Friday, March 07, 2003

I have suggested to Nelson Ascher that he should start a blog of his own a while ago. Well, he has not done that, but something even better (for him, since it will enable him to write for a blog, and still have a life and a job): he joined a new Euro blog, aptly named Europundits. I have not read its other contributors, except for Cind, who is my favorite Euro anyway. This is bad news: another great blog that I cannot afford to miss. Oh, well...there goes the life and the job.
Reader Jennifer asks:
What to you constitutes antisemitism?? I'm really not being silly... I guess let me sort of try to explain. To me there are degrees of antisemitism, or any other form of bigotry or prejudice... for instance, to me obvious antisemitism would be painting swastikas on the Israeli flag... or defacing or destroying a Synagogue... Then you have other things that aren't so obvious.... maybe even things that could go either way... For instance, there are some who insist that even criticizing policies of the Israeli government and/or military constitutes antisemitism/antijewish sentiment... Me, I don't agree... but as a Jew do you see it that way?

There are degrees of antisemitism, and there are degrees to which it manifests itself in people’s actions. Jennifer is talking about its manifestations, and that is what counts in real life. In the Western world there is no thought police, (not yet, anyway), so no one can tell a person that they are not allowed to dislike Jews, or Blacks, or anyone else. But they are not allowed to discriminate against them. What counts is the actions, not the thoughts or the feelings. But often it is also important to understand the real motives behind people’s actions, especially when their actions can be interpreted either way.

If we leave out the obvious manifestations of antisemitism, like painting swastikas on Jewish graves, or burning synagogues, we are left with actions that can be interpreted either way. In those cases the logical and fair thing to do is to give a person all the benefit of a doubt. Just as someone might not hire a black person for reasons other than their race, someone may criticize Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, for example, and it does not automatically mean that they are antisemitic.

However, if an employer chooses a white candidate who is obviously less qualified than a black one, and the white candidate is not his relative or friend, one has to wonder. If a representative of a European country, in fact most representatives of most European countries, (not to mention those of most European media and academia, and the Vatican) are constantly citing Israel for human rights violations, while constantly ignoring far more severe human rights violations by Israel’s neighbors (not to mention those committed by their own countries), one has to wonder as well.

Furthermore, if something like that happens once, or twice, one might still wonder whether it might be a coincidence.
When it happens over and over and over again, even while not taking into account the long history of antisemitism in Europe, isn’t it time to stop wondering?

The London based Arabic paper al-Hayat reports that the administration officials have refused to see a group of the Arab League representatives, who came to the US for talks on the Iraq situation, and on possible ways to prevent an attack by the US. The group was formed following the Arab League last Saturday, and included Egyptian and Lebanese Foreign Ministers. The group is also scheduled to travel to Bagdad, in an attempt to convince Saddam Hussein to cooperate with the UN. (IBA radio).

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
Thanks to Imshin.
Well, yeah. But that's what I've been saying all along, although in a slightly different context.
The Past Revisited: go read - it is absolutely fascinating.
There was a suicide bombing on a bus in Haifa. So far 15 dead, 37 injured, 10 seriously. All that is left of the bus is its front part, including some of the front row seats.
Police says that there were no specific warning about this particular attack. But I doubt that there is anyone in Israel who is surprised by this. This is the first terrorist attack after two months of numerous thwarted attempts. The previous one was a month and a half before that. IDF radio cites a "senior security official" as saying that the low frequency of the attacks suggests that Israel's current approach is effective, and thus we should not expect neither any major operation on the scale of "Defensive Wall", nor the expulsion of Arafat.
They interviewed the bus driver who happens to be an Arab, and who spoke from the hospital, where he is being treated for his injuries. He said that most of the passengers wer elderly. There were no security guards on the bus, which he said was unusual.
Haifa is my hometown, BTW. (IDF radio)

Update: It turns out many of the victims were highschool kids.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Carnival Of the Vanities no. 24 is up and running (and screaming, and cussing, smoking and drinking, and having loads of fun) over at Gut Rumbles. Well, Rob, I don't care what they think about me, either. But it looks like they now care what they think about themselves. Which is a good thing.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Damn Blogger!
Prejudice produces counterprejudice. You are probably aware of this if you have been following the modern American Black culture. I dare to say that it's the same with the Jews. Or at least with this particular Jew: me. Well, not entirely the same. The background, including the reasons for the original prejudice, is different. And the way it is played out in reality is different as well: no one knows I am Jewish by just looking at me, and I have no way - at least not always - of knowing if the other person is Jewish just by looking at them.

