Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Back to the Shtetl!

In the last issue of Los Angeles’ Jewish Journal, there was a full-page advertisement from the McCain campaign. The ad consisted of a letter written from a woman in New Jersey who said she was once a Democrat, but was now going to vote for McCain. She insisted that she wasn’t a right-wing nut. In fact, she specifically said she was liberal in social matters such as abortion and gay rights. No, her big issue was Israel. And some think that the Republicans are a better “friend” to Israel than the Democrats. I don’t know if I agree, or understand what this “friendship” really means, but there is this impression out there.

I’m not an Israeli. I don’t let one issue become the reason I vote for a candidate. But Israel is a big thing for most Jews. Is it surprising? Or wrong? Are we upset when the Irish care about Ireland? Or Chicago residents root for the Cubs? Passover just ended. The whole story of this ancient holiday, one that Jesus himself celebrated, is about Moses leading the chosen people into the Holy Land.

Do backers of Israel have too much of a say in American policy? Perhaps. Or is Israel in the best interest of America? The Arabs may have the oil, but when you get stuck at a seder, you’ll be glad you’re drinking the Israeli stuff rather than our own Manishevitz. And did you know that Natalie Portman was born in Israel? Enough said.

The Chosen People. I sometimes get the weirdest anti-Semitic emails about the phrase “chosen people,” as if Jews believe God gave them special freebies, like bigger penises on Jewish men. While this is true for some of us, I can’t vouch for every Jewish man. Maybe next week, I’ll write a post about “the chosen people” and have some of you goyim tell me what you think the phrase really means.

I’d like to also hear more of your feelings about our policies with Israel. Is America too biased towards Israel? Who do you think we should be biased to? Syria? Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. I already know which of you are anti-Semitic. Seriously, I’m open to different views. I have a few blogging friends who live in Europe who are very upset about the conditions of Palestinians in Gaza, and pretty much blame Israel. I understand the humanistic need to fight for those without a voice — the underdog. It is part of the liberal tradition. It is also why Republicans have made inroads with the Jewish community. Because many have forgotten that Israel is an underdog also.

I don’t think I met a Republican until I was twenty years old. A Republican in New York? A Jewish Republican? But politics make strange bedfellows. Soon, it was the religious right that was supporting Israel, while liberals like ex-President Jimmy Carter were sharing tea with Hamas leadership.

I consider myself fairly liberal. I care for the underdog. I just happen to see Israel as an underdog, despite its military power. Look on the map.

There’s a lot of guilt to go around in the Middle East. Israel can suck, too. Their policies have caused chaos in Gaza. But then again, I don’t live there. It is very hard to be sympathetic to those wanting to kill you.

I once read this very bizarre article (written by a French intellectual, of course) which theorized that Israel was bad for the Jewish people. This writer was proud of the older generation of Jews — the ones who thrived in Europe and added so much to European intellectual life — the Spinozas and Einsteins of the world. Now, Jews lost some of their moral high ground by having Israel. They became like everyone else. He seemed disappointed in these new Jews, because these Jews weren’t as alienated and miserable as they used to be. What should liberals do with Jews who aren’t victims — the prototypical victim?

I think the extreme right and the extreme left end up meeting in the same place concerning Jews and Israel: they don’t really feel comfortable with them being normal people. It’s as if they take “the chosen people” more seriously than Jews themselves. They need to be “chosen” for something, whether they want to or not.

How many other countries get the scrutiny that Israel gets? Or is as demonized by liberal Europeans, despite violence going on all over the world? Or is berated for land that was given them, and then won after the other side repeatedly attacked them? Or has given back most of the land and repeatedly made compromises? That actually respects the religion of their enemies?

Still, it would be nice to go back in time, to a more carefree era — back before half of the Jewish population was wiped out by the Nazis — back to the shtetls of Russia. Imagine if we could just move all the Jews back to Russia! I can give up blogging and return to my life as a grumpy milkman with three daughters, waiting to become a rich man. Wouldn’t that be a miracle of miracles?!

Of course, this dream could become a reality, as one blogger points out. In an interesting article in today’s BlogHer, Dana J. Tuszke writes “Quo Vadis, Israel?,” in which the blogger paves a way for peace in the Middle East by following H. Peter Nennhaus’s cool plan:

Nennhaus proposes that purchase of the land called the Kaliningrad Oblast from Russia, would encourage Russian immigrants to return to Russia by means of financial enticements, and the transfer of the Israelis to the Baltic, would prevent anyone from questioning the legitimacy of this new Israeli homeland.

