Also, I respect your design skills, so it would be cool to pick your mind about that matter as well.
    I don’t post on jewschool to shit on you (ok, john brown perhaps…but I find you to be much more thoughtful with respect to your criticism about Israel/Judaism). However, and like I mentioned in a previous post, it just seems that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. As such, I’ll tone down the volume as well.

  24. Mobius:
    You said earlier in the thread “we are engaged in a war against radical islam. if these people were not muslim fundamentalists acting on their religious beliefs, we wouldn’t be at war with them. that’s not to say that their religious beliefs are just or necessarily defensible (though i do recognize the circumstances which gave rise to such beliefs). only that it is precisely due to their religious conviction that we are killing them.” My question for you is this, do you mean this a literally as your wrote it? And here is why I ask, I believe personally that if the Muslim Fundamentalists were Radical Fundamentalist Christians/Jews/Buddists/etc. that were attacking Americans under similar circumstances that we would be taking similar actions. I am not saying we are not fighting with them because they are Fundamentalist Muslims, but that they happen to be Fundamentalist Muslims who are attacking us.
    And as to your last post, if I have ever given you the impression that I don’t respect you please let me know. That has never been my intention and I have tried to maintain everything strickly on a ‘professional’ level and not attack anyone. (With one exception this week of Asaf, but even then I tried not to attack in a way that was overly offensive, at least I hope not.)

  25. attention all: we are having a benefit for mobius. the world is against him, the jews, the buddhist, the amish, the hindus, the coloradians all are attacking him just because he forthrightly points out that they are just as evil as the muslims (the papers are full of stories of little old lutheran ladies sawing off heads of women and men); so lets come out in support of that poor little boy, this sunday, 4 – 6, the park, right next to the memorial for john lennon, bring your guitars and your favorite protest song, we will all demonstrate for mobius, his clear thinking, his moral clarity. makes ya just proud hes a fellow jew/american!

  26. Mobius tells me “you are such a dispicable racist it’s discomforting to converse with you.”
    No doubt it’s discomforting, but causing some discomfort to the Jewish public is clearly one of your goals, so I’ll assume that’s not a bad thing in itself. This racism thing, on the other hand…
    Look, I could hit you with any of a dozen snappy retorts. But instead, I’ll assume that was frustration that happened to get directed at me, and overlook it. I will tell you, though, that although everyone is entitled to a bad mood or a bad day, they are not entitled (morally) to publish toxic items. And this website being a public forum, available to anyone, anything written here is published. If you’re not in the right frame of mind, don’t write. Wait till it passes. This is especially important if you presume to take a leadership role and to try to spread your ideas to others.
    I wish that people were less crude and blockheaded than they often are, and would learn to react to opposition more appropriately than to call you a Nazi or traitor. However, when you say “i’ve got at least a dozen of you assholes crawling down my throat because it makes ’em feel good to shit on people”, aren’t you becoming what you resent? You must realize that a lot of the flak you get is not due to sadism but because you’re attacking what they hold dear.
    “no one enters civilized discourse with me saying, “hm, i can see why you feel the way you do, coming from your perspective and with the information you’re privy too. i think there’s another way to consider this subject… bear with me, perhaps you’ll see where i’m coming from.”
    Except for the civilized discourse part, you’re demanding too much. And frankly, when you attack the right, that’s not quite the standard you apply, is it? Nor should it be. Anyone who holds an opinion should be able to defend it in a no-holds-barred debate. The only rule should be that the arguments are made in good faith and that all parties be committed to finding the truth.
    As to the racism, we seem to agree that it is not automatically racist to criticize a given culture at a given time. I don’t know where in my post you got the impression that I was implying that the the Arabs have always been, or will always be, barbaric. Obviously I was describing Arab culture at this time.
    You might want to consider taking a couple days off. No computer, e-mail, etc.

