Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Is one Jewish state one too many?

This month a consortium of Canadian universities and institutions will be sponsoring a conference at York University in Toronto that will effectively conclude that one Jewish state in the world is one too many.

The conference, innocuously named "Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace," will ostensibly debate whether a "one-state" or "two-state" solution is the best way to advance peace. But the conference's symbol is a map of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with a zipper sewing up the seam lines between them. And a close look at the speakers and the abstracts of their intended speeches show that the overwhelming consensus will be that Israel should cease being a Jewish state and morph instead into a binational one.

It is a rich irony indeed that the conference is ostensibly proposing that Israel annex the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - a position that once might have been considered solely in the domain of the most right-wing Israelis. But as the program speeches make clear, the proposed solution is not to simply allow Israel to annex territory. Rather, it is to strip the Jewish state of its Law of Return (allowing Jews to immigrate) and uproot the country from its Jewish foundations.

York University's program makes only a nominal attempt to stir genuine debate. The program is riddled with speakers who take as a given that Israel is an apartheid state that discriminates against Palestinians and that is fundamentally "unjust." A number of the speakers are recognizable as organizers and advocates of the movement to boycott Israel. Indeed, the handful of notable professors who do not believe that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state stand out like vegetarians at a slaughterhouse.

Belatedly realizing the nature of the conference, some have begun to pull out.

Conference defenders have been quick to point to the right of free speech and the value of academic debate to support the program. And it is clear that when discussing Israel and the Palestinians passions are likely to run high. But the issue is not freedom of expression or the value of hearing alternate viewpoints. The issue is not York University's right to hold such a conference, but rather its desire to do so.

A CONFERENCE is not held in a vacuum. Against a backdrop of the ascendency of Iran calling to destroy Israel, Hamas consolidating its hold over the Gaza Strip and continuing to rain rockets against southern Israeli cities and a global increase in anti-Semitism, is it possible that York University doesn't understand that a conference calling on Israel to cease being a Jewish Zionist state plays into the hands of those seeking to annihilate it completely?

Never mind that the proposed "one-state" solution is completely unrealistic. Never mind that there is not a single mainstream Israeli political party that would ever endorse it - and that it will therefore simply never materialize. Never mind that a conference held at the end of June, with few students on campus, is mostly an exercise of academics preaching to the converted. The pernicious nature of this conference is not measured by its efficacy at promoting its solution. It's measured by the legitimacy it confers on those who will build upon it to promote genocide.

This conference, if unopposed, will be copied. The notion that for the sake of peace and justice Israel must be denuded of its Jewish character will be lent the imprimatur of a respected university. In time, nongovernmental organizations, quasi-governmental bodies and international institutions may well quote the conclusions of such conferences, and the movement to boycott Israel will be immeasurably strengthened. Groups like Hamas and Hizbullah will seize on its conclusions immediately, using them to excuse their terrorist activities against the Jewish state.

One need not cut off debate, or the presentation of alternative viewpoints. But is it really too much to expect respected universities not to endorse the destruction of Israel as the world's only Jewish state?


Wanted: A Vaccine for Liberalism

by Burt Prelutsky

Whenever I have suggested that left-wingers aren’t normal human beings, and have wondered if perhaps they’re some weird interplanetary life form like the pods in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," the liberals accuse me of indulging in ad hominem attacks, and I suppose I am. But I am honestly bewildered. It just doesn’t seem plausible that Americans could find good things to say about tyrants like Castro, Chavez and Ahmadinejad, while at the same time reviling the likes of Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and General Petraeus.

Left-wingers side with the so-called Palestinians and insist that their country was stolen from them by the Jews, but when you ask them just exactly where the country was located, what their flag looked like and who their president was, they huff and they puff and they denounce you as a tool of the Jewish lobby.

Liberals argue for the sanctity of the 1st amendment as if they had personally invented free speech, but they’re the same people who’d like to use the Fairness Doctrine to turn off the microphones of conservative talk show hosts. Furthermore, they are so terrified of hearing or letting other people hear the words of those who disagree with them that they boo their opponents into silence on those rare occasions when conservatives are invited to speak on college campuses.