What do you think? Could Israel relocate its entire nation? Could peace finally be achieved?

This is perfect for me, since I’ve already married a Russian and know how to drink vodka! Das Vadanya, Comrade Jews!

48 Comments

  1. Being of Israeli descent I can go on and on, but all I am going to say is that extreme right/extreme left scare the shit out of me. On another note, voting for McCain is like voting for a democrat anyways…except the guy’s a bit crazy at times. He should’ve been in office a lot earlier, is the rest I have to say – when he wasn’t as crazy.

  2. She could be right. I’m not Jewish, but I’m a big supporter of Israel, and I’m politically conservative. It’s my religious beliefs (as a Christian) that prompt me to promote their cause.

  3. Thanks for posting the links both to the article on BlogHer as well as Margalit’s spin on it. It’s been interesting to see so many viewpoints on the subject. What intrigues me about the whole “let’s just move the Jews to a peaceful locale” suggestion is that it’s one that had been suggested repeatedly as far back as the 1600s and, more recently, around the time of the First Zionist Congress at the end of the nineteenth century. (The location, ironically, was Uganda.)

    Back to the issues which you brought up: I belong to a Conservative synagogue spiritually led by a rather famous rabbi in the movement who is known for his social justice and interfaith initiatives. It came to a point earlier this year that he had to send out an email to the shul’s distribution list addressing the scare-tactic type emails cautioning about the peripheral religious affiliations of the presidential candidates and referring to these emails as “criminal” and “bigoted.”

    I, too, think it’s absolutely nuts to make a blanket statement about a political party or even a political candidate when it comes to addressing a role in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. One can’t say that the Democrats will obliterate Israel’s chance of survival and ignore the fact that the Bush administration has been pledging aid to the Palestinian Authority and meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. There will only be a limited role that a US presidential administration can play in brokering peace. The rest of it must come from Israeli and Palestinian leadership. Period. I honestly don’t think that any of the hopeful presidential candidates would make any different impact.

    That’s why the candidate for whom I will vote will not be chosen because s/he is “good for the Jews” or “good for Israel.” There’s plenty to think about.

    Regarding your paragraph on being one of the “Chosen People” — Ron Jeremy is Jewish. ’nuff said. 🙂

  4. Well, anyway — everytime I wrote an amazingly clear political post, something screws it. It turns out that the blogger who wrote the article is… a Republican.

    And she apologized, saying she was just being naive about the issue.

  5. i don’t really get the whole idea of moving an entire “people” to another, less violent, more spacious location.

    Israel is important to Jews because of WHERE it is. because of what’s happened there. it’s the site of the temple.

    hmm…what else…i would never base my vote on one issue alone. while, as a Jew, with many relatives living in Israel, Israel is an important issue…i could never vote based on the fact that one candidate likes Israel over another. i am a Jew, but i’m also an American.

  6. My biggest problem with the whole Israel question has always been who got to decide that it should be be Israel and not Palestine? Was it fair to simply take the land and push the people on it out?

    That being said, Israel is and has been and it’s not going anywhere and the other countries in the Middle East need to get past it. But I think that a compromise needs to be reached. Both peoples need a place to call their own. I just wish the Palestinians would find a better way to go about it.

  7. Three daughters? Azoy? Three? Tevye had FIVE daughters, Neil, count’em 5, or four if you dont count Chava anymore, what with her chasing after that goy Vasili or whatever his name was. How can you not know that Tevye had five daughters? Isnt it in the Talmud somewhere?

  8. Akaky — You’re absolutely right. I got them confused with the three Pips, who back up Gladys Knight. I’m always getting them confused.

    Finn — You’ve hit on the big issue that everyone is still fighting over… legitimacy. It isn’t as clear cut as one people kicking another one out. Jews have always lived in this land that was supposedly given to them in the Bible. Arabs also lived in this area, but the concept of a Palestinian didn’t come about until 1920. From 1517 to 1917 most of this area remained under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Empire was dissolved at the end of World War I. Its successor, modern republic of Turkey, transferred Palestine to British Empire control under the Lausanne agreement that followed WW I. In 1917 Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. In 1922 Britain allocated nearly 80% of Palestine to Transjordan and the Arab population. Of course, there’s a lot more to the story —

  9. Neil, Very thoughtful post – by way of full disclosure I am a Jew by choice. I converted from catholicism when I was in my 20’s. And not for marriage – just because it felt like home to me. All that being said I am concerned about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. There are many Israelis and Palestinians who are working for peace and they need to be supported. Many american jews will not tolerate ANY criticism of Israel.

