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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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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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“So this is how liberty dies

…with thunderous applause”

I’m a sci-fi enthusiast. I love The Time Machine, the many volumes of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, Asimov’s Robot and Foundation series, and more. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Star Trek (TV and film), and Star Wars.  When my kids were young, I ran Star Trek role-playing games at my synagogue. We had the toys, the costumes, the books, the video tapes, and then the DVDs. I gave religious talks based on sci-fi themes. I was a serious enthusiast. The scene in Star Wars- Revenge of the Sith, where Padme observes “this is how liberty dies…” is to my mind a critical political observation.

So I’m trying to understand why I’m not in a hurry to see The Force Awakens, the new Star Wars movie. It’s not because I’m getting old. It’s not because I’m afraid that Disney ruined the franchise, or that the Jedi have turned into Bambi. I trust the Director, J.J. Abrams. He makes good films. Nor am I concerned that The Force Awakens will only have a short run in theaters.

The reviews are great. My children and grandchildren loved it. The merchandising is ubiquitous. But I don’t care.

This is how liberty dies

In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian sci-fi novel Brave New World, the public is distracted from important issues by non-stop drugs and sex. In 1958, Huxley revisited Brave New World, examining contemporary western culture and finding that his dystopia had been realized. He concluded, to his dismay, that

what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies — 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… 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.

How liberty dies- Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

The Force Awakens is a distraction of the most fascinating nature. A new threat arises, thirty years after the fall of the evil Galactic Empire. We had a terrestrial equivalent to the Galactic Empire, and its end was sealed thirty years ago, with the appointment of the reformer Mikhail Gorbachev as leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The USSR was a utopian nightmare, whose goal was to spread its own brand of socialism across the entire world. Gorbachev dismantled its brutal system of central control, freeing the economy and allowing the people, and ultimately its subject nations the freedom to make their own decisions. Socialist oppression is for most of the world a bitter memory, its tens of millions of victims long buried. The few holdout states such as Cuba, North Korea, China and Vietnam are more concerned with nationalist issues than global ideological conquest.

We don’t have a new threat. We have the resurgence of a very old one. But it is just as dangerous as the unrealized Communist hegemony, and oh so much more depraved. While the Communist leaders had the ability to start World War III, they knew enough to back off, when actually facing it. Destruction of the planet was not an acceptable outcome.

How liberty dies Caliph of the Islamic State

The Caliph of the Islamic State

Islamic militants look forward to the apocalypse, the end of the world, to usher in an Islamic utopia. From Indonesia to England they have attacked tourists, schoolchildren, concert-goers, shoppers, transit users— anybody at the target location. There is no concern of avoiding collateral damage, when the intent is to wreak terror in a population you want to subdue.

Darth-Vader_6bda9114

The Caliph’s moral superior

Except in Israel, most western citizens will not be personally touched by terror. After all, there is a statistically higher chance of choking to death. Governments and media pundits respond to terror attacks by saying that terrorists don’t represent Muslims; I believe them. American political leaders claim that the Islamic State, ISIS, is not Islamic , and so there’s no need to worry about Islam’s growing reach, about increasing the Muslim population in the Europe and North America.

The leader of ISIS, its Caliph, has a PhD in Islamic Studies, and probably knows more than President Obama about what is and what isn’t “Islamic.” Nonetheless, many Americans, Canadians and Europeans will accept Obama’s assurances that ISIS is contained.  There’s nothing to worry about, even as the number and scale of terrorist attacks escalates. People can pay attention to their foes on the football field, or  the big screen. But this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause. The unreal, the irrelevant distracts people from the actual threats in their neighborhoods, in their cities, countries, on their planet. They pay attention to the menace in a galaxy far, far away.

How liberty dies Yazidi children

Yazidi children on the ground

So I don’t care about the new Star Wars movie, at least not enough to rush out to see it. There is more important, more gripping drama taking place in my own galaxy, on my own planet; it deserves my attention. And it’s not something where I am a passive viewer, unable to affect the outcome. I can write letters to the editor, I can express myself on Facebook. I can donate to organizations such as CYCI— The Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq. I can support the politicians who recognize the seriousness of the threat, and have a strategy to deal with it. With Star Wars- The Force Awakens, all I can do is decide how much money to spend on tickets and merchandise.