  27. Lots of mishigas here, but few actually relate to the inevitable fact that there will be a thrid temple built on Mount Moriah/Har Habayit/Temple Mount. It’s our destiny and it will happend because we want it, nad especially despite those who are trying to prevent it.
    Do you really think that us Jews are going to continue to live luxuriously with consumer-driven western culture? It’s already happening. Those assimilated are having less kids and intermarrying and the religious are having more kids and becoming more religious by distancing themselves from pop-culture.
    The countdown has already started.
    Chag sameach

  28. “we are engaged in a war against radical islam. if these people were not muslim fundamentalists acting on their religious beliefs, we wouldn’t be at war with them. that’s not to say that their religious beliefs are just or necessarily defensible (though i do recognize the circumstances which gave rise to such beliefs). only that it is precisely due to their religious conviction that we are killing them. ”
    That’s a bit like saying that US miltary action in Somalia is evidence of anti-African racism.
    For your analogy to hold, the US must have worked to restrict Muslim religous activity (or, for a closer analogy, to attempt to destroy Islam worldwide). It has not done either of those things, nor taken steps to work to them. As I recall, the Jews didn’t really have too much opposition to Greek rule until the latter started acting against the religion.
    “and mowing down palestinians”
    Damn, why don’t I get invited to these Hanukkah parties?

  29. “we are engaged in a war against radical islam. if these people were not muslim fundamentalists acting on their religious beliefs, we wouldn’t be at war with them. that’s not to say that their religious beliefs are just or necessarily defensible (though i do recognize the circumstances which gave rise to such beliefs). only that it is precisely due to their religious conviction that we are killing them. ”
    Uhhhh… “acting on their religious beliefs” means seeking to subdue other peoples and cultures, using thuggery – and nukular weapons. What would be the, uh, *culturally sensitive* way to handle this, Mobius?
    Rights come with obligations.
    It is a conceit of the loonie left to totally ignore this – to assert that the most violent and INtolerant people must be extended all the rights of civilized society. That’s not how it works – it is actually IMmoral not to demand that Islam tolerate other beliefs.
    And suicidal.
    Lefties bestow the same eventless,obligation-less victimhood on the Palestinians – as if there should be no consequence for their violent, treacherous rejection of peaceful coexistence in a moral society.
    further:
    “the maccabean revolt wasn’t solely against the syrian greeks, it was also directed against hellenized jews who were the ruling majority.”
    Nope, Mobius. The historical record is clear: the Hellenists were a small minority concentrated in the cities. They not only fomented animosity towards Judaism, they connived with the Greeks to tax their bretheren into virtual serfdom in their own country. They *projected* a public image of being “the majority” although this was never so… kinda like the socialist claque that claims to be modern Israel’s “democratic, humanistic” conscience – but hasn’t a truly democratic bone in its body.
    There is a point of truth hiding in your posts, Mobius – Hanukah DOES celebrate the victory of proud, patriotic, faithful Mafdal/Likud Jews like me over self-hating, back-biting Meretz/Shinui Jews like you. But that doesn’t mean that the Maccabees were fundamentalists – or the minority. Then OR now…
    Ben-David
    Happy Hanukah
    Ben David

  30. European totalitarian ideas have seeped into the Arab world, an American writer told a forum on terrorism last week.
    These concepts are derived from fascist and communist ideology as propounded by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, Paul Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism, said in the last of four Gerald Schwartz/Heather Reisman lectures at Holy Blossom Temple.
    Berman, a specialist in revolutionary movements and their totalitarian dimensions, explained that Arab totalitarians want to create “a perfect society” and share a belief in the cult of death and the notion of martyrdom.
    “Out of this came suicide bombers,” he said.
    http://www.cjnews.com/viewarticle.asp?id=5030

  31. ben-david — i would’ve paid attention to your post and perhaps learned something from it had you not called me a self-hating jew. but since you couldn’t help but let that squeak out, nothing you say holds any relevancy or meaning for me and i could care less about what you have to say or think on any issue.

  32. Hey Mobius, watch who you call a racist then, eh? Most people don’t like that neither. Maybe you owe someone an apology too?

  33. “Obviously I was describing Arab culture at this time.”
    beheading people is not ‘arab’ culture — it is an action carried out by a very tiny number of muslim people who tend to get a very disproportionate amount of press. to imply then, as j did, that all arab people are thus ‘currently’ barbaric is not just a false statement, but an incredibly demeaning one. to go from that point to suggest, as j also did, that we are therefore better than ‘the arabs’ because we don’t ‘stoop to their level of barbarism’ is a statement of racial superiority which suggests that we ‘reasonably well-behaved’ jewish people are morally and thus ultimately superior to the ‘barbaric’ arab people. that is racism: the doctrine that one race, be it for physical or cultural reasons, is in some way superior over another.
    so, phil, when you say “watch who you call a racist then” you should know that i do watch very carefully who i call a racist. sometimes it’s hard for people to know that what they think is racist, or sexist, or unjust in some other way until someone else brings that fact to their attention.
    so no, i will not apologize in this case, for being right.

