The Contentious Centrist
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Friday, November 27, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
A Circle of Chavez's Friends
The BBC reports:
'Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has defended jailed killer "Carlos the Jackal" and several world leaders he says are wrongly considered "bad guys". In a speech to international socialist politicians, Mr Chavez said "Carlos", a Venezuelan, was not a terrorist but a key "revolutionary fighter"....
'Mr Chavez also hailed Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.' (Via: Oliver Kamm)
Saturday, November 14, 2009
@ Simply Lujayn the blogger rants on a bit unintelligibly. One cannot quite follow the leaps from the purported topic of the post which is that "76 US Senators pressed Obama to “take into account the risks Israel will face in any peace agreement" to Lujayn's amusing recounting of history "(Israel) come out of nowhere, take your land, label it a Jewish state, make you into either a prisoner or a refugee, and strangle you in every which way possible" to a concern for international law and human rights abuses committed by none other than said Israel, to a psychological analysis of the strange hold that Jews have over "anyone[who] managed to put aside their historical guilt towards the Jewish people".
I don't see how it is possible to respond to the lack of rational discipline, the self indulgent absence of knowledge or verifiable facts that is demonstrated in these kinds of posts which are pretty typical of what one can find on the Arab blogosphere when "Israel" "Jews" or "America" are mentioned. The lies and invective are a consequence of decades long nearly Pavlovian conditioning, and the subjects can only react to a situation emotionally and mindlessly, rather than apply some sort of critical thinking.
Anyway, I decided to respond to the rant nonetheless by suggesting to the blogger that people who sit in glasshouses should not throw rocks:
"Is there a hotline somewhere I can contact to hand over the deeds to my home, land and life in exoneration for my sin of having been born on someone else's potential state?"
I often ask the same question myself:
"On first entering Syria, the observant traveler will probably be startled to go through passport control and notice a military map of Syria on the wall, for this map contains several anomalies. It shows the Golan Heights under Syrian control, though they have been occupied by Israel since 1967. Syria's boundaries with Lebanon and Jordan appear not as international borders but as something called "regional" borders. Israel does not even exist; instead, there is a state called Palestine. And Palestine is separated from Syria by a line designated a "temporary" border". Finally, the province of Hatay, a part of Turkey since 1939, appears to be included in Syria; only on close inspection can one see the "temporary" border between it and Syria.
The many inaccuracies on this map reflect the Syrian rulers' profound unwillingness to accept the actual size and shape of the country they administer. They remember that until 1920, "Syria" referred to a region much larger than the Syrian Arab Republic of today, a region that stretched from the borders of Anatolia to those of Egypt, from the edge of Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea. In terms of today's states, the Syria of old comprised Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, plus the Gaza Strip and Alexandretta. This larger land, known since 1920 as Greater Syria, is what they dream of reclaiming."
"Or the risk of acknowledging its appalling human rights record."
I don't suppose there is any such risk of you acknowledging any of the following:
"The Hama massacre (Arabic: مجزرة حماة) occurred on February 2, 1982, when the Syrian army bombarded the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood. An estimated 7,000 to 40,000 people were killed, including about 1,000 soldiers,  and most of the old city was completely destroyed, including its palaces, mosques and ancient ruins."
"According to the U.S. State Department’s 2004 report on human rights, Syria’s human rights record remains poor. A state of emergency has been in effect since 1963. Security forces continue to commit numerous and serious human rights abuses including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture in detention, prolonged detention without trial, fundamentally unfair trials in the security courts, and infringement on privacy rights. Police and security forces are corrupt. Prison conditions are poor and do not meet international standards for health and sanitation. The regime significantly restricts freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association. Kurds suffer systematic discrimination. After a brief period in 2000–2001 known as Damascus Spring, during which time independent debating clubs were established, satellite dishes became much more prominent, Internet cafés opened, new independent print publications were established, and political detainees from across the political spectrum were released, Decree No. 50/2001 was passed, which places severe restrictions on the media, especially the print media. According to Arab Press Freedom Watch, the current regime has one of the worst records on freedom of expression in the Arab world."
From the content, tone and shrillness of your mindless baseless, a-historical accusations, I see the Syrian regime has been wildly successful in its efforts to put a stop to any equitable flow of information or the capacity for independent thinking.
I assume, having just proclaimed Jews to be liars, usurpers and murderers, your invitation to Jews to return to Syria was something like:
"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there."