I was born and grew up in Russia, where it went without saying that most non-Jews don't like Jews. When I came to Israel, I learned from Jews from other European countries that it is more or less the same there.I know the historical and religious roots of the European antisemitism, and I take it for granted, and most of the time quite dispassionately (no, I did not say "always").

After I came to the US, I discovered that there is antisemitism present here as well. I was not surprised by this. Most Americans are descendant from Europeans, so it is natural for them to inherit at least some of the prejudices their ancestors brought with them. Luckily, antisemitism is much less prevalent here than it is in Europe (both Old and New, BTW), for a number of reasons. But still, it is here, all-right.

So I am prejudiced towards Europeans, wherever they are. Or, more precisely, towards European Christians. I am not at all proud of my prejudice, and the only reason I am discussing it, is that I think it is pointless to discuss antisemitism, without examining the Jewish view of it. Also, since I am mostly dispassionate about it, I am able to control it, which is to say I do not automatically assume that every Christian is an antisemite. But when I discover that one is, I am not shocked. In fact, I have a neighbor with whom I am quite friendly, who is an antisemite (she says I am not typical - how very typical...)

So is the Vatican antisemitic? Not as an institution, at least not in its modern reincarnation. But I am sure it has enough antisemites to make it look that way. Is John Paul II an antisemite? I have no idea, but he is Polish, and his nation has a very bad record on the issue. Combine this with some of his own actions, and it makes one wonder. However, his Catholicism seems to have only some relevance to his supposed antisemitism, in my view. His Christianity has more. His ethnic culture has the most.
Here you go, I give you my prejudice in action.

P.S. A couple of related posts here and here.

Update: I feel that I may have made some perfectly good and unprejudiced people feel compelled to apologize or to assure me that they are not antisemitic.This was not my intent at all. This post was a rant about my prejudice, that's all.
E-mail is working again.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Is it the Vatican or the Catholics in general? I think this is the wrong question. The right question should be: is it American or European Catholics? Or, better: is it American or European, (or, for that matter, Arab) Christians? In case you don't know, I am talking about the Pope's and some French Cardinal's siding with the Arabs against Israel, and now also against the US. No, I am not talking about their antisemitism, are you nuts? They are not antisemites, and besides, it is all the Jews' fault anyway.

This is just another case where the discussion of religion obstructs the obvious, and that is the fact that it has nothing to do with religion. That Polish-Italian guy (well, yeah, you have a problem with that? You have African-Americans, don't you?) just happens to be a Pope, and that French guy just happens to be a Cardinal. So what. Like I said before: it's the culture, stupid.

Update: no, Glenn, it does not get rid of the antisemitism charge at all. All I am saying is that the fact the Vatican is a religious institution is largely irrelevant to the discussion of its antisemitism. We could be just as well discussing the Belgian court.

BTW, good discussion on the subject here.

Another update: the discussion on Instapundit is still focused on the Catholic Church. Sorry, but this does not make any sense to me. Have everyone forgotten Bill Graham's not implicitly, but outright antisemitic remarks on those Nixon tapes?
Thanks to my following of the Carnival tour I have discovered the Acidman, and I think I like him. Rated R for language. Go visit: he is sitting there crying in his beer (or whatever it is he is drinking) that his hits meter is going down.
In case you have sent me an e-mail: my ISP's e-mail server is down.
Finally, someone thinking straight. I don't have an issue with arming the pilots, but I don't think it is a solution to the problem. There will have to be someone other than the pilot on each plane who's job is to subdue anyone who might be a threat. I might disagree with Wind on one point, though: I don't think the flight attendants are the right people to have this responsibility, although I would like to have them trained to assist such a person. The reason for this is that it would require finding people with two conflicting traits of personality. I just don't think that good flight attendants (i.e. people who are good at serving the passengers, and making them as comfortable and relaxed as possible) can also be good at detecting suspicious behavior, and acting aggressively towards both the assailants, and the potentially panicking/hysterical/interfering passengers. It does happen occasionally, but mostly in movies. What we need is an air marshal on every flight. That's what El-Al has had on all of its flights for years, following the first highjackings in the 60ies. Wind is right that after 9/11 our enemies are likely to try different means for a future attack. Still, it does not mean that they are not likely to try the same thing, if they come to the conclusion that we have not learned the lesson. There was at least one instant I know of when an air marshal on an El-Al flight has subdued a would-be highjacker.