  34. no one who attacks islamic terrorism is saying that muslims are genetically inferior to any other group. rather, we are saying that muslim culture, resulting in part from a koran that explicitly calls jews and xtians inferior and deserving of forced conversion and inferior status to muslims, is a dangerous, anti democratic, anti western values, anti jewish, and anti xtian construct. how else to explain the muslim widespread joy over 9/11. how else to explain the lack amongst muslims of universal revulsion over the murder/beheadings of innocent men and women civilians in iraq. how else to explain massive muslim support for terrorism around the world. wesely europe has already begun its accomodation with the muslim cultural imperialism (even britain is entertaing the passage of the antifree speach law that would prohibit the criticism of religion, a sop to protect muslims from criticism of their various practices which disgust westerners – female mutilization, wife beating, stoning of gays, etc.) so to all those whose pc prevents them from facing the reality of muslim animalistic behavior (although i dont know of any animals who mitilate their own, who murder for fun, who saw off the heads of those they dislike), stop hiding behind pc behavior – its time to grow up and face reality, the muslim culture is not only inferior, its dangerous and deadly and left unrestained will result in the annilation of the west as we know it.

  35. BTW,
    I think one of the turning points of the Macabbe/Greek & Greekists war was when the Greek governor had his head cut off.
    What if…
    Judah Macabee were alive today? and how would he solve our ‘problems’ internal and external.

  36. Mobius:
    “beheading people is not ‘arab’ culture ”
    You’re right…the moral legitamacy of beheading, although sanctioned in the Koran, is still a matter of (a little) debate in modern Arab culture (just watch Al Jazeera). Same goes for 15 year old suicide bombers.
    It’s still not clear to me and many other reasonable, non-racist people, whether or not a vocal, influential group of Arabs/Muslims will ever materialize for the purpose of adamantly and rigorously condemning terrorism is the strongest possible terms. To say that Islam or Arab culture is “sick” is not racist. In fact to deny that Arab culture is sick may in fact be racist…
    “to imply then, as j did, that all arab people are thus ‘currently’ barbaric is not just a false statement, but an incredibly demeaning one. to go from that point to suggest, as j also did, that we are therefore better than ‘the arabs’ because we don’t ‘stoop to their level of barbarism’ is a statement of racial superiority”
    I don’t think he ever said that all Arab people are currently barbaric …I think he suggested (or “implied” as you say) that Arab culture is currently going through a particuarly violent episode in its history. His comments are more critical than demeaning I think (how did you feel about the murder of Van Gogh? Justified? Van Gogh was such a “demeaner” of Arab sexism after all…). J never says anything about racial superiority, in fact, you are the only one that brought up race.
    So you are not right. You are wrong. Pick something out of J’s comments that make him a racist (no implications please). If you can’t do this, don’t get too mad the next time someone suggests that your writing “implies” that you are a self-hating Jew.

  37. And Sam…
    You are a self-rightous, probaby humorless, moron. Although I may not agree with everything Mr. Green has to say, do you honestly think that the content of your lame link is an argument of some kind?
    “And Ziyad abu al-Hiya, a Palestinian intellectual, wrote in Fatah’s Gaza Journal: “A 22-year-old mother of two children, one an infant boy and the other a girl, carried out a mission of self-sacrifice. Who issued a fatwa [religious ruling] taking an infant’s mother away from him? Who decided to add two more orphans to the list of Palestine’s orphans?”
    Can you possibly find the smallest bit of irony in the above “criticism” of suicide bombing?