    The ultra orthodox in my neighborhood drive me crazy, especially the last election when they voted for Bush, and I am plenty critical when of them when I am talking to other Jews – but loyalty makes me bristle if a non-Jew says anything.

    It is a hard, heartbreaking situation and because of the level of violence it is difficult to sort out all the issues.

    Chosen people, hard choices.

  10. And more howlers! No Jewish Republicans? What were Jacob Javits and Louis Lefkowitz-bagel salesmen? And Moses led the Chosen People into the land of Israel? Were you absent that day at Hebrew school? Havent you seen The Ten Commandments a million and nine times? Moses cannot cross over the river Jordan; he can SEE the Promised Land, but he cannot cross over the river INTO it. Give it up, Neal; you’re really a Presbyterian, aren’t you?

  11. Judy — I agree with you. Jews are a little too afraid of being criticized, probably out of fear. Jews haven’t been treated very nicely by ANYONE throughout history. But maybe it is time to change that. Let’s assume modern America is finally different. Our country gives tons of money to Israel. There is no reason Americans shouldn’t criticize Israel if they don’t like their policies. Our taxes support them. And Jews should criticize them, too.

    But we should also critize everyone in the middle east for years of conflict.

    There’s a reason Israel has to act like a bully. And it’s not going to change until the entire Middle East focuses on progress — and not remaining stuck in the past. I hate Israeli hard-nosed policies, but it is also sad that whenever they ease things, another cafe blows up in Tel Aviv. I sometimes think that Palestinian leadership doesn’t really want to lead a people — but keep power through having an enemy. And the rest of the Arab world would rather have Palestinians to point to as evidence of “evil Israel” rather than fixing their own corrupt countries. And now with Iran trying to show her power, you just have raised tensions.

    The Arab World needs to have a meeting of all the Arab countries in the Middle East — and invite Israel to sit with them. Israel is there. They also enjoy eating pita bread. Why not just make them one of your group? I’m sure they can help you with their economic successes? As long as they treat Israel as an outcast who should be shipped off to Russia, there’s not much else Israel can do but arm themselves for the inevitable.

  12. Well, those were New York Republicans, like Mayor Lindsay and Gov. Rockefeller. Those weren’t “real” Republicans.

    And you are right again. Moses never made it to the promised land. I’m sorry, Charlton Heston, wherever you are in your Republican Heaven.

  13. Am I jumping to conclusions here or is Michael Bloomberg not Jewish?

  14. Jews have been treated abominably in the world. No question. They have also received their own country in return. And the U.S. has been the largest supporter of Israel in the world. Is it a fair trade? No but it is something. Unfortunately, this did not come with out cost.

    On another note, to say that Carter would have made a deal with Hitler is just not true. Perhaps you don’t remember the last hostage crisis? The failure to rescue them was a military disaster that is documented (although not well). He’s no Chamberlain.

  15. BaltimoreGal — OK, you’re right about Jewish Republicans. There are plenty of them. I just never knew any of them in Queens. My grandmother had a photo of Eleanor Roosevelt in the living room and I went to a Socialist/Yiddish-oriented camp in the summer. I guess things have changed.

    And I’ll change that Jimmy Carter line, since it isn’t fair.

    I’m also not sure that I totally agree when you say–

    “Jews have been treated abominably in the world. No question. They have also received their own country in return.”

    I don’t see Israel as the world’s payback for shitty treatment. There are plenty of better places to go, like Vermont. Israel has been the ancestral home of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Every Passover, Jews recite, “Next Year in Jerusalem.” A better payback would be to finally eliminate anti-Semitism in Europe. There was a lot of country building during the decay of the British Empire, and there are still border conflicts over this around the world, such as between India and Pakistan, as well as in Africa. The State of Israel was one of these countries that was formed. These things are messy. Maybe we should blame the Turks and British for their empire-building.

