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Theater of Fear

They did not foresee…  the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant

Aldous Huxley

We all like good Theater.  Something terrible happens to an innocent victim (or victims), the good guys scurry around trying to find out how and why the tragedy occurred, use all their resources to make sure the evildoers get punished, and it doesn’t happen again.  The audience comes away feeling that despite mishaps, the world is on the right trajectory, a safe place to be.

Take the theatrical aftermath of the recent bike path terror attack in New York City.  Or the van driving down a pedestrian mall in Barcelona.  Or the bomb outside the Ariana Grande concert in England.  Or any of the countless attacks in recent years, some resulting in some minor injuries, other killing dozens.

Closing the barn doors

In the Theater of Fear, a regular script is followed.  First, thoughts and prayers to the victims.  Then outrage, saying that the victims’ city/nation/civilization won’t be intimidated. Then the investigations, where government and police vow to get to the bottom of things.  The authorities take some action to make sure the same attack can’t be replicated.  Like closing the barn doors after the cows have died.

 In “Brave New World” non-stop distractions of the most fascinating nature are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation.

Aldous Huxley

Soon there’s a football game, or a celebrity does something scandalous and everything is under control (or at least forgotten) till the next act of the Theater of Fear.  Hopefully it will take place far away.  And the whole cycle is repeated.

What do the thoughts and prayers accomplish? They comfort the spectators, those not touched by the tragedy.  The outrage?  It masks people’s feeling of vulnerability.  Investigation?  It gives the population a sense that the terrorists are being dealt with.

Given enough time and resources, the investigators will be able to determine whether the terrorist yelling a fourteen hundred year battle cry was acting on behalf of some religious ideology.  They will probably decide that he was acting on his own, not part of some nefarious plot to take over the world.

re-defining liberty

It’s all Theater of fear, a diversion.  It doesn’t matter whether a terrorist is part of a tightly controlled organization, or acting on his own.  Sowing havoc doesn’t require great coordination, complex weapons or financing.  We know what the terrorists’ motives are.  We know what population they come from.  We know how to stop them.

But that requires abandoning the theatrics, the grand pronouncements of prayer, outrage and inquiry.  It means doing what we already know has to be done, even though it goes against the grain of what our advanced society is supposed to stand for.  The alternative is to succumb to the forces of evil, that have placed this drama, this horror upon us.  The Theater of Fear is for real.

Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time… somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it.

Aldous Huxley

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Control of Cultural Achievements

CRSPRThere is no denying the great cultural achievements of western civilization, its technological brilliance.  Virtually all modern innovation, and most of contemporary science comes from Europe and North America- a handful of countries representing a small fraction of the world’s population.  Not coincidentally, these are the regions of the world where democracy and economic freedom have flourished. The German-American Jewish anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942) put it this way:

The poorer in cultural achievements, the greater the number of ingrained rules and proscriptions which work to determine every action.”

The corollary is that we can expect societies with fewer rules, with greater freedom to have greater cultural achievements, whether the steam engine or CRSPR gene editing technology.

Limits and Freedom

Every culture imposes limits on its members. Incest (however defined) or murder are pretty much universal.  In many societies, the social structure tells people their obligations, rather than some authority figures. There is “cultural freedom” to do as you please within the bounds of acceptable behavior.  A free person is in harmony with his culture.

There is also a concept of moral freedom, which is action in accord with the supreme reason (human, not godly reason) which governs the universe.  It’s expressed in the general will of the members of a society.

It’s to the general will that the individual must address himself to know how far he ought to be a man, a citizen, a subject, a father, a child, and when it is suitable to live or die.”

The philosopher Diderot explained that the general will was truth discovered through the power of reason.  Once that truth had been discovered, whoever refused to accept it was “either insane or wicked and morally evil,” an enemy of humanity.

Cultural and moral freedom are not the same.  The former changes over time.  It responds to undirected shifts in circumstance, be they technological, economic or social.  Moral freedom on the other hand presupposes a universal, timeless truth which transcends, or rather over-rides the individual’s ability to choose.