  38. Here are my original comments, which Mobius feels are the words of a “despicable racist”:
    “You know, maybe you’re right. Maybe the Jewish way in handling these matters isn’t right. So from here on, let’s do it the Arab way. Palestinians should henceforth be treated as would a Jewish minority in an Arab country that blew up Arabs on buses and in restaurants, then celebrated in the streets following the attack. No more sporadic rock throwing – we’ll let sharia deal with the heretics. And no more name calling about race traitors – except to call them the “recently deceased”.”
    Here is Mobius’ restatement of what I wrote:
    “beheading people is not ‘arab’ culture — it is an action carried out by a very tiny number of muslim people who tend to get a very disproportionate amount of press. to imply then, as j did, that all arab people are thus ‘currently’ barbaric is not just a false statement, but an incredibly demeaning one. to go from that point to suggest, as j also did, that we are therefore better than ‘the arabs’ because we don’t ‘stoop to their level of barbarism’ is a statement of racial superiority which suggests that we ‘reasonably well-behaved’ jewish people are morally and thus ultimately superior to the ‘barbaric’ arab people. that is racism: the doctrine that one race, be it for physical or cultural reasons, is in some way superior over another.”
    How Mobius got this from what I said is unclear. Say what you want about what I actually say, but don’t put words in my mouth.
    I’ll have to draw my own conclusions about this. For all the big talk about challenging other people’s ideas or treating other people fairly, in the end, faced with challenges to his own opinions, all Mobius can do is revert to the ultimate “I want my mommy” of the left, and call his opponents racist.
    For the record, I don’t consider Mobius to be a self-hating Jew. I think he’s confused and undecided.
    “sometimes it’s hard for people to know that what they think is racist, or sexist, or unjust in some other way until someone else brings that fact to their attention.”
    You would think that an unwitting racist would at least not be despicable. But no such luck, I guess. Gosh, thanks, Mobius, for letting me know about what’s in my own head. And this just after a rant about somebody psychoanalyzing you.
    Thanks for your defense, Philip. I appreciate it.

  39. For all the big talk about challenging other people’s ideas or treating other people fairly, in the end, faced with challenges to his own opinions, all Mobius can do is revert to the ultimate “I want my mommy” of the left, and call his opponents racist.
    seriously, j. you can just fuck off. if you’re going to sit there and act like your remarks weren’t antagonistic or had racist undertones (which are still apparent to me when i reread your text), i ain’t got a thing to say to you. i’m done arguing.
    people complained there was a lull in jewschool because i wasn’t participating in the discussions. now i remember why i stopped. i just don’t need the headache. i really don’t have anything to prove to you, and i really do in fact have better things to do than talk to walls.
    “uh i really have no defense for my racism so i’m going to deny it and accuse you of being unfair — and better yet, immature — for calling me out on it.”
    enough of your semantic flypaper. i’m not getting tangled up in this bullshit anymore. here, lemme make it easy: you win. you’re my intellectual superior. i don’t know shit. happy now? good…fuck off.
    To say that Islam or Arab culture is ‘sick’ is not racist.
    and if i said that judaism or jewish culture was sick because we chop our son’s foreskins off and suck the blood out and shave our women’s heads and ritually slaughter animals and throw rocks at people who violate the sabbath and pray for the restoration of temple sacrifice and steal land from arabs and snipe at olive harvesters and plot bomb attacks on schools and traffic in ecstasy … that remark would be what to you?
    i mean, there’s truth laden with generalization mired with misunderstanding mixed with ignorance and what — it’s sick! it’s sick!
    what does that make me, if i make that remark? a self-hating jew? what if a goy says it? does that make them an anti-semite? hm?
    what, we don’t have our fair share of wife batterers? you don’t think we’ve actively oppressed our women up til the point where they grew balls enough to fight us back? you don’t think we have crazies who are itchin’ to take out a swath of aravim? we don’t have a segment of our population who considers the arabs amalek and insist we’re obligated by torah to exterminate them?
    there’s only one real basic difference between jews and muslims — we’re only 13 million or so and they’re 1 billion. if we were as big a nation as them, our darkside would be over-apparent as well. but it still wouldn’t be who we are. it still wouldn’t be what we’re about. and it would still be racist to brand us all as “sick” because you’re distracted by the crazies and losing sight of the beauty they’re obscuring.
    enough of this thread tho. really, i’m done. you wanna declare yourself victor, go right ahead. i could give a fuck, really. i’m through.

  40. “if you’re going to sit there and act like your remarks weren’t antagonistic …”
    When did I deny that I was antagonistic? And how does someone who starts a thread comparing the Maccabees to the Iraqi insurgents dare to complain about being antagonistic?
    ” or had racist undertones …”
    Nope, all your blather doesn’t change what I wrote.
    ” i really don’t have anything to prove to you…”
    No, you don’t. You never did. Not to me. It’s the general public you had something to prove to, and I’m glad to say that you just proved a lot.
    It’s still impossible to say whether you consider Jews to be morally superior to the Arabs or not. You seem to shift on this every third sentence. I’m sure you’ll figure it out someday. You may also learn to distinguish between culture and race.

