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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

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Remember the Future Holocaust

This Wednesday evening, April 15th, 2015 is Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 an agreement was reached between Iran and the United States to lay the groundwork for another Holocaust, one much more technologically advanced, one much more capable of carrying out its goals.  On what day will we commemorate the future Holocaust against Israel? Or will there be anyone left to remember it?

Remembering Past Holocausts

After all, the Nazi Holocaust wasn’t the first; it was just more effective, using the most advanced technology of the mid-twentieth century. Weapons and instruments of torture based on seventeenth century technology led to the brutal destruction of three hundred thousand Jews in what was essentially a feud between the Cossacks and Tartars, Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine, with a mix of rivalry between branches of Christianity.

Atavistic Hatred Original art by Esti Mayer

Atavistic Hatred
Original art by Esti Mayer

The gas chambers of the Nazis, the scythes and pitchforks of the Ukrainian peasants were nothing compared to the killing power of nuclear weapons. In the future Holocaust, Technology developed in large part by Jews may be used to rid the world of the Jewish state.

It’s clear that Israel cannot depend on the United States to protect its interests. The U.S. has abdicated its role as the world’s policeman, allowing gangs of religious fanatics and dictators to run rampant, pursuing their own evil agendas. It’s clear that Jews cannot depend on local police forces to defend their safety in cities and countries throughout the world.

It also seems clear that the Jews cannot depend on God alone to protect their physical well-being.

Many scholars and thinkers have been asking whether the unparalleled event of the Holocaust did not create a most serious existential crisis in which the text by definition was invalidated. After six million Jews, including nearly two million children, lost their lives within five years under the cruelest of circumstances, can we still seriously speak about a viable covenant in which God promised to protect His people?… The Holocaust, they believe, proved that we have only ourselves to rely on, and that even the return to Israel is to be understood as a secular liberation of the galut experience.

To write God out of the picture would be to write Judaism and the Jewish people out of the picture. So that too, is not a viable course of action.

Preventing the Future Holocaust

In fact, there is no correct answer, no proper course of action. There are too many variables, too many characters acting with their own free will; acting from a set of beliefs and values that are totally alien to us. Only hindsight may enable us to know what were the right and wrong choices in dealing with Iran’s promise to annihilate Israel, to destroy the Jews.

My great-grandfather was the senior rabbi in Warsaw during the Nazi holocaust. Prior to the war (following the death or Rabbi Kook), he was offered the position of Chief Rabbi of Palestine (Israel). Knowing difficult times were coming, he refused to leave his community in Poland, although he encouraged others to move there. At the outbreak of the war, Jewish leaders wanted to evacuate him to safety. Again, he refused to leave his people. When faced with a round-up by the Nazis, he made his decision. (A few rabbinic leaders made a different kind of decision)

Tirosh Veyaitzher

Tirosh Veyaitzher

Rabbi Zvi Yecheskiel Michelson, dean of the Warsaw rabbinate, deliberately remained at home while a large roundup was on. He did not go out as the Germans ordered, but put on his prayer shawl and phylacteries and stayed inside. He preferred to be shot on the spot, hoping that this his boy would be thrown into one of the wagons that accompanied the roundup and find a last resting place in the Jewish cemetery. So he willingly opened the door to the search party, but when the Germans saw the tall old man, with his long silver-white beard, they became uneasy. One of them mumbled, according to the Jewish policeman who accompanied the search: “This must be Moses in person.” They slammed the door shut and left the aged rabbi alone. He must have decided then that staying with his people in their last moments was even more important than being buried in a Jewish cemetery. He rose, went down to the courtyard, and joined the marching ranks of Jews towards the Umschlag, from which the people were sent to Treblinka. (p. xiii)

May the blood of my great-grandfather be avenged. May the future holocaust be prevented.

 

Your comments are welcome

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Hey, Get Your Demonstration Off My Street!

Get Your Twisted Values Out of My Country!

Many years ago I went on a demonstration organized by a trade union, with the purpose of disrupting a convention of the ruling political party.  Since we couldn’t get through the police lines to approach the building, we settled for burning down one of the wooden poles that carried electricity to the convention hall.  The police quickly figured out what we were up to, the firemen were summoned, and tear gas was lobbed to keep us away.

But we were smart.  Instructions were shouted on how to handle a live tear gas canister, and I was soon lobbing them back at the police.

We weren’t smart enough.  The fire was put out, the convention went on; everybody had a good time, and we laughed and joked as we climbed aboard our chartered buses.  In retrospect, the police weren’t too smart either.  Why wasn’t I arrested?  Why were we able to get away with such attempted sabotage?

I was on another demonstration where the police batons came out as they dispersed an unruly, indeed an

original art  by Esti Mayer

original art by Esti Mayer

ugly mob.  I saw some demonstrators climb a ladder to the roof of a building.  The cops followed, and the demonstrators pushed the ladder over, policemen falling with it.  The crowd cheered.

I didn’t.  My stomach turned at the crowd’s joy in seeing people injured, even if they were the police, our nemesis.  It was one of the last demonstrations I took part in.  The youth of the 60’s were supposed to be peaceful.  This didn’t fit the paradigm.

These days many demonstrations seem to have violence as their goal: the G8 (G7, after the expulsion of Russia) anti-capitalist destructive rampages, even celebrations of sports team victories somehow degenerate into opportunities for looting and vandalism.  Rioters laugh, joke, and film each other as they break windows, steal clothes and electronics, or destroy cars.  Destruction of property can be entertaining, especially if ennobled by some cause.