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."
"And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the F
Poor Lujayn. She seems a relatively decent sort with some correct instincts but still is incapable of transcending the evil teachings of her immediate environment. As the great Hebrew Russian poet Shaul Tschernichovsky once said in a poem:
A man is nothing but the cast of his native landscape.
@ The Spine
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So which is it: Discrimination, or Discrimination against Arabs?
Haaretz has an article today about discrimination against groups in Israel. In the report, it seems that
"Israeli employers prefer not to hire Arabs, Ethiopians and Haredis - even those holding at least an undergraduate degree, according to a study published on Monday. "The report then goes into some details:
More than 83 percent of employers are repelled by the idea of hiring an Arab without a university degree, found the study conducted by the Kiryat Ono Academy.So here we have a report of three distinctive groups within Israeli society subjected to some sort of discrimination: Arabs, Haredis, Ethiopian Jews.
Some 58 percent of managers prefer not to hire Haredic academics, and 53 percent of them would rather not hire Ethiopians, the report said.
Some 86 percent of the research participants said that they would rather not promote Haredic employees, 79 percent said that about Arabs, and 70 percent of them would rather not promote an Ethiopian worker.
The first statement suggests that there seems to be a general reluctance to hire any of these groups even when they do not have a university degree.
However, a little further down, we find that
"More than 83 percent of employers are repelled by the idea of hiring an Arab without a university degree".
There seems to be some dissonance between the two findings which is not clear: are Arabs discriminated against because they are Arabs, or because they do not have university degrees? And what kind of jobs are we talking about? Manual jobs that do not require any specialization or education, or white collar jobs which do stipulate a university degree?
Another point of puzzlement: it appears that Haredis encounter more prejudice than Arabs do, when it comes to promotion.
And even more puzzling is the emphasis given to the Arab sector in this report. The title of the article says: Study: Israeli employers prefer not to hire Arabs.
Yet the information we receive from the article as soon as we start reading is that "Israeli employers prefer not to hire Arabs, Ethiopians and Haredis".
It's as if the writers of this report were mainly concerned with the discrimination of Arabs, and less with the discrimination of Ethiopians and Haredis. So what exactly is the problem that bedevils Israeli society, that there are still levels of discrimination to be found among its ranks against anyone who is distinctly different in some way, or discrimination against Arabs? Which is the more outrageous sin, I'd like to know? Because as I read this article, discrimination as a foul sickness does not seem to worry the authors so much as the specific discrimination against Arabs does. The article's emphasis on the Arab sector is in and of itself a type of discrimination.
Speaking for myself, the kind that outrages me most is discrimination against Ethiopian Jews. The Arab sector is a powerful and assertive presence, with a well-oiled machine on all levels of politics and society for making and correcting perceived wrongs. The same applies for the Haredi sector. It's the Ethiopian Jews that are the most vulnerable minority, the least vocal with the least power to advance their cause. They are the ones about whom we should worry the most.
You don't get that kind of concern from this particular article.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
An interesting theory advanced by Uzi Silber trying to explain why Jews are more susceptible to hate their kin than other tribes. There are many theories trying to explain this phenomenon, such as the following:
"s Jew Flu a bona-fide illness? Michael Welner, a psychiatrist at New York University, suggests that Jewish Anti-Semitism is akin to a personality disorder, enabling a person to "derive some psychological benefit from this pathological thinking."
What causes Jew Flu? Harvard psychiatrist Kenneth Levin argues for twin culprits: so-called 'Stockholm Syndrome', where "population segments under chronic siege commonly embrace the indictments of their besiegers however bigoted and outrageous", as well as "the psychodynamics of abused children who blame themselves for their situation and believe they could mollify their tormenters if they were 'good'."
Julie Ancis, a psychology professor at Georgia State University says that it isn't "uncommon for a minority group with a history of oppression and persecution to possess internalized self-hatred regarding their cultural/religious identity."
But Silber somewhat cheekily but nonetheless with some scientific validation, has a different take on the root causes:
"David Brooks recently reported in the New York Times on research by a Haifa University team led by Reem Yahya who studied the brains scans of Arabs and Jews while showing them images of hands and feet in painful situations.
Brooks reports that "the two cultures perceived pain differently. The Arabs perceived higher levels of pain over all while the Jews were more sensitive to pain suffered by members of a group other than their own (italics my own.)"