When George W. Bush and the GOP were in control from 2000-2006, the Democrats complained, generally without cause, that they didn’t have enough influence, that the Republicans didn’t reach out to them, even though John McCain, to name one, spent so much time reaching out that Cindy McCain began to worry that she’d lost her husband to Russ Feingold or Ted Kennedy. These days, those same Democrats are so eager to disenfranchise Republicans that they’re ready to do anything up to and including sending the entire stimulus package to Minnesota if only they’ll make Al Franken a senator.

Speaking of senators, what’s the idea of Republicans Martinez, Bunning, Hutchinson and Brownback, announcing that this is their last term? If I could suck it up and vote for McCain last November, the least these four can do is sign on for another six years. It’s not as if being a U.S. senator calls for any heavy lifting. Heck, if Robert Byrd can do it, Sam Brownback certainly can. This is simply no time for Republicans to go AWOL.

I admit that I’ve been delighted to see Nancy Pelosi catching some heat for lying about not knowing that waterboarding was taking place. Initially, I think she claimed she was confused by the term, believing it meant that the prisoners at Gitmo were learning to surf. But things didn’t get a lot better when it came out that she had only bothered attending one of about 70 congressional meetings where the subject was discussed. I suppose she was busy getting Botox injections. But that doesn’t mean I want to see the Democrats replace her. I mean, it’s not as if they’d give the job to Eric Cantor or John Boehner. I’m sure they’d simply replace the incompetent Speaker of the House with someone like Barney Frank, the embarrassing lisper of the House.

Left-wingers are always wringing their hands over separation of church and state. What we should all be arguing for is separation of communication and state. What right does the federal government have supporting NPR, PBS and the NEA? Frankly, I’d be opposed to the feds spending taxpayer dollars to fund public radio, public TV and the arts, even if they weren’t all run by left-wingers. I’m sure liberals think I’m lying, but I’m not. Nowhere in the Constitution is the government given the authority to meddle in these matters, and once it does, it opens itself up to charges of censorship or collusion. Is there anyone who believes that NPR or PBS will ever question anything President Obama says or does? Of course not. Liberals in the media claim they speak truth to power, which sounds good, but would sound a lot better if they ever spoke truth when their own darlings were the ones in power.

It’s bad enough when NBC goes into the tank for the president, but NBC is not subsidized by the American taxpayer. If the liberals want to disseminate left-wing propaganda, I say let them do it the old-fashioned way. Let Howard Dean and the entire DNC crawl to George Soros and ask him to pay for it.

Finally, whenever someone gripes about the pay raises, perks, health care and pensions that politicians provide for themselves, we’re told how much more money these “public servants” could make in the private sector, and I have to laugh. These egotistical dunderheads would have to be running major corporations -- assuming there will be any of those left by the time Obama gets done -- to have the kind of fiefdoms that come with being in Congress. Can you seriously imagine Barbara Boxer, Arlen Specter or John Murtha, running a store, let alone a major corporation? For that matter, can you even imagine Barbara Boxer, Arlen Specter or John Murtha, being hired to sweep out a store?


Belief Without Borders


On any list of nonfiction authors that many people may not know but should, Robert Wright would rank high. Among his books are "The Moral Animal" (1994), which argues that natural selection rewards principled behavior and is gradually improving human ethics; and "Nonzero" (2000), which argues that history is moving in a positive direction: Social, political and economic forces, the book said, can operate in a "nonzero" rather than a "zero sum" way. In short, it is not necessary for A to gain at the expense of B; rather, both can gain.

Now Mr. Wright completes the circle by finding roughly the same promising trend in higher affairs. "The Evolution of God" -- really about religion rather than the divine -- supposes that, for all their faults, the monotheistic faiths have prospered because they encourage people to get along.