  41. wow, j beats mobius into pulp, mobius in abject defeat leaves the field of battle….have we heard the last of mobius, or, like a protean whisp of evil, will he reappear, under a new name, but the same risible views? stay tuned.

  42. wow, look to the west…are those little hobbits coming out to play; and there to the east, have the elves returned? without mobius, the forces of evil seem to have evaporated, the good and the just are returning, a thousand years of darkness are retreating, the sun is rising in the east, humans once again have smiles……

  43. “You know, maybe you’re right. Maybe the Jewish way in handling these matters isn’t right. So from here on, let’s do it the Arab way. Palestinians should henceforth be treated as would a Jewish minority in an Arab country that blew up Arabs on buses and in restaurants, then celebrated in the streets following the attack. No more sporadic rock throwing – we’ll let sharia deal with the heretics. And no more name calling about race traitors – except to call them the “recently deceased”.”
    First quasi-racist statement: “the Arab way.”
    There is no “the Arab way.” There are, rather, many Arab ways.
    Second quasi-racist statement: “as would.”
    Assertion of knowledge about the other as a way of claiming higher ground. Severe reductionism.
    In cases where essentialism and severe reductionism are applied to an entire culture, as a way of asserting the superiority of one over the other, we call it racism. If you want to quibble, J, since you claim not to believe in an eternal Arab race, I say that it doesn’t matter if you shift from “race,” the fictional category, to “culture,” a category that is fictional when it reified and cast as a monolith. It’s just as bad. It doesn’t matter if you’re a racist or an Orientalist. You’re still wrong.

  44. Sam:
    Give me a moment to get back into argument mode and out of epithet mode.
    OK. Here’s my paragraph again:
    “You know, maybe you’re right. Maybe the Jewish way in handling these matters isn’t right. So from here on, let’s do it the Arab way. Palestinians should henceforth be treated as would a Jewish minority in an Arab country that blew up Arabs on buses and in restaurants, then celebrated in the streets following the attack. No more sporadic rock throwing – we’ll let sharia deal with the heretics. And no more name calling about race traitors – except to call them the “recently deceased”.”
    Clearly, my paragraph should be read in the spirit it’s written in, just as any piece of writing should. It must be obvious that in this case, I’m being facetious and not writing in the same style as someone who is putting together, say, a treatise. Therefore, I didn’t include every possible caveat in my paragraph – not because I don’t agree with some of the possible caveats, but because it’s impossible to make a brief point that way.
    As for “the Arab way” – yes, I understand very well that there are many Arabs in the world, past and present, and that they are diverse in many respects. I was speaking of the majority attitude of today’s Arabs as such attitude affects Jews. You may want to argue that in fact most or all Arab countries would not slaughter or exile the Jews if the Jews behaved as I described, but at this point the argument is far away from being about race.
    “Assertion of knowledge about the other as a way of claiming higher ground. Severe reductionism.”
    No, actual knowledge about the other (using approximations based on available evidence) as a way of understanding the world. Is it reductionism? In a sense, maybe. I didn’t pack every nuance and caveat into my paragraph (“In Saudi Arabia, they would burn the Jews alive, but in Tunisia they would use bullets, while in Bahrain they would just make faces, except for the rural tribesmen, who would only play practical jokes…”), but what I said is, I believe, the most realistic assessment of the hypothetical that I could put in a few words.
    “In cases where essentialism and severe reductionism are applied to an entire culture, as a way of asserting the superiority of one over the other, we call it racism.”
    No, you call it racism. I don’t believe that the different cultures arose because of racial differences, so questions of culture are different than questions of race. (There are, of course, true racists who hide behind this distinction and criticize a culture when their their real target is the group’d race, but this does not make every critic of a culture a racist.)
    “If you want to quibble, J, since you claim not to believe in an eternal Arab race, I say that it doesn’t matter if you shift from “race,” the fictional category, to “culture,” a category that is fictional when it reified and cast as a monolith. ”
    This is not “quibbling”, it’s the essence of the argument. Calling race and culture fictional categories may be true in some senses (and looks mighty clever in front of an academic crowd), but is pointless for the purposes of this discussion, where all sides understand which people we’re talking about. And I said nothing about an “Arab race”; what I said was that Arab culture, however defined, has had better days, morally speaking, in the past, and may improve in the future. Its present, however, is, with exceptions, dismal.
    “It doesn’t matter if you’re a racist or an Orientalist. ”
    Apparently it mattered to Mobius. Also, there is a difference between being wrong and racist, and being just wrong. Being just wrong doesn’t necessarily show a lack of good faith and morality.