This is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause and deafening ignorance.

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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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Aboriginal Americans & the Jewish State

Hijacking Planes

In 1968, Palestinian terrorists hijacked an El-Al plane, and got away with it.  They used the tactic repeatedly after that,entebbe12 with varying degrees of success.  The most infamous incident was the forcing of Air France plane to Entebbe, Uganda, and Israel’s successful rescue of the hostages.

Hijacking Feminism

More such rescue operations are required these days, but not of aircraft.  The Palestinians and their Islamist allies have taken to hijacking peoples and

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan

causes.  For example, in nineteen seventy five Betty Friedan, a feminist trailblazer, led the American delegation to an International Woman’s Year World Conference.  She was stunned by the conference’s anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.  A 1980 Women’s Conference in Copenhagen had a huge portrait of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, a man at the forefront of the oppression of women, decorating the conference chamber.

Hijacking Gays

Queers Against Israeli ApartheidAlthough Israel is the only place in the Middle East where homosexuals are legally protected from persecution, Toronto’s annual gay pride parade has frequently featured the participation of “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.”  That homosexuals would promote a movement that brutally oppresses them points to the effectiveness of Palestinian hijacking techniques.

Hijacking Aboriginal Americans- a special publication from the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

Zionism, An Indigenous Struggle: Aboriginal Americans and the Jewish State

The collection of articles in this publication examines the relation between Aboriginal American and Jewish issues, focusing on the perceived attempt to hijack the Native American struggle for rights and recognition into the framework of Palestinian suffering.  Native Americans are viewed as the quintessential victims, having suffered genocide, theft of lands and consequent marginalization.  This fits into the casting of the Palestinians as victims of colonialism and oppression.

The hijacking doesn’t just take place through protest marches and conferences.  A Wisconsin Ojibwa Indian told me of her fear of the inroads Muslims have made in the local native communities, marrying Indian women and then using their new status to gain influence in native affairs and policies.  An expert in Southwest Indian art claims that Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian Arabs have been buying Aboriginal American art businesses in Arizona and New Mexico, then selling “Navajo” art made in the Philippines.   When I asked him to write about this for our publication he refused, not even wanting his name mentioned.  “People have been killed,” he explained.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren photo by Tim Pierce

The left has long revered the oppression of native peoples, and tried to make the most of it.  Pretend aboriginal Americans such as Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren used ostensible native identity to advance their careers.  Steven Salaita, a minor academic who has written peans glorifying Palestinian suffering was supposed to join the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois; his overt anti-Semitism got in the way.

Also getting in the way is that many Aboriginal Americans aren’t interested in perpetually playing the victim.   It doesn’t fit their traditions or values.  And while they may have been downtrodden in the past, they don’t want that to define their future.  They want to make their own lives.

The Navajo, for example want to improve the efficiency of their agriculture.  We provide a link below on how the Navajo nation is working with Israel to improve its expertise on efficient irrigation in an arid climate.

Ola Mildred Rexroat — an Oglala Lakota Warrior

Ola Mildred Rexroat — an Oglala Lakota Warrior

Other aboriginal Americans are businessmen, professionals.  Many, both men and women, have served in the military, and cannot accept the reflexive anti-Americanism of the Palestinian agenda.  Many are devout Christians, and cannot accept the Muslim agenda. But more than that, they are themselves.  Native Americans are not anybody else’s stooge or weapon.  The attention from the left may be enjoyable for a time, but ultimately it is another form of cooption, another form of exploitation.  The Palestinians may claim that they are “indigenous,” but as our contributors deftly show, there is no moral or historical equivalency with aboriginal Americans.

***

Most popular opinion agrees that mankind has a common place of origin, whether in the Garden of Eden in some unknown location between the Tigris and Euphrates, or somewhere in Africa.  If you go back far enough, everybody on earth has common indigenous roots.

It’s when we start going only part way back that things get more complicated.  Populations have never been stable.  The Bible (cf. eg. 2 Kings 17) tells us how the Assyrians displaced whole nations, replacing them with populations from elsewhere.  If we prefer non-Biblical sources, speakers of the Turkic language group (Ottoman Empire) can be found far from their Turkish homeland, in China and Siberia, where they are now indigenous peoples.