Mr. Wright begins "The Evolution of God" by wondering not whether faiths are true but why they proliferated in early society. His conclusion is that the initial impulse of faith was the self-interest of its administrative class. "Whenever people sense the presence of a puzzling and momentous force," he writes, "they want to believe there is a way to comprehend it. If you can convince them you're the key to comprehension, you can reach great stature." Shamans pretended to understand nature, the leading mystery of ancient days. But the claim was just a way for them to earn a living, Mr. Wright asserts; surely few shamans actually believed that they knew why storms came or disease struck.

What is the contemporary equivalent to the tribal shaman? Stockbrokers. Like shamans, stockbrokers claim the ability to augur hidden forces -- and, like shamans, Mr. Wright says, their advice is almost always worthless. In general, customers (ancient farmers needing rain, modern investors) want to believe that someone has secret, mystic knowledge of a powerful unknown (the natural world, Wall Street). Like investment advisers today, mediums of the far past claimed mystic knowledge and charged for it. In some old tribal cultures, Mr. Wright adds, the word shaman meant roughly "politician." Angling for religious power was thus essentially the same as angling for tribal leadership.

This, Mr. Wright infers, is how most religion began. Not exactly a glorious moment of revelation upon a mountaintop. Is the theory persuasive? Mr. Wright is prone to supposing that strong conclusions regarding precivilization can be drawn from the writings of anthropologists. Maybe anthropology is correct at times, but the field is chronically speculative and inferential -- building theories of history on it may be building on sand. For instance, Mr. Wright finds it significant that the earliest Buryat and Inuit cultures, in Siberia and the Arctic, viewed shamans as we now view politicians. But the Inuit also believed that their society was descended from invincible giants. Roll such points together and you have -- I am not sure what.

The closer Mr. Wright's analysis draws to the Common Era, the more forceful it becomes. The most striking contention in "The Evolution of God" concerns St. Paul, Christianity's first administrative leader. Ancient religions died off, Mr. Wright claims, because they were designed for specific ethnic groups and possessed no appeal outside them. Judaism spoke to those born into the faith, limiting its potential scope. Paul wanted Christianity to become a global faith, appealing to anyone from any land or ethnic group. So he offered something no faith had offered to that point -- universal brotherhood. Did Jesus intend to start a new, broader-based religion? That's hardly clear -- Christ never used the word "Christian" or instructed his disciples to promote a new faith. Paul, by contrast, actively wished to start a cross-borders, proselytizing system of belief. His innovation, according to Mr. Wright, was to realize that the promise of brotherhood could appeal to the whole world -- and as a Roman citizen, Paul thought in whole-world terms.

"The Evolution of God" goes on to analyze the spread of Christianity -- and, later, Islam -- in language that at times strains to sound of the moment: Had Pauline thinking failed, Mr. Wright observes, "another version of Christianity probably would have prevailed, a version featuring the doctrine of interethnic amity, the doctrine that realized the network externalities offered by the open platform of the Roman Empire."

But there is no doubt that Paul's core idea of brotherhood-based faith, intended to overcome delineations between people and groups, was a tremendous success in historical terms. Centuries later, Islam would emphasize some of the same qualities as early Christianity, especially the embrace of anyone from any nation. Broadly, Mr. Wright argues that religions act fierce or nationalistic when adherents feel threatened. But "when a religious group senses an auspicious non-zero-sum relationship with another group, it is more likely to create tolerant scriptures or find tolerance in existing scriptures." As the world grows ever more interdependent, this sentiment is an especially propitious one.

In the course of a long work ostensibly about God, Mr. Wright never tells the reader whether he believes that a supreme being exists. After extended hemming and hawing on this essential point, he proffers only that a person who accepts God as actual is "not necessarily crazy." Talk about praising with faint damnation! But taken together, "The Moral Animal," "Nonzero" and "The Evolution of God" represent a powerful addition to modern thought. If biology, culture and faith all seek a better world, maybe there is hope.


A really sad story from Mike Adams

About a Paradise lost

In the summer of 1980, I was looking forward to turning 16 and getting a driver’s license. All of my friends were looking forward to driving but none as much as me. My friends would be driving used Mazdas and Toyotas that got good gas mileage. But my dad bought me a 1970 GTO. He didn’t care that it got nine miles to the gallon. It looked like it was going thirty miles an hour when it was just sitting in the driveway.