  16. Throw in the Romans and I’ll join you in the empire builders blame-fest.

  17. Hawaii, baby! 😉 One word? insanity.

  18. Hawaii, but not the big Island. Too touristy.

  19. Uh, Tevye’s shtetl got burned down by Cossacks and then once they rebuilt, they were all kicked out anyway.

    So much for the idea of relocation to “a region where there is no hostility.” Find me that region. Even the US is not that region.

    Also, when they were forced out of Anatevka with nowhere to go an no one to take them, Yentl the Matchmaker went to…you guessed it…Palestine.

    Just sayin’.

  20. I think it’s all ridiculous, completely ridiculous. They’re fighting to retain a scrap of land that apparently NOBODY wants them even exist on, let alone be comfortable– and they’re doing it because of some 2000 year old fairy tale. As if that wasn’t enough, they manage to drag the US into their BS with some regularity… it’s like having a mouthy kid you have to protect because he’s your brother! The way I see it, if having a homeland is so damned important to them (and to the US, as it seems) just give them a chunk of Utah. One goofy religious group seems to enjoy it– perhaps it could be a “faith preserve,” like a natural park, where folks could go to rough it, haha.

    The more quickly all the world’s inhabitants give up these worthless beliefs, the sooner they’ll start behaving properly and treating one another with a modicum of respect.

  21. I totally disagree with this statement:

    The more quickly all the world’s inhabitants give up these worthless beliefs, the sooner they’ll start behaving properly and treating one another with a modicum of respect.

    It is easy to show respect once everyone has given up their crazy beliefs, because then everyone will be as logical as Mr. Spock. To me, real RESPECT comes about when you accept someone else’s crazy belief as REAL to him. I’m not a Hindu, but I’m not going to laugh at his turbin and say his religion is a waste of time.

    I don’t think it is going to be any time soon that anyone gives up these “worthless beliefs” because civilization is built on them. It’s not really worth talking about. We have cities and borders and histories and myths that we all believe. Society believes all sorts of myths that aren’t going away… EVER. It would also put us writers out of business.

    Why should Jews want to live in Israel? It is sort of crazy and illogical, but so are many things. Why should you even own a piece of property with your house on it? Who really gives you that right? The government? Who are they? What right do we have to even be in this country? Why do we care about America? Why not give the country back to the Indians? Why have borders at all? Why not just create one big country with Canada and Mexico? Why do we bother having different languages? Why can’t we all just speak English? Why don’t residents of Tibet just move to New Jersey?

    If these crazy Jewish people believe they should be living on this desert land and their myth tells them so, what’s your problem with it? And why shouldn’t others let them live peacefully? The land doesn’t even have oil. What do the Arabs hate them so much — right from the beginning. The main reason the Jews aren’t welcome in the area is that the Arabs have their own crazy myths! How can we make a decision if both people are living under crazy myths? Why should the Jews give up their myth and move to Utah and let the others stay? It seems only fair that we should require them to give up their myths as well. The Jews myth is older. Maybe that wins some points. Would you suggest tossing the Indians off their reservations because of their crazy myth that their land is sacred? Or booting the Pope out of Rome? Or building a McDonald’s at Mecca?

    As for the U.S. role in all this, that’s another issue, and could be debated. I doubt the U.S. does something for this long without reaping some benefit from the friendship.

    It doesn’t sound like you go to church very often, do you Dave X?

  22. Here’s my (admittedly limited) understanding. The Jews are God’s covenant people. For some reason He set up a conflict between the descendents of Hagar’s son Ishmael and Sarah’s son Isaac (Abraham being the father to both of these strapping lads.) The Arabs are are Ishmael’s descendents and the Jews are Isaac’s. I say, God started it, so He’s probably the one who’ll have to finish it.
    As for the existence of Israel, does it really MATTER how they got the land? The Jewish people were given land by whomever, for whatever reason. They have never tried to get more. They have beaten the crap out of everyone who’s tried to take what they have been given. The fact that the now-crapless losers are sore about said loss is not the fault of the victor. You don’t start something unless you can handle losing. They’ve got a nation! They exist! MOVE ON. Deal, people. Deal. Start classes on coping skills, because this is your reality. Or, here’s a novel concept, just learn to share. Would it REALLY be the end of the world to just share the space? As each religion declares this area to be a holy one, why don’t they just let Jehovah and Allah duke it out? (pardon my sacriledge)
    I don’t know any Jews personally, but I have a great deal of respect for their faith. I think they are, for the most part, the wronged party in the Middle East.
    Neil, do Jews still follow Mosaic Law, as in “an eye for an eye”? ‘Cause I could see how adherence to that particular tenet might make it difficult to achieve a cessation in hostilities.

