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Wednesday, September 19, 2012


In this post I put a new spin on history as I look back and then point out a thing or two about the present and future importance of, and necessity for, the resurrected state of Israel. That most people who don't deliberately blind themselves to inconvenient facts agree on the necessity for a place where Jews can be organized to defend themselves against the next outbreak of hatred against them is hardly worth debating anymore. But there's more than that in favor of the necessity of Israel. Allow me to begin with some interesting (I hope) observations about the earthly time of Jesus and ramifications arising therefrom:
1) The Maccabean theocracy begun 150 years before Jesus's birth degenerated with remarkable speed. A rabbi I spoke with said it happened in about 100 years. The Sanhedrin were a vestige of that theocracy with mostly 'ecclesiastical' powers by Jesus's lifetime. I mention it because I think it can be argued that Jesus was a victim, albeit foreordained, of the evil known as the religion-state connection. And the following idea (for which I expect to be clobbered from a number of quarters) is directly related to that: from the time of Hadrian to the re-establishment of a Jewish state, Jews had no power to enforce a religion-state connection, except (maybe) for the time of the Khazar empire being a Jewish state. If anyone knows more than I do about how long the Khazar state lasted and how far conversion was extended and by what means, feel free to inform me further. Just cite your sources so I can check them.
In any case, my point is that Jews had next to no power to enforce what both Christians and Muslims could--and did, often ruthlessly, enforce: the religion-state connection. As has been the case before, G-d may have tried something new with Jews first--in this case, taking a separation of religion and state some steps further than had been the case in ancient Israel where there was a separation of priests from both prophets and judges. Christendom has now done so to a great extent from our Bill of Rights forward, although we also still have fools who refuse to understand that separation is indispensable for the health of both the state and honest religion. Who was it again that said, 'A man cannot be convinced when his salary depends on him not being convinced'?
And the separation of religion from state, for the better health of both, is in my opinion the linchpin of the task of modernization before Islam. Ataturk began it, with (it seems) limited success which the current Turkish government is attempting to undo. Frankly, they're going in the wrong direction. Islam also probably needs to resurrect the Mu'tazilites as well. Modern Israel yet has a thing or two to do in this respect, too: neither Conservative nor Reform Judaism are recognized as separate groups in Israel.
2) Someone told me once (although I haven't been able to verify it yet) that Annas and Caiaphas had to work to convince Pilate that Jesus's expelling the moneychangers was a mere internal dispute and NOT the start of a revolt against Rome. I think it's safe to say that they, and their 'party' in the Sanhedrin, were pretty frightened men, don't you think? There are some lines in the Gospel of John which indicate this.
3) Most of us know the story (not in the Gospels, though) about how Nicodemus learned of Jesus's trial only by accident and how he hurried there and found it to be a 'rump' Sanhedrin session--no one who agreed with him and Gamaliel (who, btw, was the Sanhedrin's president then and also not present at Jesus's trial) had been summoned; only those of the Annas/Caiaphas party. To me Jesus's 'trial' sounds a lot like the Wisconsin state senate ramming through last year's anti-labor bill! I thought that then and I still do.
Anyhow, the point of all this is that most Jews had NOTHING to do with Jesus's trial and crucifixion AND that, among those men who railroaded him, I'd say that Caiaphas & co. and Pilate were pretty equal partners. The writers of the Gospel did do a certain amount of toning down the Roman part in that--but then, they also believed Jesus's return was right around the corner. That is, they never thought the consequences would be as far-reaching as they were, and still are.
And so, for eighteen centuries or so, the Jews have been almost completely innocent--yes, that's right, all you b*****s and sons thereof, I said innocent and I mean exactly that--victims of Christians and Muslims, some of whom now have the chutzpa to pontificate on the Jews' 'vocation for suffering' and lament how the existence of Israel may mean that the Jews will lose this oh-so-precious vocation! Easy to say, when it's not your vocation for suffering, or that of your people, being granted and/or tested, isn't it? Nearly all of you, at least corporately, still have innocent blood on your hands--much of it Jewish--and somewhere inside yourselves, I say you know it! Apply to God directly for absolution, not to Israel--and remember Jesus's words from the cross and ask yourselves if you can be included in those for whom Jesus asked forgiveness as you knew not what you or your ancestors did!
