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Saturday, December 31, 2011


'Forty years ago (in the 1930s) the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead thought it self-evident that you would get a good government if you took power out of the hands of the acquisitive and gave it to the learned and cultivated. At present, a child in kindergarten knows better than that.' These words were written 37 years ago by a man I consider one of my 'mentors': Eric Hoffer.
He wrote in the wake of sixty-odd years of wars and revolutions brought about by the type Winston Churchill called 'bloody-minded professors'. I also might call them the world's second-most recent versions of this world's Wackford Squeerses--some of whom actually believe they make a better world by making more of us miserable. I'd say our current Wackfords are the Islamists and, also, their 'Christianist' counterparts in this country.
But to return to the main point: men who cared nothing for money, wealth or riches made charnel houses of Russia, Germany and much of Europe besides, China and other, smaller, countries. Now we see before our eyes the evil that men do who lust after riches as after nothing else. And if we don't change course now, we'll be on a trajectory right back to feudal times--maybe even with, God save us all, a new Holy Office! (Inquisition, dude!)
'Crisis in leadership' is, I'd say, a much-overused phrase. But what else can we call what we now have? The people with ideas to 1) get us off the fossil-fuel tit and onto cleaner, renewable energies 2) thereby restart our economy for real 3) make our educational systems more equitable and thereby continue to keep the economy humming are mostly far from power while those with actual power seem, for the most part, to have as much useful ideas for action as they have knowledge of either ancient Sanskrit or ability to read cuneiform! And such ideas as most of them do have are about as relevant to most of us right here, right now as is cuneiform or Sanskrit!
'Occupy' does seem to be more leader-full than leaderless to me. And now I say, let all of us either in Occupy or sympathetic with it step forward--now. By and large it may be too late for the year now beginning, but 2014 and 2016 are coming right quick! Let's continue organizing--including starting political campaigns. And let's do something else I see as very much in tune with Occupy's spirit: explore ways in which to mount inexpensive, low-cost campaigns. And this isn't only because most of us haven't much money, although that fact dovetails with this idea. But more than that, do we or don't we want to rebuke the overweening power of wealth and do so as sharply as possible? Not possible, say you? Who saw Occupy coming? Why not use social media and, perhaps, other online ways which Anonymous might create and teach to us all to get the messages out?
Finally, we need to ask ourselves these questions: between Lenin, Mussolini and those that followed them along a path of horror on the one hand and the still mostly faceless and fecklessly greedy and incompetent traders and banksters who've all but ruined us--what, if anything, do these groups have in common? What sort of person or persons do we need to avoid having in positions of economic and/or political power? As I sit here and mull this over, it also occurs to me if, at least to some extent, the 'anti-intellectual' strain in our politics perhaps confuses the actually knowledgeable and authoritative person with the authoritarian 'know-all'? Dislike of the former is largely unhelpful; aversion to the second is profoundly necessary. Obama can come off as a 'know-all' but he is actually the real article. The Gingrinch is a near-perfect specimen of the latter. I think we need to beware of anyone who sounds as if they know it all and also act as if they've nothing to learn from you, me or any of the 99%. Any one of us can always learn something new from anyone. So let's beware of such creatures, whether they act professorial (Gingrich) or anti-perfesser (Palin, Bachmann, Perry). One things both groups seem to have in common is a belief that they know and/or own it all--except, of course, their own malfeasances, mistakes and misdeeds!
We also need a variety of 'markers'. One has to be the willingness to take 'radical' action coupled with the readiness to shape it pragmatically. FDR is still a good model of this: he took action and was ready to experiment but he was no ideologue. And being no ideologue never meant he lacked principles. He once said this when asked about his 'philosophy': "Philosophy! Philosophy? I am a Christian and a Democrat--that's all." Well, make the 'd' lowercase and add 'Judeo-' to 'Christian' and that's good enough for me. Which leads to another necessary marker: leaders need to know the difference between infusing society with God's Spirit and keeping government and religion separate. Everyone has to understand that religion and state both do better when strictly separate--and spiritual infusion has to be from the bottom up and never from the top down. A third marker needs to be a leader has to have some idea of who s/he is independent of any office they might hold. We don't need any hollow wo/men who seem to need power so bad they'll sell their office for it.
I could probably say more, but this'll do for now. Think these things over, everyone: perhaps even as we hear the notes of Auld Lang Syne tonight. A blessed New Year to all of you.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Ever since Newtie said the 'Palestinians' were an invented people--and, by the way, I do believe he told a truth few want to hear, for a change--I've been mulling that over in light of other things I know since long before Gingrich said that and also in light of what others have had to say about the Gingrinch's words.
First thing worth mentioning: between 1920 and 1948, the Palestine mandate actually saw slightly more Arab immigration than Jewish. The latest figures I've seen have 498,000 Jews versus 558,000 Arabs. One of the inconvenient truths involved here is how often Arab 'leaders' (self-chosen as often as otherwise) have said, from Jemal Pasha's protege and Hitler's ally Haj Amin el-Husseini right up to officials of the PLO including Arafat himself (who, by the way, was Haj Amin's nephew) that there is, essentially, no difference between Jordanians, Syrians, 'Palestinians' and Israeli Arabs. And that the press for a separate 'Palestinian' state is, essentially, today's road to get to Shoah II.