  23. No, I sure don’t Neil. I think they should all give up their zany myths, every last one of them. Frankly, it’s holding them back. Take Iran, for instance. By all accounts, they’re one of the birthplaces of written language– and a few thousand years later, how come they’ve made so little progress? They’ve festered in their own religious BS. As for owning a house, I’d say you’re right to a point– it’s not absolutely necessary, but it rarely seems to compel the homeowner towards mindless ritual, giving up a portion of their income to useless parasitic clergy, or going door to door to convince other homeowners to move in with them. If anything, owning a home can be a powerful inducement to making one’s community a better place, starting with the home itself. Best yet, it does it logically– if you’re going to live there, it might as well be as nice as you can make it. Religion works by frightening the foolish, or promising false rewards to the greedy. You’ve got one life, Neil– no sense wasting it in church!

  24. See you in Hell — DaveX!

    Besides, at this point, we’re more talking about nationalism than religion, right?

  25. I am shamefully uninformed on the current state of Israel and American foreign policy in that regard.

    I did however take two classes on the ancient history of Israel, one in high school, one in university.

    It’s a dramatic, sad, and often violent story of claiming a place in the world and surviving against all odds.

    As a young Christian who often attended Bible studies in my teens, I was always taught that Israel was chosen to be a blessing to the world, to reveal God as He had been revealed to them, to share the wisdom of their experience as people of faith, to accept that Christian tradition and faith was rooted in Judaism, grew out of it, and that we too were expected to be blessings.

    So, at the risk of sounding naive and simplistic, maybe my life motto is Be a Blessing to the place you are, the people you encounter, the strangers you have yet to meet.

    Thanks for writing this, for making me think.

  26. There’s a reason Israel has to act like a bully.
    Their policies have caused chaos in Gaza

    Ok, all of my hair just fell out, I am spitting blood and there is fire coming out of my nose.

    Let’s start with this. Every country should be criticized, including Israel. But let’s keep it balanced and honest.

    Israeli policy is not the reason there is a problem in Gaza.

    If you remember Israel pulled out of Gaza and left it for palestinian control. There was a power struggle between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas won.

    And might I add that they won by using tactics the mafia would be proud of. They tied people up and threw them off of buildings. They shot, knifed and blew up their own people. Fatah was forced out.

    Those fine members of Hamas, you remember the one whose charter calls for the violent destruction of Israel, they continue to fire rockets into Israel at

    schools and whatever else happens to be around.

    They are rightfully called terrorists. You don’t negotiate with people who tell you that they do not accept your right to live.

    What do you think? Could Israel relocate its entire nation? Could peace finally be achieved?

    Neil,

    Please, please tell me that this is a joke and that you don’t really believe it.

    It is so far beyond the pale and not based upon any sort of reality past, present or otherwise.

    You mentioned earlier how Jordan is a 20th century creation. A huge chunk of land that was created out of nothing and given as an Arab land.

    Nennhauss is a certified moron. Would he suggest that the US give California back to Mexico. Or maybe the entire country should be given back to the Native Americans that lived here first.

    The bottom line is that this far more complex than just engaging in basic finger pointing and saying we’re going to start over.

  27. Nationalism/Religion… pretty much the same thing– abstract boundaries utilizing arbitrary codes of belief and culture to keep us apart.

    Hell is BS, Neil. But if it makes you feel good to threaten me with it, and if it makes everyone else feel like they’re getting the last laugh, I can say you’ve got the religion thing down pat.

  28. Eh, I took the last post down since we weren’t ready yet for the music. Continue on!

    DaveX — I’m not sure I disagree with you. But are we talking about some imaginary world or the real one? What do you suggest to happen in the real world.

    And I was only joking about the Hell thing. That’s more of a Christian thing, anyway…

    V-grrrl — And if I remember my Hebrew school correctly, we were chosen to follow the commandments to make life a bit holier — some could see it as much as a challenge as a reward — and most Jews follow these laws pretty poorly. Christianity broke away from the laws (probably seeing how hard they were to follow and wanting to make the new religion appealing to others) to focus on Christ, creating the split between the two religions. Christians think the laws have been superseded by faith in Christ, while Jews can’t see Jesus as being divine or the “messiah” because it just doesn’t make sense under Jewish theology. The three main bonds between the two religions is the belief in one God, the importance of the Old Testament, and love for the bagel.