The Cultural Achievements of Political Correctness

Here we have the ideological basis for political correctness, for the moral fascism sweeping contemporary Western societies, condemning their cultural achievements, their science, their progress.  The supreme reason governing the universe does not allow for deviance.  In socialist countries, this reason is embodied in the State.  In democratic nations, the intellectual elite, considering itself trained in advanced reason, considers itself as the personification of that supreme truth.  The elite considers itself the West’s greatest cultural achievement.

In the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early part of the twentieth century, the primary concern of Western democratic governments was the

the cultural achievements of the Reign of Terror

The Reign of Terror

protection of individual rights.  In the twenty-first century progressives encourage the state to embody the supreme reason which they have discerned.  The concern of liberal governments is collective, rather than individual choice.  Conformity to universal reason is necessary for the sake of humanity.  Dissent can get you fired, or, as some would wish it, jailed.  Language must use contrived jargon reflecting the reasoning of those who express the proper moral order of the universe.  Violence becomes a political right in promoting the general will.

The Cultural Achievements of the Reign of Terror

Portland anti-Trump riot

Riot against democracy

It’s the same ideological foundation as failed Marxist totalitarianism.  It’s the same foundation as the Reign of Terror which followed the French Revolution.  To disagree with unfettered tolerance of aberrant behavior, abortion on demand, social housing, race / gender quotas or even gender-restricted washrooms, is to sin against reason, against morality.

The Cultural Achievements of Twenty-One Thousand Rules

During his years in office, President Obama’s administration imposed twenty-one thousand new rules and regulations upon American consumers and businesses.  The progressives who supported him were just as industrious, attempting to regulate behavior, language, thought, and religion.  The urge to regulate has been pervasive in Western democracies.

Western civilization has a great record of cultural achievement, technological and scientific innovation.  If our societies continue to increase “the number of ingrained rules and proscriptions which work to determine every action,” this record of achievements will be ended, to the detriment of all humanity.  This indeed goes against morality, against reason.

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We Suffer for Our Sins; 9-11 as punishment

Word Trade Center under construction

Word Trade Center under construction

 

 

Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed for our sins

Temple in Jerusalem

nebuchadnezzar

Nebuchadnezzar

The Prophets of the Bible (Jeremiah, Isaiah et al) rebuked Israel, saying we suffer for our sins.  It was Israel’s misbehavior (rather than Nebuchadnezzer’s), that caused the destruction of the holy Temple in Jerusalem, the icon of God’s presence in the world.  Our sins were so egregious that even King Josiah’s repentance (about 2,500 years ago) was not enough to avert the decree.  It would be sacrilegious to say otherwise.

On September 11th we remember the destruction of an iconic building of our time, the World Trade Center.  And like the prophets of the past, many blame this on our sins: Western colonialism, expansionism, interference in the Middle East, racism, militarism…  In this view 9/11 was deserved payback.

Same with San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Paris, Brussels,  Madrid, etc.  The attacks were revenge for Western oppression.  The terrorism committed by European-born North-African Muslims is a direct consequence of our sins of European oppression of North Africa.

But wait!

North African oppression of Europeans preceded European colonialism.  Barbary coast (North African) slavers attacked the European coasts as far north as Ireland from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, taking as many as one and a quarter million white European captives, according to some estimates.  Unlike black Africans shipped to the Americas, these slaves did not live long enough to reproduce, have families, and eventually find freedom.

The enslavement of Europeans doesn’t fit the general theme of European world conquest and colonialism that is central to scholarship on the early modern era, he said. Many of the countries that were victims of slavery, such as France and Spain, would later conquer and colonize the areas of North Africa where their citizens were once held as slaves. Maybe because of this history, Western scholars have thought of the Europeans primarily as “evil colonialists” and not as the victims they sometimes were, Davis said.

 

America resisting the Barbary pirates

America resisting North African pirates

It would be sacrilegious for any progressive to dare declare that Islam is the problem with Islamic terrorism.  They will jump through any hoop to blame terror on its victims.  Disposing of Saddam Hussein, the savage despot of Iraq, supporting Israel, failure to accommodate Shariah law… Every historical grudge fantasy is dredged up to illustrate our sins.