  45. Okay then, J. Insofar as it is valuable to maintain a moral distinction between racism and Orientalism, since one is a moral flaw while the other is an academic error, I will grant your points.
    However, I’m not sure how good an excuse it is that you were being facetious. This is probably why Philip said I was humorless, but I don’t think it’s funny to make jokes that implicate whole cultures in barbarism, especially given the likelihood of perpetuating the attitude expressed in the joke. Unless you’re being sarcastic. Then maybe it’s funny.
    I think that assessing “a culture” on the basis of “its present,” without also taking into account the history that led to that present, and then forming an unsympathetic judgment of that present, is wrong. Mostly because it could be done against any culture, and would always cause members of that culture to react by pointing out how they got to where they are, and describe the ways they think they could get out of the jam. Using it as a joke, then, in front of only members of your own culture, perpetuates the bad judgment without allowing for any defense.
    I’m starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t get one Palestinian-American to post on Jewschool. I bet it would change the way a lot of the discourse around here goes down.

  46. “I think that assessing “a culture” on the basis of “its present,” without also taking into account the history that led to that present, and then forming an unsympathetic judgment of that present, is wrong”
    So Sam that’s why you support West Bank and Gaza settlements! Hard-core, dude.

  47. “I’m starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t get one Palestinian-American to post on Jewschool.” sam, you are such a leftist. its great that almost every faculty in the country is 99% leftist, but we need more blacks and latinos for DIVERSITY! how about diversity of ideas, guess that doesnt count. sam here parrots the leftist propalestinian anti jewish anti israeli anti american line with the best of the chompskyites, but hes worried about the color of the skin of the poster. dont worry sam, we will consider you our honourary palestinian american. ps. isnt it amazing how the left has become the party of racism, the colour of ones skin being the most important attribute of a person, not his thoughts, his character, his views, his being? sam, the new poster boy for the kkk.

  48. Sam:
    You say “However, I’m not sure how good an excuse it is that you were being facetious. This is probably why Philip said I was humorless, but I don’t think it’s funny to make jokes that implicate whole cultures in barbarism, especially given the likelihood of perpetuating the attitude expressed in the joke. Unless you’re being sarcastic. Then maybe it’s funny.”
    I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify my positions. Although I agreed that Arabs and Arab culture are not monolithic, and that the past and potential future of a culture should be taken into account, I don’t share your assumptions stated above. Not only do I see no problem in implicating whole cultures as barbarous (provided such implication is based on reality, of course), not only do I find it okay to joke about it, in this case I believe that it’s MERITORIOUS to take such a position publicly.
    The facts regarding the Arabs today – what so many of them support and applaud; what so many of them teach their children; what so many of them actually do; and what so many of the rest of them tolerate so easily – support the conclusion that in fact Arab culture is today barbarous. In the case of the Palestinians, the situation is so appalling that I can only conclude that their culture is a culture of bloodthirsty savagery. Are all of them bloodthirsty savages? Of course not; but when the savagery hits a critical point, it’s not only fair and permissible to point this out, it’s the only moral thing to do.
    There’s no benefit, moral or practical, in pretending any group (or individual, for that matter) is better morally than they actually are. The primary result of such pretending is that reform efforts are delayed, and rightful opposition is demoralized.
    Are you of the opinion that it’s wrong to condemn ANY culture, anytime, as barbarous? Or do you object only in this case? And if so, on what grounds?
    “I think that assessing “a culture” on the basis of “its present,” without also taking into account the history that led to that present, and then forming an unsympathetic judgment of that present, is wrong.”
    Could you explain this more fully? My take on this is that you’re asserting a fairly strict determinism here. After all, if the prior history tends, as a rule, to truly exonerate the present state of the culture, it would show that members of the culture (and all cultures) are like trains on a track, lacking free will and thus any real choice in the direction of their culture’s moral development. (Of course, for me, it is POSSIBLE that prior history may fully or partially excuse current behavior, but this will only be true some of the time, and it must be argued on a case-by-case basis.)
    “Mostly because it could be done against any culture, and would always cause members of that culture to react by pointing out how they got to where they are, and describe the ways they think they could get out of the jam. ”
    I don’t understand that sentence. Could you elaborate?
    “Using it as a joke, then, in front of only members of your own culture, perpetuates the bad judgment without allowing for any defense.”
    I don’t say anything here that I wouldn’t say in front of a general audience. And, sadly from my point of view, on this website the Arab view(s) get more defense than they deserve.
    “I’m starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t get one Palestinian-American to post on Jewschool. I bet it would change the way a lot of the discourse around here goes down.”
    It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think it would change the discussions here that much. I doubt the right-wingers would pull any punches – I know I wouldn’t. And the left-wingers probably wouldn’t be that distinguishable from the Palestinian.
    Now if you got a pro-Israel, Likud oriented, conservative Republican Palestinian-American…