  29. Well, if you keep backing up Neil, you might walk right out of religion entirely! And of course I’m talking about the real world. I don’t think I’ve said anything impossible, just unlikely. I have high esteem for the human race, despite its general tendency to settle for a grade-Z existence. The main point is that we could do a lot better for ourselves; but the power-hungry, the weak-willed, the greedy, and the foolish all find comfortable places within religion– making it a powerful force to be rid of.Those among us with the intelligence to know better, the ability to lead lovingly, and the fortitude to persevere have a duty to do so for the good of all humans.

  30. I wonder why people think that Democrats are less friendly re: Israel. I lived in Israel for 19 years before coming to America and I still love Israel as if it was my home – all my family live there and many really good old friends.

    I believe that caring for Israel means we really want peace there. And in order to make peace we need, desperately need, to talk to people – use diplomacy instead of this never ending cycle of horrific violence. Someone has to break this cycle.
    Even in tone – even in speeches.

    “Obliterating” Iran kind of talk or “Bam-bambam Iran” kind of speak does not do good things for the Middle East – Israel included, in the long run.

    And that’s why, as an Israeli American who cares deeply for Israel, I am standing firmly behind Barack Obama.

  31. DaveX — Maybe you want to talk to Sophia’s parents about life in the Soviet Union, when intellectuals led the naive away from religion to a philosophy that was more humanistic in nature.

    Look, I’m not particularly religious myself, but you can’t run public policy based on Platonic ideals. There are billions of people out there who follow some sort of religion. How do you know your life is better than all of them?

  32. It’s just common sense, Neil. If I’m good to the circle of people immediately around myself, as they are to their respective circle, peace spreads easily. I can handle being marginally responsible for those few around me, and only a real intellectual might argue otherwise.

    As for your billions, I’d answer that my life ISN’T better than all of theirs. If anything, it’s worse. We’re all drowning in thousands of years of religious muck– unfortunately, I also have to be awake for it.

  33. The main point is that we could do a lot better for ourselves; but the power-hungry, the weak-willed, the greedy, and the foolish all find comfortable places within religion– making it a powerful force to be rid of.Those among us with the intelligence to know better, the ability to lead lovingly, and the fortitude to persevere have a duty to do so for the good of all humans.

    That is a strawman argument. We could just as easily argue that religion has done more to improve mankind than not. There are good people who are religious and bad people who are religious. The same can be said for atheists.
    It’s just common sense, Neil. If I’m good to the circle of people immediately around myself, as they are to their respective circle, peace spreads easily.

    It is a nice pipe dream, but not based in reality. You completely ignored Neil’s comments about what life was like in the U.S.S.R.

    Some people are always going to try to take advantage of others. I wish that it were otherwise, but the real world proves differently.

  34. Jack– I’d imagine that it was the everyday folks who made it possible for the USSR’s problems to exist. The machination of that state wasn’t based on one guy bullying everyone, it was the millions who cooperated out of personal gain, out of fear, or willful ignorance. The powerful came to be by replacing one type of religion for another– politics of communism.

    Believe it or not, it really IS as easy as I say. The hard thing is convincing you to give up your defeated mindset.

  35. Dave,

    Your last comment made me laugh. Would you like to supply factual support for your allegations.

    It is really easy to make comments like
    The powerful came to be by replacing one type of religion for another– politics of communism. when you don’t have to support them.

    Ideologies are how the world runs. If you want to backpedal and spin so that suddenly communism is equivalent to a religion, you can do so. But that doesn’t mean that anyone is going to accept it.

    Believe it or not, it really IS as easy as I say.

    Prove it. Provide a real life example where Dave’s world functions. If it is so easy you’ll able to do so without having to resort to strawman arguments.

    Just for kicks why not provide facts about how religion has made the world worse.

    Substance would be nice.

  36. I’m not responding to the real meat of what DaveX was saying; I’ll leave the rest of you to that. But he said in his initial comment:

    The way I see it, if having a homeland is so damned important to them (and to the US, as it seems) just give them a chunk of Utah.