But just as King Josiah’s ancient repentance was insufficient, only complete submission to Islam’s prophet can atone for past resistance to his bloody demands.  We’re moving fast down the road to compliance, to surrender.  And like Josiah’s repentance, it won’t help.

America submitting to Iranian pirates

America submitting to Iranian pirates

 

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.” 
― Winston S. ChurchillThe River War

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Of Course You Realize This Means War!

Sympathy for the Devil Victims

This means war - Bugs BunnyAfter the Islamic terror attack in Nice, politicians around the world expressed their sympathy with the people of France, sending warm thoughts and prayers.  Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada said “Our sympathy is with the victims.” Leung Chun-ying of Hong Kong expressed his “deepest sympathies” with the French people.  Hillary Clinton’s “thoughts and prayers” were with the families of the killed and injured.  Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister of Australia’s “thoughts and sympathies” were with the victims and their families.”

In the meantime, security services were investigating the massacre, trying to figure out the motive and connections of a killer yelling “allah achbar.”  Same thing in Orlando, in Paris, and at many terror attacks.  Why did they do it, asked the investigators.  Were the terrorists acting alone?  Does this mean war?   Can’t be!

Let me save the investigators some time and money.  In each case the killer(s) did it for the cause of Allah.  They weren’t acting alone.  They were part of a network of 1.6 billion Muslims, whose religion demands that they subdue and dominate the world.  Even though the Orlando shooter and the Nice truck driver may have planned and carried out their killing by themselves, they were motivated by the entity known as “Islam.”

It’s a fragmented outfit, with members killing each other more than they attack outsiders.  Some of its adherents are the most vile, violent people on earth, but there are also sects such as the Sufi and Ahmadiyya who oppose any aggressive activities. Nonetheless, there have been close to thirteen hundred Islamic attacks so far in 2016, leaving twelve thousand dead, and fourteen thousand injured (with most of the victims being members of opposing Muslim sects).

crueltiesofalger00crokuoft_0007

This Means War

Islam’s record of violence is not a modern phenomenon, nor is the barbarity of ISIS.  Historians estimate that eighty million people died in the Islamic conquest of the Indian sub-continent.  Over a hundred and ten million black Africans were killed as a consequence of the Muslim slave trade.  Islam was not spread throughout the world by peaceful missionaries, convincing disbelievers of the beauty of their faith.  This means war.

There used to be resistance.  Much of India was under the thumb of Islam for over eight hundred years, but the population held on to its own beliefs, often under great duress.  When Islam conquered much of the Middle East, destroying Christian holy places, the Church, the European monarchs decided this means war, and the Crusades were organized to take them back.  They failed.  Islam moved on to conquer large swaths of Europe.  At the siege of Vienna in 1683, it appeared ready to over-run the continent.

“…throughout the camp that every man who has infidel prisoners was to put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death. 100,000 infidels, impious idolaters, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasir-ud-din Umar, a counselor and a man of learning, who, in all his life had never killed a sparrow, now, in execution of my order, slew with his sword fifteen idolatrous Hindus, who were his captives“.

That war hasn’t ended.  Only the resistance has wound down.  Large swaths of territory in France, Belgium, Sweden, and Germany, are “no-go” zones, no longer under control of their respective governments.  In other areas with significant Muslim populations, crime rates are soaring, as new-comers feel no obligation to respect the laws of the land.  Women and Jews are especially vulnerable targets.  The uber-wealthy pushing to increase immigration have walls around their compounds to protect themselves.  For the rest, the sense of security enjoyed by Europe, and even America, has dissipated.

The severed heads were tied up in rugs like bundles of grain and placed on the heads of the captives…Then the heads were stuck upon lances and taken to the gate of the chief minister for payment.

The severed heads were tied up in rugs like bundles of grain and placed on the heads of the captives…Then the heads were stuck upon lances and taken to the gate of the chief minister for payment.