Examples can be found in North America as well, such as the disappearance of the Tunnit (Dorset)peoples of the north, displaced by Inuit and Indians.  The Cheyenne were pushed out of the Great Lakes area, in turn coming into conflict with other Native Americans and of course the U.S. Army.  The Inuit battled the Ojibwa, Cree and Athabaskan Indians for territory.  Warfare   and population transfer happened both before and after the onset European colonization.  Are Native Americans indigenous to the specific places they now inhabit?  A bigger question is “does this matter?”

If we adopt a synchronic criterion of indigenous status, that is, a definition at a specific point of time, then everyone and no one is indigenous.  Whether we shout “1967,” “1948,” “1867” (Canada’s independence from Britain), “1763” or “1492,” we run into problems when indigenous status reflects a particular slice of time.  This simplistic approach may be useful for sloganeering, but our contributors take a more sophisticated approach.

Ryan Bellerose and David Yeagley, each coming from opposing sides of the political spectrum, observe how Native American rights are an attractive issue used to legitimate other causes.  Many movements have tried to appropriate or incorporate oppression of Native Americans into their own causes.   As Margaret Atwood pointed out in Survival, her guide to Canadian literature, the Indians have become the quintessential victims, doomed to forever remain so.

Jay Corwin uses a literary approach to negate the victim/ perpetrator narrative as it constrains both Native Americans and Jews, relegating them to a mythological realm.   As characters in such a realm, both Jews and Native Americans are condemned, unable to act to bring about their freedom.  Perhaps the real sin of Israel in the eyes of the world’s media is its refusal to abide by the rules of fantasy.  According to this paradigm, Israel has no right to return fire when it’s attacked.  Fantasy characters don’t carry real guns.  Bellerose, Yeagley and Corwin argue that refusing to be a victim doesn’t make one into an oppressor.  The attempted appropriation of Aboriginal American issues is form of exploitation.

In his “conversation with an Indian friend,” Bellerose lays out the misconceptions that facilitate lumping Israel and the Jews with the oppressors of Native Americans.  Once that grouping is made, it’s easier to build Native solidarity with other people who claim to be victims of the same oppressors.

Robinson discusses the ultimate expression of those misconceptions in his account of the Ahenakew affair.  David Ahenakew was an important Native American leader, earning the Order of Canada for his achievements on their behalf.  He was also a rabid anti-Semite, schooled in hatred in both Germany and Gaza.  He was ultimately stripped of the Order of Canada, and his racism denounced by other native leaders.

Ambassador Baker, in his article The Indigenous Rights of the Jewish People, explains the significance of a people being indigenous, in terms of history, politics and law.  He uses this to examine concepts of legality and illegality of the presence of Jews in various parts of Israel, rejecting nomenclature that delegitimizes that presence.

Mara Cohen has indigenous status in two worlds: as Lakota Indian and a Jew.  Describing the potential of dual status as a source of conflict, she explains how it rather provides the ability to see reality through a number of perspectives, and to move with ease between cultures.

Uqittuk Mark’s connection to Israel is Biblical, rather than political.  A devout Christian, he went on an organized Israel pilgrimage to see the land of the Bible.  His attachment to the land transcends the politics, while his experience as an Inuk (Eskimo) gives him a clearer perspective to understand the struggles over it.

Finally, while Palestinians and their supporters work hard to appropriate Aboriginal American identity and victimhood, Howard I. Schwartz explains why the early European colonists were convinced that the native people they found in North America actually were Jews: descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes.  Schwartz explains the ideology which led the colonists to interpret native culture as primitive Judaism, and then ultimately reject that interpretation when its implications became clear.

 What Cause Do Aboriginal Americans Belong To?

The injustices imposed on Aboriginal Americans are dramatic.  Their past suffering, their current travails stir many hearts.  Their impeccable credentials as victims make them a useful prop for many issues.

But to appropriate Native American issues to support other causes is another form of imperialism: taking from them what is exclusively theirs.  Although it’s tempting to equate so-called Palestinian indigenous rights with Native American indigenous rights, the essays in this publication demonstrate that this is a false analogy.  It is more: another attempt to hijack, to steal what belongs to the Indigenous peoples of North America.