  49. J:
    At least you got my point with regard to a Palestinian-American poster, unlike Avi who thought I was proposing it “for the sake of diversity.” Yeah, I meant that I thought people would pull punches because of the Jewish-only nature of the “community” here. You say you wouldn’t. It’d be interesting, either way.
    Now — I think that you are wrong about “Arab culture” and that your position is not meritorious. First of all, for all your recognitions that Arab culture is not monolithic, you just went and reproduced that idea again in your last response. “The facts regarding the Arabs today,” you said. Even allowing that you don’t think “they” are ALL “that way,” you’ve gone and painted with as broad a brush as possible. You followed that comment with an allusion to various bad things “so many of them” are implicated in. With regard to the Palestinians specifically, you said theirs was a culture of bloodthirsty savagery.
    This is what I’m talking about.
    I can’t imagine, really, what solid ground is available on which to base an opinion like that. I will try to guess, based on what I have heard people say who have shared similar opinions. It’s something like: the methods that some Palestinian groups use against Israel are broadly supported by the Palestinian population; these methods are barbaric; support for them is barbaric; therefore, the broader culture is barbaric. Am I close? Is it something like that?
    The problem with this is what we have to support it. A poll? Some numbers? Did we gauge the depth of feeling behind this broader support? Does the broader support fluctuate with events? What sort of events cause it to fluctuate? What does that tell us about the support?
    If I was a Palestinian, I would probably be in the Mustafa Barghouti crowd; I would write editorials against violence and try to propose better alternative methods of resistance. However, I would not describe myself as a member of a barbaric culture. Which leads me to your next question:
    “Are you of the opinion that it’s wrong to condemn ANY culture, anytime, as barbarous? Or do you object only in this case? And if so, on what grounds?”
    The question is how narrow you can draw the lines. Let’s say the culture you are describing is the culture of the Nazi party. I wouldn’t have a problem describing that as all sorts of bad things. The Stalinist culture might be another one. Or let’s say it is, specifically, the Hamas culture, or the al-Qaeda culture. Draw the lines much broader than that, though, and you implicate yourself in violent generalizations. Palestinian culture, like most other cultures, are constantly in flux and struggling over themselves. You can support one side against another, but it doesn’t make sense to me to build up the whole thing into one structure and then say it’s barbaric.
    Could you explain this more fully? My take on this is that you’re asserting a fairly strict determinism here. After all, if the prior history tends, as a rule, to truly exonerate the present state of the culture, it would show that members of the culture (and all cultures) are like trains on a track, lacking free will and thus any real choice in the direction of their culture’s moral development. (Of course, for me, it is POSSIBLE that prior history may fully or partially excuse current behavior, but this will only be true some of the time, and it must be argued on a case-by-case basis.)
    Sorry for being unclear. I didn’t mean to say that history “exonerates” a present. I meant to say that fuller awareness of a history leads to better understanding of a present. A pretty uncontroversial claim, but something that gets lost when people make gigantic generalizations. So then, as Philip unhelpfully pointed out, my awareness as a Jew of my own people’s recent history leads me to a better understanding of the settler movement, although it doesn’t lead me to “exonerate” it. At the same time, though, since I am an insider, I am aware enough about differences within my own group that I won’t say something like: “so many of those Jews steal people’s land, and rejoice about it. They think that Arab children’s lives are worthless. They believe they have a divine right to the land and that they will bring the messiah by settling it further. Clearly their culture is sick.” It wouldn’t be enough information and it would be highly misleading.

  50. Sam:
    I’ve been out for a few days. Since possibly nobody will ever read this thread again, I’ll answer when a new opportunity presents itself (won’t be long, I’m sure).

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