An Invasion of Values

It’s not an invasion by an army.  It’s rather a set of values that has marched through the Gates of Vienna, this time unopposed by any armies, uncontested by a society that feels values are relative, there is no truth, and that the bad guy is the civilization that has brought untold progress and prosperity to much of the world.  Post modernism, moral relativism, keeps them from understanding what is happening, from realizing that this means war.

Is the fight over?  Is Western civilization about to crumble, to be overtaken by a misogynist, murderous intolerant ideology? Yes, if Western civilization refuses to recognize that it’s at war, a very old war.  Yes, if Western civilization refuses to resist the attackers.

One can only hope that as Islam presses its attacks, in places such as Paris, Cologne, Sweden, San Bernadino, Fort Hood, Orlando, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, it will be impossible to deny that we are under attack.  Sure, many officials deny that the terrorism has anything to do with an Islamic war on the West. It’s isolated incidents, criminals, mentally disturbed loners.  If there’s no army, no organization or terror network the officials can point to, there is nothing they are able to see.  Hopefully, these officials will be voted out of office by people who don’t have walls, don’t have armed security to protect the lives of their loved ones.  People who see the repeated attacks on their way of life, and understand that this means war.

Jerusalem-synagogue-attack-Palestinian-poster-e1416301820882

Is Islam so different from the other two Abrahamic religions?  Judea was once a warlike, marauding state, fighting in God’s name.  That was well over two thousand years ago.  Christianity has a bloody history, especially in its record with South American natives.  Though intertwined, the monarch and the Christian faith were distinct entities. And the bloody violence ended hundreds of years ago.  Of the Abrahamic religions, only Islam is in a state of perpetual war.  Maybe they’ll evolve out of it, as did the others.  But can we afford to wait?

Map of Islamic expansion

Map of Islamic expansion

Here’s a suggested strategy for Western civilization:

  • Identify the enemy: when a terrorist shouts “allah achbar,” believe that he’s doing it for the cause of Allah.
  • Identify immediately  all acts of terrorism, rather than conceal or minimize them, whether in the US, Europe, and especially Israel (which has been the canary in the mine-shaft).
  • Close all schools and mosques in the West which are funded by Saudi Arabia. The current wave of Islamic aggression has its roots in Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative Wahabi movement
  • Demand that the Saudi government, and especially Saudi clerics clearly and vehemently denounce and issue fatwas forbidding acts of terror against non-Muslims.
  • Expropriate, or if necessary confiscate all critical infrastructure or entities owned by radical Islamic nations or individuals.
  • Shut down Islamic propaganda organizations in the West, such as Al Jazeera, and CAIR, and the Nation of Islam.
  • Deport any non-citizen who endorses terror against the West.
  • Establish that support of terror is treason, with all the consequences that incurs.
  • Governments must pacify their no-go zones, establishing government authority and control.
  • Enact strict controls over all immigrants, including refugees entering the country. In wartime, it is not discrimination to keep out potential enemy forces.
  • Teach the real history of Islam in schools and universities; its death count over the centuries, its role in creating the African slave trade, its taking of European slaves.  Teach that America’s first war was against marauding North African Arabs.  Explain the role of women, the fate of homosexuals, the intolerance towards non-believers.
  • Fight an all-out war against terror organizations on their home turf, whether Iraq, Afghanistan or Qatar.
  • Above all, have the will to defeat a ruthless enemy that has been coming for you for fifteen hundred years.

I look forward to the day when the imams, the muftis, sheikhs, princes and presidents loudly denounce all terrorism, when they encourage their followers to live peacefully with other peoples.  When they say to the infidels “our way is not your way, but you are free to live as you wish.”  Many, many Muslims already feel this way, but are being drowned out by the Jihadists. Unless they speak louder, this means war.

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We, the Accused

Holding the Victim to Blame

Whenever there is a terror attack against Israel, the world media finds some way to make Israel the accused, whether for provocation or retaliation, for people dying or failing to die, for killing the terrorists, or failing to kill them.