Even though that old GTO was fast it had worn hydraulic lifters that were sucking away horsepower and badly wearing down the stock Pontiac cam shaft. Nonetheless, I put the pedal to the floor and burned rubber every chance I got – that is, as long as the Houston Police were nowhere in sight.

One night on Highway Three I began to hear an unfamiliar sound just after I floored the accelerator. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had merely dented the flywheel cover running over something in the road. But the sound it was making – coupled with the fact that it started just after I hit the accelerator – made me think I had spun a bearing on the crank shaft.

So dad and I went into the garage and pulled out the motor. After it was secure on the engine lift we could see the source of the noise. And we knew we could just pull off the flywheel cover and hammer out the dent to fix the problem. But we also knew it would be so much more fun to rebuild the old motor. My dad must have figured that if I was going to finish at the bottom of my class academically I might as well have the fastest car among the 3300 students at Clear Lake High School.

For weeks, after I got home from school – and my dad got home from work – we toiled away on that engine. First we started with the internal restoration. A Crane Blazer camshaft was the first high-performance extra installed. That went with new rings and bearings, new lifters, and a nice valve job – on 10-to-1 heads with 2.11-inch intake valves.

Then we got to all the really unnecessary aftermarket items. A Holly double pump carburetor sat on a new Edelbrock manifold. Headmond headers ran just below the stock chrome valve covers. We topped it off with a small chrome air filter that allowed people to better see what we had beneath the hood (plus, you could hear it sucking in air from inside the passenger compartment). Finally, there were nice Thrush mufflers to let people know we were coming long before we got there.

When we were done, my friend Jim Duke joked that he hoped his dad would hurry up and have a midlife crisis - so he could build him a hot rod, too. My buddy Terry Cohn said I had the coolest dad in town. Terry has always been wise beyond his years.

That GTO had other benefits, too. The first time I asked Jane out on a date she said she’d go because she heard I had a cool car. When I picked her up she said “This is it?” She was disappointed that it wasn’t much to look at. But after I laid waste to a few Corvettes and Trans Ams she changed her mind.

Those nights in Houston were legendary. Like the time I buried the speedometer at 140 on Interstate 45 on the way to Galveston. Or the time I beat James Armand’s 1970 Camaro in a race up Falcon Pass. That night, I took everyone’s money on the Clear Lake High School soccer team. Those were the days.

But my reign as the king of Falcon Pass would end in less than a year. Billy Peters had a cool dad, too. He bought him a 1967 Camaro with a 427 engine. Billy had all the extras put on that engine, too. And he topped it off with something I didn’t have; namely, a 4.11 posi-traction rear axle.

People always said that car would be the death of me. But, ironically, it saved my life – along with my buddy Wes Armour - in the summer of 1984. A fellow tried to end an argument using a 12-gauge shotgun in the parking lot of Burger King. We left the guy standing, literally, in a cloud of tire smoke. His Jeep wasn’t going to catch up with that GTO.

A few years later, cancer – under the vinyl top, in the trunk, and behind the wheel wells – would claim that old GTO. We would take the Holly and the Edelbrock and bolt it on top of the 400 engine in our mint condition 1973 Grand Am.

But things were never the same. In 1971, Congress would put a halt to the golden era of great muscle cars in America. Emissions requirements would flood the market with low compression, two-barrel, single exhaust versions of the old cars we used to love. They were merely shadows of their former selves.

Now President Obama is determining the compensation of GM employees. He’s getting rid of board members at GM and replacing them with those of his choosing. He’s preparing to impose new fuel economy requirements. He’s even using the IRS to make people buy cars they really don’t want.

Congress started steering the auto industry in the wrong direction many years ago. This new president is merely pushing down the accelerator and keeping steady hold upon the wheel. Meanwhile, our memories of the glory days, like so many youthful dreams, are fading in the rear view mirror.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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