Jews will never be easy to f**k with anymore and the rest of you sorry lot better get used to that!! And as long as Israel remains an effective democracy, I think it safe to say that it won't lose the spirit of compassion that, since Biblical times, G-d has taught first to ancient Israel, then to the Jews and, through the Jews in general and one in particular, to the rest of us. The extent to which we've learned such lessons is, will continue to be, and indeed should be, always open to debate. But I see no reason to doubt that the Jews continue to be the 'pilot group' whenever G-d has something new to teach us all. Much of which is now happening in Israel--especially as regards 'green' technology, renewable energy and desalinization of seawater, to name but a few items. And if and when there is peace between Isaac and Ishmael (Arabs) we can expect to see the Middle East transformed for the better!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


"It is with deep feeling I beg my 'white' brethren, especially in the South, not to fall for this jive again!! Last time you fell for it, you took up arms and died for a system not only unrighteous, but which actually kept you down along with the slave. Were there schools where you could learn to read, write, think and cipher? You know there weren't. The planters deliberately priced education out of your reach so you wouldn't figure out what was really going on!! And because you were marginally higher than the slave, you believed the hokum the planters fed you!!
'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.' Well, what'll it be this time? Will you have the courage to treat those who are different as equals and fight against our common enemy (the greedy planters) this time? Or will you fall again for the planters' lying racist narcotics? This election is America v. Amerikkka. That means all of us working together helping each other v. everyone trying to rob each other, or trying to rob a large number of us, by force, lies and/or legal stealth while most of us sink back into poverty, the commons become irredeemably polluted, and death by starvation makes a comeback--which many might not hear about because Faux News would never mention it!
This November--choose America. Tell Amerikkka to get lost and stay lost!"
These words are how I concluded an earlier post on this website, titled America v. Amerikkka, which is one way I see this year's election. And I feel the need to amplify that, especially in regards to other SWMs, as is the personals' abbreviation for straight white males. It is mostly to them that I address this post.
First, when someone else--a woman, a person of color, a 'gay' person--refers to us as 'privileged', that is pretty much a fact. But that's no reason to either yell back about all your hard work (I don't doubt most of you have; that's not the point--but the point is germane, so bear with me a little here) or run for the sackcloth and ashes and start lamenting; that is so useless I can hardly find words! Nor do I wish you to think of yourselves as 'bad'; I know as well as you that dam' few of us (if any) sought any unearned privilege; in this country it kind of comes with the territory of being born white males and having our hormones flow the 'straight' way. If most of us needed work to get where we are, then (and you are entitled to ask) you ask, where's the 'privilege'? Here are some examples:
1) Do you take it for granted that you deserve to be listened to?
2) Have you ever been stopped either on a city street or on the road and had your person and/or car searched, and none too carefully, for contraband?
3) Have you noticed differences in how differently other people treat you, as opposed to a woman, etc.? Are you 'automatically' treated as if you carry more authority than a woman, etc.?
4) Assuming bullying is something you avoid doing, when's the last time anyone 'got in your face' just for fun?
My fellow nerds and geeks probably still have memories of that last, but c'mon dudes, has it happened since  high school? I can say, for me it hasn't. Anyhow, what privilege we yet have shows up mostly in that very last point and variations thereon: if something important to others isn't at stake, are members of any other group getting in our way? No. Only if we consider our liberty imperiled by not being able to bully and wipe our feet on others can we think that. Those of us who understand the indivisibility of freedom know this. And from that principle is where we must take a plan of action. OK; as straight white males we do have more authority; so where do we go from here?
1) Listen. With our hearts as well as our heads, listen to how the world looks to women, people of color and so on. Sure, look out for con artists; they also come in both sexes and all colors. And as we try to shape new realities to include us all, remember that as long as we have such unasked-for authority it behooves us to offer the handshakes first as it were.
2) Learn when to speak and when to be silent. Let's use our 'authority' to encourage others to speak up as well as ourselves. Many of us do come from homes where we were neither listened to or encouraged to speak up (except perhaps when a parent was angry)--well, if we know how it feels, shouldn't we encourage others rather than monopolize the speaking? What would you expect of a genuinely mature man?
3) Do not assume we're the 'natural' leaders, moderators or whatever: we want to expand that template and do so by example. These are for starters and they are broad guidelines.
Finally, as we encourage others to speak out and help them climb the ladders of advancement, let's remember that the more openly expressed talent we have around, we are all the richer for it! I'd say my point is, finally, is not that we SWMs didn't have to work for what we have (most of us did) but that we have the least roadblocks in our paths! Whoever has explicit or implicit roadblocks in their path has to work that much harder to either clear or get around them, right? And I say that merits respect--and that we needn't resent the government's attempts to ameliorate that either.
Societies based on unearned (and unasked-for) privilege stagnate and regress: no more than 53% of Confederate soldiers could read or write, compared with 94% among the Yankees. So, fellow SWMs, let's use what 'privilege' we have to make our country fairer for all our fellow citizens, wherever and whenever the occasions arise. And I suggest a straight Democratic vote this fall be part of that for all of us!