Yehuda Elberg, with rescued cousin now living in Israel

Yehuda Elberg, with rescued cousin now living in Israel

This is not a new phenomenon.  Two thousand years ago, a significant Jew was murdered by non-Jews, and for two thousand years the Jews have been persecuted for his death.  In the current era, Jews are being blamed by anti-Semites for provoking the holocaust.  They have been blamed for its horrible death toll, with their accusers putting the blame on Jewish passivity, and failure to resist.  It is this latter blame that my father Yehuda Elberg addressed in a lecture approximately forty years ago.  He was a holocaust survivor, a member of the Jewish Underground in Poland, and part of the Ghetto uprising.  Immediately following the war he worked on smuggling Jewish survivors to Israel (then known as Palestine).  Below are excerpts from his lecture We, the Accused.

***

On the 35th anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto, a great deal was written about this in Jewish newspapers the world over, especially in Israel. The influential Maariv carried an article by Chaim Baltsan entitled: “Yom Ha-Shoah 1978: Is it Different from Previous Years?” Among other things, Baltsan wrote: “Much has already been written and said about the heroism — and under the circumstances it was extraordinary — the heroism displayed by the Ghetto rebels and the organizers of the uprisings in the camps. We are proud of that heroism, we will always be proud of it. But not so with the Shoah, that dark and bitter phenomenon in which it is impossible to find even the tiniest spark of light. Yet we are compelled to couple it with the heroism and to utter words in the same breath. We have linked the Holocaust with the heroic uprising in order to conceal the unacceptability of the pain, more accurately the shame; when we recall how millions were led like sheep to the slaughter…”

the Armenian genocide

the Armenian genocide

In brief, they are ashamed of us, they are ashamed of the survivors as well as the fallen. We are guilty of having put on the yellow badge. Better we had all died than let ourselves be so degraded. We are guilty because we did not revolt against being locked up in ghettos; proud people do not allow themselves to be locked into cages like animals in a zoo.  We are guilty because we let ourselves be herded into cattle-cars and did not counter-attack the Germans with our fists…

I want to tell you about the individuals and let the Chaim Baltsans be ashamed of their own ignorance, their own narrow mindedness, their own heartlessness, their owned blindness to the heroism of the Ghetto even when that the heroism was not as spectacular as in the Hollywood film.

An episode from 1940:

They made gallows just high enough for the feet to nearly touch the ground ... and they burned the Indians alive.'

They made gallows just high enough for the feet to nearly touch the ground … and they burned the Indians alive.’

The Germans had given the Jews out of a shtetl in that part of Poland which had been annexed to the Reich. They packed in Jews into trucks. One young woman with a baby in her arms was having difficulty climbing up into the truck. A German soldier politely took the child from her and helped her into the vehicle.  When she stretched other arms to take the child, he throw it to the ground.  The woman jumped from the truck.  The German pointed his rifle at her.  She didn’t budge.  He raved and raged and threaten to shoot her and the child.  She still didn’t budge. He then raised the muzzle of his gun and threatened to shoot all the Jews in the truck.  The woman dragged herself back into the truck.  When they arrived in Warsaw, she was out of her mind.

Who can evaluate the greatness of that sacrifice?  Who can measure the boundless love for her fellow Jews, that gave her the strength to make such a decision and incredible courage to carry it out?  The knowledge of what was going to happen to her baby burned so fiercely in her brain that consumed it.  Her nerves were strung so tautly that they snapped.  Yet she still managed to weigh and measure.  Her hands — a scale of destiny. In one hand the compulsive desire to remain with the child; in the other the lives of the few score Jews.  She made her decision and even succeeded in carrying it out before her unbearable anguish destroyed her brain.

Babi-Yar original art by Esti Mayer

Babi-Yar
original art by Esti Mayer

Hunger, fear and pain weaken a human being physically, and diminishes his mental strength.  There’s no need here to recount what the Jews went through from the beginning of 1940 until the summer of 1942.  In the proceedings of the Nuremberg trials you can find the testimony of one Herman Graebe, a German who was present during the slaughter of the Jews at Dubno.  A group of naked Jews stood at the edge of a ditch.  Behind them we Germans were loading their rifles.  Among the Jews stood a woman with a child in her arms.  The woman tickled the child, and began singing to it, so the child was laughing merrily when the German bullets cut down the mother and baby, and they both fell into the pit.