    And I’d thought I’d mention, just as a point of cultural interest, that this was actually attempted, of sorts. My grandfather’s family was part of it.

    More here, if anyone’s actually interested.

  37. It’s days like this when I’m happy that I live in ignorance.

  38. Side note: Sikhs are required by their faith to wear turbans. Hindus are not.

  39. Thank you, Suebob. I’ll go change it.

  40. Eh, I won’t change it. As proof that I can be as ignorant as everyone else.

  41. I would like to say thank you to Sue Bob for clarifying a point I knew to be true.

    The rest of this stuff? While I have never had problems with the Jewish people, I have had problems with the state of Israel. And the use of the term “terrorist”? Why is that sometimes we use the term “terrorist” and at other times we use the term “patriot”? Through connotation they two words can mean drastically different things. Yet I doubt that the English would call those involved in the American Revolution “patriots.” It’s all about perspective.

    And if I’m fighting for land upon which my family has lived for whatever number of years, then I’d like to think that I am being a patriot. And yes, I understand how other people may believe that this has always been their land. But so do other people. Violence and apartheid has already been tried to no avail. Perhaps it is time for a truly honest and painful conversation. I say “painful” because when people start speaking their truths, someone usually feels hurt and defensive along the way. But it’s only through truly open dialogue, in my opinion, that there is any hope of peace. And open dialogue means not shutting down when someone says something with which you do not agree.

  42. You’re a sad dude, Jack. You can’t live in peace without first having someone write you out a proof!? The trick is commonly known as apathy, but I prefer to think of it as not overstepping my bounds.

  43. Dave,

    What is sad is that you can’t support your allegations with anything resembling fact. Just a lot of smoke.

    It is not that hard to provide support for statements,especially when the internet makes it so easy to do the research.

    And open dialogue means not shutting down when someone says something with which you do not agree.

    Open dialogue works when both parties are open to it. I’ll provide a real world example.

    Some people have excoriated Israel for not sitting down with Hamas. Here is the problem. Take a look at these excerpts from the The Hamas Charter which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.

    You don’t make peace with people who want to kill you. You don’t wave flags and flowers at people who intentionally slaughter others.

    Watch this video and tell me how many military targets you see.

    If the Hamas only attacked soldiers. If they only went after true military targets it would be one thing, but they do not.

    Your mother, your father, sister, brother, whomever are all legitimate targets to them.

    Pregnant Mother and Four daughters murdered

    Just to reiterate, I don’t agree with everything that Israel has done. They are certainly not above blame and they share responsibility.

    But this is so much more complex than the media portrays it to be.

  44. Dangy — Good points. Although I think the word terrorist takes on a slightly different tone in modern times. The Americans throwing tea in the water or fighting against the British Army is not really “terrorism” in my book, even if the British said so at the time. The were involved in military action. Even Iraquis blowing up a military jeep is not “terrorism.” Even Palestinians fighting against Israeli army members is not terrorism. Killing athletes at the Olympics, hijacking planes and flying them into the World Trade Center, shooting people on cruise ships, blowing up cafes with teenagers drinking soda is “terrorism.” I agree. Conversation is the best solution. But there’s usually not much of it going on. And I hate to be one-sided, but most of it from the Arab world. Talk about media bias! Have you see some of the cartoons and children shows where Israelis and Jews are portrayed as demons. It is a happy day when Israeli children are blown up. Israel has become the boogy-man for the Arab world, especially in those countries stuck in the past. I think this is probably the first step — acknowledging the other’s humanity, and for everyone to stop using the Middle East’s conflicts for their own selfish philosophies and purposes.

  45. Israel is the only sane, progressive country in the middle East. She is needed as an anchor and an ally.

    I also believe that if the Palestine sympathizers really knew the history, and the monstrosity of religious ideals that lay behind Palestinian suicide bombers, they would not be so quick to name Israel the aggressor.

  46. Seriously, Neil, can you please hook me up with some of these “chosen people”? No big thing just, next time you’re having a meeting, mention this lovely little Shiksa over in Eagle Rock who would love to learn how to make potato pancakes just the way you remember them!

  47. Ha. Did you read Operation Shylock (Philip Roth)? You should.

    I would end this with a hearty “am yisrael chai!” but I did that on a friend’s blog once which prompted a lot of vicious insults. so I’ll just say “l’chaim!”

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