Now it’s gone beyond destruction of property, as demonstrators in major European cities, in major American and Canadian cities call for the destruction of a people.  My people: the Jews.  Not only are the demonstrators calling for it, they are trying to put it into effect with assaults on individuals in the streets, and home invasions.  The attackers’ cry is to protest the mistreatment of their co-religionists, but we can see from their selective concern (ignoring the horrors of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, etc.), that it’s just an excuse.  They Modern anti-Jewish demonstrationwant to go after the Jews, as they’ve been doing so since the dawn of Islam.

It’s not surprising when Muslims express hatred for Jews, even Muslims in countries that are Judenrein. The Prime Minister of Malaysia for example, blamed George Soros, a left-wing Jew, for his country’s 1997 economic crisis (it’s worth noting that Malaysian Buddhists are not especially anti-Semitic). Jews expect a hostile reception in any Muslim dominated part of the world.

But France? Belgium?  Germany?  There is native anti-Semitism, and there is Muslim Jew-hatred.  Contemporary violence comes mostly from the latter.  Ironically, in Britain the English Defense League, a group often depicted as far right or neo-Nazi, has been at the forefront of defending British Jews and Israel against Islamic assaults.

And Calgary?  Its Muslim mayor, Naheed Nenshi has generally had the support of the Jewish community, but failed to point a finger after pro-Israel demonstrators were assaulted by participants in a “Gaza peace rally.”

Who are these people?  What are they doing here, in countries that are generally considered as part of the western civilized world?

Well, look at the economies of their home countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria, Lebanon…  These countries have been ruined by decades of turmoil brought about by the violence of its citizens; by their intolerance for any kind of dissent, or freedom of thought.  By their constant blaming of their woes on America, the Jews, their colonial legacy.  Everyone is at fault, except themselves.  These people come to Europe, to North America to better their lives, but unlike past generations of immigrants, they are unwilling to give up the values which made their home countries such miserable places to live.  If we let them (and many parts of Europe have), they will make our countries as miserable as theirs.

They don’t give a damn about the deaths or suffering of their co-religionists.  Otherwise they’d be at demonstrations protesting the ongoing slaughters in Iraq and Syria, the turmoil in the Maghreb (North

Iraq moves from the 21st century to the Dark Ages

Iraq moves from the 21st century to the Dark Ages

Africa).  No, the only thing they care about is the opportunity to attack Jews, following the tradition set by the founder of Islam.

Britain has a great legacy of anti-Semitism, fully expressed in its handling of the League of Nations’ Palestine MandateRoosevelt’s antipathy towards Jews shut the doors on refugees fleeing the holocaust, condemning many innocent people to death.  Canada had its infamous “none is too many” policy towards Jews fleeing Hitler.

A contemporary hero

A contemporary hero

But these countries have evolved.  Western civilization has moved forward.  Racial ethnic and gender prejudice are no longer acceptable.  Not by law, not by culture.

So what do you do when a particular ethnic/ religious group embodies such prejudice as part of its culture?  What do you do when Muslim immigrants to the West bring along their hatred, their prejudice, their misogyny?  What do you do when they regularly violate our civilization’s standards of decency, of acceptable behavior, of tolerance?  What should you do when there’s a demonstration in the streets of Calgary, New York, Paris or Berlin chanting “kill the Jews?”

If you’re not Jewish, you can argue that it’s not your concern.  Ask the Christians of Iraq how that’s working out.  Starting in nineteen forty-eight, Jews whose families had been in Iraq for two thousand years were expelled. Now, seventy years later, the same fate has befallen Iraqi Christians.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in America.  As its numbers increase, what will become of America, of American values?  What will happen to all the advances Western civilization has made since the onset of the Enlightenment?  What will happen to the Jews of America?  The Christians?  Pious or secular, they are infidels according to Islam.

By the end of the Enlightenment certain values had become entrenched in Western nations.  Ironically, during the Enlightenment these countries came under attack by the Muslim societies of the Maghreb (North Africa).  They had been enslaving Europeans for centuries, raiding the coasts as far north as Ireland.  They pirated AmIslam risingerican and European merchant ships, demanding exorbitant tribute in exchange for prisoners.  America’s first international war was against North African Muslim terrorists.  The ruler of Algeria accepted a treaty to end the war, but then repudiated it.  The only thing that brought an end to the piracy was the French conquest; in retrospect a justifiable act of self-defense.

What is the purpose of your demonstration?

But the war continues.  There was a battle in New York on 9/11, in London on 7/05, in Madrid on 3/04.  In Marseilles it’s a series of ongoing skirmishes.  In most cases, the attackers are citizens or at least residents of the places they attack.  Centuries ago, President Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to appease them.  Presidents Bush and Obama had the same failure.  Each demonstration with the battle cry of “kill the Jews,” each time an American or British flag is trampled on, each demonstration where people are punched, knocked to the ground or choked, proves that appeasement doesn’t work.  It shows that these immigrants aren’t here to improve their lives by adapting to their new homes.  Rather, it demonstrates that they want to transform their new homes into the miserable places they fled.

Terrorists attack Madrid

Terrorists attack Madrid

And that’s the difference.  When I tried to burn down a pole carrying electricity to a convention, when I threw a tear gas canister at the police, I was trying to move our society towards a better future.  When a demonstration chants “kill the Jews,” it’s trying to drag us back to a time before the Enlightenment, when slavery, hate and misogyny were acceptable societal norms.  When freedom of expression was blasphemous, when tolerance was forbidden.

We can’t let those demonstrations succeed.

Some sources attribute the fall of the western Roman Empire (at the time the center of western civilization) to “immigration onto Roman soil, followed by a second stage of aggressive expansion of the territory under the migrants’ control.”  By the fourth century CE, the Roman armies were more barbarian than Roman.  Will western civilization fall again to the same cause, or will we finally accept the paradox that the intolerance we revile is necessary to protect the values we cherish.  If you want the benefits of western civilization, you must accept the ideals that made them possible.