Psychologists tell us that when a person stands face to face with death all the emotions are paralyzed.  Terror, hope, anger, love, hate, all disappear at the moment when one looks death in the eye.  Emotionally he is already on the other side of the fight.

Our martyrs, however, demonstrated that it is not necessarily so.  Maybe fear has vanished, maybe all hope has died, maybe anger and hatred have been extinguished.  But one thing in this woman continued to live—love.  The emotion of love remained awake, strong, self-sacrificing.  I do not know any poem more lofty.  I’ve never heard any song more beautiful, never seen any deed more holy than the singing of that mother to her child in Dubno.  The chuckle of her infant, on the edge of the grave, sent out into the world’s void a resounding testimony of Jewish love and self-sacrifice.  The giggle of that child is the most exalted ode ever sung to the Jewish mother…

I come back to the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto and I must begin with a prefatory observation.

Some years ago there was a fire in the movie theater where everyone pushed for the exits.  People stepped on each other.  More people died from the panic than from the fire.  Similarly, on a sinking ship, everyone tries to get to the lifeboats.  People grab the rope ladders out of each other’s hands.  The result: nobody gets to the boats.

ghetto sepiaThe Warsaw Ghetto was a flaming inferno, a sinking ship.  But what happened with the people there?

On the day before the uprising began it was like Yom Kippur Eve in a pious Jewish household.  People spoke quietly, walk softly.  A kind of reverential air spread over the Ghetto streets, a trembling, but not out of fear.  Out of exultation.  A decision had been made, responsibility assumed.  But it did not weigh onerously on the people.  It hovered over their heads like an aura.  A whole community of Jews went forth to meet the inevitable with the purposefulness, with a sense of mission, and one could feel the presence of the wings of history, the duty to future generations.  Some sixty thousand Jews marched forth into greatness within the almost festive tread…

We, the Accused

It burns me when I hear someone say that the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto saved the honor and dignity of the Jewish people. No! Jewish honor stood high even when Jews were expiring with a quiet, unspectacular death. It was the honor of the entire humanity that was in mortal peril. And it was the greatness of the Jews in the ghettos, with their sanctified life and their heroic death that saved the honor of the human species, and gave flesh-end-blood mortals back their image of God.

I said that Jewish heroism did not begin with the uprising; it also did not end with the uprising. I need not describe the terror, the anguish, the scientific dehumanization system in the concentration camps. According to all experience in history, according to all the laws of psychology, the survivors should have emerged from the camps embittered destroyers, venomous killers and incendiaries, filled with hatred for a world that had led to all this and then permitted it to go on. Their physical health was destroyed. Their homes were destroyed. But the image of God within them was not.

Overnight, upon the liberation of the camps, a social life was created, with culture, with ideologies. The skeletal fingers did not yet have the strength to hold a pencil steadily, but they were already writing books, issuing newspapers.

I could tell you a great deal about the wonders and the miracles performed by the brands barely plucked out of the fire. Instead, let me quote from a letter by Professor Zelig Brodestski, the then head of Britain’s Jewish community, written to the survivors in Bergen- Belsen after he attended one at their congresses, immediately after the war.

“It was difficult for me to accept the task of coming here to you.  I did not know what to expect, how beaten or wretched you would look But you presented me with e picture of a proud Jewish life, a picture which I shall use in order to instill more pride and more life into the Jews in England. I had thought that perhaps you had fallen in your own esteem. But I have never experienced a more dignified congress. I had thought you would look with anger upon the Jews from abroad, who were able to do so little to save you from the Nazi murderers: but you welcomed me with love and warmth, and you spoke to me candidly and earnestly.  I was afraid you would only weep and lament but you combined your tears with the smile of the eternal Jew.  I had feared your disillusionment and hopelessness, but you displayed a faith and a resolution which all the .Jews in the world would do well to learn from you.”

There is an old legend about the lack of Jewish faith and determination which has hoisted over the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the victory of the Maccabees.  Two hundred and thirty five years later, when the Romans set fire to the Temple and the flames reached the mast, a whirlwind lifted the flag, the legend tells us, and carried it off to a faraway place to keep it safe for a future generation of Jews will redeem the Maccabean flag with their faith and determination.