Second thing: without Israel, why should there be anything here but what Mark Twain illumined in Innocents Abroad? A deserted and denuded land, where no more than 250,000 inhabitants scratched for a profoundly bare living. Yet between 1870 (about that time) and 1920 the population of Eretz Israel doubled. Why? Because the Jews were returning and bringing new life and new hope into the land. They actually started coming fifteen or so years before Herzl's congress in Basel. These Jews were known as the Bilu. This was an acronym from the Hebrew phrase Beth Yakov Leku Venelkha, meaning 'House of Jacob, let us go up!' Even when only the Bilu were coming they brought new opportunities into the land. By 1900 and after the new Zionist movement continued the process. So if Mexico invites Israel to decamp to Baja del Sur and gets an affirmative response (yes, G-d forbid!) the UN will probably have a large number of crooked beggars on its hands (and the higher up, the more crooked!) of which they might tire remarkably quickly. Famine, dispersion and re-denuding of the land would surely follow. As to other possible reasons for the population doubling between 1870 and 1920, give me leave, I pray you, to doubt that Western medicine had yet cut into the appalling mortality or that the people of 1920 in 'Palestine' were significantly better nourished (and hence more resistant to disease) than the inhabitants of 1870. Let him or her with proof positive step forward; otherwise open your flap and be known for a fool.
Third: having said all this, I confess to a certain unease about the phrase 'an invented people'. Could not Israel herself be an 'invented' people, albeit created by their relationship with G-d through His Word and mighty miracles on behalf of His first and abiding people? I certainly know myself to belong to an 'invented' people--what else are we Americans? Many years ago I moved from one apartment to another with the help of an Anglo-Irishman who looked remarkably as if he were Donald Sutherland's younger brother and who said, "The only time Ireland was ever one country was when the Brits ran it all." So, even though Irish and Scots (at least Highlanders) are apparently of the same stock, how 'invented' are the Irish as a people? If Brian Boru (whose first name I share) had survived Clontarf, maybe he could've started that consolidation rolling but, alas, things didn't happen that way. And how invented is India, with its northern and southern languages and peoples belonging to completely different groups? And so on ad nauseam.
However, there's invented and there's invented. Specifically, invented for what most of us (mostly regardless of our culture of origin) would call 'positive' reasons--such as bringing G-d's light before the nations, being a refuge for the oppressed, a beacon of liberty (ESPECIALLY religious liberty), liberte, egalite, fraternite, establishing peace under just rule of law or adding to economic democracy. No nation is meant to be sovereign over all the rest, much less a subsumer of them all as Islamists seem to want the Arabs to swallow the rest of us! It's not that the 'Palestinians' are an invented nation; too many nations are also that. No, 'Palestinian' nationality was invented, and is still largely used, for the most negative reason of all: the annhilation of another people and the destruction of their nation-state, the one place on the globe where they know they can protect themselves. This is also why all 'Palestinian' nonviolent resistance campaigns have collapsed: they are unwilling to recognize the humanity, much less the equality, of their opponents. And this is also why the 'Palestinians' are not like other 'peoples of color' either here or in India or South Africa so much as they are like our Tea Partiers: they are so angry over the loss of a 'superiority' they barely had if they had it at all, but now with not having anyone else to humiliate with impunity and having that lack aggravated by having a member (or members) of a previously humiliated and cowed group placed over them is driving one group and a preponderance (?) of the other over the cliff into the sea of political (and actual?) lunacy.
I know that those who hate Jews will do so regardless of whether or not the Jews can protect themselves or not and I hope all those (underneath all their sophistries) who are simply galled by Jewish blood no longer being cheap are consumed by their gall and rage. May they all die with foam on their lips!!
But here's where it feels to me as if G-d intervenes. Those of us who know Scripture know G-d's ways are not our ways and He seems to enjoy surprising us. Recent studies have shown that a whopping ninety percent of 'Palestinians' and Israeli Arabs have Jewish DNA. Not Edomite, not even Israelite, but Jewish. To top it off, 'Palestinians' have DNA closer to the Ashkenazim (!!!) than to the Sephardim. I at least have to ask the questions: Did these 'Arabs' come to Eretz Israel for more than just opportunity? Why did they come to 'Palestine' when their neighbors stayed home? Did something in their DNA or unconscious call them 'home' as it were? And what, if any, 'positive' purpose is or can be served by 'Palestinian' nationality? What, indeed, does G-d require of Israel? Not to give up its state and power, no. It's especially not for Aryans trying to wash the (mostly inherited, true) scent of Jewish blood off their hands to self-righteously lecture Israel on this matter. If they want that scent off their hands, let them show that they will have Israel's back this time as we say in the 'hood by words and actions!
But back to the question: why should there be 'Palestinians' as such? Is it time for them to rejoin their real brethren and return to the Torah and become Israelis? Or is that at another spot in their road ahead? I claim to have absolutely no answer to any of the questions I raise in this post, but I believe they're worth raising nonetheless for a' that, as the poet said.