This phenomenon was epitomized by Rosa Luxemburg, a prominent Bolshevik and Jew Flu victim. "I have no room in my heart for Jewish suffering," declared Rosa the Red. "Why do you pester me with Jewish troubles? I feel closer to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations of Putumayo or the Negroes in Africa... I have no separate corner in my heart for the ghetto."
And he tries to pinpoint the prognosis:
"The intriguing research out of Haifa suggests that Jews may very well be inherently altruistic. But while exhibiting more sensitivity to another group's pain is one thing, embracing the goals of people openly committed to one's destruction is a form of madness.
So here's my ultimate theory for the cause of this nefarious virus: Jew Flu is a condition in which being "more sensitive to pain suffered by members of a group other than (one's) own metastasizes into a malignant emotional and moral identification with people committed to (one's) annihilation."
Monday, November 09, 2009
Considering how most Canadian leftists are so essentially, gleefully and mindlessly anti-American, it was a bit of surprise for me to learn, from Terry Glavin's blog, that the origins of Canadian socialism actually trace back to the US.
Here is the youtube explaining this irony in history.
Friday, November 06, 2009
@Z word blog: Goldstone vs. Gold
@ The Spine: An Act of Jihad
@ Mick's: Anne Frank in Lebanese schools
@ Pajamas Media: The Humus wars
@ Simply Lujayn: ("Forgive us our intolerance")
My comment (in case it is deleted; Arab blogs are notoriously intolerant of any opinion that does not flatter them):
"if we, today, announce that all arab jews are welcome back home, where they'll be given absolute guarantees to euqality and freedom of harassment, and where their properties will be given back to them with the accumulating interest and government support to restore them and run them; how many of them you think will opt to come back?"
Somehow I don't see Syria in the role of any promised land any time soon, or ever. Frankly, if you had a choice between living in your country, a dictatorship whose citizens depend on the good graces of its ruler and his sycophants, where you can't even rely on a steady supply of electric power 24/7, and in Israel, a democracy in which the citizens actually get to control their own life, prosperity and the future of their children, where would you prefer to live?
Here is an example of what Israel is like:
And here is what I hear about your country:
"We are living in a garbage dump and the shit is getting higher."
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
J-Street: The alternative to an Arab Lobby?
In a recent column in the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, columnist Dr. As'ad 'Abd Al-Rahman wrote about the Jewish-American advocacy group J Street, arguing that its importance is in that it provides the U.S. administration with "political and media ammunition" against Israel, especially in the absence of an Arab lobby in the U.S. [-]
"True, the influence of this new lobby has not yet reached the dimensions of AIPAC's [influence], but it has taken AIPAC head-on, and has won some significant points [against it]. During the recent attack on Gaza, J Street collected 30,000 signatures in an online petition that condemned [Israel's] aggression, characterizing it as 'disproportionate' and stressing that 'there can be no military solution to a conflict that is essentially political.' [-]
"[J Street's] second important [action] came during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington. J Street asked the U.S. administration to intervene and impose a two-state solution, even if this meant exerting pressure on Israel. AIPAC, on the other hand, asked Washington not to intervene but to leave the issue to the decision of the two sides in the conflict.[-]
"I think it unfortunate that there is no Arab lobby in Washington to support the Arabs' official and popular position and to work towards changing U.S. policy on the Middle East conflict..." [-]
"Needless to say, the views of the new Jewish lobby J Street have provided the U.S. and other countries with political and media ammunition.
The Number One Paradox of all Middle Eastern politics
Why is it that although the Palestinians complain that they are suffering from a horrible occupation and not having a state of their own they are not in any hurry to make a peace agreement, end the “occupation,” and get a state.
The main answer is that the dominant Palestinian view is still the desire to win a total victory and wipe Israel off the map. The back-up stance is that any peace agreement must not block the continued pursuit of that goal. And the back-up position to that is to reject strong security guarantees, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, an unmilitarized Palestinian state, settlement of Palestinian refugees in Palestine, territorial compromise or exchanges, and indeed any concession whatsoever.
There are two implications of this:
--The Palestinians are at fault for the failure to achieve peace.
--There isn’t going to be any Israel-Palestinian peace in the near- or even medium-term future.
If you understand the preceding ... words then you understand the issue comprehensively.