To live and see this flag redeemed was my most ardent prayer and cherished dream since my childhood.  My dream came true in a strange and traumatic way. It was decades ago, the Warsaw Ghetto rose to fight a formidable enemy, and I was there when the blue-white flag was hoisted over the tallest building in the Ghetto.  It seemed to me that I had seen this flag before.  The dreamy blue and stark white flag was soon consumed by red flames together with the fighters.  It was then that I recognized the flag of my dreams.

Four years later in the Gulf of Lion, in the the harbor of Sete, over five thousand holocaust survivors boarded an old ship to fight the British blockade of the shore of Palestine, a ship later to be known as Exodus 1947.  Again I was there, watching the lineups of boarding passengers.  When I noticed the rolled-up banner under the arm of one of them, I immediately knew that this was the flag of my dreams.

I was not in the lines of battle during the Israeli War of Liberation and the subsequent wars of defense, but I knew that the Maccabean flag was there.  The legendary heroism, the devotion and self-sacrifice of the fighters are proof positive that the flag of faith and resolution inspired them.

***

We shall often be the accused.  But it no longer matters.  The flag that was over the Temple, over the Warsaw Ghetto, over Sete, is over Israel: it’s a flag that shall not fall again.

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You Have to Ask the Right Question

  • Q: Was it morally wrong for the United States and Canada to imprison their citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II, and confiscate their
     Japanese-Canadians being transported to detention camps

    Japanese-Canadians being transported to detention camps

    property?

  • A: It was a horrible illegal act, discriminating against people solely because they looked different.  Italians and Germans, whose ancestral homelands were also the enemy, were not locked up.
Let’s break that question into three:
  • Q1: Would it be morally wrong for a country to lock up a population, many of whom were supportive of an enemy?
  • A1: No.
  • Q2: Was a significant portion of the Japanese population of Canada and the United States supportive of a Japanese victory during World War II?
  • A2: No.
  • Q3: If the Americans and Canadians of Japanese ancestry had been supportive of the enemy during the war, would it have been proper to put them in internment camps?
  • A3: Yes.

By asking the right question we can see that it’s not internment in principle that was a mistake.  It was mis-characterizing Japanese Canadians and Americans as enemy sympathizers.

Let’s try another one
  • Q: Was it morally wrong for the United States and Canada to keep out Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis?
  • A: Yes
Let’s also break that question into three:
  • Q1: Is it wrong for a country to keep out a class of people, a great many of whom want to take over that country?
  • A1: No.
  • Q2: Did the Jews of Europe want to violently (if at all) take over Europe, the United States, or Canada?
  • A2: No.
  • Q3: If the Jews had wanted to violently take over Europe, the United States, or Canada, would it have been wrong to keep them out?
  • A3: No.

    Planting a dark future

    Planting a dark future

This shows that we haven’t been asking the right question. We shudder at the idea of treating a particular group of people differently than anyone else.  Given the horrible consequences of turning away refugees during the Holocaust, we want to welcome everyone today.  But the mistake of the past wasn’t turning the enemy away from our shores.  It’s not wrong to guard against enemies working from the inside.  The mistake was considering the Jews and Japanese as the enemy, looking to take over or destroy the nations they wanted to be part of.

Bringing it all into the present, the right question is:
  • Q4: If ________ want to violently take over Europe, the United States, or Canada, would it be wrong to keep them out?
  • A4: No.

To fill in the blank, let’s look at the core belief of a particular group, as described by one of their leading scholars:

dominateIslam is not a religion like the other religions of the world, and Muslim nations are not like other nations. Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world. Islam is a revolutionary, totalitarian ideology that comes to destroy any government made by man. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the ideology of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy. In order to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is Jihad.

With the blank filled in, answer the following question: would it be wrong to keep them out?  Clearly not.

This may contradict the accepted liberal “…values of liberty, and openness, and the respect of all people.”  That’s not the right question.  The primary value of any country must be the security of its citizens, rather than the security of an ideology.

einstein