See the entire special publication of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

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Angels of Jihad, Angels of Apathy

Muselmann- at the edge of becoming angels

Muselmann; original art by Esti Mayer

Electricity has made angels of us all…  Unlike print, TV doesn’t transport bits of classified information.  Instead it transports the viewer.  It takes his spirit on a trip, an instant trip.  On live shows, it takes his spirit to real events in progress.

But here a contradiction occurs: though TV may make the viewer’s spirit an actual witness to the spectacle of life, he cannot live with this.  If he sees a criminal making ready to murder a sleeping woman & can’t interfere, can’t warn her, he suffers & is afflicted because his being is phantasmal.

So he participates solely as a dreamer, in no way responsible for events that occur.
-Edmund Carpenter

Disembodied Angels

The photojournalist/ advocate James Foley was brutally executed in a scene grizzlier than anything on Game of Thrones.  Just as in the television series, people were both enthralled and appalled by the scene.  And as in the television series, the viewers were unable to do anything, as they were present only as disembodied angels.

Are we all helpless in the face of Islamist brutality?  Is there anyone who can do something to stop these beasts?  The United States revealed that it had launched a rescue mission this summer, but the kidnap victims weren’t at the anticipated location.  President Obama denounced Foley’s executioners, saying “they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”

Then the President returned to the golf course.

On network TV, everything gets equalized.  News, drama, comedy are all subject to commercial breaks.  The viewer is immersed in emotional turmoil, and then told how to improve his golf swing.  Sometimes there’s more drama in the ads, especially when they’re fundraising for abused pets, sick or hungry children.  If they’re too disturbing, we don’t even have to get up to express our apathy by changing the channel.

Golf and Beheading

Specialty TV programming is more relentless.  There are no commercial breaks, no escapes in Game of Thrones.  You don’t witness a beheading, and then return to golf.  It’s literary quality drama in a fantasy setting.

It’s much better entertainment then the Palestinian-Israel conflict.  While the former stage cheap melodrama, Israel pushes reality and facts.  A missile strike in Gaza is a theatrical production, with “corpses” wiggling under sheets.  Bloody photos from Syria or even Israel are captioned as Palestinian victims under fire.  Israel doesn’t engage in theatrics, and so when rockets  land they aren’t worthy of the news. For a generation that doesn’t relate images and programs back to the real world, the melodrama carries the day.

Was James Foley’s execution something to be taken seriously?  Was Daniel Pearl’s beheading twelve years earlier a turning point?  How concerned was the President, if it didn’t interfere with his golf schedule?

Angels of Apathy

Unlike their parents, the young are less anxious to validate images by reference back to observable reality.  That need arose largely from conditions unique to literacy, and literacy exercises little control in their lives.  Today’s images are self-sufficient.
-Edmund Carpenter

Carpenter published his observations in nineteen seventy-two.  The “young” he describes are now old, or at least seriously middle-aged.  It’s a series of generations that doesn’t have to relate the images, the programs, even the news back to observable reality.  Since the sounds and images are from a phantasmal world, it’s easy to be apathetic.

Game of Thrones, James Foley, ISIS, the massacres of the Yazidis (replicating some of the scenes from the novel Quantum Cannibals), Breaking Bad… which are more capable of holding our attention?  Dr. Jay Corwin, commenting on Foley’s beheading, states that “People with no common sense at all think it’s just a video game.”  Will James Foley or Daniel Pearl reboot, and start again?

Video Game Jihad

Perhaps the video game metaphor is appropriate for the Jihadis coming from western countries, such as Great Britain

Golf after the beheading

Golf after the beheading

and Canada; they get to play for real.  You can’t smell the blood of your victims on X-Box. Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Medal of Honor may be greater inspirations for Muslim youth than the Koran.  And if they die in the course of the game, they reboot to paradise with seventy two virgins- houris, a specialized form of angels.

Carpenter’s “young” must learn to relate the images confronting them back to observable reality.  They must learn that the threats to their civilization, to their lives are more than angels, phantasms.  If the people of the west treat the images confronting them as a dream on a TV channel, or abandoned for a game of golf, they will be responsible for the nightmare that descends upon them.